Wednesday, 12 December 2018

LAC's Aurora Shines

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has launched Aurora, a new interface to access LAC’s published holdings. It replaces AMICUS, technologically outdated after 20 years service.

Use Aurora to explore LAC’s collection of newspapers, magazines, Canadian official publications, theses, monographs, maps, music, and more. Searching this web interface is free in Canada and internationally. Registered LAC users will be able to order materials online for consultation at 395 Wellington.

Confused with Voilà, Canada’s National Union Catalogue. Voilà is made up of bibliographic descriptions and location information for published materials held at libraries across Canada, including LAC. Use Voilà to search the combined catalogues of these Canadian libraries. Voilà covers all subject areas and formats, including printed books, computer files, sound recordings, videos, maps, microforms, newspapers, and works in large print and Braille.

From the LAC home page mouse over "Search the Collection" and select "Library Search" from the drop down. Choosing either Aurora or Voilà brings up a simple clean search box with option for an Advanced Search. Results can be filtered by criteria in a panel on the left hand side.

A search for genealogy found 142,388 results in Voilà and 25,589 results in Aurora.

In a brief trial I found the system to be very responsive, much better than AMICUS.


Archives of Ontario data sets online

The Archives of Ontario announces data sets available to view and download through the Government of Ontario Data Catalogue: https://www.ontario.ca/search/data-catalogue.

Of most interest for genealogy are:


This data set is an index to the four volumes of assisted immigration registers created by the Toronto Emigrant Office between 1865 and 1883. The registers are a chronological listing of those new immigrants who were assisted by the government to travel to different destinations across southern Ontario. Over 29,000 entries have been transcribed from the registers.


This data set is an index to the 5,184 case files that document claims made to the Second Heir and Devisee Commission.

Chris Paton reports on the PRONI Stakeholders Forum Meeting

What's new and forthcoming at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland is reported by Chris Paton from a meeting last Friday. He mentions the Prisons Memory Archive project, Londonderry Papers, Augher Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy Society, Steeple Community Association, Cairnshill Residents Association, Northern Irish Council for Ethnic Minorities, Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters, church records digitisation project, and Absentee Voters Lists among others.

See his blog post at http://britishgenes.blogspot.com/2018/12/latest-news-from-pronis-stakeholder.html


Financial Health of Canadian Genealogical Societies - Update

Below is an update to the post on 4 October  to cover the remaining three societies without 2017 information available at that time.

In total of those examined there were seven societies with annual surpluses. Five had annual deficits.

The mean annual membership fee was $54.09, the median $50, the maximum $75 and minimum $39.

Alberta Genealogical Society
For the reporting period ending 2017-12-31. Total assets of $624,963 ($612,912, $595,845, $558,845, $606,312, $540,282), and liabilities of  $225,753 ($229,017, $251,116, $213,134, $257,883, $200,592). The total revenue was $291,747, ($264,331, $294,466, $208,033, $229,344, $254,380). Expenditures totaled $276,432, ($225,165, $295,448, $210,752, $250,276, $218,231). The individual annual membership fee remains at $50 for digital journal subscription, $60 for paper.

New Brunswick Genealogical Society 
For the reporting period ending 2017-12-31. Total assets of $182,646 ($186,437, $ 180,604, $177,857, $182,016, $194,048) and liabilities of $14,159 ($16,428, $14,045, $13,844, $13,224, $21,542). Total revenue was $38,412 ($35,424, $ 40,102  $37,517, $33,846, $37,121). Expenditures totaled $41,331 ($33,639, $46,629, $43,588 $39,396, $36,974). The individual annual membership fee is $40.

Saskatchewan Genealogical Society
For the reporting period ending 2017-12-31. Total assets of $159,582 ($141,278, $114,170, $86,875, $106,334, $46,921). Liabilities totaled $123,268 ($123,279, $135,921, $127,116, $125,662, $65,054). Total revenue was $235,969 ($280,227, $237,391, $239,577, $256,667, $261,767). Expenditures were $217,654 ($244,704, $252,436, $260,490, $268,140, $262,316), Basic annual membership is increased to $70.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Ontario Genealogical Society Early Bird Prize Winners

Congratulations to these OGS members:

OGS $50 gift card - Richard K.
OGS Fee Rebate - Tanya J., Susan S. and Laura G.
OGS MyHeritage Library Edition - Anastatia G. and Christina F.
Ancestry DNA Kit - Sharon M. and Mike N.
MyHeritage DNA Kit - Veralyn H.
FTM CD Software - Linda M. and Patricia F.
Ancestry Subscription - Gerald C. and Nancy M.
FMP Subscription - Grant M. and Doug M.
MyHeritage Subscription - Pat B.

