DNA-The Next Big Gold Rush?

By |2017-05-29T18:05:24-07:00May 29th, 2017|

The discovery of gold at Sutters Mill, CA in 1848 promised untold wealth for those who had the resources and stamina to outlast the competition.  At the dawn of the California Gold Rush, there were no laws governing property rights; prospectors depended on a system of staking claims to protect their discoveries. Early prospectors did well, earning many times what they would have taken in as common laborers. But within a short time, the techniques of extracting gold became more efficient and sophisticated - far beyond the financial resources of the individual 49er. The tens of billions of dollars of gold recovered from the hills of California were ultimately controlled by only a few.  Many later prospectors returned home empty-handed. We are now experiencing a [...]

Big Business or Big Brother?

By |2022-07-08T21:30:57-07:00May 2nd, 2017|

At the recent American Academy of Forensic Science meeting in New Orleans, I attended the workshop The Opiate Crisis, Dirty Bombs, Big Data/Big Problems, and Driverless Cars:  On the Leading Edge of Forensic Science - 2017 Theoretical Forensic Sciences "Think Tank".  It seemed like a good session to discover where forensic research is going, aside from the serious look the community is taking at standards of proof within the various forensic disciplines.The talk Who You Are Out in the World and What Do You Think? by Lucy Davis presented an interesting look at the big business side of genetic genealogy.  The substance of the talk was a discussion of the informed consent, the terms and conditions of service (TOS), [...]

Extreme Genealogy – Arrival in Berlin and First Visit to the Berlin Bundesarchiv

By |2016-08-24T08:31:54-07:00August 24th, 2016|

Flight to Berlin and Arrival Thursday, August 11, 2016 Keflavik International Airport My trip from Los Angeles to Berlin went smoothly with a layover in Keflavik Interntional Airport.  It is the cleanest airport in the world. It felt more like an igloo than an airport – snug from the elements.  Yet it was a beehive of activity – with people snacking in one of several cozy cafes, or browsing the stores which naturally offer beautiful Icelandic sweaters and other products. The sandwiches are the most beautiful sandwiches I have ever seen. I was tempted to exchange $10 for Icelandic krona at the money exchange, but thriftiness got the better of me. The [...]

Benjaman Kyle

By |2015-06-02T00:17:29-07:00June 2nd, 2015|

Should it be a concern to our community that someone who is such a blank slate is controlling the emotions of so many genetic genealogists at the expense of critical thinking?

Who Am I? What is My Name? Part VI – Our Search for Gertrude Spiro

By |2015-01-02T23:14:52-08:00January 2nd, 2015|

Gertrude Spiro and Charlotte Rebhun, Warsaw, about 1942 Gertrude Spiro must have been well-connected.  She was the proprietor of a liquor and cigarette shop at 2 Nowiniarksa St. in Warsaw in 1941-1942. The shop undoubtedly generated a lot of income for whoever owned it; liquor and cigarettes are two of the most in-demand commodities during wartime.  Moreover, Gertrude's shop was the only cigarette shop in Warsaw, and it also sold liquor. In her position she must have had many friends and many enemies. Gertrude Piss-Spiro and her daughter Sonia were arrested in Warsaw and put into Pawiak Prison in 1943. They are listed among 141 women on a prison transport bound for Auschwitz on 24 August.  However, three of [...]

DNA Pilot Study on Missing Identity Holocaust Children – 2013 IAJGS Conference

By |2014-05-09T20:13:58-07:00May 9th, 2014|

In August 2012, I was invited to give a lecture at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Boston, MA, on our pilot project to identify two missing-identity child survivors of the Holocaust.  Please enjoy the video of my talk that describes our progress as of late 2013.   We have come some ways since and continue to work towards solving the mystery of their identities. http://youtu.be/Tm9RMfsi864

Who Am I? What is My Name? Part V – Gertrude and Sonia’s Escape

By |2022-07-06T01:27:48-07:00March 7th, 2014|

Pawiak Prison Gertrude and Sonia Preiss-Spiro's names are listed on the transport to Auschwitz of 141 women from Pawiak prison in Warsaw on 24 August 1943.  Pawiak prison was originally used by the Polish judicial to incarcerate criminals, but after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, it was converted into a Berman Gestapo prison.  Approximately 100,000 men and 200,000 women passed through the prison, mostly members of the Armia Krajowa, political prisoners and civilians taken as hostages in street round-ups.  An estimate 37, 000 were executed and 60,000 sent to German death and concentration camps.  There were few known escape attempts. Even if Gertrude survived Auschwitz, she would [...]

Los Angeles Times Article "DNA Sequencer could give doctors wealth of genetic information".

By |2014-01-11T00:07:42-08:00January 11th, 2014|

An article appeared in the Los Angeles Times last Saturday January 4, 2014 that is of interest to the genetic genealogy community: DNA Sequencer could give doctors wealth of genetic information. www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx The article was prompted by the recent FDA approval of the Illumina MiSeqDX DNA sequencer that can sequence a human genome in a couple of hours for about $5,000. Also approved last fall were two Illumina assays that can sequence for 139 genetic variations associated with cystic fibrosis, one of the most common inherited diseases. The rapid turn-around, low cost, and more accurate sequencing of genetic data prompts the question:  Now that we can sequence a genome faster, cheaper, and [...]

Identifinders International Announces DNA Study for Child Survivors of the Holocaust

By |2012-09-05T00:04:30-07:00September 5th, 2012|

Identifinders International, in collaboration with 23andMe and Missing-Identity.net, announces a pilot study to help child survivors of the Holocaust to recover their birth identities.  It is hoped that autosomal DNA testing will allow these survivors to discover family connections that would otherwise be gone forever. Of the 1,600,000 Jewish children who lived in Europe before World War II, only 100,000 survived the Holocaust. Most child survivors were hidden children, shuttered away in attics, cellars, convents or in villages or farms.[1] Many of these survived thanks to the efforts of Jews and Christians alike who risked their lives to conceal the identity of a hidden child who had been entrusted to their care by desperate parents. [...]

Benjaman's 23 and Me Matches

By |2010-12-09T22:36:13-08:00December 9th, 2010|

Benjaman Kyle is the adopted name of an amnesiac who was found near Savannah, GA in August 2004.  (See his Wikipedia page for more details.)  Since recovering from a severe beating that left him unconscious, he cannot remember who he is.  Benjaman took a 23andMe autosomal DNA test earlier this year, hoping to discover close relatives, or at least possible names in his family and the geographical locations where they could be found. As of December 9, 2010, Benjaman's list of 23andMe matches includes a total of 411 matches ranging from 3rd to 10th cousins.  Benjaman's top 23andMe match is a third cousin named Thomas Perry whose family has lived in the area around Saluda, [...]

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