Episode 323 - Blaine Bettinger Talks DNA, New Products and Latest Edition Of Shared Centimorgan Project

podcast episode Apr 12, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open Family Histoire News with word of the passing of a woman in England, Hulda Churchill, who was nearly 109, from coronavirus. She had survived the Spanish flu as a young girl, but her sister died in that pandemic a century ago! But another centenarian has survived. Hear his story. Next, it has been determined who the last surviving victim of the transatlantic slave trade was. Learn her story and when she passed. Then, the story is being shared about how the diary of Anne Frank was heavily edited… by her own father. Learn more about it and what his motivation was. David then gives a shout out to a 13-year-old who has latched on to Extreme Genes!  The guys then chat about museums that are now taking out ancient items and materials for DNA testing, and what they’re learning from it.  Next, bones found under a rock in Ireland have led to a new conclusion about the origin of at least some of the Irish. Hear the story!

Next, Fisher visits with Dr. Blaine Bettinger talking all things DNA, including his thoughts on new tools and his latest edition of his Shared CentiMorgan Project. You’ll also find out whether it’s a good idea to send in DNA samples during the current lockdown.

Finally, David returns for Ask Us Anything, answering your questions.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 323

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 323

Fisher: And welcome to another spine-tingling episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well, we’ve got a loaded show today because we’ve got two lengthy segments with Dr. Blaine Bettinger talking about DNA today. What’s coming down the pipe? What are some of the new tools that are actually getting refined? And he’s going to share some thoughts also about testing now during the COVID-19 pandemic about whether we should send tests in or not, what the rules would be with that, so we’ve got a lot of ground to cover with him coming up in just a little bit. And just a reminder by the way, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, you can do that at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. You get links to past and present shows, a blog each week from me, and all kinds of information you’ll find interesting as a genealogist. Time to go out to Boston right now and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David. How are you?

David: Well, I’m doing good and so is my family and I hope that you and yours Fish are doing well and of course, to all of our listeners out there during this crazy time.

Fisher: Yeah, it is wacky.

David: It truly is. You know, I’ll tell you there’s a story. I hate bringing up bad news in the light of all of us, but the ironic death of a 108-year-old British woman who had survived the 1918 Spanish Flu. Her name is Hilda Churchill and she just died recently in England. So, as she survived the Spanish flu her sister succumbed to the Spanish flu over 100 years ago.

Fisher: So, Hilda dies of COVID-19 in 2020, and her sister passed away in 1918?

David: Yeah, it’s sad, but I’ll tell you, on the upswing, a gentleman in Italy who was 101-years-old recently, Mr. P as he is known to the press, he has survived and he is another one who was alive during the time of the Spanish flu.

Fisher: Yeah, and he survived that one and survived this one, so we’ve got kind of bookends on this whole thing.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: But both of them are kind of historic figures. They kind of represent both pandemics in one lifetime.

David: We talked about the Clotilda, which was the ship that brought slaves to Alabama, in fact, the last slave ship in American history.

Fisher: Yeah, it was in 1860. It was the final one, and it was actually a trip that took place on a bet which was crazy.

David: And they’ve burned the ship on top of this. Well, Matilda McCrear who died in 1940, in her early 80s was a survivor of this event and she was the last survivor from the Clotilda.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Now, not the last enslaved individual in America, but the last one from the last vessel which is an interesting article, and you can find that on ExtremeGenes.com. You know, we’ve all heard about Anne Frank. We’ve all seen her diary. But, did you know that her diary was heavily edited by her father Otto Frank?

Fisher: Yeah, I’ve heard this. It was a long time ago, and I want to say it was edited enough, you might want to say it was even censored by her dad.

David: Censored is a good word, yeah. It talks about her thoughts, about her friends, even the tepid relationship that her parents had. So, I could see in some respects censors of the day without wanting to make it more, I don’t know, kid-friendly?

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: It obviously has been a book that’s been read by countless children since it was published back in the early 1950s.                                                          

Fisher: Well, certainly, she’s one of the most high-profile people who’re involved in the holocaust among the victims.

David: I want to give a shout out to a 13-year-old who’s actually a listener of Extreme Genes. Fish, I talked to you last week about Elijah Starkey. This young man was listening with his mother J.L. Starkey and he said, “This is really interesting!” That’s kind of cool to think that the younger generation is enjoying our banter on Extreme Genes, which made his mother J.L. Starkey very happy.                                                           

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, I just wanted to share that Elijah, if you’re tuning in again, thanks so much and stay tuned. Hey Fish, do you have any old chewing gum hanging around the house or coprolites?

Fisher: No, no I don’t have anything like that.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: Why? What are you thinking?

David: Well you know, that or illuminated manuscripts, these all have DNA, and the museums are now going and taking things out of collections which probably have been gathering dust for years. That of course, is human bones. There are rodent middens where rodents have squirreled away for hundreds of years and thousands of years in rocks or buildings. They can tell things about the ancient eco systems It’s just amazing. And this is another story that’s on ExtremeGenes.com and saving baby teeth, you can get DNA from those too, the strangest things.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, and you’re right. There’s an awful lot of information in this article about things they’ve discovered from testing this old stuff and it kind of really ties together with what we talked about last week with Keepsake DNA and Karra Porter’s putting together. So, it kind of gives me hope that yeah, you know, we’re only talking about stuff in the last 150 years. If they can get material from centuries ago, hopefully, Karra’s effort is going to really help all of us when it comes to DNA and gathering it maybe from our second or third great grandparents.

David: So, this goes out to Elijah and all his friends. When you think about sticking bubble gum at the bottom of your school desks, when you’re back at school, don’t do it because of the DNA in it they’ll be able to see who did it.

Fisher: Yeah, even when you’re 80 years old.

David: [Laughs] Well, I have one more story for you. If you’re of Irish ancestry this may be of interest to you. So, in 2006 Bertie Currie was clearing up land for McCuaig's Bar on Rathlin Island out in Antrim Island and he found a large flat stone buried beneath it were skeletons. These skeletons they would have thought came from the ancient Celts. No, it turns out their DNA is more likely from the Middle East. They’re saying that these people that were in Antrim may have arrived from Ireland from the Southern Mediterranean and brought cattle, cereal, and ceramics with them.

Fisher: So, they weren’t Celts?

David: Correct. And it doesn’t mean everyone, but that does show how many descendants from that group of people 2000 years ago could there be. And so, the original thought of all Irish being of Celtic background may not be true.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Well, listen, at NEHGS we trying to keep all of our quarter of a million constituents happy and busy with their genealogy since everybody has so much free time now. And I just wanted to say that on AmericanAncestors.org/chat on Tuesday through Saturday from 3 to 4 you can join us in an active chat session and chat with one of the genealogical experts at NEHGS, including myself.

Fisher: All right David, thanks so much and we will talk to you again later in the show as we do Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Dr. Blaine Bettinger, talking DNA for two segments, looking forward to that coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 323

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Blaine Bettinger

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and it was great at RootsTech which was like the last event I got to attend before all these things came down with the COVID-19 isolation. It was great to see my friend Blaine Bettinger there. Dr. Blaine Bettinger, of course, is the man behind the Shared Centimorgan Project that has been updated. Of course, he is one of the leading figures in genetic genealogy in the country. Blaine, it’s great to have you back on. It’s a great time to be talking about these things because we’ve got a lot more of it, don’t we?

Dr. Bettinger: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. We have some time now to talk about these things. And I think we’re both the kind of people that love DNA. We love data.

Fisher: Yes.

Dr. Bettinger: We love these kinds of citizen science projects, so I think it’s a fun thing to talk about.

Fisher: Well, and you are so good at explaining so many things to people as they get into it, and this is a time where a lot of folks are going to make a lot of headway because they have the real time to devote to it. I guess we should start with the Shared Centimorgan Project. Explain what the process was as you put that together.

Dr. Bettinger: Yes. So, I started this a number of years ago and my thought was that we had some kind of expected numbers we felt we should see for various relationships. So, for a first cousin, you know, your expected amount would be 12 and a half percent a share or whatever the percentage is that you would expect to share.

Fisher: Sure.

Dr. Bettinger: The problem was that it was all based on what we expected. And sometimes in the world of genealogy what you get isn’t always what you expect. And so, we didn’t have any data for actual relationships and the amount of DNA those relationships shared. So, I thought, well, why don’t I just set up a really simple Google form? I love Google forms. They’re really adaptable. They’re easy to setup.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Dr: Bettinger: It’s a survey essentially. And it was this portal where people could submit and they could say, “Hey, I tested myself and I tested my first cousin. It turns that out that we share 734 centimorgans, so here you go. Here’s that information.”

Fisher: And so, over time then you’re able to take this and figure out what’s the average, what’s the range, and obviously you’re really hoping and really kind of counting on the fact that they’re providing you with accurate data, right?

Dr. Bettinger: That’s correct. And I know that in many cases they aren’t. So, for example, I know that there are data entry errors. There are people that think they’re first cousins and they are really half first cousins.

Fisher: Right.

Dr. Bettinger: But the point is that when you get enough data, things like that start to fall away. When you get masses and masses of people submitting real relationship data, it will push it to the side, into outliers, the errors and inaccuracies that people submit. So, the larger a project like this is, the more accurate the data is and the less those errors are going to be a problem.

Fisher: Sure. That makes perfect sense. And how many people did you use in that first go-round in 2017?

Dr. Bettinger: Boy, the first go-round I think had something less than 5,000 people in it if I recall correctly.

Fisher: That’s a lot! That’s huge!

Dr. Bettinger: Well, yeah, I’m thinking about those numbers now. But at the time that was huge. And genealogists, you know, it’s amazing the extent which they just jumped into the program head first. They loved it. They loved submitting this data and knowing they were creating something that could potentially be useful not only for themselves but for other people. And so, this altruism of people submitting all of these massive amounts of data is really, really pretty incredible. It’s really the community’s tool and I think that’s part of what makes it so powerful and amazing.

Fisher: But it was just great that you were able to think of this and recognize the value it could be. I mean, I have a screenshot of it and I have that right on my desktop at all times because I refer to it constantly because I don’t find there is a more accurate tool out there than your Shared Centimorgan Project.

Dr. Bettinger: No. I mean, it’s all because of the massive amounts of data.

Fisher: Sure.

Dr. Bettinger: You know, that first one started off 5,000, and then by version two, actually that was in 2015, version two was in 2017 and then it was 25,000.

Fisher: Oh wow! [Laughs]

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah.

Fisher: Yeah. No problem with errors after that I would think.

Dr. Bettinger: Well, it was getting much better. Every time I put out a new version, I think there are fewer and fewer outlier problems and the data gets better and better. You know, one thing that I created also in the 2017 version was histograms. So, these nice charts that show the distribution of the values, and what you would start to see is in many of these relationships there were so many submissions, they formed these beautiful bell curves which is what you would expect for a natural process like that. And so, it’s really just beautiful to look at the data and see it kind of doing what you expect it to do.

Fisher: Right. And it’s so practical. That’s the thing about it. I mean, there is a real application for this, for anybody who wants to play with genetic genealogy. And so now you’re doing it again?

Dr. Bettinger: Yes. Yes. So, the fourth version just went live this weekend. It’s available on my website. There’s an interactive version at DNAPainter.com.

Fisher: Right, with Jonny Perle.

Dr. Bettinger: With Jonny Perle. And this version has now 60,000 submissions in total were used for this one.

Fisher: Oh wow. Did you use some of the old stuff as well? So, did you just add to it or did you do it all fresh?

