Thursday 16 October 2014

Special low prices for DNA tests at BTOP

Everyone coming to Back to Our Past 2014 can get a DNA test for lower than the usual price. This is good news for anyone whose name is not on the list of Free DNA Tests.

FamilyTreeDNA have announced that they will have special discounts on the DNA tests being sold at Back to Our Past, which in fact is a double saving because buyers also save on the cost of postage and packaging.

The good news is that these special discounts apply to all three main DNA tests.

Y-DNA-37 ... €102 
The Y-DNA-37 test, which traces the fathers father's father's line, is useful for both deep and recent ancestry, and is the standard test for anyone interested in researching a specific surname within the family. It is usually $169 if bought directly off the website, but at BTOP it is on special offer at $129. In euro, that's about 102 euro instead of 133 euro. Anyone taking this test should also sign up to the appropriate surname project to get the most out of their Y-DNA results. And that part is completely free.

Family Finder ... €70
The Family Finder test is also at a special discount. This is the most popular test among customers and accounted for 50% of kits bought by the Irish public at last years event. The usual price is $99 (plus additional shipping costs) but at BTOP it is going for $89 (about 70 euro). This is the test that tells you your ethnic makeup and connects you with genetic cousins with whom you share a common ancestor within the last 6 generations or so - that will potentially take you back to your 4x great grandparents (all 64 of them) who probably lived some time between 1700 and 1750.

FMS ... €133

People interested in researching their mother's mother's mother's line can now get the Full Mitochondrial Sequence (FMS) test for $169 instead of the usual $199 (that's 133 euro instead of 157 euro). Like the Y-DNA test, this mitochondrial DNA test is useful for tracing both deep and recent ancestry. It will show you the "route" your ancestors took out of Africa 60,000 years ago and will give you clues as to where they settled along the way. It may even help you identify ancestral homelands.

And for those who simply want to dip their toe in the genetic water, the cheapest DNA tests are the Y-DNA-12 and the mtDNAplus. You can upgrade either of these tests at a later stage if you want, without having to give another sample. The Y-DNA-12 test is available for $59 (about 46 euro) and the mtDNAplus test for $69 (about 54 euro).

If you're not sure which DNA test is best for you, read our handy guide here (Which DNA test is best for you?), or ask one of the ISOGG volunteers at the FTDNA stand. And to learn more about how DNA testing is revolutionising the world of family tree research, come to the DNA Lectures at the show and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of genetic genealogy!

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Tuesday 14 October 2014

The Migration of Man

Spencer Wells has been studying your oldest ancestors for more than 20 years. And he's coming to Dublin to tell you what he found.

Spencer is giving the Keynote Address at Genetic Genealogy Ireland - 3.30 pm, Sat 18th October 2014 at Back to Our Past at the RDS, Dublin.

The earliest humans originated in Africa, and eventually made their way out to the rest of the world. There were several migrations out of Africa over the millennia, but all of them died out. It is only the last exodus of humans that has survived, and we are the children of that exodus.

All human beings in existence today descend from one single man who lived in Africa about 330,000 years ago. So the genetic evidence tells us. And both archaeological and linguistic evidence supports the incredible story that is being revealed by our DNA. Spencer is one of the pioneers at the forefront of this genetic research into the incredible human journey.

TED Talk by Spencer Wells - the origins of human diversity

In his engrossing book and documentary "The Journey of Man", Spencer describes how humans migrated out of Africa, developing mutations in their DNA as they went. These mutations act as "markers" that allow us to track the route that they took. These mutations happen all the time, in all humans, and develop slowly over hundreds of years, serving as a "paper trail" that allows us to follow these markers back in time to their source.

The earliest groups of humans (known as  anatomically modern humans or homo sapiens sapiens) first emerged some 200,000 years ago. We find their present-day descendants among the San people of southern Africa. These people are key to the study of human migration and the development of human diversity. And because the various peoples in Africa are the oldest peoples on the earth, there is many times more genetic diversity within Africa than outside of it.

This documentary follows Spencer and his crew as they scour Africa, and the rest of the world, for indigenous people with deep roots in one place, asking for samples of DNA to test, in order to piece together our "big family" genetic tree. There are plenty of surprises along the way. It is particularly fascinating to see the diverse ways in which people and tribes react when Spencer returns with their DNA results and they discover what their DNA says about who they are and where they came from. 

Here is the entire documentary in thirteen parts.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Michelle Leonard - Speaker Profile

Talk Title: Using GenomeMatePro & Other Tools

Qualifications - MA in Modern History & English (The University of St Andrews) and PGCert in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies (The University of Strathclyde)

  • Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) 
  • International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG)
  • Scottish Genealogy Network (SGN)
  • Society of Genealogists (SOG)


Michelle Leonard of Genes & Genealogy is a Scottish professional genealogist and DNA detective. She holds an M.A. in English and Modern History from the University of St Andrews and a PgCert in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde. She specialises in solving unknown ancestor and adoption mysteries using DNA but also undertakes traditional genealogical research, living relative tracing, historical and television research, tutoring and speaking engagements. Additionally Michelle is a freelance writer and blogger and the official genetic genealogist of She spent several years working on the Fromelles Genealogy Project tracking down appropriate DNA donors to identify WWI soldiers buried in a mass grave in France and served as the Genealogical Consultant on the official Fromelles documentary. She is a regular speaker at major genealogy events.
Day Job - Owner at Genes & Genealogy: Professional Genealogist, Genetic Genealogist, Researcher, Writer, Speaker and Historian

Night Job - I think I've got enough day jobs! My day jobs regularly turn into night jobs, though, and I'm often to be found feverishly checking out new DNA matches into the wee small hours! I'm also the official genetic genealogist or #genesgenie of #AncestryHour on Twitter and I help run the hour itself every Tuesday evening from 7-8pm (GMT) - Ancestry Hour is a really fun platform where anyone, amateur or professional, with an interest in genealogy can come along to chat, ask questions, exchange tips and promote their services, events or anything genealogy-related to the community. Additionally I'm an FTDNA Project Administrator for several projects.

How did you get into genealogy?

I've been "into" genealogy since I was a teenager but really I've been interested in my family history for as long as I can remember. I believe this stems from the fact that my paternal grandparents died long before I was born and my maternal grandparents when I was too young to remember them. Since I grew up without these connections I was always curious about them and those who came before them. My passion for the process of genealogy, however, began when I found a box of 19th and early 20th century family photographs as a teenager and I was desperate to put names to all of the familiar yet unfamiliar faces. I also became aware of a couple of family mysteries at that time and I wanted to play detective and solve them so I began actively researching my family tree and have been hooked ever since. I love the challenge of putting a tree together, the process of following every lead and the satisfaction gained by solving mysteries along the way.

My lineage is predominantly Scottish on my maternal side and chiefly Irish on my paternal side but I have many collateral branches that veer off overseas to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the USA. I have worked on my own tree for many years now (and still do when I can which isn't often - the curse of the professional genealogist is that you end up spending more time on other people's trees than your own!) I've also helped many friends, family members and people looking for assistance with brick walls online via forums and websites to whom I volunteered my time and expertise. This has led to virtual genealogy friendships with people in many different countries. Since turning professional some years ago I feel like I have turned my passion into my profession.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?

