Sunday, March 25, 2012

A big/little shift in my research

I've been doing some thinking over the last couple weeks (a dangerous pastime, I know). I've had a lot of success in my genealogy research and documentation the last couple weeks, as well as in finding new records on my family, particularly my Joseph side. (Speaking of which, I need to do a blog post on the records I got from Church of the Cross in Winnipeg.) But in all my years doing  research on my family history, there is one avenue I've never really thought of exploring until recently - DNA. I've been interested in DNA research and its application to genealogy for a long time, but now I'm really starting to get involved - I watched several videos about it at the SMGF website (very informative, but also very easy to follow); I've talked to CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, who has given me loads of helpful information and advice, and pointed me to several great books on the subject; I've joined the DNA Newbie mailing list, and started asking questions and talking to people there, and reading (though not always understanding) the other conversations there; I've also poked around the ISOGG wiki (still need to read more on it though).

The more I get into this, the more I'm hit with two prevailing thoughts - "WOW, this stuff is amazing!" and "I can't believe I'm actually trying to understand all this! What am I thinking?" This is a very large and complex field, and the more I read about it, the more I feel like a guy on the sea shore trying to count and categorize the grains of sand on the beach. But even with the hesitation I feel at the idea of delving into such a complicated subject, I feel this pull towards it that just says "you need to learn more about this, you need to understand this," to the point of asking some relatives to take some DNA tests. Not so I can prove my relationship to them (though that is always the first question I get asked when I tell people I'm having my relatives' DNA tested), but so I can see what DNA analysis can tell me about where my DNA comes from, and hopefully find other relatives who are researching their ancestry, so we can help each other in putting together our family tree as far back as it can go. The paper trail side of genealogy still holds as much interest, excitement, and fascination for me it always has, but this would be adding another research tool and record type to my research. I'm up for anything that can tell me more about my family history, and this is a whole new avenue of research that no one in my family circle has ever tried before. That fact alone has a pretty significant pull all its own. Who could resist the opportunity to be the first Gibson/Bergstad/Joseph/Wagner/Harris/Craddock descendant to start researching the family history through DNA? Not I!

The only downside is the cost - the tests do not come cheaply. Fortunately, I have some help in this regard, through the kindness of relatives and an understanding wife, I will hopefully be able to start getting these tests done in the next couple of months, starting with my grandparents. I have been extremely blessed to have all of the grandparents alive at the time of my birth still with me today. I know that won't last forever, and I really feel the need to take this opportunity while I have it. They have been so supportive of me as I've delved into our family's past, that if I can find anything worth telling them about our family, I want to do it. DNA research will give me a whole new range of facts and info I can share. If I can only get to the point where I understand it myself.

No comments: