Genetic Groups at MyHeritage – DNA and Genealogy

Elevenses with Lisa Episode 42 Show Notes

Welcome to Elevenses with Lisa, our weekly  little slice of heaven where friends get together for tea and talk about the thing that never fails to put a smile on our face: Genealogy!

My special guest in this episode is Ran Snir, Director of Product Management for DNA at MyHeritage. If you listen to my Genealogy Gems Podcast then  you’ve heard him on that show, and Premium Members can enjoy his terrific Premium Video called How to get the most from your MyHeritage DNA test results. 

Today we’ll be expanding on that topic and talking specifically about Genetic Groups. Ran covers:

  • What MyHeritage had regarding Ethnicity Estimates up until this release
  • how they built Genetic Groups
  • the User Interface to show some cool examples of Genetic Groups in action

About MyHeritage Genetic Groups

Genetic Groups is MyHeritage’s long-awaited DNA feature that  they describe as “accurately identifies ancestral origins with an incredibly high resolution of 2100+ geographic regions, more than any other DNA test on the market.

Genetic Groups provide greater granularity than standard ethnicity breakdowns by segmenting larger ethnic groups into smaller ones that share a common historical background. For example, beyond learning that they have Scandinavian origins, a user can now find out that they are Danish, and they may now learn where exactly in Denmark their ancestors came from.”

Here’s the announcement about Genetic Groups from MyHeritage:

The outstanding resolution of Genetic Groups and the innovative technology that powers this feature mean that MyHeritage is now able to identify many populations that have never before been detected by any consumer DNA test.

Examples of the Power of Genetic Groups

For example, descendants of the ancient Jewish communities of Aleppo in Syria, or Tripoli in Libya, can now trace their origins among 55 different Jewish groups supported by MyHeritage.

Another population with fascinating history is the Volga Germans — this group is composed of descendants of German settlers who migrated to the Volga River region of Russia and whose descendants later moved to Ellis County in Kansas and other locations. MyHeritage can identify 9 distinct Genetic Groups of Volga Germans.

More examples of groups that are unique to MyHeritage include Norwegians from Kvam and Bergen and their descendants in Minnesota, Italians from Potenza and Basilicata and their descendants in the United States, and hundreds more.

MyHeritage Genetic Groups

Ran Snir of MyHeritage demonstrates the Timeline Player.

Genetic Groups include detailed genealogical insights about each group. Users can view a group’s migration patterns and drill down to view its precise whereabouts during different time periods from the 17th century until today. For each Genetic Group, users can view common ancestral surnames and common given names, the most prevalent ethnicities among the group’s members, a list of other groups that have high affinity to the current one, and more.

This special animation we prepared for a specific Genetic Group of Mormons tells the story of Mormon settlement in the USA over 400 years, providing enlightening information about the group’s migration history.

How to Get Access to Genetic Groups

Genetic Groups are available for free to anyone who has already taken a MyHeritage DNA test, as an enhancement to the ethnicity estimate.

Users who have previously uploaded DNA results to MyHeritage from another service and have access to advanced DNA features (including those who uploaded before December 16, 2018 and have been grandfathered in), or who have an active subscription, will likewise be able to access Genetic Groups at no added cost. 

Users who have uploaded DNA results from another service and do not currently have access to advanced DNA features may pay a one-time unlock fee of $29 per kit to view their Genetic Groups and much more. Users who have taken a DNA test with another service are welcome to upload their results to MyHeritage and unlock access to their Genetic Groups, which will be calculated for them overnight. Click here to upload your DNA results to MyHeritage (Disclosure: These are affiliate links that will compensate us if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting this free show.) 

Answers to Live Chat Questions

One of the advantages of tuning into the live broadcast of each Elevenses with Lisa show is participating in the Live Chat and asking your questions.

Question from Doug H: How is it that I have Ashkenazi on My Heritage but Sephardic on another site? 
Answer from Ran Snir: Different companies use different algorithms for identifying Ethnicity Estimates and it is also strongly affected by the reference population data sets. Meaning, how was the model built and which data was used to validate it. So, it could be that because the data used to “identify” Ashkenazi Jewish and Sephardic Jewish

Question from Beverly L: How far does the Iberian ethnicity extend into France (Gaul) and beyond. My Heritage puts me at ~18% Iberian. I have no paper trail there. Of 4 companies, only MH puts me w? Iberian ethnicity.
Answer from Ran Snir: Here’s a nice article I found about the ties between Iberian ethnicity and France – https://whoareyoumadeof.com/blog/the-ethnicity-of-the-iberian-peninsula-dna-examined/

Question from C. Davis: Caribbean ethnic groups? How can you tell which groups still need to be built up? Thanks
Answer from Ran Snir: We were able to come up with a variety of real cool Genetic Groups in the Caribbean in different places such as Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and others. Same as for other areas around the world, we are able to form new Genetic Groups and fine tune the existing ones based on the information we have. As more people build their trees on MyHeritage and add ancestral events (such as birth and death facts) to the trees, we might be able to come up with more Genetic Groups in this area (and others).

Question from C. Davis: 0% ethnicity with 1,344 matches means what?
Answer from Ran Snir: Need to keep in mind that people are from mixed ethnicities. For example, I could be 100% Iberian and I have a match who is 50% Iberian and 50% Ashkenazi Jewish. That means I have 1 match with Ashkenazi Jewish in his results.

Question from Carn B: I do not see sub groups in any of my dna results. Does that mean i have none or does it mean it hasn’t refreshed my results?  
Answer from Ran Snir: We have completed releasing Genetic Groups for all of our users. Please make sure you check the Genetic Groups section below the Ethnicity Estimate results. Sometimes Genetic Groups will be nested below a specific Ethnicity in your results and sometimes in the Genetic Groups section at the bottom of the list.

Question from Jennifer F: I have 79.4% English, but my 5 groups are all in America. Will future versions of genetic groups be able to tell me where in England?
Answer from Ran Snir: Please note that sometimes, even if the group is in America, it does tell the story of where these people came from. Also note that sometimes you will have more Genetic Groups in lower confidence levels so please make sure you have moved the Genetic Groups confidence level slider all the way to the “low” so that you can see all the Genetic Groups you have. As for the question, yes, we do plan to keep on adding more Genetic Groups and break existing ones in the future to smaller groups and it is likely we will be able to “break” England to smaller portions.

Question from Laura B: My grandfather is, supposedly, pure Ukrainian since his parents and grandparents etc. grew up there. However my DNA test picked up Baltic traits and not eastern European traits. What does this mean?
Answer from Ran Snir: DNA goes back much more than 3 generations. It is possible that a bit further back, there are ancestors who are from Baltic origins, who later moved to Ukraine.

Question from Steve. S: If you add to your family tree online, can that change your ethnicity and genetic groups immediately or is that changed at a later time?
Answer from Ran Snir: When we calculate your Ethnicity Estimate and Genetic Groups, we are not taking into account the information that exist in your family tree. We do use this information when we are working and developing our algorithms and coming up with the features we have. So, the answer is no – your results won’t change, but it might help us in differentiating between ethnicities and coming up with new ones in future models we will build.  

Resources

Archdiocese of Boston and American Ancestors Expand Historic Project

A project that began in 2017 to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church has just been expanded. Here’s the latest on this important project from American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston. 
  
 
catholic church records
 

Historic Catholic Records Online Project Expansion
Announced by
American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston

20 Additional Years of Records—from 1901 through 1920—and more than 60 Additional Greater Boston Catholic Parishes Are To Be Added to the Historic Digital Genealogy Project at AmericanAncestors.org
 
August 7, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—American Ancestors and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) today announced an expansion of its ongoing program to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church. This expansion of a project collaboration announced in early 2017 will effectively double the original 11 million names of parishioners to be included when the project is completed to encompass a total of approximately 21 million names—a treasure in research terms for historians, genealogists, scholars, and the public at large. Images are available to browse now. Name-searchable records will be available in an expanded database from American Ancestors on their award-winning website AmericanAncestors.org

These historic records document several sacraments of the Catholic Church in Boston and surrounding towns including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, and the anointing of the sick. They are valued for research because they contain detailed information about the Catholic parishioners of greater Boston, their relationships with each other, the church, and often the community.

When announced in January 2017, the Historic Catholic Records Online Project—the first of its type in the U.S. to digitize a significant number of sacramental records from any U.S.-based Catholic archdiocese—encompassed 154 parishes in 84 towns within the Boston Archdiocese, covering the years 1789 to 1900. 

Today’s announcement extends the project’s reach to cover records through the year 1920—adding 20 additional years of sacramental records to the project and eventually bringing more than 60 new parishes within it—all formed within the Boston Archdiocese after 1900.

Catholic parishes in the towns of

  • Billerica,
  • Danvers,
  • Dracut,
  • Forest Hills,
  • Groton,
  • Mattapan,
  • Methuen,
  • North Andover,
  • Saugus,
  • Sharon,
  • Shirley,
  • Swampscott,
  • Wakefield,
  • Wilmington,
  • and Winthrop

will now be included—covering important phases of greater Boston’s early 20th-century history and stories of immigration, social, and cultural change.

Boston

Boston

Brenton Simons, President and CEO of American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society, celebrated the amplification of the project, noting “Throughout our 175-year history, New England Historic Genealogical Society has collected and shared countless manuscripts, artifacts, data, and other resources that tell the inspiring story of the American family. The expansion  of this historic collaboration between the Boston Archdiocese and American Ancestors will enrich the research of family historians in America and beyond and be especially informative in Irish, Italian, and French Canadian genealogy. Newer parishes from the 1900s add Lithuanian, Polish, and Portuguese genealogical data of interest.

“I offer our deep gratitude to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for recognizing the historical value of this data—especially Thomas Lester, the Archivist and Records Manager of the Archdiocese, whose forward-thinking vision toward preservation and collaboration inspired this important project and its expansion we are announcing today,” Simons said.

Lester, as the Boston Archdiocese’s leading advocate for records preservation, stated “We recognize the value of this collection to many groups, foremost among them historians and genealogists. This second, expanded phase of our project with American Ancestors, is a result of the overwhelming positive feedback received during the initial phase announced with them in January 2017.

“Use of the records by researchers around the world has exceeded our original expectations and we are excited to offer additional content, with more insights, and deeper glimpses into the history of the Roman Catholic people and parishes in greater Boston.  Of equal importance is that we are continuing to create a digital backup to help preserve these irreplaceable records.”   

“The completion of the expanded project, covering all records through the year 1920 is now anticipated to be by the year 2029,” stated Molly Rogers, Database Coordinator for American Ancestors, “with all browsable (non-indexed) and indexed names from all parish archives expected to be online by that time.” 

The project is enormous in scope, with a large amount of data to be digitized and then laboriously, manually indexed, transcribed, and, in most cases, translated to English for name-searching capabilities. 

Some of the first records from this expanded time period—browsable images of pages from parish archives—are available and may be viewed at AmericanAncestors.org/image-example by members of American Ancestors and by non-members alike, with a free online registration as a Guest Member at AmericanAncestors.org/membership/guest-users. Searchable records (indexed by name) are available only to subscribing members of American Ancestors—visit AmericanAncestors.org/Join. 

Volunteers coordinated by the staff of American Ancestors undertake the greater portion of the work of scanning and indexing the Historic Catholic Records Online Project documents.

 
Much of this effort is carried out at the American Ancestors headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay. In 2017, American Ancestors launched a Historic Catholic Records Fund to enable philanthropy to support the project. Information about contributing to this fund can be found at AmericanAncestors.org/catholic-records-fund.
 
# # #
About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), with its national headquarters located in Boston’s Back Bay, is the oldest and largest genealogical organization in America. It serves more than 260,000 members and millions of online users engaged in family history nationally and around the world. It is home to a world-class research library and archive, and an expert staff.
 
American Ancestors offers an award-winning genealogical research website at AmericanAncestors.org with more than 1.4 billion records and maintains a publishing division which produces original genealogical research, scholarship, and educational materials, including Mayflower Descendant, a quarterly journal of Pilgrim genealogy and history. 
 

Resources for Using Church Records for Genealogy

Former Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Jane Morton’s new book, along with Harold A. Henderson, CG is How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide. It includes hundreds of links to church research resources, as well as chapters devoted to specific resource for the major Christian denominations before 1900. 
church records book cover
 
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

American Slave Records in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

American slave records contained in the Digital Library on American Slavery at the University of North Carolina Greensboro have recently been updated. Also in new and updated genealogical record collections this week, records from Australia, United States, and Ireland.

dig these new record collections

United States – North Carolina – American Slave Records

An expansion of the University of North Carolina Greensboro University Libraries’ Digital Library on American Slavery has added bills of sales. These records index the names of enslaved people from across North Carolina. When complete the project will include high resolution images and full-text searchable transcripts. This digital library also includes other important record projects such as:

Race and Slavery Petitions Project – A searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. The site provides access to information gathered over an eighteen-year period from petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the fifteen slave-holding states in the United States and the District of Columbia.

North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements, 1750-1840 Project – Online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840. Digital images, full-text transcripts, and descriptive metadata, are included in this searchable database.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database – Among other things, this database identifies 91,491 Africans taken from captured slave ships or from African trading sites. It includes the African name, age, gender, origin, country, and places of embarkation and disembarkation of each individual.

People Not Property – Slave Deeds of North Carolina – When complete, People Not Property – Slave Deeds of North Carolina will include high resolution images, and full-text searchable transcripts. Though still in the working stages, they hope to open the project to states beyond North Carolina, creating a central location for accessing and researching slave deeds from across the Southern United States. Keep a watchful eye on this exciting endeavor!

Australia – Victoria – Court Session Records

Over 3 million Victoria Petty Sessions Registers records have just been released in association with Public Records Office Victoria to coincide with Australia Day (January 26th) 2017. This collection includes both transcripts and scanned images of original court registers. If your ancestors had a run-in with the law, you may find them here.

Victoria petty records and american slavery records

Snapshot of Victoria Petty Sessions Record from Findmypast.

This collection covers both civil and minor criminal cases. The Court of Petty Sessions’ brief was wide, making these records a powerful resource for those with Australian ancestors. Your ancestors may appear as a witnesses, defendants, complainants, or even as a Justice of the Peace. Cases include merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Debts were also collected and disputes settled. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness.

The registers available in this collection cover the years between 1854 and 1985. Transcripts will list the event date, your ancestor’s role (whether plaintiff, defendant, etc.), cause or reason for the case, the court it was held at, the date, and a brief description. Images may provide additional details.

Australia – Queensland – Passenger Lists

Also at Findmypast, Queensland Custom House Shipping 1852-1885 passengers and crew with over 107,000 records of passengers and crew that made voyages between 1852 to 1885.

These transcripts list information taken from original documents held by the National Archives of Australia and will allow you to discover your ancestor’s age, nationality, occupation, date and port of arrival, date and port of departure, and the name of the ship they sailed on.

United States – New York – Passenger Lists

The collection New York, Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906-1942 at FamilySearch consists of images of the indexes to passenger manifests for the port of New York. The indexes are grouped by shipping line and arranged chronologically by date of arrival. Additional images will be added as they become available.

United States – Ohio – Tax Records

The records included in the Ohio Tax Records, 1800- 1850 at FamilySearch contain both the index and images to taxation records as recorded with the County Auditor of each county. The records in this collection cover the years 1800 to 1850. However, the majority are from the years 1816 through 1838. Entries are recorded in voucher books and one person per page. Included are the following Ohio counties:

  • Ashtabula
  • Belmont
  • Carroll
  • Columbiana
  • Guernsey
  • Harrison
  • Jackson
  • Jefferson
  • Monroe
  • Trumbull
  • Washington
tax records and american slave records

Snapshot of an Ohio Tax Record via FamilySearch.org

Governments created tax records that vary in content according to the purpose of the assessment. Most are based on personal property, real estate, and income. They are particularly useful for placing your ancestor in a particular area year after year, hopefully leading you to other helpful records.

United States – Massachusetts – Revolutionary War Index Cards

FamilySearch has updated the Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Index Cards to Muster Rolls, 1775-1783 collection this week. These index card abstracts are of accounts, muster and pay rolls, and descriptive lists and accounts, of soldiers who served in Massachusetts companies and regiments during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

Examples of Card Abstract Types

  • An Account -Mass. Archives Depreciation Rolls
  • Company Return – Coat Rolls Eight Months Service
  • Continental Army Pay Accounts – Continental Army Books
  • A Descriptive List – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • Lexington Alarm Roll – Lexington Alarms
  • List of Men Mustered – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • List of Men Raised to Serve in the Continental Army
  • Muster and Pay Roll
  • Muster
  • Order for Bounty Coat – Coat Rolls Eight Months Service Order
  • Order – Mass. Muster And Pay Rolls
  • Pay Abstract – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • Pay Roll
  • Receipt for Bounty – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • A Return
  • Statement of Continental Balances

Ireland – Newspapers

This month’s enormous Irish Newspapers update at Findmypast contains over 1.2 million articles. Seven brand new titles have also been added including the Leinster Leader, Donegal Independent, Kildare Observer & Eastern Counties Advertiser, Wicklow News-Letter & County Advertiser, Longford Journal Wicklow People, and the Ballyshannon Herald.

Newspapers are a great source for vital information when records cannot be found. To learn more about using newspapers for genealogy research, read Lisa Louise Cooke’s top-notch tips in Everything You Need to Know About How to Find Your History in Newspapers.

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