Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

Geneticists have begun using old bones to make sweeping claims about the distant past. But their revisions to the human story are making some scholars of prehistory uneasy.

1. The Ghosts of Teouma
A faint aura of destiny seems to hover over Teouma Bay. It’s not so much the landscape, with its ravishing if boilerplate tropical splendor — banana and mango trees, coconut and pandanus palms, bougainvillea, the apprehensive trill of the gray-eared honeyeater — as it is the shape of the harbor itself, which betrays, in the midst of such organic profusion, an aspect of the unnatural. The bay, on the island of Efate in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu, is long, symmetrical and briskly rectangular. In the expected place of wavelets is a blue so calm and unbroken that the sea doesn’t so much crash on the land as neatly abut it. From above, it looks as though a safe harbor had been engraved in the shoreline by some celestial engineer.

In late 2003, while clearing land just above the seaside, a bulldozer driver found a broken piece of pottery in the rubble. The villagers of Vanuatu often happen upon shards of timeworn ceramic, which spark an idly mythical curiosity; they’re said to be fragments of Noah’s Ark, or the original Ten Commandments, or the burst water vessels of powerful ancestral spirits. These shards are often left alone, but word in this particular case traveled quickly, and the artifact soon found its way to the Vanuatu Cultural Center and National Museum, where Stuart Bedford, a New Zealand archaeologist who had studied local pot shards for years, was called in to inspect it. He immediately recognized its distinctive pattern — “dentate stamping,” an ancient technique so named because it looked as though some tiny-toothed creature had bitten an intricate pattern into the ceramic — and understood that this pottery coincided with the very first movement of ancient peoples into the South Seas.
Bedford rushed to the site of the discovery, an old colonial coconut plantation that the bulldozer had been clearing for use as a prawn farm. Further burrowing turned up not only more pottery but also tools of obsidian and a great cache of human bones, which had lain undisturbed and unusually well preserved over thousands of years. The site was soon identified as the oldest and largest prehistoric cemetery ever found in the Pacific. Everything at the site indicated a founding colony — first arrivals to the shores of uninhabited islands. Teouma was, according to Bedford, “unlike anything anyone had ever seen, or was likely to see, in this part of the world ever again.”

Archaeologists hoped the bones might help provide a clue to the abiding mystery of how anybody had gotten to these far-off coastlines in the first place. Vanuatu is a volcanic archipelago of more than 80 islands littered in an extended slingshot shape across an 800-mile arc of the South Pacific. Europeans first heard of its existence in 1606, when a Portuguese navigator stopped through on a brief but violent imperial errand for the Spanish crown. The islands were largely left to their own devices until the end of the 18th century, when French and British ships arrived to plant their own flags. The two countries ruled the archipelago as a joint colony, called the Condominium of the New Hebrides, until independence was achieved in 1980. National coherence remains a work in progress. By some measures, Vanuatu is per capita the most linguistically diverse country on the planet: Its quarter-million citizens, predominantly the native ni-Vanuatu, speak as many as 140 different indigenous languages and maintain an astonishing variety of cultural practices. A meaningful national identity has been constructed from a common appreciation of ceremonial pig-tusk bracelets and the taking of kava, a very mild narcotic root that looks like primordial pea soup and tastes like a fine astringent dirt. Above all, however, the ni-Vanuatu are bound together by the fact of the country’s nautical isolation: Their nearest neighbors are hundreds of miles in any direction.

To read the full article written by Gideon Lewis-Krause from "New York Times Magazine" hit here

Monday, January 28, 2019

DNA tool allows you to trace your ancient ancestry

.Scientists have created a tool which can more accurately identify ancient Eurasian populations 

.The tool allows people to discover how similar they are to the Roman Britons, Vikings or ancient Israelites

Scientists at the University of Sheffield studying ancient DNA have created a tool allowing them to more accurately identify ancient Eurasian populations, which can be used to test an individual’s similarity to ancient people who once roamed the earth.

Currently the study of ancient DNA requires a lot of information to classify a skeleton to a population or find its biogeographical origins.

Now scientists have defined a new concept called Ancient Ancestry Informative Markers (aAIMs) – a group of mutations that are sufficiently informative to identify and classify ancient populations.

To read more of the article from "EurekAlert" hit here

Friday, January 25, 2019

Free Genealogy Programs

There are many free, full-featured genealogy programs available for Windows, Macintosh, Chromebooks, Linux, or even for installing in a web server you control. The various programs do vary widely in features and capabilities.

In addition, the handheld systems that run Chrome or Apple’s iOS operating system also have many free genealogy apps available although most of them are somewhat limited in capabilities. Dick Eastman from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter wrote an article for his viewers, where he describes the many companies that provide a free version to test that will meet most of your needs. However, the paid programs will offer more bells and whistles, which you may entertain.

The following is a list of free genealogy programs that may meet your needs. However, the paid programs usually offer more features.

For Microsoft Windows, there is RootsMagic Essentials, Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition, Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage, Gramps, AncestralQuest Basics, and maybe some others that I do not recall right now.

For Macintosh, there is: Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage, Gramps, and Personal Ancestry Writer II.

For Linux, see Gramps. Don’t bother with anything else. Other Linux genealogy programs do exist but pale in comparison to Gramps.

For Chromebooks, see my article, Genealogy Applications for Chromebooks, at: https://blog.eogn.com/2017/04/19/genealogy-applications-for-chromebooks/ and the list in the Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/search?q=genealogy&c=apps.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Results of DNA project in Abiquiú support oral history of Native ancestry

Residents of Abiquiú are using science to verify what they already know – many of them are descended from American Indians. Tor read the full newspaper article click DNA project . The article appeared Saturday, January 12, 2019 in Albuquerque Journal, written by Elaine D Briseno.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Are You Solving Crimes Or Losing Privacy? What To Know Before Uploading DNA To A Genetic Website

From  Crime Times  of the App Oxygen, Gina Tron brings up again the sharing of DNA data from shared sites.

She peaks the reader's interest with a grabbing headline, "Investigators explain how they used DNA Websites to find the Golden State Killer Suspect"! along with a sub heading "It allegedly caught the Golden State Killer--but many still fear there are ethical concerns around genetic genealogy sites."

To read the article and to form your own opinion, please hit here

Monday, January 21, 2019

Watching Relative Race

If you haven't had a chance to watch "Relative Race," you can catch up with all four season via  your computer by clicking here!

The premise of the show is that contestants race across the country in search of relatives they have never met, in hopes they will reach the finish line first and win the grand prize. Four teams (red, blue, green, black) are given clues and challenges along the way that lead them to people who share the same DNA. The last-place finisher at each stage of the competition receives a strike. Three strikes and that team is out.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Hackers send thousands of DNA test kits to random strangers

Please read the article in full, there was no DNA data shared when the hacker ordered several kits all to received a ten dollar debit card from each sale.

The article appeared in USA Today and was written by Elizabeth Weise. Please read the article online by hitting here

Did you get a DNA test kit in the mail you didn’t order? You’re not alone. Hackers using stolen credit cards ordered about 2,400 My Heritage DNA testing kits during the company's holiday “Refer a Friend” program, looking to steal a $10 Amazon gift card offered for each referral.

The scam began on Christmas Eve during the busy holiday season, when many people were buying genealogical DNA test kits as presents for family and friends.

MyHeritage is an Israeli online genealogy platform where members across the world can do family research and build family trees. It also offers genealogical DNA tests, which are increasingly popular as a means of determining ancestry.

The company's referral program was run by a third-party platform. Customers who referred a friend to purchase a DNA testing kit earned a $10 discount for the friend and a $10 gift card on Amazon for themselves.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

What are your Guidelines?

I am certain you are asking, "What!" What are guidelines?

According to Google definition it is a general rule, principle, or piece of advice.

Otherwise: recommendation, instruction, direction, suggestion, advice; regulation, rule, principle, guiding principle; standard, criterion, measure, gauge, yardstick, benchmark, touchstone;
procedure, parameter.

If you have not set up your own guidelines, the National Genealogical Society has provided the benefit for free to those who wish to improve their skills and performance in their genealogical pursuits. As such these are just guidelines!

NGS is neither an accrediting nor an enforcement agency and does not determine whether its recommendations are being followed in any particular case. These recommendations serve their purpose when an individual decides that the guidelines have been applied appropriately in a matter of personal interest.

Below are their guidelines that pertain to several subjects that you may interact on the subject.

Guidelines for Sound Genealogical Research
Guidelines for Using Records Repositories and Libraries
Guidelines for Use of Computer Technology in Genealogical Research
Guidelines for Sharing Information with Others 
Guidelines for Genealogical Self-Improvement and Growth

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Support our organization by purchasing print magazine

Did you know you can support your favorite organization (GSHA-SC) at no additional cost when you shop Amazon at smile.amazon.com? And what better time to do it – when Amazon is donating 30 times the usual rate on all new print magazine subscriptions. Through January 31, 2019, AmazonSmile will donate 15% of your new print magazine subscription’s purchase price to your charity of choice – even deal-priced magazines. For a limited time; terms apply.

The Impact of the U.S. Government Shutdown to Genealogists

The news media is full of reports about the impact of the U.S. government shutdown, both to government employees and to private citizens alike. I see no point in repeating those stories here. However, I will say that genealogists should be aware of the impact to their research efforts.

If you were planning a genealogy research trip in the near future, you need to be aware that:

The Library of Congress is closed.

The National Archives and Records Administration buildings in the Washington, D.C., area are closed to researchers.

The National Archives and Records Administration Regional Branches all are closed.

All the document research areas overseen by the National Archives at presidential libraries are closed.

Until the shutdown ends, there will be no updates to government websites or social media.

The government offices typically used by genealogists and historians cannot respond to inquiries, conduct research, process inter-library loan (ILL) or material requests. All government-sponsored activities, workshops, and events are cancelled.

And it doesn’t stop there – other federal depositories, libraries, and facilities are closed as well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

Are you aware of the Early Texas DNA Project?

The Early Texans DNA database is now live. Those who join the Early Texans DNA project can compare their DNA to other Early Texans descendants and collaboratively work to solve early Texas genealogical mysteries.

The project helps participants study the DNA of descendants of early settlers to discover information that can contribute to Texas history including:

Determine which admixtures are found in living Texans today.
Link those admixture results to early colonies or settlements.
Learn which segments of DNA are shared with other descendants of early settlers of Texas.
Assist those applying for TxSGS Heritage Certificates. DNA matches support claims of descent from a common ancestor and can provide clues as to where to locate documentary evidence.

The Early Texans DNA Project is sponsored by the Texas State Genealogical Society. You can learn a lot more about the project at: http://www.txsgs.org/programs/dna-project/early-texans/.

The article above was posted first on https://blog.eogn.com/2019/01/01/announcing-the-early-texans-dna-project/ on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

DNA Test Proves the Baby’s Father was not the Agreed Upon Sperm Donor

A Florida couple is seeking damages from a Vermont gynecologist after genetic tests on their 41-year-old daughter reportedly pointed to the doctor being her father, rather than the agreed upon sperm donor.

“This could not have been done accidentally,” said the couple’s lawyer. “It’s fraud, and it’s a question of inserting genetic material into a woman, not of an anonymous donor but rather the physician who is engaging in the conduct itself.”

The couple discovered the reported connection to the gynecologist when their 41-year-old daughter wanted to find her genetic background and learn more about her health and history through a DNA test promoted by several websites.

You can read the full story and watch a video below as well as in the WCAX Television web site at: https://www.wcax.com/content/news/503616351.html.

Moral of the story: Do not be surprised if the results of a DNA test turn out to be radically different from what you expected.

Posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter at https://blog.eogn.com/2019/01/01/dna-test-proves-the-babys-father-was-not-the-agreed-upon-sperm-donor/

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A DNA Match with No Tree? No Problem!

What do you do now if the DNA genealogical match does not post a public tree? With more kits being sold to non genealogy individuals just wanting to trace their percentage of  DNA origins, more matches are being uploaded without any genealogical material attached or worse yet being privatized. Diahan Southard, DNA specialist, and Lisa Louise Cooke, genealogist speaker, teamed up in a live streamed video via RootsTech 2018 which is available online thru the RootsTech website. Please take advantage and watch the video in learning what methods are available in sleuthing for the answers.

You can view the the video by hitting the term linked tree.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Save the image

When you are in research mode, it is best to download the images of records you use on any site. This way you have the images.

the site may go dormant; (Please see Internet archive, if no longer available)
the site may no longer have the rights to display the images;
or you may decide or need to cancel your membership to the subscription.

Save digital media to your own devices or to the cloud if you have a subscription. If you have the capability to link it to your on or off line tree in your “account,” will require you to maintain that access.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Ethnicity is Just an Estimate

Posted on DNA Explained-Genetic Genealogy

To read the full article please refer to Roberta Estes' blog.

To read the whole article please read it here

Lots of people will have received DNA tests as gifts over the holidays. This pleases me to no end, because I know I’ll match any number of them and maybe, just maybe, those matches will help me fill in those pesky blanks in my tree or break down brick walls.

However, for the most part, those testers probably aren’t genealogists, at least not yet. They are most likely curious about “who they are” or didn’t even realize they might be curious about anything until they unwrapped that gift and discovered a DNA test inside.