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!

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 ….

French-Canadian Migrations into the Midwest and Beyond

The time is coming soon – the National Genealogical Society’s Family History Conference is coming in May 2018!!  Can’t wait – AND I’m presenting two sessions:  French-Canadian Migrations into the Midwest and Beyond and Native, First Nations, Indian: Research Indigenous Peoples.   Here’s the recent post from the NGS Blog – http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/french-canadian-migration-midwest-beyond/R

The French-Canadian session is Thursday, May 3 at 11 a.m. and the Native session is Friday, May 4th at 4 p.m..

Registration is open AND volunteer positions are available – you can get in free to the conference, based in how/where you volunteer.  There is information here to guide you …. http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/volunteer/  There are opportunities still available and the vendor hall is open to you as well, where you can learn about new programs, mobile apps, obtain books and software and network with other family histories, speakers and professionals across the field.

Join me?!  And please be sure to find me and say hello!

RootsTech 2018 – A retro view

It’s a little under a week after I first arrived in Salt Lake City for my first RootsTech – the 2018 conference was beginning the next morning, and my presentation too. As it has been a week since it began AND I’ve been home since Monday night, I’ve rested, unpacked and recovered. So in this review of my experience, there is a lot to cover.


First, there is the sheer size of the event – OMG!!! Over 14,000 of your best friends … well, ok, I didn’t meet them all. A special mobile app that linked the attendees on site with their FamilySearch tree gave all of us the opportunity to find cousins!!! I had 212 cousins at the height of the conference and was able to meet up with two of them. How exciting!! The mobile app showed you how you were related – all of mine where in the French-Canadian lines on my tree. SOOOO fun! I hope they continue doing that because we all enjoyed seeing how we connected.

I met the winner of my free RootsTech pass competition – Kimberly Savage arrived at my second workshop on Saturday to introduce herself to me and reported that she’d been having a great time. Here is Kimberly and I when we met!! Glad you had fun, Kimberly.

And then there were the presentations – which I was THRILLED went so well. Acadian & French-Canadian Research and You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Apps for Genealogists. By my estimate, attended by between 150 and 200 people, the participants asked great questions, were engaged, came up before and after the presentation to connect with me and I’ll hope the information helped them.

Being an Ambassador too, had some great perks! Here’s the group of fellow bloggers (GeneaBloggers TRIBE) in the Media Hub where we interviewed speakers and keynote presenters, had a place to write our social media and blog posts, and rest. Yea, you needed a place to rest …. for this first-timer, it was very overwhelming, in a good way!

So heaven for a week looked like constant, nonstop conversation, learning and content about genealogy – cousin conversations, stories, researching and how to connect it all. I think I’ll be on a “high” for a while because it was so great for me. I sooooo hope I get to do it again.

Speaking at RootsTech 2018!

With a room of people, microphone checks, an interpreter and a whole bunch of enthusiastic and interesting people, my workshop began at 9:30 a.m. !!!

There were great questions, support from friends and even a French expert in the room (thankfully, I didn’t know until later, right?!) who told me that I did an excellent job and that he enjoyed my presentation …. whoa!!

The audience had some great questions and they all provided their emails and a list of the surnames they are researching so that we can help them with their research!  A document, listing all of them with these names, is being shared with them all in the hopes that they will make progress toward documenting their French-Canadian and Acadian families.

It was fun to be presenting to an international group – there were people from all over the United States but also Canada, France, Brazil ….. and those are the ones that I know!  And afterwards, people were stopping me in the hall to continue to ask questions – if you are reading this and have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at judynmuhn@gmail.com.  I LOVE doing genealogy!!!

The day ended marvelously – with research!!!

Two of my clients are benefiting from my presence in Salt Lake, just a small walk from the Family History Library!  Rows on rows of microfilm, digital content, books, maps and so much more!  I haven’t been here since 2001 I believe and the updates/renovations/new art are beautiful, easy-to-use and empowering.

A truly sweet and helpful volunteer showed me the new way to make copies, create images from online content and even gave me a print card WITH MONEY ON IT!!!  She was awesome – and that has been my experience here at the FHL for years – volunteers eager and ready to help you.  She shared some amazing spiritual things with me – we had a lovely conversation.  What a blessing she was!  And I found things – lots of things for my clients.  Can’t wait to share.

Arrived at RootsTech … wow!

OMG …. this is AMAZING!!  RootsTech 2018 … I made it and I’m so excited!!!

While it is just Tuesday night, I’m attending the Media Dinner, sponsored by FamilySearch, and an opportunity to get an advance look at what will be happening during the week.  In addition to being an Ambassador ( you post stuff on social media), as a Speaker and participant, I want to be “in the know” about it all as a First-Timer!!!

