East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference – In Person and Virtual – October 6-8, 2023

There’s a conference focused solely on genetic genealogy, and you’re invited!! Now that’s talking my language!!!

The second annual East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference (ECGGC) will take place on October 6-8, 2023, at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, just outside Baltimore.

This year’s conference is a hybrid affair, with both in-person and virtual speaker sessions and vendor booths.

The in-person conference includes lunch and costs $225, while the virtual conference is $175.

As the name suggests, this conference caters to genetic genealogists. The lineup includes wonderful speakers who I’m sure you’ll recognize, here. I can hardly wait to attend some of these sessions. The great news is that you really don’t have to pick and choose from the more than 40 sessions, because you can view recorded sessions after the conference.

Please note that while my session on Sunday at 11, Wringing Every Drop Out of Mitochondrial DNA, is listed as In-Person, it is not. Due to a change in plans, it’s virtual.

Be sure to check out the DNA Academy on Saturday evening from 6 to 8:30 PM. This event was quite popular last year.

Is there a presentation or a few that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Recorded sessions will be available until December 31st, so even if you can’t join us that weekend, or you’re on the other side of the world and the timing just doesn’t work, you don’t have to miss out. Often, in-person sessions aren’t recorded and available later, but at ECGGC, both in-person and virtual sessions will be recorded so you can watch any session through year-end. Thanks to the fine folks on the ECGGC conference committee for providing this benefit.

You can purchase a ticket, here.

This is a wonderful opportunity, and I hope to see you there.

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RootsTech 2023 – Truly United

Finally, finally, we were on our way, winging our way across the world from near and far – flying and motoring into snowy Salt Lake City for RootsTech. It seemed like we had been preparing forever, and Murphy visited many of us as gremlins trying to keep us away – but we persevered, and Murphy’s ploy just didn’t work.

Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, because you’re going to RootsTech with me!

I started out very early in dense fog which was a precursor to a nightmare at the airport. We didn’t know that yet, and the sun emerged beautifully as we were on our way.

Utah was blanketed with snow a few days before our arrival. We were hoping for no more snow.

The snow cover made for stunningly beautiful photos from the air.

The Kennecott Copper Mine outside Salt Lake City is three miles wide, nearly a mile deep and looked very interesting and beautiful laced with snow. These terraces are actually roughly 500 miles of dirt road. This used to be a mountain that was 8400 feet in elevation.

During the flight, I read about my ancestor, Stephen Hopkins and couldn’t help but think about how shocked he would have been that I flew across the country some 413 years after he was shipwrecked in Bermuda on the way to Jamestown, eventually lived in Jamestown for 4 years, sailed back to England, remarried, then arrived on the Mayflower in Plymouth Colony.

His ships and mine were very, very different.

FamilySearch Library

Some of us arrived early for research or meetings, or both.

FamilySearch took the opportunity presented during the Covid shutdown to remodel and upgrade the facilities significantly. The new library is both beautiful and super-functional.

The workstations now have three monitors.

There’s a lovely new break room with vending machines, tables, and a fridge.

To put things in perspective, the break room is larger than the preserved pioneer cabin that stands beside the library.

I’m struck by the contrast of the small cabin standing beside the FamilySearch library at left, and museum at right, and just a block away from skyscrapers.

Rather than leave and waste valuable research time, we had a picnic lunch in the break room.

I went to Salt Lake City early to visit the FamilySearch Library and attempt to break down a brick wall. I think I might have done that. We will see.

Other researchers did the same thing, and you can view a special GenFriends episode, here, hosted by Cheryl Hudson Passey, where several of us shared our excitement about our research, discoveries and simply gathering together again.

I was very excited to meet my cousin, Audrey Hill, for the first time in person, at the library. We’ve been collaborating for several months on our John Hill (1737-1805) and Catherine Mitchell (1738-1827) line. She’s already following up on a lead I never did (my bad.) Go Audrey!!

I spent two days perusing book after book after book in the Virginia and Maryland counties where my Dobkins and Johnson ancestors were known to have lived, then moved to the historically adjacent counties.

I was incredibly discouraged, but on the evening of the second day, back at my hotel again, I reviewed all of the library resources and noticed that I had missed one book that was shelved elsewhere.

Glory be, I *think* I’ve found him and his family.

My Peter Johnson line’s Y-DNA matches the Jochimsson (Yocum) line, so I have a LOT of work to do. But now at least I know where to dig!

I needed this entire book, not just a few pages.

Fortunately for me, Jim volunteered to scan the entire book at one of the new book-scanning stations.

I’m SOOO excited.

RootsTech and the FamilySearch library ran golf carts back and forth between the facilities throughout the conference.

Decisions, decisions.

Well, if you can’t decide, just go to the chocolate shop to think things over😊

The Night Before

Preconference events began on Wednesday evening with the media dinner which allows us to understand the layout, when to be someplace, and where that place might be. It also allows provides accurate information to pass on to you.

Of course, many of us have known each other for years. As the first event of RootsTech, after three years of being apart, it felt like one huge family reunion with everyone catching up. So many hugs!!!

And selfies.

It was wonderful to see Marie Cappart again. I’ll never forget walking down the street in Amsterdam with two friends and hearing someone shouting my name from some distance away. I turned around and there was Marie, running toward me, arms outstretched. What are the chances??

The influencers and media were treated to a tour of the show floor after setup was supposed to be complete.

Finishing touches were being put on the Expo Hall and booths. I guess I never realized how large these booths are and that they actually have to be “constructed”.

The next morning, the show would open and thousands of excited genealogists would descend on the Salt Palace for the next three days.

RootsTech Opens

Finally, the Salt Palace, with its legendary signs outside, was ready to receive genealogy guests.

Everyone was so happy to see each other again. My friends, Janna Helstein, Schelly Taladay Dardashti and Daniel Horowitz with MyHeritage photobombing the group. This was the best of several photos because we were all joyfully laughing so hard.

The absolute best part of RootsTech 2023 was seeing people again, in person. Zoom and similar platforms have been sanity-saving for the past three years – but they aren’t people.

Humans are, I think, wired for connection to each other.

I’ve worked “home office” for decades now, but not without regular contact with others.

The classes were great and there was a lot that was wonderful at RootsTech – but hands down, the best part was hugging so many people.

In case you aren’t aware, genealogists are huggers.

If someone were to have followed me around taking photos, there would have been hundreds of hugs. And I don’t mean polite greeting distant hugs. I mean the “OMG I haven’t seen you in a lifetime and everyone was concerned we might never see each other again” holding tight, never-letting-go hugs.

Mags Gaulden and I spotted each other in front of the WikiTree booth, and some kind soul took our picture. I tried to do a nice thing for her and made DNA masks, not remembering that she was allergic to my cat assistants. Thank goodness Mags realized it quickly enough to remove the masks before they had the opposite of the intended effect. I really do not want to be listed in her obituary! “Cause of death: Roberta’s masks.”

Tears streamed down people’s faces as they saw each other, especially that first day. And I don’t mean because of cat hair, either.

There were thousands of selfies joyfully taken. Lots of “blooper” ones too, but just the giddiness of being together again was intoxicating and overshadowed the challenges of the past few years. For a minute, or a few, everyone could just forget about everything else and enjoy our three-day adrenaline high.

