31 May 2007

A lost opportunity at Library and Archives Canada

They've done it again. There's an interesting new exhibit at the LAC web site, featured on the front page.

The text gets immediately into the detail of navigating the album, no context. Would it have been so difficult to make a starting page modified from the Introduction? It's a shame such material isn't allowed to shine. Why would one not show one of the photos, like that below, rather than a tiny image of the album's front cover?

As the Introduction notes "Their dedication to their work, their country and, most importantly, to their patients, serves to measure their contribution to the Canadian war effort." This is a story worth telling, worth reading and viewing, and worth more thought given to the presentation.

30 May 2007

Top 5 signs you’re genealogy obsessed

You check Dick Eastman’s blog before reading emails from the family.

You’re familiar with most of the 5,120,000 genealogy web sites found by Google.

When you hear the phrase “an inconvenient truth” you think of a relative's dubious paternity.

You spend more on genetic genealogy than electricity.

Your doctor has diagnosed "citation fixation", losing sleep wondering if you cited the source correctly.

Randy Seaver, who certainly recognizes the genealogy obsessed when he sees them, has a much more extensive list worth browsing at The Geneaholic. Maybe I should add "operates three (or more) genealogy blogs" as a sixth sign.

29 May 2007

If you can't get in to my presentations ...

By some misfortune two other speakers share the same two time slots as me on both Saturday and Sunday at the Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar; and they're both well worth hearing.

Sharon Murphy is well known to OGS Seminar audiences as well as being a Past Chair of the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I recall her giving a hilarious presentation several years ago in Ottawa. This time her topics are: "Learn the Secret and not so Secret Rules about BMD Records in Ontario and How to Use Them" on Saturday, and "Things that will make your Genealogy Road Trip Successful" on Sunday.

Less well known across the Province, but very well respected locally, is Hugh Reekie. Just last weekend one especially enthusiastic person thanked him at the end of a talk and called him a genius. Perhaps that was a bit overboard, but I always learn something from Hugh and have no hesitation in recommending his talks: "The Development of the Lower Ottawa River 1790-1910" on Saturday, and "City & Trade Directories on the Internet" on Sunday. Explore Hugh's interests further from the BIFHSGO member links page.

28 May 2007

Keeping up to date on genetic genealogy

On Saturday I'll be giving a talk about my experiences with DNA testing to OGS Seminar. To start getting an appreciation of the topic I recommend the book Trace Your Roots with DNA by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner. I'm not aware whether a new version is coming, but you can find copies remaindered at abebooks.com selling at between $6 and $7US plus shipping. It's a deal.

To stay abreast of developments I scan the discussions on the Genealogy-DNA Rootsweb mailing list. You might also look at some of the links from the Wikipedia article on Genetic Genealogy.

"The Genetic Genealogist" is a fairly new blog written by Blaine Bettinger. He describes himself as having been using traditional genealogical research to learn more about his ancestry for almost 20 years, and he also has a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a concentration in genetics. The blog is aimed above the beginner level. I found it quite comprehensible, although a recent article had a Flesch reading index of 33, "teetering on the edge of unclear." This post is only slightly better! I find "The Genetic Genealogist" helpful so it's added to my links list.

25 May 2007

Get new posting notifications by email

If you're a regular visitor here ... thank you.

In the right hand column, below the photo, I've added a box for email subscription. It's simple, fill in your email address, retype a string of characters, receive a confirming email with a clickable link as another form of verification.

One email will arrive any day, more or less, something new is posted with a link for you to click to go to that item. No items posted means no email that day. There's an unsubscribe link with every message, useful if your interests change or you don't need to fill up your inbox while on vacation. The company claims no spam emails will result from the subscription. I can't guarantee it, but reports are good. You trade off the convenience of email notification for the slight risk of spam.

24 May 2007

New Ancestry Military Records

My inbox was inundated this morning with messages about the latest addition to the ancestry.com service, US military records. As they have free access to these records until the anniverary of D-Day, June 6, it's worth taking advantage to look for family strays. Here's the announcement:

Ancestry.com is announcing it has launched the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span more than four centuries of American history from the 1600s through Vietnam.

This U.S. Military Collection includes exclusive record sets such as the only complete collection of WWI draft registration cards and commemorative military yearbooks and newspapers. Combined, the records bring to life the stories and sacrifices of the millions of brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.Inside the U.S. Military Collection

Ancestry.com’s U.S. Military Collection captures all major wars and conflicts from American history, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as the Spanish-American War and the War of 1812.

The eclectic volume of records features more than 700 databases and titles and 37 million images of original and often personally autographed documents including:

  • World War I and World War II draft registration cards
  • Prisoner of war records from the War of 1812, Civil War, World War II, and Korea
  • Muster rolls (unit rosters) for the Marine Corps 1893-1958 and WWII U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Muster rolls, 1939-1949
  • U.S. Military burial registers 1768-1921
  • Service Records from Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War
  • Civil War Pension Index
  • Casualty listings from WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam
  • WWI and WWII Stars and Stripes Newspapers
  • Young American Patriots Military Yearbooks (post WWII)

Rare historical media such as the United Newsreel Motion Pictures (1942 – 1945) are another highlight of the collection, making Ancestry.com the only online source for all 267 counter-propaganda films shown in U.S. theaters and abroad during WWII. Produced by the Office of War Information and financed by the U. S. government, the United Newsreels consisted of several short stories concerning allied military operations and were reportedly released in sixteen languages. Newsreels were also dropped behind enemy lines in a German language version and distributed in friendly and neutral countries.

Beginning now through June 6th (D-Day), Ancestry.com will make its entire U.S. Military Collection free to the public. For more information on Ancestry.com’s U.S. Military Collection, visit www.ancestry.com/military.

In order to see the new titles added to Ancestry for this military release, go to www.ancestry.com/military and view titles by war/conflict.

23 May 2007

OGS Seminar presentation pick

War service records, where they survive, are a bonanza for the genealogist. They document, usually in much more detail than you will find for any other period, a key phase in the person's life. They name a next of kin providing a link to a parent or spouse.

"For King, Empire and Home: Documenting Service in the First World War" will be presented by Glenn Wright at the OGS Seminar in Ottawa, June 1-3. He stresses that Canadian Expeditionary Force attestation papers, available online here, are just one of a number of records in the service files which also contain medical and pay records. About a third of all men who served in the CEF were born in Britain so these are important records documenting Anglo-Celtic connections.

He also deals with records for naval and air forces service, and for those who served in other allied forces, the Imperial War Service Gratuity. There's a complementary document, "Documenting Military Service in Canada and Abroad 1885 - 1918: A Short Guide to Sources" on the BIFHSGO web site.

22 May 2007

The surviving 1851 Irish census

There is only a fragment of the pre-1901 Irish censuses that survived the depredations of man and fire. Now the Irish Research Group of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society have placed online a transcript of the surviving parts of the 1851 Irish census and supporting documentation, all accessible from here.

The records are mainly for part of County Antrim, located in the extreme north-east of the island, include part or all of 14 civil parishes from various parts of the county (almost 29,000 records).

Added are a 1853 occupant summary of the 1851 census of County Cork, which is located in the south-west part of the island, includes nearly 4,000 records from four adjacent parishes: Kilcrumper, Kilworth, Leitrim and Macroney.

21 May 2007

A primer on copyright for genealogists ...

For genealogists, and everyone else. The details are US specific, but this pointed YouTube item is instructive as well as creative.

20 May 2007

Anglo-Celtic Roots wins

Anglo-Celtic Roots (ACR) was awarded first prize in the National Genealogical Society newsletter competition at the Society's annual conference just ended.

This is the second time in three years the BIFHSGO publication has been so honoured, following several years of honourable mentions. Congratulations to all volunteers in the ACR editorial and production teams, and especially Irene Ip who was editor for the issues that were appraised.

Read some classic articles from Anglo-Celtic Roots here.

19 May 2007

Campbell River, BC, genealogy seminar

Campbell River, BC, is a little outside the range of my normal interest, but I noticed an announcement for a Seminar next Saturday, May 26 to be given by Lady Mary Teviot. President of the Federation of Family History Societies (UK), she was theme speaker at the BIFHSGO annual conference some years ago. I'm wondering if a certain BIFHSGO member, now resident of the area, who I recently saw on a return visit, is responsible for the choice of speaker.

The seminar is sponsored by the Campbell River Genealogy Society, details are here. Topics of her presentations are:


It should certainly be well worth the detour if you're in the area.

18 May 2007

OGS Seminar presentation choices

Looking over the program for the OGS Seminar in Ottawa, June 1-3, there are many presentations I'd like to hear. I have several other commitments so may not get to them all.

One is "Using Unorthodox Ways and Websites to Break Down Brick Walls" by Bob Dawes. He is addressing computer technology in the modern genealogist’s kit beyond the Internet: a genealogy program, a web browser, an email program and an office suite. All are available commercially at a wide range of prices or for free. He will also discuss some favourite web sites you may not think of in the context of genealogy.

Another presentation I'd like to hear is "Full Text on the Web: What the Digitization Revolution Means to Genealogists" by Marian Press. With an estimated 900,000 works published in English prior to 1923 (the current cut off date for U.S. copyright) there is a massive effort underway to digitize these. Marian will review the projects digitizing works of interest to family historians.

I'll mention other picks in days to come.

17 May 2007

Googling for Genealogy

1. If you want to search Google without getting back a whole bunch of ads with the results try: www.google.com/search?output=googleabout

2. Google has a new Experimental Search facility. It has several components and I was attracted by timeline and map views, which "extracts key dates and locations from select search results so you can view the information in a different dimension." They claim these "work best for searches related to people, companies, events and places." You can try it from your main Google search page by appending view:timeline or view:map to your search terms. I've done a very few searches, too early to give an evaluation but I've found nothing very exciting yet.

16 May 2007

Cite your genealogy sources, eat your broccoli

The first President Bush endeared himself to millions when he said "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." He's now well past his 80th birthday and his broccoli-phobia doesn't seem to have hurt him.

I feel rather the same way about citing the sources of my genealogical information. Yes, I know that citation will help me and others find information again, and avoid a lot of needless searching when conflicting information comes to light. Unfortunately it's plain dull, there's a substantial overhead to assembling a source citation, and experts with claws ready to pounce when its not done according to Hoyle.

The new site BibMe might help a bit for books, websites, magazine, newspaper and journal articles. You get a choice of MLA, APA and Chicago formatting depending on the taste of the editor. For many books you can go online, enter the title, and it will find the rest and fill in the blanks. Often a blank form is presented which at least does away with the burden of formatting.

Wouldn't it be nice to find a similar handy web utility to help with at least the most common genealogical citations, for civil registration and census sources? Even better would be the online database providing a citation you could cut and paste into your document or transfer to your genealogy database.

To learn how to cite sources correctly come to the OGS Seminar in Ottawa, June 1-3. Alison Hare will speak on "Citations for Canadians" on Saturday afternoon in a presentation sponsored by the Ontario Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists. I know several people who have it marked in their schedule as not-to-be-missed.

15 May 2007

Genealogy Tip: Exonumia

Last Saturday's speaker at the BIFHSGO monthly meeting, Pat Wohler, dealt with unusual sources for family history. A very short list of links from his talk is here. He mentioned a word new to me, exonumia.

Wikipedia has an article which defines it as the study of coin-like objects such as token coins and medals, and other items used in place of legal currency or for commemoration. These are the kind of items many of us have around the house, they don't take up much room and tend to accumulate in jewelry and old cigar boxes. Perhaps you have lapel pins from organizations with which you were or are associated.

When the day comes for you to clear out the house of a deceased relative what will you do with the exonumia you find? A colleague in BIFHSGO recently found a mint condition Canada Northwest medal tucked away in the back of a closet while doing such a clear out. It's worth at least several hundred dollars, likely more as it was for one of the men who was killed.

More likely the items you'll find aren't so valuable, but if the person is part of your family history their exonumia may provide a lead to an unlikely source, perhaps a fraternal society, to illuminate a corner of the person's life. Exonumia.com was recommended by Pat as a starting point in exploring these items. You might also look for a medal and similar collectibles show, or call the reference desk at your local library.

14 May 2007

City of London burials 1788-1855

FindMyPast.com, has introduced a new database containing 292,000 entries, each a full transcription of the burial record for major cemeteries in and around the City of London. Those with more than 10,000 burials, are: Bunhill Fields (47,622 records), Golden Lane (17,856), Spa Fields Burial Ground (60,636), St Andrew, Holborn (24,972), St Clement Dane (13,201), St James, Clerkenwell (22,607), St Mary, Whitechapel (19,779). There's a complete list of the cemeteries, including in an informative introduction here (click search tips).

This is a commercial database available by subscription or on a pay per view basis. For those coming to the Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar in Ottawa at the beginning of June, it's one of the databases we expect to have available on free trial in the computer room.

13 May 2007

FamilySearch Centres?

Dick Eastman has posted an announcement with the title "Godfrey Memorial Library and FamilySearch Centers Announce Partnership." The term "FamilySearch Center" is a new one to me, but the announcement makes it clear we're looking at a rebranding of the Family History Center, another strong signal of the direction the LDS Church is taking in its genealogy mission.

"We are excited to include Godfrey Memorial Library to our list of premium databases or services offered throughout FamilySearch centers worldwide. They provide some premier resources that will certainly be of great value to FamilySearch center patrons," said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch. "In return Godfrey Memorial Library will significantly broaden its reach and awareness by being introduced to scores of researchers through 4500 FamilySearch facilities in over 70 countries,"

11 May 2007

Adding "Genealogy Reviews Online" to my links

There's a new genealogy blog around, Genealogy Reviews Online. It seems to be new anyway. I like what I've seen so far. It deserves more than eight confirmed readers so I've added it to my links, over on the right. They are all worthwhile stops.

The recent item that took me there, also blogged by several others, is about what appears to be rather heavy-handed legal action on the part of Ancestry.com. I won't repeat the details, that's why there are links.

It seems a bit rich when Ancestry has no qualms about appropriating other people's information, notably postings to Rootsweb World Connect, and then selling the work to Ancestry subscribers without permission. As I understand it, facts cannot be the subject of copyright, but appropriating the assembly of those facts, as in a gedcom, seems rather dubious practice. It's a shame, as Ancestry have so much going for them. Companies often list goodwill as an asset, I now have rather less of that toward the company.

10 May 2007

Only in Ottawa, Eh!

Next Saturday, May 12, will be a great day, and not just for what happened quite a few years ago. It's also the next BIFHSGO monthly meeting. Come to the auditorium of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to hear Pat Wohler, CG (C) speak on "Some Offbeat Untapped Genealogy Sources" at 10 am. Pat happens to have an article "French Canadian Research: Bienvenue à Québec!" in the June 2007 issue of Family Chronicle magazine.

Want more? Come early, at 9 am, to hear Lesley Anderson, BIFHSGO's Director (Education) present on the use of directories and gazetteers. As usual the morning admittance is free to all.

In case you don't know them, the picture is of Pat, taken by new Society photographer Ken Wood. We don't have a picture of Lesley; Google "Vanna White" instead.

09 May 2007

Genealogy Tip: Map your surnames

Folks are often at a loss for leads when they find a record of their immigrant ancestor and all it says is they were from England, Scotland, Ireland, or occasionally Wales. If the name isn't too common you can start localizing the possible origin with a surname distribution map. At the left, from the Surname Profiler facility at the spatial-literacy web site, is the distributions for the surname Northwood, for the year 1998. I wrote a bit about the Northwood search last summer in a posting Update your searches.

The name has become more widespread in a century, but still has two areas of concentration. You can confirm this my doing the search and displaying a map for 1881. Focussing the search on Bedfordshire and the West Midlands are indicated. My lot are from Staffordshire and can be traced back many generations in the village of Pattingham.

I frequently use surname distribution as a way to interest beginners in family history. Many folks have a name they know little about. In a beginner group you can usually find some who have a suspicion about the region the family came from, and are delighted to see that confirmed with a surname distribution map.

08 May 2007

Is digitization killing genealogy tourism?

The bonanza in digitized genealogical records online, especially those transcribed and/or indexed and linked to original images, has revolutionized family history. But archives and record offices worry that making these records available online cuts into their revenue and harms the local economy as genealogists no longer visit to find the information they seek.

Others argue that it shifts the focus of tourist visits away from the confines of such offices. Being able to complete the basic research at home means the family historian becomes more, not less motivated to visit, but opts for a richer tourist experience in local museums, walks the roads and byways, visits the homesteads, churches and graveyards of their ancestors.

There has been a discussion on this in the electronic journal First Monday. In volume 12, number 1 (January 2007), Emily Heinlen published "Genealogy and the economic drain on Ireland: Unintended consequences." She points out that while the increase in popularity of digitized genealogical documents has been an economic boost for online companies that specialize in genealogy, it has had the unintended consequence on Ireland of decreasing the incoming revenue of the genealogy tourism industry. The basic data table referred to is reproduced below.

Table 1: Genealogy tourism visitors — 1999-2004.
Source: Bord Fáilte (Irish Tourist Board).
Overseas Visitors (000’s)199920002001200220032004
M Europe221120
North America. USA617449203726
Australia/New Zealand1114184310

In a letter to the editor in the March issue Fiona Fitzsimons and Cathy McCartney of Eneclann, a company linked to Trinity College, Dublin, involved with digitization projects, comment on the article's "limited and selective use of statistics on Irish visitor numbers." They point out that total visitor numbers increased by 1,262,000, or over 18%, from 1999 to 2005. That's despite worldwide tourist reductions that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 and the SARS outbreak. While comparable figures for 1999 are not available, a very healthy 39% of visitors in 2005 engaged in cultural and historical activities.

07 May 2007

Should you take a free DNA genealogy test?

A free DNA test is being offered by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) at this year's Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar in Ottawa. You can also participate at any time by sending for a sampling kit; the only cost is mailing the sample back. SMGF collect the DNA sample using a mouthwash swill technique, require you to submit your four generation pedigree including birth dates and locations, and sign a consent form. You get nothing directly back in return, but eventually part of your DNA data, and genealogy data more than 100 years old, will appear in their public databases for you to find. Their practice is to not release your name, although the sample is identified by surname.

It sounds good, and they deliver as you can see from the data presented on their web site. The Y-Chromosome database includes more than 17,645 men with more than 7 markers; the mitrochrondrial database has 19,543 sequences.

According to the site's FAQ "Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is a non-profit foundation that is creating the world's leading collection of DNA results and corresponding genealogies. We are making the collection available on-line to the public to help in finding new family connections and extending one's genealogy. SMGF is not affiliated with any other commercial organizations, religious institutions, or other DNA testing projects."

The Foundation is State of Utah Business Entity number 4898157-0140, registered on 12 March 2001 as a non-profit corporation currently in good standing, officially described as in the business of information services. An expired registration for a company by the same name, at the same address, listed it as a religious organization.

SMGF is shown under the umbrella of the Sorenson Companies, along with Relative Genetics, a commercial DNA testing company. People who provide a sample to SMGF are eligible to receive a coupon for a test with Relative Genetics at a discount rate. Lab testing for both SMGF and Relative Genetics is conducted by another Sorenson Company, Sorenson Genomics. In my view these relationships call into question the FAQ statement that "SMGF is not affiliated with any other commercial organizations, religious institutions, or other DNA testing projects."

Folks wanting to take advantage of the test should be aware of the following:

The requirement to provide a four generation pedigree, including the donor providing the DNA sample, leaves one open to release of personal information which could be highly sensitive. The tests undertaken include not only those for the Y-chromosome and mitrochrondrial DNA but also autosomal DNA. Analysis of autosomal DNA can reveal the values for the CODIS markers used for forensic and criminal investigation purposes, and also information related to health vulnerabilities that could potentially impact on the ability of the donor, or relatives, to obtain medical insurance coverage.

According to the SMGF Privacy Policy:
"we make all reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of contributors"
"we will never share your genetic information with any outside companies. Your name will never be listed in our on-line pedigree charts. We will never list the names and genealogical information of any of your ancestors born after 1906 in our on-line pedigree charts."

Nevertheless, we are all aware that mistakes happen. Computers with personal data are occasionally lost or stolen and network security breached. The consent form you MUST sign in agreeing to participate in the SMGF project includes amongst the warnings under the heading "Risks, Inconvenience, and Discomfort":

"It is possible that the confidentiality of your records could be compromised. There are risks associated with a loss of confidentiality of your genealogical information and genetic testing results. Information about genetic test results may affect your employment, insurance, or family relationships. The sponsor cannot be certain that your genetic test results could never be linked to you."

In the State of Utah there is a process to convert from a non-profit to profit motivated corporation. Without any requirement to consult the donor, the information supplied could be used for private profit if such conversion was made. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that SMGF should run into financial difficulty, assets could be sold and it is unclear whether that might lead to the undertakings of confidentiality being compromised.

While there is no indication that SMGF and its sponsors have intentions that are anything other than honourable, potential donors would be wise to weight the risks and benefits in advance -- before having to do so while at the company booth at the OGS conference.

04 May 2007

Canada's Federal Genealogy Strategy

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and their Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) are good reasons for a genealogist to live in Ottawa. From a national perspective they have simply the best collection of genealogical and related resources. The knowledgeable and usually helpful staff can be reached by telephone at 1-866-578-7777 (toll free in Canada and the US). There are good research and meeting facilities. Their web site has a selection of free online resources serving wherever the web reaches, still, nothing like the range conveniently available on-site.

CGC have a lot to offer. I'm a booster, but don't hesitate to express what I hope is constructive criticism. For example, look at the main page of the web site and you'll see statements of mission, vision and policy. That's content that only a policy wonk could love. It's not what a typical user comes to the site to learn. I'm told a new front page presentation is coming soon.

What are the organization's plans for development? There is a Genealogy Strategy in the works. In the meantime the official word is in the LAC Report on Plans and Priorities 2007-2008. It's full of bureaucratize and non-specific commitments.

Whatever the Strategy eventually says, the fact is that when it comes to what most genealogists would like, more digitized content online, especially major records like the census, city directories and newspapers, LAC and the Department of Canadian Heritage mostly choose not to fund it. That's despite genealogy being the largest user group. CGC/LAC struggles to find external funding sources for digitization projects that usually have other agendas.

03 May 2007

DNA Podcast

The Naked Scientist, a popular BBC radio science show, had two interviews in its most recent edition on DNA studies of interest to genealogists.

The first was about a DNA sampling study from Oxford University, concentrating on people with all four grandparents from the same locality in the UK. It appears that the thrust is the analysis of autosomal DNA, although the example used was from a Y-chromosome study. There is a project web site here.

The second interview was with a PhD candidate from Leicester University who spoke of her Y-DNA study, and particularly finding a man whose ancestors were from Yorkshire, but whose DNA showed a rare African origin.

The interviews are available as a podcast, starting about a third of the way through the program, from here.

02 May 2007

Genealogy Tip: Recheck for digitized books

New digitizations of out of copyright books are appearing all the time. It's worth periodically checking the main digitization sites for people, events and locations in your family history.

Back last August I blogged about Google Books, and how they had digitized, and then extended copyright protection to a book published in the 1880s, only allowing a snippet view. The book was about my old home town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England. Not showing the full text of a book published that far back was a mistake, an example of being overzealous or simply careless in copyright protection.

Apparently Microsoft agree with me as I found the complete text of The silvery hosts of the North Sea : with a sketch of "quaint old Yarmouth" appearing in the texts section of the Internet Archive with MSN credited as the digitizing sponsor. Against possible copyright status is printed NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT. It's also on Microsoft's Live Search Books. Live Search adds a capability to search inside the book, not just the title as with the Internet Archive.

01 May 2007

Trend-setting genealogy

Family Tree DNA, the largest commercial DNA testing company for genealogy, shows annual growth in the number of records over 60%. Ever more people are getting tested as they search for genetic cousins and explore their deep roots.

FTDNA is also seeing growth in the number of distinct surnames in their database, up about 30% in 12 months. As of 1 May there are 62581 unique surnames in the database. If you test through one of their 4010 surname projects you benefit from a discount rate for tests and enhance your chances of finding genetic cousins.

The graph shows the trends in number of haplogroups found for different numbers of markers tested. Haplogroups are the genetic equivalent of surnames, defined by a string of digits representing the number of short tandem repeats at specific locations on the Y-chromosome. As of 1 May FTDNA has found 23,449 distinct 12-marker haplogroups. That's not very many if you consider that theoretically only three possibilities for the number of repeats at each of 12-marker would mean 531,441 12- marker haplogroups. This implies many people share the same 12-marker haplogroup; 360 people tested share mine which is included in the R1b1c group.

People with many 12-marker genetic cousins need more markers tested to reduce the number of matches. There are now more 25- than 12-marker haplogroups. 37-marker haplogroups are increasing more rapidly and slowly converging on the number of 25-marker haplogroups.