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One day to go for DNA

It’s conference time again, and hundreds of genealogists are already on their way to or happily ensconced in Pittsburgh for the 2017 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

There are events today for librarians, and Society Day is tomorrow, plus there’s an evening river cruise as a kickoff social event tomorrow night.

So… what kinds of goodies can we expect in Pittsburgh? Well, yesterday, The Legal Genealogist went through some favorite topics (law, genealogical ethics, and cool record sets we wouldn’t have but for the law).

But there’s one more favorite topic, isn’t there?

Yes, there will be plenty to choose from if what you want to know about is DNA testing and how to use DNA evidence in genealogy.

Starting tomorrow, in Society Day, you can hear Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, present DNA and Your Genealogical Society in session W-132 at 5 p.m. The focus is on the way societies can use DNA to attract new members and engage existing members with much-needed educational programming,

The main conference opens on Thursday morning, and the DNA sessions, panel discussions and workshops we can choose from include:

Thursday, August 31

11:00 AM, T-206, Getting Started with DNA, presented by Janice Lovelace Ph.D.
Autosomal, mitochondrial, Y-DNA— what do these terms mean and where do you start? This session focuses on the basics of genetic genealogy as it takes a beginning look at DNA testing for the genealogist.

2:00 PM, T-217, Organizing Your Genetic Genealogy, presented by Diahan Southard
In this lecture we will discuss various methods for keeping track of your DNA matches—especially your autosomal DNA matches. We will first discuss what kind of information you need to keep track of, and why. We will cover the basics of Excel, Word, and e-mail. We will talk about tools like Evernote and Transpose that can help you standardize your organization. This lecture will leave you armed and dangerous, ready to identify your best autosomal DNA matches and begin to move forward with the real genealogy business of making connections.

3:30 PM, T-224, Advanced Third-Party Tools, presented
by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD
Together we will examine some of the advanced tools from GEDmatch, DNAGedcom, and others. We will also examine some of the new third-party tools that have launched in the past year or so.

5:00 PM, T-231, DNA and the Golden Rule: The Law and Ethics of Genetic Genealogy, presented by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
Whose permission is needed to test a child or an adult unable to consent? Who owns our DNA? What can we disclose about a cousin who has tested? The rules of the road for the ethical challenges facing genealogists interested in using DNA evidence as part of their family history research. Learn how applying the Golden Rule can guide us through many if not most of the situations in which we as genetic genealogists find ourselves. (Note: Program change due to Hurricane Harvey)

Friday, September 1

• 8:00 a.m.-noon, F-344, workshop ($): Connecting the DNA Dots, presented by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, Angie Bush MS, and Diahan Southard.
This workshop is designed to help participants maximize the use of their DNA test results to answer genealogical questions. There will be discussion of types of DNA tests available and examples of genealogical questions they may help to answer. Participants will also learn how to review and evaluate their own results, join appropriate surname or haplogroup projects, and upload their data to other testing services and websites. Lastly, participants will determine other family members to test and how those tests may benefit their genealogical research. (Note: $60, and pre-registration required but a few slots often open up so check when you register to see if slots are available)

Saturday, September 2

• 8:00 a.m.-noon, S-446, workshop ($): Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls, presented by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, and Angie Bush MS.
See required prerequisites at This is a four-hour, hands-on workshop designed to help participants maximize the use of various third-party tools and websites for autosomal DNA. We will discuss the in-depth use of spreadsheets for organization, the tools available at DNAGedcom (ADSA, GWorks), Tier 1 tools available on GEDMatch, and Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Mapper. Workshop participants should have accounts with GEDMatch and DNA GEDcom, and have multiple sets of autosomal raw data to work with. Each participant should come to class with a research goal in mind. (Note: $60, pre-requisites (check here) and pre-registration required but a few slots often open up so, if you have the pre-requisites, check when you register to see if slots are available)

8:00 AM, S-407, Working with your DNA Matches, presented by Anna Swayne
Do you want to learn more about what you can do with your DNA matches? Get tips and tricks on how DNA matching works and how you can leverage the tools at AncestryDNA to answer your genealogy questions.

9:30 AM, S-415, Making Family Discoveries Using AncestryDNA, presented by Anna Swayne
Learn about how DNA works, what’s new at AncestryDNA, and how to get the most out of your DNA matches. We’ll provide an overview of AncestryDNA and how it can help validate your research and find new leads.

2:00 PM, S-427, Three Powerful Ways to Find Your Best DNA Matches, presented by Diahan Southard
Anyone with an autosomal DNA test likely has a long list of potential relatives. But how do you make the most of those matches? Which matches are worth your time and effort? Learn to use genetic and genealogical clues to filter and sort your matches to make the most progress with your test results.

3:30 PM, S-435, Panel Session: Ask the DNA Experts, moderated by Angie Bush, with Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD, Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL, and Diahan Southard
Ask DNA experts your questions about DNA testing for genealogy. What does the future hold? What ethical and legal issues should be considered when DNA testing? What tests, tools, and tricks do these experts use that may help in your research?

5:00 PM, S-443, The Combined Power of Y-DNA and Autosomal DNA: A Case Study, presented by Diahan Southard
Using a case study, learn how Y-DNA and autosomal DNA testing helped one family to better understand their own past and gave them incentive to reach out and connect with others. We will cover methodology and the sociology of this kind of situation and best practices for you and your family as you strive to forge bonds with others in a non-traditional way.

Hope to see you in Pittsburgh!

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