RootsTech 2019 Playbook for the Hail Mary of Genealogy—DNA

RootsTech is coming to the Salt Lake Convention Center February 27 through March 2, 2019 and preparation is a key to success. Now is the time to take advantage of early registration discounts!

When it comes to RootsTech, the largest genealogy conference in the world, consider the specific goals you want to achieve at the conference. If one of your goals is to learn more about DNA testing and genetic genealogy, this playbook is for you!

RootsTech offers sessions targeted to those who are rookies and those with a little more experience. DNA testing and genetic genealogy can be the “Hail Mary” that wins your Family History and Genealogy Bowl!

Why DNA?

There are three reasons individuals test their DNA for genetic genealogy: 1) to learn ethnicity estimates, 2) to connect with genetic cousins for reunions or for information about their common heritage paper trail, and 3) to discover personal health information. In the past at RootsTech, there have been opportunities to learn all you need to make informed decisions for each of these scenarios.

This year RootsTech is scheduled to offer about 35 sessions covering genetic genealogy, with a few pre-registration lab classes, to inform and educate participants on this timely topic. Although it has not yet been announced, the Expo Hall has hosted five genetic genealogy companies in the past. If they return, representatives will be available to answer your questions: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, LivingDNA, and MyHeritage DNA.

To MAXIMIZE TIME at RootsTech, PREPARE NOW!

1. Create a list of your questions. First, write down any DNA questions you have at this point. When you have finished reading this post and its associated links, review your questions to see if you have discovered your answers. If not, organize them and bring them to RootsTech. You will then be prepared to ask these questions in any session where the presenter offers a time for Q&A, or you can bring your questions to the Expo Hall to have your questions answered by representatives of the different DNA companies. Clear, concise, and thoughtful questions are always easier for the experts to answer.

2. Define your goals. Ideally, your first question is “why.” Why do you want to take a DNA test? What do you hope to learn? What genealogical problem do you want to solve? Who might hold the genetic key(s) to solving your proverbial brick wall? Remember that DNA is only one type of evidence. It does not stand alone to prove your lineage. Knowing why you are testing and who you want to test will help you determine what type of tests (see below) to purchase and the quantity of kits, too! Vendors at RootsTech have the reputation of offering the lowest prices on DNA kits at the conference, although the actual prices have varied from year to year.

Be aware that pre-registration for DNA lab sessions is required.

3. Become familiar with the 5 DNA companies typically represented in the Expo Hall. This is the most time-consuming part in preparing for RootsTech. If you are planning to test your DNA as a result of what you learn at this conference, become familiar with the 5 DNA companies and what DNA tests are offered by each. Also understand the legal notices for each company, such as their terms of service and privacy policies. Each company’s legal notices are different. Presenters have their own vested interests as employees, affiliates, and business owners and may only cover a portion of relevant material in any given session. Time is limited. Not all companies may be represented in each session you attend. Understanding the legal notices before coming to RootsTech frees you to make informed decisions at the conference. Most, if not all, companies will offer special pricing on their kits at the conference. Many individuals test with more than one company.

A Note About Terms and Conditions

As individuals learn more about genetic genealogy, questions arise. Some of them are legal and are best answered by an attorney without a vested interest in the business of genetic genealogy or even within the genealogy community. Opinions vary throughout the genealogy community and beyond. Each company has its own terms of service and opportunities to opt in or opt out of research studies and to allow degrees for sharing your genetic information. One common question is, Who obtains the rights to my genetic information? It is a good question to ask each company you consider testing with because you must be comfortable with their answer.

4. Create a DNA testing game plan. Creating a DNA testing plan will provide focus, save you money, and give you the best chance of answering your research questions. Be familiar with each of the 3 DNA tests used for genealogical purposes, and be confident that the kit you order will answer the family history question you want answered.

There are 3 tests offered for genealogical purposes:

  • Autosomal DNA, atDNA, is the collaborative DNA from all of your ancestors, male and female, that recombined to define you. It is the DNA from which your ethnic origin estimates are derived as far as scientists and others in related fields can currently determine. These estimates are subject to modification as the reference panels on which the results are based are modified. All 5 companies offer this test. Some companies identify matches to the X chromosome. One good question to ask each company is, How many SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are tested by your company? [1] The more SNPs, the more comprehensive the results. This is the DNA test that assists you in finding living cousin matches with others who have tested.
  • Y-chromosome DNA, Y-DNA, is the DNA that defines paternal lineage and is inherited only by males; it is passed down from father to son. It provides positive identification of the biological paternal family and outlines the migration pattern of direct paternal ancestors (from son to father, to father, etc.) as far as science can currently identify. Testing for yourself, it is defined by the top line of your traditional pedigree chart. It is a male-only test, so females must find a male descendant of that particular lineage, such as a brother, father, paternal uncle, or paternal nephew, to test for this information. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer this as an independent test for genealogical purposes. There are also many surname projects administered through Family Tree DNA.
  • Mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, is the DNA inherited by all of a mother’s children, but passed on only to the next generation by females. It identifies the maternal migration pattern (from son or daughter to mother, etc.) as far as science can currently determine. Testing for yourself, it is defined by the bottom line of your traditional pedigree chart. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer full sequencing of the mitochondrial genome for genealogical purposes.

DNA results are just another source like vital records, censuses, probate or land records. They can assist in extracting one’s biological heritage. It is important to note that a DNA test may or may not provide the answer to your question, or it may provide an answer that leaves you or others in your family uncomfortable. Expectations of extending your lineage must be managed. Not all individuals who take a DNA test find generations of ancestors. Many online trees contain misinformation, and DNA testing is not a short cut to obtain a verified pedigree. In addition, an individual must be prepared to accept that an identified living cousin through DNA may not want to have contact or establish a relationship with the one tested.

Not all individuals need DNA testing to answer their family history questions. But, DNA testing offers those who have unanswered questions, such as adoptees, amazing results in extending their biological pedigree. It is a source that relies on the permission of family members to obtain. All people who test must agree to the legal notices, such as terms of service and privacy policy, of the company they select for testing. These policies are different for each company and are best read in an environment conducive to understanding the terms so read these documents in the coming months.

Genetic genealogy is an exciting and developing field. It can provide answers to family mysteries. It has brought joy to many and sorrow to a few. It is a topic worth learning about so you can make an educated decision about how DNA testing can potentially help you strengthen your family relationships among the living and add to your family tree.

Not registered for RootsTech? There are ongoing 4-day pass giveaways through November. If you register now and win, RootsTech will reimburse you at your rate of purchase. Find a list of current giveaways at Conference Keepers. For information about The Single Leaf RootsTech 2019 Giveaway, subscribe to this blog. :-)

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is for information only. The final decision to act upon this information is your own and you take sole responsibility for all outcomes.

Note: People ask me why I do not use the term “Super Bowl” in genealogy football. For the record, “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark of the NFL and, for the love of the game, I wouldn’t want to infringe upon it. :-)

[1]“A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, pronounced snip) is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), or guanine (G]) in the genome (or other shared sequence) differs between members of a species or paired chromosomes in an individual.” International Society of Genetic Genealogy. “Single-nucleotide polymorphism”. (http://isogg.org/wiki/Single-nucleotide_polymorphism: accessed September 30, 2018).

About RootsTech

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and, as such, I am provided complimentary admission and other services to accomplish my duties. Nevertheless, I have been with RootsTech since its inception and with its predecessor for many years as a paid participant. As always, my coverage and opinions are my own and are not affected by my current status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Copyright © 2018. Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Ready-for-RootsTech Guide to DNA 2.0

Preparation is a key to success. When it comes to RootsTech, the largest genealogy conference in the world, it can make all the difference, especially if you’ve set specific goals you want to achieve at the conference. If one of your goals is to learn more about DNA testing and genetic genealogy, this guide is for you.

Why DNA?

There are three reasons individuals test their DNA for genetic genealogy: 1) to learn ethnicity estimates, 2) to connect with genetic cousins for reunions or for information about their common heritage paper trail, and 3) to discover personal health information. There will be opportunities at this year’s RootsTech conference to learn all you need to make informed decisions for each of these scenarios.

RootsTech will offer over 40 sessions covering genetic genealogy ranging from beginning to advanced, some of which are pre-registration lab classes, to inform and educate participants on this timely topic. The Expo Hall will host five genetic genealogy companies who will have representatives available to answer your questions: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, LivingDNA, and MyHeritage DNA. 23andMe is sponsoring the Demo Theater this year and will host a special presentation, “DNA User Experience Stories” with Angie Bush and Diane Southard on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at noon. Something new this year is the GeneRosity Registry, which is part of Intermountain Healthcare and a major sponsor this year. They seek to accelerate “genetic discoveries for future medical breakthroughs.” If you have already taken a direct-to-consumer DNA test and you are interested in advancing medical science, stop by Booth 2247 in the Expo Hall.

To maximize time at RootsTech, PREPARE NOW!

1. Create a list of your questions. First, write down any DNA questions you have at this point. When you have finished reading this post and its associated links, review your questions to see if you have discovered your answers. If not, organize them and bring them to RootsTech. You will then be prepared to ask these questions in any session where the presenter offers a question-and-answer period, or you can bring your questions to the Expo Hall to have your questions answered by representatives of the different DNA companies. Clear, concise, and thoughtful questions are always easier for the experts to answer.

2. Define your goals. For example, if you purchased a Getting Started pass, there are only 2 sessions that you may attend: “DNA User Experience Stories,” held Thursday at noon in the 23andMe Demo Theater and “Before You Test: DNA Basics You Need To Know” that also will be held on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in 155B. If you consider yourself technologically advanced, “Update to Third Party Autosomal DNA Analysis Tools” will be offered at 11 a.m. on Thursday. For the beginner and intermediate family historians, there are many sessions spread throughout the 4-day conference. (See the charts, one for each day, listing the DNA sessions at the end of this post.) Pre-registration for DNA lab sessions and sponsored lunches is required. There are still a few spots left in various sessions.

3. Become familiar with the 5 DNA companies represented in the Expo Hall. If you are planning to test your DNA as a result of what you learn at this conference, become familiar with the 5 DNA companies and what DNA tests are offered by each. Also learn about the legal notices for each company, such as their terms of service and privacy policies. Each company’s legal notices are different. Presenters have their own vested interests as employees, affiliates, and business owners and may only cover a portion of relevant material in any given session. Time is limited. Not all companies may be represented in each session you attend. Understanding the legal notices before coming to RootsTech frees you to make informed decisions at the conference. Most, if not all, companies will offer special pricing on their kits at the conference. Many individuals test with more than one company.

A Note About DNA Test Terms and Conditions

As individuals learn more about genetic genealogy, questions arise. Some of them are legal and are best answered by an attorney without a vested interest in the business of genetic genealogy or even within the genealogy community. Opinions vary throughout the genealogy community and beyond. Each company has its own terms of service and opportunities to opt in or opt out of research studies and to allow degrees for sharing your genetic information. One common question is, Who obtains the rights to my genetic information? It is a good question to ask each company you consider testing with because you must be comfortable with their answer.

For example, one company states,

“We do not claim any ownership rights in the DNA samples, the DNA Results and/or the genetic information in the DNA Reports. Any genetic information derived from the DNA samples, the DNA Results and/or appears in the DNA Reports continues to belong to the person from whom the DNA was collected, subject only to the rights granted to MyHeritage in this Agreement. In addition, you understand that by providing DNA samples and/or DNA Results to us, you acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by us that may relate to your DNA.

We will, if requested by you, destroy the DNA sample provided by you. To request destruction of your DNA sample, please contact us using the contact details indicated in the “Contact Us” Section below. In addition, you can, at any time, delete your DNA Results and DNA Reports from the Website by using the delete function from the “Manage DNA kits” page on the Website, or request MyHeritage Customer Support to do this for you.

By submitting DNA samples to us and/or DNA Results to the Website, you grant us a royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA samples, the DNA Results and the resulting DNA Reports, and any DNA samples and/or DNA Results you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Section and the resulting DNA Reports, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis, to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered. You hereby release us from any and all claims, liens, demands, actions or suits in connection with the DNA testing, DNA samples, DNA Results and/or DNA Reports, including, without limitation, errors, omissions, claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, emotional distress or economic loss. This section continues even if you stop using the Website or the DNA Services.” (“Terms and Conditions,” myheritage.com, emphasis added).[1]

4. Create a DNA testing plan. Creating a DNA testing plan will provide focus, save you money, and give you the best chance of answering your research questions. Be familiar with each of the three DNA tests used for genealogical purposes, and be confident that the kit you order will answer the family history question you want answered. There are 3 tests offered for genealogical purposes:

Autosomal DNA, atDNA, is the collaborative DNA from all of your ancestors, male and female, that recombined to define you. It is the DNA from which your ethnic origin estimates are derived as far as scientists and others in related fields can currently determine. These estimates are subject to modification as the reference panels on which the results are based are modified. All 5 companies offer this test. Some companies identify matches to the X chromosome. One good question to ask each company is, How many SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are tested by your company? [2] The more SNPs, the more comprehensive the results. This is the DNA test that assists you in finding living cousin matches with others who have tested.

