DNA testing can fill in gaps in family trees and paper genealogy, says speaker

Written by  Wednesday, 09 May 2018 11:50
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Joyce Fingland, past chair of the Kingston branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, spoke on DNA testing to determine ancestry at the Parham branch of the Kingston Frontenac Library Saturday. Photo/Craig Bakay Joyce Fingland, past chair of the Kingston branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, spoke on DNA testing to determine ancestry at the Parham branch of the Kingston Frontenac Library Saturday. Photo/Craig Bakay

“The kind of testing done for genealogy does not address the complex issues of medical research involved in determining rare genetic disorders,” Joyce Fingland, past chair of the Kingston branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society told those assembled at the Parham branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library Saturday. “So the question is ‘which test and then what?’”

Fingland went over three companies who’ve been offering DNA testing for several years, ancestry.ca, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, outlining the pros and cons of each as well as some newer and smaller companies like MyHeritage and Living DNA.

“The ‘why’ part of it is to supplement paper genealogy,” she said. “It can take you further back in your family history and solve mysteries.”

Fingland said that the information to be gleaned declines rapidly with each generation.

“You’ve inherited very little DNA from your 6th great grandfather,” she said. “So don’t beat yourself up over it too much.”

But, since the companies compile databases and run your test against many others, there’s a good chance you’ll find a match.

And all you have to do is spit in a test tube and send it in. (She did say that there are preservatives in the test tube to help minimize DNA deterioration but don’t wait a year before sending in your sample.)

And there are good chances you’ll connect with 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins who have information you want or are able to verify your paper trail. This can be a big thing for adoptees looking to learn about their birth parents.

Fingland urged those interesting in filling out their family tree to join a project to connect with unknown cousins. She also urged people to test elderly family members who may not be around in a few years.

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