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Proformat News
No: 126
August 2016
August Seminars & Heritage Walks
3: Using newspapers as a family history aid, WEA Centre 8:00-10:00pm
17: Identifying and dating 19th century dating photos, WEA Centre 8:00-10:00pm
24: Discovering Scottish ancestors, WEA Centre 6:30-9:30pm
28: Hindmarsh heritage walk: a town on the Torrens, 2:00-4:00pm
31: Hunting out English ancestors, WEA Centre 6:30-9:30pm

September Seminars & Heritage Walks
There are no seminars or walks scheduled for September.

All bookings must be made with the hosting organisation. All heritage walks are hosted by the WEA.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Data theft
A reader recently contacted me: "I have a family tree on Ancestry and have noticed a couple of people have taken parts of my family and placed them on their own trees including the photos."

Such experiences are common with parts of other researchers' trees being purloined without asking and with no compatibility checks.

The solution is do not publish your tree online. Have an online tree, but keep it private so that people have to contact you in order to get information.

Remember that all trees at Findmypast and Genes Reunited are private, but at Ancestry you have to choose whether your tree is public or private.

In this issue:
August Seminars
September Seminars
Data theft
Coming to grips with my DNA

Feature article
Your ancestors and the Commonwealth


Graham Jaunay

Glandore SA 5037

Breaking news: fb

Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
SA lookup service

Graham Jaunay uses
The Genealogist - for UK census, BMD indexes and more online simply because it contains quality data checked by experts.

Proformat News acknowledges the support by awe AWE

Your ancestors and the Commonwealth
Often researchers overlook the material held in the National Archives of Australia in Canberra. Often I hear people say that their interest is much earlier than 1901 when the Commonwealth was created and therefore there will be nothing of interest to them in the National Archives. This is just incorrect!

When considering what material any government archive may hold of interest to your research, make the following determination—what contact would your ancestor have had with the particular government? In the case of the Australian Government this may include migration into Australia, citizenship, serving in defence forces including civilian roles, voting, registering a patent, trademark or business, residency in any former or current territory, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island background and employment. The best way to start is to go to the National Archives of Australia website and simply do a surname search. You will find a very simple field to enter the name at the top right of the page.

The archive also publishes a number of Fact Sheets to aid researchers. Fact Sheet 201 is a good starting point to gain an understanding of the holdings.

For readers with South Australian interests it is important to know that at Federation the colonial government departments that became a Commonwealth responsibility handed over their colonial records. That means naturalisation, post and telegraph, lighthouse and mercantile marine records for colonial South Australia are held by the National Archives. Fact Sheet 87 details the holdings held in the Adelaide Office.

The Adelaide Office is not alone in holding records pertaining to the colonial period. In the early part of the 20th century many people who migrated to Australia sought citizenship and their papers will reveal material pre-dating Federation. Likewise people enlisting in the military, especially World War I, will have records detailing events that occurred pre-Federation.

There are some other organisations managed by the Commonwealth that may have helpful material. The most obvious in the Australian War Memorial. It is not just a museum and memorial to those who fought in war but an archive and resource that provides links to material that can help you research the service and wartime experiences of relatives.

Find & Connect collates resources that are available to those seeking material about children placed in care including child migrants, adoption/fostering and Stolen Generations. About 500,000 Australian children experienced some form of institutional care in the 20th century! Another site managed by the National Museum of Australia, Forgotten Australians may also prove helpful.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies [AIATSIS] can assist anyone with an indigenous background with their family history research—Finding your family.

The National Library of Australia holds resources that could prove helpful. Search the Library's catalogue for topics that relate to family history. These will include published family histories, local histories, military histories and diaries, ship information and biographies. The Library maintains an extensive online subscription service that includes many resources useful to researchers. Any Australian citizen can access this material but they need to seek a free reader's card first. This service is known as eResources. You can apply for a library card online. Most readers will already be well aware of the Trove site managed by the National Library. eResourses allows similar access to some newspapers beyond Australia. The collection includes newspapers from Hong Kong, UK, Ireland, USA and many others.

One lesser known feature of the National Library is their program operating since 1996 to archive Australian websites. This can prove a useful resource and if a site you found helpful is no longer available it is possible it was archived. The Pandora Archive is freely available.

Coming to grips with my DNA

There is no doubt that the new frontier for family historians to pursue research is using DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) matching. We should not discard the old processes of seeking out distant cousins and hunting out records because these are required to confirm the DNA findings. When setting out on this research I must admit to being somewhat of a sceptic in that I believed it would not further my research. On the other hand, no doubt things have progressed since genealogists first took on board the science some twenty or so years ago.

This is an ongoing account of what has eventuated and at this stage I have no idea what may happen, how long it will take and whether I will get a result!

What is it all about?
The first step is to become acquainted with the science involved. A human genome is the complete set of genetic information of a person. I thought I had a reasonable grasp but have been confronted with new concepts that have taken some time to understand. As we work through the process these will become apparent. Needless to say the material I have discovered is way beyond high school biology that outlined the theory! How things actually work is altogether quite different! The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) website shows the average percentage of our DNA that we share with our cousins, depending how closely related we are to them, but the actual percentage can be very different. As to an explanation of DNA itself—it is not easy to understand and many websites are too complex.

In layman’s terms I understand that DNA is material that governs inheritance of eye colour, hair colour, and so on. Most cells in our body contain a complete sample of our DNA. A strand of DNA is made up of tiny building-blocks called bases. There are four different basic building-blocks labelled A, T, G, and C. They form the rungs in the double helix DNA molecule. The rungs are made up of two bases and A can only link with T while C links with G. These letters represent the chemical names. Our cells also contain DNA that does not do anything that we know about and this is often wrongly called junk DNA but a better name is non-coding DNA. DNA in the body of the cell passes from mothers only to children. It is called Mitochondrial DNA. I suspect humankind started off with uniform DNA but over time minor random changes occurred called mutations. These are used to identify people or at least distinguish one person from another.

When a cell is getting ready to divide into two, it packs its DNA into bundles called chromosomes. Chromosomes are just bundles of DNA. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes that scientists have numbered. Pair 23 are called the sex chromosomes although there are many functions that have nothing to do with sex. In females, the sex chromosome pair consists of two similar size chromosomes called X while men have one X and one much smaller Y chromosome.

While siblings inherit half of their DNA from their father, and half from their mother, the parents do not pass on the same DNA to each child. As you work down the generations we can see why there can be a difference. Boys inherited their father’s Y chromosome intact and one of their mother’s X chromosome whilst daughters inherit their father’s X chromosome and one of their mother’s Y chromosomes.

All mothers receive their DNA from their parents—half from the father and half from the mother. Mothers cannot pass both sets on and so the children get a mixture of roughly fifty per cent from each grandparent. The same happens with her male partner and he can only pass on half the DNA he inherited. Their children can therefore get a differing mixture. The only time that two siblings inherit exactly the same DNA is when they are identical twins! This diversity between siblings applies at each generation, thus women would inherit different DNA from their sisters and that means their children, first cousins, will almost certainly have DNA that some of their cousins do not, even though it came from ancestors that we all share (their maternal grandparents). The more distant our cousins are, the less likely it is that we have both inherited the same DNA from the same ancestor. This means that tests that cover a small range of DNA as used by authorities to forensically identify corpses will not work in family history research!

Thus the first thing I need to check is that the company I select is generous with its range of testing! Before I take that step I need to ascertain what is the appropriate test to take because there are several available.

To be continued.
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