Saturday, November 11, 2017

GEDMatch - Lesson 1 - An Introduction

After attending the Central Florida Family History Conference last week I figured it was time that I spent a little more time on GEDMatch working on my DNA hits. I know many people are turned off by GEDMatch's basic appearance. They don't have flashy photos and graphics like Ancestry. Some of their results are confusing. It's not always obvious on how to use the various tools and what information they are providing. All they do is present the data. And many of us really don't understand what that data means. So, I decided to write up a couple posts on using GEDMatch. Hopefully these tips will help you in discovering your roots.

Since this is the first lesson we will start with the very basics and then work our way up. First of all, why should you use GEDMatch?

Well, my main reason is that GEDMatch allows people who have had their DNA tested by various companies to come together and compare information. For example, if you had your DNA tested at Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, 23 and Me, WeGene, or several other companies, you can all upload your DNA here and compare across those data sets. GEDMatch provides detailed instructions for uploading your DNA data from each company. So, all you have to do is follow the step-by-step process.

My second reason for using GEDMatch is the variety of tools that you can't find on the other sites. These tools allow you to discover more about your ancestry and DNA matches.

This first post is only an introduction to GEDMatch and focuses on the first things you should do. I will try to discuss the more advanced tools and other features in future posts.

So, let's get started. First of all when you go to GEDMatch you will see their very basic login screen. login screen

New user will have to register for an account. This is basically the same as many other sites - select a username and password, provide your contact information, etc.

Once you are logged in you will see news at the top of the screen letting you know of any new updates and below that you will see two columns of actions you can select from.

The first box on the left column is your profile.

The second box is Learn More. This is your area to access tutorials that will help you use GEDMatch's features and understand how genetic research helps you discover your ancestors. For example, under the DNA for Dummies link there are links to articles by CeCe Moore, Blaine Bettinger and Kelly Wheaton.

GEDMatch Tutorials

Below the tutorial is your list of DNA Resources. These are the DNA files you have uploaded. As you can see from my list, you can add as many files as you want. Each file identifies the original source (A=Ancestry, M=23 & Me, T=FTDNA, H=MyHeritage, etc.) and the person the DNA came from along with their alias.

GEDMatch DNA Resource List

I have uploaded DNA results for myself and from each of my parental lines as well as my wife and her lines. Having representation from each parent's line allows you to triangulate the results later.

Below your DNA Resources is your GEDCOM Resources box. This box lists the GEDCOM files you have uploaded. In this case, there is one for me and one for my wife.

GEDMatch GEDCOM Resources

You should upload your GEDCOMS and link your DNA results to the individuals so that they can be found more easily by others who match your DNA results.

In the second column we have the major tools that GEDMatch uses in their analysis.

The first box in this column are the features to upload your DNA and GEDCOM files. The upload process for each is fairly simple if you follow the step-by-step instructions provided in their tutorials.

GEDMatch File Uploads Tools

Following that, you will find the list of tools that GEDMatch uses.

GEDMatch Tools

The first tool you should use is the "One-to-many matches". This tool compares your DNA results to all of the other DNA files that have been uploaded. Due to the large number of files in GEDMatch, this comparison may take may take some time at first. Once you have some kits to compare you can begin to use the other tools such as the "One-to-one compare" which gives you high resolution comparison results, showing down to the individual centiMorgan matches. You also can compare the various GEDCOM files that have been uploaded to see if any of them match your ancestors.

If you start to get serious about your DNA research you can upgrade to the paid tools in the Tier 1 Utilities. One thing I like about their Tier 1 Utilities is that they only charge you for a month at a time. If these tools interest you, it is a one time payment of $10 for a months access. At the end of the month your access is removed and you can renew it at anytime later when you want to access those tools again.

GEDMatch's Tier 1 Utilities (Paid Subscription)

The last section is the Genesis Beta box. This box lets you learn more about what the GEDMatch team is working on.

GEDMatch Genesis Beta

The purpose of this blog post was to provide a very basic over view of what GEDMatch has to offer. I will try to provide some detailed posts in the future about the utility of the various tools and how you can improve your DNA research results.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Central Florida Family History Conference - 2017 - Afternoon Sessions

And now for the rest of the story.....What I did during my Summer Vacation.....Not really. Here is a description of the lectures I attended during the afternoon session of the Central Florida Family History Conference. By the way, they did have a good lunch catered from Panera's.

Debra Fleming presented Google for the 20th Century. I always like to attend the classes on using Google to search for your family history just in case they have something new that I can use. Debra talked about the search strategies and how to use the different search engines on Google. Most people already know how to use Google to do their regular searches on the internet. But those of us who have been using Google for some time really take advantage of the different search engines Google has. For example, Google Books is a great way to search for historical books which are out of copyright, published prior to 1923. These books are viewable online and can be searched and downloaded into your library. Newer books that are still in copyright can be seen in snips and may not be as useful. I use Google Books to search for county histories and regional books quite often. Another interesting search engine on Google is their Patents Search. Did any of your ancestors invent something? You may not know this part of their life but you can search for it here. I was able to discover a patent for the thermal insulating sleeve for the Alaska pipeline that was invented by a cousin of mine. Another search engine on Google is Google Scholar. I use Google Scholar all the time at work to look up scientific reports. But you can also look up documents written about your ancestors or where your ancestor was mentioned. I was able to discover an interesting story about a great uncle in a veterinary journal. It's a bit disgusting to talk about but I'll just mention it had something to do with a carnivorous cow and pig intestines and leave it at that. Google Maps is another one of my favorites. I like to look up the old addresses and see what the area looks like today. For example I have been able to show people the old apartments their ancestors lived in. Also, I was able to explore the neighborhood in Amsterdam where my great-great grandfather lived. Many of these areas, especially those in Europe, still look like they did a hundred years ago. The Google News Archive is also a great search engine. At one time Google was going to digitize the newspaper collections of the world and then in 2011 they stopped. However, all the digitized newspapers they had completed are still available and searchable. Some of these newspapers are not housed anywhere else and are an invaluable source for genealogy research. Have you tried Google Images?  You may be able to find images of your ancestors if they have been posted online or you can find historical images of their hometowns or important events that add to your stories. One thing I like about Google Images is the way you can specify the search parameters. For example, if you get too many results in your search and you only want to see pictures of people who could be your ancestors you can go to the Tools button and select "black and white" to get old pictures and then click on "face" to see only pictures of people. Using this technique, I was able to find this picture of my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Bornhorst who immigrated from Germany to Ohio.
Debra also discussed using Google Translate and Google Calendar to aid in your research. Google Translate is useful in figuring out what documents written in a foreign language say or in translating foreign websites. Debra uses Google Calendar to track important dates for her ancestors such as births, deaths and marriages. She also highly recommended joining G+ as a social media platform for genealogists. I agree that G+ has a better "environment" than Facebook and is less confrontational in nature but it is hard to convert over to a different platform, even for someone like me who was an early adopter of G+.

The second afternoon session I attended was one by Margo Fariss Brewer who discussed Local Support Groups for Free. This discussion focused on using libraries, universities and other collections in your research. She explained strategies to make your research visits more rewarding. One tip she mentioned was avoiding exam times or times when students would be using the libraries. By avoiding these times you have a better chance of getting assistance from the library staff. She also recommended calling a few days in advance to make sure the collections you want to view are available. In some cases they may be housed offsite or in closed collections and need to be brought in for use. Always go online and research the library you will be visiting. Check their hours, availability of the collections, are there any restrictions on what you can bring in (phone, computer, camera, scanner, notebook, etc.), location of parking and local places to eat. Also, you should ask the librarians if they have any special collections or suggestions for the topic you are researching. Don't waste their time going on about your research stories, get right to the questions and be sure to thank them for their assistance.

The final session was Jeff Haines' discussion on GEDMatch: A Goldmine of Genetic Analysis Tools. This was one of my favorites of the day due to the amount of new information he provided. I have been using GEDMatch for a while now but don't use it everyday. I probably use it once every 2 - 3 months just to check on new matches. Jeff provided a lot of information in his 1-hour slot and I may have to write a full blog on GEDMatch in the near future once I try out his tips. GEDMatch has a good selection of free tools that can provide most of what everyone uses. However, there are some pay services that cost $10/month. The good thing is you only purchase one month at a time and they don't continue to bill you after the end of the month. One thing that has happened recently is that GEDMatch has partnered with WikiTree. This allows the trees on WikeTree to be used in the GEDMatch matching. GEDMatch has an expanded set of ethnic admixture models that you can use. Each model uses a different set of genetic data and provides a different set of values for your ethnicity. This is similar to comparing Ancestry to MyHeritage or FTDNA results, they will be different because each one uses a different model. The One-to-Many analysis compares your DNA to all the DNA sets within the database and lists all of your matches. One thing I like about GEDMatch matches is that it tells you right up front what proportion of DNA match you have so you can see who is most closely related to you. Once you get this full list, you can go to the One-to-One match and see a graphical display of which sections of chromosomes are matched. You can move that information over to third party programs or even into Excel to do more detailed analysis and compare various matching people through triangulation. A really cool tool Jeff demonstrated was Chromosome Painting. This compares two sets of chromosomes and provides a color coded ethnicity map of your chromosomes and shows which areas were inherited from each parent. You can find the comparison tool under the Admixture analysis and then select "Paint differences between 2 kits". One last thing he recommended was to try Genome Mate Pro to help analyse your genetic data from GEDMatch. This tool helps you manage the information you get during your DNA research.

Well, it was a long day and there were some great talks. I hope to make this conference a regular on my schedule in the future. I hope the information I provided in my blog helps others learn a little more about these topics.

Central Florida Family History Conference - 2017 - Morning Session

Well, I finally did it. I managed to fit the Central Florida Family History Conference into my schedule and went this year. It was their 21st annual conference, but the first time I have attended. In the past, I was teaching at the University on Saturdays and couldn't just tell the students they had the day off. Now that we have moved and I am no longer teaching, it felt like a good time to go. So, I decided to provide some info for all my Family History Consultants and followers on what I learned at this conference.

The Keynote speaker was Crista Cowan - "The Barefoot Genealogist". For those who don't follow her, she works for Ancestry and produces educational videos for the Ancestry YouTube Channel. Her Keynote talk was about Ancestry and some of it's resources. She discussed her history with the company including her days as a representative travelling between the US and London trying to get contracts for records, her time in the indexing program, and now her time in the DNA and education arenas where she helps do research for several of the genealogy television shows. Currently, Ancestry has over 22 billion records and is adding about 2 million records each day. Most of the indexing is contracted out but some is completed by indexing projects. The biggest aid in adding new records to Ancestry is the advancement of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which allows computers to index typed pages such as newspapers and directories. These OCR records are being added at an ever increasing rate as the accuracy of the technology has advanced. She also discussed the ProGenealogists program at Ancestry.  This is a small group of about 100 professional genealogists who can be contracted to help you break down your brick walls.

Jim Greene, from FamilySearch, was the first talk that I attended. His presentation was on What's New and What's Coming with FamilySearch. I always try to attend these types of talks so I can get ready for where FamilySearch is going in the next year or two. So, for the What's New part, Jim talked about the record collections that were added in 2016. The rate of use of FamilySearch continues to increase and during 2016 the users were adding 2.7 million new individuals each month. The largest connected tree has over a billion names and then there are many smaller bushes, as he calls them. These smaller bushes are those trees which haven't yet connected to the larger tree. Users are attaching 8 million sources each month. I'm sure I am a big part of those sources being attached because that is basically all that I do now. I just run up and down my tree making sure as many sources are connected as possible and adding new people based on those sources. The total number of individuals that are connected to trees on FamilySearch is now over 1.14 billion with 733 million sources attached. Another thing that happened was the decommissioning of (nFS). If you have been using FamilySearch for many years you probably remember this transitional program that eventually was replaced by the current FamilySearch interface. There were several issues with nFS that needed to be worked out in development, such as Individuals of Unusual Size (IOUS) who could not be merged due to capacity issues. For those techies out there, the transition from nFS, which was an Oracle system, to the current FamilySearch, a Casandra system, is a major leap in computing power. Another thing that was added is the "View My Relationship" function. I use this all the time to make sure I haven't strolled too far off my family tree (which I do way too often). I just wish they had the relationship spelled out so you know if you were working on a 3rd cousin 4 times removed instead of having to figure it out from the tree they show you. Don't get me wrong, I really like the tree that pops up, I just want the relationship added at the bottom, or somewhere. Another advancement is FamilySearch Lite. FamilySearch Lite is built for low bandwidth access. This is great for areas where broadband doesn't exist or for those with limited data plans on their phones. For example, the opening screen once you log in to FamilySearch is normally about 3 MB in size. With FamilySearch Lite, that same page is about 30 K. That is a huge difference. Jim also talked about the Relatives Around Me function on the FamilySearch App. This function shows you everyone within a 50 foot radius of you who has the app activated and then shows you how you are related (if you are). There were a few people in the audience with the app so we all turned it on to see what we found. The person behind me found that he was related to 3 of them. Of course, I was related to no one, as usual.

So, what is coming for FamilySearch in 2018? They are working on improving the Private portion of FamilySearch. The private area is a secure database, not connected to the public portion, where all the data on living people are housed. Currently, you can only attach one source to a living person. That will change so you can fully source and add memories to living people. This allows you to tell their story while they are still living. Once they die, they are transferred to the public data set with all their sources and memories attached. Also, you will be able to share private data with those you invite, such as family members, so they can work on the living lines together. This will allow for Group Messaging, Shared Memories, Shared To-Do List, and a Group Activity Feed, so you can coordinate your research with family members. All this private information will remain protected on the secure server to protect people's privacy. Another advancement will be the notifications if someone changes information you added. With these notifications you will know when any information that you have contributed has been changed. This is different than the Watch List that lets you know if anything on a person you are watching is changed, whether you contributed it or not.

The last speaker I attended during the morning session was Crista Cowan. Her presentation was titled Using Your Ancestry DNA Results to Make New Family Discoveries. I have been using Ancestry DNA for a couple years now and figured I might be able to learn something from the professional on this. Her introduction on Ancestry DNA started with sorting the data by the most recent so you can track who has been added since the last time you were online. You can find this at the top of the DNA Match page under the title text where it says "Sort by: Relationship/Date". She also mentioned how to add notes to the information (look for the small piece of paper icon on the person's individual page). These were great hints on how to keep track of what is in your DNA Matches. Also, clicking on the small dark circle with the i in it after the person's relationship provides you the DNA match information. That information can be translated by using some of the DANA relationship tables online, such as the ones on Blaine Bettinger's blog. Your list of DNA Matches is sorted by the size of the matching DNA, the number of matched centiMorgans. So, those at the top of each relationship section are your highest matches and those toward the bottom are less closely related. Crista mentioned that she has a good collection of YouTube videos on the AncestryDNA channel. Another great tip she provided was the Shared Matches screen which shows the matches that are connected to you and the person you are looking at. This can help you determine if the matches are on your maternal or paternal line if you have additional close family DNA results. For example, I have both my parents tested and my wife has her mother tested. If any of our parents show up as shared matches we know the side of the family they are connected to.

Well, I don't want to overwhelm everyone so I will stop here and continue with the afternoon session in my next post. Hope you enjoy this post and have learned something.