In recent years my love of traditional genealogy has been matched, if not superceded, by my love of genetic genealogy - I am passionate about using DNA testing in conjunction with traditional research methods in order to get the most out of both and to solve mysteries that regular paper trail research alone never could. I see DNA testing as an essential tool that every genealogist should make use of in their research. My first involvement with it came in 2009 when I started on what would turn out to be several years of tracing DNA-appropriate donors for WWI soldiers who had been found in a mass grave in Fromelles, France. I spoke about this at Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2014 and there is a link to that presentation in the Links section below. I also studied genetic genealogy as part of my postgraduate course and at that time began testing myself and my family; little did I know then how addictive it would become! That was the beginning of what I freely admit is now an obsession! I have personally taken almost every autosomal test on the market as well as the Mitochondrial Full Sequence Test and have tested my direct paternal line via my brother's Y-chromosome. I have also tested a multitude of family members and plan to test many more. I have spent a great deal of time over the last few years working with my own results as well as other people's results and I have had a number of personal successes - DNA testing has enhanced my family tree, confirmed the accuracy of a number of my lines, proven some hypotheses and broken a brick wall. Through my business, Genes & Genealogy, I now specialize in the use of DNA testing for genealogical purposes and, in particular, solving adoption, unknown parentage, NPE, illegitimacy and other unknown ancestor mysteries. I spend my days (and nights at times!) working on these mysteries and thoroughly enjoy being able to help people find answers to their questions. DNA has revolutionised the work I do and the way I research my own family history; I sing its praises to anyone who will listen!

So what will you be talking about?

This presentation will delve into the world of DNA segment data and how to use it to enhance your genealogical research. Michelle will explain how to use both the tools provided by the main testing companies and the most useful currently available third party tools. She will use practical examples to demonstrate how to make best use of segment data tools such as GenomeMatePro, GEDMatch (Tier 1) and DNA Painter. These tools can help with understanding, interpreting and organising DNA results and, ultimately, can contribute to how successful you are in identifying matches and making breakthroughs via DNA testing.

Previous talks by Michelle at GGI

GGI2018: Using autosomal DNA to maximum effect
"I will be talking exclusively about autosomal DNA this time around and specifically using autosomal DNA to maximum effect. To begin with I will go over the basics of autosomal DNA and explain inheritance patterns; I always say you don't have to be a geneticist or have advanced scientific knowledge to work with your DNA results but it does help to understand inheritance patterns and a few elementary concepts. I want to show people how to get the most out of their autosomal DNA results from what to do when they get their results through to my top tips for working with their matches. As always I will use case studies and successes from my own research to show just how much can be achieved with autosomal DNA testing. I find people get more excited about what it can do for them when they see real examples of how it has helped others. Additionally I will go over who the best relatives to test are because, with autosomal DNA in particular, testing other relatives besides yourself can be hugely beneficial. I will also talk about the importance of the X chromosome and give a brief overview of the best third party tools to use with your autosomal DNA tests."

GGI2017: I will once again be giving a talk on the basics of DNA testing for beginners - I will go over all the main types of testing that can be undertaken and explain the rudiments of how DNA is inherited. I always say you don't have to be a geneticist or have advanced scientific knowledge to work with your DNA results but it does help to understand inheritance patterns and a few elementary concepts. I will also give some advice on the most important steps to take after you get your results and use some case studies and successes from my own research to show just how much can be achieved when you work with your DNA test and matches. I will also talk about the importance of the X chromosome and give a brief overview of third party tools. DNA really is dynamite when it comes to what it can do for your family history research.

GGI2016, Michelle gave a talk on Using DNA to Solve Family Tree Mysteries. Here's how she described it: "I will be talking about my dual loves, genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy, and how adding DNA testing to the mix can help people with their traditional family tree research. My talk will primarily focus on Autosomal DNA and I will explain how autosomal DNA works and why it is so helpful for genealogical purposes. I will explain what you get when you take an autosomal DNA test and how to use those results. Using practical examples from my own research I will show how to go about working out who the common ancestors you share with the cousins on your match list might be. Matching new genetic cousins can lead to the breaking of long-standing brick walls and, just as important from my point of view, can help confirm lineages on your family tree. I will outline some of my personal success stories to show it can be done. I will also cover the significance of X-chromosome matches and third party tools."

Michelle has also spoken about the Fromelles Project at GGI2014 and you can see a video of her presentation below.

