Monday, November 30, 2015

Ten Christmas Gifts for the Genetic Genealogist

Shopping for Christmas gifts can be a stressful undertaking. When the person you are shopping for has specific hobbies such as genetic genealogy, you might want to get them something that reflects that interest. Don't know enough about DNA and genealogy to know what to get? Well here are our top ten suggestions.

1. DNA Kits

If you're addicted to genetic genealogy, then you can never have enough DNA test kits.  Even if you've tested all your close family, there are still distant cousins you can test in order to prove or disprove theories in your family tree.

Best bet is the AncestryDNA kit for a sale price of $79.  Shipping is an additional $9.95 but purchasing two kits plus using the code FREESHIPDNA will drop the shipping cost of two to $4.95.

2. Genealogy Subscriptions

Genetic genealogy necessarily requires a large amount of regular genealogy to understand its results. So a subscription to your favorite genealogy website is always a good present. is the largest genealogy database, but chances are your genetic genealogist already has a subscription.  Consider instead a subscription to, which has the benefit of being integrated with 23andMe's website.  Plans start at $9.95 per month.

3. Personalized DNA Pattern

Now the genetic genealogist can wear their DNA. is a British startup that offers a personalized DNA pattern based on your unique genetic code.  Products include posters and custom scarves.

4. Genetic Health Reports

None of the three major consumer DNA test providers give their users much in the way of health information.  23andMe has recently received FDA approval to provide some health data, but its mostly fluff information such as whether a person has connected ear lobes, or wet or dry earwax.  To really get meaningful health data from your genetic tests, the best bet is the website  Promethease provides a list of known  genetic markers and the statistical effects attributed to these markers by various scientific studies.  Its very comprehensive, but because the raw information from these reports can be very hard to interpret, it should be taken with a heavy dose of salt (well, unless you've got a 3x higher likelyhood of hypertension!).  Promethease reports cost a very low $5 if you already have a DNA test done with one of the three major DNA test providers (Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andMe).  

5. A Genetic Genealogy Trip

You can do a lot from your computer, but there's still a lot of records that can only be accessed in person.  The two largest genealogy centers in the country, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (pictured), and the Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana make great destinations fro genealogy-themed vacations.  

6. Smart Phone Apps

Travelling to a library like the Family History Library and want to record all the information you find? A smartphone is all you need these days.  A scanning app will let you instantly preserve any important document you find.  Notation apps such as Evernote are also invaluable.  

7. Tech Tools

Is your genealogist not a smartphone user? They might still get a lot out of a good piece of technology. USB flash drives are always very useful. For scanning without a smart phone, I recommend the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner as an easy way for even the non-tech savvy to copy and preserve documents in any situation.

8.  Genetic Genealogy Books

There's always more to learn.  There are some very good guides to genetic genealogy that make great Christmas presents.  I recommend Trace Your Roots with DNA by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner.

9. Genealogy DVDs

Genealogy TV shows are very popular right now.  A best bet is the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as it always includes a focus on the DNA results of the celebrities it profiles.

10. Your Help!

One of the hardest things for most genetic genealogists is just finding the time to get through all the massive amounts of data their DNA tests provide.  Why not offer to help your genetic genealogist with their hobby?  You can spend a day going through their results and helping to take notes on matches, or send emails to matches.  Ultimately, just taking the time to appreciate a genetic genealogist's passion for their hobby is the best gift you can give.

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