Monday, November 7, 2016

A Day of DNA with Diahan Southard

Diahan Southard, known as "Your DNA Guide," is a genetic genealogist who teaches through seminars and video training, publishes DNA quick guides, and provides consultation services. On Saturday, Diahan shared three presentations with the members and guests of the Houston Genealogical Forum (HGF).

Diahan Southard and Dana Leeds at Houston Genealogical Forum November 2016
Me and Diahan Southard at HGF - Nov 2016

Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide

During the first presentation, "Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide," Diahan talked about the three types of DNA tests - YDNA, mtDNA, and atDNA - and also the three main testing companies: Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe. She discussed the benefits and shortcomings of each type of test and talked about which tests she recommends you take and why. Genealogy Gems Premium Members have access to the video of this presentation from when Diahan presented it at RootsTech. Below is a short preview which shows Diahan's entertaining, yet informative, style.


5 Tips to Make Sense of Your DNA Testing

The second presentation was "5 Tips to Make Sense of Your DNA Testing." Two of the tips included using the results with what she calls The Ancestor Method and The Cousin Method. With the Ancestor Method, you start with a genealogical question about someone on your tree and try to use DNA matches to answer that question. With the Cousin Method, however, you start with a DNA match and try to determine how they are related. 

Diahan shared the approximate number of people who have been tested at each company, which I found suprising. While FTDNA has only tested about 750,000 and 23andMe has tested about 1.2 million, Ancestry is expected to reach 3 million people tested by the end of the year! So, if you can only afford to test at one place, Ancestry DNA is probably your best option.

If you haven't heard this lecture, or you'd like to watch it again, Diahan gave this talk with Genetic Genealogy Ireland and it is currently posted online for viewing!

The Combined Power of YDNA and Autosomal DNA: A Case Study

Diahan's final talk was "The Combined Power of YDNA and Autosomal DNA: A Case Study." In this talk, Diahan talked about expectations, results, and gave us a list of things "to do." 

Although many of us probably advise those we ask to take DNA tests that "surprises" are sometimes found, what should we do when we uncover one of these surprises? Diahan suggested asking each person you test before you test whether or not they would like to know about any unusual results. I think this is a terrific idea which could save a lot of time spent worrying about whether or not you should tell the person what you found!

My Interview with Diahan Southard

Lastly, as part of my role as Chairman of the Publicity Committee for HGF (Houston Genealogical Forum), I interview via email each of our upcoming presenters. You can read my interview with Diahan Southard at the HGF blog.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your interview - I wish I was an expert in something, especially DNA.

    1. Thanks, Debi. And, I'd love to be an "expert," too! We had a record turnout for Diahan at, I believe, 103 people. Diahan said it wasn't her, it was the topic. I think it was a little of both! I truly didn't know what a wonderful speaker she was before I saw her, but the topic drew me in.


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