13 May 2019

Back to London for a Conference

The Family Tree Live conference at the Alexandra Palace, locally known as Ally Pally, was held from April 26 to April 27, 2019.

This location was in the northwest suburb Wood Green, about an hour and half tube ride from Heathrow. Due to it being the first year for this organization to hold a conference and the location, I was not greatly surprised that the attendance was not near the numbers we experienced at the Olympia Center in London several years ago.  However, Family Tree DNA had a stand and ran a presentation area for many speakers, mostly from some place in the United Kingdom.  MyHeritage and 23andMe were present, but AncestryDNA was not.

I was asked to go the last minute to take the place of someone who could not help at the Family Tree DNA stand.  Katherine Borges and I were the only Americans to came on this trip.  But as usual, we took extra time to explore some of England’s treasures.  This year we traveled to Portsmouth to see the Mary Rose Museum and the HMS Victory.  Maurice Gleeson and John Cleary joined us.

The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII’s flagship.  It sank 19 July 1545, but was raised in 1982.  She was built in Portsmouth between 1509 and 1511.

The HMS Victory was launched in 1765, and was under Lord Nelson’s command at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.  Interestingly, Nelson was shot in the battle and died on board.  He explicitly asked that his body not be sent into the sea.  We were told when visiting the ship that his body was put into one of the casks and preserved with liquor.  It then returned to England.

AND, now for some of our antics on the HMS Victory!

 Maurice hitting the ceiling             

Maurice and Emily listening to the tour recording and on an even smaller deck.  Are we really acting like decrepit tourists?                                                           

Of course, we had to have a shot of all four of us, and Horatio was the key!

Then after we dropped John off at the train station, we had dinner in Guilford and visited the castle grounds there.  Very beautiful.

It was a grand day out!  Thank you Maurice for driving, and John for joining us!

The highlight of the conference for me was meeting a cousin, Brian Dowling, who matches via Y-DNA to my first cousin Doug Doolin.  It was very kind of him to come to the FamilyTree DNA stand to meet me. Thank you, Brian!

SO, don't you wish you would have come with us?

Best wishes,
Emily Doolin Aulicino

06 May 2019

Mother's Day Sales


Mother's Day sales have been going on at every company, but as Family Tree DNA sells more than just the autosomal test, I've listed their sales below.  The sale ends May 13th.

Family  Finder (an autosomal test like all the other companies)..Reg. $79; now $59
mtDNA Sequence (FMS)..............................................................Reg. $199; now $149

Family Finder and mtDNA (FMS)................................................Reg. $278; now $198

Upgrade from mtDNA Plus to FMS..............................................Reg. $159; now $199

For those of you who may not know, the mtDNA test is the mitochondrial DNA test which gives you matches on your all-female line (your mother's mother's mother, etc).  Most of us using a horizontal pedigree chart knows this is the very bottom line of the chart.

The mtDNA Plus tests only part of the entire mitochondria.  the FMS means Full Mitochondrial Sequence and test then entire mitochondria.

The Family Finder test gives you matches on the pedigree lines between the very bottom and very top line of a horizontal pedigree chart.  However, if you are female, you can match a cousin who descends from the very top line of the pedigree chart (the all-male line; father's, father's father, etc.)  This test gives matches back 5-6 generations, and  sometimes more, if your lines have pedigree collapse or endogamy.

Family Tree DNA also provides results for the X-chromosome with the Family Finder Test.  Not all companies do so.

See the following blogs:

mtDNA (two blogs)
mtDNA or Who's Your Mommy? Part 1
mtDNA or Who's Your Mommy? Part 2

Family Finder
atDNA Testing: Who Can Test and How Can it Help Your Genealogy

X-Chromosome: The X-tra Special Chromosome
X-Chromosome Matching at Family Tree DNA


18 April 2019

DNA Day Sale - ends 25 April 2019

Well, the sales begin!

The following prices are from Family Tree DNA for DNA Day, a national celebration of the completion of the Human Genome Project which happened in 2003 and for the discovery of the double helix in 1953.

Regarding the discovery of the double helix, I want all of you to read the following link:  http://www.dnaftb.org/19/bio-3.html   The reason is that there is a world-wide misconception that Watson and Crick discovered it.  They did not!  Rosalind Franklin did, but she died before the Nobel Prize was awarded.

The American Society for Human Genetics holds a contest yearly in celebration.  This contest is open to students grades 9-12 worldwide. See:  https://www.ashg.org/education/dnaday.shtml

Family Tree DNA always holds a sale for National DNA Day.  There will also be a sale around Mother's Day and one around Father's Day.  However, check out this sale.  The Family Finder (autosomal DNA) is the most popular test now (every company does their version of it) and it is only $49!!!!  A great savings.

Please know that all tests will last for years if you do not have someone to swab at the moment.  Just keep them out of the heat.  Regular home temperature is just fine.

Important: The upgrades that are discounted are from Y-STR testing to Big Y-700 or from Big Y-500 to Big Y-700. The prices below are for new kits or for add-ons to existing kits, not for upgrading STRs or mtDNA. 

Encourage everyone to test...you could be my cousin!!!

Emily D. Aulicino

22 February 2019

Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 50th Birthday

And what a Birthday Bash has been planned!  

You won't want to miss it!

This is the 50th year that the Southern California Genealogical Society has held a Jamboree!

There are four days of  celebration with well-known speakers providing enriching classes to help with your genealogy and knowledge of DNA!

May 30 & 31 are filled with DNA classes for the beginner to the advanced.  World-renown speakers will take you through the steps of understanding how wonderfully useful DNA testing is for genealogy.

A few of those speakers:
...Blaine Bettinger
...Angie Bush
...Kitty Cooper
...Tim Janzen
...Brad Larkin
...Judy Russell
...Richard Weiss
...Paul Woodbury
......along with speakers from the DNA testing companies.
................(OH...and I'll be speaking as well!)

June 1 & 2 will allow you to hone your genealogical skills with again an array of World-class speakers.

Just a few speakers: 
...Liza Alonzo
...David Dowell
...Michael D. Lacopo
...Peggy Clemens Lauritzen
...Janice Lovelace
...Thomas MacEntee
...Cheri Mello
...Dave Obee
...Drew Smith
...D. Joshua Taylor
...Pam Vestal
......and many more! 
The topics cover many cultural groups along with a wide variety of subjects.
AND...there are genealogy workshops as well as DNA workshops.

AND...you can attend free classes on Friday which require no registration.  Just attend!  See the JamboFree list which is labeled JF with a number.

There is some overlap as some presentations reference DNA on non-DNA days.  You can check the schedule here.

The Venders' Hall is always wonderful.  So much to explore, and sales going on all the time!

You can even go on some field trips!!! 

AND...seven Raffle Drawings will be held throughout the four days, and these, in addition, ...
Exhibitor Birthday Card Prize Drawing  
Grand Prize Drawing:  Six Nights at Salt Lake Plaza Hotel plus Research Assistance from Ancestor Seekers

Besides eating your meals in the hotel restaurant, or in the courtyard area for lunch, you can cross the highway for some fast food places. However, there are special breakfast and banquet (dinner) meals with speakers. The breakfast speakers are David E. Rencher, Michael Provard, and George Morgan and the banquet speakers are Blaine T. Bettinger, Judy G. Russell, and D. Joshua Taylor.  Each are presenting some wonderful topics you won't want to miss.

With your registration, you can also view free webinars throughout the coming year!

Well, all that is sure worth the price of admission.  Registration is now open!

Hope to see you there!

06 November 2018

Autosomal Survey

New Survey: The Social Construct of Race and Ethnicity -  
One's Self-identity after a DNA Test

There is a new survey available asking for your perception of your “Ethnic Percentages” after taking an autosomal DNA test. It focuses on the chart or map that shows your percentages of various populations. This is the first of its kind and is run by Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo. Such surveys may be the start of gathering data on testers’ perceptions of DNA testing. I greatly welcome more in other aspects of DNA testing.

The autosomal test is offered by the five major DNA companies: Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage and Living DNA. (At Family Tree DNA, the test is called Family Finder.) Each of these companies has some sort of map and/or pie chart listing the various population groups related to your DNA results. This is often called “Ethnicity Percentages” by the lay person. However, many testers view this information as belonging to a race or ethnic group.

I urge all of you who have tested to take this first-ever survey on the topic so there is a better understanding of the public’s insight of their DNA results in the area of “Ethnicity Percentages”. The questionnaire is a group of simple questions asking how you felt before and after taking the test. You are anonymous.

But first, some background as often these terms are confused and neither of them correctly apply to what you receive as a comparison in your autosomal testing.  Sadly, the word “race” and “ethnicity” are incorrectly used by most of the testers and the companies misuse the term “ethnicity”.  Perhaps, a better view of this can help those with questions/concerns and the actual value of this portion of your test.

Race is considered a group of people of a common ancestry, often distinguished from others by physical characteristics such as skin, hair type, bone structure, stature, etc. But what if a person has a black parent and a white parent. What race are they then? What if a person has three white grandparents and one black one? They are more white than black, but society doesn’t view it as biological as it is. Another reason to consider the biological view of race is that people are all 99.9 percent alike in their DNA, making persons with different racial backgrounds more alike than different. The old 1800 adage of a drop of “black blood” makes you black, continues today, but only in the United States. Given this, race is often the result of a person’s social beliefs and biases.

Race places a large role in countries that exercise genocide.  For example, the Rwandan genocide was based on the width of noses.1,2

Geneticists tell us that the human population began in sub-Saharan Africa where more melanin produced darker skin so there is protection against the sun, etc. As people migrated away from the equator, they evolved in order to adapt to the climate; therefore, less melanin was produced so skin was lighter. Obviously, it took thousands of years and selective breeding for the genes to alter.

Ethnicity is defined as not a physical construct but shared social, cultural and historical experiences.  An ethnic group shares common beliefs, values, and behaviors. Ethnicity can then include people who may have different physical appearances, but who share common believes and cultural or national experiences, including religious or linguistic traits.

Ask yourself:  What makes my ancestor Irish or French or any other group of people? If a person lives in a country for “x” number of years does that make them a particular ethnic group? Then ask yourself does the British descendants living in South Africa make them African when we tend to think an African has dark skin?

Understand that DNA, even your DNA, existed before political boundaries were drawn and that people traveled much more than we may expect. For example, the Tarim Basic mummies which were dated from 1800 BCE to the first centuries BCE were found on the Silk Road in China in the 1900s. DNA testing showed those mummies continually inhabited the Tarim Basin from 2000 BCE to 300 BCE and came from Europe, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and other populations with several haplogroups.3,4

As millions of people have taken a DNA test to determine their “Ethnicity Percentages”, which is really termed bio-geographical comparisons or regional percentages, some people are shocked by the result; some are not. Some do not have ancestors from a particular population group, so they feel the results is in error.  Know that we all have missing lines in our pedigree chart and some of these comparisons to population in certain regions do go back way beyond what we can find in man-made records. For example, my mother’s all-female line from a branch of Scandinavians, but I have no one in my pedigree chart who is from there as I am stuck in 1788 in Kentucky. I may never find someone from that area. It could be many hundreds of years ago.

The old adage you can’t judge a book by its cover appears to apply to people as well.

The Changes in your “Ethnic Percentages”
What many testers do not realize is that each DNA genealogical testing company selects their own group of populations or a particular region with whom to compare you. Over time those groups will change as more is learned about our DNA make-up and information is refined. The percentages within a group may also change. It is important to note that this part of your DNA test is not as scientific as calculating your shared segments on each chromosome.

This bio-geographical or regional comparison (often called “Ethnic Percentages”) can be very beneficial to those who have family stories of being Asian, African, Native American, Jewish, etc. if they test several family members as every child inherits differently and some in a family may have received enough of the sequence for that population or region than others. It also helps adoptees or those with recent dead-ends on their pedigree chart understand their heritage.

The Survey
The web link for entering this survey, "The Social Construct of Race and Ethnicity: One's Self-identity after a DNA Test," which is being conducted in association with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, is here: Your Self-Identity After a DNA Test Survey.

The University HSIRB letter is on the first page of the survey as required, and the questions begin on the second page. 

I urge all of you to complete the survey so the geneticists and genetic genealogist can have a better understanding of your view.  I also urge you to write to your testing company and ask them to remove the word “ethnicity” and call the comparison what it really is…bio-geographical or, even better, regional comparisons!

Best to all of you,

1. ‘An Ordinary Man’ Navigates Rwanda’s Genocide
2. Remember Rwanda?  How Big Is Your Nose?  The Intervention in Libya! https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2011/3/30/958631/-

3. DNA Reveals These Red-Haired Chinese Mummies Come From Europe And Asia

4. Tarim mummies

05 August 2018

Family Tree DNA's Summer Sale is on!!!

Family Tree DNA started their summer sale August 1st, but my computer was in the repair, so I’m just now getting to my blog.

The sale will last until August 31st.

FTDNA tells us:
“Please note that it is not necessary to add an upgrade to Y-111 with the Big Y-500. Adding the Big Y-500 will automatically include the upgrade from whatever STR level you have tested even though you won't see it as a separate product in the shopping cart.”

AND, if you tested a Y-37 test and you wish to do the Big Y 500, you will automatically receive the Y-67 and Y-111 upgrade!  These prices are cheaper than what the original Big Y was.

The following are the standard and sale prices.

Single Products & Bundles
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
$ 169
$ 40
$ 129
Family Finder
$ 79
$ 20
FMS (mtFull Seq)
FF + Y37 + FMS
$ 546
$ 119
$ 328
Big Y 500
$ 649
$ 150
$ 499
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
$ 109
$ 40
$ 69
$ 59
$ 24
$ 35
$ 109
$ 40
$ 69
$ 228
$ 128
$ 129
$ 40
$ 89
MT (MT + - FMS)
Upgrades to Big Y-500
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
Y12 - Big Y 500
$ 629
$ 130
$ 499
Y25 - Big Y 500
$ 599
$ 100
$ 499
Y37- Big Y 500
$ 569
$ 110
$ 459
Y67- Big Y 500
$ 499
$ 100
$ 399
Y111- Big Y 500
$ 449
$ 100
$ 349

Of course, I would love to see everyone test...you are all my cousins!  (We just need to figure out the path! LOL)

Best wishes,

04 June 2018

DNA Father's Day Sales

Father's Day is Sunday, June 17th and the sales have begun!

Many men (and women) have taken the autosomal DNA test at various companies, but only Family Tree DNA can offer men a DNA test for their Y-chromosome.  (Women do not have a Y-chromosome, so they should have a brother test, an uncle, nephew, etc. on their all-male line.)  See the all-red line (on the top) below.

                              Chart courtesy Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser

Testing the all-male line (your father's father's father, etc.; no females involved) can provide the surname for adoptees as well as confirm that the suspected surname is correct.  Remember DNA testing helps prove our lineage.

Even if you are certain of a male surname in your family, you never know if 200 years ago or so, someone decided to change the name for a large variety of reasons.  None of which would reflect on the tester.  Some people changed their surname or its spelling for descendants to be able to distinguish them as the ancestor; some were escaping a cruel situation, some were adopted, some never knew their biological father.  Understand that before surnames were ever used, area families took in those who lost their parent(s).

You can test and then join a family project with your surname.  The administrator can further help you understand the results.  Even before testing, you can go to the Family Tree DNA home page to see if there is already a surname project for your name.

Once tested, I encourage everyone to join their Haplogroup Project.  A tester's haplogroup is their twig on the world family tree.

For more information on understanding a Y-DNA test, see: Who's Your Daddy?

For the sale:

Family Tree DNA's autosomal test is called Family Finder and is on sale for $59.  This is a test comparable to AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage which provides matches anywhere in the pedigree chart back about 5-8 generations, depending.  However, testing in multiple companies provides you with different cousin matches as each company has a different database.