8th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 2

ISOGG FTDNA Chapter Meeting Sunday morning at the conference always starts with a meeting of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG) FTDNA Chapter.  ISOGG President Katherine Borges reminded everyone that ISOGG is a free support network for genetic genealogists.  Upon joining ISOGG, members receive an invitation to the ISOGG mailing list.  Katherine reminded everyone that ISOGG is self-supporting and hosts booths.  They maintain speakers list.  If you speak on Genetic Genealogy, please submit your name. Alice Fairhurst is in charge of the ISOGG Y-SNP tree.  She pleaded with the audience for volunteers to help administrate the tree.  There are just a few people who struggle to keep up with everything on a voluntary basis outside of their regular jobs, which often includes engineering and IT positions.  Alice shared changes that we can expect, including migrating ISOGG to a more powerful server and utilizing an SQL database.  The tree will remain in its current style through 2012 and she is not sure if they will be able to get the new tree up in January.  It is still too early to say. It is going to be very important to learn SNP names, as subclade names may change as new discoveries are found on the Geno project.  The new system is going to be parent / child.  She said, “The explosion in knowledge in the last two years has been tremendous.”  Many universities and students are now using the ISOGG tree and routinely send notes of thanks to the group for all they’ve done and are doing.  The ISOGG page that receives the most hits is the Index to Y-DNA SNPs. Brian Swann, the ISOGG European Coordinator for England and Wales, has...

8th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 1

The 8th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy was held at the Sheraton Intercontinental North Houston on November 9-10, 2012.  Bennett Greenspan opened the conference with a welcome speech that included some new information for group administrators.  Usually Max does the opening, but his voice was not cooperative so Bennett had the honors this year. Bennett started by explaining the corporate structure of the company, Gene by Gene.  There are four branches: ancestry, health, research, and paternity.  The branch most people are familiar with is Family Tree DNA, the ancestry branch of Gene by Gene.  The health branch is called DNA Traits.  This branch does gene sequencing work for hospitals on a few continents and is a regulated branch.  DNA DTC  specializes in research and next generation sequencing including the entire exome at 80x coverage and the whole genome.  Finally, DNA Findings specializes in paternity testing and immigration. Family Tree DNA has purchased 1.5 million vials since its inception.  The vials have a tethered strap on the lid, which was ultimately causing wrist strain for the lab employees and wasting valuable time and resources.  Family Tree DNA discovered a company in Europe with an automatic capper and decapper that will also dispense the proteinase K to the approximately 500 sample tubes processed per day.  The new tubes will have a red removable cap.  More automation comes to Family Tree DNA! While waiting for Spencer Wells to join in live via Skype, Bennett answered a question about Geno 2.0.  Bennett indicated that National Geographic has decided that all people should buy Geno 2.0 through their catalog and get the nice kit that they have designed.  Bennett suspects (but cannot...

The Genealogy Event

Congratulations are in order for Bridget Bray of BBNY Group LLC, who did an outstanding job pulling everything together for The Genealogy Event in New York City on October 26th and 27th.  The Metropolitan Pavilion was a buzz of activity from just before noon on Friday, when a crowd lined up to enter, until 6pm on Saturday, when everything wrapped up. The format of the event consisted of 30 minute power learning sessions, with 15 minute breaks in between.  I really liked this format.  I typically start to get fidgety after sitting in a presentation for a while.  With the condensed timeframe, presenters needed to choose their best and most important information, which is obviously beneficial to attendees. One of the highlights of my visit was an appointment with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective.  Maureen looked at three pictures and confirmed some suspicions I had, as well as gave some great tips and insight.  She was able to pinpoint two of the photos to the 1870s and one to 1900.  I thought that the two pictures from the 1870s had been taken several years apart, as the woman looked much younger.  Maureen said that she had recently learned more about the artists who did these terrible, inaccurate renditions.  The tintype, which showed the woman looking older, was probably a better representation of the subject’s actual appearance. I had the opportunity to speak with Kenny Freestone of Ancestry.com.  I was told by their representative that Kenny was a DNA specialist.  I asked Kenny about the availability of raw data.  He said the same thing we’ve been hearing.  Ancestry believes that our raw...

Book Review – Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

I never thought that I would refer to a book about DNA as riveting, but the time has come.  Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill is a well-written tale of a man who spends many years searching for his biological family and eventually, through the use of DNA and genetic genealogy, is finally able to solve the mystery of his birth. From the first page, the reader is drawn into the plight of a young man who discovers that he is not who he thought he was.  Over the course of more than forty-five years, Richard Hill searches to find the true identity of his parents.  Hill uses some conventional and some less well-known techniques for obtaining information.  There is much to be learned from both the successes and the problems that Richard encountered. This gripping true story is an absolute page turner.  Whether you are an adoptee, a genealogist, or someone who likes a good story, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA is worth every minute.  Both those who are just starting their journey and those who have many years of experience will likely come away with a couple of new tricks up their sleeves.  Once you open the book, don’t plan to do anything else until you’ve reached the final page.   Description Trade Paperback, 260 pages Published August 2012 ISBN: 1475190832 ISBN 13:...

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