NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection by David Dowell

NextGen GenealogyOne of the questions I receive regularly is about available books on Genetic Genealogy including the basics, what results mean and how to use the various types of tools.  This past year has seen three new books.  I’m excited that the genetic genealogy community is writing these books, because after all, we’re the ones who are doing this work, utilizing these tools and pushing this frontier.

David Dowell, a long time genealogist has just introduced his new book, NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection.


Dave was kind enough to provide the following information about why he wrote his book, and what you will find within the pages.

This book was written for those of you who have little or no background in genetics, it is assumed that you have a basic knowledge of the principles of traditional genealogical principles.

The primary audience for this book is not the academic community. I have deliberately chosen to communicate in the same breezy style employed in blogs. I have decided to ignore the advice of Mary Jane Frances Smith: “The style used to write on a blog, in an e-mail, or in other forums on the Internet is not the style a writer should use in a letter of reference, print magazine, professional journal, or book.” If that decision bothers you, you are probably not the intended audience whom I had in mind for this book. There is a time and place for every style. This is a book intended for novices in this exciting new field. It is not a book intended to advance the frontiers of discovery for seasoned experts.

(Roberta’s note – Dave’s book is very readable and understandable for the normal air-breathing genealogist and I like his writing style!)

NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection is intended to help you appreciate the four separate patterns by which men inherit the four discrete groupings of their DNA. The use of the term “men” in the previous sentence was done deliberately: women inherit through only three of these processes.

Being able to differentiate between these patterns of how DNA is passed from parents to child is essential to understanding which test(s) to take for genealogical purposes and how to interpret the results. Used properly they help us find connections with direct line ancestors and the cousins who are their descendants.

The family history research of most of readers will benefit if you learn to incorporate the information from within your cells with the information you collect from traditional research.

Some of you will be disappointed – at least at first. This is likely to result from one or more of the following issues:

  1. Your pedigree chart is not robust enough. Build it. If you are waiting for DNA test results, use the interval to apply documentary research and try to extend all your direct lines back as far as possible but at least eight generations. You may never quite complete this task, but it is a realistic goal. (After decades of research my own tree still breaks down on a couple of lines after only five generations.) Continue to build your tree as you analyze your DNA test results. You cannot understand where to fit DNA matches into your family unless you have the context provided by a reasonably well developed family tree.
  2. Extended family/cousins haven’t tested. Recruit them. Lots of people have taken DNA tests, but they still make up a miniscule percentage of the earth’s inhabitants. Test takers are not evenly distributed throughout all groups. Be proactive in expanding DNA databases to include those who have a high probability of matching you.
  3. You don’t know how to fish the information out. Read on. This book will not provide you with all the techniques you will ever need to know, but it should give you enough to get you started.

Chapter 1 will provide you with most of the basic genetic concepts and terms you will need to start practicing genetic genealogy. If you do not retain all of its content on first reading, come back later when you have a specific need for a review.

Chapters 2 through 5 will introduce you in turn to yDNA, mtDNA, atDNA and xDNA — the four types of human DNA that can be useful to us as genetic genealogists. Each of these chapters will help you understand the unique inheritance pattern of one of these types of DNA and appreciate how you can begin to apply test results in your own family research.

Chapter 6 extends your voyage of family history discovery into even earlier eras of your deep ancestry.

Chapter 7 raises questions about whether we should test our DNA and how each of us may arrive at different conclusions when ethical issues arise.

Chapter 8 discusses what is coming next and gives suggestions for additional learning experiences as you continue your journey into this fast evolving field.

At the end of the book, you will  recommended reading for further learning, a glossary for terms you may encounter, and a comprehensive index to help you single out specific concepts or terms of interest.

You can order Dave’s book for the Kindle here or in regular book form here.



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6 thoughts on “NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection by David Dowell

  1. David’s book convinced me to go fishing in several ponds. I am now testing with 23andme, AncestryDNA and National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 to supplement my FTDNA results. 23andme has already told me that I have 3% Neanderthal DNA and I now own the t-shirt! I have become a junkie!

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  4. Years ago, David and I corresponded about traditional paper trails that had us trying to figure out where we matched. We never came to a conclusion. Maybe his new book on DNA testing will help.

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