Incorporating DNA and genealogy research

One year ago was a milestone accomplishment in my genetic genealogy: I published an article in the Sept 2016 issue of the Indiana Genealogist, which is the quarterly publication of the Indiana Genealogical Society.1 It’s titled “Identifying James Dorsey’s Father: a Case Study Incorporating DNA Evidence.”2



James was an Irish Catholic Famine-era immigrant who first appeared in Ontario, Canada and then–after marrying and starting a family–moved to Wisconsin. No documents in Canada or the U.S. named his parents, but he’d lived in Canada about 6 miles from a Michael “Darcy” who was old enough to be his father. The two men had attended the same church. Could Michael Darcy be the father of James Dorsey? Indirect documentary evidence and autosomal DNA results for descendants of two of James’s children and two of Michael’s children make a strong case that he was.

I’ve learned more about the family since then, eventually confirming the hypothesis with baptismal records in Kilkenny County, Ireland. I’ve learned more about DNA since then too, and continue to learn more, every day!

At the Indiana Genealogical Society annual conference in April 2017, I was honored to be named one of two co-winners of the Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award for my article.3
IGS award

In our Central Indiana DNA Interest Group presentations, we often talk of three strategies for using DNA in genealogy:

  1. fishing (for matches who have evidence or new leads, anywhere in our family trees)
  2. targeted testing (working with known relatives to identify new shared matches to tackle a particular brick wall, again hoping to connect to someone with evidence or new leads to pursue)
  3. using DNA as a kind of evidence itself when thoroughly exhaustive research hasn’t turned up enough documentary evidence to answer the research question with confidence

So far, our group generally goes into depth on the first two, as most of our participants aren’t ready for the third strategy. But for those who are, I hope my article might be helpful.

I’m happy to share it here >> IndianaGenealogist_2016_09 p1-23

Ann Raymont (c) 2017


1. For information on the Indiana Genealogical Society, see

2. Ann Raymont, “”Identifying James Dorsey’s Father” a Case Study Incorporating DNA Evidence,” Indiana Genealogist, vol. 27, no. 3, Sep 2016, pp. 5-23.

3. For information on the winners of the Family History Writing Award, see See also IGS Newsletter, “Publications,” vol. 29, no. 3, June 2017, p. 7.



1 thought on “Incorporating DNA and genealogy research

  1. Barb LaFara

    Congratulations! I remember reading your article in INGen and found it both informative and well written. I also enjoy reading your blog and have learned much from it. Thank you and keep up the good work.



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