10…9…8…

by Laura

As 2016 draws to a close, I’d like to share some thoughts on family trees and DNA and all those cool things now available to those who enjoy researching family history. This is hardly comprehensive; that would take the better part of a decade. Firstly, to keep up with all the information hitting the blogosphere, and secondly, to keep up with all the research being done in the DNA field. But I have some favourites. So I thought I’d share. Perhaps you, too, might find something of value that might encourage you to find that long-lost family member.

DNAAdoption.com is not just for adoptees looking for family. It has become a treasure-trove of documentation on how to use DNA to build your family tree. Remember the basic grunt work: birth certificates, death certificates, and the like. Whilst DNA is a powerful tool, again I say, it’s not your only tool, or, sometimes, your best tool.  It’s just one of many. But the folk here really know their stuff, and have developed methodologies to aid in the search. They also offer classes for all folk at all levels. Very worthwhile. They certainly helped me…in spades…so I recommend them highly.

GEDmatch is the single most valuable tool after you’ve had your DNA tested. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s accessible. They have all those tools (like chromosome browsers; Ancestry…are you listening???) that can help you sort your matches into Mom’s side, Dad’s side, and then some. They have instructions for how you go about downloading your raw DNA from the other companies and uploading it to them (again, all free) and there is a Wiki to explain the available tools. Having said that, though, it is a rather steep learning curve…

Which brings me to: Blaine Bettinger’s blog “The Genetic Genealogist”. Blaine was one of the first of the genealogists who a) used DNA in genealogy and 2) started blogging about it. In 2007. He really knows this stuff. His blog is instructive and accessible. You can also read his books. But if you don’t read anything else, read this blog in conjunction with DNA Adoption.

ISOGG. International Society of Genetic Genealogists, whose mission is to “Advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research while promoting a supportive network for genetic genealogists.” An invaluable resource. Then there is their DNA statistic chart, which is a godsend to anyone trying to place an ancestor, or a DNA match (especially those without trees) within a possible relationship. I have this bookmarked on my toolbar, I use it so very often. Which, by-the-by, I used just yesterday. There is a relatively recent, and close, DNA match on one of the trees I manage that I couldn’t place. Ancestry gives you the amount of DNA and I even have a green shaky leaf hint…although the tree is private…which tells me that there is a definite connection. By looking at the proposed relationship (according to Ancestry), the amount of DNA shared, and checking this chart, I was able to verify  the supposed relationship and work out, from there, how it all fit in the tree. It took me about two hours to nail three generations of folk with documentation, and then shoot off a message explaining it all to the DNA relative. Hopefully, we’ll hear back.

I hope these sites will give you some encouragement to journey up, or down, your family tree. Yes, it can be challenging; even heartbreaking. But it’s oh! so exciting!

Have a wonderful weekend, and God willing, we will see you in 2017.

Blessings to you and yours…

Go mbeire muib beo ar an am seo arís.
May we be alive this time next year…