The Role of Ancestry DNA Testing and Genealogical Research

dna testing for ancestry

One of the more exciting new products that are proving to be useful to genealogy research is DNA testing for ancestry. I’m constantly amazed at not only how far DNA testing has come over the past 5-10 years, but also at how more and more genealogists are incorporating such tests into their research.

Why DNA Testing?

My first exposure to DNA testing, like most people, was over 10 years ago and it was in relation to news about court cases and crime scene investigations. Over the years the technology involved has improved to the point of not only offering better and more exact results, but also lowering the price of DNA testing.

Here are some reasons why you might want to conduct your own DNA test or have someone in your family participate in a test:

  • To increase your knowledge about the origins of your ancestors and their history dating back thousands of years, for you and your children.
  • Need to know: for persons that have very limited or no information at all about their relatives, such as in the case of adoption.
  • As a scientific tool: to confirm or clarify information obtained through genealogy research.
  • As a gift : tracing their ancestry can be an unusual and fascinating gift to friends, relatives and loved ones.

Types of DNA Tests

If you are new to the world of using DNA testing to assist in your family history research, here are some of the types of tests available:

  • Ancestral-focused Test: DNA tests focused on your ancestry allows you to track your genetic links to others around the globe and provides the easiest to understand results. Many tests come with a detailed report along with an ancestry map and other visual tools. A DNA test focused on tracing the origins of a person’s ancestry also makes a great gift and is a fun way to get family members involved and interested in family history.
  • Paternal Lineage Test: You can trace the history of your father’s side of the family going back thousands of years with a paternal lineage test. While you won’t see the names of all those ancestors, you will find out more about the origins of your ancestors, where they lived and their migration patterns.
  • Maternal Lineage Test: Looking at mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through the generations by a mother to both her female and male children, you can also determine the origins of your ancestors and again, their migration patterns.

How Can a DNA Test Help Your Genealogy Research?

To be honest, a DNA test is not going to automatically solve all those family history mysteries that you’ve been working on for years. However, just like any other resource, the results can direct you to other areas where you may need to focus.

An example: if test results indicated that you had a certain percentage of Asian or African-American heritage and your genealogy research doesn’t (yet) reflect that heritage. A surprise? Yes, but it also means you may need to go back and look at your prior research in certain areas.

One of the more exciting features of DNA testing is the ability to locate others with similar results, something I call “cousin connecting.” Wouldn’t it be neat if you could find distant cousins with whom you share a common heritage and then work on researching family history together?

Also keep in mind that due to various factors, some record sets have simply disappeared over time or, as in some cultures, family records were not written but part of oral history. Thankfully with DNA testing we can now work to prove or disprove some of our research theories in the absence of records and other resources typically relied upon by genealogists.

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Reel Genie Wants Your Input – Win a $125 Capital Grille Gift Card!

Reel Tributes

David Adelman, one of the founders of Reel Tributes, is looking for input from the genealogy and family history community about a new product called Reel Genie. Take the survey here and you could win a $500 discount on a Reel Tributes production as well as a $125 gift card to a Capital Grille restaurant.

I’m excited about the Reel Genie concept and I don’t want to “let the genie out of the bottle” . . . but take the survey and you will get a good idea of what this exciting new product will feature.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Jocelyn Salada and Georgia Higher Education Resource Query – Did You Get An Email Like This?

online schools

And the spamming “let’s exchange links” aka “here’s recognition for your blog” aka “we have an award for your blog” game continues!

The Pitch From Online Schools

Have any of our members of GeneaBloggers or other bloggers received the following email from Jocelyn Salada lately?

From: Jocelyn Salada [mailto:jocelynsalada99@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 1:23 AM
To: there
Subject: Georgia Higher Education Resource Query

Hi there,

I had a question about the listed college and career web resources for prospective students on the http://www.geneabloggers.com/genealogy-blogging-beat-sunday-february-12-2012 website. I would love to hear back from you, and if there is someone else I should be emailing, could you direct me to the appropriate contact?

Of course your results may vary.  These spammers are oh-so-clever at using different names, different emails, etc.  Same baloney, just dressed up with different condiments.

Why Was I Suspicious?

For you new bloggers and perhaps all bloggers, here is why I got suspicious . . . first, the email was addressed to “there” as in Hi There.  LOL.  Really?

Second, I went and looked at the link at GeneaBloggers and there was no reference to “college and career web resources for prospective students.”  I knew this already.  I figure Jocleyn tried to leave a spammy comment on the post, but WordPress let’s me disable commenting on any post older than 14 days at GeneaBloggers. I give Jocelyn an “A” for effort.

I Took The Bait – Sort Of

I figured I’d play along, so I emailed back and told Jocelyn I was interest.  I was surprised it took two days to get back to me, but here is what I got:

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for your response. I’m emailing to see how an online project that I’ve been working on for that past year can be included and shared as a resource for students and parents on your website. This resource, is a compilation of every college program offered online in Georgia that is offered full and part time.

For the past year, we’ve been crawling through thousands of college catalogs to compile this information because many students that visit our website have requested a directory of all college programs that they can take online apart from the more well known online schools.  Many of our students didn’t even know that their local colleges offer many online programs until this database was built!

This database will be updated yearly and will always remain free and open.  Higher education for all students is a passion of mine, and passing knowledge to what types of programs exist out there in hopes that students will find a higher education program that excites them is our goal. I hope that your school, counselors, advisors, parents and students will find it useful.

So far, school districts and high schools throughout the State of Georgia have added the project as a resource for their students and parents to refer too. If you think it could be of use and value to those who visit your site, I would be honored it you would also add a link to the page for others to refer to.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

Jocelyn

Just as I suspected – a link exchange.  Also Jocelyn sent me some links that I could add to my blog if I wanted to. As you can see I am not using any Online Schools links so as not to send them “link juice.”

I told Jocelyn that I wasn’t interested, that I didn’t do link exchanges and that I would make sure I put the word out at my blogging community.

Don’t Buy Into Link Exchanges

Recently I had someone tell me that asking for link exchanges was not a black hat SEO technique.  Whether it is or isn’t doesn’t matter – I still think it is sleazy and I still won’t accept a link from a website that doesn’t deal directly with genealogy or from a company about which I know nothing.  I also take a dim view to companies that just do “cold calling” via email.

All that these sites are doing – and the online school type sites do it all the time – is this: they are trying to game the system over at Google and other search engines to get a higher page rank by building links to their sites.  They don’t care if you are selling genealogy or polished dinosaur turds that look like jewelry.  They’ll take anything – they aren’t picky. I call them Link Sluts.

Remember that you can’t control the site to which you link, so who knows what kind of content one of these sites will put up in the future.  Make sure you know who you are linking to and the best way to build you niche is to keep the focus on your direct subject matter, such as genealogy.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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