and Thomas W. Jones conceded that while traditional genealogists have worked with
sources and documents that have been available for decades, a new resource for
research has been evolving in the past decade – DNA.
articles that use DNA AND traditional genealogy methods to
show relationships. They even withheld publication of an article earlier this
year that indicated DNA evidence was needed to support the author’s
addition this year, the Board of Certified Genealogists revamped their
Genealogy Standards with a 50th Anniversary Edition. Several
standards were rewritten to include DNA and genetic evidence as viable methods
of meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard. DNA research and genetic genealogy
are ready to shake up the field of traditional genealogy in the twenty-first
genealogy? Generally, they work side by side and help fill in the gaps when the
other is lacking. Currently there are three major types of DNA tests available,
and each provides a different kind of information for genealogists. All three
types can be used with traditional genealogy to solve brick walls or to confirm
probable relationships when the paper trail is weak.
Types of DNA
- Y-DNA is used
to trace the paternal line – the father’s father’s father’s family. A
genealogist might have an excellent paper trail that follows this line for
several generations and then…nothing. Migrations of families can cause havoc
with paper trails, especially with common surnames. Using Y-DNA can help
separate one family of Joneses from another. This type of DNA typically has few
mutations and can be used to trace many generations back in time.
- Autosomal DNA
is used to test all 22 chromosome pairs, as well as the X chromosome (in some
cases). When trying to find a closer relationship, within 5-7 generations,
autosomal DNA is the best choice. This type of DNA test has been used
effectively to solve adoption puzzles or to confirm closer family
relationships. However, after 5-7 generations, cousins tend to fall off the
genetic family tree. This is due to the process of gene recombination.
- Mitochondrial DNA
is used to trace the maternal line – the mother’s mother’s mother’s family. In
research where a women’s maiden name is unknown, mitochondrial DNA can be an
effective tool. In 2013, the body of Richard III, found under a car park in
Leicester, was identified using this type of DNA. Like Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA
has few mutations, and in the case of Richard III, can be used to trace
lineages hundreds of years.
Knowing which type of DNA to use to solve a traditional
genealogical puzzle can be daunting process, and an expensive mistake if the
wrong test is taken. Analyzing test results and making the most out of the
information in combination with traditional genealogy methods can be confusing
or completely overwhelming at times. The professional genealogists at
Genealogists.com work together with industry-leading DNA experts to test and
analyze DNA while applying traditional research methods to break down those
proverbial bricks walls or jump start stalled research.
W. Jones, “Genealogical Scholarship and DNA Test Results,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (September 2014):