DNA, Paper Trails and Family Story

In the past ten years, I have spent a lot of time dealing with DNA results relating to Family History research. I have also done a lot of traditional genealogy. I have tended to favour DNA or, as it is now called “Genetic Genealogy” as it can help to answer questions which the traditional paper trail research cannot answer. Traditional genealogical research can be restricted by absence of records or lack of access to existing records or just not knowing where to start. So, we turn to DNA to break down “brick walls” in our research.

DNA (Genetic Genealogy) can give information on paternal lines, maternal lines and recent family relationships. I have found it to be a wonderful asset in my research and it is offering more and more as the science and technology evolves. However, it often relies on a genealogical paper trail to interpret and make sense of the results.

Even the paper trail is not the full story!

I was reminded of this last night when I looked at the census records for my great great great grandfather Lewis Jenkins. I knew that he was born near Swansea in 1796 and that his grandson, also called Lewis Jenkins had a provisions store in a small mining village in the Rhondda Valley in Wales. However, I had not paid much attention to the fact that Lewis Jenkins, my great great great grandfather had been a collier in the mining village. His wife had died after a few years of marriage. His son William was a coalminer in the 1851 Census, a “Coalminer and Occupier of 4 acres” in the 1861 Census. He was a labourer in 1871 but by 1881, he was a “Farmer”. William died, aged 67 in 1894, of “chronic bronchitis and emphysemia and exhaustion”. William’s son, Lewis was a Grocer’s Assistant in the 1881 Census and married the Grocer’s daughter in 1888. In the 1891 Census, Lewis was in charge of the Grocer’s Shop.

Jenkins shop

The real story is the day to day life of the family, of which the paper trail is a mere chronological listing. DNA provides a glimpse at the molecular level as an aid to filling in gaps. Photos, diaries, family lore etc. help to flesh out the clinical analysis. Let us not forget this.

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Successful Genetic Genealogy Ireland Conference 2013

The Genetic Genealogy Ireland Conference 2013(GGI Conference 2013), held in Dublin, was very successful. Here is a link to videos of the excellent lectures, which were given by the presenters over the three days.

Family Tree DNA had a stall at the conference and ISOGG volunteers worked hard dealing with enquiries. I hope to see more DNA testing in Ireland as a result of the highlighting the benefits of genetic genealogy in family history.

Family Tree DNA stall at GGI Conference

Family Tree DNA at GGI 2013

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Genetic Genealogy Ireland Conference in October 2013!

In October 2013, Ireland will have its first Genetic Genealogy Conference. This will take place as part of the Back to Our Past event in the RDS, Dublin, from the 18th to the 20th October 2013. The conference is a 3-day series of DNA lectures kindly sponsored by Family Tree DNA and organised by the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG).

Topics will include:

Using DNA to break down Brick Walls in your own family tree research
The 3 main DNA tests – which one is best for you?
The DNA signatures of specific Irish surnames
What does DNA tell us about the Irish Clans?
How DNA can help pinpoint your ancestral Irish homeland
Using DNA to connect adoptees with their biological families
What DNA reveals about the migration of peoples into and out of Ireland

Here is a link giving further information:
Geneatic Genealogy Conference 2013

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Link to Information on Sales at Family Tree DNA (June 2013)

Here is a link to a blog which summarises the latest sale prices from Family Tree DNA:

CeCe Moore’s blog

There is so much going on in genetic genealogy, it is difficult to keep up! There is now a new y-chromosome sequencing test. See Y-Chromosome Sequencing for details.

Here is a link to The Legal genealogist’s blog where she lists the top genetic genealogy blogs. [added 15th July 2013]

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Autosomal DNA testing – A Few Thoughts from Ireland

Several companies do autosomal DNA testing for genealogical purposes including Family Tree DNA, Ancestry.com23andMe and the Genographic Project Geno 2.0. ISOGG has a very useful comparison chart put together by Tim Janzen: ISOGG Autosomal DNA Comparison Chart.

I have used Family Tree DNA for my family, a friend has tested with 23andMe and a relative in the USA has tested with Ancestry.com. So, I am most familiar with Family Tree DNA.

As a person living in Ireland some issues come to mind:

Ancestry.com does not send kits outside of the USA. 23andMe attracts a lot of people who test for medical reasons as this is built into their testing. Also, although the 23andMe Relative Finder kits are relatively less expensive than others, there is an incredibly large postage applied to mailing kits to Europe. Family Tree DNA kits are more expensive but postage is less. So, living in Ireland, I can’t get an Ancestry.com kit. A kit from 23andMe is $99+$80 (approx) giving an approx total of $179 (approx). Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder autosomal DNA test is$99+$6 postage (for outside the USA). The Geno 2.0 kit which is available worldwide is $199.95 plus a shipping charge of $20 (as per the chart on ISOGG). Note prices change over time and should be checked.

GEDmatch.com is a voluntarily run website where you can upload autosomal DNA results from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and also Ancestry.com. This website is as vital to autosomal DNA testing as Ysearch is to yDNA testing. So, Gedmatch enables people from many of the various testing companies to compare results with others who have also uploaded their autosomal results to it.

Some websites and blogs which would be of benefit in the decision about which test and which company to use are:

Testing Advisor
DNA Explained

It is a minefield for the unitiated but price and availability are two critical factors for those of us who are not in the USA!

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Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy Interests

I have been involved in genealogical research for many years. However, I have also been interested in genetic genealogy for over twelve years and enjoy dealing with yDNA and autosomal DNA in family history research.

While I still have an interest in traditional genealogical research, my main interest lies in using DNA in family history research. I am a volunteer administrator of two y-DNA projects at Family Tree DNA.

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Cork City Libraries Calendar 2013

I think it was a great idea of Cork City Libraries and Cork City Council, to produce a calendar for 2013, using old black and white photographs of Cork City. The images in the calendar are from the Day Photographic Collection, held in the Irish Architectural Archive.

The intoduction on the first page of the calendar states:

The images in this calendar are from the Day Photographic Collection, held in the Irish Architectural Archive. The Alec R. Day ARPS Collection was placed in the Irish Architectural Archive by Mrs Raymonde Day in 1981. Alec Day (1902-1980) was a prominent Cork business man with a lifelong interest in photography. He was a founder member of the Cork Camera Club in 1932. The collection contains about 1,500 negatives on both glass plate and 35mm film stock. The photographs were taken by Alec day, by his uncle John Day (d. 1926) and his grandfather, the antiquarian Robert Day (1836-1914). The Cork Camera Club collection is part of the photographic collections held by the Cork City Libraries.

Cork City Libraries Calendar

Cork City Libraries Calendar

The calendar is only €3 to purchase!

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