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Thread: The Family Finder Test from Family Tree DNA

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    Jun 2010
    Chatham, Ontario, Canada
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    The Family Finder Test from Family Tree DNA

    No one disputes the fact that tracing women is by far one of the most difficult feats for a genealogist, especially before DNA testing existed. Lineages stop at women for several reasons. Prior to the twentieth century it was a man’s world. By law and custom husbands controlled society: men purchased land, paid taxes, served in the military, and left wills; children carried the male surname to the next generation; and many genealogies neglected female lines. Fewer records recorded women’s actions and with their names change at each marriage, it is most difficult to follow their trail.

    Ten years ago Family Tree DNA began genetic testing with the genealogist in mind. At first the Y-chromosome test for men was established and later the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test for both men and women, but only for the HVR1 and HVR2 segments.

    The advent of mitochondrial DNA testing has allowed women to join the world of DNA testing. Through mtDNA tests both men and women can find others who are related, even when the paper trail does not exist. A match on the HVR1 and HVR2 can be thousands of years ago, but through careful testing and good genealogical research, testers have found their common ancestor. The difficulty in finding cousins lies in the slow marker mutation of the mitochondria.

    For the past several years, testing the full mitochondria (full genome sequence or FGS) has been more useful. This test can provide a genealogist with matches, even though the common ancestors for those matches could be a few hundred of years ago.

    That can now change as genetic testing has progressed to a new level.

    Just today Family Tree DNA announced its new Family Finder test. In their press release just hours ago, FTDNA stated:

    “This is the most exciting genetic genealogy breakthrough since the company launched its Y-DNA test, which uncovered relatives in the direct paternal line”, says Bennett Greenspan, founder and President of Family Tree DNA.

    Family Tree DNA is pleased to inform you of the pre-launch of our newest test: the autosomal-based Family Finder test. This pre-launch will progress in phases so that we do not exceed our lab’s capacity, and to ensure delivering results in a timely basis. A limited number of our customers are being offered the Family Finder Test during the prelaunch. We anticipate Family Finder will be offered for general release in the middle of March at the breakthrough price of $249.

    Special Note: Since the Family Finder test requires an untouched vial of DNA, we cannot transfer DNA from Arizona to run the test. If a kit does not have an extra vial on file, we will mail a collection kit for a new FREE DNA extraction. After ordering, you will be notified whether we are able to use a stored vial or will be mailing a new collection kit.

    This test analyzes your autosomal markers in all the chromosomes to determine shared blocks of markers with other testers. We inherit approximately 50% of our DNA from each of our parents as they did from their parents. In our autosomal markers that DNA mixes differently with each conception, therefore, different sections of the genes are passed along from generation to generation, picking up new segments from new family members. Mathematically, geneticists can determine possible sizes of shared segments with each generation at an accurate level for up to our fifth cousins. Thus, the size of the shared blocks of DNA helps determine the level of cousinship between two people. This autosomal test allows you to find people who are your fifth cousins or closer, thus putting a tighter, more exact genealogical time frame for matches.

    The Family Finder test has many advantages for genealogy and for the genetic genealogy world.

    I have thirteen DNA projects which include a haplogroup project, several surname projects, and three geographical projects. Within these projects there are people who do not know their biological surname due to an adoption, an illegitimate birth or some other surname change in the past. ALL of these projects will benefit from this new type of test.

    For mitochondrial testing, a person can now determine if their matches are recent or more distant. I have six people who match me on the FGS. We cannot connect the paper trails and have no idea when the common ancestor lived. By all of us taking the Family Finder test, we can determine if the six of us are fifth cousins or less … or if we are more distant.

    A group of people matching on their mtDNA can determine who in the group is more closely related with whom and who is more distantly related. Take the six of us. By everyone testing, we can determine if two or three of us are more closely related with each other than we are with some of the others.

    With the result of the Family Finder test showing us who is closely related, we can begin to see the migration patterns of our collective line. This may help us track more ancestors.

    For Surname groups, the new Family Finder test has wonderful opportunities to allow females to join the project. Women have long felt left out in Surname Projects, although many of them are the administrators or do most of the research for the project. Bringing more participants into the surname project creates more interest which can open avenues for research. With this test, a female does not have to locate a family member to do the testing for her, but still may. Females can find out how closely they are related to the men who have tested.

    Some Surname Project members have tested fewer markers than others, leaving the administrator to wait until the test is upgraded before placing the tester in a particular group. There’s just not enough data to make the determination. However, with this test, I will be able to assign testers to the correct branch in a lineage even without the paper trail.

    The Family Finder test helps determine whether the testers are closer or more distant cousins, thus better defining the branches in a family tree.

    Many projects have groups who have a perfect or near-perfect match, but the common ancestor has not been located. With the Family Finder test those larger blocks of matches can be better defined, creating sub-branches of closer related members.

    For example: In one of my projects I have several men who match perfectly on 37 markers and in some cases on 67 markers. However, with this autosomal test, I will be able to see who among them is more closely related. The size of the matching segments of DNA will vary with the testers and thus determine the cousinship probably.

    Geographical Projects can be overwhelmingly large. Administrators are reduced to just maintaining the website, answering general questions, and watch for patterns that may indicate a certain haplotype location. The Family Finder test can uncover new clues to extended family groups among the members. This can bring more relevant lineages to the project and open up new avenues for research as new connections are discovered. Testers can explore the lost family connections behind migrations. Testers in other projects can find cousins in geographical projects, thus helping them find relatives in their homeland. Family Finder test can also break up large blocks of matches into more closely related groups as well as find connections between different surnames.

    Adoptees can greatly benefit from the Family Finder test as any matches would be close matches. You can find aunts, uncles, half siblings, and recent cousins. The match would not be just on the unknown line, but anywhere in your lineage, thus you could connect with family members to find clues to help you trace your missing line.

    For more information on this test see:

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  3. #2

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    Jul 2010
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    Re: The Family Finder Test from Family Tree DNA

    My Mother and Uncle did this and we discovered so much! I am still trying to figure out the mITA match to a Coville lady 350 years ago! I highly recommend Family DNA for all genealogy nuts!

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