Volume 7, Issue 5
November 24, 2008

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.

If you have been contemplating starting a Surname Project, now is the time to get started in order to take advantage of opportunities to recruit participants during the holiday season. We now have over 5,000 Surname Projects, and someone could start a project for your surname any day. Today is a terrific time to get started due to our new reduced prices. Please see the Family Tree DNA Announcements article for more information.

If there was no Surname Project for your name when you originally tested, be sure to check periodically to see if one has started. Every day more Surname Projects are created. Use the link below to search the project listings. If you find a Surname Project now exists for your surname, you may join by logging in to your Personal Page, clicking the Join button, and following the instructions on that page.


Contact our customer support at any time if you have questions or need help. The link below lists our customer service contact options. 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, including email and telephone consultation with our customer service staff. To begin your education, past issues of the newsletter are available at our web site. To view past issues, click on the link below:


If you change your email address, be sure to update your address for your newsletter subscription.

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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 220,000 test result records in our database. We have over 140,000 records of Y-DNA results and over 5,100 Surname Projects, which include over 85,000 surnames. Our mtDNA database contains over 80,000 results.

2. Family Tree DNA is pleased to announce a project price reduction for several Y-DNA tests due to increased volume. The project prices of the following Y-DNA tests have been reduced:

25 Marker
37 Marker
67 Marker

These new prices are available on the project order form on the project’s profile page. To find a Surname Project to order a test kit, follow the link below to run a search:


As our business grows, we are passing on the savings generated by order volume to our valued customers.

3. 5th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators.

The hotel at which our conference will be held suffered damage from hurricane Ike. As a result our annual conference is rescheduled to March 14-15, 2009. We are pleased to announce that Spencer Wells will be speaking at the conference. Spencer Wells is a leading population geneticist and the director of the Genographic Project.

For more information on Spencer Wells:

4. The Genographic Project is pleased to announce the launch of the blog "Genographica" on the Genographic website.


You can support the efforts of the Genographic Project. Please see the article in the previous issue of the newsletter, titled "Genetic Genealogy: Genographic Project."


Starting a Surname Project

If you are thinking about starting a Surname Project, now is a great time to get started. Our educational resources and 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 some experience with family history research can start a Surname Project. We supply the tools and guidance to help you make your Surname Project 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 or ask questions about establishing a Surname Project:
ashley@familytreeDNA.com for Ashley Coursey

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In the News: Family Tree DNA & Hurricane Ike

In September, Hurricane Ike hit Houston, where our corporate headquarters and the Genomics Research Center are located. This fierce storm resulted in widespread power outages and significant damage to structures in the path of the hurricane, including some damage to our office building. Telephone service was also impacted.

From the beginning, disaster planning and preparation has been at the core of the business strategy of Family Tree DNA. As a result, our website continued to function properly, with no loss of data, servicing our customers during the hurricane. Our disaster planning includes a high security data center for our servers, with remote backup at another secure location.

Our office building suffered damage to an extend that tenants were required to vacate. On the Monday morning after the hurricane, Family Tree DNA was already operating in office space at a temporary location. As a result, our customers experienced only minor delays with email response and temporary delays in phone calls due to telephone provider failures. On Tuesday, our customer service department was fully functional.

There has been no interruption in the processing at the lab of standard Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, which are preformed in Arizona. All batches closed without problems.

The Genomics Research Center in Houston processes the full mitochondria, deep clade, and advanced marker tests. Samples stored at our Genomics Research Center are undamaged. The lab has resumed processing orders, and is expected to be back at full capacity shortly.

Family Tree DNA management would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their dedication and effort during a very difficult situation.

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Educational Resources: Events & Publications

March 14-15, 2009
5th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy
for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators
Houston, TX

Educational Articles
Discoveries for One-Name Studies from DNA Testing
Journal of One-Name Studies
Guild of One-Name Studies
London, England
October-December 2008 Issue
Available from the Society

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Genetic Genealogy: Vendor Selection

Selecting a vendor for your DNA test or Surname Project is a very important step. Often, the vendor selected will determine the success of your project. If you are a participant, the vendor selected may determine whether you find matches and whether you maximize your investment in DNA testing, based on the size of the vendor's database.

In the past five articles in our series about vendor selection, we have examined the following important issues:

- The vendor you select will determine the success of your project
- The size of the vendor's database impacts your ability to find a match
- Select a vendor where DNA testing for genealogy is their only business, not an add on product to generate additional revenue
- The importance of a proprietary database, including data integrity, as compared to no database or a mixed database
- The importance and value of match notification emails
- The benefits of controlling your search criteria for matching
- The benefits of controlling your match criteria
- The value of 25 years of sample storage
- The value of the Genographic Project

In this article, we will look at the value of customer service in maximizing your discoveries from your investment in DNA testing.

Family Tree DNA provides a trained, experienced customer service staff to answer your emails and to provide telephone consultation. You aren't forced to work your way through a series of web pages to get to the option to send an email. Email addresses are provided on our Contact page:


When you call Family Tree DNA, you will get a human who directs your call to the appropriate customer service staff person. You aren't forced to work your way through an automated attendant.

Our staff people are knowledgeable and receive ongoing training to stay abreast of the rapid changes in the discipline of Genetic Genealogy.

In addition, we pride ourselves in our fast response to your inquiries and questions.

Our quality and timely customer service will maximize your discoveries from your investment in DNA testing.

Taking a DNA test for genealogy is an investment in discovering information not available in the paper records, in finding information about the surname, and in learning information about your distant ancestry.

The discoveries scientists have made so far are only the beginning. Their future discoveries will often lead to new tests, such as when we introduced the 25 marker test, then the 37 marker test, and later the 67 marker test.

Since 2000, Family Tree DNA has been providing DNA tests for genealogists. This is our only business. We have constantly expanded our products and services to bring the latest science and tools to our valued customers. Our track record shows innovation and a commitment to our customers.

How does Family Tree DNA compare:
- DNA testing for genealogy is our only business
- Founded in 2000, we are the first vendor to bring tests to the genetic genealogy community
- The largest database of results
- The only vendor to disclose the size of the database
- Our database has participants from 190 countries
- The largest number of Surname Projects
- The only vendor to disclose the number of Surname Projects
- Full transparency in our search of surnames tested. We don't require 3 characters or more to search. The 3 letter search approach is used by others to hide the small size of the surnames tested. At Family Tree DNA, you can search just a letter of the alphabet to see all our Surname Projects.
- The only vendor with a proprietary database of lab results. We don't support a mixed database of user results combined with lab results, resulting in lack of data integrity. Instead, we also provide Ysearch and Mitosearch, to which customers can easily add their data with a click of a button. Some vendors do not provide a proprietary database or even a mixed database.
- Match emails sent as soon as a new result is added to our proprietary database that matches or is a close match to your result.
- The ability to customize your search criteria.
- The ability to customize your match criteria
- 25 years secure frozen sample storage included for 3 vials
- The only vendor to provide an option to join the Genographic Project.
- Family Tree DNA has constantly expanded our products and services to bring the latest science and tools to our valued customers. Our track record shows innovation and a commitment to our customers.
- Other vendors have come and gone, while we continue to innovate and grow.

Family Tree DNA understands that it is often difficult to differentiate vendors when you are getting started. Issues like a proprietary database, no proprietary database, or a mixed database aren't clearly evident. Other features, such as match notification emails, or the lack of match notification emails, are even more difficult to determine.

Every day, people and Surname Projects switch to Family Tree DNA. We understand that there is an additional cost to be re-tested, which is required to maintain our database integrity. A discount is provided to those who have tested elsewhere to make it easier for them to join Family Tree DNA, the leading vendor in Genetic Genealogy.

Click on the link below to order if you have tested at another vendor.


Would you trust your project to a vendor when Genetic Genealogy is not their primary business?

For additional information, please see prior articles in our Vendor Selection Series.






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Y-DNA: Surnames and One-Name Studies

Y-DNA projects are organized around a surname and variants, and are therefore called Surname Projects.

For decades, long before DNA testing was available, many genealogists have been studying surnames. When you study a surname and its variants, it is called a One-Name Study.

A one-name study involves researching all occurrences of a surname and its variants, usually on a global basis, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or couple). Due to the commitment required, most one-name studies are for rare or low frequency surnames.

An organization exists for those who are interested in one-name studies: the Guild of One-Name Studies. Founded in 1979 and headquartered in London, England, the Guild has over 2000 members around the globe, who are studying over 7,500 surnames.

The Guild of One-Name Studies offers two levels of membership. You can join without committing to a one-name study, and receive many benefits and educational opportunities. If you are interested in pursuing a one-name study, you can register your one-name study with the Guild. Only one person can register a surname. Registration of a surname involves several commitments, including committing to collect all occurrences of a surname world-wide. For this reason, most of the surnames studied are less frequent surnames

Those who get interested and pursue a one-name study often build up a large volume of data and information, which can help other genealogists with their family trees.

If a one-name study exists for any of the surnames in your family tree, contacting the researcher may benefit your research. The one-name study may have information about your tree or hold relevant documents. To find out if a one-name study exists for any surname in your family tree, visit the Guild web site linked at the end of this article and search the surnames of interest in the box on the home page.

A DNA Project is a natural companion to a one-name study, and many Guild members have started projects at Family Tree DNA. When you search a surname at Family Tree DNA, you will see on the search results page the Guild logo next to Surname Projects that are part of a one-name study. To display the Guild logo, the Surname Project administrator or co-administrator must be a Guild member, or the Guild member must be collaborating with the project administrators, and the surname must be registered. (Guild members can contact DNA@one-name.org for further information.)

Family Tree DNA is pleased to display the Guild of One-Name Studies logo for Surname Projects that are part of a one-name study to recognize the significant contribution that Guild members provide to the genealogy community in their study of surnames.

Just as a DNA Project is a natural companion to a one-name study, an existing DNA Project can benefit from taking a one-name study approach. In many cases, Surname Projects are performing many of the tasks associated with a one-name study, and knowledge about one-name approaches may benefit the Surname Project.

An example of Surname Projects performing a task associated with a typical one-name study is collecting family trees for the surname. Many Surname Project Administrators have also extracted census entries for the surname to assist them in their efforts to help participants in their genealogy research.

A one-name study collects all occurrences of a surname world-wide. Often, this process starts with census or birth-marriage-death records. With the advent of online genealogy databases, it has become much easier to collect records like census records. For countries with centralized Civil Registration, such as England, building a database of these entries has become much easier as the indexes become available online.

Collecting census records is a very effective beginning, and will assist a Surname Project. Consider noting on the earliest census record for a country whether a descendent of that household has participated in DNA testing. This approach will enable you to determine your progress in finding participants to represent the various family trees.

Anyone with an interest in one-name studies can join the Guild of One-Name Studies, even if you aren't ready to undertake a one-name study. There are many benefits, especially their e-mail Forum where members help each other, and their quarterly award-winning Journal of educational articles. Those who decide to conduct a global one-name study can take the additional step of registering a surname.

For more information see the web site address below. Be sure to search to see if a one-name study exists for any surname in your family tree. The researcher may hold records relating to your genealogy research and be able to supply information to assist you with your genealogy research.:


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For Group Administrators: Recruiting in the Ancestral Country

Recruiting participants in the ancestral country is a key element for helping Surname Project participants make the connection to their country of origin, and will result in additional discoveries about the surname, including information about the evolution and ramification of the surname.

Often, a participant will only know the ancestral country and have no idea of where to start in looking for a connection.

Recruiting in the ancestral country will in time lead to a match for participants and clues of where to begin their search for paper records regarding the immigrant ancestor.

The first step in recruiting in the ancestral country is to determine where the surname resides today, and, if the records are available, where the surname resided in the past. For high frequency surnames, such as Smith and Walker, you will find the surname in almost every location in the ancestral country. For less frequent surnames, you may see clusters in one or more locations.

For a high frequency surname, many participants from the ancestral country are required to find all the different Y-DNA results for the surname. The good news is that there is a large population from which to recruit, though it may take time for those in migration destination countries to find a match. One recruiting approach for a high frequency surname is to focus county by county in recruiting efforts. These recruiting efforts may include joining local societies, as well entering the surname in any websites that have national coverage.

If your surname is found in a small number of areas, you want to focus your recruiting efforts on these areas, starting with joining any local genealogy societies. Often, these genealogy societies will have "member's interests" pages where you can list your surname interest and contact others, or wait for them to contact you.

Even if you have a low frequency surname, there is still value in joining any national organizations.

Direct mail is a tool to reach the households in the ancestral country. If the cost of postage is a problem, mail a small batch of letters each month. You can find addresses through online phone books and electoral rolls. The majority of your letter should focus on genealogy research first, and then introduce your Surname Project. It is important to minimize scientific terminology and explanation. Your goal is to get a response, so you can begin a dialogue to turn them into a participant. If your Surname Project is able to offer sponsored tests or to cover some of the cost, be sure to mention this in your letter. If the cost of testing is paid, you will achieve a higher response rate.

One key prerequisite of recruiting, regardless of where you are recruiting, is to have a project profile and project website that motivates potential participants to participate. You want your recruiting efforts to turn prospects into participants.

We recommend that you update your project profile and project website at least once per year. In the time since the last update, your knowledge level has increased, and you have received feedback from your recruiting efforts. You can apply this new knowledge, and improve your project profile and project website.

If you are about to embark on recruiting in the ancestral country, it is recommended that you update your project profile and project website first.

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Genetic Genealogy: Advanced Tests

This month's featured Advanced Test is the Y-STR DNA-FP Panel 6.

This Advanced Test allows you test markers 38-47, which are in the Family Tree DNA 67 marker test. You can order individual markers, or the complete panel. (DNA-FP panels are set up to continue the compatibility for former DNA-Fingerprint lab clients.)

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 6.

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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

When I first tested, I had no matches with my surname, and a match with another surname. I was told that there was an event in the past, breaking the link of the Y chromosome and the surname - an illegitimacy.

Several years later, I now have matches with 3 other surnames, and no match with my surname. I am thoroughly confused. How can you explain this?


A conclusion of an illegitimate event, or other events that can break the link between the Y chromosome and surname, such as adoption, infidelity, and name change, should only be made after significant research, and testing all or at least the majority of the family trees that exist for the surname.

A surname distribution map of your surname in the ancestral country shows approximately 150 origins for the surname. This is not unusual for an occupational surname.

In your Surname Project, there are only 15 different groups of results - representing approximately 10% of the possible results for the surname.

Most likely you will find a match with your surname as more people test.

Keep in mind that for any surname, some Y-DNA results will ramify, while others will have a smaller population. This may mean that the Surname Project has one large group who match and other smaller groups. This situation could also depend on where recruiting has taken place.

In addition, some Y-DNA results for the surname may not be represented in your country beyond your family tree, but may be found in the ancestral country or another destination country.

I realize that one of the surnames you match is found in the same county as your surname in the 1800s. This is not sufficient evidence that an event occurred, such as illegitimacy.

Unless there is documented evidence, and until a majority of the family trees for a surname and variants are tested, it is recommended that where a result has no matches yet with the surname, a conclusion is not made until sufficient testing occurs.

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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, or 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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