Friday, April 24, 2015

Ancestry DNA Test on Sale

The AncestryDNA test is now on sale for $79 thru April 27. This is one of the new technology autosomal DNA tests that I recommend.

By taking the this test you will find hundreds of genetic cousins, view family trees for most of them (if they aren't private), and get an idea of your overall ethnic ancestry.

AncestryDNA results can be transferred into the Family Finder database at Family Tree DNA for just $39. So this is the least expensive path to get into two of the big genetic genealogy databases.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ancestry's New Ancestor Discoveries Feature Revisit and Update

Well as most of you who read this blog know recently I blasted the Ancestry DNA tool release of the "New Ancestor Discoveries" feature on this blog (see previous post). After taking some time to sort through the debris field of this new tool and getting a few more of these matches on two of my DNA testers pages I can now say that there "may" still be "some" hope for this new tool after all. Honestly one good set of matches out of 15 still doesn't give me a real warm and fuzzy feeling.

While I am still not a fan of this network centric DNA tool concept (read into this that I want a chromosome browser tool), out of all the mess that was the opening week for this new "tool," including what I consider the promotion of this new feature that bordered on false advertising, I have actually used it to bust wide open a very long standing ancestral female brick wall line. So while the initial promotion still gets a failing grade, the new tool gets a qualified "C-."

As it turns out and now Ancestry has admitted in some of their material these "New Ancestor Discoveries" are not necessarily "new ancestors" in your chart after all.

From one of their question mark menu's:

Possible New Ancestors & Relatives
 
Once you've taken your AncestryDNA test and received your results, keep an eye out for "New Ancestor Discoveries" on your results page. To find these new potential ancestors and relatives, we compare your DNA to that of other AncestryDNA members who have already built their family trees. And, New Ancestor Discoveries can happen all the time as more people use AncestryDNA. Clicking on the photo of your potential new ancestor or relative will lead you on the path to discovering amazing new details of your family story as you determine how they may fit into your family tree.
 
My fellow genetic genealogy blogger Roberta over at DNAeXplained has had a similar experience and her results are noted at this link: http://dna-explained.com/2015/04/07/testing-ancestrys-amazing-new-ancestor-dna-claim/
 
So let's back up and look at what I got from my father's DNA testing page and this "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches tool.
 
Initially, there were only two of these "new ancestor discoveries" presented (which is what I based my initial criticism on -- Berryman Isom Jones and his wife Licenia Watkins. I crawled, dug around the net, banged my head against the wall, searched, analyzed, researched, banged my head against the wall again, and no matter how I cut it neither a crowbar or dynamite was going to fit this couple any where as ancestors in my tree. There was already at that possible generation indicated for these potential ancestors to much proven via existing DNA testing and a great supporting paper trail for these folks to even remotely fit.
 
A couple of days later, after much criticism Ancestry dropped their little bomb shell on their blog written by the man who did the introductory video to this new feature Mr. Kenny Freestone. I call this the dirty little truth revealed -- "these may not be ancestors" at all. Duh, hey Kenny, ya think?
 
You can read his post at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/04/09/new-ancestor-discoveries-clues-not-proof-to-your-past/, but let me pick a couple of the more notable passages.
 
"Last week we announced an exciting new AncestryDNA feature called “New Ancestor Discoveries.” The response to this feature launch has been very interesting to watch—we’ve received lots of feedback breathless with praise because we “proved” a relationship, and some feedback that dismisses the feature because it does not “prove” relationships. As we consider feedback from both of these extreme positions, it seems appropriate to explain more clearly what this feature is and is not."
 
Well it least I did not say "it does not “prove” relationships." I said it doesn't prove ancestors as you claimed in your promotional material including the video introducing this feature.
 
Still quoting from Mr. Freestone's blog post (italics/bold text are my doing).
 
What is a New Ancestor Discovery?
  • What it is: A New Ancestor Discovery is a suggestion that points you to a potential new ancestor or relative—someone that may not be in your family tree previously. This beta launch is our first step toward an entirely new way to make discoveries, and a way to expand how we do family history.
  • What it isn’t: This is not proof, or a guarantee, of a new ancestor. They’re called New Ancestor Discoveries, and many may be your actual ancestors. Some will be other relatives that fit somewhere on your family tree, and some will be people that you may not be directly related to.
  • It’s a starting point to further research. We’ll show you a New Ancestor Discovery if you share significant amounts of DNA with multiple members of a DNA Circle—which means you might also be related to the ancestor that the DNA Circle is built around. These hints can be a great starting point for your research and help you connect to other family members you didn’t know you had.
You know I wish you would have said that from the very beginning Mr. Freestone. It would have saved me and many others hours of research trying to figure out how to get those people in our family trees. So promotion of this new tool still gets an "F."
 
Now for the silver lining in all this. My father's DNA page has since picked up three more of these "new ancestor discoveries" people. The original couple and one of my dad's new ones still has not panned out to date.
 
But one couple did! Up front I will tell you that if I had not done some paper trail research on my one known ancestor (John Hurt) several years ago in the South Carolina state archives, this match might have gone unnoticed as well. No records available at Ancestry helped me uncover this until now missing wife of John Hurt, my 4th great grandmother. The initial research done in South Carolina made all the difference in the world. So with this DNA circle match and the paper research, it all ultimately let me knock down a long standing female ancestral brick wall.

 
 
The description given for John Lynch was my first good clue on where to look in my tree to see where he might fit.

"John Lynch was born on January 24, 1780, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was married in March 1806 in his hometown. He died on March 5, 1863, in Gainesville, Texas, having lived a long life of 83 years."

Given the range of relationship that the others in DNA circle had to him, I only had one line that runs through Spartanburg SC. I knew that we had to be dealing with a family associated with my John Hurt, a paternal 4th great grandfather. As it turns out these people above weren't ancestors, but in fact this Jhn Lynch was a 4th great grand uncle and his wife.

Once I opened up one of the trees to a match in the circle and I saw who John Lynch's mother was, alarm bells started to ring. I had seen that name before in the research I had done in South Carolina. That name was Margaret McCarter. As it turns out based on DNA testing and the paper trail she is my 5th great grandmother and her second husband - John Lynch is my 5th great grandfather.

Here is some of the info provided by the paper trail.

Taken from SPARTANBURG COUNTY/DISTRICT SOUTH CAROLINA DEED ABSTRACTS BOOKS A - T 1785 - 1827 ( 1752 - 1827) by Albert Bruce Pruitt.
BOOK K p. 344 Jun. 26, 1806

Margaret MCCARTER (Spartanburgh) to son-in-law John HURT (same); for love and affection give a Negro girl Nutty (or Mutty). Witness Alexander MCCARTER, Mary MCCARTER, and James VERNON. Signed Margaret MCCARTER's mark. Wit. oath Jun. 27, 1806 James VERNON, Alexander MCCARTER, and Mary MCCARTER to Isham FOSTER. Rec. Jul. 7, 1806

BOOK L p. 290 - 292 May 6, 1808
John HURT (Spartanburgh) to James VERNON (same); for $100 sold 50 ac on N fork of branch of Tygar R; border: S - Alexander MCCARTER, E - James VERNON, and N - line mentioned below; part of 160 ac grant to John ORR but presently owned by John HURT; except land between "head of pond" and a line to N fork of Tygar R. Witness William PERRIN, Andrew VERNON, and Moses RICHARDSON. Signed John HURT. Wit. oath May 7, 1808 William PERRIN to Isham FOSTER. Rec. Jun. 24, 1808 Dower renounced Ester HURT to Isham FOSTER May 7, 1808.

BOOK L p. 309 Jan. 12, 1808
Margaret MCCARTER (Spartanburgh) to Mary MCCARTER (Greenville Dist.); for $1 sold a Negro girl Fanny Witness William PERRIN and John HURT. Signed Margaret MCCARTER's mark. Wit. oath Jul. 4, 1808 John HURT to Danl WILBANKS. Rec. Aug. 8, 1808

BOOK N p. 98 - 99 Nov. 28, 1811
John HURT (Spartanburgh) to Andrew B. FLEMING (same); for $10 sold 140 ac on N side of S branch of N Tygar R; part of grant to John ORR; border: W - Alxr. MCCARTER, E & N - J JORDAN, and S - J VERNON. Witness Joseph HURT, Henry HUTCHESON, and James VERNON. Signed John HURT. Wit. oath Mar. 15, 1814 Henry HUTCHESON to John CHAPMAN. Rec. Apr. 6, 1812. Dower renounced Nov. 28, 1811 Ester HURT to Michl MILLER. BOOK N p. 157 - 159 Oct. 22, 1811
Once all the pieces were put into place, this pretty much was a slam dunk. So when you look at these "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches on your Ancestry DNA test page, do not look at them as ancestors only, but broaden that a bit to aunts/uncles or even close cousins. Pay attention to the others in the circle and see how they are related and that may help you place them on your family tree.

Bottom line, thank you Ancestry for helping me bust through a major brick wall. Now help me figure out who the other 13 "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches are!
 
 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ancestry's New Ancestor Discoveries Feature - Grade "F" - Update

Update #1:

Well I'm not the only one blasting this new feature. Roberta over at the DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy blog did an excellent job presenting her case. You can read her comments and analysis at http://dna-explained.com/2015/04/03/ancestry-gave-me-a-new-dna-ancestor-and-its-wrong/.

Original Post:

With a bit of fanfare yesterday Ancestry rolled out it latest DNA tool/feature "New Ancestor Discoveries" and I will admit it is in Beta.


I first saw this new feature early yesterday afternoon and on first glance, my initial impression was that maybe this would be the genetic genealogy tool replace the tedious researched match digging I have been doing for the last 3 years.

Is this truly a ground breaking DNA research tool that could simplify finding long lost ancestors and knock down lineage brick walls?  Will this be Ancestry's answer and replacement to the long sought after chromosome browser that they refuse to make available to their DNA customers?



In short, no on both accounts. In fact, to be quite honest, I think this is one of the worse new features I have ever seen Ancestry roll out in the nearly 15 years I have been a member/subscriber of the site, and I have seen more than a few of their stinkers.

I manage six Ancestry DNA tests and work with a seventh test (a cousin who was adopted). I have two Ancestry "ancestor only" trees involved with these six tests and they are both very mature and well documented. The ancestral lines have been well proven using paper trails and various DNA testing techniques (autosomal/Y-DNA at Ancestry and FTDNA). All my results have been uploaded to GEDMatch and I use that site to verify and supplement the Ancestry/FTDNA testing results.

Of the six testers that I closely manage, four testers had these "New Ancestor Discoveries," and two in particular, my father and spouse," had hits using this new network genetic feature. The other two are cousins off one side of the family tree and since we have not proven all lines, their matches cannot be verified for accuracy.

I carefully studied the all of the "genetically networked" circle ancestors presented by Ancestry and did so in-depth since I am extremely familiar with my dad and spouse's lineage (35 years experience). Closely comparing the supposed new ancestor matches in trees of those in the circles to our trees and came to the conclusion that none of the "new ancestors—just by looking at your DNA" that Ancestry found for my testers can even remotely be associated with anyone in our trees during the time frames implied by the timelines of those ancestors and the relationships described to the matches in these networked Ancestry DNA circles.

I agree with several individuals and in particular Shannon Christmas who posted comments on the Ancestry Blog in regard to this rollout. Shannon's comments were particularly pointed and since she says it much more eloquently than I ever could, I have quoted her comments below from the Ancestry blog.

"...the gimmicky features AncestryDNA heralds as an alternative to a chromosome browser fail to meet the needs of genetic genealogists.

"From my experience and the testimony of many other customers, AncestryDNA’s attempts to automate discoveries do not clarify connections, but instead confuse them.
The problem at the core of these beautifully rendered but often dysfunctional features is the underlying methodology: genetic network theory.

"Genetic network theory has arguably less explanatory power than the segment triangulation methodology that genetic genealogists have employed for years. Genetic network theory claims that if a ring of people share DNA with at least one other person in the group and they claim descent from a common ancestral couple, then the known common ancestors are the source of the shared DNA. The flaw in the genetic network theory is that it fails to account for endogamy, pedigree collapse, and the possibility that the various members of a DNA Circle group share – and likely inherited their common DNA from – multiple family lines other than the one illustrated in the circle/discovery ecosystem. Segment triangulation, on the other hand, is a more precise methodology that alleges that in many cases a group of people all sharing the same DNA segment inherited that DNA segment from a common ancestor. Segment triangulation, while not flawless (some shared DNA segments are artifacts of ancient population bottlenecks and evolutionary changes in humans), seems far more logical than the genetic network theory AncestryDNA espouses.

"Even AncestryDNA staffer Dr. Julie Granka has conceded “The reality is that if you share DNA with members of a DNA Circle, it does not necessarily mean that you also share the DNA Circle ancestor. You could instead have another ancestor in common with the Circle members – for example, if the Circle ancestor is the sister of your great-grandmother. You could also share several different common ancestors with multiple members of the Circle – even if none of them are actually the ancestor of the Circle.” Segment triangulation with an onsite chromosome browser would permit customers in many cases to sidestep some of the imprecision that the genetic network theory-powered Circles and Discoveries engender. This would also provide, as customers of Family Tree DNA and 23andMe know, an extra layer of quality control, quality control that AncestryDNA desperately needs.

"However, despite Dr. Granka’s admission, AncestryDNA continues to deny customers the convenience of an onsite chromosome browser or even matching DNA segment data, preventing customers from employing more illuminating analysis on their site and almost forcing them to accept the questionable, if not erroneous claims their flawed systems all too often generate. This is not a breakthrough, but instead a clear backward step."

Shannon has it absolutely correct. What probably ticked me off more than anything was the fact that even though many of the posters commented about the lack of a chromosome browser tool, Anna Swayne a DNA spokesperson at Ancestry who was answering the comments on their blog for them deliberately ignored them all and answered the fluff comments instead. This is not the first time she has done this and to be honest she once removed some simple suggestive comments I made on the same blog regarding this same subject. I'm surprised that she hasn't purged any of these latest comments that do not put their product in a favorable light.



I'm not sure what hard headed individual is driving these decisions at Ancestry but this whole thing is starting to get a bit more frustrating than it has in the past. Ancestry's refusal to even acknowledge the obvious raises a lot of important questions regarding their service and commitment to their customers to provide a quality service. Glitz doesn't excitement me, accurate comprehensive genealogical research does.

My advice to my students is to continue to document your results as I have indicated in past classes and it would be best to ignore this new feature for the time being as I find it is a waste of time and energy. As I see it right now it has NO value or impact on your ongoing genetic genealogy research and I see no one in the future threatening Ancestry's patent on something that is this big of a big bust.

The Bottom line

From my Dad's DNA page ----

New Ancestor Discoveries BETA        
These are people who are not already in your family tree

    

We found you new ancestors—just by looking at your DNA.
Our latest scientific innovations make it possible to discover ancestors you never knew you had–just through your DNA. It's an entirely new path to finding your family story.


 
The reason they aren't in my dad's tree Ancestry is because . . . wait for it . . . they aren't my relatives and they never will be. I will give you an A- for the nice graphics (innovative programming for sure) but an "F" on everything else.
 
If you would have just poured your efforts into developing an eloquent and genetically effective DNA chromosome browser tool as you did with this genetic networking circle mess, you might have truly made a significant breakthrough that needed to be patented. I truly believe you really need to rethink this network circle mess you have just doubled down on and get some adult supervision in your DNA division of the company.
 
 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Google Books Reduces its Digitizing and Preservation of old Books while Internet Archive Increases its Efforts at the Same Thing

Courtesy of Dick Eastman and Eastman's Online Newsletter at http://blog.eogn.com:-

An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.



In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.

 
In contrast, the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, has created one of the world’s largest open collections of digitized books, over 6 million public domain books, and an open library catalog. The digitized books available from the Internet Archive also are available in many more formats than those from any other online service, including PDF, Kindle, EPUB, and more. Of course, you can also read any book simply by displaying it on your screen in a web browser.

The Internet Archive has also digitized 1.9 million videos, home movies, and 4,000 public-domain feature films. It has also added 2.3 million audio recordings, including over 74,000 radio broadcasts, 13,000 78rpm records, and 1.7 million Creative Commons-licensed audio recordings, more than 137,000 concert recordings, nearly 10,000 from the Grateful Dead alone. Other items added to the FREE online archives include more than 10,000 audiobooks from LibriVox, 668,000 news broadcasts with full-text search, and the largest collection of historical software in the world.

The Internet Archive also offers scanning services. The non-profit offers FREE and open access to scan complete print collections in 33 scanning centers, with 1,500 books scanned daily. Best of all, the scanning of books is performed in a non-destructive manner. That means there is no need to cut the bindings off the books before scanning. The Internet Archive either operates or partners with 33 scanning centers on 5 continents.

You can read more about the demise of Google Books and the rise of the Internet Archive at http://goo.gl/DFYq7W. The Internet Archive may be found at http://archive.org. Information about the Internet Archive book digitization efforts may be found at http://archive.org/scanning.

My thanks to newsletter reader Doris Wheeler for telling me about the business shift in Google Books.

And my thanks to Dick Eastman for sharing.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

United States Military Campaigns, Conflicts, Expeditions, and Wars Chart

Several years ago I published a chronological reference for military researchers of known military campaigns, conflicts, expeditions and wars that colonial Americans, U.S. military and state militia forces have been involved in.

This was a very popular reference. Now I have posted an updated version of this reference to the pages section of this blog so it will be easier for me to update.

If you do not know if your ancestor served in the military, the year of birth may indicate the possibility. Most people who were in the military were between 18 and 30 years of age. Use our exclusive war chronology to see if your ancestor could have served during wartime.  Websites may freely link to this page without permission.  This reference is now permanently linked to this URL:http://family-genealogy.blogspot.com/p/french-spanish-colonial-attacks-1565.html As always any additions, corrections and updates are always appreciated to the email address in the masthead. Watch the pages section of this blog for future genealogy reference material.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Genealogy Classes 24 February 2015 Cancelled

To my students in my Tuesday night genealogy class on digital mediums at Tri-County Community College:

Due to the inclement weather overnight and today (snow) the college is closed today so there will be no classes tonight. Also things are not looking good for Thursday night as well but we will have to wait and see in that regard.

So I hope I will see you all next Tuesday night and my fingers are crossed that the weather will be better then.

Stay warm and safe,

Larry

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Genealogy Classes Week of 17 Feb - 22 Feb 2015 Cancelled

To my students in my Tuesday and Thursday night genealogy classes at Tri-County Community College:

Due to the inclement weather overnight and the bitter cold weather we expect on Thursday, I have asked the college to cancel both classes - tonight and Thursday night.

Due to the dangerous cold on expected on Thursday I do not feel good having you folks on the road during the nighttime hours.

So I will see you all next week and my fingers are crossed that the weather will be better then.

Stay warm and safe,

Larry

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ancestry Will Expand DNA Circles in 2015

Blog editors note: See my comments at the end of this post.

AncestryDNA

According to a press release from Ancestry and information on Blaine Bettinger's Genetic Genealogist blog, Ancestry will expand it's use of DNA circles later this year to include DNA circles connections to matches with no family tree connections.

From the Ancestry press releases this week at Rootstech:

"Building on DNA Circles, in 2015 we will launch a new experience that will use the latest genetic technology to discover new ancestors without the customer having to search records or build a family tree. This new feature will transform how family history research is done by providing valuable hints to help experienced genealogist looking to break through brick walls, as well as open family history to a whole new segment of the population. Through this new experience, AncestryDNA customers will be able to discover new ancestors as far back as the 1700’s by connecting into existing DNA Circles."

Blaine Bettinger wrote on his blog:

DNA Circles Without Family Trees
"...in the coming weeks AncestryDNA will launch an extension of the DNA Circles tool in which they assign you to a DNA Circle without having a family tree connection.

"Currently, you must have a decent public tree in order to be put into a DNA Circle based on genealogical relationships. Using this new tool, however, you will (potentially) be put into circles without a tree showing that you belong to the circle (in other words, based only on genetic relationships regardless of the trees).

"But note! Just because a person is identified does NOT mean they are a direct-line ancestor! Some of these individuals will be collateral matches (a sibling or cousin of a direct ancestor for example), and others will be due to population effects (such as endogamy). Only a certain percentage will actually be direct-line ancestors. It will be impossible to determine – based on the DNA Circle alone – whether an identified person is direct-line, collateral, or population-based. To the point below, additional research will always, always, be necessary.

Using New DNA Circles
"It is vitally important to recognize that these new DNA Circles can ONLY be used as hints for further research, NEVER as proof. They are not definitive proof of a relationship. Instead, placement within a circle means that you have some genetic relationship with one or more other people in the circle, all of whom happen to be descended from the identified individual, and that there is some genetic network.
It will be up to each of us to explore that connection in detail – and independently of the DNA – to determine whether there might be a genealogical relationship with the new individual."

The old Chief's thoughts: This is interesting in several respects. It is sorta like what I have been teaching in my classes regarding researched matches, where maybe your tree is more built out than others and you are able to complete the matches ancestral line thanks to your research. It also works the other way as well. This will expand that just a little bit by adding in genetic relationships only as well. That will probably save me some additional research time on some of the matches and bring to the forefront some potential matches that I may have previously overlooked. All in all, I am anxious to use this new tool and see how it meshes up with what I have been doing in my recent DNA research. More to follow hopefully very, very soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ancestry Announces 2015 Product and Content Lineup

PROVO, UT--(Marketwired - February 11, 2015) - Ancestry, the world's leading family history service, is ushering in the next generation of family history, with the debut of an updated story centric website, groundbreaking advancements in AncestryDNA that will revolutionize how people discover their ancestors, and the anticipated addition of nearly 1 billion new records to the largest collection of historical records online in 2015.

"We're incredibly excited about all the amazing things we have in store for our members this year," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry. "In 2015, we'll be launching some of the most innovative new features and services in our company's history. We think these additions are going to make Ancestry an even more powerful resource for our existing users, while also making family history easier, more accessible, and more fun for those just getting started. We're also proud of our commitment to continue investing in new content. Our 2015 content roadmap will be anchored by our expected fall release of more than 170 million Probate and Wills images, one of the most exciting, engaging, and interesting content collections we've ever published."

Over the next year, Ancestry will introduce breakthrough features and compelling content -- made possible by powerful advancements in science and technology -- that will give you an easier, richer and more engaging way to discover and tell your family story, and make your family history journey easy and engaging, through a highly customized, relevant and historically rich experience rooted in discovery and storytelling.
  • Major Product Developments
    • A new and improved Ancestry website will make it easier for anyone to discover and tell the rich, unique story of their family, through new features and site enhancements that will reinvent the ways Ancestry members create and showcase their family story. The new site experience is currently in limited Beta and will be demonstrated at RootsTech on Friday, Feb. 13 at 1:00 pm MT (Room 151) as well as at the Ancestry booth. Visitors to the Ancestry booth will be able to opt in to participate in the Beta.
    • Ancestry mobile will introduce a full search feature in the iOS app that will empower users to access 15 billion historical records and hints anytime, anywhere in the native app environment. The intuitive interface will make both simple and advanced searches easier, while the presentation of search results will also help you quickly identify and prioritize the most important results, making search less complicated. The Ancestry mobile team will showcase version 1 search in the Ancestry booth and discuss search and other mobile features in length during an FGS class, "Ancestry's Mobile World," on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 1:00 pm MT.
    • Ancestry will also remain committed to providing the best in educational resources with the launch of Ancestry Academy in April. The new resource will offer how-to tutorials and historical guidance to help experts and novices alike. Released as a limited Beta this week, Ancestry Academy will be showcased via demo in the Exhibit Hall on Friday, Feb. 13 at 3 pm MT. Those interested in participating in this Beta should stop by the Ancestry booth for more information.
  • Continued Growth for AncestryDNA
    • With a database of over 700,000 genotyped members, AncestryDNA has generated over one billion cousin connections to date. In 2015, we project this database to grow to exceed well over one million genotyped members, resulting in even more and higher quality cousin matches.
    • Following the successful launch of AncestryDNA in the UK, we will soon be bringing the service to our members in Australia and Canada, and in doing so, will connect the major English-speaking migrations and globally connect families like never before.
    • Building on DNA Circles, in 2015 we will launch a new experience that will use the latest genetic technology to discover new ancestors without the customer having to search records or build a family tree. This new feature will transform how family history research is done by providing valuable hints to help experienced genealogist looking to break through brick walls, as well as open family history to a whole new segment of the population. Through this new experience, AncestryDNA customers will be able to discover new ancestors as far back as the 1700's by connecting into existing DNA Circles.
  • Ancestry Around the World
    • Last winter, Ancestry expanded the availability of Archives.com to users in the UK, and just last month in Australia and Canada.
    • Later this year, Ancestry will announce resources for users in Germany and Mexico. With more than 58 million Americans claiming sole or partial German heritage* and an estimated 34 million residents of Mexican origin** the new sites will give nearly 100 million people in the US alone, the ability to learn more about their family's story.
  • New Record Collections
    • This fall Ancestry will release more than 170 million name-searchable images of million Probate and Wills records. The most comprehensive collections of its kind, these records will provide access to almost all wills probated in the United States from the mid 19th century to 2000 -- an unprecedented treasure trove of information to better inform familial narratives.
    • This spring, Ancestry will release the comprehensive service records collection for the Australian Imperial Forces -- the main expeditionary force of the Australian Army during World War 1. Made available in time for Australia's 100-year commemoration of its entrance into the war, the historical records will help honor the brave men and women that served.
    • Also in 2015, Ancestry will make available in the UK, a variety of content collections including WWI War DiariesParish Baptism Marriage and Burial Registers, and a collection of Francis Frith historic photos gathered from over 7,000 individual cities, towns, and villages across the UK from 1860-1960.
  • Professional Research, Award Winning Television and You
    • With more than 150 years of combined research experience, Ancestry's professional research group, AncestryProGenealogists, has helped people trace their family trees and connect with the past for more than 15 years. The team has grown to become the largest service of its kind, supporting research for the Emmy Nominated Show "Who Do You Think You Are?." AncestryProGenealogists will continue to grow and help solve family mysteries, break down brick walls, and discover the stories that tell you who you are and where you came from.
    • Ancestry will also continue showcasing family history around the world, through shows like Who Do You Think You Are?, Genealogy Roadshow, Finding Your Roots, and Long Lost Family.
"Your family story is a universe that is always expanding," said Sullivan. "With new products and even more records, Ancestry will provide the most unique, personable, and engaging family history experience on the planet."

Friday, January 30, 2015

AncestryDNA Now Available in the United Kingdom and Ireland

From the Ancestry Blog:

We are excited to announce that AncestryDNA is now available to purchase in the United Kingdom and Ireland!

We sold our first DNA kit in the U.S. in 2012, and since then, more than 700,000 people have used AncestryDNA to discover more about their family history. Now you can too.

Why choose AncestryDNA?

AncestryDNA is for everyone! For many people, DNA testing is a starting point that opens the doors to your family story. If you have already researched your family tree, it can provide evidence that supports your research and helps you break down brick walls in your family tree. Learn where your ancestors may have come from, with a detailed estimate of your ethnicity. Our scientific breakthroughs allow us to map your ethnicity across 26 separate worldwide populations including Ireland, England, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and South and North Africa.

Discover relatives that you never knew existed with our DNA matching. If someone who shares your DNA has taken the test you could find yourself connecting with a 3rd or 4th cousin and learning about a new branch on your tree. All this combined with the billions of records and family trees available to search on Ancestry make AncestryDNA the ultimate family history tool on the market.

How does it work?
We have taken a very technical and scientific process and created a simple and easy to use test. First you order your kit and follow the instructions within. Then you send in your kit with a small saliva sample for our experts to analyse it for you. Once the analysis has been completed you can log into your secure online Ancestry account to view the results and discover your family story!

For more detailed information on AncestryDNA or to order your kit now, http://dna.ancestry.co.uk/.



Sunday, January 11, 2015

There will be NO chromosome browser at Ancestry - Ever!

Will at least someone at Ancestry is finally being honest. They will not be providing their customers with a chromosome browser tool to aid us in genetic genealogy research - ever if the article mentioned below is accurate.

In an article on The Legal Genealogist blog titled "DNA: good news, bad news"
by Judy G. Russell, I quote:
 
"Let’s get the bad news out of the way first:

"There isn’t going to be a chromosome browser at AncestryDNA.

"This very simple tool for comparing autosomal DNA — the type we all inherit from both of our parents and that helps us find cousins to work with on our family histories1 — is a staple of the features of two of the genetic genealogy DNA testing companies (23andMe and Family Tree DNA) and perhaps the single most commonly used tool by genetic genealogists.

"Now this is not exactly a surprise that we’re not going to get one at AncestryDNA. Their staff has never been sold on it, has hemmed and hawed when pressed on it, has offered all kinds of arguments why it poses problems.

"But finally somebody came flat out and simply said no. And it’s somebody who’s in a position to know.

"One of the speakers at the Association of Professional Genealogists’ Professional Management Conference in Salt Lake City this past week was Howard Hochhauser.

"His title at Ancestry: Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

"He offered some of the usual reasons AncestryDNA’s team offers when asked about the chromosome browser, and echoed science officer Catherine Ball’s privacy concerns — the argument that if you and I match, and you know what segment we match on, and you know that segment carries the marker for a disease, you know I have that marker. (Apparently the notion that I might be perfectly willing to allow that level of disclosure by opting in hasn’t occurred to the AncestryDNA decision makers…

"But Hochhauser went beyond where AncestryDNA usually goes when asked about this and simply said no. It isn’t going to happen. The resources they’d need to devote to making a chromosome browser available are resources they want to spend for other things, like growing the database. ( -- and supposedly refining their stupid tool that they claim is better than a chromosome called the DNA circles? These have to be the dumbest asses I have ever seen associated with this hobby in over 40+ years and in the almost 15 years I have been a subscriber to Ancestry.com-LVH).

"No surprise, and frankly I’d prefer getting a flat-out truthful answer rather than the hemming and hawing — but it’s still disappointing. "
 
So there you have it. I won't bore you with the supposedly good news of some DNA standards being released by a self appointed committee of genealogy DNA experts - yawn! You can read about that at http://legalgenealogist.com/blog/2015/01/11/dna-good-news-bad-news/.
 
Bottom line -- dump the stupid DNA circles and spent some more time, energy, money and thought on how we can get a better result when comparing our DNA results at Ancestry.com. Your DNA circles are, well frankly, juvenile and a dumbing down of genetic genealogy research, which is something that you folks are well known for (can you say new search engine). This is the stupidest thing I have seen you do in 14+ years of our association. To my students make sure you upload your results to GEDMatch where you do have use of a chromosome browser.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

And then there were three brothers . . .

This wonderful brothers picture courtesy of  The George Bowles family of Peel County website (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bowlesfamily/george_bowles_family_of_peel_county.htm)
. George Bowles son Charles Bowles' three sons, Thomas, John and George.
 Here is a genealogy thought for you to consider this damp dreary Sunday here in the mountains of western North Carolina.

It is a story that every genealogist runs into at one time or another. You know, that three brother genealogy story that gets me giggling every time I hear it. For the record I have never ever heard of any of these stories as written below to have ever been proven. I'm just saying what you are probably thinking.

Jackie Prine, one of my students from several years ago, made me a sign that hangs in my genealogy office:

"Three brothers came to America - - -
     one went north -
        one went south --
           and the other one just disappeared."
 
Well this morning while Googling around for some Carr family leads I'm looking into, I ran across this little archived post from the Roostweb Carr Surname group posted in 1998. The author shall remain anonymous, I really don't want to embarrass Delores to much.

"Three CARR brothers (first names unknown) fought in George Washington's army and after the Rev. War they headed south (probably from VA). They went to Sampson Co., NC where one settled, the other two built a covered wagon and went to Alabama, after a while one of these two move up to KY and settled there. The brothers lost touch due to " the Indian Wars and other troubles".

Really? Really! First names unknown, but you know they did all that stuff? How some of these people post this stuff sometimes in genealogy newsgroups with a straight face is beyond me.

For example, my great aunt Elizabeth said (no she really did on cassette tape I have of her being interviewed by my parents):

"There were three Van Horn brothers, one went north, one went south and one, well we don't know where he ended up. Now we descend from the one that went south, but we don't know much about him. We do know a lot about his brother up north."

Then on the cassette tape you hear crickets. The obvious question was never asked. Really? Really Aunt Elizabeth!

Oh yea, I'm probably related to those Carr brothers with no first names, mentioned above, so now I get another "three brother story" to complain about.

The life of a genealogist and family historian is strange indeed when you start talking about all those siblings you need to research. Remember one of my golden rules, "treat brothers and sisters equally in your genealogy research."

See you all in class in January at TCCC in Peachtree and hope you have made some progress in your family research in the last few weeks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The AncestryDNA Shoe has dropped

Just in case you haven’t checked your AncestryDNA results lately, just 13 days after my class ended, yep they have made the big change I told you they would be making.

I have written several pieces on this blog (http://family-genealogy.blogspot.com/) regarding this and those of you in my DNA class got a full briefing on the last night.

So how did it impact my all the DNA test I manage?

 Using their new testing levels, kicking out the IBS and leaving the IBD (see you should have taken my class and you would know what that is), I have the seen the following reductions:

My AncestryDNA test
Before 182 pages of matches (9100 matches)  
After      30 pages of matches (1950 matches)   
78.6% of matches deleted

My father AncestryDNA test
Before 173 pages of matches (8650 matches)
After      57 pages of matches (2850 matches)
67.1% of matches deleted

My mother AncestryDNA test
Before 210 pages of matches (10500 matches)
After       37 pages of matches (2850 matches)
82.4% of matches deleted

My spouse AncestryDNA test
Before 320 pages of matches (16450 matches)
After      83 pages of matches  (4150 matches)
74.8% of matches deleted

My cousin paternal AncestryDNA test
Before 299 pages of matches (14950 matches)
After       74 pages of matches (3700 matches)
75.3% of matches deleted

My spouse’s cousin paternal AncestryDNA test
Before 329 pages of matches (16450 matches)
After       83 pages of matches (4150 matches)
74.8% of matches deleted

So now I get to scrap 2 1/2 years worth of careful work, research and study and start from scratch again.

That gnashing of teeth you hear are mine. I will have more to say on this here my blog as soon as the gnashing stops.

 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finding Genetic Cousins – Separating Fact from Fiction

Blog Editor's Note: We discussed this at length last night in my last genetic genealogy class of the semester. Here is a detailed discussion of what Ancestry told some bloggers recently about the pending changes courtesy of The Genetic Genealogy blog.

Short Summary: Before the end of the year, AncestryDNA plans to update our match lists using a new algorithm that reduces the number of false positive matches. For the first time, matching DNA segments will be characterized as IBS (i.e., a false positive) based on something other than simply segment length.

Click on the link below for Blaine Bettinger's account of the meeting.
http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/10/15/finding-genetic-cousins-separating-fact-fiction/

I'm still highly skeptical of this whole change over. There are a number of comments made in this post on the Ancestry blog that gives me pause. I just wish they would get on with it so the partial load errors, slow loads and other issues will finally go away.

Get this over with Ancestry, my patience is wearing very thin and my time to renew with you is right around the corner.

The Chief





I'm doing the "told you so" dance tonight

Here we go. Ancestry is starting their run of changes that I predicted in class that they would be making after our classes were over.

As I said last night in our last class of the semester and in previous post,

"ANCESTRY PLEASE STOP MAKING CHANGES AND GIVE US A CHANCE TO CATCH UP."

I tired of spending all my research time keeping up with your changes. Nuff is enough.

So here is the latest from the Ancestry.com Blog.

"Over the next few weeks, Ancestry will be rolling out an updated search form. Some of you may already have seen it and used it. Let’s take a look at what’s new.
First, you might notice that the search form doesn’t have a link for “Advanced Search.” Instead, there is a link to “Show more options.”



Just click “Show more options” to add more items to your search.


For a long time, we’ve suggested changing the “exactness” of some of your search terms to get better results. That ability hasn’t gone away. Simply start typing in a name and you’ll see a link appear where you can change how exact or broad you’d like it to be. The setting that appears will be the last one you used. If you want to change it, simply click and choose a different setting.


Another change is at the bottom of the search form in the Collection section. In the previous version of the search form, you could set a priority for collections from a specific country; results from that country would come to the top, but you might also see records from other countries unless you also checked “show only from these collections.

With the updated search form, when you set the country you will get records only from that country.


Use the drop-down menu under “Collection Focus” to select a country whose collections you’d like to get results from. You can set a country or leave it as “All Collections.”
 
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Announcing the Spring 2015 TCCC Genealogy Classes!

OK here is the line up for genealogy classes I will be teaching this Spring at Tri-County Community College. If you know of "anyone" who is interested in genealogy and wants to take my Beginner/Intermediate Class, we will offer for the first time in a long time as day class on the Main Campus in Peachtree.

Here is the list of scheduled classes that will start in the second week of January.

NEW Genealogy – A Crash Course in Family History: This unique and innovative genealogy course blends traditional genealogy research with resources that can be found on the Internet to let you discover your family tree and stories. In this class you will learn about free websites, free genealogy tutorials and lessons, free online eNewsletters, free genealogy charts and forms, networking with others and millions of online genealogy records. Bring your ancestors to life and discover your ancestral village by accessing these millions of free records, and sharing your heritage and family stories with others. This new TCCC genealogy course will teach you how to plant your family tree online, using it to make new discoveries, and connect with family. The beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite to take this advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 32.5 hrs. (Class will not meet March 5.)
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 15 – April 16 TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $75

Genealogy – Introduction to Family History: This course introduces the student to the basics of genealogy by exploring the heart of family history research - basic records and sources used in the pursuit of ancestor hunting. Some of the records and sources that the student will be taught include home and compiled records, vital records, census, church records, court, military, land and property, probate, and tax records. The course will also touch on the latest technology including Internet record resources and DNA testing. If you want to learn how to do genealogy research the right way or need a refresher on the latest techniques and sources then this course is for you. This beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC.32.5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 13 – April 7 T
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. $75

NEW Genealogy – Managing a Genealogy Project:  How to organize your family history filesAre you faced with "piles" of genealogy paper records, correspondence, charts, and genealogy forms in your family history work-space or electronic files scattered all over the computer hard drive? Most successful genealogist will usually end up with an embarrassment of riches - too much information in too many places. Whether you work on paper, electronically scan your genealogy records/files or do everything online, getting organized is essential to keeping track of ancestors and the records you have found about them. This course will rescue you from unhelpful habits and get your workspace—virtual or physical—tidy again. 7.5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 13 – January 27 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $19

NEW Genealogy – Using Evernote for Genealogy Research:  Evernote is a genealogy researcher's best friend and one of the best tools you can use to capture almost anything. This means not just items found online, but also images, documents and more. This course will help you use Evernote to organize your genealogy material and notes, help you keep track of books you want to research, and a whole lot more. Evernote and your stored genealogy material is always at the ready whether you're using it on your computer, a tablet or on a smartphone, Evernote can be your 24/7 virtual genealogy assistant and the best part is the app is free. 5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
February 3 – February 10 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $15

NEW Genealogy – Digital Imaging for Genealogists and Technologists:  This course will cover the ever expanding world of scanning, organizing, editing, and sharing your digital images. It will cover how to Handle and organize your family photos, learn about various photo software packages to spruce up your pictures and organize your digital files. It will even cover using you digital camera or smartphone and related type devices to copy records. 10 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
February 17 – March 10 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $25

NEW Genealogy – Family Tree Brick Walls and Problem Solving:  Complications in genealogy research arising from incomplete or missing records, census irregularities, individuals of the same name, and burned courthouses can stop even the most experienced genealogist dead in their tracks. At some point, every family historian encounters these types of barriers in their genealogy research. In genealogy, these barriers are known as brick walls and they can often appear impossible to work around. When you have exhausted all the obvious possibilities, sometimes you need to consider the less obvious. This class is all about the less obvious. Advance students only - must have completed TCCC Beginner/Intermediate Genealogy Course. 10 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
March 17 – April 7 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $25

For more information or to get your name on the interest list contact Lisa Long at (828 837-6810.

Ancestry Result Page Changes

OK Happy Campers. Remember what we discussed in DNA class last week? Well they aren't even waiting for class to end to start the changes. Here we go with a new look to their search results pages.

First her is the way the old search result page looks.

Click to enlarge image

And now the same results in the new look pages.

Click to enlarge image

Here is the explanation page from Ancestry.com

Click to enlarge image

As you can see down page the next shoe is almost ready to drop on the DNA stuff. So as Grace did on the old program "Will and Grace" I'm doing the "told you so dance" right now.

Oh by the way I was invited to fill out another Ancestry survey this morning. 15 minutes later I hit the send button. Gave them an ear full for sure. Even invited them to read some of my Ancestry.com rants on this blog. Right!

CU all in class.

Ancestry Annouces "Improved DNA Matching"

Well there is a bit of good news in this Ancestry blog post. Here it is without comment.

Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Ancestry.com Site, AncestryDNAdna connect
Over the past year or so, we’ve been in the AncestryDNA lab working to create new and improved ways to find distant family members with DNA. In the process, we’ve rewritten the book on AncestryDNA matching and made some significant breakthroughs we’re looking forward to sharing soon.

These advancements will make AncestryDNA matching far more accurate, and each new match will be more likely to lead to a new discovery. Best of all, we’re going to roll this out to all AncestryDNA members for free, and you don’t have to take a new test to get the benefits.

So how are we doing it?

AncestryDNA has quickly grown to over half a million people in its database. Pairing this data with well-documented family trees and the expertise of Ancestry has allowed the AncestryDNA science team to develop groundbreaking new algorithms for finding and predicting relationships through DNA. These new algorithms will lead to better matches for anyone who tests with AncestryDNA.

Of course, we can’t make your list of matches more accurate without removing the less accurate ones. So, your DNA match list may get a little smaller—in some cases, quite a bit smaller. For example, some of the more distant cousin matches will no longer be considered a DNA match and will drop off your list. You can learn more about the science behind these improvements in this blog post from AncestryDNA General Manager Ken Chahine. The post refers to DNA matching challenges found in specific populations, but these same kind of improvements can be made across all AncestryDNA tests.

What do you need to do in the meantime? Not a thing. We’re providing this update for free to all AncestryDNA members, and we’ll send out an email when your new DNA matching results are ready. Also, when our improved matching launches, we’ll be providing a way for you to download your pre-upgrade list of matches in case you have saved notes about a DNA match and want to preserve them for the future.
Be confident that your matches are in good hands with our team of experts. DNA testing is a huge, real-time science project we’re watching unfold, and we get to be a part of it. As the database grows you will get new matches, and now better matches, and even more opportunities to discover something new about you.
 


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About Anna Swayne

Anna Swayne has 8 years of experience in the DNA genealogy world. At Ancestry, she leads efforts in developing education to help our community maximize their experience with AncestryDNA. She believes there is real power behind DNA and the story it can unlock for each of us.When she is not talking DNA you can find her hiking or cycling in the mountains or cooking at home.

- See more at: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/11/03/coming-soon-improved-dna-matching/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ancestry+%28Ancestry.com+blog%29#sthash.HaGgQY3W.dpuf