Dr. Bettinger: That’s correct. I just keep adding to it. So, it has 25,000 in the previous version and the new submissions brought it up to 60,000 submissions.

Fisher: Wow.

Dr. Bettinger: And so, everything was all recompiled again so there have been some changes. Some ranges have tightened up. Averages stayed pretty close, but the ranges kind of changed a little bit. Histograms are, you know, more complete. They’re more full because there’s more data there.

Fisher: So, what was the biggest surprise to you when you did this?

Dr. Bettinger: You know what actually, my biggest surprise was how little the averages changed. The averages stayed pretty much where they were for the most part. There were some relationships that changed a bit. But for me, I think I didn’t see anything enormously change in this revision, this new update. To me that makes sense.

Fisher: Right.

Dr. Bettinger: The data is getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger and better, and better, and better so the average is going to stay there. I think we’re going to see the biggest differences out on the shoulders of the bell curve, out in the outlier region, cleaning those up a little bit.

Fisher: That makes perfect sense. Do you think you’ll do it again down the line? I mean, 60,000 that’s like a college football stadium sold out.

Dr. Bettinger: [Laughs] Yeah, right. Exactly.

Fisher: That’s a lot!

Dr. Bettinger: I really would like to do another update with over a 100,000, I think.

Fisher: Okay. And then call it good?

Dr. Bettinger: Potentially. Potentially yes. You know, what I might see is there are some relationships where there aren’t a whole lot of submissions. And that’s in part because of the relationship involved. When you’re talking about the great, great grandparent level for example, there aren’t a whole lot of people that have tested a great, great grandparent and a great, great grandchild. So, those submissions are on the lower side. So, I might do one future update, and then maybe supplement some of the individual relationships as people continue to submit those. But that’s further down the road.

Fisher: Sure. You know, one of the things I think is interesting about this is when you look at these numbers. You know, I’m a number geek first of all, so I really like that [laughs] and I love to study it. And we always talk about how we don’t exactly get 50% from each parent and over the course of many generations we see major differences. So, for instance, we had a match on my brother from one particular ancestor. I’m thinking that this is a half fourth cousin, but it could be a full fourth cousin, just don’t know. And there’s so little difference in that when it comes to the Shared Centimorgan Project that there’s really no way to separate that. But it is interesting to see how that maps out when you can see it in theory and then you see the reality of it based on 60,000 people providing that information.

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. Completely agree. It’s pretty amazing.

Fisher: So, what new tools are coming out? We’ve seen DNAPainter and we’ve even watched the growth of it and the partnerships that you’ve put together say with Jonny Perle. And obviously you’ve just updated this. What new tools are coming down the line that we should look forward to that you think are going to make a huge difference?

Dr. Bettinger: Well, you know, what I’m seeing right now is I think I’m seeing a lot of investment into refinement of some of the existing tools. So, for example, Jonny of course, updating the DNAPainter tool with the Shared Centimorgan Project information. You know, he just recently launched the tree version of the tree option at DNAPainter where you can upload at GEDCOM or build a tree there. There are all kinds of tools for that, color coding and genetic ancestors, and X-DNA pathways, and tree completeness.

Fisher: [Laughs in amazement]

Dr. Bettinger: So, you know, I think what’s going to happen is I think that will start to tie in more and more to the chromosome mapping you do at DNAPainter. And tying tree and DNA of course is something that we’ve always wanted to do in genealogy. I think I see a lot of potential in even just that tool alone.

Fisher: Well, that tool is huge. I don’t think Jonny ever really realized that he was going to make such an impact when he started this, you know?

Dr. Bettinger: I think that’s right. I think that’s right. What’s great about it is that he created something he himself liked to use.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. It was for him.

Blaine: Exactly. Exactly. And you know, I think those make the best tools, right? When you have a problem and you come up with a solution that you like, it makes sense that other people are going to like that solution as well.

Fisher: Sure.

Dr. Bettinger: He’s done an amazing job there. The other types of tools I think that are big right now, and going to continue to be big are the clustering tools.

Fisher: Yes.

Dr. Bettinger: So, you know, the genetic networks, the shared match groupings that allow us to really potentially learn some pretty powerful things about our ancestry.  I always think of these clustering tools as a way to pinpoint important matches in your match list. So, it allows you to say, “Hey, I share DNA with this person, and this person, and look at our trees, we all share a common ancestor Jane and John Doe. So, you know, that kind of thing is really powerful and if these tools can help us do that and sort of more of an automated faction, we’ve been doing it for a while but it’s all been manual.

Fisher: Sure. You’ve got to remember it. You’ve got to recognize it. You go, ‘Oh, there’s a name I’ve seen before. Where did I see it?” Oh, it’s hard.

Dr. Bettinger: Yes. It is hard.

Fisher: You’re right, we can automate that. And we’ve certainly started seeing some displays of this type of tool at RootsTech so we know it’s really not very far away. So, that’s pretty exciting stuff. Hey, it’s Fisher. I’m talking to Dr. Blaine Bettinger. We’re talking DNA, and we’re going to come back in just a few moments and continue this conversation in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.          

Segment 3 Episode 323

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Blaine Bettinger

Fisher: We are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fish here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with my good friend Dr. Blaine Bettinger, talking genetic genealogy today. I got to think Dr. Bettinger, we’ve got to pick up right where we were before because we probably left a few people in the dust, talking about cluster tools and what that means, you know?

Dr. Bettinger: Yes.

Fisher: Because that is a complex thing and only in recent months myself, have I started to really examine what that means. Now, we do see for instance, they’ve got a great clustering tool on My Heritage right now.

Dr. Bettinger: Um hmm.

Fisher: But there were also some booths at RootsTech with new tools that are coming along that may help us do some of our own. So, explain exactly what this is and why this is significant.

Dr. Bettinger: Yes. So, let’s back up a little bit and let’s try to explain perhaps what a cluster is. How are these formed? Well, for the most part clusters are going to be based on shared matching. Now, shared matching is a feature that all the testing companies have, and many of us believe that shared matching is the most powerful tool that the testing companies give us.

Fisher: Absolutely.

Dr. Bettinger: Shared matching is, and this might be basic for some, and for others I think it’s brand new, but the concept is really pretty simple. So, let’s say I’ve tested myself and I’ve tested my second cousin Seth, okay?

Fisher: Yeah.

Dr. Bettinger: So, we’ve tested our DNA, and guess what? We share DNA. Thank goodness, right?

Fisher: Right. You’re supposed to.

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah, we’re supposed to. [Laughs] But then, what shared matching does is that it gives us a key piece of information. I get to see all of the people I share in common with my second cousin. So, I might share Jill, for example. Jill is now sharing DNA with both Seth and I. So, what that means therefore, is that it’s quite likely that Jill and Seth, and I all share a common ancestor at some point in time.

Fisher: Right.

Dr. Bettinger: And because I know what line I share with Seth that suggests what line I share with Jill, the same exact line.

Fisher: Right. Now, there are exceptions though with that in the event we find we don’t share DNA.

Dr. Bettinger: Oh yes.

Fisher: Maybe this Jill happens to share down a different branch and down one of your uncommon branches also, right?

Dr. Bettinger: Yep. And the nice thing about shared matching though is the closer the match is, so the closer Jill is to me and to Seth, the less likely that situation is. The more distant the match is, so if Jill is say, a distant match, there’s been more time for that kind of weaving in from multiple lines.

Fisher: Yeah.

Dr. Bettinger: So, when you’re focusing on your closer shared matches, typically they’re going to be from that same shared line, which is nice.

Fisher: Yes, totally.

Dr. Bettinger: So, let’s say you have Jill as Jill Doe, at testing company XYZ, right, and she doesn’t have a tree, and she doesn’t respond to communications, and she doesn’t have any identifying information.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Dr. Bettinger: But guess what? I already have some information about her. I already know Jill Doe must be related or probably related to the same line as cousin Seth. So, I can put that in the notes field and focus on another match.

Fisher: Right, exactly. So, with clustering then basically, we find these people who are not only related to you but related to each other.

Dr. Bettinger: That’s right. So, a cluster then can be as simple as three people. So, Jill, Seth, and I are technically a cluster. We form a genetic network. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Dr. Bettinger: But often when you go and you look at your second cousin Seth, when you look at that shared match list, there could be 20, 30, 50 people in there and you’re all forming this nice big genetic network. So, you know, we’ve been working with these genetic clusters for quite a while, but as we’ve looked at them more and more people have said, this is all a lot of work. What if we can create a tool that can do some of this for us? And that’s what these clustering tools do. They have access to our results and they’re forming these large genetic networks and they’re putting them into tables, and into visualizations that help us look at the data in sort of just a new way. Sometimes that’s all it takes, right? If you can look at data in a new way, you can look at your match list in a new way. Sometimes it allows you to extract out information that you couldn’t do when it was in its typical format.

Fisher: Well, because you’re also able to see them all in a group, you know there must be a tie there somewhere. So, if some of them do have a tree, you might be able to figure out what the relationship is from this. For instance, just this past week I had a match come in as a, about a second cousin once removed. And I administer several people down the branch that we shared matches on. And one of them was a first cousin once removed that I had just found last year. He was adopted and I helped him find his birth parents, like the same day.

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah.

Fisher: And it’s very obvious from this woman’s tree that her father was adopted. She doesn’t know where he fits in. And because of all this clustering of who all the matches were, and I knew where they all came from, I knew automatically where she fit into the family. Now unfortunately, as you’ve just suggested, she hasn’t responded back yet. I could give her a lot of answers, but maybe she was just on there, testing to get her ethnicity report for all we know.

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah, absolutely. But what’s amazing is that you’re able to learn that about a match with the information that you’ve looked at in the shared matching feature. I mean, the power is just incredible.

Fisher: It is. You know, it’s something we didn’t have even just a few years ago to this degree. It’s absolutely amazing. So, let’s talk about testing a little bit now and pivot. Where does testing stand right now with the coronavirus outbreak? Are companies still doing it? Are they still processing it? Should we send it in or should we not if we have tests at home? What are your thoughts?

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And it is one we’re seeing in a face of a group consistently. So, what we’ve learnt. And we’ve looked into this a little bit, is that the testing companies are not stopping, receiving, and sending out testing, and processing tests. So, people should if they have a test, they should continue to send it in. Now, the one company that’s made an announcement is Family Tree DNA, and what they’ve said is that, if you believe or you are experiencing symptoms, then perhaps you can hold off on sending it in. However, there are already things that can be transmitted through saliva, so these samples have always been treated with the requisite level of care. These are all very professional labs doing this work.

Fisher: Yes.

Dr. Bettinger: They are certified to certain levels. We won’t go into what all the abbreviations are, but they’ve all been certified. And what that means is, you treat these samples with the respect they’re due. And really what that means is you treat each one as if it’s going to infect you with other things, before we even got to the current state we’re in. So, they’re already treated that way. This isn’t something new that’s been put in place. So, I think the main concern is the packaging perhaps might be more of a concern. If you’re actively experiencing symptoms, so perhaps if that’s the case, hold on. You’re probably not too worried about DNA testing at that point in time anyway, but till you recover, or if you’re not experiencing symptoms, the testing companies say, go ahead, send it in.

Fisher: Wow! And I’m sure that there are people listening right now and going, oh, that’s awesome. Because it gives us all something to look forward and when those test results come in and you start going through matches, I mean, there’s just lots and lots of things that you can do with that information and sharing it to other sites and getting it out there. What a great thing to do over the next several months.

Dr. Bettinger: Right. And I think there are lots of people that probably have a test kit lying around that they’ve been meaning to send in. So, the word on the street is, keep sending them in. So that’s good.

Fisher: Keep sending them in. That’s awesome. All right Dr. Bettinger, we’re going to wrap up here in just a few moments. What have you got new that people need to know about?

Dr. Bettinger: You know, my big area that I’m really excited about and this could be a whole other session, is artefact testing. I think we’re going to see a lot of that coming over the next year or two. We’ve already seen a little bit of it, but I’ve sent in a couple of samples myself, to potentially get some DNA out of some older artefacts, in the hope that I might get for example, my great-grandmother’s DNA. 

Fisher: Wow.

Dr. Bettinger: I think there’s a lot of exciting stuff there.

Fisher: Right. And I just talked about that with Karra Porter last week on Keepsake DNA. Unfortunately, their whole grand opening is going to be held up here with everything else.

Dr. Bettinger: Yeah.

Fisher: But that is going to be an astonishing thing if it comes to work out the way it looks like it’s going to be. I know you’re going to be involved it. I’m going to be involved with it and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this goes because I think it’s going to give us all an awful lot to talk about in the coming year.

Dr. Bettinger: I completely agree.

Fisher: He’s Dr. Blaine Bettinger. He is one of the premier genetic genealogists in America. And Blaine, great to talk to you again. Stay safe. We’ll catch up with you soon because we do have to talk about keepsakes.

Dr. Bettinger: That’s right. That’s right. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much.

Fisher: Dave is back for Ask Us Anything, next.

Segment 4 Episode 323

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it is time once again for Ask Us Anything. David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our first question today comes from Ann-Marie, she is in Mottville, Michigan and she says, "Guys, I understand that Quebec did censuses centuries ago. Do you have any idea where I might be able to look at censuses from Quebec from the 17th or 18th centuries?" David?

David: Well, that's a really good question, and the answer is yes! And the price is free!

Fisher: Ooh.

David: And this is actually not from Ancestry or from Family Search or Fold3, this is actually from the library and archives of Canada. And their website, www.Bac-Lac.gc.ca/Eng/Census will get you to where you need to be.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay, now wait a minute. Before you go any further, I just remind everybody especially if they go to ExtremeGenes.com, you will find the transcript there for this entire show, so it will be written out for you with a link, and you can get it that way instead of trying to listen and try to understand every letter David said. Okay David, continue.

David: Yes, please stop writing it on your pants leg with that pen.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Okay, so besides for Quebec, which they have from 1640 to 1880, they have censuses for Ontario from 1719 to 1907, Manitoba 1827 to 1856, and British Columbia 1870 to 1891. They also have places where my ancestor comes from. Nova Scotia from 1767 to 1838, New Brunswick 1773 to 1848, Prince Edward Island 1787 to 1871.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Newfoundland and Labrador 1671 to 1945.

Fisher: You know, those are some really nice year spans there, and that covers a lot of territory and should cover multiple generations in many of these places.

David: Now the thing you have to remember and obviously we do have free time right now, these are browsable, not searchable, so you have to kind of browse through them. There are probably some indexes out on the internet, but generally speaking, this is like with FamilySearch with browsable images. It’s just browse image and frame by frame by frame, but it’s great! And it’s one of the places you can find it online.

Fisher: You know, this is the thing. I think we generally tend to limit ourselves, especially if you're fairly new to family history research, you think, oh, well Ancestry or FamilySearch or MyHeritage and maybe you have some of your favorite places to go to, but at the end of the day, when you get on Google and start looking around at what's out there, and you're going to find so many things that are not available on your go to sites. And it’s really important not to get stuck in that mindset that if it isn't here, here or here, it’s just not going to be found.

David: That really is the truth. And I think with more in the digital age, a lot of people have been depending on looking just at microfilm and realizing that there are so many different sites that are now taking collections and now you can get them digital and use them in the comfort of your own home.

Fisher: Yeah, that's really true. And you know, think about newspapers, right David? I mean, we think of Newspapers.com, Chronicling America, Genealogy Bank, I mean, those are kind of the handful of the biggies when it comes to digitized newspapers. But there are literally hundreds of sites, many of them run by state and local and federal governments for making sure that you have access to all kinds of newspapers and we just have to keep looking. I mean, that's really part of the search is finding out where these things are.

David: Right. It used to be, find the library and the archive that have it. Now, it’s find the website that has it. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, that's exactly right. It’s kind of like wandering through a library, isn't it? All right, David, we're going to take a break. And thanks once again to Ann-Marie for the question. And when we return after the break in three minutes, we're going to talk about a unique question about virtual travels to ancestral home sites. It’s interesting stuff. And we've got a lot to say about it, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 323

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. We're doing Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert. And David, we've got a note here from another David. This one is in Montana, and he said, "With the lockdown right now" he says, "I just found my mother's address of her home when she was a child back in Illinois and well, I'd love to travel to be there. I can't. Any ideas on where I can get a photo of her house?"

David: Well, that's a good question. Well, obviously you can't contact the local historical societies, because well, they're closed too and probably the public library and the board of assessors, but you do have Google. You and I Fish have both used Google street view for travelling around the country when we can't travel around the country. Now that we really can't travel around the country, it even helps out a lot more.

Fisher: Well, and now you mentioned that, I was talking to a second cousin. He was talking about just going out and taking a road trip, just driving around his area, because he wanted to see where some of the family was. So, we started going online together and going to Google street view and found out for instance, the home his birth grandfather had back 100 years ago is now an animal hospital, right there just about five miles from his house! And I looked it up. A couple of things you can do with this by the way, you get the address, where do you get it from? Well, in his case, we got it from World War I draft registration. It gave where he lived, and then we further saw it on the 1920 census. So, you go to Google street view, look at the house and you go, well, is this a place that could have been around back at that time? Because it might be a home that's been rebuilt in its place. But often, Zillow will give you the details of a home and tell you when it was built. So even though it might not be for sale at this time, it can tell you when the house was built and then you would know whether or not this was the place they lived in at that time. So, he's excited, because he's going to get to see where his birth grandfather lived and where his birth mother grew up in her early years.

David: And you know what's kind of nice about Zillow, recently someone has listed it, you can actually see interior pictures of the house.

Fisher: Yes, and I've done this with my father's home that he grew up in as well. And it changes over time, but you know, each time they put it up for sale, you get different angles, different views and different quality pictures as well as time has gone on. So, it’s a really, really valuable tool. And you can map out all the different houses in the area. And we ran across another one where he said, "You know, this one was not there at the time." His house was torn down, the one he had lived in, but that's still the same property, it’s still the same neighborhood and maybe some of the same features there that were there back when they lived there.

David: You know, recently I got my mother's school records and they moved around a little bit during the depression as a lot of families did in urban areas, but in 1941, they moved and they were in Dedham. Well, it gave the address on High Street and I plugged it in and here's this soffit little house built in probably the 1870s that my mother grew up in and was there when December 7th '41 occurred, because they were there through 1943, but what was really more surprising is, they lived right next door to the school my mother attended. So obviously, she wasn't late for school.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This is one of the things I use it for, Fish. I will take it and I will travel up and down the streets and a few blocks either way and see what's around, parks that my family may have gone to, schools or churches. This is a great way of exploring America or the world for that matter while we have to self-quarantine at home.

Fisher: You're absolutely right, David. It’s a lot of fun too, to virtually travel that way. And you'll be surprised some of the things you figure out or you're able to understand that you wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. And in many ways, it’s much more efficient than just driving around and looking at it physically. Great question! Thanks so much for it. And of course, if you ever have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected]. David thanks so much. We'll talk to you next week.

David: Talk to you soon.

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks to Dr. Blaine Bettinger, the DNA Specialist for coming on and sharing his thoughts and where we are right now and what might be coming in the future. Hey, if you missed any of the show, make sure you catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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