Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Thursday, January 2, 2014

DNA Answers at the ISOGG Website

Brouwer Genealogy's resolution for 2014 is to focus more time and effort on expanding the level of awareness of Y-DNA testing as one of the many tools used for genealogical research, and to increase awareness of the Brewer DNA Project. The objective is to get more Brewers, Browers, Brouwers and Bruers, of various ancestries, to join the Brewer DNA Project by taking a Y-DNA test. A good place to start would be to introduce to those who are new to Y-DNA testing, to the website of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). I would add that this resource should also be of interest to those who have already taken Y-DNA (and other genetic tests). It will help anyone better understand the concepts and science behind genetic testing, and help newcomers get a better understanding of what to expect from the reported results from the various genetic tests.

The ISOGG was founded in 2005 (the same year the Brewer DNA Project was launched). As stated on the website, "the mission of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy is to advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists." Membership is not required to utilize the resources that are available on, or through the website. I am not a member. 

Mentioned in the ISOGG's mission statement is the desire to educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research. A good place for a newcomer, or for anyone wishing to refresh themselves on the basics, is with the "For Newbies" page, accessible from the tabs on the left of the main page. This page has eight links, all of which a new comer to genetic genealogy should take time to explore. Your education starts with this page.

On the "For Newbies" page, the one link that deserves to be highlighted is the "DNA-NEWBIE Educational Components" link. There are twenty-one lessons here, so start with number one which covers the basics. The link here will take you off site to a page called As you scroll down, the first group of links is your basic education to cell biology and DNA replication. There is a lot here, and it is understandable for someone new to genetic genealogy to want to skip over it and just get to the results of their own genetic test. But, if you are taking a Y-DNA test yourself, or investing in a male relation to take one for the purpose of using the results to help solve a genealogy problem or to establish a genealogical relationship, then you should at least read, and bookmark, the page titled, Molecular Genealogy. This page will give you the basics for understanding why we use Y-DNA testing in genetic genealogy. 

Animation of Rotating DNA Structure

Despite having just suggested a short-cut, I still recommend anyone and everyone who is considering a genetic test, to spend the time and make the effort to learn about the concepts behind the tests. In the long run you will be better off for it. Finally, many of the various genetic tests offered by the various testing companies are not cheap. Someone considering taking one has to weigh the monetary cost versus what they hope to learn from their test results, and just how valuable those results will be. I think it is advisable for anyone new to this aspect of genealogical research, to invest the time in some basic understanding of this relatively new tool of genealogical research, before investing their money. The ISOGG website is an excellent place to start.

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