Friday, February 4, 2011

Genetics and Genealogy

I recently came across Family Tree DNA, a company that collects genetic data to determine paternal or maternal ancestry. Being the curious sort I am I decided to investigate exactly what it was all about.

The first thing I wanted to know was whether or not they share the information they collect? The answer was no, they do not share the data from the genetic testing.

Then I decided to see if they were a reliable organization, or would they just take the money (or information) and run. So I did a web search for genetic genealogy, and came up with a Wikipedia article. The Wikipedia article mentioned the Genographic Project, which it stated was a joint project between IBM, National Geographic, University of Arizona, and Family Tree DNA. A web search for the Genographic Project came up with multiple pages from Family Tree DNA, National Geographic and IBM, and one of the IBM pages said that the information was processed by Family Tree DNA. So, I have now determined to my satisfaction that Family Tree DNA is a reputable company.

The next thing I want to consider is whether or not I actually want to be tested, and right now I am just not sure. The Family Tree DNA site does include a Devon DNA Project group, so it is tempting, and they do have some maps of their findings.

Does the testing itself work? Is it reliable? What's the point? I think I'll leave those for the next post because it gets kind of technical.