Category Archives: DNA

23andMe Maps

Honestly, I don’t hang out in the DNA testing sites as much as you might think. And when I do go to a site, I usually have a purpose, so I don’t try out new stuff that often. 23andMe has a new feature I just noticed a couple of days ago called MAPS. It is located in the DNA Relatives section, under either Ancestry or Family & Friends. Today it is highlighted in bright orange. I wasn’t expecting much as Maps at other sites are usually pretty boring. But I needed to try it.

When you see a match, you can click on it and it shows you the person’s name, relationship and city. Clicking on that display links to the DNA Comparison section with you and that person compared, which includes the segment comparison. It is slick indeed.

The MAP covers the world, wherever 23andMe has customers. I saw a few matches in Northern Europe, cool. Perhaps they can help me with some brick walls.

I decided to look around my local area, the Monterey County section, where much to my amazement, there are two 4th cousins showing! I was flabbergasted. Neither surname is known to me. But they are real 23andMe customers who are related to me somehow and they live just down the road. I am going to have to contact them.

Of course, my first email has to be gentle. I don’t want them to think I am stalking them! I need to locate some of those “recommended introductory” email examples that are floating around. I might even invite them to come to the FHC to meet me!

Then I stopped to think: “Could they see me all this time and have never contacted me?” Humm. Remember, I don’t know how long the MAP feature has been around. That thought led me to wonder about my own personal Profile in 23andMe. The current City was showing for people in my MAP, so that meant the Profile had to allow current location to be visible to everyone. Humm again. I had setup my profile so long ago that I couldn’t remember what it said. So I decided to check it, because I want my relatives to be able to find me!

I went to Settings under my name, clicked Edit under Personal Information and found Current Residence. It was blank! Darn…. I quickly changed it and am now waiting for someone to find me!

My recommendation to you, if you are a 23andMe customer, is to try the MAP. Look around, look where you were born, look where you live now, etc.. Then, if you like what you see, check your Profile too. Make sure you have Sharing allowed and Current Residence filled in. And then send your own “recommended introductory” emails.

And if you get an introductory email from a cousin, answer it!


”Artificial Intelligence is the New Electricity.” – Andrew Ng ==> then plug me in


Laminated DNA Cards

My office had a small laminating machine to create protected sheets of instructions, always 8 1/2 x 11 sheets.  Then I turned 65 and got into Medicare. The ID card they provide is paper, yuk. Flimsy is the word. Staples sells small packets of 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 laminating paper that can, with just a bit of shaving, “cover” Medicare cards perfectly. My Medicare card has been safe in my wallet ever since.

One day I realized I could type up my car’s specs, VIN, license plate, color, etc. and make a credit card sized laminated copy of it which I also carry in my wallet. It is useful when the motel wants to know my license plate #!

Once in a while, perhaps at our DNA sig meetings, I get asked about my haplogroup codes. There was the time someone wanted to see if we were related in Gedmatch and I could not remember my kit #. You could see the light bulb flash…

Yup, I created a laminated card of my DNA test data (haplogroups, FTDNA kit #s, Gedmatch kit #s, YFull ID), with my wife’s data on the other side, which I now carry in my wallet. Go ahead, ask me about my Y-Dna terminating SNP —- I am ready for you. 🙂


”The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” – Jim Barksdale


Marking DNA in Ancestry . com Trees

It has been suggested that humans are only capable of having 150 good friends at a time, see Dunbar’s Number. My AncestryDNA page tells me that I have over 669 4th cousins or less who have tested with Ancestry! How am I possibly going to become BFF with that many people?

“Finding the correct ancestral line for each piece of your DNA is a difficult process. Researching and documenting your family Tree is a difficult process. But these are the tasks we accept in genetic genealogy.” by Jim Bartlett

But that doesn’t mean that I will remember a 3rd or 4th cousin who lives in a distant state who I’ve never met with whom we solved our MRCA after a few emails. Even if the aging process was not at work, 150 does seem to be my limit. (Besides, I picked up new friends when joining MoCoGenSo so some old ones got booted!)

I hate to research lines previously solved. So I have taken to flagging cousins I place in my tree via a DNA match with pictures and text, similar to pebbles left by Hansel and Gretel. I want these pebbles to be visible and permanent in that they can be transferred by gedcom or syncable by software, not like breadcrumbs that are easily lost. Documentation that I can actually find later is critical.

For DNA confirmed Cousins

In the Profile of the person:

• Click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon default picture. 

• Click “View Notes” in upper menu bar beneath name. Create a note similar to this:
DNA match to Jim 189 cm / 9 segs

• In the Fact display, click on “Add” to add a Fact or Event. Scroll into the Event Type list to the DNA Markers item and click it. Ignore Date and location. Update the Description field with the same line as above Note.

When a Gedcom is downloaded from Ancestry, the Note will come across as type NOTE, the Marker will come across as type _DNA. Only the Note will be transferred when synching with RootsMagic, as the DNA Marker is not yet added to the Ancestry API. RootsMagic does pull the images. (Most programs will ignore the _DNA type gedcom record too. But I keep using it in case they ever do update the Gedcom standard!)

For Ancestors

For ancestors who are MRCA confirmed by DNA, click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon the default picture.

Note: for persons for whom we have a real face photo, always use it instead of these “marker” icons.
Note note: These are just personal views. Icons not required! But Notes are good. 🙂


“Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” – Larry Page


Noting DNA in Family Search Tree

Remembering that the FamilySearch tree is a “one-world tree”, it wouldn’t be possible to record cousin autosomal relationships, as there would be too many for everyone. And most autosomal matches are living people anyway.  But, the haplogroups for Y-DNA and MITOCHONDRIAL DNA should remain fixed for given individuals.  In fact, knowing the haplogroup values for people is one way of disproving possible relationships.  (It can’t prove them.)

To record a given haplogroup, create a “Custom Fact” under “Other Information” for your given ancestors.  Custom Facts are viewable by all.  For the Title, make it “DNA Values”, in the Description field put the actual haplogroup code, and in the “Reason This is Correct” field, put who the haplogroup belongs to with the testing company.

Similar to this:

I think it would be reasonable to record haplogroups for one’s direct paternal and maternal ancestors out to the point where a given autosomal match has shown the ancestor to be a MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor).  Going beyond that ancestor is not verifiable without the given autosomal sourced trail.

The above comments are my personal opinions .

Free Spreadsheet Programs

One of the big things in the genetic genealogy world these days is “clustering”. Basically this is a way to group matches you have into family groups to make it easier to figure out how the unknown match relates to you. Two of the popular ways are DNA Gedcom and Genetic Affairs. The beginning of this fad and still the easiest and cheapest way to cluster is to do it yourself using the Leed’s Method. A really good explanation is given by Dana Leed herself at her blog.

But, all of these methods presuppose that you have a spreadsheet! Not everyone has a spreadsheet: perhaps you just got a new computer for Christmas; perhaps you don’t like the rental paradigm that Microsoft is using. The point of this post is to remind everyone about the FREE spreadsheet programs provided by LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. In both cases, you can download and install either just a spreadsheet program or a suite that includes a spreadsheet, word processor, power-point equivalent and database. They really are free, never any strings attached. You just have to install one or the other. They come in 3 flavors: Windows, Mac, Linux.

The Monterey Family History Center has the LibreOffice Suite installed on all computers if you want to see it in action before you get it yourself. We had OpenOffice on the older computers, but LibreOffice came preinstalled (by the SaltLake FHC) on our new machines.

Don’t let the lack of a spreadsheet keep you from building a Leeds Cluster! Get thee over to Dana Leed’s blog and follow her along. Then you can come to one of the DNA Interest Group meetings and tell us how it worked! Or you could do a show-n-tell at one of the MoCoGenSo monthly meetings!


“Just because you have grown up with the Internet does not mean that the Internet is grown up.

ISOGG is Special

The Director of ISOGG, Katherine Borges, taught 4 classes at the DAR Ancestor Roundup last Saturday. Her presence made me curious, I have known about the ISOGG website for a long time, it’s reputation in the genetic genealogy world is excellent. I used to browse the Y-DNA tree quite often. ISOGG stands for International Society of Genetic Genealogy. It was founded in 2006! But I had grown complacent. smug really, over the years believing I had gone “beyond” ISOGG. After all, I had taken my first DNA test at National Genographic in January 2006! Boy was I wrong.

I went to the ISOGG web site the other day just to find out about this “director” person. While there, I began to poke around the various pages they maintain. I had forgot that they have hundreds of pages, but you have to poke around to find them. Their site is really a goldmine of data about genetic genealogy, and they have volunteers maintaining the system who really care about this hobby of ours.

You need to start your visit to ISOGG by starting at the front door, of course. Click isogg.org to get there. The initial presentation reminds me of meeting Clark Kent, who would ever imagine this was actually Super Man!

The “meat” of the site is in their Wiki pages. Click ISOGG Wiki to get there now, but the Wiki is also at the top of their Home page.

To see Super Man, though, you have to go to this next page. This page lists all of their pages, but they are RANKED by number of times read, eg. popularity! Popular Pages. This page is marked “Special”, so I don’t know if it is a permanent page or not. You best try it soon. This page is useful for ALL levels of expertise.

I will leave this post with a link to one of my favorites pages in ISOGG, the Autosomal SNP comparison chart.

Trust me, if you are interested in DNA coupled with genealogy, you need to visit ISOGG and take the time to prowl around.. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or an “old pro”, you will find things stored there that will be useful.


“Why do people say tuna fish but don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird?” – Reddit