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Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product

I’ve written before about Ancestry.com’s new AncestryDNA autosomal test.  See, for example:

Webinar with Ancestry.com

Last week, I participated in a webinar with Ancestry.com regarding the AncestryDNA test (although, unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early due to a previous engagement).  It was a great list of about 10 well-known genealogy bloggers, each one of whom is someone I’ve been reading or following for years.  It was an honor to be included among them.

One of the participants was CeCe Moore of Your Genetic Genealogist.  CeCe has a nice summary of the webinar and the important points about the autosomal test and the user interface at “New Information on Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product.”  If you’re interested in autosomal DNA testing, or in Ancestry.com, I highly … Click to read more!

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Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” is a new series from Henry Louis Gates Jr., who previously brought us series such as Faces of America, African American Lives, and African American Lives 2.  The show, which airs on PBS stations on Sunday nights, premieres March 25th, 2012 with singer/actor Harry Connick, Jr.

Last week I participated in a conference call with members of the show, including Senior Story Editor and Producer Leslie Asako Gladsjo and Chief Genealogist Johni Cerny.  Also on the call, although only able to participate for a few minutes, was Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Here are some interesting tidbits about Finding Your Roots – and genealogy in general – that I learned from the conversation:

  • Gates believes that genetic genealogy is deconstructing the notion of race; never has FTDNA or 23andMe returned an African American’s testing results and reported 100% African, for example.  In other words, science is demonstrating that things are much more complicated than we would have guessed without the benefit of DNA.
  • All guests on Finding Your Roots used both 23andMe and FTDNA for DNA testing – all African Americans participating in the series also used African Ancestry.  While the guests receive all their results, we may not always see them.
  • Many are still wary of genetic genealogy; many potential guests even turned down the series largely because of the DNA testing involved.
  • Gladsjo and Cerny noted that DNA is just another tool for the genealogist; sometimes the guests’ DNA results were very interesting, and sometimes they were “pretty boring.”

I hope you’ll be tuning in tomorrow to see Finding Your Roots.  I have a feeling … Click to read more!

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Genetic Genealogy at Public Radio International

PRI’s The World, a weekday radio news magazine, has a new piece by producer Carol Zall entitled “Roots 2.0: Using DNA to Trace My Ancestry.”  The piece makes for a great introduction to genetic genealogy.  I especially like the 35-year-old interview between the young Carol and her grandmother, as well as Carol’s interpretation of her results.

I spoke with Carol a few months about this piece, and she included a few quotes from the interview in the article.  Also included is a 2-minute soundbite of our conversation:

Also featured in the main article are the always-fantastic Daniel MacArthur and Joe Pickrell (you can find both of them at Genomes Unzipped).

Both Daniel and I also contributed short companion … Click to read more!

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The Legal Genealogist Discusses Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal Testing

Over at The Legal Genealogist (one of my favorite new blogs!), blogger Judy Russell, J.D., CG discusses Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA testing service in “Science and the “10th” cousin.”

As I noted in a recent blog post (see “WDYTYA Reveals More Information About Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Testing“), autosomal DNA testing was featured in the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are with actor Blair Underwood.  After revealing Mr. Underwood’s biogeographical estimates (74% African American and 26% European), they revealed a genetic cousin found in the Ancestry.com’s database:

The service identified a distant cousin (somewhere around the 10th cousin range) who lived in Cameroon (an Eric Sonjowoh). Mr. Sonjowoh was already in the Ancestry.com database, which is why they were able to compare him to Mr. Underwood. According to Eric, someone approached him in 2005 and asked him for his DNA because African Americans were trying to trace their family back to Cameroon. I’m not sure what database the DNA was in, but it shows that Ancestry.com has pre-populated its database with at least some samples from other public and/or proprietary data sources.

Ms. Russell expresses concerns over the identification of the relationship between Mr. Underwood and Mr. Sonjowoh as “1oth Cousins:”

I have a bit of an issue with telling person A (Blair Underwood) that person B (Eric Sonjowoh) is a 10th cousin when there isn’t a prayer of a paper trail to support that statement — and the science isn’t good enough to say it either.

She notes – very correctly – that autosomal testing alone cannot identify a relationship as being 10th cousins rather than anything ranging from 5th, … Click to read more!

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WDYTYA Reveals More Information About Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Testing

[Update (2/24/12): Some genealogy forums are reporting that callers to Ancestry.com are being told that the autosomal DNA test will publicly launch in approximately 1 month (late March or early April).]

Tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured African-American actor Blair Underwood. For those not familiar with Who Do You Think You Are, the 1-hour program examines the genealogy of a celebrity, typically focusing on one or two of their most interesting families.

DNA Testing

This episode was of particular interest to me because it featured Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA testing service, which I’ve written about before (see “Ancestry.com’s Autosomal DNA Product – An Update”). While there wasn’t too much new information about the DNA product in this episode, it was an interesting sneak peek at the

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