14 December 2016

DNA Chromosome Map Poster for Grandkids

Being a genetic genealogy nerd, I wanted to do something related to DNA for my grandkids for Christmas. Most of my grandkids do not have all four grandparents living. However, all of them have at least one maternal and one paternal grandparent living.


We know the grandkids get one copy of each autosomal chromosome from each parent. We know those chromosomes are a recombined mixture of the DNA the parent inherited from the grandparents. When one maternal grandparent has tested, we know which segment of DNA the grandhild inherited from that grandparent. We also know the maternal DNA not shared wth the tested maternal grandparent came from the untested maternal grandparent. The same logic can be applied to the paternal line shared DNA.

For my grandkids where I have tested a grandparent on both the maternal and paternal side I made a chromosome map to add to their Christmas gifts. This is how I did it. You may add your own enhancements and make alternate color choices. I may make some of these text boxes a little snazzier, but you get the idea. If you have a good idea for an enhancement please let us know in the comments.

At Family Tree DNA I have access to the shared segment data and I like the shapes they use on the chromosome browser. You could do something similar with data from 23andMe or GEDmatch.com. It will look a little different, but would still be a unique educational gift.

  1. Login to grandchild's account
  2. Display chromosome browser (CB) with shared DNA to a maternal grandparent
  3. Grab a screenshot - SnagIt scrolls the web page to capture the entire CB display
  4. Display CB with shared DNA to a paternal grandparent
  5. Grab a screen shot as in step 3
  6. Display the Family Finder Matches list of the grandchild
  7. Divide the amount of total shared DNA between the grandchild and paternal grandparent by 68 to calculate the approximate percentage of DNA shared
  8. Subtract that shared percentage from 50 to calculate the percentage of DNA that was inherited from the other paternal grandparent
  9. Divide the amount of total shared DNA between the grandchild and maternal grandparent by 68 to calculate the approximate percentage of DNA shared
  10. Subtract that shared percentage from 50 to calculate the percentage of DNA that was inherited from the other maternal grandparent

    In an image editor (I used SnagIt editor) make the changes below, frequently saving the image so nothing gets lost. You need to understand how to use an image editor to complete this part. Numbers on the image here correspond to the steps below. Click on the image to see a larger version.

    [15 Dec 2016 addition: Next time I do this I think I will add the grandchild's name to the top as a title (maybe "Grandchild-name's DNA Map") instead of placing it in several smaller text boxes as shown here.]


  11. Open both screenshots and crop out the area around the CB display
  12. Double the canvas size of one of the images horizontally - I used the paternal CB screenshot and chose placement options so it would be on the left of the final image
  13. Copy the second image into the new canvas and visually align the CB displays so the same numbered chromosomes line up (both chromosomes 1 are horizontally aligned, and so on)
  14. Save the merged images to a new filename
  15. Choose a different color for each grandparent - I used red for paternal grandmother, blue for paternal grandfather, yellow for maternal grandmother, green for maternal grandfather
  16. On the paternal CB image, use color fill to change the color marking the shared DNA segments - my CB display is for the paternal grandmother so I changed the default shared DNA color used by Family Tree DNA to red
  17. On the paternal CB image, use color fill to change the navy color marking unshared segments to bright blue
  18. On the maternal CB image, use color fill to change the color marking the shared DNA segments - my CB display is for the maternal grandmother so I changed the default shared DNA color used by Family Tree DNA to gold
  19. On the maternal CB image, use color fill to change the navy color marking unshared segments to green
  20. Add a small gold circle to indicate the mtDNA that was inherited from the maternal grandmother and text box indicating the mtDNA is from Mom's Mother
  21. Add text boxes with the grandchild's name, a color key for the maternal / paternal lines, a color key for the grandmother / grandfather in each line
  22. Add a text box listing the percentage of DNA shared with each grandparent (calculated in steps 7 through 10 above
  23. Include whether X, Y, or mtDNA was inherited from that same grandparent
  24. Add a short summary of DNA inheritance
I also made the X chromosome smaller in size by drawing a selection box around it then moving the box edges to squeeze the chromosome horizontally so it became smaller. Technically, it should be about the same size as chromosome 7, but I wanted more space to include text on the percentage shared with each grandparent.

Print the resulting image on heavy paper used for certificates or awards; my paper has pretty gold curlicues in each corner. I selected to scale the image to leave borders on all edges so I could frame the image. On my printer, I have an option to print in draft, normal, or best mode. For these, I selected best mode to get the highest quality prinout my printer will make.

I framed the images and printed a second copy that would allow siblings to hold the papers next to each other to easily compare which DNA each inherited from each grandparent.

I am planning to add some additional explanatory text to send along with the images. And, of course, I will refer them to the appropriate pages in the copy of Genetic Genealogy in Practice for more details. After all, I did give a copy to all of my kids and some other family members once the book was in print. I might as well give them a reason to read it.



To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Chromosome Map Poster for Grandkids," Deb's Delvings, 14 December 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

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

05 November 2016

Nov. 10, 'DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today' at Bear Creek Genealogical Society (Houston, TX)

My last scheduled speaking engagement in 2016 is next week in Houston. The topic will be an introduction to genetic genealogy testing and how to apply the test results to genealogical questions.


1 p.m., Thursday, 10 November 2016, Houston, Texas: GATA GACC! DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today – Bear Creek Genealogical Society & Library – Westlake Volunteer Fire Dept. station, 19636 Salms Road. (I-10 West to the Fry Rd. exit; turn right / north and travel about five traffic lights; turn right on Salms Road and immediately see new building on left; turn left into parking lot, drive past building, enter at double doors in front of building, turn right into auditorium. Located in a two story brick building on northeast side of Saums Road after you turn at the Saums Road light next to KF; not the old original metal building across the street.) See also www.bearcreekgenealogy.org.

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

I hope to see many readers and friends there next week. Please stop by and say hi.


To cite this blog post:

Debbie Parker Wayne, "Nov. 10, 'DNA and Genetic Genealogy Today' at Bear Creek Genealogical Society (Houston, TX)," Deb's Delvings, 5 November 2016 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

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

13 October 2016

Bringing it Together: Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy

My, how times change!

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


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

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

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

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


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

The genealogy community now understands the importance of genetic genealogy.

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



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


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

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

12 October 2016

Cost of DNA vs Documents

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


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

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

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

©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

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


©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne


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


©, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne

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

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



CC0, 2016, Debbie Parker Wayne




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

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

28 September 2016

DNA Helix beaded model

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

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

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




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



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


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

27 September 2016

Respect and Rights

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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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


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

19 September 2016

CAFG FGI - Two New Courses in March 2017

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

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


Announcement from CAFG:

***Save the Date***

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

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

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

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





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


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