One of the most rapidly advancing areas of genealogy and family history research is genetic genealogy. Millions of people all over the world have gotten involved in using the most cutting edge tools to better understand their family history and discover more ancestors.
The world of genetic genealogy can be overwhelming. Where do you start?
We compiled a short list of resources to help you get started. There's a lot to learn about genetic genealogy, but the great news is that there are many experts out there who are very skilled at teaching the basics to those of us who are new to the scene.
These resources will help you get a better understanding of what discoveries are possible with DNA testing—they'll be useful for intermediate and advanced genetic genealogists too!
Before getting started, learn about the advantages and possible pitfalls of testing. One of the most important matters is considering privacy concerns—so read in full the terms and conditions before clicking "accept." DNA testing—as well as traditional research—can reveal secrets.
DNA Basics (video series)
The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center has a series of fantastic videos on the most basic aspects of DNA and genetics.
If you're very interested in the science of genetics and want a broad background of understanding before focusing on DNA and genealogy specifically, visit their Basic Genetics page.
If you want to get to the genealogically pertinent information right away, we recommend going straight to the Molecular Genealogy series page.
These brief videos offer an essential overview of the four types of DNA, which you will hear mentioned frequently in the world of genetic genealogy.
The Genetic Genealogist (blog, book)
Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., JD, has been writing about and exploring genetic genealogy since the earliest days of the field's development. His blog, The Genetic Genealogist, is one of the most widely read on the topic and may be the best place to go for coverage the most up to date developments in the field, and many interesting posts about DNA and genealogy. In such a rapidly developing area, it's important for everyone—even beginners—to keep up with the current trends.
Beginners may want to check out his recent book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, which was revised in 2019.
Blaine presented several NYG&B webinars that NYG&B members can watch on-demand in our webinar library.
He also recently joined NYG&B President D. Joshua Taylor to discuss genetic genealogy and immigration on Facebook live—you can watch the full video below.
Blaine Bettinger's Recent Interview with the NYG&B and Ellis Island Foundation on Facebook
Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy (web course)
Kelly Wheaton, an active member of the genetic genealogy community and a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists, has created an often-shared 19-lesson web course that is fantastic for beginner and intermediate genetic genealogists alike. Click here to visit the Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy.
This is primarily a text-based course and is written in easy to follow language that makes learning this intimidating subject seem like a breeze. Each lesson is filled with links, charts and other useful resources that readers are encouraged to explore.
Unless you're highly motivated, this isn't the kind of course that can be realistically be completed in one session—it's worth exploring one lesson at a time, and even reading key lessons more than once. After completing the course, you will undoubtedly have a very firm grasp on the entire subject.
DNA: Connecting Your Ancestors to the Records (Ancestry Academy video course)
If you have an Ancestry Academy account, you will definitely want to watch DNA: Connecting Your Ancestors to the Records, taught by Angie Bush, MS. Angie has years of experience in the biotech field, as well as years of experience as a professional genealogist. She currently serves as the Region 1 Director for the National Genealogical Society and chair of its genetic genealogy committee, in addition to her role as a genetic genealogist researcher with AncestryProGenealogists.
This unique combination makes her a fantastic resource for all things genetic genealogy, and her course will serve as an excellent foundation.
She is leading two online classes at the 2020 New York State Family History Conference (September 10–October 15) and also participating in a live Q&A session.
If you're an intermediate and are familiar with GEDMatch—a free website where people can compare autosomal DNA results from a wide variety of testing companies—Angie has a great YouTube tutorial on using the site. Click here to watch.
International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki
There are so many more resources available for learning about DNA and genealogy, and we can't possibly outline them all. For our last resource, we would like to let you know about one of the best central repositories for genetic genealogy learning and education—the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki.
This wiki is a treasure trove for beginner, intermediate and advanced genetic genealogists alike. There is an excellent section that lists recommended resources for beginners. The ISOGG website is also worth exploring as well—and if you really get into DNA and genealogy, you will definitely want to consider joining the society!
We hope these resources help you dive into the exciting world of genetic genealogy.
About the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
Since 1869, our mission has been to help our thousands of worldwide members discover their family's New York story, and there has never been a better time to join.
The cost of an Individual Annual Membership is less than six dollars a month, and includes the following benefits:
- Access to over 50 exclusive digital record sets covering the entire state of New York, including the fully searchable archives of The Record.
- A complimentary subscription to all of Findmypast's North American records, as well as U.K. and Irish Census records.
- Access to hundreds of expert-authored Knowledge Base articles and webinars to help you navigate the tricky New York research landscape.
- Exclusive discounts and advanced access to conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures to learn more about researching people and places across New York State.
To learn more or join us, please visit our member benefits page.