I like ahnentafels!

If you started doing genealogy back in the olden days, as I did, you probably used ahnentafels. They are a simple way to number your direct ancestors.  Ahnentafel numbering can be useful in our DNA notes too!

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DNA Match Manager

We are so lucky to have genealogists with a passion for developing tools; they create them to help manage their own data—and then they share those tools with the rest of us, for free! One of the latest is the new tool DNA Match Manager, from Lillian and David Mann at Heirloom Software!

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What are the Odds? New help in finding birth parents

My family gets to welcome another adoptee to our extended family – yay! We have a new projected third cousin match (Mary) at 23andMe. Her dad Bill, now deceased, was born in Ohio in 1930 and later adopted. Mary would love to discover her dad’s birth parents. I spent a fair number of hours working up a hypothesis and even more hours trying to write my analysis up in a way Mary and her family might understand.

Now, there is a fantastic new tool at DNA Painter—called What Are the Odds?— that can cut down that analysis time, improve accuracy, and it’s so easy now to share the results in an easy-to-understand way! So thank you to creators Jonny Perl and Leah Larkin for making this available to genetic genealogists!

You can read more about this exciting option at TheDNAGeek Leah Larkin’s blog post Science the Heck Out of Your DNA Part 7. And you can read below to see how it worked on Mary’s case. (Because of course, I tried it out there to sanity-check my own analysis!)

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Organizing my AncestryDNA matches

One of my ‘resolutions’ for 2018 was to come up with a better process for me to manage my AncestryDNA matches.  We’re halfway through the year, so I thought I’d share my progress.

My new strategy depends on the Notes option in AncestryDNA and a cool Chrome extension called MedBetterDNA. I established three baseline steps (do it once and I’m done!) and two recurring steps.

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Take the lederhosen vs. kilt challenge!

If you watch much TV, you’ve probably seen the Ancestry commercial in which a man’s DNA results contradict his family tradition of a German heritage, so he trades in his lederhosen for a kilt! The irony is, no matter how German you may be, if you test at Ancestry, you won’t get German as a result in your ‘ethnicity’ pie chart; it’s not one of the categories they offer!  (See, perhaps, a more generic ‘Western European’ as one possible alternative.)

Many genetic genealogists have written about how imprecise these predictions are within the continent of Europe. For example, see The Legal Genealogist Judy Russell’s blog post Those percentages if you must. Those estimates may be more reliable, however, in suggesting where some of your ancestors might have lived in the past 200 years or so.

Among DNA testing companies, 23andMe offers a unique chromosome tool to explore our biogeographic origins. It’s probably most valuable for people with ancestors from different continents, but I am going to create a lederhosen vs. kilt challenge for myself and more closely examine 23andMe’s identification of German/French roots in my DNA.

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Why the Y?

Sometimes people ask me: can Y-DNA testing help my genealogy? (Only men have the Y chromosome, but if you’re female and can test a brother or male paternal cousin, that will work.) If you are looking for an ancestor within the last 300-400 years on your direct paternal line (your father’s father’s father, etc.), this topic is for you.

The test is offered by FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). First, you’ll want a basic intro to Y-DNA. If you want to know what a haplogroup is, or the difference between a SNP and a STR, the ISOGG wiki on Y-DNA is always a great place to start. You’ll find an overview of Y-DNA and links to many helpful articles.

Here I am going to focus on what I think is the single most valuable aspect of your Y-DNA results for brick walls or questions in a genealogical time frame. And that is:

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