Saturday, October 18, 2014

FamilyTreeDNA Autosomal Transfers

I read at The Genetic Genealogist that FamilyTreeDNA had dropped their DNA Autosomal Transfer to $39 (from $69), and that they allowed you to see the first 20 matches for free. (Though not all of the FamilyTreeDNA functionality is provided for free. What is provided I illustrate below.)

An Autosomal Transfer means that if you download your raw DNA data from 23andMe (the V3 Test) or Ancestry, you can upload the data to FamilyTreeDNA. This way you can find matches with additional cousins.

It's hard to ignore a free opportunity - which of course is what FamilyTreeDNA is betting on. Get lots of people to upload for free, and see what they can 'unlock' for $39. (You can also unlock it by getting 4 others to upload for free.)

If you follow this link, you can upload your data for free (and help me unlock my data for free.)
But you may want to see what you're getting first...

This is the screen you see first

Enter your name, email address, gender, and click that you accept their ToS. Then click Try it Free!

Click "Upload Raw Data" unless you need to click the help link for downloading data from 23andMe or Ancestry. I had already downloaded my data from Ancestry when they made that option available.

When you click a green circle will begin to swirl. About a minute later (at least for me) you will progress to this screen, where they tell you the upload is complete, and they will email you when they are finished processing it. That can take around an hour. Yesterday morning I uploaded my data at 5:43 before leaving for work, and received the email that everything was processed at 6:50.

Once processed, this is part of the screen you will see after logging in. MyOrigins (detailing FamilyTreeDNA's analysis of your world origins) is one of the options you need to unlock.

But you can click on Matches.

Here's what I see with my first two matches

As you can see:

  • It tells you how many additional matches there are. (Interestingly, I've uploaded two sets of raw data, and for the other set, I am told there are only over 402 additional matches. 402 is nice, but a fraction of 3,158.)
  • Indicates you won't be able to contact them without unlocking (unless you can find them with an internet search based on their names.)

When I mouseover the FamilyTree icon for the matches I see this response for all 20

Blaine Bettinger said that none of his matches had a family tree available either. The advert at the top of the match screen suggests even if the Family Tree were available, you'd have to unlock to see it. Since FamilyTreeDNA is a DNA-based website, and not a Family Tree-based website like Ancestry, I wonder if not a lot of people upload their trees. However, many do provide some surnames, which is somewhat helpful.

For example, one match below listed a lot of surnames, and their geographical locations. I know he is descended from the Van Everys who settled in Nebraska. I suspect this makes us third cousins, as our earliest shared ancestor is likely my 2nd great grandfather, Samuel Van Every.

If we click on the arrow below the profile image, you see more options. (Most of my initial matches haven't uploaded images. I suspect this is common)

The 'common matches' function needs to be unlocked. I suspect this is exactly what it implies, it will show all your matches in common. As far as I've seen, Ancestry doesn't provide this functionality, and that sounds great.

I can use the chromosome browser. If I click the + sign, I add the match to the Chromosome Browser. (You can compare up to 5 matches at a time.)

Then, if I click compare, I get to see exactly where in our chromosomes we matched.

This is also additional functionality not available at Ancestry, and looks like it could be very useful. If multiple matches match in the same area of a chromosome, it probably suggests a shared ancestor. I haven't done much research into this as it's not available at Ancestry.

One of the options on the Chromosome Browser is to "hide 3rd party matches." As the tutorial explains:

I, of course, am a "Third Party Match." They don't tell you up front that the matches are less reliable.
Of course, I won't hide 3rd party matches, since if they used Ancestry the comparison should be more reliable. Right?

So, will I pay $39?

Well....If I can convince 4 people to follow this link, and upload their data for free, I won't have to.
(Actually 3 people, since I followed it to upload a second file of DNA data I had. Of course, I'd like to unlock that as well. But I'll be happy if I only have to pay for one.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Of Grands and Greats: Ancestral Nomenclature

There are two ways to describe your grandfather’s brother in English: Great Uncle and Grand Uncle. (There are actually six ways if one includes Great-Uncle, Grand-Uncle, Greatuncle, and Granduncle.)

[Note: I am sticking with the masculine terms throughout this post; everything applies equally to the parallel feminine terms.]

Some will tell you there is a ‘correct’ way. They are wrong. Both ‘Great Uncle” and “Grand Uncle” date back at least to the 15th century. (see citations below)
  • “his grete Uncle H. Cardinal of England” (Rolls of Parliament V.438, 1438)
  • “his graunt oncle Henry cardinalle of Englande” (Book of Noblesse, 1475)
Grand derives from the Anglo-Norman ‘Graunt’
Great derives from the Germanic ’Great.’

In French, the construction is very logical for uncles, fathers, and sons
  • Grand-oncle
  • Grand-grand-oncle
  • grand-Père
  • Grand-Grand-Père
  • Grand-Fils
  • Grand-Grand-Fils
However, in English, for fathers and sons, we start with grand, and then switch to great.
  • Grandfather
  • Great Grandfather
  • Grandson
  • Great Grandson
Some feel we should do the same with uncles and nephews
  • Grand Uncle
  • Great Grand Uncle
  • Grand Nephew
  • Great Grand Nephew
Many genealogists seem to like this construction because they feel it looks the best on a family tree. The same terms are used for everybody on the same hierarchy. Your ancestors' siblings are equally grand or great. Your great great grandfather's brother would be your great great granduncle.

Some like a construction similar to the French, but using Great.
  • Great Uncle
  • Great Great Uncle
However, there isn't only one correct method in English. Don't listen to those who insist there is.
Personally, I like the French system.

Friday, October 10, 2014

1919 Composite Photo

I think there may be some people who think composite photographs - photographs combining the features of multiple individuals - are a relatively new concept.

The below was created in 1919.

It probably was a more difficult process back then, than it is today.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 15, 1919, Page 23

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Assumptions: The Name of the Father Part II

Fourth in a series of posts.

A discussion of assumptions one might be tempted to make. With examples taken from my own research.

Assumption: The name of the father on the birth certificate is the father of the child

You find the birth certificate for John Robert Green II, and the father's name on the certificate is John Robert Green. You decide your previous guess has been confirmed.

But wait!

Absent DNA tests you might have no way to confirm the veracity, but be aware, only the mother needs to be present at the birth. (Arguably, this is no longer the case with surrogacy.)

A 9 month period is a significant length of time, and a woman who changes partners might decide to put the new partner on the certificate, and to name the child accordingly.

For privacy reasons I will not indicate the example from my own research.

[Sure. In your database entry for "John Robert Green" change the source citation to the birth certificate. You now have more to go by than the name of the child. Finding a marriage certificate might help increase the odds, but there are many births outside of marriage. Genealogy is not an exact science; just because something is written down on a government-issued document doesn't mean it is indisputable fact. This is why source citations are so gosh important.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Data Backup Day: Be Prepared

The first day of every month is Data Backup Day.

This past Saturday morning, I woke up to a very unpleasant feeling. My computer wouldn't boot up.

Using my cellphone, I found a step-by-step guide on what to do.

1) I ran Disk Utility, and 'repaired' the disk.

It wouldn't reboot.

2) I restarted in 'Safe Mode.'

It wouldn't reboot.

3) I restarted in "Single User Mode," and entered: fsck -fy until I received the message "the volume...appears to be ok."

It wouldn't reboot. (But I did enjoy the geeky thrill of taking my Mac to a unix command line.)

4) I reinstalled the OS. [In years past this would have meant searching for the install disks. Now the computer downloads the software over the internet.]

It rebooted! What a relief. The next step was taking the computer to the "Genius Bar" at the local Apple Store, and I am glad that I was able to avoid that. For now, at least. The computer is only three years old, so hopefully she has a few more miles in her.

Throughout this ordeal I wasn't nervous about my data. It's backed up regularly through Apple's Time Machine. I knew the last full backup had taken place Friday evening, so there would have been no lost data if I had to erase the drive and restore from the backup. That's a good feeling to have.

Image Source: "The First Page," by Émile Bayard (1837-1891). An illustration for the novel, Ninety-three, by Victor Hugo.

Émile Bayard's best known illustration is his image of Cosette sweeping the floor of the inn, for the novel, Les Misérables.