19 November 2013

History: JFK Assassination Memories

With red eyes brimming with tears, my fourth grade teacher at John Quincy Adams Elementary told us our parents were being called. Even a nine-year-old could sense this wasn't a time to cheer because we were getting out of school early. It was a simpler time when most middle-class kids still had someone at home who could pick them up early when the school called. When we could still play anywhere in the neighborhood and surrounding community without fear. Then she told us. The president had been shot. In our city. The city where we had been safe. Until now. November 1963, when shots were fired from the sixth floor window of the school book depository building, marked the beginning of a changing world.

Hobbes747, "The sixth floor window, blocked off by a glass box from the inside, is the second from the top on the far right."1

After my aunt picked up me, my brother, and our cousins who had "working Moms" we went home and watched television. No one felt like playing hide-and-seek or tag or running through the nearby park pretending dinosaurs were chasing us or any of the outdoor games kids played before video games. I still remember seeing Walter Cronkite tearfully announce that President Kennedy had died. There was a new president, a Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson, sworn in with the sad, beautiful widow at his side, still wearing her pink, blood-stained suit.

Stoughton, "Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office, November 1963."2

The aunts had red eyes as they came by to get my cousins at the end of the day. The whole city seemed to be crying. Even the men had red eyes and sniffles. Then two days later there was the television coverage of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in the police station basement. It was a confusing time for kids and adults. Our world was changing before our eyes, seen in black and white on a 19 inch television with rabbit ears and vertical and horizontal hold knobs we had to constantly adjust to keep the picture stable.

In 1963 all of the Texans I knew were Democrats. And proud of it. I remember my grandmother telling me she always "votes the straight Democratic ticket just like my Daddy" had done. Texas is different now. The world is different now. I remember for years afterward feeling ashamed of saying I was from Dallas when I introduced myself to someone.3 Looking back, the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, seems to have heralded in some of the worst years in American history.4 Riots in American streets, snipers in university towers, more assassinations.5 While I am thankful for many of the advances we have made in our society in the last fifty years, there are some of those kinder, gentler, simpler ways that I miss.

This day, 22 November 1963, is my first memory of a political event. During the sixties and seventies we worried about how our world was changing and becoming more violent. Knowing that things eventually got better gives me hope that the current political problems will someday be resolved, too.

It is so important for all of us to write about our life memories and pass this to our descendants. Genealogists spend our time studying the history of individual lives, micro-history. We know how thrilling it would be to find a journal or diary written by one of our ancestors. Give that thrill to your descendants. Write once a day or once a week about some memory from your early life and collect those writings. Don't let your stories be lost while you concentrate on finding the stories from an earlier time. What would you like to know about your ancestors' lives? Write about those same things in your life. Someday you will be an ancestor and your story should not be forgotten.

Journal, photo taken by author, 19 November 2013.

For help finding ways to write and things to write about see:

Barrington, Judith. Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art. 2nd ed. Eighth Mountain Press, 2002; http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Memoir-Truth-Second-Edit/dp/0933377509/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384866741&sr=1-1&keywords=writing+a+memoir.

Croom, Emily. Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy, 4th ed. revised. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 2010; (http://www.amazon.com/Unpuzzling-Best-Selling-Genealogy-Expanded-Updated/dp/0806318546/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384866570&sr=1-2&keywords=croom+Unpuzzling+Your+Past.

All URLs accessed 18 November 2013.
1. Hobbes747, "The sixth floor window, blocked off by a glass box from the inside, is the second from the top on the far right," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:6th_floor_window.jpg); image released into the public domain.
Cropped by Debbie Parker Wayne, 18 November 2013.
2. Cecil W. Stoughton, "Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office, November 1963," White House Press Office (WHPO), (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyndon_B._Johnson_taking_the_oath_of_office,_November_1963.jpg). As the work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States taken as part of that person's official duties this image is in the public domain.
3. Memories of the author, Debbie Parker Wayne, who lived in Dallas from 1954 until many years after the assassination of Kennedy.
4. "Assassination of John F. Kennedy," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_John_F._Kennedy).
5. All at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: "Counterculture of the 1960s," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterculture_of_the_1960s). "Charles Whitman," Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman). "Martin Luther King Jr.," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_luther_king). "Robert F. Kennedy," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kennedy).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

13 November 2013

Family Tree DNA 2013 Holiday Sale

I'm way behind in posting about what I learned at the Family Tree DNA Project Administrator's Conference and the Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference. But I had to get the word out about the DNA sale going on right now.

Check out Family Tree DNA's list on their Facebook page (no login to facebook is needed to view the page) or visit the Family Tree DNA website or their products page.

Save up to $79 on Y-DNA tests.

Save up to $109 on mtDNA tests in combination with Y-DNA tests. It only costs $169 for the mtFullSequence which is the most likely mtDNA test to be useful for genealogical purposes. Only a few years ago this test cost more than $800. Now it is available at a price many of us can afford.

Save up to $109 on Family Finder tests in combination with Y-DNA or mtDNA tests.

For many of these orders, including a Family Finder test at the price of $99.99, you will also receive a $100 gift card for restaurant.com (no s after restaurant). This basically makes the test kit free. Believe it or not, even my small town restaurant offers a discount through restaurant.com. If you live in an urban area you may have more choices. If this isn't useful to you it could be given to others as a gift.

Take advantage of this great offer to order kits as holiday presents for those family members who have agreed to test. After seeing some of the presentations at the Family Tree DNA Project Administrator's Conference I really want to test more close family members and now can save money doing so.

Note added 13 Nov 2013 after initial post: The restaurant.com offer only applies to U.S. customers. It is not offered in other countries.

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

29 October 2013

Learning About Autosomal DNA for Genealogy

CeCe Moore and Shannon Christmas discussed strategies for using autosomal DNA to resolve your genealogical problems on BlogTalk Radio. Part One of this discussion took place on 28 June 2013 and is archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett/2013/06/28/strategies-for-using-autosomal-dna. Part Two took place on 28 October 2013 and is archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett/2013/10/28/strategies-for-using-autosomal-dna-part-ii.

Some key points made (and paraphrased by me) include:
  • How much time do you have to invest in analysis of distant matches? If time is limited focus first on closer matches (those with the largest shared DNA segments).
  • Don't ignore "low-hanging fruit" such as matches with a common surname or geographic region or shared haplogroup that may match a line you are interested in.
  • If more time is available the more distant matches should also be analyzed. Some of these may not prove fruitful, but some will.
  • AncestryDNA matches through trees can be very useful [DPW comment: assuming the trees are accurate.] AncestryDNA uses mega-base pairs, not centimorgans, as the unit of measurement. See CeCe's blog post, "Ken Chahine Answers My Questions and Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Information about AncestryDNA" for more information.
  • Family Tree DNA requires a total shared number of centimorgans (all segments added together) and at least one segment over the 7.7 centimorgan threshold to be considered a match. Smaller segments must also be indicative of being a part of the same population; this affects African American testers who may have DNA from multiple populations.
  • 23andMe requires 7.0 centimorgans and 500 SNPs to be considered a match. Ancestry Finder reduces the threshold to 5.0 centimorgan segment sizes.
  • Capturing all of your analysis in a spreadsheet is essential. [DPW NOTE: DNA analysis takes time. Be sure you log your findings in some electronic file you find easy to use - spreadsheet, database, word processor file, or whatever. And be ready to invest time if you want to really use the results as evidence.]
  • DNAgedcom.com offers some very useful tools for DNA analysis.
  • DNAadoption.com offers a documented methodology and online classes for atDNA analysis. The same techniques that work for adoptees work for other genealogical brick walls.
  • Any atDNA match sharing more than .40 percent (that is point four percent, which is over 30 centimorgans) is considered a close match.

Many other educational opportunities are also available.

CeCe Moore presented an advanced autosomal DNA analysis webinar for the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) on 21 September 2013. It hasn't been archived yet, but presumably will be available in the APG Members Only area at some time in the future. The handout for this session is extremely useful.

Roberta Estes presented two DNA webinars for APG that have been archived in the Members Only area. They are:
Part 1: "Intro to DNA" recorded 30 October 2012, and
Part 2: "Yikes, My DNA Results are Back! Now What?" recorded 29 November 2012.

My own sessions available online include:

Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera offer online classes in biology and genetics, some free and some with a fee.

Many other educational opportunities are coming soon like a week-long Practical Genetic Genealogy course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July 2014, more DNA sessions at the Forensic Genealogy Institute, and many more all-day genetic genealogy offerings which will be highlighted in the future.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Learning About Autosomal DNA for Genealogy," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 29 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

Percentage Shared atDNA Chart

Last year in the Forensic Genealogy Institute session on DNA I used a chart showing the statistical percentage of shared DNA between two people. There are several versions of this chart that can be found online. I like this colored, tabular version better than some of the others I have seen. I told the institute attendees I would post the chart. I guess a year later is better than never. I updated the chart and added some links to additional information that were not on the document a year ago. I hope this is useful to some genetic genealogists. This image shows only a small portion of the chart.

A PDF version of the document is available here. On the referenced ISOGG Wiki page at http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics#DNA_percentages follow the link to Tim Janzen's website as there are some very useful examples and explanations of autosomal DNA test analysis.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Percentage Shared atDNA Chart," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 29 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

25 October 2013

X-DNA Inheritance Charts

This post has been superceded by the updated documents and additional information in the Publications area of my website.

A few years ago The Genetic Genealogist Blaine Bettinger posted several versions of X‑DNA inheritance charts. Colored blocks on the charts indicate which ancestors might contribute segments to a person's X chromosome(s). The percentage of X‑DNA that each ancestor might contribute was shown in one of the later charts.1 Blaine explains X‑DNA inheritance in those posts as well as providing the charts.

I formatted this information into a Microsoft Word table so I can type the names of the ancestors of a person who has tested for use in X‑DNA analysis.

I don't like to use handwritten charts when I can create a printed version.

With Blaine's permission I have attached a Creative Commons license2 and am linking several different electronic formats of the documents for use in compliance with the Creative Commons license.

I hope these charts prove useful to the genetic genealogy community. If anyone has problems or sees errors in the charts please let me know so they can be corrected.

All URLs accessed 25 October 2013.

1. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "Unlocking the Genealogical Secrets of the X Chromosome," 21 December 2008, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2008/12/21/unlocking-the-genealogical-secrets-of-the-x-chromosome/). Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "More X-Chromosome Charts," 12 January 2009, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2009/01/12/more-x-chromosome-charts/).
2. Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "X-DNA Inheritance Charts ," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 25 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

22 October 2013

Really scariest words: I'm from Windows Support and I'm here to help you

The golden oldies never die. At least not as long as there is one person left to fall for the scam.

I just got a phone call from "Windows Support" from a guy named "Mike" with a mild accent reminiscent of the Indian subcontinent. Mike was here to help me. His company was getting reports from my computer indicating there was a virus on the computer. He wanted to help me fix the problem.

Sadly, we had a bad connection. Mike patiently called me back. It took a long time for the phone to ring again. Mike talked more, apparently following a script and talking over my questions to him. I mentioned I thought my ISP would be the most likely group to contact me if there was really a problem. I asked if he worked for "my ISP" without telling him the name of my ISP. More bad connection problems causing funny sounds on the line. Mike called me back the third time. I asked why my computer would have contacted him as I have it configured so it does not send problem reports out without asking permission first ... all of a sudden Mike could not hear me. Now, I still heard him clearly, and there were no funny sounds on the line, but all of a sudden Mike was gone again. Mike did not call back to help me fix this terrible problem he had been alerted to.

The above is written sarcastically. But if you don't know about this scam or how computers and the internet work you might believe this sincere sounding person is really calling to help.

Please, please, please, do NOT let anyone calling like this talk you into doing anything on your computer and do not give any personal or financial information. At the very least they will ask for money for the time spent helping you. Once they have your Paypal account info or credit card number you know what will happen next. And they may install software on your computer that will allow them to perform nefarious tasks that seem to have been done by you or they can wipe out all of your files or any of hundreds of other terrible things.

This is a known scam.

For more information see:

Eve Blakemore, "How to combat tech support phone scams," Security Tips and Talk, Microsoft (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/securitytipstalk/archive/2013/05/23/how-to-combat-tech-support-phone-scams.aspx : accessed 22 October 2013).

Frank Catalano, "'We're with Windows': The anatomy of a cold-calling scam," GeekWire, 14 July 2013 NBC News Technology (http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/were-windows-anatomy-cold-calling-scam-6C10631331 : accessed 22 October 2013).

Aurich Lawson, '“I am calling you from Windows”: A tech support scammer dials Ars Technic,' Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/i-am-calling-you-from-windows-a-tech-support-scammer-dials-ars-technica/ : accessed 22 October 2013).

Mathew J. Schwartz, "Microsoft Windows Support Call Scams: 7 Facts," Seccurity, InformationWeek (http://www.informationweek.com/security/management/microsoft-windows-support-call-scams-7-f/240005023 : accessed 22 October 2013).

P.S. In the time it took to write this blog post, Mike either forgot he had already called and hung up on me or he decided to try his luck again. He called back, then hung up on me again after just a few seconds. No acting like the line was bad this time, just a fast click then silence.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Really scariest words: I'm from Windows Support and I'm here to help you," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 22 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

21 October 2013

My Mitochondrial Mothers

They say time heals all wounds. How much time does it take so the tears no longer come easily?1

This week is the twenty-first anniversary of my mother's death, Mama. This summer we passed the twenty-first anniversary of her mother's death, Big Mama.2 These are the closest of my mitochondrial DNA ancestors and they made me the person I am today. They died four months apart. I still miss them terribly and feel compelled to write about them today. Big Mama's mother, called Granny, died when I was about ten and hers is the first funeral I remember attending. Granny's mother, called Ma Johnson, died before I was born. These four women are pictured below.

Four Generations of Mitochondrial Ancestors of Debbie Parker Wayne,
circa 1940, from the collection of the author, used with permission.

It was a difficult year, 1992. While the country was electing a new president I was helping write wills and obituaries then going through the remains of two lives determining what to save. While everyone around us was getting ready for Trick-or-Treat we were holding the third family funeral within four months (one of Big Mama's brothers died six days before my Mom). A Halloween flower arrangement was picked out by my sister who is mentally about age six due to epileptic seizures she had as a baby. Even though some family members thought it was tacky, Mama would have laughed about the orange and black flowers at her funeral service. She had a wicked sense of humor and was anything but conventional. Big Mama was more conventional except when the safety and happiness of family members were hurt by those conventions. She surprised me more than once when she suggested possible responses to big events in our lives.

What would they have been like if they had not had to work so hard to provide for their families with no help from the fathers of their children? Both of these strong women raised their children alone in a time before the government tracked down deadbeat fathers. Both worked long hours at jobs that required weekend and night work. One a waitress and later a private duty nurse. One a carhop and later managing what we called a hamburger stand. This was when they were still family-run small businesses and not huge corporations with a place on every corner. Twelve hour a day jobs, often seven days a week. Not much leisure time for either, but Mama and Big Mama made time for the important things in life. Santa Claus visited our house in the afternoon before the late work shift started so Mama and Big Mama could see our faces light up.

Both seemed to always love their first husbands even after what must have been heart-breaking divorces. During the 1960s to 1980s my mother saw my father whenever he came back to town, sometimes many years after his last visit. For some reason he gave up a job as an airplane mechanic and became a truck driver, traveling all over the continental U.S. My Mom often joked he probably had a woman in every city. When Mama died my father bought the cemetery plot next to her. Even though they couldn't live happily forever after in life, they seemed to care for each other and he wanted to be near her in death.

My grandmother married my grandfather in 1934 and again in 1958. He was not around for twelve years and I don't remember ever meeting him when I was a child. They spent the rest of their lives together after 1970 in an obviously affectionate relationship. I saw this when I lived with them for a few months after my divorce. After my grandmother's death her sister said, "She had a hard life." The sister was referring to the things Big Mama put up with in those early years with my grandfather which I won't describe here.

So today I give tribute to my maternal line: Mama, Big Mama, the Johnson, Ryan, Otis, Vick, and other women who gave me my mitochondrial DNA, all the way back to the U5b ancestor who was roaming Europe perhaps 4,000 years ago, and the ancestors before her that were in western Asia after moving "Out of Africa."3

Thank you to all of my mitochondrial mothers for making me who I am. I can't identify all of these women yet, but I have a feeling that more of them were strong women who worked hard to hold their families together. I hope to identify more of these mitochondrial ancestors soon. I feel our female ancestors deserve just as much of our research efforts as the men even if it usually takes more effort to learn more about the women in the past.

1. Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 21 October 2013), search for "time heals all" and "how much time." These two phrases together seem so familiar that I searched Google Books to see if I was repeating something I've read elsewhere so I could cite it. Similar phrases pop up in about 100 books, but none of them are books I have read. Maybe this is a universal human sentiment when we feel grief that lasts a long time.
2. No citations are provided to their death certificates or other records due to the wishes of living family members. These documents and references are in my personal files. Other remembrances in this essay are from my own memories.
3. "Introduction to Your Story," MTDNA section, Geno 2.0 Project, National Geographic (https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/results/welcome : accessed 4 May 2013); name and kit number withheld for privacy reasons.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "My Mitochondrial Mothers," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 21 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

07 October 2013

DNA: Patents, Permissions, Property, Ethics

There is a brouhaha in the genetic genealogy community this week and coverage in the worldwide media about patent 8,543,339 that was just awarded to 23andMe. The official title of the patent application is “Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations,” but some are calling it a "designer-baby" application.

My initial reaction to many of the articles was to wonder how this is different than what has been happening with sperm and egg donor selection for many years. I have friends who used a long list of preferences to select a sperm donor. That seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. So I had to read patent 8,543,339 to see if it included something else that I was not getting from the blog posts and news articles.

I do not have legal or medical training and my math education ended at Calculus III back in the early 1990s so reading a patent such as this is a long slog for me. My opinion and understanding is purely that of a layperson who has some understanding of and a strong interest in DNA and how it can be used. In a nutshell, it seems to me the bulk of the patent is describing a standard logical process we see whenever a person chooses a sperm or egg donor (or even a mate):

  • I wish to have a child with a trait that might be a low risk of developing a specific disease or a high chance of having a specific eye color
  • My DNA indicates a risk or likelihood of X for this condition
  • A potential donor's DNA indicates a risk or likelihood of Y for this condition
  • A child conceived between me and the potential donor might have a risk or likelihood of Z for this condition

The same calculation could be performed for multiple traits or conditions. I would then make a decision whether or not I wish to have a child whose other biological parent is this person, just as I would do now based on a donor's profile without DNA analysis (or my attraction to a mate and desire to have offspring). The complicated stuff in the patent comes in with a description of the algorithms used to analyze the DNA for the likelihood of the resulting child having the specific trait or traits. I did not see anything in the patent related to modifying the genes in the egg or sperm to achieve specific traits, just calculating the odds of the trait occurring in a child created with these biological parents.

It seems like this patent is just covering the addition of using DNA data to do something we do now with physical and personal traits, beliefs, and characteristics of a potential donor or mate. This doesn't strike me as "designing a baby" any more than we do now except we add DNA and statistical analysis to the mix. Personally, I may not agree that we should use genetic analysis to select for a baby with a particular eye color. Trying to give a baby the best chance of survival with the least chance of a debilitating disease seems harder to argue with.

While I was mulling this over, Blaine Bettinger, an intellectual property attorney with a PhD in Biochemistry, wrote a blog post titled "A New Patent For 23andMe Creates Controversy."1 I agree with Blaine's conclusion in his article as related to the patent itself. I think everyone should read Blaine's article before coming to a conclusion about this issue.

What this issue brings to my mind is how important it is that we encourage real science education for our children and that we have an informed discussion as to how we will proceed in this brave new world we are facing with all the scientific and technical breakthroughs. I just completed a course on genetics and ethics where the instructors emphasized how much more research is needed for us to understand the impact of genetic modification of any organism—flora or fauna.2

A lot of the controversy this week for genealogists seems to be because our DNA data was used for research we didn't realize it might be used for when we gave consent for it to be used. This makes it even more important that we understand exactly what we are giving permission for when we agree to let a company use our DNA for research or when we upload our DNA data to a server where the information might be publicly shared. Every person will have to decide for herself what she wishes to agree to. But without research, progress in using DNA for any purpose will be stymied.

I have been reading American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own by Stuart Banner.3 This book presents, in a very readable way for the non-lawyer, a history of American laws on property and ownership. It includes a chapter on "Owning Life."4 All of the chapters give an insight into how American legal thinking on property of all kinds has changed over the decades. The book covers how technological changes have impacted several legal decisions related to property. Banner doesn't specifically discuss DNA in the context of today's controversy. He does discuss the legal framework and history we should understand as we determine how genetic information and other biological material could or should be used in the future.

We need to have a serious discussion about how we proceed so misunderstandings are reduced as much as possible and we can all make good decisions. These discussions should include genealogists, historians, and those from all walks of life as well as geneticists and medical practitioners. The social scientists, hard scientists, legal representatives, and educated and interested people need to cooperate to find the best way forward for humanity. But I hope everyone who wishes to be part of the process will study our history, the good and bad, and understand the implications for the future of the decisions we make today.

I don't have all the answers. As a matter of fact, I have more questions than answers about how we should proceed. But frankly, I think those of us who don't jump in wholeheartedly on one one side or the other are the ones who are needed the most as humankind determines how to ethically use what we have learned about DNA in the past and what we will learn in the future.

All URLs accessed 7 October 2013.

1. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "A New Patent For 23andMe Creates Controversy," 7 October 2013, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2013/10/07/a-new-patent-for-23andme-creates-controversy/). See links in the first three paragraphs for blog and mass media articles. For full disclosure, I will be working with Blaine and CeCe Moore to present a week-long course on Practical Genetic Genealogy next summer at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

2. Rob DeSalle, PhD and David Randle, PhD, "Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators," Coursera online free courses (https://www.coursera.org/course/amnhgenetics).

3. Stuart Banner, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011). See also Robert C. Deal. "Review of Banner, Stuart, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own," H-Law, H-Net Reviews , posted June 2011 (http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=32895). See also Harold Henderson, "Jenny Lind, Elvis Presley, and the Evolution of Property in the US," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com/2012/07/jenny-lind-elvis-presley-and-evolution.html).

4. With gratitude to my friend and role model Stefani Evans, CG, for prompting me to move this book to the top of my to-read pile when she pointed out this chapter and the references throughout the book to intellectual property arguments and rulings.

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

02 October 2013

Family Tree DNA Website Update 10-2013

Family Tree DNA has done a major redesign of their website. As always, some will prefer the old way, but so far I love most of the changes. And I am so glad they waited until after I did my workshop Saturday so I didn't have to madly update screenshots at the last minute.

This "how to" list was quickly put together to help some friends who asked about the changes. I lost access to the website before I got the final screenshots I planned to use. That also means I was unable to go back and confirm I covered all the steps correctly. So there may be updates to this post tomorrow after I get to double check the steps.

Once you login your home page (my.familytreedna.com) looks similar to the way it used to, but once you click on Family Finder you'll see the changes. To my eye this is a new and modern look that I like.

Click on Your Matches and then you'll see a newly organized match list with some options in new places. For some time now the first list of matches displayed has been only your "Close and Immediate" matches and this is still true. But the format of the displayed data is new.

Click on the words "Close and Immediate" in the Relations field to get the drop down list to change to "Show All Matches."

Be sure to click "Apply" at the right side of the bar to apply the change.

Click on the words "Relationship Range" in the Sort By field to get the drop down list to change the sort algorithm used, if desired.

Be sure to click "Apply" at the right side of the bar to apply the change.

All matches now are displayed, but you don't see the longest block shared in this first view. Best of all, now the ancestral surname list is limited in screen size.

It can be scrolled to see all of the names by clicking the "i" icon to the right of the names. Now it doesn't take up a whole screen for one match who has entered dozens and dozens of ancestral surnames causing all of your other matches to scroll off the screen, but you can easily see all names entered.

Click on "Show Advanced" just above the name of the first match displayed.

Now you'll see an additional line of information for each match: Triangulate, Tests Taken, Compare in Chromosome Browser, Longest Block, and, if available, haplogroups for Y-DNA and mtDNA.

Triangulate allows a choice of "In Common With" or "Not In Common With."

Clicking on "Compare in Chromosome Browser" allows selection of up to five matches from this page. A box at the top of the page will collect the names and allow you to remove and add names as needed. Then you can jump right to the chromosome browser and it will be populated with the choices.

I'd advise you to wait before logging in to try these new features. It looks like the Family Tree DNA website may be overwhelmed right now unless something else locked up my browser window to the site. But play with the changes and give it a chance. I think there is more to like than dislike with what I have seen so far.

Added 2 October 2013, 9:26 p.m. CST:

See also Rebekah A. Canada's posts:

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look (Part 1)

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look (Part 2)

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look Part 3

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Family Tree DNA Website Update 10-2013," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 2 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

DNA Day Workshop at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

Driving 300 miles is not always fun. But the drive between East Texas and Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, is a nice, easy, half-day drive when you don't get stopped for construction on Interstate 30. Only about half of the trip has to be done on the interstate. The other half is through pretty, peaceful areas of East Texas and Arkansas on U.S. and state highways.

This was my second year to do an all-day seminar for the Hot Springs Village Genealogical Society and Akansa Chapter NSDAR. Thanks so much to Village Genealogical Society President Celinda Chapman, long-time workshop organizer Jeanette Frahm, lunch deliveryman locator and workshop organizer helper Marcie Guise, Akansa NSDAR Regent Joyce Wood, and all the other volunteers who helped make the workshop fun and interesting for me and all of the attendees.


We had a nice crowd of attendees who asked good questions.


It was obvious a lot of them really get why genetic genealogy is now a mainstream part of genealogical research and not this weird thing only a few of us odd ducks are doing.


Most understood the questions you must ask yourself when trying to decide which DNA test to take or ask someone else to take, as illustrated in this slide:


The drive home Sunday morning started off in a cool, misty, ethereal-looking way with low clouds obscuring the trees on the peaks of the hills. I never ran into more than a light drizzle for a few minutes on the way home.


Then dappled sun through the trees on the last leg of the drive.


Thanks for inviting me to Hot Springs Village and for attracting such an interesting group of attendees from the local area and as far away as Little Rock. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing familiar faces from last year and some new faces. I even got to see one of my Parker cousins I met last year at the Henry Parker family reunion in Russellville, Arkansas. Many of my examples in my DNA presentations use test results from my Parker line so I hope Karen found these more personally useful than the other attendees.

It might be harder to get to this area for some other speakers. I guarantee you will have a good time with a knowledgeable group of researchers if you accept a speaking invitation from this group.

1. Photo credits: © Hot Springs Village Genealogical Society, taken 28 September 2013, used with permission.
2. Photo credits: © Debbie Parker Wayne, taken 28 September 2013.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Day Workshop at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 2 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

26 September 2013

Lucky Researchers in Texas: McLennan County

Some areas are better to research in than others. Some counties have no clue as to the value of the history in the older documents, some understand but are unable to get government to allocate the necessary funds to preserve those records, and some understand and have been able to convince their government to preserve the records properly. McLennan County, Texas, is one of those good places to do research.

Most genealogists know about the West Waco Library Genealogy Center. The library has a large collection of books and microfilm for all locations. Extensive holdings cover McLennan County and surrounding counties in Central Texas, microfilm of Waco newspapers dating as early as 1898, about every known city directory published for Waco, abstracts of many church and school records, and much more. The library and the Central Texas Genealogical Society (CTGS) work closely together. CTGS members have abstracted and published many records of interest to researchers in this area.

Then there’s the library at Baylor University with several interesting special collections. The Baylor Law Library serves the general public as well as the students, faculty, and attorneys. It is a Federal Depository for Government Documents. And don’t forget the Armstrong Research Center at the Texas Ranger Museum.

But one of the jewels every researcher should know of and support is the McLennan County Archives.

The Archives is open Monday through Friday from 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m. You must be buzzed in at the front door and escorted into the archives so it is a good idea to call the phone number on the website and let them know you are coming and what you wish to see. Parking is free and right in front of the entrance. Some research requests can be handled over the phone, but you’ll really want to visit in person if you can. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful.

Stacks of McLennan County Archives, Waco, Texas,
photographed by Debbie Parker Wayne on 12 July 2013.

The Archives holds the original records of the County Clerk, District Clerk, Tax Assessor/Collector, Office of Elections, and Justices of the Peace. District Court records must be requested through the office of the clerk and will be viewed at the District Clerk’s office. Other records can be viewed at the Archives. There are also many maps and a large collection of Waco city directories.

