YDNA Surname Project Administrator? Learn the Skills

Melanie Mohler

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YDNA surname project administrators help other project members and answer questions. But how do they learn do work with surname project data? Here’s a resource to help you become a better YDNA surname project administrator–or just work with your own YDNA data more effectively.

Once you or a genetic male in your family has taken a YDNA test, we suggest that you join or start a surname project. Surname projects are associated with a specific surname and its variants. While they have existed long before DNA testing was available, surname projects are now even better thanks to YDNA testing. They can show you who you’re not related to (despite sharing the same surname) and the YDNA that you do share with those that you’re related to. 

One of the most important reasons for joining a surname project is having access to a surname project administrator. Administrators can help answer questions, but more importantly they are meant to be a link between you and other project members.

Becoming a YDNA surname project administrator

After Sandra’s father-in-law’s YDNA test results came in a few years ago, they were disappointed to find no “best matches.” Sandra had joined her father-in-law’s surname project at Family Tree DNA, but soon found that the administrators of the group had lost interest and had abandoned the project. Sandra volunteered to be the temporary administrator, despite knowing very little about YDNA. She studied up on some of the YDNA basics and how to subgroup project members.

But Sandra still felt like she was lacking in the knowledge and experience that was needed to answer the tough questions that members had about their YDNA results. As more and more members of the surname group began taking Big Y tests, she felt LOST. 

Then Sandra took our YDNA for Genealogy Course, which provided her with the information and skills she needed to answer the project members’ questions. After an overview of how YDNA testing works for genealogical questions, a deep dive into haplogroups, and a thorough study of YDNA matching, you’ll get to two units that are especially useful for a YDNA project administrator like Sandra. Here’s an outline of those two units:

YDNA Surname Projects

  • Getting To Know Your Surname Project
  • Finding Patterns in YDNA Data, part 1
  • Cladograms (they’re super cool–see one in this case study)
  • Finding Patterns in YDNA Data, part 2
  • 3 Case Studies: Aguta, Chenoweth and Ethington Families

Big Y-700

  • Big Y-700 Overview
  • Big Y-700 Results
  • Big Y-700 Matching
  • Big Y-700 Block Tree
  • Big Y-700 Next Steps
  • Research Log – Reflection: What Have You Learned?

The YDNA for Genealogy Course involves three weeks of active instruction. Students spend 2-3 hours per week on in-depth, self-paced, online instruction, practice and quizzes. There’s classwork, homework and a research log in a companion workbook. Students interact with others in their cohort on an expert-monitored discussion board and attend a live wrap-up Q&A session via Zoom at the end.

After Diahan’s class, I now feel competent and [am] ready to do a better job of administering this surname project,” Sandra says. “There are still no “best matches” for my husband’s paternal line, but I feel good about helping other members of the project.”

Enroll in Our YDNA for Genealogy Course

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  1. Me

    You know, I would love to purchase Dihan’s book, but when I get to the point where I enter my billing info and say it is OK to pay with Pay Pal, the screen just hangs while a little white dot spins inside a black circle. How do I get past this????

    • Diahan Southard

      I’m sorry for the difficulty with checkout. Have you tried using a different browser to check out? Chrome is one that works especially well with our website I’ve found. If you’re still having difficulty reach out to our customer service team at info@yourdnaguide.com and they would be happy to help you 🙂


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