Saturday, March 08, 2008

In Honor of International Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day, I'd like to honor the women in my family by announcing my mtDNA haplogroup. This is my genetic link with the women in my family that goes back thousands of years, you might say the tie that binds us. We are truly an international group of women so it is especially fitting to honor the whole lot of us on this special day.

Back in early February I won a DNA test kit from DNA Heritage in a contest on The Genetic Genealogist blog. I chose an mtDNA test (maternal line) and have written a couple of posts about the testing process and my thoughts about it. My results came in earlier than I expected and ever since then I've been trying to find information about my haplogroup. Now that National Women's History month is here it's time for the big reveal. It is after all, the deep history of the women in my family.

Drum roll please... ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Thank you! The results of my mtDNA test are: I'm in haplogroup H.

Now don't go falling all over yourselves with excitement here... try to contain your enthusiasm. I know what you're thinking. Yes, H is a lovely letter. H is for happy, healthy, heart, heat, honey, history, hope, healing, hippies, home, humor, hummingbirds, harmonica, heaven, Helena, and human. They are all lovely words aren't they? And happy I am to be in haplogroup H!

But H is not just for happy words. It has it's share of not-so-happy words too... like huh? which is what I thought when I got my results, and hassle which is what I've gone through trying to find information about my haplogroup, hectic is the pace I've kept while trying to get the research done on my maternal line in time to write it up for the next edition of the COG, hissy-fit is what I want to throw every time I find another link leading to the Family Tree DNA web site because they won't let me play with them, hard is what it's like to read the scientific journal articles about my haplogroup, and headache is what I get when I'm through reading them.

So what have I learned about my haplogroup? Not a lot really, especially given that haplogroup H is the largest of the 7 haplogroups in Europe. It's estimated that around 40-60% of native Europeans belong to haplogroup H. You'd think with a group that size there would be a good amount of information available about it but I'm not finding that to be the case. Or maybe I should say I'm having a hard time locating understandable-to-a-layman information about the group.

I am working on compiling information on haplogroup H and have even started a blog on the topic. I know, I know, my New Year's resolution was NO NEW PROJECTS (in conjunction with "get something published")... and I didn't even make it through February before I got another one started. But I couldn't foresee this one coming!!! How was I supposed to know I was going to win this contest??? What's a girl supposed to do?

But seriously, my new blog,, is intended to be nothing more than a compilation of information I come across that may be of interest to other non-scientific haplogroup H information hunters. I'm thinking that my education on the topic of haplogroup H will be ongoing and sporadic (as time allows) and that's how I predict my posting to that blog will go as well. The Creative Gene blog is already diverse enough without adding all my haplogroup H findings to it so that's why I felt the need to start a new blog.

Now, before I finish this final post in my series on winning the DNA testing kit I'd like to say a great big THANK YOU to Blaine Bettinger, author of The Genetic Genealogist blog and Alastair Greenshields at DNA Heritage. These two gentlemen have launched my genetic genealogy journey and I am very grateful to be on my way. Just for the record, I am very glad I chose the mtDNA test in spite of the fact that I'm a little challenged right now in interpreting my results. I was very pleased with the ease of use of the DNA Heritage test kit and with the quick results. This has been a very happy experience for me!

P.S. Blaine is writing an ebook on the topic of interpreting the results of your DNA test and he has graciously shared his work in progress with me. This will no doubt be a hugely popular book because it is so badly needed and so very well written. There are more and better resources in his book than I found in all my many hours of searching online.

Oh, and one more thing. Marie Antoinette was a haplogroup H member. So I have finally found my family connection to royalty ;-)

Who else out there is in the H group? If you'd like to learn more about haplogroup H, please join me on the Haplogroup H blog!

Here are my previous posts on this topic:
Here's Where I'm at With Analyzing My mtDNA Results
The Results Are In!
Here Today Gone Tomorrow
Kit On Order
My Own mtDNA vs Y-DNA Test Analysis


  1. Jasia,

    I'm also an H...H3 to be exact. I understand what you mean about the lack of info. At FTDNA it basically says H3 is the second most common haplogroup, after H1 and is found mainly in Western Europe...I could have guessed that without the test. I have to admit though I haven't investigated the H group much and look forward to seeing what you dig up and post to your new blog.

    Tim Agazio

  2. Jasia:

    Thank you for the reveal and for all those "H" words.

    I don't understand it, but I find it fascinating.

    Love the new blog and can't wait for Blaine's book.


  3. Jasia:

    I've read your post on the results of your mtDNA test and I think part of your confusion is with the expectation you had about what the test would tell you. This is very understandable since, until the last year or so, many of us were under the impression that the results of an mtDNA test of the hyper-variable regions was comparable to the Y chromosome tests. Unfortunately, now that we have the full mtDNA test results, we are finding that people can match in the hyper-variable regions but mis-match in the coding region, and, therefore, not be related for genealogy purposes. If you are taking a hyper-variable mtDNA test on it's own, all it will tell you is which of the female haplogroups you "probably" belong to. It will then tell you where that group is currently found in the world, just as you described in your prior post. However, unless you are comparing your result to someone else you suspect is also related to you on the same female line, it doesn't tell you anything in genealogy terms. This is the main problem with mtDNA. Nevertheless, I recommend every male in the 10 Y DNA studies I run test their mtDNA, just as I research all my male and female ancestors.

    So, testing mtDNA by it's self just gives you a link to an area or areas of the world where you ancestors may have come from. Since you already knew where your's were from, this just confirmed your information. Until you have someone your think is related on the female line, that is really all mtDNA can do for you. Once you have someone to test against, it may help you to determine the identity of a female ancestor or determine someone is not an ancestor.

    The big caveat is that, until you do a full mtDNA test of the hyper-variable and the coding regions, there is the possibility that a hyper-variable region match will be a false match since you can have the same hyper-variable region results in different mtDNA haplogroups.

    Check out mitosearch, the FTDNA website, and Wikipedia, for specific websites on the mtDNA haplogroups. You may also want to checkout the genealogy-dna list archives for information on specific haplotypes and haplogroups.

    Good Luck

    Steven C. Perkins

  4. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comment Steven. I do have HVR1,HVR2,and HVR3 results in addition to my haplogroup so I am able to do some comparisons with others.

    My disappointment more stems from the lack of information provided about my haplogroup in terms of what is known anthropologically. I just think that it would have been nice to have gotten more than a couple paragraphs of information. Surely the anthropologists have been studying the life of haplogroup H era people for some time now and there must be information available on how and where they lived.

    I think the DNA testing company should have provided me more to go on to learn about that, like some links to online articles, maps, and maybe museums with artifacts and information. They don't owe me a whole book on the subject but I think a bit more than a couple paragraphs of information would have been appropriate.

    I'll find this information on my own but given the price of the test kit it seems reasonable to expect that the company should have put together some information to get me started. I think if they gave out more information on what is known about a given haplogroup rather than going into details of how the DNA was compared to come up with the result they would have more satisfied customers.

    I think people who buy these testing kits are looking to learn more about the results of the DNA testing rather than the process of it. That's where I think these companies are missing the mark in terms of marketing their products. They gave me more than I wanted to know about process and less than I wanted to know about the results.

    Hey, I'm glad you stopped by Steven. I'm adding your blog to my feed reader.

  5. Tim I'm happy to be sharing a haplogroup (and ancestor) with ya! I'll be sure to keep an eye out for H3 info!

  6. Jasia:

    Thanks for your reply.

    My main point was that HVR i-iii are insufficient to make a comparison with mtDNA. You are still lacking the coding region results so your haplogroup is still uncertain to some extent. Unless your HVR results are extremely rare, I would not rely on them to decide on a genealogical connection to another person. By genealogical connection, I mean within the past few hundred years.

    I think the other part of your post, on what the testing companies provide with the results, will gradually change as more people like you post their expectations and the testing companies respond. Hopefully that change will happen soon so we can keep the momentum moving forward for greater expansion of Y DNA and mtDNA testing.

    Steven C. Perkins

  7. Very good point about the lack of ability to compare my DNA results with confidence Steven. I must admit to having a bit of Y-DNA envy in that respect. But given that I don't actually have anyone I would like to confirm a relationship with it's not too big a deal to me personally.

    My results aren't rare, of that I'm certain. So rather than waste time trying to find relatives I match DNA with I'm choosing to focus on finding information about my "clan mother Helena" and the era she lived. I think that would make a much better chapter for my family history book. That's what I'm looking for to make my test results relevant to my genealogy.