Jim Barrett is an active member of the genetic genealogy community who administers several surname group projects. He is well known on the ISOGG group administrators’ list as well as in our FTDNA Forums.
Rebekah: Please tell me about yourself. Are you currently working or retired? What are your other hobbies or interests outside of genealogy?
Jim: I am a retired mainframe programmer. You mean there is life outside of genealogy! My wife and I volunteer one day a week at our local genealogy library (I guess that doesn’t count). I’m commander of our local Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp (I guess that is genealogy also). Active in our church. Love to work on our farm, and fish in my spare time (what is that?).
Rebekah: How long have you been actively involved in genealogy, and how did you become interested in the field?
Jim: About 35 – 40 years. When my dad died I discovered I knew nothing about his family other than his one brother.
Rebekah: At what point did you decide to become involved in genetic genealogy?
Jim: In 2002, a man I didn’t know contacted me and ask that I order a Y-DNA25 kit, which I did. We didn’t match but I thought it was a good idea. This was before FTDNA offered their cookie cutter websites for projects, so I suggested our project needed one and the admin turned the project over to me.
Rebekah: What genetic ancestry tests have you taken?
Jim: Y-DNA67, mtDNA HVR1&2, and 23andMe
Rebekah: Have you tested family members?
Jim: My wife and youngest daughter tested at 23andMe (before FTDNA announced Family Finder). Y-DNA12 for two sons-in-law, still waiting for one of them to send the kit in.
Rebekah: Have you ever been surprised by your or your family’s test results?
Jim: The first cousin I got to test didn’t match me.
Rebekah: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?
Jim: No, but I keep hoping. We have proved that my Barrett line doesn’t descend from a man many claimed we did descend from. Our Y-DNA isn’t even close, although we are in the same main Haplogroup.
Rebekah: Are you involved as a group project administrator? If so, what made you decide to become involved? What projects do you administrate or co-administrate?
Jim: As stated above I became the Barrett administrator when the current one didn’t have the time he and I thought the project needed. I have added Powell, Gaddis, Magness, Sons of Confederate Veterans & Tasmania.
Rebekah: Have you witnessed success stories in your projects?
Jim: Yes. On several occasions, members have added several generations to their trees and a few matching groups have become very active.
Rebekah: What advice would you give someone starting out in genealogy or personal ancestry DNA testing?
- Get as much information from your relatives as you can while they are still around.
- Don’t accept undocumented information as proven.
- Use family trees on Ancestry.com as suggestions only.
- Test as many relatives as possible – autosomal for males and females and Y-DNA for males.
Rebekah: What do you think the future holds for genetic genealogy?
Jim: I think FTDNA is wrong. I think sex does matter. Y-DNA is hard to beat. Autosomal is great for finding close relatives. mtDNA matches can be so far back they could never be found. Hopefully FTDNA will offer some type of Y-DNA SNP testing that will fall between individual SNP test and Big Y. Something resembling the Deep Clad test.