Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is DNA Testing for You?

I attended the SGS DNA Special Interest Group this morning for the first time. Actually, that's not strictly true. I was present at one of the group's first meetings, but didn't understand much of what was said. The DNA SIG has developed a new format so that both beginners and more advanced genetic genealogists have a chance to learn. They are now meeting quarterly (rather than every other month), but for a longer time period at each meeting. The first hour is for beginners. Today's first hour covered the basics of what the different tests are, what you can expect to learn from them, and who should use which tests. I think I finally know enough to start working on my uncle to get tested. He's the last male in my mother's line and if I don't get him tested, I've lost my only chance to verify that family line.
The second hour went into more detail on how to learn more about genetic genealogy. Cary Bright and Ida McCormick, the co-presenters, provided a great handout with suggested books and websites. It looks to me like there's plenty of material to keep me busy for many, many hours.
At the end of the meeting, a group member talked about his experience with genetic testing--without going into all the technical details. Because he started testing a number of years ago--before many of today's tests were available--he has had to go back and purchase additional DNA testing multiple times.
Unfortunately, these tests cost money.....and not inconsiderable amounts of money, at that. We can all save a little by ordering through the SGS SIG or through a surname or geographic area group.
For the first time I came away from a DNA discussion thinking that I really need to jump on this bandwagon. With family names like Collins, Campbell, and Sharp, I've still got lots of brick walls that pre-date most US records. Hopefully DNA will provide the answers that my record searching has not.

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