I have lots of ideas about what I’d like to write about, but I work with genetic genealogy every day and what I’d like to write about might not be the same as what you want to read. As always, I’ll include articles about new features, tools, vendor announcements, and opportunities such as sales.
As for the rest, I’d like your opinion. What would you like to see me cover? Before I ask these 10 questions, and you answer, please note that you can search the blog by keyword or topic to see if I’ve already covered a topic.
- Are you interested in DNA basics? If so, which topics?
- Would you enjoy more vendor-specific articles? If so, which vendors and topics?
- Would you like tool-specific instruction? If so, which tools?
- Would you like more articles in the Concepts series? If so, are there specific genetic concepts you’d like to see covered?
- Would you like examples of how to integrate the genetics aspect with traditional genealogy? Can you give me an example?
- Would you like intermediate or advanced topics? If so, which ones?
- Would you like me to write and publish a new book? If so, what topic(s)? Traditional printed bound book, e-book, or both?
- Would you be interested in other publication types such as Podcasts, YouTube videos, or something else? If so, in addition to my blog articles, or instead of blog articles? How would I resolve privacy issues showing live screens of my results?
- You’re always welcome to share my blog articles by forwarding emails, links, or on social media. Do you share my articles with others? If so, where and how do you share?
- What are your favorite articles and types of articles? What do you find exciting? Why?
I welcome your input in the comments. You can just write free-format or answer by question number. If you have ideas that I’ve missed, please add those too.
I can’t wait to see your suggestions. 2022 is going to be a great year!
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I would appreicate tool guidance, e.g., how to use DNA Painter and similiar products to visually map DNA. I find it very helpful to learn how you solved brickwalls so I can apply simliar approaches.
Hi Jane. Have you seen this DNAPainter resource? I’ve compiled all of my DNAPainter articles in one place for convenience. If you see something you’d like that isn’t here, please let me know. DNAPainter is a wonderful tool. https://dna-explained.com/2019/10/14/dnapainter-instructions-and-resources/
I should like to see a strategy to help discover the family of an unknown ancestor. For example, going back four generations:
X & Y have children and their descendants have tested their DNA.
Y & Z have children and their descendants have also tested their DNA.
Y & Z are known, but X is unknown. Is there any way that the DNA results of the descendants can be used to identify X’s family?
Yea, this is a tough one. I struggle with it too. Good idea.
Yes, this! Hubby has the exact same situation. Man marries, has 2 children, wife dies, he remarries … all between 1860 and 1870. No trace of marriage.
Working with ENDOGAMY — in rural southern communities — with situations too sensitive to do much target testing. Thanks.
I struggle with this too. The further back in time, the more difficult speaking genetically. The closer in time, the more difficult, speaking socially.
Endogamy is also a topic I would be interested in – at an advanced level. I’m looking for distant ancestors.
monthly workflow for working with your matches and kits is a topic I would love for you to write about
This might make me adhere to a schedule myself:)
I would love to see more advanced DNA articles. I have a brick wall on my maternal side that I’m going to have to use DNA to answer if it’s possible and I’m open to any and all DNA advice. My maternal great grandmother was born in New Mexico sometime around 1835 (no records found to pinpoint date other than 1850 census when she was a servant in Santa Fe) and she got pregnant by someone in the household when she was a servant in 1873 and had my grandmother and that’s all anyone knows. I’ve deduced that it was an Anglo man from the South as I have all these 5th cousins who are 100% Anglo with ancestors from the South and as my ancestors have been from New Mexico and only from there since 1598 except for one couple from Spain in the early 1800s these cousins are impossible to have, none of them are even from New Mexico at any time in the past. My best guess is a Southern man passing through after the Civil War. DNA from these distant cousins is all I have and hopes for an occasional tree that goes back to the 1700s. So I read your DNA articles looking for ideas on how to proceed. There are basic DNA and traditional genealogy research articles, blogs, and videos everywhere so I welcome advanced DNA research methods in all forms, articles, blogs, videos, webinars, etc. And yes, I’m always forwarding on and recommending your blogs and webinars, you’re a favorite as you’re a good teacher and cover both autosomal, YDNA, mtDNA and ‘X’ DNA.
I wish we had some vendor tools that we don’t, at least not yet.
2. WordPress: how to use a WordPress-hosted site for Family History. I am having many problems with my site on WordPress, Horton and Bryan Family. For example, take your 52-ancestor project. Is there a way on WordPress for you to list your biographies by Ahnentafel numbers with clickable links to the biographies on your site? Have you made use of an extension I have heard about that helps family genealogists to use a WordPress site by offering, for example, pedigree formats.
Hi Linda. I know this is not what you want to hear, but I struggle with WordPress now myself. I did not transition to the new Gutenburg format because I compose offline in Word and then copy/paste into WordPress. Gutenburg does not work with that, so I use the extension to allow the old format. I would love that Ahnentafel idea. I may just go back in and link to that ancestor in WikiTree since it’s accessible by everyone without a subscription.
It would be good to see an article on what to do once you upload your results to GEDMatch. A second question I have that I have not been able to get an answer for has to do with YDNA on FTDNA. As you know you can select different levels of testing. What determined which STR markers are included in each level of testing? For example at the 12 marker level you see the results for (all markers start with DYS) 393, 390,19, 391, 385, 426, 388, 439, 389 I, 392, 389 II.
So GEDmatch for beginners. I think I know the answer to the second question, but I need to check.
How to use atDNA and / or mtDNA to identify a 3rd great grandmother when all you know is her married name, country and year of birth.
1, 3, and 5
Thanks so very much, Roberta, for all that you do. I was afraid that your move to a southern clime meant that you were retiring, or semi-retiring. I am so glad that is not the case! Your blog postings are a highlight in my life.
I’d like to say “all of the above, except for the basic”. The exception to that would be to update download/upload instructions from the different vendors if they change things. It is so helpful to be able to refer matches to your instructions. And tell us when there are known glitches at the different companies.
I am not particularly interested in the details of your genealogy research in Appalachia as that doesn’t apply to me. But I do love the details of your research when you went to England. I am a Canadian and my grandparents were born in the UK and Ireland.
I hope that you will keep reminding people to test as widely as possible. How do we get through to the 20 somethings testing on Ancestry that they should be testing their parents and probably grandparents? And people should be testing people on FTDNA who represent their ancestral Y and mtDNA lines. They might get interested in that sometime and find that appropriate testees are no longer available.
I like your blog format and occasional webinar on Legacy Family Tree webinars. The blog imparts a lot of information clearly and in a time-efficient manner. I get frustrated with many podcasts from others that take a lot of time in the preambles. I can read faster than I can listen. So please continue to focus on the blog.
A topic of interest to me at the moment is who to paint to in DNA Painter– ancestral couple or individual? Most use ancestral couples but I use individuals. I think using ancestral couple leads to fuzzy thinking, e.g. I got this DNA from John Smith AND Mary Jones. No, it should of OR. A single segment, or even two, probably just came from one of the two. So people are deceiving themselves that they have got back to the DNA of John Smith. The segment could have come from Mary Jones. They have done well in tracing back toward John, but they aren’t there yet. At a third cousin level (sharing 2xgreats) the amount of shared DNA doesn’t really show definitively whether the match is a 3C or half 3C. Perhaps we only share one of the two ancestors and there is an NPE that neither of us is yet aware of. I think we have to keep our minds open to this and not think that we have confirmed the DNA back to both of the couple.
Thank you so much for such a thoughtful answer. As for painting people or couples. The only time one can really paint a “person” is when you know that the match descended from a different spouse married to your ancestor. Then you know for sure that the segment came from that ancestor and not their spouse. I was trying to get there with the Nested Segment article, but I think this topic warrants a short article of its own.
If you drop down one generation, you have the person. I painted my grandaughter’s DNA. All her grandparents tested so I attributed segments directly to them. I didn’t say that the DNA she shares with me came from my mother and my father. It’s true, but it’s fuzzy. I know it came from me. DNA shared with a particular second cousin definitely came to me from my grandfather. Some segments probably came from great-grandfather and some from great-grandfather but any given segment came from one OR the other. Why be fuzzy if we can be more precise? And you are deceiving yourself if you think you have the DNA of a distant ancestor when the segment might have come from the spouse? Or you only descend from one of the couple for reasons not yet known.
Hi Roberta – I believe I am an intermediate to advanced DNA user. My goal is to find the parents of my g grandfather who was an orphan. I have tested my father, his sister, and their only first cousin who was living at the time. All are dead now. I have tested these three at all the major companies. I also have done the Y700 test for myself and my father at FTDNA.
