Friday, September 28, 2018

More DNA tips

Tip 1:  Cheryl sent this video along “for any of us using DNA”.

Mirror trees are a tool discussed in many online genetic genealogy groups as a methodology for figuring out how you are related to your AncestryDNA Matches. Join Crista Cowan and Angie Bush...

Two notable DNA experts discussing Mirror Trees in a 23-minute video.  They use mirror trees attached their own trees to identify close relations.  They both participate in Facebook pages where they recommend asking questions.  They are Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques (Blaine Bettinger’s page) and AncestryDNA for Dummies (don’t be offended).

Tip 2:  Another fun feature added to AncestryDNA is “Map View”.  Just to the left of the Search Matches button on your match list.  Click on Map View to see your matches located on a map.  I found a 4th cousin match that lives in Bellingham.  I better write a message.

Another way this could be used is to look for matches who live in a county where you want to research.

Mark your calendar for the next Genies Meeting on Monday, October 15.  For more info on any topics email ferndalegenies at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Transferring Raw DNA Data, Lisa Louise Cooke

We had a great meeting yesterday and enjoyed seeing people we hadn’t seen for a while.  It was truly my vision of “friends helping friends do genealogy”.

We focused on DNA.  Usually I say start at AncestryDNA and do everything you can there.  Then start transferring your raw DNA to other testing sites.  Transferring to other sites is especially important for unknown parentage and for recent ancestors from non-US countries. It's called "fishing in all the ponds."  You never know where your critical match may have tested.

Today we are suggesting everyone transfer raw DNA data to MyHeritage.  MyHeritage currently has free upload and access to all their tools but this will end December 1.  Uploading after that will be free but some tools will have charges.  Uploading before December 1 grandfathers you in…everything free forever.  (We hope!)

How to Transfer…The short version: You can do everything without a membership or a tree.  At AncestryDNA go to Settings in the upper right corner, then Download Raw DNA Data.  Follow the directions including entering your password and responding to an email.  At MyHeritage go to the DNA tab and in the drop-down menu go to Upload Raw Data.

When you create a raw DNA download file, save it.  You can use this file to transfer to other testing sites.  It never changes.  It is a zip file; don’t unzip it.

If you have tested at multiple services, just pick one.  Don’t transfer from all the places you have tested.

The long version:  Thomas MacEntee wrote a post in January 2018 that covers all the testing companies and how to download and upload. It’s more detailed and has links to the instructions at the sites.  Enjoy it here:

Our next Genies meeting is Monday, October 15.  Meanwhile, if you are looking for a road trip, one of my favorite speakers Lisa Louise Cooke will be in Port Townsend for the fall seminar of the Puget Sound Genealogical Society on next Saturday, September 22.  I like her because she is so practical and so technical and funny.  Her topics have to do with Google, Organization, Cold Case Techniques and Future Technology.  What more could you ask?  It’s all day for $55 including lunch and all the details are here:   

See you soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

DNA Explosion Part 2

This is Part 2 of the DNA Explosion.  There are new DNA tools coming all the time. That plus CeCe Moore’s workshop in August gives us a lot of new possibilities to share.  If you are a beginner, you can pass this by.  Otherwise, these are tools that can make your DNA pursuit easier.  We will discuss some at our monthly meeting on 9/17.

CeCe starts by defining triangulation which is the use of three matching DNA testers to identify a cluster or group.  There are two types.  Pedigree triangulation is matching family trees.  Segment triangulation is matching segments of DNA.  CeCe and also Diahan Southard promote Pedigree triangulation as the most efficient and effective way to form “genetic networks”. 

Genetic Networks are created using the shared match tools at Ancestry and other testing websites. 
To keep track of her information CeCe said she uses mostly the Note feature of AncestryDNA and a spiral notebook.  I am using the Note feature for the first time.  Before I avoided them because that info seemed hidden with no way to take out for analysis.  One help for this is the MedBetter Chrome extension (or add-in) described below.

Many people have been disappointed with the lack of tools at AncestryDNA.  Some are so disappointed that they write their own programs and provide them to everyone.  Everything I am describing is free unless noted.

Today I will mention two Chrome add-ins and some other programs.  A Chrome add-in is a program downloaded from the Chrome Store that works with the Chrome operating system.  They can’t change your DNA data or results but can change the way they are displayed. 

MedBetterDNA has been written by Devore Software.  It is only for AncestryDNA. I am one of the people who thought it was awkward to see the Notes feature.  MedBetter displays any Notes you have entered on the Main Match List page.  It also lets you remove the "no tree" folks from the Match list and filter hashtags that you have used in Notes.   To find this google “Chrome Store” then search for medbetterdna.

DNA Match Labeling is another Chrome add-in.  It is by DNA Central, Blaine Bettinger’s group.  Many people wanted a way to group Ancestry matches.  This add-in gives you 8 colored dots that display on the Match List.  You can use the colors to identify family lines or genetic networks.  To find this google “Chrome store” then search for DNA Match Labeling.

CeCe mentioned that Dana Leeds recently took CeCe's week-long class.  Then Dana developed a method of "color clustering" genetic networks. Some are calling this the Leeds Method.  At the time of our workshop CeCe hadn't had time to look at it but expects to like it.  It is well-explained in three posts at It uses color on a spreadsheet to identify genetic networks.  There are also some posts at her blog

Instead of a notebook like CeCe, I use Excel spreadsheets.  If you aren't using spreadsheets and want to start, I will help.  It is especially useful if you want to sort your information.

Another brand-new tool is DNA Match Manager. This free tool from Heirloom Software lets you quickly and easily download your DNA match information from:

Ancestry (multiple tests supported)
23 & Me
Family Tree DNA
GedMatch (multiple tests supported)

This creates a .csv (comma-separated values) file which can be loaded into a spreadsheet.

Match Manager is fast.  It downloads tens of thousands of DNA matches from multiple sites in record time.  It replaces some older tools like Ancestry Helper.  Don’t use Ancestry Helper.  It takes all weekend.
As I said, this is new.  I had some trouble with it so ask for help if you go down this path.

To get the link to DNA Match Manager, go to  Fill out the form and they will email you the link.

DNA Painter is another new one.  It paints chromosome segments which is complicated.  The best feature is the shared cM tool which can help you to narrow down the possible relationships for a match based on the number of centimorgans you share with them.  Click on the “shared cM tool” link above to go straight to it.

There are three other programs: GedMatch (premium tools $10 per month), DNAgedcom ($5 per month) and Genome Mate Pro.  These are more complicated and we can investigate those with you as you progress.

I know this is all over-whelming.  When you are ready, there are Genies to help you.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

DNA Explosion, Meeting Monday

It has been another busy week of announcements about DNA.  So DNA will be one of our topics at our Genies meeting this Monday 9/17.  As always, 1:00 at the Ferndale Library.  Setup and networking starting at 12:30. We welcome everyone. The Genies can help you get started or dig deeper into the technology.

You may think the news that follows is beyond you but we will dial it back and help you at our Genies meeting on Monday.

MyHeritage News
For everyone: In the two years since MyHeritage introduced DNA testing they have earned their place in the top-tier of DNA testing.  They have been responsive to providing the services and tools that genealogists have requested.  They rival and exceed some of the others.  This week they announced something we should perk up our ears to.  They have provided free transfers of raw DNA data from the other testing companies to MyHeritage.  The transfers will continue to be free but starting December 1st they will begin charging for some features. 

Now is the time to transfer your raw DNA data to MyHeritage.  You may not use it for now but you will be grandfathered in and not have to pay charges in the future.  Even if you don’t do anything, you have put yourself out there where someone else can find you.  We can help you do this at the meeting.

Some Bloggers
I will use this opportunity to introduce you to some bloggers.  Often I find that the bloggers give a more complete description of changes than the company gave along with a link to the company’s announcement.  The bloggers often try out the changes and give advice about how to put changes into action.

Meet Debbie Kennett who blogs at Cruwys News from the British Isles and comes highly recommended by DNA expert Diahan Southard.  Debbie blogged about the MyHeritage changes on Thursday, September 13 here.

AncestryDNA News
AncestryDNA’s big news is a big change to everyone’s Ethnicity Estimate.  They have greatly increased their reference points and changed their ethnicity algorithms.  When you go into your DNA Story section, you will be presented with some questions and finally a chance to accept the new estimate permanently (though they give you a chance to return to your old estimate).  I wonder why anyone would go back when the accuracy and the science have improved.  Probably want to stick with their lederhosen.

Also on September 13th Debbie Kennett blogged on the “Updated Ethnicity Estimates now available for everyone at from AncestryDNA”.  At the end she has a list of links to other bloggers.
Debbie writes:
“I always used to say that "ethnicity" estimates should be taken with a large pinch of salt and are really only of entertainment value, but we are now starting to get the stage where the results for some people can provide a reasonable approximation of their ancestry. “

Roberta Estes at DNA Explained blog has written about her new results.

Here’s the link to Leah Larkin's commentary:

DNA Bloggers
There are thousands of genealogy bloggers so here is a list of the top bloggers on DNA.  Most have a signup and push the posts to your email.  Many have comments from their readers too.

Blaine Bettinger,, infrequent posts but always important.

Roberta Estes,, longer, frequent posts, filled with step-by-step instructions and screen shot, you name a DNA topic and she has written a blogpost.  Also has posts about her ancestors which you may or may not be interested in.

Debbie Kennett,  She tries out all the new features.

Kitty Cooper, tries everything, she writes tools.

Leah Larkin,, Cheryl follows her

Top two DNA Facebook pages
DNA Detectives- CeCe Moore, adoptions and unknown parentage
Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques, Blaine Bettinger

There are literally thousands of genealogy Facebook groups.  Try a surname or a county or a foreign country.  Most software and websites have Facebook groups.  The best place to ask a question is a group focused on exactly what you want to know.

Hope to see you on Monday to explore some of these topics.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Find My Past Free Weekend

Thomas MacEntee alerts us again.  If you have roots in the British Isles, here's your chance.

Get FREE ACCESS* to over 2.7 BILLION records this weekend at Findmypast! This offer is valid through Monday, September 10th and for the duration of the free access period, all who register an account with Findmypast will be able to access all of the following resources for free:
  • Millions of records you won't find anywhere else, including Home Office records, Police files, millions of England & Wales Crime, prisons & punishment records and original documents from the British India Office.
  • Civil birth, marriage and death records dating back to the early 19th century.
  • The largest online collection of UK parish records, dating back to the early 1500s.
  • The most comprehensive online collection of British Military service records.
  • The largest collection of Irish family history records available online, with more than twice the number available on any other family history website.
  • The 1939 register, one of the most important twentieth century genealogical resources for England and Wales.
  • Passenger lists for ships sailing to and from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America and beyond.
  • The largest online collection of England & Wales Electoral registers, containing more than 220 million names.
  • The exclusive Catholic Heritage Archive, a ground-breaking initiative that aims to digitize the historical records of the Catholic Church in North America, Britain and Ireland for the very first time.
Use the following links to get started:
  • US and Canada: click HERE
  • Australia: click HERE
  • Ireland: click HERE
Have a great weekend of exploring and searching at Findmypast - free access valid through Monday, September 10th, 2018.  
*British, Irish, US and World Newspapers, the PERiodical Source Index, UK Electoral Registers 2002-2014 and UK Companies House Directors 2002-2014 are not included in this free access promotion. Free access begins on 7 September at 09.00 (BST) and ends on 10 September at 23.59 (BST).

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Goodbye, Rick, and More!

This is our last goodbye to Rick who is setting off on his cross-country trip with his wife this Friday.  With stops along the way they are headed to their temporary rental in North Carolina and their house building project.  Rick has been a valued member of our genealogy community and someone who has helped many over the last few years.  He will be following the Genies through our blog, but his presence will be greatly missed.  Fond farewell, Rick!

In other news Thomas MacEntee alerts us to a webinar he is presenting today along with a special deal.  We all use others’ research and he’s presenting his strategy for doing that successfully.

FREE WEBINAR What's Been Done: Using Someone Else's Genealogy Research presented by Thomas MacEntee. We’ve missed the live presentation but it is free at Legacy Family Tree Webinars until September 11th.  

“Whether you are new to genealogy or you've been working on your family history for years, incorporating the research of others can always be tricky. Here's how to develop a proven strategy to benefit from the work of other genealogists.”

Thomas’ special deal is a 15% discount on an annual subscription to Legacy Family Tree Webinars.  The best part of the subscription is 24/7 access to the 749 webinars with handouts available in their library.   Use this link to access webinar or subscribe:

Another area getting publicity lately is “genetic counseling”.

Our Ferndale Library Manager Sarah sent along this article from Forbes written by her cousin Ellen Matloff.

A google for The Atlantic magazine turned up numerous articles about genetic counseling.  One mentioned Brianne Kirkpatrick, a genetic counselor who is also a genealogy hobbyist.  She was also interviewed by the Extreme Genes podcast #249.  She is described as “the only genetic counselor who specializes in people who get unexpected results in their DNA testing.”  She describes the grief that results from these surprises.

Kirkpatrick has small private groups online and others have started Facebook groups, such as DNA NPE Friends.  We can remember this so we can help people in our group who face this situation.

More than 12 million people have undergone DNA testing so far and Genome Biology projects that by 2021 that number will rise to upwards of 100 million.  It has certainly moved into the mainstream of commerce and journalism.

Until next time, enjoy!