04 December 2014

Prep for Genetic Genealogy Training at Institutes

More and more educational opportunities are becoming available for genetic genealogists. Week long courses offered at several institutes are available. How do you decide which course is best for you? How do you prepare to get the most from an institute course?

Blaine Bettinger, CeCe Moore, and I worked together to put together the first week-long course in the U.S. "Practical Genetic Genealogy" was offered at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July 2014. As best we can determine, it was the first in the world. This course, the DNA Day offered at SoCal Jamboree in 2013, the Institute for Genetic Genealogy (I4GG)'s International Genetic Genealogy Conference in August 2014, and many more genetic genealogy events have generated a lot of interest in educational opportunities.

Upcoming beginner and intermediate genetic genealogist institute courses include

All of these courses cover Y-DNA, mtDNA, X-DNA, and atDNA topics. The depth of the material covered, the examples used, and the ancillary topics vary between the courses.

The SLIG course is aimed at those who are new to genetic genealogy or someone who knows a little and wants to learn more. The focus is on using genetic genealogy for personal family history research. The SLIG course is good for someone with no or only a basic understanding of genetic genealogy.

The GRIP course can also be attended by novice genetic genealogists, but some more advanced topics are covered. Topics primarily of interest to project administrators and professional genealogists working with clients are included. The GRIP course could be attended by someone with only a little understanding of genetic genealogy, but there will be some advanced topics that you may not comprehend.

Learning genetic genealogy is like any other subject. You cannot go from no knowledge to subject matter expert in one week. Expertise is developed by experience over time. Each time a topic is studied some new information will be grasped. You become a better cook over time; with experience you understand techniques you could not handle as a novice. To become a better genetic genealogist requires learning the basics, putting it in to practice, then learning more advanced techniques that were not clear before you had the experience as a foundation. This cycle will continue as new DNA discoveries, tests, tools, and techniques are happening almost every day.

For either the SLIG or GRIP course, any student who is willing to spend some time studying before the institute will get more from the course. The course will provide foundational knowledge. Those who already have some foundational knowledge to build on will learn even more.

To prepare to learn as much as possible at an institute genetic genealogy course you should read and study at least two of the following books.
  1. Bettinger, Blaine, PhD (Biochemistry), JD and Matt Dexter. I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What? (self-published, 2008); v2.1 version with atDNA added is available from http://www.familytreedna.com/pdf-docs/Interpreting-Genetic-Genealogy-Results_web_optimized.pdf.
  2. Hill, Richard. Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA. n.p.: self-published, 2012.
  3. Kennett, Debbie. DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-first Century. Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2011.
  4. Smolenyak, Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner. Trace Your Roots with DNA. Emmaus, Penn., Rodale Press, 2004. Primarily covers Y-DNA and mtDNA and discoveries since 2004 are not included.
  5. Wheaton, Kelly. Beginner’s Guide to Genetic Genealogy. https://sites.google.com/site/wheatonsurname/beginners-guide-to-genetic-genealogy/.
More information can be found in the following book, but it jumps into some advanced definitions that may scare away a novice:
  • Aulicino, Emily D. Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2013.

The following are a small number of the blogs available. These will also provide basic information, but may not be as complete as in the books and will not be organized as a book is.

Keep up with announcements of any future offerings through the institutes, blogs, mail lists, forums, and Facebook posts by genetic genealogists.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Prep for Genetic Genealogy Training at Institutes," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 4 December 2014 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2014, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved