How to Share Without Plagiarizing

Blogging and online articles have become popular as a result of the easy reach of the internet and social media. Most bloggers have an intended audience that follows them closely, as well as follows other social media resources on the same topics.

In other words, bloggers and their audiences share common interests and therefore common Facebook groups, etc.  Therefore, bloggers see what others post – and sometimes, they recognize their own work being posted, but not attributed to them.

It’s easy to become excited and want to share with others – and that is a wonderful attribute. Sharing is a good thing and collaboration makes the genetic genealogy world go around.

However, there’s a wrong way and a right way to share. Most people are very interested in following the rules, if they know what they are.

Our Friendly Lawyer

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not at attorney, so I’m not up to the moment on laws regarding copyright and plagiarism – but I know who is. If you want to read more from the legal perspective, I might suggest checking out any of Judy Russell’s links on the topic. Judy is, after all, The Legal Genealogist.

To quote Judy:

“One of The Legal Genealogist‘s pet peeves is when someone takes something another genealogist has done, strips off the identifying information and reposts it as if it was the second person’s work.

That, by definition, is plagiarism, and it’s a great big ethical no-no in genealogy.

Most of the time, people who do this are doing it without malicious intent. They don’t realize that they’re actually stealing someone else’s work and depriving the other person of credit for the work; most of the time they think they’re just sharing.”

To be very clear, I want my work to be shared, but I also want credit. Notice that when I quoted Judy, above, I not only said it was a quote from Judy Russell, but I also provided links to Judy’s work both in general and the article from which I quoted.

If you look at the bottom of Judy’s articles, you can also see perfectly executed examples of citing sources.

My Articles

Now, back to my work. I’m not dead and copyright clearly hasn’t expired. That expiration line in the sand is sometime around 1923 today, as Judy says here, and the copyright expiration for my work is a long way off. I won’t care by then, and neither will you. In fact, anything I write today about genetic genealogy will probably be viewed after the year 2110, about the time my copyrights would expire, with the looks of incredulity children give dinosaur skeletons in museums.

Copyright aside, taking someone else’s work and posting it, even if it’s edited or recombined slightly, without attribution, is plagiarism, pure and simple, intended or otherwise. Legal or not aside as well, it’s just plain wrong.

Ways to Share in a Good Way

  • Many people ask if it’s alright to post a link to one of by blogs someplace. In my book, it’s ALWAYS alright to post a link which directs people to the article. You don’t need to ask. I figure anyone who is going to post my link to someplace I would disapprove of (racism, sexism, discrimination, porn, etc.) isn’t going to ask anyway.
  • Sharing and forwarding links to my articles or postings on Facebook, Twitter and social media platforms are always just fine. It’s like spreading the word for the genetic genealogy gospel.  Please DO!
  • Republishing, under certain circumstances, is also alright. Some bloggers or rebloggers will use the first paragraph or so as a “leadin” to generate interest then have a link “for further reading” which links to the blog where the content was generated – meaning mine. I’m fine with that too.

Ask First

  • Sometimes I’m asked to allow a group to reprint an article in a journal or newsletter, or to use something from one of my articles or presentations for a conference or other event. I’m generally very generous with my materials, but I DO want to be asked before that type of sharing is done and I want the work to be properly credited to me.

NO NOs

  • Republishing by publishing or posting the entire text of an article, most of the article or even significant parts of an article, even WITH attribution, but WITHOUT permission is not OK with me. No one has ever done that with my work in an actual publication (that I know of,) but people feel freer on the internet.
  • Posting or republishing any part of an article (or graphic) in ANY way WITHOUT attribution is not OK. Changing or recombining the verbiage slightly and republishing is not acceptable either. If the author can recognize their work or material, it’s plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Attribution

Attribution should always include the link to the original article and preferably that link along with the author’s name.  In fact, here’s a perfect example of attribution done correctly on Facebook!

The quote Shannon used was from within the article, clearly is a quote, attributed correctly to me, and the title is a hotlink to the article itself.  Perfectly executed Shannon – thank you!

This is exactly what bloggers DO want.

My Rules

The above “rules” are Roberta’s rules. Other writers may feel differently about some things. If in doubt of any kind, just ask.

People who write and are not writing for an employer or do not sell items such as books are generally performing a public service. If you think writing is “free,” it most certainly is not “free” for the author. Not only is their time valuable, they clearly have to pay to keep the lights on, so to speak.  Please, be respectful of authors and do not kill the goose who laid the golden egg.

Citing Sources

If Judy is the queen of all things legal, Elizabeth Shown Mills is the queen of citing sources. If you want to cite the source perfectly, every single time, refer to Elizabeth’s blog for further instruction.

Personally, I don’t so much care HOW attribution is done, but I surely care a lot THAT it’s done.

Please Share

And yes, no need to ask, please DO share this article!! 😊

Sixth Season – Who Do You Think You Are?

WDYTYA 2015

Who Do You Think You Are returns this Sunday, March 8th at 10 eastern, 9 central on TLC for its sixth season.

Each week, a celebrity goes on a journey to trace their heritage, making discoveries and generally creating envy for the rest of us.  Of course, we have those same kinds of discoveries to make in our own family history too.

I love this series, in part because it makes genealogy so personal and real and encourages people to become interested in their past that may seem inaccessible, but really isn’t.

To quote TLC, “To know who you are…you have to know where your story began.”

“Lives will change forever.”

That may seem an exaggeration, but often, it’s not.  Understanding your ancestors and how their decisions shaped you today can be very powerful.

To quote one of the celebrities:

“This gives me new light into the rest of my life.”

Plus, the stories are just so, well, juicy!  And moving.  I mean, someone cries in every single episode.  And its not because they discovered the courthouse burned.

This season’s lineup of well-known personalities discovering their ancestry include:

  • Julie Chen
  • Angie Harmon
  • Sean Hayes
  • Bill Paxton
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • America Ferrara
  • Tony Goldwyn
  • Josh Groban

I just want to know one thing.  Is Josh Groban going to sing when he finds his music teacher ancestor????  That would be worth watching all by itself!

Looking forward to “date night” and tweeting with other viewers #WDYTYA.  Come along and join the fun.

2014 Top Genetic Genealogy Happenings – A Baker’s Dozen +1

It’s that time again, to look over the year that has just passed and take stock of what has happened in the genetic genealogy world.  I wrote a review in both 2012 and 2013 as well.  Looking back, these momentous happenings seem quite “old hat” now.  For example, both www.GedMatch.com and www.DNAGedcom.com, once new, have become indispensable tools that we take for granted.  Please keep in mind that both of these tools (as well as others in the Tools section, below) depend on contributions, although GedMatch now has a tier 1 subscription offering for $10 per month as well.

So what was the big news in 2014?

Beyond the Tipping Point

Genetic genealogy has gone over the tipping point.  Genetic genealogy is now, unquestionably, mainstream and lots of people are taking part.  From the best I can figure, there are now approaching or have surpassed three million tests or test records, although certainly some of those are duplicates.

  • 500,000+ at 23andMe
  • 700,000+ at Ancestry
  • 700,000+ at Genographic

The organizations above represent “one-test” companies.  Family Tree DNA provides various kinds of genetic genealogy tests to the community and they have over 380,000 individuals with more than 700,000 test records.

In addition to the above mentioned mainstream firms, there are other companies that provide niche testing, often in addition to Family Tree DNA Y results.

In addition, there is what I would refer to as a secondary market for testing as well which certainly attracts people who are not necessarily genetic genealogists but who happen across their corporate information and decide the test looks interesting.  There is no way of knowing how many of those tests exist.

Additionally, there is still the Sorenson data base with Y and mtDNA tests which reportedly exceeded their 100,000 goal.

Spencer Wells spoke about the “viral spread threshold” in his talk in Houston at the International Genetic Genealogy Conference in October and terms 2013 as the year of infection.  I would certainly agree.

spencer near term

Autosomal Now the New Normal

Another change in the landscape is that now, autosomal DNA has become the “normal” test.  The big attraction to autosomal testing is that anyone can play and you get lots of matches.  Earlier in the year, one of my cousins was very disappointed in her brother’s Y DNA test because he only had a few matches, and couldn’t understand why anyone would test the Y instead of autosomal where you get lots and lots of matches.  Of course, she didn’t understand the difference in the tests or the goals of the tests – but I think as more and more people enter the playground – percentagewise – fewer and fewer do understand the differences.

Case in point is that someone contacted me about DNA and genealogy.  I asked them which tests they had taken and where and their answer was “the regular one.”  With a little more probing, I discovered that they took Ancestry’s autosomal test and had no clue there were any other types of tests available, what they could tell him about his ancestors or genetic history or that there were other vendors and pools to swim in as well.

A few years ago, we not only had to explain about DNA tests, but why the Y and mtDNA is important.  Today, we’ve come full circle in a sense – because now we don’t have to explain about DNA testing for genealogy in general but we still have to explain about those “unknown” tests, the Y and mtDNA.  One person recently asked me, “oh, are those new?”

Ancient DNA

This year has seen many ancient DNA specimens analyzed and sequenced at the full genomic level.

The year began with a paper titled, “When Populations Collide” which revealed that contemporary Europeans carry between 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA most often associated with hair and skin color, or keratin.  Africans, on the other hand, carry none or very little Neanderthal DNA.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/01/30/neanderthal-genome-further-defined-in-contemporary-eurasians/

A month later, a monumental paper was published that detailed the results of sequencing a 12,500 Clovis child, subsequently named Anzick or referred to as the Anzick Clovis child, in Montana.  That child is closely related to Native American people of today.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/02/13/clovis-people-are-native-americans-and-from-asia-not-europe/

In June, another paper emerged where the authors had analyzed 8000 year old bones from the Fertile Crescent that shed light on the Neolithic area before the expansion from the Fertile Crescent into Europe.  These would be the farmers that assimilated with or replaced the hunter-gatherers already living in Europe.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/06/09/dna-analysis-of-8000-year-old-bones-allows-peek-into-the-neolithic/

Svante Paabo is the scientist who first sequenced the Neanderthal genome.  Here is a neanderthal mangreat interview and speech.  This man is so interesting.  If you have not read his book, “Neanderthal Man, In Search of Lost Genomes,” I strongly recommend it.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/07/22/finding-your-inner-neanderthal-with-evolutionary-geneticist-svante-paabo/

In the fall, yet another paper was released that contained extremely interesting information about the peopling and migration of humans across Europe and Asia.  This was just before Michael Hammer’s presentation at the Family Tree DNA conference, so I covered the paper along with Michael’s information about European ancestral populations in one article.  The take away messages from this are two-fold.  First, there was a previously undefined “ghost population” called Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) that is found in the northern portion of Asia that contributed to both Asian populations, including those that would become the Native Americans and European populations as well.  Secondarily, the people we thought were in Europe early may not have been, based on the ancient DNA remains we have to date.  Of course, that may change when more ancient DNA is fully sequenced which seems to be happening at an ever-increasing rate.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/21/peopling-of-europe-2014-identifying-the-ghost-population/

Lazaridis tree

Ancient DNA Available for Citizen Scientists

If I were to give a Citizen Scientist of the Year award, this year’s award would go unquestionably to Felix Chandrakumar for his work with the ancient genome files and making them accessible to the genetic genealogy world.  Felix obtained the full genome files from the scientists involved in full genome analysis of ancient remains, reduced the files to the SNPs utilized by the autosomal testing companies in the genetic genealogy community, and has made them available at GedMatch.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/22/utilizing-ancient-dna-at-gedmatch/

If this topic is of interest to you, I encourage you to visit his blog and read his many posts over the past several months.

https://plus.google.com/+FelixChandrakumar/posts

The availability of these ancient results set off a sea of comparisons.  Many people with Native heritage matched Anzick’s file at some level, and many who are heavily Native American, particularly from Central and South America where there is less admixture match Anzick at what would statistically be considered within a genealogical timeframe.  Clearly, this isn’t possible, but it does speak to how endogamous populations affect DNA, even across thousands of years.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/23/analyzing-the-native-american-clovis-anzick-ancient-results/

Because Anzick is matching so heavily with the Mexican, Central and South American populations, it gives us the opportunity to extract mitochondrial DNA haplogroups from the matches that either are or may be Native, if they have not been recorded before.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/23/analyzing-the-native-american-clovis-anzick-ancient-results/

Needless to say, the matches of these ancient kits with contemporary people has left many people questioning how to interpret the results.  The answer is that we don’t really know yet, but there is a lot of study as well as speculation occurring.  In the citizen science community, this is how forward progress is made…eventually.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/25/ancient-dna-matches-what-do-they-mean/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/30/ancient-dna-matching-a-cautionary-tale/

More ancient DNA samples for comparison:

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/04/more-ancient-dna-samples-for-comparison/

A Siberian sample that also matches the Malta Child whose remains were analyzed in late 2013.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/12/kostenki14-a-new-ancient-siberian-dna-sample/

Felix has prepared a list of kits that he has processed, along with their GedMatch numbers and other relevant information, like gender, haplogroup(s), age and location of sample.

http://www.y-str.org/p/ancient-dna.html

Furthermore, in a collaborative effort with Family Tree DNA, Felix formed an Ancient DNA project and uploaded the ancient autosomal files.  This is the first time that consumers can match with Ancient kits within the vendor’s data bases.

https://www.familytreedna.com/public/Ancient_DNA

Recently, GedMatch added a composite Archaic DNA Match comparison tool where your kit number is compared against all of the ancient DNA kits available.  The output is a heat map showing which samples you match most closely.

gedmatch ancient heat map

Indeed, it has been a banner year for ancient DNA and making additional discoveries about DNA and our ancestors.  Thank you Felix.

Haplogroup Definition

That SNP tsunami that we discussed last year…well, it made landfall this year and it has been storming all year long…in a good way.  At least, ultimately, it will be a good thing.  If you asked the haplogroup administrators today about that, they would probably be too tired to answer – as they’ve been quite overwhelmed with results.

The Big Y testing has been fantastically successful.  This is not from a Family Tree DNA perspective, but from a genetic genealogy perspective.  Branches have been being added to and sawed off of the haplotree on a daily basis.  This forced the renaming of the haplogroups from the old traditional R1b1a2 to R-M269 in 2012.  While there was some whimpering then, it would be nothing like the outright wailing now that would be occurring as haplogroup named reached 20 or so digits.

Alice Fairhurst discussed the SNP tsunami at the DNA Conference in Houston in October and I’m sure that the pace hasn’t slowed any between now and then.  According to Alice, in early 2014, there were 4115 individual SNPs on the ISOGG Tree, and as of the conference, there were 14,238 SNPs, with the 2014 addition total at that time standing at 10,213.  That is over 1000 per month or about 35 per day, every day.

Yes, indeed, that is the definition of a tsunami.  Every one of those additions requires one of a number of volunteers, generally haplogroup project administrators to evaluate the various Big Y results, the SNPs and novel variants included, where they need to be inserted in the tree and if branches need to be rearranged.  In some cases, naming request for previously unknown SNPs also need to be submitted.  This is all done behind the scenes and it’s not trivial.

The project I’m closest to is the R1b L-21 project because my Estes males fall into that group.  We’ve tested several, and I’ll be writing an article as soon as the final test is back.

The tree has grown unbelievably in this past year just within the L21 group.  This project includes over 700 individuals who have taken the Big Y test and shared their results which has defined about 440 branches of the L21 tree.  Currently there are almost 800 kits available if you count the ones on order and the 20 or so from another vendor.

Here is the L21 tree in January of 2014

L21 Jan 2014 crop

Compare this with today’s tree, below.

L21 dec 2014

Michael Walsh, Richard Stevens, David Stedman need to be commended for their incredible work in the R-L21 project.  Other administrators are doing equivalent work in other haplogroup projects as well.  I big thank you to everyone.  We’d be lost without you!

One of the results of this onslaught of information is that there have been fewer and fewer academic papers about haplogroups in the past few years.  In essence, by the time a paper can make it through the peer review cycle and into publication, the data in the paper is often already outdated relative to the Y chromosome.  Recently a new paper was released about haplogroup C3*.  While the data is quite valid, the authors didn’t utilize the new SNP naming nomenclature.  Before writing about the topic, I had to translate into SNPese.  Fortunately, C3* has been relatively stable.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/12/23/haplogroup-c3-previously-believed-east-asian-haplogroup-is-proven-native-american/

10th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy

The Family Tree DNA International Conference on Genetic Genealogy for project administrators is always wonderful, but this year was special because it was the 10th annual.  And yes, it was my 10th year attending as well.  In all these years, I had never had a photo with both Max and Bennett.  Everyone is always so busy at the conferences.  Getting any 3 people, especially those two, in the same place at the same time takes something just short of a miracle.

roberta, max and bennett

Ten years ago, it was the first genetic genealogy conference ever held, and was the only place to obtain genetic genealogy education outside of the rootsweb genealogy DNA list, which is still in existence today.  Family Tree DNA always has a nice blend of sessions.  I always particularly appreciate the scientific sessions because those topics generally aren’t covered elsewhere.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/11/tenth-annual-family-tree-dna-conference-opening-reception/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/12/tenth-annual-family-tree-dna-conference-day-2/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/13/tenth-annual-family-tree-dna-conference-day-3/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/15/tenth-annual-family-tree-dna-conference-wrapup/

Jennifer Zinck wrote great recaps of each session and the ISOGG meeting.

http://www.ancestorcentral.com/decennial-conference-on-genetic-genealogy/

http://www.ancestorcentral.com/decennial-conference-on-genetic-genealogy-isogg-meeting/

http://www.ancestorcentral.com/decennial-conference-on-genetic-genealogy-sunday/

I thank Family Tree DNA for sponsoring all 10 conferences and continuing the tradition.  It’s really an amazing feat when you consider that 15 years ago, this industry didn’t exist at all and wouldn’t exist today if not for Max and Bennett.

Education

Two educational venues offered classes for genetic genealogists and have made their presentations available either for free or very reasonably.  One of the problems with genetic genealogy is that the field is so fast moving that last year’s session, unless it’s the very basics, is probably out of date today.  That’s the good news and the bad news.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/12/genetic-genealogy-ireland-2014-presentations 

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/26/educational-videos-from-international-genetic-genealogy-conference-now-available/

In addition, three books have been released in 2014.emily book

In January, Emily Aulicino released Genetic Genealogy, The Basics and Beyond.

richard hill book

In October, Richard Hill released “Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships and Measure Ethnicity through DNA Testing.”

david dowell book

Most recently, David Dowell’s new book, NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection was released right after Thanksgiving.

 

Ancestor Reconstruction – Raising the Dead

This seems to be the year that genetic genealogists are beginning to reconstruct their ancestors (on paper, not in the flesh) based on the DNA that the ancestors passed on to various descendants.  Those segments are “gathered up” and reassembled in a virtual ancestor.

I utilized Kitty Cooper’s tool to do just that.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/03/ancestor-reconstruction/

henry bolton probablyI know it doesn’t look like much yet but this is what I’ve been able to gather of Henry Bolton, my great-great-great-grandfather.

Kitty did it herself too.

http://blog.kittycooper.com/2014/08/mapping-an-ancestral-couple-a-backwards-use-of-my-segment-mapper/

http://blog.kittycooper.com/2014/09/segment-mapper-tool-improvements-another-wold-dna-map/

Ancestry.com wrote a paper about the fact that they have figured out how to do this as well in a research environment.

http://corporate.ancestry.com/press/press-releases/2014/12/ancestrydna-reconstructs-partial-genome-of-person-living-200-years-ago/

http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/12/16/ancestrydna-recreates-portions-genome-david-speegle-two-wives/

GedMatch has created a tool called, appropriately, Lazarus that does the same thing, gathers up the DNA of your ancestor from their descendants and reassembles it into a DNA kit.

Blaine Bettinger has been working with and writing about his experiences with Lazarus.

http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/10/20/finally-gedmatch-announces-monetization-strategy-way-raise-dead/

http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/12/09/recreating-grandmothers-genome-part-1/

http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/12/14/recreating-grandmothers-genome-part-2/

Tools

Speaking of tools, we have some new tools that have been introduced this year as well.

Genome Mate is a desktop tool used to organize data collected by researching DNA comparsions and aids in identifying common ancestors.  I have not used this tool, but there are others who are quite satisfied.  It does require Microsoft Silverlight be installed on your desktop.

The Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer is available through www.dnagedcom.com and is a tool that I have used and found very helpful.  It assists you by visually grouping your matches, by chromosome, and who you match in common with.

adsa cluster 1

Charting Companion from Progeny Software, another tool I use, allows you to colorize and print or create pdf files that includes X chromosome groupings.  This greatly facilitates seeing how the X is passed through your ancestors to you and your parents.

x fan

WikiTree is a free resource for genealogists to be able to sort through relationships involving pedigree charts.  In November, they announced Relationship Finder.

Probably the best example I can show of how WikiTree has utilized DNA is using the results of King Richard III.

wiki richard

By clicking on the DNA icon, you see the following:

wiki richard 2

And then Richard’s Y, mitochondrial and X chromosome paths.

wiki richard 3

Since Richard had no descendants, to see how descendants work, click on his mother, Cecily of York’s DNA descendants and you’re shown up to 10 generations.

wiki richard 4

While this isn’t terribly useful for Cecily of York who lived and died in the 1400s, it would be incredibly useful for finding mitochondrial descendants of my ancestor born in 1802 in Virginia.  I’d love to prove she is the daughter of a specific set of parents by comparing her DNA with that of a proven daughter of those parents!  Maybe I’ll see if I can find her parents at WikiTree.

Kitty Cooper’s blog talks about additional tools.  I have used Kitty’s Chromosome mapping tools as discussed in ancestor reconstruction.

Felix Chandrakumar has created a number of fun tools as well.  Take a look.  I have not used most of these tools, but there are several I’ll be playing with shortly.

Exits and Entrances

With very little fanfare, deCODEme discontinued their consumer testing and reminded people to download their date before year end.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/09/30/decodeme-consumer-tests-discontinued/

I find this unfortunate because at one time, deCODEme seemed like a company full of promise for genetic genealogy.  They failed to take the rope and run.

On a sad note, Lucas Martin who founded DNA Tribes unexpectedly passed away in the fall.  DNA Tribes has been a long-time player in the ethnicity field of genetic genealogy.  I have often wondered if Lucas Martin was a pseudonym, as very little information about Lucas was available, even from Lucas himself.  Neither did I find an obituary.  Regardless, it’s sad to see someone with whom the community has worked for years pass away.  The website says that they expect to resume offering services in January 2015. I would be cautious about ordering until the structure of the new company is understood.

http://www.dnatribes.com/

In the last month, a new offering has become available that may be trying to piggyback on the name and feel of DNA Tribes, but I’m very hesitant to provide a link until it can be determined if this is legitimate or bogus.  If it’s legitimate, I’ll be writing about it in the future.

However, the big news exit was Ancestry’s exit from the Y and mtDNA testing arena.  We suspected this would happen when they stopped selling kits, but we NEVER expected that they would destroy the existing data bases, especially since they maintain the Sorenson data base as part of their agreement when they obtained the Sorenson data.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/02/ancestry-destroys-irreplaceable-dna-database/

The community is still hopeful that Ancestry may reverse that decision.

Ancestry – The Chromosome Browser War and DNA Circles

There has been an ongoing battle between Ancestry and the more seasoned or “hard-core” genetic genealogists for some time – actually for a long time.

The current and most long-standing issue is the lack of a chromosome browser, or any similar tools, that will allow genealogists to actually compare and confirm that their DNA match is genuine.  Ancestry maintains that we don’t need it, wouldn’t know how to use it, and that they have privacy concerns.

Other than their sessions and presentations, they had remained very quiet about this and not addressed it to the community as a whole, simply saying that they were building something better, a better mousetrap.

In the fall, Ancestry invited a small group of bloggers and educators to visit with them in an all-day meeting, which came to be called DNA Day.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/10/08/dna-day-with-ancestry/

In retrospect, I think that Ancestry perceived that they were going to have a huge public relations issue on their hands when they introduced their new feature called DNA Circles and in the process, people would lose approximately 80% of their current matches.  I think they were hopeful that if they could educate, or convince us, of the utility of their new phasing techniques and resulting DNA Circles feature that it would ease the pain of people’s loss in matches.

I am grateful that they reached out to the community.  Some very useful dialogue did occur between all participants.  However, to date, nothing more has happened nor have we received any additional updates after the release of Circles.

Time will tell.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/18/in-anticipation-of-ancestrys-better-mousetrap/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/19/ancestrys-better-mousetrap-dna-circles/

DNA Circles 12-29-2014

DNA Circles, while interesting and somewhat useful, is certainly NOT a replacement for a chromosome browser, nor is it a better mousetrap.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/30/chromosome-browser-war/

In fact, the first thing you have to do when you find a DNA Circle that you have not verified utilizing raw data and/or chromosome browser tools from either 23andMe, Family Tree DNA or Gedmatch, is to talk your matches into transferring their DNA to Family Tree DNA or download to Gedmatch, or both.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/11/27/sarah-hickerson-c1752-lost-ancestor-found-52-ancestors-48/

I might add that the great irony of finding the Hickerson DNA Circle that led me to confirm that ancestry utilizing both Family Tree DNA and GedMatch is that today, when I checked at Ancestry, the Hickerson DNA Circle is no longer listed.  So, I guess I’ve been somehow pruned from the circle.  I wonder if that is the same as being voted off of the island.  So, word to the wise…check your circles often…they change and not always in the upwards direction.

The Seamy Side – Lies, Snake Oil Salesmen and Bullys

Unfortunately a seamy side, an underbelly that’s rather ugly has developed in and around the genetic genealogy industry.  I guess this was to be expected with the rapid acceptance and increasing popularity of DNA testing, but it’s still very unfortunate.

Some of this I expected, but I didn’t expect it to be so…well…blatant.

I don’t watch late night TV, but I’m sure there are now DNA diets and DNA dating and just about anything else that could be sold with the allure of DNA attached to the title.

I googled to see if this was true, and it is, although I’m not about to click on any of those links.

google dna dating

google dna diet

Unfortunately, within the ever-growing genetic genealogy community a rather large rift has developed over the past couple of years.  Obviously everyone can’t get along, but this goes beyond that.  When someone disagrees, a group actively “stalks” the person, trying to cost them their employment, saying hate filled and untrue things and even going so far as to create a Facebook page titled “Against<personname>.”  That page has now been removed, but the fact that a group in the community found it acceptable to create something like that, and their friends joined, is remarkable, to say the least.  That was accompanied by death threats.

Bullying behavior like this does not make others feel particularly safe in expressing their opinions either and is not conducive to free and open discussion. As one of the law enforcement officers said, relative to the events, “This is not about genealogy.  I don’t know what it is about, yet, probably money, but it’s not about genealogy.”

Another phenomenon is that DNA is now a hot topic and is obviously “selling.”  Just this week, this report was published, and it is, as best we can tell, entirely untrue.

http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/usa-archaeologists-discover-remains-of-first-british-settlers-in-north-america/

There were several tip offs, like the city (Lanford) and county (Laurens County) is not in the state where it is attributed (it’s in SC not NC), and the name of the institution is incorrect (Johns Hopkins, not John Hopkins).  Additionally, if you google the name of the magazine, you’ll see that they specialize in tabloid “faux reporting.”  It also reads a lot like the King Richard genuine press release.

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/Fake-News/tp/A-Guide-to-Fake-News-Websites.01.htm

Earlier this year, there was a bogus institutional site created as well.

On one of the DNA forums that I frequent, people often post links to articles they find that are relevant to DNA.  There was an interesting article, which has now been removed, correlating DNA results with latitude and altitude.  I thought to myself, I’ve never heard of that…how interesting.   Here’s part of what the article said:

Researchers at Aberdeen College’s Havering Centre for Genetic Research have discovered an important connection between our DNA and where our ancestors used to live.

Tiny sequence variations in the human genome sometimes called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) occur with varying frequency in our DNA.  These have been studied for decades to understand the major migrations of large human populations.  Now Aberdeen College’s Dr. Miko Laerton and a team of scientists have developed pioneering research that shows that these differences in our DNA also reveal a detailed map of where our own ancestors lived going back thousands of years.

Dr. Laerton explains:  “Certain DNA sequence variations have always been important signposts in our understanding of human evolution because their ages can be estimated.  We’ve known for years that they occur most frequently in certain regions [of DNA], and that some alleles are more common to certain geographic or ethnic groups, but we have never fully understood the underlying reasons.  What our team found is that the variations in an individual’s DNA correlate with the latitudes and altitudes where their ancestors were living at the time that those genetic variations occurred.  We’re still working towards a complete understanding, but the knowledge that sequence variations are connected to latitude and altitude is a huge breakthrough by itself because those are enough to pinpoint where our ancestors lived at critical moments in history.”

The story goes on, but at the bottom, the traditional link to the publication journal is found.

The full study by Dr. Laerton and her team was published in the September issue of the Journal of Genetic Science.

I thought to myself, that’s odd, I’ve never heard of any of these people or this journal, and then I clicked to find this.

Aberdeen College bogus site

About that time, Debbie Kennett, DNA watchdog of the UK, posted this:

April Fools Day appears to have arrived early! There is no such institution as Aberdeen College founded in 1394. The University of Aberdeen in Scotland was founded in 1495 and is divided into three colleges: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/about/colleges-schools-institutes/colleges-53.php

The picture on the masthead of the “Aberdeen College” website looks very much like a photo of Aberdeen University. This fake news item seems to be the only live page on the Aberdeen College website. If you click on any other links, including the link to the so-called “Journal of Genetic Science”, you get a message that the website is experienced “unusually high traffic”. There appears to be no such journal anyway.

We also realized that Dr. Laerton, reversed, is “not real.”

I still have no idea why someone would invest the time and effort into the fake website emulating the University of Aberdeen, but I’m absolutely positive that their motives were not beneficial to any of us.

What is the take-away of all of this?  Be aware, very aware, skeptical and vigilant.  Stick with the mainstream vendors unless you realize you’re experimenting.

King Richard

King Richard III

The much anticipated and long-awaited DNA results on the remains of King Richard III became available with a very unexpected twist.  While the science team feels that they have positively identified the remains as those of Richard, the Y DNA of Richard and another group of men supposed to have been descended from a common ancestor with Richard carry DNA that does not match.

https://dna-explained.com/2014/12/09/henry-iii-king-of-england-fox-in-the-henhouse-52-ancestors-49/

https://dna-explained.com/2014/12/05/mitochondrial-dna-mutation-rates-and-common-ancestors/

Debbie Kennett wrote a great summary article.

http://cruwys.blogspot.com/2014/12/richard-iii-and-use-of-dna-as-evidence.html

More Alike than Different

One of the life lessons that genetic genealogy has held for me is that we are more closely related that we ever knew, to more people than we ever expected, and we are far more alike than different.  A recent paper recently published by 23andMe scientists documents that people’s ethnicity reflect the historic events that took place in the part of the country where their ancestors lived, such as slavery, the Trail of Tears and immigration from various worldwide locations.

23andMe European African map

From the 23andMe blog:

The study leverages samples of unprecedented size and precise estimates of ancestry to reveal the rate of ancestry mixing among American populations, and where it has occurred geographically:

  • All three groups – African Americans, European Americans and Latinos – have ancestry from Africa, Europe and the Americas.
  • Approximately 3.5 percent of European Americans have 1 percent or more African ancestry. Many of these European Americans who describe themselves as “white” may be unaware of their African ancestry since the African ancestor may be 5-10 generations in the past.
  • European Americans with African ancestry are found at much higher frequencies in southern states than in other parts of the US.

The ancestry proportions point to the different regional impacts of slavery, immigration, migration and colonization within the United States:

  • The highest levels of African ancestry among self-reported African Americans are found in southern states, especially South Carolina and Georgia.
  • One in every 20 African Americans carries Native American ancestry.
  • More than 14 percent of African Americans from Oklahoma carry at least 2 percent Native American ancestry, likely reflecting the Trail of Tears migration following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
  • Among self-reported Latinos in the US, those from states in the southwest, especially from states bordering Mexico, have the highest levels of Native American ancestry.

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/12/genetic-study-reveals-surprising-ancestry-many-americans?utm_campaign=email-news-weekly&utm_source=eloqua

23andMe provides a very nice summary of the graphics in the article at this link:

http://blog.23andme.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bryc_ASHG2014_textboxes.pdf

The academic article can be found here:

http://www.cell.com/ajhg/home

2015

So what does 2015 hold? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. Hopefully, it holds more ancestors, whether discovered through plain old paper research, cousin DNA testing or virtually raised from the dead!

What would my wish list look like?

  • More ancient genomes sequenced, including ones from North and South America.
  • Ancestor reconstruction on a large scale.
  • The haplotree becoming fleshed out and stable.
  • Big Y sequencing combined with STR panels for enhanced genealogical research.
  • Improved ethnicity reporting.
  • Mitochondrial DNA search by ancestor for descendants who have tested.
  • More tools, always more tools….
  • More time to use the tools!

Here’s wishing you an ancestor filled 2015!

 

Attitude of Gratitude, Mud, Pigs and Sheep

pig

This the time of year, the holidays, that makes us all wax sentimental.  Hopefully, it causes each of us to take a few minutes to think about what we are grateful for.

Sometimes gratitude came come from odd places.  In some instances, having to deal with its polar opposite, someone who is difficult, toxic or just plain hateful makes us realize just how lucky we are in the rest of our dealings with people.  The fact that we can recognize them as such, and get out of Dodge, is a blessing as well.  And sometimes, I’m just so thankful I’m not one of them….

That’s the old saying about how one can always serve as a bad example.

My husband always says that he’s grateful for those people because they make him look so good by comparison.  Now that’s a fine example of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

Of course, then there are those wonderful people, like newly discovered cousin Bill Hickerson.  I’ve been very lucky to meet so many wonderful cousins over the years and genealogy, especially genetic genealogy gives us the opportunity to meet even more.

I’ve spent some time thinking about exactly what I’m grateful for this year.

Family

When you start losing them you really start to appreciate them at a whole different level.  The more you lose, the more you appreciate the ones that are left.  Judy Russell wrote about this recently too.  It’s the holidays – so we can’t help but think about those we hold close in our hearts, whether they are on this side or the other side now.

I have no parents, aunts, uncles or siblings left, so I’ve adopted a brother, John.  Of course, this is my second brother John so now when I talk about John, or my brother John, everyone asks which brother John.  Makes for wonderfully interesting conversations!  I mean, how many people have two brothers with the same name?

It’s sometimes difficult to be the last one standing…so I guess that gets me elected as the family story-teller, the documenter.  They may be gone, but it’s up to me to make them immortal.  And, well, because they are there and I am here…I can tell any stories I want.  smiley

Chuckle.  Tee hee…

Family of Choice

These are the people not stuck with me genetically, but who hang around by choice.  Perhaps because I left the area where my family lived, and I had few and now have no living siblings, I’ve formed an adoptive family.  We function just like other families, except no bickering.  These people are extra special because they love me anyway!!!  And they think coming over and playing in the mud together is fun.

mud buddies

NewFound and ReFound Cousins

Cousins – I didn’t grow up with any.  We and they were scattered to the winds.  I’ve remet some over the years and become particularly close to several.  We’re still scattered to the winds, but e-mail and electronic communication makes it much easier to stay in touch on a much more regular basis.  Cheryl, my cousin on my Mom’s side went to Holland with me in the spring.

orange cousins crop2

Need I say more?  We had SO much fun.

Daryl, my cousin on my Dad’s side has been my travel companion for years.  She was the one trapped in the cemetery with me by the bull.  Here we are wading in the creek at Cumberland Gap that fed the land owned by the Dodsons, our common ancestral line.  It was a blistering hot day, but we had a great time together.

double trouble

A group of cousins went back to England in 2013 to visit the Speak Family homeland.  Here, we are together in the church where it all began…so to speak, pardon the pun.

Speak Family at St Mary Whalley

I love my cousins.  And no, I don’t mean I’m fond of them, I love them.  You know who you are!!!

Mary Lancashire

Mary and I in Lancashire in the churchyard where it all began for our ancestor.  The infamous Pendle Hill, a local landmark, is in the background.

I’ve had such lovely adventures with my cousins.  They have so enriched my life and I am so grateful for them….and for genealogy, or I would never have found them.

People who Share Freely

I’m incredibly grateful for people who do good work and share freely.  Ok, who do sourced, good work and share freely.

For example, there is one Acadian researcher whose tree on Rootsweb I use as the “consummate reference.”  She could refuse to share because it represents years of her hard work, and it undoubtedly does, but because she does share, it’s much more likely that there is good information being copy/pasted than bad.  She has literally saved me years of research that I probably couldn’t have done with the language barrier involved.

Furthermore, it frees the rest of us to contribute in some other way instead of retreading the ground she has already dug up.  Thank you Karen Theroit!

Another example – over the years I’ve been gifted with pictures of several ancestors that I didn’t have, nor even knew existed, among them Samuel Claxton in his Civil War uniform, Joseph “Dode” Bolton and John David Miller, shown below.  All thanks to previously unknown cousins willing to share.

john david miller familyMy way of doing the same is my 52 Ancestor series on my blog.  I’m grateful to Amy Johnson Crow for this wonderful idea which continues in 2015.

People Who DNA Test, Upload their Tree and Answer Queries

It makes life so very much easier when a family tree is attached to the DNA results.  Bless these people.

People Who Indulge Me and Agree to DNA Test

…even though they aren’t nearly as interested as I am.  Bless these people too. The cousins so often make THE difference in autosomal matching because we each carry different segments of our common ancestor – along with a few of the same segments, of course.

People who Give

….to others, unselfishly.  Some people “give” to be in the spotlight – these aren’t the people I’m talking about. I’m referring to people have been unsung, and often unthanked, volunteers for years.  I’ll list a few for whom I’m particularly grateful (in alpha order).

  • Alice Fairhurst – ISOGG Y Tree Coordinator, for 9 years as the tree has avalanched
  • Denny Brubaker who has compiled the Claiborne County Pioneer Project by indexing and entering into genealogy software over 108,000 individuals from the 1930 census and before who were documented to have lived in Claiborne County, TN
  • Paul Le Blanc – an Acadian Museum Living Legend, founder and moderator of the Acadian Rootsweb list, my cousin over 100 ways and always willing to help
  • David Powell – Estes Family Archivist and Historian – has compiled and maintains Estes family site for all descendants for nearly 15 years
  • John Olsen and Curtis Rogers, creators of www.GedMatch.com
  • Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, who writes an wonderful blog with a posting every single day

There are many more of these humble, selfless people in the genealogy community.  Thank you one and all.  Genealogy heroes, they serve as the best kind of example and inspiration.

Kind, Caring People with Integrity

For every jerk that we see, and unfortunately, they do stand out due to their jerkyness, there is an anonymous person who is quietly doing something caring and lovely for another being.

These are the people who stop to help the helpless; rescue a box of puppies, to save an injured duck who has been hit, to move turtles off the road or pulling someone out of a burning house or car.  It’s acts like these that are the true measure of character and integrity.

Integrity is what you do when no one else is looking and when there is no possibility that the person or thing that you’re helping can ever return any type of favor.

Here’s a picture of someone who put their car in the ditch to miss the turtle in the road….and managed to save the turtle too.

jeep in swamp

I’m extremely proud to call this person…my daughter.

Here’s a picture my daughter’s rescue this week, now named Ellie, which was, of course, not the slightest bit convenient the week before Christmas.  It may be a bit of an inconvenience for us, but it’s life-saving and life-altering for Ellie.  And there is nothing in the world like the unconditional love of a puppy!  I mean, who else can get so happy to see you they piddle all over the floor.

ellie

I’m equally as grateful for the services that my son provides to citizens daily.

firefighter

I’m especially proud of my children, of course, but I’m extremely grateful for all of the people who make the world a better place for others.

Collaborators and Peers

Genealogy and genetic genealogy has brought so many wonderful people into my life in the form of new cousins, collaborators and peers.  I can think of so many and more just keep popping into mind.

In genetic genealogy, we have to work collaboratively or we’ll get no-place fast.  It’s a  team sport.

collaboration

Where would we be without our friends and peers who we can work with and bounce things off of from time to time?  I started to make a list, but the list goes on and on and I’m afraid I’ll forget someone.  I’m just so very thankful to have such a long list.

I am particularly grateful for my DNA project co-administrators as well as other project admins.  It’s wonderful to have co-conspirators:)  The more than 8000 DNA projects wouldn’t be able to function without the volunteers administrators, and projects are incredibly valuable to genealogists.

Visionaries Among Us – Citizen Scientists

I am so very grateful to be alive at the right time and in the right place to be able to participate in the birthing of new science – genetic genealogy.  There isn’t a day that passes without learning something wonderful and new.

The entire genetic genealogy industry, and it is an industry today, was founded on  regular people, citizen scientists, noticing something and pursuing that information.

Thankfully, no one was hateful, berating or condescending to those early pioneers because they had the audacity to speak up and push the edge of the envelope, or we surely would not have seen the advances in genetic genealogy that have occurred in the past 15 years.

Bennett remarks

It 1999, the idea of testing the Y chromosome of 2 men to see if they matched was what prompted Bennett Greenspan to contact Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona.  This entire industry was founded on that relationship.  Michael wasn’t initially thrilled, but had he adopted a negative attitude about or towards Bennett, there would be no genetic genealogy industry today.  Giant oaks from tiny seedlings grow.  I am forever grateful to both of these men.  Bennett is shown above at the 2013 Conference and Michael, below at the 2014, tenth annual, International Conference on Genetic Genealogy sponsored by Family Tree DNA.

hammer 2014

Many of today’s genetic genealogists won’t have known Leo Little, but he was the genetic genealogist who noticed something was “different” about a group of STR marker results in 2002, and was ultimately responsible for the research that lead to the discovery of a SNP that separated a particular branch of the Y tree.  Today, with advent of next generation testing, we find new branches every day, but without Leo Little’s contribution of finding that first L SNP, we wouldn’t have the Y SNP sub-industry.  Fittingly, the L SNPS are named in honor of Leo and that first SNP discovered at Family Tree DNA was, appropriately, L1.