Further information on Michelle and her research interests




APG Profile:

Michelle's article on DNA Testing For Unknown Ancestor Mysteries written for #AncestryHour:


Michelle's article commemorating the 100th anniversary of the battle published in Forces War Magazine:

Channel 4 documentary about the Fromelles project:

The story of Fromelles as published in issue 44 of Wartime:

Fromelles Project Update 2013:

The Australian Army's Fromelles webpage:

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

You can watch a video of Michelle's 2014 presentation by simply clicking on the image below. To watch it in Full Screen, click on the "square" icon in the bottom right of the screen.

Friday 10 October 2014

John Cleary - Speaker Profile

Presentation: Big Y, WGS, & the future of Y-DNA

Member - ISOGG Scotland

Day Job - John teaches in a languages department at a university in Scotland, and has previously taught in colleges and universities in Germany, Japan, Malaysia and the UK. He has been involved in educational development projects on teaching modern European languages, which have led him to travel widely in Eastern Europe and central Asia. In a previous life he also worked in a museum and wrote a history of the people who had built and inhabited medieval almshouses.

How did you get into genealogy?
When working in the museum John developed an interest in the histories of communities and families. Some idle questions about some family mysteries led to him poking into his own family past, and he has since traced his own family back in each of Ireland's four provinces, as far as he can. Which isn't far enough – DNA research might be a way to see past that early horizon created by those Irish records that went up in smoke.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
Like many people John began by testing himself and finding unexpected results, which fuelled the interest to discover more. He is a member of ISOGG in Scotland, assists as one of the volunteer administrators of the Scottish DNA Project, and helped establish a DNA Interest Group for Scotland which began meeting in Glasgow in 2014. He has used it to trace the shared origins of people with a shared but unusual surname, and to look deeper into how those surname bearers came to be in Ireland. More recently he has been using DNA to open up the history of the Scots captured in the Civil War and transported to forced labour in the American colonies, and whose descendants are trying to reconstruct their stories.

So what will you be talking about?
The recent introduction of the Big Y-500 has made a significant impact on Y-DNA family history projects. The future of recreational DNA testing will hold some major surprises in particular for the evolution of the Tree of Mankind. This talk explores what we can expect in the next few years.

What DNA tests will be discussed?

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?

The Kemp Surname Project -

The Scottish Prisoners of the Civil Wars Project -

John's previous presentations at Genetic Genealogy Ireland ...

GGI2018 BelfastThe Kemp Story: an Ulster family network revealed through genealogy and DNA - ‘The Kemp Story’ is a case study in how documentary research and DNA testing can be made to work together to solve problems, discover new questions to answer and uncover the family histories hidden beyond the ‘horizon’ of surviving Irish records. The surname Kemp is unusual in Ireland, with one pocket of the name found in County Cavan, its descendants spread beyond Ireland to North America, Australasia and elsewhere. 

Over the past decade or so family historians and genetic genealogists have investigated the origins of this family, pushing the remaining written evidence to its limits, and using genetic genealogy to investigate whether all the Kemps in Cavan descended from a common founder. Recent discoveries have thrown the net over families elsewhere in Ulster and hinted at the first, tentative possibilities of deeper origins beyond Ulster.

This talk will look at the genealogical sources available for the early 1800s and earlier in this part of Ulster, as well as which forms of DNA test can be used to advance this kind of investigation.

GGI2017It is 4 years since FTDNA introduced their new Y chromosome sequencing test, the Big Y. This talk will review how this popular test has transformed surname projects in this time, and how the ‘SNP tsunami’ has up-ended and transformed the shape and size of the Y chromosome haplotree. Strategies and useful utilities for making sense of the results of Big Y testing will be presented and discussed through a variety of cases where breakthroughs have been made, or new questions answered, about families, names and their origins.

GGI2016Recent years have seen a huge explosion in the number of DNA markers available for testing on the Y-chromosome. And as more and more people have taken up these advanced tests, our knowledge of the Human Evolutionary Tree has expanded. Not only that, but the new SNP results (in combination with pre-existing STR data) are creating branching patterns within surname projects and helping our understanding of the evolution of surnames within Ireland. John summarises these recent advances and shows us where they might lead. Relevant surnames in this presentation include Kemp (two Irish lineages of this name); also: Kempton, Cummings, Jacobs, Anderson, Adams, Connell, Small – all good Irish names.

GGI2015: This talk is going to focus on DNA group projects - what they are; the different types; and how the family historian can get involved and use them. It will be of interest to anyone researching less common Irish surnames, especially those with possible origins in other parts of the Isles - or further away, and so may remain rare in Ireland. It's aimed mainly at those people who have taken a DNA test already and want to do more to compare their test with other people’s to extract more value from their results. People who have not tested but are thinking about doing it may also find this a useful source of ideas.

We'll look at group projects - especially surname projects and how they can increase the value of taking a DNA test. Part of the talk will look at how a surname project discovered more information about a particular surname that historical documents could not reveal. We'll look briefly at haplogroup projects – these capture “deep ancestry” (that is before surnames were used), but offer a lot to the family historian too. Then we'll introduce another, newer type, heritage projects, looking at a new project exploring the fates of Scottish prisoners transported as captives to America after defeat by Cromwell in 1650. This may interest Irish genealogists, too, given the huge numbers of Irish who also endured this fate under Cromwell and after. These show how DNA testing can be taken beyond conventional genealogy, opening up new ways to recount the history of peoples, communities and their migrations across the planet.

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

You can watch a video of the presentation by simply clicking on the image below. To watch it in Full Screen, click on the "square" icon in the bottom right of the screen.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Katherine Borges - Speaker Profile

Talk Title: Epigenetics for the Genetic Genealogist

Member - I am a member of Southern California Genealogical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Colonial Dames of the XVII Century.

Day Job(s) - Director of ISOGG, President of the Salida Chamber of Commerce

Night Job - I co-founded and became Director of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), which promotes and educates about genetic genealogy to over 8,000 members in 70 countries. We work to increase professional standards in the practice, research, and discussion of relevant issues in DNA testing, interpretation, and ethics. I now give many presentations on genetic genealogy to groups across the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as administering several surname, regional, and haplogroup DNA projects.

How did you get into genealogy?

I started doing genealogy in 2000 after the passing of my last grandparent. I realized that if I didn't start doing genealogy now, a lot would be lost.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
I learned about genetic genealogy from a speaker at a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting and became a DNA Project Administrator 11 years ago this month! (Oct).

So what will you be talking about?
Learn what Epigenetics is and why you need to learn about it for genetic genealogy. This presentation includes a brief history of this nascent field including both animal and human studies. Knowledge of epigentics can give you clues to mutations in your DNA.

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?
  • Everyone should join ISOGG - there is loads of support and a dedicated community of genetic genealogists just waiting to help you 
  • The ISOGG wiki is a great place to get up-to-date information about the latest to do with DNA and DNA testing 
  • One of the projects I administer is the Ireland mitochondrial DNA project

Previous Talks at GGI

GGI2018 - Introducing DNA Painter
The DNA Painter website is a user-friendly website packed with tools to help you analyse your DNA matches (no matter which company you have tested with). I'll review the tools available and how they can help you in practice, including the DNA Painter itself, the Shared cM Tool, and the WATO tool.

GGI2014 - GGI2017: DNA Testing Basics - I'll be discussing the basics of DNA testing and helping people understand what test might be best for them to take. This is perfect for the complete beginner or for people who have heard about DNA but want to know a little bit more detail. I'll be talking about all three types of DNA test and what each type of test can do for you. By the end of the talk you should have a much better idea of what kind of questions in your own family tree DNA can help you answer.

