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Joining the Clan Donald DNA Project with Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation test results

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Joining the Clan Donald DNA Project with Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation test results

Posted: 1197208872000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Donald, Donaldson, McDonald, MacDonald, McDonnell, McConnell
How and why to join

The Clan Donald DNA project is a Y chromosome DNA project dedicated to helping men from Clan Donald male lines learn more about those lines. Men with Clan Donald surnames including Donaldson, McDaniel, McDonald, MacDonald, McDonnell, and McConnell are encouraged to join. Although most men joining the project have been tested through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), men tested elsewhere are also welcome to join the project. Because Clan Donald USA has its own website for the project, project webmaster Doug McDonald has been able to customize the project website to display results for men tested at different labs. The sets of markers tested by various labs overlap, but are not identical, and Doug has been able to display results for the markers tested by each of the labs. You can see the project results tables for yourself at

Currently, there are 2 Donaldson men with Y chromosome test results in the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) database. These men are eligible to join the Clan Donald DNA Project by contacting Doug McDonald. To add participants to the project, Doug needs their permission, contact information, and enough information about their pedigree file in the Sorenson database to positively identify their test results. Following a recent inquiry from a MacDonald wishing to join the project using his SMGF test results, I began extracting the test results for MacDonald and McDonald men from the Sorenson database, and moved on to extract results for men with other surnames that are or can be variants of the surname MacDonald. Because the name Donaldson was sometimes adopted by McDonald men, I did include the Donaldson results in my extraction efforts. So if either of these men does not have his results extracted already, I can help.

Although the results for the Donaldson men in the SMGF database show that they are not at all closely related, each has some matches or near matches in the Clan Donald DNA Project. Results for one man who descends from a Humphrey Donaldson who was born in Pennsylvania in 1740 and died in North Caroline in 1781 match results for men in a project grouping called the R1b Green subgroup. This group of men has been linked to the famed Niall of the Nine Hostages. Niall and his male line relatives have been amazingly prolific, and men in this group find that they have many cousins. Another, who descends from a Walter Donaldson born in Northumberland County, England, which borders Scotland, would probably be classified as a member of a catch-all group called the R1b Yellow Group. The surnames of his closer matches within the project, Mac Donald, McDonald, and MacDonald, and the distance of the matches suggest that they may share a common ancestor who lived around the time that surnames were adopted in many areas, but it is also possible that a common ancestor lived more recently than that.

By joining the project, these men would be helping themselves and other project members. One of the most obvious benefits would be having their results posted on the project results tables, making it easy for these men and their matches to find each other. By creating an entry for their test results at and notifying Doug of their Ysearch ID code, they can get a link to their Ysearch entry placed on the project tables, enabling matches who find them on the tables to easily navigate to their Ysearch entry and contact them through Ysearch. Use of Ysearch is recommended for all men with Y test results, but it is especially important for men who have tested outside FTDNA. A very large number of men with McDonald variant surnames has been tested at FTDNA through the Clan Donald Project and some others have been tested elsewhere, and they may not all know about the SMGF database. Most will at least be aware of the existence of Ysearch and will know about the project tables. So the chances of making contact with genetic matches will be greatly improved by creating a Ysearch entry and asking Doug to include one's Ysearch ID on the project tables. There are some differences in how different organizations report test results, and this can cause some confusion for people entering their data on Ysearch, but I have been through this process myself and am willing and able to answer questions and to help anyone in need of assistance.*

Another lesser-known benefit of joining the project is having one's results posted to something called a relationship tree, or cladogram. The project is very fortunate to have Doug, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, as a co-administrator. His research interests and skills overlap with genetic genealogy, and the relationship trees that he has been able to develop are very interesting and helpful. These trees are constructed based on the assumption that a minimal number of mutations has occurred among the lines of the men in the project, and show the most likely relationships between them based on recent data. In most cases, they should give a better idea of the relatedness of the men on the tables than one on one comparisons alone. Doug has developed trees for men with results for FTDNA's sets of 25, 37, and 67 markers. Because the set of markers used by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation includes all of the markers in the 25 marker set used by FTDNA, men with results for all of the SMGF markers who join the project will be able to see where they fall on the 25 marker tree for their haplogroup, if there is one. The vast majority of men testing will be in one of the haplogroups (I1a, I1c, R1a, and R1b) for which Doug has developed trees and would be placed on one of them.

Because the SMGF database is unique, I decided to focus this post on joining the project using SMGF results. If you were tested by another organization, you can still join the project by contacting Doug, but the process will be a little different.

You can find contact information for Doug McDonald at the bottom of the following page on the Clan Donald DNA project website:

If you are considering Y DNA testing for one of your male lines, you may find it helpful to read some posts that I made on some of the available testing options starting early in August. They are on a few different threads, but if you start with the earliest one, you should be able to find most of the others with little trouble. They are all on the McConnell board at

Kirsten Saxe, McConnell researcher

Creating a Ysearch entry with results from outside FTDNA can be tricky for 2 reasons. Different testing organizations report results for the same man in different ways. For some markers, the numerical values reported will be different, and it's necessary to add or subtract a fixed amount to convert results from one organization to the format used by another. The names used for some markers may also be somewhat different. For instance, the marker FTDNA calls GATAH4 is called GATA H4.1 in the SMGF database, and this is also one of the markers that usually needs to be converted from the format of one lab to the format of another.
Once you have your marker names and results straight, you just need to find the right places in the Ysearch entry form to enter the results for each marker. The orders for display of SMGF results using the FTDNA lab standard and for entry into Ysearch are similar, but the ysearch entry form contains many additional markers that one must skip over when entering SMGF results. This is not extremely difficult, but requires some care.

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