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  • 7 Mar 2023 2:11 PM | Anonymous

    I was wandering up and down the aisles at RootsTech 2023 when the banner at one particular exhibit booth caught my eye. It stated, "DNA Testing of Envelopes and Other Artifacts." Really? At a price that appeals to private genealogists?

    I know that testing for DNA on sealed envelopes, used styrofoam coffee cups, and similar objects has been available for years but at prohibitive prices that limit their use to law enforcement officials investigating serious crimes. 

    I had to find out more so I stopped and had a conversation with the lady in the booth. I was told that such testing is available today to private genealogists, it really works, and that prices are certainly not cheap but are lower-priced than I had imagined (more on that later).

    Keepsake DNA is a non-profit company that will appeal to genealogists and others who want to decode the DNA of someone else. Most such tests involve determining the DNA of someone who is now deceased, such as a grandparent or someone similar. For instance, decoding family DNA from love letters that grandpa wrote home while serving in "the war." That's one such use, I am sure there must be dozens of other possible uses.

    Yes, you can now unlock the mysteries of your family’s ancestry and fill the holes in your genealogical tree through the testing of ancestral artifacts such as old envelopes, watches, hats, hair, etc.

    That's right: the exhibit booth banner said "DNA Testing of Envelopes and Other Artifacts" and the list of "other artifacts" is extensive. Not only can the company test the saliva used to seal envelopes of letters sent by soldiers, but all sorts of other ancestral items can reveal DNA, including:

    • hair brushes
    • hair samples
    • false teeth
    • hats
    • old envelopes
    • wrist watches
    • jewelry
    • shoes
    • shirts
    • toothbrushes
    • tobacco pipes
    • bandages
    • artificial limbs
    • eyeglasses
    • chewed gum
    • hand tools

    and many other items that were in close contact with the deceased while he or she was still alive.

    Testing will be conducted by an accredited United States lab with seasoned personnel and state of the art technology.

    All in all, this might solve some mysteries that could not be solved in any other method.

    Methodology

    First, the lab identifies the best locations for possible DNA and takes a sample (swab/cutting etc.) of that material.  Some examples of this are as follows:

    • Envelopes: Cutting of the back flap and/or stamp. 
    • Hat: Swabbing of the interior band.
    • Shirt: Swabbing and/or cutting of material under the arm. 
    • Earring: Swabbing of post/clasp.
    • Shoes: Swabbing of interior sole.

    Some specific sample types also require pre-processing to obtain enough DNA to move forward.  For teeth and/or bones, a special instrument called the Qiagen Tissuelyser II is used to very carefully pulverize the material into a powder before it can move on in the process. 

    Biological material trapped in porous materials like clothing or hats may be collected with a specialized tool called the MVAC that can obtain much more DNA than traditional methods.

    Next, the lab extracts the potential DNA.

    The DNA obtained from the first test(s) is run on one of two DNA sequencing instruments that precisely identifies the specific DNA "code" for each sample.  That DNA "code" is then transformed into a specific output file that is comprised of tens to hundreds of thousands of genealogy informative Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced "snips").  These genetic genealogy SNPs are identified and documented in a electronic file that is compatible with GEDMatch and/or Family Tree DNA genetic genealogy databases. 

    A Verogen FGx Forensic Sequencing device is used on some DNA samples. The instrument is exclusively distributed by Verogen who, in 2019, bought GEDmatch.com. GEDmatch is a popular DNA database to which genealogists can upload profiles to compare with other researchers’ profiles. For example, someone who tests with Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, or 23andMe can upload those profiles to GEDmatch.

    Pricing

    Prices for all this testing and the use of expensive, high-tech devices isn't exactly cheap. but is less than I had initially assumed it would be, It is also much less than such testing would have cost a few years ago.

    Prices are somewhat customized after discussing all information with the potential customer. In short, each case is different. The folks at Keepsake DNA will make a determination of the chances of success in obtaining useable DNA and the price will vary depending upon the difficulties expected. You can learn more at https://www.intermountainforensics.com/keepsakedna and then click on "Pricing."

    For more information about Keepsake DNA and the odds of success of extracting DNA information from your ancestral item, go to: https://www.intermountainforensics.com/keepsakedna.

  • 7 Mar 2023 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    If you use Google Docs frequently (as I do), you’ll be interested in this update:

    Google is constantly updating its online suite of productivity apps, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive. Those services will soon have a new design to match the recent Gmail update.

    Google announced on its blog, “In the coming weeks, you’ll notice a new look and feel for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web. Following the release of Google Material Design 3, the refreshed user interface is purposefully designed to streamline core collaboration journeys across our products.”

    The new look matches the current Gmail design, as well as the company’s updated apps on Android phones and tablets. Most of the buttons and menus are in the same place, so you won’t have to re-learn how to write a document or edit presentation slides, but there are a few relocated features. Google says the current document status, which includes the last edit and version history, has been moved to a new clock button at the top-right corner.

    You can read more at: https://www.howtogeek.com/877666/google-docs-has-a-new-design-to-match-gmail/.

  • 6 Mar 2023 6:12 PM | Anonymous

    Texas legislators are considering several new proposals to restrict law enforcement's ability to access databases from genetic testing companies, placing the state at the center of a roiling national privacy debate over a technology already solving some of the most stubborn unsolved cases.

    “These people didn’t really sign up to help law enforcement, that wasn’t their intent,” said Amy McGuire, the Leon Jaworski Professor of Biomedical Ethics and director of medical ethics and health policy for Baylor College of Medicine. “So, it’s a question of, what other purposes can that information be used for? And is this somehow a violation of their rights?”

    Across the country, police are checking crime-scene DNA against data gleaned from popular genetic testing kits, like Ancestry and 23andMe. These increasingly popular mail-order kits allow consumers to share their DNA in hopes of finding long-lost relatives or track their family's geographic roots. But as the technology can pinpoint long lost siblings or relatives, it can also link people to crimes.

    Representatives of Texas District and County Attorneys Association took to social media this week to decry the proposed legislation and how it might hamper law enforcement.

    House Bills 4 and 2545 and Senate Bills 704 and 1014 all impose new restrictions for the blossoming number of companies offering genetic testing.

    You can read more in an article by Matt deGrood published in the Houston Chronicle at https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/crime/article/dna-evidence-cold-case-legislation-17810225.php.


  • 6 Mar 2023 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has issued calls for course proposals for the 2025 program year and for scholarship applications for the 2024 Program Year. Please see the press releases linked below for complete details.

    Call for 2025 Course Proposals

    Call for Scholarship Applications for 2024 Programs


  • 6 Mar 2023 5:49 PM | Anonymous

    Oseredok is digitizing its collection of artifacts, books, artwork and photographs, using the web to broaden its reach.

    The curator of Oseredok Ukrainian Culture and Exhibition Centre has spent the last 14 months digitizing items in aid of its newly launched online catalogue.

    The catalogue currently lists 1,252 museum artifacts, 1,235 library holdings, 424 fine art pieces, 4,583 photographs and 600 glass slides. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    “It’s an evolving project; there is no end date to what I started,” Sloboda says. “The online catalogue provides global access to all who are interested. As the collection grows it will need to meet the information and cultural needs of everyone.”

    Sloboda, who joined Oseredok in September 2021, has spent much of her tenure tackling the mammoth task. She oversees the four collections housed in Oseredok: museum, archive, library and fine art, and quickly realized exhibition space was limited.

    You can read more in an article by AV Kitching published in the Winnipeg Free Press at: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/2023/03/06/a-treasure-of-ukrainian-culture-open-to-the-world.

  • 6 Mar 2023 5:39 PM | Anonymous

    From an article by Jake Peterson published in the LifeHacker web site:

    Scammers are hijacking sponsored links in Google searches. Avoid them.

    We all google, so we’re all used to Google’s quirks, sponsored links being one of the most visible. These links appear at the top of any given Google search, depending on who pays the most to be there. Even though these links can be largely irrelevant to what you’re actually searching for, sometimes they’re right on the money. However, even if it looks like a sponsored link applies to your search, don’t click it. It might be a scam.

    The latest example of this nefarious misuse of Google Ads comes to us via Twitter. Author Cory Doctorow tweeted about his experience trying to place a takeout order with a local Thai spot. When Doctorow googled the name of the restaurant, Kiin Thai Eatery, he naturally clicked the first result that popped up, which happened to be a sponsored link.

    Who cares, right? A link’s a link. That is, unless someone has hijacked the identity of the restaurant, which is exactly what happened in this case.

    The link loaded to a website purporting to be Kiin Thai Eatery, inviting Doctorow to place an order. He did, and paid for his meal, only to receive a call from Kiin Thai Eatery shortly after. The restaurant informed Doctorow that they did receive an order—from a known scammer. The scammer had created a fake website mimicking Kiin Thai Eatery’s menu, upped the prices by 15%, and placed an order with the real restaurant in Doctorow’s name, hoping no one would notice.

    Luckily, Kiin Thai Eatery did, and subsequently canceled the order. But Doctorow was still on the hook for the charges—plural, since the scammers also double-charged Doctorow for the fake order.

    You can read more at: https://lifehacker.com/why-you-need-to-stop-clicking-sponsored-google-links-1850163992.

  • 6 Mar 2023 5:32 PM | Anonymous

    You might have your family tree in order, records documented, and DNA tests all done. Add the Root & Seed conversation cards to your family documentation toolkit. Inspire conversations between generations with 68 thoughtful prompts to capture rich stories, recipes and traditions for generations to come. Act now for discounts.

    Learn more at: https://www.rootandseed.com/

  • 6 Mar 2023 5:18 PM | Anonymous
    Periscope Film owners [Doug] and [Nick] just released a mini-documentary about the rescue of a large collection of old 35 and 16 mm celluloid films from the landfill. The video shows the process of the films being collected from the donor and then being sorted and organized in a temporary storage warehouse. There is a dizzying variety of films in this haul, from different countries, in both color and black and white.

    We can see in the video that their rented 8 meter (26 foot) cargo truck wasn’t enough to contain the trove, so they dragged along a 1.8 x 3.6 m (6 x 12 ft) double-axle trailer as well. That makes a grand total of 49 cubic meters of space. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations says that filled to the brim, that would be over 30,000 canisters of 600 m (2,000 ft) 35 mm movie reels.

    When it comes to preserving these old films, one big problem is physical deterioration of the film stock itself. You will know something is wrong when you get a strong acetic or vinegary odor when opening the can. [Nick] shows some examples where the film has even become solidified, taken on a hexagonal shape. It will take months to just assess and catalog the contents of this collection, with damaged films that are still salvageable jumping to the head of the queue to be digitized.

    Films are digitized at 4K resolution using a Lasergraphics ScanStation archival quality film scanning system, and then the restoration fun begins. One issue demonstrated in this video is color deterioration. In the Eastmancolor film technology introduced in the 1950s, the blue dyes deteriorate over time. This, and a plethora of other issues, are corrected in the restoration process.

    If you’re interested in doing this with 8 mm home movies, we covered a project way back in 2011 of a DIY home movie scanning project.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about the current project at: https://youtu.be/yhJIIhxng_A.

  • 6 Mar 2023 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a list of all of this week's articles, all of them available here at https://eogn.com:

    Introducing cM Explainer™ to Predict Relationships Between DNA Matches With Greater Accuracy

    MyHeritage Announces Third Installment of DNA Quest Initiative

    MyHeritage Introduces Color Coding for Family Trees

    Vivid-Pix and the National Genealogical Society Restore Treasured Memories

    Ancestry® Launches Storymaker Studio

    Connect Our Kids Will Tell Its Story Today at RootsTech 2023

    Celebrating 40 Years of Family History Discoveries

    National Archives Allocates $600,000 to Transfer Digitized Veterans’ Records from the VA

    Black History Month at Atlantic City Library Strengthened by Digitized Collection

    BYU Professor Works to Connect ‘Entire Human Family’ Through Genealogy Research Lab

    Museum of Jewish Heritage Plans Peter and Mary Kalikow Genealogy Research Center

    Newberry Library Online Exhibition Showcases Images From the Great Migration

    Museum Of Jewish Heritage Reviews Plans For Genealogy Research Center In Battery Park City, Manhattan

    Reykjavík Municipal Archives to Be Closed Down

    Trent Park House Oral History Project Gets Underway

    National Archives Allocates $600,000 to Transfer Digitized Veterans’ Records from the V

    New Records Added to Findmypast

    All the New Android Features Google Announced


  • 4 Mar 2023 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    The Museum of Jewish Heritage is currently reviewing plans to build a new genealogy research center at its facility at 36 Battery Place in Battery Park City. Named the Peter and Mary Kalikow Genealogy Research Center, the waterfront expansion will provide visitors with Jewish genealogy resources through JewishGen, a non-profit organization and affiliate of the museum.

    When complete, the space will contain computer stations for visitors to peruse Jewish Gen’s vast collection of records and historical data, including ancestry, hundreds of memorial prayer books known as Yizkor, and other records. There also will be trained volunteers on site to assist visitors interested in the service.

    “JewishGen has enabled countless people to learn more about their Jewish ancestry, and we are extremely grateful to launch this initiative to serve as an invaluable resource to anyone wishing to learn more about their relatives and their heritage,” said Jack Kliger, president and CEO of The Museum of Jewish Heritage. “We are proud to name this center after Peter and Mary Kalikow, who have been longtime supporters of the museum.”

    Designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, The Museum of Jewish Heritage was first opened in 1997. The same design team completed an 82,000-square-foot addition that curves around the existing building. Today, the museum features a collection of Jewish historical artifacts, classrooms, a 370-seat theater, gallery space, and a library.

    The museum has not revealed when the new Genealogy Research Center might be completed.


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