Yesterday, at the monthly meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society the guest speaker was Julianne DeWalt Adamik. Julianne is a genealogy addict, like many of us, President of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society and a member of several genealogical societies. I found Julianne to be a humorous presenter who was able to provide easy definitions for beginnings in the field to DNA. Her use of simple visuals and several charts helped provide new researchers with a good base knowledge in order to proceed with DNA research.
Julianne’s first presentation was entitled Starting at the VERY Beginning -Genetic Genealogy for the Beginner. Genetic genealogy, she defined as a means of combing DNA (your genetic tree) along with your traditional genealogy family tree and research. Genetic genealogy being another ‘tool’ to help with your research and not a solution. DNA and our traditional genealogy will enable us to locate our MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) when we have DNA ‘matches’. She described the types of DNA; autosomal, yDNA and mitochondrial or mtDNA.
- In my own research I had found a DNA ‘match’ (4th to 6th cousins) to a woman who now lives in PA but grew up in the general area where I grew up. Our families had lived in the area for many generations. We surmised we were related on the surname ‘Terry’ line but thought maybe there were other possibilities as well. We shared trees and did a quick look at our lines but still nothing was popping out as an exact connection. Recently, Ancestry added a new feature that, if you have a tree that goes back enough generations, will help you figure out your MRCA. For us these ancestors are Jemima and Daniel Howell my 3x great-grandparents which will make us 4th cousins on this line. There are at least 2 other Surnames we share, so, we are probably related through those other lines as well. Success! Using genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy we now know at least one way we are related.
Julianne’s second presentation was entitled Using DNA as a Supplement to Traditional Genealogy Research. In this session Julianne covered basic DNA matching and GEDmatch Genesis, a DNA research tool. Julianne provided us with several great charts to help with understanding of the statistics involved with DNA matches. Understanding the statistics helps us determine possible relationship connections and she highly recommended Blaine Bettinger’s book The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy as a must read. Blaine’s book is a wonderful reference to help you further your knowledge base when using DNA in your research. She also pointed out the many Facebook groups available to help you answer questions and advance your knowledge. There are also specific ethnic group sites such as Irish DNA register that you can upload your DNA to in order to further your research.
- I would personally recommend the Facebook groups Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques and The Genealogy Squad to get started.
Cyndi’s List is another great place to look for additional information in whatever area you want to learn more about. There are a variety of on-line sources to find clues when looking for relatives including, but not limited to, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc.
Julianne walked us through one of her ‘brick walls’ using GEDmatch Genesis (also known as GEDMatch) which is a 3rd party tool where you can upload your DNA data to compare with DNA from other testing companies. There are also useful videos to help take advantage of all the information available.
- When looking at my DNA matches on GEDmatch Genesis I found a new match that I was unfamiliar with. I noticed the DNA had been uploaded from Ancestry. I then went to my Ancestry DNA matches and found the person among my matches there as well. When I clicked on shared matches with this person I was able to determine which side of my family she was related to by the people we both match. Then I was able to find her on Facebook and realize who she is. Success! Another verified relationship. Now to try this with some additional matches.
Julianne reminded us to identify a ‘Genealogy Heir’. A person that will carry on our research when we are no longer able to research so our valuable information and research are not ‘lost’.
Thank-you Julianne for giving us a good foundation to work with.
If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,