About the Blog

For several years now, I’ve been publishing articles here (since 2012),  writing Personalized DNA Reports (since 2004), publishing articles in newsletters about genetic genealogy and blogging about the Native Heritage Project.

Genetic genealogy is a world full of promise, but it changes rapidly and can be confusing.  People need to understand how to use the numerous tools available to us to unravel our ancestral history.

People also love to share stories.  We become inspired by the successes of others, and ideas are often forthcoming that we would not have otherwise thought of.

So, I invite you to follow along with this blog as I share things I learn, answer people’s questions and generally, have fun with genetic genealogy!!!

106 thoughts on “About the Blog

  1. From my DNA test, I am 100pc English/Welsh/North Europe – which presumably would be standard for many whose gene pool is mainly Anglo-Saxon/Norman (my original surname has the latter origins).. This is consistent with both male lines of my family firmly in the west of England back at least to late 18c…. My main reason for taking the DNA test was to confirm/refute a family story that there were German/Jewish family of my maternal grandfather needing help to get to the UK befgre WW2. Presumably if this story is correct there should be some indication of family coming from Germany, which there isn’t, or some DNA evidence. Any clarification appreciated … I have found a 2nd cousin with DNA ethnicity including ‘2pc Germanic Europe’ … what does this actually indicate in ethnicity terms. Thank you

    • Ethnicity is only an estimate and will change over time. There are 2 articles that discuss this. Type ethnicity into the search box.

    • I **really** wouldn’t put so much faith in Ancestry’s “ethnicity estimate”, especially when it comes to distinguishing between “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” and “Germanic Europe”.

      I mean, why do you suppose the former group includes “Northwestern Europe” even in the name? It’s because Ancestry discovered that whether or not there are actually any samples from NW Europe in their reference panel for this region, this DNA is pretty commonly found on the European continent and not just in Great Britain.

      This isn’t because there was some huge wave of British migration to the continent, including Germany, but the other way around. Where do you think the Angles and the Saxons — who are tribes behind that term “Anglo-Saxon” — came from in the first place?

      But to be more specific, my ancestry consists of somewhat less than half British and Irish combined (about 41%), a little over a third German (34%), an eighth Menorcan Spanish (12.5%), a sixteen Alsatian (6.25%), and the remainder is French, Native American, and Swiss.

      This, however, is not what Ancestry says. No, they have me as 80% “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”, 11% “Ireland and Scotland”, 6% “Germanic Europe”, 2% “Native American — North, Central, South”, and 1% “Finland”.

      Clearly, they have thrown most of my German ancestry — which is from the colonial era — in with “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”. (And technically, Germany *is* in Northwestern Europe.) Possibly, they’ve put **all** of my German ancestry there, since it could be the 6.25% Alsatian that is responsible for the entire 6% “Germanic Europe”. This is comparatively recent ancestry for me — one of my 2nd great grandmothers was born in Alsace-Lorraine.

      Ancestry clearly isn’t identifying the DNA I inherited from her as “France”, so it has to be either under “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” or “Germanic Europe”.

      They also don’t see my Menorcan ancestry at all. But two of my 2nd great grandfathers were born there. So my DNA inheritance should be about the same as if it were from one great grandparent. Yet Ancestry can’t identify any of my DNA as either Spanish — Menorca is part of Spain, after all — or as French. (Like the rest of Catalonia, there is also French influence present.)

      Does ThruLines show my connection back to these Ancestors? It certainly does, and I have DNA matches with descendants of multiple children of all three of these 2nd great grandparents. (Some of whom do show Spanish and/or French at Ancestry.)

      Also, my daughter and the daughter of one of my sisters both show a small amount of “Portuguese” ancestry. In the case of my daughter it’s strange, because *neither* of her parents shows this ancestry — although I probably should, or else Spanish or French. (And some of that remaining ancestry that I didn’t specify happens to *be* French, about 3%.)

      So please, please, please don’t take Ancestry’s “estimate” as the final word in where your ancestors came from. All they can say is that portions of your DNA seem to be like their reference panel from one region or another. And they’re not comparing you to anyone who lived when your ancestors did, but to other living people.

      They’d get similar results — in fact, they do — if they tested Europeans. Some people from the continent, with all of their ancestors from the continent, would **still** show a high percentage of “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe”. That’s because the British have ancestry from the continent of Europe, not because continental Europeans have significant ancestry from Great Britain. (Though, of course, some individuals probably do.)

  2. Roberta, I am working with a group of cousins identified via YDNA tests initially – one of which is a genealogist who has done a lot of research on the earliest generations of this particular family. Actually, lines of two of the four identified original brothers of the family have been researched extensively by noted genealogists, e.g. Brent Holcombe; but unfortunately, most of us in the group look to be from the other brothers.

    We have made some progress – using the knowledge of the earliest generations, tips provided by elder cousins from later generations; a lot of research and recently from clues I’ve found from DNA cousins’ trees. I realize these are just clues and it could be that these cousins’ family trees are incorrect. But I cannot seem to convince the “genealogist” in our group that the information from these trees may be correct and need to be taken into consideration – at least in terms of follow up research.

    These matches are generally around 14 – 20 cM which would correlate with the distance of our supposed ancestor. (In the meantime, I am ordering autosomal DNA tests for all the older members of our group as they are a generation older than I to see if they also match the same DNA cousins and to hopefully discover new matches)

    Is there a particular article you’ve written which I might use to convince her of the importance of using autosomal DNA as an additional tool when researching and tracing a family tree? I certainly appreciate the importance of finding land deeds, wills, etc. to prove a line. But I think DNA matches – particular those with trees that seem to match the same family line – and an individual ancestor you have identified- can be just as useful. Thanks, Deborah

    • Wow, I can’t believe any professional genealogist today would need to be convinced. Absolutely DO test all of the older generation.

  3. Hi Roberta, first I appreciate that you blog about genetic genealogy and are willing to answer questions on the topic. My sister, daughter and I all did DNA tests with 23andMe. My sister and I had mtDNA of A2g. My daughter’s mtDNA is A2g1. I’ve read that older women who have one result may differ from a younger woman from the same family due to “aging” of the mtDNA. My sister was 78 when her test was done. I was about 63, and my daughter was 37 or so. Could you weigh in on an explanation of why our mtDNA differs?

    • The references may have changed between them and now. There’s really no way for me to guess. Have you asked 23andMe? It would not be due to your ages.

  4. I’m a little late to the party, but regarding your blog posting of Dec. 28, 2014: “Agnes Muncy (1803-after1880), A Grieved Mother, 52 Ancestors #52”. Agnes’ daughter Rebecca is my great-great grandmother. Would my DNA results from Ancestry.com be of interest to you?

    • Hi Van. You’re not late – you’re right on time:) You can transfer your file to Family Tree DNA and participate in matching there too. In terms of mitochondrial DNA, do you descend from Rebecca through all females from her to you? If so, you carry her mitochondrial DNA and yes, I’d be very interesting in communicating about that.

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