DNA & Your Portfolio

DNA EamesShould you include DNA evidence into your Research Report, Case Study or Kinship Determination Project (KDP) of your portfolio for Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG)? The short answer is “it depends.”

In 2017 at the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) Jamboree, Annette Burke Lyttle and I agreed that the field was changing as fast as was the expectation of inclusion in the portfolio submissions. For the research report, the client drives the request; for the Case Study, DNA evidence may or may not be appropriate; but for the KDP, DNA evidence may be critical. Either way, you may need to write why you did or didn’t utilize the evidence DNA provides.

Fast forward to the ProGen lunch at Jamboree 2018. A number of us, including Blaine Bettinger, discussed the topic of when DNA evidence is not appropriate or cannot be included. We identified a number of reasons why you wouldn’t include DNA evidence in your portfolio:

  1. too many generations back
  2. it wasn’t necessary
  3. the client didn’t request DNA analysis (for the Research Report)
  4. the test takers refused to give permission to publish
  5. the critical test takers refused to test

For my portfolio, my client did not request it for the Research Report and my proof argument was set six generations back from living test takers. I included a statement as to why it was inappropriate for my Case Study, but I ignored it in my KDP! I no longer think that I would be given “a pass” on my KDP.

Here are my thoughts and the summary of thoughts of others in this fast moving field.

  1. DNA is evidence; not a conclusion. Having a DNA match is just a clue; think of it as an index response to a certain parameters and now you are seeking the original!
  2. A confirmed DNA match is direct evidence that there is a relationship; it is indirect evidence of the specific relationship between two people. I find the Shared cM Project 3.0 tool v2 at DNA Painter extremely helpful in narrowing down my options given a set amount of DNA.
  3. You still must verify the paper trail of both your line and that of the test taker. To provide proof, we must have two independent sources of primary evidence not in conflict supporting the research question or indirect evidence of sufficient weight to draw a specific conclusion.[1] One piece of evidence cannot stand alone, even DNA.
  4. DNA’s inclusion, or not, into your writing is your decision, as an applicant, just like every other type of evidence. Ask yourself the question–“Would DNA evidence be additive to my argument?” Just like you would scan the all sources that might be helpful, and pursue those that have a high likelihood of answering your research question, the same is true for DNA data and its analysis.
  5. DNA deserves the same level of scrutiny and healthy skepticism you would give any piece of evidence.
  6. A review and application of the proposed Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) modifications to the rubrics might be reasonable for your portfolio even if they don’t pass.[2]

And you haven’t even started the analysis of the data yet! Have you mapped the chromosomes and separated the mother and father’s contribution? Is the match on the side of the equation where it supports the hypothesis? Are there other tests you should obtain? Have you considered endogamy or pedigree collapse (and do you know the difference)? Have you correlated (triangulated) the shared matches? These are just some of the questions you should consider. This is not a comprehensive list as I am no expert.

Every genealogist should have a working knowledge of the types of evidence that could assist in the resolution of the problem, whether it be probate records, court minutes, jury duty lists or DNA. We must assess whether collection and analysis of DNA would contribute to resolution of our research question or not.

This post focused on the proofs of the Case Study, requests of a “client” and within the KDP, because it is unlikely that the other elements of the portfolio would require the applicant to provide DNA evidence. It is possible however, that your research plan contained within the Document Work might include a DNA component.

The year 2017 was my year to advance my personal knowledge of DNA to the intermediate level (whatever that is!). I started at 0, so the goal was a low bar!  I also realize that with the field changing as fast as it is, that my education could not stop on 31 December 2017. Here is what I have done to date:

  • attended the Jamboree DNA Day 2017. Also attended general sessions on DNA at Jamboree 2017, NGS 2018 and Jamboree 2018.
  • took Blaine Bettinger’s workshop on “Third Party Tools” (GEDmatch and others);
  • upgraded my Y-dna kits to Family Finder at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA);
  • embraced the International Society of Genetic Genealogy‘s Genetic Genealogy Standards;
  • Pursued obtaining written permissions of all the kits I manage;
  • moved raw data of the kits I administer (and have permission) to FTDNA and My Heritage ($);
  • loaded the kits with permissions to GEDmatch and DNAgedcom Client ($);
  • learned visual phasing and DNA Painter. I can now map my chromosomes.
  • Attended a 4.5 day Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) on DNA Analysis given by Karen Stanbary.
  • Worked on and solved the identity problem of my husband’s grandfather. I also  submitted the article to the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), which they have accepted. No word yet on publication date.
  • set up GenomeMate Pro (GMP) and migrated my data. I still don’t know how to use the analytical tools. GMP is now “on my radar” to obtain some comfort level in its use in 2018.)
  • Attended numerous webinars, etc. on the topic (An outstanding presentation on the ethics of DNA is behind the member wall of Association of Professional Genealogy. [3])
  • Engaged in numerous conversations with others to improve my understanding
  • developed a presentation to help those who tested at Ancestry, but do not know how to read their results. The title is “I got my Ancestry Results! Now What?”
  • developed a presentation on “Finding a Father for Molly,” my husband’s grandfather. I did a beta test of the presentation and got many constructive comments.

So, educate yourself about DNA in whatever manner that works for you. Assess whether DNA evidence is additive to your portfolio. When writing, keep in mind that not all problems can be solved with DNA and no problem can be solved with ONLY DNA.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: I am writing proposals to various genealogical societies for webinars and to conferences for presentations.  I have been honored to have been selected to all I have applied, including the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (Midwest girl meets New England!). I am doing more all day seminars around the country this year than I have in the past. Coming up: San Luis Obispo, Colorado, Omaha, and Fox Valley (IL).

[1] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013) p. 23-24.
[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, “Proposed DNA Standards,” BCG Springboard, (https://bcgcertification.org/proposed-dna-standards-for-public-comment/  : accessed 23 July 2018). Public comment is only open until 23 July 2018. 
[3] Blaine Bettinger & Karen Stanbary, webinar “Genetic Genealogy for Professionals: DNA Client Expectations, Client Contracts, Surprising Results” Association of Professional Genealogists, 19 February 2018. This session is behind a member wall.

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“Brick Walls” and Hats!

What do brick walls (of a genealogical kind) have to do with hats?

I was reading an article in “Success,” a type of magazine that I used to read a lot–motivational, leadership, and management sound bites given by people who say they have work force experience and wisdom that might pertain to me.  I don’t find that type of magazine interesting any more, except from a historical perspective– what are the pundits saying now that is different from before? One article caught my eye. It was about how to solve tough problems using the analogy of hats–different colored hats. I then immediately applied its premise to genealogy.

Perhaps this article and its approach will help you solve your latest “brick wall” problem.  So, pick one of your brick walls and see if “wearing a different hat” suggests to you different approaches to solving your particular puzzling research question:

  1. hat whiteWhite hat[2]: look at what you have already gathered. Do you see anything glaring that stands out that needs to be researched. If so, keep a list of your findings.
  2. hat redRed Hat: Trust your intuition.  What is your intuition telling you to do?  While we cannot rely on our intuition, it can lead us to evidence that perhaps is a little out of the ordinary. Be adventuresome and add your thoughts to the growing list of tasks and your thoughts.
  3. hat blackBlack hat: Ask yourself, “what if I am wrong?” Go back over your assumptions you have made….start one, two or even three generations before your research question in order to make sure you have made all the correct decisions in the first place. Are there any gaps?  Where? Identify the gaps and add each one to the list.
  4. hat yellowYellow Hat: As yourself, “What if I am right?” If the assumptions are correct, are there conflicts? Multiple names or years of birth, unanswered negative evidence or unidentified location of an event? Each conflict should be described independently and added to the list.
  5. hat greenGreen Hat: Now it’s time to get crazy.  Stand in front of a big white board with a marker and right down all your thoughts about the problem and how you could possibly solve it.  Perhaps the trip to the locale of your ancestor is in order?  But, there are many options. Add them to the list.
  6. hat blueBlue Hat: Collaborate with someone else and share your problem.  Can you articulate your problem?  Can you describe what you have completed so far in five bullets?  Can you do it? If you can’t, you need to work on the articulation of the problem; If you can, consider writing down “assignments” that you would give to a collaborator on your list.

Now look at your list of disparate entries.  Is there a pattern?  Is there some prioritization you want to do?  Rearrange the elements and what they suggest.