Most of us have used tax records on microfilm. We usually spend a lot of time scrolling up and down to find an entry of interest. Then we scroll side to side counting the lines to be sure we extract all of a person’s entry from a tax listing that spans two pages. Here you can view the original tax records and see both pages at the same time in a bound book. After spending so much time with 18th century hand-written records it seems a little strange to see typed tax lists for later years like the 1930s. But the printed records, handwritten or typed, are so much easier to use than microfilm.

McLennan County, Texas, 1938 Tax Assessors List,
McLennan County Archives, Waco, Texas,
photographed by Debbie Parker Wayne on 12 July 2013.

In addition to the tax listings sorted by the name of the taxpayer, there are books where the data is organized according to the land being taxed, Assessor Abstracts. Instead of searching through decades of deed indexes looking for familiar names you may be able to find when a land owner bought or sold a piece of property using these records.

There are so many kinds of records we all need to learn more about to make us better researchers. Seeing the original records instead of microfilmed copies is priceless. I wish every county where I do research had a county archives department.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Lucky Researchers in Texas: McLennan County," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 26 September 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

22 September 2013

atDNA: I Don't Match My Cousin's Cousin

I've had several questions asking what may cause one person's autosomal DNA (atDNA) test to match one cousin, but not another who shares the same ancestor. This is a fairly common occurrence and is easily explained.

The autosomes, chromosomes 1 through 22, are a randomly recombined mix of the DNA our parents inherited from our grandparents. The random recombination causes the segments passed to children to sometimes vary in length. One child may get a long segment. Another child may get a smaller segment or several smaller segments. And with each new generation the segments can be further ... well, further segmented. Each testing company has a minimum threshold for the size of a segment of DNA two people must share before they are listed as a match.1

The chart below shows one chromosome segment of three cousins, DD, NN, and MM. The numbers represent the location of SNPs on chromosome 6.

DD and NN share two segments on chromosome 6: one segment starts at location 18,364,604 and ends at 32,432,923, there is a break where DD's DNA does not match NN, then a second segment starts at location 32,707,977 and ends at location 36,812, 814. These two segments are 12.84 and 5.85 centimorgans long, respectively, totaling 18.69 centimorgans.2 The 12.84 centimorgan segment exceeds the threshold for minimum segment size for DD and NN to be considered a match.

MM shares one segment with NN starting at location 29,684,571 and ending at 37,854,826 totaling 9.13 centimorgans. This MM:NN segment overlaps the end of the 12.84 centimorgan segment shared between DD and NN, includes the segment where DD and NN do not match between the two matching segments, the 5.85 centimorgan segment shared between DD and NN, and another segment not shared by DD and NN that follows the 5.85 centimorgan shared segment. The 9.13 centimorgan segment exceeds the threshold for minimum segment size for MM and NN to be considered a match.

MM and DD only share two segments, each smaller than 6 centimorgans in length. Neither of these segments is long enough to meet the threshold for minimum segment size for DD and MM to be considered a match at the testing company.

To be sure that MM and DD share DNA in common with NN, and therefore likely got it from the same ancestor, requires access to the raw data and the detailed segment data. Today, we only get this information from
23andMe and Family Tree DNA atDNA tests. Some third-party analysis tools also allow analysis beyond what can be done at a testing company, but we need to be sure we understand the privacy policies in place at the third-party site before we use the tools there.

1. "Family Finder versus Relative Finder," ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Family_Finder_versus_Relative_Finder#Thresholds_for_relationship_matches : accessed 22 September 2013), see section titled "Thresholds for relationship matches."
2. "Centimorgan," ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Centimorgan : accessed 22 September 2013)

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "atDNA: I Don't Match My Cousin's Cousin," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 22 September 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

18 September 2013

Why So Much Excitement about Ethnicity Predictions?

AncestryDNA made a recent announcement about updates to the ethnicity predictions available with their autosomal DNA (atDNA) test. The first sentence on their web page for ordering a DNA test is:
Discover if you're part Scandinavian, West African, or maybe Native American.1
The first sentence describing a Family Finder atDNA test at Family Tree DNA is:
NEW! Discover close relatives and your ethnic percentages with Family Finder!2
At 23andMe you have to click on the Ancestry link at the top of the home page before you scroll down and see:
Find out what percent of your DNA comes from populations around the world, ranging from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and more. Break European ancestry down into distinct regions ...3

I caution people about putting too much faith in these ethnicity and regional predictions for two reasons that still apply even if new advances in our knowledge have been made recently.
  1. Because of DNA recombination you may not have detectable amounts of DNA representing all of the ethnicities or geographies you see in your full pedigree chart.

    Blaine Bettinger described this well in a post several years ago titled, "Q&A: Everyone Has Two Family Trees – A Genealogical Tree and a Genetic Tree."4 While Blaine was answering a question about why a known cousin was not listed on a person's DNA match list, the answer is just as applicable to the question of why a person's predicted ethnicity percentages isn't reflected in the known pedigree of that person. Each of us inherits only one-half of the DNA of each parent. This also means about one-half of each parent's DNA is lost in each generation except where some bits are inherited by one offspring and not others. As we go back more generations we have inherited less DNA from those ancestors.
  2. The world population is about seven billion today.5 At most, a few hundred thousand people have taken genealogical DNA tests.6 This means that fewer than one/ten-thousandth of the world has been tested. That is a very small sample size.

    As more people test we will learn more about accurate interpretation of the DNA data. We are still in the infancy of this new science. I highly encourage researchers to test so we can learn more faster. You will learn some interesting information about your DNA. But I caution against making life-altering decisions based on today's technology and knowledge level, even with the recent updates.

For an interesting map showing how the boundaries of Europe have changed over the years take a look at this map (thanks to Debbie Kennett for sending the link to several DNA mail lists):


Now think about how those changes make it difficult to relate a segment of DNA to a particular country. I have to admit that I was surprised at the constantly changing European landscape even though I have always been interested in and constantly read about history. Anyone who does not understand human migrations, how those migrations don't really coincide with political boundaries, and how our DNA makeup is not a reflection of our entire pedigree due to random recombination, could have a difficult time understanding their ethnicity predictions based on DNA.

For more information on ethnicity predictions also known as Bio-Geographical Analysis (BGA) see:

Dr. Doug McDonald (the developer of one of the early programs for Bio-Geographical Analysis), "Doug McDonald on Biogeograpical Analysis," 9 September 2012 guest post, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog of Roberta Estes (http://dna-explained.com/2012/09/09/doug-mcdonald-on-biogeograpical-analysis/).

For more information on the updated AncestryDNA ethnicity predictions see these articles and the links within them to other articles:

Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "AncestryDNA Launches New Ethnicity Estimate," 12 September 2013, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2013/09/12/ancestrydna-launches-new-ethnicity-estimate/).

Debbie Kennett, "My updated ethnicity results from AncestryDNA - a British perspective," 17 September 2013, Cruwys news (http://cruwys.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-updated-ethnicity-results-from.html).

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, "DNA disappointment," 15 September 2013, The Legal Genealogist, (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2013/09/15/dna-disappointment/).

Randy Seaver, "First Look at my AncestryDNA Ethnicity Update - Post 2: More DNA Results," 13 September 2013, Genea-Musings, (http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/09/first-look-at-my-ancestrydna-ethnicity_13.html).

All URLs accessed 18 September 2013.

1. "One simple DNA test. A world of discoveries," AncestryDNA (http://ancestrydna.com/).

2. "Family Finder," Family Tree DNA (http://www.familytreedna.com/family-finder-compare.aspx).

3. "Your story begins as far back as you can imagine," Ancestry page, 23andMe (https://www.23andme.com/ancestry/).

4. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "Q&A: Everyone Has Two Family Trees – A Genealogical Tree and a Genetic Tree," 10 October 2009, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2009/11/10/qa-everyone-has-two-family-trees-a-genealogical-tree-and-a-genetic-tree/).

5. Haya El Nasser, "World population hits 7 billion," 31 October 2011, USA TODAY (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-10-30/world-population-hits-seven-billion/51007670/1).

6. "Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart," ISOGG Wiki, International Society of Genetic Genealogists (http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_testing_comparison_chart); gives an estimate as of August 2013 of 640,000 people in the autosomal databases of 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA, and National Geographic Genographic Project Geno 2.0.

7. pierre_mesyne, "abkebab's Map of Europe 1000 AD to present with timeline," LiveLeak (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=14d_1348362692).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Why So Much Excitement about Ethnicity Predictions?," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 18 September 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

16 September 2013

Disappointed in DNA test results?

Recently several friends have indicated how disappointed they are with their DNA test results. Most are referring to autosomal DNA tests, but some who get Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests feel the same way. I’m not sure why these researchers are disappointed; none have provided specific complaints.

Maybe, after watching CSI television shows, we have an unrealistic expectation for what a DNA test can do. It is probably also a result of the DNA testing companies not setting realistic expectations for their customers. Some of the phrases used in marketing any product can lead to expectations of more than can be delivered.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons for disappointment is that there was no specific research question to be addressed by the DNA findings. Taking a DNA test just because it is the hottest new thing in genealogy is a great way to contribute to the science, but can you really be disappointed in the findings if there was no question to be answered? DNA tests can provide very specific answers to some questions, clues to the answer to some questions, and can’t help with other questions at all.

To make a specific use of DNA test results you must know:

  • What is the focused research question?

  • Which DNA test can provide evidence to answer this question?

  • Who is alive in the right ancestral line and is willing to provide a DNA sample?

We can learn so much from most DNA tests, but it takes a lot of work to thoroughly analyze and understand the results. The results must be analyzed in the context of what we know from traditional research. The results must be analyzed in the context of what we learn about those with matching DNA and the probabilities for a relationship. And the results must be analyzed in the context of a specific research question to be answered.

Using DNA tests for genealogy is a matching game. Just seeing our DNA results alone tells very little about our family history. When we compare our family tree to the tree of those who have closely matching DNA we can find common ancestors. The ancestors won’t jump off the page at you and no technician will come running in with a piece of paper identifying the guilty person. The tech won't say, “this person is related through your second-great-grandfather on your father’s father’s line.” With many hours of work we may figure that out, but it won’t be immediately obvious.

If you don’t get many or any matches you may feel let down, but a DNA test is one of those things that "keeps on giving." You may have no close DNA matches at the time you test, but the testing company will usually compare you to everyone who tests in the future, too. Maybe the cousin that will break down your brick wall will test next week, next month, or next year. If you don’t test you will never know if that cousin has already tested and the answer you need is just waiting for you in the DNA database.

Taking the test and getting results back from a company is not the end of your genetic genealogy quest. It is the beginning. Be sure to rest while you wait for the test results to come back. You’ll be very busy analyzing the results if you want to learn useful information from those results.

Maybe genealogical researchers can better appreciate the process to make use of DNA test results in comparison to other kinds of research we do to determine who our ancestors are. This list shows some similarities between research using documentary evidence and DNA evidence.

What does the researcher provide to a record repository or a DNA testing company?

Land record or probate file:
A request for a specific record type for a person of a specific name within a specific time frame

A DNA sample and, optionally, a pedigree chart and ancestral surname information

What does the clerk / DNA company do to “locate” your record?

Land record or probate file:
Check the specified index for the specified name during the specified time (once other current duties allow time to help with historical research)

  • Send you a test kit (after payment is received) then wait for it to be returned
  • Extract the DNA from the biological material
  • Amplify the DNA to create enough to analyze
  • Optionally, freeze the left-over DNA for future use
  • Sequence the amplified DNA
  • Store the DNA result data into a database
  • Compare your DNA data to everyone else in the database (tens or hundreds of thousands of other DNA samples)

What does the clerk / DNA company do to report findings?

Land record or probate file:
Contact you THIS ONE TIME with a list of whether your person was found and how much it will cost to get a copy of the documents

Contact you to let you know results are available online – not just one time but EVERY time new matches are found as new people test

What does the clerk / DNA company do to process findings?

Land record or probate file:
  • Photocopy or digitize the requested documents (after payment is received or authorized)
  • Send the documents to you (with NO analysis whatsoever) and without checking to see if there are other documents for this same person or his/her relatives or other documents for the same property or …

DNA: Provide you with
  • Results that may include the DNA marker name and value
  • A haplogroup if a Y-DNA or mtDNA test was taken
  • Historical information on the ancient migrations of the haplogroup
  • A list of others in the company database who have the same or similar DNA results
  • Access to ancestral information that was supplied by those with matching DNA
  • In some cases, tools to help you with further analysis of the matching DNA data
  • Customer service and FAQ lists to help you understand the results

What do YOU have to learn before you can make use of the reported findings?

Land record or probate file: You need to learn about
  • The difference in metes and bounds and the rectangular survey system
  • How to plat and locate land in each survey system
  • Colonial, federal, state, and military bounty land grant processes
  • Laws affecting land ownership and taxable property in effect at this time in this place
  • Probate and inheritance laws in effect at this time in this place
  • The history of the time and place as it may affect record availability (county boundaries, courthouse disasters, and so on)
  • How to read the handwriting of the time and place

DNA: You need to learn about
  • DNA inheritance patterns
  • SNPs and STRs and blocks of DNA and how to interpret them
  • Fast changing (or mutating) marker significance
  • How to effectively use tools provided by the company and by third parties
  • Statistical probabilities for DNA matches and what it means when you look at all those numbers

What do YOU do after you understand the background and have the record / data?

Land record or probate file:
  • Transcribe or abstract the information
  • Analyze the information in the document
  • Evaluate as evidence to support or disprove a genealogical research question
  • Correlate with other evidence you already have
  • Create a well-reasoned, coherently written conclusion OR form a research plan for the next steps to be done for further research on this question

  • Review the findings and contact the matches in case they have ancestral information beyond what is provided on the company website
  • Analyze the DNA matches using tools provided by the company and/or third-party tools
  • Evaluate as evidence to support or disprove a genealogical research question
  • Correlate the DNA data between the matches
  • Correlate the DNA data with evidence from traditional research
  • Create a well-reasoned, coherently written conclusion OR form a research plan for the next steps to be done for further research on this question

Just like any other evidence you use to help answer a genealogical question, using DNA evidence requires work on your part. Or you can use a consultant to do the work for you: a relative or project administrator who is interested and has the time, or a consultant or researcher you hire to do the work for you. The same way you would hire a researcher to obtain and analyze record copies when you can't do it yourself.

You had to learn how to use the information found in deeds, census records, probate files, and all of the other records genealogists use every day. You will have to learn how to use DNA test results unless you plan to hire someone to do it for you.

None of us are born knowing how to do this kind of analysis. We have to learn, or we have to find someone else to do the analysis for us, or we are wasting our efforts. Genetic genealogy has the potential to solve many of our genealogical brick walls if it is used effectively. However, it is not a magic bullet to answer all your questions with little or no work on your part. Many of us find it fun and interesting to learn how to use DNA test results. Give it a try. Maybe you'll like it, too.

Check here for links to educational materials to learn how to use DNA for genealogical research. Or join us next year at The Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh where Your Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore, The Genetic Genealogist Blaine Bettinger, and I will be teaching Practical Genetic Genealogy.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Disappointed in DNA test results?," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 16 September 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

All images created by and © 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

Census Forms and Thanks to ETGS Seminar Attendees

I had a wonderful time presenting at the East Texas Genealogical Society (ETGS) Beginner's Workshop on Saturday. The group was interested and shared some good stories. We had attendees all the way from Irving (about 110 miles) and from several counties surrounding Smith County. Some were brand new to genealogical research and some experienced researchers came to learn new tips. And the ETGS group always has tempting snacks so no one went hungry.

We talked about census records and extraction forms and using tools like spreadsheets or word processors to help organize data for analysis. We also talked about organization and some of the logs needed to know what you've already done and what you need to do next. Here are some links for those forms for those who are not using tools built in to their genealogy programs:

U.S. National Archives Forms — census and many other forms

FamilySearch Wiki Research Forms — census worksheets, timelines, cemetery logs, research logs, correspondence logs, pedigree charts, family group sheets, research calendars and logs, and many, many more U.S., UK, and Canadian forms (also links to Ancestry.com and FamilyTreeMagazine.com)

Ancestry.com Census Forms — U.S. populations schedules and slave schedules, U.K., and Canadian forms

Ancestral Findings Free Census Forms — U.S. and UK

Family Tree Magazine Census Forms — U.S. population schedule

Census Mate (links to Google Sites — downloadable forms requires registration

Census Tools / Census Tracker — for a small fee the author provides Excel spreadsheets that allow data entry of extracted census information and some other activities

An Internet search for "census extraction forms" will result in many more links if one of the above links don't provide the desired results.

Don't forget that anyone can create their own form using a word processor or a spreadsheet. Even a plain text file can be used and a constant width font will allow columns to be lined up using tabs.

Some important tips on using census records:
  • obtain all census records for the focus person
  • correlate the information from each census on a form or in a table
  • remember the informant for the census enumerations is unidentified for most years so it can be difficult to evaluate the accuracy of the information provided
  • correlate evidence from other records with the census data to form more accurate theories
  • use the instructions given to the census enumerators to properly analyze the census data

Important resources:
“Census of Population and Housing.” U.S. Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html : 2013. Freely downloadable PDFs of the statistical compendiums for each census since 1790, special collections and reports, and Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (publ. 2012).

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) Website:
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/ – Home Page
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tEnumForm.shtml – 1850–2011 Enumerator Instructions
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/doc.shtml – Document Index

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Census Forms and Thanks to ETGS Seminar Attendees," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 16 September 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved