DNA and family history
What does DNA means to us as historians?
DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is most commonly used to prove a relationship to an individual. Most recently it has been used to prove relationships in families. It can also prove medical history in individuals; DNA is in every cell of your body. All blood cells except red carry DNA. It contains the information needed to construct and operate a human body. It converts your DNA into a blueprint.
The information in DNA can be used for many purposes. How would you deal with the information if you were a doctor? A judge? A parent? It's not easy to decide, DNA can tell a lot about a person. It is used in court cases to determine guilt or innocence. It is used to determine the paternity for a child. It also can tell the chances of inheriting a disease of medical condition and even trace them back to our ancestors in a family. It carries with you from generation to generation.
You get your DNA from your parents. We receive nucleus DNA from our parents, the 23rd chromosome being the one that determines the sex of the child. A female, only has X chromosomes, while a male has X and Y. The Y chromosome is transmitted from father to son. Testing the Y chromosome provides information about the direct male line.
A Surname Project is a project which is established to test and compare those with a common surname or family. You can buy a Family test kit and swab your cheek and send it to a lab yourself for results. The project has a leader to help understand about the test and the forthcoming results. It can determine which family trees with the same or linked surnames are related, and can provide clues to help you with your genealogy research.
The haplogroup identifies the person's major population group and provides information about the ancient origin of the male line. Have the oldest male relative tested first to capture important information before it becomes too late.
For females who are interested in the Y-DNA result for their surname or family tree, a close male relative with that surname would need to provide the sample. Females pass on their mtDN, testing the mtDNA tells about the mother, to mother, and so on along the direct maternal line. Both males and females receive mtDNA from their mothers, so both men and women can test their mtDNA.
Haplogroups are labeled alphabetically. Today anthropologists have labeled groups geographically to find specific ethnic groups. Haplogroups found in one area can sometimes be found in another, due to migration.
DNA testing has become a very powerful tool for individuals to discover their past and is becoming one of the fastest growing hobbies in North America and Europe. Individuals around the world now have this hobby at their fingertips.
Follow through to the different steps of DNA extraction, processing, sequencing and analysis. See how the scientists decode your ancestral marker of information from your molecules for your DNA for future generations.
Some famous results of Y-DNA are Thomas Jefferson, Genghis Khan, and results from mtDNA are the Romanov's of Russia, Jesse James, and Marie Antoinette.
April 25th is National DNA day, Lets all celebrate the progress that DNA has taken us in our research. We are finding more out through DNA research now, than we ever thought would be possible.