I remember the discussions about 5 years ago in the citizen scientist community about haplogroup R1b perhaps not being present in Paleolithic Europe?  Well, this year, at the Family Tree DNA conference, Michael Hammer presented evidence to that effect based on analysis of ancient remains, shown above.

Remember the days when it was stated that autosomal DNA would never be utilized in genetic genealogy?  Many won’t remember those days, because it has been the power of autosomal testing that has brought the majority of the testers to the party.  The 5th anniversary of the introduction of the first commercial autosomal DNA test was celebrated this past month.

I’m grateful for these visionary people who were brave enough to question the status quo and peer beyond the horizon.  I hope the genetic genealogy community fosters an open and supportive scientific incubator environment where people feel they can safely come forward with their observations which may in fact turn out to be important discoveries.

Ability to do for Others

This means that I’m healthy enough to do for others, so every time I make one of the care quilts, write a blog posting or do something else, I’m always grateful for that opportunity.

hemming quilt

I believe we are all enhanced and uplifted by giving.  My ways of contributing are through my care quilts, my DNA blog, by Native Heritage Project blog at www.nativeheritageproject.com and my Victory Garden blog at www.victorygardendaybyday.com, inspired by my adopted brother John.

I’m very grateful for those who support my endeavors in all kinds of ways from hemming a quilt to encouragement in a rough patch or fixing dinner.  There is very little in life that we can accomplish alone and it’s much more rewarding with companions.

Communications

ying yangYing and yang.  The ying is that it’s so much easier to have a conversation today, in many ways, which allows us access to online records and near-immediate answers – not to mention keeping up with family on Facebook and talking around the world on Skype.

The yang of course is that there is misinformation and social media brings with it its own version of unpleasantness.  Prior to the last decade or so, immediate online group access, like Facebook, wasn’t available. It’s new to our generation and will simply be normal to the next.

Social media has opened up a world of opportunities, some positive, some negative.  The positive aspects are that it’s easy to join groups of people with like interests, be they genetic genealogy or a specific ancestor or something entirely different, like quilting.

The flip side is that people aren’t always nice online and sometimes say things in a terribly negative way they might never do in person, although with some of these folks, I’m not at all sure that would make any difference.

The illusion of space between that person and their intended victim make it convenient to have a very visible online war where people tend to “show themselves in public” as my father would have put it.

When I see this happening I have to wonder if they have any idea how badly behaved they appear to others.  It’s difficult sometimes to retain a level of professional and personal decorum under those circumstances, but that brings me to my last item of gratitude…something I NEVER thought I’d say.

Mamma, prepare to roll over in your grave!

My UpBringing

My parents were not easy on me, nor was I an easy child to raise…not by a long shot.    What might be perceived as tenacity, resilience and commitment today was sheer utter unrelenting mis-focused stubbornness as a teen.  I prefer to think of it as “strong woman training wheels.”  I’m sure my mother had other names for it, and probably for me as well.

wink

However, not to be out-stubborned by me (genetic perhaps?), my mother continued, whether I wanted to hear the messages or not…to reinforce the lessons I needed to learn.  Today, as I see people behaving poorly, I hear my mother’s voice saying things like this:

“It’s not so much what you say but how you say it.”

OMG, I cannot tell you how MANY times I rolled my eyes at this one.  But, I got it.  I didn’t want to get it…but somehow it soaked in in spite of my complete and utter resistance.  She must have said this hundreds if not thousands of times – and I can still hear her voice saying it to this day.  In fact, now I want to say it to other people!

My mother had this saying written on a piece of paper and taped to the mirror that we all shared in the bathroom – for years.  I wanted to rip it down because when I most needed to read it, seeing it irritated me greatly.

Here’s another of her famous sayings.

 “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Did everyone’s mother say this?  I thought she was an idiot.

And this one.  Can you see my eyes rolling????

“You will never have to regret being a lady.”

Oh PUUUUULLLLEEZE….

A lady?  Really?  I mean, seriously???  I didn’t own a dress and lived in blue jeans.  But that really wasn’t what she meant.  I never understood that one at the time.  But I surely do now.  Bullying isn’t something new nor reserved for children and teens and neither is unbecoming behavior – and I see it regularly online and in the comments to my blog postings that don’t get approved.  You would not believe some of those.  I’ve even considered doing a humorous article utilizing those, but they are just too awful.

And here’s a last bit of wisdom from Mom, which I also didn’t comprehend at the time.

“When someone is hateful towards you, it says nothing about you and everything about them.  Same goes for you when you’re hateful.”

You know, she always had to add that little zinger clincher type of thing at the end that was equivalent to “if the shoe fits”….darn her anyway.

And then she would smugly follow up by saying something like…

“If that makes you mad, then you obviously needed to hear it.”

DAMMIT MOTHER!

My Mom was pretty “in your face” with her messages, often delivering them by pointing and shaking her index finger at you as she lectured.  My brother was so tall that he got ordered to sit down before he got his lecture so she could shake her finger directly at him instead of up in his general direction. When he got told to “sit down,” he knew he was in a heap-o-trouble.  But he unfailingly sat!  I giggled.  Then I got to sit too.

My step-Dad was more laid back and charismatic.  I was more inclined to hear what he had to say, because it was often mixed with humor and much more subtle.

He had two saying that I’ve used over and over as an adult, and that in spite of their farm flavor, hold true everyplace.  I particularly love this first one.

“Never mud wrestle with a pig. 
You can’t win. 
You get muddy.
The pig likes it.
The spectators can’t tell the difference.”

Some days I think this is my personal mantra.

And lastly, I’ll leave you with this one, except my Dad’s rendition was a little more, ahem, colorful:)

“Don’t be part of the herd.  The only thing sheep see is the south end of the other sheep going north.  If you don’t want to see a bunch of sheep butts, get out in front of the herd.”

I am so very, very thankful that my parents never raised me to be a sheep.  I’m sure they wished many times they hadn’t been quite so successful and that I hadn’t pushed the edges of the envelope quite so hard.

And yes, being a sheep would be much easier, I’m sure….but I’ll never know.  Therein lies the blessing and the curse.

So to my Mom and step-Dad, who for some ungodly reason signed on willingly, for their persistence and perseverance in the face of a defiant and ungrateful teen…..thank you.  THANK YOU.  And ……just so you know, somehow, in spite of myself, I heard you and I get it!!!

And I am really, REALLY, grateful.

Rockstar Genealogist Winners – We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

double helix animation

John Reid, over this past week, has announced the full complement of Rockstar genealogist winners.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners in each category and to make a couple of comments, because I found the distribution of winners very interesting.

John divided the competition into several geographies plus DNA.  Really, I kind of viewed the geographies like specialties because you need a different set of skills and knowledge to search Irish records, for example, than you need to search US records.  The same holds true for the DNA category.

Several people placed in multiple categories.  In particular, of the 10 winners in the DNA group, 7 of these folks also placed in the USA category.  That’s pretty amazing, especially because this field is relatively new.  Of the people in the DNA category, 3, I didn’t consider specifically as genetic genealogy specialists, although they are clearly genealogists, and one person I didn’t know at all.  Two are very well known and clearly incorporate genetic genealogy into a genealogy career.

What was my criteria for a genetic genealogist?  If I recognized the name as a participant in any of the several online lists and forums that are specifically focused on genetic genealogy, or know of them to be a consistent contributor on the genetic genealogy topic, I considered them a genetic genealogist.  Pretty simple.

Of the DNA winners, Judy, Megan and Dick were included in 2 or more categories, with Dick Eastman being included in 5 of the 6 categories.  We can certainly say that Dick is well-known worldwide.

For me, though, the take home story in all of this isn’t about who is or isn’t a genetic genealogist, but it’s about blending and assimilation.  When genetic genealogy was first introduced into the genealogy landscape, we were utterly thrilled when one word was uttered in a magazine or newspaper or anyplace public about DNA and genealogy.  We were genetic missionaries, trying to convince genealogy societies and conferences that they needed to allow us to speak about this new brick-wall-crashing technology.  It was always an uphill battle and we weren’t always welcome.

Today, just over a decade later, DNA is all over the news media.  Just this week alone there have been 4 or 5 major stories involving population genetics, found families and other DNA related topics.  And that’s not counting the numerous blogs, some dedicated to genetic genealogy and population genetics, and some incorporating genetic genealogy as a tool.

