Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Family Matters", by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Personal History, “Family Matters,” The New Yorker, December 1, 2008, p. 34
Read the full text of this article. (Registration required.) December 1, 2008 Issue

ABSTRACT: PERSONAL HISTORY about the writer’s exploration of his family tree. The writer’s grandfather, Edward St. Lawrence Gates (known as Pop), had two hobbies— growing tulips and keeping scrapbooks. The writer didn’t know about the second hobby until after Pop Gates’s death, in 1960, when the writer was nine years old. Pop Gates was buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery, in Cumberland, Maryland; the writer’s forebears were among the few blacks allowed in the predominantly white cemetery. Mentions Thorn Rose Cemetery. The writer had been made keenly aware, early in his childhood, that the Gateses had a certain status in Cumberland. After Pop’s burial, the writer’s father took him back to the Gates family home and went upstairs to the closet. There he pulled out dozens of musty leather books with pages covered with news clippings of African-Americans who had died. One obituary, dated Saturday, January 7, 1888, was about the death of Aunt Jane Gates, the writer’s great-great-grandmother. The writer’s career as a historian began that afternoon in 1960, and he became obsessed with his family tree. What he really wanted was a family crest that would tie him to their white ancestors. Mentions J. R. Clifford and W. E. B. Du Bois. Most African-Americans can trace at least one line of their family back to the 1870 census, which was the first taken after the Civil War. As a child, the writer had been told that the Gateses were descended from an Irishman named Samuel Brady, who supposedly owned Jane, fathered her children, and gave her money to purchase her home. In 2005, the writer placed an ad in the Cumberland Times and posted a message on a Brady-family online forum. One of Brady’s direct male descendants and a direct male descendant of Brady’s brother agreed to take a DNA test. The tests established, without a doubt, that Samuel Brady was not the father of Jane Gates’s children. When the writer told his father and his aunt, Helen, what the tests revealed, Aunt Helen said, “I’ve been a Brady eighty-nine years, and I am still a Brady, no matter what that test says.” What about the father of Jane’s children, then? The writer and a team of genealogists compiled a list of all the men with certain surnames in the 1850 and 1860 census for Allegany County, Maryland, and are advertising for their male descendants. Perhaps DNA testing can solve the last remaining mystery in the Gates family line. Until the family crest of the Irishman who fathered Jane Grant’s children graces the writer’s family tree, his family story will remain a tale only half told. Mentions Pop Gates’s scrapbook full of war casualties.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Genetic genealogy released

The Fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG) has been posted at the JoGG web site ( As always, JoGG is a free and open access journal.

This issue has the regular columns, plus an interview with John Butler and his NIST Human Identity Team members. The NIST team has also written a review article for the issue on Y-STR nomenclature, along with their recommendations for markers where there are differences between companies. There are other articles that should be of interest to our community-Jim Logan has another article on mtDNA Haplogroup J, Ken Nordtvedt has written about TMRCA and improvements to the traditional model, and Guido Deboeck has summarized Y-DNA data for the Flemish population.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FamilyTreeDNA Holiday Sale

Dear Family Tree DNA Group Administrator,
In keeping with our end-of-the-year tradition, effective November 26th, 2008 we'll institute special pricing at Family Tree DNA for your new-kit-purchasing participants.
The products that will be offered at the special prices are:

 Y-DNA37             $119
 Y-DNA37+mtDNAPlus   $199
 Y-DNA67             $218
 Y-DNA67+mtDNAPlus   $308
 mtDNAPlus           $139
 Full Genomic mtDNA  $395
 SuperDNA            $613
This offer is good until December 31st, 2008 for kits ordered and paid for by that time.

"History Unearthed Daily"

Saturday, November 22, 2008 DNA has a 40% discount on DNA testing till 31 December 2008

40% Discount on DNA Testing DNA now has a 40% discount off their DNA testing until December 31, 2008. The new discounted prices as are as follows:

  • Paternal Lineage Test (Y-Chromosome 33), Regular price: $149, Sale price: $89.40
  • Advanced Paternal Lineage Test (Y-Chromosome 46), Regular price: $199, Sale Price: $119.40
  • Maternal Lineage Test (Mitochondrial DNA , Regular price: $179, Sale price: $107.40

Friday, November 21, 2008

MyHeritage And Family Tree DNA Partner To Help People Trace Family History Using DNA

MyHeritage And Family Tree DNA Partner To Help People Trace Family History Using DNA

MyHeritage, one of the world's most popular family Web sites, today announced a partnership with FamilyTreeDNA, the company that pioneered DNA testing for genealogic research. In addition to MyHeritage's innovative Smart Matching and Research technologies, members can now also use information contained in their DNA to find present-day relatives who share a common ancestor from many hundreds of years ago. FamilyTreeDNA users can take advantage of MyHeritage's site to not only further research family history, but also stay connected with current family members around the world.

With close to 220,000 records, FamilyTreeDNA is the largest database of genealogic DNA information in the world. This provides the perfect complement to MyHeritage's current research tools, giving our members another way to learn about where they come from, said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage. "We help people around the world discover, connect and communicate with their extended family network and easily research their family history. Now, by working with FamilyTreeDNA, we can offer a solution when the paper trail runs out."

Tel Aviv, Israel and Houston, Texas (PRWEB) November 20, 2008 -- MyHeritage, one of the world's most popular family Web sites, today announced a partnership with FamilyTreeDNA, the company that pioneered DNA testing for genealogic research. In addition to MyHeritage's innovative Smart Matching and Research technologies, members can now also use information contained in their DNA to find present-day relatives who share a common ancestor from many hundreds of years ago. FamilyTreeDNA users can take advantage of MyHeritage's site to not only further research family history, but also stay connected with current family members around the world.

DNA research
Since its founding in 2000, FamilyTreeDNA has tested over 450,000 people, helping customers trace family history when no conventional records are available. The advanced DNA screening technology, among other things, can reveal Native American, African or Jewish descent on paternal or maternal lines, as well as uncover ancestral information for those who were adopted. Through a range of tests, users can obtain information on recent and historical origins, including a migration map on both paternal and maternal lines. MyHeritage's 27 million users will have access to the following three tests:

  • Y-DNA25 - a Y-chromosome test for males (US$129)
  • mtDNA - a mitochondrial DNA test for males and females (US$129)
  • Y-DNA25 + mtDNA - a combined Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA test for males (US$219)

Continued here:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Genetic Privacy of Presidential Candidates

From the New England Journal of Medicine:
The Genetic Privacy of Presidential Candidates
Robert C. Green, M.D., M.P.H., and George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H.

In the wake of the often bitter presidential election, with its emphasis on negative campaigning and intermittent controversies over the release of candidates' health information, it is not too soon to begin planning for the next presidential campaign. By then, advances in genomics will make it more likely that DNA will be collected and analyzed to assess genetic risk information that could be used for or, more likely, against presidential candidates. Since 1972, when George McGovern was forced to replace his vice-presidential running mate, Thomas Eagleton, after it was revealed that he had been hospitalized for depression, the health status of presidential candidates has been seen by the press as fair game.1 More recently, historians have discovered that some presidential candidates, including Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, misled the public about their health status and that illness may have adversely affected their ability to perform their duties.

Continued here:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New pricing at FTDNA for Group DNA tests

New Pricing at FTDNA:

Group discounted prices
Y-DNA 12-marker test $99 + $4 SH

Y-DNA 25-marker test $124 + $4 SH

Y-DNA 37-marker test $149 + $4 SH

Y-DNA 67-marker test $248 + $4 SH

Y-DNA-Refine12to25 (upgrade a 12-marker test to 25-marker test) $49

Y-DNA-Refine12to37 (upgrade a 12-marker test to 37-marker test) $99

Y-DNA-Refine12to67 (upgrade a 12-marker test to 67-marker test) $189

Y-DNA-Refine25to37 (upgrade a 25-marker test to 37-marker test) $49

Y-DNA-Refine25to67 (upgrade a 25-marker test to 67-marker test) $148

Y-DNA-Refine37to67 (upgrade a 37-marker test to 67-marker test) $99

It takes a 68-cent stamp to mail the kit back to the lab.

Please note SH - Shipping & Handling is $6 outside the United States.

Are you my Cousin?


Are You My Cousin?
By Richard Rubin, November & December 2008

How the new DNA technology can solve mysteries in your family tree… and help you discover relatives you never knew you had

    * Trace Your Family Tree—Without Losing Your Mind (March & April 2005)
    * Genealogy Resources (Updated 2008)
    * Studs Terkel’s Tips for Preserving Family History
    * Web Exclusive: A Beginner's Guide to Genealogy on the Web (Updated 2008)
    * Share Your Family History in the Online Community

I recently received an e-mail from a cousin of mine out on Long Island—we’ll call him Harry—who was writing to invite me to a family reunion. It was an offer I couldn’t resist, even though, as family reunions go, this one is a bit unusual. For one thing, Harry and I have never met. I didn’t even know he existed before he e-mailed me. In fact, though I know for certain that he and I are related, I don’t know exactly how. Neither does he. For that matter, the entire family gathering is composed of people who know we are related, but little else. The guest list isn’t set—actually, it’s growing all the time—but that’s okay, because we don’t have to rent a space, or figure out how much potato salad to make. This reunion, you see, is happening online. It’s virtual. And perpetual.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Genographic Project Update

From the Genographic Newsletter:
The Genographic Project has launched the blog Genographica on the Genographic website.
• The Genographic Project website and Public Participation Kit are now available in Spanish. Visit Genographic in EspaƱol at
• Genographic Project Director Dr. Spencer Wells will be speaking in Washington, DC, at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on Monday, October 27th at 7 p.m. The lecture will be followed by a book signing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Jewish HapMap Project

What is the Jewish HapMap Project?

The Jewish HapMap Project is a collaborative endeavor of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine and Jewish communities to understand the structure of the genomes in Jewish populations. It is an outgrowth of the Human HapMap Project.

Continued here:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

FTDNA's 5th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy Postponed

Dear Customers,
Here is the latest update regarding the Conference and our lab in Houston:

a) The 5th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy will be postponed until February or March 2009, as the Sheraton Hotel has just informed us that they will not be in an appropriate condition to host our conference. The positive aspect of this postponement is that we will try our best to arrange the schedule in order for Spencer Wells to be one of our speakers. As soon as we have the new date we will advise you.

b) Labs: First of all there has been no interruption in the processes related to the standard Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, which are performed in Arizona. The batch was successfully closed this week and transmitted, a couple of days later than normal, due to networking issues that were resolved Friday.

The Genomics Research Center (Houston Lab) processes the full mitochondria, autosomal, and deep clade, as well as the advanced marker tests. These are the only ones subject to delays. We are pleased to announce that due to the outstanding efforts of our lab team and the restoration crew in place at our site, we were able to fully restore the freezing capabilities of our DNA storage robot. Yesterday, we were also able to power one of our sequencing machines. Our lab team is working this weekend and we will be able to advise you of the integrity of the DNA samples stored in Houston by mid-week. As soon as this is confirmed, our Houston lab will resume the work on our customer samples, while we restore the full capabilities of the lab.

As we have additional news, we will keep updating you.

We also want to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for the hundreds of emails of support and encouragement that we have received during this difficult time. There is no adequate way to express how much this means to us and our entire team. Thank you so much!

As always, many thanks for your continued support!

E-mail us anytime!

Bennett Greenspan
bcg [at symbol]

Max Blankfeld
Vice-President, Operations and Marketing
max [at symbol]

Monday, September 15, 2008

FTDNA in Houston after IKE

Dear Customers,
As a follow-up to our letter informing you of the level of preparedness Family Tree DNA established regarding the coming of Hurricane Ike to Houston, we are coming to you now to update you on our status post-Ike.

a) As you may know, all of our standard Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are processed at the lab in Arizona, and therefore, this processing has not been affected at all.
b) Also, as we advised previously, we have taken appropriate measures to safeguard and protect the data and our servers and therefore all computer systems are in place and functioning normally. You may have noticed that our web sites have been up, available, and are running normally as they were before and during the storm.
c) The building where Family Tree DNA's offices and Houston laboratory are located is without power, like most of Houston office buildings, and sustained damage, like so many other Houston office buildings. This means that the building will be closed for the next few days until it is ready for tenants to return. Despite this situation, several members of our staff have worked over the weekend to transfer equipment to other locations so that our normal office operations can resume on Monday, or at the latest on Tuesday, from an alternate location. All postal mail will be picked up normally at our local post office, so that kits can be checked-in and processed normally.
d) The coming days will allow us to have a better assessment of when our Houston lab will resume normal operations, at which point we will be back to you again with additional information about any delays in delivering results for the advanced tests that our lab processes in Houston. (Advanced panels, FGS and Deep Clade Y SNP's)
Please forgive us if in the next few days we don't meet our standard level of customer service as to e-mails and phone calls. We will be back to normal as soon as possible. We appreciate your continued support.
E-mail us anytime!
Bennett Greenspan, Max Blankfeld
President Vice-President, Operations and Marketing
"History Unearthed Daily"


Sunday, September 14, 2008

FTDNA DNA test discounts until 30 September 2008

FTDNA has announced the following promotional prices for NEW MEMBERS of DNA studies:

  • Y-DNA12 orders include a FREE mtDNA test (Y-DNA12+mtDNA promotion price of $99; normally $189)
  • Y-DNA25 orders include a FREE mtDNA test (Y-DNA25+mtDNA promotion price of $148; normally $238)
  • Y-DNA37 orders price REDUCED to $119 (normally $189)
  • Y-DNA37+mtDNAPlus orders price REDUCED to $189 (normally $339)
  • Y-DNA67+mtDNAPlus orders price REDUCED to $288 (normally $409)
  • mtDNAPlus price REDUCED to $149 (normally $189)

This promotion goes into effect immediately and will be available until September 30th, 11:59PM CST.

The Y DNA test is for males, and both males and females can take the mtDNA test. I recommend that males test their Y DNA and mtDNA to determine their genetic ancestry from their father and from their mother.

You can find out if there is a Surname Project for your surname at and use the search box.

I don't make any money from your tests.

These are the families I am associated with:

  • Ball:
  • Creekmore:
  • Kidd:
  • Manning:
  • Parkins and Perkins:
  • Phipps:
  • Strunk:
  • Swain:
  • Whitecotton:
  • Wyatt:

To get the special price, go to the home page for your surname and select the "Join this Surname Group" link on the left side of the page and answer the questions.

If your Surname is not one of these, go to and enter your surname in the Search Box. Select the link to your Surname that comes up.

This is a great opportunity if you are interested in testing.

Other fee-based testing companies:

A free testing company:

Contact me if you have any questions:

The Genetic Map of Europe

"By NICHOLAS WADE Published: August 13, 2008 Biologists have constructed a genetic map of Europe showing the degree of relatedness between its various populations. All the populations are quite similar, but the differences are sufficient that it should be possible to devise a forensic test to tell which country in Europe an individual probably comes from, said Manfred Kayser, a geneticist at the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. The map shows, at right, the location in Europe where each of the sampled populations live and, at left, the genetic relationship between these 23 populations. The map was constructed by Dr. Kayser, Dr. Oscar Lao and others, and appears in an article in Current Biology published online on August 7." Continued at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Genealogy gets more Precise

From _Technology Review_:

Tracing your ancestry via DNA is becoming a popular pastime, thanks to a growing number of consumer tests available over the Internet. At least two-dozen companies sell tests ranging in price from $100 to $900, and public interest is thriving. Most of these tests, however, paint a very rough picture of an individual's ancestral origins: they're limited to the direct maternal or paternal line. But that is beginning to change.
New technologies are allowing scientists to search for markers across the genome that can more precisely predict ancestry. Much of that data is being poured into public databases, supplying much more accurate and detailed information to genetic-testing companies and new consumer tests.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Discount Y DNA test opportunity

DNA Heritage has lowered their price for a 43 marker YSTR DNA test by $20 through August 31. Potential DNA Project members may find this discount an inducement to purchase a test. Anyone who ordered a test kit but did not return it can also obtain the discounted test price.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FTDNA discounts for Y DNA upgrades

FTDNA has announced a discount on the pricing for Y DNA upgrade tests. Elligible participants should have received an email announcing the discount. In the 10 projects I admin or co-admin, there are a large number of returned undelivered emails. If you are part of an FTDNA DNA study, go to your personal web page at FTDNA and make sure your current email address is entered there.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ajay Royyuru's Genographic Project lecture in Melbourne

From the ISOGG discussion List:
Ajay Royyuru gave a Genographic Project lecture at the Alfred Deakin Lecture Series in Melbourne on 7 June:
Direct link: Part%201.m4a

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coriell Institute for Medical Research free medical genetic testing

Yesterday I went to the Coriell Institute, in Camden, New Jersey, where I attended a lecture on their free medical genetic testing program. Part of the lecture was a review of their informed consent form, which I had previously received via an email attachment. At the end of the review I answered a few questions on the form and signed up for the testing. At that point I went to their lab and donated some saliva, and received a bar code to be used to retrieve results sometime around September of this year. Since this is a medical test, results will only be given for medically informative markers that have a treatment or lifestyle option for mitigation. If there is no cure or no effective lifestyle change to avoid the problem, then we will not be informed of that medical condition. The testing chip is the Affymetrix GeneChip, Genome wide Human SNP Array 6.0, As you can see at that page it does contain X and Y chromosome and mtDNA SNPs. I'll be lobbying for release of those results as well as the medical results. I do not believe we will receive the raw results of these tests.

If you are anywhere near Camden, I strongly urge you to consider this testing opportunity if you are interested in your genetic medical profile,

Monday, June 02, 2008

Color, Controversy and DNA

Color, Controversy and DNA
By Henry Louis Gates Jr. |

A conversation between The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nobel laureate and DNA pioneer James Watson about race and genetics, Jewish intelligence, blacks and basketball and Watson's African roots.
Transcript of the conversation.

Monday, March 31, 2008

What I have learned from doing Genetic Genealogy

1) It is easier to get Y DNA donors than to get mtDNA donors. 2) The person you want to test will not test. My two maternal Uncles refuse to test. This means I can't verify my Mother's paternal line. My half-cousin will not test. This means I can't verify my Father's maternal line. 3) Creating lists of mtDNA bearing descendants of target females is difficult to do. 4) I believe I know 14 Y DNA signatures from my 16 GGG-Grandfathers. I only know 3 mtDNA signatures of my 16 GGG-Grandmothers. 5) At 12 markers, three of my Y DNA lines are exact matches. They vary considerably when taken out to 37 markers. 6) My line of Perkins ancestors is closely related to the line of Somerled, King of the Isles. 7) Genetic Genealogist need to be more careful in the methodology used to support the assignment of a haplotype and a haplogroup to an ancestral line. 8) By itself, genetic genealogy, can not prove a relationship, but it can definitely prove that two people of the same surname are NOT related.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My surname studies: Ball, Creekmore, Kidd, Manning, Parkins and Perkins, Phipps, Strunk, Swain, Whitecotton, and Wyatt.

I am the moderator or co-moderator of 10 surname genetic genealogy studies. The surnames are Ball, Creekmore/Crickmer, Kidd, Manning, Parkins and Perkins, Phipps, Strunk, Swain, Whitecotton, and Wyatt. These are all families of my direct ancestors. A goal of all these studies is to try to connect the immigrant families to their homelands in the British Isles or elsewhere.

Mike Ball and I both contacted FTDNA about starting a Ball Y chromosome DNA study. In this study we have established the Y DNA signature of Col William Ball of Millenbeck Plantation, a maternal grandfather of President George Washington, as being in Y haplogroup I. We have also been able to determine the Y DNA signature of several other Ball families, including that of John Ball of Fairfax and Stafford counties VA. Many people thought that John Ball was a relative of George Washington's mother, Mary Ball. The Y DNA testing has shown that this is not correct since they do not have the same haplotype or haplogroup. The results are on this web page:

In the Creekmore Y chomosome DNA study, we have tested peple named Creekmore, Crickman, Crickmer, and Crick/Creek, in order to determine their possible genetic connections. The Creekmore subjects in America and the Crickmer subject from Norfolk Co., England match and are in Y Haplogroup R1a1. The American Crickman subject does not match them. The Crick/Creek subjects match eachother but none of the others. Edmund Crickmon of Norfolk Co., VA is the putative ancestor we are working from. He is believed to be the Edmund Crickman baptised at St Mary Coslany in Norwich, Norfolk Co., England, in the early 1600s, son of George Crickmer and Agnes Roo. That the Crickmer from England and the Creekmores of America match seems to lend weight to that belief. The problem is that the Crickman did not match. This family has been in Norfolk Co., VA since the 1600s and the person tested was born there. The Crick/Creek subjects were tested to see if there might be some connection between the Creek and Creekmore families. Results are here:

The Kidd Y chromosome DNA study was started to determine the Y DNA signature of Thomas Kidd an immigrant to colonial Virginia supposedly from Soham Parish, Cambridgeshire, England. We have been able to determine connections between a number of Virginia Kidd families as well as confirm a non-paternity event for another family. One Kidd from Soham has been tested, but there was no match between him and the Virginia Kidd. My co-moderator in the Kidd study is Sandra Kidd. The results are here:

The Manning Y chromosome DNA study was started to determine if there are genetic connections between the various Manning families of New England, Maryland, and Virginia, and those anywhere else in the world. A number of names are under the Manning umbrella, Manin, Manon, Mannin, Mannon, etc. and there are a number of haplogroups represented in the results. The results are here:

The Parkins and Perkins Y DNA study was started to determine if the two names are genetically related and to determine the genetic relationships among the various Perkins immigrants to colonial America. Judge Paul M. Perkins spent years researching various Perkins immigrants and published a study purporting to show how a number were related: Genealogy and history of one branch of the Perkins family in America, originating with Edward Perkins, immigrant to America and to New Haven, Connecticut, before 1646. There were several revisions which he deposited in a number of major genealogical libraries. The study has tried to find descendants from those families and compare their DNA results. The current results show that several of the families thought to be related based on documents and physical proximity, are not genetically related. The results are here:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Spitoon, a blog for 23andME

23andMe has a blog at It contains a number of good posts, including an explanation of what their kit is meant to do, and an interview by the 23andME founders with Dr Craig Venter. This looks like a good source for continuing information on 23andME.

African American Lives 2, 6 Feb 2008

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will present the second part of African American Lives, on the Public Broadcastiong Service stations on 6 February. There are a number of videos and papers on the series and the people to be profiled at the website above. The DNA and Genealogy section is at this link: