Blogs

I am currently a guest writer on the world's most popular genealogy blog: Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. I am its only regular contributor on DNA matters, and the only guest writer who lives in the UK.


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A New Era For Surname Studies? October 5, 2011  Last month saw the publication in the UK of an important book for family historians: Surnames, DNA, & Family History. I say important because it’s rare to see a book-length treatment that describes the impact genetic testing is having on the study of surnames and the way we do our family history. And one co-authored by three big names — George Redmonds, Turi King and David Hey — one from each of the three component disciplines in the title, is certainly news. 
Digging Deeper Into Deep Ancestry May 16, 2010 PDF Last week’s revelations about the traces of Neanderthal DNA in the genes of modern humans will strike a chord with many people who are fascinated with “deep ancestry” genetics, our personal pre-genealogical history which most genealogical DNA tests can help to highlight.  This is a complex area of science, and the bit that we see in our DNA test results — the inferred haplogroup in a Y-chromosome result, for example — is just the edge of a wave of new knowledge coming our way... 
We’re Almost All of us Part Neanderthal May 12, 2010 PDF It’s been one of the most argued questions in anthropology for years, and last Thursday it looks as though we got the answer.  Did our species homo sapiens mate with the now extinct homo neanderthalensis? Well, yes, we did, and the genetic consequences are carried by most people alive on the planet today. 
New Thinking About Europe’s Y-chromosome Origins: Or, how the farmers out-reproduced the hunter-gatherers January 25, 2010 PDF There’s a popular television show that’s been airing in the UK recently, called Farmer Wants A Wife. Each week, a farmer (and it’s usually a young beefy one) selects a couple of suitable lasses to try out the working life on his farm for five days, and we armchair consumers get to root for one or the other before he makes his choice... A new academic paper on the origins of Europe’s most ubiquitous Y-chromosome, published 19 January, suggests that it wasn’t always thus. 
DNA Testing Works Best Alongside Good Old-Fashioned Documentary Research: How some Y-chromosome DNA testing programs are turbo-charging their results by running a parallel documentary reconstruction project January 21, 2010 PDF I’ve been running a Y-chromosome surname project now for ten years, which is only a little bit less time than I’ve been researching my surname’s history. So I’ve got used to doing documentary research at the same time as recruiting participants for the DNA project: the two activities have always gone together.  That connection became even more intense a few years ago, when I took over an international documentary project collecting data not just on my own surname but also on several other related ones. 
Divided By The Pond: Why Genetic Drift Means US Results Can’t Pinpoint the Origin of a British Surname September 23, 2009 PDF Like so many great technological innovations, the use of Y-chromosome DNA testing to unravel the history of a surname was invented in Britain…and commercialised in the USA. Since the very first published surname project, on the Sykes surname back in the year 2000, the number of Y-chromosome test results has risen to several hundreds of thousands worldwide. FTDNA alone has 165,000 in its database, many within the more than 5,500 surname-based projects registered on its site.  
Genealogical Networking - Why ISOGG’s successful collaboration with NIST is so encouraging September 13, 2009 PDF The recently announced news that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a common standard for the reporting of Y-chromosome DNA profiles is extremely good news for any male genealogist who has already, or will in the future, take a Y-chromosome DNA test.  During the ten years since this kind of DNA testing was first targeted at family historians, a range of DNA testing firms have marketing tests specifically aimed at you and me.  
DNA and Family History, Ten Years On March 10, 2009 PDF Time certainly flies. I find it hard to believe that genetic testing aimed at genealogists has been around for ten years. A decade ago DNA tests were rarely seen on TV and broadly unused outside of academia. Roll forward to today, and no one researching their family history can remain unaware of DNA testing for very long.  
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