“To DNA or not DNA that is the question”
As a keen amateur genealogist, you can’t fail to have noticed the explosion in recent years of DNA testing and its surge in popularity amongst family historians.
The question is though, “is it for you?”
What are the benefits to you in your research?
Are you a sceptic and a cynic and find the thought of taking a DNA test slightly intrusive?
Now this blog is by no means an educational blog that will explain the intricacies’ of DNA testing. Far from it.
I am also not here to explain the various tests that are commercially available and neither will I explain the pros and cons of all the various commercially available testing sites. There are far more very informative blogs available online and several great blogs and guides on the Family Tree Magazine Website itself.
What I hope to do here, is to encourage you to overcome your concerns and scepticism, to the value of DNA testing to family historians, and hopefully, help you to take the next step and encourage you to at least look into the merits of taking a DNA test yourself.
So let’s wind the clock back say to the 1990’s, who wasn’t nervous about using the internet back then? Who didn’t find the internet intrusive? How many of us were worried or concerned about online banking? Of course, the majority of us were both nervous and sceptical.
Now although we are mindful and cautious of how we use the internet, it’s now such an accepted part of our daily lives that we almost take it for granted.
So what is there to lose by taking a DNA test? Or put another way and more importantly, what’s to gain by taking a DNA test?
Again I am not for one minute suggesting that taking a DNA test will replace the tried and trusted methods of genealogy that we all know and use, but what I am suggesting is that a DNA test can become another “tool” in your Family History Armoury.
For me there have been two defining moments in Genealogy and Family Tree research, the first being arrival of the internet and the instant accessibility to records online and the second is now upon us, DNA Testing!
So why not be a part of the revolution!
So what can DNA testing “do for you”.
In simple terms it can match you with a “new cousin” that you might not have been able to connect to via conventional methods. This could potentially open up new doors for you and they might be able to pass on or add value to your existing tree. They could provide you with that vital missing piece of information that you have been searching for to enable you to knock down that dreaded brick wall.
DNA Databases are growing at a phenomenal rate; Ancestry has already topped over 15 million, so the possibility of finding a match is increasing every week. Not only that, you have always got the potential of making new matches as more and more carry out DNA tests in the future. So in many ways its “future proofing”.
Most of the larger commercial sites have reduced their charges dramatically in the last two years, meaning that testing is now more affordable.
Also consider that you are leaving behind a legacy for future generations. This can be your way of “doing your bit” for the future generations who follow in our footsteps. Also consider persuading older generations to take a test:
DNA Testing also provides you with an ethnicity estimate, although this is a broad estimate only and cannot be taken too literally, it can be used as a good guide. For example if you were unaware of Italian ancestry, this could be highlighted as part of your ethnicity estimate.
DNA Testing can be used to confirm whether a paper trail is correct or not, it can confirm whether what you perceive is correct, is actually correct. It can prove and disprove a theory that paper evidence cannot prove either way.
There have been concerns in recent years over privacy issues with the DNA website GedMatch and quite rightly so, further reading on the GEDMatch issue can be found here.
I will save the simplest reason until last, it can also prove and confirm what you already know via the conventional methods and provide you with the genealogist’s holy grail “genealogical proof”.
So having weighed up all the evidence, just ask yourself “is there a reason not take a DNA test?”
Be a part of the DNA revolution, DNA testing is not going away, so why not consider taking a test today, it might just be the best thing you do genealogically this year.
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