A Link to the Past: Genealogy & DNA
Recently there has been a push for people to identify their DNA characteristics relating to their heritage and genealogy. Many companies will mail you a DNA kit (usually a swab for your mouth) which you will complete and mail back to them. Within a few weeks or months, depending on their turnaround, you could receive the results of your DNA test which may answer questions you have or further inform your genealogy work. But what is the role of DNA testing in genealogy?
Ethnicity is one of the first and easiest things to determine from your DNA sample. If you’ve lived in the United States for a long time, have a foggy ancestry, were adopted, or suspect that you might have some other lines of ethnicity in your blood you may be interested in testing your DNA to reveal your past. Some people are surprised to find Asian or Latin American roots along with the Scandinavian heritage they always knew about.
Another helpful use of DNA in genealogy is to certify your educated guesses. If there’s a missing link in your family and you think you may have found the right piece of the puzzle then DNA testing can resolve the issue. If a living descendant is found and willing, you can compare your DNA to theirs to answer if they are related to you. This can be particularly helpful if you’ve hit a dead end but filling in a blank could help reignite your genealogical work. Often genealogists can use this when a child is born to unmarried parents, so the father was never connected to the child through documentation, but is suspected of being the parent. By connecting current day living relatives you may be able to determine a missing branch of the family tree.
If your family line goes back incredibly far then you may even be able to guess the migration patterns and development of your earliest ancestors in Africa and the Middle East – the Cradle of Civilization! Haplogroups are some of these early societies, and through matrilineal DNA scientists and genealogists have been able to determine some of the migration and societal patterns of ancient groups.
These DNA tests are, of course, optional and sometimes expensive. If you feel you know your genetic history well then you may never have a need of them. But whether you get DNA testing or not you may want to do your very best at conventional genealogical research first. Even if you do need to resort to DNA testing you will be better informed and be able to understand and actually use your DNA information to help your family and future genealogy work. Calling professional genealogists can be a great place to start if you’re a beginner, or an excellent resource if you’ve found yourself facing a tricky family history. The professionals at Price Genealogy have tools, training, and a fierce appreciation for genealogy that can help you discover your family. There is no issue too small or too challenging, and whether you use DNA testing or not – they offer the best services to help.