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Southern California Genealogy Jamboree

With George G. Morgan at the Jamboree photo by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

   I’m currently cruising along at 32,000 feet on my way back home from the Southern California Jamboree.  I thought I’d take a break from my series on Irish research to talk about the Jamboree and some of the sessions I attended.  The Jamboree is a good sized regional conference…not quite as big and overwhelming as a national conference. I did four Irish lectures for the Conference,  a couple of mini sessions for Genealogy Gems, some consultations and helped out in the genealogydotcoach booth.  I went out a day early to attend the Genetic Genealogy Conference where there were 33 sessions on DNA issues, and I only had an opportunity to attend six!  Luckily there was an excellent syllabus, and many of the sessions were recorded.  

   I’ve written about my DNA journey in the past and it’s one that I am still on.  I take every opportunity I can to learn more about the process and how to better use my results to solve a genealogical problem.  It took me a long time to “get it” from my first test with 23&Me in 2009.  I tested with 23&Me for the medical reports, and although I also got the cousin hits, I didn’t pay much attention to them.  I didn’t recognize any of the names and couldn’t figure out how it would help.  I attended all of the lectures I could over the next five years, but still couldn’t make sense of it.  It was an online workshop with Blaine Bettinger through the Virtual Institute which finally got me over the hump.   I have since also tested with Ancestry, and moved my results to FamilyTree DNA and GedMatch.  This weekend I also ordered a test kit from Living DNA (more on that in a minute).  My big breakthrough was when I realized that I couldn’t be passive and wait for matches, but had to be pro-active in testing known relatives to whom I could then share matches.  Maybe you too are looking at your matches saying, now what?  I created a lecture last year, called “My DNA Journey” which takes a very non-technical approach to working with your matches.  I had noticed that like my earlier experiences, people’s eyes glazed over when listening to DNA lectures and so far, my non-technical explanation seems to help some of those people become more engaged.  I wouldn’t consider myself a DNA expert, but like my experience with Blaine, sometimes a different approach just clicks.  So don’t give up!

   Living DNA is the new kid on the block and their main focus is on the British Isles.  So far they have identified 21 regions in Great Britain with specific DNA signatures.  What makes me excited is that they are working on projects in Ireland.  Since the brick wall for so many Irish researchers is the location in Ireland of their ancestors, the idea of being able to isolate it down to a region, is very exciting.  I’ve mentioned before the Irish DNA Atlas Project which is working on a similar project.  They are testing individuals in Ireland whose grandparents came from within a 50 km radius to look for specific DNA signatures.  We won’t have the answers tomorrow, but if you’re thinking of testing cousins still living in Ireland, this might be the way to go.  In the near future they will also allow you to upload results from an existing test.  It won’t be quite as expensive as testing with them directly but still substantial.  They had a special at the conference so I decided to go ahead and test.  They also have a Father’s Day Special going on now which is $119, $40 off their regular price.   Their process is a cheek swab and they said their current  backlog is about 8-10 weeks, so I’ll let you know the results when I get them.  An important point to remember is that DNA is only one tool in our toolbox and doesn’t replace traditional research.  It’s strength is in helping to confirm results in our paper trail.

   If you have an opportunity to attend a conference, either local, regional or national, it’s a great experience.

   Happy Hunting!



Do you like to cruise and learn about genealogy?  Join your fellow genealogists on the annual Pilgrims, Pioneers & Aliens Genealogy Cruise April 15-23, 2018.  This will be my third year lecturing along with Diana and Gary Smith and Dick Eastman.  Genealogy at sea, sightseeing on port days and consultations to help resolve your brick walls.  Reserve your spot now.

© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017