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February 27, 2019 By Shirley Arnold

You May Not Be Who You Think You Are

DNA tests or genealogy charts — which is best to show you who you are related to on the ancestral family tree? Or, should you use a combination of both?

In November, Paradise Valley Estates’ Discover U program welcomed Jim Rader, genealogist and lecturer, Jim Rader has lectured on genealogy since 1990 and taught computerized genealogy in adult education classes. He is a retired civil engineer and computer programmer. Some of his lectures and presentations, including our November event, can be viewed on his YouTube channel.

Rader upended Discover U’s traditional format by beginning with the Question and Answers portion of the program because he said nearly everyone comes in with questions, eager to hear the answers.

How we are related through DNA. Rader says everyone has four ethnicities in their DNA. There is no race gene. As generations pass, strings of DNA in the genome split and recombine and errors (mutations) occur in individual genes. By the sixth generation, relationship is too thin to prove by DNA alone, and is less than one percent accurate.

DNA tests. Which home DNA test gives you the most accurate information about your genetic ancestry? Are tests worth the money? What good is the information? Rader discussed some of the DNA testing methods and test companies. In methodology, he says Y—DNA is the gold standard and proves paternal line ancestry. Autosomal DNA can give false matches. Mitochondrial DNA tests follow the maternal line. He also compared widely-used home test companies such as Ancestry.com, 23andMe and LivingDNA.

What DNA tests will not tell you. Rader says DNA test results do not replace genealogical research. DNA will not tell you your ancestors’ names, or give their dates of birth and death, or places of residence. For that you need genealogical charts.

The best methods to trace your genealogical roots. Rader discussed using family Bible entries, birth certificates, marriage licenses and researching official archives to locate connections in your ancestry.

Newest DNA research. Rader cites David Reich, (Genetics/Harvard Medical School) author of “Who We Are and How We Got Here,” published March 2018, for new research findings in DNA. Reich described the revolution in genomics (the branch of molecular biology that analyzes our genes), units of DNA that transmit hereditary information from parent to offspring and said ancient DNA findings are disrupting our assumptions about the past.

For additional information, watch Rader’s presentation slides online, You May Not Be Who You Think You Are, which include these topics and more.

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