Homemade Ancestry Finder

Researching my heritage has been a hobby of mine for the last few years. Ive always been interested in where my "people" came from. In the past you could make a family tree and trace your history with census records,immigration records, and such. If you did enough research you might have a pretty good estimate of what your heritage was.

Of course we all have family history as well, and many of these stories or opinions about our family's heritage have a good bit of truth in them. So if you are from the South and family lore is that you are part Cherokee then it might be true. However proving this type of story takes a lot of hard work,research, and luck. And some of our ancestors will never be found due to the lack of records or records that have been lost or destroyed over time.

Well we are in a new age of genealogy and some of our questions about our heritage are starting to be answered. 23andme has just released a tool called "Ancestry Finder". When you create an account with 23andme they ask you to complete several surveys. A few of these ask were you are from and where your grandparents are from. 23andme is using the data from these surveys to give you an idea where others that share your chromosomes are from. It's all self reported, but when you get enough people reporting this type of information you can develop trends that are pretty sound. This can give you a pretty good idea were your genes have traveled over the years and what nationality you share the most in common with.

I haven't taken a test with 23andme yet but I have taken a similar test at FamilytreeDNA, the new "Family Finder" test. As they say in their promotional blurb:

"The science is simple—linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes are matched between two people. The degree of matching yields evidence for the relationship. You have exciting opportunities!"

So FamilyTreeDNA took my Autosomal DNA and threw it in a database, compared me with people that match me and put us in contact with each other. So far I have 45-50 people that match me on various chromosomes.I haven't broken down any major brick walls in my family tree yet, but I have been communicating with these distant cousins asking for a "Geographic Classification" of their family or how they self identify. I've also been taking notes on what parts of the country they come from in the USA and various other info. Most of these people are DNA nuts like me, so they don't mind sharing this type of information.

I also have my DNA in other databases that compare atDNA like Leon Kull's HIR search : http://hirs.snpology.com/

It does the same thing (find chromosomal matches) but its free.

Now since FamilyTreeDNA's autosomal test is newer than 23andme's they don't have the new features yet like the one I discussed above. FTDNA has a geographic breakdown report that is due out any day now, and it's supposed to be really neat, so hopefully we will get in on the fun soon.

But I'm impatient and decided to make my own homebrewed version of this.I took the self reported origins of 50+ people that carry my (our?) Chromosomes along with my known genealogical research and put this into an EXCEL file. I then created a pie chart just to show off. Its a much smaller data set than used at 23andme, but I see trends already that seem likley.

So now I present my possible ethnic breakdown!


I'm basically Northern European and that's not a big surprise to me. I look Northern European I believe, and my known genealogy has always pointed to England and Ireland.So it seems like a lot of work to prove the obvious, but it is fun to see this in chart form.

Ill update this posting when the official genetic breakdown from FTDNA comes out. It will be interesting to see how it compares.