11 April 2015

35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

As more and more DNA testers are finding segments of Jewish genealogy, along with all of those who know their Jewish heritage, more and more interest is turning toward understanding the connections and culture.

Barbara Hershey, President of the Jewish Genealogical Society in Portland Oregon, has alerted me to the coming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem this year, and shares the following information.

Happy Passover from the 2015 IAJGS 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. For the ease of those who are vacationing over the holiday, we have decided to extend the Early Registration Discount fee through Wednesday May 6, 2015. Visit www.iajgs2015.org to register now! And since we promised a drawing for prizes those registered by April 15th your chances of winning are now double! Be patient if we are slower in answering e-mails, Israel is on vacation until April 12. Ortra our Conference Organizer, like most non-essential businesses in Israel, is closed for all but emergencies. I and most of our volunteers will be answering questions as rapidly as we can.

Our Preliminary Program now is now listed in the Program & Schedule section of the website in the “Program” tab at www.iajgs2015.org. You’ll see why we are boasting that this will be “A Conference Like No Other”. The schedule will become interactive after Passover.

The conference will be truly international and the Promised Event with speakers and registrants hailing from round the globe. Among the nearly 20 nations represented to date are New Zealand, American Samoa, the Americas and all of Europe.

As announced, the keynote speaker will be Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli society today. (See the website for his full biography.) Rabbi Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust,  carries a crucial message for genealogists regarding their research.

We are delighted to announce that master genealogist Dick Eastman will deliver a speech at the closing banquet. In the mid-1980s, at the dawn of the World Wide Web, Eastman pioneered one of the first online Genealogy Forums. By 1996, he created a weekly online newsletter called "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" which has now grown from a circulation of 100 to more than 60,000 genealogists worldwide.

And when you join us for the conference, don’t miss the pre-conference festivities:
PRE-CONFERENCE SHABBATON on the Friday-Saturday, July 3 -4 weekend preceding the Conference, followed by an UNFORGETTABLE “EXPLORATION SUNDAY” on July 5. Full and fascinating details are on the conference website www.iajgs2015.org.

THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM!  See you in Jerusalem in July for the momentous and exciting 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy!

Thank you for sharing this information, Barbara.


23 March 2015

Gathering for Genetically Linked People

What an interesting idea for a conference...and so inexpensive and for a good cause!

Extracted from announcement today:

Family Tree DNA has partnered with The Global Family Reunion to create the first-ever gathering that brings together genetically linked people (However, I did have a three-day conference in 2012 which brought together genetically linked people in my Talley project.) This gathering will "deepen your understanding of your genetic past and meet your cousins from around the world..."

The announcement continues as follows:

All Family Tree DNA members are being offered a limited-time early-bird price of $25 for the event.

Event Details

When:  June 6, 2015
Where:  New York Hall of Science, New York City

Click here for early bird tickets and more information.

Click here for exclusive reward packages!

The offer is only available until April 1, 2015.

All proceeds from the Global Family Reunion go to benefit the Cure Alheimer's (sic Alzheimer's) Fund and the Alzheimer's Association NYC.

If you can't make it to New York, there will be simultaneous festivals around the world with a livestream of speakers.

The Global Family Reunion will be an entertaining, eye-opening festival for all ages - a TED conference meets a World's Fair - so bring your kids, nephews, grankids, and grandparents.  All proceeds from the event go toward fighting Alzheimer's Disease.

What can you expect at Global Family Reunion?
...See more than 30 top speakers with fascinating presentations on genetics and family heritage, including Henry Louis Gates of PBS's Finding Your Roots, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, NPR host Scott Simon, and Family Tree DNA President Bennett Greenspan
...Meet thousands of cousins and figure out how you are related
...Explore more than 450 interactive science exhibits from the New York Hall of Science
...Enjoy live entertainment, including music by Sister Sledge, who will be singing "We Are Family," of course.  There will also be comedy from The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz and comedian Nick Kroll
...Take part in family-themed trivia contests, scavenger hunts, games, and potato sack races for those who are bold
...Help build the biggest family tree ever
...Meet the staff form Family Tree DNA, as well as Family Tree DNA partners such as MyHeritage and Findmypast, and get exclusive tutorials
...Break world records, including the biggest family photo ever

The Global Family Reunion has already been featured in the New York Times, TED, Good Morning America, NPR, People magazine and many more.

The Huffington Post called it "so fun." Conan O'Brien said it is "fascinating," and NPR's Scott Simon said "I wouldn't miss it."

All Family Tree DNA members are invited.  Those who are genetically linked to Global Family Reunion founder and author A.J. Jacobs will be tallied in our attempt to break the record for most number of related people gathered in one place.  Our hope is to beat the current world record of 4, 512.

If you'd like to contact AJ directly, you can reach him at info@worldfamily.us

Bennett Greenspan
President, Family Tree DNA

Join in the fun!

25 November 2014

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!

Need a holiday gift?  Don’t know what to get those who have everything?

Give them what they already have…their DNA! 

Each year, Family Tree DNA has a sale for the entire month of December, and all the major tests and upgrades are included!  It begins today and ends Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM Central. 

Testing a family member or friend can reveal matches with others who relate to you that you have never met. These new relatives may have some additional information on your family and some photos you do not have.  It can help you find new genealogical research partners. DNA is the gift that keeps on giving...matches continue appearing over time.  That’s a lot of gifts for the holiday!

This year’s December sale prices:

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

Family Tree DNA has another gift for you…

Introducing…  Drum roll, please…Ta Da!

..........Mystery Rewards

This year, FTDNA has a new twist on their annual December sales.  Not only are there discounted prices, but there is a randomized discount up to $100 off that can be applied ON TOP of the Holiday sale prices!  WOW, two gifts in one!

The Mystery Reward icon will appear on the testers’ myFTDNA dashboard each week and the code will expire the night before the next Mystery Reward appears. (See above icon.)

When you click the icon, you'll to go to the reward page (see below) to open the Mystery Reward which can be a savings up to $100.

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

FTDNA will send an email notification to the kit’s primary email address when a new code is available for use or sharing for the next Mystery Reward.

WHAT?  There’s more than one Mystery Reward?  YES!

Best of all, there will be a new Mystery Reward every week. Customers can use this Mystery Reward discount, or they can share it with a friend or relative by using the graphic below.  


In addition, all customers who have purchased the Big Y test will receive a coupon for $50 off another Big Y test.

This coupon, like that below, that can be used ON TOP of a sale price during the holiday sale, and it can also be "re-gifted," to a friend, relative or fellow project member.

I’ve lost track!  How many gifts is that?

It is definitely time to order or upgrade your FTDNA test with this amazing sale!  Share this information with friends, family and strangers!  You never know who else may match you!  Hopefully ME!

Have a great holiday whichever it may be!

21 November 2014

AncestryDNA Announces Updates

Last October 6, seven genetic genealogy bloggers were invited to AncestryDNA’s headquarters in San Francisco for a “Bloggers Day” to learn about the coming changes at AncestryDNA. Two of the items discussed are now implemented.

Matching Improved

One of the major features is the improvement in AncestryDNA’s algorithm to determine your matches.  As Ancestry has about 500,000 sutosomal DNA (atDNA) testers at this time and their threshold (until now) was 5.0 cMs (centimorgans) with Family Tree DNA’s test called Family Finder has a threshold of 7.7 cMs and 23andMe’s threshold is 7.0.  This made Ancestry quite liberal in matching people and as a result there were many false positives (IBS).  Consequently, any tester received many matches that may not be real matches.  Most people will lose about 66% of their matches after the change which is very good!  The matches we retain will be meaningful. 

Before November 19th, I had 17,917 matches, and now I have 4,250 which is a 76% reduction. Not only is this more manageable, I am now more certain that these people actually match me through inherited DNA (IBD).

See the following blogs for more details of this meeting from some of those who were present.  Although not everything discussed is highlighted here as some changes will be made in the future.

Robert J. Estes, DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Many genetic genealogists have tried since Ancestry began doing autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests in 2012 to have them provide a chromosome feature.  Attendees of this meeting reported the same comment by Ancestry that we heard from the beginning which is basically that Ancestry does not believe the common genealogist can understand how to use the chromosome browser.

I, along with many other genetic genealogists I know, have been teaching any atDNA tester to use the chromosome features at Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe for nearly five years to help people map their chromosomes and discover which ancestor gave them a particular DNA segment.  We have also encouraged any AncestryDNA tester to upload their data to GEDmatch (a third-party tool) in order to have a feature to see where on the chromosomes they match other testers.  I have more faith in people…this isn’t rocket science.  It can be learned.  I am not a science major (didn’t care much for biology in school) and I can understand it.  I believe Ancestry’s comment about most genealogists cannot understand chromosome mapping not to be the total story.  I have my suspicions as to why they will not do this…and I’m not alone in those beliefs.

At the meeting, the attendees were told that this action will take place before the end of the year.  However, the improved algorithm actually took place November 19th.

"DNA Circles" in Beta Testing

            A feature new to AncestryDNA started November 19th as well. Ancestry uses phased data and their new matching algorithm along with public Ancestry.com trees to determine your “DNA Circles.”
DNA Circles creates clusters of test-takers who all match the same common ancestor based on their public trees the matches have.  Each person in a circle matches at least one other in the circle. In order to be in the DNA Circles you must subscribe to Ancestry.com, have a public tree and be a DNA customer.  Customers are to receive an email about it on Nov 19, 2014, but no one I know did.

Blogs about this feature:
·         Ancestry's better mousetrap - DNA circles by Roberta Estes
·         Changes at AncestryDNA by Judy Russell
·         AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched by Diahan Southard

For a view of the DNA Circle pages, see Ancestry’s blog at:
New AncestryDNA Technology Powers New Kinds of Discoveries

There is a white paper associated with DNA Circles. In the Ancestry help forum, the following was posted by Laura Davenport for anyone with an Ancestry subscription to view it.  A paraphrase of her post follows:

To view the DNA Circles’ white paper without a circle:
1. Go to your DNA matches page you’re your home page)
2. Click on the question mark upper right. This brings you to a graphic menu.
3. Click on "what can I do with my DNA matches".
4. Scroll down to the paragraph headed "Find DNA evidence for your genealogical research".
5. Click on "Learn more about DNA Circles" at the end of the paragraph.
6. Go to the end of a summary page, click on "check out our white paper on DNA circles".

Downloading Matches and Raw Data from AncestryDNA

Your matches are downloaded in a CSV (Comma Separated Values), so be sure to save it in some spreadsheet like Excel.

To download the file:
·         Go to your DNA Home Page
·         Under your name, click on the “gear icon” next to the word Settings
·         On the right hand side under “Actions”, click on the bar that says:  “Download v1 DNA Matches”.

For your matches file, your spreadsheet columns are:

Name – the person you match
Administraor – the person who manages the test. (NOTE:  You get the cryptic name they use at       AncestryDNA and no email)
Range – the of cousinship
Starred – whether you have starred this person or not
Viewed – whether you have viewed this match or not
Hint – whether there is a hint (shaky leaf) or not
Archived – (Sorry, I have no idea what this is, but maybe it has to do with attaching this info to your tree?)
Note – If you have written a note on the page, this appears.

  • Download your old match list before AncestryDNA removes those matches.
  • Download your raw data (it comes in a zip file).  Then upload it to GEDmatch
  • Also consider transferring that data to Family Tree DNA to be placed in another database (you get more matches).  You will remain in the AncestryDNA base, however.  The cost to transfer is $39 unless you have four others from Ancestry view the transfer process at FTDNA. They do not have to actually transfer for your transfer to be free.

         If you have no idea how to map your chromosomes, put the term in your browser and/or consult the following sources:

         Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino, available at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online in paperback or ebook.  You can also order it from any brick and mortar store.

Email me personally at:  aulicino@hevanet.com with questions.

21 Nov 2014

31 October 2014

Back to Our Past 2014, October 17-19, RDS (Royal Dublin Society), Dublin, Ireland

 Genetic Genealogy Ireland (GGI) is an event within the Back to Our Past (BTOP) conference.  TheAssociation of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) organized BTOP.  Family Tree DNA sponsored GGI, and members  of the   International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) agreed to speak at their own expense.

Maurice Gleeson, originally from Dublin, but currently living in London, is the mastermind behind the twenty presentations given in the DNA area, and he is uploading most every one of them to YouTube, a few each week. The following is just a quick mention of what you can hear online with the accompanying slide presentations.

Maurice, Debbie Kennett, and Katherine Borges, all of ISOGG, provided a variety of topics on helping the audience decide which test works best of them as well as an understanding of DNA for beginners. Debbie sold her book The Surname Handbook and DNA and Social Networking.

Maurice also covered how DNA can help with adoption mysteries, and I explained how autosomal DNA can help you locate cousins. I was fortunate to have sold all the books, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. My book is also available online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble in paperback or e-book.

Spencer Wells, the keynote speaker, gave us an overview of the Genographic Project he operates at the National Geographic Society as well as some details for testing 100 persons in county Mayo.

Brad Larkin’s presentation DNA versus The Irish Annals focused on some major Irish genealogical groups from the Irish annals such as Uí Néill and the kings of Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster along with some Norman lineages as well as how much modern DNA connected with these lineages has been sampled. Most ancient samples are haplogroups G and I.  Today, haplogroup G is virtually gone in Ireland and haplogroups I are present with R dominating. Brad is also a member of ISOGG.

Paul Burns, ISOGG member, shared the results of his Byrne/Burns/Beirne Surname Project while John Cleary of ISOGG explained how to enhance your Y-DNA results through surname and haplogroup projects.

Cynthia Wells, along with Maurice Gleeson, spoke about reconstructing the Irish-Caribbean ancestry. Cynthia is an ISOGG member.

We all love success stories, and Rob Warthen, creator of DNAadoption website and DNAGedcom, explained how he located the family of his wife who was adopted.  She spoke to the group as well.

Michelle Leonard manages the Fromelles Project dedicated to identifying the fallen soldiers of World War I by using DNA.  Her work, which she terms as a labor of love, has resulted in much success in uniting families with the deceased soldiers.

Catherine Swift of the University of Limerick and a historian spoke on the Emerging dyanasties in a maritime world – hunting for Brian Boru’s genetic legacy.  She champions a stronger connection between the genetic genealogists, and historians.  I couldn’t agree more!

Many other speakers will be of great interest to the genealogical community as well as for those interested in their Irish roots.  Patrick Guinness, author and historian spoke about The Clans of the North West and their DNA profiles, clarifying that the DNA of so many men in northwestern Ireland may not be a result of Neill of the Nine Hostages.  Tyrone Bowes of Irish Origenes showed us how to pinpoint our Irish origins while Gerard Corcoran explained how to use genetic genealogy to map Irish migrations.  Daniel Crouch of the University of Oxford spoke on how the genetic analysis of the People of the British Isles yields historical and physiological insights.  Kirsten Bos of the Universitat Tubingen showed us how the plagues of our ancestors are revealed through ancient DNA.

Brad Larkin who runs The SurnameDNA Journal predicted the future of genetic genealogy.

As you can see, the conference covered a large variety of topics. You can also view the presentations from 2013.  Visit the GGI site and immerse yourself in the knowledge of this quickly growing field.

On Monday after the conference, Gerard Corcoran, who is my DNA cousin as he just happens to have a Y-DNA match to my paternal first cousin, constructed an event-filled day for our group.  We began by visiting the National Library and then the National Parliament which is referred to as Dáil where we were greeted by Marcella Corcoran Kennedy a Teachta Dála (member of parliament) for the constituency of Laois-Offaly. She is also a DNA cousin of  Gerard.  Photos were taken with her outside of Parliament before our tour. Framed certificates of Irish ancestry were given to three of us, thanks to Derrell who located members of our group who had Irish ancestors, and many thanks to the concerted effort of Gerard for having them produced.
In the afternoon our group traveled to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) where we had a wonderful lunch as guests of Gerrard at the Kingston Oliveto Restaurant and where we met Kingsley Aikens, CEO of Diaspora Matters and a promoter of the National Diaspora Centre.  It was a delight to hear him speak about diaspora and the work being done. (I must say that of all the places I have traveled, the Irish have made me feel more welcomed as a foreigner than any other country where my ancestors have lived.) We then received a guided tour of the new DLR Lexicon, a very modern library with beautiful views of the waterfront. The plan is to open the library December 5th

Gerard and Cathaoirleach Marie Baker
By 3:30 p.m. (15:30), we met Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Marie Baker and John Hamrock of the Genealogical Society of Ireland at the Dun Laoghaire County Hall. Our tour included visiting her council chambers where we learned about what business was conducted and were able to ask questions. Many photos were taken and she was kind enough to take a DNA test.  We then returned to the Dublin City Center where we dined at Ka Sheng on Wicklow Street as guests of Ancestry.com.

What a delightful day, and…gee, my cousin Gerard has connections! J

Cllr. Kennedy and Emily
Over the years I have attended many conferences and it is always a pleasure to see acquaintances, but even better is to meet new ones. This trip was no different.  I met some wonderful people from academia and do hope to have more time in the future to to chat. But, beside them, I always find it very interesting to meet the people in my audience.  One such person greatly stands out at this conference.
Patrick C. Kennedy, a wonderful Irish gentleman, former mayor of Limerick and currently a Councillor, spent all three days listening to every DNA lecture.  He shared with many of us his political scrapbook which included a photo of himself as a senator meeting Senator Ted Kennedy of the US. Cllr. Kennedy decided to take a Y-DNA to learn more about his all-male Kennedy line.  He was a recipient of a free test thanks to the project manager of the Kennedy Y-DNA project who offered free tests to male Kennedys attending the conference.

28 October 2014

10th Annual Family Tree DNA Conference

Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld opened the Family Tree DNA Decennial Conference by recognizing all those who have attended all the conferences and those who have been project administrators for ten years. They recognized the first time attendees and a couple of new DNA books, including mine entitled Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond along with a soon-to-be published book entitled NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection by David R. Dowell.

Over 180 project administrators and co-administrators attended this year, and internationally there were representatives from Canada, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan!

Shortly after I sat down, I noticed the sconces around the room. It was very 
serendipitous that  this new venue, the Hyatt North Houston, welcomed our group in such a manner.

The following are some of the highlights at the Family Tree DNA Conference and not a day-by-day blow of the events.  Usually at some point, most of the presentations are posted on the FTDNA webpage.  However, I greatly encourage you to visit Jennifer Zinck’s blog Ancestor Central.  She did tremendous job writing as the conference occurred!  Thank you Jen for this wonderful compilation!

Consumer Genomics: The 30,000-foot View by Dr. Spencer Wells
DR. Spencer Wells, Scientist in Residence at the National Geographic Society, and head of the Genographic Project stated that there are 6,000 languages spoken in the world today and if we can understand how they are related, we can more clearly understand how the people who use those languages are related.  The isolated populations which tend to be less mixed with other populations are the key to understanding these connections.  He is majorly concerned about cultural extinction as by the end of the century 50-90% of the 6,000 languages will be lost through cultural assimilation.  Cultural diversity defines us as a people, and once lost, it is gone forever.  Some cultures have been instrumental in plant knowledge which has helped doctors create medicines. Each culture has a great value to the make-up of our species.

Currently the National Genogrphic Project has 75,000 indigenous testers and 625,000 public participants. He reported that genetic sequencing is moving five times faster than Moore’s Law would predict.  That’s five times faster than technology, and we all know the evolution of the iPhone has not been slow!

For the future, Geno 3.0 is coming and a new SNP chip.  Spencer predicted that in a few years the whole genome sequencing will be $100 as it is really cheap with the X10 machine. National Genographic is continuing to collect indigenous samples and is planning a trip to Southeast Asia next year.

AND, his fourth book The Ghost of Genghis Khan is in the works.  Privately Spencer stated to me that he considers his greatest work to be the discovery of Genghis Khan’s DNA.  I can’t wait to read the book!

Ancient and Modern DNA Update:  How many ancestral populations for Europeans? By Dr. Michael Hammer
Dr. Michael Hammer, a research scientist in the ARL Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona, also holds appointments in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology as well as being the Director of the University of Arizona Genetics Core facility.  He pioneered the use of the Y-chromosome as a genealogical tool and is actually responsible for Bennett and Max starting Family Tree DNA.

My favorite presentation, Dr. Hammer updated the audience on last year’s discoveries.  At that time only three archaeological sites were being explored in Europe, but now there are fifteen sites and eighteen fully sequenced genomes for ancient DNA.  From this research there are three main European Ancestral components:
  • West European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG) – based on an 8,000 year-old genome from Loschbour, Luxembourg.  This population includes the Swedish hunter-gatherers and a Mesolitic individual from the La Brana Cave in Spain.
  • Early European Farmers (EEF) – based on a 75,000 genome form Stuttgart, Germany which belongs to the Neolithic Linearbandkeramik culture.  This population includes Oetzi the Iceman and a Neolithic Funnelbeaker farmer from Sweden.
  • Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) – based on the 24,000 year-old genome from Mal’ta Siberia.  This population includes a Mal’ta boy as well as the late Upper Paleolithic sample from Central Siberia called Afontova Gora-2.  Mal’ta boy (MA1) is genetically similar to Native Americans.
Dr. Hammer mentioned that all Europeans are a mixture of the three populations.  He further stated that Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) are equally distributed across Europe including the British Isles and that the hunter-gathers (WHG) probably had blue eyes and dark skin.  The Early European Farmers (EEF) had dark eyes with lighter skin.  These findings so far indicate that Haplogroup I was pre-agriculture and that Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) are haplogroup G2 in southern France, Spain, Northern Italy and North Germany as well as Haplogroup I in France and Haplogroup E in Spain.  There was no R1b at this point, and G2 dominated at this time. It is clear that the R1b haplogroup is relatively new as most samples from the more ancient times in Europe were G and I so far. 

DNA Ethics: Why we can’t cover our eyes by Dr. Blaine Bettinger
Blaine is an intellectual property attorney.  His blog The Genetic Genealogist is definitely worth following.  Blaine spoke on ethics a topic that causes genetic genealogists much angst. In the past we have had speakers who were neither genealogists nor genetic genealogists trying to tell us what is right or wrong.  Blaine used the best approach yet!  He stated there is no right or wrong, but just “best practice” with the goal of reducing negative publicity and to do things ethically.  He suggested that our job as administrators or anyone asking for someone’s DNA should be to educate the person and to be sure they read the “terms of use.” Explain that NPE (No the Parent Expected) can be possible as 1-3% of those testing typically have an NPE. Let them know that if they do not want to know the truth, then maybe they should not test as ancient and recent family secrets could be revealed.
He spoke about getting informed consent and not promising what cannot be delivered including the guarantee of anonymity.  He mentioned that standards will probably be developed as practical guidelines to help us.

Family Finder (How to Succeed with atDNA) by Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett simplified the process of finding common ancestors for autosomal DNA in four steps.  His steps:
            1.  Get Ready by developing a robust Ancestral Tree and a standard email message
            2.  Communicate by sharing your lineage with every match and determine the common ancestors
            3.  Use a spreadsheet to track matches and segments
            4.  Triangulate three or more matches

To see my version of this, view my Dublin presentation at BTOP (Back to Our Past) entitled: Emily Aulicino - Who’s Your Cousin? atDNA Knows! at http://tinyurl.com/lz4u773

Discovering and Verifying your Ancestry using Family Finder by Dr. Tim Janzen
Tim, a family practices doctor in Portland, Oregon, runs a Mennonite project and has given many presentation in the US and Canada.  He stressed the importance of testing as many cousins as possible to help with autosomal triangulation.  He mentioned that endogenous populations can appear closer than they really are, so be aware and look to further generations.  He encouraged everyone to create cousin clusters so that can be used to compare matches you are new to you. Tim encouraged the use of GEDmatch, a third party tool, and gave a few statistics, such as the 4th cousin level on average is about 14cM. Tim sites the following centimorgans (cM) which can be Identical by Descent (IBD) or inherited:
5-6 cM can be 50% IBD
7-8 cm can be 50% IBD
11-12cM you see very little if any IBS (Identical by State*)

 *IBS segments are segments that are handed down for generations unmixed or segments which are too common in a haplogroup. Both situations make it difficult to impossible to determine a common ancestor.

Y-DNA Marker Tables, Mutation Graphs and Ancestral Trees: Useful Techniques for Family Genealogy by Robert Barber
Robert Baber had an excellent statement in his presentation:  Our ancestors never completely died.  They continue to live in our DNA.
            He focused on building a mutational graph and converting it to a genealogical tree.  In order to do so you must know the common ancestor at the top and understand the mutation rates of the specific markers.

ISOGG Meeting
Katherine Borges, director of ISOGG, gave a historical view of the organization and presented Bennett and Max with a plaque of appreciation for their work over the last ten years.

Y-Tree tidbits
Alice Fairhurst mentioned a few current statistics for the Y-SNP tree.  Amazing how popular the
ISOGG tree is in academia, and it is very apparent that Alice'a Crew is doing it right!
  • Over two million hits in six months
  • Most viewed pages were the SNP Index and Haplogroups R, I, E, N, J, and G
  • The tree was viewed from all continents and by universities and genetic laboratories.

Big Y Predictions for the future
  • New products like the Deep Clade 2.0 panel will be made possible by Y-chromosome sequencing and research
  • Read lengths could improve: Illumina is migrating the HiSeq platform to 250bp (base pairs) reads and there are plans to grow to 40bp reads.
  • Technologies such as PacBio and Oxford Naopore promise read length in 1 to 10 kb range
  • Eventually it will make sense to sequence entire genomes instead of the Y-chromosome.

Deep Clade tests
As it is becoming impossible to predict haplogroups even with a Y-111 and especially for some R haplogroups, new Deep Clade panels will be constructed by those working with the haplogroups.  These panels can contain 50-60 SNPs and will be priced very reasonably at $1-$1.50 per SNP. Bennett stated that there could possibly 6 Deep Clades for R and the current focus is on building a SNP panel for R-M222.  Haplogroup administrators can formulate their list and submit it to FTDNA so please contact FTDNA with your list of suggestions for a Deep Clade SNP panel. This will be so much easier and cheaper than selecting individual SNPs to determine more detailed haplogroups!  YEAH!!!

Submit Suggestions
Family Tree DNA has established a link for your suggestions at:
The maximum size for your suggestion is 1,000 characters.  