And of course, sometimes things change, and many people weren’t there, for a variety of reasons. I missed so many people and there was more than one moment of silence.

Attendance

Here’s the RootsTech Expo Hall from the second floor. It felt like “coming home” after a long absence.

I was standing inside when the doors opened on the first day. People were waiting, but not the mob like past years.

In a Zoom call with RootsTech staff a week or ten days before the conference, they said they had 6000 paid admissions at that time, and a week or so later, they said they were anticipating the same number of attendees as 2020 which was about three times that number.

That number was clearly aspirational, but it didn’t happen.

I’ve been attending RootsTech since 2018, and the actual in-person attendance, based on observation, was lower than it has been since I’ve been attending. Of course, while we may be getting used to Covid, it’s not over and still a significant concern to many. I had my doubts.

Now that I’ve said that about attendance, let me expand. There were over a million registered online for the virtual sessions PLUS the livestreamed sessions that were held in person as well. I don’t know how many more than a million attended, but that number will only grow because those sessions remain available for viewing after RootsTech. In other words, Rootstech sessions have become a library which you can find and enjoy, here.

Clearly, more people in total were reached in 2023 than in 2020.

Questions for Attendees

This year, I had three in-person classes, and no virtual classes. All three were well-attended.

I don’t know how many people attended my sessions, but I know I took about 2000 DNAeXplain ribbons that were passed out to attendees at the exit doors of my classes if they wanted them for their RootsTech badges. I brought home maybe 100.

After everything is set up for the session (thank you Jim,) I always chat with the people in my sessions that show up early. There’s no reason not to have a little fun for everyone.

My first session was at 9:30 the first day, right after the conference opened at 9. I was passing out ribbons personally to people who were early and I saw the confused looks. So I demonstrated what to do with the ribbons with my own badge.

Ribbons on badges are a RootsTech staple, and it’s the only conference I’ve ever attended with that tradition. I realized, based on the confused looks, that we had several first-time attendees.

I was so excited to welcome people at the beginning of my first session, back to in-person genealogy, and that feeling was palpable throughout the room and the conference as a whole.

How Many First-Time Attendees?

When my session started, I asked how many people were attending RootsTech for the first time, and I was very surprised to discover that roughly half the room raised their hands.

Half!!!

That’s HUGE. No wonder there were so many confused looks about the ribbons.

My three sessions, in order, were:

  • DNA for Native American Genealogy: 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestors
  • DNA Journey – Follow Your Ancestors Path
  • Big Y for the Win

I mention this because of the next questions I asked.

Who Has Taken a DNA Test for Genealogy?

In the first session, “DNA for Native American Genealogy,” I asked who had taken a DNA test, and more than half raised their hands, but several had not. Frankly, that surprised me given how long DNA testing has been available now. I talked to people afterwards, and the common thread for those who had not seemed to be:

  • They didn’t know which vendor or which DNA test to take for this purpose.
  • They thought the ancestor was too far back in time and they would not have any Native results. In my session, I talked about testing the older generations and your cousins. Also, that you don’t know what you don’t know. I asked how many people would purchase a book if they thought the answer to that question even MIGHT be inside, and every single person raised their hand.

I also pointed people to the Native section on my blog, to my book, DNA for Native American Genealogy, and to my second blog focused entirely on early Native American records, www.nativeheritageproject.com.

In the second class, “DNA Journey – Follow Your Ancestor’s Path,” probably three fourths of the class had taken a DNA test. That session was really fun. I used several case studies to illustrate how different kinds of DNA have broken down brick walls AND showed me exactly, and I mean literally exactly where my ancestors were from. I used Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal to accomplish this. Who among you DOESN’T want to stand where your ancestors stood?

Yep, we all do.

I think it was in the second class that I asked a question about how many people had taken the three different types of tests, and here’s the breakdown:

  • Who has taken a DNA test? – The majority of the room
  • Who has taken an autosomal test – It looked to be the same number of people as above
  • Who has taken (or sponsored) a Y-DNA test – Maybe 10% of the room
  • Who has taken a mitochondrial DNA test – A scattering of people

As genealogists, we need to do more Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing, because we don’t know what we don’t know and may well be missing.

In the third class, “Big Y for the Win,” which included both Y-DNA STR testing and the Big Y-700, comparing and contrasting the tests, how to use them, and why the Big Y provides significant advantages, most of the people had taken some type of DNA test.

The second question I asked in the Big Y class was how many people had taken or sponsored a Big Y test, and significantly more than half had, which is what I would have expected.

However, given the session topic, I was surprised to learn that few had used the new, free, Discover Tools, or the recently released Group Time Tree. Both were developed and created by FamilyTreeDNA to maximize the usefulness of Y-DNA haplogroups, and they are amazing.

How Many People Have Tested?

As part of the information that I gathered during the conference, Ancestry has tested 23 million people and MyHeritage 6.5 million. I don’t have a current number for FamilyTreeDNA or 23andMe, but the last numbers I heard some months ago were 2 and 5 million, respectively.

There are clearly more (and new) people who are interested in genealogy and are still DNA testing candidates – especially Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA which have separate inheritance paths, providing additional and unique benefits as compared to autosomal tests.

Keynotes

The keynote sessions were livestreamed, so you can still view them here. Be sure to watch Steve Rockwood’s welcome. He may be the CEO, but he’s an exceptionally caring, inspirational and humble, man.

I attended two of three keynote sessions. Each keynote session actually included three speakers, which was initially confusing.

Steve Rockwood’s message is that “All Means All” – everyone is included. He also thanked and encouraged people to not be further divisive during this difficult time, and instead to choose inclusion.

Steve asked several questions and in answer to his queries, attendees were encouraged to hold up their phones with their flashlight on. As you can see, the entire huge room is filled with light – our light. One at a time. We can all be the light. You can hear Steve’s message for yourself, here.

Another session I enjoyed immensely was Jordin Sparks, the youngest ever American Idol winner. I’ve been in concert venues that were smaller, so it was a real treat to enjoy this inspirational story plus four of her amazing songs.

I really encourage you to watch this video, especially if you love music. Even Jordin’s guitarist was wiping his eyes!

She literally played to a packed house and I don’t think there was a dry eye anyplace.

Jordin has an incredible voice and an inspirational story. Do yourself a favor and listen, here.

MyHeritage Keynote and Announcements

Aaron Godfrey, VP of Marketing with MyHeritage announced new products and initiatives during the keynote on day 2.

The new Photo Dater app, available soon, will estimate when a photo was taken based on clothes, hairstyles and other items in the photo.

Additionally, Aaron announced the cM Explainer, a wonderful new tool which predicts relationship estimates between DNA matches and includes the ages of the testers, among other factors. cM Explainer is incorporated into your DNA matches at MyHeritage in addition to being independently available for free, here.

I’ll be reviewing this new feature in an article, soon.

In another surprise, Aaron announced that MyHeritage has donated another 5000 kits to DNA Quest, for adoptees, here.

MyHeritage also introduced color coding for family trees, here. If you’re a MyHeritage user, this feature is already available for you on your tree, so check it out.

MyHeritage takes the “most new announcements at RootsTech” award with these new features.

Vendor Booth Sessions

Truth be told, I didn’t even get to visit all of the various booths. I meant to, but it just didn’t happen.

