Volume 4, Issue 5
October 12, 2005

The World's Only Newsletter Dedicated to Genetic Genealogy

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In This Issue

Editor's Corner

Welcome to this issue of Facts & Genes. Our newsletter contains articles about Genetic Genealogy, and keeps you informed of the latest scientific advances in this exciting new field. Facts & Genes is the only publication devoted to Genetic Genealogy.

With this issue, we would like to welcome to Family Tree DNA the public participants from the Genographic Project. Members of the Genographic Project now have an option on their Genographic Project Personal Page to join Family Tree DNA. More information is provided in an article below titled "Genetic Genealogy: Welcome Genographic Project Public Participants."

Group Administrators who want to attend our two day 2nd International Conference on Genetic Genealogy, in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters for National Geographic, can review the syllabus and register online. The deadline to register to attend is October 15, 2005. For more information, see the article below titled "For Group Administrators: 2nd International Conference on Genetic Genealogy." Seating is limited, and we encourage you to register now.

If you change your email address, be sure to change your address for the newsletter. To change your email address, go to the link below.


This link is also provided at the end of each newsletter.

Send your comments, suggestions, tips, and feedback to: editor@FamilyTreeDNA.com. We hope you enjoy this issue.

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Past Issues
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In the News: Family Tree DNA Announcements

Family Tree DNA is pleased to announce milestones achieved.

Family Tree DNA now has over 42,000 records in our database of Y-DNA results. We also have over 2,300 Surname Projects, which include over 17,000 surnames.

If you are thinking of starting a Surname Project, now is the time to get started. Our educational resources, combined with our email and telephone consultation, help you each step of the way. Feeling confused or overwhelmed will quickly pass and be replaced with the excitement of new discoveries.

Anyone with experience with family history research can start a Surname Project. We supply the tools and guidance so your Surname Project is successful.

There are just two steps to take to become a Group Administrator of a Surname Project:

1. Find out if a Surname Project exists for your surname. Click on the link below to search our database of Surname Projects:


2. If a Surname Project has not been established for your surname, then use the email contact below to establish a Surname Project, or to discuss establishing a Surname Project:
leahw@familytreedna.com for Leah Wark

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Educational Resources: Upcoming Events

If you would like to learn more about Genetic Genealogy, we invite you to attend the events listed below. Please see the relevant web sites for registration information.

November 4-5, 2005
2nd International Conference on Genetic Genealogy
National Geographic Society Headquarters
Washington, D.C.
Open to: Family Tree DNA Group Administrators

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Genetic Genealogy: Welcome Genographic Project Public Participants

We would like to welcome all the participants who have joined Family Tree DNA from the Genographic Project.

Joining Family Tree DNA is an excellent opportunity to learn more about your origin and find those to whom you are related. Plus, there is no charge to join Family Tree DNA.

To join Family Tree DNA, at your Genographic Personal Page, click on the tab "See Your Results." Then page down to the bottom of the page, where you will see "Now that you know about your deep ancestral origins, Family Tree DNA can help you use your results from the Genographic Project test to advance your family genealogy and learn if you share a common ancestor with other individuals that performed the same test. Learn more." Click on "Learn More."

After clicking on "Learn More," you will be guided through the steps to join Family Tree DNA.

When you join Family Tree DNA, you will want to join a Surname Project if you took a Y-DNA test, assuming a Surname Project exists for your Surname. Surname Projects typically cover a surname and include the variants for the surname. Those whom you match within a Surname Project are those to whom you are related since the adoption of surnames. Since those who are in a Surname Project typically set their search criteria to the Surname Project, you wouldn't see these matches unless you join the Surname Project.

For Y DNA, the surname is an important element when comparing your DNA result to the result of others. At the time surnames were adopted, many men would have had the same or a close DNA results, and these men most likely adopted different surnames. By comparing your result to others with your surname, you will find those to whom you are related since the adoption of surnames.

The time frame for the adoption of surnames depends on the location of your ancestors in the past. For example, in England, the major period of the formation of English heredity surnames began in about 1250. Surnames have changed considerably in form over the centuries, and many variants arose, of which not all survive to the current day. The adoption of hereditary surnames was a slow and irregular process. Some rich Londoners possessed hereditary surnames by the second half of the 12th century. In the countryside, the idea of hereditary surnames took longer to take hold. By about 1350, over half the rural families had firm surnames.

A Surname Project has one or more Group Administrators. The Group Administrator(s) will receive an email when you join a Surname Project, alerting them to your arrival from the Genographic Project. The Group Administrator is available to help you interpret your results and your matches.

For those who took a mtDNA test, joining a Surname Project is not important, so an option is not provided. The surname of your female ancestors typically changed with each marriage.

Once you join Family Tree DNA, a Personal Page will automatically be set up for you. On your Personal Page, you will see tabs which you can click. These selections will provide more information about your test results. Be sure to click the Match tab to find those whom you match.

When you decide to take a DNA test, you begin a journey of discovery. This journey is a very interesting and exciting experience. The experience continues after you receive your results, as new test results are added to our database, and as notification emails are sent out to those who match.

If you want to view sample pages of what you will see from your Personal Page, visit our demo:

If you are thinking of becoming a Group Administrator, you can view the tools available for Group Administrators, at the Group Administrator demo. Click on the link below, and then click Demo-1:

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mtDNA: MitoSearch

As a public service, Family Tree DNA provides www.mitosearch.org. At this site, you can enter your mtDNA test result and look for others whom you match. This database is valuable to find others who match and who tested at another company.

Family Tree DNA customers can easily upload their mtDNA results to Mitosearch from their mtDNA Matches page. In the box, click on the link "Click here to upload to Mitosearch.org."

Those who have tested at another vendor can enter their results at mitosearch.org by clicking the selection "Create a new user" from the home page for MitoSearch. If you have entered results in Ysearch, then click on "Ysearch users - create a mitosearch account."

The mtDNA test is available in 2 versions. These tests are called:

mtDNA Plus

The test called mtDNA provides a result for the region of mtDNA called HVR1. The test called mtDNA Plus tests two regions of mtDNA, the regions called HVR1 and HVR2.

If you want to find mtDNA matches in a genealogical time frame, select the mtDNA Plus test.

To order an mtDNA test, either order as a member of a Surname Project, or click on the link below:

Order an mtDNA test

For more information on mtDNA testing, see:

mtDNA: Cambridge Reference Sequence (CRS)

Understanding Your Results: mtDNA

Understanding Your Results: mtDNA Matches

Understanding Your Results: mtDNA Haplogroups

Understanding Your Results: mtDNA

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Y DNA: Join the Genographic Project

Your Personal Page has a tab labeled "Genographic Project," where you can join the Genographic Project and learn more about your distant origins. Y DNA test results and/or mtDNA test results can be uploaded to the Genographic Project.

The Genographic Project is a real time effort to map how humankind populated the earth. It is a five-year research partnership between National Geographic and IBM with support from the Waitt Family Foundation and public participation through Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA customers can join the Genographic Project without having to order a kit and perform a new test. The steps to join the Genographic Project are easy. You will be asked to agree to the Project's consent terms and to contribute a nominal fee of $15. Proceeds from this fee will be directed to the Legacy Project which will support local education and cultural preservation efforts to benefit the participating indigenous populations.

Once you join the Genographic Project, a Personal Page will be created for you at the Genographic Project. Please allow a few days for this step.

Only Y DNA results with an unambiguous Haplogroup prediction, or who have taken a SNP test, will be able to join the Genographic Project. If your Haplogroup predication is not unambiguous, you will need to order a Haplogroup test first. When you receive your Haplogroup results, you will then be able to join the Genographic Project.

Your Personal Page at the Genographic Project will provide information on your distant origins. This information includes a multi-media presentation and an interactive map.

For more information on the Genographic Project:

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Recruiting Participants: Surnames

Building a knowledge base about the surnames in your Surname Project provides a framework for interpreting results from participants and will provide direction for the Group Administrator for your recruiting efforts. For example, knowledge about where your surname is located today, and the count of persons who have it, is beneficial to target recruiting efforts. This information is often called the surname population and distribution.

Knowing about the population and distribution of your surname in the past is also helpful information.

To get started learning more about your surname and variants, start a surname population and distribution chart. Comprehensive directions are provided in the prior issue of Facts & Genes shown below:

Managing a Surname Project: Surname Distribution and Population

Another source of knowledge is found by reviewing census indexes, such as those found at Ancestry.com or Heritage Quest. Reviewing these indexes will give you a rough idea of migrations that have occurred in the past and the country of origin. For example, a review of the index to the 1860 US Census for your surname might show two primary locations in the US for the surnames, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with just one family in Vermont. The families in Wisconsin are all from Ireland, the Pennsylvania families are from England, and the Vermont family show the country of birth as Canada. The Canada family probably would have come from somewhere else prior to Canada. Today, the surnames are still found in these states. You can then target your recruiting efforts in these states today if any of these family trees are not already represented in the Surname Project.

A review of the 1861 UK Census index for the surnames shows the birth country listed primarily as England, though a few families in Lancashire and Cumberland show Ireland as the country of birth. Again, recruiting can be targeted to those geographic areas. In addition, since the children were then born in England, it is possible that later migrations to the US showing a birthplace of England might actually reflect families originally from Ireland, especially if the genealogy research has not made it back to the time period to find the connection to Ireland.

Migrations often resulted in a variant surname developing. This was caused by a difference in pronunciation between the two locations. Even within a country, there are pronunciation differences, so a migration within a country could result in a variant surname developing.

Migrations are also one of the most difficult genealogy problems and often result in mistaken connections. Finding the location for the ancestor prior to the migration is often very frustrating and very difficult.

Another source of information about your surname is in books called surname dictionaries. These books are the authors' attempts, using linguistics and the first evidence of a surname, to determine the meaning of a surname. Surname dictionaries are compiled by philologists concerned with establishing the earliest recorded forms of names so that they could interpret the meaning.

Typically, a Surname dictionary will also provide a list of variants for the surname. This list of variants, as well as any information about location, is the important information to gather. There are multiple surname dictionaries, so it would be important to gather the information from each book since the information may differ. If your library has only a limited number of surname dictionaries, you can order copies of the entry for your surname in the other books through interlibrary loan.

Many of the surname dictionaries also have a brief overview of the development and evolution of surnames.

The information in a surname dictionary about your surname may or may not be correct. For example, "There are now attacks on the techniques and findings of P.H. Reaney, author of a Dictionary of British Surnames and The Origin of English Surnames. ... local and family historians say that Reaney's etymologies do not fit local evidence for how a surname came to be adopted."
[Source: Hey, David "Family Names and Family History" Hambledon & London, London 2000]

Even though a Surname Dictionary may not be 100% correct for your surname, discovering and recording the information from multiple dictionaries is an important step. The surname dictionaries are an excellent source for developing your list of variants.

The Dictionary of American Family Names from Oxford University Press can be found online at Ancestry.com Family Facts:


If your surname is a low frequency surname, you may consider gathering all occurrences of the surname. Gathering all occurrences of a surname is a technique often used when a brickwall is encountered. For example, extract all the persons from the census indexes. This chart of census data can then sorted on different fields, often providing enlightening information. This data chart may also be very helpful when trying to unravel mistaken connections or when providing guidance to participants who need a suggestion for further research.

When building a data chart for a source, be sure to search on all possible variant spellings so no persons are missed.

Your data chart may solve or provide clues to help participants with their research. Mistaken connections may become evident when you review the data.

Developing a knowledge base about your surname will help you in your role as a Group Administrator. You will be able to more effectively target your recruiting and have a framework in which to interpret results. You will also be able to provide guidance to participants, to help them with their research.

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For Group Administrators: 2nd International Conference on Genetic Genealogy

This year's International Conference on Genetic Genealogy for Group Project Administrators will be held in Washington, D.C., at the corporate headquarters for National Geographic, November 4-5, 2005.

The two-day event will feature leading experts in the field making presentations on a variety of topics related to the use of DNA testing for family history and deep ancestral origins.

Hosting this year's Conference at NGS headquarters reflects Family Tree DNA’s role performing the testing for the public participants in the Genographic Project. The Genographic Project is a five-year research partnership between National Geographic and IBM to study human migratory history.

Among the speakers will be Spencer Wells, author of “The Journey of Man”, the National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and the Project Director for the Genographic Project. Dr. Wells will speak about the Genographic Project, its goals, and how the genealogical community can participate.

The Conference on Genetic Genealogy for Group Project Administrators is open to genealogists from all over the world who currently manage Group Projects at Family Tree DNA and want to learn more about the advances of DNA testing for Genealogy and Anthropology.

For more information, a syllabus, and to register to attend, click on the link below:


Seating is limited, so register soon. Registration closes October 15th, 2005.

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For Group Administrators: Action Items

Action Items are suggested tasks for the Group Administrator to continually enhance their recruiting efforts. In the first issue of Facts & Genes, we started the year with a review of the Project Profile and reviewing the surname variants. In the second issue, we suggested a review and update, or creation, of your web site. In the third issue we suggested that you start your Surname Population and Distribution chart, and also make your participants and potential participants aware of our newsletter Facts & Genes. In the last issue, we suggested that you use the web sites and techniques suggested to build a mailing list in your email address book.

For this month, we have two suggested activities:

1. Surname variants
Listing surname variants in your project profile is very important. These variants should be surnames that exist today, that are expected to be a variant of the primary surname of your project.

You can list as many variants as are applicable in your Project Profile. From your Group Administrator Page, click "Project Profile Page." Scroll down until you see empty boxes. You will enter one surname per box. When you fill up all the boxes in your Project Profile, click update. Then click go through the steps above again, and there will be new empty boxes on your Project Profile Page. Continue entering surnames, clicking update, and going back to the Project Profile Page until you have entered all the variants.

Listing these variant surnames are very important for several reasons. First of all, potential participants may not be knowledgeable about their surname or know that their surname is a variant if it isn't listed. They may search the surnames, not see theirs, and move on.

The second reason is that Genographic Public Participants who decide to join Family Tree DNA are given a list of Surname Projects which match their surname. They can select to join one of these projects. If their surname isn't listed for a project, they will join Family Tree DNA as an individual, and the Group Administrator will miss out on the opportunity to add a participant. The individual will also miss out on the discoveries to be made as part of a Surname Project.

If you aren't knowledgeable regarding the variants for your surname, check several surname dictionaries. Most public libraries will have at least one surname dictionary available. Also, a copy of the entries for your surname from other dictionaries can be ordered through interlibrary loan. (In most cases the actual dictionary will not be available through interlibrary loan because these books are non-circulating.)

Selecting variants that don't apply does not benefit your Surname Project. For example, if you select a variant that is not applicable since it did not evolve from the same origin as any of the other surnames, or because it was not a common recording for your surnames, you will most likely get a group of participant results where there are very few matches. It would be better to focus on the true variants, and therefore participant results will provide more information to help with the genealogy research sooner.

2. Co-Administrator
Establishing a co-administrator is an important step. The role of the co-administrator varies and is determined by the Group Administrator in conjunction with the co-administrator. This role could be to share the tasks, where the tasks are divided between two or more Group Administrators. Or the role could be to simply administer the project when the Group Administrator is unavailable, such as for vacation or illness. In all cases, the role of the co-administrator is to take over as Group Administrator in the event of incapacity of the Group Administrator.

If a co-administrator hasn't been established for your Surname Project, we recommend that you establish a co-administrator.

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Case Studies in Genetic Genealogy

In each issue of the Newsletter, we present a situation which you may encounter as you utilize Genetic Genealogy testing for your family history research, followed by our recommendation.

Case Study
At 25 markers I had an exact match with a John Smith. I don't have any Smiths in my family tree, and he says he has no one with my surname in his family tree. Can you explain this?

Most likely, you are related to John Smith prior to the adoption of surnames.

At the time surnames were adopted, many men had the same or a close Y DNA result. These men would have adopted many different surnames.

Over time, Y DNA results change, or mutate. The process where two results mutate so the results now match is called convergence. Convergence would result in a close Y DNA result at the time of the adoption of surnames matching your Y DNA result today.

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Next Issue

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of Facts & Genes. Please feel free to contact the editor with your comments, feedback, questions to be addressed, as well as suggestions for future articles. If you are a Group Administrator and can help others with tips or suggestions, please contact: editor@FamilyTreeDNA.com

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