Recent DNA Breakthrough: Oldest Genome in New World Recovered

DNA is unlocking the distant past of our family history. Researchers have looked again at previously found prehistoric skeletons and remains to see if they could harvest DNA. They were successful with the skeleton of an18-month-old boy from the Clovis period who died more than 12,000 years ago. His remains were found in 1968 in Montana.

According to a recent CBS News report, the DNA test results showed that: “The boy’s genome also showed his people were direct ancestors of many of today’s native peoples in the Americas, researchers said. He was more closely related to those in Central and South America than to those in Canada. The reason for that difference isn’t clear, scientists said.” The genome is the oldest ever successfully recovered from the New World.

Clearly this was no random burial. The boy was found buried with over 125 artifacts, with the objects and the skeleton “covered with powdered red ochre, a natural pigment, indicating a burial ceremony.”

a CBS News report of 12,000-year-old DNA being uncoded

Credit: CBS News

Read the entire story here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/12000-year-old-baby-dna-unlocks-clues-to-earliest-americans/

Dr. Spencer Wells is a leading population geneticist and Director of the Genographic Project sponsored by National Geographic and IBM.

a photo of Dr. Spencer Wells, a leading population geneticist and Director of the Genographic Project sponsored by National Geographic and IBM

Photo: Dr. Spencer Wells. Credit: National Geographic.

Watch this quick clip of his remarks at RootsTech 2014:

Watch his complete presentation from the Friday morning session of RootsTech 2014. Speed forward to the 33 minute mark to begin watching his remarks: http://bcove.me/ckiw2y5e

Come Join GenealogyBank at RootsTech 2014! (Conference Tips for Those Attending—and Those Watching Online)

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena gives advice on how to get the most out of RootsTech 2014, the largest genealogy conference in the U.S.

RootsTech is the largest gathering of family historians in the United States and promises to be THE place to be, even virtually, in February.

graphic announcing GenealogyBank's booth #817 at RootsTech genealogy conference

An estimated 10,000 genealogists will gather at the Salt Palace Convention Center this February 6-8, 2014, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Another 20,000 worldwide are projected to watch streaming video of this premier genealogy conference from their homes.

photo of the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo: Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Luana Darby.

GenealogyBank will once again be at RootsTech, staffing a booth to greet you and answer your most pressing genealogy questions.

Whether you are going to RootsTech in person or following along at home, here’s how you can get the most out of this important family history event.

Download the Free RootsTech App

Prepare for attending RootsTech by downloading the free app. With the RootsTech conference app you can create your class schedule, learn more about the presenters and exhibitors, and network with others. The conference app is available for both Apple and Android mobile devices. Don’t have a mobile device? No problem! You can use the web version of the app on your desktop PC or Mac.

Stop by the GenealogyBank Booth #817

A must for any conference experience is a stroll or two around the Expo Hall, and RootsTech will be no different. It’s in the Expo Hall that you can view new products and services, ask questions, and learn what’s new in the world of genealogy.

While you’re in the Expo Hall, stop by the GenealogyBank booth (#817) and say hello. We will have computers and friendly staff to help you learn more about using GenealogyBank.com, help you search for ancestors, and give you genealogy tips and tricks to help you succeed.

Set a Conference Course of Action

One of the comments I hear most at conferences is how exhausting it can be. It can be exciting to have the opportunity to learn so much over the course of a weekend but it can also be overwhelming.

Make a plan before you get to the RootsTech conference and decide on your priorities. What are your must-attend lectures, who do you need to speak to in the Expo Hall, and who do you need to network with? And while you may feel like you want to “get your money’s worth,” make sure to schedule down time (time to reflect and rest).

Don’t forget to plan out your meals and bring snacks and water with you. In the excitement of being around all that genealogy, it can be easy to forget to eat. Make a plan for meals before you get there and decide whether you are going to eat from the snack bar or one of the conveniently located restaurants within walking distance of the Salt Palace. For those who are not from Utah, Salt Lake is a dry climate so make sure to drink lots of water to keep hydrated.

photo of Assembly Hall, inside Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo: Assembly Hall, inside Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Gary W. Clark.

To learn more about where to dine, as well as attractions to see and things to do in downtown Salt Lake City, see the Visit Salt Lake website.

photo of Handcart Pioneer Monument, inside Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo: Handcart Pioneer Monument, inside Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Gary W. Clark.

Follow the RootsTech Social Media Buzz

Not able to attend RootsTech in person? Whether you are physically there or participating from home, use Twitter to follow along. The RootsTech Twitter account is @RootsTechConf. Participants will be tweeting and tagging images on Instagram using the #RootsTech hashtag. You can also follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RootsTech.

One of the innovative aspects of RootsTech is their commitment to provide free video streaming sessions so that more people around the world can benefit from their family history and technology conference. From their website you can watch selected conference presentations live. Not able to watch the presentation at the scheduled time? No problem, each streamlined presentation is archived so that you can view it at your convenience. To learn about what presentations will be viewable from home see the free online broadcast schedule. Currently, you can view presentations from the 2013 conference.

Did You Know Salt Lake Has a Library?

Obviously the answer to that question is “of course!” Probably one of the biggest benefits of attending a conference in Salt Lake City is the opportunity to visit the Family History Library in person. I’ve written previously about visiting the Family History Library in my GenealogyBank Blog article Planning a Trip to Salt Lake City for Your Family History Research?

photo of the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo: Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Luana Darby.

My biggest piece of advice about going to the Family History Library is this: do your homework before you leave home. Utilize the Family History Library Catalog and look up what you want to research so that you can be more efficient while you’re at the Library. If you have limited time to search during your visit, stick to resources that do not circulate to Family History Centers such as books and some microforms.

Going to RootsTech 2014? Have a great time! Genealogy conferences are exciting and energizing. You will definitely come away with ideas and resources to help you in the search for your ancestors. And be sure to stop by and say hi at GenealogyBank’s booth #817. We look forward to seeing you in Salt Lake soon!

How Is Your Local Genealogical Society Doing?

photo of a presentation made during the 2013 RootsTech genealogical conference

Credit: RootsTech

The Reading Eagle (Reading, Pennsylvania) ran an interesting article about the dropping membership of the Berks County Genealogical Society.

According to the article this local genealogical society is feeling the impact of dropping memberships at the same time interest in genealogy is soaring. Instead of joining local genealogical societies, new genealogists seem to be going directly to the Internet to ask questions, learn the basics of genealogical research and search for their ancestors.

The national genealogical conferences like the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society annual conferences have seen a drop-off in attendance since 11 September 2001. Meanwhile the annual RootsTech conferences have seen a surge in attendance during the three years this family history conference has been held.

At the same time, online weekly webinars like the Legacy Family Tree Webinars have 1,000 people attending, and podcasts like the Genealogy Guys Podcast are seeing each episode downloaded over 4,000 times. That is way more than the number of genealogists attending the annual meeting of a large city or state genealogical society…and they are pulling that many of us every week.

How is your local genealogical society doing?

Is it growing?

Is there excitement?

Is it fresh?

Is there a buzz?

When I attended my first genealogical society meetings 50 years ago in the early 1960s—the meetings of the Stamford Genealogical Society (now called the Connecticut Ancestry Society)—the focus was on outreach and training. Their chief projects were having the genealogical society members submit their family tree charts (which were put in binders and cross indexed), and producing the quarterly journal. They were good, effective meetings. We all looked forward to them. It was like an extended family.

The genealogy world changed in 1976 with the publication of Alex Haley’s Roots and the launch of the companion television series in 1977. Genealogy has not been the same since. We went from 200 genealogical societies in the United States to over 4,000 societies.

FamilySearch Indexing has well over 100,000 indexers, all volunteers, who are creating over 1 million indexed genealogy records every day.

How is your local genealogical society doing?

What is your society doing to keep itself fresh and exciting?

Share your ideas and best practices.

Post them here today in the comments.

Planning a Trip to Salt Lake City for Your Family History Research?

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena provides practical advice for genealogists planning a trip to Salt Lake City for doing family history research.

Want to go to Salt Lake City in Utah? If you are like most genealogists that question is answered with an emphatic “yes!” because Salt Lake City is one of the world’s centers for family history research.

photograph of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Temple Square as seen from the Joseph Smith Building, Salt Lake City, Utah. © 2012 Gena Philibert-Ortega

Like any research trip it’s a good idea to do your homework prior to leaving home. There’s so much you can do in Salt Lake City including researching at the world famous Family History Library (open to the public free of charge) or even attending a conference like RootsTech. But before you pack your bags consider these tips.

Travel is easier when you have a guide. The Chart Chick’s Quick Insider’s Guide to Salt Lake City by Janet Hovorka, president of the Utah Genealogical Association and a Salt Lake City native, provides family history researchers with what they need to know for a trip to this genealogical mecca. Covered in this guide is everything from how to get around Salt Lake City to archives and libraries (aside from the Family History Library), places to visit, shop, and most importantly—where to eat. To purchase this Salt Lake City, UT, travel guide book or download it as a free PDF, visit Janet’s blog The Chart Chick. If you do request the PDF you have the added advantage of being able to download it to a mobile device for easy reference.

Do your genealogy homework. Before you take a genealogy research trip make sure you are prepared. Conduct a thorough search of the Family History Library Catalog and make note of all the microforms, books and resources you want to see. Pay special attention to the location of the item. If an item is in the “Vault” you will need to order it beforehand. Since the Family History Library Catalog is available on the Internet, do this preliminary research first so you don’t waste time while at the library.

photograph of microfilm drawers inside the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

Microfilm Drawers inside the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. © 2012 Gena Philibert-Ortega

Ask other genealogists. It’s always a good idea to talk to other genealogists who’ve traveled to your destination. Frequent travelers to the Family History Library may have helpful tips about making photocopies, what to bring, how they go about researching at the facility, and where the best places to stay in Salt Lake City are. Not sure you know anyone who has been to Salt Lake City? Ask around at your local genealogy society or post a question on a social media website like Facebook, Twitter or GenealogyWise.

photograph of the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah

Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located in downtown Salt Lake City. © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of FamilySearch.org

Have fun! Yes, there is so much you can research at the Family History Library, as well as the other archives and libraries, but don’t forget to take some breaks during your trip as well. It’s important to schedule some time to eat, walk around or even take the night off to check out the sights and tourist attractions. If you arrive on Sunday, the Family History Library is closed but that gives you time to prepare for your research and do some sightseeing in Utah.

photograph of Salt Lake Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. © 2012 Gena Philibert-Ortega

However you plan your family research trip, remember this: no matter how much time you spend researching, there will always be more you wished you had seen. So when you get home, organize what you found, update your database and start planning your next trip!

 

 

RootsTech Presentation Download: Newspapers for Genealogists

Wow—over 4,000 genealogists attended this year’s RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City last week. This must-attend conference was a nonstop opportunity to learn about the latest genealogy technology and to talk shop with like-minded genealogists from around the country. I have been attending genealogy conferences for nearly 50 years and RootsTech 2012 was the best ever. Plan now to attend the next RootsTech conference, on March 21-23, 2013!

GenealogyBank was there in force, with seven reps from our Team on-site to meet our members and explore their ideas, “wow” finds, and suggestions for GenealogyBank as we move into 2012.

At the RootsTech 2012 conference, I gave a presentation on searching newspapers for your family history that was well attended and very well received. If you were unable to attend my presentation at the conference in person, you can download a free copy of the PowerPoint slides I used, entitled “Newspapers for Genealogists: Document Every Day of Your Ancestors’ Lives” by clicking the Facebook “Like” button below:

Newspapers for Genealogists: Document Every Day of Your Ancestors’ Lives | GenealogyBank 2012 RootsTech Presentation

Newspapers for Genealogists: Document Every Day of Your Ancestors’ Lives | GenealogyBank 2012 RootsTech Presentation

Download the RootsTech presentation and read through this effective overview of GenealogyBank, with plenty of search tips and strategies for using the terrific genealogical resources provided by our historical newspaper archives.

 

GEDCOMX Announced at RootsTech 2012 Genealogy Conference

The recent (Feb. 2-4, 2012) RootsTech genealogy conference in Utah was a mega-success with 4,300 attending genealogy’s version of COMDEX (the large computer trade shows).

I had a terrific time meeting the participants and talking with them about genealogy in general—and GenealogyBank in particular.

In addition to the audience, one of the most exciting things about the RootsTech conference was all the incredible announcements about cutting-edge breakthroughs in genealogy tools.

RootsTech 2012 logo

2012 RootsTech | rootstech.org

The key announcement for me at RootsTech this year was made by Jay Verkler (outgoing FamilySearch CEO) about the ongoing “New” GEDCOMX record genealogy tool that will carefully record all genealogical information about a person and then find and attach itself—along with photos and documents—to that person in the family tree of all GEDCOMX-compliant sites.

The final details of how these new fortified, individual GEDCOMX records will work is being thought through, but look for them to have three key parts:

  • Exchange Standard (what GEDCOM does now) so that the records can migrate to any family tree site.
  • API Standards for pulling data from multiple sources.
  • Repository of Data (all uploaded documents, photos, media, etc.).
GEDCOMX Model Diagram

2012 GEDCOM X | gedcomx.org

This is huge.

This is the genealogy tool our community has needed.

These individual “Packaged Data” units will carry all the data about a person—the core genealogical facts, photos and video clips—with the GEDCOM ability to plug in and find itself on a family tree, or the ability to create itself as a new twig on the family trees on all GEDCOMX-compliant websites.