FGS 2019 Conference Takeaways

I spent the last 6 days in sweltering, melting, sauna like, Washington DC in the comfort of the luxurious Omni Shorham at the FGS Conference 2019. Here are my takeaways…

The Venue

The Luxurious Omni Shoreham, was spectacular in architeture, hospitality and location at Woodley park. The proximity to Woodley Park was a must have since the hotels restaurants and bars (under new management?) seemed woefully unprepared for this flock of genealogists.

Since I spent the majority of my time in the exhibit hall talking about mitoYDNA, WikiTree, DNAGedcom and Genetic.Family, I can only speak first hand about how well the exhibit hall worked. Second hand I can say that everyone I talked to who attended sessions mentioned they learned a great deal and were being spurred on by the sessions to dig deeper and work smarter on thier genealogy.

The Exhibit Hall itself presented challenges for the organizers, yet those challenges did not translate to anything but a great experience for our booth. Our biggest challenge was very poor lighting which was over come by the generosity of the exhibitors close to us – Thank you Mary Kay from Our Fun Tree and Angie and Louise from The National Institute For Genealogical Studies.

mitoYDNA booth
Rob and Mags attempting to illuminate the booth.

Randy Whited worked tirelessly to make sure the exhibitors had what they needed and was in the hall, I think, for the entire conference. Thank You to Randy for being very present.

The volunteers and conference organizers were also very presnt. Thank you to the FGS board, Pat Richley-Erickson, Steve Fulton, Jen Baldwin and the rest for  your hard work to make things work for all attendees.

Support for mitoYDNA.org

Rob at the Booth
Rob talking Genetic.Family to booth visitors.

Rob Warthen and DNAGedcom hosted mitoYDNA at the DNAGedcom booth and at the conference. Which is a pretty big deal. Really a big deal to have that kind of support for a brand new, non-profit (run totally on contributions and support from the genealogy community) organization. Thank You!

mitoYDNA took the opportunity afforded us to introduce the Genealogy Community to this new, free, accessible YDNA and mtDNA database. It was our first public appearance since swinging open our doors for uploads, matching and analysis.

Mags and Rob
Rob and Mags being shown how to get integration with Family Search rolling.

We had great conversations about privacy and our philosphy of making this database availabe to everyone while still being able to provide privacy to our users as well. We talked about how Y and mtDNA can be used to smash brickwalls. We talked about how acedemic researchers can use the data to show how we are all connected.

We geeked out with people who came to us with ideas for tools and analysis for the database. I am talking serious Geeking going on at all hours.

FGS Conference 2019 was a great first public appearance for mitoYDNA and the support and good words we got from so many was incredible!

WikiTree In The House (or I am home where ever I am)

The very first person I saw upon arriving at the conference was WikiTreer Star Kline! We both screamed each other’s names when we saw each other and hugged it out – it was our first time seeing each other in the real world (as opposed to the virtual world of WikiTree). What a great welcome!

WikiTreers stopped to say hello everywhere. Even in the ladies room! Some made multiple trips by the booth to ask questions or just to be “WikiTree” at the conference.

mitoYDNA presentation
Mags talking mitoYDNA at the FTDNA booth venue.

FTDNA graciously asked me to do a booth session/talk and WikiTreer’s came out in force to see my WikiTree infused presentation on mitoYDNA.

As I was getting into my uber to leave for home, WikiTreer Glenn York came over to see me off (and to tell me we are double cousins!). WikiTree is always home where ever I go!

Some Statistics

Here are some interesting numbers from FGS 2019:

mitoYDNA had 25 to 30 new site visitors each day of the conference.

We added approximately 240+/- kits to the mitoYDNA Database.

I talked to every single society who were exhibitors at the conference and to quite a few who were not official exhibitors, which was the goal of mitoYDNA being at the conference. Societies who have promised to mention the mitoYDNA is open and avialable? 100+/-

There is no hard number for the number of WikiTreer’s who are re-engergied about working our great big ole shared tree at Wikitree, nor are there numbers on new WikiTreers, but there certainly are (I know this because I had people coming by to ask me questions about their first profile work).

People who were sent to the FTDNA booth for Y and mtDNA upgrades? 10 – 12 (million, he he).

People who were sent to YSEQ for Y and mtDNA tests? No numbers on that but a few at least.

South Carolina Peeps in attendance? I think half the conference were my fellow Carolinians! Loved getting to meet new friends and to see old friends from “down home” – especially the contingent from SCGS who were like light for this Carolinian-Canadian moth. Can’t wait to see you again next July for the 2020 SCGS 48th Annual Summer Workshop, July 10-11.