Meeting up with friends is a big, fun part of the conference and having some time to settle in was great.  The lines, while long, at registration moved fast AND I got to go to the really short (no one ahead of me!) VIP line to check in.

Then the Media Dinner!!  Some tools here at the conference are the overall conference app – guides you to the workshops, helps with what is in Expo Hall, and more!  You can see a list of attendees and connect with them if you are tracking someone down …. and who the keynote speakers are, where there is food, the day’s happenings, alerts and more!!!

A REALLY fun thing this year – using your family tree from FamilySearch to link to all of the attendees at the conference who have linked their trees – and you get a list of everyone attending who is your COUSIN!!!!!  OMG!!  I have over 200 people here who are related to me (mostly through my French-Canadians!) and I’ve reached out to see if we can meet …. stay tuned for possible pictures of “Cousin Connections”!!

We saw a teaser film of Relative Race too!!!  It’s from BYU TV … while you can get it easily here in Utah, the rest of us can view it on Google TV and other programs that pull from around the country.  The show is based on four teams of two family members.  They provide their DNA which is tested.  Family members from around the country then are found and the teams are given clues and maps (NO GPS allowed!!) to find the locations of relatives in the United States and must drive there the fastest to win.  When they knock on the door at the address provided, the person that opens the door is a previously-unknown relative!  It kinda got me choked up watching it as some of the meetings were very impactful.  I’m looking for this when I get home!

Well, that’s it for day one at RootsTech 2018!!!  Watch for more!

RootsTech 2018 is coming!!!


Yes, that is ME – Speaker! I’m SOOOOOO excited! Offering two classes – Acadians & French-Canadians in North America and You CAN Take It With You! Mobile Technology for Genealogy. Can’t wait! I leave Tuesday and begin the incredible, the scary, the fun, exciting and learning opportunity that is being a speaker at the LARGEST genealogy conference in the world! Yes, you heard me .. the world!

Roots Tech 2018

RootsTech 2018 has over 300 classes, keynote speakers, an Innovation Showcase, networking, learning, meeting new people – I’m already hooking up with some likely cousins (all French-Canadians and Acadians are somehow related!) and a client from my Lineage Journeys work. And a helpful and kind participant in one of my workshops who is also an Acadian descendant….and friends from here in Michigan. And more … right? This is aligning to be so cool … can you tell that I’m excited! Watch for updates!

Thank you, GeneaBloggers!

THANK YOU to GeneaBloggers for accepting my blog into your great list of fellow genealogy bloggers!!  I was featured TODAY – January 23, 2018 – and this will go down in my history with Lineage Journeys as another NEW OPPORTUNITY to share with so many in a new way!

Future posts here will include information, resources and links to content that I’m creating for Acadian, French-Canadian, Native/First Nations/Indian or Indigenous research, and locality information for Michigan, Ontario, Quebec and more!  Lineage Journeys provides the unique perspective of the ancient spiritual traditions of North America and Europe along with research-based documentation of lineages, family histories and immigration pathways that define the heritage of the customer’s family.

So STAY TUNED for more!!!  And thank you, again, GeneaBloggers!!!

Changes and Journeys

Genealogy Forms

It wasn’t easy for our ancestors, and it’s not easy for us. Change. It is constant and sometimes we are easily able to adapt and other times, it is just hard as we’ve settled into a way of being or doing that we don’t want to shift from.

In my work at Lineage Journeys, or when I reflect on the journeys that my ancestors have taken – those who came from Europe in less than wonderful conditions on a ship, those who were the Native people of North America and the moves that they had to make to deal with the influx of other tribal people or the Europeans – I realize that I have it SOOOOO much easier!

A friend of ours just left yesterday for medical school in another country. I heard from him today and he’s going through the initial stresses of the move – learning about the currency there, the costs of average supplies and food, and beginning to set up his life there. It’s not easy, of course, AND he’s alone with only our Facebook connection for conversation at this point (yes, we’ll use Skype or something later).

There’s a spiritual journey in all of this, and there’s the drawing on ancestral wisdom too in all of this. For our friend, his youth and inexperience are playing out while I can reflect on the changes that are happening for me with
work, family and internally. When I get into stress about my own challenges with change, I reflect on “what would my ancestors have done?” or “how mightthis grow me, spiritually?”. Both elements are “in play” and available for me todraw on if I remember not to freak out about what is happening. It’s all an illusion of my mind anyway!

Change is good, change is necessary, and change is hard.