At least two vendors offered sessions throughout all three days. There were probably others, but between my three RootsTech sessions, three booth sessions and the book signing, in addition to keynotes, meetings and interviews, I just wasn’t able to attend many booth sessions.

The ones I did attend were wonderful. I focused on DNA, of course. Let’s start with FamilyTreeDNA.

Sherman McRae presented “Unexpected Y-DNA Results” in the FamilyTreeDNA booth where he’s showing how to utilize the Y-DNA Time Tree in the Discover tool, and the Group Time Tree.

You can view Sherman’s main session, Connect the Forefathers, here.

You just never know when a pilgrim is going to show up for your session.

Janine Cloud, an enrolled Cherokee tribal member and manager of Group Projects at FamilyTreeDNA discussed Y-DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal avenues to prove Native ancestors using DNA, using her own Cherokee ancestors as an example.

Dr Paul Maier, Population Geneticist, Goran Runfeldt, Head of Research and Michael Sager, Phylogeneticist answer questions about Y-DNA in the AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.

Paul and Goran also hosted an AMA for mitochondrial DNA as well, an often overlooked but valuable resource.

In addition to the Native American AMA session for FamilyTreeDNA which I gave with Janine, I gave two booth presentations for MyHeritage, “Time Travel with Your Ancestors” and “AutoClusters for the Win,” both of which were recorded meaning you  just might see them in the future.

The Time Travel session utilized the MyHeritage AI tools to see what my ancestors who came from specific regions or cultures might have looked like in that time and place. In the slide above the AI photo of my grandmother is combined with the document and with the Genetic Group that incorporates that part of Germany.

I combined the AI images with MyHeritage records that link those ancestors to a specific location, showing the predicted ethnicity, genetic groups when applicable, and then the actual location – some of which I’ve visited. My ancestor owned that windmill in the Netherlands, above. Combining these tools is so much FUN. My heritage provided the AI photos, records and ethnicity. I’m the one who did the traveling, of course, but in this way, time travel is possible!

I really enjoyed using this story-telling methodology that incorporates all 4 types of genealogy research and clues.

In the AutoClusters for the Win session in the MyHeritage booth, I discussed how I utilized AutoClusters to solve an adoption case in my own family, and how you can use this very powerful tool as well. The methodology I used works equally as well for genealogy mysteries.

In another MyHeritage booth presentation, Janna Helshtein told an amazing and moving story about her grandparents, their escape from the Holocaust, move to Israel, and more – in their own “voices” using MyHeritage’s Deep Story.

We all sat spellbound.

Janna also offers a free guide on how she created and integrated the Deep Story verbiage that her grandparents “spoke.” It was actually quite easy.

There was more to Janna’s story, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I believe MyHeritage intends to make their booth sessions available through social media.

Here, Janna and I are celebrating with a quick picnic style lunch after her presentation. She truly knocked it out of the park.

Shifting Attendance

I’m sharing my opinion here, and not anything a RootsTech spokesperson told me.

I was surprised that the in-person attendance was down as much as it was, truthfully. I think in-person was down by either half or maybe even two-thirds. Some decline wouldn’t have surprised me, but this much was sobering.

I was also VERY surprised that roughly half of the attendees were new. And that number could have actually been higher. That’s a good thing, meaning new people are being attracted to genealogy.

These two things, together, suggest the following to me:

  • The passing of time, Covid, and aging-out of some people caused some decline. I know several people who passed away during the past three years, not to mention those whose lives changed dramatically due to their partner’s illness, passing or life circumstances. Several people lost jobs or moved, or both, or are in that process now.
  • Now let’s flip this and say that the virtual and FREE capability for much of RootsTech made the conference accessible and available to many who could not attend in person. For that, I’m very grateful. I have a friend who has been very ill and participated by taking selfies of herself with the livestreamed sessions on her monitor behind her. She posted her photos on social media to be with us. That warmed my heart so much.
  • I think that the reason there were so many new people was because they were able to attend virtually during 2021 and 2022. Essentially this means that while virtual RootsTech was challenging for everyone on the behind-the-scenes production side, to put it mildly, it served to recruit many new genealogists who would not have participated in person had they not previously attended online.

Based on discussions at the media dinner table, and other statements by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, FamilySearch, including RootsTech, is reaching out to young people and to other areas of the world as well.

According to Steve, who, by the way, turns out to be my 11th cousin according to Relatives at RootsTech and the FamilySearch Tree, RootsTech will forever be a blended conference event.

This year, in addition to the local emcee, there were 15 people in other countries hosting in their locations, times and in their native languages.

This year there were 304 virtual classes, 205 in person, and some of those were streamed online as well.

Don’t forget that Relatives at RootsTech is still available through March 31st and you can contact cousins to collaborate. Some may represent Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA testing lines that you need for matching and to complete your tree.

Vendors

That brings me to the topic of vendors.

Three of the four major DNA vendors were present, meaning Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage. 23andMe was absent in 2020 and again this year. Their last DNA innovation was their genetic tree in September of 2019.

Many of the smaller vendors were not in attendance. I had made friends with several of the Mom and Pop vendors and almost none of them were there this year, nor were many of the organizations and smaller companies. I spoke with several people and they said, almost universally, that the cost of the virtual booths over the past two years, the work involved, and the fact that those virtual booths did not generate many sales, not even equal to the amount of the booth rent, had soured the experience.

Not only are conference booths very expensive, so is the invested labor and time. For those of you who don’t know, booth rent is only a part of it. You want carpet? That’s more. A chair? That’s more. Two chairs? More. A trash basket? More. Oh, you need wireless to handle sales? LOTS more.

I’d say that the Expo Hall was only half to one third of the size it had been previously. Mind you, it’s still huge, especially compared to many other conferences, but I missed seeing many of my favorite vendors.

For example, neither Genealogical.com nor Deseret Books were there this year, so there was no bookstore, and neither were many of the fun t-shirt vendors or others that sold jewelry or genealogy-related merchandise.

I hope that FamilySearch will put their creative caps on and perhaps reach out to their vendors, both past and current, and figure out a way to make RootsTech vendors attractive to the online crowd. Perhaps a “search” game where you have to visit vendor booths to find items. Maybe there could be some permanent online stores as well.

There were fewer food vendors too, but in case anyone was wondering, I could still smell cinnamon-almonds throughout the facility😊

I did run into some of my long-time vendor friends.

My friend Jessica Taylor with Legacy Tree Genealogists. I regularly refer people seeking genealogists who understand both genealogy and DNA to Legacy Tree Genealogists.

I don’t need to tell you how much I love DNAPainter and it was great to see Jonny Perl and Patricia Coleman in the DNAPainter booth.

I feel kind of bad because I obviously caught Rob Warthen and Carol Carman by surprise in the East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference booth, but it’s the only photo I have of their booth.

Last fall’s ECGGC conference was very successful and I’m planning to speak in person this year, in Baltimore, October 6-8, 2023. Save the date. Last year was the first year and it was wonderful.

My Book Signing

FamilyTreeDNA was kind enough to host my book signing for DNA for Native American Genealogy in conjunction with the Native American Ask Me Anything session. Many thanks to Joe Brickey for her help with this event as well.

After the AMA session, which was the final event of Saturday, just before closing, we took a group picture with the FamilyTreeDNA team, or at least the staff members in the booth at that time.

