New Family Finder test officially launched

As of today,’s new Family Finder test has been officially launched.

The new test connects family members across all ancestral lines, not only paternal or maternal. It represents a major advancement over earlier genetic genealogy tests. Everyone, regardless of gender, can now look for connections including grandparents, aunts and uncles, half siblings, and first, second, third and fourth cousins.

The company’s database numbers more than 290,000 individual records – the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy. This makes FamilyTreeDNA the prime source for anyone researching recent and distant family ties.

Importantly, for Tracing the Tribe readers, that database also includes the largest Jewish DNA database. This means that if you’re looking for genetic matches sharing your genetic heritage, you should test against the largest Jewish DNA database. The same holds true for everyone interested in genetic genealogy. One should to test against the largest database available for the best probability of finding matches.

According to today’s official press release:

The test utilizes Affymetrix’ recently launched Axiom™ genotyping technology and the GeneTitan® System to confidently match a wide range of family relationships within five generations.

Said FamilyTreeDNA founder/CEO Bennett Greenspan, in Houston, Texas:

“This is the most exciting genetic genealogy breakthrough since 2000, when FamilyTreeDNA launched its Y-DNA test to uncover relatives in the direct paternal line.” 

“The comprehensive, genome-wide coverage of Axiom Arrays enables us to offer consumers the most advanced genealogical test available at a price that is attractive to our customers. In addition, the automated GeneTitan System allows us to process hundreds of samples at a time with minimal hands-on time for maximum efficiency.”

Said Affymetrix president/CEO Kevin King, in Santa Clara, California:

“The Family Finder test represents a huge step forward for the direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy market and the application of microarray technology, Now anyone can utilize the power of the Axiom Genotyping Solution and the GeneTitan System to find and connect with a broader range of family members than ever before.”

How does it work?

The test analyzes the DNA of two individuals using Axiom Array Plates containing nearly 570,000 genetic markers, including many that are relevant to genealogy. Family Tree DNA then analyzes the resulting data with internally developed algorithms to determine the closeness of the relationship. The complete Axiom Genotyping Solution includes array plates, complete reagent kits, and an automated workflow that enables scientists to process more than 760 samples per week. offers counseling services, tutorials and other helpful tools to assist in the genealogy and matching process. Importantly, it provides names and email addresses of matched individuals whenever possible for easy communication.

For more information about the new Family Finder test, click here; for Affymetrix, click here.

Seattle: Bennett Greenspan, May 10 founder Bennett Greenspan will speak on the new genetic genealogy test at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State on Monday, May 10.
The program is titled “The Y Chromosome and Beyond: Tracing Your Genealogy with the ‘Other’ DNA.”
It begins at 7.30pm in the Stroum JCC Auditorium on Mercer Island. Doors open at 7pm, the JSWS library will be available, along with Wi-Fi.
Many genealogists have been using genetic genealogy, and specifically, to learn more about their ancestors and find relatives using Y-DNA for paternal lines and mtDNA for maternal lines.

The tests have been essential tools in exploring recent and early Jewish roots, including links among Ashkenazim and Sephardim (such as in the IberianAshkenaz DNA Project, co-administered by Judy Simon and myself).

Now there’s a new test that uses autosomal chromosomes to look for close relationships along all ancestral lines, and can find links between male and female cousins across all family lines for the past five generations. Bennett will explain the new test in detail and provide exciting examples of new matches. He will also discuss the nuances of Y-DNA and mtDNA testing.

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Bennett is the founder/CEO of He spent years investigating his maternal grandfather’s ancestors – an obsession that turned into a full-time vocation and led him to become a founder of the growing field now known as genetic genealogy. FamilyTreeDNA and other cooperative ventures, including the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project and, now comprise the largest non-medical DNA testing program in the world.

Fee: JGSWS members, free; others, $5. For more information, click here.

Oregon: DNA genetic genealogy, April 20

Genetic genealogy with Emily D. Aulicino is on the program at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon, on Tuesday, April 20.

The talk begins at 7.30pm at Congregation Ahavath Achim, Portland. Doors open at 7pm for networking and assistance with genealogy questions.

Genetic genealogy, the use of DNA testing to aid traditional genealogical research, is a new and accurate field for the family historian as it can prove or disprove family connections. In this information-packed program, learn the basics of DNA testing and how it helps your research. Learn about different tests and the value of each. Understand who to test and why.

Find out why’s new test, Family Finder, is the next generation in DNA testing and goes beyond what previous tests could do.

Aulicino will answer questions and address such issues as privacy and getting your family to participate.

A $30 gift certificate toward a DNA test will be raffled at no cost to those attending the program.

A retired teacher, Aulicino has researched her family’s genealogy for more than 40 years, traveling nationally and internationally for that purpose. She is a speaker and regional coordinator for the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG), and teaches genetic genealogy at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon (Portland).

She has attended five annual administrator conferences, where she spoke in 2007. In 2008, she presented at the West Coast African American Summit (Bellevue, Washington), and in 2009 and 2010, attended the London UK “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” family history fair.

She administers 13 DNA projects at FamilyTreeDNA (surname, geographical and societies) and seven surname email lists on Roots Web, three genetic genealogy email lists with another that helps helps genealogists and non-genealogists write their  family and personal memories.

Attendees interested in testing with FamilyTreeDNA can receive discounted tests through the JGSO page. For more information on the arrangement, click here.

Fee:  JGSO members, free; others, $5. See the JGSO website for directions and additional information.

Hong Kong: DNA Project and blast from the past

Tonight I presented the IberianAshkenaz DNA Project at the Jewish Community Center of Hong Kong (JCC logo at left), and also experienced a blast from the past.

I reconnected with someone I haven’t seen since 2002.

Joining us (Mira, her husband, me) for the Wednesday night buffet at the JCC coffee shop was Gary Stein of Toronto. Longtime Jewish genealogists will remember Gary, particularly if they attended the IAJGS conference there in 2002, when some 1,200 people attended that week-long event. Gary has been been living in Hong Kong for a year and loves it.

The good turnout included people of many different backgrounds: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, spouses who were one or the other. They represented Israel, Australia, the UK, the US, France, North Africa, Iran and elsewhere – a great mix of people.

I’m also doing a hands-on Intro to Jewish Genealogy tomorrow night, and many people will be attending that as well.

It was great to see Gary, and we will be going to Shabbat services and dinner at the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong (the Liberal congregation). I’m also looking forward to their Saturday night Purim Shpiel, billed as “The Little Theater of West South Northampton presents Mordechai Python’s Flying Purim.”

Nothing really scheduled yet for tomorrow (Thursday) yet, and if it all works out, I’m hoping to take the Kowloon ferry tomorrow and visit the Jewish cemetery on Friday morning.

WDYTYA: Changing the world of genealogy!

Are you – or your genealogy society – ready to ride the wave generated by the US-version of Who Do You Think You Are?

The show – we hope – will create as much buzz for genealogy in the US as it did in the UK.

The British version created – with a captivated audience of millions of viewers – an entire popular genealogy industry.

Tracing the Tribe said, early on, that once the US version hit the airwaves, the same thing would likely happen here. Many of us remember what happened following the airing of the television series “Roots.” WDYTYA may well create the Roots 2 phenomenon.

As genealogists, we (and our societies) need to be ready to ride the wave.

In addition to genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, archives, our friends and neighbors – if not already “into” family history – will be looking for answers to their questions.

The show – and the other family history shows now being screened – offers the genealogy community an opportunity to grow societies, increase membership, bring in younger audiences (the next “Generation Gen”) as we help educate our communities and the general public on how to find information on their own unique family histories.

Writes Susanne, “this show presents the community with the opportunity to revolutionize, reshape and redefine family history as a whole.”

Here are 10 ways in which genealogy societies can spotlight themselves and their resources, and inform members, friends, families and communities:

— Post flyers, wallpaper, and more. just launched a Spread the Word webpage with downloadable flyers, computer wallpaper and other ideas for everyone to tell let everyone know about the show.

— Host a Who Do You Think You Are? premiere party. Invite members of your society and local community to watch the show’s premiere together on Friday, March 5 at 8/7c. Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers provides some great tips on hosting a viewing party. View those tips here.

— Hold a society open house or workshop for beginners. Newcomers who catch the bug from the show want to know how to find their own histories.

— Invite local media to your society’s premiere party, open house, or workshop. Local papers usually print news of community events.

— Send an email to your society members. Spread the Word has a simple pass-along email with a video that includes the trailer and Lisa Kudrow speaking about what prompted her to produce the series.

— Encourage society members to invite their friends. Who better to promote your event, the TV show, and your society than your society members – already passionate about family history -with networks of friends and family?

— Prepare getting started materials for beginners. Print a one-page “Getting Started in Family History” guide that beginners can pick up at your event. Post the same information on your society’s website, blog or Facebook page. See below for beginners’ tips.

— Share the Who Do You Think You Are? trailer. Post a link to one of the Who Do You Think You Are? trailers on your society’s Facebook page, Twitter account, website or blog.

— We all know the benefits of society membership. We just need to explain them to others!Programs, workshops, and community events – with enthusiastic audiences – will help understand why joining a society is a good thing. Consider membership discounts for those considering joining while the series is airing or for a specific time period following the series.

— Brainstorm more ideas with your society members.

Beginner Tips

Tracing the Tribe remembers what it was like as a complete newbie trying to get a handle on the resources and putting together the pieces of the puzzle. It can be overwhelming when you don’t really know where – or how – to begin. We can make it easier for newcomers with some “getting started” tips.

Start with what you know

The best place to start your family history journey is with information you already have. Create an online family tree (Tracing the Tribe recommends for many reasons, including privacy and safety, advanced features and more) and enter names, places and dates of birth for yourself, parents and grandparents. This is just the beginning – you can fill in the blanks as you go along.

Search historical records

We have so many online resources today, including, JewishGen, SephardicGen, Footnote, NewspaperArchive, Genealogy Bank and hundreds of other sites. Help members and newcomers find family in historical censuses, military and immigration records, newspaper articles and other sources.

Ask family for more

Family history provides an opportunity for you to really talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. Ask for stories, photos and other information. If you have senior relatives, run – do not walk – to interview them!

Add context to family story

Add and share photos, stories and important documents to your online family tree. Create timelines. Record interviews with relatives by phone, video them if in person, and save them wherever you have placed your family tree online.

Share family history

Share your history and heritage by inviting family members to visit your online family site. Give charts and reports as gifts for lifecycle events (baby, marriage, anniversary, etc.). You could also create a family history book, calendar, poster or other items.

Tracing the Tribe’s personal tip for genetic genealogy. Submitting samples of Y-DNA and mtDNA to the largest database in the industry means more opportunities for you and others to find matches.

There is a reason that nine out of 10 Jewish genealogists utilize Within that largest sample database is also the largest Jewish database, essential for genealogists researching their Ashkenazi and Sephardic ancestors.

The more samples in the database, the more opportunities to find matches and family separated by history and geography. The company’s just-announced Family Finder will provide even more possibilities.

Until time machines become common household appliances, genetic genealogy is the best thing we have that to answer some questions about our ancestors.