I would like more advanced topics that might help me with my goals. I believe I am well versed in triangulation and segment information and pretty competent at researching on Ancestry.com.
I guess my knowledge of the block tree could be increased – I don’t think I understand that part of FTDNA very well or if YDNA will help me anyway. Maybe a post on the “rule of three” for YDNA?
Other than that, you don’t know what you don’t know – right? Any topic you might want to write on would be interesting to me -especially if it helps me with the quest I am on.
After all these years, I still learn everyday and it’s what keeps it fresh for me and interesting. Plus that occasional breakthrough, of course.
I agree with David. I am at a similar level. I would also like to learn more about the Block Tree for Big Y.
I would like discussion of concepts. In Particular:
Tracing X DNA – Women have two X Chromosomes, how to sort out matches on both.
Concepts on comparing DNA from one company to DNA from another company.
Could you elaborate on “comparing DNA from one company to DNA from another company”, please?
Well, currently I use Genetic Affairs with Segment comparison to create clusters within a company. And I use Genetic Affairs Hybrid Clusters to connect across companies, but this does not account for segment matches ( I don’t think)
An Example –
The problem comes when I have a single match ( on FTDNA) that I think falls into a (brick wall) ancestor line. (I think this because I the DNA match tree and his family marries into Brick wall Ancestor’s Surname in the same rural county from about 1810-1860, but no MRCA yet.
I match this person on Chr. 10. It is very difficult on FTDNA to find ICW matches that are also matches on Chromosome 10. I did a segment search on Chromosome 10 in Gedmatch, and found one FTDNA tester whose Chr. 10 segment looks about right to match. I checked back to FTDNA and indeed these two people match on CHR 10, and are a matrix match. So they really are a match. But this has not opened the door to many more matches, I know NOT why.
I’ve looked at their painted Chrs. in DNA Painter but that looks very odd, hard to explain but the matching DNA segments are now very small. I cannot explain that.
I have data on MyHeritage and 23nMe but there is no way to identify Chr. 10 matches other than spending huge number of hours looking at match data, and then it may be on the wrong side.
I do NOT know what my options are for looking at the problem of finding Brick wall ancestors in the DNA. And for some reason, I have lots and lots of 4th Cousin matches with Brick Wall’s wife’s family( in all the companies). But if Brick Wall Ancestors Cousins are there, they are hiding.
Well, I am sure that the above contains a lot of concepts on which I am fuzzy, If you get the picture.
PERHAPS, what I am asking for is strategies for dealing with different types of problems. Or, pick a problem and outline the various options and strategies. ( without assuming the person with the problem can do directed testing. Directed testing is not an option, and is probably cheating.)
One immediate thing for you to try is to download your match file, and your segment file at FTDNA. They show segment information, and who is assigned maternally and paternally. You can then group all of the maternal or paternal matches together, which shows you the people who would match you on that segment of chromosome 10 – already triangulated based on the maternal or paternal side. Yea, this needs to be an article:)
THANKS ! ( as always )
I guess I should have thought of that. But it did not cross my mind. !!
I like your topics though some get a little technical for me.
Personally I would like to understand how STRs and SNPs relate to our general picture of the DNA helix. If the number in a STR repeat increases how does that affect the helix and why doesn’t it push everything else along.
Although I enjoy your talks about DNA-that’s why I originally joined your blog-I actually really enjoy when you talk about your childhood experiences in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It reminds me of my own childhood. Having said that, I guess I really like biographies on your ancestors! I may not know your ancestors but the background, location, history that you give make them come alive. It has helped me launch my own site where I describe my own ancestors as well.
Thank you so much. I really, really enjoy that aspect too.
Hi, thank you for asking. Just keep doing what you do—it is great and right on topic, We all basically want to “be current” with the technology. Now feels like the days of “DOS” when we had to learn those crazy formulas. Just keep us smart, especially with the DNA, etc. Steve Parks
Yes, keeping us abreast of new technology and changes is something I look for in your posts! I know you will break everything down into understandable steps.
Yep. I wonder where we will be in another 20 years with this technology.
A beginning DNA class for adoptees. Also how to find approach testing (who else to test and related strategies) when there is no longer immediate family.
This article is a few years old, but did you see it?: https://dna-explained.com/2015/06/17/dna-testing-strategy-for-adoptees-and-people-with-uncertain-parentage/
This one may be quite helpful: https://dna-explained.com/2019/08/06/first-steps-when-your-dna-results-are-ready-sticking-your-toe-in-the-genealogy-water/
Would like to see articles regarding any findings confirming ties which might have been found between DNA of native Americans and DNA of the Lost Tribe members who assimilated into Indian populations in NC.
I am a “direct male descendant” of James Lowery (Lumbee of NC) with his African Y-DNA and a high percentage (about 60%) English/Irish DNA.
My suggestion is similar to what others have asked about searching for parents of great-grandparents etc.
Someone who matches 64 cM to my late great-uncle is shown as: 7th cousin of wife of step 6th great-grandson of 6th great-granduncle of husband of 3rd cousin 1x removed.
Lots of in-law/out-law relationships there but she is a 64 cM match! Now, what do I do with that relationship estimate from Ancestry? Surely there are clues in there but my brain cramps.
I have shared your articles on Y DNA testing the most. VERY helpful.
Roberta—write what makes you Happy! Hugs, Kelly
You make me smile:)
Good. We all need more smiles, and more hugs!
1. Advanced DNA topics – triangulation, dealing with segments and their sizes, etc.
3. Yes, wato. Anything to combine all DNA results to one place?
4. Yes, what are the lastest breakthroughs. discovers in DNA. Anything else you can come up with.
5. Sounds interesting, but I have no suggestion for you.
6. Advanced DNA – any subject, Triangulation, Segments passed down, etc.
7. Book, that is up to you.
8. Youtube video with a lot of screen shots would be great. Just block out the peoples names and personal info.
9. I would love to share, but don’t have anybody deeply into DNA.
10. Advance subjects would be great.
Extra – When you group your DNA matches. I can figure out a few in a group then have no idea who the other people are and how they fit in my tree. I know build their trees, look for surnames and locations. When you are still lost?
I first ran across you looking into the Dodson family and wondered was Dod really Dodson.
I did not know if anymore headway had been made on that front through Y DNA.
Then I discovered that perhaps you might possibly descend from the same group of Campbells and and Mercers (Edward Mercer abt 1714 maybe) and I have run across some DNA cousins related to KY Campbells from Muhlenberg Co. KY and Clay County, who may have been recent immigrants in the mid 1700’s and my Christian Campbell who married a Simpson also seems to have immigrated to KY prob abt the same time as my DNA cousin’s Patrick Campbell. My Christian Campbell died in Wayne County, KY in 1821
So, I am trying to piece together that family. To see if they are also a connection for this cousin.
One DNA cousin also mentioned a book called Appalachian Crossroads, but it is out of print, but I was hoping it might help me find the connection, but maybe you have it?
This same DNA cousin and I are related through a branch of the Brashear family who went to KY who I think the current gov is also descended from as they used different spellings. However, I am related to the Brashear branch who went to Louisiana. So I was hoping to learn more about the Campbells from KY, as well as the Mercer’s and Dodson’s. There seems to maybe be a connection to Henderson and Halcomb as well, perhaps?
I am stuck on those Campbell’s too. They are SOOOOoo frustrating. Do you have any more information about Appalachian Crossroads, such as an author name?
Yes, Clayton R Cox, “ Appalachian Crossroads” apparently also did research on the Caudill family.
I would suggest googling and use WordCat to find a library nearby. I know that both the Allen County Public Library and the LDS Library now have a lookup service if either of those libraries has the series. Apparently, there were 4 volumes.
It suits me just fine if you keep doing what you are doing – providing a variety of topics, ranging from the latest advances in DNA technology to pep talks when encountering resistance from family members (basically, the motivation to keep going). Thank you for asking!
Advanced DNA topics, such as triangulation, dealing with segments, size of segments. Clustering matches and what to do after you figure out a few matches and have no clue how the rest fit your tree. Do their tree, look for common surnames and locations and you are still lost. You tube videos would be great, just block out the personal stuff and show us how to do stuff with DNA. Any new or advanced topics dealing with DNA.
Your articles are wonderful and educational. Love your family stories and history. Would love to see your thought process on how you determine a new match is related to you and with several articles, each at a different cM level. Step-by-step analysis of identifying an autosomal match to determine how a match might fit into your tree. Example: match shares 100 cMs, walk us through the process of analyzing, what tools you use, how did you determine that match placement. Technical analysis, a guide or “roadmap” on how to work the problem. Same for 50 cMs, 500 cMs, etc. After 8 yrs my match results are still 36 cM and below. I feel understanding how you analyze a new match would teach how to look at a number and know where to start.
