Vote for Roberta’s RootsTech 2023 Session Topic

RootsTech has graciously allowed me some latitude in selecting my session topic for 2023, so I’m asking what you’d like to see.

RootsTech 2023 will be both virtual AND in-person in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 2-4. You can click here to sign up for updates. The virtual portion will be free again this year, (thank you FamilySearch) so everyone will be able to attend.

I’m currently aiming for in-person. Fingers crossed. I’m already getting excited, and it’s still literally almost exactly six months away! I feel like I haven’t seen anyone in FOREVER!

I don’t have all the details yet, but I know for sure that I’m speaking, one way or another.

Since all of you will be able to attend virtually, I thought I’d ask for topic suggestions.

Is there a topic you’ve particularly enjoyed and found useful, or, conversely, a topic where you would like more information?

How about a topic you think would be broadly useful to a large number of people?

Or maybe a “how to” session about something?

Here are a couple of guidelines.

  • The topic shouldn’t be too general or too specific.
  • I have to be able to cover all of the material in roughly 40-45 minutes.
  • The topic needs to be relevant to a broad audience.

Suggestions for catchy titles are gladly accepted too! 😊

Please make your suggestions in the comments. Thanks so much!


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58 thoughts on “Vote for Roberta’s RootsTech 2023 Session Topic

  1. I am noticing that many of my new matches on Ancestry are based in England. I have already contacted a potential 6C1R in Wiltshire, but I am wondering if any new tactics are required in researching matches across the pond. For the most part I don’t know how to research these matches. In general, separation by an ocean and 300 years of history result in no shared matches. I have English ancestry on both my maternal and paternal sides so I probably guess the wrong side in many cases unless I have a clearly identified and known shared match.

  2. I don’t even have to think about how to answer. I want practical and technical info about Big-Y testing. In my case, there are about 12 American men with the same ending SNP. There are trees to 1800 but they get convoluted before that. What suggestions do you have for untangling, so we can identify the English/Irish immigrants? The other 4 testers in our project in this haplogroup are either in England or they have English roots in the last 150 years. How do we utilize those?

    • You are so fortunate to have those overseas matches. I had ONE match from New Zealand whose ancestor was from Gisburn, England which led us to find the baptismal record of my immigrant ancestor in another church about 5 miles down the road.

  3. I spend most of my time helping others so I have three interests: 1) working with endogamy in rural south. 2) Grandma was adopted — the adoption records are CLOSED (or it was private) — and it’s all about DNA (two “sides” clearly established, but no one is talking or all are similarly in the dark (or denialthe people I’m helping, 3) Working with small matches from several branches to see connections to the “hypothesized” parents of my own great great grandfather; using DNA and Scapple charts, all makes sense (a preponderance of evidence), so is that the best I can hope for??

    Thanks so much for ALL you do, Roberta — whether your scholarly ancestor reports with maps and photos OR your personal journey stories. I LOVE IT ALL.


  4. Probably not a broad enough audience but your recent one on determining sibling vs half sibling was remarkable. Only you have put that knowledge together, no one else. The rest of us were just using cms which was just a part of solving the mystery. But every genetic genealogist needs this knowledge to be a true professional. I think you would be a hit with this subject because this is ground not yet covered.

  5. Something about how to organize your matches and your to do lists for different parts of your tree? We’re finding more and more people and I’m at a loss as to how to organize them and my tasks in general.

    • That’s a tough one. I use a combination of making notes at the vendor, keeping a spreadsheet which I’ve kind of let lapse, and using DNAPainter because it’s visual. Of course, the problem is that you can’t paint anything from Ancestry there, but fortunately some Ancestry people transfer elsewhere.

  6. I’d like to chime in with those who want more in-depth knowledge about the big y700 test at FTDNA. In my surname y-dna project, we have a small number of participants (8) who have upgraded to the Big-Y700; and we have at least 4 branches where the paper connection cannot be proved by extant records. I’d like to know how to create a tree or trees from the block chart that would show various possible charts that I could then compare to the speculative charts I have already come up with. It would be most helpful to know if the senarios I have come up with are being supported by the DNA evidence or not (beyond the fact that, yeah we are all related–it’s the “how” that I need to figure out). Thanks for asking for our ideas, Roberta. I never miss any of your sessions.

    • Thank you so much. I have been kicking around doing this in an article using two examples. One that is “solved” for now, and one that is not.

  7. I feel that I am not using Mitochondrial DNA and YDNA effectively. Here are some terrible titles 🙂 You always add to my understanding of DNA related topics. Thank you!

    The How To of YDNA, because we know whY.

    MTDNA Isn’t Empty DNA at all.

  8. Idea for topic and shameless plea for help.
    I work on DNA cases (for no charge) that have some genetic link to me. I have been helping a man in his 80’s (related to someone married in to my Estis side, but not an Estis). His mother was married four times and had children with what we thought was six different men. Whoops it turns out to be seven and counting.
    A half sibling to my 80 year old now wants to find out who her father is. I think I have the grandparents who had eight children. There are test takers in 6 lines. The remaining two, my main candidates seem to have no children. The more interesting question may be: Who is the maternal grandfather of all of these half siblings. There are DNA tests for five out of the seven branches of the half siblings to my test takers, who all have the same mother. I have no leads to the maternal grandfather that they all share.

  9. We discussed this in person back in pre-pandemic times: I’d love a how-to on how you pull all your research and DNA results into your individual ancestor reports! You said you’ve even proposed it as a talk before—maybe now is the time to revive it? 🤞🏼

  10. Love the comments above.
    I second the one on Endogamy in the Rural South.
    My other idea basically rephrases other comments but – “Managing your DNA Matches – What Tool When”

  11. Early Virginia records particularly land records.
    Many of my US matches have skillfully managed to get back a long way, but then cannot make the jump to the British Isles. Your posts on how people from the same ship often settled in a similar area resemble other work I know from here in Australia that has been very fruitful in helping people get back (in this other case to Germany – east).
    I’m sure my US matches would love to “jump the ditch”, but they just don’t know how to do the early Colonial stuff. I really feel for them.

    • I’m one generation removed from Germany. Most of matches are in the USA and our most recent common ancestors are Germans who left, mostly in the 19th or 18th centuries. I have tried SO many times to create a family tree that takes my match’s line back to the correct place in Germany… to figure out how we are connected. It is SO difficult to do with the currently available online records. Usually the best you can do is find the port from which their ancestor’s ship left initially. (Plus there’s the language barrier, in these cases. If you are trying to go back to the British Isles to place an ancestor… that’s one less problem. I’m sure there is still a lot of frustration though.)

      • Germany is very challenging. The best advice I can offer here is to find someone who is both a genealogist specializing in German records AND can read German script. I have a retired cousin who does this for me but isn’t interested in taking clients anymore.

  12. Maybe a session on genealogical missteps related to records vs. DNA. Here is the kind of thing I mean:
    1) Working from official records only to discover an error. (Dang!)
    2) Assuming that your ancestor’s wonderful, beautiful family tree contains accurate information. (I have a copy of one created by a doctor (1st cousin, 2x removed) who had fled from Germany to Vichy France during WWII. He was educated… but I know I have to verify his records. DNA is pointing sometimes in the “wrong” direction. It’s been perplexing and frustrating sometimes.
    3) Finding several details that by coincidence SEEM to place a given match on a certain branch… that are nevertheless all irrelevant. It could be about where 2 ancestors were born… shared ethnicity… but all just misleading coincidence. (I call these details genealogical red herrings. I have an interesting and very twisted example that involves a person who was my top match at Ancestry… but it’s way too long to add to this comment.

    Also, unfortunately, my top match’s son (biologically, my half 2nd cousin) has removed or hidden this kit very recently (about 4 years after his father’s death). Three continents were involved in this hunt to solve the mystery. Sometimes the big reveal can be upsetting to some. NPE’s. Maybe unwanted family roots – in this case, the other side of a past conflict in history.)

    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone down the wrong rabbit hole only to discover that MY rabbit wasn’t down there, just another rabbit with the same name. I have just unraveled one of these surrounding my ancestor’s son.

  13. Perhaps touch upon how to effectively communicate with other researchers on the various DNA sites. Quite often we get a match with someone that will help fill in a gap, only to find they won’t communicate back. Along with that, perhaps a short primer on properly researching and documenting your sources that prove your findings are correct?

      • My experience is that many tested only out of curiosity (usually ethnicity). Other times, they respond but give some info (their only known tree) which doesn’t fit even THEIR DNA — so I suspect an adoption along the way. They may be afraid to pursue that, having fears of family repercussions or just preferring to live in denial that it might be possible. MOSTLY, I pursue them for a limited time, then maybe a few months later. I try to appeal to them with the idea they would help someone else, that I could also help them, but at a certain point I make sure they know how to reach me — and I never slam any door shut. Right now I have “solved” a case with 99% certainty, but the one person who could test has politely declined “doing the DNA thing”.

        Even persistence does not always work.

  14. What are the best options for publishing my amateur genealogical research and their pros and cons?

    I have made discoveries that need to be disseminated. They range from old documents that both disprove long-standing, widely-copied falsehoods and establish new relationships; details from tediously researching tax records; to genetic genealogical revelations both certain and corroborative.

    My particular concerns:
    • I will not allow to own my writings.
    • I’m intolerant of jousting with unscientific community members on Wikitree.
    • Professional and historical societies’ publications seem too restricted in reach.
    • A blog or Web site seems impermanent. I’ve found useful information from dead sites because the Internet Archive/Wayback Machine fortunately archived the sites. Besides, I’m no Roberta Estes and am unsure that I will actually publish enough to justify a blog. I find your productivity amazing.

    • I struggled with the same questions. That’s why I chose a blog. I link the articles to people in my tree in all those places.

    • and are both worth considering. If you’re concerned about longevity, FamilySearch and its tree will be around as long as the LDS Church is. Most users there won’t read extensive notes in a profile’s Collaborate tab, but anything you enter should survive. If you’re more interested in getting eyes on your research, Geni has good SEO. Their tree profiles come up even higher than WikiTree’s on a simple search of the ancestor’s name. Any notes or explanations that you add to a profile will be public and viewable.

      Otherwise, you could self-publish an anthology of your research as a book or a series of magazines, and donate to FamilySearch. You may even be able to grant permission for them to digitize your publications and make them available in their catalog for reading online.

      • Also, if you’re going to compile then, also donate, even if in electronic format, to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have an extensive genealogical collection with many books not available elsewhere.

    • In Québec, there’s a publication where amateurs and professionals share these kind of breakthrough, named Mémoires, which begun in 1943.

      Which could be a topic for Roberta, although maybe not for the coming months, “how to collectively organize genealogical research”. I’m sure she has come across quite a few interesting idea, from local genealogical circles to institution supervised databases.

  15. Greetings, Roberta! Your multi paged Chromosome Browser War Article (2014) has many of my genealogical pals raving constantly with excitement, even up to 2022 still. For the basic folks, they want a cheat sheet… So here is my thought: Beginners Basic Browsers Bits — (I also like Using your first name/ nick-name in front). Basics for people who just want to look at a browser and get the jest of what : 2nd cousin to 5th is, for example, or having each browser labeled with a catchy blurb. annie-dear

  16. Strategies for separating multi ethnic DNA in American migrants
    (relevant to all populations that have had mass migrations into them?)
    Seperating the Iriquois from the Iriish and the Italians?

  17. Another vote for how to use Big Y analysis to construct descendancy trees and make other predictions. I’m still trying to make sense of things like one match having 6 private variants and the other only 2 even when the number of generations are roughly equivalent. Is it pure chance that one line developed mutations faster than the other? Is one sample more likely to have no-calls, and is there a way to tell if a kit had lower-quality reads on average? Are certain regions more prone to mutating, or is that mainly a factor for STRs? Can comparisons between matches’ 500 or 700 STRs give us any information that the SNPs can’t?

    Also, if there’s an update to the mt haplotree by spring, tips and tricks on working with refined matches! (That might lend itself better to a blog post, though.)

  18. Topic
    How do you find the maiden name of women in the 18th & 19th century records in Ireland when many records don’t show it?

  19. I would suggest a talk on how to derive your deceased father’s DNA if you have your mother’s, three siblings’ and a paternal first cousin’s DNA.

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