DNA Day is on April 25. It commemorates the day in 1953 when Watson and Crick published a model of the double-helix structure of DNA in the scientific journal, Nature. Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction images of DNA and research contributed to their discovery.
We love to celebrate DNA Day, too! The innovation and advancements in direct-to-consumer DNA tests and tools give us the opportunity to bring our family history research to levels that could only be dreamt of for millenia. Imagine if records existed that easily and quickly identified all of our ancestors back through the centuries. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!
We can’t time travel to ask our ancestors questions about their heritage (although I dream of this, too). Countless records about our ancestors’ identities and lives have been lost. But a source exists within ourselves, our relatives, and our living ancestors that can bridge some of the gap of time and difficult-to-find records. The source is DNA, and DNA testing companies help open the way for us to identify relatives and ancestors, and locate records that help us prove who our missing ancestors are.
In honor of DNA Day, here is a brief timeline with key milestones that highlight the progress of DNA discovery and the accessibility of genetic genealogy information.
Additional Important Dates
2000 – Family Tree DNA launched Y-DNA tests using 12 short tandem repeat (STR) markers at locations in the Y-chromosome that have repeated motifs. The Y-DNA reports list the number of times the motif is repeated, and list people who share similar values at the marker locations.
2007 – 23andMe launched their genetic test. Customers send a saliva sample from which DNA is extracted and genotyped. This company was the first to use autosomal DNA for discovering family connections.
2010 – Family Tree DNA launched their Family Finder autosomal DNA test
2012 – Ancestry launched DNA testing services. Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal DNA results were offered at first. Y-DNA and mtDNA testing was discontinued in 2014. Autosomal DNA is the current DNA test offered. Send a saliva sample for DNA extraction and genotyping.
2014 – The first Institute for Genetic Genealogy Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Conference attendees could learn from scientists, “citizen scientists,” DNA company representatives, and organizations about how to use DNA tests in identifying genetic traits and finding family members and ancestors. Many presenters taught how to use DNA to find ancestors and overcome brick walls in genealogical research.
2016 – Living DNA began offering direct-to-consumer DNA tests. Customers use cheek swabs to gather DNA samples.
2016 – MyHeritage DNA testing service was launched. Swab your cheek to obtain a DNA sample and mail it to MyHeritage.
2019 – AncestryDNA’s Thrulines and MyHeritage Theory of Family Relativity tools were launched. These features correlate family tree and DNA data to help customers make connections that need to be verified by sound genealogical research.
Millions Have Taken DNA Tests!
Tim Janzen compiles DNA testing company data in the ISOGG Wiki. The latest report of DNA testing company database size is impressive! As of 28 March 2022, the following numbers of DNA kits are in DNA testing company databases. Not every kit is unique – many people have transferred their DNA raw data from 23andMe or AncestryDNA to Family Tree DNA, My Heritage, or Living DNA. In fact, transferring the data from one company to another is an economical way to put your DNA in more than one company’s database. Why would you want to do that? Because some people only test at one DNA company, and you may find your best DNA matches who share elusive ancestors with you at a different company than the one where you initially tested.
Learn How to Use DNA in Your Family History Research
Have you wondered about the best way to use your DNA results to help you find your ancestors? At Family Locket, we have developed a method that will help you work with DNA results and research in a streamlined process. In addition to our book, Research Like a Pro with DNA, in both print and Kindle editions, we have two courses that can help you develop new skills and work in an organized method to make real progress and open new possibilities for building your family tree.
The Research Like a Pro with DNA Study Group is an interactive course with live instruction and peer feedback. Study Group members meet weekly with Diana, Nicole, and myself as we teach about assessing DNA matches, organizing DNA results, creating research objectives, timelines, source citations, file organization. We also teach about analyzing DNA and documentary sources and explore DNA tools and methodology. Research planning comes next where you plan which DNA tools and documentary sources to search for information and evidence of the identity of your ancestors. Correlating your findings and writing a research report helps you preserve the discoveries and the hard work you’ve done. We also emphasize genealogy standards, productivity, and further DNA education. Peer review and feedback is one of the most valuable aspects of the Research Like a Pro with DNA Study Group. This study group is held in the Spring each year.
If the timing or weekly schedule of a study group isn’t the best fit, try the The Research Like a Pro with DNA online eCourse. This self-paced course guides you through the same steps as the study group outlined above. Recordings of classes and written assignments guide you in the process of researching and working with your DNA results. Monthly Office Hours give opportunities to interact in real-time with instructors, ask questions, and receive answers and guidance.
We can’t wait to have you join us in the quest to reach personal milestones and make progress in your DNA and family history research!!
All the best,
Tim Janzen, “Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart,” International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki (https://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_testing_comparison_chart : accessed 18 April 2022), rev. 05:25m 29 March 2022.