MGS had a winning Spring Workshop.

I attended the Maine Genealogical Society (MGS) DNA Workshop last weekend. I was impressed with the conference organization and agenda.

The logistics were excellent. Registration was easy; the conference program booklet was done well with a few extra blank pages for notes. I don’t know how many people were there, but I’d guess a couple hundred. The venue, The Augusta Elks Club, was adequate for the event, and the food was good. The MGS bookstore people were there. If you have ancestors from Maine, the MGS Bookstore probably has a book or two that can augment your research. Also, the Maine Historical Society had folks there promoting the society.

However, the real reason for my attending was to see Blaine Bettinger (@Blaine_5) speak. I had never seen Blaine before, but I have used several of his genetic genealogy charts for years. Because I have respected his work for several years, I was excited to meet him in person and hear him speak. I was not disappointed. Blaine was energetic all day and kept the audience engaged and interested. As the day progressed on his topics got more and more advanced.

His first topic was “Introduction to DNA for Genealogists” and he explained the types of chromosomes (X, Y, Mitochondrial, and autosomal) and the tests for each of them. He also went through inheritance and what each of the tests might show you.

Mitochondrial DNA
Picture : by Emmanuel Douzery
[CC BY-SA 4.0]via Wikimedia Commons

His second session was “Using mtDNA and Y-DNA to Explore Your Genealogy.” He explained Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), what HVR1 & HVR2 tests are about and what a full genome test is. He also provided information about how mtDNA test results may be used to solve family mysteries. Then he moved on to Y-DNA testing. He described STR (short tandem repeat) testing versus SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) testing. I understand the STR explanations fairly well, but I got lost in the SNP stuff, again. I’ve listened to other people speak about SNPs, I didn’t understand them either. One of these days, I’ll get it.

Again, he spoke about using the test results to solve family mysteries. As you may know from reading my blog, in my case, I was able to use Y-DNA results to be certain that “Roberts” surnamed individuals were on my paternal line. See: My Paternal Brick Wall and Finding Family … tools to determine my biological father and half-siblings for details.

After lunch, Blaine continued with “Using Autosomal DNA to Solve Family Mysteries.” Besides the basics of what Autosomal DNA is, he reminded us that we have two family trees. A Genealogical Family Tree and a Genetic Family Tree. The chance of matching a first or second cousin is really high (over 99%), but the chance of matching a fifth cousin might be as low as 10%. That is to say that only one in ten of your fifth cousins may hold a DNA string that you also inherited. That is understandable, on average a 5th cousin would match only 3.32cM or .0488% of a match.
(See http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics for details.)

Blaine Bettinger
Photo used by permission

Blaine’s 4th talk of the day was about “Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze your DNA.” This talk was an intermediate session with a close look at some of GEDMatch’s tools. Besides looking at the various matches available, but also looked at phasing and a tool he runs on everyone he imports into GEDMatch, the “Are Your Parents Related” tool, which answers questions regarding homozygosity that can skew your other results. He also talked about Lazarus and triangulation tools that GEDMatch has.

Although Blaine took questions throughout his presentations regarding issues at that point, he also had a more formal Question and Answers session at the end of the conference using Q&A cards written during the conference.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. I thought Blaine Bettinger was a great speaker. He kept to the topics. His slides were legible and decipherable from across the room. I would go out of my way to attend future conferences where he is a speaker.

To learn more about Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., see his Genetic Genealogist website. His website includes a biography page, a presentations page, and a “Contact Me” page. I’m sure you will enjoy having him as a speaker for your conference and your attendees will learn a lot.

On May 21st, I’ll be going to the “Third Annual Southern Maine Genealogy Conference” sponsored by the Greater Portland Chapter (GPC) of the Maine Genealogical Society. This conference will be in Portland, ME, (much closer to me) and will feature D. Joshua Taylor of Who Do You Think You Are? fame (no known relationship). Another fantastic day of genealogical programming is scheduled. I’m looking forward to listening to him talk. You can register for this conference on the GPC-MGS website.

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Maine Genealogical Society – 2014 Annual Conference

Maine Genealogical Society – Annual Conference – Review

Maine Genealogical Society
Logo
I had the opportunity to attend my first Maine Genealogical
Society (MGS) event last Saturday.  I
joined the MGS about a month after moving to Maine but hadn’t had the
opportunity to attend any of the local events. 
So, I registered to attend the Annual Conference on September 13, 2014 in
Brewer, Maine, as my first event.
I needed to get up early as Brewer is just over two hours
away driving and I wanted to make registration before 8:30 so I wasn’t rushed
for the opening session. I made it there with no problems.  Because it was my first long trip in the new
Jeep, I had the opportunity to try out the Adaptive Cruise Control.  Love it!
MGS Pin
After registering, I wandered around the vendor’s area.  Picked up one of the Society’s pins.  You can order them from their website also.  
I was kind of taken aback by the attitude of
a couple of the DAR representatives that were there.  I got the sense that if my wife were to apply
for DAR all the documents and work needed to be done by her and that I couldn’t
do it for her.  Someone, please tell me
I’m wrong in that feeling. I am yet to apply to any lineage society and figured that the DAR, on behalf of my wife, would be one of the first I attempted.  I guess it might be the SAR instead. 
The opening, Keynote address, was by Thomas Jones, PhD,
author of Mastering Genealogical Proof
published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). I’m a member of the NGS
so I’ve been seeing their promotions for the book and it has been on my list of
“books I’d like to get,” so I purchased a copy at the MGS Annual Conference. 
Thomas Jones, PhD,
CG, CGI, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
The keynote address was “Can a Complex Research Problem be
Solved Solely Online?” The bottom line answer is, as you might expect, “Well,
maybe.”  That said, Dr. Jones’ delivery
was excellent.  He was very personable
and very good at his presentation, being engaging, humorous, and clearly
knowledgeable.  He was clear that not
everything can be found on line but in some cases enough might be findable to
answer the question you have.  He had a
number of really good online resources, some of which I didn’t have
before.  I loved the presentation.
After the keynote address, the conference split into two
tracks. I went next door to listen to Nancy Lecompte speak about Genetic
Genealogy.  The conference technical
folks had some problems isolating the speakers that each of the presenters
would be talking only to their room of attendees. They finally got it
straightened out after a few minutes and the presentations began.
Nancy did a very good job with her presentation. In the fast
changing field of genetic genealogy, she appeared to be up to date, which is a
task in itself, and provided a smooth presentation with information that
supported both individuals with both novice and intermediate level understanding of
DNA Testing.  She provided a link to her slides, which is
something I really appreciate because it means I can pay closer attention to
the speaker and not spend as much time taking notes.  Although I did take quite a few notes at her presentation.
After an okay lunch I had a chance to talk with some folks and make a couple friends.  Then the two training tracks started again.
In both of the sessions I attended presentations by Dr. Thomas Jones.  The first was “Debunking Misleading Records.”
He did an excellent job of showing how to detect, compare, and disprove
misleading or erroneous records.  In my
personal practice, I have taken to keeping all records, even if misleading. I
generally then identify one of the same items as “preferred.” If “prove”
something as misleading, I enter a note concerning why the information is in
error and I mark it private so I don’t accidentally share the error with
others.
The last presentation I attended was “Proved? – Five Ways to
Prove Who Your Ancestor Was (Some Reliable and Others Not Reliable).”  As you might expect three of the ways were
unacceptable, one might be close to okay, but really only one was fully
acceptable because it was the only one that met The Genealogical Proof
Standard.  The approach is to weigh
conflicting evidence and resolve the conflicts using the five cornerstones to
“The Genealogical Proof Standard,”

reasonably exhaustive search,
complete, accurate source citations,
skilled analysis and correlation of the data
resolution of contradictory evidence, and 
a soundly reasoned conclusion.

There was a fairly quick wrap up of the day’s activities, a
short business meeting, and drawings for door prizes.  Needless to say, I didn’t win anything, I
never do, but I stayed to the end.
It looks like the next big thing with the MGS is the Southern Maine Genealogy
Conference
to be held May 30th, 2015 in Portland.  I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking
forward to attending some of my local (Greater Portland) chapter’s meetings
over the next few months.