Lisa Franklin is part of the team at the Franklin Surname DNA project. Apart from genealogy and genetic genealogy, she works in healthcare and is active in many outdoor hobbies.
Question: Please tell me about yourself. What do you do for a living?
Answer: A registered nurse, I currently work as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist in the medical field as a systems administrator.
Question: What are your other hobbies and interests apart from genealogy?
Answer: I enjoy camping, hiking, travel, history & reading.
Question: What brought you to genealogy? What is your favorite part?
Answer: I became interested in my family history as a kid. I recall asking my grandparents about their ancestors and filling out a crude family tree on a sheet of paper. At the time I thought, well that’s it, that’s all we know! I still have that sheet of paper! ☺ At age 20 I took a trip to Andalusia, AL where my grandfather was born and just started asking older people I met there if they knew him. Finally, I found a lady in her 80s who said yes, she knew my grandfather growing up, they were cousins. I remember very excitedly saying ‘then you must be my Aunt or something!’ and giving her a big hug! LOL She was my first cousin, twice removed and she opened MANY doors for me with her stories about the family.
My favorite, favorite part is the same as for any genealogist—hitting a genealogical jackpot! ☺ Also, I’ve really enjoyed how many new found cousins I have now thanks to DNA testing. Many of them I’ve gotten to actually meet in person which has been a wonderful experience—in fact, I’ve met over two dozen of my newfound DNA cousins this past year alone! DNA testing really expands your family and moves us closer to the realization that we are all truly ONE BIG FAMILY! ☺
Question: How did you become involved in genetic genealogy?
Answer: Actually it’s my father’s fault! I got him into genealogy–he got me into genetic genealogy! LOL In 2006 Dad called me up and said he had just read something about new testing using DNA that was helping people find out about their ancestors. At that time, we had been stuck in south Alabama on his Franklin line for 20 some odd years. I am typically somewhat cautious about privacy issues (long story) so when he told me about it I was like, “I don’t know Dad, let me look into it before you do anything.” So I spent some time researching and when I discovered that the test simply provided you with results in the form of a string of numbers only good for comparing to someone else’s string of numbers to see if you are related, I told him “okay, I don’t see what harm it could be”. Well we had a couple of matches at first, nothing really helpful, but a year later a match came back for a new tester that I started corresponding with who was also stuck on a Franklin ancestor in north Alabama. Our comparing notes and adding things together led to my calling Dad to say I thought I was onto something and I felt we should make at trip to the Pulaski County, Georgia courthouse. Within the month we were in Georgia and found the documents to prove the connection, adding another generation to our Franklin tree and a new location! From there we found more records indicating this was our immigrant ancestor and that he was born in England! It was a BIG GENEALOGY HAPPY DANCE DAY for Dad & I both!
Question: The need for consumer genetic testing standards has been a topic for years now. To what extent do you think government regulation is needed? Do you feel that the responsibility for consumer education lies with the testing companies, the citizen science community, or the consumer?
Answer: I think regulation needs to exist to address privacy concerns and quality assurance with testing. Beyond that regulation is simply interfering with our rights.
As for education, it is getting better now, largely thanks to the genetic genealogy community. Several of us have presented classes and lectures, or written books to help expand the knowledge of the public at large. Others have started online blogs to share information and knowledge. I myself maintain a folder of free DNA help items on my website Tracking Your Roots. The bottom line is educating needs to be a shared responsibility as it helps us all ultimately. The more people who understand the tests, what can be accomplished by doing them, and how to best utilize the resultant data, the better our chance of learning more about our ancestry and history as we will be able to effectively communicate to share needed information in order to make progress with our family histories and connecting to our shared matches based on DNA testing.
Question: What DNA tests have you taken?
Answer: Being female I’ve taken all that are available to me —both autosomal (atDNA) and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) tests.
Question: Have you tested your family?
Answer: Yes, several and I’m always looking for more family members willing to help by testing. I’ve been working to do Y and mtDNA to test & validate each of my surname branches after we had such success with Dad’s Y test for our Franklin lineage.
Question: Have your or your family’s test results ever been a surprise?
Answer: My direct line, not really in the surname sense, although we have solved a couple of adoptions and Non Paternal Event (NPE)s in my projects. I did learn that I have a mixed heritage with Native American on both sides of my family tree and likely melungeon ancestry on my paternal grandmother’s side. Her ancestry is the last of my big three brick walls and at this point, I have no doubt that someday DNA will provide the answers to break through that one as well. Recently we were able to triangulate the Native American on my maternal side to somewhere upstream of my Ware family branch, so I’m getting closer.
Question: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?
Answer: YES! As noted earlier, we added to our Franklin branch above and more recently, this past October, I solved the 2d of our big three brick wall family history mysteries on a female line using mtDNA to validate our findings and again, we were able to locate paper documents as well. ☺ I can honestly say that without DNA testing we’d still be in the dark — so I’m thankful for FTDNA and 23andMe that have helped me break down brick walls and add to my family tree! ☺
Question: Do you have advice for someone starting out in genealogy or genetic genealogy DNA?
Answer: Read everything you can find on the subject. We have a great library system here and I checked out every book on DNA with a tie to genetic genealogy that I could find at my local library. Megan Smolenyak’s book, “Trace Your Roots with DNA ” is a good starting point. And Emily Aulicino’s recent work, “Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond ” is the most current work available now as the field has made HUGE strides the past several years with everyone learning and making new discoveries as we go.
Question: What do you think the future holds for genetic genealogy?
Answer: I believe we are headed to a day where someone truly can take a DNA test and be pretty much handed their family tree. We’re not there yet, but I see us edging closer. The more advanced tests like the Big Y and full genome testing are moving us in that direction. Alex William’s Big Y tree at www.ytree.net in the R-L21 project is an excellent example of this. People are just starting to realize how testing known relatives at this level is what will truly pave the way for later generations testing and being placed on the family tree using just their results.