26 March 2013

Family Tree DNA Reduces Price for Y-12 Marker Test

Family Tree DNA Project Administrators just received this announcement:

It is with great satisfaction that we announce a permanent price change and other improvements that will positively impact your projects.

Due to the recent upgrade of our state-of-the-art laboratory, coupled with research and development into increasing lab efficiency, we are able to permanently offer the basic Y-DNA12 test for $49 beginning April 1, 2013. The current sale of Y12 at $39 will end at 11:59PM CST, March 31,2013. We are also working on bringing down the price of the basic mtDNA test as well; we hope to have that accomplished during the first half of this year.

We understand that several projects have a minimum requirement of 37 markers for the Y-DNA test, but we’ve learned through the promotion with the lower price point on the Y-DNA12 last month, that it did not reduce the number of orders at the 37-marker level. Therefore, there was a net gain for the database, not only by increasing the number of members, but also increasing the number of potential upgrades to higher levels.

We hope that you can encourage family and friends who saw the price as a barrier to now come on board. It is our goal to ensure every single person is able to have the "DNA experience," at least at the basic level. We are working on a letter that you can send to family and friends to invite them to take advantage of the new pricing.

Customer Service:
Family Tree DNA is the only company exclusively dedicated to genetic genealogy and anthropology. We offer the widest range of tests, from the basic ones mentioned above to specific SNPs and all to way to the "Walk Through the Y" and the Full Mitochondrial Sequence.

Every month our lab in Houston processes tens of thousands of discrete tests.

Given the increase in the volume of orders and tests, we are adding additional people in our Customer Service department. These are all qualified personnel that receive very specific training and who give an individual answer to each email and phone call that they receive under almost every circumstance. Our policy always been to answer email between 24 to 48 hours (excluding on weekends), and we are working towards coming back to this norm. We apologize for the inconvenience that delays beyond this norm have caused and we appreciate your patience and support while this situation is being corrected.

Our IT Department has a number of responsibilities. The main ones are:

1. Making sure that our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) works flawlessly so that there are no mix-ups in the lab or errors during processing.

2. Making sure that results coming out of the lab are seamlessly integrated with the personal records from our customers.

3. Writing the code for new features to be implemented, whether those features are conceived in-house or at the suggestion of our customers.

Obviously, they also have to fix bugs, because as we know - unfortunately - bugs happen. Any of you that have iPhones, iPads or Android apps know that we receive almost daily notifications for updates which most of the time relate to bug fixes. That doesn’t mean we accept all bugs as inevitable—beyond a certain point they’re not acceptable, so we are also taking the necessary steps to improve this situation by hiring additional qualified people. We believe that the results will be noticed soon. Again, we apologize and appreciate your patience and support.

* * *
As we grow and remain the leading company in the field of genetic genealogy and anthropology, we want to recognize the vital contribution that you - the project administrators - have played in this field since we pioneered it in 2000. The recent groundbreaking paper "An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree," published in the most prestigious journal in the field, The American Journal of Human Genetics, and widely mentioned in the press, was generated from a sample analyzed at our lab. The paper was authored by a group that included Family Tree DNA group administrators, our lab people and a member of our Scientific Advisory Board among others. This is a testament not just to the quality of FTDNA's science, but also to your contribution as citizen scientists over the years. For that we sincerely THANK YOU!

Family Tree DNA
"History Unearthed Daily"

26 Mar 2013

16 March 2013

Georgia Archives needs one last push

The following post by Judy G. Russell on her blog The Legal Genealogist is a must for any resident of Georgia or any researcher with ancestors who lived there.  The state archive is in danger of being closed or severly restricted.  PLEASE ACT NOW!  YOUR VOICE DOES MATTER!

Thank you Judy for allowing me to repost the following:

Georgia Archives needs one last push
Posted on March 15, 2013 by Judy G. Russell
Fighting for the Georgia Archives

Okay, folks, it’s time for one more — hopefully last — push on behalf of the Georgia Archives.
Because we’re down to one last best chance to get the funding the Archives needs to continue — and perhaps even increase — access and hours as it moves to the control of the University System of Georgia from the control of the Georgia Secretary of State.
The issue is now firmly in the hands of the Georgia State Senate, and that’s where efforts need to be focused today.

The House of Representatives has already had its say on the bill transferring the Archives (it passed on March 5) and on the budget request for the Archives. Although it kicked a little more into the pot, it’s not as much as University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby asked for. Right now, the budget as it passed the House will appropriate roughly $4.07 million for the Archives — more than the $3.85 million recommended by Governor Nathan Deal, but less than the roughly $4.3 million the Chancellor wants.

So it’s over to the Senate side now for both issues.

House Bill 287 — the bill transferring the Archives from the Secretary of State to the University System of Georgia — is now in front of the Senate Higher Education Committee, comprised of Senators Bill Cowsert, Chairman, Joshua McKoon, Burt Jones, Buddy Carter, Hardie Davis, Tim Golden, Lester G. Jackson, Nan Orrock, and Cecil Staton.

This one is considered likely to pass — it passed the House by a vote of 170 to 0 — so if you’ve only got time to reach out once on one issue, read on. If you do have time to write a Senator about both, contact information for these folks can be found at the Georgia State Senate website.

The budget bill is where the biggest push is needed. First off, we need to protect the gain achieved in the House. In the overall scheme of things, $224,000 isn’t all that much — but it’s a small step in the direction of better access and better hours. Second, we need to push — and hard! — for more. There were good reasons behind Chancellor Huckaby’s request for a total of $448,266 more than the Governor recommended and, frankly, good reasons for more than that.

But to get anything more — and even to keep the $224,000 gain from the House — we can’t sit idly by and hope the Senate will do the right thing. Now is the time to speak up and be heard.

So follow these steps, and kick in a few minutes for the Georgia Archives:

1. Read up so you’re sure you understand what’s at stake. There’s good information on the websites for the Friends of the Georgia Archives and History (FOGAH) and updated information to help you stay on top of the issues at the GeorgiaArchivesMatters blog.

2. If you’re a Georgia resident, take a look through the list of members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and particularly its Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and see if any member represents your District. The simple fact of the matter is that legislators respond better to people who can directly vote for — or against — them.

The subcommittee members are Senators Buddy Carter, Ronnie Chance, Bill Cowsert, Gail Davenport and Cecil Staton. Other committee members are Senators Jack Hill, Chairman, Renee Unterman, Tim Golden, Don Balfour, John Crosby, Vincent Fort, Steve Gooch, Bill Heath, Judson Hill, Bill Jackson, Butch Miller, Jeff Mullis, Jack Murphy, Valencia Seay, David Shafer, Freddie Powell Sims, Horacena Tate, Curt Thompson, Steve Thompson, Lindsey Tippins, Ross Tolleson, John Wilkinson and Tommie Williams.

3. If you’re not a Georgia resident, look through the list above and see if any member of the Appropriations Committee represents a district where your ancestors lived. It’s not as good as “I’m your constituent and I vote,” but being able to say “I’m a descendant of people from Bryan County and I visit and spend money there when I do genealogy research” isn’t bad as part of your argument, targeted to a specific Senator.

Again, both contact information for these folks and even district maps can be found at the Georgia State Senate website. And there’s a list of Georgia counties with the corresponding Senate Districts and then the list of Senators at the state Senate website.

4. Write a letter. Make a call. Send a fax or an email. Speak up.

Together, we can make a difference

Enjoy, but act before it is too late!
16 Mar 2013

15 March 2013

The Surnames Handbook: A Guide to Family Name Research in the 21st Century

The Surnames Handbook:  A Guide to Family Name Research in the 21st Century by Debbie Kennett.  Forward by Derek A. Palgrave, the president of the prestigious Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS)

   Is your genealogy stuck in the U.S.?  Colonial America?  Australia?  New Zealand?
   Are you unable to cross the pond?
   Are you doing research on a single name?
   Do you need testers for your DNA Project?
   Could you be at a dead-end due to surname spelling changes?

Answering YES to any of these questions and many others makes Debbie Kennett’s latest book, The Surnames Handbook:  A Guide to Family Name Research in the 21st Century required reading. Debbie’s work could be the strategy that fit your needs!

Even though this is written for the British audience, Debbie includes information from many other counties, and the material and methods here are beneficial to all genealogists and genetic genealogist.  Although written with the underlying suggestion of doing a one-name study, her approach is necessary in forging backward in time and for solving any of the above questions. Even if you do not plan to conduct a surname study, this source can help you pin-point where your surname in the U.K. could have originated or where it existed at a particular time.

Debbie begins with a history of surnames and explains the attempts to classify them over the past centuries.  She then clarifies the differences between variants and deviants which is greatly important to know when you are hunting for an ancestor’s record and find nothing.  Other chapters discuss surname mapping, surname frequency, surname origins pre-1600s, and more.  She covers the use of DNA and the benefits of One-Name Studies.  The span of the resources is amazing: information and websites on old handwriting and dating systems, parish and county boundary changes, various records which are online, and details about various records and when where they existed.  She explains the reasons for creating the Pipe Rolls, Lay Subsidies Rolls, the Hundred Rolls, the Feet of Fines, the Hearth Tax, and many more. I cannot begin to list all the important and useful information.

 For those of us who know little about records in the U.K., the historical background and lists of websites and documents given in this resource is invaluable.  What others have spent years learning, you can access quickly through all the websites she has mentioned. For many Americans the information on medieval resources is very valuable, and most American genealogists do not understand the British record keeping system over the centuries. This book helps you quickly learn about the records in the U.K.

Debbie’s book bears reading multiple times as it is so full of great information (am I repeating myself! LOL) .  So much so that one needs to take notes or tag pages for a revisit. Know that the electronic versions have hot links for all the websites she mentions so you may wish to order that version. This book should be used as a workbook to explore your surnames and to locate living potential DNA testers. It suggests reconstructing families of a rare surname or those in one area to determine if all the people are related and to obtain probably testers for DNA when you bring those lineages to the present. DNA testing living people who are in the area where your ancestors were and with the same surname can find you actual cousins and help establish your roots in the motherland.

With so many resources, my plans are to turn to Appendix A:  Genealogy Websites and to go systematically through the online resources for my Ogan One-Name Study and to reconstruct my family surnames in the U.K. for my DNA surname projects (Derby, Doolin, Lamson, Ogan, Talley, and  Stubblefield) in order to find potential DNA testers in the U.K. in time for the next Who Do You Think You Are? Live conference and to invite them to attend so I can give them a free DNA kit in hopes some will match my lines.  Then to plow through my other ancestral surnames.  Then there is the linguists resources, the Place-Name Resources, etc.  Oh, to have a few clones to help!

Frankly, this book is a must for all genealogists and genetic genealogists!
Order it from Amazon.com for your Kindle or in paperback or for your Nook at Barnes and Noble.

Enjoy....I know I did!
15 Mar 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? Live Feb 22-24, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? Live, the world’s largest genealogical conference, started with a bang this year.

The figures were up 9% from last year, and are as follows.

Friday - 22 February 5,444
Saturday - 23 February 5,365
Sunday - 24 February 3,132
Total 13,941

The Family Tree DNA stand was extremely busy on Friday so we
knew attendance was good.  Saturday appeared equally busy, and although there was drop in Sunday’s visits, we knew it was higher than last year.  Friday always has the highest volume, and Sunday is typically slower, but this year the FTDNA stand was still busy on Sunday, as well.  Family Tree DNA sold over twice as many test kits this year as in previous years, so we are finally making an impact in the UK.

Debbie Kennett's Presentation,
photo courtesy of Max Blankfeld via Debbie Kennett
The presentations for the FTDNA stand were very exceptional.  Most speakers were from the U.K. which helps bridge the gap between cultures. Dr. Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona spoke about our ancestral origins, including the recent discovering of haplogroup A0 and A00 initiated from citizen scientist Bonnie Schrack who had called attention to a curious situation in her DNA project and involved the geneticists. Debbie Kennett explained to novices the three major tests, and her presentation was well received. Scottish DNA was covered by Alasdair McDonald, and Tyrone Bowes explained how to use history and geography to find where our ancestral name probably originated. Katherine Borges spoke about the DNA of various famous people. Bruce Winney presented A Genetic Analysis of the People of the British Isles, and Chris Pomery informed the crowd about Traditional Genealogy and DNA One-Name Studies. Max Blankfeld covered DNA and Female Lines.  The presentations covered a nice range of topics and greatly informed the British population what is current in the DNA world.

We had our usual dinner at Pizza Express on Friday after the first day of the conference.  Max Blankfeld, Vice-President of Family Tree DNA, received his sheep from Brian Swann who for several years has made presentations to various members of our group.

The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) stand listed 107 surnames with variants...more than in past years...which could receive a free Y-37 marker test at the courtesy of the respective project administrators.  All one needed to do was to be male with the surname and walk by to notice your name on the chart.  Seventeen tests were given away for the following surnames:  Burton, Dunbar, Fitzgerald, Hunt, Parker, Pearse, Phillips, Phillipson, Stokes, Taylor and Wright.  Some  administrators of these projects received more than one tester.  Congratulations to all of them.  I greatly encourage DNA administrators to use the resources available online for the U.K. to bring to the present probable male testers and invite them to show up at next year's conference.  In some cases, this may be the only way to connect to your lineage in the homeland.

Kensington Palace
Most of our crew from the U.S. arrived Wednesday February 20th and immediately went into full action with a trip to Keningston Palace.  The docents there were wonderfully knowledgeable. We had tea on the grounds at the Orangery, sharing three different teas and cutting the little cakes in to portions. It's nice to see we can be polite when needed! (teasing)

Down House
Every year Brian Swann has suggested and organized some great adventures.  This year he out-did himself! The Down House trip (Charles Darwin's home) on Thursday and the trip to Cambridge and on to Hinxton  to tour the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute the following Monday were fantastic!

Emily and Brian at Sanger
Who could resist visiting the home of Charles Darwin, the man who established that all species of life descended from common ancestors and pioneered the idea of evolution?  Who could resist visiting The Eagle Pub for lunch where Francis Crick and James Watson first discussed the Double Helix, according to the plaque outside the door, and The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute where in 1992, this new center was formed to be the British arm of the Human Genome Project's sequencing efforts?

The Gang at Stonehenge

For Tuesday, Derrell Teats, one of our group from the U.S. organized a tour of Stonehenge, Bath and other interesting cities along the route.  Our guide was delightful and informative.

Maurice Gleeson and Siobhan Peal
At Stonehenge, Maurice Gleeson and I ran into a spiritualist who runs the Talking With Capricorn blog.  She states she is a tetragametic chimera which is very interesting to us genetic genealogists.  The all-day trip was wonderful, returning us to the B&B just after 9 p.m.  We needed a bit more daylight at the last stop, Avebury, to see the largest set of standing stones which are three circles, one within the other and to have more time at the The Lions Pub in the center of inner circle of stones.

Emily and Mayor Sheila Stuart,
photo courtesy of Cynthia Wells
While in Cambridge, I had the pleasure of meeting the mayor who just happens to be an Oregonian.  After seeing a news article about her in my local paper, I emailed to congratulate her and to invited her to have lunch with us at the Eagle Pub, just around the corner from her office.  I greatly enjoyed visiting her.  She volunteered herself and her husband for a DNA test, so promptly two kits came flying at us from the other tables of friends. She promptly returned the samples to FTDNA, and I'm sure she and I are both anxious to see the results.

It may be difficult to top this year's trip as far as our side trips are concerned, but there is so much to see and do that no one would be disappointed in the coming years.  This is your invitation to join us next year!

15 Mar 2013