29 June 2010

Family Finder Testing Series: Sharing your genealogy research

I’ve tested with Family Finder…now what?

With the advent of Family Finder (FF) by Family Tree DNA, many genetic genealogists are scrambling to understand how to use this new test, how to locate cousins, how it can help their existing projects, and how to build Family Finder-specific projects. Those genealogists who are also interested in statistics and the genetics behind this powerful test are building databases to map who is on which chromosome as well as creating many other useful tools to compare the raw data.

Given that, it is important to clarify how this test can be helpful to the average genealogist as well as to project administrators. The following categories will be addressed in this series:

....Sharing your genealogy research
....Expanding matches; narrowing the search

....What is the advantage to Chromosome Mapping for the average genetic genealogist? For an Administrator? How necessary is it?

....How does Family Finder help projects?

....Creating a Family Finder project

Testing with Family Finder or with other autosomal tests designed to find cousin matches throughout your pedigree can be daunting to those of us who have come to rely on the ease and consistency of the Y-chromosome. It is time though to examine how to effectively use our genealogy to locate the common ancestor.

This type of test focuses on immediate family and back to fifth cousins, although more distant cousins can be located. Just what is a fifth cousin?

A Fifth cousin is seven generations from yourself, taking you back to your fourth great-grandparents. You have 64 fourth great-grandparents. Not many of us can claim that we know all of them. Also, there is the situation known as pedigree collapse as I mentioned in the previous article. That is, you are related to yourself on more than one set of grand-parents. Somewhere in your line you may have a connection to a set of grand-parents twice. This is the case when cousins marry each other so you do not have different people filling the roles of all the ancestors.

· Siblings have the same parents. (2)
· First cousins have the same grandparents. (4)
· Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. (8)
· Third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents. (16)
· Fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents. (32)
· Fifth cousins have the same great-great-great-great-grandparents. (64)

In autosomal testing, you receive a match at a certain cousin level. It is important to understand that the designated level is based on the amount of DNA you share with your match. As we know, each person inherits a mixture of DNA from his or her ancestors and as that mixture is unique to each person, the level of cousin-ship is more likely a range in reality. That is, the genealogical paper trail will indicate more accurately the cousin-ship, and it can be either side of the suggested cousin-ship. The listed cousin-ship is a good basis for determining where to begin sharing your lineage.

I have a match who was declared a third cousin, but is, in reality, a seventh cousin. The reason for this suggested match being so recent, but in actuality so far back, is that my great-grandparents were first cousins. I inherited more DNA on that mutual line than one would normally. It makes me appear closer than I really am.

On my other matches where a common ancestor has been found, I was listed as probably fifth to seventh cousins. Those matches proved to be ninth and tenth cousins.

When the reliability of the test requires that cousin-ship be listed as fifth to distant cousins, and the likelihood of finding that cousin is a low percentage, how is it that I have the common ancestor for four matches? The answer is simple. My matches and I inherited large enough segments of DNA from our distant ancestors, and our paper trails along the ancestral lines are very wide.

Sharing your genealogy research

Is your data deep and wide?

Deep? Yes. Do you have seven or more generations back from you on all your lines? Do you know all of your thirty-two fourth great-grandparents? Most people do not, but the farther back your lines reach, it is more likely you will find your common ancestor.
Wide? Yes. The more names (including spouses), dates, and places you have for the direct line, the siblings of the direct ancestors, and their children and grandchildren, the more likely you will find the common ancestor. A major reason I found my common ancestors is that not only did I have the lineage back to the late 1600s, but I had many descendants of the siblings of my direct line. In some cases, I have tried to bring the lines down to the present.

Share your data effectively.

After contacting your match, it is extremely important to share as much data as you can, but many people have thousands of names in their database. For this reason, it is wise to use some strategies to effectively target where the match could be.

After looking for surnames you may have in common, check locations. It is very possible that their ancestor married a sister or cousin of your ancestor, thus the surnames would be different until both lines work back to the common ancestor. A location may provide a clue to which lines could relate.

Compare your data in the range where you could share a common ancestor in actuality. That is, if you are slated as a 5th cousin, share lineage from your 3rd great-grandparents back to the 6th or 7th at least.

Sharing your data efficiently.

There are several ways to share your genealogy efficiently. Family Tree DNA allows you to upload your GEDCOM and/or list on your personal Family Finder pages your surnames with a location. It is important to list variations of the surname separately as the program is designed to highlight in bold print the surnames you have in common with your matches. Many people, however, are using the location area to list dates and details of that country or state. Remember testing is international and those you match outside of your country may not know where towns are or state codes.

Your own personal website is a great way to share your data. Send the URL to those you match for them to locate common names or places. Some people choose to create their own websites either through various genealogical sites which offer space for free or to pay for their own site. Some use Ancestry.com to post their information.

Additionally, using your genealogy program, you can compile a series of descendant reports of your fourth great-grandparents and store them either in your email program’s draft section or in your word processor. These can be easily sent to those you match.

Suggest and request that your matches send you the same information.

Personally, I find it easier to scan the information in an outline form rather than click on multiple “boxes” of some online pedigrees or GEDCOMs.

In summary:

1. Do your genealogy as far back as you can, and bring down as many of the siblings along those ancestral lines (siblings of your direct line, their children, etc.) closer to the present. Cover the time frame from 3rd cousins-10th cousins with these details. Do not forget spouses and the dates and locations of all events.

2. Use a website to post the information you wish to share, or prepare various descendant charts for major parts of your line that you can forward to your matches.

3. When you write your matches, send the info in #2 and ask if any names or places are shared.

4. Realize ... and let your matches know ... that the connection may not be on your direct lines; therefore, the marriages of children, their children and grandchildren are important as those are surnames that could trigger a starting point for finding the common ancestor.

5. Realize that if you look at your lineage at the 5th cousin level (7 generations back from you; 4th gr-grandparents), you or your match may have a lot of gaps. This is a major reason why you cannot locate the common ancestor.

6. Realize that the current technology has given us this tool to help with our family search, but there are no guarantees of easy or great success. Like any other DNA test, the paper trail is most important.

7. Realize that in time, we will work out how best to do this, just as we did when DNA testing for genealogy was first born. We are pioneers again, and sharing ideas is the way to conquer this task.

8. Understand that Family Tree DNA and 23andMe do not have the space to post large chunks of our lineage. Their purpose is to find us matches. I'm only speculating, but the arrangements for sharing lineage on FF (surname lists and/or your GEDCOM) could get tweaked at some point, or we could get more creative with how we use it. For example: List your surnames under SURNAME; give your URL for the chart of that line under COUNTRY. People who do name searches will look at the URL out of curiosity and find many more names there.

9. Share the above information with people you match. This is a new tool for genealogists and most are still learning what to do.

10. Have fun!

©Aulicino, 21 Jun 2010
Thank you R.

1 comment:

Salabencher said...

Thanks for these posts Emily, I get lots of questions about this product and its nice to have a complete set of "how to's" to refer them too.