Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Share Family Trees to support y-DNA studies: If you care, you'll share!

The members of the Taylor y-DNA project have been busy behind-the-scenes. We are close to having a major number of new participants join our project. This means there will be more likelihood that your DNA will be matched. However, as Ralph Taylor says, “In any case, they paid good money to get, essentially, a bunch of numbers. It doesn’t make sense to let that investment go to waste by failing to turn it into real knowledge.” That real knowledge is, of course, comparing your paper trail: family information, pedigrees, with project members with matching or very similar results. Ninety-five participants have already shared their male Taylor ancestral trees. But we have 145 participants who have not yet sent theirs in.

Now about those matching results, you may be aware that having a data match, even at 67 markers, means that your line converges with the other person’s within a few generations. Suppose you compare your earliest known ancestor to mine. If I have Isaac Newton Taylor, born 1824 in Ohio and you have Jacob Taylor born in 1799 in Philadelphia, with a 67 marker match, there is an implied relationship. It does not mean that the above [hypothetical] Jacob was Isaac’s father, or uncle, or cousin. It could be any of those situations. Or it could be something else. But the something else would involve a single man who was a common ancestor of both men!

Leigh Taylor told me: "I was able to find my entire maternal Swedish roots after I posted a query about the family who adopted my great-grandmother. A descendant of that line had collected some court records of his family which included my great-grandmother. He was so willing to share this information and it opened up a huge amount of data for me. I'm so grateful that he took the time to SHARE information."

Some project members are worried about privacy issues. Our project leader, Leigh Taylor, is also concerned about these issues as are the rest of the volunteer team. To avoid problems, we don’t publicly post the names and birthdates of living persons.

Remember to update your contact information, as it's really hard to communicate with those we've matched when the other person changed his email address without updating it with us!

For me, Lalia, I don’t see issues of privacy when the birth dates and information involves people who died more than a hundred years ago. But maybe I’m wrong. Let me know if you see something I don’t on that issue!

In any case, our family information is being shared only with other project members as you provide it. Some of you may be embarrassed to provide the information because you are concerned about errors in it. To me, all genealogical data has errors in it. Family trees are always being revised. So I consider all family trees as works in progress. Provide the best data you have. We hope that you will be able to learn more and make your tree more accurate.

I hope this has inspired you to share your Taylor data more freely within the project. This is especially important as we look at doubling the number of members within a few months. More participants mean more chances of scaling our genealogical brick walls!

Ralph Taylor says, “My experience is that sharing has advanced my own family history research a great deal. By freely offering the results of that research online, people see it and contact me -- saying something like, ‘Here’s more about my great-grandmother.’ Or, ‘You got this wrong.’ That opens a dialogue which benefits both parties. So, the sharing is sort of ‘fishing bait’; I get a nibble and try to reel ‘em in. For example, I would love to contact direct male descendants of James Taylor (1740 NC – 1816 TN) and convince one or more to join our Taylor Project. Maybe, someday, I'll get an e-mail or Post-em notice.”

Lalia says, “I also have benefited greatly, HUGELY, from the generosity of relatives who have shared their side of the family story. I would not know what I know without their input.”