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Using Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle

Bkcleanshaven I recently wrote about using genetic genealogy to potentially identify a male’s unknown surname.  Although I had in mind using DNA to find an adopted male’s biological surname, the method has numerous other applications.  For instance, it can be used in an attempt to identify the surname of a male who has forgotten his biological surname.

A Mystery Man

Just before 7 a.m. on August 31, 2004, an adult male was found lying next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.  He was naked, beaten, sunburned, and covered in bites from fire ants.  Benjaman Kyle, as he has decided to call himself (note the BK connection), eventually recovered from his physical ailments but was unable to remember anything about himself or his past.  To this day, he cannot remember … Click to read more!

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RootsTelevision Turns Two

Yesterday, RootsTelevision.com celebrated its two-year birthday.  RootsTelevision was created by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Marcy Brown in 2006, and currently contains programs in 25 different channels!  You can read more about the site and about its creation at Megan’s Roots World.

You might remember that a few weeks ago I was interviewed by Dick Eastman for RootsTelevision.com, which was a terrific experience.  And don’t forget, you can stay up-to-date on RootsTelevision.com’s DNA Channel right here at … Click to read more!

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Federation of Genealogical Societies Meeting

This Friday, September 5th, I’ll be attending the FGS meeting in Philadelphia.  I’m excited because this is my first big genealogy meeting (after 20 years of genealogy!), and because I get to sit and watch some great presenters discuss genetic genealogy.  The program is here.

I hope to meet some other genealogy bloggers, if any of you are planning to attend! … Click to read more!

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The Summer 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games

I’ve decided to join the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games (see here for more info).  I’m a little late, but the organizers have decided to allow entrants until tonight at 9:00pm PDT.  The Opening Ceremonies were held on Friday.  I’m hoping to put a genetic genealogy twist on my entries, if possible, to highlight how genetics can augment traditional genealogical research.


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The categories I plan to participate in are:

  • Back Up Your Data!
    • A. Prepare a comprehensive backup plan for your digital research files and a security plan for your hard copies and photos
    • C. Backup all your data using a flash drive, an external drive, CDs, DVDs, or an online resource
    • E. All your data is backed up digitally and secured physically and you can recover from any disaster while losing only one month or less worth of research

    Write, Write, Write!

    • B. Participate in a genealogy or family history related blog carnival. See the AnceStories post “August Is…” (http://ancestories1.blogspot.com/2008/08/august-is.html) for a list of these carnivals and their submission URLs and deadlines.
    • D. Write a brief biographical sketch on one of your ancestors.
    • E. Sign up to host a future carnival

    Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of … Click to read more!

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TGG Interview Series IV – Alastair Greenshields

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Today’s interview is with Alastair Greenshields, founder of the genetic genealogy testing company DNA Heritage. Alastair is also the founder of Ybase, a Y-DNA database. I recently wrote about a helpful and informative video series by Alastair for DNA newbies (see “New Videos for Genetic Genealogists“).

In today’s interview, I ask Alastair about his introduction to genetic genealogy, some of the ethical issues raised by the recent launches of personal genomics companies, and about the future of genetic genealogy.

TGG: How long have you been involved in genetic genealogy, and how did you become interested in the field? Have you undergone genetic genealogy testing yourself? Were you surprised with the results? Did the results help you break through any of your brick walls or solve a … Click to read more!

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Interview Series III – Terry Barton

imageTerry Barton is co-founder of WorldFamilies.net (along with Richard Barton), a website devoted to helping genealogists host Surname, Geographic, or Haplogroup Projects and learn more about genetic genealogy. When I began the Bettinger Surname DNA Project, Terry helped me through the entire process of setting up the site. From the WorldFamilies website:

“Terry is co-founder of WorldFamilies.net, President of the Barton Historical Society (BHS) and Co-Leader of the 193 member Barton DNA Project. He is the “Line Leader” for the Thomas (1,2,3) Barton family of Stafford Co VA and for the David Barton married Ruth Oldham family. He has made a number of presentations about using DNA in Genealogy, the Barton DNA project and his great-grandparent’s “Barton House” and has written many articles for the BHS Newsletters and website.”

In the following interview, I ask Terry about … Click to read more!

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Interview Series II – Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

image If you’ve ever even thought about testing your own DNA for genealogical purposes, then you are almost guaranteed to have heard of Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Megan is the Chief Family Historian and North American spokesperson for Ancestry.com, as well as the co-founder of Roots Television, an online channel of genealogy and history-oriented programming. Additionally, Megan is the co-author of “Trace Your Roots With DNA”, the premiere book on genetic genealogy (the other co-author, Ann Turner, will be featured later in this series).

Megan blogs about genetic genealogy and other genealogical topics at Megan’s Roots World (which I highly recommend adding to your feed reader or daily reading list). In the following interview, Megan talks about her introduction to genetic genealogy, about the field as it stands … Click to read more!

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The 2010 Census

At 12:01 on April 1, 2082, millions of genealogists around the solar system will be able to instantaneously download every image from the 2010 census into their neural storage chip, and within minutes these images will be linked to the ancestors in their 3D holographic family trees. Almost all of these genealogists will be able to find themselves in these census images and index.

Okay, maybe it’s a little premature to guess about the use of a census that hasn’t even been enumerated yet, but as most genealogists know, census results are the backbone of the genealogical world. Only one census has been released since the advent of the internet. In 2002 the 1930 census was released, and the countdown to the April 2, 2012 release of the 1940 census has already begun.

The 2010 census … Click to read more!

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Bryan Sykes Interviewed By The UK’s Telegraph

Anyone who is interested in genetic genealogy has likely heard of Professor Bryan Sykes. Sykes is the founder of the genetic genealogy testing company Oxford Ancestors and author of very influential books such as Blood of the Isles, Adam’s Curse, and The Seven Daughters of Eve.

Sykes was recently interviewed by The Telegraph in an article entitled “Curiosity Drives the Gene Genie to a £1m Turnover.” The article mentions that Oxford Ancestors, created in 2000, is currently bringing in £ 1m year (USD $1.96million), which is an increase of 10 times its initial year! There is discussion of Sykes’ upbringing, and the difficulty in commercializing scientific research.

Lastly, Sykes discusses some future directions, including using genetic research to help solve crimes:

” ‘We have revolutionized genealogy in the last few years. If we reversed it there could be great forensic benefits. For example, if we took a sample of DNA from a crime scene we are able to predict a range of surnames that might match that of the offender,’ says Sykes.”

Hopefully there will always be a very clear, understandable, and bright division between … Click to read more!