Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DNA News: "Finding Your Roots" Episode 7 and Tying Loose Ends

Chart pinpointing DNA matches

Episode 7 of "Finding Your Roots" featured guests with Jewish roots. It was a very moving episode because of the stories of the persecution of the Jewish population in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ancestors of the guests were forced to leave their homes because of the poverty and persecution they suffered in Eastern Europe. The Nazi officials were psychopaths which was clearly demonstrated by the fact that a massacre they carried out, in which some of  Tony Kushner's ancestors were murdered, was called a Wedding and those murdered guests. I'm not a fan of Alan Dershowitz at all. It's to his credit that his firm aids the underprivileged; but, the fact he represented a heinous  murderer, OJ Simpson, is unforgivable. Alan's family was quite gifted at working the system and were able to rescue some relatives from the Nazi's. Carol King's story demonstrated the difficulty of tracing Jewish ancestors in Eastern Europe because, as explained, few records survive. She was extremely lucky that some records for her family were found which took one of her lines back to the 1790's. So never give up even though you've been told it's unlikely the records survived. Also Carol's family had a complete change of surnames which adds to the challenge of tracing the family.

A statement made by Prof. Gates about it being more convenient to convert to Christianity made me think about my own family. I believe my family converted to Catholicism because of persecution. I also believe they became very committed Catholics. One of my Great Grandparents' children was named Francis Xavier which demonstrates a deep affinity with the church.

I missed the fact Episode 7 didn't feature DNA results. I just finished listening to a webinar about "Finding Your Roots" and understand that episode 10 will focus much more on DNA testing, which should be interesting. Another interesting fact is 3 to 4 hours of interviews with guests are shot for each episode. According to Prof. Gates all of the guests are overjoyed by the family information they get from the show. Like most people the guests have a personal knowledge of their family history going back only a generation or two.

The changes to AncestryDNA are coming soon according to their blog. Another AncestryDNA blog post referring  to the issue of IBS matches stated that cousin matching using their current technique produced too many false matches for Hispanics and Jews. This is probably why I have so many Mexican matches when my family came from Nicaragua. Similar over estimations were found with other ethnic groups. According to the AncestryDNA blog we will be notified regarding downloading our current match information so we can keep the notes etc. on our current matches.

I've been slowly listening to the i4GG conference videos. I watched the "Getting the Most from AncestryDNA" presentation the other day. Using a fan chart to see where your matches are on your tree was a great idea I got from this presentation. It clearly shows that most of my matches are out at 5 generations and beyond. This is because we have fewer close cousins.

Another highlight of the "Getting the Most from AncestryDNA" presentation was the portion about admixture. The presenter showed her admixture results side by side with her sisters. Of course these results seemed to match up as expected (an employee of Ancestry wouldn't show any that didn't).It was so funny when someone asked from the audience what if a child had more Irish admixture than both her parents? Of course this got a laugh from the knowledgeable audience. This wasn't easily answered. It was only explained that admixture was still being worked on.

I have really enjoyed Hoosier Daddy's blog posts. His November 3 post really hit home. His experiences communicating with matches are so relatable. I've often noticed the same thing he discovered, that many of my matches on certain couples are actually close relatives to one another, who may have tested together. I've had relatives tested and so have many other people, so multiple matches with one ancestral couple actually come from a single descendant line.

Hoosier Daddy's post also made me wonder if telling matches you are looking for adoptee information is a good idea in your first communication? I'm thinking some people may be fearful of becoming involved with a possibly  touchy situation?

I'm impatiently waiting to see what happens with the AncestryDNA changes and also waiting for another sale on their kits.

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