The Shared cM Project

Join me in Alaska on the Annual Heritage Books Genealogy Conference and Cruise (Special Offer)!

Are you interested in genealogy? Are you interested in DNA? Are you interested in Alaska?

You didn’t really say “no” to any of those, did you??

Heritage Books, a leader in the world of genealogy publication for four decades, is again hosting the Annual Heritage Books Genealogy Conference and Cruise! This year’s cruise on Princess Cruise Lines is in Alaska! The cruise departs from Seattle, Washington on September 17, 2017 and arrives back one week later on September 24, 2017.

And just look at this itinerary!

  • Day 1 – Sep 17, 2017 (Sunday) – Seattle — Departs at 4:00 PM (First one-on-one session)
  • Day 2 – At Sea — Genealogy Sessions (Sessions 1-6)
  • Day 3 – Ketchikan, Alaska — Arrives at 6:30 AM and departs 3:00 PM (Second one-on-one session)
  • Day 4 – Juneau, Alaska — Arrives at 12:30 PM and departs 10:00 PM (Sessions 7-8)
  • Day 5 – Skagway, Alaska — Arrives at 6:00 AM and departs at 5:00 PM (Third one-on-one session)
  • Day 6 – At Sea — Genealogy Sessions (Sessions 9-14)
  • Day 7 – Victoria, British Columbia — Arrives at 7:00 PM and departs 11:59 PM (Sessions 15-20)
  • Day 8 – Sep 24, 2017 (Sunday) – Seattle, Washington — Arrives at 7:00 AM

Great Speakers

This year’s cruise has a terrific line-up of speakers, one I am incredibly honored to join.

  • Debra Mieszala, CG – Debbie is a BCG trustee who specializes in forensic genealogy, 20th-century research, and the Midwest. She conducts genealogical research for the military to locate relatives of service members missing in past wars.
  • Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA – Pam is a coordinator and teacher at SLIG, IGHR, GRIP, and Boston University’s genealogy certificate program; former NGS director of education and publications; and former board member, NGS and FGS.​
  • Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA – Rick is a course coordinator and instructor for IGHR, SLIG, and GRIP. Areas of interest include, urban research, maps, government records, law, land, military, and technology.
  • Craig R. Scott, MA, CG, FUGA – Craig is the author of The ‘Lost Pensions’: Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838 (Revised) and Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised). He has authored seventeen books and several articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly Family Chronicle, and other genealogical publications. He is the President and CEO of Heritage Books, Inc., a genealogical publishing firm with over 5,300 titles in print.
  • Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D. – I’m an intellectual property attorney by day and a DNA specialist by night. I’m the author of the long-running blog The Genetic Genealogist, and I frequently give presentations and webinars to educate others about the use of DNA to explore their ancestry.

A Special Offer – Book Now Through February 28th, 2017!

I really want you to join me on this cruise; the more the merrier! From today through February 28th, 2017 only, if you sign up for the cruise and send me proof of your booking (also dated between today and February 28th), I will send you a FREE and SIGNED copy of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy!

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Do NOT Miss the NERGC Conference in Springfield in April!

Are you attending NERGC in Springfield, MA this April 26-29th?

The New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) is one of the largest – if not THE largest – genealogical conference in the Northeast. NERGC is only held every other year, so you don’t want to miss this!

Genealogical conferences are an absolute essential for genealogists at every level, from newbie to experienced to professional. With so many educational opportunities, conferences push your knowledge and help you find records you may never have considered looking for.

Just as important as the education, meeting new people or seeing old friends is so much fun. There is NOTHING like spending a few days with people who share your passion!

NERGC 2013 was a great event; I presented several DNA lectures, and had between 35 to 100 attendees in each lecture. They were terrific audiences!

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Preliminary Results from The X-DNA Inheritance Project

About a month ago I created The X-DNA Inheritance Project to study recombination of the X chromosome. To do this, I requested grandparent/grandchild GEDmatch Kit Numbers submitted via a portal (https://goo.gl/forms/gg2n9SSUUKQSt5KG3).

I’ve received numerous submissions, but I would love to have many more. The preliminary data in this graph is based on 150 submissions (thus analyzing 150 meioses), but I’d like to get the number up to 500 to have more confidence in the data (even though 150 took hours!).

A huge THANK YOU to everyone that has submitted!

The Genetic Genealogist Celebrates 10 Years of DNA!

As of TODAY, The Genetic Genealogist is 10 years old!

Ten years ago today on February 12, 2007, I published my very first blog post, called “New estimates for the arrival of the earliest Native Americans.” Ten years have flown by faster than I could have imagined, and yet my life is so different that it was back then!

Since that day in 2007, I’ve written 594 blog posts (that’s about one a week), totaling a mind-blowing 289,319 words! See below for more stats and information about the first 10 years here at The Genetic Genealogist.

To thank my readers, including all of your incredible encouragement, comments, tweets, and emails, I’m hosting a sweepstakes for my 10th Blogiversary! I have one copy of each of my genetic genealogy books (including Genetic Genealogy in Practice co-authored with Debbie Parker Wayne). These are the very first copies of these books that I ever signed!

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Visualizing Recombination and Segment Loss

I posted a graphic online yesterday showing chromosome paintings for three generations, from a grandmother to her son to her grandson. I think these types of graphics are very interesting, but I shared this particular graphic because it – rather dramatically, I think – shows the loss of numerous African and Native American segments through just those three generations.

The grandmother has approximately 4% African DNA and 6% Native American DNA:

This 10% of non-European DNA, for example, quickly dwindles to almost non-existent in the grandchild, as shown in the images and tables below.

Since I’ve actually tested two of the grandmother’s grandchildren, below are results for both.

Grandchild #1:

Grandchild #2:

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LegacyTree Genealogists Has a New Grandparent Mapping Tool

LegacyTree Genealogists is a genealogy research firm founded in 2004 and based in Salt Lake City but with professional researchers in many different places around the world. They do quite a bit of DNA work, which is how they got on my radar a few years ago.

Today, LegacyTree Genealogists released a new Inheritance Chart Tool for mapping a grandchild’s DNA to his or her four grandparents. The tool produces a chart showing exactly what segments of DNA came from which grandparent, along with a spreadsheet of those segments. There’s a blog post here: “Discover What You’re Made of with Grandparent Inheritance Charts.

One of the things I like best about this tool is the ease with which you can create a spreadsheet to upload and use the tool. At a minimum, you need three things:

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Quantifying Tree Availability for My AncestryDNA Matches

Last week, AncestryDNA announced that their database has reached 3 million people, and that they had sold 1.4 million kits on top of that in the last 3 months of 2016.  See “Ancestry Sets AncestryDNA Sales Record Over Holiday Period and Fourth Quarter” for more information.

This means that by summer or fall of 2017, the database is likely to reach 5 million people.

Many people have noted that many of these new test-takers will undoubtedly not have trees. That’s true, unfortunately, although it is a challenge rather than an absolute roadblock. It is an opportunity for experienced genealogists to engage new genealogists and encourage and help them. Indeed, many of them will never add a tree, and that will be very, very frustrating. But at least a small fraction of those will have a good reason for not doing so. The majority without trees will likely either not know how to do it, or may only be interested in ethnicity.

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Adoptee Testing: A Study

Today, Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist published “DNA testing for adoptees: 2017,” an EXCELLENT primer for adoptees or foundlings looking to use DNA to find their biological family. If you’ve tested your DNA and spent time with your results, it is likely that you’ve encountered an adoptee looking for information. If you are an adoptee, Judy’s post is a MUST read, as it contains a NEW testing plan due to a new “pond to fish in,” a genealogy company offering autosomal DNA testing for the first time in 2016. Here’s the link, just be sure to come back after you’re done reading: “DNA testing for adoptees: 2017.”

The American Adoption Congress

Welcome back!

In April, I will be an invited keynote speaker at the 38th Annual American Adoption Congress International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In that keynote, I want to provide adoptees with information about how DNA can help them (for many this will undoubtedly be their first introduction to the power of DNA). However, I also wanted to share the experience of adoptees who test in the databases today. How often do they find biological family? What are their closest matches? And so much more.

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The Danger of Distant Matches

We know that small segments shared between two individuals can be problematic (see Small Matching Segments – Friend or Foe?), whether the two individuals are closely related or distantly related (or not related at all, as we’ll see). I call small segments (which I usually classify as 5 cM or less) as POISON because it is currently impossible to decipher between which are real segments and which are not.

In the following analysis, I use the wonderful new Match-O-Match tool at DNAGedcom to compare my and my parents’ match lists from AncestryDNA. The Match-O-Match tool is a powerful spreadsheet analysis tool developed by Don Worth. It is available to DNAGedcom subscribers as part of the DNAGedcom Client. For more, see page 10 of the PDF HERE. Thank you Don for this great new tool!

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Clustering Shared Matches

Given the lack of a chromosome browser, the Shared Matches tool at AncestryDNA is one of the most powerful tools available to genealogists. Once you have a list of genetic cousins at AncestryDNA, you can mine the Shared Matches with each of those cousins, looking for patterns of shared ancestry among the shared matches.

This works better if you have a well-researched tree and several tested relatives on multiple different sides/branches of the family.

PLEASE. I know I say this a thousand times in the post and the caveats at the end, but please use caution with this. I’m posting this because I found it useful, and I would like to get feedback on what others are doing in this area, particularly with regard to automation of this process. This is dangerous, so use caution!

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