Thursday, January 24, 2019

24genetics Review

My European countries map from 24genetics
24genetics offer DNA tests for health and ancestry related reports, and also accept raw DNA uploads from other companies for more limited report options. For the uploads, they only offer reports on ancestry, sport, skin, nutrition, and talent/personality. If you buy a test with them, you can also get health and drug response reports, but be aware that each one costs $149 - $199, and if you want all the reports, the "all in one" pack costs a whopping $399. This seems very expensive, and if you're looking for a health report, I wouldn't buy tests through this company, there are less expensive venues. 23andMe costs half this for their ancestry and health, and is on sale often enough you can get it for even less. 23andMe may not include all same reports, but you can then upload your data to other, inexpensive sources like Promethease for more.

Most of the reports from uploaded DNA say they accept data from 23andMe or AncestryDNA, except the ancestry report, which says it will accept DNA from 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA, or MyHeritage. The ancestry test costs $49, and the rest cost $69. You can order a promo pack including ancestry, sport, nutrition, and skin for $99. These also seem expensive for what you get, considering they don't have to run your DNA through a lab, so I only purchased the ancestry report and uploaded my raw DNA data from 23andMe.

The report is sent in an email as a PDF, much like how DNATribes before they discontinued their upload offer. In the PDF, you get an ethnic break down of your DNA first on a continental level called "Global Vision", then a country level, and finally a regional level. Like most ethnicity reports, they say the results date back "hundreds and even thousands of years".

My country results from 24genetics
My continental results (deserving of all caps, apparently) say:

EUROPE 99.20%
ASIA 0.80%

Most likely, the Asian results are just noise. You'll see in the country and regional break down that my Asian results are in a part of Georgia, in the Caucasus area (just above the Middle East), so it's possible this is related to my southern Italian ancestry, but given the small percentage, it may just be noise and not mean anything.

My country results:

Great Britain 33.80%
Italy 30.00%
Austria 17.10%
Greece 8.20%
Netherlands 5.60%
Switzerland 2.30%
Finland 2.20%
Georgia 0.80%

The top two results are very accurate, my family tree is indeed roughly 32% British, and I did in fact inherit about 32% of my DNA from my Italian grandmother. But rest of the results aren't very consistent with my known ancestry. The smaller results could just be noise, and I'm guessing the Austria result is coming from my Germanic ancestry. I'm not sure where the Greek is coming from, since the only Mediterranean ancestry I have is already fully accounted for in my Italy results.

AncestryDNA's PCA chart showing reference panel
populations and their genetic distance to each other
The main thing it's missing is my Norwegian ancestry. Though I had one Norwegian great grandfather, my Scandinavian results often come back lower than the "expected" 12.5% on most ethnicity reports, so perhaps I inherited less from him than expected. I do get a trace amount in Finland, but as you'll see below, it's in an eastern part of Finland, which seems like it would have more in common genetically with Russia than Norway. In fact, AncestryDNA used to group Finland and NW Russia together. Although they now have separated the two groups, their PCA chart (left) shows that the Finnish group has no overlap with Scandinavia (let alone Norway), but does have some minor overlap with the Baltic States (northeast Europe, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). So I doubt there's any connection to my Norwegian ancestor. Norway usually has more in common genetically with Germanic Europe and Britain, so maybe the Netherlands results are coming from my Norwegian ancestry, but I do also have Dutch ancestry, though much further back on my tree.

Maps are provided for the results, first showing the highlighted countries on a global scale (above right), and then zooming in on Europe (above left). I guess my one small result in West Asia didn't warrant a zoom in.

My regional results
My regional results:

Essex Medieval 32.30%
Tyrol 17.10%
Apulia 15.80%
Lombardy 13.60%
Utrecht 5.40%
Crete 3.20%
Kythera 3.00%
Romandy 2.30%
Finland Karelia 2.20%
Andros 2.00%
Cornwall 1.50%
Georgia Svaneti 0.80%
Treviso 0.60%
Groningen 0.20%

Essex Medieval is an interesting result because it specifies a time period as well as location. I wonder why the other results don't include a time period? I do indeed have ancestry from Essex, although there's a few branches from there, they are all from fairly far back on my tree, in the 1500s. I suppose that's consistent with the Medieval timeline, however, they seem to be attributing almost all my British ancestry to Medieval Essex, yet I have British ancestry from many other locations, some from much more recent time periods too (which should account for more of my DNA).

My European regional map
Tyrol is a region of western Austria which borders Germany and Switzerland, both places where I do have ancestry from, so I'm assuming that's where this result is coming from.

Apulia is an area of southeast Italy. I have no known ancestry from there, but my Italian ancestry is indeed southern/Sicilian, not northern, so I'll give it points for that. However, Lombardy and Treviso are a part of northern Italy, where I have no known ancestry.

Next is Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands. I don't know where in the Netherlands most of my Dutch branches come from, but one of them is actually from Utrecht, and another from Amsterdam. But let's face it, the Netherlands is a pretty small country (though it was once larger), so I'm not really sure how distinct DNA from different parts of it really are from one another - Amsterdam is really not that far from Utrecht (about 27 miles). Although this is a small percentage, my Dutch ancestry is from far back on my tree, so I would expect it to be a small percentage, if it would show up at all. I also get a very small hit (possibly noise) for Groningen in the Netherlands, where I don't have any known ancestry.

My Asian regional map, probably
Now we get into percentages so low they may only be noise. Crete, Kythera, and Andros are all in Greece, which again, I have no known connection to. Maybe some of it is related to my Italian ancestry, but it can't be all of it, or that tips my Italian percentage over the edge of being too much. Romandy is a French speaking part of Switzerland, and I do have both French and Swiss ancestry (again, far back on my tree), so perhaps there's some legitimacy to this. Karelia is an eastern part of Finland I have zero connection to (again, it's unlikely it's from my Norwegian ancestry, and I have no known ancestry in Eastern Europe). Cornwall is the southwestern most part of England, which I have no known ancestry from, but could still be a legitimate part of my British DNA. Svaneti is a historical area of Georgia, which may just be noise or could be coming from my Italian ancestry.

Overall, I feel like my top most results from this company are accurate but it's missing significant locations and the smallest percentages are likely just noise. An interesting assessment, especially the more specific break down that you don't always get from other companies, but as with any ethnicity report, don't take it too literally. Worth the money? Probably not, maybe if it was cheaper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Breaking Down Brick Walls with DNA

I'm going to detail one example of how DNA helped me break down a brick wall in my tree. This may be a somewhat unique case that might not always apply to every situation, but it's still worth detailing so people can get an understanding of how to work with your DNA matches in general.

Hope's baptism confirming her parent's names, but not her
mother's maiden name.
My 4th great grandmother was Hope Gibbs, b. November 3, 1805 in Philadelphia. I knew from her baptism record that her parents names were Caleb and Isabella (maiden name unknown), but I didn't know anything else about them. My grandmother had left notes with the names and some details of Hope's sisters, and indeed, research of some of them not only confirmed those details but also listed Caleb and Isabella as their parents, but still no details on those parents. I even found some DNA matches who were descended from those sisters, but none of those matches knew more about their parents.

I then found a marriage record of a Caleb Gibbs and Isabella Brannin in 1799, in Mt Holly, Burlington, NJ ( wrongly transcribed the location as Philadelphia), but given the difference of location, how could I know it was the right couple I was looking for? Further research on the couple married in 1799 revealed they were Quakers, and Isabella was the daughter of Barzillai Brannin/Branin, and the granddaughter of Michael Brannin/Branin, but I still was unsure about the connection to Hope Gibbs. Were these really her parents?

It took me a while to think of this for some reason, but I eventually decided to look for the surname Brannin in my DNA matches (well, my mom's DNA matches, since she is one generation closer to the ancestors in question). Theoretically, I figured if my Isabella was a Brannin, I (or my mom) would have DNA matches with people descended from her father or grandfather, I just hoped Brannin wasn't so common of a name that I got unrelated hits for it among my matches. It would be much more difficult if the name was something like Smith, and indeed, I had previously tried to search my DNA matches for the Gibbs surname, hoping to find people who descended from a father or grandfather of Caleb, but Gibbs was too common of a name and I was getting results for DNA matches with obviously unrelated Gibbs ancestors due to their location or time period (my DNA relation to these matches obviously lies elsewhere and the Gibbs surname is just a coincidence).

But the results and conclusions of the Brannin surname search were almost instantaneous - I quickly found 10 DNA matches descended from either Barzillai or Michael Brannin (two shown above), which would only be likely if I was descended from or at least related to them genetically. Not all recurring ancestors among your DNA matches will be your ancestors, some may be related to you in other ways, but combined with the existing question of whether my Isabella was Barzillai's daughter, the DNA matches conclude that the two Isabella's were indeed the same. Worth noting is the fact that two of the ten matches shared a segment with my mom of over 14 cM, which has over a 99% chance of being identical by descent, so these are not false positive matches. Also worth noting is the fact that some of the ten matches I found I had to uncover myself because their trees didn't go back far enough, but with a little digging, I expanded on their tree and trace their Brannin line back to Barzillai or Michael. Sometimes, you have to do a little of the legwork yourself.

Quakers are good record keepers, so confirming Isabella's identity was a huge breakthrough for me, and I then spend the next few days building this new branch of my tree, going back several more generations on both her paternal and maternal sides, something I couldn't have been sure of if I hadn't found the DNA connection. Of course, this also confirmed Caleb's identity as the man who married her, but unfortunately the Quaker records didn't go back as far for his ancestry. It at least confirmed his parents as Samuel Gibbs and Mercy (maiden name unknown).

By the way, if you're wondering about the notes showing simultaneously with both DNA matches in the screenshot above, that is with the use of Chrome extension MedBetterDNA. It allows you to always display notes so you can refer to them quicker and easier. It also has a lot of other useful tools, like the the hashtag option, which you'll see I'm also making use of - it lets you search your matches by hashtags in the notes field, so you can more quickly find the matches you're looking for. You may also notice the emoji icons I'm using - the green check mark and the black heart. There's no hidden meaning to the black heart, I'm just using it as a quick visual reference for that particular branch of my tree. Every one of my 2nd great grandparents gets a unique icon for their branch and I was running out of heart colors - that may seem excessive with 16 second great grandparents but it's working for me. The green check mark denotes matches with whom I've identified our most recent common ancestor. As a visual person (I am a photographer, after all), I just find the icons help my brain sort my matches. For non-windows users, you can also make use of flag emojis (the flags don't work on Windows for some reason) to identify matches with a MRCA from a known country.

I hope this helps illustrate how you can use your DNA matches to confirm questionable branches like this. Keep in mind that the further back the ancestors you're looking for are on your tree, the less likely you'll be able to reliably use or find identical by descent DNA matches descended from those ancestors. In this case, we were looking at my mom's 5th or 6th great grandparents, meaning she'd be around 6th or 7th cousins with those DNA matches, which is still within the realms of identical by descent.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Genealogy Photos and Copyrights

Unknown women, possibly sisters.
The backs of these are stamped with photog's info,
J. Bronson of Philadelphia, who died 1914
This is a topic I've touched on before and something which has been very well covered by The Legal Genealogist too, but since it still persists in coming up in the genealogy field as greatly misunderstood, I feel the need to go over it thoroughly as well, as both an amateur genealogist and professional photographer. The following only applies to US law, though other countries may have similar laws.

Many people seem to be under the impression that because they inherited a photograph, particularly one of their ancestor, it means they own all rights to the image, and get upset when someone else, usually another descendant or relative of that ancestor, "steals" it and adds it to their own tree, or shares it in some other way, especially without "permission" or at least "giving credit" to them. Sure, it might be a little rude, but before you get outraged and indignant, first be sure that you really understand copyright ownership.

Most family photos are unpublished works, which means (unless otherwise agreed upon, which isn't typical) the copyright is retained by the photographer for the duration of their life plus 70 years after their death. How can a copyright be retained by someone deceased? Just like any property, their heirs inherit it. So unless you or your ancestor took the photograph, you do not own the copyright, and if the photo is still in copyright, you may actually be the one committing copyright infringement by publishing it online without the photographer's or their heir's permission. It isn't exactly fair to get angry at someone for "stealing" a photo you had no right/permission to publish online to begin with.

If the copyright has expired (so it's been 70+ years since the photographer's death), then no one owns it and no one is legally doing anything wrong by copying a photo you shared. Sure, it might be a little rude to do so without a thank you, but when you make an expired copyright image publicly available, you have to assume it's going to get copied, because people are going to assume you put it out there to share it, not just show it off. And as for "giving credit" - I can certainly see the value in identifying the source of who originally scanned and shared the photo, so that any questions about it can be redirected back to you, however, that is called citing a source, not giving credit. (While on the topic of giving credit, it is also worth noting that when an image is still in copyright, giving credit even to the rightful copyright holder does not absolve you from copyright infringement, only plagiarism. Copyright is the right to publish, distribute, alter, etc so if you do not own the copyright and did not get permission to do so, you do not have the right to publish it, even if you "give credit". A lot of photographers today will let it slide as long as you do give credit, because it's free advertising, but that's their prerogative, they still have the right to send you a cease and desist letter if they want to, so it's always better to get permission first.)

