Virtual RootsTech 2021 is Almost Here

The excitement is building… RootsTech, the largest yearly genealogy conference, has gone virtual and what’s more it’s free this year! Over 400,000 people from all over the world have registered for RootsTech Connect. It starts this Thursday February 25–27, 2021, at rootstech.org [UPDATE 23-Feb-2021: Due to time differences, in the USA it starts the evening of Wednesday the 24th: the Expo Hall officially opens at 5pm Mountain time and the main stage and classes at 9 pm Mountain time… and yes I updated the number of attendees and will continute to do that].

Many companies have sales or specials at the time of Rootstech. One of the most exciting ones is that DNA uploads of tests from other testing companies will get the DNA tools for free this week at MyHeritage (click here to learn more). Be sure to go to the virtual Expo Hall, once it is open, to check out all the other specials.

Title slide from one of my presentations. Photo by Anne Call House from a past RootsTech. Click image for my speaker page

My own talks are a two part series on unknown parentage, as well as a presentation on one world collaborative trees: FamilySearch, GENI, and WIKItree. I saw a really large number of talks in my areas of interest:  DNA, Norway, Jewish, and Germany. Fortunately the talks will be available long after the conference ends. There are far too many for me to manage in just three days!

How are they going to handle the online conference?
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A Really Basic Approach to Using GEDmatch

GEDmatch.com is about to get a face lift. Many have complained that it is not intuitive and does not offer enough help for a newcomer. The new site hopes to correct some of that; I am helping with the beta test now; it sure is prettier!

Why use GEDmatch and what is it? Well it’s a free 3rd party site of tools where you can upload your DNA test results and compare them with those from people who have tested at other companies. Plus there are many analysis tools, some available nowhere else. These include GEDCOM (family tree) comparisons, including yours to your DNA matches.

Recently I gave a talk for the Family History Fanatics at their Winter of DNA conference where I demonstrated how to use GEDmatch without worrying about segments. An approach that gets a lot out of the site without having to be a geek like me. The slides are here: https://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch-basics-2021

Here is a step by step of that very basic approach as outlined in the syllabus for my FHF presentation

1. Create a User ID and Upload a DNA raw data file, aka a “kit”

Click the image above to go to the video from Andrew Lee, of FHF, which shows you how to create a user id and upload your DNA raw data to GEDmatch.

Or read this blog post of mine which also has links to my other GEDmatch posts
https://blog.kittycooper.com/2019/02/genesis-basics-gedmatch-reinvented-part-1/

2. Once Logged in, your Dashboard Page is not Intuitive

The tools are in the right hand column and the resources you have uploaded are listed on the left. You can upload more than one DNA kit and multiple GEDCOMs. There is a help section on the top right.

This post from Jim Bartlett is a useful explanation of the home page, as is my basics post listed above.
https://segmentology.org/2018/05/01/first-time-at-gedmatch/

And here is what my beta test Dashboard looks like, an improvement? I think so.


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Can Y DNA Solve an Unknown Parentage Case?

Sometimes testing the Y chromosome can help when you are looking for a missing father, grandfather, or further back as long as you have a tester descended on the male only line. Remember the Y is passed father to son, so any changes are rare and are caused by mutations not recombination. Typically a man would start with a Y 37 STR marker test at Family Tree DNA to see if this avenue is worth pursuing. A STR test gets the most recent changes rather than the haplogroup, thus can suggest a surname. Click here for my article explaining Y testing.

Slide from my 2017 talk on DNA testing for genealogists featuring my maternal grandad

The Y results will not help if no other men from that Y lineage have tested unless you have a theory. In that case you need to test someone else descended on the male only line from the presumed ancestor.

Y testing can be very useful when the unknown parentage occured many generations ago, such that autosomal testing may not be able to solve it.

If your ancestors have been in the USA for some time then a Y 37 STR marker test may find a probable last name. In that case there may be a surname project with other Y testers at Family Tree DNA. I recommend contacting the admins of that project as they can often be a great help in your quest. However if you are from a population group which has only had inherited surnames for two hundred years or less, quite likely you will have no luck.
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Family History Fanatics Winter DNA Conference!

I will be doing a talk on GEDmatch Basics for the Family History Fanatics (FHF) Winter DNA Conference. UPDATE: 25 Jan 2021: I have received screen shots of the new look coming soon to GEDmatch; these will be featured in my presentation.

They also have a youtube channel (click here). Here is the Press release from FHF:

KICK OFF THE YEAR RIGHT

Saturday, 30 January 2021 beginning at 9:45 AM Eastern Time.
If you can’t attend the event during the live sessions, you’ll have access to the replay for 30 days.

TOPICS & PRESENTERS

  • DNA & Law Enforcement – Marian Woods
  • GEDmatch Basics – Kitty Cooper
  • Tracing Ancestral Lines in the 1700s Using DNA – Tim Janzen
  • A Guide To Chromosome Browsers & DNA Segment Data  – Michelle Leonard

 AFTER THE SESSIONS

The four panelists will return for a “test your knowledge’ competition and then more of your unscripted rapid-fire questions. 

Early bird pricing is $19.99 until January 22nd. After that, pricing will increase to $24.99. 

When you register, you’ll be entered to win genetic genealogy-related door prizes. 

To learn more and register visit, www.familyhistoryfanatics.com/winterdna

Family History Fanatics is a genealogy education company that is focused on putting the fun into online learning. See the difference the FHF Group puts together for you.

Goodbye Yahoo Groups

Yesterday, December 15, was the last day of Yahoo groups. Those mailing lists were places where we could ask questions and be answered by others who had already solved similar problems. We also got news about things of interest to the particular group we were following.

Yes there was plenty of notice that this would happen, but still, I was not really ready, were you? Most of the groups I belonged to sent me emails telling me where they had moved to, often long ago. The top two providers chosen were Google Groups and Group.IO – you can always search each of them for your old group name and then sign up again when you find it.

However, much of that asking for help activity has long since moved to FaceBook. Personally I prefer the old style mailing lists because it is easier to find what I am looking for in their archives. Maybe I am just too 20th century still.

For genetic genealogy there is a list of Facebook groups and mailing lists at the ISOGG wiki here:
https://isogg.org/wiki/Genetic_genealogy_mailing_lists_and_Facebook_groups

Here is a list of the mailing lists I follow at their new homes:
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