A Methodology for Researching Autosomal DNA Results from Family Finder
Also see Jim Bartlett's Succeeding with Autosomal DNA
The results from ftDNA regarding Autosomal DNA Matches come with limited instructions about how to proceed. The following paper is meant to guide research into these results. The methodology was developed by Diane Harman-Hoog and Gaye Tannenbaum with programming help from Robert Warthen. There were many others on the AdoptionDNA and DNA-Newbie yahoo groups who provided answers. Unfortunately this probably will not work with Ashkenazi lines o r may be too difficult to work with them, due to the nature of Ashkenazi DNA.
Summary of Process
Details of this process are described in this paper.
What are the DNA tests
It would be nice if everyone understood the difference between the different types of DNA tests before they order them, but from emails, it is obvious that it is not true.
Men can have Y DNA tests. Women do not have a Y chromosome so it does not apply to them. A Y DNA test can identify direct line male ancestors. For Rob for example, the direct line would be shown by the blue rectangles but carried out to the beginning. This shows how the Y DNA is inherited
Autosomal DNA can be passed down no matter what the sex. However, there is no real pattern as to how this occurs. Each parent passes DNA to a child, each contributing half. However, it is random as to what DNA is passed to each offspring. Thus, siblings do not exactly match each other; however, they will have a significant amount of matching DNA. Therefore, in most cases with each generation, the amount of matching DNA declines. So that the amount of DNA passed from a set of grandparents to their own offspring is greater than the amount of DNA passed to their grandchildren and the amount passed to each generation declines. This DNA is measure by segments and the longer the segment on the same chromosome, the closer the relationship.
The chromosomal browser on Family Finder shows us a graphic interpretation of these chromosomes. We are looking for overlapping segments which shows DNA segments at the same location on the chromosome.
This is the chart of the types of DNA that can be tested:
(Source: Gaye Tannenbaum)
Autosomal DNA (atDNA):
Organizing Your Results
In the Family Finder match screen, select All Matches. This shows everyone you have matched and their estimated genetic distance from you. These people for want of a better term are referred to as DNA cousins.
Information shown here under All Matches is:
· Name of match
· Ancestral surnames entered by the match
· What tests they have taken
· An optional gedcom
· The date of the match
· The Range of the relationship
· Suggested relationship – remember this is approximate
· The amount of shared cM* with you.
· The longest block, measured in cM – the longer the block, the closer the relationship
· Any known or pending relationship
· Ancestral surnames (optional)
In addition to All Matches, these choices are available:
The New Since option allows you to identify new matches since a date of 3 or 6 months. You can also sort your matches by date by clicking on the "Match Date" in the headings above your list. The first list with the "down" arrow gives you the most recent first. Click again for the "up" arrow to get the listing going from oldest to most recent.
We will be spending time on the In Common With Option.
Previously we had to assign a "Known Relationship" to each match. FTDNA has eliminated this condition in finding ICWs and we can now get a full list by going to DNAGedcom, entering in our kit # and password to the "Download FTDNA" page. Instructions to do this are below.
You can also do it one match at a time at the FTDNA page by clicking on "Show Advanced" located just above your list of matches. A new line will appear below each matches name. Click on "Triangulate" and a box will come up with two selections to choose. "In Common With" or "Not in Common With".
Searching this list
If you are looking for a specific person in your list of matches, click on "Name" above your list of matches and type in the name. You can do the same thing in the "Ancestral Surnames" box.
Making an In Common With List
This step is now automated at http://www.DNAGedcom.com. Register, select Family Tree DNA/Download Family Tree DNA Data.
Enter your kit # and password for FTDNA, then click on “Get Data”
It will automatically download a *.zip file to your computer with 3 files…..your complete Chromosome Browser, your Family Finder matches and your ICW file.
Even though this has been automated the instructions to do it manually are below. If you got the list from DNAGedcom, you can skip down to where you see this symbol èè
At the bottom of each result list above, you will see
As you pull up each person, starting with the first one, when the list of results is on the screen click on the csv button and a small csv file will be downloaded to your download folder.
Hint: A csv file is a text form of a spreadsheet file. To open it in Excel, you may have to change the Open File dialog to look for All Files.
Open a spreadsheet.
In the first column, put the name of the Master for this screen. In the example above it would be Charles Bess.
Then copy all the information in the csv file you just down loaded and paste it into the spreadsheet as follows:
(I eliminated the columns to the right of longest block.
I added Charles Reed’s matches after Charles Bess. Work through the master list from the first entry to the last until you have all the ICW matches identified by the master name in the first column.
Now you have the In Common With List. You will need this to work your data. Save it with the name ICW to your folder with the DNA results.
Making a Family Finder List
You will also need the list of all your matches.
This step is now automated at http://www.DNAGedcom.com when you download the *.zip file.
To do it manually, go to the ftDNA Family Finder Match Screen. Choose all matches.
In the bottom right hand corner, click on Download csv file. Once again this will download to your download folder.
This file will look something like the one below. Save it to the folder for your DNA results.
That is the easy one.
Chromosome Browser List
This step is now automated at http://www.DNAGedcom.com.
Once again I am leaving this here in case you wish to try it. If you have your list , skip down to this symbol
How ever after you get your list read the document “Preparing Your Chromosome Browser Results” before you proceed.
We will be making a list of all your chromosome browser results but first a little explanation.
The following is a section of a report of chromosome browser results. It is for Chromosome 8.
When you get your CB result list, look for the longest segment on that Chromosome (listed under Centimorgan.
In this list the longest Segment on Chromosome 8 is
Pamela Stevens Oshlo
LaVon has a longest segment of 85.88 cM.
Now we need to see who has overlapping segments with her.
The following have overlapping segments with LaVon on Chromosome 8
Quite a list but we can drop out those with shorter segments. Let’s set the lowest segment we will consider to 5 – this is probably a 5th cousin.
That brings us down to
OK, I know that is not easy to do. However, we are preparing our lists so that it can be done through a program instead of this way. It is useful to understand the above.
Remember, the longer the segment, the closer the relationship. LaVon’s segment is extraordinarily long. Her brother, Pete, comes in second. They are both predicted second cousins, but are in actuality, third cousins.
Doreen Cunningham has the third longest segment. She is a predicted 4th cousin, et.
There is a further consideration.
We need to check to see whether these overlapping segments appear on the same side of the chromosome. We figure this out with our ICW screen on ftDNA
By looking them up, I see that
Lavon is ICW with Pete, Burton, Bill and Harold. She is not ICW with Dorene. Therefore Dorene is NOT related in this line. The match is on the other side of the chromosome and is not really shared with LaVon.
Our program will automate this as well.
There is a cool utility on ftDNA on the Family Finder drop down.
You can also choose matches for a chromosome browser comparison by clicking on the + Compare in Chromosome Browser when you have clicked on "Show Advanced".
I enter several matches names and this is an example of the picture of their relationship on Chromosome 8.
Lavon is green, Pete is orange, Dorene is pink and Bill is turquoise
This particular set has overlapping segments on other chromosomes as well.
Making Your Chromosome Browser List
The manual instructions follow. The contents look like this.
When you have all the files, you can either open each file and copy and paste the results into a master file so they are all together or you can go to a Command prompt on your PC. Go to the download directory by typing in cd c:\users\yourusername\downloads or what ever your download directory is located and then type the first part of the file name, such as 85555_chromosome* follow it by the asterick as this means every file that starts with this string. Then you type a space and tell it what file to put the combined info into.
In Win 7, go to the Start Screen and type Command in the search blank. It brings up this black screen which is actually the DOS program behind Windows and it comes up with the c:\Users\username prompt. You change directories (cd) to the directory that has you files and then when you are there tell it to copy all files that start with your id number and the underscore chromosome part of the file names into (>) the file names all cb results.csv. Then go into the folder the usual way and save that csv file into your DNA folder. It will have the results from all those cb sets combined into one file.
In other Windows operating systems the Command prompt can be found under Accessories.
Getting a CB ICW file
You can make your own file which I did when I got started, by making the groups of clusters on the chromosomes, putting them as sets into a spreadsheet and then putting a table in that checks to see who is ICW with whom.
The results look like this:
A whole organized spreadsheet of results for you to work with!
Finding Intersections Between Matches
Take the person with the longest segments. They are identified by the numbers in left hand column. If #1 has a person with overlapping segments, who is ICW and who has a gedcom or who will send you a gedcom, then start with that one. If #1 does not meet that criteria, then move down to #2, #3, etc. until you find one that does.
Run the two gedcoms at Gedmatch.com to see if you are lucky and a match is immediately obvious. Note any common surnames between the gedcoms and pay particular attention to those as you work with the trees.
Most likely it will not be obvious, as most of the gedcoms are very poorly done. My recommendation is to get an ancestry.com account, you can get it by the month. Then go to the trees section and upload the gedcoms. Using the hints supplied there, just building them out. I usually expand them up to the last non-US generation. So if the family came on the Mayflower, it would include the last generation in England if possible.
Use the cousin predictor as a guideline. You will probably find the intersection a generation or two further back than the predicted cousin. If 2nd cousin, which means common great grandparents, then you will probably find it at great-great or 3rd great grandparent level.
Here is a little table I use: I use dates from my own family tree, depending on the date of your match these will vary
Common great grandparents
Born mid 1800s
3 rd cousins
Common 2nd great grandparents
Born early 1800s
Common 3rd great grandparents
Born mid to late 1700s
Common 4th great grandparents
Born mid 1700s
Common 5th great grandparents
Born early 1700s
A slight wrinkle in the scheme. When you have 2nd or 3rd cousins, you may want to check for intersections, even though they are not ICW. Do the ICW first and revisit the calculations after you have done them. I have found some matches there. Due to the idiosyncrasies of DNA, not all relationships are precise.
I keep both a spreadsheet and a document of the matches I find. I stick screen shots of the pieces of the trees that match in the document and in the spreadsheet, I note the person at the intersection and the relationship for both parties. If you are using Ancestry.com trees, then you can click on relationship to me in the profile view and set the “Me” to be the cousin who is the subject of the tree. Then you will know if it is a direct line match. Here is a clip of my tracking spreadsheet.
In this case, Bess spans both sides of my client’s ancestry , so it is possible to put almost all the matches into the same tree. You may need 2 or more trees. The best way to build these trees is to consider the people with the most intersections first. You can go to each individual’s tree and in checking the relationships through the relationship finder in the profile view, you can get a line of inheritance.
For example; Nancy Grigsby is Begley’s 6th great grandma and also Nancy’s 4th great grandma
Here is the line back to Jennifer (Begley) Grigsby from Nancy
Here is the line from Nancy to Nancy Front
Rebecca Combs and Jeremiah Combs were siblings.
I made several hundred matches this way.
Rob Warthen has written utilities that allow me to do the following to as many gedcoms as I have in the same directory:
These were instrumental in my finding matches.
Good luck to you.
Thanks to Diane Harman-Hoog who is the original author of this methodology