New Ancestry and MyHeritage Tools Announced!!

Wow, could the genealogy world have received more exciting news than the latest updates in technology and the use of DNA?! Both Ancestry and MyHeritage announced here at RootsTech, that they have developed new tools and techniques to help genealogists find their families!

New AncestryDNA tools
If you haven’t seen the improvements on your own AncestryDNA, you will want to click on the Extras tab in the black bar at the top of your screen. A drop-down menu appears so scroll down the menu and select Ancestry Lab.

You will see the new design, color-coding, custom label options, and other new tools allowing you to sort, group, and view your DNA Matches many ways. You can create up to 24 custom family groups with custom labels (and there are some labels that they offer), assign a color and apply to your DNA Matches. Here’s a picture from my page:

The filters are different (you lost the ability to filter by geography or region) but gained some new items:

And from DNA Circles (a version of triangulation that groups those who share a common ancestor and matching DNA) to ThruLines, where relatives are suggested and you may find connections in a new way.

Instead of DNA Circles – check out ThruLines …… I saved screen shots of my DNA Circles, but I’m still exploring this new tool so I may find no need.

Not to leave out the new developments at MyHeritage, here’s a great easy image of what they are offering us – really fun! A version of other methods we’ve been learning ……

Look familiar??

I’ll admit to be both overwhelmed AND excited about these new tools and I’m still exploring. No dinner out here at RootsTech for me tonight – playing with this is on my agenda!!!

A Day Focused on DNA – RootsTech Day 3!

The double helix of DNA

Today’s theme for me here at RootsTech today is DNA!!! It began early – a “Power Hour” with Christi Lynn Jacobsen, Dana Leeds, and Diahan Southard – You CAN Do DNA. An excellent and well-taught overview of why DNA is important for genealogists. They used great examples, kept it simple and honed in on the important points. Of COURSE! They are all professionals working with DNA for years, so they have explained it over and over to clients. Great job!

Dana Leeds explaining the Leeds Method of color-coding your DNA matches to create clusters.

Then a series of classes with Blaine Bettinger (found out he’s my cousin! Well, it’s pretty distant – 8th cousin – but that matters, right?!). He too, a long-time professional with DNA, offered two presentations – the first on Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence, explained the pitfalls and potential issues in working with or utilizing DNA evidence to find family relationships. He is great with explaining complex information in easy-to-understand terms. His second presentation – Chromosome Mapping Tips and Techniques – shared about the DNA Painter tool and how it can be utilized with data from FamilyTree DNA, GEDMatch, 23AndMe, and MyHeritage (not Ancestry). Step by step, Blaine led us through the reasons to do chromosome mapping while also giving advice and his own experience about what works best. VERY helpful!

Blaine makes DNA understandable, easier to consider when doing genealogy. He explained DNA Painter (below).

My brain is fried – and NOT because the presenters didn’t do an awesome job of explaining DNA and using it with “paper” genealogy. It was just a lot to take in but I am so energized to dig into this when I return home. Very exciting way to help me make some potential breakthroughs in my family research, and to offer to clients in my Lineage Journeys work.

Day 2 at Roots Tech – whew!!!!

Ambassador day – Getting into the classes, Exhibit Hall, luncheons, keynHiotes, activities and more of RootsTech 2019!

Wow, the end of Day 2 of RootsTech and has it been a ride!!! I’m exhausted, happy, excited and needing some rest.

The day started with joining my fellow Ambassadors in the Media Hub and crazy, fun people like Mr. Thomas MacEntee from High Definition Genealogy.

The Media Hub – morning of Day 2 at about 10 a.m. An hour later, there were no seats available and people were standing. At least three interviews were happening and friends meeting up!
Crazy fun Thomas MacEntee of High Definition Genealogy is such a joy to be around. With mad skills in promotion, marketing, networking and all around sharing guy, his workshops are fantastic!!

I was able to observe some interviews – Patricia Keaton was one of those I listened in on. She was the Keynote Speaker this morning, sharing her career story and what she knows about her family. Patricia had the benefit of the work of Family Search and AncestryDNA and learned more about her family live on stage – it was very fun, touching.

Lunchtime was VERY special as I had the pleasure to meet Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the host of Finding Your Roots on PBS. We watched a new movie, initially shared at the Sundance Film Festival, entitled Railroad Ties. Following the meeting and interconnections between a group of people whose ancestors knew each other at a key time in American history (I won’t spoil the story line)…..get out your tissues!

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. – Host of Finding Your Roots on PBS; Harvard professor in African American Studies.
Talking about Railroad Ties, a new movie first released at the Sundance Film Festival.

And the fun continued as a met up with others at the Family History Library for a follow up conversation about my Wednesday “Mobile Apps for Genealogy” session.

The evening ended with some appetizers and conversation with the Genealogy Business Alliance group at the Marriott. Networking with other business owners, I wanted to learn more about ways to share Lineage Journeys with others.

Live From Salt Lake City!

Just the first day .. not as many people yet, but by Friday and Saturday, there will be probably 14,000!!

From RootsTech 2019, where there will soon be over 14,000 people taking hundreds of classes and networking, finding cousins and having fun!

My first workshop, You CAN Take It With You:  Mobile Genealogy Tools for Genealogists, went SOOO well and there must have been over 600 people in the room.  Great questions, energy – we even did “stand up, sit down” exercises.  AND cousin meet-ups!  How fun!

In the midst of the “stand up if you ….” exercise with over 600 people in the room!

Today felt like a day of healing and reconciliation … certainly, there is much more to do, but a beginning and significant movement in the right direction.  Friend and fellow GeneaBlogger Tribe member Cheri Hudson Passey offered a workshop “Discovering Slave Owners in the Family Tree” that was so impactful that people were crying, and not bad tears but those tears of recognized loss and finding common ground for healing.  We also learned about the incredible donation of $2 Million to the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, announced at the Opening Session!  Wow!  There will be a family history center within the museum that will help anyone seeking information about their family, especially focusing on the African diaspora and records that will help in tracing those that were enslaved.  An incredible opportunity for everyone to learn, share, grieve, and hopefully gain some healing, pride in the strength of ancestors.

Part of the magic of RootsTech is the networking, mingling, meeting cousins.  Also having opportunities for growth from those synchronistic meetings or information that those of us long in the genealogy field know to expect.  My research time at the Family History Library on Monday and Tuesday led to some really great information for my clients (one in French-Canadian and another in Native research) AND some perfectly wonderful experiences for myself.

Met another wonderful French-Canadian cousin! Meet Amberly Peterson Beck!

As I have just begun the research on the Polish family on my dad’s side, I had recently found the name of the village that my great-grandparents immigrated from – Gorlice, Malopolska, Poland (it wasn’t always Poland, as it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire).  The Niemczyk, Niemiec, Nimer, Nemshak family (yes, they changed the name a number of times) immigrated in about 1880 but no one in the family knew where they came from.  The family worked hard to fit into their initial American community in Chicopee, Massachusetts and later in Detroit, Michigan but not many stories of “the old country” apparently were shared.  Reaching out to cousins, there was much to go on.  So, I went down to the International section of the Family History Library and, wonder of wonders, there is a specialist FROM POLAND who is a Missionary there.  She was awesome!  AND introduced me to two young men, themselves Polish and here doing research.  AND …. Wait for it … they are from the Malopolska region!! Yes!!  So they are going to take the information that I know about my family and see what they might find when they are in the Polish archives.  :::::::::::::::crossing my fingers::::::::::::::::::::::::

Hopefully the pictures here will show you just how great RootsTech 2019 is and what a great experience it is.  And it’s only the beginning of Day 2 as I write this.  Stay tuned for more!

On The Road – Preparing for RootsTech 2019!!!!!

The Expo Hall is HUGE!!!

SOOO excited – RootsTech2019 is almost here!!!!

The countdown is ON! I’m finalizing my presentations, collecting my equipment, reviewing and updating my talks – I’m so pleased that Lineage Journeys/I was selected to speak again. I’m presenting You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Apps for Genealogy and Native, First Nations, Indian: Researching Indigenous People . 

Hope you will join me at RootsTech 2019!!!

There is so much to say about how fun RootsTech is – AND it can be overwhelming! The Expo Hall, Salt Palace is so HUGE so you have to be very disciplined about selecting your classes, planning your days there and probably allowing time to be at the Family History Library (really, it’s a very short walk!).

The Exhibitors area is also HUGE – but so worthwhile! There are always discounts for purchasing items at the event (think “DNA kits”!) , getting your family tree printed out on large paper, exploring jewelry with a family history theme, activities, booth workshops, books, tapes, things to buy, people to meet, freebee stuff to get …. yeah, overwhelming. But here’s what I learned from attending last year – my first year: 1- Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to walk A LOT! 2 – Plan ahead. RootsTech has a mobile app with the classes, exhibitors, special events, everything you’d want to know and you can create a schedule using it. DO IT! 3 – Either pre-print your handouts or plan to use the app – you can take notes on your phone or tablet from the app. Yeah, it’s pretty fun! 4 – Plan ahead for your personal needs. There is plenty of food on site – vendors, sit down places, variety. But maybe bring some snack bars or energy bars. And if you are thinking about saving money, some of the hotels include breakfast in your registration (be sure to check!) but many hotels have refrigerators in the room so bring things for meals. There is a grocery store nearby or you could use one of the many food delivery apps to have food delivered to you (yeah, there is a delivery fee and you have to sign up for most). But I brought breakfast foods so that I didn’t have to go out early – I could relax over breakfast in my room (PB&J is easy to bring, as is tea!).

Don’t take it just from me! Here’s a video from our RootsTech hosts about what to think about: The Road to RootsTech

There is also an option to check out some of the content from home – it’s really better to come there, but if you can’t, explore this option: Virtual Roots Tech! VERY reasonably priced, you get great content and you can learn from home. Saves on travel, hotel costs while also giving you access to experts and subjects that are of interest. There are 18 recorded sessions for only $129! A great value!

Hope to see you there – but if you buy the Virtual Pass, watch in the background! Maybe you’ll see me waving!! And watch here during the event, as I will be posting that week about what I’m hearing, seeing and learning as well is pictures of people I meet and the fun we are all having. If you attend, reach out via cell phone/mobile app – I may be with the GeneaBloggers Tribe, the Archives of Michigan, in the Ambassadors area, or around the exhibit hall – let’s meet up!

Learning About Tribal Research

Reflection on my journey …..

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is over …. sigh

Leaving Salt Lake City after an incredible, intense, really fun week at SLIG – Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy.  I took the course “Exploring Native American Research”. Learning about the records of the Native tribes of the United States was so interesting, varied and we learned at depth.  We each received a different person to research, based on our personal request about learning about a particular tribe.  I had a very interesting man, Edgar L. Powell, a Choctaw man who was a long-time Methodist minister in Indian Territory.  Three marriages, five children (at least that I found) and frequently moving to serve congregations that asked him to come.

What was the best about the research on Edgar, and the Choctaw, was that the same or very similar records exist for my Lakota family.  My Métis family in Québec have different records and some the same so I’ll look into some of that later, but in the meantime, while I was at the Family History Library, I took advantage of the time to also look into some of the Lakota records.  Interesting, impactful and fun!

We had to write a short report on the person we researched, and we received some instructions from one of our instructors, Rick Fogarty (he was a great teacher!!), apparently none of us heard them!!!  LOL!  Rick said that we were all over-achievers because we went well beyond what he asked of us.  Too funny ….. the challenge of working with, teaching a group of skilled researchers who are used to doing client work and having the professional passion to do anything we do with the same attention to detail that we give to our clients.  LOL! 

