Daughters of the American Revolution
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13 April 2016

DAR is Expanding its Work with DNA for Genealogical Research

In recent years, DNA has become widely recognized as a powerful genealogical tool—a molecular hammer than can smash brick walls. It can have the same utility as a historic document or vital record and can be especially helpful in eliminating false information.  You can learn more about DNA research and genealogy from a recent DAR Library Genealogy 101 lecture which can be viewed online here: http://www.dar.org/library/online-library-lectures

Beginning in 2014, DAR began accepting Y-DNA as supporting evidence in membership applications. You can learn more about this process here: www.dar.org/dna. At the time the DNA policy was implemented, we began a partnership with FamilyTree DNA (FTNDA) to offer discounted Y-DNA tests to DAR members and their families. We are excited to again be working with Family Tree DNA on another DNA project…and this one is groundbreaking!

As part of this partnership, DAR staff genealogists manage a group of DNA results from DAR members and their relatives on the Family Tree DNA website.  Our DNA group can be found under the Surname Project and is called “NSDAR” https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/nsdar/about.  We want to invite YOU to submit your DNA results to our DNA group. All types of DNA are accepted and welcomed; feel free to submit Y-DNA,mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA tests.

The power of DNA is limited only by the number of test subjects; more participants in a DNA groups equals a better chance of finding lineage connections between its members.  A “connection” is when two individuals share a common piece (segment) of DNA. The more DNA segments two individuals share,the more closely they are related.  Finding these matches can be very helpful in your family history research. They can break down a brick wall, help a prospective DAR member find a connection to a patriot, eliminate false information in your genealogical research and even substantiate family stories and lore!

As our DNA group grows and even more technology becomes available, we believe that in partnership with Family Tree DNA, we will be able to combine DNA results with our verified lineages to gain a clearer understanding of the utility of all types of DNA as part of the application process.  The future of DNA in genealogical research is endless!

Written by Lynn Young, President General
April 22nd 2016

As a follow up to last week’s exciting blog from Registrar General, Sharon Withers, about expanding the NSDAR DNA Group on Family Tree DNA’s website, I’m pleased to share even more DNA news!

Earlier this year, NSDAR admitted the first DAR member to use Y-DNA as genealogical evidence

Sue Williams joined the Toll Gate Creek Chapter in Colorado after using Y-DNA to help document one of the relationships in her lineage to her Patriot. In the past, other members have submitted Y-DNA with their applications, but in those cases there was enough documentation that the DNA was not needed.

Genealogical research is often a team effort; in this case, it took a lot of work by a variety of great researchers.  We are excited to celebrate the effort that went into setting the foundation for future use of Y-DNA evidence in the DAR application process!

Let me tell you a little bit more about this journey. To provide some background, the Y chromosome (and the DNA it contains) is passed on from father to son to grandson in an unbroken line; only males have a Y chromosome.  Y-DNA traces a direct paternal line.  However, a Y-DNA match only proves that the descendant was fathered by someone from a particular family.  It does not pinpoint the father since brothers and their sons have the same Y-DNA.  A great deal of research is necessary to eliminate all possible fathers before the actual man can be identified.

Suzanne Sanborn, Toll Gate Creek chapter registrar, worked closely with Sue in gathering traditional proofs of lineage and, when direct evidence could not be found for a generational connection, encouraged her to consider Y-DNA testing. The DAR’s policy on Y-DNA is that it may be used to prove a new child on an established ancestor.  In this particular case, the applicant needed Y-DNA to connect the great-grandchild to the grandchild of the Patriot.  An exception to the policy needed to be allowed before any work could begin.  The next step was to acquire DNA from a known descendant of the Patriot.  Patricia Sayko, the South Carolina State Registrar, was contacted; Pat, in turn, contacted the Elizabeth Peyre Richardson Manning Chapter who had members descending from the established Patriot.  The regent of the chapter was essential in contacting members and former members of the chapter to get permission for this DNA test.  What came back was a 100% match (37/37 marker match) indicating that indeed this great-grandchild was a descendant of the established Patriot through one his grandsons.

The next step was to determine WHICH grandson was actually the father.  This opened research to eliminate all other possibilities.   Extensive research was conducted by Bonnie Glasgow in South Carolina, as well as Bethe Clark-Urban in Colorado.  Several others also helped gather necessary documentation to eliminate some family members as potential matches and establishing others as probable candidates.  Ray Harriot of the Harriot Family Association also assisted in the research to further piece together the puzzle.  Once the research and documentation was collected, a five page analysis was written.  Reading it provides the logical conclusion that proves the lineage. The genealogy staff as well as the Director of Library and Genealogy, Darryn Lickliter, and the Registrar General, Sharon Withers, also did extensive research and review before the final package was complete.

This was a team approach to getting an application verified.  Rarely is this much work done by the NSDAR Genealogy Department on one paper, but it was important to establish a secure foundation for future use of Y-DNA evidence.  Kudos to all who worked diligently to make this historic event happen!

Congratulations to Sue Williams on her membership!  We hope her story inspires you to consider DNA testing for yourself and your relatives. After your testing we hope you all will join the NSDAR DNA Group on Family Tree DNA!