Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BOOT CAMP 13 - DNA or Not

Have you thought about having your DNA tested? Have you wondered how it would help you in your research? Well, that was my question. A couple of months ago my husband and I decided to have our DNA tested. I had no idea what to expect or how it might help me. In this Boot Camp, I thought I would tell you some of the things I learned about DNA testing and maybe it will help you make that decision about taking the DNA test.

I will try to keep this short (even though that may not be possible) and try to explain the program as simply as I can. I have watched and read a lot about DNA testing so I am starting to understand it a little bit. First, let me explain our DNA like one of the videos I watched. I think it makes it very simple and understandable.

We are going to use fruit. Let's say your dad has inherited Apples, Bananas, Grapefruit, and Watermelon. Your mother inherited Oranges, Grapes, Mangoes, and Peaches. You inherited from your father Bananas and Apples and Peaches and Grapes from your mother, . Your brother inherited from your father Watermelon and Grapefruit and from your mother, Peaches and Oranges. Your sister inherited Apples and Watermelon from your dad and Oranges and Mangoes from your mother.  Do you get the picture? DNA does not split and go to each child but a whole DNA will go to one child and might not go to another. So with this in mind, this would be one reason for several family members to have their DNA tested. It would give you a more complete picture of your ethnicity.

Taking the test is a little gross but easy. You place your order (there are several companies that do testing and charge different amounts - I used Ancestry because I felt they were one of the largest and cheaper). You will get a package in the mail, follow the directions (spit into a tube, shake it with some solution in the tube, drop it into the return package, and mail it - postage already paid). Then you wait - 6-8 weeks normally. In the meantime, go online and register. You will have been given a number that will let you register. This is where it gets a little confusing. You do not have to be a full member of Ancestry but for the full benefits, it helps. Members of the church have available to them a free membership so make sure you log in and take advantage of that. Once that is done, it also helps to have your family tree on Ancestry. You can make a gedcom (ask your FHC staff for assistance) and download that (you don't have to but why not take full advantage of this program).

So you get your results. The first thing you will see when you log in is a pie (Which I couldn't get the picture to appear but beside it is the breakdown of the pie).

 33% Ireland
 27% Scandinavia
 16% Great Britain
 6 More regions

You will also see a link to those that are related to you - immediate family to distant cousins.

So with the pie, you will get a rough estimate of your ethnicity. Your siblings may get something slightly different and that is why it is nice to get all of your family to take the test. You can then compare the similarities and differences to get a more complete picture of your ethnicity. If your parents are alive, it would be helpful for you to have them take the test so you can better determine which DNA is from your mother and which is from your father. (By the way, Ancestry does a test for male and female. Some tests are for one or the other.)

Now using the relationship connections, you can begin working through lines to further your family tree. For instance, I have a surname of Troutt. My ancestors (that I know of) were in Virginia but I knew there was a line in Tennessee. I never could connect them but through this DNA, I have found that connection. I can now communicate with that cousin and hopefully will be able to attach them to my ancestor and move further back in my lines.  It does take time and patience to do this kind of research but it is well worth it. My mother's line had tons of people who have submitted their DNA so I think researching her lines will be much easier than for my dad. We have since taken by mom's DNA and are currently waiting for the results.

A special note, Ancestry is constantly improving their research and these improvements will benefit us. As they find more relatives or connections on my pedigree chart, they pass that info along to me. So don't forget to keep checking back to your results as you may find new relatives that have recently had their test or through new technology, you might get a more refined ethnicity chart.

So is taking a DNA test worth it, in my opinion, YES! I got a more precise knowledge of my roots and now have more people to communicate with in my research.

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