Dick Eastman Addresses DNA Use For Genealogical Research at BYU Computerized Genealogy Conference

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The Brigham Young University Computerized Genealogy Conference on March 16 and 17th was a great success. Employees at WorldVitalRecords.com attended the conference and also had a booth in the vendor area.

Dick Eastman was the keynote speaker. He began his address by discussing all the reasons why individuals perform genealogy. There are many answers which he provided, ranging from curiosity to religious duties, to individuals who have a desire to solve intriguing puzzles.

Eastman said that one of the main reasons people do genealogy is because humans have a curiosity to know about themselves, their origins and their beginnings. He said that as humans we want to find answers to questions such as, “Where did I come from? How did I end up being born where I was? What trials did my parents go through so that I could be born?”

According to Eastman, there are two types of genealogists:

  1. Name gatherers
  2. Family historians

Name gatherers are only interested in the names of the individuals. Family historians desire to have the whole story. They have a desire to understand how we are all related to each other and to see the big picture.

Genealogy and DNA

During the second half of Eastman’s presentation, he discussed advances in using DNA for genealogical research. DNA research provides markers that can be used to prove relationships. It does not provide names. For example, it will not show that John and Jack are brothers. However, it can show that the two are closely related. Eastman said it is definitely more accurate than reading an enumerator’s handwriting on a census record! DNA provides clues about medical conditions.

Eastman encouraged conference attendees to collect DNA information from living and/or recently deceased people. He closed by saying that because geneticists and genealogists work together — hundreds of people will have their lives prolonged and improved.

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