Friday, 19 March 2021

Family History Down Under 2021 - a four-day virtual conference

Family History Down Under is going online for 2021 so everyone can join the conference regardless of where they live in the world. You can watch all the presentations from the comfort of your own home and the recordings will be available until the end of July.

I've recorded two talks for the DNA track. The first talk is entitled "DNA testing and family history: advance your genealogical research" where I provide an introduction to the practical application of DNA testing for family history research. My second talk is "Solving cold cases with genetic genealogy: can we, could we, should we?" This is an extended and updated version of the talk I did at Rootstech 2021. With the luxury of a 50-minute presentation I was able to explore all the issues and developments in much greater depth.

The conference is divided into four tracks: DNA; researching abroad; Australia and New Zealand; and methodology and general. There are lots of excellent speakers lined up covering some very interesting subjects. You can either sign up for individual tracks or you can purchase a mega bundle which gives you access to all four tracks at a discounted price.

In order to recreate the feel of an in-person conference, Facebook groups have been set up for each of the tracks where all the speakers will be popping in from time to time to answer questions. I hope to see you there.

For more information check out the Family History Down Under 2021 website.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

MyHeritage to be acquired by Francisco Partners

News broke today that MyHeritage is to be acquired by the private equity company Francisco Partners. This is likely to result in new investment in the company so that they can expand their market share. Hopefully genealogists will benefit from the investment and we will eventually see the introduction of lots of new features and products.

You can read more about the acquisition in this article from Business Wire.

There is additional information in this article from TechCrunch.

See also the official press release from MyHeritage.

I expect that we will learn more about the plans for MyHeritage at RootsTech Connect. MyHeritage have a number of talks planned for the show. You can find a full listing on the MyHeritage blog.

Update 13th April 2021
The acquisition was completed on 8th April 2021 following regulatory approval. For details see this blog post from MyHeritage.

RootsTech Connect – the pick of the talks and the final countdown

The clock is ticking away and the virtual doors of RootsTech Connect will soon be open. The Expo Hall goes live at midnight UK time on 24th February so I will have the opportunity to have a quick look around before bedtime. Many of the exhibitors might well have special offers for the show or will be announcing new product launches.

The main website is due to go live four hours later at 4.00 am UK time. I am a night owl but 4.00 am is a bit late even for me so I will be logging on somewhat later in the morning to have a look around. Depending on where you are in the world you might get a chance to check out the website before me. One of the joys of a virtual conference is that we are not restrained by timetables and we can pick and choose the most convenient times to participate. And of course all the content will be available online for the rest of the year.

Making connections will be a key component of the show. There will be a chance to chat online with the exhibitors and most of the presenters through the Connect Chat tool. Each class and all of the exhibitors will have their own dedicated chat rooms.

To get the best out of the event I would suggest making a note of all the speakers and exhibitors you want to connect with so you get a chance to chat during the show. Once the website goes live you will be able to make a playlist of all the talks you want to watch.

I've recorded two talks for RootsTech on "Genetic Genealogy Meets CSI" and "Secrets and Surprises: Uncovering Family History Mysteries Through DNA". Do come along and join me for a chat and I will respond as soon as I can depending on the time difference. 

The main stage sessions will be viewable without signing in but you will need to register and have a FamilySearch account to get the most out of the show. 

There seems to be some confusion about the registration process but I found that I could register through my FamilySearch account. Once you've registered, click on the bell icon for the notifications and your registration will be shown.

There are also seem to be lots of informal groups and chats being set up as people do their best to meet up with friends and try to recreate the experience of attending an event in person.

Debbie's pick of the talks
I've been having a look at the English class schedule which is available from this link on the RootsTech home page. Here are my top picks of the available talks.

DNA talks

These are the DNA talks which I am most looking forward to.

The AncestryDNA talk is intriguing and I wonder if this heralds the launch of a new Custom Groups feature for sorting and filtering our matches. [Update: This talk was in fact just a demonstration of how ThruLines works and how to use the coloured dots on the mobile app to make custom groups.]

There are lots of talks for those of you who are just getting started with DNA testing. Diahan Southard of Your DNA Guide is always an engaging and inspiring speaker. She has a good understanding of the science and has the gift of being able to explain complicated subjects in easy-to-understand language. Diahan has recorded a number of talks for Rootstech and I’m sure they will all be worth watching.

There are talks on the basics of Y-DNA testing from MauriceGleeson, Mags Gaulden and Vivs Laliberte. Janine Cloud from FamilyTreeDNA has a more advanced talk on the BigY test which I am sure will be worth watching. Michelle Leonard has recorded a talk on Understanding X-Chromosome DNA Matching. Ugo Perego has a talk on mitochondrial DNA as well as a talk on his personal genetic genealogy. Ugo used to work for the now defunct Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation so I am sure he will have some interesting insights to share. Look out too for Kitty Cooper's talk on "The Basics of Unknown Parentage Research Using DNA".



English genealogy

Australia and New Zealand

Further reading
See my previous blog post RootsTech – a global family history show for further information about RootsTech Connect. 

Monday, 22 February 2021

Free upload to MyHeritageDNA from 21st to 28th February 2021

MyHeritage have a very special offer on this week. If you've tested at 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA or Living DNA you can download your raw data and upload to the MyHeritage database to get free access to all the features which are normally only available after paying the upload fee of $29. This includes access to the new Genetic Groups feature. You can see my genetic groups in the screenshot below.

The MyHeritage "ethnicity" estimates have not yet been updated but we are expecting this feature to be revamped later this year. I suspect when that happens my 9.2% Italian ancestry will disappear

MyHeritage have a database of over 4.5 million people and have much better representation in continental Europe than any of the other companies, helped by the fact that they make their website available in many different languages. One of the most useful features at MyHeritage is the ability to filter matches by the countries where your matches live. You will find you get lots of very distant matches from many different countries which are probably not related in a genealogical timeframe but this feature allows you to search for matches in the countries where you do have known relatives. In my case I am primarily focusing on matches in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

MyHeritage have written a blog post which you can access here with more details about this offer.

Answers to frequently asked questions about uploading data to MyHeritage can be found in their Help Centre.

You can also upload your data directly via this link.

The offer is only available until 28th February so if you've not yet transferred your data I would encourage you to take advantage of the offer while you have the chance.