DNA in Genealogy
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Genetic Genealogy:

DNA analysis as an aid in genealogical research is just beginning to become popular.  It is just getting started because the science is still new and most people don't understand what is publicly available.  Most people also don't know how it can be helpful, or even what the testing results offer to a genealogist.  There is also the learning curve issues associated with any new discipline, so once it is discovered there is also the time needed to understand what test are available and what those results will mean when they begin to appear.  Cost is a significant barrier muting DNA's adoption rate because the cost of testing isn't priced low enough to generate wide global participation.

All these hurdles will be surmounted as time passes and DNA analysis will become a major component in genealogical research.  Its advantage to genealogy comes from its unbiased nature to give objective verifiable results.  It can also discover ancestral connections not possible with any of the classical forms of a standard paper trail process.  Because DNA provides objective comparative data, it can be incorporated into a searchable database where people can anonymously participate and search for family connections to a common ancestor. It can also confirm family connections believed to be accurate, but fail to have an unbroken paper trail.

At this stage, genetic analysis isn't a cure all for all the problems associated with genealogical research.  It can't tell your 12th generation grand parent's name.  However, it can give you clear and reliable clues as to where, and maybe when they may have lived, and in some cases, which name they may have used back then when they were part of a clan or tribe. As these historical clues surface it will be possible to match ancestral connections to clans and the various known plantations in a country.

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Genetic Lessons:

DNA testing is a lot of science to learn in a short period of time, but it gets easier each time I dig in.  It also gets more interesting as more information resources appear and people create discussion forums that provide answers to questions and links to published information.  I find the Internet forums and mailing list a tremendous resource that supports learning where experienced and new people to the science can mix to discuss findings and share information.

With the databases already available, it doesn't take long to discover possible connections because the growing searchable databases.  With forums and searchable databases, groups of people are beginning to surface that show we share a common ancestor within a reasonable genetic distance.  That possibility is keeping the effort interesting.

Surnames don't seem to be reliable enough to use as connection identifiers when the lineage grows back to a time much before 1700 period. This seems especially true in America where most of the people were not part of the gentry or nobility classes.

Articles on the history of Surnames discovered while doing genetic searches provided a good understanding of why surnames have so many spelling variations and how people had names assigned.

DNA testing results have produced matches to people who show Ireland as their ancestor's home. There are also markers within our data that indicate England and Scotland were probably countries where their ancestors lived in an earlier time.

In our matches, individuals with reasonable genetic distance matches to other people show there are clusters in the areas around the Irish counties of Tipperary, Clare, Limerick and Kilkenny, Ireland.

In those same matches, the surnames associated with these people are as follows:

Brown Brooks Bryan Bryant Casey
Dickson Donohoe Dorcy Hart Kennedy
Lewis Logan McCraw McNamara Munden
O'Brien O'Donoghue O'Hara Smith Walker
Wallace Wright      

In this table of names, Dorcy, from the Townland of Lisquilabeen, Tipperary, Ireland, is only 1 marker away from being a perfect match on the first 25-markers. More test are needed by Dorcy to make the connection more promising.  All the other names in the table match within a genetic distance of -3 to -4 when 32 or more markers are compared.

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Last modified: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 01:29:26 PM