Out on a limb: DNA testing kit a good first step in researching ancestry

Tom Mooney - Out on a Limb | November 27th, 2017 6:00 am

DNA testing kits have become popular (and practical) Christmas gifts among genealogists and their families. Two factors, however, should be kept in mind by the givers and the lucky recipients.

First, because the kits have become such popular gifts, there could be a longer than usual wait for test results. Earlier this year, one company offering the kits sent out a notice that results might arrive later than expected because of the sheer volume of testing that had to be done in the labs.

Second, those results will not be, in themselves, a final answer. More likely they will be a guide to further study and research, helping you to focus your efforts on specific regions and time periods as you continue your quest for ancestors. You’ll have to start reading history – specifically that of your ancestors’ home territories.

Here’s an illustration: Let’s say you receive information that your DNA links you to two regions that lie hundred of miles apart. There are various possibilities. One is that individuals from Region A or Region B traveled to the other region and married, producing offspring with a mixture of DNA similar to yours. That’s useful to know because it opens up at least one new avenue for searching.

Another possibility, one you would glean from reading history, would be that at some point the people of Region A invaded Region B (or vice versa) and produced wholesale intermingling of DNA. Or maybe there was a mass migration because of war, famine or oppression. You will now have a more precise time frame.

One way or another, your study of history will likely tell you about the intermingling and help you focus your genealogical investigation. You will have some idea when and how your direct ancestors stopped being part of one region and started being part of another. You can de-emphasize some avenues and put a priority on others.

Belated results or not, that kit could be one of the best gifts ever.

Genealogy on TV: The genealogy-themed TV show, “Finding Your Roots,” hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., will continue through December. Tomorrow’s show will explore the ancestries of political activist Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell and artist Kara Walker. The Dec. 5 show will feature rap artists Sean Combs and LL Cool J. Both shows are repeats from a previous season. In this area, the show is broadcast over WVIA-TV at 8 p.m.

Holiday closings: Two local organizations that are vital to genealogists have announced their holiday schedules. The Luzerne County Historical Society’s Bishop Memorial Library, in Wilkes-Barre, will be closed on Dec. 2 and then will close for its holiday break Dec. 24 through Jan. 2. Otherwise, it is open Tuesday to Friday noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society’s research library will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 9. The library will close for winter break Dec. 21 and reopen Jan. 13.

The Historical Society will offer a change in operating days and hours for 2018. The library will be open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It will be closed Sunday to Tuesday. The purpose of the change is to give working people more opportunity to visit on several weekdays. Remember that the Historical Society’s library routinely closes for the entire month of February for cataloguing. For the museum’s hours, visit the society’s Facebook page.

Tom Mooney Out on a Limb
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_TOM_MOONEY-3.jpgTom Mooney Out on a Limb

Tom Mooney

Out on a Limb

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]