FamilySearch is celebrating International DNA Day this Thursday. Here’s how you can be a part of it

Some may quip that doing family history isn’t in their genes, but they can’t say DNA isn’t becoming a key part of family history. And a series of FamilySearch-sponsored classes and online webinars — on Thursday’s DNA Day, celebrated nationally and internationally — will provide information and answers on DNA testing and results as related to family history.

With DNA testing helping to identify family roots and discover where one comes from and other possible family genetics, Family DNA Day at the Family History Library 2019 will look at topics ranging from testing options to what to do with results — two of the most frequently asked questions.

Family DNA Day is FamilySearch’s first such event and is scheduled for International DNA Day on April 25, which this year commemorates the 66th anniversary of when the reports of the discovery of DNA structure were first published.

“We recognize it’s a way to help people find their ancestors, along with using their records and family histories,” said Courtney Connolly, a FamilySearch product marketing manager, of Family DNA Day.

Running from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain Time, the free event is open to the public at the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City and requires no advance registration. Additionally, anyone worldwide with internet access can join in and listen to classes and even participate by asking questions digitally in an afternoon question-and-answer session.

Scheduled classes include:

  • An introduction to DNA and Genealogy
  • I’ve Tested My DNA, Now What?
  • Finding an Unknown Parent Using DNA: A Case Study
  • Making DNA Connections through Descendancy Research

Open labs are scheduled in the afternoon and in the evening, with the Q&A session scheduled for 4 to 5 p.m. MT.

Activities geared toward children include forming an interactive DNA traits tree — highlighting DNA-related traits such as rolling one’s tongue or having attached or detached ear lobes — and creating replica genetic sequences of different animals by stringing together colorful beads.

Connolly herself has done several different types of DNA testing.

“It’s a way to learn about who I am and where I come from,” she said.

With a last name of Connolly, she said while always fancying herself with close ties to Ireland, she faced the reality of uncertain ethnicity since her father was adopted by his step-father. However, her DNA results showed she is 30 percent Irish, allowing her to connect with previously unknown cousins and learn more about her own ancestors.

The questions of DNA testing options and what to do with the results are two of the topics most commonly asked of FamilySearch, Connolly said. Familysearch.org has a dedicated landing page focused on DNA testing, with those two topics prominently featured. The topics also lead to links such as "Ancestral Homelands," "Brick Walls," "Cousin Matches" or "DNA Relatives," "Chromosome Mapping" and "Adoptions."

A FAQ/Terminology site helps address questions from data to sharing, explaining terms such as autosomes, xDNA and yDNA.

FamilySearch does not offer DNA-testing kits nor recommend specific options, but the site offers links to partner sites where test kits can be purchased. Some vendors, Connolly added, are offering discounts in conjunction with DNA Day.