Monday, October 11, 2010

NOT SO NEWBIE ANY MORE- DNA "Newbie": A New Genealogy Research Tool For An Old Researcher

Copyright 2015, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

**Updated comments as of 2015:  Since this post was originally published ln 2010, I have done Autosomal and MtDNA testing with all 3 of the major DNA for genealogy testing companies; which is Family Tree DNA, 23AndMe DNA, and Ancestry DNA.  I have also found distant YDNA cousins in my paternal direct line who have taken the test for our mutual Harrison lineage. The testing and results have enabled me to find and network with new DNA cousins who share family history with me within 5 generations, and farther back, on both the materanl and paternal sides of my tree. We have exchanged family tree info. It has not yet been able to provide the clues needed to break down a proverbial "Brick Wall" in my Harrison paternal line 5 generations back, but the YDNA results and participation is the Harrison YDNA Patriarchs project did indicate which other tested lines we are not related to, by comparing our results to the other tested lines. This has proved very useful, as it does eliminate "barking up the wrong tree" and spending time researching lines that we are not actually genetically related to. **

Below is the original post, from when I was truly a "newbie" to genetic genealogy 5 years ago:

Copyright 2010, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

Today I received my Ancestry Family-Finder Autosomal DNA test results and report via email, along with my MtDNA (maternal) results and report. The reports arrived several weeks earlier than anticipated. I checked email this morning, thinking I would spend 15 minutes reading and deleting messages, replying to a couple, and move on to other business. Instead, I have spent the better part of a day, and now well into the evening, trying to decipher my DNA reports. This occasion is momentous enough to warrant this Blog entry. I haven't written in my genealogy Blog in a few weeks, sidetracked as I often am with "life" happening in the here and now. Today is different.

This DNA for genealogy thing is an exciting new world to me. New doors are already opened to explore. Already, I have heard from one of my DNA "matches" via email, before I even had a chance to contact her as intended later tonight. She is inquiring about a mutual ancestral surname that we share: Burgess. She is excited to find a new HVR2 match in me, as am I to find her. We are 3rd cousins; so the reports tell us. We hope to exchange useful family tree information with each other. Now, I just need to learn the significance of what all those HVR2 and HVR1 matches mean. I need to learn about Cambridge Reference Sequence mutations, Halpogroups and sub-groups, and all kinds of scientific stuff. I need to learn to identity myself by my DNA segments and HVR1 and HVR2 mutations when I sign onto the DNA message boards, to hook up with potential "cousins" for shared research. I made a little joke to myself today that it sounds like they are talking about various strains of flu viruses, not their own personal DNA makeup and markers. Soon though, I will have my DNA mutations (sequence of letters and numbers) memorized so that I can rattle it off the top of my head without thinking, like I do my name or social security number. Something tells me this is the wave of the future; and that all of us "genealogy geeks" are the forerunners of a whole new method of identity proof that will become commonplace for everyone in the not so distant future. Our grandchildren will no doubt carry around a wallet card as adults that identifies their DNA markers, right along with their drivers license and social security cards...or maybe their DNA information will be imbeded in a halogram on their driver's license. The new fingerprint: DNA . Already people are worried about security issues with their DNA. (How can someone steal my DNA and pass it off as their own? It seems ridiculous that they might even want to. I don't even worry about it).

Today I have discovered half a dozen "new" potential 3rd cousins who appear to share a significant portion of matching DNA with me; along with a couple of dozen potential 4th cousins and a few potential 5th cousins. We all share varying degrees of matching DNA in various segments. It is hoped this will be a useful tool for breaking down brick walls in my paternal lineage 5 generations back, as well as to help support and prove my maternal lineage several generations back.

I am an experienced genealogist and researcher with about 20 years of "old school" research under my belt. However, I am a complete novice at using DNA as a genealogy tool. I hardly know where to begin. I have narrowed the list of "matches" from the initial report, and will contact a few of them and see where it leads. I hope this puts me on the brink of new discoveries, and proving some theories or disproving some other theories. It does require collaboration and the exchange of information. I am happy to share my DNA results info with other genealogists.

Maybe some of you following my Blog who are proficient genealogy DNA researchers can provide me with some helpful hints. I will record some of my discoveries and blunders in this Blog as I find my path in the DNA world. I think I will need to keep lots of coffee and chocolates handy for the next few weeks as I delve into this new world.