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We are entering a DNA era of genealogy. Most genealogists have either taken a DNA test or are planning on it. Our new book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy is selling like hot cakes.
A lot of people are still not sure if they need to use genetic genealogy in their family tree. If you’re curious about DNA testing and what you can get out of it, Blaine Bettinger’s blog The Genetic Genealogist should be your go-to resource.
Blaine Bettinger is the author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Below is a part of a blog he wrote, titled The DNA Era of Genealogy.
When does DNA prove a relationship? When is a triangulation group sufficiently large enough to prove descent from an ancestral couple? When is a shared DNA segment large enough to prove someone is your first (or second/third/fourth, etc.) cousin? At what point does the DNA prove that I am descended from Samuel Snell? When does the DNA prove that you’ve found your great-grandmother’s biological parents?
And this is, perhaps, one of the greatest misconceptions in the post-DNA era of genealogy.
What is Proof?
Genealogy is the study of lives and relationships. Accordingly, genealogists spend much of their time identifying, hypothesizing, supporting, and sometimes rejecting, relationships.
Unless you have direct knowledge of a relationship (and even sometimes when you do), you identify relationships using evidence that you’ve gathered from multiple different sources (including DNA, census, land, tax, vital, and many other types of records).
At some point, you will determine that a relationship for which you’ve gathered evidence is sufficiently established or confirmed. That is a determination that you make personally based on your knowledge of genealogical methodology, your knowledge of the available records, the evidence you’ve identified, and more.
But you must also convince others that the relationship is sufficiently established or confirmed. Whether “others” are family members, blog readers, or a child going through your research when you’re gone, someday someone will be evaluating that relationship and the evidence you gathered support it. It is a loss to the entire world if no one ever evaluates that relationship.
Read the rest of Blaine’s blog at The Genetic Genealogist