In another few days, this summer/fall’s second TV series focused on genealogy, including genetic genealogy airs.  Spencer Wells has become a household word, and DNA in words and images is now used in ads, an acronym and image that many adults didn’t even know 15 years ago and certainly wasn’t a part of everyday vocabulary.  Today, everyone knows what a double helix is.

dna ad

From my perspective, assimilation is good.  In fact, it’s the ultimate goal.  For genetic genealogy to become entirely mainstream, DNA testing has to become a tool that no genealogist would be without and everyone knows how to use appropriately.  Every genealogist needs to be a genetic genealogist at some level, because DNA testing can benefit every single genealogist – their own testing and that of others as well.

From the looks of the results this year, maybe we’ve arrived.  We went from no genetic genealogists in the winner’s circle last year to 7 this year.  Of the DNA category winners, perhaps some of those folks have redefined our idea of what a genetic genealogist really is.

In several cases, genetic genealogy seems to be a dual specialty, like Judy and Megan.  People who are considered to be top notch in other categories are ALSO genetic genealogists.  Both Judy and Megan were in the USA winning group last year, but since they weren’t exclusively or specifically genetic genealogists, I didn’t include them as such.  However, the public voting this year clearly shows they are both – and very well respected in both fields.

Perhaps the day has arrived when genetic genealogy is a specialty, just like with Irish or Scottish or English records, under the larger genealogy umbrella, not separate anymore.  Maybe John was right and genetic genealogy is its own specialty “country” in the larger genealogy world and genetic genealogy experts will exist for folks needing specialized assistance, but all genealogists will be a genetic genealogist at some level.

Yea, we’ve come a long way baby.  It feels good to be part of the mainstream.  We don’t have to scrap to be heard anymore, nor do our relatives have to wonder if we are crazy.  Ok, maybe they still wonder….but it’s no longer the genetic part of genealogy that begs that question:)

Here are the top 10 winners in each category, along with links to John’s blog where statistics and more information about each category are given:

DNA:

1. Roberta Estes
2. CeCe Moore
3. Judy G. Russell
4. Megan Smolenyak
5. Bennett Greenspan
6. Blaine Bettinger
7. Dick Eastman
8. Tim Janzen
9. D. Joshua Taylor
10. Stephen P. Morse

USA:

1. Judy G. Russell
2. Roberta Estes
3. Megan Smolenyak
4. CeCe Moore
5. Dick Eastman
6. Thomas W. Jones
7. D. Joshua Taylor
8. Thomas MacEntee
9. John Philip Colletta
10. Bennett Greenspan

England/Scotland/Wales:

1. Janet Few
2. Kirsty Gray
3. Else Churchill
4. Celia Heritage
5. Dick Eastman
6. Debbie Kennett
7. Michael Gandy
8. Chris Paton
9. Nick Barratt
10. Jackie Depelle

Ireland:

1. Steven C. Smyrl
2. Claire Santry
3. John Grenham
4. Fiona Fitzsimons
5. Brian Donovan
6. William Roulston

Canada:

1. Dick Eastman
2. Chris Paton
3. Thomas MacEntee
4. Lisa Louise Cooke
5. Judy G. Russell
6. Glenn Wright
7. Geoff Rasmussen
7. Megan Smolenyak
9. Brenda Dougall Merriman
10. Lisa Alzo

Australia/New Zealand:

1. Shauna Hicks
2. Judy Webster
3. Jill Ball
4. Chris Paton
5. Pauleen Cass
6. Thomas MacEntee
7. Dick Eastman
8. Cyndi Ingle
8. Sharn White
10. Nick Barratt
10. Kirsty Gray
10. Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMyrtle)

Thanks John for running the poll.  In addition to honoring awesome genealogists, it shows us just how fast the landscape is changing, the progress we’ve made and the impact of social media, in particular, blogs, which makes regular publication and communication easy.  There couldn’t be a better time to be a genealogist!

Mea culpa – I thought John was finished with publishing winning categories.  Obviously not, because just as this article went to print, I received notification of two additional categories, Commonwealth and International.  Obviously these categories are not included in the commentary, above.

International

1. Judy G. Russell
2. Roberta Estes
3. Megan Smolenyak
4. CeCe Moore
5. Dick Eastman
6. Thomas MacEntee
7. D. Joshua Taylor
8. Lisa Louise Cooke
9. Thomas W. Jones
10. Bennett Greenspan

Commonwealth

1. Janet Few
1. Chris Paton
3. Dick Eastman
4. Kirsty Gray
5. Thomas MacEntee
6. Lisa Louise Cooke
7. Judy G. Russell
8. Else Churchill
9. Debbie Kennett
10. Celia Heritage

Rockstar Genealogists – Tickled Pink and Paying Up

Child Holding Trophy

Early this morning, in fact, very early this morning, so early that it still qualifies as last night, John Reid announced the Gold Medal winners in 5 geographic locations and DNA, although my husband swears that DNAland is an amusement park someplace that takes credit cards, especially my credit card:)

And the winners are, drum roll please……..

  • Australia/New Zealand – Shauna Hicks
  • Canada – Dick Eastman
  • England, Scotland, Wales – Janet Few
  • Ireland – Steven Smryl
  • USA – Judy Russell
  • DNA – Roberta Estes

Once again, I’m both honored and humbled, and maybe a tad bit embarrassed too.. As my British friends say, I’m gobsmacked.  I can hardly wait to pay up!!!  What a great reason to have to spend money!  Woo hoo.

And I have to share a secret with you  – I’m just thrilled to see Judy Russell in first place.  She is such a wonderful person and a great resource and everyone wants to see a deserving friend receive these kinds of accolades.  So, I’m, as my Mom would have said, “just tickled pink.”

Up until now, my favorite thing to spend money on was DNA tests and quilt fabric.  But, I have to admit, this has been an awful lot of fun.

I’m just extremely glad I didn’t say I’d pay for every genetic genealogist who made the winner’s circle – or I’d be eating beanie weenie for months – especially since John added the DNA category.  I think we’ve succeeded and genetic genealogy is now mainstream.  What do you think?  It’s a red letter day for genetic genealogy!!!

I checked yesterday with the Preserve the Pensions folks on their Facebook page to be sure there wasn’t another donation avenue that would garner more matching funds.  They assured me that right now, donating through the Indiana Genealogical Society would garner the best matching revenues.  I particuarly like this option, because I was born in Indiana and I’m proud that my home state is sponsoring this wonderful matching option.

war 1812 progress crop

So, I just want everyone to know that I did, in fact, put my money where my mouth was…well, at least my pen was…and I made my $250 donation.  I think this is the best $250 I’ve spent in a long time, in several different ways!  With matching donations, it becomes $1000 dollars AND preserves 2200 pages.  And you never know, just one of my, or your, ancestors might be whose pension pages it preserves.  Wouldn’t that be synchronicity!

donation receipt

Here’s my donation and the thank you reply on the Indiana Historical Society webpage after making the donation.  Even just $5 helps and it’s one of the easy donation options.

thank you donation

Rockstar Genealogists – There Is no I in Team

We received the first results, kind of like early election returns, of the Rockstar genealogist voting today, which announced the silver and bronze winners.

electionI’m paired with Megan Smolenyak in the USA category and CeCe Moore and Judy Russell represent the DNA grouping.  Tomorrow, the first place winners in each category will be announced on John Reid’s Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections website where you can see today’s results too.

I’m stunned, honored and humbled.  I had hoped with my donation committment to raise awareness of genetic genealogy and it looks like that was certainly successful.

Why did I offer to make the donation to the Preserve the Pensions?  Twofold.  First, and it goes without saying, that I am extremely committed to preserving our original records and I think this project not only preserves records and makes them available for everyone, but it also raises awareness of the needs and the records themselves.  Plus, I think benevolence is contagious…at least I hope so.  Hint – you too can donate in honor of someone.

Second, because there is no I in team.  Genetic genealogy is a team sport, and the genetic genealogy nominees are all tireless players in this field.

family tree dna logoWithout Bennett Greenspan, founder of Family Tree DNA, who literally hounded Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona to perform a Y DNA test on himself and another Greenspan male, fifteen years ago, there would be no genetic genealogy today.  Thank you Bennett for your persistence and thank you, Dr. Hammer, for finally giving in!!!  You two made history – you are the astronauts, first walkers on the moon, of the genetic genealogy world.  We would not be here without you – bottom line!  What an incredible legacy.

But that walk has not been a stroll in the park.