Granma’s Genes Hugs given away? Way too many to count!

 

mitoYDNA, THE new Y-DNA and mtDNA Database

mitoYDNA, THE new Y-DNA and mtDNA Database is here. What is mitoYDNA? How can it help the genealogy community? And many more questions, answered.

What is a Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA database and why do we need it?

Y-DNA – is the DNA for males that follows the patrilineal line back, father to son, for a very long time – thousands of years.

mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – is the DNA that follows the matrilineal line back, mother to her children, which is passed on by only her female children to their children, for a very long time – thousands of years.

For years anyone who tested their Y-DNA and mtDNA could post their results to the databases YSearch and MitoSearch to do comparisons, matching and analysis. If you had a Y-DNA or a mtDNA test you could compare and match with people from various DNA testing companies. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) caused FTDNA to make the decision to close these two databases – time and money to get each and every person in the former databases up to the new privacy standards was too expensive and time consuming to attempt.

How and why did mitoYDNA get started?

I spoke with FTDNA in 2017 about YSearch and mitoSearch and its future since there were lots of rumors floating around regarding it’s possible closure. I was told that indeed the sites would be closing.

As someone who uses DNA daily in my own business, and having used YSearch and MitoSearch for my own family mysteries – especially using mitochondrial DNA to solve an adoption mystery (or tale of adoption) in my own family – I knew firsthand how important having a free and accessible Y-DNA and mtDNA database was to my research. I know how important a third-party Y and mtDNA database is to DNA researchers in the genealogical community.

Over the course of 2017, a team came together to build and create mitoYDNA.org.

Our Mission

mitoYDNA.org is a website for uploading Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA to create a YDNA and mitochondrial DNA database. The site also offers DNA matching, analysis and tools to help our users/volunteers further their genealogical research. mitoYDNA is:

  • Crowdsourced – www.mitoYDNA.org is volunteer driven.
  • Free – www.mitoYDNA.org’s use will be at no cost to the users/volunteers, though donations are encouraged to defer hardware, facility and administrative costs.
  • Accessible – www.mitoYDNA.org will be accessible to all.

501(c)3 non-profit company

mitoYDNA Ltd., the 501(c)3 non-profit company behind the design, implementation, and ongoing upgrade and maintenance of mitoYDNA.org, is a group of collaborative genetic genealogists who believe genealogists can have access to a YDNA and mtDNA database which includes Y and mtDNA testing from all available companies today and those of the future. mitoYDNA Ltd. is based on the principles genealogical collaboration and continues to work to keep mitoYDNA:

  • Straightforward
  • Current
  • Expanding

mitoYDNA Home Page

Registration

Using the menu bar for navigation, click on Register.

mitoYDNA reg

Fill in all of the fields (password help is listed below the password fields) and be sure to read the TOS/Privacy Statement and click the checkbox at the bottom of the page to verify you have read them – they are very important.

Once you have registered “Kits” and “Tools” will be added to the navigation menu at the top of the page.

Create 

Click Kits on the Menu Bar and it will take you to the Kits You Manage Page. From there click on the create button to create a kit. When you create a kit, you will download your results in a CSV file for YDNA, from your testing company to your computer then upload it to mitoYDNA. For mtDNA you will download a chrome extension (for Google Chrome) which will download your mtDNA results from your testing company to your computer then you can upload it to mitoYDNA. For more on how to download your Y-DNA and mtDNA and upload to mitoYDNA please visit our FAQ/Help page.

What Files does mitoYDNA take?

The Y-DNA files are the Short Tandem Repeat (STR) marker values (alelles) and represent your Haplotype (the set of DNA alelle values; not to be confused with Haplogroup) . mitoYDNA does not process Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) data! 

Data Processed

The chart below shows the current status of data processing capability for each company at mitoYDNA.   Click on the Company name to get instructions on how to get the files you need to upload to mitoYDNA (if currently processed).   Abbreviations: 

  • CSV – Comma Separated Values
  • Ch. Ext. – Chrome Extension

Company – Help File

mtDNA Y-DNA
 FASTA CSV HVR1/2 CSV Ch.Ext. Manual  CSV  Manual
FamilyTreeDNA      
Ancestry      
YSEQ        
Sorenson            
Genebase            
Oxford            
NatGeo            

WikiTree Integration

mitoYDNA ID’s appear in WikiTree and can be used to view comparisons on mitoYDNA.

WikiTree Integration

Instructions for Y-DNA and WikiTree
Instructions for mtDNA and WikiTree

Full Launch

We rolled-out all the tools, matching and comparisons we have planned for phase I of mitoYDNA.org and are ending a very successful beta testing run.

