10

Thank You: The Genetic Genealogist Named Among Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Late last fall, Family Tree Magazine requested nominations for the best genealogy blogs, and then opened voting for the nominated list.  Yesterday, they announced the winners of the voting.  Diane Haddad wrote about the announcement on the Genealogy Insider blog, and Maureen Taylor wrote the article that will appear in the May issue of Family Tree Magazine: “Fab Forty.”

I am very pleased and honored to announce that TGG was selected as one of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs, in the category of genetic genealogy. I would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted for me.  I have been very fortunate over the last few years to interact with a fascinating array of readers, and I am thankful for every one of them.

When I started blogging in February 2007 (I just recently counted my third anniversary of TGG!), there were very few blogs in … Click to read more!

3

Columbia Professor Alondra Nelson Reviews The PBS Series “Faces of America”

Faces of America
In October 2008, I reviewed an article by Dr. Alondra Nelson in the journal Social Studies of Science entitled “Bio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestry” (Social Studies of Science 2008 38: 759-783).  The article was about the complex interpretation of the results of genetic genealogy testing by African-Americans and black British.  Dr. Nelson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in NY.

On Friday, an article by Dr. Nelson appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Henry Louis Gates’s Extended Family,” which is an introduction and review of the current PBS documentary miniseries Faces of America. Regarding the genetic testing aspect of the show, Nelson writes:

If the findings of conventional genealogical research produce fireworks, the results of the DNA analysis generate shock and awe. “Know Thyself,” the final episode, which shares its title with the slogan of Knome Inc., focuses mostly on genetic genealogy. Whereas prior shows relied heavily on analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome (Y-DNA), yielding results that included at most about 2 percent of one’s complete genetic inheritance, in Faces techniques are used that probe deeper into more of the genome.

The technical aspects of genetic ancestry tracing are explained, but without sufficient social context, much the way a manual can tell you how to operate a car without explaining automobiles’ role in modern industry, the development of suburbia, or the emergence of youth culture. We can’t hold a documentary for a general audience responsible for not presenting a complex metanarrative on the philosophy of genetic science. But we can expect some acknowledgment and interpretation of technology’s limits.

It is likely that some genetic genealogists will instantly disagree with or discredit Nelson after reading this article, since … Click to read more!

4

A New Meme: How Many of Your Ancestors Are In The SSDI?

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a searchable database created from the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which contains the name and social security number of deceased persons reported to the Social Security Administration since roughly 1962.  In addition to being used by genealogists, the Death Master File and SSDI are used by financial firms and government agencies for various reasons such as preventing identity fraud.

A Genealogy Meme Using the SSDI

Michael Neill at RootDig has two posts – “Have You Searched for All Your Ancestors in the SSDI?” and “My in-laws in the SSDI” – that list his and his wife’s ancestors in the SSDI.  Michael has 7 ancestors, while his wife has 6.

This led me to wonder how many ancestors I have in the SSDI, and a very brief search led me to conclude that I … Click to read more!

16

Who Is The Oldest Relative You Remember Meeting?

The Evansville Courier & Press has a great article – “At 97, life is worth a big fuss: Six generations gathered at matriach’s birthday party” – which contains a picture of six generations of the Moore Family of Indiana.  The picture shows a newborn and 5 generations of her ancestors; her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandfather, and great-great-great-grandmother!  It is truly amazing and I highly recommend clicking over to the article to see it.

My Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s Father’s Mother (whew!)

The picture led me to wonder who was my mother’s mother’s mother’s father’s mother (following the same lineage in the article’s picture), and whether I ever met her.  After consulting my family tree software (maybe I could have done … Click to read more!

11

Family Tree DNA Discovers Y-DNA Signature That Might Represent the Prophet Mohammed

DNA An article in the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National (wikipedia) does a terrific job of highlighting recent research from Family Tree DNA.  The story – “DNA could illuminate Islam’s lineage” – discusses research that has attempted to elucidate the Y-DNA signature of Mohammed.  Although Mohammed did not have a son, he had a daughter who married her paternal second cousin, thus passing to Mohammed’s grandchildren the same Y-DNA.  From the article:

“For almost 1,600 years, the title Sharif, Sayyed, or Habib has been bestowed on Muslims who have been able to trace their roots back to the Prophet Mohammed through intricate family trees, oral histories and genealogical records. But now an American DNA lab says it may have identified the DNA signature of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and perhaps the prospect of a direct, more accurate means of confirming or identifying such a connection.”

The caveat, as the story briefly mentions by the phrase “if their oral tradition is accurate”, is that no one has an authenticated DNA sample directly from Mohammed.  If there were, this type of research would not be needed.  Instead, the conclusion that it might be Mohammed’s Y-DNA is based on testing individuals who … Click to read more!

6

TGG Ranked as #9 on ProGenealogists’ List of Top 25 Genealogy Blogs

This has been a great week for The Genetic Genealogist, and I just wanted to send out my gratitude.

First, TGG was included by Chris Dunham of The Genealogue in his list “10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading” at Blogs.com!  I’m truly honored to be listed among the other great bloggers in the article.  (Like Chris, I was recently asked to create a Top 10 list which I believe will be posted soon, but my list focuses more on genetic genealogy and personal genomics blogs).

imageAnd second, TGG was listed as #9 on the ProGenealogists list of The Top 25 Genealogy Blogs of 2009!  The rankings were based on “overall content, Technorati rating, and industry experience.”  It is an honor to be included among this group of incredible bloggers.  Be sure to … Click to read more!

8

Visualizing Your Genetic Genealogy

In my genealogical research, I have sometimes found myself missing the trees by focusing on the forest.  I think it happens to many genealogists – we get caught up in the research, the dates, the places, and we forget that there was so much more to people than their vital statistics.

This can happen to genetic genealogists as well.  The connection between the results of a DNA test and the individuals in our tree can be easy to forget and difficult to visualize.  Take the results of an mtDNA test, for example.  The results are obtained from a tiny piece of DNA that has traveled thousands of years (and often thousands of miles) through hundreds of individuals to end up in your cheek cells and on the tip of a swab.  Everyone’s mtDNA is the … Click to read more!

1

Large-Scale Genetic Genealogy Privacy Concerns

thegeneticgenealogist1 I’ve been working on a presentation regarding the future of genetic genealogy, and one aspect of that future is the ability to trace DNA (SNPs, mutations, haplogroups, etc…) through recent history as the result of combining extensive genomic sequencing with massive family tree information.  Although the ability to do this will have many uses (both for genealogy and for personalized medicine), it will also raise a number of privacy issues, as a recent paper suggests.

A New Privacy Study

In “Inferential Genotyping of Y Chromosomes in Latter-Day Saints Founders and Comparison to Utah Samples in the HapMap Project,” author Jane Gitschier uses a combination of FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org) and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (http://www.smgf.org/) to elucidate the Y-chromosome signature of two founders of the LDS Church.  Gitschier then used that information to determine whether … Click to read more!

1

Could You be a Chief Genealogy Officer?

As announced by Mark Tucker at ThinkGenealogy and Shelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe, CEO of FamilyLink.com Paul Allen tweeted the following yesterday:

“Starting job description for ‘chief genealogy officer’ who will help manage GenSeek–directory of all the world’s genealogy sources.”

You can learn more about GenSeek – a comprehensive genealogy website including the Family History Catalog 2.0 – at “What is this GenSeek of which you Speak?” from ThinkGenealogy.

This is an interesting development and suggests that innovative developments in genealogy are continuing and that they can be profitable (for instance, see Geni.com’s latest round of VC).  In the past few months, FamilyLink.com, Inc. has hired a new a new president (Steve Nickle), vice president (Jim Erickson), and chief technology officer (Allan Carroll).

For those who are not familiar with FamilyLink.com, the company’s recent press releases contain a great … Click to read more!

2

The Genea-Bloggers Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #1

I don’t often post pure genealogy on this blog, but I thought I would take a break from genetic genealogy and join in on the Genea-Bloggers Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt, which was:  “Upload your favorite picture and talk about it on your blog. Answer the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter and explain why it is your favorite.”

Although it is nearly impossible to pick a single favorite from my extensive photo collection, I chose the following photo as one of my favorites:

Three Generations of the Bettinger Family 2

People (L to R): Frank Bettinger (my great-grandfather), Angeline Taylor Bettinger (my great-great-great-grandmother born in 1815!), Ward Bettinger (my great-great-uncle), Melissa Albro Bettinger (my great-great-grandmother), Edgar … Click to read more!