Looking at our brick wall with different hats may actually help get them solved! But, don’t worry–for every problem solved it seems to me that two more problems appear–they’re called “parents”! 🙂

If you want to know more about the “hats” see Carol Jacoby’s blog.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: I have been working on the family of my son-in-law, an interesting combination of Italian, England and famine (and later) immigrants from Ireland. They moved to Massachusetts and often worked in the woolen and cotton mills as winders, watchmen, carders and weavers. I also took a vacation on the Cape where I spoke to the Falmouth GS. Always a fun, engaged group to speak to.

[1] Cecilia Meis,”Brain Games,” Success, January 2018, p.66-68.
[2] “multi-colored hats,” Google search, using the Images Labeled for Reuse. Cluster of hats broken down into individual hats.

 

 

NARA: Office of Strategic Services Files

[I just found this post in my drafts file.  For those of your heading for Gen-Fed, this was written a year ago after our trip to College Park. Sorry for the delay.]

My dad, Harold Jacobson, served in the Office of Strategic Services or OSS, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. I loved the idea that perhaps my dad was a spy or he managed spies. Sigh. I now know my brother was right–Dad was a clerk.

I wondered what I could find out about this role during World War II. I knew that NARA would be the source of the information, specifically Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Stories, of course, had been told:

  1. Harold Jacobson was pulled out and separated from everyone else for 6 weeks after basic training. He read the newspaper and waited, but had no idea why he was singled out.  After that wait (supposition is they were checking his references), he was assigned as a clerk to the OSS.[1]
  2. Harold worked in London for most of his military career. Every morning he would walk across Hyde Park to get to the office.[2]
  3. Harold started with a large bulletin board with one note on it and by the end of the war the board was covered. He wasn’t a spy but he knew every spy, including double and triple spies.[3]
  4. Harold was never in a combat zone until Paris was freed. Harold arrived 3 days before the official date of the take-back and as a consequence he was able to get a medal for being in a combat zone. He saw Charles DeGaulle march down the Champ-Elysee’. [4]

I pulled the file.

Wait a minute–all/most of the WWII service files were lost in the 1974 fire in St. Louis, weren’t they?  Well, yes, except the OSS files were not stored in Saint Louis, but rather in Washington, D.C. These files were only released a few years ago for viewing by the public. The OSS files and my Dad’s WWII service record are instead located at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Perhaps my father’s file will help others whose records were destroyed, an idea of what was contained in those files that were lost nearly 50 years ago now. (WWI and WWII Army records were mostly lost.)

The records were fairly simple to pull, Harold was indexed as “Harold Jacobsen.” Notice the spelling of the last name with “–sen”. I thought perhaps this was a different person, but it was the only Harold Jacobson/Jacobsen in the index. The index noted the box number (368). I then filled out a request form. Unfortunately, someone had rearranged the contents of the box and I had to request box number 367 instead. This is not uncommon, but you lose an hour when this happens because you have to wait for the next pull time.

I was excited to read about all the secret “stuff” my dad did! Here is what was in the file:

Harold Jacobsen, OSS personnel file, service number 37672330; World War II: Office of Strategic Services, U. S. Army, entry A1224, box 367, multiple documents; National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

Extract from Service Record, front: This document (1 page) reviewed his file. On it was clearly marked that he had received the “Br. Sv Star for No. France” or the Bronze Service Star for Northern France. This confirms at least a portion of story no. 4 above. Both his character and his efficiency were excellent. No surprise there either. He left for the foreign service on 27 February 1944 and left London for the US on 9 November 1945. His residence was 428 Locust Street, Britt, Iowa, and his emergency addressee was Gertrude Jacobson, his wife. The latter was known information. Notice that this and subsequent records spelled his name Jacobson. I have no idea why it is misspelled in the index.

Extract from Service Record, back: This long narrow form on the back of the Extract listed what Harold owed the military and what the military owed him. The form was a bad mimeograph (remember those?) and difficult to read. His last pay date was 30 September 1945; he was due some money at the date of transfer and he had some other accounts to settle.

Duty Orders: This document ordered my dad and 20 others to Washington, D.C., Office of Strategic Services for duty on 10 November 1944. Their point of departure was Camp Kilmar, New Brunswick, New Jersey. The orders are dated 9 November 1944. This document is stamped “RESTRICTED.”

Time card: The form has no entries for the status of his duty (rows were the months and columns the days); however, there were other notations. I will have to have my brother (career Navy) “translate” these for me. On the back of the time card are additional military notations; the only one I can “read” is “Repted for duty 21 Mar 44.”

