I started doing my genealogy when I was a teenager when I asked my great grandmother questions about her family. That was the start of my genealogy/family history journey.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things;
- Cite your sources… especially in the beginning (probably the lament of every genealogist that looks back on their early work)
- Ask the older members of your family questions (write the info down even if it’s for later reference).
- Understand the recordset that you’re working with. Did you know that the informant is one of the most important boxes on a British birth registration? More about that on an upcoming blog.
- If you didn’t have an interest in geography and history in school, you’ll have to break the books (or the internet to catch up).
- DNA is a useful tool, but you need more than just DNA
In 2010 I started diving into DNA. First, by testing my parents and then later myself and other members of my family. I always say that my children won’t be getting an inheritance, but they will get a lot of genealogy and DNA information.
The above graphic was created in FOREVER Artisan, and I created it because of a comment that someone in a Genealogy Facebook group I belong to made. It was a group that was specific to a geographic area of interest in my Beaton/Batten Mystery, and I had inquired in the group about some of the surnames that I’ve been studying. The gentleman said after I’d mentioned my DNA search and my unknown lines, “I don’t have to do DNA; I know my whole tree.”
My reply was exactly what I said in my graphic… “neither DNA nor records can stand on their own… each needs the other as proof”.
I don’t know if he meant it the way I took it, but even if you have a tree and you think it’s absolutely correct until you take a DNA test and prove it out, it’s really a theory. A fairy tale even.
It’s what you’ve been told or the records you’ve searched that make up your tree. But it’s not science or DNA to prove that the relationships in your tree are, in fact, correct.
By the same token, I can look at my DNA connections and build the trees looking for that DNA Quadfecta where all the connections come together to make up my grandfather’s parents. Still, unless I have records to prove that those people were in the “right place at the right time,” it’s again just a theory.
So each is important in its own right. So if you’ve created a family tree, then I encourage you to do a DNA test, and if you’ve done a DNA test, then please create a tree and start understanding how you connect to the cousins you’ve found.
Right now, Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast all have sales to help you search for your family, (note; FamilySearch is FREE) and they also have their DNA kits on sale. If you haven’t tested at MyHeritage, you should check out their Black Friday pricing as it’s the lowest it’s ever been. You can find all the specials and sale on my other page; Genealogy & DNA Treasures