Can a Genealogist Refuse to Use DNA Evidence?

The answer is, of course, yes. A genealogist can refuse to use any evidence they don’t want to use. There is no Evidence Police. The real question, therefore, is whether the research from a genealogist refusing to use DNA evidence can be considered complete and reliable IF AND ONLY IF that DNA evidence: (1) would have shed light on the question (to either support or refute the hypothesis); AND (2) could have been obtained.

The GPS and DNA Evidence

DNA evidence has been available to genealogists since 2000, although it has only reached what one might call a “critical mass” of awareness within the genealogical community in the past 5-10 years. As a result of the proliferation of DNA testing, a spotlight is currently aimed at DNA evidence, including when it should be used and how it should be used.

... Click to read more!

Are You Doing Everything to Identify Your Matches?

We all know that it can be frustrating trying to identify who a genetic match is and how they are related to us. Today we’ll look at some of the ways we can learn more about matches using the limited information we are given.

But this post has a two-fold purpose. The first purpose is to help people identify their AncestryDNA matches even if the match has no tree, has a private tree, has a meagre tree, and/or is not communicating. Keep in mind, some people have very good reasons for not having a public tree (they don’t have one, there’s a bad history, and so on), so this post is not at all about chastising people who don’t have a tree.

The second purpose, which is perhaps even more important, is to help test-takers who want privacy understand the ways in which people can use information to identify them. EVERY test-taker has a right to make their information as private as possible; but you must also understand that DNA is inherently identifiable. The purpose of genetic genealogy is identification. The only way to maintain 100% DNA privacy is to not take a DNA test. Period. The next best way to maintain some level of DNA privacy is to make your information as private as possible, as we will see below.

... Click to read more!

Analyzing a Lack of Sharing in 2C1R Relationship

To date, there has never been a confirmed case of second cousins (2C) or closer that don’t share DNA. There have been a few rumblings here and there, but nothing proven. See “Second Cousins (Or Closer) That Don’t Share DNA?” for more details.

But what about second cousins once removed (2C1R)? That’s only a single meiosis away from a 2C relationship. Is it possible to not share DNA at that distance? If I don’t share DNA with my 2C1R, should I suspect a misattributed parentage event, or is that normal? Is there anything I can do to give myself some peace of mind?

According to data from the 2016 update to the Shared cM Project, several submissions to the project reported no shared DNA between 2C1R. The histogram shows the distribution, and how often 0 cM shared is for that relationship:

... Click to read more!

Winner of The Genetic Genealogist 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes!

As you may recall, February 12, 2017 was the 10th Anniversary of the launch of The Genetic Genealogist. To celebrate, I conducted a sweepstakes to give away the very first signed copies of my books, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice (with Debbie Parker Wayne) – see “The Genetic Genealogist Celebrates 10 Years of DNA!”

There were hundreds of entries in the contest, and a winner was selected by Wishpond (the plugin I used) at random. I will contact them tonight, and if the person agrees to have his/her name made available here, I will update the post. Thank you so much to everyone that entered, and an even bigger THANK YOU for 10 great years!

EDIT: Congrats to Natalie McLain of Houston, Texas!

... Click to read more!

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!

... Click to read more!

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!

... Click to read more!

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!

... Click to read more!

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:

... Click to read more!

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:

... Click to read more!