In my part of the world, we’re starting to think about summer—and summer holidays and travel and family get-togethers. Whatever season it is where YOU are, I’m guessing many of you will be part of family get-togethers or reunions in the coming months. So here are 3 tips on how to use DNA to get your family excited about family history.
Use DNA ethnicity results as a conversation-starter
First, start off with the most flashy and entertaining part of the DNA test, your ethnicity results. I know, I know, I have told you that most of the time they don’t actually help you do family history, but they definitely get people interested.
When you pull out the results, you might also want to have handy your family’s migration chart. This was recently popularized by J. Paul Hawthorne and is a simple way to describe the birth locations of your ancestors so you can visualize the migration of your family over the course of several generations. If you want to try it, here is a link to a spreadsheet I made based on his. (http://www.yourdnaguide.com/family-migration-pedigree)
Then you can pull out your DNA test results and talk about how much of your DNA test results are reflected in your ethnicity chart. You might even have a good chuckle over some of the more outlandish claims (22% Scandinavian?! Where did that come from?).
Now is a good time to mention any family stories about Native American Princesses or African cousins. In the absence of those, you are ready to move on to number 2.
Show how DNA tests are genetic match-makers
The second step is to say something like, “While the ethnicity results were really interesting, the most exciting part was seeing my relatives show up on my match list.” You can then show them an individual on your match list that you have figured out your relationship to. You can weave in just a bit of the genealogical research you did to find your common ancestor, and end with the cool fact that you actually have DNA from that ancestor, and so does your match! If you are especially lucky, the person you are talking to will also have some connection to this ancestor, and you can tell them that if they take a DNA test, it can help them document their relationship to this ancestor as well.
Help create excitement about taking DNA tests
If you find yourself at a family reunion for a particularly pesky set of ancestors for whom you don’t know much about their parents or grandparents, this is a perfect time to help your family members understand that they might be THE ONE, the one who holds the right combination of genetics to help you bust through that brick wall. I myself will be attending the Chenoweth Family Reunion this year, though I am only an honorary Chenoweth. They have the ambitious goal of finding direct paternal line descendants of the 21 continuing lines of the 29 grandsons of John Chenoweth and Mary Calvert, and they are over half-way there! As part of their festivities they are including a special DNA lecture on the progress of their project. Having a specific goal like this really helps focus your family on a particular effort, and lets them track the progress of both the DNA and the traditional research. It is also very unifying, especially for a group as large as theirs. They all wear different colored T-shirts to represent the different lines they descend from. But when we look at the DNA, it is clear that, at least in their YDNA, there is no distinction, they are certainly all part of the same paternal line.
Originally Published at www.genealogygems.com