DNA Update

By Linda Butler

This article was published in the August 2021 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Since the last newsletter when I wrote about DNA, quite a bit of discussion has been going on within the committee, and amongst Richard Saul and myself, about whether we can utilise DNA databases to assist us in informing the Society’s research. 
Richard and I joined the last committee zoom meeting at the end of April for a discussion around DNA.  While Richard’s focus was on Y-DNA research, Maureen Storey and I volunteered to set up a  pilot study looking at public and subscription autosomal DNA databases.  We are using the SOLE variation of our name for this project.
In early May I identified over 200 kits in the GEDmatch database that matched to two or more of our ‘control’ group (i.e. people we were in contact with whose place in the Sole family tree had been identified and verified, and who had uploaded their DNA to GEDmatch).  I sent email messages to the managers of each of these kits.  I gave them a brief description of our project, listed some surnames and locations that are relevant, and asked them if they knew where their connection to the Sole family might be.
I have so far received over 50 responses, which is a level I am quite happy with given quite low response rates reported about queries sent through Ancestry and the like.  The responses varied:  some were very new to genealogy and had done little work on their tree;  a few were searching for biological parents/grandparents;  and several managed kits on behalf of relatives or clients.  Most we’re not aware of any Sole connection, but were keen to learn more.
I am communicating with a few people who were able to pinpoint exactly where they fit on the Society’s trees.  I am planning a second round of around 100 emails to people who manage kits on GEDmatch that match to one or two of these recently identified people who have become useful additions to our ‘control’ group.  
The hard work started, delving into all the information to try and find those elusive connections. Fortunately, in recent months, Family Tree Magazine has published monthly DNA case studies which provide some very useful tips and guidance on how to proceed.
It’s a long-term project, but we remain hopeful it could provide us with some useful information.  In the meantime, the more people in the Society who take a DNA test, the better!