• GROWTH OF AUTOSOMAL TESTING: This year AncestryDNA ended its Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, closed the databases and destroyed related samples. Rather than a signaling an unstable industry, though, it’s a sign of growth in another direction.
5 Questions With Kitty Cooper
1. What hooked you on genetic genealogy?
I wondered if I could use DNA to solve a brick wall. Lars Monsen was a dead end on my family tree. I did my dad’s Y-DNA and contacted a weak match who lived in the right location. He helped identify my possible fourth-great-grandfather. Then he tracked down a direct [male-line] descendant, and I paid for him to test. It was a match. The first guy is related to me but we haven’t figured out how.
DNA helped me solve another brick wall I didn’t even know I had. A Norwegian DNA cousin said I had the wrong parents for my great-great-grandmother. I’ve since confirmed through DNA that the new parents he proposed are the right parents.
The people. I’ve met all these new cousins from Norway. And distant cousins often have pictures and stories you don’t have.
A distant DNA cousin asked, “Couldn’t someone find a way to make a picture from a CSV spreadsheet [where DNA results are stored]?” I wrote a program so you can upload your spreadsheet to get these pretty pictures. Anyone can use it for free: It’s under Tools on my blog.
I’m half Norwegian and half German, and the German side is half Jewish. But like everyone, I wanted to be descended from an Indian princess. Turns out I do have a little Finnish Sami in me, the Scandinavian equivalent of the Eskimos of the American north.
Question of the issue: How have you used DNA in your genealogy research?
Rachael Hartman » Garrettsville, Ohio
Miriam Robbins » Spokane, Wash.
Bennett Greenspan, Founder and CEO, Family Tree DNA
Genetic Genealogy Timeline
1989 First-known use of the term genetic genealogy, in the Dallas Morning News
2000 FamilyTreeDNA offers first consumer genetic genealogy tests; 300 samples are processed the first year
2002 Sorensen Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) forms
2004 First International Conference on Genetic Genealogy in Houston
2004 SMGF posts a yDNA database online with 5,000 samples and pedigree charts
2005 National Genographic Project launches to trace human origins and migration
2006 International Society of Genetic Genealogy forms
2006 Annual US sales of genetic genealogy tests estimated at $60 million
2007 Ancestry.com absorbs Relative Genetics and offers DNA tests
2009 23andMe offers the first genealogy autosomal DNA test
2012 Ancestry.com launches autosomal testing
2013 Daughters of the American Revolution accepts yDNA evidence on member applications
2014 AncestryDNA focuses exclusively on autosomal testing
By the Numbers
750,000+ genotyped members in 23andMe
698, 564 records in Family Tree DNA
678,632 participants in over 140 countries in the National Genographic Project
500,000+ autosomal DNA samples in Ancestry.com database