Maybe your ancestor did take the photograph. Maybe your ancestor was a professional photographer, or it's just a candid snapshot taken among family with a personal camera - they were available from 1900 onward, so it's very possible. Generally, professional shots are easily distinguishable from family snapshots, at least in history (today, there are lots of amateur hobbyists as good as professionals). Don't be fooled into thinking unprofessional photos aren't copyrighted, they are. The trouble with them is knowing who took it. If you can determine the photographer as your ancestor (pro or not), and that ancestor died less than 70 years ago, then congratulations, you probably do hold the copyright for that photograph. Only catch is, probably so do all the other descendants of that same ancestor, and if one of them was the person who copied the photo you shared, then technically, they are well within their rights to do so.

In conclusion, the only situation where you have any ground to stand on when accusing someone of "stealing" photos you shared of your ancestors is if your ancestor took the photograph, died less than 70 years ago, and the person copying the photo is not also a descendant of that photographer (pro or not) ancestor. I understand even if it's not a copyright violation, it still bothers people when someone doesn't say a simple "thank you", but all I can say to that is if it really bothers you that much, don't put photos online, or make your tree private (note: private trees are not available at FamilySearch or Wikitree). But if you do put them publicly online, and you're not the copyright holder, then you really have no one else to blame but yourself.

The photographs I've included above as examples were stamped on the back (shown right). J. Bronson turns out to be James (aka Jay) Bronson who was born May 23, 1862 and died April 13, 1914. Since this was well over 70 years ago, it means his photographs are assuredly in the public domain, which means I'm not only free to publish them without permission, I also really have no room to complain if someone wants to copy them. I would hope that anyone who does though could cite my blog as the source so anyone with questions about them, or seeking higher quality versions for printing, or anyone who knows who these women are can get in touch with me.

On another note, I have been unable to find Bronson at this particular address of 46 Main Street, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although there are many other listings of him on Main Street (aka Germantown Ave), none at number 46. That makes it difficult to narrow down the dates of the photos, but I believe they were taken at the same time, and that the similarity of their dresses suggests they may have been sisters. I'll go into more detail on this in another post.

The Legal Genealogist goes into more details about copyright laws in different situations, but I focused on the most common situation for most genealogists with photos of their ancestors, as it's the most applicable.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Dating Old Photographs: Example #4

A cabinet card of an unknown woman. I have a lot of unknowns in my family's collection, and I think many of them were actually friends or distant relatives of my ancestors that my family simply held onto even though they weren't labelled. Given the location and time period of most of them, I think they were probably friends or relatives of my Rorer or Fallows ancestors in the Philadelphia area.

Estimated date: 1892-1893

The first thing I looked for was the photographer. It may not look like anything more than a decorative flourish at first, but that swirly thing in the middle of the bottom margin is the photographer's monogram and if you look closely it's the initials A.P.K.T. City directories tell me this was Albion K.P. Trask and that his photography studio was found at 1210 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia from 1879 to 1893. This narrows it down to almost a decade.

The curly/frizzy bangs (or fringe, if you're British) were popular throughout the 1880s and into the early 1890s as well, so her hairstyle is very consistent with the photographer's studio years.

The dark color of the cabinet card is also telling. These were used from about 1883 to 1895, although they were more expensive, so lighter cards were still dominant at the time. This helps narrow down my time frame, but can I narrow it down further?

The clothing she's wearing is very interesting. From time to time, I see this kind of beaded embroidery on the chest, especially on shiny, satin material like this. It seems to have been popular in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Given the lack of puffed shoulders or sleeves, I would normally think it's more likely to be late 1880s, but I can't completely rule out early 1890s. Just because a certain trend was fashionable during an era doesn't mean it was the only thing people wore.

Even more telling is the back of this cabinet card. The artwork covers nearly the entire back of it, which according to Phototree puts it in the range of 1888-1900. But most notably is the beveled edges. You might be able to see them in the image above, decorated in gold. Phototree tells us that beveled edges were used 1892-1900. We already know this particular photo is not later than 1893, due to the photographer's address, so the beveled edges narrows it down to 1892-1893.

The other elements, though they may not have narrowed it down this far, are still worth noting and knowing for other photographs, and understanding more about the subject. The extra expense of the dark card and the elaborate artwork on the back of the card suggests this photographer was on the pricier end of the scale, and that tells us something about the woman in the photograph too, she obviously wasn't exactly poor. This also helps me narrow down which branch of my tree she came from (even if she was only a friend of that branch).

On another note, the photographer Albion K.P. Trask was born about 1831, and died November 11, 1900, which was well over 70 years ago, meaning that the copyrights of all of his photographs are expired and now in the public domain. This leaves me (and anyone else) free to share and publish his photographs without permission.