I did learn that perhaps the last thing Saturday might not be the best time for a book signing, because lots of people leave on Friday night. On the other hand, on Saturday, admission to the conference is free, at least to the show floor, with lots of children’s activities and programs for LDS families. Saturday is always very busy in terms of traffic, with sometimes more Saturday visitors than paying conference attendees. It will be interesting to see final RootsTech conference numbers.

The Thank You That Made My Day!!!

One lovely lady, Charis, came up to me after my first session and explained that she saw an ad for RootsTech. She decided she needed to purchase a ticket and attend. She had never heard of me, but she is very focused on documenting her Native ancestry. She sat in the front row in my first session and paid rapt attention. (Speakers do notice, in case you wondered.)

Charis came up to me afterwards and told me that this class alone was worth her registration fee.

She made my day, but I thought to myself that she would attend other sessions that she would find equally as valuable. After all, the conference was just beginning. She found me the next day and repeated what she had said. On day 3, she attended the Ask Me Anything session, arriving early. She said the said the same thing, AGAIN, and I asked if we could take a picture together. As presenters, we take our time, spend our money to attend these conferences, and invest the effort because we want to help people.

People like Charis make this all worthwhile.

Sweetness Personified

I’m sorry, I just can’t resist sharing the sweetest picture series ever.

In 2020, I met my cousin, Heidi Campbell and her baby at RootsTech. Three years later, I saw Heidi again, with a beautiful new addition to the family.

I just can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hold this baby. The last baby I held was Heidi’s little one, three years ago. The look on Heidi’s face is priceless too when he’s reaching for my glasses. He had the biggest smile EVER on his face and he’s booping noses with me. We had so much fun.

My heart just melted into a huge puddle. I so much wish they lived close so I could “grandma.” Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your sunshine with me.

Rolling Up the Sidewalks

On Saturday, literally at one minute after 3 when the conference closed, the workers at the Salt Palace started rolling up the sidewalks, or in this case, the carpets.

It’s a wrap!!!

Afterglow

At the Salt Lake City airport, I ran into two people and had the opportunity to talk to them again and hug goodbye once more. You’d think we would all have had enough of genealogy, but not a chance. More hugs, gratitude for togetherness, and anticipation for next year.

Winging my way home again, having walked about 6 miles each day, according to Fitbit, I was tired, desperately tired, and my everything hurt. However, I was also incredibly fulfilled to have connected again with old friends and met so many new people that I now look forward to seeing again. We are very fortunate to be members of such a wonderful, diverse and universal community.

I couldn’t help but think, as we crossed the winding Mississippi River, how fortunate we are that we have “time travel” in this way. I’m also struck with how many different ways we have to time travel, with Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA at FamilyTreeDNA, autosomal testing and ethnicity at various vendors, and actual historical records that are becoming ever-more available remotely.

Using artificial intelligence, we can “see” our ancestor’s heritage in our own faces, or, in this case, the face of my grandfather using the MyHeritage AI Time Machine.

Using our DNA, we can identify the parts of those ancestors that we carry today, reaching back in time several generations with autosomal DNA. In addition to autosomal, both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA provide close matches and reach back in time, focused on one specific line, providing insights for millennia.

Time travel, truly reimagined.

There are so many ways to discover and connect with our ancestors available to us today. If we don’t carry the DNA of ancestors a few generations upstream, perhaps selected cousins do. We have several tools and databases at our disposal to find testers.

The DNA of our ancestors can and does actually lead us home, to them and, sometimes, exactly where they lived, as I illustrated with several case studies in my presentation, “Follow Your Ancestors Path.” Today, these options are available to everyone.

RootsTech is in the history books for another year, with new friendships made and old ones renewed. Indeed, we were finally reunited with each other, and introduced to cousins we had never met before. We shared tools, methodologies and information to identify our ancestors. We all left fervently hoping to be reunited again next year.

Please enjoy the amazing RootsTech musical finale here.

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Relatives at RootsTech – How to Use & Connect with DNA

Relatives at RootsTech is back and I’m so very glad to see it.

Let me show you how to use this wonderful tool, including tips for how to get even more out of the experience.

It’s important to start now to accumulate your cousins, because there’s a display limit of 300 in each category, so you’ll want to begin recording your findings so that as more people sign up and are added to your list, you don’t “lose” the earlier relatives.

Let’s start with my link. Click here.

You’ll be prompted to sign in to your FamilySearch account, or create one. If you don’t have an account, create one now.

Right now, the number of participants is doubling every few days.

Let’s take a look at how Relatives at RootsTech works and how it can benefit you.

Surnames

At first glance, the surname tool doesn’t look terribly exciting, but there’s a hidden gem, especially for newer genealogists.

I entered my surname and one other, knowing there is probably no common locations other than the US. Kvochick is very rare and unique.

The results show two interesting things. First, the genesis of the surname, and second, the total number of people in the FamilySearch tree in both of the common locations for both surnames.

Be sure to try variant spellings too.

After you sign in, you’ll be asked to update your profile which is how you join in on the fun. If you signed up for Relatives at RootsTech last year, that doesn’t count for this year. You need to opt-in for this year’s festivities.

RootsTech Relatives

After you sign in, you’ll see how many of your relatives have joined.

Of the 60,461 total who have joined, according to the FamilySearch tree, I’m related to about 15% of them. That sure gives new perspective to how many people we’re related to. And just think if those brick walls didn’t exist. We’d be related to just about everyone. Far enough back, we’re all related, literally.

Your Relatives at RootsTech are displayed in three ways.

By location, ancestor or family line.

Relatives by Location

Your first view will be by all locations (including people who did not select a location,) but displayed in closest to most distant relationship order. For me, that’s the most interesting part.

These people, my closest relatives, are the people most likely to have critical pieces of information that I don’t have or know about. Like family stories, or photos, for example.

I know one of these people, but not the rest. I’m dying to know who they are and how we are related.

For me, the map itself isn’t terribly useful, but it would be if some members of your family were from distinct locations.

Not everyone opts in to have their location displayed. The “173” in the center is the people who generically selected United States.

Relatives by Family Line

The Family Line display shows you the number of people by parent or grandparent. Unfortunately, you can only view 300 of your matches in each line, which is disappointing.

However, there’s a better way to view your relatives.

Relatives by Ancestor

For me, the best way to view relatives is by ancestor. This also circumvents the 300 limit to some extent, unless you have more than 300 relatives for any one ancestor.

I have two relatives who also descend from Curtis Benjamin Lore. It’s Jen and Jill again, my closest relatives.

I’m quite interested in these people, because Curtis is my great-grandfather and he was a very interesting man. I know Jen and Jill are interested in genealogy too, or they would not have signed up for RootsTech Relatives, this year, in the past few days. This is not a stale list.

I’ll be messaging them as soon as I’m finished with this article!!!

Please note that FamilySearch does not label half-relationships accurately.

Jen and Jill are my HALF second cousins twice removed, which will affect the expected amount of shared DNA. Their ancestors, Edith and Maude were half-sisters through their father, not full sisters. One of the reasons I’m so interested in communicating with Jen and Jill is because I’m not at all sure that those half-sisters knew each other existed.

Maintaining Contact

For each relative found, you can view your relationship, message them, or add them to your contact list. Be aware – your contact list “saves” this person, but it does not tell you how you’re related. That’s where either a Word document, with screen shots of how you’re related, or a spreadsheet where you can detail that information is important.

If you have messaged people in the past, those messages are still in your message box in the upper right-hand corner.

I generally provide my email address when I message relatives.

Displaying the Relationship

If you click on the “Relationship” button, you’ll see how FamilySearch believes you’re related to each match.

My relationship with an Acadian cousin, beginning with our common ancestor, is shown above. Grab a screen shot so you can remember. I drop them into a spreadsheet or Word document.

These matches are based on FamilySearch’s one world type of tree. I don’t have to tell you to be cautious because, like any tree, there are erroneous connections. This connection, at least on my side (left hand,) seems to be accurate. I don’t have Jeanne Chebrat’s second marriage to Jehan Piorier in my file, so I’ll need to check that out. Many times FamilySearch, WikiTree, Ancestry, or MyHeritage has connected documents or sources. In this case, here’s the WikiTree entry for Jeanne.

See, I’ve found something interesting already.

Search for People

On the toolbar, if you click on the right arrow, you’ll notice there’s one more option – Search.

If you think one your cousins might be attending, either virtually or in person, you can search by surname. I entered Estes out of curiosity.

This is quite interesting, because some other poor soul is also named Roberta Estes. You KNOW I’ll be messaging her. I’m pretty sure I know who this is, because we’ve been getting mixed up for years. Unless, of course there are actually three of us interested in genealogy.

However, where this Search option really shines is if you’re looking for males who descend from a particular line as candidates for Y-DNA testing.

Bingo!

I suggest doing this name search for each surname in your tree.

The Share Button is Critically Important

Sharing is the key to encouraging people to participate.

This button on the main page is how I generated the link for you to use to see if we’re related.

There’s a “Share” button in several locations. However, you’ll want to be sure you know exactly what you’re sharing. In some cases, it will be the surname comparison information or other information that you’re viewing. 

However, on the bottom of your Relatives pages, Share will generate a message link to/through several programs or apps so people can sign in to see if they are related to you.

You can also just copy the link and send it to someone in a text message or otherwise.

If you generate a message to share, you’ll see what will be posted, so you’ll know for sure exactly what you’re sharing. I wanted to post the link for my friends on Facebook to see if we are related, and that’s exactly what was generated.

If you follow the link to see if we are related, be sure to tell me, or anyone else whose link you follow.

Next, Connect with DNA

Relatives for RootsTech is a wonderful segway into DNA testing.

Remember, with the 300-relative limit, different searches will produce different results including people that won’t be included due to the 300 limit in other searches. Be creative and search in multiple ways. Add your relatives to your spreadsheet or Word document, then record whether they’ve DNA tested, at which vendor(s) and if you match there.

There are various ways to utilize Relatives at RootsTech for DNA.

  • Y-DNA candidates for the direct paternal line for males – The Search by surname can provide you with Y-DNA testing candidates. They may already have tested their Y-DNA with FamilyTreeDNA or their autosomal DNA with at least one vendor, so just message them and ask. Tell them which databases you’re in. Viewing Relatives by Ancestor can be very useful for this same purpose, especially if you have multiple unrelated lines with the same surname.
  • Mitochondrial DNA – the Relatives by Ancestor tool is very useful for locating mitochondrial DNA testing candidates, especially since you can easily see how they are descended from your common ancestor. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from women through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female. Any of your cousins, of either sex, are candidates so long as they descend from your target ancestor through all females.
  • DNA Pedigree Chart – If you’re building your own DNA Pedigree Chart with the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA of each ancestral line, consider offering a DNA testing scholarship to people who carry those lines that are missing in your DNA Pedigree Chart.
  • Testing Candidates – Anyone is a good candidate for autosomal testing. No second cousin or closer has ever not matched. Ask your cousins if they have tested and tell them which DNA databases you are in. Furthermore, suggest that they upload their DNA to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage for free to utilize their tools and find matches that aren’t in the other databases. GEDmatch isn’t a testing company, but is another free database where you may find people who tested at Ancestry. Unfortunately, Ancestry does not provide segment information for matching or painting, so hopefully you’ll be able to find your Ancestry matches elsewhere.
  • Databases – Be sure you’re in all of the databases (Ancestry, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GEDmatch) so you can be found and you can find your relatives.
  • DNAPainter – If you’re painting your segments at DNAPainter, you can paint your matching segments from 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or GEDmatch. Ancestry is the only vendor that does not provide matching segment information for their customers.
  • DNA Search – If your cousin has used their actual name when registering at FamilySearch, sort by ancestor, then search your DNA matches at the various vendors for that cousin’s name. The beauty of Relatives at RootsTech is that the relationship is already sorted by ancestor, so that piece of the puzzle has already been assembled for you, which is exactly the opposite of most DNA matches. Of course, this does not preclude errors or connections through multiple ancestors.

Limited Time – March 31 is the End

If I had a FamilySearch genie and could get one wish, it would be that they would leave Relatives for RootsTech up and available until the next RootsTech. I need time to work on these relationships.

However, that’s not the case, and Relatives for RootsTech ends on March 31st.

Therefore, it’s important to begin building your spreadsheet, or however you’re going to record your relatives, NOW. Check your list often so none of those precious matches will roll off of your list and become unavailable. Access to the complete relative match list, meaning no 300 limit would be my second wish from the FamilySearch genie.

To preserve the ability to communicate with your relatives, message them now or at least add them to your contact list – WITH A NOTE IN YOUR SPREADSHEET AS TO HOW YOU’RE RELATED. Otherwise, that information will not be available after March 31st.

You’ll want to use the same spreadsheet from year to year, as some of the relatives signing up this year probably did last year too.

Ready, Set, Relatives at RootsTech

Have fun. Be sure to let me know if we’re related and how!!!

____________________________________________________________

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Genealogy Research

Preparing for Research at the FamilySearch Library

One of my readers asked about what type of research facilities are available in Salt Lake City (SLC). They are attending RootsTech for the first time.

I’m so glad they asked. This article will answer their question but is also a broader article about how I research specific lineages and locations. Please note that I’ll be including lots of links where you can find additional information.

The FamilySearch Library is extremely useful to genealogists, even if you can’t visit in person. This article isn’t just for in-person visitors, although that’s where I’m focused today. It’s really for everyone and will help you understand how to access the various types of research tools available, and where.

When in Salt Lake City, the Family History Library, now called the FamilySearch Library is THE place to go for research. It’s world-class and equivalent to Mecca for genealogists.

The FamilySearch Library is pictured above. Just a block away, with the red arrow, you’ll find the Salt Palace Convention Center where RootsTech is held. The large silver tower behind the red arrow is the brand-new Hyatt Hotel.

First, we’re going to discuss logistics, then how to prepare for utilizing resources at the library.

Family History Library Renamed FamilySearch Library

Just a few weeks ago, the Family History Library (FHL) rebranded itself as the FamilySearch Library, so you’ll hear both terms. Just know that by whatever name, this is the most comprehensive genealogy library in the US, as well as in the world.

The library is funded and sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Genealogy is a part of their religion, so whether you are of the LDS faith or not, the library is beneficial, welcoming and does not attempt to recruit non-LDS visitors to the LDS faith. The staff and volunteers there are super-friendly and helpful. I am not LDS and I love this library.

The library hosts special hours, here, during RootsTech week, staying open 12 hours per day.

