The one thing that leads to successful genetic genealogy investigations

Christine Burke, FGG

1. It's Not Just One Thing

Because each case is different.

Sometimes it’s that “the devil is in the details” as I like to tell my students, and it all falls on the genealogy.

Other times it can be in the genetics; analyzing the science and applying it to your matches.

And, it can all depend on the skill level of your forensic genetic genealogist.

2. Grow Great Trees

Developing a great tree and having it do the work for you is half the battle.

Harnessing the power of the software is integral to save time and reduce stress.

We do this by:

  • Building dirty trees

  • Auto populating as much as possible

  • Working theories

  • Using nomenclature

  • Trusting but verifying

  • Knowing & using the software’s capabilities

3. Know How To Find Relevant Records

This is not your mother’s genealogy and records and software have come a long way, baby!

Still, knowing what to look for, where to find it, and how to get it are must have skills to work efficiently.

We do this by:

  • Understanding relational databases

  • Using narrow & broad search parameters

  • Thinking outside the box

  • Going back to the day

4. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve experienced with students and practitioners alike is “perfectionism” and the inability to take chances.

There is no one perfect tree, perfect census, perfect birth certificate, etc.

Your biggest ally is allowing yourself to say, “What If?”

Along with that is trusting your gut and not giving up

5. Knowing When To Say When

Another one of my popular phrases is “Either you don’t have the right people or your match doesn’t know who they are.” This is way more common then you think.

Once you master your tree building, it will usually become evident fairly quickly that something doesn’t add up.

Then, you have to move from identifying your suspect to properly identifying your match. Then it should all fall into place.