Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Review: Genetic Genealogy in Practice

Genetic Genealogy in Practice was published recently by the National Genealogical Society in their Special Topics Series.  The book is authored by Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD, and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL. Since 2007, Blaine has authored The Genetic Genealogist, a long-running blog dedicated to personal genetics. Debbie Parker Wayne is the author of the NGS Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, Autosomal DNA course.  You can order the book through NGS here.


This is a handbook that family historians have been waiting for to give them practical, easy to understand information that they can apply to their personal genealogical research.  This new book offers an up-to-date account for the testing and application of Y-DNA, X-DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and autosomal DNA (atDNA) to reach and support genealogical conclusions.

The Table of Contents includes:

Chapter 1 - Basic Genetics

Chapter 2 - Genetic Genealogy, Standards and Ethics

Chapter 3 - Genealogical Applications for Y-DNA

Chapter 4 - Genealogical Applications for mtDNA

Chapter 5 - Genealogical Applications for atDNA

Chapter 6 - Genealogical Applications for X-DNA

Chapter 7 - Incorporating DNA Testing in a Family Study

Chapter 8 - Incorporating DNA Evidence in a Written Conclusion

Chapter 9 - Conclusion

Appendix A - Charts for Exercises

Appendix B - Glossary

Appendix C - Reading and Source List

Appendix D - Chapter Exercise Answers

Each chapter has sections that systematically explain the concepts - for instance, the Chapter 5 - Genealogical Applications of atDNA covers autosomal DNA testing and analysis.  The sections are:

*  What is atDNA?
*  atDNA Inheritance Patterns
*  Recombination
*  Finding and Classifying Genetic Matches
*  Reporting Genetic Matching by the atDNA Testing Companies
*  atDNA Tools for Genealogists (includes third-party tools)
*  Test Strategies for atDNA
*  Genetic Matches and Genetic Networks as Hints for New Research
*  Chromosome Mapping and Triangulation
*  Ethnicity Predictions

Each chapter provides figures, charts and tables to help explain the concepts and provide examples for the reader.  These are very helpful to understanding the concepts.

Each chapter has exercises - questions for readers to answer to demonstrate that they understand and can apply the concepts and tools from the chapter.  The atDNA chapter has 20 questions.  Appendix D provides answers to the questions.

The Glossary (Appendix B) and Reading and source List (Appendix C) are very useful to a genealogist trying to learn more about this complex subject.

The Upfront with NGS blog post about this book release quotes Blaine and Debbie saying:

"This book provides the most current understanding of using all types of DNA tests for genealogy beginning with the basics and moving into intermediate and advanced concepts. Genetic genealogy is a rapidly changing discipline, but the concepts and techniques presented here are those that will stand the test of time. An in-depth list of resources includes places where the reader can find step-by-step guides for transitory procedures that change frequently."

I agree with that assessment, based on my limited knowledge of the subject.  This is an excellent book for those who want more information about genetics, the testing companies, and the analyses provided by the testing companies and third parties.

Disclosure:  I was provided a printed copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.


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Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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