Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why, Oh Y?

When you're Ashkenazi Jewish, yDNA tests are often not as useful as they are for Western Europeans--or even Sephardic Jews.  yDNA is passed father to son, so it tracks with surnames; therefore a Williams or a McDonald male takes a yDNA test would expect many matches with surnames of Williams or McDonald.  But most Ashkenazic Jews haven't had surnames for longer than 200 years (some even less), so generally a yDNA test on an Ashkenazic male yields a match list of multiple completely unrelated surnames.

I've tested males in several of my surname lines, and no one had any matches with their own or similar surnames (other than known relatives).  But then a few months back, another Diamond popped up on my father's yDNA kit.
The first match is Uncle Leibish's grandson (my father's second cousin).  The second is this new match

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reclaim the Records, Ukraine Edition

I've written before about my friend Brooke Schreier Ganz and her incredible work with Reclaim the Records, in which she uses Freedom of Information laws to get US vital records into the hands of genealogists.  Well, Brooke has a distant cousin in Ukraine who is trying to do the same thing there!

Alex Krakovsky is working to digitize records from Ukraine's archives to be freely accessible to researchers across the world.  However, some archivists are not allowing him to do this work--despite the fact that Ukrainian law clearly states that photography of records is permitted free of charge.

So, like his cousin Brooke, he is going to court!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

When Family Stories Are Proven Correct--Backed by DNA

I mentioned several months back that my father's first cousins Berly and Alvin mentioned that Simon Mitchneck, a famous Hollywood voice coach back in the day, was somehow related to us.  I'd researched the four Mitchneck brothers who came to America and discovered that they were from Torchin, in what is now Ukraine.  I found letters from their sister enclosed in Simon's passport applications that spoke about the family's desperate situation in the aftermath of World War I.
Simon Mitchneck's SS5

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cousin Jack's British Military Service

Jack Landor, my grandfather's first cousin, left an incredible paper trail across the world.

He was kidnapped from what was then Poland as a child, lived in then-Palestine (under the British mandate), Turkey, and Italy, was caught as a stowaway on a ship and applied for citizenship of multiple countries, survived a shipwreck, and was deported from the United States before becoming an illegal immigrant by deserting his ship.  And he served in the US Navy near the end of World War II.

In addition to all of that, he was in the British Navy at the beginning of World War II--and I now have some of those records.
Cover of Jack Landor's British Seaman's Identity Card

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Incredible DNA Sales!

There are some incredible deals for DNA testing that are ongoing and upcoming.  If you've been thinking of testing, now is the time.  So here are the details and timing:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Winter Talks in CA, VA, AZ & UT

As of now, I'm scheduled to give four talks this winter across the country.  All are DNA/endogamy-related, and they'll be in California, Virginia, Arizona & Utah.  Details are as follows:
i4GG Promotional Poster

Sunday, November 19, 2017

When You Don't Match A Cousin

I've written many times about how I always share way more DNA with known relatives than would be expected for given relationships, which isn't a surprise since endogamy is at play.  So when I asked my newly-discovered cousin Anne (who found me via my blog) to take a DNA test, I expected that we should share quite a bit of DNA.  After all, my grandfather was her half second cousin.

Well, Anne's results came in.  We do not appear on one another's match lists on FamilyTreeDNA.  I did a one-to-one comparison on GedMatch, which did show a small shared segment:
My DNA Comparison with Anne