Friday, March 29, 2013

We have raw results from Ancestry - now what?

There has been a lot of chatter around the web and on the social media, including this blog, regarding the release of the raw data from Ancestry for our autosomal DNA (aka the AncestryDNA test). Some of it has not been very flattering regarding the "possible" comments supposedly made by some Ancestry officials at RootsTech 2013 conference.

Roberta on the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog had a take that she posted that on first blush had me madder than a hornet. I was especially not happy with one of the comments that has been attributed to Kenny Freestone, the Ancestry product development manager, and I quote, "that their primary focus is to keep things simple for the newer users." This was in regards to providing some advanced tools to aid those of us who tested using their AncestryDNA test to further refine the DNA matches we have received via their testing system.

In chasing this story down, I actually found someone who was present at the event where Mr. Freestone supposedly made the infamous comment mentioned above. Honestly, after reviewing the record, I think Roberta may have jumper the gun just a bit. I can find no evidence from anyone who attended those get togethers that he actually made that comment.

CeCe Moore at the "Your Genetic Genealogist" blog has an extensive post on all this at

So for now I will put this chromosome browser issue and Mr. Freestone to rest. But let it be known by all that I will be keeping at least one eye on you Mr. Freestone. I just don't trust everything coming out of your shop. I have had issues in the past with some of the supposedly great ideas you and your software engineers have generated in the past. I have been an Ancestry paying customer since December 2000 and I honestly just don't trust your software programming staff to do the smart thing all the time (aka your old search vs new search templates/results, etc).

I won't rehash everything that CeCe covered in her post here on this blog. So if you want to get the whole story I encourage you to click on the link above and read all of her post. I think you will find it very interesting. Below I will cover some of the more interesting things she mentioned that have immediate impact on those of us who have spent our cash with Ancestry taking their autosomal DNA test.

CeCe mentioned that she had sent her raw DNA file to several 3rd party providers and received the following comments:

* "After working with it a bit, John Olson announced on the site that he expects that Gedmatch will be accepting AncestryDNA uploads in about two weeks."

You can view John's GEDmatch website at

* "David Pike told me that he has updated his tools to work with the AncestryDNA files."

David Pike's DNA Comparison Utilities can be viewed at
* "Leon Kull has reportedly updated his HIR search site to work with them as well."

Leon Kull's website is located at

* "Dr. Ann Turner has created an Excel macro to convert the AncestryDNA files to 23andMe format."

I'm still searching for this tool so if anyone knows where this Excel is at, please email me.

CeCe further wrote on her blog:

"At the "Ask the Expert" Genetic Genealogy panel that I moderated at RootsTech on Saturday:
* "Bennett Greenspan told the audience that Family Tree DNA will be accepting AncestryDNA transfers into Family Finder starting on May 1st. "

* "Dr. Catherine Ball confirmed that the raw data file is not phased and that they are delivering it as they receive it from the chip manufacturer Illumina. She also confirmed what Dr. Ann Turner had already discovered - the data labeled as "Chromosome 25" is from the PAR region. Further, the "Chromosome 23" label refers to the X chromosome data and "Chromosome 24" refers to the Y chromosome."

Additional notes from CeCe:
* "Unlike Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA is not removing any SNPs from the data - medically relevant or not. "

* "The overlap between AncestryDNA's raw data file and 23andMe's should be around 690,000 SNPs due to the fact that they are both using the same Illumina OmniExpress Plus base chip. The ~10,000 SNP difference can be accounted for due to a different set of poorly preforming probes and test SNPs. Family Tree DNA's should have a similar overlap for the same reasons."

* "There is no mitochondrial DNA included in the raw data file because it is not included on the Illumina chip that they are using. (23andMe adds the mtDNA SNPs)."

CeCe did hear from Ancestry that a search function is in the works but no firm date of availability has been announced. This search function will allow us to filter our list of matches by surname, location and username.

Ancestry is also working an improving the genetic ethnic feature. CeCe mentioned that "a number of AncestryDNA personnel acknowledged to me over the weekend that certain "ethnicities" (i.e. - Scandinavian) are overestimated for many customers. However, they also emphasized that much of the perceived problem with their admixture analysis stems from the question of "where and when". What they mean by this is that it is very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to pinpoint where specific DNA signatures were at an exact time in history."

CeCe also mentioned, "The good news is that AncestryDNA customers don't have to wait for this update to gain more insight into their ancestral origins. Now that AncestryDNA has made the raw data available, customers will be able to upload their raw data file to the various third party sites to try out the admixture calculators and/or send it to Dr. McDonald for his very highly regarded analysis."

I hope to have more details on all of this in the very near future on this blog so please stay tuned.

--Larry aka The Chief

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ancestry to Spend A Bunch of Bucks in the Next Half Decade

During Tim Sullivan's (Ancestry CEO) RootsTech presentation yesterday, he announced that over the next five years Ancestry is committing to spending $100 million to digitizing and index records. They are partnering with FamilySearch to make available over 140 million will and probate record images and their related indexes

For those of you who hve never taken one of my classes, that is one of the most important class of genealogy records that we have for putting families together, especially when you get into "Dark Territory." Now that is the best news I have heard so far from RootsTech 2013. Way to go Ancestry/FamilySearch. When will us FamilySearch indexers have a chance to get started? I can't wait.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Pricing for AncestryDNA Test Announced/FTDNA 12 Y-DNA On Sale CEO Tim Sullivan announced this morning during the RootsTech 2013 Friday keynote address in Salt Lake that the new fixed price for their AncestryDNA autosomal test will now be $99 for both subscribers an non-subscribers alike. If you have not taken the plunge yet, now money will not be an excuse. This is the best price around for a 700,000 plus SNP autosomal DNA test.
In a related story FTDNA has a sale on for their 12 marker Y-DNA test, currently set at $39. IMHO don't waste the funds gents. A 12 marker testvwill not advance anything in your genealogy research other than give you an indication of your haplogroup (ethnic ancestry on your surname line only).
What they need to do is drop the rpice of their Family Finder DNA tet to match Ancestry. Now that would be something I would jump on.

Update: AncestryDNA Raw Data Download Procedures

Since I had to teach a genealogy class last night, I really didn't a chance to detail the download procedures for getting your autosomal DNA raw data from the Ancestry website (assuming you have taken the test of course). So what follows is the steps you need to follow to get your raw autosomal DNA data. Note: click on any graphic below to get a closer look.

First log in to your Ancestry account, select the DNA tab at the top of the page and go to your DNA Home Page.

On the page above click on the Manage Test Settings link next to the orange view results button.

On the Manage Test Settings page on the left hand side of that page you will see a large gray box.

In the box above you will see the Download your raw DNA data section. You need to click on the Get Started button

At this point you will see a box like the one below asking you to input your Ancestry password. Do that.

After you enter your password you will receive the following box from Ancestry.

You will then open up the email software you use and go to the email account you have registered at Ancestry and you will get a message with the following graphic embedded in it.


Once you receive the message above in your email hit the orange Confirm Data Download button.  This will open a new window in your browser that will display the screen below.
At this point you will hit the green Download DNA Raw Data button and it will initiate the download of your raw data file to your computer. Be sure to tell your computer were on your computer you want to place this file.
This file will come to you zipped. Zip is a file format used for data compression and archiving. A zip file contains one or more files that have been compressed, to reduce file size, or stored as is. The format was originally created in 1989 by Phil Katz, and was first implemented in PKWARE's PKZIP utility, as a replacement for the previous ARC compression format by Thom Henderson. The zip format is now supported by many software utilities other than PKZIP. Microsoft has included built-in zip support (under the name "compressed folders") in versions of Microsoft Windows since 1998. Apple has included built-in zip support in Mac OS X 10.3 (via BOM Archive Helper, now Archive Utility) and later. Most free operating systems have built in support for zip in similar manners to Windows and Mac OS X, while also supporting several other formats in a similar manner.
Once you have unzipped your results, you can then view your results. Since this ASCII text file is very large I use a free program EditPadLite to view the file. Your results will look like below in that program.
As I mentioned in my previous post right now there won't be much you can do with your raw data until third party software providers and other DNA companies jump on the band wagon an incorporate this raw data format into their systems. I have taken my data and stored it in a safe place (aka one of my thumb drives where my genealogy data and pictures are stored) until I can export my 700,000 plus SNPs into other areas for further study.
Ancestry has updated their information on this and they now have a file on downloading your raw data at this link:
There is also another page in the Ancestry Knowledge base with information on the raw data at this link
If you have any questions, email at the address in the masthead and I will do my best to give you a hand.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

AncestryDNA Autosomal Raw Results Now Available

Those of you in my class Tuesday night heard me say that I suspected some major changs were on the way in the short term for those of us who had taken Ancestry's autosomal DNA test. Yesterday afternoon I had it confirmed by a friend that today Ancestry would finally allow us to download our raw DNA test data from the website. And, in fact, minutes ago I did download Gayle and mine's results, all 700,000 plus SNPs.

So what does that mean in the short term? Not much until the software people get on board and make available interfaces and common areas were we can compare our results with our DNA cousin matches. Now that the rest of the world can see the SNPs we had tested at Ancestry, I don't feel it will be long before we all are talking about RS position numbers, chromosome #s and allele 1/2 results among friends and relatives.

Now a little background as a reminder about this DNA test. AncestryDNA’s test is an autosomal DNA test. That’s the kind of test that works across genders and helps you find cousins with whom you can exchange genealogical information to try to identify common ancestors and fill in gaps in your family tree.

Unlike YDNA, you don’t have to locate sons of sons of sons to test and only get results in the male line, and unlike mitochondrial DNA, you don’t have to locate daughters of daughters of daughters and only get results in the female line. With autosomal DNA, you can test the son of a daughter of a son against the daughter of a son of a daughter and get good results.

But unlike either of those tests — where you can get matches with people who descend from common ancestors many many generations ago — autosomal DNA pretty much punks out about 250 years in the past. While it’s possible to find matches to eighth or ninth cousins, you can only expect to find matches reliably back to the fourth or fifth cousin level.

I will have more about this tonight at the beginning of class and if you are a Tuesday night person, you are welcome to sit in the first part of the class for this how to do all this.

If you can't wait for tonight you can get the gory details on downloading your raw data at

CU All Soon


Friday, March 15, 2013

RootsTech to Stream Popular Lectures on Net

I mentioned in genealogy class last night that RootsTech conference will be held next week in Salt Lake City. Most of us do not get to attend this magnificent event, but you can attend some of the more popular lectures via the Internet.

RootsTech 2013 announced yesterday which of its conference sessions would be streamed online for free. The conference will broadcast 13 of its 250+ classes live at, including the daily keynote speakers. The family history conference is the largest of its kind in the U.S.

"Not everyone can attend RootsTech in person," said Dan Martinez, RootsTech conference manager. "So we give them a chance to virtually attend a free sampling of some of our most popular sessions live online." Martinez added that the live webcasts in 2012 had 50,000 views during the show.
Following are the RootsTech 2013 Streaming Sessions and when and where to find them. Note that the times below are in MST. For EDT time add 3 hours.
Following are the RootsTech 2013 Streaming Sessions and when and where to find them:

Mountain Standard Time  "Best of RootsTech" Live Stream on

Thursday, March 21

8:30 a.m   Keynote speakers: Dennis Brimhall, President and CEO, FamilySearch International, Syd Lieberman, Nationally Acclaimed Storyteller, Author, and Teacher, and Josh Taylor, Lead Genealogist at and President, Federation of Genealogical Societies

11:00 a.m. The Future of Genealogy-Thomas MacEntee and panel

1:45 p.m.   Tell It Again (Story@Home)-Kim Weitkamp

3:00 p.m.   The Genealogists Gadget Bag-Jill Ball and panel

4:15 p.m.    Finding the Obscure and Elusive: Geographic Information on the Web-James Tanner

Friday, March 22

8:30 a.m.    Keynote speakers: Jyl Pattee, Founder, Mom It Forward Media, and Tim Sullivan, President and CEO,

9:45 a.m.    Researching Ancestors Online-Laura Prescott

11:00 a.m.  FamilySearch Family Tree-Ron Tanner

1:45 p.m.    Google Search... and Beyond-Dave Barney

3:00 p.m.    From Paper Piles to Digital Files-Valerie Elkins

Saturday, March 23

8:30 a.m.    Keynote speakers: David Pogue, Personal Technology Columnist, The New York Times, and Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO, MyHeritage

9:45 a.m.    Using Technology to Solve Research Problems-Karen Clifford

11:00 a.m.  Digital Storytelling: More Than Bullet Points-Denise Olson