And so the world goes round, and there is no shortage of people. How many of us have asked relatives to upload their DNA to sites for family genealogy research or even asked other people to test who have never tested anywhere before? DNA for genealogy has become like sharing of family photos and ancestral stories… H10a1, R1b, E1b, R-A520, H3k1a or H1ag1! How about 1,555 cMs or 20 cMs on Chromosome 9 and paper to prove it!
Little did I know 15 years ago, when cousin Buddy told me about DNA for genealogy, that all these years later we would end up spending so much time attending Institute and society courses; reading genetic genealogy and genealogy society books; watching genetic and genealogy research video lessons and podcasts — not to mention travel to graveyards and libraries and institutes from Wales to Canada and around the United States just looking for dead people. What began as journalism and deep-dish research in the early 1980s shifted to ancestors and descendants. In the early years of connecting digitally, there were few of us; today there are more relatives sending me email than I will ever be able to answer.
I had close contact for genealogy research this week with two distant relatives, one from each of my ‘sides.’ Since I am still working and have been making myself keep up my hobbies as a promise to myself, all my communication with these cousins has been lightening fast — and I wonder if maybe even a bit curt-sounding — especially if one is not accustomed to being seen as a DNA Guru as my “new” sister deemed me.
I will be having a cancer check-up on March 27th, a check-up that was originally scheduled for early February but has been put off and changed I think three times. When the date gets close the tension mounts, and with this one the tension has been extended to distraction. I have poured myself into the hobby to think about something else, but not always successfully. So more writing – I write all the time anyway – but I promised myself more writing, more recreational writing since the time of the cancer.
I was told the 5 year mark is the magic number and if you can get past that you are laughing.
I was also told this check-up was to be my last but it was originally scheduled for February and that is only 4 years and 6.25 months since the cancer. If this appointment holds I will be 4 years 7.75 months cancer-free. How on earth does one avoid wondering, maybe I should just change the appointment for later in the year to 5 years and x days. But it is also like – get it over with.
In-between, making sure I share and pass along research and family history has added hours of writing and these two cousins are both interested, so sharing what I know is a thrill. But this week proves there are times when I am spread too thin and zipping off multiple notes in every digital form can leave the messages half written and maybe too forward. Telling people what to do, and how to do it, and that it can be done and dusted in minutes, might be a bit forward for someone you have never met.
There was no way to write notes to a couple of hundred people and so came my blog. Since I never name any recipients and try to make all the blogs useful to all people who research in one way or another, the blog might appear impersonal. But it is not — I am writing directly to you, and you know who you are. And all the other yous who read it can claim it for themselves and take it to heart. I try to make every story full of information that is useful for everybody.
Test now or forever hold your peace. Test y-DNA and mt-DNA first!
There are a few people who I would like to see test their DNA and get it uploaded here, there and everywhere for genealogy matching. For those who have tested, if they have raw data that can be moved around, they should do it and see who they will match in the new databases. Some companies have as few as a million people or a few million – but those databases often have people who have not tested anywhere else and you would not want to miss them.
There is not a central DNA database to see all the matches available in the world.
AncestryDNA and 23andMe, both of which I tested with, are the big advertisers. Fewer people know about Family Tree DNA, which was the first and still the one company that not only tests the y-DNA and mt-DNA but also gives the marker values and provides a way for the DNA to be compared. Their surname project and family identification is magnificent and all done through y-DNA — the male line father’s father’s father’s etc etc etc for eons. You can prove every one of your ancestral lines by locating and testing male line cousins from each of your ancestral lines.
AncestryDNA used to test the y at least and some of the old kits with them still have it in the raw data. 23andMe will now tell you your haplogroup(s) based on mt-DNA for both males and females but they (and also MyHeritage) are mainly testing Autosomal DNA – (see my several blogs to explain the autosomal DNA in the contents)
There are questions of privacy, and I have many blogs about medical testing and the sharing of DNA raw data by AncestryDNA and 23andMe. I have been vocal in saying that in many countries with national health systems, it does not matter, but in the United States where one can be tagged with preexisting conditions and labeled a medical and life insurance risk, then I cannot recommend the medical because the data is being shared, as with the two biggies.
Family Tree DNA was of course the first in America to offer commercial DNA testing and they still test the y-DNA and the mt-DNA. They have not sold or shared medical data, and so for these 15 years that I have been with them as a customer I was able to proudly recommend them. But without the big advertising and the money being made by selling raw data for medical research – they remained relatively unknown amid the new DNA craze – until recently.
Since Family Tree DNA does test the haplogroups and y-DNA markers, then if you are wanting to prove your ancestral lines, you might find many answers by uploading, if not testing, with Family Tree DNA. If you match a cousin in autosomal DNA in their Family Finder test, and if the males have also tested their y-DNA, then you may find a few slots on your family tree filled in for you as soon as you join.
One of my blogs about Haplogroups
Then the Gedmatch thing happened and it was understood that Law Enforcement had moved in and that is the end of that. The FBI and every other legal agency in the world has now caught on and they will have their answers – just like us. Everyone was up in arms about Gedmatch cooperation and then the dominoes fell and I bet they are everywhere.
The law does not need warrants to get clues. Just as for anyone who buys a kit – spit or swab – the matching is easy. Whether one gets 3000 cMs or 30 cMs will be the luck of the draw – but statistics are being gathered and the databases are now large enough – even if no more people test at all – that it might be possible to identify almost anyone of American heritage to within a 2nd cousin. (I MUST get the source for this – or remove it. It will come from one of the wonderful groups of Genetic Genealogy Tips and… I will link at the bottom and update this.)
So the medical future of all our descendants will be as insurance companies dictate, and if we are naughty we are nabbed. DNA for genealogy has come a long way baby.
Let me mention Nebula (see the earlier blog about the company). You can test your DNA with them and if there is anything of genetic interest to a researcher, they will pay YOU instead of the testing company. They are brand new so I will be blogging all along about how my experience goes with them. Follow us for updates! But the day I heard who it was and what it was, I was in!
Do not do something because I suggest it – check it out first – research!
Pushy people and DNA for genealogy.
I have to admit the prospect of figuring out the identity of Mary E had me going this week. She is the only person among my eight great grandparents who has no known surname, no maiden name. This is seriously upsetting, and on top of that, another cousin came into focus who is of my maternal DNA line and shares a relatively rare mt-DNA haplogroup. This is like the living end.
Having tested with many DNA for genealogy and anthropology companies, and written about the experiences at each (as well as uploading Raw data to multiple other sites), I know what tools and what people are available where. I help people identify their families, including helping people who were adopted, or those who find their ancestry is not who they thought because of DNA testing results. And I help people who just want it for fun – like enjoying one’s cousins near and far, and laying out their ancestry for the children and their children.
But telling folks at 4G LTE go do this must sound quite abrupt if one only knows one company or maybe two.
For those who are ready, here are the download instructions for AncestryDNA (so far only the upload to familytreedna in this blog). There are several other blogs with instructions but this has the updated current screen pages, so read it before the websites are updated, which happens all the time.
It is not so much that one company is better or worse than another – it is the difference in the people who test where and how many and the different DNA for genealogy tools and it depends on your goals and your budget.
I have to say to folks searching for biological family they should of course test with the biggest database, AncestryDNA, if they are on a budget. There is nothing worse than the disappointment of a person who is searching for biological family and tests but gets no near matches.
The blessed MyHeritage DNA company has extended their offer for free kits and autosomal testing for people who are adopted, which is helping so many people who might not be able to afford the search because of costs. We have supported Myheritage from early on and we love that they are advertising for new people in Europe. So many of the databases have been predominantly Americans or Colonial migrants displaced throughout the empires. The idea we might soon have multiple matches of cousins in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Arabia and Africa who have always lived ‘over there’ is thrilling, and Myheritage is taking up that quest. We have DNA with them for matching and a tree. I loved their admixture presentation and I wrote about it with all the other admixture readings in my blog…
THIS could CHANGE – My Heritage does take uploads – you can have their matching features also, as of this writing. So this expands the DNA companies yet again and possibly additional people.
23andMe does not take uploads. I did read that on DNA Day one year they took uploads from AncestryDNA for the day. I think. But I also tell people if they are really really on a budget testing with 23andMe offers a bonus that AncestryDNA does not have – haplogroups. For males you get your mt-DNA and y-DNA presumed haplogroups – not refined but well enough most of the time. Since females do not have y-DNA they only are given their mt-DNA haplogroup.
But it is wonderful that with 23andMe you get the presumed haplogroups and autosomal DNA (written at-DNA or au-DNA). You can also download your raw results and add the DNA to new places. Of course 23andMe is the premier company that also will give you a set of medical information. You can find the blog where I talk about why I can’t come out and recommend medical testing – but I do share some of what is being said about the various DNA medical stories associated with direct to consumer testing.
Pushy me would love the cousin who descends from Mary E to join a 23andMe DNA day upload if they have it again. We have a shared cousin in 23andMe who is on the paternal line of one of our shared families. I tested there the first time there was a sale because my 2nd cousin had tested his autosomal only with them and we wanted to match. Today anyone can download the 23andMe Raw data and at least add it to Gedmatch – if not several others. Please check with each website as sometimes with computer program changes, the data can not be uploaded. Often the problem will be resolved with a few months or so but always read on each upload company site which data they can take at the time.
Many people have not tested their DNA, but even those who have are often surprised to see there are ways to prove not only your own ancestry – but see all the ancestries of all your ancestors if you have the time and it doesn’t have to break the bank. ALWAYS read up on what it means to have your DNA at any company.
And join us if you like.
next the y-DNA Haplogroup G2a etc.