Monday, November 7, 2016

Reaping Some Teamwork
From That Family Visit

Our visit to Chicago at the end of last month became doubly sweet with a recent email from one of the cousins we saw during our travels. My husband actually turns out to have two cousins who enjoy doing genealogical research—and one who is keen on DNA testing. Trouble is, she had all her family test at the one company our family hasn't used: 23andMe.

However, she has been kind to let me take a peek at her results at 23andMe, so I could familiarize myself with the tools that company offers to analyze DNA results there. You know how it goes, though...too many things to do in too little time. Guess which opportunity got squandered for lack of time?

I knew that had to come to an abrupt stop, though, since I signed up to take the most recent week-long DNA offering at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy this coming January. One prerequisite for the class was to test at all three companies. Guess which one I hadn't yet tested at?

Since these cousins are from my husband's side of the family, the natural choice for victim volunteer to test at 23andMe was my husband. That way, at least we knew two matches which would show up in his results, for sure: the very ones who are now sharing in this genealogy journey with us.

Before we could arrange to get his results in, this past weekend I got an email from this cousin with a link and a breathless "you gotta look at this" message. Not knowing about the Kelly match I had been working on recently—the very one we had traveled to Lafayette, Indiana, to research during our visit to Chicago—she realized that that was the family name in her set of matches at 23andMe.

When the same names start popping up in our tests at different companies, it not only lends some confidence to the results, but sets us all a-buzz about the discoveries we're making. Together.

There's nothing like teamwork. With the advent of all these genealogical offerings that can be utilized online—I like to say, "In our comfy jammies, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, at midnight"—I'm afraid all of us genealogy aficionados are turning into hermits.

This bestows an air of solitary confinement soldiering on, as we labor over the tedium of piecing together our family trees. But that was not always so; genealogy used to have much more of a social aspect to it. Everything from the fact that we had to travel to public places to do our research (libraries and archives are admittedly quiet places, but they do have people in them) to the sharing that was done through queries via newsletters—or, later, online forums—we were connecting with other people as we worked through our research.

Now, it seems so easy to sink into that assumption that it all can be done single-handedly, through our computers, connecting only with the digitized documents that are the end proof of what we seek. What a refreshing deviation from that trend, when we discover fellow travelers on the same pedigree lines.

There may be some people who couldn't be happier than when they chug along in the quiet isolation of their own home's access to computer-delivered genealogical records. That, however, is not me. I thrive on gathering with fellow enthusiasts at society meetings and conferences, or traveling to an archival collection with a research friend.

But above all, it's the best when your own relatives want to join in the fun of discovering your family history.


  1. Your post made me smile from ear to ear. Having relatives who are not only interested but actively involved in the fun is just terrific!

    1. Making those connections really made our recent trip doubly special, Marian. It does bring on a great smile, doesn't it?

  2. YES!! I would love to have help! You are lucky to have like minded relatives:)

    1. Patience, Far Side, is the only advice I can give. After all, these two were our relatives for all those years before now, too--but it was only recently that we all discovered we can work on this together. It is quite likely that you will make a discovery like that someday, yourself. Sometimes, it just takes time... (and I might add: the DNA testing angle in this case came about when one cousin developed a rare disease for which she had all the family test; sometimes such other--and unfortunate--developments can trigger some beneficial teamwork, despite the burdens that come with the diagnosis.)

  3. It's always nice to have help. Sometimes it is hard to give it.

    1. Any way to facilitate encouraging people to help is a good approach!


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