Do you want to start a DNA research project to confirm an ancestral relationship? Have you been wanting to learn more about genetic genealogy but are not sure where to start? Maybe you’re interested in joining our Research Like a Pro with DNA study group in the fall and are curious about the prerequisites. Diana, Robin, and I have been talking about what basic DNA education would be helpful before doing a DNA research project. Some of our top choices include The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger and Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne. These books are a good way to learn when to use DNA evidence to help answer your research question, and how to do understand DNA test results.
We will be posting more information about our upcoming Research Like a Pro with DNA study group in the coming weeks, but in the meantime we wanted to post this list of resources for learning about genetic genealogy. You can sign up for our Research Like a Pro Study Group email list to get updates as soon as they are available by clicking here: Research Like a Pro Study Group Updates.
The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger – this is a comprehensive guide. An updated edition is coming out soon.
Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne – there are exercises for you to complete after reading each chapter.
Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies, edited by Debbie Parker Wayne – several case studies by various authors
The Adoptee’s Guide to DNA Testing: How to Use Genetic Genealogy to Discover Your Long-Lost Family by Tamar Weinberg – good for those doing a lot of recent unknown parentage cases
Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians edited by Graham S. Holton – new British publication coming out on July 25, 2019
DNA Testing Company Help/Learning Centers
Each testing company has a help page or a learning center that can help you learn more about your DNA test, results, and how to use them. Some have educational videos in addition to the articles.
FamilyTree DNA Learning Center
Living DNA > Understanding Your Results
FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA and MT-DNA Projects – including Surname, Lineage and Geographical Projects – the Family Tree DNA group projects can be a good way to learn from others who are researching the same surname or lineages.
International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki (ISOGG Wiki) – the mission of the ISOGG Wiki is “to advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and to promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists.” You will find many helpful articles about the different types of DNA tests, testing companies, technical terms, DNA projects and more. You can use the search box to type in what you want to learn about.
Learn. Genetics: Genetic Science Learning Center by the University of Utah – multimedia educational materials, including videos, activities for all ages and more.
Genetic Genealogy, Autosomal DNA by the National Genealogy Society (NGS) is an intermediate course that focuses primarily on concepts and techniques for genetic genealogy.
DNA-Central with Blaine Bettinger is a membership site where you can take online courses, watch webinars, and read articles.
DNA Adoption classes – The classes at DNA Adoption are not just for those doing recent unknown parentage cases. These are helpful classes for learning about using DNA to solve family mysteries. There are several “first-look” classes which are free; as well as three paid courses: Intro to DNA, Applied Autosomal DNA, and Y-DNA Basics. The paid classes run for two-four weeks and include video lectures, articles, and a group forum.
Genetic Genealogy in Practice Study Groups – this is a Facebook group to coordinate study groups going over the material in Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne.
Conferences provide lectures about all kinds of topics that attendees can choose from taught by a wide range of instructors.
International Genetic Genealogy Conference (I4GG) with Cece Moore and Tim Janzen, MD – you can purchase past recordings of lectures from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 conferenes
Genetic Genealogy Conference at SCGS Jamboree (under construction, will return in June 2021)
International Conference on Genetic Genealogy by FamilyTree DNA
Institutes are like conferences, except they provide in-depth learning about one specific topic with the same set of instructors. Often institutes have homework to be completed each evening, feedback, and small class sizes. The course offerings vary from year to year.
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) – this year SLIG IS offering a virtual all DNA Advanced Evidence Analysis practicum with Angela McGhie in the fall; at SLIG in January there are two courses about DNA including Introduction to Genetic Genealogy with Paul Woodbury, Meeting Standards using DNA Evidence with Karen Stanbary; and at SLIG Academy there will be another course about genetic genealogy: DNA for the 21st-Century Professional with Angie Bush. If you are looking for something more beginner/intermediate level, there is a virtual course offered by SLIG called Intermediate Foundations which goes through different record types, including DNA. The next section of this course begins this fall.
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) – to view the courses that will be offered for 2020-2022, view this planning sheet. The offerings include Genetics for Genealogists: Beginning DNA with Patti Lee Hobbs, Genetic Genealogy Tools & Techniques: Intermediate DNA for Genealogy with Karen Stanbary, and DNA as Genealogical Evidence (advanced course).
Genealogy Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) – the courses have been announced for June and July 2020, including Practical Genetic Genealogy with Blaine Bettinger, Chromosome Mapping with Karen Stanbary, Advanced DNA Evidence with Blaine Bettinger, and Who’s Your Daddy? Using DNA to Resolve Recent Unknown Identity with Angie Bush and Eva Goodwin. See the blog post and flyer here.
