Diahan Southard’s “Endogamy and DNA” Course

Register for the next "Endogamy & DNA" course by Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have a personal recommendation for those wanting to learn how to take a deeper dive into work with endogamy among your DNA matches. This is it. Hands down, Diahan Southard’s Endogamy & DNA online course is the best resource I have found for really learning how to dig into understanding endogamy, its impact on your autosomal DNA matches, and how to account for it when working those matches.

To restate what I explained last time, I am half Mexican and Mexicans are historically an endogamous population. So understanding what Diahan’s course teaches is critical for successfully analyzing and working my DNA matches.

What is Endogamy?

Endogamy pertains to populations groups that have a history of intermarrying among a collection of family groups. ISOGG (the International Society of Genetic Genealogy) defines endogamy as:

…the practice of marrying within the same ethnic, cultural, social, religious or tribal group. In endogamous populations everyone will descend from the same small gene pool.1

Way back in history, all population groups intermarried. But we are talking more recent history here. For a point of reference, let’s say the early modern period (ca. 1500) and later, when human migration expanded across the globe on a larger scale. Certain population groups – such as Mexicans, Hispanics, French Canadians, Cajuns, Jews, Mennonites, Amish, and others – traditionally continued to marry within their own community, whether that be due to geographic remoteness or more deliberate reasons.

Why does this matter for DNA? Endogamy can inflate the estimated relationship ranges that the genealogical DNA testing companies calculate for autosomal DNA matches. For example, a match list might tell you that a match is an estimated 3rd cousin, when that match in fact shares a closest relationship pathway with you much further back than that 3rd cousin range. 

About the Course

Diahan’s Endogamy & DNA course will help you develop a solid understanding of how endogamy can impact your autosomal DNA matches, how to recognize it in your DNA matches, and then teaches you strategies for working around endogamy to achieve the goals we all seek with our DNA matches. For most of us, we want to identify our Most Recent Common Ancestor/s (MRCAs) with these matches, and then use that information to build out our family trees further back in time.

Diahan uses the term “Generation of Connection” to refer to the MRCA/s concept throughout this course and her teaching in general.

The Instructor

The course is taught by my colleague genetic genealogy expert Diahan Southard, the principal behind the genetic genealogy education company Your DNA Guide. I have attended and followed Diahan’s teaching for years. She has an academic and professional background as a scientist, yet she is also a dynamic and engaging educator who has a gift for explaining scientific concepts in everyday language that anyone can understand. 

Course Format

The DNA & Endogamy course is a fully online course that is self-paced, with live interaction components that last for 3 weeks. This exceptional 3-week course costs just $129.

The online course is hosted in the Ruzuku learning management system. It is broken down into series of modules that provide a mix of video lessons and readings. These are all self-paced, meaning you can tackle them at your own time. Diahan says these are available to us, after course completion, to refer back to later forever (or as she puts it, for as long as Your DNA Guide is in business). I took the course in January, and I still regularly login to consult the learning materials.

Course registration includes a super helpful awesome workbook that you can either print and fill out by hand, or save and fill out electronically. The workbook highlights key points from each module, and gives you exercises relevant to each module. Diahan then goes over the answers for each module. My digital workbook is highlighted and marked up like crazy with my notes.

The course lessons also include discussion prompts, for students to answer questions relevant to each module’s lessons. These are captured in a threaded discussion forum format, with Diahan regularly responding. They also include self-check quizzes, which reinforce the learning lessons and help one assess their understanding of the course material. 

Diahan wraps up the 3-week course with a live Q&A session held on Zoom. For students like me who couldn’t make the live Q&A session, it is recorded for later viewing.

Register for the Next Course Session

This course filled up fast the first two session Diahan has already offered it (I was in the first session). But it is listed as a regular course offering on her Your DNA Guide website. The next session starts May 9th, and runs May 9 – May 30, 2022. So register today to reserve your spot.

Final Thoughts

Diahan’s “Endogamy & DNA” course gave me confidence and practical strategies to use for working with my endogamous DNA matches. I always knew that my Mexican ancestral communities were highly endogamous, learning this through both paper trail records and DNA evidence. So I took that into account whenever I Identified matches from those DNA lines. However, I was not “seeing” the endogamy in the data provided in those DNA match lists, so I was not ever sure that I was fully working them right to identify our generation of connection and work those lines back to the right MRCAs. Thanks to Diahan’s teaching methods, I now know how to do this.

I have been teaching 100% online as a college instructor for seven years, and I invest a ton of learning and work into making my online teaching experiences engaging and impactful for my students. Diahan’s course succeeds in both of those objectives.

Course promotional images used with the consent of Diahan Southard.

Sources Cited

  1. International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki, (https://isogg.org/wiki/Endogamy), “Endogamy,” rev. 20:45, 10 July 2021.

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