The 2015 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Salt Lake City was a whirlwind of activity. Because of my commitment to work at the FGS Booth and the lure of the Family History Library, I only attended three sessions. But those three were jam-packed and worth every minute. Here are my FGS 2015 session highlights.
Getting the Most Out of Evidence
Thursday’s session was with the esteemed Dr. Thomas Jones. This was a methodology class and I find, with most methodology classes these days, that I get reminded of what I should do, rather than learning new material. Still these are important reminders and when the editor of the Q tells you what should do, then it is wise to take heed. My top three takeaways:
- Start with a focused research, then search broadly.
- Cite the source before you examine it. Citing the source helps you to understand it.
- Explain your conclusions in a fully-documented essay.
Gentlemen Judges: The Justices of the Peace
Judy Russell never disappoints; she has become one of my “must-see” speakers. I have some North Carolina relatives who were JPs, so I wanted to find out more about this role.
- Justice of the Peace was the court closest to the people; this is the judicial level that most of our ancestors would have come into contact with.
- Look to the law (of course!). The statutes for the time and place will tell you the qualifications for JP and what they were allowed to do.
- For North Carolina, at the state online archives, do a MARS search on “justice of the peace.” This will bring up a list of records, most of which are onsite in Raleigh.
Determining Kinship with DNA
This was my first time to hear Angie Bush speak and this was, hands-down, the best DNA presentation I have ever seen. I find most DNA talks to be way too basic, even if they are billed as intermediate or advanced. Not so with this one. Angie shared two case studies that were fabulous; I really wish she would write them up, so I could study her process in depth. I did not take a lot of notes in this session, because I was really listening, but here are my top takeaways:
- mtDNA full sequence – an exact match has a 50% chance of having a common ancestor in the last 5 generations (I’ve since upgraded my mtDNA to full sequence and added full-sequence to my dad’s kit).
- With autosomal, look for at least one segment that is at least 10 cM.
- When working on a problem, use the autosomal percentages on the ISOGG wiki and create hypotheses for where a match could fit. Then work the paper trail to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
FGS 2015 was a huge success and I very much enjoyed not only the sessions, but also re-connecting with many of my genealogy friends. If you were not able to attend, don’t fret. There is an Alaskan Cruise coming up in August-September. Alaska, genealogy, and the top speakers in the industry. . .what more could you want?