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Talking About Many New DNA Tools

Tuesday I will be presenting the latest version of my talk on solving unknown parentage cases in a virtual conference hosted by the Utah genealogical society (click here for more information). In the past, I relied heavily on the tools at DNAgedcom, but now there are several new tools that are even more exciting.

The basic methodology for unknown parentage searches is to DNA test everywhere. Then look through the trees of your matches to see what ancestors are in common. Build trees down from those common ancestors looking for where the different families meet in a marriage. Then find a child of that marriage who was in the right place at the right time to be the missing parent or grandparent or …

A major difficulty is that many people test DNA without providing a tree. Usually you have to try to build trees for them. Another problem is that building trees down from those common ancestors is incredibly labor intensive when the families are large and the matches are distant. My latest strategy for difficult cases is to recruit several search angels to build the different trees.

There are now tools that automate building trees!
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Why you might want to test for DNA health results at MyHeritage

The live streaming from the MyHeritage conference in Amsterdam this past weekend was both informative and enjoyable. I was even able to watch without getting up in the middle of the night as they stayed available afterwards. Many of the talks included information that was not new to me, although I was pleased to finally be able to watch Leah Larkin’s WATO presentation.

Yaniv Erlich

The talk that impressed me the most was the one by Yaniv Erlich in the middle of day 2 about the DNA health results that MyHeritage is now providing (on a reduced price sale just through Tuesday, Sept 10). With the acquisition of Promethease and SNPedia they have greatly expanded their access to medical genetic knowledge. SNPedia is always my go to resource for looking up specific genes, for example click here to see what it says about the BRCA genes. While Promethease is where you can upload your raw DNA from wherever you tested to get health results (sadly written in formal medical talk) based on current but not always solid research (see comments below) and is linked to SNPedia.

One of the important take aways for me was that if MyHeritage finds a bad mutation in your test, they will use a different method, Sanger sequencing, to confirm the result! This almost completely eliminates false positives. Still if you are diagnosed with a really bad variation, my opinion is that you should double check even further by getting a doctor ordered test like the one from Color Genomics.

Yaniv also emphasized that they have worked hard to present the results in an understandable format. There are some examples of this on their blog (click here).

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MyHeritage is Live Streaming from Amsterdam right now!

An exciting weekend in Amsterdam has just started! MyHeritage will live stream the genealogy and DNA lecture tracks online throughout the conference! The following announcement is almost verbatim from the press release email I received. I will be watching and you?

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The live stream will be available on the MyHeritage LIVE website and on the MyHeritage Facebook page, so please tune in from 9:00 a.m. Amsterdam time on September 7th. If you need help calculating the time difference to your local time zone, you can use https://www.thetimezoneconverter.com/.

Make sure to visit the conference website to see the full schedule.

Don’t forget to post and share all your MyHeritage LIVE experiences using the conference hashtag: #MyHeritageLIVE, and follow MyHeritage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

UPDATE: 7 SEP 2019: Even though we sleep while this is streamed, if you go to the streaming page at https://live2019.myheritage.com/ you can rewind the video, I am now watching Ram Snir explain many basics of DNA matching which is the first talk on the DNA track.

 

Help Collect DNA Statistics

Blaine at the Gorge Wildlife Park, Cudlee Creek, South Australia (used with his permission)

Many families have grandparents or great grandparents who are first or second cousins. Within family marriages did not used to be as unusual as they are today. However for those of us who work with DNA, the extra relatedness adds confusion to interpreting the comparisons of their descendants. Plus there are people whose parents are related. It would be nice to have some charts showing the expected DNA amounts in these more unusual relationships.

Some of you are familiar with the statistics Blaine Bettinger has collected for more ordinary relationships. (Click here to contribute your numbers there) The calculator at DNApainter, which we all use to check the possibilites for an unknown DNA relationship, is based on his research and the statistical work of Andrew Millard and Leah Larkin.

Now Blaine is collecting the data for these more unusual relationships. So any of you who have DNA results from known double cousins or other family members whose descriptions fit, please click that image below to go to the form where you can add your numbers to his new project.

 

There are more places to contribute your numbers
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Creating a GEDCOM from a text file

The purpose of this post is to announce new features for my Ahnentafel list to GEDCOM Conversion Tool. The link for this new version is: https://kittymunson.com/dna/Ahnen2GEDv2.php
Once I am confident that it works as it should, the previous version will be replaced with this one.

So why would you want to use this tool?

One way to look for any ancestors you might share with a DNA match is to take a GEDCOM of their pedigree and add it to a copy of your genealogy database to see if there are any duplicate profiles. Other ways are to use DNA2Tree or GWorks (click either for those posts). Often I just visually scan a compact list of my match’s ancestors using the new feature at 23andme, WIKItree’s compact tree, or an Ahnentafel list. Unless, of course, Ancestry‘s ThruLines or MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity have found the common ancestors for me already.

This is the Ancestry tree for the grandmother of my new South African cousins with Pedigree Thief

Did you know that you can get an Ahnentafel list of a person’s ancestors from almost any online family tree displayed in pedigree format via a Chrome add-on called, appropriately, Pedigree Thief?

Better yet, did you know that you can make a GEDCOM from an Ahnentafel list via my tool, Ahen2GEDcom. Click here for my old post about that.

Although my program was originally written to turn the output from DNArboretum and Pedigree Thief into a GEDCOM, some people have found more uses for it.

For example, you might have a document that your Uncle Fred made and you would prefer to use ‘replace all’ in a word processor to cutting and pasting each bit of information into a genealogy program or website. Or you might be collecting information from relatives via spreadsheets or google forms (which can make spreadsheets). Any plain text file can be used as input to my tool, including a CSV file, as long as it is formatted the way the program expects it.

Debbie Parker Wayne is using an online form to collect information for a project of hers, so she asked me if I could enhance my tool to add marriages and sources. I said, “Sure but it is not trivial and I charge more for programming than DNA work.” She said that her book was doing well and she could pay for this. So we did it.

A computer program like this needs the format to be exact in order for it to work. So here are the details.
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