Genealogists spend many of their days (and much of their money!) tracking the history of their ancestors. They hunt through ancient records to elucidate even the smallest clue as to some facet of their ancestors’ lives. Since the majority of genetic genealogists started their journey as traditional genealogists, it is only natural that they enjoy record-keeping and tracking as well.
The DNA Genealogy Timeline is a free public resource maintained by Georgia K. Bopp and hosted by rootsweb.com. The timeline attempts to track the significant developments associated with genetic genealogy. It begins with “Before 1980” and was updated most recently as of October 2007.
What immediately stands out is that genetic genealogy has been around much longer than people realize, especially given the recent media attention. I began my exploration of genetic genealogy in 2003, but by 2000 there were already as many as 4 surname projects begun by hobbyists! As of September 2007, one company (Family Tree DNA) had over 4,200 surname projects that contained more than 66,000 surnames. There are even more surname projects hosted by other companies, including Heritage DNA.
The timeline also shows that genetic genealogy was first developed by geneticists and anthropologists to analyze a wide variety of problems facing researchers. The technology was later embraced by genealogists who saw that it could be used to answer some of the problems faced by other genealogists.
As the introduction states:
“This Timeline began when I could not find an informal context – a simple history – to use when called upon to explain the new field of DNA and genealogy to those who knew less about it than I (a beginner in October 2002 – and not a scientist). This contains items I’ve found as well as contributions by others, primarily Ann P. Turner and participants of the RootsWeb GENEALOGY-DNA discussion list and members of the ISOGG community.“
This is a great resource, and I’m thankful that Ms. Bopp has made it freely available to all. The site mentions that corrections and additions to the timeline are welcome.