Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Comments on Becoming an Excellent Genealogist -- Chapter Thirteen

This is an ongoing series of chapter by chapter comments on the book,

Meyerink, Kory L., Tristan Tolman, and Linda K. Gulbrandsen. Becoming an Excellent Genealogist: Essays on Professional Research Skills. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: ICAPGen, 2012.

I am now commenting on Chapter 13, "Using DNA to Find Immigrant Origins" by Nathan W. Murphey, MA, AG.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the connection between a DNA study and traditional paper genealogy. In this relatively short chapter, Nathan has given a concise and persuasive explanation of how and why a DNA study can assist in advancing genealogical research without overlooking the need to follow a more traditional pattern. In discussing both the advantages and limitations of DNA investigation, he has taken a middle road that both acknowledges those advantages while, at the same time, not ignoring the limitations.

DNA studies have become the popular topic of genealogy conferences. At #RootsTech 2015, there are 8 separate classes planned on the subject of DNA testing. Here is one class description that gives an idea of the current attitude about the subject:
It is all the rage, this DNA testing for genealogy. But what can it tell you? Even more importantly, what CAN’T it tell you? Learn the basics of DNA testing, and walk away with confidence in this area of research.
Nathan expands on this need to examine both aspects in his introduction to the subject, quoting from page 129:
Researchers interested in soundly accomplishing this task will benefit from taking an interdisciplinary approach by combining evidence gleaned from genealogical, genetic. and surname studies. Genealogical skills will be required to us accurately document pedigrees in the countries of origin and destination and track down qualified living descendants of historical figures to participate. An adequate understanding of Y-chromosome DNA testing (which is not complicated as it may sound) will be needed to interpret participants' results. Knowledge of surnames and their frequencies, distributions, and meanings will also help researchers select the most appropriate immigrants to study.
It is the need to "track down" qualified descendants who have a qualified ancestor that seems to the be the major limiting factor. The accuracy of any DNA testing procedure cannot overcome the inability to find people who fit within the parameters established by the research. As the quote indicates, there is a need to approach the subject by using surname studies and other seeming more mundane methods to validate the DNA test results.

The methodology discussed in the chapter are a far cry from the far too common more casual approach to DNA testing. The chapter ends with a list of the specific steps necessary to establish a valid study. This type of article adequately fulfills the book's objective of helping the reader become an excellent genealogist.

As usual, the articles in this helpful book are a jumping off place for a great deal of discussion and further investigation. Here is a summary of the articles so far:

No comments:

Post a Comment