Thank you FTDNA for this suggestion link.  As I have compiled a list of administrators' requests for the past two years and submitted them to the company, this releases me from my self-appointed quest! Listening to the customer's needs (including administrators) is the best thing a company can do to keep growing.  We all know that staff at FTDNA does not have the time nor experience to do what many of the administrators and testers do with all this DNA information.  Many admins have created software to assist in finding matches as well as techniques to make the process more understandable for the tester.

DNA Census
FTDNA’s buzz word for the future is their goal of creating a DNA Census and not a survey.  By testing everyone, a DNA census will be produced where spotty testing is only doing a survey. To spur the interest they have reduced the autosomal transfers from 23andMe and AncestryDNA to $39 or by getting four people to look at transferring, you get your transfer FREE. 

Encourage everyone to test and those who have at other companies to transfer their results to FTDNA.  In doing so, they will be able to fish in more ponds as each database is different.  This means more matches for everyone and a higher likelihood of finding more recent cousins.  What a great benefit for adoptees as well!

Free Test Result Transfers
Transfers from AncestryDNA and 23andMe (v3 chip) for either $39 or for free.  You can upload your results to FTDNA and see your top 20 matches for free, but you only get the first initial and surname.  If you pay $39 you can see your matches and their emails.  However, If you recruit four other people to transfer their test results, whether they actually pay the $39 fee or not, your upload will be free. See:  https://www.familytreedna.com/AutosomalTransfer

Searchable Family Trees
Another feature this year is a new version of the Gedcom (family trees). The reason for doing so is to implement a new search feature which will allow a person to search all public trees.  I have personally found common ancestors in the past by using the Gedcoms so this will be a great feature if more people upload their data.  You do not have to have a software program which creates a Gedcom; you can input the information on your family directly on the site.  This means, of course, that you can change, correct, add or delete information without uploading a new tree.  YEAH!

Group Project Email Lists
A function entitled myGroups will allow contact within group projects.  At this point the feature is designed for use by project administrators and their testers for particular projects.  I typically run email lists for any tester in my individual projects including men who are connected to the line but who cannot test due to a different surname and women who are related to the surname, but, of course, cannot do a Y-chromosome test so I am not sure how this will improve my particular situation, but it does allow testers to carry on a dialogue which would be of interest to many in the project.  The Alpha testing for this will begin shortly, and FTDNA is looking for volunteers to test it and help remove any bugs.  Just contact FTDNA if you are interested.

Family Tree DNA has three goals for next year:
1. Customer service and feedback
2. Listening to citizen scientists and group administrators
3. New products and features to make genetic genealogy better for genealogists

Many other grand presentations were given, but this hits the highlights. All of you will just have to become administrators of a project and join us next year for the 2015 conference!


28 August 2014

FTDNA End of Summer Sale

Now is the time to purchase your DNA test kit or upgrade the one you have!

Y-DNA testers should consider a minimum Y-37 marker as this test puts you within genealogical time.  However, if you are a member of a common haplogroup or if you match many other testers at the Y-37, consider upgrading to a Y-67 or Y-111.  Doing so could put you in a more defined group with whom you would more closely match.  If there are matches which are a bit beyond the threshold for a Y-37 match, they could appear with a Y-67 as the threshold allows more differences.  OR, your match at a Y-67 could have no further differences.

This sale ends soon, so jump into the gene pool with the rest of us!

The message from Family Tree DNA...

Standard      Regular Price     Sale Price
Y-37                     $169                $129
Y-67                     $268                $199
Y-111                   $367                $279
Big Y                    $595                $495

Upgrades         Regular Price    Sale Price
Y-12 -> Y-37            $99               $70
Y-12 -> Y-67            $189             $148
Y-12 -> Y-111          $339             $239
Y-25 -> Y-37            $49               $35
Y-25 -> Y-67            $148             $114
Y-25 -> Y-111          $249             $209
Y-37 -> Y-67            $99               $79
Y-37 -> Y-111          $220             $179
Y-67 -> Y-111          $129             $109