Sunday, 30 March 2014

DNA is go!

Today I am officially launching the STEERS One-Name Study DNA project!

The project website can be found at

I’m not entirely sure that this is a good idea and I am both terrified and excited about. Excited because of where it could lead but terrified because I find DNA so confusing. As part of the Post Grad Certificate course I am doing there is a module on DNA. It is, without doubt, one of the more difficult things I have had to get my head around (so far).

As I have begun to read up on Y-DNA tests; that is the paternal line test that only males can take. You can read more about the test here: and here: I am starting to gain an understanding of how it would help a One-Name Study. For example, the tests will hopefully be able to determine if STEERS is linked to STEER as the surname dictionaries would have us believe and it will be able to show links between families where the documentary evidence is lacking.

DNA testing is not a substitute for the traditional genealogical research, more an aid to help prove or disprove hypotheses. Of course it also depends on how many people join up as I can only compare results against what is already there.

The first participant is my other half. He is the last (and oldest) of his STEERS line, having no brothers and no other STEERS cousins that I am aware of. The test was simple for him to do, it involved swabbing the inside of his cheek and then having me post it off to Family Tree DNA who are based in Texas.  The kit has been received and we’re awaiting the results of the 37 marker test. The 37 marker test is the minimum required for a useful genealogical result, at some point in the future I may look to upgrade the markers. The sample is kept ‘on file’ so another one is not required for the upgrade.

Unfortunately because this test is on the Y chromosome only males can take it. Female STEERS could order an autosomal DNA (atDNA) test which is essentially a test to find cousins. atDNA is the mix of DNA that we get from our parents, which they got from their parents and so on and so on. A more in depth explanation can be found here: The test is helpful for more recent connections.

The other test that DNA companies offer is called the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test. Just as Y chromosomes are only passed down the male line, the mtDNA is only passed on from mother to daughter. However, for a surname study this is not a useful test as the female surname often changes. If you’re interested in learning more about mtDNA I would suggest this blog post and reading ‘The Seven Daughters of Eve’ by Bryan Sykes (ISBN: 0393020185). I borrowed a copy from my local library but I’m sure it’s available at that well-known online book store!

So if you’d like to get involved either drop me a line or head over to the Steers DNAProject page and jump in.