Sorenson (SMGF) Update

Update: Ancstry discontinued the Sorenson database.

Many of you know about using the DNA records at  The good news is that those  of you who don’t will still get the opportunity to make discoveries by searching their data bases, at least for awhile.  They have provided, for some number of years, free data base searches to their records for both Y-line and mitochondrial DNA.

Sorenson’s assets were recently acquired by, a move which has caused a non-trivial amount of consternation among genetic genealogists.  In particular, people, me included, contributed their DNA and their pedigree charts and they want to know what is going to happen to that information.  The testing was performed for free.  People never received individual results, but as their tests were processed, their results were added to a publicly searchable data base, so you could find and identify yourself with a little effort.  Equally as important, it’s a resource that many genealogists use for finding additional matches outside of the commercial testing companies.

Although today’s update from Sorenson doesn’t answer all of the questions about what will happen, or when, they do tell us that the data base will be available for some time to come.  I hope that Ancestry continues to maintain this free service, as it is certainly in line with the expectations of the people who donated their DNA/pedigree charts and also the vision of James Sorenson who founded SMGF several years before his death.  It does call into question, however, what is going to happen to these records.  Are they going to be absorbed into the databases without notifying the participants?  As a participant myself, that certainly wasn’t what I expected or signed up for.

As of this morning, the new records have been added to the data base for this last and final update, but early reports also indicate that some records previously included are now missing.

Here’s what Sorenson had to say today:

Dear Friends of SMGF,

SMGF is happy to announce the addition of new haplotypes and genealogical records to the Sorenson mtDNA and Y-chromosome databases. We invite you to search these updated databases to find new family connections at

From the time it was founded in 1999 by molecular genealogy pioneer, James Levoy Sorenson, the mission of SMGF has been to support an important public purpose, namely the advancement of DNA-based genealogy research. Thanks to the continued philanthropic support of Mr. Sorenson and his family and the generosity of enthusiastic SMGF participants, SMGF has built the most comprehensive database of linked DNA and pedigree information in the world. Additionally, SMGF has contributed greatly to the emerging field of genetic genealogy in other ways, such as providing online DNA databases to the public and publishing numerous scientific articles detailing new discoveries.

In order to remain a leader in this rapidly growing and dynamic field, SMGF’s resources and capabilities would have to be substantially increased. Therefore, SMGF has decided that AncestryDNA is better positioned to provide the benefit to the public that is central to SMGF’s mission. For this reason, SMGF’s DNA-related assets were acquired by AncestryDNA in March 2012. SMGF is very excited to join AncestryDNA, and we are confident that the pioneering work begun at SMGF will continue to grow and have an even greater impact on the future scientific understanding and public outreach of genetic genealogy.

As we redirect our efforts to the integration with AncestryDNA it will be necessary to discontinue updates to the website. Therefore, this will be the last update made to the Sorenson online databases. This update includes all of the Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplotypes that were generated by SMGF over the course of its operations.

The site will continue to operate for the foreseeable future as a freely accessible tool for the genetic genealogy community, so we invite users to continue searching for family connections on We express our sincerest thanks to all those who participated in the SMGF project.


The SMGF Team



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15 thoughts on “Sorenson (SMGF) Update

  1. This article reminds me of the fear I have regarding samples I have with both 23andMe and FTDNA. I also have had family members submit samples to these companies. Who owns the results? FTDNA has continuously said that the participants own their own results, as similar info is posted at 23andMe. However, what happens if these companies are bought by someone else such as the situation with Sorenson and Ancestry? Does Ancestry let you opt out or continue to hold your haplotype in its database? Please keep us updated as to what happens with Sorenson and Ancestry!!!

  2. Dear Roberta,

    For some reason, I’ve been under the impression for a long time that you were part of the FTDNA team. Your “Sorenson (SMGF) Update” seems to indicate otherwise. What exactly is your relationship with FTDNA? Many thanks.
    Robert Davis

    • I am part of the FTDNA team, so to speak, as I provide them with the Personalized DNA Reports for their clients. I am a contractor to them. Plus, as most of you know, I manage a number of DNA projects there as well. However, I am first and foremost a genealogist and a consumer in this industry. I have taken virtually all of the DNA tests available so that I can relate to what my customers and project members are doing and the results they have from different companies. Sorenson was a nonprofit organization and all of us who participated with them understood that our DNA and research would be used for their research purposes related to genetic genealogy. Now those results have been sold to a “for profit” entity and without any notification to individuals.

      • Good that you’re getting the Sorenson issue out early. Hopefully, you’ll get sufficient co-complainants to interest an attorney who can have an impact on the disposition of your records.

  3. Roberta,
    I have seen several items you have authored on Y-DNA and mtDNA . Do you expect to be dealing with the autosomal tests on this blog?

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  6. Roberta,

    My first wife and I tested with SMGF in 2000 and were told we might never see the results. I learned of our test results in 2007 after my wife died of cancer. handled SMGF’s consumer relations and sold me my yDNA and mtDNA results for a small fee.

    When I read Genetree was selling SMGF’s database to in 2012 I was concerned that Ancestry was only promoting autosomal testing. Because I had an account, I was allowed to post my yDNA results.’s DNA experts were very helpful in assisting me to do this. They would not sell me my deceased wife’s test results. I was told it was too late.

    I’d like to think some of Ancestry’s past problems with the way they interpret DNA will one day be resolved. I also hope one day they’ll release my wife’s mtDNA and, if they have it, her atDNA results. For the present time I don’t see much hope in either of these things happening.
    – Ron.V

    • You can find her mtdna. It’s easy. Go to and sign up if you haven’t already. Click on mtdna searches, then on “new search” then on “search by surnames.” Then put surnames upstream of your wife – meaning like her grandmother’s surname, and the software will display people with that surname. You can then easily spot her ancestors because the surnames will be in generational order. Obviously, if the surname is Smith, go up or down a generation and use a different surname in her line.

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