Book Review: Genetic Genealogy in Practice

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Genetic Genealogy in Practice
By Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne.
National Genealogical Society.
2016. 196 pages.

This is a workbook type of book. I’ve heard this so many times from my genealogy friends: “Well, I finally got the results of my DNA testing, but now I don’t know what to do with it.”

This workbook should solve that dilemma. There is plenty of instruction along with the “work” part of the book. The early sections cover the biology and basics of genetics, and then continues on with instruction on applying the DNA results to your research.

The value of this book lies in the practice using the several exercises at the end of each chapter. Exercises that review and assess the theories just outlined, using real-world examples that simplify learning and applying the principles to your own research.

Chapter 1 presents the biology of genetics. Chapter 2 presents the basics of genetic genealogy as related to research standards and ethics. We’re reminded that any piece of evidence, whether a census record, a death certificate, or DNA profile needs to be evaluated, analyzed, and correlated within the context of all the other pieces of evidence. Chapter 2 reviews the Genealogical Proof Standard and incorporating the GPS while evaluating DNA evidence.

The following chapters consider, in a chapter for each: Y-DNA, mtDNA, atDNA, X-DNA, Incorporating DNA Testing in a Family Study, and Incorporating DNA Evidence in a Written Conclusion.

Appendices include charts for the exercises, a glossary, a reading and source list, and appreciatively, answers to the chapter exercises.

I’d say this workbook might get you unstuck if you’re in the Now-What mode. You waited for weeks to get these results, now learn how to decipher and interpret the benefits and limitations of what you’ve got.

Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne is available from the publisher, the National Genealogical Society, at as well as from Amazon at Amazon also sells a Kindle ebook version at a much lower price than that of the printed book.

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