You can see lots of pictures, here and a map to the library, here.

If you haven’t visited in the past couple of years, the library has taken the opportunity to remodel and upgrade during the Covid down-time. I really look forward to visting the new facility.

Help

If you need help or direction, there are multiple ways to receive that, both virtually and in-person. Consultations are free and can be arranged, here.

On the library website, be sure to click on each of these helpful buttons to plan and get the most out of your visit.

Media

Within the FamilySearch Library, there are different types of resources you can access, including traditional books and microfilmed records through their complimentary workstations. The library is divided into sections, and you’ll find an information desk when entering.

Here’s a layout and a site map with additional information.

Food

Please note that while the library does have a breakroom where guests can eat, they don’t have food service. Many library patrons bring something in their bag and simply visit the breakroom quickly to eat. Peanut butter cheese crackers are a favorite of mine, along with protein bars. I refill a water bottle.

The closest restaurant is around the corner in the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, and the next closest is the Blue Lemon.

However, most genealogists don’t want to pack everything up and then unpack after lunch, so they simply bring something to eat in the breakroom.

I strongly recommend a small rolling suitcase for your research, laptop, notebooks, pencils (I use mechanical pencils) and snacks. You’ll be carrying or pulling everything, all day long.

You may well leave with more than you arrived with, meaning copies.

Also, don’t neglect to bring phone charging cords (with electrical plug-in) in your library bag, along with a spare thumb drive or two. Voice of experience here. Your phone will double as your camera and prevent you from having to make copies. You can stand right at your table and photograph what you need.

Close to the RootsTech Conference

The FamilySearch Library is literally a block away from the Salt Palace Convention Center where RootsTech is held, directly across the street from the Marriott hotel. The Marriott has a Starbucks in the lobby.

The library is within easy walking distance and Salt Lake City keeps the sidewalks shoveled and clear of ice and snow, for the most part. Bring warm clothes that you can layer though, because it is the dead of winter.

There’s a coat check at RootsTech, but I don’t use it. I just wear a thin thermal-lined coat and stuff it in my rolling bag.

A word about parking. Don’t. I use Uber or Lyft. There is also public bus transportation from the airport. I’ve never used that. However, parking is very limited and if you’re going to drive or rent a car, you’ll probably want to park it at the Marriott, the conference center, or other paid parking and walk when you are downtown. Parking is quite expensive, especially given that you’re probably not going to use that car for days. Uber/Lyft is MUCH easier and if you need to Uber/Lyft to a restaurant downtown, it’s just a couple of dollars.

Most of us are so tired we just grab something quick at the end of the day and then just die in our beds. There are food vendors at RootsTech.

Research Prep

Ok, now that we have location and logistics out of the way, let’s talk about how to actually prepare to research.

Go to www.familysearch.org where you’ll be prompted to either sign in or create an account.

Click on images to enlarge

If you don’t have an account, create one. They are free and there are things you can’t see and do without an account.

Also, you can scroll down to view different kinds of assistance available, including at local Family History Centers and library affiliates across the world. However, this article is about preparing to research at the main FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City.

Having said that, I do suggest you take a look to see where your closest facility is located, because items in the FamilySearch catalog are available:

  • Online plus at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City and in local Family History Centers
  • At the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City ONLY
  • At the local Family History Centers in addition to the library in Salt Lake City

When in Salt Lake City, you’ll want to focus your efforts on items that are available only at FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City. You can utilize online resources at your convenience, and you can visit your local Family History Center or affiliate library easier than visiting SLC. In my case, I don’t have a local center or affiliated library anyplace even remotely close, so I’ll be accessing everything in SLC. Some local Family History Centers have very limited hours or aren’t active anymore, so check before you assume you can access something locally.

Family Tree

The FamilySearch Family Tree is a collaborate effort. Some people love it, some don’t. I use it judiciously to see if someone has found a record for an ancestor that I have not and attached it to that ancestor’s profile. You can access this tree from home, so I’m not covering it in this article.

Search

What you’re going to do is Search and make a list of items to reference when in Salt Lake City.

I prepare either a spreadsheet or Word document as I search.

Of course, experiment with each search category, including images.

For all county searches, you don’t type the word “county.” Just “Just Hancock, Tennessee” for Hancock County, Tennessee.

Book Search

In the Book search, you’ll generally want to enter one word, such as “Estes” or experiment with the Advanced Search Options.

Click images to enlarge

I was prompted to sign in before I could view this book. Because I can view it online, I’m not going to waste time viewing this book in SLC, but I might use it to prep, or view it later, so I’m adding it to my spreadsheet but not for SLC.

However, there will be books that you cannot view online.

This book is copyright restricted. You will be able to see some highlights, often including the index, but not the entire book. Click on the title to see additional information.

This book is physically located at the FamilySearch Library, so put it on your list for SLC using the:

  • Title
  • Author’s name
  • Title number
  • Call number

If you see a book that is ONLY available in off-site storage, contact the library before your visit to see if they can retrieve it for you. Be sure to record all call numbers on your spreadsheet. If you can’t find a call number, call the library.

Some locations of availability will be local Family History Centers, so be sure to read carefully. Additional books are available through the Catalog Search.

Catalog Search

My favorite search is the Catalog Search.

You can search in a wide variety of ways and combinations. Sometimes one search will pick something up that another won’t, so I use all of the searches.

In this case, I’m searching for items from Hancock County, TN. Sometimes I limit the search to “Online”, then search for “Any” because it’s easy to quickly tell if there is anything in a category that is not available online. For example, there are three items in the Cemeteries category, but only one item available online, I know to look in that category for two things that aren’t available online.

You can expand any of these categories to view the items listed.

By clicking on the title, you can easily see additional information.

The first book (series) is available in a number of ways.

The book volumes are available at the library in SLC, and also on microfiche at the library.

If these little film roll icons were the only availability, then YES, I would want to view these in SLC

The reel means microfilm only, and must be viewed in Salt Lake.

However, at the very bottom, the little camera tells you that some are available online with unrestricted images so long as you are signed into your FamilySearch account. This is why you need a FamilySearch account.

By unrestricted, I mean that you don’t have to be physically IN Sale Lake City to view the images.

This little magnifying glass icon means that the images are available, have been indexed and are searchable. Glory hallelujah.

So, if this is a group of marriage records, you can browse the records themselves, but if you search for a surname in record search with location, you’ll find people of that surname from these records.

Many records are not indexed or searchable, but some indexes have been filmed so you can cross-reference that way.

If you see the image of a camera with a key, that means that the image is ONLY available to view at either a Family History Center or affiliate, or the FamilySearch Library. Generally, that has to do with the license FamilySearch was able to obtain from the owning entity.

You can read more about the availability of catalog items here.

Additionally, sometimes notes are provided that direct you to other viewing opportunities.

Clearly, I don’t need to view this item in SLC.

You may see this note which means you should definitely put this item on your SLC list.

Here’s another article about research methodologies.

FamilySearch Wiki

Additionally, I use the FamilySearch Wiki often. I just type my desired search into Google. “Hancock County, Tennessee FamilySearch wiki”

The FamilySearch wiki not only tells you what’s available specifically for Hancock County, but other relevant record collections not at FamilySearch, and where you can access them.

Additionally, these pages explain about formation, boundary changes, record loss, cities, towns and villages within the county, and neighboring counties. The information is updated regularly, so check back from time to time.

Prep Summary

I find these pages and tools invaluable. I hope you do too and will find goldmines of information just waiting for you that will provide those missing pieces to your ancestor puzzles.

Preparing wisely is the key to getting the most out of your limited research time in Salt Lake City.

Have fun!!!

____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here.

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You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research

RootsTech 2023 Theme is “Uniting” – Registration is Open – Free Pass Giveaway

The RootsTech theme for this year is “Uniting,” and RootsTech registration is now open. The dates this year are March 2-4 in Salt Lake City, but of course you could always arrive early or stay late and visit the Family History Library for some intensive genealogy therapy – ummm – I mean research.

That’s what I’m hoping to do.

FamilySearch has combined the super-successful virtual RootsTech format of 2021 and 2022 with the tried and true in-person conference loved by so many.

I don’t know about you, but I was extremely grateful for virtual RootsTech in 2021 and 2022, but I’m also VERY MUCH looking forward to gathering with my genea-friends and family again.

I’m glad to see this hybrid event because it makes RootsTech more widely available to a larger audience.

You can read about RootsTech 2023 in the press release here.

Classes

Classes and speakers will be announced shortly, but we know there are over 200 sessions that will be available for free, virtually. That means you could watch one a day, everyday, from the beginning of RootsTech through the middle of September. Sounds like genealogy-Heaven to me.

Classes will be announced soon, but let me give you a sneak-peek about my classes.

  • Big Y for the Win – When, where and how to use the BIG Y test to unravel or at least make sense of your genealogy.
  • DNA for Native American Genealogy – 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor (even if they don’t show up in your ethnicity.)
  • DNA Journey – Follow Your Ancestor’s Path – Let your ancestor’s DNA guide you home. Literally! Y-DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA all play roles in this journey.

In addition, I’m finalizing multiple sessions in two different vendors’ booths. More about this as it firms up.

Book Signing

I’m also attempting to organize a book-signing for my book, DNA for Native American Genealogy.

More on this later too.

Registration

The in-person pass is $98 for three full days, but the Expo Hall is open and free for everyone during that time.

In addition to the virtual classes, there will be about 210 in-person classes as well. According to the RootsTech team, there will be 16 classes taking place simultaneously, with 2 or 3 being live-streamed.

There will be 5 blocks of session-time on Thursday and Friday, and 4 blocks on Saturday. Each of those blocks will have 16 class slots available, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. Of course, many of the vendors host mini-sessions in their booths too, so there’s a lot going on and educational opportunities everyplace you look.

You can view registration details, here.

Free Pass Giveaway

I’m giving one free three-day pass to a lucky blog reader. Of course, you’ll need to get yourself there and such, but a $98 value is nothing to sneeze at.

Already purchased your pass? Don’t despair. If you win and you’ve already purchased a pass, just let me know and RootsTech will reimburse you.

How Do You Enter?

Just make a comment on this article – something about an ancestor. Maybe the Uniting theme. To prevent dustups, please DO NOT make any type of political comment, nor include a link, nor reference a vendor.

On January 25th, I will literally pull a name out of some type of old-fashioned “hat” and notify the winner by email. The winner will need to provide their registration information to RootsTech.

How fun is this!

Ok, for those who would like to attend RootsTech in person: ready – set – go.

Tell me something interesting about one of your ancestors in the comments.

_____________________________________________________________

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You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

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The Best of 2022

It’s that time of year where we look both backward and forward.

Thank you for your continued readership! Another year under our belts!

I always find it interesting to review the articles you found most interesting this past year.

In total, I published 97 articles in 2022, of which 56 were directly instructional about genetic genealogy. I say “directly instructional,” because, as you know, the 52 Ancestors series of articles are instructional too, but told through the lives of my ancestors. That leaves 41 articles that were either 52 Ancestors articles, or general in nature.

It has been quite a year.

2022 Highlights

In a way, writing these articles serves as a journal for the genetic genealogy community. I never realized that until I began scanning titles a year at a time.

Highlights of 2022 include:

Which articles were your favorites that were published in 2022, and why?

Your Favorites

Often, the topics I select for articles are directly related to your comments, questions and suggestions, especially if I haven’t covered the topic previously, or it needs to be featured again. Things change in this industry, often. That’s a good thing!

However, some articles become forever favorites. Current articles don’t have enough time to amass the number of views accumulated over years for articles published earlier, so recently published articles are often NOT found in the all-time favorites list.

Based on views, what are my readers’ favorites and what do they find most useful?

In the chart below, the 2022 ranking is not just the ranking of articles published in 2022, but the ranking of all articles based on 2022 views alone. Not surprisingly, six of the 15 favorite 2022 articles were published in 2022.

The All-Time Ranking is the ranking for those 2022 favorites IF they fell within the top 15 in the forever ranking, over the entire decade+ that this blog has existed.

Drum roll please!!!

Article Title Publication Date 2022 Ranking All-Time Ranking
Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages January 2017 1 2
Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA December 2012 2 1
Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them in in You? June 2017 3 5
AutoKinship at GEDmatch by Genetic Affairs February 2022 4
442 Ancient Viking Skeletons Hold DNA Surprises – Does Your Y or Mitochondrial DNA Match? Daily Updates Here September 2020 5
The Origins of Zana of Abkhazia July 2021 6
Full or Half Siblings April 2019 7 15
Ancestry Rearranged the Furniture January 2022 8
DNA from 459 Ancient British Isles Burials Reveals Relationships – Does Yours Match? February 2022 9
DNA Inherited from Grandparents and Great-Grandparents January 2020 10
Ancestry Only Shows Shared Matches of 20 cM and Greater – What That Means & Why It Matters May 2022 11
How Much Indian Do I Have in Me??? June 2015 12 8
Top Ten RootsTech 2022 DNA Sessions + All DNA Session Links March 2022 13
FamilyTreeDNA DISCOVER Launches – Including Y DNA Haplogroup Ages June 2022 14
Ancient Ireland’s Y and Mitochondrial DNA – Do You Match??? November 2020 15

2023 Suggestions

I have a few articles already in the works for 2023, including some surprises. I’ll unveil one very soon.

We will be starting out with:

  • Information about RootsTech where I’ll be giving at least 7 presentations, in person, and probably doing a book signing too. Yes, I know, 7 sessions – what was I thinking? I’ve just missed everyone so very much.
  • An article about how accurately Ancestry’s ThruLines predicts Potential Ancestors and a few ways to prove, or disprove, accuracy.
  • The continuation of the “In Search Of” series.

As always, I’m open for 2023 suggestions.

In the comments, let me know what topics you’d like to see.

_____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here.

Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research

Free WikiTree Symposium & Special Events – November 4 & 5

Did you know that November 5th is WikiTree Day and WikiTree is celebrating its 14th anniversary? Personally, I love WikiTree.

Here’s why, in three bullets:

  • WikiTree is a “one-world tree,” which generally makes me somewhat uncomfortable, but WikiTree has addressed the issues that concern me in general and provides MANY wonderful tools.
  • It’s easy to interact and make changes. There are often LOTS of sources, and there’s even a discussion board and conflict resolution process.
  • But the best part is that WikiTree is free, public, readily available, and includes DNA information linked to other researchers. Did I mention that it includes DNA information?

I always check WikiTree and update my ancestor’s profiles.

For example, in my tree, here, John Younger Estes is noted as having a confirmed Y DNA connection.

Let’s take a look at his profile, here.

You can see lots of information about John, including that there are two men whose Y DNA confirms this line, one that descends from his father’s line, and one from his own line.

You can also see that four people have listed themselves as descendants of John, along with autosomal test details. Hey, I see two new cousins I don’t know about…

Scroll on down to see sources. Lots of sources. What genealogist doesn’t love sources?

Free 36-Hour WikiTree Symposium

WikiTree provides lots of features, and you can learn about genealogy and how to utilize WikiTree resources at their celebration Symposium that’s coming up this week, beginning Friday, November 4, at 8 AM EDT. The Symposium runs nonstop for 24 hours, followed by a 12-hour WikiTree Day event.

You can view the list of speakers, session descriptions, and  WikiTree Day special events, here. A big shout out and thank you to all of the speakers and contributors who are generously donating their time to make the event fun and successful.

Here’s the schedule for November 4th, and schedule for November 5th.

Join Me – Twice

Please join me for a pre-recorded session, “DNA for Native American Genealogy” at 2:30 PM EDT on Friday afternoon, here.

Why pre-recorded, you ask? Well, I have a not-so-minor problem. I was already having internet provider issues before the hurricane, and now, they are much worse due to infrastructure damage. And I mean MUCH, as in my screen intermittently freezes every 3 or 4 minutes. It’s one of those long stories, and it won’t be resolved anytime soon.

Of course, that makes live presentation impossible right now, so I’ve done the best I can under the circumstances. I think you’ll enjoy it if you have any oral or confirmed history of Native American ancestry in your family.

I will be joining a Panel Discussion live (I hope) on Saturday, November 5th at 9 AM EDT about the future of genetic genealogy with several of my geneapeeps, including WikiTree’s founder, Chris Whitten.

If my screen freezes, someone else can hop in with no problem, like Mags Gaulden who can talk about mitochondrial DNA all day long. Or Tom MacEntee who provided hundreds of webinars and sessions on a wide variety of topics to genealogy societies during Covid lockdowns.

Panelist Amy Johnson Crow is responsible for the 52 Ancestors idea, which was to publish something, somehow, about an ancestor every week – which could be updating their WikiTree profile. Trust me, I think of Amy every single week and have for about 380 weeks now, but who’s counting? I can’t wait to hear how she utilizes WikiTree.

I’m also EXTREMELY pleased to see panelist Daniel Loftus, one of our younger genealogists who just began college. However, no moss is growing under this young man’s feet. He’s already making a difference as the founder of Project Infant, dedicated to identifying and documenting the victims of the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland. Come join us and give a hearty welcome to Daniel. His generation IS the future of genealogy.

Here’s the YouTube link for the panel discussion.

Register

You can register for the events here – it’s totally free.

The sessions will remain on YouTube for 30 days if you can’t make it this weekend, your internet service provider is related to my internet service provider, or you can’t manage to stay up straight for 36 hours straight anymore. That would be me!

If you have questions, here’s the Facebook page too.

I made a list of sessions that I’m planning to watch. Which ones are you excited about?

_____________________________________________________________

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If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Join Me for DNA Day, Live

I’m excited to be presenting for an entire day of DNA on October 1st. You can join in too, because the Orange County Genealogical Society has graciously made this event open to the entire genealogy community via Zoom. You can sign up at this link.

Apparently, there’s some serendipity involved, because the Y, mitochondrial DNA, and X DNA sessions were specifically requested when I asked for RootsTech topic suggestions. You’re not going to have to wait nearly that long, because I’m covering all three at DNA Day.

These sessions will:

  • Educate about the topic at hand, meaning Y, mitochondrial DNA, and X DNA, and when to use each.
  • Discuss how to utilize the results from all three of these tests and types of DNA for genealogy, including the new FamilyTreeDNA Y DNA Discover tool. I’m providing step-by-step instructions.
  • Provide real-world analysis examples with case studies. These are always so much fun! I’ve actually made a couple of discoveries while preparing for these sessions.

The last session of the day, “DNA Tossed Salad,” ties everything together. I’ll discuss how I manage the results and the tools I use, particularly for autosomal tests, and what I “do” with matches.

Each session will have the opportunity for Q&A.

I’ve included information for every level, beginner through advanced. Here’s the registration link again. Hope to see you on October 1st!!!

_____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here, or follow me on Twitter, here.

Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

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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!

_____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here.

Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research

East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference – Registration is Open!

Did you know that the East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference (ECGGC, affectionally known as “eggs”) is taking place on April 23 and 24? If you haven’t heard of this conference before, that’s because this is its inaugural year.

ECCGC was initially scheduled to be held in Maryland, in person, but the uptick in Covid over the winter forced a go, no-go decision at a time when a virtual live-streamed conference assured everyone’s safety.

I’m excited about speaking, especially my opening keynote, “DNA – Past, Present and Future.” I’ll reflect a little, talk about the current state-of-affairs and then discuss what the future may hold. Just think what we will be able to do in the next decade, or two, based on how far we’ve come in the past 22 years.

Of course, the very best aspect of this two-day conference is that it’s entirely focused on genetic genealogy which makes it the PERFECT venue for Mitochondrial DNA Academy. More about that in a minute.

Speakers

The 23 speakers read like a who’s who in the genetic genealogy space. You can read about each speaker, here.

Schedule and Sessions

If you look at the sessions and schedule, here, you’ll notice that there are 37 sessions offered over two days. Simple math tells you that you can’t possibly attend all of those in two days – even if you stayed up all night.

The great news is that for all attendees, the sessions will be recorded and available to watch after the actual conference itself is over.

Mitochondrial DNA Academy – You’re Invited

I want to personally invite you to attend Mitochondrial DNA Academy, presented by Dr. Miguel Vilar, Dr. Paul Maier, and me.

Mitochondrial DNA is an incredibly misunderstood tool for genealogy. It seems that anytime someone mentions mitochondrial DNA on social media and asks if they should purchase a test, a cacophony of “buy an autosomal test instead” resounds, without even asking the purpose of the test in question, or what the person hopes to learn.

Understanding mitochondrial DNA itself, how it’s used, what to expect, and how to utilize the results for genealogy is key to making an informed decision.

For those of us who do work extensively with mitochondrial DNA, there’s still much to learn. Attending both Paul Maier and Miguel Vilar’s portions of the Academy is guaranteed to provide even experienced genetic genealogists with fascinating, detailed information. There’s something for everyone and a unique learning opportunity.

If you want to understand the science behind mitochondrial DNA, how it works, different types of mutations, extra and missing mutations, frequency, haplogroup formation, migration, populations, phylogenetic trees as well as how to tie all of this up in a bundle to use successfully for genetic genealogy – Mitochondrial DNA Academy is for you.

You may have noticed that the three of us constitute three-quarters of the Million Mito Project team, so you just might get an update on that project as well!

Register for the Conference

You can register, here, for $150 which provides access to both conference days and all of the recorded sessions after.

Sponsors

I want to say a big thank you to the ECGGC sponsors, DNAGedcom, Borland Genetics, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and mitoYDNA.org whose generous sponsorships offset the cost of the conference for attendees.

See you at the conference!

_____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here.

Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research