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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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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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More Automated DNA Match Clustering!

Have you been wondering why are all your favorite bloggers are going crazy for automatic clustering? Well it is a fun visual technique to see which matches belong to which family line by making a chart with your matches across both the top and side, grouping them by who matches who, and then coloring those boxes in. This creates visual clusters which will roughly correspond to your great grandparents or their parents.

My perfect cousin has many matches on all her great grandparent lines (green is my Munson side) so I used her to showcase the new DNAgedcom clustering above. Notice how similar it is to her cluster from Genetic Affairs shown in my previous blog about that site and tool.

Here are all the new ways to cluster our DNA matches:

  • DNAgedcom now has a clustering tool in their client (DGC) which uses your ancestry match list and ICW files (described in detail in the read more below)
  • Genetic Affairs has Ancestry clustering working again
  • DNApainter created a tool to create a CSV from the Genetic Affairs html cluster file. Some of us love to use spreadsheets.
  • Andy Lee of Family History Fanatics figured out how to take an autosomal match matrix from GEDmatch and cluster it in a spreadsheet program, Click here for that video – the explanation starts just after 42 minutes and this is really fun!
  • Rumor has it that GEDmatch may add automatic clustering sometime in the new year…

All of this is based on the method developed by Dana Leeds to organize your matches which is easy and simple to do. Click here for her blog about that.

Read on for how I used the new DNAgedcom clustering tool for myself and my brother, where I know all our great grandparents.

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Automatic Clustering from Genetic Affairs

My genealogy groups are buzzing with excitement about a new tool from Genetic Affairs to automate the clustering of your DNA matches. This takes the Leeds method concept to another level.

Everyone is posting pretty cluster pictures like the one below that I made for my perfect cousin, the star of many of my blog posts. This is a table where each DNA match is listed on the top and side; then if they match each other, the box is colored in with the color for that cluster. The chart is sorted by cluster. The idea is that each colored cluster shows descendants from a probable great grandparent couple of yours.

The gray boxes show where people match others outside the cluster which can often happen when families intermarry more than once or when they are first cousins enough times removed to have been in the second or third cousin group by DNA but are related to more than one set of great grandparents.

Automated clustering is useful because it puts your DNA relatives who are related to each other into visual groups so that you can quickly see which line a new match is related on. The picture is pretty but the workhorses are the charts for each cluster shown below that image when you scroll down. Here is the privatized one for my “perfect” cousin showing our MUNSON cluster.

Each name can be clicked to go to that Ancestry match page plus much useful additional information is shown next to the username: how many cMs shared, how many matches shared in the whole group, cluster number, how many people in their tree, and the notes you made for that match.

The image and charts are from the HTML file which arrived via email from Genetic Affairs after I requested automated clustering for my cousin’s Ancestry profile, which is shared with me there. You have to save the html file to your computer and then click on it to view it. When it first comes up, it is a mish-mosh sorted by name, but then it resorts itself by cluster. Fun to watch. Click here for the step by step of how to use this tool from the Intrepid Sleuth. It can also cluster matches from other sites like 23andme.

I decided to try it on an unknown father case I had not gotten around to working on yet, to see if it succeeded in speeding up the process and it did, to under an hour! A new record.

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Collecting Family Trees with Automation

Did you know that there are chrome add-ons that can collect pedigree trees from many genealogy sites and DNA testing sites? These tools can collect a tree of ancestors as an ahnentafel list which is a very useful and compact format to scan for common ancestors and locations.

Click here for my post explaining an Ahnentafel list and the tool DNArboretum to create one from a tree at Family Tree DNA.

The pedigree view of a family tree on Ancestry.com or MyHeritage can also be collected into an ahnentafel list with another chrome add-on, a tool called Pedigree Thief (click here to download it).

Saving a new cousin to my tree

When it is just a few new relatives at Ancestry, you don’t need those add-ons. After all, it is easy to use the Tools menu on the Profile Page of the ancestor you want from a tree at Ancestry.com to copy over a few people. In fact, if you copy one person over, you can click back to the original tree and copy them again in order to get their whole family group, just like in an Ancestry hint. I do recommend that you check sources and make sure that this is good information. Even if you are making a Quick & Dirty tree (Q&D) for an adoptee, it is best to check it over, as some trees on Ancestry.com are quite unrealistic with parents born after their children and other such errors.

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