OGS will be in touch with the winners via email.

No, I don't see my name there either 😢

Recovering the memory of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home children

This week's post on John Grenham's blog Catherine Corless starts:

A few days ago I heard a full half-hour radio interview with Catherine Corless, the local historian responsible for tracking down the 796 death certificates of young children in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home between 1925 and 1961.  It was riveting.
He ends by voicing the issue of the desirability of giving each child a proper burial against the possibly invasion of privacy of now elderly mothers as well as the cost.

The article and comments, the first from Maurice Gleeson, make worthwhile reading.

Advance Notice: Kingston UELAC Meeting

Kingston & District Branch, United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada will meet on Saturday, January 26, 2019, 1:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, 137 Queen Street at Montreal Street.

Speaker Leigh Smith will present “Pack Up Your House and Sail!” - the story of the Loyalists from Castine, Maine, who founded Saint Andrews, New Brunswick.

All visitors always welcome.

See http://www.uelac.org/Kingston-Branch/ for further details.

National Library of Scotland (NLS) Digitizes and Makes First Edition of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ Available Online (Free)

A news release from the National Library of Scotland.

An online copy of the first edition of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ is published today by the National Library of Scotland.

It was exactly 250 years ago that the first pages of ‘Britannica’ were published in Edinburgh.

With a distinctly Scottish viewpoint, the first edition emphasised two themes — modern science and Scottish identity.

Explicit engravings relating to midwifery scandalised subscribers, and were torn out of every copy on the orders of the Crown. Fortunately the Library has a complete copy in its collections, which is available free to view online thanks to a fundraising campaign for its digitisation.

‘Britannica’ was conceived by printer Colin Macfarquhar, engraver Andrew Bell, and William Smellie, who edited the first edition. Originally issued in 100 weekly parts, it took three years to produce and consisted of three volumes when it was completed in 1771.

Subsequent editions expanded during the 19th century, often featuring content written by experts in their field. By the 20th century ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ was a household name throughout the English-speaking world.

The spelling is of the time including the long s that looks like an f.

Record Societies in England

The most recent edition of Malcolm Noble's Talk Genealogy Podcast, Episode #33 is on Record Societies in England.

Most counties or regions in England have record societies, some dating back over 100 years, that have published books of local historical interest. There are transcriptions of old documents, court rolls, churchwardens accounts, wills and inventories, diaries and more. He singles out the Suffolk Record Society as one of the leading examples.

A good starting point to find what societies exist, and thence to their publications catalogue, is online courtesy of the Royal Historical Society at https://royalhistsoc.org/publications/national-regional-history/. They're not just for England.


Monday, 10 December 2018

Overlooked Canadian Memory Institutions

Last Wednesday afternoon I attended a session entitled “Memory Institutions in the Digital Age” at Library and Archives Canada jointly sponsored by LAC, The Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA). It built on two reports, an RSC Expert Panel Report entitled The Future Now, published in late 2015 and the complementary assessment Leading in the Digital World, published by the CCA in early 2016.

The speakers reviewed progress, opportunities and outstanding challenges for libraries, archives, museums and other memory institutions in the digital age. Librarian and Archivist of Canada Guy Berthiaume's transcript is here.  Unfortunately having started late the session ran long and there was no time for questions. Had there been I'd have commented on the lack of recognition of science data archives.

Look through the reports and mention of science is scant, most often "library science", "archival science" or "federal science libraries". The numerous organizations that archive scientific data are apparently beyond the pale as memory institutions. C. P. Snow's Two Solitudes are still firmly in place.

Are science data archives valued? They could be. Disposal of government records from government custody is permitted only with the permission of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Section 12 (1) of the Library and Archives Canada Act that provides:

No government or ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents.
However,  does the Librarian and Archivist know whether the procedure is being followed? Are departments practicing "shoot, shovel and shut-up?" There are no penalties specified in the Act if permission is not sought. Unlike in the UK in Canada there is no inventory of places where such federal data records are housed. The holdings of data-rich science-based departments and agencies are too valuable a national asset for them not to be deliberated along with humanities holdings.

Canada's Meteorological Service is an example of an agency that holds important records. It has a huge amount of data on historic weather since 1840. Weather is part of our heritage - ice storms and tornadoes - and weather data is fundamental to understanding climate change. While it would seem that those records are well managed, find them online at http://climate.weather.gc.ca/index_e.html, is that the case for the many other federal science-based departments and agencies with legacy data holdings? Who knows?

Under the UK Public Records Act approved Places of Deposit are designated committed to looking after certain data “in perpetuity” and making it available for future research. There's a list of those places here.

If in Canada there is no inventory of such data archives how can we have any confidence they are being appropriately preserved and managed? Bringing them into the community presently dominated by the humanities would be a step forward, maybe the humanities would benefit too.






Heritage Ottawa Presentation: Tempting Values for Early Shoppers: The Birth of Ottawa's Department Stores

The department store was the product of an increasingly leisured middle class, a new consumer economy, and architectural innovations like plate glass windows, electric lights and passenger elevators. In comparison to the great metropolitan centres, Ottawa’s fondly remembered versions of these emporia of wonders were smaller in scale, but equally ambitious and great objects of civic pride.

To warm your holiday gift buying experience, visit stores like A.E. Rea and Co., R.J. Devlin Co., Bryson Graham Ltd., Murphy-Gamble Co., Charles Ogilvy Ltd., and A.J. Freiman’s.

Speaker: Robert Smythe is a contributor to the recently published book, From Walk-Up to High-Rise: Ottawa’s Historic Apartment Buildings and is the author of the architectural history blog Urbsite.

This seasonal event will be held at the special venue of Dominion-Chalmers United Church.

We invite you to join us for refreshments. The book will be available for purchase at the lecture.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 19:00 to 21:00

The lecture is free and there is no need to pre-register.


Sunday, 9 December 2018

Genealogy Drop-in

Drop in anywhere from 2-4 to work on your family tree, share research strategies, & discover what resources are available for your research. Specialists from OPL & the Ontario Genealogical Society will be there to answer questions & help you get the most from library resources.  Bring your laptop, or tablet too! 
All Welcome.
Local History & Genealogy Reference Department Second Floor
 Nepean Centrepointe
 Tuesday 11 December, 2018 at 2:00pm

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

MyHeritage LIVE 2018 presentations free online
Recordings of all 24 classes from the MyHeritage event in Oslo are now available online for free. Delivered by MyHeritage staff and internationally renowned genealogists, the sessions covered genealogy, DNA, and the intersection between the two.

London Boroughs in 1964 (map)

Remains of Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Lincolnshire
No mention in the article of DNA testing!

Retail decline, in maps: England and Wales lose 43m square metres of shop space
“Bricks to clicks” means more consumers are shopping online rather than in store meaning less tax revenue for local authorities.

Help the poor: Stop donating canned goods to food banks.
Last Saturday I walked past a parked bus and into the grocery store to be met by the offer of a paper bag for food donations. I ignored it. Such donations are a problem as they require sorting and may not be the items most in demand. Cash goes much further. Hand over $20, and the food bank will be able to buy $100 worth of most needed food, they’ll save on administrative costs and at income tax time you'll get back up to $6.

Nova Scotia Information and Privacy Commissioner - Naughty List
With gift suggestions.

And finally ...

Saturday, 8 December 2018

New from Findmypast

Cheshire is the focus of records added this week.

Cheshire Diocese of Chester Parish Baptisms 1538-1911
Over 35,000 new records covering the Widnes and Warrington areas have been added to the collection. These new additions cover the following parishes:
• Culcheth, New Church -1599 to 1928
• Hargrave, St Peter - 1883 to 1928
• Kelsall, St Philip - 1868 to 1928
• Warrington, All Saints - 1887 to 1896
• Warrington, St Barnabas - 1902 to 1923
• Warrington, St Paul - 1907 to 1920
• Widnes, St Mary - 1818 to 1917
• Widnes, St Paul - 1884 to 1928

Each record contains an image and a transcript of the original Church of England parish registers. The information listed will vary, but most records will list a combination of baptism date, birth date,place of birth, parish, parent's names and father's occupation.

Cheshire Diocese of Chester Parish Marriages 1538-1910
Over 14,000 new records covering 7 parishes have been added to the collection. These new additions cover:
• Culcheth, New Church – 1607 to 1928
• Hargrave, St Peter – 1841 to 1928
• Kelsall, St Philip – 1869 to 1928
• Warrington, St Barnabas – 1905 to 1928
• Warrington, St Paul – 1907 to 1928
• Widnes, St Mary – 1859 to 1907
• Widnes, St Paul – 1895 to 1925 Search these records

Each record contains an image and a transcript of the original Church of England parish registers. The information listed will vary, but most records will reveal the date of the marriage, the location of the marriage, the names of both the bride and groom, their occupations, father's name, father's occupation and witnesses.

Cheshire Diocese of Chester Parish Burials 1538-1911
Over 13,000 new records have been added to the collection covering:
• Culcheth, New Church - 1607 to 1928
• Kelsall, St Philip - 1868 to 1928
• Widnes, St Mary - 1858 to 1910

Each record contains an image and a transcript of the original Church of England parish registers. The information listed will vary, but most records will list a combination of age at death, death date, date of burial, place of burial, marital status and relative's names.

Also

British Army, Honourable Artillery Company

The collection includes 12 different sources:

• 1848-1914 Admission Registers
• 1908-1922 Membership Books, Honourable Artillery Company
• 1910-1915 Officers
• 1914-1919 1st Battalion Register
• 1914-1919 Record Cards
• 1914-1919 Regimental Number Registers
• 1914-1919 Papers & Photos
• 1915-1919 Membership Lists
• 1916-1919 2nd Battalion Rolls and Papers
• 1917-1918 Depot Register
• 1939-1945 Prisoners of War
• 1939-1945 Record Cards

Every record will include a digitised image of the original source and a transcript. The amount of information listed will vary depending on date and nature of the document.

Library and Archives Canada News

At an event at Library and Archives Canada on Wednesday afternoon it was revealed that the project to image the First World War service files cost about $20 million. A total of 622,290 files were processed, so about $32 per file. That's about a dollar a page, perhaps a bit less. Digitizing original paper records isn't cheap, especially the large format pages like pay sheets that have to be straightened and imaged individually.

The total was spread over four or five years, $4-5 per year. Will that level of commitment be continued? The statement was made the LAC's future will be increasingly online and that data mining will be supported. So far I'm told that the digitization priority is indigenous peoples records which will cater to a small yet important minority in Canada. Will there be anything for the rest of us to look forward to, in addition to the much overdue 1926 census and free access to the sixty million pages originating at LAC of canadiana.ca starting 1 January 2019?

On the margins of the meeting I was told by a usually reliable source that FamilySearch has made progress in machine reading handwriting and to expect product to become available sometime next year.


Friday, 7 December 2018

TheGenealogist adds Newgate Prison Records

The following is a company news release.

TheGenealogist is adding to its Court and Criminal Records collection with the release of almost 150,000 entries for prisoners locked up in Newgate prison along with any alias they were known by as well as the names of their victims. Sourced from the HO 26 Newgate Prison Registers held by The National Archives, these documents were created over the years 1791 to 1849.

The Newgate Prison Registers give family history researchers details of ancestors who were imprisoned in the fearsome building that once stood next to the Old Bailey in the City of London. The records reveal the names of prisoners, offences the prisoner had been convicted for, the date of their trial and where they were tried. The records also give the name of the victims and any alias that the criminals may have used before.

Use the Newgate Prison Registers records to:
Find ancestors guilty of crimes ranging from theft, highway robbery, libel and murder
Discover the victims of crime
Uncover some of the aliases used by criminal ancestors
See descriptions of offenders with details of their height, eye colour and complexion
Research records covering the period 1791 - 1849


Human Mortality Explorer

An interactive heatmap by Jonas Schöley shows mortality rates by age. Select data for various countries using the dropdown menu. You can also compare male and female populations and countries.

Mortality rates decrease steadily, especially in the younger ages. Spikes or abrupt color changes might indicate war or disease.

Comparing the UK and Canada it was interesting to note that mortality was lower in the UK when I was born and is now lower in Canada at my age. Good move!

While the content id informative labelling on the axes is horribly small and the domain does not adjust to the range of years available leaving a large blank area for nations without early data.

via Flowing Data

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Steve Fulton director at large of FGS

A news release from the Ontario Genealogical Society announces that Steve Fulton, UE, the President of the Society, has been elected to a three year term as a director at large of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

AncestryDNA Update

Irish eyes are smiling. There's more detail in new AncestryDNA regions: now 16,000 reference samples defining 380 possible regions. 92 of the regions are in Ireland — 22 in Connacht and 36 in Munster. That's according to a Facebook post by ‎Mike Mulligan who used to be with AncestryDNA.

He gives the following explanation of how the process works.
 if you can imagine every DNA test at Ancestry as a star in the night sky. Now imagine the distances between stars is based on shared DNA (the more DNA shared, the closer the stars). Now 'zoom out' to see all the 'stars' in the sky and you will notice there are actually constellations or clusters of stars. With some clever science & genealogy, Ancestry is able to determine these clusters are associated with different parts of the world. These form the AncestryDNA sub-regions. The final part, about how whether the region shows up in your test is basically how close your star is to the cluster.
A friend wrote that while she is still 78% Irish/Scottish the genetic community is now Leinster matching her research.

There's no sub-division for my 34% Ireland and Scotland which comes with an error bar than goes as low as 2%! My Ireland and Scotland was 30% previously.

DNA from 10,000 year old chewing gums

Development of the ability to extract and analyse DNA from ancient materials continues to amaze. The preprint Ancient DNA from chewing gums connects material culture and genetics of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in Scandinavia is another example. Note the article is not yet peer reviewed.

Human DNA was recovered from birch bark pitch mastics, chewing gums, from a site in western Sweden. Genome-wide data was from mastics representing three individuals, two females and one male. All were mitochondrial haplogroup U5a2d and two had a possible second degree relationship.

While chewing gum may lose its flavour on the bedpost over night it can conserve DNA for 10,000 years!

BIFHSGO December Meeting

BIFHSGO's semi-annual Great Moments in Genealogy sessions draw a crowd. This month should be no exception with these main event presentations starting at 10 am

Quakers in the Attic - Jamey Burr
A McKinlay in New Zealand  - Ken McKinlay
And her name was . . .  - Roberta (Bobby) Kay
Where were YOUR ancestors on December 2, 1854? - Duncan Monkhouse

Read more about the presentations and speakers here.

Instead of the normal 9 am educational session there will be the kick-off of a year of celebrations as BIFHSGO enters it's 25th year. Socialize with light refreshments and browse materials from Global Genealogy -- timely for Christmas gift-giving for the genealogist you're having a hard time thinking of something they might like (and maybe who won't give hints).

Saturday 8 December, 2018

The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario



Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Quebec Family History Society December Meeting and helpful resources

On Saturday, 8 December Kelley O’Rourke will speak on Protestant Genealogical Records in Quebec.  Protestant church records in Quebec begin in the 1760’s and come forward to quite recent times.

Kelley O’Rourke, QFHS Corporate & Recording Secretary, was a member of the St. Columban Irish, who was part of a team of volunteers who worked tirelessly to restore an Irish cemetery – containing many broken headstones - dating back to 1826.

The meeting is at 10:30 am at Briarwood Presbyterian Church Hall, 70 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield.

QFHS President Gary Schroder tells me that their new Heritage Center at historic "Simon Fraser House" located at 153 Sainte Anne Street, Ste-Anne-de- Bellevue, Quebec is now fully operational. There was an open house for members two weeks ago and the official opening with dignitaries will be next spring which may coincide with the unveiling of a major new Montreal database Society volunteers are working on.

From the QFHS website I learned that the Heritage Centre is located within Pointe Claire which is also the location of  the National Field of Honour Cemetery containing the remains of about 22,000 ex-service men and women who served in the Canadian or Allied Forces.  Search from https://www.champdhonneurnational.ca/chn/veteranslocation/.

Not new, but helpful, is a 160 page list of settlements, hamlets, villages, towns, cities, etc. in Quebec that may have disappeared, changed names or have been amalgamated. Compiled by Jacques Gagné, one of the senior genealogists at QFHS, it is in PDF format and can be searched using Find from the Edit menu or with the short cut Ctrl + F.



Why those mystery DNA matches?

Many people have taken an AncestryDNA test to find out about their ethnic ancestry. It's easy to do and understand — and for some the results are surprising.

A couple of clicks away AncestryDNA gives a list of DNA cousins from those who also tested with the company. Unless you know a close relative was tested your best matches, like mine, will likely be 4th - 6th cousins. I have several, one at 53 cM with Confidence: Extremely High but no genealogical information and no response to emails. Six are in the same cousin range with Confidence: Very High but only two of those have information further back than parents and most have none.

That lack of supporting genealogical information shouldn't be surprising as now many more people have taken an AncestryDNA test than have explored their family history in any depth. Spitting in a tube is easier than doing the research in records even if those records are online.


Why are the DNA matches a mystery? Here's a scenario to explore in more detail.

Suppose you know all your 1st cousins their descendants and direct line ancestors. What you haven't done is research down from the 2nd and higher order great-grandparents — all you know in our traditional patrilineal naming system is their surnames which you can search for among your DNA matches. Because the number of people for any relationship down the direct line ancestors varies according to family size I explored three hypothetical scenarios in which all families had either two, three or four children who lived to have the same number of children.

Since you don't know the surname of a 2nd cousin unless the descent from the 2nd great grandparent is a direct male line, you can only recognize some of names of DNA matches, the percentage is in the table.

IC1C1R1C2R2C2C1R2C2R3C3C1R3C2R4C5C
Two Family1006363139865432
Three Family1007077139664332
Four Family1007585138564332

Even at the 2nd cousin level, where DNA is fairly reliable in identifying the relationship, you'll only recognize 13 per cent of the surnames. That decreases to 6 per cent for 3rd cousins and 2 per cent for 5th cousins.

The lesson should be to manage your expectations. A person in the Two Family enjoys 1024 5th cousins so there's a one in 51 chance a match will have the common ancestor's name. It's many times longer odds for larger family sizes.

That may not be something AncestryDNA wants to shout about but the fact is that recognizing matches involves a lot of painstaking research in records.

And is it worth it? How much satisfaction do you get from identifying fifth cousins —  unless maybe they're rich and famous!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

How many grandchildren?

It's not too difficult to find statistics on a woman's family size. The average number of children varies between cultures and has been decreasing with development. Table 1 in the article Family size as a social leveller for children in the second demographic transition shows that for women born around 1960 the median family size in Ireland was 2.26 and 1.98 in both England & Wales and the USA. The chart shows the percent of women having zero to four+ children in those jurisdictions.

With a few assumptions the number of grandchildren can be estimated. As the median number of children is about two, if we assumed that applied exactly at all generations the number of grandchildren would be four.

While the median may be two what is the impact of the distribution? Assuming there are no more than four children the extremes are zero, a woman who has no children can have no grandchildren, and 16 — four children having four children each.
The distribution of grandchildren for the Ireland, USA and England & Wales child distributions was calculated using a Monte Carlo simulation computed for over one million grandchild trials. As expected, with the exception of the women who have none, the peak of the distribution is four grandchildren although the distribution for Ireland has almost as many for six. Three and four plus child families in Ireland results in more grandchildren — ten grandchild families are twice as frequent in Ireland as in England & Wales or the USA.

The dips found at three and five grandchildren recur when the simulation is repeated.

It's unfortunate the published statistics do not break out the four+ category so the influence of infrequent large numbers of children in a family can be more clearly identified.


OGS December Webinar: Tina Beaird

Thursday, 6 December, 2018 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Presentation: Scotland’s Resources: There is more to Scottish research than ScotlandsPeople!

There are dozens of sites available to help you in your Scottish research once you are ready to move beyond Scotlandspeople. Sites like GENUKI, ScotlandsPlaces, SCAN and the National Library of Scotland are just a few of the free websites available to you from ‘across the pond.’

Presenter: Tina Beaird
Webinar descriptions and links to register are on the OGS website.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Published collection temporarily unavailable in December - Library and Archives Canada

How would you feel if you'd planned a trip to LAC to consult a publication only to receive this at the last minute — or after you arrived? Posted on the day it came into effect. No advance notice!

Published collection temporarily unavailable in December - Library and Archives Canada

New GGI posts on YouTube

Since last Monday Maurice Gleeson has posted additional talks from the Genetic Genealogy Ireland session last October in Dublin.
Raising the Dead by Martin McDowell, about using the Lazarus tool on Gedmatch to paint ancestor's chromosomes, has received the most views. It's an advanced feature only useful for those who have test results for many identified relatives.


Next most popular is WATO - the latest tool for your atDNA by Andrew Millard. WATO is an abbreviation of What are the Odds and is designed to help refine when an unknown DNA match might lie in your family tree.


That presentation nicely complements Katherine Borges presentation Introducing DNA Painter mentioned in the previous post. It would be a good one to view beforehand if you could do with a gentler introduction.


DNA Cousins are more distant than they appear

When interpreting autosomal DNA statistics, one must be careful to distinguish between the distribution of shared DNA for a given relationship and; the distribution of relationships for given amounts of shared DNA.

Distribution of shared DNA for a known relationship


Data has been collected for the distribution of shared DNA by relationship by the Shared cM Project 3.0. These were crowdsourced by Blaine Bettinger. Most were likely from tests conducted on known relatives, others from a test that found a match which was subsequently identified. The figure is an example of the full distribution for first cousin once removed.

The table below summarizes the centimorgan (cM) results for a wider range of relationships. The more distant the relationship the less shared DNA, and also the fewer the data reported so there is greater sampling error. For relationships more distant than third cousin the Shared cM Project 3.0 obtained insufficient data for a full analysis. Perhaps there was a relationship but the amount shared was too small for it to be recognized. That also shows in the ratio of the average cM to the amount expected which increases for more distant relationships.

Relatives1C1C1R1C2R2C2C1R2C2R3C3C1R4C4C1R
1st percentile4861314747000000
Average (Expected)884 (850)440 (425)232 (213)232 (213)123 (106)75 (52)75 (53)49 (27)36 (13)29 (7)
99th percentile1761851517517317229229175122118

Distribution of relationships for given amounts of shared DNA
Extended families vary in size. In informal polls I've found anything from zero to over 80 first cousins. According to a study cited by ISOGG https://isogg.org/wiki/Cousin_statistics the average British person has an estimated 5 first cousins, 28 second cousins and 175 third cousins.

Even if the expected amount of shared DNA is relatively small more people with a more distant relationship will increase the chance of finding a match — you catch more fish if there are more fish to catch. The weighting depends on the number of people with the relationship, and that depends on whether families had few or many children who themselves went on to have few or many children, and how many survived.

Simple Scenarios
Take the situation of 200 cM of shared DNA where the only relatives with tests are of the same, one or two generations younger. This would be the case for a senior where those in the older generations are deceased while there are no people in the great-grandchildren’s and subsequent generations yet born. Assume every family in the tree consists of the same number of children and there are no half relationships, endogamy or other complicating factors. Everyone survives and has that same number of children.  The table shows the percent probabilities from the Shared cM Project and for families which uniformily have two and three children.

Percent Probability1C1C1R1C2R2C2C1R2C2R3C3C1R
Shared cM Project0234371944>0
Two Family012224319103
Three Family0119183412125

The peak probability shifts from second cousin to second cousin once removed. Probabilities of closer relationships decrease and of more distant relationships increase. The trend is larger for larger family size — unsurprising as, for instance, there are 64 third cousins in the Two Family, 432 in the Three Family.

Conclusions
Simple population scenarios show that the distribution of relationships for given amounts of shared DNA differs from the distribution of shared DNA for a known relationship as found in the Shared cM Project. Taking into account the population distribution moves probabilities to more distant relationships, more so for larger family size.
It’s important to appreciate the limitations of the analysis. The statistics in the Shared cM Project are less reliable where there are fewer data reported, for more distant relationships and in the tails of the distribution. Further, given the variability of individual extended families the scenarios in the study will only be broadly representative for any individual's result.
While it would be interesting to have a similar analysis for lesser amounts of shared DNA the statistics at present are too noisy and do not extend to sufficiently distant relationships to yield reliable results.