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

You can watch a video of Katherine's previous presentation by simply clicking on the image below. To watch it in Full Screen, click on the "square" icon in the bottom right of the screen.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Cynthia Wells - Reconstructing Irish-Caribbean Ancestry

Name - Cynthia Wells

Member - ISOGG, GOONS, Hampshire Genealogical Society, Somerset and Dorset Family History Society

Day Job - Administrative Manager overseeing the accounting, human resources, and administrative departments at Hart & Hickman located in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Night Job - Administrator/Co-Administrator of four Surname DNA Projects, ISOGG Regional Speaker for North Carolina, USA, Assistant Director of the Reedy Creek Family History Centre

How did you get into genealogy?
As a young child my family would entertain me with stories about my ancestors. I love history, like to research, and love my family so genealogy research was the perfect hobby for me. My marriage brought new genealogical research for my in-laws and when my children got married I had a whole new set of in-law genealogy to start. The last decade has seen a treasure trove of new genealogical tools. I never tire of finding new ancestors and learning their histories.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
I learned of genetic genealogy back in 2004. A sceptic at first, I realized how helpful using DNA for genealogy could be after seeing test results and learning how they could supply clues to further research, prove or disprove the paper trail, and advance the understanding of my surnames of interest.

My first dna surname project started in 2005 and I have gone on to co-admin three more. I’ve sponsored the testing of family/extended family members to expand my personal genealogical research and helped others choose the right DNA test for what they want to find out and what to make of their results. These tests include Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to WDYTYA in London multiple times and volunteer at the FTDNA booth. FTDNA sponsors the annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy. Since 2005 I have attended each conference to listen and learn from the experts in the field.

So what will you be talking about?
The middle decades of the 17th century witnessed countless Irish men and women shipped off to an island life of indentured servitude and forced labor never to return to their homeland. While many died quickly working under the harsh conditions of the sugar plantation others melted into a diverse culture that included AmerIndians and Africans. Historian Maurice Ashley wrote “The Caribbean was an area where Europe’s frontiers met”. The West Indies were also part of lucrative trade routes that brought many Caribbean Irish to the British colonies of Rhode Island, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Their descendants are now scattered throughout the United States. Reconstructing Irish Caribbean ancestry through the use of genetic genealogy combined with historical records is the long-term goal of iCARA. My presentation will discuss where the historical records are, what they reveal, and where DNA can lead us.

What DNA tests will be discussed?
Mainly Y-DNA and autosomal DNA

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?

The iCARA website (a work in progress) -

The Irish Caribbean DNA Project -

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Debbie Kennett - Speaker Profile

Talk Title - The Promise & Limitations of autosomal DNA

Background - Debbie is an internationally recognised expert and speaker on genetic genealogy. She writes the popular Cruwys News blog, and is the author of two books: DNA and Social Networking and The Surnames Handbook. She is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, and has worked to promote the responsible use of DNA testing as a genealogical tool. She is a member of ISOGG and the co-founder of the ISOGG Wiki. She is the administrator of several projects at Family Tree DNA including the Cruwys/Cruise DNA Project, the Devon DNA Project and the mtDNA Haplogroup U4 Project.

Day Job - I have a background in publishing. I now work as a freelance editor, proofreader, genealogist and writer.

Night Job - Nights and days tend to blur together, but I am often to be found answering DNA-related e-mails at midnight!

How did you get into genealogy?

I started my family history research in 2001 after the death of my father-in-law. We inherited a collection of family photos but were unable to put names to faces. I started writing letters and sending e-mails to relatives to ask for help with identification. I soon became addicted! As well as researching my own family tree I also researched all my husband’s family lines. I’d been fascinated by my rare maiden name CRUWYS since childhood, and this interest gradually developed into a full-blown one-name study. Now I research not just my own family tree but the family trees of everyone with the surname.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?

I first became involved in the world of genetic genealogy in 2007. A number of my fellow members of the Guild of One-Name Studies had already started surname projects, and I decided to set up my own project for the surnames CRUSE, CRUISE and CRUWYS after attending a talk by Chris Pomery at my local family history society.

There was a lot to learn but I soon discovered ISOGG and found that there were always people who knew more than me and who could answer all my questions. It was simply a matter of ensuring that I was always one step ahead of my project members! I started the Devon DNA Project in March 2009. I joined the mtDNA Haplogroup U4 Project as a co-administrator in September 2009, and became the Group Administrator in 2013. 

In 2010 I founded the ISOGG Wiki in collaboration with Tom Hutchison, and continue to be a major contributor. The Wiki has now developed into a major educational resource for genetic genealogy. 

In an attempt to recruit more people to join my DNA projects I started writing articles for various family history magazines. As a result I was commissioned to write my book on DNA and Social Networking

I’ve written articles about DNA testing for all the major family history journals. I am a frequent speaker about DNA and surnames at both local, national and international events.

So what will you be talking about?

The first cousin-matching autosomal DNA tests became available in 2009. Sales have exploded in the last few years and over 30 million people have now tested. However, the currently available tests still have many limitations. It is important to consider these uncertainties when incorporating DNA evidence into genealogical research. As the cost of sequencing comes down, the current microarray tests will be replaced by whole genome sequencing. In this talk we look at some of the pitfalls of interpreting matches based on incomplete data and look ahead at some of the exciting developments we can expect to see in the coming years.

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?

My blog:

My Guild profile page:

The Cruse/Cruise/Cruwys DNA Project:

The Devon DNA Project:

The mtDNA Haplogroup U4 Project:


UCL genetic ancestry website:


I am the author of two books, both published by the History Press:

- DNA and Social Networking (2011) (

- The Surnames Handbook (2012) (

Debbie's previous talks at Genetic Genealogy Ireland

GGI2019 BelfastDNA Testing for Complete Beginners

GGI2018 DublinFinding Missing Persons with DNA; & DNA for Beginners ... Thinking of taking a DNA test? Wondering how DNA can help your family tree research? Just got your results and wondering how to interpret them? Then my beginner’s talk is just right for you.

In a second talk, I'll be discussing how the use of Gedmatch has led to the identification of at least fifteen “missing persons” in the US (including murder victims and serial killers), and there are over 100 additional people awaiting identification within the Gedmatch database. This novel use of DNA & Genealogy in combination will be reviewed and ethical issues discussed.

GGI2018 BelfastMysteries of the Titanic solved by DNA - The loss of the Titanic is one of the worst disasters in maritime history. Over two thirds of the passengers and crew died on 14th/15th April when the luxury liner sank after hitting an iceberg. It was not possible at the time to identify many of the bodies that were recovered from the sea. Nearly a century later, DNA testing allows us to reinvestigate these historical mysteries. I will be looking at the findings of the Titanic Ancient DNA Project which sought to exhume and identify the remains of a young man, a woman and an unknown child buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I will also look at the mystery surrounding the fate of two-year-old Lorraine Allison. She was thought to have died with her parents but her body was never found. Many years later a woman known as Helen Kramer came forward claiming to be the child. Was DNA finally able to provide some answers?

GGI2017Making the most of Autosomal DNA - Autosomal DNA testing is a useful tool for the family historian. It can be used to confirm existing genealogical relationships and to reunite us with our long lost cousins. This talk will cover some of the basic concepts of autosomal DNA testing and look at strategies for working with your results. We will also look at some of the third-party tools and resources that are available to help you.

GGI2016The Future of Autosomal DNA Testing ... Cousin-matching autosomal DNA tests first became available in 2009, and are now the most popular of the three tests used by genealogists. Thanks to the power of the large company databases previously insoluble family history mysteries now have the potential to be solved. It is truly an exciting time to be a genetic genealogist. However, the interpretation of autosomal DNA results can be challenging, though new tools are being developed all the time to help with the process. What can we expect in the years to come as we move into the whole genome sequencing era?

GGI2015: DNA for Beginners ... I will be providing an introductory lecture on the subject of DNA testing which will look at the three different types of DNA test that can be used as an aid to family history research: Y-DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA testing and autosomal DNA testing. I will include practical examples and success stories from my own research to illustrate how the tests work.

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

You can watch a video of Debbie's previous presentation by simply clicking on the image below. To watch it in Full Screen, click on the "square" icon in the bottom right of the screen.

Here are links to the two talks Debbie did in 2015: