13 October 2016

Bringing it Together: Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy

My, how times change!

Six years ago I was lamenting that there was little overlap between the people I see at genealogy conferences and those I see at genetic genealogy conferences. The overlap could be counted on my fingers—without using any fingers more than once! I could not understand why many of my genealogy friends did not see how powerful and important DNA test results are to solving our research problems. I could not understand why many of my genetic genealogy friends did not see the need for the Genealogical Proof Standard and thorough research.

In 2012, I got to know CeCe Moore and Blaine T. Bettinger well enough to discuss this mystery. We decided what we needed first was more education in the community. Conference presentations are great, but what you can cover in an hour, or even four, is very limited. I sent CeCe and Blaine an outline for a week-long genetic genealogy course. We all collaborated on changes and additions. We then divided the course outline into thirds. We presented the first course in the summer of 2014 at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) at the invitation of directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal.

The number of institute courses have exploded. The number of institute instructors has grown. Today, eight or more different week-long courses have been offered or are planned. The course at each institute is somewhat different than the similar-level course at another institute. Multiple two- to three-day courses focusing on specialties, such as adoption or forensic work, have been offered at the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI). Angie Bush joined the team for a period when the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) decided to offer both beginner and advanced courses. Patti Lee Hobbs, CG, and Karen Stanbary, CG, joined the team as instructors at GRIP and IGHR. Debra Renard presented a case study and tools sessions at IGHR this year. Paul Woodbury is joining the SLIG team for 2017.

The craving for genetic genealogy education is worldwide and spreads beyond the institutes. For several years before these U.S. institutes started, the U.K has hosted the "Who do You Think You Are? Live" event. Since 2013, there has been a Genetic Genealogy Ireland event. Since 2013, Southern California Genealogy Jamboree has offered a DNA Day pre-conference event in Burbank, California. In 2014, the Institute for Genetic Genealogy (I4GG) offered their first two-day event focused on DNA. Many advanced sessions were offered. This year I4GG seems to be focusing more on basic adoption and unknown parentage research with a few advanced sessions. The University of Strathclyde in Scotland offers genetic genealogy courses. Blaine T. Bettinger teaches an online course at Excelsior College in the U.S. Debbie Parker Wayne developed the online, self-paced course Continuing Genealogical Studies: Autosomal DNA, offered by NGS. And there are an uncountable number of webinars and short courses available online. There have even been genetic genealogy cruises and tons of television shows!

These brief statistics demonstrate how institute education in the U.S. on genetic genealogy has skyrocketed since July 2014.

  • 347 genealogists and adoption searchers have attended DNA institute courses (GRIP, SLIG, IGHR, offering week-long beginner, beginner/intermediate, intermediate, and advanced courses; or CAFG's FGI offering two to three day focused courses)
  • 39 of those students (more than 10% of the total number) are credentialed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, many have attended multiple courses (BCG has additional associates with college degrees in Biology, Biotechnology, and related fields who understand DNA even without attending one of these courses; the number of ICAPgen accredited genealogists who may have attended, if any, is not known)
  • 31 of those students have only attended shorter courses focused on unknown parentage, adoption, or forensic specialties (perhaps because that is the focus of their work, they have not been able to schedule time yet to attend one of the longer and more comprehensive institutes, or some other reason)
  • 232 students have taken only one course
  • 90 students have taken two courses at differing levels
  • 15 students have taken three courses at differing levels
  • 10 students have taken four courses at differing levels
  • 5 students retook the same level course more than once (this is a good thing to do if you miss some sessions the first time, to ensure you did not miss anything important the first time even if you attended every presentation, and to cement those more difficult concepts and techniques)

The genealogy community now understands the importance of genetic genealogy.

I will be even happier when we get the genetic genealogy community to become more a part of the genealogy community. Maybe we will see more DNA speakers who are well-known on the "genetic side" invited to speak at the national genealogy conferences. Studying the Genealogy Standards3 and incorporating its concepts into your DNA presentations is a good start at showing you understand both "sides" of genealogy. It would be fabulous for us all to be one community instead of two, and for all of the conference planners to know who is good at both genetic genealogy and documentary genealogy. Both are needed to be a great genealogist, which is the goal for most of us.

