StoryWorth for Father’s Day: Invite your dad to share stories with loved ones every week, and then get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book at the end of the year. Go to http://www.storyworth.com/lisa for $20 off when you subscribe. This Father’s Day is actually a gift for you, too!
Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.
Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.
MAILBOX: MILITARY DRAFT REGISTRATIONS
Click here to read about finding military draft registrations
INTERVIEW: JIM BEIDLER ON PENNSYLVANIA RESEARCH QUESTION
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When it comes to the accuracy of DNA ethnicity results, there’s some good news: they’re getting more specific. Your initial results that said “Irish” may now point specifically to Ulster. Here, Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about this promising progress.
One of the questions I get asked most often is to predict the future of genetic genealogy. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I am certain that the future of genetic genealogy holds two things: automation and specificity. We will save the automation discussion for another day (it was hinted at in RootsTech announcements by bothMyHeritageandLiving DNA) and focus here on the exciting topic of specificity.
DNA ethnicity accuracy: Specificity on the rise
Since the launch of the autosomal DNA test, we have seen an incredible increase in the specificity of our origins reports. In 2007, 23andMe was breaking down your heritage into three main categories: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Now, 11 years later, after several revisions, they have released a new update expanding their origins product from 31 categories to 150! That’s an increase in specificity of 4,900%!!!! All companies are moving in this same direction, with AncestryDNA releasing a small update in April of 2018, to try to provide more detail to the story of your ancestral heritage.
This trend toward increasing specificity also appears in reports from academia. For example, in December of 2017, there was astudyreleased by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland working with the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The study details a component that is especially important to genealogists: time. While it might be interesting to know that you had an ancestor who once walked the moors, it would be even more valuable to know when he was there.
In this study, they can see both the current genetic clusters in Ireland (they report 10) but also measure how genetically similar those clusters are to other places. That means we can not only tell you where you are from in Ireland, but also where you were before that. It’s a bit like the sticker you see on the fruit at the grocery store. Right now it is in your store, but the sticker tells you where it was before that.
AncestryDNA origins reports
This same kind of research is reflected in AncestryDNA’s Migrations, which are a feature of their origins report. Migration communities, like Lower Midwest Settlers, identify your ancestral locations hundreds of years ago, as opposed to the Regions, like Europe West, which identify your ancestral locations thousands of years ago.
Sticking with the Irish theme, we see that AncestryDNA places Ireland in a region with Scotland and Wales. This large region is then broken up into four subregions, each with its own subregions, for a total of 24 different Irish categories. (You can view this image by clicking on See all 150+ regions at the bottom of the ethnicity window.)
Much like the study from academia in Ireland, we can track these Irish groups through time using the tools at AncestryDNA. Essentially, if you find yourself in any of the subregions, then you know that your connection to that particular place was likely within a genealogical timeframe (the last 300 years). What if you do not yet find yourself in a subgroup, but as shown in the example here, you see simply no connection to these subregions? It either means your connection to Ireland is farther back than 300ish years, or that the subregion you are from has not yet been defined.
Living DNA ethnicity categories in UK
Currently Living DNA has the most specificity in the UK as they can distinguish between 42 regions in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland (map shown here). Living DNA has announced similar regional projects in other countries, including Germany.
But even with this specificity, it can still be tricky to make genealogical connections between your maps and your family tree. In the coming months and years, even that will change. As the databases get bigger, it will be the connections between people who are tested that will add to the layer of genealogy specificity that we are missing. In other words, it will be less about whether you have a specific piece of DNA tagging you as from Cork, Ireland, and more about the fact that your DNA connects to you to an entire group of people who have documented ancestors from Cork. This may seem like a small distinction, but it makes all the difference, and is the driving principle behind AncestryDNA’s Migrations tool, and what Living DNA is hinting at as well.
So, what will the future hold? Nobody has all the answers, and that is part of the fun of it. But one thing I am certain of: the future does hold more specific answers to our genetic genealogy questions.
Did you hear?
We have added 21 of Diahan Southard’s DNA tutorial videos to our Premium Membership, which is now Premium eLearning! DNA is a gateway to genealogical discoveries, so it pays to know all you can about using DNA in your family history research plan. We’ve organized Diahan’s comprehensive DNA tutorial series into four categories: General DNA (including beginner), Autosomal DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and YDNA. Watch all of them or start with what you most want to learn now. And remember, as fantastic as this DNA series is, it’s only one of the many Premium video topics you’ll have exclusive access to with your Premium eLearning. Click here to learn more.
The Author: Diahan Southard
Your DNA Guide
Diahan is Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series ofDNA guides for genealogists.
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!
Plenty of DNA testing news crossed our desks in 2017! Advances in genetic genealogy include an AncestryDNA database that doubled in size, new options for participants, more health-related information and a new global genetic tree. Catch up on these developments before 2018 brings us even more DNA news!
DNA Testing News in 2017
The genetic genealogy industry is growing at a break-neck pace. Ancestry.com has amassed the largest DNA database by doubling its testing pool in 2017. Over 6 million people have now tested there. This is great news for those seeking genetic connections. As these databases grow larger, it’s also clear that genetic data–correlated with genealogical data–has tremendous ability to provide us with other answers about ourselves.
In November, MyHeritage announced an effort by their scientific team to “study the relationship between genetics and behavior, personal characteristics, and culture.” These studies are not new, as 23andMe is in open hot pursuit of the connections between genetics and our health, and always has been.
Increased options for your DNA testing experience
All of our genetic genealogy companies are involved in research on one level or another and every person who swabs or spits has the opportunity to participate in other research projects (click here to read up on the consent policies at each company). At the time of testing, you have the option to opt in or out of this research, and the ability to alter that decision at any time after you test, by accessing your settings. According to an article in Fast Company, it seems we as a community are very interested in helping with research: 23andMe reports an over 80% opt-in-to-research rate among their customers. And I’ve got some breaking news for you: Family Tree DNA recently ran a consumer awareness campaign to reinforce the message that they will never sell your genetic data.
Health data and research
All our genetic genealogy companies realize that you might want to do more with your data than just look for your ancestors. This year Family Tree DNA has partnered with Vitagene in an effort to provide insight into your health via your genetic genealogy test results. Of course 23andMe is the leader in health testing when we look at our top genetic genealogy companies. This year 23andMe finally succeeded in passing several of their health tests through the FDA, a huge leap forward in their efforts to provide health testing directly to consumers.
While health testing has certainly seen an explosion of interest this year, it is not the only way that our companies are using the data they have amassed. AncestryDNA took the DNA and pedigree charts of two million customers who consented to research and, using some really fancy science, were able to provide amazing insight into our recent ancestral past with the creation of their genetic communities. These genetic communities enhance our understanding of our heritage by showing us where our ancestors may have been between 1750 and 1850, the genealogical “sweet spot” that most of us are trying to fill in.
A global genetic family tree
Living DNA, a relative newcomer to the genetic genealogy arena, announced in October of 2017 their intention to use their database to help create a One World Family Tree. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from all over the world, specifically those who four grandparents lived in close proximity to each other. Along with this announcement, Living DNA is allowing individuals who have results from other companies and want to help with this project, to transfer into their database.
So it seems that with growing databases come growing options, whether to opt-in to research, to pursue health information from your DNA test results, or to help build global databases for health or genealogy purposes. Recognizing the growing appeal to non-genealogists as well, AncestryDNA added to their list of options the ability to opt-out of the match page, and there are rumors that Living DNA will soon be adding the option to opt-in to matching (they do not currently have a cousin-matching feature as part of their offering).
Keep up with DNA testing news
It can be tricky to keep up with the seemingly relentless flood of DNA advances, so follow us here at Genealogy Gems, where I report on the most important DNA testing news for your genealogy research. You can stay up-to-date by following us on Facebook, subscribing to our free weekly e-mail newsletter and tuning in to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.
The Author: Diahan Southard
Your DNA Guide
Diahan Southard is Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists (click STORE in the menu above)
A new AncestryDNA opt-out option allows DNA test takers to not participate in DNA match lists: they do not receive matches or show up in others’ match lists. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard weighs on in the implications for genealogy researchers who may worry about cousin matches they may miss.
New AncestryDNA Opt-Out Policy
When you take a DNA test, you receive two different kinds of results from the DNA sample that you submit to your testing company:
information about your ancestral origins and
a list of your DNA cousins.
Opting out of matching essentially cuts the value of this product in half. You only get the ancestral origin information, and you forfeit access to your list of genetic matches. Opting out doesn’t just mean you can’t see them: it means that they can’t see you either.
AncestryDNA joins 23andMe in providing this option to their clients. You can look at this move as Ancestry’s response to an ever-expanding global audience, many of whom are not genealogists or are reluctant to have their DNA compared to others for a variety of reasons. It is important for them as a company to provide options for their clients to experience their product in a way that works best for them.
What the AncestryDNA Opt-Out Policy May Mean for You
What does this new opt-out option mean for genealogists? Hopefully, not much will change. Ancestry reports that overwhelmingly, people are opting in.
There has been quite a bit of push-back to this announcement, especially from the adoption community. DNA testing has been a tremendous source of information for those seeking out their biological relatives, and many fear that this change will limit access to quality DNA matches. But we will all still be able to do good genetic genealogy work, even as we are each allowed to choose whether to participate in the matching feature. To understand this better, it is important to see this issue from the other side, from the side of a person who might want to opt out. Here are two possible scenarios:
Scenario #1: Susan would really like to explore her heritage. She hasn’t tested before because she didn’t want to see cousin matches for a variety of personal reasons. But now she does test and opts-out. The community hasn’t lost anything because Susan would never have tested in the first place. But after exploring her ethnicity results and noticing membership in a couple of Genetic Communities, she begins to wonder more about her ancestors and decides to opt-in to matching, after all. In this scenario, the Opt-Out policy offers users a way to comfortably give DNA testing a try.
Scenario #2: Ryan heard about AncestryDNA while watching TV last year and ordered a kit. But then last week he heard about the ability to opt out, and went in and changed his account settings. So one day you could see Ryan on your match list, and the next you didn’t. We as a community would certainly see that as a loss. However, consider the circumstances that might have caused Ryan to hit that opt-out button. Perhaps Ryan had no idea how to use the match list, no interest in using it, and found it a bother to get correspondence from people. Perhaps Ryan found something unexpected, like that he wasn’t his father’s child, and he needed some time to deal with it. Maybe Ryan is under pressure from his sister, who didn’t want him to test in the first place (perhaps she knows something he doesn’t about their family tree, or she’s afraid of how any results and revelations might impact her). The short of it is: It doesn’t matter why Ryan opted out, it is his personal right to do so. Just as an adoptee has the right to seek out their heritage, others have the right to keep their family secrets to themselves. This scenario does support the idea that you should review your DNA matches frequently and record information about them in your own master match list, which I talk about in my quick reference guides, Organizing Your DNA Matches and Next Steps: Working with your Autosomal DNA. By promptly recording matching results, you will have them to work with even if the tester decides later on down the road to opt out.
As a genealogy community, we can educate others about the value of the match list, while at the same time cautioning them that unexpected connections may appear. So in everyday conversations, share your own experiences—whatever these may be. Maybe it was affirming for you to see that the dad you grew up knowing is indeed your biological father. Perhaps you can share a story about the power of using a list of fourth cousins to discover information about your third-great-grandfather. Maybe you’ve discovered a new connection—and maybe that connection isn’t yet comfortable or fully explained, but you’re glad to know about it.
Learn More about AncestryDNA Testing
Get the most out of your AncestryDNA testing experience with my AncestryDNA bundle of quick reference guides. You’ll save 15% off the individual guide price when you purchase this value bundle–and you’ll enrich your testing experience by a lot more than that!
Included in the bundle are:
Understanding AncestryDNA.How to find your best DNA matches, interpret ethnicity results, link your tree, understand relationship ranges and DNA Circles, and work with Shaky Leaf hints.
What to reveal more about your family’s unique story through DNA and genealogy? Grab your seat in our upcoming free webinar:
Date: Sat. Sept. 23, 2017 Time: 11:00 AM Eastern Length: 90 minutes including Live Q&A
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Your DNA Guide will dispel the myth that there’s just one DNA test
There are more options, and possible outcomes, than you might think! Diahan will walk you through the choices.
Creative ideas for filling in the gaps in your family’s story
Lisa will show you online tools that go well beyond names and dates. Then we’ll expand your story in unexpected ways by finding DNA connections.
Share the story you’ve uncovered through awesome video
Lisa & Beth will show you how easy it is to tell your story like a pro!
Please share this free webinar with your friends
Please share this free webinar with your friends and genealogy society. Here’s the link to the registration page to share on social media: