Thursday, June 30, 2011

1940 Census is Coming in 9 months: Will you be ready?

The 1940 US Census images will be released by the US Archives in about nine months. This is an event of great interest to genealogists. If you want to track the exact time remaining, check out the official countdown clock: 

1940 Census Records

Countdown to the release of the 1940 Census,
April 2, 2012!

At the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree 2011 in Burbank earlier this month, Joel Weintraub gave an information packed presentation about this census and the difficulties of searching it until name indexes can be completed. Into this breach Weintraub and his colleague Steve Morse have fearlessly jumped. They have been readying a "1 Step" search engine patterned after their successes with "1 Step" search engines for immigration records and similarly complex databases of interest to family historians. Perhaps the most well known of his search engine is for Ellis Island records. A complete list of such useful tools  

 Webpages by  Stephen P. Morse

may be found by clicking on Steve's name (just above) or typing
Dick Eastman yesterday had an extensive article in his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter about the new search tools created by Morse and Weintraub to help mine to gold from the 1940 US Census. 

Currently vendors, who provide name indexes to earlier US Censuses, estimate that by this time next year, name indexes will be available for some states--most probably the smaller ones. It is probable that complete name indexes for the larger states will not be available until many months later.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dr D's First Formal Author Signing

Dr D signs a copy of his new book, Crash Course in Genealogy, @ the American Library Association conference in New Orleans which was attended by about 22,000. 

This book was purchased for one of the two Mardi Gras masked, middle school girls standing behind me. She is from Indiana and went to find her aunt to buy the book for her. The aunt is a librarian and is in the dark top at the left. It was great to meet a middle school student who is interested in genealogy.

One librarian colleague bought two copies to donate to her library--one for the Special Collections and Genealogy department reference collection and one for the library's general circulating collection for patron checkout. She told me not to allow her nonlibrarian husband, who was also wandering around the exhibition hall, to buy a copy since she already had two. However, before she was out of sight, he convinced her that they needed a third copy for "lookups at home". Wow! Such loyal friends.

By the luck of the draw I was the first person listed in the several page long "Meet The Authors" section of the conference program. That was because my signing was on Friday, the first day the exhibits were open; and my publisher, ABC-Clio, comes at the first of publishers who were hosting author signings there. Although this is my fourth publishing effort, it was my first formal signing event. A nice ego boost! The book officially will be available on Friday at places like Amazon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Relaxation Can Be Combined With Your Passion

Some of our early ancestors did not migrate directly from the old world to North America. That is particularly true of ancestors who immigrated to the southern United States in the 17th century. Some of my Dowell cousins suspect that our immigrant Dowell may have made a stop in Barbados before  arriving in Maryland. This is certainly a possible port of transit between Great Britain and the documented "appearance" of Philip Dowell in Anne Arundel County, Maryland as a tobacco planter in the 1690s.

If genealogy has become a passion for you as it has for me, you can combine it with a relaxing trip to the Virgin Islands to explore such theories:

ONLY US$195.00

The International Association of Library Associations (IFLA) is an organization of national associations like the American Library Association (ALA). It is not an organization to which individuals can join except as representatives of their local organization. This year IFLA's annual conference will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico immediately after this family history preconference. Even if you have no intention to attend you may wish to click on the link to take a peek at what librarians from around the world will be discussing there.

I'm leaving today to attend the ALA annual conference in New Orleans. About 20,000 of us will be sweating there for the next several days. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities; but June is NOT my favorite month to visit--particularly since this will be my fourth post-Katrina visit.

I'm afraid I'll have to take a pass on this wonderful opportunity to visit the Virgin Islands as I have already made plans to work on the other end of my family tree then. I have a grandson in Nashville who will be turning 4 in August. What about you?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dr D finally meets Your Genetic Genealogist

Dave Dowell and CeCe Moore @ Jamboree 2011
Long lost cousins separated for at least three centuries were reunited at the recent Genealogy Jamboree 2011 in Burbank earlier this month. We probably will never know exactly how we connect. However, an exact match on the entire 16,569 locations on the mitochondria is currently thought to show a match within the last 200 to 400 years. CeCe traces her direct maternal line back to early 18th century Finland. On the web she is 
Your Genetic Genealogist.  In that blog persona she invites readers to "DISCOVER AND UNDERSTAND THE FASCINATING WORLD OF GENETIC GENEALOGY." 

My story is a little more convoluted. It wasn't my mitochondrial DNA test that was an exact match for that of CeCe. It was my surrogate and first cousin Ruth. Ruth is the daughter of my Dad's sister. Therefore, I asked her to test to try to establish the ethnicity of my paternal (Ruth's maternal) grandmother. Most of you know that my mitochondrial test gave me information about my maternal grandmother's line only. So far on that latter line I have had no exact matches. On the other hand, Ruth has had three exact matches in addition to CeCe. Two of those still live in Finland and the third knows from family tradition that his ancestors are Scandinavian.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that researchers should resort to DNA testing only if they have a genealogical question it might answer. My question, when I asked Ruth to swab her cheeks, was to determine if my sixth great-grandmother Marjory OINS/OWENS was Swedish or Welsh. Marjory first shows up in the written record on January 8, 1736. On that day she married as his third wife, Henry STEDHAN at Old Swedes Church in what is now Wilmington, Delaware. Henry's grandfather had immigrated from Sweden to the North American colony of New Sweden in the middle of the 17th century. Although the community in which this wedding took place was a pretty tight ethnically Swedish community, OINS/OWENS sounded Welsh to me. 

As far as I am concerned Ruth's match with CeCe and the other three convince me that Marjory was ethnically a Finn. Since I found the match I have discovered that Finland was part of Sweden at the time New Sweden was settled. In addition, many historians believe that over half of the colonists who came to New Sweden were ethnically Finns. At one time there was a settlement, now long extinct, that was named Finland.

Now that Your Genetic Genealogist and Dr D have finally been reunited, we are talking about collaborating on a book. If all goes well you should see it in 2013.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FTDNA Announces Upgrade Sale for Existing Customers

A one week sale has just been announced for existing customers of Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). Below are the prices for this one week Summer Upgrade Sale. If you have been wondering if you should upgrade, this may be just the time.

Each situation is different. Upgrading is unlikely to help if you have few or no matches now at your current level of testing. However, it can be very helpful in separating those who appear to be close matches at your existing level. To take advantage, you should login to your existing FTDNA account and then place your order.

23andMe Reaches 100,000 Milestone

DNA testing company 23andMe has announced that they have reached the significant milestone of 100,000 individuals tested. 23andMe customers test for one or both of two reasons. Some test to gain some insight to into how their personal genome may affect their health. At this time 23andMe is not testing all genes that may have health implications. However, it is a start in allowing individuals to have direct information about how the genes they have inherited may affect their future health.

This approach is controversial because many in the medical community believe they should be the gateway to all information about our own bodies. Bob Grant writing yesterday in TheScientist: Magazine of the Life Sciences stated:

"According to a 2008 survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) and Medco Research Institute, even though 98 percent of physicians agreed that the genetic profiles of their patients may influence drug therapy, only 10 percent believed they were adequately informed about how to test their patients for biomarkers that may predict the safety and/or efficacy of a particular drug." 

Therefore it is important, and sometimes critically so, that such testing remain available on a direct to consumer basis. As some of you know the FDA has made some recent moves to restrict such testing that is not requested by a physician. 

DNA testing for health information is just one side of the 23andMe business model. The company also tests for genealogical information. Although information is provided on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome haplotypes, it does not provide detailed reports on those two areas of DNA as do other testing companies like Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). On the other hand FTDNA does not test for health information. 23andMe's genealogy product is called "Relative Finder" and it can be compared with FTDNA's "Family Finder" product.  Both are based on testing autosomal DNA rather than that found in the Y-chromosome or mitochondria. Buzz coming out of last week's Jamboree in Burbank gives hope that there may soon be utilities publicly available to compare autosomal results of Family Finder with those of Relative Finder. Dr D was born in Missouri the "Show Me" state so he is carefully watching for developments.

Back to 23andMe's milestone. The latest issue of the company's newsletter the spittoon, makes the following claims:

Database Snapshot:
100,611 users genotyped
76% have agreed to participate in research
59% take surveys
57% are male
47% are sharing with other users
12% have multiple ancestry
45 is the average age
100,409 posts in our community forums
60,000 pairs of relatives among users

Explanations of mitochondrial, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA testing can be found in earlier posts to this blog by searching "DNA" in the box in the upper left corner of the screen. Such information makes up the bulk of Chapter 10 in my just released Crash Course in Genealogy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spencer Wells to Publish Second Edition of Deep Ancestry

Many of you may have read Spencer Wells' Deep Ancestry: How DNA Reveals the Roots of Your Family Tree or have seen him on television on the National Geographic channel. A second edition is in the works and is scheduled to ship on the audacious date of 11/1/11.

National Geographic is inviting your participation in this project. In their June 2011 Newsletter, you are invited to submit your migration story:
"In this new edition we'd like to include stories from you, our public participants, about your own journey to discover your deep ancestry. What have you learned from your own Genographic Project results? How has Genographic illuminated your known family history or genealogy? Were there any surprises you discovered along the way? How has the Genographic Project impacted you or your family?"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crash Course in Genealogy

I returned to Morro Bay this evening from the excellent Burbank Genealogy Jamboree to find a very nice surprise waiting for me. 

Crash Course in Genealogy has 220 pages not the 145 that it says on the publisher's site: Libraries Unlimited. I think that was a plug they put in when they had no idea how many pages it would have.

Needless to say I am delighted to finally have the book in my hands.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Southern California Genealogy Jamboree

I'm attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree this weekend. I'll have more to say about that later. For now I'm enjoying the conference and referring you to Dick Eastman for details. This conference has grown to the point where it rivals the two established national conferences of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Family Tree DNA Has Another Countdown to a Sale

This afternoon Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) announced it would have another sale when it received an additional 3,000 likes on Facebook. That was about 7 hours ago and it appears that they have received almost 300 since then. It is unclear whether this sale will be for new customers only, for upgrades by current customers or both.

If you have been thinking about testing yourself or someone else, you may want to watch this promotion. I can only assume that this is an attempt to attract younger customers who are more into social media than some of their traditional middle aged plus genealogist clients.

Whether you should test and what test you should take depends on whether or not you have a genealogical question that a DNA test might help to answer. An entry level test on either your Y-chromosome (paternal line) or mitochondria (maternal line) may be conclusive to eliminate you as a match with another person. However, a more extensive one will be required to have any confidence of a positive match. To test possible matches within the last few generations on lines other than your direct paternal or direct maternal lines, the Family Finder test may be best. Again, it all depends on what question you are trying to answer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Maryland Dowells with 111 Marker Results

Several of my distant cousins who descend from the same ancestor who lived in southern Maryland three hundred years ago have taken a Y-chromosome DNA test. Five of us recently expanded our tests to 111 markers. The results are just back.

Matches with Philip, Sr. Dowell, (d. 1733)
Dave:  111/111
Ron & Barry: 110/111
Mark: 109/111
George: 105/111

Based on DNA results alone here are the probabilities that each of us is related to each other within 8 generations.

None of these gentlemen share any of their mutations from the presumed DNA of Philip, Sr. with any of the other four.

However, Mark shares one of his mutations with Eugene. Both of them are descendants of first son, Philip, Jr. Eugene has been tested to 67 markers.

In addition, George shares two of his mutations with James Leroy, Sr. Both of them are descendants of second son, John. James Leroy has been tested to 37 markers.

Barry, Dave and Ron are descendants of third son, Peter, Jr.

The five of us range from 7 to 9 generations removed from Philip, Sr.

Cyndi's List announces a newly upgraded website.

Cyndi Howells has just announced a major upgrade for her venerable website. Check it out and tell Dr D what you think of it. Here is her press release:

EDGEWOOD, WASHINGTON (June 6, 2011) – Cyndi's List is proud to announce a newly upgraded web site. With improved navigation, a custom database, and a custom administrative interface, the upgrade means that everything will be quicker and easier for both visitors and for the site's owner and administrator, Cyndi Ingle Howells. The upgrade has been done by fusionSpan of Maryland. Their staff worked closely with Cyndi to make improvements and to implement new technology and new ideas designed specifically for Cyndi’s List and for the genealogical community.

Part of the upgrade was made possible by donations from generous users of Cyndi’s List. To date, 20% of what was accomplished in the project was thanks to them. Donors have been listed on the web site.

What's New with the Upgrade:

* The front page of the Cyndi's List site has a rolling genealogy news feed and a link to The Cyndi’s List Daily, a daily dose of family history news as tagged in Twitter and Facebook. Start each day with the front page of Cyndi's List and read the current genealogy news stories.

* The links are now contained within a database and pages will be dynamically loaded on each visit.

* The custom database and administration interface means that maintaining the link list will be much easier for Cyndi, which ultimately benefits the user with faster and more frequent updates.

* The new interface means that the backlog of uncategorized links can be processed much faster. The goal is to get the entire backlog done by the end of this year.

* New links will be reviewed, approved, and categorized within 24-72 hours after submission by visitors.

* Updates made to Cyndi's List will be immediately available to the public.

* Previous to the upgrade, the "What's New" page and mailing list post contained only new links submitted by visitors. The new "What's New"
page and e-mail will contain those, as well as links added to the site during the day by Cyndi, *and* existing links that have been updated throughout the site (new addresses, updated descriptions, etc.).

* Across the site links have been labeled with graphics as "new" or "updated" when appropriate. With the upgrade these will now be text-based notations (easily spotted in green), which means that you can search on a page for "new" or "updated" with the Edit>Find function in your web browser.

* Now sub-categories within a category heading each have their own page.
And each page displays 20 links, with pagination in place to go to the next page and so on. This means there will be a lot less scrolling through long pages as in the past. Shorter pages mean faster load time in the browser as well.

* Intuitive navigation at the top of the category makes it easy to find your way to previous category headings.

* The number of links within each category/sub-category is displayed at the top right on each page.

* Each of the U.S. counties (more than 3,100) now has a designated page of its own.

* URLs (addresses) for the pages have changed so bookmarks, favorites, and links to Cyndi's List will need to be updated.

* Opportunities to shop, support, or donate are highlighted on each page.

What Has Stayed the Same?

* The category and sub-category names are all the same.

* Related Categories are highlighted at the top right on each category.

* The layout and format of the links are the same.

* The policies, procedures, and disclaimers for maintaining the link list are the same.

* The Cyndi's List Mailing List will still distribute a daily What's New e-mail and a daily Link Activity e-mail. However, the What’s New e-mail will contain information about all new and updated links.

* You can still follow Cyndi's List on Facebook and Twitter.

* The purpose and intent of Cyndi's List is to be a free jumping-off point for your daily genealogical research.

* Cyndi’s List remains free for everyone to use just as it has for the past 15 years.

* This is still just a one-woman show!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is Dr D an Exact 111 Marker Match for Philip Dowell, Sr.?

At the moment I am claiming that I am the one and only pure 111 marker Y-Chromosome descendant of my sixth great-grandfather Philip Dowell, Sr. who died in 1733 in southern Maryland. He is the earliest Dowell ancestor with whom I am convinced I descend. I want to brag about this before I am exposed as a pretender.

So far only three Maryland Dowells who descend from Philip, Sr. have their full 111 marker test results back from the lab. Previously when we had 67 markers back on several of us, four descendants of Philip, Sr.'s son Peter, Sr., (including me), were exact 67 marker matches with each other. The four of us descend from three different sons of Peter, Dowell, Sr., who died shortly after 1800 in North Carolina.

One likely descendant of Philip Dowell, Sr.'s oldest son, Philip, Jr., also is an exact 67 marker match for the four descendants of son Peter, Sr. Another descendant of Philip, Jr., is a 66/67 marker match and a third is a 65/67 match. The latter two descendants share one common mutation from the five of us who are exact matches with each other. This suggests that there were no mutations when Philip, Sr.’s DNA was copied and passed down to Philip, Jr. One living descendant shows no mutations. However, there was a mutation somewhere in the next two generations—a mutation shared by the other two of Philip, Jr.’s descendants who have been tested.

John, Sr., the second son of Philip, Sr., has one living descendant who has test results for 67 makers. Over these markers he is a 63/67 marker match with the predominate pattern of the four descendants of Peter, Sr., and one of the descendants of Philip, Jr. However, on the one marker that the other two descendants of Philip, Jr. differ from the modal group, this descendant of John, Sr. matches the modal group. So, at least one descendant of each son appears to share that marker. This seems to establish that the marker values of the of the modal group are in fact what Philip, Sr.’s values would be if we knew where he was buried, dug him up and tested him.

My next claim may be a bit tenuous since it is based on the results of only three descendants so far. These results are for the descendant of Philip, Jr. who had 2 mutations over the first 67 markers and two descendants of Peter, Sr. who are thought to have had no mutations over the first 67 markers. The three of us have identical marker values over markers 68 to 111 except for marker #100. On that marker, I and the descendant of Philip, Jr. match. He and I now match on 109 of the 111 markers—65 of the original 67 plus all the additional 44 markers. The other Dowell now only has conflicting values with me on marker #100. He is a 108/111 match for the descendant of Philip, Jr.

Since at least one descendant of the other two sons of the original Philip, Sr. agree with my values of all 111 markers, I am claiming that my 111 markers are the genetic signature of my sixth great-grandfather. As more results come back, this assessment may have to be modified. However, for now that is my working hypothesis. Results for two more descendants are expected back in the next two weeks so stay tuned.