The genetic genealogy community suffered a crushing loss this week.
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation data base of Y and mitochondrial results, complete with pedigree charts, owned by Ancestry.com, has been removed. Here is the statement by Ancestry currently appearing on the www.smgf.org website.
This is a grievous loss for the genetic genealogy community. The site was rich with information and since Ancestry took their own Y and mtDNA data base offline in the fall of 2014, was one of only two remaining Y and mitochondrial comparison sources.
YSearch and MitoSearch remain, today, funded by Family Tree DNA. Outside of Family Tree DNA itself, these are now the only publicly available comparison data base.
Sorenson held over 100,000 samples of DNA and was linked to pedigree charts of those who contributed their DNA for processing. One of the earliest data bases, many contributors to Sorenson have passed away today, and their Y and mtDNA information was only available at Sorenson.
While Ancestry did not say specifically, the public relations nightmare surrounding a police case recently has obviously spurred Ancestry to take this action.
Unfortunately, the tabloid reporting in this horribly biased and intentionally inflammatory article was posted and repeated within the genealogy community, even by some well-known individuals, without vetting for facts. The sky was not falling, until this happened, and well….now we know that the sky falling actually does look like…because it has.
For the truth of the matter, please see Judy Russell’s articles here and here. Judy Russell, who writes as The Legal Genealogist, is a genealogist with a law degree. I can’t add anything to what Judy had to say about the facts and circumstances in this case.
What I can say is that the combination of shoddy journalism and rumor-mongering, for lack of any other term, has put Ancestry in a no-win position. The only way for them to make this situation “go away” is to do exactly what they have done. Now there is no data base, no way to compare DNA, for anyone, and therefore, nothing to talk about. This will never happen to them again. There will be no more negative publicity, at least not about this. Their problem is solved. Ours is not.
We are the losers in all of this. And it’s a grievous loss. One that cannot be replaced.
And as angry as I was, and still am, at Ancestry for destroying their own data base in October of 2014, I can hardly blame them for this move – as much as I don’t like it. They don’t sell the Y and mitochondrial DNA testing products anymore – and there is no upside to them as a corporation to continue to support a philanthropic data base that was at the root of the public relations nightmare they have recently endured.
Having said that, I am hopeful that other arrangements can be made. There is a group of individuals speaking with the folks at Ancestry this week to determine if there are any other options available and to discuss alternatives.