Tag: genetic genealogy (Page 1 of 3)

Friday Finds 28 April 2017


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Saturday Finds 18 March 2017


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DNA Admixture – Is it a Clue?

Over the holiday, I had my dad’s DNA tested. It took a while to come back, but by mid- January I had the results!

To be honest, I wasn’t too surprised at the results. Delighted, but not surprised.

I know that the ethnicity results (normally called admixture) aren’t anything to really go by. They are a great conversation starter, but really, because there are so many variables to the test, it isn’t something to ONLY test for. You shouldn’t be testing just to see those results, in other words.

To see more on what two experts (they are experts to me!) say about admixture, see the following blog posts:

Ethnicity Testing and Results” by Roberta Estes on DNAeXplained

Admixture: Not Soup Yet” by Judy G Russell on the Legal Genealogist

And if you’re curious about the science behind admixture results, check out this link: ISOGG Admixture Analyses

So, I do get it. It is an estimate. It’s a conversation starter, and it isn’t always accurate. Autosomal DNA is a random recombination of DNA from your ancestors. Just because you don’t show any of that Native American DNA (which you may have documented as being far back in your tree) doesn’t mean a sibling or cousin won’t. It is random.

Nonetheless, I’m intrigued. Here are my results from FamilyTreeDNA (which was transferred from AncestryDNA):

admixture results from FTDNA

The European was not in the least surprising, nor was any of that actually. According to family lore and what I knew so far, that all made sense. That Middle Eastern part held my interest though. Knowing my maternal grandfather’s background, I had assumed it came from him. His results didn’t have any Middle Eastern though. Again, knowing that that doesn’t mean anything, I was still a bit surprised.

So I had my dad tested. Just to see.

Dad's Admixture

Well what do you know – Middle Eastern! And it’s about double mine, which makes sense. How I wish my paternal grandparents were still alive so I could see what it would be for them!

Again, I try to rein in my excitement, remembering that these admixture results aren’t something to really go by. Yet… I can’t help my curiosity. Especially since I remember my paternal grandmother mentioning that we have Gypsy blood. I had always thought she said that because I wished to move all over and didn’t like the idea of settling in one place (this became very true for me in later years – my family moved my freshman year of college and after that, I never stayed in one apartment or city for longer than a year for 11 years – we finally bought a house a few years back but I began itching to move again after a year, much to my husband’s annoyance).

So, could that family story be true? Is there really a possible connection to that random family story I happen to remember and in my DNA? And which side did it come from? My paternal grandfather’s or grandmother’s?

What’s my plan now?

Well I’m going to take the DNA results from both my dad and me and analyze our results for possible connections. Looking at their admixture results may help me to narrow down that list a bit, but I’ll be focusing more on their actual documented family trees for obvious reasons. I hope to be able to narrow this down to a possible line and get some answers along the way! I’ll be sharing my analysis and my results (or really, the more questions I’ll gather) alone the way.

Have any of you had some interesting results in your admixture that you began to explore?

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Review: NGS Autosomal DNA Course

Zephyris at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons

Zephyris at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago, I gave a review on the National Genealogical Studies Continuing Genealogical Studies class called Genetic Genealogy, the Basics. I took this course in preparation for the Autosomal DNA course, which I had wanted to take since I saw it’s announcement. I have to say that the Basics course became invaluable when it came to the autosomal course! Having that basic understanding really did help me prepare for what I’d learn about autosomal DNA testing.

The Goals and Cost of the Course

The course’s author is Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL. It’s for beginner-intermediate level students and has no prerequisites BUT in the first module, it does state that the course is designed for someone who has a basic understanding of DNA. They recommend the CGS Genetic Genealogy, the Basics course or reading books and blogs for getting that basic information.

The objectives of the course are roughly:

  • learning the basics of autosomal DNA – how it recombines and is inherited
  • learning how to read atDNA results and how to use a few of the tools out there to analyze your results (knowledge of Excel is helpful here)
  • learning how to identify a likely genetic cousin and the common ancestor you share
  • learning about the other tools and websites out there that can help a genealogist with the atDNA test results

There are seven modules for this course and all end in a quiz that you must pass in order to move on to the next module. The quizzes range from three to eleven questions, and you can take the quiz up to three times. The course should be completed within six months but there is a one-time three month extension available if needed.

This course is done completely online through the NGS Canvas System. There are two prices, which is usual for NGS: $60 for members and $85 for non-members.


  • Because I have done atDNA testing through FamilyTreeDNA, I was able to do many of the analysis the course discusses while I was learning about the process.
  • Although there is a section dedicated to other websites you could use to analyze your data, the course also goes over a simple Excel sheet to use for analysis.  It also discusses how to do specific analysis like triangulation to confirm how you are related to a match.
  • Learning how DNA recombines and is inherited makes the case for why you should get as many relatives tested as you can (and the further back in generations, the better).
  • I really like how it emphasized using DNA research WITH your own thorough research.
  • The course also discusses admixture results and how those can vary


  • Like with the last course, I have an issue with the quizzes. Whatever you get incorrect, the answer is supplied once you hit the completed button. You can then retake the quiz with that answer in mind. Of course, people are taking this course to learn. I wouldn’t understand why someone would pay for the course and then lie through the tests – but it makes the quizzes feel irrelevant.
  • This course does get technical. I haven’t had a biology class that discussed DNA since early college. It’s been a long time and although I know I’ve heard of some items before, I still needed to go outside the course for a better understanding. Having taken the Genetic Genealogy, the Basics course helped, but I still used the ISOGG Wiki quite often.

Overall Review

I’m sure you can tell by all the pros compared to the cons but I LOVED this course! I learned SO much from it and feel so much better prepared to go through my atDNA results and actually get somewhere with them. I am very excited to really get into the data now that I have a much better understanding of HOW to do it as well as WHAT to do with that data.

I will say that this course did take a lot more time for me to complete. Doing one module per day or every other day is a great way to get through the course if you can dedicate your time to that schedule. The cost did make me pause before taking the course, seeing how I felt about the last one, but I feel the cost this time is right for what you get from the course. I don’t think I can recommend it enough!


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