Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ancestry Updates their DNA Results

Ancestry last week updated the ethnicity breakdowns on their DNA tests. Some received their update a month ago in a small 'beta preview,' but I was one of the many who had to wait for them to roll it out to everyone.

Here are my original results, which I discussed back in August of 2012, followed by the new results.

  • There is no longer an 'uncertain' category, dashing all my hopes of being part alien.
  • While each percentage is actually within a range one sees after clicking for more information, using the approximate numbers given, my "European Jewish" percentage has increased from 53% to 67%, and my Eastern European percentage has dropped from 17% to 2%. This isn't really much of a change - just putting a different label meaning the same thing to me on the DNA. I am pretty certain all of the Eastern European DNA comes from my three Jewish grandparents. Ancestry now provides a detailed list of countries where the regional DNA has been found. For Eastern Europe they say: Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also located in: Germany, Russia, Montenegro, Macedonia. I do have some German ancestry on my maternal grandmother's side, but I am still willing to bet that the 2% remaining "Europe East" is from one of my other three grandparents. I have known ancestors for these three from Poland, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, and Lithuania.
  • There are a few new regions that provided a little bit of a surprise: 

Primarily located in: Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Azerbijan
Also found in: Turkmenistan, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Palestine

The 5% could be entirely from my maternal grandfather's Transylvanian ancestry. Combined with the East Europe and European Jewish, that would bring the representation of those three grandparents up to 74%. As I noted in my original post last year, I know that the only thing I can be certain about is that my mother provided 50% of my DNA, and my father provided the other 50%.  To assume I have exactly 25% of my DNA from each grandparent would be foolish. There are no countries, however, on that list that I currently have discovered in my maternal grandmother's ancestry, and Romania is the country that makes the most sense otherwise. (Of course, If I trace my Jewish ancestry back far enough, I'm sure all three branches reach Palestine.)

Iberian Peninsula

Primarily found in: Spain, Portugal
May also be found in: France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy

While the approximation is less than 1%, if I really have Iberian DNA, I wonder if it represents Spanish Jews who fled the inquisition in the late 15th century? I know my maternal grandmother had some ancestors from Alsace-Lorraine, so there is a chance this DNA comes from them.


Primarily located in: Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Fiji, Aboriginal Australia
Also located in: Solomon Islands, New Caledonia

While less than 1%, if I really have some Melanesian DNA, I have no clue which line it comes from. British or Dutch ancestors who were among the original explorers of the Pacific Islands, met up with natives, and returned? Australia was discovered by the Dutch in 1606, and my 8th great grandfather, Myndert Fredericksen, was allegedly born in Holland in 1636. Nothing is known about Myndert's mother. The British didn't arrive in Australia until 1780 which I feel is a bit late to intersect with my known British ancestors, and European explorers don't appear to have made it to the islands in the Pacific until the late 18th century either.

  • Cousin Matches: The old results provided a caveat with the cousin matches that there were a high number of false-positives for European Jewish DNA. I am unable to find this caveat anymore with the new results. Does this mean that the update removed all the false-positives? I'm unsure, as for the most part I ignored any match for which I didn't see a shared surname, which was most of them. I still have a large number of matches. Over 5500 matches in total, including those that Ancestry indicates they have 'low confidence' in. I'm unsure if this is large compared to others.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Human Rights and Genealogy

Blog Action Day is a "free annual event, that has run since 2007. Its aim is to unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all, raises awareness or even funds for not-for-profits associated to the theme issue."
I participated in 2008 when the theme was poverty.
I participated in 2010 when the theme was water.

This year the theme is Human Rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - US Declaration of Independence, 1776
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. 
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[Image: Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.]

How have my ancestors interacted with Human Rights issues? Have they been the victims, or the perpetrator of human rights abuses? Have they fought for the human rights of others on political or martial battlefields? The answer, for me, is, 'yes.' All of the above.

I have written several posts in the past that are appropriate to re-share today.

On slave-owning ancestors
On the impact of the Holocaust on my relatives
On those who fought
  • Every Veterans Day I share a list of those in my family who served in their nation's military - in many instances, such as World War II, fighting for the human rights of others.
I'm not proud to say a first cousin, ten times removed, is William Stoughton, the justice who presided over the Salem Witch Trials. However, through the same line, I am cousin to Samuel Huntington, who in addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President of the Continental Congress from 1779-1781, is also said to have been an abolitionist.

More recent generations have been active in various civil rights movements. There are some who try to distinguish 'Civil Rights' from 'Human Rights,' but they can be viewed as a subset.
Teachers tend to present the ‘civil rights movement’ as a distinctly American event, from ‘Montgomery to Memphis,’ with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as its crowning moment. The term ‘civil rights’ limits our understanding, since it refers specifically to rights guaranteed by the Constitution or protected through legislation. It fails to encompass the cultural, social and economic goals of the struggle. Desegregation and voting rights were a means to achieve broader goals, such as overcoming social forces that limit freedom and opportunity. (source)
As I wrote five years ago, apathy is foreign to my genes. As I research my lineage I am proud to see ancestors and kin, near and far, who have and had an interest in the freedom of others.