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Review: Genealogy at a Glance: Genetic Genealogy Basics

Disclaimer: The Genealogical Publishing Company ( has been sending me a lot of goodies in the form of complimentary copies of some of their materials, so that I might review them. To be clear, this doesn't prevent me from giving my honest and uninfluenced opinion, and I will do just that. No worries.

I'm currently working on one of my last ProGen assignments, which happens to focus on genetic genealogy, one of my specialties. For those who don't know, genetic genealogy is basically a fancy way of saying using DNA tests as part of genealogical research (and not instead of!). As I've gone through this assignment, I've been thinking a lot about how I started on this genetic genealogy path over 4.5 years ago, and the sheer amount of information and skills I've learned along the way that might seem quite onerous to a newbie completing this particular assignment or receiving DNA results for the first time.

I'm regularly asked about best resources to kickstart the journey into genetic genealogy. There are certainly a lot out there, but I was recently sent a complimentary copy of Genealogy at a Glance: Genetic Genealogy Basics by Angie Bush from that I would definitely recommend as one to help a beginner get acclimated. For those unfamiliar with the Genealogy at a Glance series, the Genealogical Publishing Company publishes several four-page laminated booklets (or eBook versions) that are comprehensive overviews of pertinent genealogical topics (and I'll do some additional reviews on the ones I have in the future) that are similar to the ones I remember on math or English featured on display at the local bookstore. They serve as a great starting point to delve deeper into a new area or topic of interest, sort of like CliffNotes.

First of all, I'm a big Angie Bush fan. Any resource from her is going to be of great quality and effectively communicated. I was fortunate enough to have her as an instructor during my Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy course this past year at SLIG Academy, and although I feel comfortable with using DNA to solve unknown parentage cases, her lecture and materials definitely added to my toolkit, and I'm sure informed those with less experience in this particular area.

Genealogy at a Glance: Genetic Genealogy Basics packs in information on using DNA at the commercial testing sites to confirm relations and "fish for cousins"; brief discussion on the types of DNA tests (Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal); what information you can expect from your results (raw data, ethnicity estimates, haplogroups, and DNA match lists), including further reading and tools for understanding genealogical relationships; pertinent information on each of the major commercial DNA testing companies; and tips for getting the most from DNA testing. Angie Bush emphasizes the importance of considering research objectives and that there is no on-size-fits-all for conducting a research plan. A particular golden nugget asserts that "in most cases, both genealogical research and analysis of DNA testing results are combined to provide solid proof arguments regarding genealogical research questions," which is so, so, so important. I personally can't stress this point enough. DNA is a tool and works hand in hand with traditional genealogical research. Full stop.

Even though genetic genealogy is a rapidly evolving discipline and this guide was published in 2019, most of the information has aged gracefully, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who really just needs a solid synopsis of what genetic genealogy is and what it can accomplish. The link to learn more can be found here: The laminated version is $9.95, and the eBook version is $6.95.


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