Rick and fellow teacher/researcher/mom Billie Fogarty gave us SO much to think about!  Sharing about record groups, examples of ways to analyze the records, information about the kinds of records that were created for the various ways that the government and tribe would document the people.  We heard from Paula Stuart Warren about her many years of research and work in the Native/tribal research area (she had been one of my first teachers at lectures I attended back in the 1990s!), sharing many examples from a wide variety of tribes including her experiences working with tribal enrollment offices. 

Last night was the final banquet with awards, door prizes (wish I would have won!), and a really great keynote by Dr. Tom Jones, one of the early teachers that I learned from back in the 1990s.  I had the privilege of learning from him at my first institute last summer – GRIP:  Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.  I took at documentation/citations course from him to improve my ability to cite my research.

Classmates from SLIG 2019 – Native Research at the Family History Library, ready to finalize our homework; from our course with Rick and Billie Fogarty, Melissa Johnson, Paula Stuart-Warren & Paul Graham

All in all, it was both overwhelming, exciting, hard, challenging and engaging.  We had the “challenge” of a really cold room so we all were drinking hot beverages, wearing layers.  The hotel eventually figured it out and the room finally was better on Thursday and Friday.  I was so impressed with SLIG!  I really want to attend again – not sure about next year, although there are always DNA courses so that may be what I sign up for.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from such high-quality, nationally-recognized speakers. Such a memorable week!! The work of Lineage Journeys, the content that I provide to my clients will be better thanks to these great instructors – Rick and Billie Fogarty, Paula Stuart-Warren, Melissa Johnson, and Paul Graham! In the Lakota language, wopila – thank you.

Goodbye, Salt Lake City!!!!!

Ethnicity, Race and Pie Charts

Yes, it’s the new year … and how many DNA testing kits did you get as a gift? Yes, it’s a current fad and yes, it is also fun. But let me help to frame some of the issues with DNA, genealogy, testing, ethnicity vs. race and those pretty pie charts.

First, I’m a genealogist AND a scientist. I have two degrees that stress the importance of data, replication as a tool of quality and refinement, and control groups and more. And I value documentation, and proof – more than one document that provides information confirming or refuting what another document says, and a “reasonably exhaustive search” – a standard of utilizing everything that we can access to prove/disprove facts.

Second, let’s be clear – DNA testing is in its early stages. Yes, it has come a VERY long way from the 1980s when it was first used with genealogical information, and tools now available to us is far more extensive, detailed, scientifically-based that ever.

And third, there is NO biological basis for “race”. From a chemical, DNA, or cellular level, we are all 99% the same and we share chemistry, DNA and cellular structures with bananas, trees and other living things. We are carbon-based organisms that have evolved over millenium. To state, because of DNA data, that we are a particular race is just wrong – scientifically, genetically, socially and otherwise. There are plenty of research-based studies and writings that trace every human living on the planet back to Africa…..thousands and thousands of years ago. AND those pretty pie charts – with percentages and lovely colors – stating this or that percentage of DNA from Western Europe or the Iberian peninsula or wherever …. that information is based on a testing database of samples that place the same or similar DNA in a particular geography at a point in time (most of the DNA sites will offer that this ancestral DNA is from approximately a 500 to 800 year old time frame).

