DNA Evidence for DAR Applications and Supplementals

October 5, 2013

There have been so many activities and developments over this past National Board of Management week – and as this is being posted I’m on the bus heading out on the week-long DAR Schools Tour – but I knew this one topic in particular would be very exciting for many of you so I had to tell you right away. I’m pleased to announce that a ruling was passed today by the National Board of Management to allow the submission of Y-DNA test results as part of a genealogical analysis of evidence under guidelines set forth by the Genealogy Department effective January 1, 2014.

So what that means is that beginning January 1, 2014, NSDAR will accept Y-DNA evidence in support of new member applications and supplemental applications. DNA evidence submitted along with other documentation will be considered along with all of the other source documentation provided to prove heritage. Y-DNA will not be considered as stand-alone proof of lineage because while it can be used as a tool point to a family, it cannot be used as absolute proof for an individual.

At this time the Office of the Registrar General is working diligently to finalize the guidelines and develop specific procedures for those wishing to submit DNA evidence as part of their applications and supplementals. Communications and educational materials are being developed for members and the public to help them learn about this new policy for our application process. I know many of you have questions, but I ask you to please refrain from calling and emailing the Genealogy Department for the time being as they continue to focus their energies on approving applications and supplementals that are currently pending. The information being provided is what is available right now, but I promise we will be giving you much more information in the near future!

Over the past few months I have learned a lot about DNA from the Genealogy staff, however, it is still very new to me. The Office of the Registrar General was kind enough to provide me with this explanation of Y-DNA and how DAR came to this decision to update the policy:

The Genealogy staff of the Office of the Registrar General routinely studies trends in all aspects of genealogical research.  These may involve advances in methodology or the availability of records.  One noted trend is the use of DNA evidence in genealogy.  Over the last ten years, the use of DNA evidence for genealogical purposes has increased.  Similarly a growing group of Genealogy staff members at the NSDAR have studied the potential use of DNA in support of DAR applications and supplemental applications.  Although no single DNA test can point to a specific ancestor, advances in the science and interpretation of DNA testing have placed the NSDAR in a position to begin accepting DNA evidence in a limited manner within the context of traditional genealogical evidence. 

Of the three types of DNA widely available through a number of Genetic Genealogy Testing companies – Mitochondrial DNA, Y-DNA, and Chromosomal or Autosomal DNA – at this time, only the Y-DNA is applicable to the NSDAR verification process.  However, since women do not have Y-DNA, applicants will need to find appropriate male surrogates for whom test results can be used to link the applicant to an ancestor and lineage already completely verified by the NSDAR.   Identifying the specific types of situations in which DNA can be accepted by the NSDAR, as well as the testing and reporting methods for the surrogate Y-DNA test subjects, will be a portion of the Background, Training and Procedures document that will be published by the NSDAR on or before the official starting date of January 1,  2014. 

The Genealogy staff’s DNA study group will continue to use all types of DNA evidence in their own research as well as monitor developments in the science of genetic testing.  As with any new endeavor the initial procedures and expectations may be changed at a future time.  These changes might be in response to new science, new interpretations of existing data, or the workload of the Genealogy staff.

I hope you all are as excited as I am to take our NSDAR verification process to a new level with the continued advancements in science. We will provide members and the public with additional information for this new policy in the near future. I want to express my gratitude to the Office of the Registrar General genealogy staff for their years of research leading up to this policy adaptation. I know they will continue to monitor and gain greater understanding of how DNA evidence can assist women in joining our organization. I look forward to this update to the policy opening the door for more prospective members to apply to our great organization.

UPDATE: Find more information about DNA and how it relates to the DAR new member and supplemental application process on the DNA Evidence page of the Applications and Supplementals section of the Members’ Website.

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