Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What’s in My gDNA Toolbox

   If I were talking about my regular genealogy toolbox, I would be listing links to all the great websites with digital records (e.g. FamilySearch).  I would also talk about great repositories like NARA, BPL or the Mass Archives.  Or, I would mention tips and techniques like Nearest Neighbor and the Hidden Treasures in old photos.

   Now that we are adding DNA as a tool for genealogy, we have to pack a new toolbox.

The Databases – record sources to compare your DNA against

· Ysearch.org – Y-DNA database
· Mitosearch.org – mtDNA database
· FTDNA.com – DNA Project database
· WorldFamilies.net – DNA Project database
· SMGF.org – DNA Project database

The Testing Companies – many different testing companies that are not all equal – do your homework

· FTDNA.com – DNA testing  (my favorite)
· 23andMe.com – DNA testing
· SMGF.org – DNA testing
· Ancestry.com – DNA testing
· GeneTree.com - DNA testing

Sources of gDNA Knowledge – There are many areas of genetic genealogy that are open for interpretation.  Read everything and come to your own conclusions.

· ISoGG.org – Advocates for the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research
· Wikipedia  - Haplogroup details
· nationalgeographic.com/genographic

Analysis Tools – DNA results love to be compared and analyzed

· hprg.com/hapest5/index.html – Whit Athey’s Haplogroup predictor
· mymcgee.com/tools/ - Dean McGee’s Y-DNA comparison tools
· www.math.mun.ca/~dapike/FF23utils/ - David Pike’s autosomal comparison tools
· http://gedmatch.com/ - Autosomal comparison tools
· PHYLIP – phylogenetic tree creation

DNA Data Management – you need to organize and manage your DNA records

· Legacy Family Tree – supports DNA records (the one I use)
· Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest and The Master Genealogist – supports DNA
· Excel – spreadsheet tools
· Google Maps – User defined maps – you never know when you might want to build your own custom map

   This is hardly an exhaustive list.  I use most of these tools on a weekly basis.  I’m always looking for new tools (or creating ones that don’t exist).

   What's in your toolbox?  Let me know what tools you are using.



  1. Hi

    Is there a dedicated analysis program that resides (as rootsmagic or FTM or LFT does) on your own computer and allows you to build up your own databases of DNA records to do comparisons? Is anyone aware of such a software system?

    BTW I came across your site via the youtube DNA and the forth dimension video you posted. I'd like to compliment you on your work. It is well made, intelligible and doesn't mince around too much which will always be appreciated...



    1. Hi Lawrence,
      To my knowledge, no dedicated program exists. I use Excel to manage my DNA records. I've been meaning to get my records into a database to make them more programmatically accessible.

      Perhaps I should dust off my app/dev hat and create a DNA management program.

      I appreciate the compliments.


  2. I suspect that there is a real userbase for a decent DNA managment tool. Thinking about it you would be the sort of person who would be ideal to create software of that sort. Not too geeky that you don't understand how to make things legible, but tech savvy enough to create software that would function well and do worthwhile things instead of the bloat that many companies give people in their endeavors to please rather than create. I hope that you seriously consider making the software... :-)

  3. is gedmatch.com somewhere i overlooked?
    ties ftdna and 23&me together with the people who are really interested in genetic genealogy.