So, to keep it simple, if you decide to use the DNA test kits (please at least be sure to use the companies that work very hard to maintain scientific standards, privacy rights, testing protocols and ethics – these are Ancestry, 23 and Me, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and FindMyPast), there are some things to consider: 1) Please know that virtually everyone will get a surprise from their results. It may be as simple as “I didn’t know we had Scandinavian ancestors!” to as emotional as “My dad isn’t my dad??!!!” Yours truly is working her way through what a really big revelation means, so don’t take this lightly. 2) The pie chart is the LEAST of it! The database that is used for the testing is always growing and changing, refining and developing. I’ve already seen as least two updates that have changed my results – in the first one, I was Ashkenazi Jewish, then from the Iberian peninsula, and now it’s Scandinavian. The Scandinavian one actually makes sense as I know that my ancestors (from the years of doing research in the paper trails my ancestors left) were from Normandy – a region of France heavily impacted by Norman or Viking invasions … hence “Scandinavian”. THE most important part of your results is the COUSIN matching!! You will find people related to you through the DNA that you didn’t know about (I found someone a half hour from my home!) and you will have a really fun time getting to know them! Trust me – the COUSIN CONNECTION is the BEST part of DNA testing. 3) Follow the instructions. It’s easy, and perhaps a bit yucky, but it’s important. The science is built on a clean sample and your results will make sense. 4) AND know that there is a paper trail that will help you to sort it all out, with lots of helpful people to show you how to look at what you find in your results.

And don’t let anyone tell you what RACE you are – because they can’t! The results can tell you a bit about where geographically your ancestors traveled through on their way to where you are today. It will tell you a bit about ethnicity – the culture of our families, such as customs, favorite foods, holidays, dances and music, clothing styles, and possibly eye and hair colors. The testing information is based in finding clusters, clumps of DNA that reappear over and over again in a particular region, geography, locality in people in that area. I know, for instance, that on my mom’s side, our people were Native, French-Canadian, and Scottish because – and this is important – others with our similar DNA were from these identified groups because of records, documentation, and more. But it doesn’t tell me WHICH tribe, or WHERE in France or Scotland, or that level of detail. At least yet …. as more and more people are tested and can document specifics about these ancestors, we can begin to narrow down migratory trails, immigration routes and track back into time.

So please look beyond the pretty pie charts. Take time to look for the paper trail that your ancestors left to find out about their lives …. their religion, foods, homes, jobs and what made their lives worth living. You are the product of pairs of people who had a relationship that created a child …. I was going to say “pairs of people who loved” but I know that many children were born of affairs, rape and incest. In the context of their lives, the child lived and had children ….. down to you. Think about the blessing of two parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, and more going back into time. Learn about that and don’t worry about whether they wore kilts or lederhosen, a sari or animal skins … find a cousin and learn about your common ancestors’ lives and the courage, stamina, and strength that helped them to thrive. Let me know if I can help ….

Amazing Speakers, Content in RootsTech 2019

Stage image

There is A LOT that is fun at RootsTech beyond the genealogy research, learning and cousin-connections happening …. it’s ALL fun, right? But the general sessions take it up a notch with some content that is inspiring, with music, prizes, and lots of enthusiasm.

A really great feature of the RootsTech website and team is that they produce a bunch of great videos that share about aspects of the conference. Here is one about the plans for the keynotes/speakers and entertainment that will be happening:
RootsTech 2019 video. As an overview, on Wednesday, Steve Rockwood (CEO of FamilySearch) will start things off with updates, what’s coming and the opening of the vendor hall. Thursday, Patricia Heaton, star from Everybody Loves Raymond, will be sharing about being a “real life” mom and a book she has written about family, motherhood and her experiences. Friday could be really emotional as star Saroo Brierley, from the movie Lion (have you seen in?? Boy becomes lost from family, is taken in by another family, later in life seeks out his birth family … very cool film!), will offer his perspective on family, belonging and connecting. Friday night is a special evening event that includes dancer Derek Hough, who will encourage everyone to get on their feet and learn some dances (…. lots of music, motion and fun!). Saturday’s closing general session will feature Jake Shimabukuro, an incredible Hawaiian ukulele artist who is fun, entertaining and VERY skilled (can you imagine Bohemian Rhapsody on ukulele!?!!!).

I was SOOOO wowed by the content of these general sessions that the energy carried me through long days. The excitement of it all is infectious and, if you are going, you will SOOO want to be in the room. They are moving these to 11 a.m. this year – so that there are workshops before these keynotes and then you go out for more after. Really great stuff! Are you coming? Let’s meet up – Lineage Journeys are gearing up!!!!

