Thursday, May 23, 2013

AncestryDNA Surname Search Tool Brief Appearance Explained

As first reported on Monday (May 20) on this blog, Ancestry has been tinkering around with a new search tool for their autosomal DNA customers. CeCe Moore has posted up on her blog the rest of the story about why this function has been popping in and out of our DNA results.

"I asked Stephen Baloglu,'s Director of Product Marketing, for clarification in regard to exactly what has been going on with this feature the last couple of days, as well as the time frame for a full roll-out. He explained, "We had been doing some isolated early release testing of the new ability to search matches by surname and birth location. It's very exciting, but the development is not complete. We put it in the wild for a small, random portion of AncestryDNA customers to get a sense of how it is working. We expect to roll out the feature in late June/early July to all DNA customers along with a few modifications to what has already been seen."

You can read her full account of this story on the Your Genetic Genealogist blog at

On a somewhat related note we still have NOT seen or heard any additional word from FTDNA re: upload of the AncestryDNA raw results to their site. To many of us this is not a surprise. The only entity in this world that moves slower is the U.S. Government (oh hell, bet I will get audited for that comment).

As soon as I hear something more definitive, I will pass it along here on the FRB blog.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A New Ancestry Autosomal Tool Being Added as I Type

While working on my AncestryDNA just seconds ago something new popped on my screen -- the long anticipated surname search feature. Normally when these sort of features are added, Ancestry will disable the function until it is added. In this case they didn't. I can't tell you anything about it right now as nothing seems to be working yet so stay tuned and I will post more when I see it.

Below is a screen capture of what I saw

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Hey Ancestry, if it isn't broken there is nothing to fix!"

What did I told you guys in my last class that it would happen. That we would barely get out of class and Ancestry would start making major changes to their website.

Sure enough the people at Ancestry are tinkering with the main search engine again. When I logged in this afternoon they wanted me to take a survey about their new search engine results with various screen grabs.

Hell, give me a chance to give you my thoughts on the junk that the Ancestry programmers think up and I will take it every time. Here is my reply:

"I am a long time subscriber to your service (since Dec 2000) and I have taught hundreds of genealogy students how to use your website. I probably know more about what has been here every the years than most anyone else you have on this site today. As long as you do not do away with the old search engine, I don't mind the second screen grab above. The rest aren't worth your or my time. I have said this on many occasions to you folks and my students, if it isn't broke don't try and fix it. Why doesn't your IT staff spend more time giving us useful and easy tools to aid us in better understanding our AncestryDNA results instead of this constant tinkering with the search engine. How about surname search engines for DNA results and other things than this constant changes to the main search engines. Enough is enough. No more changes to the main search engine until we get a DNA Chromosome Browser."

Heck, don't take my word for it, login and see the junk they are peddling this time.

"Hey Ancestry, if it isn't broken there is nothing to fix!"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve

I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard this one - "I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve"  In January on the FamilySearch Blog with have this from Nathan W. Murphy:

"Warning. Contains spoilers. Have you ever heard these words uttered “I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve”? When asked if it is possible for living people to extend ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve, Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist, of the Church Genealogical Department, stated:
“The simplest answer is No. Let me explain. In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. a.d. 450–a.d. 752).
“Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source.”
And then there is this from Nathan in Part Deux:

"Several readers posted questions after my initial post “I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve” in which Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist, writing in 1984, had stated that it is not possible for someone alive today to document a pedigree back to Adam and Eve. Readers asked (1) has additional research conducted since 1984 improved the situation, and (2) isn’t it possible for European royalty to trace their lineage back to Biblical genealogies? François Weil provides authoritative answers to these questions in his new book Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America (2013) published by Harvard University Press. Weil, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris, states:
Genealogy was originally the prerogative of kings and princes. The oldest surviving royal genealogies in Europe go back to the sixth century A.D. for Gothic sovereigns, to the seventh century for their Irish, Lombardic, Visigothic, and Frankish counterparts, and to the eighth and ninth centuries for Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian kings. (pp. 10-11)
Thus Weil and Gunderson agree – European royal pedigrees cannot be verified before the 500s A.D.
If family tree databases, such as FamilySearch FamilyTree suggest otherwise, I would encourage you to correct the information and ask contributors for their sources.

To learn more, read: Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. By François Weil. Published by Harvard University Press, Online bookstore; 2013. ISBN 9780674045835. 320 pp. Indexes. Hardcover. $27.95 • £20.95 • €25.20."

I think it is time to put this myth to bed. I totally agree with Nathan after my 35 + years of genealogy research that no one and I mean no one has a verifiable tree back to Adam and Eve!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Online US County Boundary Changes

For those of you who just completed my Internet and Genealogy class, I have an update for your notes.

Knowing US county boundaries on various dates in our ancestors timeline is extremely important. No sense in looking in a particular county for a genealogy record if that county had not been established yet.

So what is a genealogist suppose to do? A free website the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries on the website is the online answer.

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is meant to be a resource for people seeking records of past events, and people trying to analyze, interpret and display county-based historical data like returns of elections and censuses, and for people working on state and local history projects. The special interests of those potential users range from history to demography, economics, genealogy, geography, law, and politics. While many of these goals can be achieved using the Atlas' Interactive Maps, the downloadable data can be used with various GIS (Geographic Information Systems) programs to create specialized projects.

A project of the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at The Newberry Library in Chicago, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is a powerful historical research and reference tool in electronic form. The Atlas presents in maps and text complete data about the creation and all subsequent changes (dated to the day) in the size, shape, and location of every county in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. It also includes non-county areas, unsuccessful authorizations for new counties, changes in county names and organization, and the temporary attachments of non-county areas and unorganized counties to fully functioning counties. The principal sources for these data are the most authoritative available: the session laws of the colonies, territories, and states that created and changed the counties.

What makes this Atlas stand out?

Over a dozen features distinguish the volumes and files of this atlas from other compilations.
  1. All boundary changes in states and counties-unrivaled historical and geographic coverage.
  2. Non-county areas-never before compiled or mapped.
  3. Attachments to operational counties (non-county areas and unorganized counties)-never before compiled or mapped.
  4. Separate map or polygon for every different county configuration-clarity and ease of use.
  5. Based on original research in primary sources-unlike most reference works.
  6. Primary sources cited for every change-unmatched documentation.
  7. Information organized by both date and county-unmatched flexibility.
  8. Locator maps for all county maps-show each county's location within its state.
  9. Area (sq. mi.) for each county configuration-available nowhere else.
  10. Polygons available in two formats: shapefiles and KMZ-broad applicability.
  11. Interactive map has many options for background-unmatched convenience.
  12. Supplementary bibliography, chronologies, and commentary-unusually complete and thorough data presentation.
  13. Short and Long metadata documents for each state dataset-convenience and completeness.
You can view this wondeful resource at

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

AncestryDNA-FTDNA Raw Results Import

I just talked this morning to a representative of FTDNA regarding when they will start accepting AncestryDNA raw test results for import into their Family Finder platform. According to that source it now looks like the end of next week  (6-10 May) at the earliest before they will make this service available to those of us who tested at Ancestry. Also my source could not confirm the price for the import, but felt that they would be charging the same price for the service as they do for 23andMe autosomal test imports.

You can get more information on all the various autosomal DNA tests on the ISOGG website by clicking on this link.