22 January 2016

Upcoming DNA presentations

My schedule for DNA presentations is lighter this year due to some other commitments. This is the schedule for the first half of the year.



I hope to see you all at one of these events this year.


Edited 22 January 2016: Don't forget about my online autosomal DNA course available through National Genealogical Society (NGS) even if you cannot attend one of the presentations above in person. See
http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/genetic_genealogy_autosomal_dna, National Genealogical Society: Continuing Genealogical Studies. NGS also offers an introductory Basics course at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/genetic_genealogy.


© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

Forensic Genealogy Institute 2016, DNA Workshop

This year at the Forensic Genealogy Institute I will present an all-day DNA Workshop for the novice and those who want to reinforce understanding of basic concepts of genetic genealogy. On Saturday, 12 March, participants who are interested in adding DNA to their list of services attend, "An Introduction to Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy."


Participants will be introduced to the foundations of DNA inheritance, analysis techniques, and reporting methods for forensic genealogy. This workshop provides an easy to understand explanation of complex DNA concepts. It includes a discussion of which type of DNA test can be used to answer which genealogical questions and practical experience applying DNA evidence to forensic genealogy cases. Attendees will participate in hands-on exercises in the following: Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA case studies, and DNA tools.

The lectures and exercises include
  1. Beginning Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy: Introduction to DNA inheritance, analysis techniques, and reporting methods for forensic genealogists.
  2. Y-DNA and mtDNA Case Studies: Hands-on exercises illustrating typical forensic cases.
  3. atDNA Case Studies: Hands-on exercises illustrating typical forensic cases.
  4. Case Studies using DNA Tools: Demonstration and discussion of tools that can simplify the DNA analysis seen in the case studies.

The entire institute runs from 10 March to 12 March 2016 in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. The historic Menger Hotel will be the setting for the institute. For registration information see Forensic Genealogy Institute, Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy.

Advanced genetic genealogists can attend the Advanced DNA Practicum instead of this introduction.


To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Forensic Genealogy Institute 2016, DNA Workshop," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 22 January 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

20 January 2016

A Different DNA Course - IGHR: GG Tools and Techniques

The Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) opened registration yesterday for the 2016 courses. We are offering a new tool-intensive course for genetic genealogy: Genetic Genealogy Tools and Techniques. We still have a few open seats in the course. Several people have questioned me about the difference in this course and about what is expected in the work sample if the person has studied on their own instead of attending one of the prerequisite courses.


The Tools and Techniques course was designed to answer the requests of prior students for ...

More Hands On, More Tools

The IGHR course builds on the concepts taught in the GRIP Practical Genetic Genealogy and SLIG courses. The focus at IGHR is on how to use the tools to do the analysis — using the concepts taught in the earlier courses. The lectures will be a brief review, then in-depth on using the tool to analyze problems, then you actually use the tools yourself while instructors help you, if needed, and answer your questions.

If you haven't taken one of the prerequisite courses you must submit a work sample demonstrating you have the knowledge taught in the prereq courses. The less class time spent on review, the more time we will have to spend on using the tools.

The prereqs are:
  • An understanding of basic genetic inheritance patterns for Y-DNA, mtDNA, atDNA, and X-DNA
  • An understanding of test results returned for each of these test types, how to access the data online, and how to begin analysis of the DNA results
  • Expertise using your own device (laptop or tablet) to access genetic genealogy websites such as company testing sites GEDmatch, and DNAgedcom

The work sample must illustrate your analysis with details and not just contain a summary stating, for example, you helped a friend with an unknown line compare family trees of close DNA matches to find someone who might be her ancestor.


Your work sample does not need to present a final conclusion, but must describe in detail the DNA analysis process. The citations and documentary research will not be judged — use the space to demonstrate you know enough about DNA to successfully complete the IGHR course. Pseudonyms can be used for privacy purposes, if needed, but the course coordinator (me) or instructors (CeCe Moore, Blaine Bettinger) will be the only persons reviewing the work and will not share the work with anyone else. Length should be no longer than necessary to demonstrate your understanding of DNA. For example, 5 to 10 pages: 1 or 2 pages with bullet lists for the blogs, books, courses, DNA sessions, and webinars you have studied; and 3 to 8 pages clearly indicated how you applied DNA analysis to one genealogical problem. If the work is still in process indicate what steps are planned next to reach a conclusion.

The work sample should include details of the DNA analysis you have done. Details might include tools used for the analysis (company tools, GEDmatch, DNAgedcom ADSA or others, spreadsheets), number of testers, total atDNA shared and longest segments, chromosome number and start and stop point for shared segments, whether/how triangulation was used, whether/how In Common With matches were used, Y-STR values and knowledge of mutation rates impact on the analysis of differences, mtDNA differences from the rCRS, correlation of the DNA information with a family tree to find a common line, etc.


If you have primarily done light reading (as opposed to in-depth study) of the reference materials and do not understand
  • Y-DNA STR differences between multiple testers to determine how far back the common ancestor might be and if there is a common ancestor
  • using Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups to determine ethnicity and potential kinship
  • significance of the different mtDNA regions
  • using shared and overlapping atDNA segments (total percentage of DNA shared)
  • using longest atDNA block comparison to statistical average predictions,
  • determining which ancestor an atDNA block could have been inherited from by comparing trees and shared DNA segments from multiple DNA testers
  • what counts as a good / significant match on atDNA and what is insignificant
  • using output from FTDNA chromosome browser and ICW tools
  • using output from 23andMe DNA Relatives
  • accessing trees at FTDNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry
  • using AncestryDNA DNA data (sparse as it is) and how it compares to Circles and NADs
  • random recombination, inheritance patterns, why using the X is different, etc.
then it will be more difficult to follow the lessons in Genetic Genealogy Tools and Techniques. You don't have to be an expert on all of the topics listed above. You need to be familiar with the meaning of the items and you need to have done some hands-on analysis so you can follow the lessons in the course. You definitely need to know how to access all of the necessary websites on your own device which you will bring with you to Birmingham.

We hope to see you there. This last year for IGHR to be in Birmingham at Samford University should not be missed.

© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

12 January 2016

Becoming a Genetic Genealogist

Disclaimer: As the author, course coordinator, and/or speaker, I have a financial interest in some of the educational opportunities listed below.

How does one become a genetic genealogist? The same way one becomes a good genealogist or good at anything else - study and practice, study and practice, study and practice.


New York Public Library, "Typical Study Room, Typing Room #220," digital image, Flickr Creative Commons (www.flickr.com : accessed 5 December 2011); New York Public Library Visual Materials / Lantern Slides / Research Library / Typing.


There is no one path to becoming a good genealogist. There is no one path to becoming a good genetic genealogist. But no matter the path one takes, no matter the subject matter, practicing what is learned leads to proficiency and expertise.


PublicDomainPictures, https://pixabay.com/, CC0 Public Domain License.


For those who are self-learners, books and articles may provide the knowledge. For those who learn better in a classroom environment, courses are available, online and at institutes. Conference and society meeting presentations are a good starting point to see if you have an interest in a subject, but concentrated study and practical experience is required to become a proficient practitioner.

The following lists some resources to get started. For all of the columns and blogs, start reading with the earliest articles. Once you understand the basic information you can then more easily grasp the intermediate and advanced concepts covered in more recent articles.

At the beginner level, check these resources ...


National Genealogical Society, Continuing Genealogical Studies, Screen Shot


  1. National Genealogical Society, NGS Magazine "Genetic Genealogy Journey" column. I have been writing this column since October 2013. All articles are available in the members-only section of the NGS website (http://ngsgenealogy.org/). Older articles are available on my website (http://debbiewayne.com/presentations/gatagacc_biblio.php).
  2. National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Theme Issue on Genetics and Genealogy. Vol. 93 (December 2005).
  3. Genetic Genealogy, the Basics. National Genealogical Society. Continuing Genealogical Studies. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/CGS.
  4. Bettinger, Blaine. I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What? Self-published, 2008. Current v2.1 version. Family Tree DNA. http://www.familytreedna.com/pdf-docs/Interpreting-Genetic-Genealogy-Results_web_optimized.pdf.
  5. Bettinger, Blaine. The Genetic Genealogist. http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/.
  6. Hill, Richard. Guide to DNA Testing. n.p.: Atrax LLC, 2014. http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/DNA-Testing-Guide.html.
  7. Hill, Richard. Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA. n.p.: self-published, 2012.
  8. Moore, CeCe. Your Genetic Genealogist. http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com.
  9. Kennett, Debbie. DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-first Century. Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2011.
  10. Russell, Judy G. The Legal Genealogist. http://www.legalgenealogist.com/.
  11. Shawker, Thomas. Unlocking Your Genetic History. Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill Press, 2004. This older book covers the basics on genetics, Y-DNA and mtDNA, but not the latest tests or in-depth atDNA.
  12. Smolenyak, Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner. Trace Your Roots with DNA. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale Press, 2004. This older book covers the basics on genetics, Y-DNA and mtDNA, but not the latest tests or in-depth atDNA.
  13. Wayne, Debbie Parker. Deb's Delvings Blog. http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/.
  14. Wheaton, Kelly. Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy. https://sites.google.com/site/wheatonsurname/beginners-guide-to-genetic-genealogy.
  15. DNA-Newbie Yahoo Forum. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DNA-NEWBIE/.
  16. Practical Genetic Genealogy. Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). A full week of practical, hands-on experience analyzing and correlating DNA test results using the latest tools and techniques.
  17. Getting Started with Genetic Genealogy. Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). A full week of practical, hands-on experience analyzing and correlating DNA test results using the latest tools and techniques.
  18. Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee. Genetic Genealogy Standards http://www.geneticgenealogystandards.com/.
  19. Your local and regional libraries and special interest groups at societies for DNA-related offerings.

As you read, practice what you learn using the DNA test results of your own family. After studying the items above, you should be able to determine which are your closest DNA matches and compare family trees looking for common ancestors. You should be able to compare the STR values of Y-DNA testers to determine if testers likely have a common ancestor or not. You should be able to determine how closely two mtDNA or Y-DNA testers match each other. You should be able to determine how closely atDNA testers may be related, as in first to second cousins, second to fourth cousins, distant cousins, etc.

Read articles in scholarly journals that incorporate DNA analysis into genealogical research. Recent ones in the NGS quarterly include:
  1. Hollister, Morna Lahnice. "Goggins and Goggans of South Carolina: DNA Helps Document the Basis of an Emancipated Family's Surname." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (September 2014): 165-176.
  2. Jones, Thomas W. "Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (June 2015): 85-103.
  3. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. "Testing the FAN Principle against DNA: Zilphy (Watts) Price Cooksey Cooksey of Georgia and Mississippi." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (June 2014): 129-152.
The articles above are available in the members-only section of the NGS website (http://ngsgenealogy.org/).


Family Tree DNA Chromosome Browser Display, Screen Shot


As your skills increase, check these resources ...
  1. More advanced articles on the blogs listed above.
  2. Genetic Genealogy, Autosomal DNA. National Genealogical Society. Continuing Genealogical Studies. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/CGS.
  3. Aulicino, Emily D. Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2013.
  4. Bartlett, Jim. Segment-ology. http://segmentology.org/.
  5. Christmas, Shannon. Through the Trees. http://throughthetreesblog.tumblr.com/.
  6. Dowell, Dave. Dr D Digs Up Ancestors. http://blog.ddowell.com/.
  7. Estes, Roberta. DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy. http://dna-explained.com/.
  8. Institute for Genetic Genealogy. http://i4gg.org/. Video recordings of conference sessions are available to view online at a very reasonable price.
  9. Owston, Jim. The Lineal Arboretum. http://linealarboretum.blogspot.com/.
  10. Perkins, Steve. On-line Journal of Genetic Genealogy. http://jgg-online.blogspot.com/.
  11. Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JOGG). http://www.jogg.info/.
  12. Genetics And Us. http://www.geneticsand.us/.
  13. Genealogy DNA List on RootsWeb. http://lists.rootsweb.com/index/other/DNA/GENEALOGY-DNA.html.
  14. Autosomal DNA List on RootsWeb. http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/other/DNA/AUTOSOMAL-DNA.html.
  15. Advanced Genetic Genealogy. Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).
  16. Genetic Genealogy Tools and Techniques. Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR).
  17. Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques For Genealogical Research. Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).
  18. DNAadoption courses. http://dnaadoption.com/index.php?page=online-classes/. Several courses are offered on atDNA and Y-DNA with others to be added in the future.
  19. Become a project administrator or assistant administrator for a DNA project - Y-DNA, mtDNA, atDNA, regional, or a haplogroup project. This will expose you to situations beyond those seen in your own family.
Genetic genealogy courses are also offered by other groups such as Family Tree University (https://www.familytreeuniversity.com/), Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (http://vigrgenealogy.com/), and University of Strathclyde (http://www.strath.ac.uk/).

Continue practicing newly learned techniques using the DNA test results of your own family and consenting project members. Incorporate segment analysis and triangulation of segments. Try to determine which DNA segments were inherited from which ancestors when you have several testers with robust, accurate, and complete trees who share overlapping DNA segments. Start with segments larger than 10cM or so; smaller segments are difficult to confirm and can mislead novices. Test out standalone tools and third-party websites discussed in the books and articles.

Write up your findings incorporating both documentary research and the DNA results. A skilled genetic genealogist must also be a skilled genealogist. Credible conclusions are reached by correlating DNA evidence and documentary evidence. DNA is one more tool in the toolbox of a good genealogist. In the same way you learned to analyze tax roll details and odd phrases in probate or deed records, you must learn the oddities of genetic evidence. Random recombination and inheritance patterns can complicate analysis because there are multiple scenarios by which specific test results could have occurred. Statistical probabilities play a role.


Genetic Genealogy Kit, Screen Shot

Ask skilled friends to critique your writing, giving constructive feedback, good and bad. When you feel confident in your writing submit the article to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Genetic genealogy is a complex subject, but if you can learn to become a good genealogical researcher you should be able to become a good genetic genealogist. You must be willing to invest the time into learning the concepts and analysis techniques that are unique to genetics and practicing the techniques to become proficient in multiple situations.

When "random" factors are involved, you can seldom ever use the words always or never. You must have a deep understanding of concepts to be able to judge the likelihood of an event.



To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Becoming a Genetic Genealogist," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 12 January 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).


© 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

09 December 2015

TSLAC Website Redesign

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) just launched a redesigned website. The announcement indicates:
Highlights of the new site include a streamlined user interface, targeted informational categories, enhanced access to search functions and graphical based divisional landing pages. A key feature of the redesign offers mobile responsiveness to meet the needs of the growing number of users accessing the site via handheld and tablet devices.
Be sure to explore all of the topics. Some items of interest to genealogists are found on the "Online Collections" page as well as the "Genealogy Resources" and other pages. The new site has a nice clean look and seems easy to navigate and search. The pages resize for smaller windows. I love this as so many sites nowadays force me to make my browser fill the full screen width or to scroll horizontally.



Screen shot of TSLAC Home Page, 9 December 2015

As with any website, be creative with your search terms and think about how an item would have been referred to in documents. For example, a search for "texas lunatic asylum" results in no hits. Searching for "state lunatic asylum" or just "lunatic asylum" results in hits in two different collections. Neither of the hits is in a collection linked from the "Genealogy Resources" or "Online Collections" pages. Today's researchers are interested in many less used records to help us learn the full life story of our ancestor's lives.


Screen shot of TSLAC Search Results, 9 December 2015


To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "TSLAC Website Redesign," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 9 December 2015 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).


© 2015, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

NGS Announces New Course -- Genetic Genealogy: Autosomal DNA Course

"Genetic Genealogy: Autosomal DNA Course" is now available!


One of the reasons I haven't blogged as much this past year is that I have been developing an online course on using autosomal DNA (atDNA) for genetic genealogy. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) just announced availability of the course. See http://upfront.ngsgenealogy.org/2015/12/ngs-launches-its-newest-course-genetic.html for more information.

The NGS courses are structured with short modules. Each module concludes with a self-test to confirm understanding before moving to the next module. Courses include a glossary and a reading list where additional information can be found. After registering for a course, you work at your own pace and on your own time schedule.

The "Autosomal DNA Course" is aimed at beginner to intermediate level researchers. My own research cases are used to illustrate examples, although some names are changed and blurred for privacy purposes. The first module begins with a brief review of DNA basics including inheritance patterns for DNA. The primary focus is atDNA with some information on X-DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA, Y-DNA, and genetic basics are covered in an earlier course titled "Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics" authored by Dr. Thomas H. Shawker.

The "Autosomal DNA Course" briefly discusses some of the testing companies and tools, but the focus is on concepts for analysis that can be applied no matter which testing company is used and which tool is used to do the analysis.


Credit: Family Finder Test Array Chip by Illumina, image by Debbie Parker Wayne, Family Tree DNA Lab Tour, 16 November 2015

I hope this course helps genealogists who are ready to take the next step toward being a genetic genealogist. My goal in teaching and writing about genetic genealogy has always been to teach only as much of the biology as is needed to use genetics for genealogical research. I try to cover the important concepts we need to know in a way that those of us who are not biologists can understand. I don't have anything against learning more about biology. As a matter of fact, I encourage genealogists who start using DNA to continue studying biological concepts. The more we understand biology and inheritance of DNA, the more we understand all of the implications when forming genealogical conclusions based on DNA. But, no one should be scared away from genetic genealogy thinking you need a biology degree before you start.

Genetic genealogy is a complex subject. For many of us, we need to read or hear something more than once before it sinks in. Reviewing the course material and studying the articles and books in the reading list will cement your understanding of the concepts and allow you to move to more advanced topics with a strong foundation.

Don't forget to check out the other Continuing Genealogical Studies and American Genealogical Studies courses available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/educational_courses.


To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "NGS Announces New Course -- Genetic Genealogy: Autosomal DNA Course," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 9 December 2015 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2015, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

27 September 2015

Hands-on DNA Workshop and Lectures at TxSGS Conference - 30 October to 1 November 2015

After presentations at conferences many people still have questions on how to analyze their DNA test results. Most of us need hands-on experience to understand how to apply the concepts taught in a lecture.

The Texas State Genealogical Society (TxSGS) 2015 Family History Conference has both a great lineup of DNA lectures and a two-hour hands-on workshop for those who already have some basic knowledge.


Friday afternoon I will lead a two-hour intermediate level DNA workshop from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The workshop will be repeated from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Each workshop requires registration and a fee above the conference registration. This genetic genealogy workshop is for researchers who are a step beyond the beginner level. DNA beginners may have difficulty with some concepts and tasks.

If you aren't already "a step beyond the beginner level" you can learn more in this workshop by studying before attending the workshop. A good place to start would be the following course and articles.

DNA sessions in the regular conference schedule include:

  • Saturday, 1 p.m., Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, "GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today"
  • Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Diahan Southard, "What now? Your Next Steps With Autosomal DNA Testing"
  • Saturday, 4:00 p.m., Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, "Correlating atDNA with GenomeMate"
  • Sunday, 1 p.m., Diahan Southard, "A Beginners Guide To Genetic Genealogy"
  • Sunday, 2:30 p.m., Deena Coutant, "DNA Third-Party Tools And Databases"
  • Sunday, 4:00 p.m. Diahan Southard, "An Outsiders Look Inside AncestryDNA"

In addition to the great DNA line-up, the alternating keynote speakers are the ever-popular J. Mark Lowe, CG, and Lisa Louise Cooke. Presenters on non-DNA topics include Susan Ball; Dr. Jose Barragan; Becky Broadbent; H. M. Christmas; Deena Coutant; Schelly Talalay Dardashti; Teri Flack; Sharon Gillins; Connie Gray; Sara Gredler; Colleen Greene; James Harkins (Texas General Land Office); Dr. Martha Everman Jones; Janice Lovelace; Bernard N. Meisner; Kelvin L. Meyers; Laurel Neuman; Paula Perkins; Cari Taplin, CG; Patricia G. Taylor; Randy Whited; Ari Wilkins; and Sharon Wolff.

Check out the conference page for more specifics on all the exciting activities and presentations and for registration information. TxSGS has organized this conference a little differently than in the past where one keynote speaker presented all day on Saturday. Be sure to check the schedule so you don't miss anything.


To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Hands-on DNA Workshop and Lectures at TxSGS Conference - 30 October to 1 November 2015," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 27 September 2015 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

​Certified Genealogist, CG, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, and CGL are proprietary service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluations for genealogical competence.


© 2015, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved