Sunday, August 14, 2016
A DNA To-Do List
It sometimes seems as if a genealogist's work is never done. Just when I think I have a system devised to keep pace with all the research tasks needing to be done, something comes along to upset that plan. Still, what else is there to do but keep plugging away?
With recent changes at some DNA testing services, customers have had additional options open to them. I'm thinking, in particular, of the changes at Family Tree DNA, where matches can now be isolated as to whether they belong on the paternal or maternal side of a customer's family tree. This can be automatically shown, provided a customer has had another close family member also test at FTDNA.
The only catch is: if the name on your family tree doesn't match the label on the corresponding DNA test, there's no trigger to launch all those newly-updated bells and whistles on FTDNA's newly improved version.
The bottom line: I need to go back to the drawing board and upload an updated GEDCOM, aligning those details for the few people involved in this close genealogical encounter.
There's another reason for this: since I last updated that GEDCOM, I've added, oh, a few thousand names to my family trees. It might help if I made that information available. Who knows? It may clinch a few more matches.
Since I keep tally of progress here twice a month, it gives an idea of how far behind I am on updating those DNA records. For instance, since my last tally in mid-July, I've added 671 to my husband's maternal tree, and 178 to mine. Since I've been stumbling upon so many wonderful discoveries, now that I've turned back to researching my paternal roots, I've even added 48 to my paternal tree. All told, that brings my totals to 8,330 for my mother-in-law's tree—with my father-in-law's tree holding steady at 1,022—plus 8,474 for my mother's tree and 228 for my father's line.
Lately, it seems the craze over doing one's DNA tests has simmered down, judging by the slowed number of additional matches we're seeing at Family Tree DNA. Since mid-July, my husband has only received nine additional matches—with none at all occurring after July 28—leaving his total at 786. I've received eleven additional matches since then, with my most recent one arriving on August 8. Perhaps those FTDNA summer sale offers are timely, indeed.
Of course, there are additional matches on our accounts at Ancestry DNA, as well. Though they also have been inching up slowly over these past few weeks, there are now 146 matches for my husband's lines and 343 for mine.
There's no guarantee that all those extra folks I've added to our respective pedigree charts will yield prospective DNA matches. If none of the descendants of these names peopling our trees happens to choose to test, they can't possibly become DNA matches.
But of those who do, there's a lot of work to be done before they and we are equipped to find each other—and figure out why we connect. The trick is to find the nexus in our respective trees, of course, and that is facilitated by keeping our most recent GEDCOMs uploaded to the respective services.
In addition to that, there is the need to contact these people and get talking about possibilities. It's amazing how many people spring for the high cost of multiple DNA tests, yet not bother to follow through in connecting with their matches. The best way to help the process along is to take the initiative and make the contact. I've had a plan for facilitating that on a weekly basis; it's time to get back to that program and see whether the combined efforts of updating the tree and connecting with matches brings about more confirmations.
Above: "The Small Pond," 1894 oil on canvas by Belgian artist, Évariste Carpentier; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.