24 February 2012

DNA Presentation at Van Zandt County GS - Saturday, Feb. 25

I'll be giving a presentation on DNA this Saturday, February 25, 2:00 p.m. in Canton, Texas, at the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society meeting. Stop by and visit if you are in the area. Van Zandt is a very active genealogical society with a great library and a lot of useful publications for those with ancestors from the area.

Here's the information from their flyer with my bio section removed:


February 25, 2012, 2:00 pm regular meeting

Van Zandt County Public Library
in the Buchanan meeting room
317 First Monday Lane, Canton TX 75103

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG

Topic: GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today

This is a general introduction to using DNA testing for genealogy and where
we are today. It covers Y-DNA for the direct paternal line, mitochondrial
DNA for the direct maternal line, and autosomal DNA for the other ancestral
lines. You will learn how to use the test results to maximize the
contribution to genealogical research goals, what DNA testing is and how to
obtain the tests, and which tests can be used for ethnic studies based on
the current technology.


Genealogy Library (903) 567-5012
e-mail: vanzandtgensoc@etcable.net

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

15 February 2012

"Marriage on the Margins: Free Wives, Enslaved Husbands, and the Law in Early Virginia" by Terri L. Snyder

The February 2012 issue of Law and History Review, published by Cambridge University Press, has an article that may be of interest to genealogists researching Virginia and African American families. The citation and abstract are included below.

Snyder, Terri L. "Marriage on the Margins: Free Wives, Enslaved Husbands, and the Law in Early Virginia." Law and History Review 30 (February 2012): 141-171.
In 1725, Jane Webb, a free woman of color, sued Thomas Savage, a slave owner and middling planter, in Northampton County Court, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Webb v. Savage was an unusual lawsuit, the culmination of over twenty years of legal wrangling between two parties who had an uncommon and intimate connection. The case originated in a 1703 contract between the pair, and at the time it was written, its terms, assumedly, were clear and mutually agreed upon. Two decades later, however, a tangled skein of circumstances obscured the stipulations of that original agreement. Over the course of those same years, the legal meaning of freedom for individuals like Jane Webb had fundamentally changed. Both fraught interpersonal relations and the evolution of race-based law mattered to the 1725 chancery case for one simple reason: Thomas Savage owned Jane Webb's husband. Despite the fact that Webb's spouse, named only in the records as Left, was enslaved, their marriage was legally recognized, and the seven children born to the couple, following the legal doctrine partus sequitur ventrum, took their free status as well as their surname from their mother.
Back in November this blog discussed the special issue of Law and History Review devoted to "Law, Slavery, and Justice." There are some great articles in that issue, too.

Hat tip to Legal History Blog for the abstract and the list of articles and abstracts for the February 2012 issue.

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

14 February 2012

Advocacy and Collaboration article at MINDS@UW

I stumbled across a "new to me" useful archive at the University of Wisconsin today. The MINDS@UW site has archived many interesting articles, some with ideas pertinent to the current records access issues facing genealogists.

Check out "Genealogists and Records: Preservation, Advocacy, and Politics" by Aprille Cooke McKay in Archival Issues, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2002. She discusses advocacy and collaboration by genealogists and archivists while acknowledging the sometimes adversarial relationship between the two groups. We all need to work to eliminate the adversarial and encourage the collaborative aspects of the relationship.

Many of us are reaching out on Facebook and genealogy mail lists for help in Saving the SSDI. How many of us have contacted the state archivists and librarians that we have helped when states are considering cutting their budgets?

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

10 February 2012

Save SSDI and Stop ID Theft NOW!

How would you feel if the government restricted your access to records that name your ancestors? How far would you have progressed in your genealogical research without access to birth, death, and marriage records? What if you lost access to those and other records used to establish kinship links and our family histories? Even worse, what if your relative was unidentified and unclaimed in a coroner's office far from home and those trying to identify the deceased lost access to the very records that would allow them to find you? Or your military serviceman's body could only be identified if a living family member can be found to provide a reference DNA sample for comparison?

Several years ago a group of genealogical organizations formed an advocacy committee — RPAC — Records Preservation and Access Committee. The group has been much more visible in the last few months and is leading the charge to preserve access to records we use every day. An important blog entry on recent efforts can be found at http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2012/02/07/rpac-launches-stop-identity-theft-now-petition/. The main RPAC website is at http://www.fgs.org/rpac/.

As many genealogists now know, the U.S. House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee, held a hearing on February 2nd to consider closing access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI, based on the Death Master File / DMF). Only those in favor of closing the records were allowed to speak at the hearing. See http://www.ntis.gov/products/ssa-dmf.aspx for more information on the DMF and SSDI.

Many of us believe our elected officials are trying to enact legislation to make Americans feel better and safer, but that will actually have the opposite effect. Some of those violated by identity theft believe their social security numbers (SSN) were stolen from online SSDI databases. Ironically, the DMF /SSDI was created to prevent SSNs of deceased persons from being used fraudulently. And in this computerized age, how can the government justify ignoring data they spend so many of our tax dollars collecting? Legislators on both sides of the aisle are pushing to close records. But how can we allow the party that scorns government regulation to champion so many actions that regulate those who aren't able to make million dollar donations?

How can you help?

Understand the issue by reading the RPAC Talking Points on Why Genealogists Need the
Social Security Death Index (SSDI) at http://www.fgs.org/rpac/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/talking-points-on-why-genealogists-need-social-security-death-index-final.pdf.

Sign the online petition at http://wh.gov/khE. Step-by-step instructions for creating an account on whitehouse.gov and for ensuring your petition signature is counted can be found at http://fgs.org/pdf/rpac_petition.pdf.

FAX a letter to your congresspersons and senators. FAXing is better than writing; postal deliveries to the capital are delayed due to screening after anthrax-laced letters were sent via mail shortly after 9-11. Sample letter suggestions can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/pramc/Latest_Alert.doc. Legislators can often be persuaded by letters and FAXes that indicate constituents can support a bill if certain specified changes are implemented. This can sometimes be better than a bald statement that you are against a bill.

Find your senator at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. Most senators have their Washington, D.C., FAX number on their senate page. Often the Web page for a senator is http://_surname_.senate.gov, for example, hutchinson.senate.gov for Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Find your congress-person at http://www.house.gov/. Often the Web page for a congressman is http://_surname_.house.gov, for example, gohmert.house.gov for Texas Representative Louis Gohmert.

Don't they deserve to hear from you after all the robocalls you have received from them during the dinner hour?

The DMF / SSDI is only ONE of the record sets facing restrictive access regulations. Access to social security SS-5 information and vital records in many states are under attack by those who do not understand these records are not contributing significantly to identity theft. If we enforced the laws already on the books and made proper use of the information available now, we wouldn't need "feel good" laws that sound good but don't accomplish the intended goal.

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