Report of Delinquency: This restricted document reported that my father, on 3 June 1945 at 1710 hours,  was reprimanded for “Transporting a civilian girl around in Jeep in St. Germain. Name of road offender was stopped La Rue de la Republique. Jeep No. 20496305.” Report was made out and “Soldier ordered to report back to Unit.” What a rebel!–of course, he was married at the time…..

Theater Service Record, page 1: This document is labeled confidential and “Subject must not see this.” It listed Harold’s Name, grade (T/5), serial no. (376??330), DOB (29 August 1911) physical condition (satisfactory, No physical complaints.), theater (ETO, branch K-3 (?)), length of service (“arrived theater Feb, 44”), procured (March 44) and comments by Theater Security Officer (“no comment”). His education was listed as “Britt Junior College- University of Iowa” and he knew slightly Spanish and French. Harold had no special skills and his principle civilian experience was as an “Independent Oil Jobber” and “Banking.” I knew most of this before but was unaware of his slight skill in Spanish and French–the latter probably helped him out when he was driving around the civilian girl in St. Germain! His education within the military is listed as was his promotion to T/5.

Theater Service Record, page 2: Harold was noted as having “superior” motivation and “excellent” judgement, maturity, tact, leadership ability, and physical ability. There were no remarks and he was returning to the U.S. because he had “sufficient points.” He was not being recommend for further work in the OSS.

Separation Process: This document is a record of a separation interview with Harold conducted on 13 November 45. He was in the OSS branch X-2 and his number was 37672330. (These are much clearer on this document.) He is identified as a “Registry-Clk.” and does not wish to return to the Army.

There are no other documents in the file. So my Dad was not a spy, but perhaps he knew some!?

There were some outcomes to this that rippled down to my brother and I. My dad could type very fast (over 100 words per minute). Since he knew how to type (and his other attributes) he was eligible for a desk job during the war. When my brother and I were in high school, my mother made sure both he and I both knew how to type. My brother was a clerk in Vietnam at a time when very few males knew how to type.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

[1] Interview with Jim Jacobson, my brother, notes are in the file.
[2} Personal recollections of what my father told me.
[3] Interview with Jim Jacobson.
[4] Personal recollections.

 

 

 

 

FHWR: Social Time

TR 423What would a Family History Writers’ Retreat (FHWR) be if you didn’t retreat with some “old” friends and meet some new people? Not as much fun, that is for sure. If you are working hard during the day on your writing project, then shouldn’t the night time be fun? So we have designed some fun things to do in the evening.

Relaxing with friends by the fireplace will set the tone for the evening adventures. Taking off the chill (yes, it gets chilly in the mountains when the sun goes down) while drinking a great glass of wine is a terrific end to the day. But, wait, there can be more. To the extent you wish to, sharing the progress of your project with others is always a fun thing to do.  You will see your own progress and support others if they have a question or are considering options.  Your advice will be invaluable to them. You may wish to ask their advice as well.

As a group we will head into town for dinner. Colorado Casual is the level of dress for all occasions.

I have two favorite restaurants–Fiesta Jalisco and my BBQ joint in Dillon.  Frisco restaurants might be on our list as well. All these will be up to the group to decide. We could even order cook-your-own pizza (Nick & Willie’s) and bring it to the condo to prolong the conversation time. the cost of dinner is our personal cost.

After dinner, it’s back to the condo for discussion and dessert. This may take the form of a more formal “presentation” on writing family history by Valerie or a Q & A session, “Pointers for Your Portfolio,” by Jill.  We are also prepared to discuss Self-publishing.  Topics, if desired, will be decided by attendees.

And, at the end of the day, we can all walk out to the back deck of the condo and see the Milky Way in all it’s glory, a sight we city slickers rarely get to see.  Make sure you have the one of the star gazer apps downloaded on your phone before arrival!

Certainly, hiking, outlet mall shopping, touring, etc. are also all possible for you as well.

We look forward to seeing you at the Family History Writers’ Retreat.  If you have questions do not hesitate to ask Valerie or me.

Previously published:

FHWR: Writing Your Family History
FHWR: Writing Your Portfolio
FHWR: Colorado & Silverthorne
FHWR: Evening Activities

Valerie and I certainly hope you will join us. Contact us for more information.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

 

 

 

FHWR: Evening activities

TR condosAre you considering the Family History Writers’ Retreat (FHWR)? We hope so. It is a chance to retreat from the daily responsibilities in a lovely location, and have someone else cook for you which gives you the gift of time to write the family history, portfolio, memoir or other writing of your interest. Our basecamp will be Timber Ridge condos located at the top of the base of Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne, CO.

The daily schedule (20th-22nd) will look something like this, with “quiet time” being self directed time to write or to take a Colorado mountain break. Quiet time will be strictly enforced.

  • 7:00-8:00: breakfast (Valerie and I cook and clean)
  • 8-12:00: Quiet time
  • 12:00-1:00: lunch (Valerie and I cook and clean)
  • 1:00-5:00: Quiet time
  • 5:00-6:00: wine o’clock
  • 6:00-8:00: out to eat
  • 8:00-10:00: presentations, discussions and dessert back at the condo

The 19th and the 23rd will mostly be getting settled in or out.

Previously published:

FHWR: Writing Your Family History
FHWR: Writing Your Portfolio
FHWR: Colorado & Silverthorne

Valerie and I certainly hope you will join us. Contact us for more information.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

FHWR: Colorado and Silverthorne

Condo viewValerie and I are so excited about the Family History Writers’ Retreat (FHWR)! We are especially excited because it will be held in Colorado from 19-23 of September.

The “base camp” will be the Timber Ridge Condominiums, on Wilderness Road in Silverthorne, CO.  The condominiums abut the National Forest and are located at the base of Buffalo Mountain.  Two great beginner hiking trails are right outside our door–Lily Pad Lake Trail and Buffalo Cabin Trail. (Photo taken out the dining room window, 29 September 2017; deck is to the right.)

But, wait–what does this have to do with writing?

The FHWR will be a wonderful experience for all who attend.  Valerie and I will cook breakfast and lunch; we’ll go out as a group for dinner then return to the condo for discussion and dessert. This leaves about 8+ hours to write….your family history, your memoirs, your portfolio, etc.

But, you may find you need a nature break every once in a while. The condos are right across the parking lot to the clubhouse which has a pool, two hot tubs, a sauna, a large meeting room and quiet areas and racquet ball court. Outside the tennis court awaits.  If that is not enough, take a hike! Many trails are in the area–short and long. It will be fall and the aspen will be turning golden! You won’t want to miss it.

Oh, did I mention the outlet shops at the base of the hill? And the free bus service up and down the hill?

We will pick up folks at the Denver Airport on the 19th, if you land before 1:00 pm.  For those of you who come in later, shuttle service can be procured at DIA which will take you to Frisco. We can pick you up there. On the reverse trip, we will take the early morning departure group.

Other activities in the area include touring old gold mine towns (the cemetery in Leadville is fascinating), shopping in Vail, festivals in the towns that dot the area and other activities.

Oh, and you can write too!

There is one caution: the condo is at 9600 feet above sea level. You may need time to acclimate. Some of you may have a propensity towards pressure related headaches; if so, you should probably avoid this retreat.

If you have more questions, read my two previous blogs on writing Family History and Portfolio writing. If that doesn’t answer your questions, contact Valerie or me.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

 

 

FHWR: Writing Your Portfolio

Wilder PassCome to Colorado to the Family History Writers’ Retreat (FHWR) and work on your portfolio! Of course, neither Valerie nor I can comment on your specific work, due to the requirements of the portfolio, but you will have unfettered time to write in the same space where I wrote my case study!

There are other questions about the process and your strategy that we can answer.

Genealogists write research reports, proof arguments and kinship studies for themselves and for clients. These skills are tested in the portfolio writing process in order to apply for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. This genre of writing is often different than family history writing for your family, a topic covered in the blog post of the 21 June.

Valerie and I cook breakfast and lunch and provide you with the time to work on your portfolio.  Wifi is provided that will allow you to do any last minute research. At least one evening we will discuss portfolio writing of Case Studies using Warren Bittner’s outline of things not to forget.  We will even bring our reference library so you don’t have to. The evening session on portfolios will go in any direction that helps you. Numbering systems seem to be a topic of discussion these days. Anyone want to hear more about how I write my client reports and how I am implementing “write as you go” to improve my efficiency? Ask and I’ll see if we can answer.

SAVE THE DATE: 19-23 September, Silverthorne, CO. For more information contact Valerie or me.

Happy Hunting!

Jill