Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maglio: The Surname DNA Project

   Have you had your DNA tested?  Did you get many close matches or like me did you get none?  I have no matches with the same surname.  The closest matches to my Italian yDNA were some Welsh guys.  If the Welsh connection were a few generations back, I’d be worried about my paternal line.  My closest DNA connections are 2000 to 3000 years ago.  This really doesn’t help me find my Italian roots.

   This doesn’t mean that my DNA testing has been in vain.  I’ve learned a lot about my origins.  I’ve used the DNA to trace my tribal migration from the Caucasus Mountains, across Europe and down the boot of Italy.  There is even a strong argument that a connection exists to the Etruscan culture.

   Since I am the first Maglio to be tested on the Family Tree DNA site, I guess it is up to me to start a project to gather all of the distantly related Maglios together.

   For all of you who have been tested and have no close connections it’s time for us to take the bull by the horns.  Let’s be the leaders.  Let’s create our own projects.  So, I’m creating a Maglio surname project on Family Tree DNA.  They make it easy and it’s free.  It’s free because they hope to get revenue as you invite other folks with the same surname to be tested.  FTDNA does offer discounted tests to project members.  It’s a win-win.

   “If you build it, they will come.”  Just because I start a project doesn’t mean that the Maglios will come flocking.  I’m going to need to get the message out.  I’m going to have to find them.  Like any relationship, it will take some wooing.

   Rather than just contacting random Maglios and asking for DNA, I have set up a Facebook group called Maglio Famiglia.  I plan to invite every Maglio on Facebook.  This will give us an opportunity to chat, compare stories and build connections.

   If anyone out there has been through this already, tell me about your experience building either a Facebook or Family Tree DNA surname project.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TMRCA: DNA and the 4th Dimension

Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor

TMRCA answers the question, ‘OK, you and I are related. How far back in time do we have to go to find the connection?’

Take any two organisms, two mushrooms, two rabbits or two humans and compare their DNA. If you know how the DNA is different and you know the rate of mutation for the differences then you can calculate how far back in time they have a common ancestor.

In this mini-webinar I will explore how close or distantly in time various DNA tests will take you and various tools for calculating and visualizing TMRCA data.

You can find the webinar on my YouTube page.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mapping Your Tribe

If I asked you where your ancestors were last year or 100 years ago, you could probably tell me.  If you have a yDNA or mtDNA test in your hands, you could tell me where your ancestors were 30,000 years ago.

Where were your ancestors 1000 or 2000 years ago?  What events did they witness?  What history did they make?

Join me as we combine DNA and history to Map Your Tribe.

Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm
22 Elm St, Gardner MA – American Legion Post #129

Where did you come from? 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What’s in My gDNA Toolbox

   If I were talking about my regular genealogy toolbox, I would be listing links to all the great websites with digital records (e.g. FamilySearch).  I would also talk about great repositories like NARA, BPL or the Mass Archives.  Or, I would mention tips and techniques like Nearest Neighbor and the Hidden Treasures in old photos.

   Now that we are adding DNA as a tool for genealogy, we have to pack a new toolbox.

The Databases – record sources to compare your DNA against

· – Y-DNA database
· – mtDNA database
· – DNA Project database
· – DNA Project database
· – DNA Project database

The Testing Companies – many different testing companies that are not all equal – do your homework

· – DNA testing  (my favorite)
· – DNA testing
· – DNA testing
· – DNA testing
· - DNA testing

Sources of gDNA Knowledge – There are many areas of genetic genealogy that are open for interpretation.  Read everything and come to your own conclusions.

· – Advocates for the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research
· Wikipedia  - Haplogroup details

Analysis Tools – DNA results love to be compared and analyzed

· – Whit Athey’s Haplogroup predictor
· - Dean McGee’s Y-DNA comparison tools
· - David Pike’s autosomal comparison tools
· - Autosomal comparison tools
· PHYLIP – phylogenetic tree creation

DNA Data Management – you need to organize and manage your DNA records

· Legacy Family Tree – supports DNA records (the one I use)
· Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest and The Master Genealogist – supports DNA
· Excel – spreadsheet tools
· Google Maps – User defined maps – you never know when you might want to build your own custom map

   This is hardly an exhaustive list.  I use most of these tools on a weekly basis.  I’m always looking for new tools (or creating ones that don’t exist).

   What's in your toolbox?  Let me know what tools you are using.


Monday, March 5, 2012

#genealogy + #DNA = #gDNA : Tweeting about the generations

   I use Twitter.  I tweet.  Maybe I’m a twit.

   I don’t use Twitter as it was designed to be used.  Twitter started as a microblogging service (a web based personal journal in the form of a 140-character posting).  The intent was to communicate – “What are you doing right now?”  The last thing I want to know is the mundane activity anyone is doing right now.

   The best (or worst) thing about new technology is that folks will figure new and innovative ways to use it that its creators never imagined.

   I’m not going to take credit for being innovative.  I learned how to use Twitter from some folks that have been tweeting for a long time.  Rather than talking about what I’m eating or the first fluff that enters my brain, I use Twitter to publicize and promote my genealogy.

   Like Facebook, it is about making connections.  In Facebook, once you have friended someone it becomes a two-way street of information sharing.  Twitter is a little different with its followers and following.  Connecting with someone in Twitter (following) is a one-way street.  I have now ‘subscribed’ to see whatever they have to say.  In turn those same people or others will ‘subscribe’ (follower) to what I have to say.  It creates a very different kind of network.

   What I post in Twitter becomes public.  The tweet is seen by my followers and by anyone following the hashtags that I use to categorize my post.  It is the hashtag that really makes Twitter powerful.  Hopefully, you have seen hashtags, they look like - #topic.  I use #genealogy, #familyhistory and #ancestry to categorize my posts.  Depending on what I’m promoting, I may try to find a very specific tag like - #oldphotos or #DNA.  Anyone can then search all of Twitter based on a topic.  This is perfect if you want to know what folks are saying about the #CivilWar or #Lincoln.

   One of my specialties is genetic genealogy.  When I post on this topic, I include both #genealogy and #DNA.  Unless someone searches on both hashtags they won’t find my post easily.

   I propose the use of the following hashtags to help categorize genetic genealogy tweets.

  • #gDNA – genealogical DNA topics (I know that gDNA also stands for genomic DNA, but those folks don’t appear to be tweeting.)
  • #yDNA – Y-DNA topics
  • #mtDNA – Mitochondrial DNA topics
  • #atDNA – Autosomal DNA topics

   If you tweet and you are not using hashtags, start.  If you tweet about genetic genealogy, start using these tags (pretty-please).

   You can find me @OriginHunters.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Adding Y-DNA to Your Entire Tree

   In this mini-webinar I’ll show you how to find Y-DNA records for your ancestors.  This method is easier than tracking down living cousins to test and it’s free.

   There are many DNA databases out there with free access for you to search.  When these records are created, most will have entries for the distant ancestor.  That ancestor is our target.

   When we find these records, we will have haplogroups and haplotypes to record.  I’ll show you how Legacy manages DNA records.

   Once you have your tree festooned with DNA you’ll be ready for even bigger projects.

Start the mini-webinar here!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Cousin Otzi: A Story Written in DNA

   There has been a lot in the news lately about Cousin Otzi.   They talk about the fact that he had brown eyes, was lactose intolerant, was suffering from Lyme disease and that he was murdered.  What they don’t talk about was that he liked long walks along the glacier, a nice goat steak every once in a while and that he would give the pelt off his back for a friend.

   As soon as the world learned that they were going to test Otzi’s DNA the conjecture began.  Most folk assumed that Otzi would be part of haplogroup I (one of the earliest groups in Europe) or R1b (the largest genetic group in Western Europe).

   Europe is dominated by haplogroups I1, I2, R1a and R1b.  The rest of the landscape has a scattering of E, G, J and N.

   Otzi’s Y-DNA haplogroup was leaked late last year and confirmed two days ago as G2a2b (formerly G2a4).  My haplogroup is G2a3b.  This means that Otzi and I share a common G2a ancestor.

   G2a2b, G2a3b and G2a are subgroups of G.  Every time a new mutation within a haplogroup is identified a subgroup gets created or expanded.  Here is an example of a long R1b subgroup - R1b1a2a1a1b.

   While Otzi’s haplotype hasn’t been published yet, I did review a number of G2a2b records with the same L91+ mutation.  I ran an MRCA (most recent common ancestor) between my data and this group of Otzi-like folk and a conservative estimate makes our connection about 7,200 years ago.  I can picture our ancestor, and at least two of his sons, sitting around a fire somewhere along the Danube River.

   I look forward to getting to know Cousin Otzi better.