23 December 2012

Michael Hait's U.S. Census Pathfinder

Michael Hait has a new free e-book that will be useful to every genealogist:

United States Federal Census Pathfinder

He includes clickable links to general information on the census and specific information on each U.S. census through 1940, extraction forms, educational articles, and more. Thanks, Michael, for a great resource.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Michael Hait's U.S. Census Pathfinder," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 23 December 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

14 Jan 2013: Typographical error corrected.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

NASA Pub: Earth as Art

WOW! Sometimes our tax dollars are used to add beauty to our lives.

This is not really a genealogy-related post except maybe peripherally. But it is a subject dear to my heart so ...

As beautiful as earth can be from land-bound eye level, it is even more fascinating when seen from above, especially high above. Years ago I would sit mesmerized watching the NASA channel as it broadcast the view from the window of the space shuttle. Even when I should have been doing something more productive, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the beautiful images on the screen and the game of trying to figure out where on earth this feature was. I haven't seen this series on the NASA channel recently. I wish NASA would reinstitute the feed of images from the space shuttle missions. For me, this is much better than most of the "reality" shows some of us watch.

There are beautiful images of earth from space illustrated and described in "Earth As Art" created by NASA.1 I learned of this publication on the Free Technology for Teachers blog. This is a blog useful to every genealogist who writes (all of us, right?) or does presentations.

As beautiful as the NASA images are as art, don't skip over the descriptions which explain the colors and important features in each image. This image is a portion I cropped from an image of the Lena River Delta in Russia.2 Compare it to the image of the Mississippi River Delta in the U.S. on pages 84–85 of the book.

The images might be useful as art on Powerpoint slides (faded as background images or cropped for a border decoration or as a bullet image) or for a presentation on interesting place names (like Lake Disappointment, Australia) or if you happen to have ancestral events in one of the locations depicted on the images shown (like the Mississippi River).

I'm not a lawyer. You should confirm status of the images before using them. But, in general, creations of the U.S. government are considered to be in the public domain. The book has no copyright statement included and does not indicate any restrictions on use. But be sure to properly cite the images to avoid plagiarism.

1. Lawrence Freidl, et al., Earth as Art (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2012); electronic edition (http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/703154main_earth_art-ebook.pdf : accessed 23 December 2012).

2.Cropped portion of "Lena River Delta, Russia," Lawrence Freidl, et al., Earth as Art (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2012), 76–77; electronic edition (http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/703154main_earth_art-ebook.pdf : accessed 23 December 2012).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "NASA Pub: Earth as Art," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 23 December 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

22 December 2012

Harold Henderson on Writing

I just read a great article with tips on writing your genealogical research from Harold Henderson titled Why We Don't Write, and How We Can.

There is a lot of good info in the article. I especially like the comparison to buffalo hunters and Harold's "Three Ps of Genealogy:"
Prove our conclusions
Propagate our findings
Preserve our information

In addition to his articles at Archives.com, check out Harold's writings at Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog. This is one of my must-read blogs.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Harold Henderson on Writing," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 22 December 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

19 December 2012

1871 Gun Laws in Texas

In several Texas counties I have run across county court minutes and commissioner's court minutes where a man was being fined for carrying a gun in the 1870s. This surprised me as Texas has a reputation, even today, as a place where gun rights are supreme.

Even in 1871, when some Texas counties were still experiencing "incursions of hostile Indians," Texans passed a law prohibiting the carrying of firearms, as well as "dirk, dagger, slung shot [sic], sword cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured and sold for the purposes of offense and defense," in certain locations, including schools and churches. I suspect many of the men in the legislature at that time still needed a firearm to put food on the table, not just for target practice or to shoot snakes while they were jogging.

Here's the 1871 law:
An Act to regulate the keeping and bearing of deadly weapons.

Sec. 3. If any person shall go into any church or religious assembly, any school room, or other place where persons are assembled for amusement or for educational or scientific purposes, or into any circus, show, or public exhibition of any kind, or into a ball room, social party, or social gathering, or to any election precinct on the day or days of any election, where any portion of the people of this State are collected to vote at any election, or to any other place where people may be assembled to muster, or to perform any other public duty, (except as may be required or permitted by law,) or to any other public assembly, and shall have or carry about his person a pistol or other firearm, dirk, dagger, slung shot, sword cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured and sold for the purposes of offense and defense, unless an officer of the peace, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall, for the first offense, be punished by fine of not less than fifty, nor more than five hundred dollars, and shall forfeit to the county the weapon or weapons so found on his person; and for every subsequent offense may, in addition to such fine and forfeiture, be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not more than ninety days.

Sec. 4. This act shall not apply to, nor be enforced in any county of the State, which may be designated, in a proclamation of the Governor, as a frontier county. and liable to incursions of hostile Indians.1
This blog has comments moderated to prevent spammers and wackos from using it as a platform. This post is not designed to generate a gun safety discussion here. But, in light of recent events in Connecticut, understanding our history may help us come to more reasonable conclusions on how things should be done today. Think about it.

Remembering those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones, and those who responded to the horrific crime in Newtown.

1. H. P. N. Gammel, comp., The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, 10 vols. (Austin: Gammel Book Co., 1898), 6:25-26, "An Act to regulate the keeping and bearing of deadly weapons," approved 12 April 1871, "General Laws of Texas, 1871; digital images, University of North Texas, The Portal to Texas History (http://texinfo.library.unt.edu/lawsoftexas/ : accessed 14 September 2005).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "1871 Gun Laws in Texas," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 19 December 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

13 November 2012

Family Tree DNA 2012 Holiday Sale

As the Project Administrator for the Texas State Genealogical Society Project (TXStateGS) at Family Tree DNA one of my responsibilities is to notify members and prospective members of upcoming and ongoing sales.

If you've been waiting for a good sale before ordering a DNA test, the time is now. Family Tree DNA has great tools to help analyze your DNA data. They provide full access to all of your DNA data; after all, it is YOUR DNA. They have great Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) lists to provide all the information most of us need. If you can't find your answer in the FAQ there are helpful customer service reps available through telephone support. Best of all, the company founders are genealogists who understand us and our needs.

Here is the 2012 "Holiday DNA Sale" notice with big discounts offered:
As we ended our 8th Annual Genetic Genealogy Conference, several conference participants asked us to start our year-end sale as soon as possible. In answer to those requests we decided to start it immediately:
New Kits Current Price SALE PRICE
Y-DNA 37 $169 $119
Y-DNA 67 $268 $199
mtDNAPlus $159 $139
mtFullSequence (FMS) $299 $199
SuperDNA (Y-DNA 67 and mtFullSequence) $548 $398
Family Finder $289 $199
Family Finder + mtDNAPlus $438 $318
Family Finder + mtFullSequence $559 $398
Family Finder
+ Y-DNA 37
$438 $318
(FF + FMS + Y-67)
$837 $597
Upgrades Current Price SALE PRICE
Y-Refine 12-25 Marker $59 $35
Y-Refine 12-37 Marker $109 $69
Y-Refine 12-67 Marker $199 $148
Y-Refine 25-37 Marker $59 $35
Y-Refine 25-67 Marker $159 $114
Y-Refine 37-67 Marker $109 $79
Y-Refine 37-111 Marker $220 $188
Y-Refine 67-111 Marker $129 $109
mtHVR1toMega $269 $179
mtHVR2toMega $239 $179
mtFullSequence Add-on $289 $199
To order this special offer, log in to your personal page and click on the Order An Upgrade button in the upper right corner. A link to the login page is provided below. ALL ORDERS MUST BE PLACED AND PAID FOR BY MONDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2012 11:59:00 PM CST TO RECEIVE THE SALE PRICES. ...

Click here to order a new kit and join the Texas State Genealogical Society Project at the same time.

If you are already a Family Tree DNA customer, login using your kit number and password to order an upgrade.

New customers can also order a test without joining a project, but you may miss some special project discounts and assistance offered by project administrators.

Be sure to order and pay for the upgrade before the end of the year to get these special prices.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Family Tree DNA 2012 Holiday Sale," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 13 November 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

08 November 2012

DNA Two-fer Becomes a Three-fer

I am constantly reminded about what a small world we live in and how we can all be related in more recent times as well as once we go back thousands of years. This is another example of why it is so important to trace the FAN club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors) even when it hasn't been a line of primary interest before DNA testing came along. I also suspect having access to the raw DNA data will be critical as I work on this problem.

A few months ago I wrote about a two-fer with a new DNA match at Family Tree DNA. I recently found out I have a three-fer with this same family. We haven't yet identified the third line my family members share with this other family, but there obviously is one on the "step" side of the family. I hope the diagram makes these relationships more clear.

In this case female #1 represented by the green circle (F#1 J) and female #2 represented by the orange circle (F #2 N) both had multiple partners represented by the squares. In the earlier post I discussed how Y, K, and Z match on the Ryan line. Y's Ryan line is through the mother J. Z's Ryan line is through the father K.

Y's Hurt line is through the father R. M, who is the second husband of N, has a Hurt line. So Y has matches to both partners of N and the child of N. None of these people knew each other before they matched on the Family Finder DNA test. We found this link back in August.

X is the half-sister to Y—same mother, different father. X also shares the Ryan line through her mother J and should match Z whose Ryan line is through her father K.

But now that X's results are back we also find she is related to N. This link is likely through X's father A. Knowing about the ancestry of N may provide information about the paternal ancestry of X even though we know very little about her paternal line at this time.

To summarize:

X and Y are half-siblings

Y matches Z on the Ryan line

Y should match M on the Hurt line once M's results are back

X matches N on an unknown line likely through A

X matches Z on the Ryan line

Three groups of children related in different ways to two women and the four men those women have partnered with during the last sixty years. Wow! Is this cool or what? I suspect our blended families will result in more and more multiple links between families as we explore what we can learn from DNA testing. And none of us knew or suspected each other before DNA matched us up.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Two-fer Becomes a Three-fer," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 8 November 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [DATE]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

28 September 2012

Family Tree DNA Flash Weekend Sale

Family Tree DNA is offering a "Flash Weekend Sale." Order before midnight, Sunday, September 30, for these great prices. This information is from their announcement:

It seems every time we run a flash sale a few people e-mail us days later they were traveling, sick or just had not looked at their e-mails in time, so for all of you who want to entice a friend, neighbor or reluctant relative to get involved in Genetic Genealogy here's one more opportunity, but it will last for only 72 hours.

We are gearing this sale for newcomers and upgrades by promoting the Family Finder and the Full Mitochondria Sequence (FMS). This sale starts Friday, September 28, at 12:00am and ends Sunday, September 30, at 11:59PM.

New Kits Current Price     SALE PRICE
Family Finder $289 $199
mtFullSequence $299 $199
Family Finder + mtFullSequence     $559 $398

Upgrades Current Price     SALE PRICE
Family Finder $289 $199
HVR1 to mtFullSequence     $269 $199
HVR2 to mtFullSequence $239 $199
mtFullSequence $289 $199

As with all promotions, orders need to be placed by the end of the sale and payment must be made by end of this sale. Learn More.

Order from the Family Tree DNA website.

If you need help deciding which test to order, see the Family Tree DNA website or my notes.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Family Tree DNA Flash Weekend Sale," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 28 September 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

29 August 2012

Review: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

I just finished reading Richard Hill's new book, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA.1

Richard announced the book a few days ago on one of the DNA mailing lists I read. At first I could only find a link he provided to createspace.com, an Amazon company. My first search at Amazon didn't find the book. I didn't want to create another login for createspace.com so I hesitated to order the book. The next day I was able to order the book through my normal Amazon login. A few days later I received the book and I read it in one sitting. You always hear the exaggeration, "I couldn't put it down." I did put it down a couple of times to run down the hall for a break. Other than that, "I couldn't put it down."

I have not met Richard Hill, but I heard him speak at the 2011 Family Tree DNA Project Administrator's Conference. Richard's search for his biological parents was covered in stories in 2009 in The Grand Rapids (Michigan) News2 and The Wall Street Journal.3 At the DNA conference Richard told us his story. It is an interesting and compelling story. This new book incorporates details that occurred after the 2011 DNA conference. These new findings make the story even more compelling for everyone. Genealogists striving to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard4 will find some excellent examples in Richard's search process and in reviewing his analysis.

I don't want to spoil the ending. I'll just say Richard's story demonstrates:
  • why we need a research log to track our project;
  • the importance of a reasonably exhaustive search, why DNA is an integral part of a reasonably exhaustive search today, how persistence and serendipity can both be an important part of the search;
  • how to analyze and correlate information, assessing its quality as evidence, giving up assumptions and pre-conceived notions, finding the kernel of truth in a family story—and the lies and half-truths we all run into;
  • using evidence to resolve conflicts, propose logical reasons for the conflict, reveal facts indirectly, and point us to other research avenues;
  • and arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.
Richard's book may not fully meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) because it does not include the complete and accurate source citations genealogists expect in scholarly publications. There aren't any footnotes or endnotes for citations. We can't judge the quality of some of the sources or the full extent of the research as some common records aren't mentioned. We do see the importance of persistence in requesting the same record multiple times. We see the problems encountered when the records most likely to give an answer are closed or not available. We see creative thinking to get around these problems. We learn how to interpret several kinds of DNA reports. We see the use of multiple sources to prove facts.

But this isn't meant to be published in a scholarly journal. It's meant to be a readable story that inspires and guides adoptees and genealogists about how to use DNA for family history. There is information on his sources in the narrative. Most of the sources are those same ones genealogists use every day: family stories, the Social Security Death Index, newspapers, court records, city directories. The exclusion of source citations is a deficiency when measuring against the GPS. But this is Richard's search story, not a compiled family history or genealogical narrative where this would be a major flaw. And when a story includes living persons in a sensitive situation, we do have to be careful what is published.

The writing keeps you in the story. The characters, living and deceased, make you want to know them or know more about them. The personalities of the people in the story come through. Each chapter ends with a statement that draws you into the subject of the next chapter. It's a good read; most researchers will learn something; many will be inspired. I think that meets Richard's goals in writing the book.

Richard teaches about the sensitivity needed when working with adoptees:
Adoption is inherently a two-sided coin. On one side, there is gratitude that a nice family chose to raise you as their own. On the flip side, there's a sense of loss. Your birth parents had to give you up for this to happen. {p. 9}

I was beginning to see that there was a lot of curiosity about lost relatives from both sides of the adoption wall. {p. 81}

I knew that some birth parents did not appreciate being found by the children they had conceived. {p. 111}

This book is a perfect illustration of how genealogical conclusions must change as new evidence comes to light. In my opinion, it is also a perfect complement to a recent discussion on the Transitional Genealogists Forum mail list about using DNA as part of the Genealogical Proof Standard.
The so-called "Genealogical Proof Standard" promulgated in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual is in fact described in that work as a credibility standard. Genealogical evidence that meets that standard—whether documentary or DNA—when properly explained, should be sufficient to convince most reasonable people that the conclusion drawn from it is in accord with reality. However, there will always be some who are still doubters, while only a portion of the evidence would be enough to convince others.
These days DNA evidence is among the types of evidence a knowledgeable researcher would seek, and so is within the scope of the reasonably exhaustive search, if suitable donors can be identified and consent to testing. If none can be found, the "reasonably exhaustive search" requirement has been satisfied, and the paper evidence can stand on its own, without the confirming support or conflicting evidence the DNA samples might provide.

I understand DNA evidence to be one more part of the mix, to be considered along with everything else on the basis of its relative credibility compared to the other items of evidence. Y-DNA and mtDNA matches can provide supporting, but not conclusive, evidence of relationships, but mismatches can upset them conclusively.

And don't forget the cautionary note that needs to accompany the GPS:

Conclusions that meet the GPS are always subject to reconsideration when new evidence is discovered.

The GPS doesn't provide finality, even though that's what many are looking for.5
The genealogical paper trail and the DNA evidence must be used in conjunction: we analyze and correlate all of the information we gather. Richard illustrates that well.

I have to admit that, as a Texan, I was surprised when Richard described how he had been warned "not to mistake Dale's strong Texas accent for a lack of intelligence" {p. 183} and by the fact that not everyone in the U.S. knows about the domino game called 42 {p. 202}. But then I don't know anything about euchre, apparently big in Michigan. And I worked very hard to soften my Texas drawl when I started teaching international and national students. My Texas accent was hard on the New Yorkers and Scotsmen, and vice versa. We tend to forget that, even with the homogenous landscape we live in today, with a McDonald's and a Walgreen's on every corner, there are still a lot of regional differences. I embrace those differences even when they do surprise me. Those differences keep life interesting.

Disclaimer: Richard Hill and I are "friends" on social media sites, but not personal friends. I link to publications on his website http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/ where he publishes information useful to genealogists and adoptees using DNA for family history research. He is the author of the free e-book Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors and Confirm Relationships through DNA Testing; A Plain-English Overview for Genealogists, Adoptees and Everyone Else.

I did not receive a free copy of Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA; I paid full retail for it. Money well spent. I recommend you do the same.

Added after initial post: I forgot to state above that Richard's process also clearly demonstrates something I state in all my presentations: the DNA test results indicate statistically how likely something is to be true. But random events don't always perfectly match statistical probabilities. The actual relationships must be determined using the DNA data and the documentary evidence. But you should be able to correlate the evidence to explain why a situation outside the probabilities is likely to be true.

1. Richard Hill, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA (n.p.: self-published, 2012); available on Amazon.com. An e-Book version should be available soon.
2. Pat Shellenberger, "Rockford man uses DNA testing, Internet searches to find his birth father," 21 June 2009, the Grand Rapids (Michigan) News (http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/06/rockford_man_uses_dna_testing.html : accessed 29 August 2012).
3. Gautam Naik, "Family Secrets: An Adopted Man's 26-Year Quest for His Father," 2 May 2009, The Wall Street Journal ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124121920060978695.html : accessed 29 August 2012).
4. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 3d ed. (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009).
5. Donn Devine, "DNA - proof or just indication?," slightly modified version of a TGF mail list message, 18 August 2012, (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM/2012-08/1345179394 and http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM/2012-08/1345276256 : 28 August 2012 modification and permission to use to Debbie Parker Wayne along with the cautionary note).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Review: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 29 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

28 August 2012

J. Mark Lowe, CG, East Texas Seminar

J. Mark Lowe, Certified Genealogist, will present a workshop and seminar soon for East Texas Genealogical Society in Tyler, Texas. Registration starts one-half hour before the presentations. Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-register to be sure you get handouts and choice of lunch.

Friday evening from 7-9:00 p.m., "Following a Case Through Court Workshop"
Learn the basic of the legal system. Understand the process of following a case through court including dockets, orders, depositions, etc. Find the key to solving a problem using these records.

Saturday seminar, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

1. Locating Civil War Ancestors - Discover the records of your Yankee or Rebel ancestor. Learn more about compiled military service records, pensions and more.

2. Finding Uncle John by Talking to the Neighbors - Using census records, manuscripts, and land records, learn details about your ancestor's neighborhood and the people with whom they worked, prayed, fought and married.

3. Cemeteries as a Genealogical Resource - We often overlook obvious clues as we walk through a cemetery. Whether town or country, enjoy this look at ways to learn more from our ancestors through gravestones and cemeteries.

4. Just Talkin' or Oral History & Genealogy - Talking with family members will help you gain additional information about the family. Learn how to conduct an effective interview, how to follow-up, and how to document the information

Mark is an entertaining and informative genealogical speaker. Click these links for a map of the location and PDF version of the flyer. You won't find a more economical workshop or seminar where you will learn so much while having such fun.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "J. Mark Lowe, CG, East Texas Seminar," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 28 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

26 August 2012

RIP: Neil Armstrong, Moonwalker

Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted last night, "Men Walk On Moon - The only positive event in the last 50 yrs for which everyone remembers where they were when it happened." (I don't tweet. I learned about this message from a Wall Street Journal blog post.)

I thought about that and realized he was right. All the other big events I remember were bad things. The assassination of Kennedy—the first political event I remember. Learning of the death of relatives. Hearing about and seeing terrorist attacks perpetrated by both foreign and American-born terrorists.

Why do we remember the bad things so vividly? Why don't the great things make connections in our minds? Most women have strong memories of childbirth. That is both a good event and a painful time so still fits the theory. As our grandmas pass down memories of family events, how many good things get lost to time? We lose some of the stories of disreputable ancestors when grandma purposefully doesn't tell them. But how many good stories had she forgotten?

Where's the time machine when we need it? Maybe a time machine is a dream. But the only possibility of ever seeing one depends on the kind of research done to explore space. Here's to the future Moonwalkers and Marswalkers that my genealogist descendant may research and that Neil Armstong will inspire.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "RIP: Neil Armstrong, Moonwalker," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 26 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

25 August 2012

Upcoming DNA Presentations

In the next three months I will be presenting "GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today" in several different Texas cities. I'd love to see you at one of these events and see what you think of my unique images to illustrate DNA inheritance patterns.

Monday, September 17, 5:00 p.m., Angelina County Genealogical Society, Kurth Memorial Library, 706 South Raguet Street, Lufkin, Texas – http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txacgs/

Saturday, October 6, 11:00 a.m., Dallas Genealogical Society, J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas Texas – http://www.dallasgenealogy.org/

Saturday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. – plenty of time for questions during a two-hour DNA session as part of an all-day seminar starting at 9:00 a.m., Fort Bend County / George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview, Richmond, Texas – http://www.fortbend.lib.tx.us/

Friday, November 2, time TBD, Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference – http://txsgs.org/

I will also be covering "Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy" at the Forensic Genealogy Institute of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy on October 25–27. The institute requires pre-registration and has closed enrollment for this session. Check their site for future institute offerings – http://www.forensicgenealogists.com/

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Upcoming DNA Presentations," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 25 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

The Informed DNA Tester

Disclaimer: The following represents my opinions. I've spoken and written little publicly about the issue of Ancestry.com not providing raw DNA data to their genetic genealogy customers, here, in several posts on mail lists, in DNA presentations, and in private messages. I try to be fair when stating my objections to policies and actions of a company whose product I use every day. I don't use their DNA products or put family trees on their site. I make extensive use of their databases and record images. I analyze DNA data from Ancestry for clients and family members and compare it to the results from other companies when enough information is provided to allow this. I pay standard subscription rates for all services from Ancestry. I do not receive free access or services from them or from any other DNA company.

I believe it is important to test with a company that gives you full access to your DNA data. The graphical tools provided by the testing companies allow only the most superficial analysis of the data. The raw DNA data can be used in many utilities and by knowledgeable genetic genealogists to help you learn more about your family history. Isn't that the main reason you took the DNA test?

Ancestry.com, under the name AncestryDNA, offers genetic genealogy tests. Even though their policy states you own your data, they do not provide the raw data results to you. Having access to the raw data is important, not only because it is your data and you can learn more by analyzing the raw data. When an error occurs, as is possible in any human endeavor, the error can be caught quickly when we see the actual data. When all we see is a graphical representation of that data, as interpreted by a proprietary algorithm, it is difficult to determine the cause of an unexpected result. The genetic genealogy community has helped quickly resolve problems in the past by analyzing the raw DNA data and seeing illogical results.

In my opinion, every customer of Ancestry should demand the raw DNA data be made available to them. For details of a specific problem that brings this point home, see these blog posts:
CeCe Moore, "AncestryDNA: Confusing Relationship Predictions and Adoptees," Your Genetic Genealogist blog, posted 21 August 2012 (http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2012/08/ancestrydna-confusing-relationship.html : accessed 21 August 2012).

CeCe Moore, "Follow Up: Lab Error Responsible for Adoptee's Confusing Match at AncestryDNA," Your Genetic Genealogist blog, posted 24 August 2012 (http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2012/08/follow-up-on-ancestrydna-and-adoptees.html : accessed 24 August 2012).
Be sure to scroll down and read Tim Jantzen's comment about contacting the Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues if Ancestry refuses to provide your raw data to you. Debbie Kennett's comment and the link below to her blog raise a separate issue.

Emily Aulicino, "Autosomal Testing: Genetic Genealogy's Current Buzz-Word," dna - genealem's genetic genealogy blog, posted 24 August 2012 (http://genealem-geneticgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/08/autosomal-testing-genetic-genealogys.html : accessed 24 August 2012).

If Ancestry does not make the raw data available I will not recommend them to my friends, colleagues, or clients. I now feel justified in making this statement publicly. Ancestry does a lot of good by providing indexes and images to genealogical researchers. I believe their policy is wrong in their handling of DNA testing and results. Ancestry may choose to continue their current policies. Many in the genetic genealogy community think that is not a wise decision and will hinder growth of our knowledge of human genetics as relates to family history research.

In addition to the problem of not providing raw DNA data to the person tested, Ancestry does not indicate on the first page of the activation form that one of the check boxes gives permission to participate in an optional research program. Every customer should carefully read both the "Consent Agreement" and the "Terms and Conditions" before checking the boxes. I feel sorry for customers who do not take the time to perform this important action and blindly agree to something they may not want.

You are required to agree to the "Terms and Conditions" to activate the DNA test. If you agree to the "Consent Agreement," as is your choice, you are granting broad rights allowing Ancestry to
perform genetic tests on the DNA using test methods available now and developed in the future
and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.1

Even though some of this is standard legalese here in the U.S., it seems pretty far reaching where DNA is concerned. We are still learning about DNA; giving this much control to a public corporation is something to consider carefully before agreeing. Check out these blogs for more information from those who have tested at Ancestry. For now, I prefer to spend my money at companies that understand the results of a DNA test belong to me, including the raw DNA data.
Roberta Estes, "Ancestry’s Consent Form for AncestryDNA Autosomal Test," DNAeXplained blog, posted 16 August 2012 (http://dna-explained.com/2012/08/16/ancestrys-consent-form-for-ancestrydna-autosomal-test/ : accessed 18 August 2012).

Debbie Kennett, "My Ancestry autosomal DNA test Part I: Consent forms and admixture analyses," Cruwys news blog, posted 21 August 2012 (http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/my-ancestry-autosomal-dna-test-part-i.html : accessed 22 August 2012).

Debbie Kennett, "My Ancestry autosomal DNA test Part 2: The matching process," Cruwys news blog, posted 22 August 2012 (http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/my-ancestry-autosomal-dna-test-part-2.html : accessed 22 August 2012).

1. AncestryDNA, "Information and Consent Form," (http://dna.ancestry.com/legal/consentAgreement.aspx : accessed 25 August 2012).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "The Informed DNA Tester," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 25 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]). Or you can link to the individual post.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

23 August 2012

Family Tree DNA 72 Hour Sale

Today Family Tree DNA announced a 72-hour sale.

There are only two options for this sale:

Family Finder + Y-DNA 12 for $249
Family Finder + mtDNA for $249

Orders must be placed and paid for by August 25th. For more information see http://www.familytreedna.com/family-finder-compare.aspx

To order through the Texas State Genealogical Society (TxStateGS) project use this link http://www.familytreedna.com/group-join.aspx?code=C91769&Group=TXStateGS

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

17 August 2012

23andMe DNA Melody

I woke this morning to e-mail from 23andMe with the message:
Hear the music in you! 23andMe has developed a lab that creates a melody from your genetic data. Hear the melodies of your 23andMe connections and share yours with friends and family.

You can hear the music made by my DNA if you go to:


I've always loved the sound of dulcimers. This tool also allows you to hear piano, classical guitar, koto (apparently a Japanese zither according to Wikipedia), marimba, sitar, and steel drums. This steel drums are kind of cool, too.

The rhythm of the melody is based on eye color and height traits in the DNA. Pitch is based on markers for earwax type and photic sneeze response. My maternal haplogroup, U5b1d, determines the key used. Then the listener can choose the instrument that provides the timbre. (Photic sneeze response is a trait where sunlight triggers a sneeze. My husband always told me looking directly at a light would make me sneeze when I am sitting there feeling a sneeze coming on, but it just doesn't come. I always thought he was crazy until I found out it was a real thing.)

This is a cool new tool offered by 23andMe. There is one enhancement I hope they add. On my login page I can listen to the different music made by my DNA and the DNA of others whose tests I administer. I can hear the difference between me and my sister. But when I make my DNA music, then make my sisters, her music page overwrites mine. Apparently there is only one music page per account and not one per person tested. It would be so cool to send my sister a link that would let her listen to both of us and compare. I'll investigate further to see if I can find a way around this limitation.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

16 August 2012

Caution: What Permission Will You Give Ancestry to Use Your DNA Results?

Anyone who is having a DNA test performed at AncestryDNA (Ancestry.com's DNA arm) should first read the consent agreement. Do you want to give this much discretion to Ancestry? If not, do not check this box when you register your kit.

Roberta Estes discusses this in her DNA Explained blog article "Ancestry’s Consent Form for AncestryDNA Autosomal Test."1

I have not yet taken a DNA test at Ancestry. They don't provide the raw data to testers. This is MY DNA data, not Ancestry's. I am paying for the test. I want all of the data. As I indicate in my DNA presentations, I suspect Ancestry will be forced in the future to provide this data to testers as their competitors Family Tree DNA and 23andMe do. I am hesitant to give any of my money to Ancestry until they change their policy. And I won't be agreeing to allowing Ancestry to use my results for whatever they or whoever owns the company in the future may decide is a good idea.

1. Roberta Estes, "Ancestry’s Consent Form for AncestryDNA Autosomal Test," DNA Explained Blog, posted 16 August 2012 (http://dna-explained.com/2012/08/16/ancestrys-consent-form-for-ancestrydna-autosomal-test/ : accessed 16 August 2012).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Caution: What Permission Will You Give Ancestry to Use Your DNA Results?," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 16 August 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

11 August 2012

Two-fer: Surnames and pedigree charts in DNA accounts

I just got a two-fer with a new DNA match at Family Tree DNA.

While my match and her mother were perusing my surname list, Mom noticed a name in common with her current husband whose test results are due back in a few weeks. Not only do I match the daughter on my Ryan line through her bio father, I have a common ancestor with her step-father on my Hurt line. Two matches for the price of one. The family has photos of the Hurt line I don't have. They also have Ryan photos that may help me identify some of the photos I inherited when my grandmother died. Links made through DNA matches can help us with our traditional activities as well as provide new scientific information to further genealogical research using DNA.

I only learned of the Hurt line a couple of years ago while I was researching my Parker line in Milam County, Texas. My reasonably exhaustive search1 led through the district court indexes looking for all the surnames associated with my Parker line. The FAN club: friends, associates, neighbors, including in-laws. My ancestor surnames were not indexed, but the in-laws were. This led me to a court case that not only named my Parker ancestor and his Maples wife, but gave a maiden name to her mother, named all her sisters and half-siblings with the names of husbands for the women, and named my third great-grandfather and two of his wives.2

If I had not searched for those surnames of the FAN club, I would not have known I had a Hurt line and would not have known how I matched this Hurt cousin. If I had not included my ancestor surnames in my account at Family Tree DNA, we would know we had a common ancestor who passed DNA to us, but would have no idea who that ancestor might be.

In my DNA presentations I stress the need for a surname list and pedigree chart to determine how your DNA matches are related. If you don't include a GEDCOM file or surname list your matches won't be able to easily determine how you are related. This experience shows how important it is to include your ancestral data in your DNA account profile. Some of your matches may not contact you if they can't see how you might be related. Why spend the money to do a DNA test if the goal is not to determine HOW we relate to our matches?

Your research will benefit by including your surnames and pedigree in your account profile.

1. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 3d ed. (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009).

2. Milam County, Texas, District Court Minutes, D:329–334, Nancy Stovall, et al. vs. Lizzie Richards, et al.; and District Court Civil Case #3402; District Clerk's Office, Cameron. This case settles the estate of Richard Hurt, father of Monterey Carise Hurt Maples, naming Monterey's daughters and children of the deceased daughter. It also names other heirs of Richard Hurt.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

06 August 2012

Curiosity - A Safe Landing

"... curiosity is, perhaps, the central defining human attribute."
- Dr. Adam Steltzner, 5 August 2012, NASA News Conference held after the safe landing of Curiosity, the latest Mars Lander

Congratulations to NASA, JPL, all the teams across the world that contributed to designing and building the Curiosity Mars Lander, taking it to Mars, executing a safe landing, and bringing us wonderful new images and scientific knowledge from Mars. In the press conference we learned it only cost seven dollars per American for this project. It seems like a good investment to me. Seeing the earlier Mars landers function well past the predicted service life shows, when we put our minds to it, we can still build quality products that exceed expectations. A goal we should all strive for.

How can we relate this to genealogical research?

Our genealogy software developers may one day need to add new elements to the place fields for planet, planetary system, and galaxy. Maybe not in my lifetime, but someday. What we can learn on Mars is a first step to those more distant trips through the galaxies.

Our image enhancement capabilities will likely be improved as the techniques developed by these scientists become part of main-stream software programs. Not to mention whatever cool new things like Velcro may come from the technological teams working on space exploration.

The scientific method of research has the same elements no matter what field of application. We form a question, gather information, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze and correlate the data, publish the results, and retest and review the findings. New data can always change the findings. This applies to genealogical research as well as scientific endeavors.

Curiosity, that defining human attribute, leads us to explore our family history and others to go where no human has gone before.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

13 July 2012

Native American DNA - or Lack thereof in Population Databases

I hope this post doesn't generate a lot of controversy. I can sympathize with Native Americans not wanting to be taken advantage of while also regretting the paucity of Native American DNA in the population databases used to measure ethnicity. Dienekes has an interesting discussion on this in his "Petty identity politics indeed, or, holding a grudge is no excuse for anti-science" post.1

In my DNA presentations I state that testers should not rely too much on the predictions of ethnicity percentages for two main reasons.
  • One, you are only seeing a percentage of how much you match the other populations represented in the database. If your ethnicity isn't represented the percentages will not be accurate. Until we have databases with more samples from all population groups we won't have the full picture.
  • Two, approximately half of the autosomal DNA (atDNA) of any progenitor is lost in each new generation born. It is a roll of the dice as to whether you still have atDNA from any particular ancestor whose ethnicity you are trying to prove. And your percentage of DNA from any particular ancestor can be different from that of your sibling or cousins.

As of today, you can really only use DNA to prove Native American ancestry if it is on your Y-DNA line (passed from father to son and represented by the top line on a left-to-right pedigree chart) or your mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) line (passed from mother to child and represented by the bottom line on a left-to-right pedigree chart).

pedigree chart

1. Dienekes Pontikos, "Petty identity politics indeed, or, holding a grudge is no excuse for anti-science," Dienekes Anthropology Blog, posted 13 July 2012 (http://dienekes.blogspot.com/ : accessed 13 July 2012).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Native American DNA - or Lack thereof in Population Databases," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 13 July 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

12 July 2012

Understanding Historical Spanish Documents in the U.S.

Need help understanding Spanish language documents in your historical research?

In recent years I've compiled quite a collection of books and articles related to the law, using laws for genealogical research, and interpreting historical documents. I'm reviewing my collection and updating my notes in preparation for the "Statutes and Story: Laws and Social History in Family Research" workshop next week at the Angelina College Genealogy Conference. One of those books in my collection is a must have for any genealogist working in the areas of the U.S. once claimed by Spain and Mexico. Whether studying the laws or anything else in any locale where Spain once ruled this book is useful:

J. Villasana Haggard, Handbook for Translators of Spanish Historical Documents (Austin: University of Texas, 1941).

Haggard describes his reason for compiling the book. It is one that I suspect leads to many of our most useful how-to books: he needed to do something and couldn't find a book already published that explained how to do it well. So he compiled one, with help from his colleagues who were also subject matter experts. He made notes during a decade or more of work and then documented what he learned to help others. He points out that even an expert in a language needs to know more when translating historical documents. He had the same problems genealogists encounter during research: different paleography, faded ink, crumbling paper, long sentences with no punctuation, and understanding the different way of looking at things hundreds of years ago.1

Especially important is Haggard's statement:
One must not mistake verbatim translations, paraphrases, imitations, parodies, or any other thinly veiled approximation for the serious work of translation. A verbatim version of an original cannot properly be called a translation, for a translation should be first and foremost a faithful rendition of the substance as well as the form of the original.2

A good reminder that we shouldn't rely heavily on machine "translations" of our historical documents. We need additional analysis by someone knowledgeable both with the history of an area, the culture, and the language.

Haggard planned to update the handbook and publish a later edition.3 I haven't been able to find one. If anyone knows of a later version please let me know. This 1941 version is obviously typed on a typewriter and may look quaint to modern eyes. But the information is invaluable. Twenty pages of bibliography. Nine pages showing letter forms used in different centuries. Many document samples with translations. Symbols and abbreviations used. A short history of the development of language and writing in Spain. And so much more including a procedure that starts with reading the document twice before anything else is done.

By the way, even though Google is my go-to source for a lot of things, when looking for electronic copies of books I don't go first to Google Books. The PDF files on Google Books do not allow searching within the text after the PDF is downloaded to my computer. The citation below leads to a searchable PDF version at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Many other sites also provide searchable versions. I download the PDF from Google Books only when I can't find any other option. Yes, I know I can find tools to make the PDF searchable. But if someone else has already done so, I see no need to repeat their work.

1. J. Villasana Haggard, Handbook for Translators of Spanish Historical Documents (Austin: University of Texas, 1941), iv-v; Digitized Books, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (http://libsysdigi.library.illinois.edu/oca/Books2008-09/handbookfortrans00hagg/ : accessed 30 January 2009).
2. Ibid., 1.
3. Ibid., iii.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Understanding Historical Spanish Documents in the U.S.," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 12 July 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

10 July 2012

Google and the Genealogical Proof Standard

How do you apply the Genealogical Proof Standard1 to an online search?

A reasonably exhaustive search could take years if you just type a name into Google and try to review millions of hits. Search for samuel christopher johnson. As of today, Google gives about 16,700,000 hits. Advanced search engine features can focus your results on the best matches to solve research problems. Add quotes around the name and narrow the number of hits to 54. But don't forget there may be lots more information on this person in pages not indexed by the search engine—what is called the Deep Web.

Other advanced search engine features can narrow the focus to even more pertinent hits. Using the time limitation tools can display only those pages added or changed since the last time you did this same search (assuming you keep a research log so you know when you last searched for samuel). Restricting a search to a specific USGenWeb site (using the site option in Google) is helpful when I want something from a specific county, but that county site doesn't include a good search tool. Using a minus sign to eliminate some words is helpful when searching a surname that is also a generic word like Lake or Carpenter. Parentheses and the OR modifier help when several words or phrases might be found in pertinent sources.

Some of the most useful Google modifiers are covered in John Tedesco's blog post "How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques."2 Tedesco's article lists several of the advanced Google search terms every genealogical researcher should know. Tedesco learned about these in a presentation by Daniel Russell who studies search techniques for Google. Russell's SearchReSearch blog is one of my favorites. Tedesco's post links to this challenge on Russell's blog:

"Where are you?" posts a challenge to the researcher with solutions entered in the comments sections by readers.3 "Answer: where are you?" is Russell's solution.4 Any genealogist who has ever tried to glean family information from a photo will be interested in the search techniques presented here.

Two of Russell's "Search lessons" in his answer apply to everything we do in genealogy. Every time we analyze the information in a source we should remember:

— Sometimes clues can be misleading.

— Sometimes clues are hidden in the details.

Adhering to the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) reduces the chances of clues leading us down the wrong trail. These are just some of the things to think of when doing online research:

A reasonably exhaustive search lets us find other evidence that will help us determine which is the misleading clue. Using the right search terms and tools help make that search reasonable and not just exhausting.

Carefully citing our sources lets us and others know what we have searched—even if it has been years since we worked on this problem and we can't remember where the information came from without that citation. For online searches the citation should also include where we did the search and what search terms we used.

Careful analysis and correlation of those details and information about the source can eliminate the misleading clues. Analysis also tells us which sources are more reliable and should be given more weight. It is especially important to include an evaluation of online sources. Are the findings from an undocumented site put up by a cousin who is guessing about things? Or do they come from a trustworthy archive site that is making digital copies of their holdings available online? Has the entire collection been placed online or is it still a work in process with some documents not yet available?

Resolving conflicts logically lends credence to our proposed solution. Not being able to resolve a conflict may indicate the need for more research or let us know we've been misled and need to rethink the proposed solution. Many times this will indicate a need to do research in original records that aren't online yet. Those records may not even be microfilmed requiring us to visit the courthouse or repository holding the paper records.

Putting the results of that analytic process to ink and paper helps us see what we did right and wrong. It shows whether there is more we need to do as we see holes in our theory and possible sources to fill that hole.

And don't forget you can learn more about using Google from Dan Lynch's Google Your Family Tree.5

1. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 3d ed. (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009).

2. John Tedesco, "How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques," John Tedesco blog, posted 21 June 2012, (http://www.johntedesco.net/blog/2012/06/21/how-to-solve-impossible-problems-daniel-russells-awesome-google-search-techniques/ : accessed 10 July 2012).

3. Daniel Russell, "Wednesday search challenge (Feb 1, 2011 [sic): Where are you?," SearchReSearch blog, posted 1 February 2012
(http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/2012/02/wednesday-search-challenge-feb-1-2011.html : accessed 10 July 2012).

4. Daniel Russell, "Answer: Where are you?" SearchReSearchblog, posted 2 February 2012 (http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/2012/02/answer-where-are-you.html : accessed 10 July 2012).

5. Daniel M. Lynch, Google Your Family Tree: Unlock the Hidden Power of Google (Provo, Utah: FamilyLink.com, 2008).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Google and the Genealogical Proof Standard," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 10 July 2012 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

09 July 2012

Sizzling Summer Sale - Family Tree DNA

If you've been waiting for a good sale to buy a DNA test or order an upgraded test - NOW is the time. Feel free to forward this information to others.

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is offering a Sizzling Summer Sale.

As Texas State Genealogical Society (TSGS) DNA Project Administrator, I'd like you to order through the TSGS / TxStateGS links. DNA information and a link to the order page is available at http://debbiewayne.com/tsgs_dna/ or go directly to the TxStateGS Project at FTDNA to order at these great prices:

Orders must be in and paid for by 11:59PM on Sunday July 15th, to receive this offer.

Special Summer Prices

--------- — SALE PRICE
Y-DNA 12 — $59
Y-DNA 37 — $129
Y-DNA 67 — $199

Family Finder — $199

mtFullSequence (FMS)— $219

Combined tests
FF+ Y-DNA 37 — $328
FF + mtDNAPlus — $328

Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-DNA 67)— $617

SuperDNA — $428


--------- — SALE PRICE
12 to 37 — $70
25 to 37 — $35
25 to 67 — $114
37 to 67 — $79
37 to 111 — $188
67 to 111 — $109

mtHVR1 to Mega — $209
mtHVR2 to Mega — $199

If you want to order directly from Family Tree DNA instead of through TSGS, go to http://www.familytreedna.com/products.aspx. Descriptions of all the offerings are also available on this page to help you decide which test to order.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

26 June 2012

Y-DNA: Going Beyond Comparing Rows of Numbers

This discussion is based on the Y-DNA portion of my lectures "Paternal Lines: Using Y-DNA" and "GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy."

A Y-DNA test will provide each tester with a list of the markers tested and that person's value for that marker. Marker names are shown in this certificate as "DYS # xyz." The marker values (or alleles) are compared to determine whether testers have a common ancestor.

In many surname projects, the marker values are listed in long rows of numbers with differing markers in different colors. The chart below from the Parker Family DNA Project1 is a different representation of the marker values shown in the certificate above.

These charts can be difficult for some people to interpret. By taking small groups of matches and combining the paper trail lineage with the DNA results, we can determine if the paper trail and DNA results confirm or contradict one another.

The chart below uses a subset of data from family group one in the Parker Family DNA Project to demonstrate one way Y-DNA test results can be charted to help in that analysis. Some of the genealogical research listing the lineages was done by other descendants of Henry Sr. Some of the research has been confirmed, some has not yet been confirmed. When you start analysis of your family group you will need to start with the lineage information provided by the other testers. That lineage will need to be confirmed using the Genealogical Proof Standard.2 It is also important to understand this discussion does not include every possible explanation for the DNA test results. It demonstrates one of the first steps in the analysis and one possible explanation for the results.

Because there are two George W.'s in the chart their birth years will be included in the discussion of the chart. This chart was created in a word processor table. Diagramming tools can be used to make a prettier graphical representation. A word processor is used to show that every computer user has a tool in which they can do a similar analysis even if no graphic program is available.

Parker DNA matches

Each box contains the man's name, possibly a birth year, and information on the DNA marker values attributed to that man based on the analysis. Some include migration routes as indicated in the paper trail (for example, Henry Sr. in row 1 lived in NC, SC, IL, and AR according to documents located so far).

The bottom row does not include the names of the DNA contributors. For privacy purposes the chart ends with the name of the tester's ancestor who was born in the mid-1800s. Parker Family DNA project tester numbers are included instead. For example, in the leftmost box of the bottom row, a descendant of George W. born 1854 was assigned number P20 in the Parker Family DNA project, a descendant of Perry A. was assigned number P63, and so on.

Following the assigned number is a dash and an indication of the number of Y-DNA markers tested by each person. Knowing the number of markers tested is important as the DNA differences may change when and if all of the men test the same number of markers. We can only compare and analyze the smallest number of markers that have been tested in common by all of the men. We might hypothesize about what expanded tests will show, but until those tests are done we will not be able to prove that hypothesis.

This chart shows Henry Sr. (row 1) with two sons (row 2): Henry Jr. and George W. born 1836. Five descendants of Henry Sr. have tested (row 3): four descendants of Henry Jr. and one of George W. born 1836. Those tested are:
  • P20 tested 25 markers at FTDNA and is a descendant of Henry Jr.'s son George W. born 1854.
  • P63 tested 67 markers at FTDNA and is a descendant of Henry Jr.'s son Perry A.
  • P17 tested 37 markers at FTDNA and is a descendant of Henry Jr.'s son John W.
  • P363 tested 46 markers at Ancestry.com and is a descendant of Henry Jr.'s son John W.
  • P31 tested 25 markers at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and is a descendant of George W. born 1836.

The descendant of George W. born 1836 (P31) has no mutations from the most common DNA signature for Parker family group one. The most common DNA signature is referred to as the modal. This means it is likely Henry Sr. also had the modal values and passed them to George W. born 1836. Descendants of other sons of Henry Sr. can be tested to confirm this.

All of Henry Jr.'s descendants who have been tested at markers 464C and 607 have the same value for those two markers. This indicates these marker values were likely passed from Henry Jr. to all of his sons. We would not normally expect Henry Jr. to have two markers different from his father. But, as more DNA tests are done, we are learning more about the possibilities and probabilities for DNA inheritance. Several reports of a man having two or three different marker values from his father or brothers have been reported. See this August 2008 list discussion on "father and son with a 2 marker difference."3 A private list contains several similar discussions of more changes than expected between father and son.

We have also learned that some markers seem to change more often than others. These are referred to as fast changing or fast mutating markers. See http://www.worldfamilies.net/marker for more information.4 One of the differences between Henry Sr. and Jr. is 464C which is one of those fast mutating markers. A case can be made that it is possible for Henry Jr. to have these two mutations from the DNA values of his father.

Two of Henry Jr.'s descendants have one additional mutation each that could have occurred in any generation between Henry Jr. and the person who tested. P20 has a different value for 449-1. P63 has a different value at CDYA1. Both of these are fast mutating markers. Remember this chart does not show the persons born after the mid-1800s. There are four to six generations that are not shown in this chart. Several mutations could have occurred in those generations.

P17 is a descendant of Henry Jr.'s sons John W. P17 has only the two mutations we see in all descendants of Henry Jr.

P363 tested at a later time than the other descendants and tested at Ancestry.com instead of Family Tree DNA. Ancestry.com tests 46 markers. Thirteen of those are not tested by Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA also tests markers that are not included in the Ancestry.com test. We can only compare the markers included by both companies.

Ancestry.com does not test marker 607 so we do not know if P363 matches the others on that marker. P363 does match the other descendants of Henry Jr. on marker 464C. If P363 matches the others on marker 607 he could be shown as a likely descendant of Henry Jr. even if there was no paper trail to show this kinship. The DNA and the paper trail research lead to the same conclusion. One contradiction is that there are more mutations than would normally be expected between Henry Sr. and the descendants of Henry Jr. But all of the mutations expect marker 607 are fast mutating markers. This fact is used in the proof argument when discussing this contradiction.

P363's value for marker number 442 is 17. The other descendants of Henry Jr. have a value of 12 for this marker. We might get sidetracked by a difference of five steps in one marker if we did not know that we sometimes must convert values when two different testing companies have been used. For marker 442 a 17 reported by Ancestry is equivalent to a 12 reported by FTDNA. So even though the raw number is different, all of our testers match on this marker after conversion. See ysearch.org/conversion_page.asp for information on conversions between values reported by each company.5

As with all genealogical research, our conclusion may change if more evidence is found. The conclusions might change if additional markers are tested with results that are inconsistent with the current conclusions. We have to remember that the statistical probabilities given for kinship based on DNA marker values are just that—probabilities. DNA mutations are random and the changes between any two people may fall outside of the probability matrix. We need to use logic to analyze and correlate all of the information from traditional and genetic research, to resolve conflicts, and write a conclusion our peers can then review.

With the documentary and DNA evidence we have at this time, a proof argument can be written to support the conclusion that Henry Jr. is a son of Henry Sr. An article on this family has been submitted for publication. Once it is in print a citation to the journal will be added to this page.

1. Parker Family DNA Project (http://web.utk.edu/~corn/parkerdna : accessed 25 June 2012).

2. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 3d ed. (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009).

3. "father and son with a 2 marker difference," Y-DNA-PROJECTS mail list, 13 August 2008, Rootsweb.com (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/Y-DNA-PROJECTS/2008-08/1218680347 : accessed 25 June 2012).

4. "Marker and Mutation Comparison," WorldFamilies.net (http://www.worldfamilies.net/marker : accessed 25 June 2012).

5. "Markers that may need to be converted," Ysearch.org (ysearch.org/conversion_page.asp/ : accessed 25 June 2012).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

04 June 2012

News - Portal to Texas History

Check out this issue of Beyond the Bytes, the newsletter of the "Portal to Texas History" project at the University of North Texas. You can subscribe to the newsletter via e-mail or connect with them on Facebook.

Hot news this month includes:
  • The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History contributed a selection of its Moses and Stephen F. Austin papers.
  • The National Museum of the Pacific war added transcribed interviews of Texas veterans' experiences in World War II.
  • Newspapers added to the Texas Digital Newspaper Program include The Texas Posten Swedish-language newspaper (1896–1902), The (Galveston) Representative—first Texas newspaper with an African American editor (1871–1873), and The El Paso Morning Times (1913–1918). Search in Swedish and Spanish are supported where appropriate.
  • War Department Field Manuals, Technical Manuals, posters, and newsmaps.
  • The Digital Frontiers conference focusing on digital resources for research, teaching, and learning (genealogists are invited as well as historians, librarians, educators, students, and technologists)—September 21-22.

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved

30 May 2012

Converting to a New Genealogy Program - RootsMagic and GEDCOM Changes

This is a continuation of my series on converting to RootsMagic version 5 (RM5) genealogy software. Earlier articles can be found at:

1. Software Conversion - Moving to RootsMagic

2. Before Converting to a New Genealogy Program - RootsMagic Conversion Notes

As part of my conversion to RM5 I decided to modify the GEDCOM file directly prior to import to get the cleanest possible import of my data. This should only be attempted by those who understand the GEDCOM spec and how to edit files in a pure text mode (not using a word processor that inserts invisible formatting characters). See the "Better GEDCOM Wiki" for more information on GEDCOM.

I've decided to describe the changes I made generically instead of including the actual code. First, the descriptions will be more readable. Second, I don't want to give enough information to allow novices to cause problems they then take to RootsMagic tech support. Anyone who understands GEDCOM will probably understand exactly what I did based on the descriptions below. If you try this and have problems, it’s your problem, not something the vendor should have to solve for you. Also, if I include all the details from the notes I made as I implemented the changes, this blog post would be many pages longer.

If I had implemented more of the custom features in my old genealogy program I would have needed to do a lot more manual work to get a clean import. Each person will have to look at their own usage and determine what additional GEDCOM changes might be needed. If you can modify a GEDCOM file directly you probably know enough about the customizations you used to figure that out.

This is the list of things I changed in the GEDCOM file before I got a fairly clean import:
  1. Moved place details from the place field to place details. The output GEDCOM file includes all place fields at one level. RM5 has a place details subfield for things like "Baylor Hospital" so the master place contains city, county, state, and country if you use it.
  2. Moved long text notes from the occupation details field. There seems to be a character limit on how much RM5 will import. Or something in my data was causing an issue on the events where I had a long set of sentences. RM5 uses the occupation detail field to hold the occupation name.
  3. Moved long text notes from the military details field. There seems to be a character limit on how much RM5 will import. Or something in my data was causing an issue on the events where I had a long set of sentences.
  4. Renamed my custom event tags to a standard one used by RM5, where a standard one will work. I kept custom tags I still use or that contain data I need to transfer inside of RM5 (my Research tags which may become ToDo items, Research Logs, and Research Notes in RM5).
  5. Changed the path to exhibits (media in RM5 lingo). As part of the conversion I decided to move my document images and photographs to a higher level folder in my document area. It shortens the full path name if I want to use links to these images from other programs.
  6. Removed references to customizations that don't transfer through GEDCOM such as [WO], [LINDEX], and a few others.
  7. Removed special characters my old program used for privacy that are not understood by RootsMagic. RootsMagic knows how to handle my sensitivity brackets {} so I can leave those. It does not know how to handle hyphens used as exclusion markers.
  8. Removed pseudo-people such as the "census" people I added years ago and no longer use.
  9. Modified the sources so I could get a clean, consistent first footnote or endnote. This will be usable until I convert the sources to formatted source types within RM5. RM5 imports sources as free-form sources. My old program exported them with the data mixed with the field names where I had customized the sources to match Evidence!1 and later Evidence Explained.2
  10. Modified repository references in source citations. I also took this opportunity to consistently refer to repositories with the same name. National Archives, NA-Washington, and NA all became NARA. I chose to use the abbreviation NARA (and TSLAC for Texas State Library and Archives Commission, dw. for dwelling, fam. for family, etc.) in the free-form sources as there will be a lot more "subsequent" footnotes than "first" footnotes. If I can remember to change the first abbreviation usage in a report to use the full name and show the abbreviation in parentheses, there will be fewer changes to make in output reports until I convert my sources within RM5. RM5 has a nice way of handling first and subsequent references and the abbreviations within.
  11. Used a Perl script (a simple programming language) to remove the reference number for each person so I did not have to do this manually. Years ago I used a modified Henry number, as defined in William Dollarhide's Managing a Genealogical Project.3 Once genealogy software was capable of printing an indented descendant list I really didn't need these numbers any longer, but they were still in my old database.
  12. Fixed a few spelling errors.

After importing the GEDCOM file I reviewed the import errors, fixed them, and then imported to a clean database. Repeat until no import errors are reported. I then spent some time reviewing the data and reports in RM5. I exported a GEDCOM file from RM5 and was pleasantly surprised. Not only does it export the basic data, it exports many of the customizations. If you color code people in your RM5 database, even the color is exported. This means imports to another RootsMagic database will be cleaner. Other programs likely won't know how to import all of the information that RM5 exports. But maybe someday all genealogy programs will do this.

RM5 also exports all three types of printed sources—first notes, subsequent notes, and bibliography format sources. Because my sources were imported as free-form sources, all three formats contain identical text right now. I considered taking the time to edit the GEDCOM file output by RM5 to make my citations clean in all three forms. But I decided to wait until I convert from free-form to formatted sources instead of spending a lot of time on the free-form sources.

There was one major issue I had with the way my data printed after my last GEDCOM import. RootsMagic has a different philosophy about how event notes should display in reports. The event data such as date, place, and details print as specified in a sentence template. Then a citation reference is printed. Then any "notes" associated with that event are printed.

Basic writing guidelines say a citation reference should follow all of the information that comes from the cited source. But I now have a lot of information that is printed after the citation reference for the source of the information. At this time there doesn't seem to be a really good workaround for this. This may not be a big deal for those who aren't printing many reports or don't need the report to follow a particular set of style guidelines. But it is a big deal to me. Not big enough to keep me from using RM5 for now.

As the best workaround I could think of after asking experienced users, I made one last set of changes to the GEDCOM file output from RM5. After making this change I then imported it into a clean RM5 database. The change I made was to add the phrase "Additional information: " to every note attached to an event. This won't be pretty when I print a report. But it gives me a unique phrase to search for that marks the places where the text will need to be cleaned up in each report. If (hopefully when) the RootsMagic program is changed to print citation references at the end of a note, I can use the search and replace option inside of RootsMagic to remove this phrase from my notes. For now I can search and replace in my word processor so I know where I need to make changes before sharing a report.

So is my database clean and perfect now? Not by a long shot. But it wasn't perfect in my old program either. Data entry standards change over the decades. Not all of my sources of a similar type were entered the same way in my old program. At least now they are consistent. And I have a usable database I can add to and get output reports from—even in a word processor format in my 64-bit operating system.

One thing I did notice when I imported the RootsMagic GEDCOM back into RM5, DNA events don't seem to be imported and DNA test result values don't seem to be exported via GEDCOM at this time. I had entered DNA results for one person so I could test some things as I played with RM5. A DNA event was included in the GEDCOM file created by RootsMagic. The marker values were not exported. Even the included DNA event was not imported. The lesson learned here is be sure you know what is not included in a GEDCOM export or import—don't assume everything is included even if a GEDCOM file includes a lot data more than some other vendors include.

Good luck if you decide to convert to a different genealogy database. It's not an activity for sissies. If you want more information you can contact me using the e-mail address on my website or add a comment below.

1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence! Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007).
2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007). Evidence Explained expands on and updates concepts presented by Ms. Mills in Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. There is a newer edition of Evidence Explained than the one I have. See evidenceexplained.com for current version and ordering information.
3. William Dollarhide, Managing a Genealogical Project: A Complete Manual for the Management and Organization of Genealogical Materials (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., rev. ed. 1998).

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved