Thursday, November 21, 2019

WDYTYA Magazine

The latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine is now available free online for Campaspe Library members via our subscription to RB Digital eMagazines.

Inside this month's issue

  • Save family memories
    Give the gift of memories this Christmas with our easy guide to interviewing and recording your relatives
  • Copy rights and wrongs
    How family historians can make sure they're on the right side of intellectual property law
  • Tracing Irish ancestors
    Expert tips on solving the problems of Irish family history research
  • Reader story
    Daniel Smith-Ramos' emotional quest to find his GI grandfather
  • Deck the halls
    How our ancestors started the Christmas decoration craze
  • Plus...
    The best websites for tracing Royal Navy ancestors; the history of the British in India; the lives of grocers, and much more...

Around Britain

  • South Wales
    The top free resources for Welsh family history research

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ancestry Updates DNA Ethnicity Estimates

Recently the people at Ancestry have again updated their ethnicity estimates for those who have done a DNA test with the company.  As more people test the Ancestry, they have a larger database to draw their ethnicity estimates from and can give (hopefully) more accurate numbers.

The current estimate shows me as being 78% England, Wales and Northwestern Europe, 10% Ireland and Scotland, 5% Sweden, 3% Germanic Europe, 2% Norway, 1% Mali and 1% Ghana.  This is a change from my previous estimate, which showed me as being 65% England, Wales and Northwestern Europe, 22% Ireland and Scotland, 8% Germanic Europe, 2% Ghana, 2% Sweden and 1% Norway.

While the numbers are not hugely different, I seem to be becoming more English with every update, while everything else drops.  As my father's family is 100% English for several generations and primarily from the Essex/Suffolk area and my mother's family is at least half English with some Irish and German mixed in, the estimates pretty much confirm what is currently in my tree, although I am a little surprised by how much the German has dropped. 

This current estimate was calculated in August 2019 and has 40,000+ reference samples and 1,000+ possible regions.  So if you have gone a DNA test with Ancestry and haven't looked at your results for a while, it might be worth revisiting to see your latest updates.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

DNA Testing in the News Again

I have posted a few times about the debate occurring, largely in the United States, about the use of Genealogical DNA databases by law enforcement.  Allowing police access, with or without search warrants, to the genealogical DNA databases held by the likes of Ancestry, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch is creating a great deal of uncertainty.  I have been following several posts by The Legal Genealogist Judy Russell about this issue and the legal mess it is creating.  To read Judy's latest post, click here.

The latest issue rises from the disclosure by the New York Times on Tuesday that a Florida judge had issued a search warrant for the GEDmatch DNA database.  Originally GEDmatch had allowed law enforcement open access to upload DNA from crimes.  In April 2018, GEDmatch's privacy statement said it "exists to provide DNA and genealogy tools for comparison and research purposes." The statement said that this, "by its very nature, requires the sharing of information. Because of that, users participating in this site should expect that their information will be shared with other users."  In May 2019, GEDmatch began requiring people who had uploaded their DNA to its site to opt in to allow law enforcement agencies to access their information.  That warrant issued in Florida overrode the privacy settings of GEDmatch users and opened information to police scrutiny even if the users had chosen not to allow police access to the data.

Currently GEDmatch is one of the smaller fish in the Genealogical DNA ocean, with a database of approximately 1 million users.  DNA policy experts have said the development was likely to encourage other agencies to request similar search warrants from the big fish like 23andMe, which has 10 million users, and, which has 15 million.

It is important to remember that not all Genealogical DNA sites are alike. GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA make it possible for anyone to upload his or her DNA information and start looking for relatives. Law enforcement agents began conducting genetic genealogy investigations on these sites not because they were the biggest but because they were the most open.  By contrast, and 23andMe are more closed systems. Rather than upload an existing genetic profile, users generally send saliva to the companies’ labs, and then receive information about their ancestry. For years, fearful of turning off customers, and 23andMe have been adamant that they would resist giving law enforcement access to their databases.

Now that a legal precedent has been set allowing the GEDmatch privacy settings to be overridden, will it be easier for law enforcement to gain access to any of the Genealogical DNA databases?  And given the success of accessing GEDmatch to help solve crime in America, how long will it be before law enforcement in other countries try testing the water to see what they can access to assist in their own crimes?  Suddenly the glow of finding my family's ethnicity and distant cousins using DNA is fading as wider implications become obvious, and no solutions to the issues seem to be in sight.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Criminal Characters

Criminal Characters is a research project investigating the criminal careers and life histories of Australian offenders from the end of the convict period through to the Second World War, specifically from the 1850s through to 1940.

This site offers a number of resources for learning about the history of crime in Australia. You can also get hands-on experience of Australia’s criminal past by transcribing historical crime records, thereby helping to create a permanent and invaluable resource for future generations.

The project aims to bridge gaps between historical knowledge of crime and contemporary criminological research by providing insights into the contexts and patterns of offending across a period that saw significant legal and social developments, including mass migrations, changing technologies, war, economic depressions, the emergence of the narcotics traffic, and the evolution of new forms of punishment. 

If you are interested in the criminal history of Australia, in who committed crimes and why, and you have some time available to assist in transcribing records then this is a project that may interest you.

This project has been supported by a grant from the University of Technology Sydney through its Chancellors Postdoctoral Research Fellowship scheme and is being hosted by the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS.  The images for transcription have kindly been supplied by the Public Records Office Victoria.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Power of Petitioning

In seventeenth-century England, petitioning was ubiquitous. It was one of the only acceptable ways to address the authorities when seeking redress, mercy or advancement. As a result, it was a crucial mode of communication between the ‘rulers’ and the ‘ruled’. People at all levels of society – from noblemen to paupers – used petitions to make their voices heard.

Some were mere begging letters scrawled on scraps of paper; others were carefully crafted radical demands signed by thousands and sent to the highest powers in the land. Whatever form they took, they provide a vital source for illuminating the concerns of supposedly ‘powerless’ people and offer a unique means to map the structures of authority that framed early modern society.

The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth Century England is a small but growing site that plans to transcribe and publish the texts of more than 2,000 seventeenth-century petitions as well as a series of guides and other resources.  The site also has a blog on which they report progress, share links to online resources and share details of the lives of people in the seventeenth century.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Voices of Liberation

Voices of Liberation is a new online sound archive sharing reflections of the Second World War and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) sites of remembrance.

The CWGC is seeking more stories from Second World War veterans as well as people who have a relationship with a former soldier or have visited a CWGC Second World War cemetery or memorial.

Andrew Fetherston, the CWGC’s chief archivist, said: “We believe that by capturing these stories from the public we are creating an archive of international importance and a lasting legacy for those who died for our today.  We want people to share their connections to the war and our cemeteries to ensure that as Commonwealth nations we have not forgotten their sacrifice.”

Voices of Liberation was launched to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, which began on 6 June 1944 and led to the liberation of Europe.  It will continue in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the end of the war next year. 

To take part, simply record yourself talking about your memories using prompt questions from the CWGC and upload the audio, along with a photograph.  To record your contribution to the sound archive, all you need is a smartphone and a quiet space for the recording.  The photograph you contribute could be a photo of you recording for the archive, a photo of a relative who served in the Second World War, or perhaps it could be a photo of a CWGC site or memorial you have visited.