FamilyTreeDNA.com: New Family Finder test officially launched

As of today, FamilyTreeDNA.com’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.

FamilyTreeDNA.com 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.

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Technology: The future, dot by dot

Remember these colorful candy dots on long strips of paper? Now there are nanodots. They may not be as as colorful but, in the future, may be just as sweet.

Tired of carrying around your family history paper charts, or using an iPhone that gets heavier as you add data to various genealogy apps?

Yes, Tracing the Tribe knows that iPhones really don’t get heavier as you add information. Just wanted to get your attention.

In any case, North Carolina State University researchers have developed a computer chip that can store a huge amount of data – an entire library’s information on a single chip – using nanodots.

The single crystal nanodots create magnetic sensors integrated into a silicon electronic chip. Yes, I know that your eyes just glazed over, except for the techies out there.

“We have created magnetic nanodots that store one bit of information on each nanodot, allowing us to store over one billion pages of information in a chip that is one square inch,” says Dr. Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and author of the research.

However, the question is how this new technology may help genealogists, database developers and others. And more technology must be developed to utilize it properly.

The entire Ellis Island Database, along with Steve Morse’s rainbow of One-Step search forms, all the federal censuses? Everything on one tiny chip? Stick it in some sort of reader to be developed and you might not even need the Internet. Ha!

Read more about the “Self Assembly of epitaxial magnetic nanostructures” at the link above

What uses can you think up for such an item? The future is here.

California: Jamboree mini-course registration begins May 1

In the Los Angeles area? Here are 14 more reasons to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree (June 11-13), in Burbank).

Registration opens May 1 for these 14 mini-course workshops (one or two hours each) – a really good line up of classes and instructors. If you are interested, sign up fast (only online as of May 1). These will likely fill quickly with only 17 seats per class.

You may sign up for the workshops only if you’ve already registered for Jamboree, but you can do both at the same time. Each registrant may sign up for only one workshop. All workshops (except one) require attendees to bring laptops or netbooks.

Download the complete Jamboree program grid here, so you’ll be better prepared to organize your time.

Read instructor bios, class descriptions and whether there’s an advance assignment to complete. Some courses require attendees to download something, register for an account, bring family details, have a specific program on your computer.

Seating is limited, so choose a second if your favorite has already filled. 

Course times, titles and instructors:

  • Friday: Using Google Earth to Map Your Ancestor’s Home, Google Docs for Beginners, Using Excel in Genealogy.
  • Saturday: Platting Your Ancestor’s Land, FindAGrave, Skype – The Cool New Way to Talk to the Grandkids, Blogger for Beginners, WordPress for Beginners, Writing Your Family History Using Microsoft Word.
  • Sunday:  Using Your Computer, Video Camera and YouTube, Second Life: A New World of Online Genealogy, Using Excel in Genealogy, Scanning Tips and Tricks, Google Reader for Beginners.

For complete mini-course descriptions, instructors and requirements, click here.

Jerusalem Post: Tracing the Tribe, other gen resources mentioned

David Shamah, who writes on Internet and technology for the Jerusalem Post (print/online), published a roots column today listing various Jewish and general genealogy resources.

“Hi-Tech 101: At the roots of it all” noted that “If you’ve thought about the idea of putting together a family tree, the Internet can be a great friend.”

Sources mentioned for tips, information and how to peel away the layers of the past included:

Google’s cache, Google Earth and Google News
Genealogy Gems podcast and the regular site.
Cyndi’s List
Tracing the Tribe (happy dance!)
Roots TV’s Jewish Roots channel
Yad Vashem
JewishGen
Ellis Island
Tribal Pages

In my opinion, there were two major omissions: SephardicGen.com and MyHeritage.com.

Shamah noted links to a page of common genealogical research mistakes at ShoestringGenealogy. A link (broken) was given to a page that I hope refutes the myth that anyone’s name was changed at Ellis Island – if we only had a penny for each time this myth has been perpetuated by people who should know better.
 
Read the complete article at the link above.

Sacramento: Facial recognition technology for genealogy, April 18

“Facial Recognition Technology for Genealogy,” with Daniel Horowitz, will be the topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento (California), on Sunday, April 18.

The program begins at 10m, at the Albert Einstein Residence Center.

Facial recognition technology is used worldwide in the security industry. It can also help identify people in old family photos, discover other people related to you and enable reconnection of lost branches.

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Daniel has lived in Israel with his family since 2005. He is the database and translation manager for MyHeritage.com, a genealogy social networking site. Among his other “hats,” he’s the IAJGS webmaster and at the Horowitz Family Association. He was the founder of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Venezuela.

For additional information, directions and more, see the JGSS site or send an email.

South Florida: Third Genealogy Fair, April 10

What are you doing tomorrow?

South Florida residents can discover their roots at Nova Southeastern University’s Third Genealogy Fair, set for Saturday, April 10, from 9am-4pm.

The free event takes place at NSU’s main campus – 3301 College Avenue, Davie (Broward County) – in the Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center.

Local genealogy experts will assist with all research topics, including Revolutionary War lineages; African, Spanish and Jewish roots; research methods and locating tombstones. Participating organizations include the JGS of Broward County, Cuban Genealogy Club, DAR, FamilySearch.org, Genealogical Society of Broward County, International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), Mayflower Society and the Guild of One-Name Studies.

The program includes genealogy database demos, breakout sessions, genealogy-related exhibitors and individual consultations throughout the day.

Speakers include:

— Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, chief family historian for Ancestry.com, and author of the NBC show’s companion book. Her other claims to fame: Cold case researcher for the FBI & US Army; discoverer of the “real” Annie Moore, the first immigrant processed through Ellis Island; expert on genetealogy – DNA and genealogy; and founder and president of Roots Television.

— J. H. Fonkert, Certified Genealogist (Dutch and English ancestry); president, Minnesota Genealogical Society; columnist, The Septs; director, Association of Professional Genealogists, Midwest Region; and recipient of the American Society of Genealogists Scholar Award in 2009.

Attendees will receive a free genealogy workbook and materials to begin and continue their family history and free access to and lessons on using such genealogical databases as Ancestry Library, Heritage Quest and Family Search, and Family Tree Maker software.

They’ll also have time to explore the Genealogy Room and browse the library’s specialized books, journals and how-to manuals

The Sherman Library’s 4,000+ item collection was donated two years ago by the Genealogical Society of Broward County. There are also printed materials, periodicals and personal family histories to benefit patrons of all skill levels. This gen collection is in addition to digitized holdings at the library’s two primary gen databases – Ancestry Library and Heritage Quest Online.

For more on the event, click here.

JGSLA 2010: Blondes, Poles, Pix, Razzle Dazzle

No matter your personal research interests, JGSLA 2010 holds something for somebody regardless of your ancestry, ethnicity, research skill or genealogical knowledge.

Here are just a few of the topics in store for you at JGSLA 2010, July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

Research techniques for family scandals

Unearthing scandals will be demonstrated by Robin Seidenberg, who will show how historical newspapers and old-fashioned detective work will find family history in Hollywood and the Jewish Roaring 20s crowd in Chicago. She’ll talk on “My Uncle, the Hollywood Producer: A Spicy Tale” and “The Kissing Blonde.”

Warsaw’s Jewish Genealogical Learning Center

It will be great to again see Yale Reisner and Anna Przybyszewska-Droz, from Warsaw’s Jewish Genealogical Learning Center.

Their topics include “How to Do Genealogy Research in Poland And How Not to: Potential and Pitfalls,” “Grandma’s Name Was Rosenberg: Am I Jewish?,” “Uniquely Jewish Surnames – What They Prove and What They Don’t,” “The Lost Tribes of Poland: Apostasy, Intermarriage and Jewish Genealogy in Poland” and “A Different Memory: Poles, Jews & What We Think We Know About Them.”

Thinking out of the box, photographically.

“Photo Detective” Maureen Taylor will analyze photographic questions posed on JewishGen’s Viewmate over the years and also provide private consultations while Ava (aka Sherlock) Cohn (with ancestors from Belarus, Romania, Ukraine and the Austrian Empire), will demonstrate how to find clues our immigrant ancestors left for us in their photo portraits.

Technology and journalism to razzle dazzle

TV news producer and reporter Leron Kornreich will show how to use multi-media and reporting skills to document family history in “Razzle Dazzle ‘em: Using Technology to Present Your Family History Research with Pizzazz” and “Breaking News: A Reporter’s Guide to Genealogical Research and Using Video to Capture Roots & Shtetl Travel.”

For all conference details, check out JGSLA 2010.