The 9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy sponsored by Family Tree DNA for their project administrators will take place in Houston, TX beginning Friday, November 8th and lasting through Sunday, the 10th.
I’ll be attending this one, just like I’ve been at every conference since the beginning. There aren’t many of us who attended that first conference and are still attending, and fewer still who have attended all 9 conferences. You can see some photos of that first conference and a few stats here.
Charles Kerchner brought his freshly minted haplogroup pins to sell, R1b for Yline and H for mito. My – how things have changed. Today I wrote a report for a man who is R1b1a2a1a1b4h. Although Charles is now retired from genetic genealogy, I’m sure if he still has some pins, he’d love to unload them, er, I mean, sell you one. In the genetic genealogy world, they are antiques now, but we were surely excited to proudly wear them in 2004. They were kind of the 2004 DNA version of “what’s your sign?” Everyone was walking around the hotel lobby around looking for other people wearing pins! I still have mine and my haplogroup J mito pin too. The first conference was a landmark, watershed, event. We were giddy with excitement to attend the conference and meet each other for the first time, face to face. Sadly, some of those friends are no longer with us.
Looking back, I recall how different things were, and how much they have changed in just under a decade. Most notably, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no forums and no blogs. The first DNA books for genealogy were introduced that year, as was Mitosearch, and Sorenson released their first data base information.
Back then, the best you could hope for if you couldn’t attend the conference, which was the ONLY educational opportunity for genetic genealogy, was that someone would post on the Rootsweb DNA list about what was taking place. There was no ISOGG list, as ISOGG hadn’t been formed yet and wouldn’t be for another year. Today, ISOGG has 8000 international members.
Speaking of Rootsweb, which was the primary message system at that time, DNA was a taboo subject on the surname and location lists and boards. Actually, it was prohibited everyplace on Rootsweb except for lists like the genealogy-DNA list which had been formed specifically to discuss DNA. I never understood exactly why, but the topic of DNA was treated like a social disease. You couldn’t discuss it, you couldn’t talk about results and you most assuredly could NOT recruit people, even discretely. Messages that even smelled remotely like they might be DNA related were routinely deleted. It seems to me that there was a great amount of fear that DNA might unearth truths that some people didn’t want unearthed or maybe that using DNA was somehow “cheating”. And indeed, it has revealed many truths. The truth is the truth and refusing to talk about it didn’t save anyone. We knew a few years later when one of the biggest opponents said they ordered a DNA test that we had won that battle, although we were a bit shell-shocked. The whole thing seems archaic today and almost unimaginable. Now, of course, we post about DNA on all of the electronic forums and most genealogists can’t imagine NOT having DNA available as a tool. Like many others, I’ve had brick walls fall that could never have met their demise any other way.
Unfortunately, the forums like Rootsweb and Genforum are much less popular today and have in many ways been usurped by Facebook. I find that unfortunate, because the Rootsweb boards and lists were meant to be searched and permanent archives were a built in feature. Ever try to find something someone posted on your Facebook timeline a few weeks later? Good luck with that.
Last year at the conference, I tweeted, as did several others. I won’t be doing that this year. I discovered that different tools (PC, MAC, iPad and iPhone) react and interact differently with Twitter and trying to work through those issues was both frustrating and distracting. This year, instead, I will TRY to blog each day at least briefly about what occurred. We’ll see how that goes. I tried to blog on my private family blog when I was overseas earlier this year too, and that did not go well for a multitude of reasons.
This year at the conference, I’m speaking as well during one of the breakout sessions. My session is titled, “How to Find Your Indian Prince(ss) Without Having to Kiss Too Many Frogs.” Unfortunately, Tim Janzen is speaking about Autosomal Mapping at the same time. I think lots of people will want to attend both of these sessions, and both do deal with using autosomal DNA as a tool. Autosomal is only a part of my presentation however.
Family Tree DNA is also providing Roundtable Discussions and I’ll be monitoring, moderating or hostessing (whatever the appropriate term) 2 separate tables, one on Saturday and one on Sunday for Y-SNPs and Mitochondrial DNA, respectively, along with other volunteers.
For those attending, I’ll see you on Friday at the reception. For those who will be waiting for information, hopefully I’ll be blogging something on Friday evening after the reception if there is anything to report. The sessions don’t actually begin until Saturday morning. Check your Twitter feeds and Facebook for other information posted by other attendees throughout the day.
The conference schedule is here.
It’s always wonderful to see my genetic genealogy friends and cousins once again, so safe journey and see you in Houston!!!