IAJGS conference and talking with Greenspan

If this were a financial blog you would assume a different Greenspan than Bennett and in fact they may be related, but since Alan won’t do the DNA test, we may never know. Today at the annual IAJGS conference I spent some time chatting with Bennett in the Exhibition Hall.  I asked him if they could implement a triangulation feature where when two people match me on a specific segment I can check if they match each other on that spot. He said yes but gave me no time frame …

Selfie with Bennett Greenspan

Bennett Greenspan and Kitty Cooper

Bennett Greenspan is the founder of Family Tree DNA, one of the big three in personal DNA testing. This came about because a newly retired Bennett wanted to prove that the possible Argentinian relatives he had found were related when there was no paper trail showing this. He had read about Dr. Michael Hammer’s work with DNA and the cohanim Y chromosome marker and wondered why that sort of test could not be used for his case. Dr. Hammer laughed at him and said something like “If you knew how many crazy genealogists have been calling me … someone really ought to start a company.” The rest, as we say, is history.

Tomorrow at 1:45 Elise Freeman is going to speak about  “Understanding Your DNA Results in the Context of Ashkenazi Ancestry.” I can’t wait to hear her.

I have spent most of my alloted DNA time (late at night) on my Norwegian side which is much easier. Also many distant cousins back in Norway have tested. Apparently they have a “Who do you think you are” program on TV there as well. I have about 26 new 4th-6th cousins in the old country and have enjoyed tracking down the common ancestors with them.

But Jewish DNA has proven elusive. All relationships look closer than they are due to cousin marriages back in time. I have found a few people from the same localities but we have yet to find any common ancestry. Probably because very few have paper trails back into the 1700s. Possibly because my jewish grandfather was an only child so I have no 2nd cousins to test to help with this (Thank you John and Dick, my Norwegian side 2nd cousins! Your tests have been invaluable for figuring out the relationship lines).

I hope Elise will give me some insights so I can try again with my 27% Ashkenazi DNA.

9 thoughts on “IAJGS conference and talking with Greenspan

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  1. God praise the King -ääh I mean Mr. Greenspan, not Alan but the 62 years old Bennett Greenspan, CEO of Family Tree DNA and of course you Kitty Cooper, for this smart blog! 🙂
    I’m a little bit interested in Ms. Freeman’s speech and if I can apply that to my 2% Middle Eastern heritage. 😉

  2. Hey Kitty could you please ask Mr Greenspan,how is it that they can give a person Jewish heritage for 4 years under the Population Finder and take it away with the “My Orgins” results? There are quite a lot of people who are not happy with there results.

  3. Ray and Hans –
    Bennett left the day after this post so I could not pass along your thoughts but I told Alise to have a look at these comments and pass them along to the man.
    Ray see what the admix tools at GEDmatch say. The art of predicting ancestral composition is still in its infancy so do not take small percentages very seriously

  4. And Alise gave a very good talk even if I am not sure that I learned anything new.

    More exciting to me was being shown the new Avotaynu issue which has a serious in depth study of jewish DNA. Now to get a copy of that!

  5. Kitty thanks for your response. Family Tree gave me a 12.05% Middle East range and said it was 100% correct. Is that a small percentage? 12.05%

    • 12% is large enough to be significant. That could also be jewish. So what do the relationship calculators at GEDmatch say?

    • Ray click on my DNA on the top bar, then Family Finder, then on download raw data. You need to download both the autosomal and the X, build 37 a seems to work fine now. Perhaps I should do a step by step blog post on this

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