Blogs, Podcasts, and YouTube channels
Kitty Cooper’s Blog: Musings on Genealogy, Genetics, and Gardening – Kitty Cooper has been writing about genetic genealogy since 2012, and is a genetic genealogist, blogger, programmer, and lecturer
The DNA Geek: Mixing Science and Genealogy by Leah Larkin, Ph.D. – Leah Larkin has a Ph.D. in biology and has extensive experience applying research skills to solving genealogical questions using DNA. She helps adoptees and others of unknown parentage as part of the search angel community.
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy: Discovering Your Ancestors – One Gene at a Time by Roberta Estes – Roberta is a professional scientist, genealogist, and business owner. Her company provides analysis of DNA results and genealogical assistance. She is extremely knowledgeable and shares her knowledge freely on her blog.
Your DNA Guide: Together we can navigate your DNA by Diahan Southard – Diahan is a fun speaker and great writer. She teaches genetic genealogy in ways that are memorable and helpful.
CutOff Genes Podcast with Julie Dixon Jackson (also – the CutOff Genes Podcast Facebook group) – Julie Dixon Jackson found her biological parents using DNA and now has a podcast helping others learn how to do the same.
Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel – many free DNA videos by Andrew and Devon Lee
Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques with Blaine Bettinger
DNA Detectives with Cece More
Genetic Affairs – User Group with Evert-Jan Blom
Network Graphs for Genetic Genealogy with Shelly Crawford
Many articles from the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, NGS Magazine, and more teach about genetic genealogy. See some ideas listed here: Genetic Genealogy Education at Board for Certification of Genealogists.
Articles in the National Genealogy Society Quarterly and other peer reviewed publications are a great resource. You can read about how genealogists have solved difficult cases – many of them using DNA evidence.
We hope this list of resources is useful to you. Are we missing one of your favorite resources for learning about genetic genealogy? Please leave a comment below.
Articles in our Research Like a Pro with DNA Series
Step 1 Take a DNA Test: Which DNA Test Should I Take? and DNA-Recommended Testing Strategy
Step 2 Assess: Understanding and Using Your DNA Results – 4 Simple Steps
Step 3 Organize: Seeing the Big Picture: 3 Ways to Chart Your DNA Matches
Step 4 Research Objective: What Do You Want to Know? 3 Steps to Focus Your DNA Research
Step 5 Analyze your Sources: DNA Sources, Information, and Evidence: Sorting it All Out
Step 6 Locality Research: Where in the World Has My DNA Traveled? DNA and Locality Research
Step 7 Research Planning: Genealogy Research Planning with DNA
Methodology and Tools to use as you plan your research:
– Charts for Understanding DNA Inheritance
– Clustering or Creating Genetic Networks
– Pedigree Triangulation
– Chromosome Browsers
– Segment Triangulation
– Chromosome Mapping
– DNA Gedcom
Step 8 Source Citations: DNA Source Citations
Step 9 Research Logs: DNA Research Logs: how to keep Track of Genetic Genealogy Searches
Step 10 Report Writing: DNA Research Reports – the Ultimate Finish
Step 11 What’s Next? Continue Your Research & Writing, Productivity, and Education
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Wonderful article – thank you! I’d like to suggest one more resource – Genetics Home Reference, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/.
Genetics Home Reference is a consumer health website from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The site includes extensive information about genes, conditions, genetic testing and genealogy, plus a useful handbook titled “Help Me Understand Genetics”.
All the information on Genetics Home Reference, unless otherwise noted, is written by NLM staff who have advanced training in genetics and public health, and is reviewed by experts in research and patient care. Genetics Home Reference is published weekly and its content is updated regularly.
Thank you for sharing that resource. It looks helpful!
This is great information. I also work for the National Network Library of Medicine and co-teach a course on Genealogy and Genetics and we love to have additional resources for others to review.
I am student of Genetic Genealogy. I found your article very helpful for my project research. I am obliged for this informative post. Keep sharing.
I am a teacher , willing to teach my students about chromosomes and DNA . Incredible post I will surely tell them to read this post.
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I am research associate in Genetic Genealogy. I found your article very helpful for my project research. Keep sharing.
Your resource is fantastic! Well done.
This is an amazing list of resources!! Thanks for pulling them all together. Can’t wait to get RLP’s observations on CHAT.AI.