Count Down to RootsTech 2019!!!

Count Down to RootsTech 2019 has begun!

Every day begins with Keynote Speakers, excitement, music, contests and more!!!

It’s just before Thanksgiving and I’m beginning to get SOOOO excited about the upcoming RootsTech 2019!!  Maybe you are thinking about going, or maybe (if you can’t go) you are wondering if there is livestreaming, or workshops that you can look at after …… YES, YES, and YES!!  You can STILL register – click here for Registration!!  

And there is SOOO much to do when you get there – here’s just one picture of the vendors’ area …. demos, speakers, things to buy, networking, learning, and so much more.  Food, a place to sit and catch or breath, meet up with newly-found cousins!

The vendors are friendly, helpful, offer demos and speakers, and SOOO much to buy – LOTS of discounted merchandise!  DNA kits are on sale (very special prices!) and every kind of book, jewelry, t-shirts, etc. than you could imagine!!

SOOOO more to come!  In the coming weeks, I’ll give you some idea about who the BIG speakers will be, and about my workshops (YES – I’m a speaker), and if you want me to get you something from the vendors, we can make arrangements (starting thinking about DNA kits?)!
MORE TO COME!!   Join me at RootsTech 2019???

The Sandhills Are Alive With Music!

“The hills are alive with the sound” of Sandhill cranes!!  It’s obviously fall … and I did the best that I could on the pictures as I had to grab my cell phone FAST to rush outside.  Wow … the sound was deafening and there were HUNDREDS of Sandhill cranes, all squawking at once, getting into formation.  There were multiple “V” patterns, and birds flying to catch up.  As I stood on the porch snapping what I could, I could hear more coming and more in a farm field nearby …. VERY loud but eerie, surreal, primordial …. special.

When I hear, see such wonderful creatures, I think about the migratory journey they have ahead as they eat up what corn, grains they can from the surrounding farm fields.  I’ve always loved these beautiful and large birds and wanted to study them when we realized that they were so numerous here in our new home.

Wondering what to write about today, as I wanted to keep Lineage Journeys readers up on more than just the upcoming conferences and events that I’m doing, the sandhills provided a great way to break from writing, researching and keeping up with the business end of the work.  I wanted therefore to share a great book I found that has tremendously beautiful photographs AND tells the story of the struggles that sandhill cranes have with habitat encroachment, pesticides, and more.  On Ancient Wings:  The Sandhill Cranes of North America by Michael Forsberg is the book that gave me a perspective that increased my joy of them all the more, as I’d like to see what I can do locally to help them.   The book is linked here and in the title above as I found the book on Amazon (there are other great field guide-type of books too!)  if you might be interested in learning.

The reason that I am thinking about this, writing about this?  Maybe because I’m a genealogist or because I’m such a nature-lover, these birds are a fascination to me.  As a genealogist, I wonder whether my ancestors had the opportunity to witness such a spectacle, if their farms had these graceful birds feeding there before setting off for the south.  My Québec ancestors were farmers almost entirely (some were woodworkers) so I think about what I just saw and how ancient these birds are (I think I read somewhere they they are millions of years old, from fossil evidence!), wondering if they were part of the lives of my people in Québec.  With the St. Lawrence and other waterways in the region that my families’ farms were located (most recently, my ancestors are from Maskinongé, Québec and around both Québec City, Montréal and back into Acadia), it is certainly likely.  What did they think?  Did they stop from their farming just as I stopped from my work to look UP?

As I think about and work to write the stories of my ancestors, I want to include content about their day-to-day lives like the sounds of the sandhill cranes or the weather patterns (like the very severe rains that we’ve been having this year!) that impacted their survival.  It’s not about the dates for me – births, marriages, deaths – but it’s about what they DID, who they were friends with, the music and foods that were important, and the struggles and joys they experienced.

I hope they experienced the sound I heard this morning – the sandhills’ music of life.