1. OpenClipartVectors, dna-148807_1280.png (https://pixabay.com/en/dna-gene-genetic-helix-rna-148807/ : accessed 26 December 2015). CC0 Public Domain.
2. Fry Library, "Old Library, History Reading Room, 1964," digital image, Flickr Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/3925726829/ : accessed 5 December 2011); Fry Library. Photograph taken during the making of a BBC documentary.
3. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th anniversary ed. (Nashville, TN: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Bringing it Together: Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy," Deb's Delvings, 13 October 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

12 October 2016

Cost of DNA vs Documents

I keep hearing people complain about the cost of DNA tests. People saying that we cannot champion using DNA for every genealogical relationship problem because researchers cannot afford it.

CC0, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne
(That is not a word we use often in Texas, but I can't use the word in public you would hear most often in Texas to express this sentiment.)

My last research trip to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and the Copiah County Clerk's Office cost me over $800 (gasoline for the car, six hotel nights, meals, photocopy costs because the MDAH still does not allow digital cameras) plus the loss of seven days time when I could have been doing client work or preparing for a DNA workshop. The $800 breaks down to about ten dollars per page for each photocopy I made. In my mind I may think those pages cost me only twenty-five cents each, but the real cost includes the travel costs. I am not even adding in the lost income. And I needed all of those pages, not just one or two, to prove my case to a reasonable level.

On that trip I focused on proving the relationship between one man and his parents.

©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

My Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA (which now costs only $79) gave me much more definitive proof of the relationship I was trying to prove on that research trip. I have multiple cousins on my match list who confirm this relationship using a record that never lies or gets lost or destroyed—DNA.

©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

And the DNA test results also provide evidence for dozens and dozens of other relationships, not just the one I was focused on during my Mississippi trip.

©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

We need both the documentary evidence and the DNA evidence to prove most relationships. But the DNA information cost me a lot less here. We should consider the true cost of research, not the cost to photocopy one page or order one vital records certificate, when making our own cost benefit analysis as to whether a DNA test makes sense for us.

Reasonably exhaustive research using DNA sometimes requires multiple targeted test-takers, but much of your tree can be confirmed by testing only yourself then using the trees and the shared DNA of those on your match list. For me, the DNA test has been well worth the cost, even priceless.

CC0, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Cost of DNA vs Documents," Deb's Delvings, 12 October 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

28 September 2016

DNA Helix beaded model

I wanted a DNA helix model to have at my vendor booth at the Texas State Genealogical Society conference where I will be discussing the Early Texans DNA Project and Genetic Genealogy in Practice written with Blaine. I wanted something classier than foam or styrofoam without spending hundreds of dollars.

I came up with this idea for wire and beads. I realized the four colors of beads I picked to represent the GCATs could be called Green, Cyan (blue), Amber, and Tangerine (orange) so the first letter of the color matches the DNA chemical names Guanine, Cytosine, Adenine, Thymine. So I decided to make it a real map of the first rungs of the DNA ladder for my mtDNA sequence. I added small wooden beads to represent the sugar and phosphate binding agents.

I still need to play with the twist but I think I am going to like using this at conferences and maybe even at institute courses! The helix is about three inches wide and twenty or so inches long. The size could be adapted using different sized beads and chains.

Photos and DNA Helix design by Debbie Parker Wayne, September 2016

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Helix beaded model," Deb's Delvings, 28 September 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

27 September 2016

Respect and Rights

I am a genealogist. I have a strong compulsion to know my ancestors. I have given up most other activities to follow this compulsion for years now, giving up even more after becoming obsessed with genetic genealogy. So, I can empathize with someone whose brick wall is with their parents or grandparents, whereas my brick walls are deeper in my family tree.

I also recognize that I am my own person; a product of my upraising and my experiences in life. My genes were passed down by my ancestors, but not their deeds. I am not doomed because of the bad things they did. My karma isn't influenced by the good things they did. I make my own destiny. I know who my father is, but he had little to do with the person I am, having divorced Mom when I was only two-years old. I grew up in a household with no father. I grew up in a house with no grandfather; my grandmother was also divorced. I never felt that I missed anything due to the lack of men in my childhood even though this was a rare circumstance in the 1950s and 1960s. My character was strongly influenced by my mother and my other matrilineal line ancestors in the photo below. They passed on the idea that I should consider the feelings of others as well as right and wrong when making decisions.

Too often today, in all areas of our lives, some have the idea that their way of looking at things is the only valid way and the way of the "truth." But there are no hard and fast rules. Ideas of right and wrong change over time, in different cultures, and with new experiences. My pre-teen and teen years encompassed enough of the 1960s for me to remember the teachings of tolerance and idealism. I may not respect all of the beliefs of others that are different from my own, but I respect their right to have those beliefs. What I can never respect is one person's right to force their beliefs on others.

I recently read Bill Griffeth's The Stranger in My Genes. He says, "If genealogy had taught me anything, it was that when our lives are stripped to the bare walls—no job, no money, no possessions—we are left with a fundamental truth that defines us, and it's family."1 After taking a DNA test for family history purposes, Griffeth discovered that the father who raised him was not his biological father. The story of his path to acceptance and understanding of this truth is a compelling one. Griffeth's brother stated what has always been a truth in my family, too: "No matter what, you're still my little brother."2

Family is so much more than a blood relationship or shared genes.

One thing that impresses me with Griffeth's story is his understanding that our ancestors are people just like us, with shortcomings and imperfections, as well as honor. As much as he wanted to know the story of his biological father, he did not press his mother when he saw she was reluctant to discuss what she saw as a mistake she had made. He had empathy for his mother's feelings.

This struck me as so different from the sentiments I often hear expressed today. While I have sympathy for any person who does not know their immediate ancestors and wants to know, I also empathize with the men who were told no one would ever know they were a sperm donor, the women who were told no one would ever know they gave their child up for adoption, or the women who had a moment of indiscretion or a great love affair that resulted in them giving birth to a child whose biological father is not the one named on the birth certificate. In an earlier time, the accepted cultural mores meant never being "outed."

Yes, things have changed today, but many of us continue to believe in the morals we were raised with (or that we may have tortured ourselves with for years as we explored new philosophies). For those on all sides of the unknown parentage triangle who look forward to contact, I am happy for them. For those who do not, I have trouble accepting that any person should be forced to confess or accept something they may have tried to forget or that may cause them pain.

Knowing your medical history is important. Modern DNA tests can provide a lot of information. All of the health history revealed by my DNA tests just confirmed what I already knew from analyzing the death certificates of family members. Without those death certificates I could learn that information from my DNA test.

Not everyone feels the need to force a meeting with biological parents. Griffeth's book describes his acceptance. Some in my own family do not know the identity of their fathers or learned the identity after becoming an adult. One family member who contributed DNA for my family study said, "I don't really care one way or the other whether I learn who my father was. I know who my family is."

Context and empathy are required when researching all types of records. Census, court records, and many others can reveal just as much as a DNA test can reveal about a family secret. Time may lessen the impact of learning of unexpected events in the lives of our ancestors. I am much more careful with twentieth-century court records that reveal children born to unmarried parents than I am of the eighteenth-century "bastardy bonds." I would never apply that terminology to events in recent decades, but it is an historical term that genealogists use without thought for events in the far past. Context. Empathy. Time.

We should be willing to accept that not everyone else believes as we do. In my opinion, forcing anyone to confront an issue he or she is not ready to handle is wrong. Consider the consequences of an action on others before forcing an issue. Good philosophies to follow include the golden rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you;" the silver rule, "do nothing to others you would not have done to you;" and the Navajo saying about "walking a mile in the other guy's moccasins."3 Respect.

My colleague Karen Stanbary, CG, who is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker cautions, "most adoption stories come from a place of profound pain or shame or both for the biological mother, and sometimes the father, too. We all have our own skill sets and defenses against pain and shame. Each person is unique in how much time and support one requires to be ready to take on the risk of additional pain or shame. One size never fits all."

1. Bill Griffeth, The Stranger in My Genes: A Memoir (Kindle edition; Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016), location 1259.

2. Griffeth, The Stranger in My Genes, loc. 421.

3. Bill Puka, "The Golden Rule," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/goldrule/).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Respect and Rights," Deb's Delvings, 27 September 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

19 September 2016

CAFG FGI - Two New Courses in March 2017

The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) announced the 6th annual Forensic Genealogy Institute today. While I am excited to be teaching a track using the book Blaine T. Bettinger and I wrote, I am sad that I won't be able to attend the other track!

The beautiful and historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio was also the venue for the 2016 Forensic Genealogy Institute. Some of the rooms are in the original 1850s section of the hotel, with modern conveniences added while keeping the historic charm of the rooms. The restaurant has great selections. The Alamo is right across the street. Plan to come early or stay after the institute to explore the Alamo and the San Antonio Riverwalk.

Announcement from CAFG:

***Save the Date***

The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) is proud to announce two first-time tracks—unique to CAFG—being offered at the 6th Annual Forensic Genealogy Institute to be held March 7-9, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas.

The first track, Applying Genetic Genealogy to a Forensic Specialty, will be led by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, and offers a unique focus on genetic genealogy for forensic genealogists. This three-day workshop is based on Genetic Genealogy in Practice, with additional material customized for forensic genealogists. Genetic genealogy is a complex topic requiring practice and study to master. Each student will be required to purchase and have in-hand a print copy of the textbook that will be used in the course: Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, Genetic Genealogy in Practice (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogy Society, 2016); available online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/home.

The second track, Becoming an Expert: Law and the Forensic Genealogist, will be led by Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, aka The Legal Genealogist. From the standards that govern genealogical research to the rules that govern courtroom evidence, the law requires expertise of the forensic genealogist. In this three-day, hands-on program, current and aspiring forensic genealogists will learn more about becoming that kind of expert, from applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to finding the applicable law to understanding the legal processes that govern expert witnesses in forensic cases.

CAFG is the leader in education for forensic genealogists. Registration will open October 15. http://www.forensicgenealogists.org/institute/

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "CAFG FGI - Two New Courses in March 2017," Deb's Delvings, 19 September 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

16 September 2016

Upcoming Speaking Engagements - 4Q 2016

I only have two more speaking engagements scheduled for the rest of 2016! That allows me to fit in some research time (travel to Salt Lake City to visit the FamilySearch library) and educational events (a DNA conference in Houston).


The Texas State Genealogical Society Family History Conference (http://www.txsgs.org/) runs from 28–30 October 2016 in Dallas, Texas. The featured speakers are Cyndi Ingle and Judy G. Russell. Many other national and local speakers will also be presenting some of the 72 sessions.

I will present two sessions and plan to have a table in the exhibitor hall to discuss DNA and the Early Texans DNA Project with attendees. My sessions are
  • 5 p.m., Friday, 28 October: X-DNA Inheritance and Analysis

    Learn uses of X-DNA for genealogical research. This lecture uses case studies to demonstrate databases and analysis methods using X-DNA for genealogy.

  • 2 p.m., Saturday, 29 October: DNA Analysis Tools

    Dozens of genetic genealogy analysis tools are available. Some are scientific tools that genealogists can also use. Some are designed specifically for genetic genealogy. Learn to make use of these tools to advance your genealogical research.

See the full conference schedule for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pre-conference research activities are planned for Thursday, 27 October.

I will have copies of Genetic Genealogy on Practice, co-authored with Blaine T. Bettinger, with me to sell and will sign copies. Payment methods accepted will be cash, check, or Paypal payments (Paypal link will be provided at the conference).


1 p.m., Thursday, 10 November, Houston, Texas: GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today – Bear Creek Genealogical Society & Library – Westlake Volunteer Fire Dept. station, 19636 Salms Road. (I-10 West to the Fry Rd. exit; turn right / north and travel about five traffic lights; turn right on Salms Road and immediately see new building on left; turn left into parking lot, drive past building, enter at double doors in front of building, turn right into auditorium.) See also www.bearcreekgenealogy.org.

An introduction to all of the ways DNA can help with genealogical research and the tests available. Covers all four types of DNA (Y, mitochondrial, X, and autosomal) and basic genetics information needed to use DNA for genealogy.

I hope to see many readers and friends at one of these events. Please stop by and say hi.

19 September 2016: Added address and directions for Nov. 10 event.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Upcoming Speaking Engagements - 4Q 2016," Deb's Delvings, 16 September 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved

12 September 2016

'Genetic Genealogy in Practice' topics and sub-topics

Added 30 September 2016: Latest updates and order information available at http://debbiewayne.com/ggip/index.php.

We are getting questions about the contents of the newly-released book Genetic Genealogy in Practice written by Blaine and me (not to be confused with the book Blaine wrote alone1).
Genetic Genealogy in Practice is only available at this time from the National Genealogical Society (NGS) (not on Amazon yet).

Genetic Genealogy in Practice (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2016) by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne contains these chapters and topics
  1. Basic Genetics
    • Basic Genetics
    • Structure of the DNA Molecule
    • Y Chromosome DNA (Y-DNA)
    • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
    • Autosomal DNA (atDNA)
    • X Chromosome DNA (X-DNA)
    • DNA Match
    • Genetic Distance
    • Haplogroups
  2. Genetic Genealogy, Standards, and Ethics
    • What is the GPS?
    • How Genetic Genealogy Relates to the GPS
    • Advantages to Using DNA
    • Types of Genealogical Problems for Which DNA Can Provide Applicable Evidence
    • How Much DNA Evidence is Needed?
    • Importance of Tree Accuracy and Depth
    • Unexpected Findings Resulting from DNA Testing
    • Genetic Genealogy Standards and Ethical Issues
    • Considerations When Asking a Person to Participate in a DNA Study for Genealogical Purposes
    • International and Jurisdictional Considerations
    • Conclusions
    • Chapter 2 Exercises
  3. Genealogical Applications for Y-DNA
    • What is Y-DNA?
    • Y-DNA Inheritance Pattern
    • Advantages and Limitations of Y-DNA
    • Test Strategies for Y-DNA
    • Types of Y-DNA Testing
      1. Y-DNA STRs (including Y-STR Testing and Analysis and Adoption and Misattributed Parentage)
      2. Y-DNA SNPs (including haplogroups and Large-Scale Y-SNP Projects)
    • Chapter 3 Exercises
  4. Genealogical Applications for mtDNA
    • What is mtDNA?
    • mtDNA Inheritance Patterns
    • Advantages and Limitations for mtDNA
    • Test Strategies for mtDNA
    • mtDNA Tests
    • mtDNA Test Results
    • Haplogroups
    • Heteroplasmies
    • Hot Spots
    • Match-List Thresholds
    • Private or Family Mutations
    • Distance to Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)
    • mtDNA Analysis
    • mtDNA Tools
    • Applications for mtDNA analysis
    • Chapter 4 Exercises
  5. Genealogical Applications for atDNA
    • What is atDNA?
    • atDNA Inheritance Patterns
    • Recombination
    • Finding and Classifying Genetic Matches
    • Reporting Genetic Matching by the atDNA Testing Companies (23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Family Tree DNA)
    • atDNA Tools for Genealogists (23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Family Tree DNA)
    • Third-Party Tools
    • Test Strategies for atDNA
    • Genetic Matches and Genetic Networks as Hints for New Research
    • Chromosome Mapping and Triangulation
    • Limitations of chromosome mapping and triangulation
    • Ethnicity Predictions (including Third-party calculators, Limitations of ethnicity estimates, and Using ethnicity estimates)
    • Chapter 5 Exercises
  6. Genealogical Applications for X-DNA
    • What is X-DNA?
    • X-DNA Inheritance Patterns
    • X-DNA Inheritance Charts
    • Advantages, Limitations, and Test Strategies for X-DNA
    • X-DNA Tools
    • Applications for X-DNA segment analysis
    • Chapter 6 Exercises
  7. Incorporating DNA Testing in a Family Study
    • Incorporating Multiple Types of DNA Testing (including a brand new table "Examples of situations employing two types of DNA tests" describing how multiple types of tests can be used in a family study)
    • Supporting or Refuting a Paper Trail with DNA
    • Chapter 7 Exercises
  8. Incorporating DNA Evidence in a Written Conclusion
    • The Genetic Genealogy Standards
    • Privacy Concerns
    • Sharing DNA Test Results
    • Citing DNA Test Results
    • Proof Argument Elements and Process
    • Examples Incorporating DNA Evidence in Genealogical Writing
    • Chapter 8 Exercises
  9. Conclusion
  10. Appendices
    • A. Charts For Exercises
    • B. Glossary (phrased in a manner that should be understandable without a biology degree)
    • C. Reading and Source List
    • D. Exercise Answers

1. Blaine's book written alone is The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy available at http://www.shopfamilytree.com/guide-to-dna-testing-and-genetic-genealogy. Blaine says, "the Family Tree Guide is better suited for people who have no DNA experience, while the NGS book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice, is better suited for people who want to gauge and expand their DNA knowledge."

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "'Genetic Genealogy in Practice' topics and sub-topics," Deb's Delvings, 12 September 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved