Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Master Genealogist

I was sad to learn that The Master Genealogist will not be supported by Wholly Genes after this year. However, the reality is that this program is still the very best available and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. So long as the users of other programs are willing to accept inferior products, there has been no incentive for TMG's competitors to develop the features, flexibility and advanced function that TMG provides. Without TMG, there would be no Second Site, and there truly is no competition for that -- serious or otherwise.

As a genealogist who has tried out practically all the programs on the market, I will not be running away from TMG. I will stick with it for as long as it is viable. There is no reason to expect that it will not work for another ten years or more, and John Cardinal has promised continued support for Second Site.

That's good enough for me.

Family Finder and ADSA

For those who have had the Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA, Don Worth has now announced a new version of his excellent tool for analyzing your results and triangulating groups to find common ancestors.

I highly recommend this free program, Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer (ADSA).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Big Y, Full Y, Y Prime... Oh My!

There has been a small flurry of interest and activity in the past year or so that relates to advanced Y-DNA testing. The price has limited interest, as has its experimental nature. That is, we really had no idea what the results would show and whether or not they would be useful  to genealogists who are primarily interested in finding matches within the genealogical timeframe.

While the jury is still out on the matter of relevance, these tests are beginning to show results that have enabled a few groups to show branches within their lineages. As with any scientific discovery, there must be active participants who can evaluate and measure the results, compare their findings and eventually publish them so that others can determine their usefulness.

There are at least three companies competing in this space, and it's been difficult to compare them. The ISOGG Wiki provides information on their test offerings, but the question of practical application has persisted, primarily because we were comparing apples to oranges and the essential factor, interpretation, was missing from all three. One had to use a third party to evaluate and translate the findings, and still they were not in laymen's terms nor did they apply to or answer genealogists' questions.

Now, true to form, Family Tree DNA is providing matching capability, the one essential thing missing from all the offerings until now. Once again, it emerges as the true leader among genetic genealogy companies. It is simply the only company that provides a full range of testing for genealogy. It has no equal.

Roberta Estes reports today on FTDNA's latest offering and price reduction. in her blog, DNAeXplained. I hope this will encourage more men to order the Big Y test from Family Tree DNA. The results will be added to a small but growing pool that holds promise for ever more interesting developments in genetic genealogy and may help define line breaks that refine lineages.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Global Family Reunion

Have you heard? This is not your mama's reunion.

The writer, AJ Jacobs, who is with Esquire and is  a best-selling author, wants to bring together as many "cousins" as possible for a massive reunion to be held on the site of the 1964 World's Fair in New York City next June 6. Admission is $20 but all proceeds will go to Alzheimer's research. For more information, visit the Reunion website  Be sure to view the video. ABCnews has more coverage at

In order to find all the cousins, there is an effort underway by a team consisting of names we all know: Wikitree, Geni (owned by MyHeritage), Family Tree DNA, 23andMe. Each of us can go online today to determine if we qualify for the reunion. It's based on "degrees of separation" between you and either AJ or his wife.

Notice there is one flaw in the mix (for purists like me): When AJ talks about "family," he is including in-laws. We all know that this is not acceptable to genealogists, or geneticists, but for this fun project, I'm willing to bend the rules.

And I already have. I've signed up for the Reunion and I'm number 100 in Wikitree's Global Reunion Project with 27 degrees of separation from AJ on two lines. The actual genetic relationships go through siblings in the lines, however, so neither  "cousinship" is accurate in genealogical terms.

I hope you will join me!