Tag Archives: Book Reviews

HOT OFF THE PRESS! Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies by Debbie Parker Wayne, Editor

Just over a week ago, I first heard about this sensational new book that had just been published – Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies by Debbie Parker Wayne, Editor.

Imagine my chagrin when I ordered it on Amazon, only to have a delivery message stating it would arrive between 1 May and 11 June 2019! It had already apparently sold out. A few days later, though, a delivery update made me very happy and the book arrived last week.

To begin, the book is a bit hefty in price, but it is way more hefty in its 382 pages of information and worth every penny. It would be the perfect textbook in a class on genetic genealogy. That is a big compliment because, as a retired teacher, I see textbooks as a source of lots of great learning.

Take a look at the Table of Contents:

Methods, Tools & Techniques

1. Lessons Learned from Triangulating a Genome, Jim Bartlett, PE
2. Visual Phasing Methodology and Techniques, Blaine T. Bettinger, JD, PhD
3. X-DNA Techniques and Limitations, Kathryn J. Johnston, MD
4. Y-DNA Analysis for a Family Study, James M. Owston, EdD
5. Unknown and Misattributed Parentage Research, Melissa A. Johnson, CG
6. The Challenge of Endogamy and Pedigree Collapse, Kimberly T. Powell
7. Parker Study: Combining atDNA and Y-DNA, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL
8. Would You Like Your Data Raw or Cooked? Ann Turner, MD

DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard

9. Drowning in DNA? The Genealogical Proof Standard Tosses a Lifeline, Karen Stanbary, CG
10. Correlating Documentary and DNA Evidence to Identify an Unknown Ancestor, Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG
11. Writing about, Documenting, and Publishing DNA Test Results, Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Ethics, Emotions, and the Future

12. Ethical Underpinnings of Genetic Genealogy, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
13. Uncovering Family Secrets: The Human Side of DNA Testing, Michael Lacopo, DVM
14. The Promise and Limitations of Genetic Genealogy, Debbie Kennett, MCG

The chapters are followed by the Glossary and Recommended Reading. The List of Figures and Tables is SIX pages long!

Each of these chapters is a high-powered read as a stand-alone. Depending on one’s levels of technical expertise and genetic genealogy needs of his/her own genealogical research, some chapter topics will be of more interest than others.

However, everyone will learn something and most of us will learn a lot from each of these authors, who are well respected names in the genealogical world.

There are two things, on the surface, that I love about this book. The first – many color charts and tables – might not seem significant, but color adds so much clarity and understanding to factual information presented. Second, I really love the number of case studies found in most of the chapters. Like color, case studies help bring all the data into  perspective in a way that doesn’t overload the brain.

This book is not in any way a beginner’s guide to DNA – after all, the opening chapters cover triangulating genomes and visual phasing. Personally, I consider myself to be on the beginning edge of intermediate understanding in my DNA knowledge and some of the material covered is beyond my grasp right now. Yet, I am enthusiastically jumping into reading each and every chapter because each topic seems approachable and written in a style that offers new knowledge in ways that I can process and understand without a DNA teacher by my side.

Yes, $50.00 is an expense, but I highly recommend this book to anyone beyond a beginner’s level in genetic genealogy.

Okay, I did say that I am looking forward to reading all the chapters, so why am I recommending a book that I haven’t entirely read? Between my years as a teacher and my 40 years doing family history, I recognize a quality book when I see one. I’ve skimmed through the chapters enough to get a feel for it. This is a book that readers will reference time and again as their genetic family trees blossom and expand. It’s most definitely a keeper. 🙂







Hot off the Press! Puritan Pedigrees of the Great Migration of New England by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG: A Review

I am always excited when the New England Historic Genealogical Society has a major new publication. Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, is definitely in that category.

This book is literally just off the press and arrived in my mailbox two days ago. (Disclaimer: I had pre-ordered the book in December – this is not a complimentary copy, nor have I received any perks or compensation for this review.)

The book’s format is straightforward with the objective stated in the opening paragraph:

The purpose of this volume is to expand on two long-standing and prominent strands in the historiography of the Great Migration to New England, combining both the clerical and lay perspectives, with emphasis on the latter.

The two strands mentioned are (1) the religious motivation for the migration from England to New England and (2) the network of genealogical and intellectual connections that existed among those early immigrants in England.

In other words, this is the backstory of the social and religious influences that caused the beginning of the Great Migration.

There are 12 chapters in the book, interspersed with Interludes that add side details pertaining to the chapters they follow:

Chapter One – Thomas Mildmay and John Winthrop
Interlude: The Culverwell Family
Chapter Two: Thomas Cranmer and Walter Norton
Chapter Three: Alexander Nowell and Increase Nowell
Interlude: The Weald of Kent
Chapter Four: Henry Hastings and Richard Mather
Chapter Five: Edmund Grindal and John Wilson
Interlude: Conventicles
Chapter Six: Richard Rogers and John Rogers
Chapter Seven: Robert Browne and Thomas Oliver
Chapter Eight: Thomas Stoughton and James Cudworth
Interlude: The Classis Movement Connection
Chapter Nine: Arthur Hildersham and Walter Desborough
Interlude: Childerditch
Chapter Ten: Robert Parker and Stephen Bachiler
Chapter Eleven: John White and John Warham
Chapter Twelve: Herbert Pelham and Isaac Johnson

First, do NOT make the mistake of scanning the list of names in the chapters and decide to pass over this book because none of your ancestors are listed.

By doing so, you will miss the whole point of the book, which is to understand HOW the Great Migration came to be.

Social influence, education and kinship in England were all important factors that contributed to the birth of Puritanism. The genealogical pedigrees of the men highlighted in these chapters are deftly woven into a complex set of relationships and stories, beginning in the 1500s and extended into the early part of the 17th century, which saw the first ships leaving old England for New England.

Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England is a scholarly work, heavily foot-noted and annotated with charts and illustrations. If you are lucky enough to have ancestors mentioned in this book, that is a bonus, but shouldn’t be the impetus for reading it.

I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in the religious influences, barriers and persecutions that led to the Great Migration and the founding of New England.

It isn’t an inexpensive book, but it definitely should be on the reference shelves of anyone researching 17th century New England.

An aside, if you have read Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer, the first section, East Anglia to Massachusetts, is a great companion piece to accompany this book.

Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG is available on American Ancestors for $64.95.


Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill – A Book Review

Disclaimer: I purchased this book and have received no remuneration/compensation for this review. My opinion is my own.

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill is a really interesting read. What drew me to this book is the fact that Mr. Hill began the search to learn about his birth parents long before the advent of the internet and even longer before DNA testing for family historians became widely available.

It is a great case study in how to follow both the paper trail and DNA results. The foreward was written by Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA.

Author Richard Hill, of DNA-Testing-Adviser, explains in his introduction that many pieces had to come together to solve his mystery, but without the human factor and input, the fine details of his story and the knowledge he has gained would have remained unknown.

Mr. Hill also offers his own story up to adoptees as a tips-and-techniques guide to help them find success in their own search.

Don’t be put off by the length of the book (over 260 pages) plus a bonus section – Guide to DNA Testing. I read the whole book in a couple of days while I was on a cruise.

Finding Family begins, not at the beginning of the author’s life, but when he was entering his freshman year of college. A new family doctor unwittingly revealed the family secret of Mr. Hill’s adoption, which was a complete shock to him.

The early chapters cover the pre-internet days and the successes and frustrations of the paper trail search. While the search for his birth mother began with a few pieces of information provided by his adoptive father and state records, but took years to piece together all the details, the crumb trail to Mr. Hill’s birth father was long and twisted.

His story is fascinating as his paternal line led to five brothers. In spite of DNA testing becoming available to the general public, there was still a surprise ending. Not wanting to spoil the element of surprise, I won’t go into any further details.

I would recommend this book not only to adoptees also wanting to identify birth parents, but to genealogy researchers in general because it is also an excellent example of a typical family tree search – beginning with what is known, hitting road blocks and finding work-arounds, which sometimes means setting a problem aside and waiting for time to open new resources.

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill, published in 2017 by Familius LLC is available online, both in hard copy and ebook formats.