I remember, years ago, when Rootsweb (owned by Ancestry, ironically) would delete any post that referred to DNA for genealogy except for the genealogy DNA mailing list.  As hard as it is to believe today, and as unimaginable as it seems, DNA was treated as some kind of pox and was verboten…and it went on for years.  I never fully understood why, but I believe it was most likely fear that DNA would unhinge some of the treasured long-standing genealogy works of the past – and perhaps the researchers of those works as well.  Thankfully, we now have the opportunity to confirm those works…or not.

When Megan Smolenyak was appointed as Ancestry’s official genealogist, the genetic genealogy community was ecstatic because as one of the earliest genetic genealogists, we were very hopeful that Megan could make a difference and bring that embargo to an end.

Fortunately, those days are long in the past now, but for a very long time, genetic genealogy was an uphill struggle through the briar patch with those at the top of the hill casting a suspicious eye upon us.

spencer machu pichu

The real turning point for genetic genealogy was when the National Geographic Society began the Genographic project in 2005 in partnership with Family Tree DNA.  Not only have the Genographic projects versions 1 and 2 brought hundreds of thousands of testers into the community, it has raised awareness throughout the world and lent unquestionable credibility to genetic genealogy.  No longer does anyone wonder if genetic genealogy is even possible.  National Geographic brought genetic genealogy mainstream – in retrospect, it was the infamous tipping point.

U.S. Army Officer Cap BadgeA few of the RockStar genetic genealogy candidates have been in this field since the beginning.  Megan was one of the first, using DNA in her genealogy business to repatriate the remains of soldiers.  Megan was the first to bring genetic genealogy to the public through her original Roots Television series, originally hosted on her own website, but now a Youtube channel.  She even provides genealogy grants to worthy people and organizations, and has for, are you ready for this….14 years.

Megan is clearly, and without question, not only a professional genealogist, as well as a genetic genealogist, but has also been a long-standing ambassador in the genetic genealogy world.  We would not be where we are today without her efforts.  She opened many doors that were firmly sealed shut and greased many skids.  Thank you Megan for all of your efforts for so many years that continue today.

Like I said, there is no I in team.  As more genetic genealogists came into the fold, each one brought a special skill and passion and focus.  Each person on the list of candidates and winners has contributed profoundly to this community in their own unique way.

Family Tree DNA held their first conference for their project administrators back in 2004.  The conference in Houston next month marks the 10th anniversary.  For many years, this was the only genetic genealogy education other than an occasional general session at a genealogy conference or speakers at genealogy groups.  Administrators did, and do suck up advanced education like thirsty sponges, even if it does sometimes feel like we’re drinking from the firehose.

Today, through ISOGG and the newly formed Institute for Genetic Genealogy (i4gg), CeCe Moore and Tim Janzen, along with their many volunteers speakers have brought education specifically focused on genetic genealogy to the masses – the public and professional genealogists alike.  Thanks to their efforts, genetic genealogy is becoming mainstream.  Soon, genetic genealogy won’t be something separate, just another tool that every genealogist understands and is able to utilize.  Maybe it will be another specialty under the genealogy umbrella, just like regional or country specialties are today.

isogg clipKatherine Borges founded ISOGG in March 2005 because she felt there was a need to educate genealogists, testers and the public about genetic genealogy.  I remember talking to Katherine at the DNA conference after a particularly intensive statistical session, just before she founded ISOGG, and she said “I think I understood 2 or 3 words.”  We were all wandering around in a bit of a daze after that particular session wondering what the devil we had gotten ourselves into.

Today, ISOGG, still free, serves thousands of members worldwide.  Katherine, as an unpaid volunteer, continues to champion genetic genealogy around the world.  Megan referred to Katherine as the “godmother of genetic genealogy,” and indeed, she is.  I think of her as the fairy godmother actually, because more than once at the conferences where she works (volunteers) for ISOGG she has found testers for my surnames or even documents for my family.  I love her magic wand!!!

The success of genetic genealogy is a result of everyone bringing their own chisel to the brick walls that surround us.  Genetic genealogy is the result of tools and technology, social media, communications and plain old elbow grease grunt work court house basement genealogy research.  It’s a special brew, all ingredients stirred into the soup called collaboration – and the results are discoveries the likes of which we could never have imagined.  No, there is no I in team.

Some of the people on the list of Rockstar candidates are professional genealogists, some professional genetic genealogists, and some unpaid.  All of us, bar none, are volunteers and donate a huge amount of time and effort into the community.  Some of us are bloggers, and if you think bloggers make lots of money from their endeavor, think again.  Every article we write is an investment of our own time with very little, if any expectation, of a return.

Some of us have a particular focus and private commitment that involves genealogy.

In Bennett’s case, his focus has always been Jewish genealogy.

Bald Eagle in FlightIn my case, my passion and focus have been, long before genetic genealogy, reviving the history of Native American people from the obscurity of a nameless history.  Today, that passion is manifested through my haplogroup project research, my www.nativeheritageproject.com blog, the American Indian Project at Family Tree DNA and the Native Names Project which is a list of thousands of transcribed names of Native people from obscure original documents.

Gates PBSCeCe Moore’s focus has been on utilizing genetic genealogy to reconstruct the family trees of adoptees, eventually identifying their birth family by process of elimination.  Much of her work is quiet and private, which means she can’t publicize a lot if her findings.  But that’s OK, because she makes up for it with her television presence, working with Dr. Henry Gates on his Finding Your Roots PBS Series, which starts this season, as luck would have it, September 23rd.

mennoniteTim Janzen, MD, a long time genetic genealogist is also a practicing physician.  I have no idea when he finds the time to do everything he does, including his commitment to the Mennonite DNA project.  Tim utilizes autosomal DNA within this project and developed early tools to be utilized in autosomal DNA analysis.  Tim is also teamed with CeCe as founders of i4gg.

Gavel and Law BooksJudy Russell needs no introduction as her blog, The Legal Genealogist, speaks for itself, every day.  I can’t believe the amount of content this woman produces, and quality content too.  In addition, she keeps the most intensive travel schedule of anyone I know outside of the Secretary of State.  Judy’s passion is genealogy and the law, and it shows.  I’m glad Judy loves and embraces genetic genealogy, but I’m also glad that’s not her primary focus, because we need her expertise so desperately in the legal end of the records we sometimes see and don’t fully understand.  If you ever get the opportunity to see Judy speak, by all means, do.  I don’t care if she is talking about icebergs in the Amazon….catch her talk.  Stand in the back of the room if necessary…just make sure you are there.

sca;esBlaine Bettinger is also a lawyer, now.  When I first met Blaine, he was still in school.  He authored one of the earliest blogs about genetic genealogy, covering all type of topics ranging from press coverage to the X chromosome.  Blaine is also the past editor of the Journal for Genetic Genealogy, hosted on the ISOGG website.  Blaine has been a genealogist for 20 years, and while Judy brings her perspective of law to genealogy, Blaine brings his perspective of being a genealogist to law.  I’m glad to see the “next generation” passionately involved in genetic genealogy.

british flagDebbie Kennett’s dive into genetic genealogy is through her Cruwys News blog where she chronicles her family genealogy journey and occasionally genetic genealogy.  Debbie, who lives in England, is an Honorary Research Associate attached to the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. I value Debbie’s non-US centric perspective and that fact that she has perspective and information about the non-US companies and players that we simply don’t have here.

If anything, genetic genealogy has shown us over and over again how widespread our “cousins” are, how trivial today’s political borders are and how closely related the world is.  I hope it has changed our perspective a bit of other people.  Of the genetic genealogists, CeCe Moore and I share an ancestor someplace along the line, but as irony would have it, we haven’t had time to figure out the identity of our common ancestor.  The cobblers kids never have shoes….

winnerAs far as I’m concerned, these genetic genealogy nominees are all winners.  They are certainly all contributors.  It’s nice to see the official Rockstars receive recognition for their efforts.  But more importantly, because we as genealogists and genetic genealogists cannot succeed alone, I hope the cumulative success of these Rockstars serves to raise awareness of the promise of genetic genealogy and encourages everyone to integrate these tools into their genealogy toolbox, because, well, there is no I in team.

Congratulations to all of the winners, in each category. I’m so honored to be included!  What an incredible group.

Thank you, everyone, for voting in this fun Rockstar exercise.  Thank you John Reid for being a fine emcee:)    And thanks, everyone, for making me pay!!!

Now, it’s time for me to figure out how to best donate my $250 so that it receives the best matching possible for the Preserve the Pensions project.

Cricket Team Holding Hands