Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Genealogists learn how to use DNA tests to discover missing ancestors


Shown here (l-r): Cathy Haynes, JGSGO member and winner of a one-year subscription to Ancestry.com, World Explorer Edition; Carolyn Gilleece, CFGS member and winner of an Ancestry DNA testing kit; guest speaker, genetic genealogist Diahan Southard; and JGSGO member Marilyn Lustig, winner of an Ancestry DNA testing kit.

The eighth in the series of 10 monthly JGSGO (Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando) workshops was held at Central Florida Hillel, UCF on April 4.

The guest speaker was genetic genealogist Diahan Southard who returned to explain how to analyze your DNA results after having it tested. The attendance of around 70 (both in person and online), is a testament to how popular this new use of DNA research has become.

Helpful advice provided by Southard included testing the right person, with the right test at the right company. The four major companies each have different types/sizes of pools of information, broken into different "pieces." Ancestry.com is the fastest growing. If you've had your DNA tested already by Ancestry DNA, you can transfer that information to Family Tree DNA or 23andMe for a small fee, or to MyHeritage DNA for free. She emphasized testing the oldest generation first, recommending men having both the Y-DNA (only available at Family Tree DNA) and Autosomal DNA tests, and women the Autosomal.

Southard also gave five tips on how to use DNA tests combined with genealogy to discover missing ancestors and to find new cousins using surname and location searches and other techniques. A recording and handout of Southard's lecture is available with JGSGO membership.

The next in the series of Workshops will be one of the most essential topics, "Jewish Names," with expert Warren Blatt, JewishGen managing director. Understanding Jewish given names and surnames, customs, origins, and variants is essential to finding ancestors. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at the Roth JCC in Maitland. The workshop is free and open to the public. Bring your own laptop to participate in the lab portion. It is also possible to attend via the Internet. Pre-registration is required. Pre-register for either in-person or online participation at http://www.jgsgo.org/MyJewishRoots.


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