Snippets from the SCGS Jamboree

Going to a conference about your passion can be a really fun experience. It is wonderful to finally meet people who you have been emailing with and discussing important issues with online. Another favorite for me is the exhibit hall with vendors showing off their new and old stuff.

I had a great time at the SCGS Jamboree this year. Since I came home early, I am watching a talk streamed live about organizing my work space as I write this! The live stream is really well done. A small live image of the person is on the left and their slide is shown, much larger, on the right. Plus you can chat with the other folk watching. The live stream is available free, thanks to, until July 5 see

Richard and Kalani at the ISOGG booth

Richard and Kalani at the ISOGG booth

In order to pace myself at a conference, I try to limit myself to attending two presentations a day and spend the rest of the time schmoozing in the exhibit hall.

Two people who I have communicated extensively with online are pictured on the left in front of the ISOGG table.

Kalani Mondoy blogs about Polynesian DNA, which is tricky because it is so endogamous. His mother was adopted so he turned to DNA to find her biological family. Richard Weiss is a search angel and adoptee who is involved with including the building of their relationship calculator. Each has now found their biological families and both are Mayflower descendants!

Read on for some of my favorite snippets from the conference.

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It’s almost time for Jamboree!

The Southern California Genealogical Society puts on a wonderful genealogy conference every year in Burbank in early June. There are only a few days left to register so, unless you have done so already, head over to by May 22.

Thursday June 2 is DNA day and there are many terrific presenters and topics: Tim Janzten, Blaine Bettinger, Diahan Southard, Emily D. Aulicino, Katherine Borges, Jim Bartlett, David Dowell, Paul Woodbury and me to name a few. I will be giving my updated talk on DNA Triangulation as well as my Breaking Brick Walls talk. The full schedule is at

Friday morning there are a number of FREE events, including round tables led by experienced researchers both for DNA and genealogy. I will be hosting a DNA table about Triangulation.

The rest of the conference has numerous genealogy talks and a few more DNA presentations plus an exhibit hall of vendors (always one of my favorite parts). Since this is the year I plan to master German genealogy I was pleased to see that it is one of this year’s themes.

A particularly good feature is that you can sign up for a one-to-one consultation with an experienced researcher to help you with one of your genealogical problems, described towards the bottom of this page:

Hope to see you at Jamboree!

Rootstech Wrap Up

Rootstech is over and I am exhausted. This year I was up early enough to go to the keynote sessions almost every morning. Wow! In a huge hall we saw great multimedia presentations over many screens while listening to a star speaker. I particularly loved Paula Madison and her Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem; so of course I bought the kindle version of the book. [update: the pictures are better in the physical versions but it is still a great read]

Perhaps it is because of my work with adoptees and DNA that I so appreciated her story, but more likely it was just that she was terrific and the tale was so well told. I also got to see the short form of her documentary at the media dinner, definitely worth seeing.

My other favorite keynote speaker was David Isay and his StoryCorps. His concept is to get two people in a booth, facilitate their conversation, and record the result for posterity. I think the story I liked best was the one where the boy with Asperger’s interviews his mother – Sarah and Joshua. But every snippet he played for us brought tears to my eyes, the wild grandad, my son the veteran, and the boy who became close to the mother of the boy from the rival gang that he had killed.

And of course it was great to see A.J.Jacobs again and hear a report on the Global Family Reunion.

Usually my favorite things at Rootstech are the exhibit hall, networking with fellow genetic genealogists, and learning a few new things. This year I have to add to that the sensational MyHeritage after party (click here for the slideshow over at Geneabloggers) and the Keynote sessions. [Addendum: The keynotes and other recorded sessions are available at the Rootstech video archive]

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Will I see you at Rootstech next week?

It is almost time for Rootstech 2016, my favorite genealogy conference! Not a surprise that this event suits me since I am a techie who loves doing family history and DNA. Perhaps I also like the fact that it takes place in Salt Lake City next door to the Family History Library, a wonderful genealogy resource. You can find me there on level B1 looking at Norwegian bygdebuks whenever I have a bit of free time.

Speaker BadgeI will be giving a slightly advanced DNA talk late on Friday about how I have used triangulation to solve some of my family’s genealogical questions. Don’t come if you do not know what an autosomal DNA test is. But you will have plenty of chances to learn about genetics and genealogy earlier in the week from other speakers at Rootstech.

Triangulation is an incredibly important tool in the genetic genealogists arsenal. It is our own “proof standard.”  I gave this class for my local DNA group and at the SCGS Jamboree DNA day last year, as I will again this year. This talk does change a little each time and I am always improving the slides. I was very pleased that so many people told me afterwards that they felt they finally understood this difficult concept. Going through a few cases step by step seems to be very helpful for most people. One of the stories I use is how we proved Kristine really is a WOLD cousin which is written up here in my triangulation post.

But there are many other interesting DNA talks by some of my favorite presenters, Bennet Greenspan (founder of Family Tree DNA), Tim Janzen, Diane Southard, and a number of the folk from the DNA team. Did you notice that 23andme is missing?

If you get to Salt Lake City early, you may want to hear Israel Pickholtz, the author of Endogamy. He is going to give a talk about Jewish DNA on the Tuesday night before the conference for the Utah Jewish Genealogy Society.

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Sale at Ancestry until Monday night

ALERT! DNA testing is on sale for $69 for the four days after Thanksgiving starting now. Also you can save 20% on gift memberships at– scroll down that same page to see the offer. Click on it for even more membership offers.

Addendum [29 nov]: To see a sample of what you get with an Ancestry DNA test read this old post of mine: