Applying Autosomal DNA to Complex Genealogical Questions

800px-DNA_sequenceA new must-read piece of genealogical scholarship using autosomal DNA as evidence was published this week in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, a publication of the National Genealogical Society. The article, authored by Thomas Jones, Ph.D. and entitled “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York” is one of a tiny handful that use DNA as one of several different pieces of evidence to answer a genealogical question.

While issues of the NGSQ are available only to members, gaining access to the benefits of NGS – including the NGSQ and the increasing number of articles incorporating DNA – is well worth the $65 membership fee.

Where is the DNA Scholarship?

I’ve lamented before about the lack of publications that incorporate DNA evidence. Indeed, even when JoGG was active, it published only a few articles in either pure methodology or that incorporated DNA into other types of genealogical evidence to examine a genealogical question.

Unfortunately, without these publications, it can be very difficult for the genetic genealogist to have a model – or new ideas or suggestions – for either using DNA or writing about DNA. Most of us are operating as islands without sharing our methodologies or results with others.

Hopefully, publications like NGSQ and The Record (and others!) will publish more articles incorporating DNA!

A Growing List

This article joins a growing list articles in the NGSQ that apply DNA to a genealogical question:

  • Thomas W. Jones, “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (June 2015): 85-103.
  • Morna Lahnice Hollister, “Goggins and Goggans of South Carolina: DNA Helps Document the Basis of an Emancipated Family’s Surname,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (September 2014): 165-76.
  • Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Testing the FAN Principle against DNA: Zilphy (Watts) Price Cooksey Cooksey of Georgia and Mississippi,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (June 2014): 129–52.
  • And more…











3 Responses

  1. Jane 5 July 2015 / 12:05 pm

    Is The National Genealogical Society Quarterly considered scholarly enough for any of the University of California libraries to subscribe? What about universities in Utah? Some of us who don’t belong have access to one or more of these libraries.

  2. Jill 15 August 2015 / 10:11 am

    Blaine, (late to the party, I know) I applaud the inclusion of articles in the NGSQ incorporating the use of DNA to provide evidence towards the proof. Could you address the particulars of Tom’s article, specifically the use of atDNA to substantiate the common ancestor more than six generations back? At what point are we stretching the science too far? 8 generations? 10? 6? I recognize that “tomorrow” the answer may be different. I also am one that believes we ought to “squeeze the science” for all we can get out of it.

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