Analyzing Surname Data
July 9, 2010 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I need help visually and clearly showing/analyzing surname data retrieved from's Relative Finder feature.

I have recently signed up to and have been using their Relative Finder feature. I have been contacting relatives and keeping an Excel list of their surnames and using Conditional Formatting in Excel to highlight common names across surname lists.
The purpose is to find out which individuals share multiple surnames amongst each other and therefore are more likely to be related to me based on those shared names and also to show possible relationships. Unfortunately, this system is not working very well anymore because of the increasing amount of surnames. I need a better method (or program?) to help me identify relationships between individuals. If possible, it would be nice to know the probable number of generations back the person may be related to me (don’t know if this is possible based on the surname data, but may be possible based on the number of DNA segments I share with the person--which is some more data I have linked to each individual’s name). I would really appreciate some suggestions on how I can organize this information more visually and clearer, and possibly have a program tell me the likelihood of relationships amongst people.
Also, I have a good deal of experience with Excel and very minimal experience with Access (a program I considered using to run queries on individuals and to show relationships).
Maybe someone has an idea that I haven’t thought up yet. Any suggestions at all would be helpful!!!!
posted by angelaas525 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know 23andme's output format, so MeMail me a bit of a sample :) However, I have heard of it, and IWASG (I was a statistical geneticist).

A free program we used to check for correct relationships was:

There is lots of other pedigree software out there, fwiw. Some free some not!

It sounds like you want a database for this stuff.

I realize this isn't a totally helpful answer, but it's hard to answer without seeing a sample or two, and getting a bit more info on what exactly you want!

Good luck!
posted by gregglind at 6:10 AM on July 10, 2010

The information I am able to collect from the site for each individual is: known surnames, known countries of origin, and something that looks like this:
-Comparison: "Insert Relative" vs "Me"
-Chromosome: 1
-Start point: 38000000
-End point: 45000000
-Genetic Distance: 7
-# SNPs: 1328

All of which I must manually input to an Excel sheet.
posted by angelaas525 at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2010

so angelaas525, how do you enter the surnames? I'm also a 23andme customer, and I have the same problem. Do you just put all the surnames for one person into a cell?
posted by pantufla at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2010

Currently, I have the individual's name at the top of a column and each cell underneath includes one surname. There are multiple columns, one for each individual. I have Conditional Formatting encapsulating all the surnames which searches for duplicate surnames and highlights them.


angelaas525 | John Doe | Jane Doe
Smith......... | Doe....... | Doe
Johnson...... | Smith.... | Parker
posted by angelaas525 at 12:52 PM on July 17, 2010

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