- Having a self-designed website with multiple genetic genealogy pages
- Blogging occasionally about DNA testing/genetic genealogy as well as family history
- Experience with my parents and I being tested at 3 or 4 DNA testing companies each (see Here)
- Helping known cousins when their DNA results come through
- Beta-testing the ADSA Tool before general release
- Being totally comfortable with triangulation and being able to phase my data and map my chromosomes.
My clinical and research background* meant I already had a good basic understanding of DNA and all the vocabulary and I've been working with Excel spreadsheets for at least 15 years, so I had a bit of a head start. But I had to learn all the genetic genealogy from scratch, as well as how to use the various tools that are available. I'm an avid reader of all the key genetic genealogy mailing lists and have educated myself with many of the wonderful resources available on-line on blogs (see below), websites (for example, Kelly Wheaton's Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy, which now has 16 lessons), and YouTube videos (I have a selection Here and Here). There are a lot of great people who are so willing to help and educate us, but my 3 favorite posters on the mailing lists are:
- Ann Turner
- Tim Janzen
- Jim Bartlett
I always make a point to read whatever they post and I've learned a tremendous amount from all of them. As well as providing helpful and instructive responses and being generous with their time, they are always level-headed, patient, and kind, and explain things in a way that beginners can understand, even the more advanced concepts. A special thank you from me, as well as for countless others from whom I've learned so much.
Here's a list of key mailing lists. Most are very active and I opt to receive the "digest" version via e-mail. So by the time I've seen most of the questions that have been posed where I would have been happy to respond, someone else (more often than not Jim Bartlett) has already provided a great answer.
- DNA-NEWBIE (Yahoo! Group)
GENEALOGY-DNA (Rootsweb Group)
Autosomal-DNA (Rootsweb Group)
AdoptionDNA_Tools (Yahoo! Group)
DNAAdoption (Yahoo! Group)
UnknownFatherDNAGroup (Yahoo! Group)
There are multiple great genetic genealogy blogs, including the following:
- DNAeXplained (Roberta Estes)
- Your Genetic Genealogist (CeCe Moore)
- The Genetic Genealogist (Blaine Bettinger)
- Kitty Cooper's Blog (Kitty Cooper) – there are also some great chromosome mapping tools on the Tools tab, and a comprehensive GEDmatch Utilities Guide on the Downloads tab
- Cruwys News (Debbie Kennett): Covers topics of interest such as DNA testing and personal genomics, as well as Debbie's Cruwys/Cruse one-name study. This is one of the few blogs covering genetic genealogy topics from the British perspective (I'm a Brit living in California and 100% of my known ancestors were from Great Britain).
- DNA and Family History Research (Maurice Gleeson) – Maurice is a great speaker, so don't miss the link to his Presentations and Downloads
You definitely must join ISOGG = the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, which sounds so fancy and academic, but it's free to join and everyone is very welcome. Anyone (non-members, as well as members) can access the ISOGG webpage (look for the "Newbie" link on the left, which doesn't have its own URL) and ISOGG Wiki. The Wiki is a fantastic resource for any questions about DNA testing or genetic genealogy and will provide you with all the information you need. If you come across a genetic genealogy abbreviation or term you don't understand, just do a search in the Wiki, and you'll be given an explanation in not-too-technical language.
I was bemused by some of the responses given by CeCe Moore during her interview (see CeCe Moore – Genetic Genealogy Interview) by Rebekah Canada:
Question (Rebekah): What advice would you give someone starting out in genealogy or personal ancestry DNA testing?
Answer (used with permission from CeCe) – with my comments in red:
- Always interview and test the oldest generation before it is too late. [Having both of my parents' DNA results is like the best, best present I could ever be given, even though I paid for it myself. My maternal aunt and paternal uncle have also been tested and no-one else of their generation is around any more. I'm very envious of the younger genetic genealogists who have the opportunity to test their grandparents and even great-grandparents.]
- Make sure that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type of test and that the test you choose is applicable to your goals and research question(s). [I would also add here that it's important to select the best company for your needs and budget, so you don't order an inappropriate test and/or waste money on something you are subsequently disappointed with.]
- Read, read and read (until your eyes cross!) the genetic genealogy mailing lists and blogs so you can make the best use of your results. [I definitely heeded CeCe's advice even before hearing it from her or knowing who she is.]
- Never underestimate the potential of DNA testing for genealogy.
- Expect unexpected surprises! [I'm still waiting for a surprise, but I'll blog about it when it happens.]
- Be prepared to get nothing else done! [I couldn't agree more. Why go to sleep or do chores when you can do genetic genealogy?]
I also smiled at something Tim Janzen said last week at one of his talks at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree (see Here for details and consider paying to see all the DNA talks as I did – there are also some free Live Streamed sessions too):
Remember that mapping your chromosomes will be a lifelong project
- Chromosome Mapping and Autosomal DNA Analysis
- Advanced Techniques for Use of Autosomal DNA Tests to Break through Genealogical Brick Walls
Family Tree DNA – expires Tuesday, 17 June 2014
- Autosomal DNA ("Family Finder") at lowest price ever: $79 (regular price $99)
- Big Y at $595 (regular price $695) – discover and match on novel SNPs
AncestryDNA – expires Sunday, 15 June 2014
- Autosomal DNA test for $89 (regular price $99) – see Father's Day Sale. For a few months the coupon code FREESHIPDNA has worked, which saves another ~$10 in shipping costs.