The best way of organizing and managing a DNA Surname Study is very much a matter of personal preference. There are, however, several basic goals which need to be met:
- Create a Working Hypothesis - A DNA Surname Study is not likely to provide any meaningful results unless you first determine what you are trying to accomplish for your family surname. Your goal can be very broad (how are all the CRISP families in the world related) or very specific (do the CRISP families of eastern NC all descend from William CRISP).
- Choose a Testing Center - Once you've determined your goal you should have a better idea of what type of DNA testing services you will require. Several DNA Laboratories, such as Family Tree DNA or Relative Genetics, will also assist you with setting up and organizing your surname study. Costs per test can also be reduced if you get a large group to particpate at one time.
DNA Genealogy Testing Centers
- Recruite Participants - If you are already working together with a group of people on a particular surname then you may find it relatively easy to recruit participants from the group for a DNA Surname Study. If you have not been in touch with other researchers of your surname, however, you will need to track down several established lineages for your surname and obtain participants from each of these lines. Outside of direct contact, you may wish to turn to surname mailing lists and family organizations to promote your DNA Surname Study. Creating a Web site with information about your DNA Surname Study is also an excellent method for attracting participants. As you correspond with potential participants, remember that DNA is a very personal subject, and you will need to be prepared to answer many questions. Education is the key to acceptance.
- Manage the Project - Managing a DNA Surname Study is a big job. The key to success is in organizing the project in an efficient manner and keeping participants informed of progress and results. Creating and maintaining a Web site or mailing list specifically for project participants can be of great assistance. As mentioned above, some DNA testing labs will also provide assistance with organizing and managing your DNA surname project. It should go without saying, but it is also important to honor any privacy restrictions made by your participants.
The best way to figure out what works is to look at examples of other DNA Surname Studies. Here are several to get you started:
In conclusion, it is vitally important to keep in mind that DNA testing for the purposes of proving ancestry is NOT a substitute for traditional family history research. Instead, it is a tool to be used in conjunction with family history research to aid in proving or disproving suspected family relationships. It is definitely an exciting new tool to add to your genealogy toolbox! If you're interested in more specific information on DNA testing for genealogical purposes, including details on haplotypes, haplogroups, and analyzing test results, then check out the resources listed at Genetic Genealogy on the Web.