Guest Blogger: Janice Sellers Pro-Genealogist

Xiaoming asked me to be a guest on her blog as she explores her ancestry. Because her mother recently had a DNA test done, she asked me to talk about DNA and how it relates to family research.

DNA in many ways is marketed today as the fast shortcut to discovering your ancestry. What isn’t emphasized in the marketing is that it rarely gives you complete answers, especially if you haven’t done traditional research to correlate with the DNA results. It will give you genetic information, but may not tell you about your entire

Say that, like Xiaoming, you were told that you had a
great-great-grandfather on your mother’s side who was Jewish. Then your mother has a DNA test, and it shows half Chinese and half Japanese ancestry. Oh, well, it looks like the family story was wrong — no Jewish ancestry here. I guess there’s no reason to continue researching that, right?

Now let’s hypothesize (and this is purely for illustration; I have no
idea if this was the situation in Xiaoming’s family) that a Jewish man
had married a Chinese woman, and her sister had a son and died soon
afterward. The Jewish man and his wife take the baby and raise him as
their own child. Eventually this child grows up to become the
great-grandfather of Xiaoming. That would make the Jewish man her
great-great-grandfather, but not genetically, so no Jewish ancestry
shows up in the DNA testing. But is he any less part of the family?

Obviously, DNA is a valuable tool in researching family history. But
it is only one tool among many, and test results should be looked at
in conjunction with other information to gain a more complete picture
of the family.

Janice M. Sellers
Ancestral Discoveries

Tiny Roadblock, Have No Fear, Janice Sellers, Professional Genealogist is Here!

I’m at a small roadblock in my journey so I have invited a professional genealogist to shed some light.

Meet Janice,

Janice M. Sellers is a professional genealogist who specializes in newspaper and Jewish research and has experience researching many other ethnic groups. She is the editor of The Galitzianer, the journal focused on Jewish research in the former Austrian province of Galicia, and of ZichronNote, the newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. She is also the publicity director for SFBAJGS and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, California Genealogical Society, California State Genealogical Alliance, and Gesher Galicia. She has been on the staff of the Oakland Regional Family History Center for eleven years. Before becoming a professional genealogist, Janice worked in publishing for many years as an editor, indexer, translator, and compositor.

Janice will be blogging about traditional research methods vs. DNA testing for ancestral research, how traditional should preceed DNA, and some tips for me on my personal journey.

Is there any topics you would like to hear about in the future?

Look for it soon!