|Chart Produced from Family Tree DNA results and Excel|
The "Finding Your Roots" Season finale was one of their best shows of all time. I love seeing other peoples' admixture charts, and this episode focused on them more than usual. As promised DNA played a central role in this episode. Diversity was the theme of episode 10. DNA was used to show how interrelated we actually are.
Looking at the DNA charts presented for Jessica Alba you can definitely see the settlers of Mexico, like Central America in general, did mix with the Native population and African slaves. Central America is where my 2% African came from. The earliest settlers of the Spanish colonies in the New World were mostly male. They would often take local women or African slaves as concubines. The Caribbean had a longer history of slavery than Central America and a higher slave population; therefore, the African admixture is generally higher in those parts of former New Spain, than Mexico or Central America. So we see traces of African in Jessica's results, and her father's DNA, which are small compared to the Caribbean. Also it's common for Iberian descendants to have some Jewish admixture.
It's interesting that I listened to the Epilogue of Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" yesterday. A portion of the episode tied in with Malcolm's family's experience in Jamaica. Malcolm's mother was racially mixed. Instead of that being a barrier for her family it was actually an asset. When white slave owners took African slaves as wives their children actually moved up the social ladder and the children were no longer slaves. They weren't ostracized like the children of white slave owners in this country. This fact benefited his family for generations to come.
The opposite experience can be seen when looking at the Mulatto ancestry of Prof. Gates' and his relations in Virginia. CeCe Moore, the show's genetic research specialist, uncovered through DNA, a fascinating ancestral story. Looking for white ancestry in his tree she found a white slave owner who freed his female slave then did the unthinkable, he took her as his wife. This was so unheard of and the local population was so dumbfounded by this, they couldn't decided how to categorize him? To them he was no longer part of the white community. They assumed he must be mulatto? His race was in flux on Census records during his lifetime. This slave owner's unusual position in society put his family in danger. They were forced to create their own settlement of Mulatto's in an isolated area. It's great to see that relatives still live in the same area. Descendants of this community come together for family reunions. The reunion shown in this episode was very moving.
Another surprising revelation during the show was that Gov. Deval Patrick's (first African American Governor of Massachusetts) direct line Y and mtDNA ancestors were white. Their haplogroups were European. He discovered what we all have, that we are no longer predominately from a single ethnic group in this country. This transformation began early on in American history. We are becoming more and more ethnically mixed. We are truly Americans. We hope this leads to better relations between different factions in this country?
My man Anderson Cooper had a brief appearance in this episode. He was happy to see some Chilean Indian blood in his admixture results.
It was great to finally see CeCe Moore, a professional genetic genealogist, appear on the show. Her contribution to the show was great. She was so composed on camera she should get her own genetic genealogy show.
During the final moments of the show Prof. Gates said goodbye "until next time" which we hope will be soon!
Just a few more words about AncestryDNA V.2. I was pretty happy with the results initially . Going through them a little more I'm finding cousins I've compared with, at GEDmatch and FTDNA, who shared more than 10 cM segments missing. Fewer matches isn't panning out to be better matches. I saw someone else post that the Extremely High confidence matches aren't as close cousins as the definition would suggest. There seems to be problems with their rating system and algorithms? We've lost some good strong matches, and they left in some terrible 6 cM and under matches? I guess that's what you'd expect from the company that declared everyone in the world is part Scandinavian and defended this finding when they were criticized.
Another factor diminishing the usefulness of the AncestryDNA V.2 product is the fact you can no longer download your matches. For a limited time you can download the V.1 matches, but you can't download your current match information. You could do this previously with the Ancestry Chrome DNA extension, which no longer is functional. CeCe Moore demonstrated how important it is to be able to easily sort through data about your matches' ancestors. She was able to find a pattern of shared ancestry which aided in finding the fascinating ancestor and story that was eventually uncovered for Prof. Gates. It would be great to be able to download names and locations so this kind of pattern can be uncovered. I don't expect AncestryDNA to ever do anything like this. AncestryDNA focuses on the superficial. They want to over simplify the process, to make it look like you only have to take the test to get all the answers without anymore effort on your part than posting a tree. Getting a true picture of your ancestry with DNA requires some effort, and can't be mass produced in factory assembly line style. People often don't read the instructions on how to interpret the results and assume the cousin relationships are exact. They don't feel the need to check the exact relationship. The entire product at Ancestry.com is a mix of excellent information and ridiculous speculation. Very odd!
Portions of Ancestry.com's site should be labelled "for entertainment purposes only". If they had some serious DNA tools it would scare people into thinking that more than just testing is required of them. Some thinking may actually be required, god forbid?
Factoring in the diminished value of the AncestryDNA V.2 product I would say $49 is what it's worth to me in its present state. I don't feel like its worth $99 at this point.
Family Tree DNA has some great tools for the serious researcher, which make it worth the price. Unfortunately it has a much smaller database to compare with. We hope many more AncestryDNA testers take advantage of their raw data transfer offer, so we can confirm Ancestry's sketchy results. By the way, Family Tree DNA is having a Holiday sale right now.
I was in pie chart heaven while watching "Finding Your Roots" last night. I decided I need to make some of my own based on my results from AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA. I realize that these results aren't cast in stone, but I enjoy looking at them anyway. I used Excel and the Kids' Zone graph maker that Randy Seaver had recommended for a "Saturday Night Fun" project.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!