Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Present and Two Lumps of Coal to Stuff in Christmas Stockings

For you genetic genealogists I have a present to stuff in your Christmas stockings.

The present:

The present comes in the form of a link to a very comprehensive guide to the U.S. Census in e-book format. It was compiled by Michael Hait, an experienced genealogist, who has previously published a comprehensive guide to state resources---also in e-format. In the lead in on his blog, Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a profession, Hait claims all content is copyrighted. That would be true for the blog and for his 23 page United States Census Path Finder. However, most of the linked materials are not subject to copyright because they were published by the U.S. Government. This Path Finder is an information rich treasure trove of links that offer a comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the U.S. Census. Genealogical researchers of all levels of expertise will find this a useful reference for background and for specific information at time of need.

The lumps of coal:

For the States of New York and Maryland I have lumps of coal for their Christmas stockings. Many of you are familiar with the myth that Santa stuffs a lump of coal into the stockings of those whose behavior make them undeserving of receiving presents. The reason for these awards are their laws which prohibit genetic tests like the one administered by 23andMe which can be considered to offer individuals information about their potential for health conditions. The restrictions are different in the two states; and I will leave the details to Judy Russell in her recent post “NY and MD limits on 23andMe” to her blog The Legal Genealogist.
After you read Judy’s post, be sure to read the comments added Kathy Johnson. Regular readers of my blog will know what my feelings are on the right of individuals to be able to access the information stored in their own bodies.

I would like to be clear that these state restrictions affect all of us in one way or another. It will complicate my effort to test family members in these states. In addition it limits the likelihood that residents of these two states will test and can be possible matches for the rest of us. However, at the moment these restrictions have not been applied to Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and the National Genographic project which go to great lengths to avoid the appearance of offering health related information. 

Happy Holidays to all. May 2013 be a fantastic year of discoveries for all of us in genetic and traditional genealogy.

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