Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy – Intro by Diahan Southard

Diahan Southard gave a fantastic presentation at Rootstech 2015 about how to get started with Genetic Genealogy.  Diahan is one of the few people who has been in this field as long as I have been – 15 years now.  This is the only industry I know where 15 years makes you both one of the first and an old-timer.  Funny – Diahan doesn’t look anything like a dinosaur:)


Diahan makes DNA interesting.  Guaranteed, she will not put you to sleep.  And when I say intro, this really is – so don’t be intimidated.


As Diahan says, genetic genealogy is not mysterious, it makes sense, there’s a pattern and you utilize DNA results plus you add your traditional genealogy skills into the mix.

Diahan is right.  In her presentation, she tells you all about those tools, and why you would want to test.  And…which test would be the best for you to take to accomplish your genealogy goals.

You are a walking, living, breathing record of your ancestors!!!  Find out how to discover more!

Thanks to Rootstech for the videos and Diahan for the great intro.  The conference video is no longer available, but this note from Diahan provides directions to her great videos.

Even though the Rootstech video is no longer available, I do have that video (plus lots more!) as part of my online video tutorial series ( That same RootsTech Video is also a bonus feature of subscribing to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Premium Membership where she provides instruction on Tech Tools like Google, Evernote, and Google Earth ( You can also come learn about genetic genealogy in person if you are going to be nearby anywhere I am going to be (



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26 thoughts on “Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy – Intro by Diahan Southard

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m an advocate of using DNA testing as a tool to enhance your family’s genealogy research. This will be a great video to help introduce and clarify discussions with people that are new to the process.

  2. Roberta, I saw Diahan’s presentation at the DNA day at SCGS’s Jamboree last June. Totally agreed: she will not put you to sleep. She gives an energetic, informative presentation–and a tangible one that lets a lay person get a confident grasp of the subject. Highly recommended!

    • Thanks, Jacqi! I hope you are coming to Jamboree again! So many good DNA talks are scheduled for DNA day!


  3. Hi Roberta,

    “Getting Started…” by Diahan Southard could be interesting. Any way to actually SEE THE VIDEOS, not just a still picture?


    Henryk Gruder

  4. Awesome find. After decades of serving as the unofficial geneologist in my family, I recently jumped into DNA testing – by purchasing four tests.

    Although DNA is at its core a technical subject, why is it still so hard for the average family researcher like me to figure out which test to buy – to get started? I have an engineering degree, yet I still had to spend many hours researching the subject to get myself comfortable enough to jump.

    Diahan does a great job simplifying this subject (wish I’d seen her video first). The big 4 test services should follow her lead…

    IMO, we need a LOT more intro-type content like this to attract more people to submit their DNA to the big 4 test services.

    • Charles,
      I am so pleased that you enjoyed this! Yes, we need more people to test, thanks for doing your part to encourage them.


  5. Thank you for letting us know about this. I probably fell in the group she said didn’t need to watch it – but I feel we always learn something and tend to overestimate our skills! There was one point she made that I take issue with and wanted to ask. First she said mtDNA testing is most helpful to answer a specific question – unless you are testing out of curiosity and an interest in deep ancestry. I agree completely. But, she followed that by saying there is really no point in looking at anything other than matches with a genetic distance other than 0. I know this was a beginning class and maybe she did not want to complicate things. However, my own match came back as a distance of one. This test was done with my second cousin once removed to verify that all the children of my 2nd g-grandmother shared the same mother.

    That really freaked me out – a woman in Russia was a 0 and I was a 1. I had a very small paper trail as she had died at 16 – however, when my mom died in 2001 I asked two of my aunts why I had always been told they were my cousins as well as my aunts (by marriage). This was early on in my research on my mom’s side. The aunts proved to be a first cousin and 2nd cousin to my uncles. Fortunately, my results arrived when Debbie Parker Wayne was here to do a seminar for our society. She told me this was a heteroplasmy – not to panic. And at almost the same time I came across a christening record listing my great grandmother and her parents.

    I thought that statement was misleading and could lead someone to believe they were off base. How common is a heteroplasmy? And just because mutations happen at a far slower rate than in Y-DNA they do happen and what I had to realize was that this happened somewhere in the last 3 generations rather than 3000 years ago. It occurred with my side – not my cousins.

    • Carolyn,
      You are absolutely correct. I was trying to keep it all very simple, but you are right, there is always a chance that a mutation has occurred recently in a family line. I appreciate your feedback very much.


  6. I’m watching the video now. It’s wonderful! But I have a question. Diahan shows a great DNA website with a chart of relatives. Did I just pick a bum site by using 23andMe or am I missing that magic link to this information on there? What site is she using?

    • Lori, DNA testing is PERFECT! If you are a member at AncestryDNA, start there and then transfer into FTDNA. If he knows who his father is, testing a known relative on his dad’s side will help us better identify the maternal line matches.

  7. Pingback: DNAeXplained Archives – Educational Opportunities | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  8. A few years ago some cousins and I started a y-dna project for variations of the Teter surname. Now one of the co-founders has been contacted by known cousins on his maternal side whose autosomal results have been matched to his y-dna test (?) He’s confused and so am I. Can anyone explain how these two different tests were matched?

    • Some people say that when their base haplogroup matches at 23andMe, for example. At FTDNA, you can search for people who match you both on FF and on the Y. Or maybe they mean the haplogroups match. You’ll have to ask what they mean.

    • I moved them from the deleted folder and WordPress resent them. I had no idea and I’m sorry.

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