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Meet the Author
I'm Jennifer, and I'm an Occasional Genealogist... sort of. For over ten years I've been a professional genealogist. I started researching my own family nearly 30 years ago. Like many of you, I started as an Occasional Genealogist. I had to squeeze research in while in school and while working full-time. Then I got my first genealogy job and for awhile, it was genealogy all the time. Now I have two kids. I do other people's genealogy constantly but my own? Coming up with ways to do great genealogy, despite all the interruptions, is now mandatory.

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Do THIS to Use DNA for Genealogy

You MUST do this if you want to use DNA for genealogy.

I feel like this is a click-bait title but it is 100% true.

It doesn't matter who you are, what your family looks like, what kind of DNA results you're working with.

If you want to use DNA for genealogy, and I mean if you want to find your ancestors (whether it's your parents or very distant ancestors), you must do this.

What is it?

Building trees.

I've written about this multiple times. The more I work with DNA results, the more important I find this "step."

Recently the importance of building trees, particularly the trees of your matches, was really driven home.

I've had a breakthrough automating my 4 Buckets Technique (4BT). This is my version of auto-clustering and it's designed to deal with the issues southerners (from the southeast U.S.) have.

I've been thinking about how to explain this new automation which always makes me focus on how my clustering works differently from other methods.

To get the "fast results" I get, you absolutely must start by "bucketing" the matches with a known shared ancestor. That means knowing who the shared ancestor is with a match/shared match. The more of these you start with, the better your results using the 4BT. This is also true with other auto-cluster tools.

You will most likely identify the majority of the shared ancestors by building the match's tree yourself.

The problem is, of course, if you're dealing with unknown parentage in recent generations.

Here's the thing, the solution there is still building trees for matches (you're looking for the shared ancestors between matches since you don't have your own tree to match to).

All of this comes down to, no matter what, you need to build trees for your matches in order to use DNA for genealogy.

Get my recommended "must learn" skills for building trees for DNA matches in this post.