 Y-DNA is the DNA that defines paternal lineage and is inherited only by males; it is passed down from father to son. It provides positive identification of the biological paternal family and outlines the migration pattern of direct paternal ancestors (from son to father, etc.) as far as science can currently identify. It is defined on the top line of your traditional pedigree chart. It is a male-only test, so females must find a brother, father, brother of their father, or son of a brother to test for this information. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer this as an independent test for genealogical purposes. There are also many surname projects administered through Family Tree DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, is the DNA inherited by all of a mother’s children, but passed on only to the next generation by females. It identifies the maternal migration pattern (from son or daughter to mother, etc.) as far as science can currently identify. It is defined on the bottom line of your traditional pedigree chart. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer full sequencing of the mitochondrial genome for genealogical purposes.

DNA results are just another source, like vital records, censuses, probate or land records. They can assist in extracting one’s biological heritage. It is important to note that a DNA test may or may not provide the answer to your question, or it may provide an answer that leaves you or others in your family uncomfortable. Expectations of extending your lineage must be managed. Not all individuals who take a DNA test find generations of ancestors. Many online trees contain misinformation, and DNA testing is not a short cut to obtain a verified pedigree. In addition, an individual must be prepared to accept that an identified living cousin through DNA may not want to have contact or establish a relationship with the one tested.

Not all individuals need DNA testing to answer their family history questions. But, DNA testing offers those who have unanswered questions, such as adoptees, amazing results in extending their biological pedigree. It is a source that relies on the permission of family members to obtain. All people who test must agree to the legal notices, such as terms of service and privacy policy, of the company they select for testing. These policies are different for each company and are best read in an environment conducive to understanding the terms.

Genetic genealogy is an exciting and developing field. It can provide answers to family mysteries. It has brought joy to many and sorrow to a few. It is a topic worth learning about so you can make an educated decision about how DNA testing can potentially help you strengthen your family relationships among the living and add to your family tree.

Not registered for RootsTech? There’s still time. Check out the website.

Appendix:

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is for information only. The final decision to act upon this information is your own and you take sole responsibility for all outcomes.

[1] MyHeritage. “Terms and Conditions”. (https://www.myheritage.com/FP/Company/popup-terms-conditions.php: accessed February 12, 2018)
[2]“A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, pronounced snip) is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), or guanine (G]) in the genome (or other shared sequence) differs between members of a species or paired chromosomes in an individual.” International Society of Genetic Genealogy. “Single-nucleotide polymorphism”. (http://isogg.org/wiki/Single-nucleotide_polymorphism: accessed February 12, 2018).

About RootsTech

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and, as such, I am provided complimentary admission and other services to accomplish my duties. Nevertheless, I have been with RootsTech since its inception and with its predecessor for many years as a paid participant. As always, my coverage and opinions are my own and are not affected by my current status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Copyright © 2018. Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Have You Submitted Your #DNA Yet? Holiday Deals Going On Now!

dna-graphic-ipNovember 1, 2016 marked 100 days until RootsTech’17! In honor of this mark in time, I asked my fellow ambassadors to share their greatest tips to make this year the best ever for those planning to attend the conference using the social media hashtag #100days.

One of the tips I shared was to submit DNA so results will be returned and available to you by RootsTech’17, allowing you to be better informed if you plan to attend one or more of the many sessions held on this topic. There is nothing like results-in-hand to prompt meaningful questions and to receive expert advice from one of the presenters or from the staff of the very company from which you tested.

Well, I have good news! Family Tree DNA is offering Family Finder, their autosomal test, for $59, as well as special deals on Y-DNA tests and mitochondrial DNA tests! Which test would be best for you? Let me provide a brief description of each test:

  • Autosomal DNA, atDNA, is the collaborative DNA from all of your ancestors, male and female, that recombined to define you. This test is called Family Finder at Family Tree DNA. It is the DNA from which your ethnic origin is derived, as far as scientists, and others in related fields, can currently determine.
  • Y-DNA is the DNA that defines paternal lineage and is ONLY inherited by males. It is passed down from father to son. It provides positive identification of the biological paternal family and outlines the migration pattern of DIRECT paternal ancestors (ONLY from son to father to father to father, etc.) as far as science can currently identify. It is a MALE ONLY test so females must find a brother, father, brother of father, son of brother to test for this information. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer this as an independent test for genealogical purposes.
  • Mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, is the DNA inherited by ALL of a mother’s children, but ONLY passed on to the next generation by females. It identifies the maternal migration pattern (from child to mother to mother to mother, etc.) as far as science can currently identify. Family Tree DNA is the only major company to offer full sequencing of the mitochondrial genome for genealogical purposes.

