Your Guide to DNA and Genealogy
DNA is not just for scientists any more! Genealogists are using DNA as evidence to establish -- or disprove -- a lineage.
Y Chromosome DNA is passed father to son; you must have a straight male line for this test to be useful. Female descendants can make use of this only by asking a brother, cousin, father or some other established male relative tested. Surname studies are built on Y chromosome DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed mother to child... male or female... so can be useful to determine if a female ancestor is the same for any two people, but because women change surname on marrriage, can't be used for surname studies. Because mitochondrial DNA is more stable, it can be used to determine ethnic place of origin of the maternal line.
Autosomal DNA tests are offered; they trace deep anceestry, which is certainly of interest to the genealogist. Results also can connect you to other individual genealogists, but it can be a job to untangle the points of connection.
If the surname is carried by the male, by definition a surname project will be a Y-DNA project and can only be followed through the testing of males. There are ongoing efforts to use these projects to separate out lines that share a surname, but are not related. If you are a direct male descendant (or related to a direct male descendant) of the surname you are searching, a Y-DNA test from the direct male descendant might resolve a genealogical puzzle or confirm an established line.
And you should be aware of this organization--
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These books vary greatly in their focus. Be sure to read the description before purchasing. Or.. if there is not a copy in a library near you (put your zip code in the location box on the "find in a library" link to find out) ask your librarian to get a copy on interlibrary loan.
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Created by Bobbie Snow
This page last updated April 12, 2014
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