18 April 2012

DNA and Central Texas GS, Waco, March 26

On March 26 I did a DNA presentation for the Central Texas Genealogical Society (CTGS, http://ctgs.org/) in Waco, Texas. I was pleased to see so many in attendance — several who traveled some distance to hear the presentation. The growing interest in using DNA for genealogical purposes pleases me. Our knowledge of DNA has grown so much in the last ten to twelve years, but there is still so much more we can learn. Serious genealogists have embraced this technology. We are contributing to the knowledge base in so many ways. The first thing I say when giving a lecture on DNA is "test as much as you can afford, as soon as you can."

The "as soon as you can" part is because none of us know how much time we have in this life. Accidents or sudden illness can swoop in and take that person who holds the key to a genealogical problem. It is so much easier to ask a living person to provide a DNA sample and directions on how it can be used than it is to figure out how to handle this after someone is deceased. The family members who would need to give permission have to deal with grief and more pressing concerns than genealogy. (By the way, have you specified in your will how your DNA sample can be used after your death or who can make those decisions? You should.)

The "as much as you can afford" part is because not everyone can afford the most extensive DNA tests. While prices are much lower than twelve years ago, it is still a significant investment for many genealogists. If you can afford to test sixty-seven markers at one time it will be more economical than testing twenty-five, then twelve more, then thirty more in increments. But if you can only afford to test twenty-five markers, do it now and test more as finances allow. What we learn may not solve your genealogical problem immediately, but your grandkids may learn more from the test than what you learn today.

This was my initial message to CTGS, too. This is one of the best genealogical societies I have been involved with. They are a vibrant and active society, growing at a time when many other societies are struggling to survive. Two things this group does that keep their members active and interested are supporting their local library, the West Waco Library and Genealogy Center (http://www.waco-texas.com/cms-library/page.aspx?id=9), and getting members involved in small interest groups.

During the March 26 meeting formation of a DNA Interest Group was announced. I haven't heard yet how many are in the group, but there seemed to be a lot of interest in the announcement. I can't wait to hear how it goes and visit the group again. It made me sorry I don't live closer to Waco to be able to attend more often.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

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