There is so much more that I could share about DNA, but the purpose of this post is to let you know that Family Tree DNA is having a great sale! Family Finder, the autosomal test, is the first test that is of interest to almost all individuals. Family Tree DNA uses a cheek swab instead of having to produce a vile of spit. This is sometimes helpful for the seniors in our lives. It is a great deal at only $59! Family Tree DNA offers a variety of Y-DNA testing options and a full sequencing mtDNA test for genealogical purposes.

Family Tree DNA allows you to maintain privacy and to opt-out of, or limit, cousin matching if you choose to do so. I realize that some individuals are only interested in their ethnicity results. I recommend that you read Legal Issues — Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Refunds at Family Tree DNA and similar documents of any other company that you consider.

Have further questions? Contact me. I look forward to seeing you at RootsTech’17! Have a great day!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post notifying you of this sale from Family Tree DNA. The purpose of this post is for information only. The final decision to act upon this information is your own and you take sole responsibility for any and all outcomes. As always, my coverage and opinions are my own and are not affected by my current status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Copyright ©2016 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Blues Skies Cap the End of RootsTech 2013

RootsTech2013-Find My Past 3

Boy Scout Merit Badge WPThe third day of RootsTech 2013 began with snowy roads and about 2000 young people descending on the Salt Palace Convention Center. Upon arriving I met a group of young men that were going to earn their genealogy badge from the Boy Scouts of America, and later found 2000 youth contained in Hall 2 with presentations geared to an introduction to genealogy and family history. Smaller groups toured the facilities with guides. The young people were all smiles as they entered the exhibit hall. Pictures were taken by the RootsTech waterfall. But, as an adult attending the conference, the youth were hardly noticeable. Well-mannered and polite, they blended with genealogists of all ages.

There appeared to be fewer adult attendees this Saturday. The developers were gone. There were only three sessions, and a reduced fourth, offered. The Saturday keynote presentations were sponsored by MyHeritage. The recap is posted at RootsTech.org. David Pogue opened the general session. You don’t want to miss it!

After the opening session, my focus was DNA. The first presentation was a panel from the three leading companies providing DNA testing for genealogy: Family TreeDNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry. Bennett Greenspan, Tim Janzen, MD, and Catherine Ball represented the respective companies. CeCe Moore moderated for the panel. DNA at RootsTech 2013 WPThe attendance in each DNA presentation provided standing room only. Later in the day, a wall was removed to accommodate the crowd. By a raise of hands, the crowd was heavily interested in DNA for genealogy. Most individuals had the results from more than one test from more than one company. The main issue raised during the Q&A was the ability of individuals to compare data with results from all three companies. Bennett Greenspan, with concurrence of the panel, cited business profit as the main reason for the “brick wall.” Many discussed GEDmatch as a possible solution to the problem, but the way in which Ancestry released the raw data to customers is incompatible with the current version of GEDmatch. (Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, has written a blog post about Ancestry’s recent move to fulfill the promise to release raw data needed for comparisons that may be of interest to you.)

FamilySearch Indexing expressed gratitude to all of the volunteers who assist them by providing an opportunity for those in attendance to have a picture taken on the mock-up of the Ellis Island immigration dock. The present goal of FamilySearch Indexing is to reach the one billionth record indexed! It is estimated that the goal will be reached in the next few weeks. FS Indexing WPAt the close of RootsTech 2013 the number of records indexed was at 988,216,302 and climbing. If you are a registered indexer with FamilySearch, why not get online and help in this worthy project that benefits everyone in the genealogical community. I personally found a new record subset of interest, US airplane immigration lists from after World War 2 to 1954. These records may be of interest to you as well. If you’ve never indexed before and would like to try it, give it a test run at familysearch.org. A batch of records can be competed in small increments of time and an index is a great tool to genealogists everywhere :-)

Usually, as the conference comes to a close, fatigue sets in as one says good-bye to old friends and new. Blue skies capped a very successful conference. Mike Bronner, Warren Bittner and Nathan Machula FHL March 23, 2013 WPAlthough there were other dinners and parties being held around the venue, I was at the Family History Library. According to Warren Bittner, CG, that is where “real” genealogists go to party :-) Warren was the coordinator of the Advanced German Research Course held this past January for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and at least five of us from that course were in attendance at the library last night, including our own Judy Russell, JD, CG. Although the library has changed its hours to close early on Saturdays, it remained open until 9pm to the delight of all who attended.

Thank you to all who volunteered to make RootsTech 2013 a success!

(By the way, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, an offical blogger, has compiled a list of blog posts written during the course of the conference. Thank you, Randy! A list of official bloggers and links to their sites can be found at RootsTech.org.)

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.