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His name was Cagebeth White and he is my 5th great grandfather.
For many years, Cagebeth was my genealogical brick wall. (Aspects of his life still are!) Having an unusual first name paired with a common surname, he was relatively easy to track in the records. Figuring out how he fit in among the other White families of North Carolina was not so easy.
DNA testing of White family descendants on several lines broke down that genealogy brick wall. (Turns out we are Swinneys, but that’s another story.)
The DNA results alone gave us CLUES TO FOLLOW, but no definitive answers.
The paper genealogy trail alone also gave us clues, but no definitive answers.
BOTH the traditional paper genealogy trail and the DNA results were needed to point us in the right direction to find Cagebeth’s family.
I cannot stress this enough. Traditional paper genealogy and DNA testing work together to solve genealogy mysteries.
I have to say at this point I am not a DNA expert, and I did not do this alone. My research partner and I worked long and hard to solve this piece of the puzzle.
[Of course, one brick wall came down and another one cropped up!]
When I talk with you at genealogy events and online, I hear excitement and trepidation expressed about using DNA in your genealogy research.
I get that.
DNA is a lot to learn, but there are many resources to help you learn what you need to successfully use DNA in your genealogy research. Below I share a plethora of places and ways to learn more about using DNA in your genealogy research.
If you have a favorite DNA resource, add it in the comments below.
Where To Test
Currently these are the main genealogy DNA testing companies.
Before you order, you will need to decide what type of DNA test you want to use. In brief, a Y-DNA test determines direct paternal ancestors. The mitochondrial DNA test determines your direct maternal ancestors. The autosomal DNA test determines your ethnicity and your ancestral origins.
Thrifty Tip – Check Groupon for discounts on DNA test kits!
Now Let’s Learn How To Use Those Results!
From webinars to books to YouTube, many options are available to you to learn how to use DNA in your genealogy research. Each of the testing companies above have tutorials on their websites to help you interpret your results. Other independent options are available as well.
To find Ancestry Academy: Go to your Ancestry.com homepage, click on “Extras” in the top toolbar. Select Ancestry Academy from the drop down. (Ancestry is a subscription site) Examples of webinars include:
- DNA 101: An Insider’s Scoop on AncestryDNA Testing
- DNA: Connecting Your Ancestors to the Records
- Expand and Support Your Genealogy Research with DNA Circles
As of this writing, Legacy Family Tree Webinars has 32 webinars on DNA including:
- How Harry Potter Can Teach You About DNA by Blaine Bettinger
- What Now? Your Next Steps in Autosomal DNA Testing by Dihan Southard
- Foundations in DNA series by Blaine Bettinger
- Genetic Testing: Tools to Analyze DNA Results OnDemand Webinar
This is a subscription site, but does offer free viewings as well. From the homepage, search for “free” DNA webinars in the search box.
I love a good book! (What genealogist doesn’t?) Enjoy these suggestions for your genealogy bookshelf:
- The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger
- Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger
- Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing by Richard Hill
Hope over to Youtube and find DNA tutorials from the DNA testing companies:
Conferences & Multi Day Intensives
Attending a conference dedicated to genetic genealogy is a fantastic way to dive right into learning about using DNA in your genealogy research.
- 2017 International Genetic Genealogy Conference (9-10 Dec 2017)
- The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in Salt Lake, UT
- Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
- Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) 23-28 June 2017, sponsored by the Georgia Genealogical Society.
- Many local and state genealogical societies offer educational events throughout the year. Watch your local society’s offerings for seminars and local conferences on genetic genealogy. Check the calendar on the Genealogy Events for one to meet your needs.
Don’t let the thought of using DNA in your genealogy research intimidate you? Free and fee-based learning options are available to you. Learn from your home or travel to a conference. Find the best one for you and dive in!