Quick tip – Researching Living People Needs Their Collaboration

Dutch privacy laws are strict and restrict access to records of people born less than 100 years ago. If you are searching for living people, they will be the only ones who can access their records. Their cooperation and permission is also necessary if you want them to take a DNA test for you. See the article on proving my descent from my mother for an example. … [Read more...]

Dutch DNA Testing Strategy

So you're of Dutch descent and want to take a DNA test to find cousins in the Netherlands or learn more about your ancestors. How do you go about doing that? In general, Dutch people are guarded about their privacy. Many people in the Netherlands have very complete trees because of the excellent records and don't feel the need for DNA testing. As a result, DNA testing for genealogical purposes is not that common in the Netherlands, though recent marketing campaigns have started to make it … [Read more...]

What Dutch DNA looks like

Update: This is the 2016 version of the article, the 2018 version of this article is now available! There's a meme going around on Facebook, started by J Paul Hawthorne, where people share their pedigree chart that shows the ethnicities rather than the names. In this article I am going to compare my ethnicity based on my paper trail to the ethnicity predictions by the DNA companies. Ethnicity pedigree chart Here is my pedigree chart, showing the countries of birth of ten generations of … [Read more...]

How I use DNA for my one-place-study

My father's family is from a small village in the Netherlands called Winterswijk. All 2,000+ ancestors of his that I've been able to trace so far were from Winterswijk or the immediate surroundings. People first started living in that area in the early Middle Ages and I would not be surprised to find out that most of my paternal ancestors descend from that initial group of Saxons who settled there. 'Kissing cousins' turn into a one-place-study When I started researching my ancestors, I … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many Dutch DNA cousins

When you take a DNA-test for genealogical purposes, don't be surprised if you don't find many Dutch matches. Because DNA testing isn't very popular in the Netherlands, there will be few Dutch people in the databases. So not finding many Dutch matches doesn't mean that your paper trail that shows a Dutch ancestor is wrong. Why DNA testing isn't popular in the Netherlands I think there are several reasons for this: Many people are unaware of the possibilities that DNA can offer. If they … [Read more...]

Column – DNA tools

Two years ago, I took my first genealogical DNA-test. Thankfully, the results weren't too surprising, but definitely interesting. Grandpa, who was born three months after his parents' marriage, was indeed the son of his father because I share DNA with multiple relatives on that side. My friend Mary, whom I knew to be related on my father's side, also turned out to share DNA with my mother. This find may enable us to trace the father of an illegitimate ancestor. Before I tested, I would never … [Read more...]

How to find the father of an illegitimate child

In most families, sooner or later you will encounter a child born to an unwed mother. Finding the fathers of these 'illegitimate' children can be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. I've researched dozens of these cases, both in my own tree and for clients. In four cases, I have been able to prove who the father was. In two other cases, I have developed good theories which I hope to prove through DNA. In the majority of cases, I ended up with a list of possible fathers, but no … [Read more...]

My Native American DNA. Say what?

Always eager to try technological advances, I took an autosomal DNA test to see what that would tell me. One of the tools that you can use on Gedmatch tells you your admixture: the regions where your ancestors originally came from who contributed to your DNA. The methods to calculate this are still very much under development, but I find it fascinating. Many people put a lot of trust in the results and think they will point to a country of origin. But sometimes they are just plain wrong. My DNA … [Read more...]

Three Things I Learned About DNA at WDYTYA Live

Last week, during Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London, I attended a DNA workshop about Autosomal DNA. Autosomal DNA is the DNA on your non-sex chromomes (22 pairs). I have done autosomal testing with FamilyTreeDNA and 23andme and am always looking for information that helps me to interpret the results. Here are three things that I learned. 1. You need much larger segments than I thought If your DNA overlaps with another person who tested, you can see how long your matching segments … [Read more...]