Volume 6, Issue 4
September 06, 2007

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. Since 2002, Facts & Genes provides valuable information about utilizing Genetic Genealogy testing for your genealogy, and keeps you informed about the latest advancements in the field.

Regardless of your background, everyone can learn about Genetic Genealogy and be able to use this new tool. A science background is not required. Facts & Genes covers information for everyone, regardless of your level of experience with Genetic Genealogy, whether you are just beginning to learn about this new tool for genealogy research, to those who have been managing a Surname Project for some time. If you are just starting to learn about Genetic Genealogy, you will probably encounter articles that are difficult to understand. As with learning any new subject matter, it will take a little time. You can save these articles for the future, or download them later from our web site, where all issues of the newsletter are available.

We appreciate your feedback about our newsletter. Please note that the email address to contact the Editor has changed to: EditorFG@FamilyTreeDNA.com

At any time, if you have any questions, or need any help, contact our customer support. The following link provides several selections. Using this link, you can direct your question to the appropriate person, which will result in a quicker response.

Please use the link below instead of replying to this newsletter.


Family Tree DNA provides a wide variety of educational resources to help you apply Genetic Genealogy to your family history research. In addition, email and telephone consultation is available. To begin your education, past issues of the newsletter are available at our web site. Click on the link below:


If you change your email address, be sure to change your address for the newsletter. For customers, to change your Email address, go to your Personal Page. Click Modify Contact Information. Change your email address, and click the box to the left of Facts & Genes Subscription, if it does not already have a check mark. For those that subscribe to the newsletter and are not customers, to change your email address contact: editor@FamilyTreeDNA.com

Send your comments, suggestions, tips, and feedback to:
Dexter Montgomery
We hope you enjoy this issue.
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Past Issues
If you missed any of the past issues, they can be found online at FamilyTreeDNA.com. Click on the link below for the past issues of Facts & Genes:



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In the News: Family Tree DNA Announcements

Family Tree DNA is pleased to announce milestones achieved and new features.

1. The following milestones have been achieved:

Family Tree DNA now has over 103,000 records in our database of Y-DNA results. We also have over 4,200 Surname Projects, which include over 66,000 surnames. Our mtDNA database has over 52,000 results.

2. 100,000+ Test Kits

In August, Family Tree DNA shipped the 100,000th test kit ordered! It seems like only yesterday, that we mailed kit 1. Each day, more and more genealogists are learning about the journey of discovery available by taking a DNA test for genealogy. With the largest database, and the broadest selection of tests available, each day we are helping genealogists make discoveries about their family tree and their personal ancestry.

3. Site Map

Family Tree DNA has implemented a site map at our web site, to make it easy to find an item among our resources. The site map can be accessed from the link below, or from the footer on each page.


4. 100 fastest growing companies in Houston

Family Tree DNA is pleased to announce that the company has been awarded the status of one of the 100 fastest growing companies in Houston, by the Houston Business Journal.

5. Careers Link

Family Tree DNA has implemented a Careers link, shown on the footer of each page, which lists the current job openings, for those that are interested.

Starting a Surname Project

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:
leahwt@familytreeDNA.com for Leah Wark

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Educational Resources: Events & Publications

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.

October 20-21, 2007
4th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy
for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators
Houston Marriott West Loop by the Galleria
Houston, TX

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Genetic Genealogy: Kit 100,000 and Counting

A little over seven years ago Family Tree DNA launched its website and waited for the email ‘box’ to jingle. Back in the early days of the New Millennia most people were scared of the prospect of volunteering their DNA to be used for anything… let alone a test to confirm ancestral Genealogy. How the times have changed!

You know that a market has reached the “Tipping Point” when a good idea is copied by others - in business we see this all the time. Today you can find people offering DNA testing who have little or no association with academic institutions and no scientists on staff. Today you will even find companies without comparative databases while we all know that a good database is essential to accomplish what you want to do with your test results.”

You know the market has reached its “Tipping Point” when you can no longer keep count of how many companies have rushed into a market. And… another way that you know a product has reached the “Tipping Point” is when what you tried to describe to friends a few years ago (with little or no success) is greeted with interest today (or at least with much less skepticism!).

Last week Family Tree DNA shipped our 100,000 test kit. The excitement on the discussion lists and from customers in general as we marked this sales milestone convinces me that our little ‘cottage industry’ has reached the “Tipping Point.” However, don’t take my word for this…ask your friends if they have heard of DNA testing for Genealogy… have they tried a test to see if they connect to someone with their name or have they thought of taking a DNA test that would reveal their deep Anthropological migration path. You might find a much more accepting response than you expected…and that, too, is proof that the market has reached the Tipping Point.
Bennett Greenspan

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Genetic Genealogy: Privacy

Family Tree DNA is committed to protecting your privacy as well as the integrity of your data. We strongly recommend that you do not share you Kit number and password with other organizations. Your kit number and password enables others to see and modify your personal contact information, see all your results, as well as see your matches. If you want to put your data in a public database, we provide the easy and automatic ability to transfer results to MitoSearch.org and YSearch.org, offering you total control of the information that you want to make public.

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Genetic Genealogy: Where to Start

Often, the first exposure to Genetic Genealogy gives the impression that the subject matter is difficult and scientific. This is not at all correct, and you don't need any education in science to benefit from taking a DNA test. Our web site provides educational material, your results come with educational material, and our Customer Service staff are available for email or telephone consultation.

To get started, decide whether you want to learn about your direct male line, your direct female line, or both. A direct male line is a man, his father, his father's father, and back in time. If you are female, you must find a man in the direct male line to test, to learn about your father and his direct male line. This man could be a brother, your father, a brother of your father, or anyone else in your direct male line. For men, we test the Y chromosome. Men have a Y chromosome from their father, and an X chromosome from their mother. This combination makes them male. Women have two X chromosomes, one from each parent. The Y chromosome has a section passed from father to son, typically unchanged. By testing this portion, you can learn about the direct male line.

A direct female line is a person, their mother, their mother's mother, and back in time. Both men and women inherit mtDNA, although only women pass on mtDNA. Since both men and women inherit mtDNA, both men and women can take this test. mtDNA is not on a chromosome. mtDNA is found in the nucleus of all our cells.

Occasionally, there may not be a surviving direct line male in your tree. In this case, if possible, you would try to take your tree further back in time, and then a male branch forward to today to find a direct line male.

Since Y DNA degrades quickly upon death, we don't recommend even considering exhuming a direct line male. On occasion, you can have success with a hair bulb, licked stamp or envelop, or like items from a deceased male, though this process is more expensive.

You may also decide that you want to test other direct lines in your family tree, such as your mother's brother, to learn about that direct male line.

Once you decide which direct line(s) you want to test, a test kit is ordered for the participant, and the test(s) are specified when the order is placed. For a direct line male, you would order a Y DNA test, and optionally, perhaps also a mtDNA test.

There are several choices for a Y DNA test: 12 markers, 25 markers, 37 markers or 67 markers.

More markers mean more information, and the decision is typically a budget issue. You can order 12, 25, or 37 markers initially, and upgrade later. This approach accommodates budgets, and the total cost is only slightly more.

We recommend that you order a Y DNA test within a Surname Project. This provides discounted project pricing, and the Group Administrator of the Surname Project is available to help you understand and apply your results. (Group Administrators are volunteers who administrate projects.) If a Surname Project doesn't exist, you can easily start one, and our staff will help you each step of the way. If you aren't ready to start a Surname Project, you can still move forward and order a test kit.

For ordering a mtDNA test, you also have choices, depending on the extent of the mtDNA molecule you want to test. mtDNA is more an anthropological test than a genealogical test. The test result will tell you your Daughter of Eve or Clan mother. For genealogical matches, order the test mtDNA Plus.

For more information on mtDNA tests, consult the last issue of our newsletter, for the article:
mtDNA: Haplogroups

The test kit will arrive in the mail, with directions and a short release form to sign. The release form is important, and enables you to participate in matching, where you see the name and email of those you match, and they see your name and email. The directions are easy to follow, and the swabs are enclosed which you use to swab the inside of your mouth.

Taking a DNA test is an opportunity to make discoveries. The result contains no personal information, and you will match or be a close match, to those to whom you are related.

You can begin your journey of discovery today, by ordering a test kit!

To search for a Surname Project to place an order within a project:

To order outside a Surname Project:

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Y DNA: Global View of the Surname

An important component of a Surname Project is taking a global view of the surname. This information is helpful to the Group Administrator, to target recruiting efforts, understand migrations, as well as to understand the number of different Y DNA results for the surname and those participants who do not have matches yet. Often a global view will prevent premature or incorrect conclusions that an event occurred that broke the Y DNA-Surname link, such as an illegitimate event where a male took the mother's surname, when in reality, the surname had multiple origins, and no one else has yet tested from all origins to provide a match.

A global view of the surname starts with where the surname resides today. This information tells you about past migrations, and perhaps missing branches of your tree can be found in other countries. Finding a lost branch is especially important if you don't have any surviving direct line males, and there were multiple males in prior generations.

With the vast number of online phone books available on the Internet, it is easy to determine where your surname exists today, and the count of households. Making a chart of the data is a easy way to keep track of the information. Over time, you can search the various phonebooks, starting with the most probable countries.

Perhaps you will find a high number with your surname in another country. The USA wasn't the only destination for immigrants. Where ever you find your surname today, there are probably a local genealogy society, which may have a members interest page, or Rootsweb may have a mailing list for the area. Posting about the Surname Project may help find participants.

In some cases, a family tree has daughtered out in one location, and the male line continues in another country.

If you don't know where your ancestors came from before their destination country, such as the USA, looking at the world population of the surname might provide a clue. Look at the chart from the view point of origin or destination country. The household count is helpful in analyzing the situation, though it is possible that the originating country has a smaller population today than the destination country.

If you discover that your surname doesn't exist anywhere else in the world except the USA - that doesn't mean it originated here. This situation is more difficult, though it does tell you that the surname evolved from a prior form. Determining the prior form will be the challenge, though pronunciation may be a clue to other spellings.

A migration in the past was not necessarily a direct route. For example, lower fares were promoted to Canada, so immigrants would first go to Canada, and then down to the USA. An immigrant may make their way from Continental Europe to the UK, work for a while, and then move on to another destination. Older children or other family members may have remained behind at the interim stop, and today there would be a population of the surname at the location.

A global view of the surname also tells you about the population today. If you have a high frequency surname, you benefit from more potential participants, though you will also deal with multiple different results from multiple origins. On the other hand, with a low frequency or rare surname, finding a volume of participants may be more difficult, though you will be able to have all family trees participate much sooner than a high frequency surname.

There are many benefits for a Surname Project to take a global view of the surname, as the first step in building a knowledge base about the surname.

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Genetic Genealogy: Contacting Matches

Whether your results just came back and you have matches, or you have received a Match notification email, having matches is exciting. There are some factors to consider before contacting the match.

Are you Haplogroup R1b?
Does the match have the same surname?
Should you upgrade?
How many matches do you have?
Has the match loaded a Gedcom file?

If you are haplogroup R1b, you will eventually have matches with other surnames. In most cases, these matches are people to whom you are related prior to the adoption of surnames. Due to the large population of R1b in Europe at the time of adoption of surnames, many different males had the same result when surnames were adopted.

If you are haplogroup R1b, and have matches with other surnames and no matches with your surname yet, it is probably wise to wait until you have a match with your surname. Pursuing matches with a very high probability of being related prior to the adoption of surnames would most likely not be worthwhile.

If you are considering pursuing a match with another surname, we recommend 67 markers before making the decision.

If you have a match with your surname, you will want to look at the match page, to determine whether it would be prudent to upgrade. For example, if you have tested at 12 markers, and your match has tested at 37 markers, upgrading will enable you to see how close the match is, before investing time in research looking for a connection. The match page will show if the person you match has tested at a higher number of markers.

Even if your match is also at 12 markers, you may want to upgrade, and encourage them to upgrade, to determine how close the relationship is.

If you have a lot of matches, even with your own surname, upgrading is very beneficial, to 37 or 67 markers. The fast moving markers in the 37 marker upgrade often contain mutations, which are beneficial for identifying major branches of the tree. The 67 marker panel, with some slower markers, is very beneficial to evaluate genetic distance and time frame to the common ancestor.

If your match has posted a Gedcom file, be sure to review the tree, to see if you notice any common ancestors or locations. Loading your own Gedcom file will help your matches also evaluate the situation.

You are now ready to send your match an email. What do you say? It is recommended that you summarize your direct male line and locations. This information will be helpful for your match. Keep in mind that your match may have any level of genealogy experience, as well as any level of DNA experience.

A warm and friendly email is also important. If you are having a bad day, it is probably not the best time to write an email, since your emotions may come through in the email.

Keeping the length of the email limited is also beneficial, since some people do email at work and don't have access at home.

Once you draft your email, spell check and review it. A short, friendly, direct email should have the best results. Even if you are frustrated because you last match didn't answer, don't say "if you are serious about genealogy contact me". This wouldn't go over well.

As much as you want to hear from your match right away, it may take a while. People travel, have vacations, work pressures, personal problems, and illness. It may take a while for them to respond. Patience is important. Wait a month or so before contacting them again.

If you receive an email from one of your matches, we encourage you to respond. You never know what you might discover. If you get an email from someone with another surname, they might be new to DNA testing for genealogy, and you can refer them to this article, and the article in the last issue of the newsletter, for a better understanding of their matches.

For more information about matches with other surnames, see:
Y DNA: The Role of Surnames

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Recruiting Participants: Recruiting is a Process

Recruiting participants is an ongoing process for the Group Administrator. Setting aside some time periodically for recruiting tasks will ensure a steady flow of participants for the project.

Participants can also help. First, you can find a distant male in your tree to participate to validate your family tree. Then, through your activities, you may encounter others with the surname(s) of interest. This could be at work, social activities, or during genealogy activities. Telling these contacts about DNA testing for genealogy provides them with an opportunity to make discoveries about their origins.

For Group Administrators, setting up and periodically updating the project web site is important. The web site helps to recruit participants, and keeps participants informed about the project. Family Tree DNA provides web hosting at no charge, and a quick and easy web tool for building and maintaining the site. Plus, test results are automatically incorporated, saving the Group Administrator time.

Writing periodically to your contacts you have developed over time from your genealogy research is also a valuable recruiting tool. Even though you wrote in the past and they didn't participate, periodic contacts are still valuable. Over time, they may have learned that the test is a harmless genealogy test, so their fears have been overcome.

Periodic posting to message boards, forums, and mailing lists for your surname, and geographic areas where the surname occurred is important.

Finding participants in the ancestral country is important. To reach these potential participants, you may want to consider writing and postal mailing a list from the telephone book or electoral roll.

The Group Administrator can also encourage the participants to help by finding the validation participant for their family tree.

When recruiting, keep your communication clear, and avoid the use of scientific terms.

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Genetic Genealogy: Advanced Tests

This month's featured Advanced Test is the Y-STR DNA-FP Panel 5 (Palindromic Pack).

This Advanced Test is used to get a deeper insight into the structure of the palindromic region. In order to resolve apparent mismatches at multicopy markers in closely related individuals, it is sometimes necessary to have a closer look at asymmetrical features and to recognize the intra-chromosomal recombination events. Results from this test may disclose medical health predispositions.

To order an Advanced Test, on your Personal Page, click "Order Tests and Upgrades" and then click "Advanced Orders." Go down the page until you find the Y-STR DNA-FP Panel 5 (Palindromic Pack).

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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

Just today I noticed that my uncle has two matches on Y-search at 37 markers with a genetic distance of 5 and 6 with two men with different surnames. On this lineage we have no matches with any one with our surname at 37 markers. Do you think that the matches with the other surname means anything?


In your situation, your surname is a high frequency surname, as are the surnames of your matches. In addition, your haplogroup is R1b. You will have many matches with other surnames, to whom you are related prior to the adoption of surnames. I expect that you will eventually have a match with your surname. Since your surname is a high frequency surname, with multiple origins, it may take a while until someone to whom you are related tests. Your best approach for now is to encourage others with your surname to test.

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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:
editorFG@FamilyTreeDNA.com for Dexter

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