Since we are crowdsourced, we are getting suggestions and input from our facebook users group about the future of mitoYDNA.

Have fun, join the conversation and let us know if you need help, either in the Facebook Users Group, or via info at mitoYDNA.org.

Roots Tech 2019 and Flying With a Cello

Roots Tech 2019 was an absolute blast this year. It had a whole different vibe with fewer complaints about lines and how to find things and well, just about anything I heard complaints about from last year was fixed. The Roots Tech folk must have done some good listening to their visitors from last year. Good job all the way around!

Frenetic Pace

At the start of my adventure I was amped-up for an incredibly busy long weekend in Salt Lake City. The Expo Hall was open on Wednesday night from 6-8 and I flew in at 5. Swooosh to the hotel to change into some WikiTree Orange and off to endure the carpet covered concrete floors of the Salt Palace – wait, I just complained. Apologies to Roots Tech because there is absolutely nothing they can do about the floors in the Salt Palace. Of course we could have purchased an upgrade in the floor covering of our booth (this is a discussion between we WikiTree Volunteers EVERY year at Roots Tech).

WikiTreer’s at the booth!!

The Booth was really an intensive “how to connect” to our great big ole shared tree with people this year. We had life-sized cardboard cut-outs of King Henry VIII and Elvis pelvis himselvis. People were all GaGa over both

WikiTree Team Member Sarah Rojas, the King and a Dino.

of them! I got to do a demo-stage presentation on WikiTree and connections. W etook the cut-outs over for the stage but kept Elvis turned so he couldn’t be seen until a big reveal. We had connection issues – note to self, order a macro HDMI connector – The Big Reveal of Elvis caused a few screams from the crowd. Of course, the MC for the Demo Stage had to say, “Elvis has left the building”.Love doing the Demo Stage presentations for WikiTree at Roots Tech.

Networking

We all networked, which makes Roots Tech a frenetic place for Professional Genealogists. Different breakfasts, lunches, coffee hours, cocktail hours and dinners were planned every single day. Every single minute was a meeting of some kind, whether it be with a booth visitor or with another Professional Genealogist or Freind.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and closeup
Roberta Estes and me showing off my new Helix necklace. Thanks Roberta!

WikiTree’s total membership grew by 343 since Wednesday. WikiTree Volunteers who never see each other or have never met got a chance to collaborate at the WikiTree booth. It was great fun AND exhausting. I heard that some of our Volunteers stayed up chatting to the wee hours of the morning. Me? My roommate and I were both east coasters and were asleep by the wee hours of the evening – every evening!

Grandma’s Genes

I spent a lot of time not promoting Grandma’s Genes, but just being Grandma’s Genes because that is who I am. Many of you came by the booth or stopped me in my wanderings to get selfie’s or a quick question or a wee chat or a hug. I also got some inspiration for a couple of future Grandma’s Genes Blogs. Thanks very much to everyone who suggested blogs or reminded me that I wanted to write about something. Loved seeing you!

mitoYDNA

I spent a lot of time not promoting mitoYDNA. But we did have a presence at Roots Tech. DNAGedcom and Genetic Family graciously let us have cards and information at their booth. Rob, Gale, Peter, Jamie and I suggested mitoYDNA to people who had questions about our work to provide a crowdsourced, free and accessible mitochondrial and YDNA database. Gale was a great promoter all weekend and had an opportunity to mentioned mitoYDNA in his lectures. Gale created a bit of a buzz as well as being a walking billboard.

If you missed the announcement, we have added two superstars to our team: Jonny Perl (DNA Painter) and Kevin Borland (Borland Genetics).

Keven Borland, Gale French, Rob Warthen, Mags Gaulden and Jonny Perl

It’s exciting to see interest in mitoYDNA increase. We are just as excited as you are to move on to matching and beta testing. If you are interested in keeping up with mitoYDNA check out our mitoYDNA Facebook Users Group.

Doing DNA Right!

Flying with a Cello

On one of the flights home we had a delay in our flight by 30 minutes because of weather and another delay in forty minutes for a Cello. Yes a Cello. What?! You’ve never flown with your Cello?

Well, you can’t put your Cello into the baggage hold of an aircraft. You must purchase a seat for your Cello. You can’t just buckle your cello to the seat, the airline must cargo net your cello to your seat. The cargo netting is installed by removing all surrounding passengers, then an airline baggage specialist crawls all over all the area seats to get the cargo net applied correctly. Fascinating.

I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to get mobbed for being insensitive. Not sure I would have gotten away with the, “but I need this for my blog” excuse.

Roots Tech London

Apparently, I will be hoping the pond again in October of this year to be at Roots Tech London! How about that! Can’t wait.