Amy Johnson Crow challenges us to remember our ancestors and their families through this task: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I completed ’52 Ancestors’ in 2014 & here I go again. This post is in response to that challenge. The topic for this week is DNA.
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: DNA, Unique or Common?
DNA. What is it? I looked for a definition before responding to this topic for ‘52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’. I found these definitions online:
· DeoxyriboNucleic Acid
· sometimes called "the molecule of life," as almost all organisms have their genetic material codified as DNA.
· a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.
· the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.
· contained in your body's cells. It is a double, long chain of molecules called nucleotides that tell each cell what proteins to make. The DNA itself makes up chromosomes.
I would define DNA as a tool for genealogists.
Unique. It is interesting that these definitions point out the uniqueness of every individual’s DNA. Despite the huge number of humans on our planet, each of us is distinctive, irreplaceable & exceptional. As genealogists, we celebrate all the individuals in our families, both the shining examples to the younger generations and the black sheep who teach us life lessons.
As we research those ancestors a few pop out at us individuals we especially relate to. Their stories charm us and we put more effort into discovering all we can about them. We may even imagine sitting down with them and having a deep conversation.
Common. However, it is the elements that make us the same that we seek. We want to find others whose similarities show us to be family members. We want to share & compare with those family members to learn more about our common ancestors.
I have taken the Ancestry DNA test. There were no surprises there. My ‘DNA Story’ shows me to be 47% Great Britain, 27% European Jewish, 25% Ireland/Scotland/Wales & 1% Baltic States. This does reinforce that my research is on track.
I have pages of DNA matches. I do sometimes reach out to people who share common DNA with me. In most cases I never hear back from those people. A few have responded and we have shared information. It has advanced my research in small ways. I have no dramatic stories of discoveries.
Ancestry’s DNA Circles, now ThruLines, is helpful. Even if people do not respond to my attempts to communicate, I look at shared trees and sources for the facts shown. This leads to taking more small steps in my research.
DNA, Both Unique & Common. I see DNA as another tool for genealogists/family historians but not an answer to all our questions. I use any tool I can to get me back to my unique ancestors.