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Throughout the Jamboree, I volunteered to provide one-on-one research assistance (along with other members of the Association of Professional Genealogists) to attendees. For some sessions, I signed up in advance, but I think I had the most fun when I just dropped in to help when my poor overworked brain couldn’t absorb one more thing from a lecture. I helped people with questions about World War I service in the Coast Artillery, resources in Chicago and Oklahoma, and how to confirm whether a cigar-making ancestor who lived in New York and Philadelphia may or may not have been a rabbi.

I also helped my friend Ted Gostin by baby-sitting his Generations Press exhibit booth while he gave three (count them, three) talks. I enjoyed the chance to interact with visitors to the Exhibit Hall and with exhibitors at adjacent booths. It reminded me of the times I tried to catch the attention of attendees at Comdex, the monster trade show for the computer industry, while I was a marketing manager for a software company 20 years ago.

DNA Day – June 4

Source: freedigitalphotos.net/jscreationzs

Source: freedigitalphotos.net/jscreationzs


This is the third year that the Southern California Genealogical Society (of which I am a proud member) sponsored DNA Day. These sessions attract genealogists who are just starting to have their DNA tested, to veterans like me who first had relatives test over a decade ago. I have a good grasp of the basic science, and even give a lecture about the delights and disappointments of DNA, but even I learn something new at every DNA Day.

For my first session, I chose Diahan Southard’s talk, “Organizing Your DNA Matches,” because I administer almost a dozen sets of DNA results, and I wanted tips to keep track of them better. The first advice that I am going to implement is to set up a separate email address just for DNA correspondence (As it is, some of my correspondence is on my Hotmail account, some on a Gmail account, and some on an old Yahoo account that I hardly ever check). Then I shall follow Diane’s suggestions for using Gmail’s contact feature to capture info that is relevant to DNA. If I need more than that, I’ll set up an Excel spreadsheet with the column headings that she recommends.

Next I attended the session entitled “X Chromosome for Genealogists” by Kathy Johnston. Johnston pointed out that, genetically speaking, we are a patchwork quilt of all of our ancestors. She gave us the scientific background we needed to understand how analyzing the X chromosome can help genealogists, and then presented case studies, including one about identifying biological parents for adoptees.

Kitty Cooper described a DNA comparison process known as triangulation. I had learned the basics of the process by analyzing my own DNA matches based on what I learned from previous lecturers at DNA Day. But this lecture went several levels deeper, and I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned.

I have two adult children who have expressed no interest in genealogy. But the lecture by Blaine Bettinger at his talk “DNA and Pop Culture: Using Harry Potter and Star Wars to Teach DNA” may change that. Blaine showed descendancy charts for the fictional characters in movies (Star Wars”), television (“Game of Thrones”) and books (“Harry Potter”) as a way of enticing younger folk into developing an interest in genealogy. I know my kids love HP, and my husband and daughter have watched “Game of Thrones,” so I will definitely try Blaine’s suggestions.

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