Friday, June 28, 2019

General Meeting Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Spanish Settlement of Southern California (1769-1790), August 3, 2019 - Free Admission - General Public Invited

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ancestry’s DNA Circles Will Vanish July 1 – Act Now to Preserve

This is reminder that Ancestry is permanently removing DNA Circles from customer accounts on July 1st. If you have not recorded the information held in your Circles and New Ancestor Discoveries, if you had any, do that NOW.

Monday, June 24, 2019

How do DNA testing companies find your distant family?

DNA expert Debbie Kennett explains how DNA testing companies identify your relatives - and how far you can trust the results Members of a children's games club for under-sevens play Blind Man's Buff in Hyde Park, London, October 1932 (Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images) The companies that offer a relative-finding autosomal DNA test are: AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage DNA. A fifth, Living DNA (also sold by Findmypast), is beta-testing a family network service. Each company has

Read in Who Do You Think You Are?: https://apple.news/AAryW7qj1TIGuAQmY9QFNZw

GSHA Annual Conference and Meeting, August 16-18, 2019, Pueblo, Colorado.

Friday, June 21, 2019

CSUF exhibit answers questions about DNA testing and how it works

The Orange County Register ran an article yesterday on the human DNA exhibit that member, Colleen Greene, marketing& digital literacy librarian, and non-member,  Robert Tomaszewski, science & engineering librarian at Pollak Library at Cal State, Fullerton gave an exhibition on DNA. The exhibit explains the concepts behind those popular DNA tests, takes some of the mystery out of the reports, and illustrates difference uses cases. For more on the article please hit here

Are ancestry DNA tests private? What you're giving away with a tube of spit

Commercial DNA tests can help you learn about your family, but they also expose you and your relatives to a vast industry that wants to read your genes.

Read in Global News: https://apple.news/AxLAA4wv8QveII-tp5kEo7w

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Finding Your Roots: How To Trace Your Ancestry Through DNA Testing

This story originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of ESSENCE When Victoria Walker bought a DNA testing kit in December 2017, it was to join her family in finding out more about their ancestry. Growing up with a great-aunt who had been the family historian for decades, Walker, a Washington, D.C., attorney, already knew a few details about her mother’s side. She knew, for example, that her mother’s family hailed from Louisiana, but beyond that, the geography was sketchy. “I probably knew no

Read in ESSENCE: https://apple.news/AKFyzyGSXTrq7owSQQUD3ZQ

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Updated list of events from John Schmal

The chart below and the attached announcements show the presentations that have
been scheduled in the next few months. They include presentations on Indigenous
Mexico and Mexican Genealogy, but also new presentations about the early settlement of
Southern California. 

June 1, 2019
Los Angeles Family History Center – 1: P.M.
The Wonderful Diversity to Indigenous Mexico
June 15, 2019
Los Angeles Family History Center – 1: P.M.
Finding Your Roots in Mexico
June 28, 2019
Westchester Church of Jesus Church of Latter-Day Saints: Family History Discovery Day –
11: 10 A.M. – 12:10 A.M.
The Wonderful Diversity to Indigenous Mexico
Aug. 3, 2019
Southern California Genealogical Society Library – 11: AM
The Spanish Settlement of Southern California (1769-1790)
Aug. 17, 2019
Downtown Los Angeles Public Library – Genealogy Dept.
(11: AM – 12:30 P.M.)
Indigenous Mexico Workshop for the Genealogy Garage
Sept. 21, 2019
Camarillo Public Library Community Room (Ventura County Genealogical Society) – starting at 1: P.M.
            The Spanish Settlement of Southern California (1769-1790) and
Finding Your Roots in Mexico
Oct. 5, 2019
Canoga Park Branch — 3:15 P.M.
The San Fernando Valley: The Hispanic Experience (1781-1850)
Nov. 8, 2019
Orange Family History Center –
10: A.M.
Indigenous Northeastern Mexico: Ancestors of the Tejanos
Jan. 11, 2020
Pomona Public Library – 2: PM
German Genealogy and History

Monday, June 17, 2019

A DNA Test may not automatically overcome a Brick Wall situation

This article first appeared in Genealogy's Star and we are highlighted some of the article, but to read it hit here

The term "brick wall" as used in the genealogical sense refers to an end-of-line situation where the next generation ancestor or even some other relative cannot be easily found. Of course, this could be the researcher's parent or parents but in most cases, it is one or more of a more distant ancestor or relative. As a side note, I think the term is very inappropriate as it implies that some external force is preventing you from finding a particular person. There is a huge body of writings and videos on the subject of overcoming genealogical brick walls, See "The Ultimate Genealogical Brick Wall Buster" for example.

