Genetic Genealogy: DNA Tests Another Step Forward

dna_in_test_tube_400_wht_8965Recently a group of 100 residents from Wellington, New Zealand assembled together to determine what exactly it was they had in common. Their host? Dr. Spencer Wells, Director of the National Genographic project.  Their admittance fee to this party? A cheek swab.

What they learned about themselves that evening, has a direct impact on YOU, a genealogist interested in identifying your ancestors.

You see, 800 years ago the first inhabitants of New Zealand were just beginning to explore their new territory. They had arrived from the eastern islands of Polynesia and lived in relative isolation for over 500 years.

While first discovered by the Dutch in 1642, New Zealand wasn’t regularly visited by Europeans until the late 18th century. For Spencer Wells and the National Genographic Project, sampling people of New Zealand would provide a rare opportunity to study the genetic effect of a recent collision of indigenous and outside population groups.

We can think of mixing populations like adding a tablespoon of salt to a glass of water. At first it is easy to see the two different substances co-existing in the same location. But soon the salt becomes part of the water- creating a new substance, with only a small portion of the original substances remaining. This is what happened throughout history as outside groups arrived and intermarried with indigenous populations.

The goal of population genetics as a field of study, and specifically of the National Genographic project, is to look at the modern day population (in our example the salt water), and be able to identify which ancestral populations are present (in our example, determine which parts are salt, and which parts are water. This of course, without knowing beforehand that you were dealing with salt water!).

The National Geneographic project has identified 9 ancestral regions from which they believe all modern populations descend. These nine would be like our salt, and our water. They have then described how 43 reference population groups (our salt water) are comprised of their own unique mix of these 9 groups. They can also describe the origins of your direct maternal line, and if you are male, your direct paternal line.

This information was gathered for the Wellington residents. It was determined that the original Polynesian population and a small East Asian population are certainly the minority among a predominately Western European population group. This information will help groups like the National Genographic Project to determine the possible migration patterns of other peoples and cultures.

What does this mean for genealogy?  This kind of research helps fuel the admixture results (the pie charts and percentages) reported to you by a genetic genealogy testing company when you take an autosomal DNA test.  It is this research that helps genetic genealogists look at your DNA and pick out the essential, ancestral elements–your salt and your water–and determine how your unique mix reveals information about the origins and migration patterns of your ancestors.

Check out an article on this topic here.

New Editions of Old Papers Now at the British Newspaper Archive

London Standard British Newspaper Archive

More than 8.5 million newspaper pages from 1710-1954 are now available to search at The British Newspaper Archive. Recent titles cover England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and include the London Evening Standard, Glasgow’s Daily Record and the Northern Whig.

The first years from the following new titles have been added to The British Newspaper Archive:

  • Biggleswade Chronicle, covering 1912
  • Daily Record, covering 1914-1915
  • Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser, covering 1864
  • London Evening Standard, covering 1860-1862 and 1866-1867
  • Newcastle Evening Chronicle, covering 1915
  • Northern Whig, covering 1869-1870
  • Surrey Comet, covering 1854-1857 and 1859-1870
  • Watford Observer, covering 1864-1865, 1867, 1869-1870

Check out the latest additions of old news now at The British Newspaper Archive here!

find ancestors in old newspapers chronicling america free us historical newspapers

Want to learn more about using old newspapers in your genealogy research? Check out my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. You’ll learn what kinds of family items you’ll find mentioned in old newspapers; how to find the right newspapers for your family; and how to locate old editions–both online and offline.

Preserve Your Heritage in Archival Scrapbooks: New Video

LOC scrapbook videoHands up, how many of you have ever created (or considered creating) an album or scrapbook to showcase your family history finds, life story, career or hobbies – or those of a loved one? Well, the Library of Congress has posted a new FREE video about how to create and properly preserve  digital or traditional archival scrapbooks.

It’s a 72-minute video by various experts with a downloadable transcript on these topics:

  • basic preservation measures one can do at home for long-lasting albums and scrapbooks;
  • pros and cons of dismantling old scrapbooks and albums in poor condition;
  • how to address condition problems;
  • preservation considerations for digital scrapbooks and albums
  • how to participate in the Library’s Veterans History Project.

Check it out!

NEW! Map for African-American Genealogy Resources after the Civil War

The time period after the U.S. Civil War is a messy era for searching for African-American ancestors from the South. Millions of people were emerging

Mapping the Freedmens Bureau African-American genealogy Reconstructionfrom slavery, without documented histories of who they were or who they were related to–many without even consistent first and last names.

A NEW website helps researchers locate important African-American genealogy resources from the post-war Reconstruction era. Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau is a map-based tool for helping you find the Freedmen’s Bureau offices and hospitals, Freedman’s Bank offices, “Contraband Camps,” U.S. Colored Troops battle sites and other locations nearest your ancestors that may have created records about them. Many of these record sets are just coming online or are newly indexed and are free to search, so the timing couldn’t be better.

What a fantastic tool! I’m so pleased to see this site. Now those who know what location they’re starting with can easily glance at a map and click to see which of these resources exist in a specific locale and where to find them online or offline.

Listen to my interview with African-American genealogy research expert Deborah Abbott, PhD, in the FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 159.

iPad Tips and Interview with WDYTYA Producer in New Episode for Premium Members

ipad with photoWould you like to be privy to the genealogical research strategies of the producers of the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? Genealogy Gems Premium Members get an exclusive cut from my recent interview with Allie Orton, Producer of the series that has moved to the TLC channel.  Allie and her team work under a tight timetable and budget, and she provides tips to help you do the same.

Also in this episode I’ve got not one but two new cool tricks to pump up your iPad / iPhone for genealogy! And we’ll also tackle a question about digital file organization that will help you get more organized.

All of these gems are part of a very special Premium episode: #100!  And as a Premium Member you have access to all 100 in the podcast catalogue!

Premium Podcast
Not a Genealogy Gems Premium Member? Why not? Become a Member today and get immediate access to all of the genealogy goodness in both audio and video!

P.S. The remainder of the interview is coming to the next episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast in early August. Stay tuned!

 

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