I’d love to find out more about narrowing down potential great grandparents using tools like DNA Painter, WATO, etc. I’m definitely an advanced DNA researcher, but for some reason seem to have brain blanks when working on figuring out my grandmother’s potential parents, as she was adopted in 1915, well before documented adoptions. We are a small pool of people (4 of us) and we are the oldest generation, as all the others are gone. I LOVE the hunt, but with having 4 people who have tested across 4 sites, So. Many. Matches….
I also love hearing about your Appalachian history/family as I have early time frame Bunch family members from that area.
Have you tried Genetic Affairs clusters? They have an “AutoKinship” option that shows you the connections between your matches if they have trees. That’s what you need so you can eliminate the other clusters and focus on those. https://dna-explained.com/2020/08/13/genetic-affairs-instructions-and-resources/
Thanks for replying. I have tried those. Unfortunately, 99% of my matches are 3C+ and VERY few have trees. I’ve been building out their trees. Any other ideas?
1. Your ancestor stories were an inspiration to me. Can you give your readers a status report? Are you nearing the end of that project? I cannot help but notice that they are less frequent. Or do you have a bunch of stories about ancestors about whom you know little?
2. Project administration, especially for admin of YDNA surname projects. Also, I am a surname group administrator, but not a good one. For several years I was admin of two tiny projects, one I inherited and one I started. Then when the World Families site folded, I adopted several orphans, enabling me to save patriarch information that was ble to be deleted. The resources available on the FamilyTreeDNA website assume a level of expertise that I do not have; likewise the talks at the conferences in Houston were too advanced for me. I would benefit from a step-by-step explanation of what to do when you first inherit or start a project. What to do when a new member joins the group. Sending updates, for example about sales. Building funds to sponsor testing of men whose results might advance understanding of a cluster of matches. I would like to improve my performance as an administrator.
Thank you for a tremendous blog! What contributions you have made to genealogy and especially genetic genealogy.
I think FTDNA does have some educational material for admins. Can I suggest that you write to email@example.com (I think that’s the address) and ask.
As for the ancestor stories, I got distracted this past 6 months by what was needed to move. Plus, as I move farther back in time, each one is more difficult. I’m getting back in the groove though and will be publishing those again soon.
I hear you. I will send you my almost-finished bio of the 4x great grandmother with the interesting mtDNA (as determined by a first cousin’s test). Although probably not a Melungeon, something interesting happened in her patriline. This is an ancestor about whom little is known other than the fact she married a prominent itinerant Methodist preacher–and her mtDNA. Her mtDNA adds flesh to the bare bones of what we know about Martha.
Article about tools are always helpful- especially a way to compensate for Ancestry algorithm. It’s really makes me wonder when there is a discrepancy between A and MH/23/orFTDNA- and everything has been uploaded to GedMatch. Thanks for all the wonderful articles.
1. No basics, but more about Big y700 like your article in Dec.
2. FTDNA. Are they going to provide more information on calculating for the Big Y results? Will they ever provide a place to submit our genealogy?
5. Yes I would like to understand how I can be such a close match with STR y111 and then be hundreds of years away from the same match with Big y SNP results.
6. Intermediate on Big Y and what to do when we run out of genealogical records.
9. I email links to your blog post and encourage them to follow.
10. I like your 52 ancestors, the stories and photos you shared were so great. I also love the yDNA posts.
Thank-you for providing us so much information over the years. Keep up the great work!
Great questions, by the way!
I have not wrapped my head around quintriplets (5) babies, 4 girls and 1 boy. I know the man determines the sex of a baby……. but do not understand the biology of mixed genders in one pregnancy.Thank you for everything.
In identical births, like identical twins, there is one egg and one sperm. After fertilization, the egg splits and all of the children are identical, as in identical twins.
In fraternal births, meaning where the babies are born at the same time but are not identical to each other, there are multiple eggs and multiple sperms involved. A different sperm impregnates each different egg. Therefore the children are born at the same time, but they are no “closer” genetically than siblings. If children are different sexes, they MUST be fraternal because they are clearly not identical.
Hope this helps.
What should I do? I have had my YDNA tested with 67 markers 10 years ago as well as my Autosomal DNA with FTDNA. I have 2 YDNA matches at 4 genetic distance since the beginning, but both their paternal grandfather has been adopted. My documentary genealogy is perfect on my YDNA line. I have attempted to triangulate with others on my pioneer’s line at the 10th generation and discovered I had a non-parental event between me and the pioneer. What should I do next?
I would suggest finding someone generation by generation up the tree to test to see if you can determine where that event occurred. Start in the middle so you can go up or down depending on the results.
Thank Mrs Estes, interesting suggestion. However, I don’t know if I have the pocket deep and the patience to go through that process.
If you find people who have already done the ancestryDNA test, or buy those kits for them (often only $50 or $60), you could then extract the y DNA markers from the results to find the break. That’s a cost effective way to do what you need.
You could likely get only a very high level haplogroup, if that. Ancestry does not target the necessary Y DNA SNPs. They do cover a few but not consistently across haplogroups.
Check the appropriate surname project to see if someone has tested from the generations between you and the ancestor in question. That might at least answer part of the question and allow you to focus in the proper part of the tree.
Hi Roberta, 1. I am interested in hearing more about the method used by the Venator group in the Chester Creek Murders. Basically, making trees from matches and focusing on the MRCA couples as they are found and coming down the generations until the person of interest is found. I do not have the DNA of my great grandmother but I have my Dad’s, my own, and my brother’s. Using a long sheet of brown wrapping paper as my board…well, I should send you a picture so you see how far along I am.
2. I’d love you to delve more into DNA from artifacts. I have sent off the flap of a letter my paternal grandmother sent me in 1977 to To the Letter DNA, and now I am waiting to find out whether it is actually her DNA.
Loved your last blog.
How long ago did you send the letter flap? I haven’t heard anything about them in many months now.
They restarted processing in the fall, waiting to see how good their results are.
I have lots of shared DNA with folks that have significant pedigree collapse in there tree ie, 1st cousin marriages etc and I would like to learn how to read the DNA numbers so I can find my grandfather’s unknown parents in Nova Scotia.
If he has direct male-to-male descendants, ask one of them to take a Y DNA test. I would recommend a Big Y-700. Do it all at once while you have permission.
All the above topics would be good ones. Personally I’d like to see you go with your gut. You’ve got pretty good instincts on what people need. So, just keep on keeping on. I love the suprise of what kind of treat we’ll get next.
Q matching on GEDmatch (Tier one), with regards to SNP density and Pile-ups. And 2 cM segments.
There is almost no information.
I am especially interested in how to make sense of Y-DNA matching. Also, I have not gotten any value from my Mt-DNA test. Basically how do I use DNA testing to further my research?
Hi Olivia. Females don’t have a Y chromosome. I don’t want to assume from a first name, but if you don’t have a Y chromosome, you will want to find a male to test for the line you’re interested in. I’ve created a Y DNA resource page here: https://dna-explained.com/y-dna-resources/
Also, an mtDNA resource page. Please read through to be sure you are doing as much as possible, using all the tools: https://dna-explained.com/mitochondrial-dna/
A. Where do people find the advice/how tos from their testing lab?
It used to be so bad that 98% of people could not find them on their own.
Now it’s much better – only 95% still can’t find them. (That’s what they tell me.)
B. I know many people researching DNA genealogy from complete beginners to quite advanced. When they began, they had no first cousin matches and maybe one to three second cousin matches.
They have major problems with connecting with other people and their information. You have done stories on this before, but the need is probably greater than ever.
How do I best connect to get a response? What do I say? What do I ask for?
How do I best ask for access to their tree if it is Private?
How do ask if they can share tree information if they have none up? Maybe they have something elsewhere?
How much can I safely share of my own information?
I have multiple possibilities in my tree at one point at least. Should I have a stab at the most likely, or is that going to put people off, and they won’t want to talk with me despite our DNA link?
How do I encourage someone to put up a tree?
We have a DNA Match and I think it’s through their Smith line. They have their oldest known Smith as coming from Britain with no further information. Is that all that’s knowable? I mean, they give the town, county and state for anyone in USA, so why not more details? Are there none? Is that all there was recorded in the Census or Ellis Island or wherever? Or is there somewhere else they could look and haven’t yet. How do I tell them that so as not to offend?
Ditto for Müller from Prussia.
3. Maps as an analytical tool and for presentation.
They are at least as important for DNA genealogy as in conventional.
4/5. Yes, research for people with lots of known relatives versus research for people with very few, for example only child of only child. (Or adoptee child of someone who turns out to be an adoptee themselves.) People with lots of relatives who aren’t interested and can’t be persuaded are effectively in the second category. (The family history books of past generations are a blessing, but can also make people think that’s all there is.)
5/6. This is probably moderate to advanced and with traditional genealogy.
People also need to see a project-based approach, especially with regard to DNA genealogy: different techniques used across platforms and companies to put together information from different resources and analysed with different DNA genealogy techniques.
9. Frequently share your blogs with my group.
10. Maps/land titles/legal documents. You do this more and better than any other DNA blogger. As well as historical context. Increasingly finding I cannot do DNA genealogy without detailed study of these aspects. Because I need to reliably connect one generation with another.
(And I am still hoping that for at least one of those 40% of my matches that come from USA with circa 1600 MRCAs that I can make a link.)
What a wonderful list. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
How to Paint your DNA … but more importantly, WHY do I need to do it.
I mean, it would be seriously cool to be able to take the “ethnicity regions” (from GEDmatch) and then use them to backtrack and figure out which ancestor “came from Norway” or”which ancestors might have been Native American.” I do not think the tools are quite that sophisticated, though!
If you paint them both on the same profile, and you identify the segment to an ancestor, you can see which ethnicity is assigned to that segment.
Oh. African-American. I have a frind who has a new-found mixed-race, npe, aunt. (Relationship found via DNA on 23). Now what do we do? Or is this more of a Traditional Genealogy solution, rather than a DNA solution.
Did 23andMe place her on your friend’s genetic tree?
Love your articles about your life and about your ancestors. Always amazed at how well you ferret out information on them and connect with with descendants who help you out. Even though I may not relate to the particular area your ancestors may be from, I learn from and enjoy your stories.
Roberta, your writing style is simply clear and understandable to everyone, surely. So, any subject you’ve taken on has been refreshingly interesting regardless of the specific topic. I’ve built a small genealogy section at our local library. I want to believe that the materiels that I and our genealogy group have acquired will be around for many years (and long after I’m gone). To that end, I prefer hardback for library use. Being over 80 years old is a big part of that preference I suspect.
I am a “DNA dummy” by any measure but it looks to me like you’ve covered it all already. I’ve recommended your blog to lots of folks. From a financial standpoint, maybe it’s time to jump on the DNA enthusiasm train right about now and do a basics of DNA book for all the “newbies”.
Of interest to myself only is that a spurious decision to have a simple DNA profile run on myself 2 years ago due to frustration at not being able to find paternal kinsfolks resulted in acquiring a whole new father and a small legion of kinfolks, including a living half-sister.
You fill a very special place in the genealogy community, Roberta. Please keep doing what you’re doing because you’re so good at it!
Wow, Lea, a new family. At least half a family. Congratulations. That of course means an entirely new group of ancestors to research too!
I would like to learn more about y-DNA and what the Big Y-700 can tell us. Where can I read about learning what to find and how to interpret it. I have had 10 male cousins tested. Since most of them are Polish, there are not a whole lot of close matches.
I know there are new things in the not-too-distant future for the Big Y-700. For now, have you read through the Y DNA Resources? https://dna-explained.com/y-dna-resources/
I especially enjoy the family stories and stories about ancestors. A lot of the DNA information is way over my head, but in spite of that I have learned a lot from your blog posts. I’d like a way to search your past blogs, so I can identify them by location, such as Pittsylvania County VA, where I think we have mutual ancestors. It is hard to find what I want to research when I have to look through all the blogs of each year, and you’ve been doing this a long time now, so there are lots of years! Last, I like the fact that once in a while you stray from the topics of DNA and genealogy to tell us what you are experiencing and feeling in your “real” life, whether it’s about Covid, your Swedish death cleaning, or ??? Laughter happens and tears flow when I read those blogs, and I truly appreciate your sharing yourself with us.
If you enter the word Pittsylvania, no quotes or anything around it, in the search box at the top of the blog, it will bring up articles that contain the word Pittsylvania. Then, if you open the article and use your browser search button (Ctrl+F on a PC), you can search for the word Pittsylvania in the text of the article. I hope this helps.
I’m glad you enjoy the more personal articles. I very nearly didn’t start publishing those, but I feel like I know so many of you and it will be a decade this July. How is that even possible?
thankful you’ve recovered and well enough to cope with us. I need down to earth advise on how to search for my direct maternal ggm. I know a fair bit but DNA is tough for me to learn. thank you
I find most of your blogs very interesting whether I can relate to them or not. I have done our own family genealogy for ?40 years & about 3-4 years ago it was suggested I have my DNA tested. Due to the cost & also the fact I figured it was not meant for me to just do for research etc. My husband & I both tested on FTDNA (as recommended by a fellow researcher) then on Ancestry DNA. I was very ‘lost’ in the beginning having no idea how or where to start. Someone (a match) actually reached out to me which gave me a little hope to continue. To date, I have sent out 100s of messages, I’m sure – not a lot of responses but have received some with only one saying he was sure it was a scam & deleted me. I was quite naïve about it all but plodded forward. We stretched our budget a lot by paying to get some others tested (no parents or their siblings were living). Sharing with or in common with appear to have been my best tools. In regards to DNA searching, I would consider myself still a beginner but not a new & fully lost beginner. I find the more complicated, tech discussions too high for my understanding. I also get replies from adoptees & am always eager to try to locate them. I found the Leeds method & the Facebook DNA detectives both to be interested which I think you likely mentioned both so I appreciated the information. As a result of the DNA to date, I have discovered a whole new family line after finding a surprise bio-father for my husband. I guess the short story for this is – I enjoy all of your blogs & the most helpful ones for myself is ones in the beginner/intermediate levels. One question – the ‘Y’ test – does it depend on how many others have also done those tests? I find it to be far too expensive for my budget, especially if it was not able to relay new info. to me that I could understand.
Yes, the Y DNA test depends on who else has tested. Look at the surname project to get an idea, although not everyone will be listed in the public project. You can take a look at my Y DNA resource to get an idea of what kind of information is available. https://dna-explained.com/y-dna-resources/
I would like read an article by you on the topic “Inferred chromosome mapping” aka “Deductive chromosome mapping” (Jonny Perl’s and Blaine Bettiger’s terminology, respectively). This is a fascinating subject.
I guess that we all have are own methods of storing and analysing our DNA results and matches. These may be worth sharing with others. I use many tabs on a spreadsheet plus a chart to show links between people, surnames and locations. I can provide details of these upon request.
First, topics that fuel your passion. Second, how to deal with endogamy and pedigree collapse with DNA painter (and other tools).
I would like to see something on the Gedmatch Tier 1 tool called Q Matching. Maybe how the tool can be used with small segments coupled with genealogy and known Y matches.
Roberta, I love all your articles because your explanations are so lucid. Even when it is “basics”, it’s helpful as a reminder.
That said, I’d be interested in articles on clustering DNA. I hope I’m making sense here, but I find clustering much “easier” (trustworthy?) when I already have a target
surname (possible confirmation bias?) It’s when a surname keeps popping up in the clustering that I don’t recognize that I tend to be more skeptical. Do you have a process for determining that, yes, couple X showing up as an ancestral couple in the trees of a large cluster of matches could be one of your ancestral couples (or downstream of one)?
E.g. On my mom’s maternal line, an “H” surname keeps showing up among her matches across all vendors, and I’ve done clustering on various tools, as well as countless “quick and dirty” trees (never quick and not so dirty) to the point I have determined possible 5G grandparents for Mom, who could only be ancestors of her 3G grandmother (ahnentafel 61). I can now also identify at least 2 segments (on chr 5, chr 13) Mom shares with matches that “belong” to that surname. Most of her “H” family matches descend from that hypothetical 5G grandparent couple, but some descend from 5G granddad’s parents and some descend from 5G grandma’s parents. Also Mom’s matches come from descendants of at least 6 different children of that hypothetical 5G grandparent couple.
Had I already been aware of the “H” name in my pedigree even just through oral history, I would already be fairly convinced that the DNA was backing up a “known fact”. So, maybe the real issue is that I’m dreading the 1750’s North Carolina and 1720’s Virginia research, lol!
You are doing everything right here. And yes, following those segments back in time to couples and then descendants of the couple, or their parents, through other children is the key to proving the segments. Of course, the question is WHY do they match. The surname couple tells you the same segment came through that couple for them – but does it for you too. Is either Y DNA or mtDNA a possible solution from someone in your tree an someone in theirs?
Thanks, Roberta! Y-DNA won’t really apply in this case, but mtDNA could. And of course the paper trail… I appreciate your taking the time to respond.