Two interviews by Lisa Louise Cooke with Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard are among the latest videos at the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel. These free, quick chats can help you along your genetic genealogy path.
How to Get Started Using DNA for Family History Research
3 Genetic Genealogy Misconceptions and Answers to Your DNA Questions
Looking for more in-depth education on DNA and family history? Click here to watch a free, full-length RootsTech presentation by Diahan Southard. And consider which of Diahan’s laminated quick DNA reference guides can help you take your next DNA steps, whether you’re just getting started or scratching your head over your test results:
Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist
Getting Started Genetics for the Genealogist
Mitochondrial DNA for the Genealogist
Y Chromosome DNA for the Genealogist
Understanding Ancestry: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist
Understanding Family Tree DNA: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist.
AncestryDNA test kits are now available to purchase in Australia and New Zealand, according to a recent statementfrom Ancestry. These two countries join the UK, Ireland and the US in having access to AncestryDNA’s popular autosomal kits.
DNA testing for genetic reasons isn’t new Down Under. Your DNA Guide Diane Southard blogged on our site last fall about a National Genographic Project that looked at the mixture of genes among residents of Wellington, New Zealand. They determined that “the original Polynesian population and a small East Asian population are certainly the minority among a predominately Western European population group.”
Have you had your DNA tested yet for genealogy? Have you found the results to be meaningful or useful? Diahan Southard is Genealogy Gems’ resident DNA expert. Watch for her posts here that keep up with exciting developments in genetic genealogy and teach you how to use it properly!
Her series of DNA quick guides can get you started on your DNA path and help you navigate your results at Family Tree DNA or AncestryDNA. Grab just the ones you need or the full bundle for a value price!
Registration is now open for FREE streaming live sessions from the 46th Annual Southern California Genealogy SCG Jamboree. Sign up to watch Lisa present two free sessions on Saturday, June 6, “Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries” and “Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy.” Check out the schedule below to see who else you can watch for free. Handouts will be provided!
Friday, June 5
FR007: Be Prepared with a Genealogy Disaster Plan – Denise May Levenick.
FR018: Five Tips for Successful Research in a New Location – J. H.”Jay” Fonkert, CG.
FR019: Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation – Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury.
FR032: Finding and Utilizing German Church Records – Dr. Michael D. Lacopo.
Saturday, June 6 SA007: Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries – Lisa Louise Cooke.
SA014: Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA021: No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors – Lisa A. Alzo, MFA.
SA033: Plotting, Scheming and Mapping Online – Cyndi Ingle.
SA035: Midwestern and Plains States Level Census Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. SA047: Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy – Lisa Louise Cooke.
Sunday, June 7
SU005: Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech 4 Binding Families – Janet Hovorka, MLIS.
SU015: The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper – Cyndi Ingle.
SU022: Who, What, When, Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story – Anita Paul.
SU030: Get to Know Your Geezers – Matthew Hovorka.
Good to know about SCG Jamboree 2015 streaming sessions:
Session descriptions, speaker bios, suggested experience levels and schedule details are provided on the registration site and will soon be posted on the Jamboree website.
You won’t be bored between sessions. Videos featuring Ancestry’s crackerjack training team, Crista Cowan, Juliana Szucs and Ann Mitchell, will run during Jamboree breaks and lunches.
Because the sessions are sponsored by Ancestry and available for free, you can host viewing parties with one or two friends, or with a room full of fellow society members.
If you can’t watch a session real time as it is being live streamed, you will be able to watch it at your convenience before July 5, 2015, from the special Jamboree archive.
DNA live-streamed sessions will not be available for purchase on DVD, nor will they be accessible in the SCGS website archive.
There’s also a pay-per-view option for those who would like to watch SCGJ’s live streaming sessions from Genetic Genealogy: DNA Day. (Here’s the DNA registration page.)
Registration for the pay-per-view and free Jamboree sessions will remain open through July 5, 2015, when the special archive will close.
Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) has some of my very favorite genetic tools to help you make connections with your DNA matches when you can’t immediately find a genealogical connection, but it’s no secret that their genealogy tools leave much to be desired. However, their latest genealogy tool has promise: if certain conditions are met, you will be able to see whether any descendant of one of your ancestors has taken a DNA test!
For quite some time now FTDNA has allowed you to enter your genealogical surnames and locations into your account and list your earliest known paternal and maternal line ancestors. The latter is displayed for your YDNA and mtDNA matches to see and the former for your autosomal DNA matches to see. As a bonus, if one of your autosomal matches shares an inputted surname, FTDNA will bold that surname (or location) for you in the “Ancestral Surnames” column of your match page.
A few months ago they upgraded their pedigree tool for uploading a GEDCOM into your account. This GEDCOM does not in any way interact with your DNA match list or results; it is just provided as a resource to your matches. The pedigree tool itself is clumsy at best, but at least it is searchable and can give you a head start when looking for matches. It would be really nice if FTDNA could scrape all the surnames and locations from your GEDCOM and use that to populate your Ancestral Surnames field, but it does not.
The latest addition to FTDNA’s mediocre genealogy offerings is the ability to search all of the uploaded pedigree information in the FTDNA database. The best part about this feature is that it is not limited to searching just your DNA matches. This means you can see if any descendant of one of your ancestors has taken a DNA test! This is great news!
Of course, you see the immediate problem: if the cousin of interest hasn’t uploaded a GEDCOM, you still won’t be able to find them. And, of course, the usefulness of the information is completely dependent on other people’s genealogical sleuthing skills. But still, this can be a useful tool.
I tried using this tool to find out if there were other descendants of my ancestors Julia Pond and Austin Tilton who had tested. I have one DNA match who descends from this couple and I am fairly certain this is our connection. I wanted to see if there were others out there who were also descendants of this couple. I started with just a search for “Julia Pond” and got 37 results. I then used the advanced search feature to add her birth year “1821” and “Ohio.”
There were two matches. My family tree, and another belonging to Katie. It was frustrating that I couldn’t see right away if Katie was also a DNA match. But in the Advanced search I can ask to see only DNA matches, and repeat the search. Katie disappeared. By doing this I learned that Katie is descendant of Julia and Austin, but she and I don’t share enough DNA to be considered related. This makes sense, since descendants of this couple would be my 4th cousins at best, and I know that I will only genetically match about half of my fourth cousins. I can now contact my DNA match that lists Julia and Austin on his pedigree and ask him if Katie shows up on his match list. Perhaps they share some DNA that I do not.
Speaking of that DNA match of mine: why wasn’t he listed in my search results for Julia Pond? Well, it turns out that in his pedigree she is listed as born in 1821 from OH, and my search said Ohio. Ah. The search function is not catching those kinds of differences. So be careful.
When implemented properly, this tool can help you collect all of the descendants of a particular ancestor so you can learn more about what DNA you inherited from whom, and further your genealogical efforts.
Are you ready to get started? If you’re new to genetic genealogy, the first thing to do is acknowledge you may face some unexpected discoveries. If you’re not willing to chance some surprises on your family tree, don’t pursue it yet. Next, evaluate FTDNA (or other DNA companies) for yourself. If you decide to get started, your first step should be to upload your own GEDCOM, and make it public. Don’t feel like you have to put everything you know in this GEDCOM, just what you are certain of and feel confident sharing. To make it public, go into your Account Settings, and agree to share your Basic Profile.
You can also hire me for an individual consultation to make sure you’re doing the right DNA tests with the right relatives to answer your burning genealogy questions. (Testing the wrong people or DNA type can be a very expensive mistake!)
The key to learning about our ancestors from our own DNA is to have a lot of people tested who can all trace their ancestry to a specific geographic location. A groundbreaking scientific study has just been published in Nature by Stephen Leslie and colleagues that details the origins of the people of the UK. (Read the abstract here.)This study has ramifications for you, as a genetic genealogist, even if you don’t have origins in the UK.
Dr. Leslie and colleagues collected data from 2,039 Britons of European ancestry who lived in rural areas and knew that their four grandparents were all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of each other. This means that their DNA should accurately represent the DNA of individuals living in that area in the late 1800s. Using multiple fancy and advanced statistical methods, the researchers identified 17 distinct genetic groups. When they overlaid these groups on a map of the UK, what they found was remarkable. Each genetic group, with few exceptions, mapped to a very specific geographic location.
The largest cluster by far, encompassing half of those tested, maps to Central/South England. Well, the first serious settlers of Britain were from the Roman Empire whose influence in 43 AD at the time of their entry into Britain was extensive, from Spain to France to Italy to parts of the middle east and North Africa. Then around 450 AD the Angles, from modern day northern Germany and southern Denmark, and the Saxons, from Germany, invaded. According to linguistic and archeological evidence, the previous Roman culture was basically wiped out. But were the actual people destroyed, or just their culture?
To find out, the team compared the UK samples with 6,209 people from continental Europe to understand their ancestors’ contributions to Britons’ ancestry. According to the DNA evidence, the descendants of those first Roman settlers are still very much alive. In fact, the paper reports that Saxon ancestry in Central/South England is very likely to be under 50%, and most likely in the range of 10–40%, with instead a large portion of the genetics now being attributed to France and by extension, the Roman Empire.
Another interesting finding: the Viking conquerors were nearly genetically absent in most of the UK.
Very unfortunately, this data on DNA in the UK will not be a part of the reference samples at your genetic genealogy testing company. But it does demonstrate unequivocally that THIS WORKS! DNA testing can help us trace our ancestral origins and thanks to improved techniques and larger data sets, we have much to look forward to. Dr. Peter Donnelly, population geneticist at Oxford and co-author of this paper said, “History is written by the winners, and archaeology studies the burials of wealthy people. But genetic evidence is interesting because it complements that by showing what is happening to the masses rather than the elite.”