Genetic genealogy improves research - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Genetic genealogy improves research

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Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 7:00 am | Updated: 9:00 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Jim Hull works diligently and daily to trace his family’s ancestry.

Aside from the Internet, his most valuable research tool — and perhaps the future of genealogy — comes in the likeliest of sources: DNA.

In 2001, Hull began using DNA information to confirm links among male descendants bearing his surname. Through Houston-based Family Tree DNA, Hull can obtain a numerical analysis that can be compared among kin. Once that genetic "signature’’ is established, any other Hull who doesn’t match comes from another line of Hulls.

Hull convinced a first cousin to submit a DNA sample to the Houston company. Their "markers’’ matched perfectly, and the two learned they shared another common ancestor.

"DNA is a record within us that’s been going on since the beginning of time,’’ said Hull, a Mesa resident.

Traditional genealog y involves leaps of faith when determining connections to ancestors, and the links aren’t always certain. DNA testing provides more solid clues that can complement previous research.

However, some of Hull’s relatives remain reluctant to submit a DNA sample, which consists of cheek cells gathered with a cotton swab. He chalks that up to fearing a new and relatively unknown research method.

"I’ve got to get more people testing,’’ he said, adding that 112 family members have been tested so far. "I’ve got to find more Hulls.’’

Hull believes that one day everyone’s DNA will be recorded at birth and submitted to a master file. For now, he will continue with both traditional and DNA genealogical research in his quest to trace the Hulls.

"Genealogy is about learning the truth,’’ he said.

Find out more

To learn more about DNA genealogy, call Jim Hull at (480) 380-8115. Hull recommends the book "Trace Your Roots with DNA’’ by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.

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