Lately, with the increased interest in genealogical DNA testing, there are numerous examples of articles, advertisements, and other media mentions about finding the "long lost ancestor." Most of these deal with reunions between members of close biological families, i.e. finding parents or siblings. However, there is an undercurrent of articles about solving complex genealogical mysteries, i.e. brick walls, using DNA tests.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ancestry Surpasses 15 Million DNA Customers

AncestryDNA is thrilled to celebrate a groundbreaking Ancestry milestone with all of its customer: more than 15 million customers have received DNA results!
They are honored to have played a role in empowering the journeys of personal discovery for over 15 million people around the world through AncestryDNA, it is a true sign of how deeply important it is for people to connect and learn about their past. But this is just the beginning. As the network continues to grow, they can deliver even more value to their members, including more granular insights about heritage and compelling new paths to learn about ourselves using genetics. For more of this article go to here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The dangers of the government's DNA testing program

We must recognize the DNA testing program for what it is, writes Vera Eidelman: yet another attempt by the Trump administration to intimidate and deter asylum seekers. It miscasts individuals seeking asylum at the border as criminals.

Read in CNN: https://apple.news/Aue3Ui4VbRb-6ofQKhl9XgA

Thursday, June 13, 2019

One twin committed the crime — but which one? A new DNA test can find the culprit.

A handful of criminal prosecutions have stalled because DNA tests cannot distinguish between suspects who are twins. Then scientists decided to create one.

One night in November 1999, a 26-year-old woman was raped in a parking lot in Grand Rapids, Mich. Police officers managed to get the perpetrator’s DNA from a semen sample, but it matched no one in their databases.

Detectives found no fingerprints at the scene and located no witnesses. The woman, who had been attacked from behind, could not offer a description. It looked like the rapist would never be found.

Five years later, there was a break in the case. A man serving time for another sexual offense submitted a DNA sample with his parole application. The sample matched DNA from the rape scene.

There was just one catch: The parolee had an identical twin, and standard DNA tests can’t distinguish between identical twins. Prosecutors had no additional evidence to rule out one or the other. Because they couldn’t press charges against either of the men, the case remains open nearly 20 years later.

But maybe not forever.

In recent years, scientists have gained a clearer picture of the early development of the embryos of identical twins. Originating from a single fertilized egg, they later acquire unique genetic mutations. New advances in DNA sequencing are making it possible to pinpoint those mutations — and to tell identical twins apart.

This kind of test could well determine which of the brothers committed the rape. In a recently published study, researchers concluded that the technique is “a realistic option, fit for practical forensic casework.”

Forensic DNA testing arose in the 1990s, years before the first human genome was sequenced. Scientists found that they needed only tiny snippets of genetic material to tell people apart.

That’s because our genomes are sprinkled with segments, known as short tandem repeats (STRs), that mutate much faster than the rest of our DNA. Because of this rapid changeability, these genetic bits tend to vary distinctively from person to person.

Researchers identified 13 STRs that were very effective in matching people to DNA samples. The probability of the STRs all being identical in two unrelated people is less than 1 in a trillion.

DNA testing became a standard legal tool for identifying criminal suspects and resolving paternity disputes. But for all its power, the test could not tell identical twins apart. And that led to some Kafkaesque impasses.

In 2004, for example, Holly Marie Adams won a paternity suit in Missouri against Raymon Miller for child support. A standard DNA test indicated he was the alleged father. Mr. Miller appealed the case because Ms. Adams had also had sex with his twin brother, Richard. A DNA test on Richard also yielded a match.

“The results of blood tests performed on the two brothers demonstrated that both had a 99.999 percent probability of being the father,” Judge Phillip Garrison wrote. The court was forced to rely on other evidence — the timing of the woman’s pregnancy, for example — to decide that Raymon Miller was in fact the father.

Faced with such cases, forensic DNA experts tried something once thought impossible: building a test that could tell twins apart. The researchers took advantage of the fact that identical twins are not, in fact, genetically identical.

When a fertilized egg starts dividing, there’s a small chance each new cell will gain a new mutation. When the cells separate into twin embryos, one gets some of the mutant cells and the other gets the rest. Unique mutations will end up in cells throughout each twin’s body.

In the mid-2000s, scientists at the University of Hanover in Germany wondered if new STRs could arise in one twin and not the other. They developed a test to examine thousands of STRs instead of just 13.

It didn’t work. Their experimental test couldn’t tell identical twins apart. “Our attempts with STRs were probably totally naïve,” said Michael Krawczak, a geneticist who now teaches at Kiel University in Germany.

At the time, the costs of DNA sequencing were dropping drastically, raising another possibility. If a test could compare not just STRs but the entire genomes of twins, Dr. Krawczak and his colleagues wondered, could it tell them apart?

In 2012, the researchers offered some calculations suggesting that the answer was yes.

Imagine, they said, that a court heard a paternity dispute involving identical twins. Blood or saliva could be used to sequence the twins’ genomes. Researchers could look for genetic mutations that only one twin — the father — shared with the child.

But the scientists’ analysis also showed that such a test would have to be very precise and sensitive. Cells that will become sperm separate from other cells in an embryo early in development. Only a few mutations arise in a twin embryo before that separation.

The window for these key mutations is so narrow, in fact, that sometimes none will arise. In 20 percent of cases, the researchers concluded, twins would have no distinguishing mutations at all.

Such a test would be difficult, then — but it would also be definitive. Just a single mutation, confirmed by multiple analyses, would be enough to implicate one twin and exonerate the other.

Dr. Krawczak’s thought experiment captured the imaginations of researchers at Eurofins Scientific, a laboratory testing company headquartered in Brussels. They decided to give the method a try.

They found a pair of twin brothers willing to volunteer their DNA, as well as the DNA of one twin’s child and his wife. The researchers sequenced each person’s whole genome and found enough mutations to tell the child’s father from its uncle.

The Eurofins team published this proof of concept in 2014. Soon the news reached David Deakin, an assistant district attorney in Boston, who had been working for years on a rape case against a man named Dwayne McNair.

Mr. McNair had come under suspicion for two rapes in 2004. In 2007, police managed to get DNA from a cigarette Mr. McNair cast away, and the STRs were a match to sample from both crime scenes.

But then detectives discovered that Mr. McNair had a twin brother, Dwight. Mr. Deakin got a court order for a new DNA test, hoping the McNair brothers were fraternal twins.

“No such luck,” said Mr. Deakin.

Try as they might, investigators couldn’t firmly determine which of the identical brothers had participated in the rapes. The case stalled until 2010, when detectives tracked down the second rapist in both crimes, Anwar Thomas.

As part of his plea deal, Mr. Thomas agreed to identify Dwayne McNair as the other rapist. He had known the McNair twins since high school and said he had no trouble telling them apart. But Mr. Deakin would have nothing to offer a jury to prove Mr. Thomas was telling the truth.

Then Mr. Deakin learned of the Eurofins test. It would be expensive — $130,000 — but Mr. Deakin became convinced it could seal the case.

“We were persuaded their science was sound,” he said.

Mr. Deakin had to drop the charges against Mr. McNair to make time for the test. After three months, the Eurofins team came back with a conclusion: DNA samples from the rapes matched Dwayne McNair, not Dwight.

Based on a statistical analysis by Dr. Krawczak, Mr. Deaking told the court that it was two billion times more likely that the rapist's DNA belonged to Dwayne McNair than to his brother.

Armed with the new results, Mr. Deakin re-indicted Mr. McNair in September 2014. His lawyers filed a motion to exclude the Eurofins test from evidence. They argued that it was too new and too little studied to be reliable.

After hearing expert witnesses for both sides, Judge Linda Giles ruled that the test was based on valid scientific principles. But it had yet to be replicated by any other lab or to be laid out in sufficient detail in a peer-reviewed journal article.

“Although the court has the utmost respect for the ability of jurors to comprehend complicated scientific principles, they would not have the luxury of many days of rumination, as this gatekeeper has needed, to untie this Gordian knot,” she wrote in a decision handed down in April 2017.

“So we were out of luck and back where we started,” said Mr. Deakin.

The decision was not just a disappointment to Mr. Deakin. Prosecutors in Michigan had been considering using the technique to distinguish between the twins in the Grand Rapids rape case. Now they decided against it.

In Boston, the case continued, with a conventional DNA test narrowing the suspects to the twins and the testimony of Mr. Thomas specifically against Dwayne McNair.

That turned out to be enough. Mr. McNair was found guilty in January 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Since Eurofins published the initial test in 2014, only one other court has asked the company to test twins — in a civil paternity case in Germany, according to Burkhard Rolf, director of DNA forensic services at Eurofins.

Dr. Rolf, Dr. Krawczak and their colleagues decided to write up a mathematically detailed account of their methods. The journal PLOS Genetics accepted the paper, but then required them to remove details about the McNair rape case and the German paternity case before publishing it.

Chris Becker, the prosecuting attorney of Kent County, Mich., said that the publication of the paper is a step in the right direction — but not enough for him to make arrests in the Grand Rapids rape case.

Steven A. McCarroll, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research, said that the one way to make people more confident in the new method would be to demonstrate its accuracy on a large number of twins.

“It would be really nice to know that we could do this kind of analysis over and over and over again and never get it wrong,” he said.

Mr. Deakin, the Boston prosecutor, was optimistic that such research could lead to its adoption by the courts. “If five or six labs did it, and four or five them reproduced the results and there were no negative results, I think you could get it in pretty easily almost anywhere,” he said.

Dr. Krawczak and his colleagues estimate roughly 1 percent of crime cases and paternity disputes may involve identical twins.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen every day in every laboratory,” said Dr. Krawczak. “But once people become aware of this, there may be a lot of cold cases that come back to life.”

To read more of the article hit here

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Thirteen Good Reasons to Test Your Mitochondrial DNA

This article first appeared on  DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy  Discovering Your Ancestors – One Gene at a Time. To read the full article, please hit here

Your mitochondrial DNA is a treasure trove of information for one specific line of your genealogy – providing refined information that autosomal tests simply can’t provide.

Some people say mitochondrial isn’t useful, but here’s just one example of mitochondrial DNA bulldozing a brick wall, along with some helpful tips.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

I revisited my AncestryDNA test 3 years later and found some surprising changes to my results

I first took Ancestry's DNA test three years ago, and found out that my family history was more complex than I initially thought. In September 2018, Ancestry updated its ethnicity estimates. As part of the update, my results got a lot more specific. In the updated results, I found out that I'm much more Norwegian than I initially thought. It's been about three years since I first sent my spit over to Ancestry to see what the company could tell me about my heritage. 

Since 2015, I've been sending my spit in to companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA to find out what I can learn from my genes.

But the journey didn't end when I got my initial reports back. Since then, the tests have been updated, adding new reports in 23andMe's case and new features in Ancestry's case.

Most recently in September 2018, Ancestry did a major update to its ethnicity estimates for its $99 test. Curious to find out how my new results would compare with the ones I got before, I logged back on to the site.

Here's what I found.

To read more of this article hit here

Monday, June 3, 2019

Hispanic Research Day San Diego

The next Hispanic Saturday meeting will be this coming Saturday (8 June) at the Family History Library (FHL) in Allied Gardens (6767 51st St, San Diego, CA 92120). [The FHL in Mission Valley is still being remodeled.] The meeting will be from 12 noon to 2pm. Please note the time change.

We will start the meeting with our normal round table discussions. Then Don Martin,
of the FHL will talk to us about using the FamilySearch website. He will also address indexing.

Directions - To get there, take Interstate 8 to Waring Road. Take Waring Road North,
turn left at Zion Ave and right on 51st Street. The Library is on the North side of the building.

She was looking for her dad. He forgot he was a sperm donor. DNA sites connected them.

Melissa Daniels, a donor conceived offspring, found her biological father and donor siblings on consumer DNA testing sites like 23andme and Ancestry.com. Now, she must navigate a growing and complicated family tree.

To watch the video hit here