It’s spit and swab day at the Morelli house!

DNA EamesTomorrow starts the US Open here at Chambers Bay Golf course in Tacoma, Washington about 60 minutes south of Seattle.  What, you might ask, does that have to do with anything related to family history?  A lot–especially when you realize it means that family members are visiting and I have a problem which may be able to be solved using DNA!

I have decided to try to solve the identity problem of the grandfather of my husband.  Many steps are needed just to get to the end point.  First, I need to define my research question [done], develop a testing plan [done with the help of my friend, Karen, in Chicago] and then implement the plan.

So, tomorrow morning, two of the brothers will be swabbing and spitting to help me identify (hopefully) the name of the father of their mother.

Of course, it’s not that easy.  When the results come back, they will be analyzed.  They are taking  the autosomal DNA tests which look at the other 22 chromosomes.  This type of test can reliably identify kinship back about 3-5 generations.  While the test is accurate that far in the past, it is also possible there will be no matches.  Then, we will wait until some descendant of the father of Molly, decides to test.

So, in my lay person’s terms this is what I am doing:

  1. by testing the siblings of my husband (there are 4 sibs) we will be able to identify patterns which will show their father, Steve, and mother, Molly.  The test could also show, tho’ not predicted, if there is a non-paternity event at that generation.
  2. Steve was tested before he died for Y-DNA and mtDNA.  I need to test his autosomal, so we can identify which part of the pattern of code is attributable to Steve.  I need to get the company to run the autosomal test on Steve’s data.
  3. Molly’s DNA is composed of DNA from her mother and her (unidentified) father.  I am hoping to get Molly’s half-brother to test.  If so, we might be able to clarify which parts of the makeup of the Molly’s genome is attributable to the mother, Anna, and by default, what is attributable to the unknown father.
  4. We then “remove” the pattern that is attributable to Steve and Anna and what stands alone is that of the unknown father.
  5. Then, we check to see if there is anyone who matches the unknown father’s DNA   Hopefully, or eventually, there will be a match for the unknown father.  We will then try to find our common ancestor using the “old-fashioned” method of genealogy–doing the traditional paperwork!

We will see what happens.  It might take years.  I still have to get the half sibling to agree.  I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: cleaned house in anticipation of company, and worked on the SGS Bulletin but didn’t get far enough along.  It won’t get published until the end of July; attended the Puget Sound-APG meeting where Claudia Breland did an excellent job of presenting on self publishing for commercial purposes.  I have been doing some additional tax record research on my Swedes.  That’s been fun and enlightening. And I have worked sporadically on my proof argument for BCG.

Photo from the Collection of Charles and Rae Eames, Library of Congress.  Used under the fair use doctrine for scholarship and non-commercial use. This is not real DNA but rather a design in a double helix pattern done by the famous architects/designers, the Eames’s.

Jamboree! Day 3

RainierGoing home! but, first….

Sunday was another good day at Jamboree….

Sunday presentations go until mid afternoon and I have found that the last day of a conference is a good one to attend lectures by speakers that I want to hear but haven’t.  I also try to attend classes of ethnic groups or topics of which I know nothing.  Two classes caught my eye  when I reviewed the app– Introduction to Jewish Genealogy and Introduction to Mexican Genealogy.  I know nothing about either but wouldn’t it be fun to know a little more than nothing?

Luckily, I also ambled through the exhibit area before it closed.  I got away without buying any books!  But, not without dropping some money (RootsMagic.)  This was an “amble” worth making.  I stopped at ArkivDigital (Swedish records) and asked the experts about how to access tax records.  The help was terrific; I found what I was looking for, but they are certainly hidden.

I attended “Intro to Jewish Genealogy” and found same genealogical principles apply to resolving the many questions one has for their Jewish genealogy. The presenter did a  good job dispelling the myths about availability of records and particularly about the myth:  “my name was changed at Ellis Island.”

I didn’t fare so well with the intro to Mexican Genealogy.  There were some technical problems and so I slipped out and went to the mapping session.  She did a nice job of presenting an overview of mapping sites but didn’t have a syllabus.  The final session I attended was Michael Lacopo’s on “Incorporating Social History into Your Genealogy.”  He had terrific examples of illustrating how the story is enhanced by finding documents other than the BMD.

This conference friendly with lots of opportunities and locations for socializing, something that the other conferences I have attended, lack.  There also seems to be built-in time to  chat with exhibitors.  While I wouldn’t put that need high on my list of priorities that last two conferences hae been good for me when those conversations could occur.  These opportunities make Jamboree seem very “California Casual.”  I urge you to consider attending next year.

My lecture schedule now has a bit of a gap but work intervenes! :-) I am off to Association of University Architects 4.5 day conference in Raleigh NC, followed by a vacation in Boston/Cape Cod with our daughter. (I will sneak in a lecture at the Cape Cod/Falmouth Genealogical Society while there!);  then I am back to Chicago for my last Society of University & College Planning conference as a board member in late July.  I am already looking forward to the Northwest Genealogical Conference (NwGC).  Some of the same folks at Jamboree will be up there–Cyndi Ingle, Linda Harms Ozasaki, Judy Russell, Lisa Alzo, etc. It will be nice to check in with friends from around the state and around the nation.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  Talked to Cyndi Ingle about how her ProGen course is going while we waited for a plane at Burbank Airport.  Said good-bye to some new friends and old including, Mike, Judy, Beverly, Paula, Janet, Emily and Lisa.

Jamboree: Day 2!

jamboree 2015I had anther great day at Jamboree filled with surprises and successes. But, in the game of “pick the best concurrent session” roulette, I did not do so well.  But, the parts of the day that were terrific included the following:

Surprise #1: Diane Young and I connected, Diane was the coordinator for the Jefferson County Genealogical Society Spring Seminar for which I was the speaker for the day.  It was great to see her again.  She is living in the Los Angeles area assisting her son and daughter-in-law with the care of their 7 week-old baby.

Surprise #2: I had a chance to talk to Randy Seaver and Thomas MacEntee and discuss blogging.  It was great fun to hear how two of the most prolific bloggers do it.

Surprise #3:  Had lunch with the ProGen folks.  As always it is good to see old friends, and meet new ones.  ProGen graduates and those who are still matriculating are some of the most impressive genealogists I know.

Surprise #4: Rev. David MacDonald, CG gave two talks, one on finding historical church records in the US even if the church has been blended with another and another on reading church records.  As usual they were stellar presentations.  He is deeply knowledgeable on church history of all religions.

Surprise #5:  I skipped one session and sat down with Mike Booth at the RootsMagic booth.  RootsMagic is a genealogical software program and Mike provided technical assistance in getting RootsMagic running on my MAC laptop.  It was a great relief to see it operational.  Thanks, Mike.  It took an hour and during that time he made just one $20 sale.  I really appreciate your tenacity.  Impressive.

Surprise #6: (Well, not really a surprise.)  I had a fun dinner with Lisa Oberg from Seattle.  We discussed a variety of topics including which speakers impressed us, Special Collections at the UW, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference in 2016.  We continue to try to find a way to work together on a genealogical topic.  Always fun.

Surmise #7:  My roommate and I have chats that are like the ones you had at camp when you were 8 years old–funny, informative and delightful.  Barbara Brown is terrific and I am lucky to have her for a roomie.

Tomorrow I got home, so I would be surprised if I will write again about the conference. Jamboree is one of the most fun that I attend.  It is “California Casual” and the volunteers all are so helpful and eager to assist.   Thank you, SCGS Volunteers for putting together another great conference.

Happy Hunting:


What I have done since the last posting:  See above.  Also attended two other presentations.

Jamboree! Day 1

jamboree 2015It was a great day of friends and presentations and learning!

My good day started with breakfast and sitting with people I didn’t know–for long!

I sat down and found out I was next to Dr. Tim Janzen from Portland, noted DNA expert.  We discussed the possibility of him coming to Seattle for a DNA talk and he was completely willing.  His recommendation was to schedule it at the same time in the fall as he comes up for the Mennonite group.  That seemed a very good way for the societies to split the costs and to perhaps open the opportunity for SGS to collaborate with another society, one of our recently identified goals for the society.

THEN, I was joined by two women associated with the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies which is, I found, holding its 2016 conference in Seattle (this year they are in Jerusalem!–now that’s a conference venue.)  I thought it would be interesting to  speak to the group but the Call for proposals won’t go out until 1 September.   The conference site just went live and can be found here. Janet and Emily were a delight to talk with and we ended up at the end of the day as well.

The morning did not have concurrent lectures instead had a couple of interesting events.

Jean Hibben facilitated a discussion genealogical society representatives about issues affecting them.  SGS js organizationally ahead of others in most operational items.  When I entered the room, they were talking about their publications and making their newsletter public.  Another successful tip was to distribute the newsletter to businesses in the area for pick up by their customers. More than one society rep expressed how well that had worked in pulling in attendees to the society’s programs.  A few societies paid their local speakers for presentations for their regular programs, but not a majority.

Then I was on to the global meeting.  Tables were assigned a facilitator who would lead a discussion on a topic; you could sit at any table you wanted.  The rooms was a buzz!  I sat down at the Scandinavian table to learn some of the questions that would be asked.  I wanted to make sure I covered those topics in my Overview of Scandinavian Resources.   I got a few hints that I hope to incorporate into my next presentation on the Swedes, Norwegians and the Danes.

I prepped for my presentation which I am happy to say, went very well.  I didn’t realize it would be taped and if you are terribly interested in how I did, you can buy the tape!  :-)  Note: as I am posting this, I can only link to the overall site for Jamboree and not the individuals presentations.  If you check it and cannot access the individual presentations, that will probably be linked by 13 June 2015.

Then it was my turn to take in some educational moments…

Happy hunting!



Burbank, Here I Come!

jamboree 2015I am getting ready to go to Burbank!  I am very excited. to be attending and presenting at 2015 Jamboree! sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society.I have attended this conference in the past and there is something to be said for the smaller venues.  NGS can be overwhelming.  Another advantage is that everyone is more relaxed and you can get to know even the headliners personally.

So here is what I have done to prepare:

I have tweaked and re-tweaked my presentation, “Using the Non-Population Censuses for Context and Evidence.”  I gave the presentation on 20 May to Fiske Genealogical Library and came away with several great comments from the audience.  I have re-timed it again and checked all the links.

I have reworked the website I prepare for the presentation.  Rather than have the attendees madly write down URLs that I have found since the submission of the syllabus to SCGS months ago, I develop the website to be the repository of all new information found.  There is only one address and there is quite a bit of new information.  If you, as a blog reader, would like to see what the site looks like, the presentation will be posted at 5:00 am on 5 June for one week at  Please check it out, but if you do-I ask only that you also comment on whether you think the website is a good idea or contribute other ideas for inclusions.

I downloaded the app.  I have never met an app I didn’t like!  You know I love convention apps and this one is no different.  But, it is not good enough to have the app on the phone, if you do not use it.  So I also review all the presentations to make sure that I have indicated my preliminary list of those sessions I would like to attend.  There is a heavy emphasis on the word “preliminary,” as I will go over this list at least 3 more times before I arrive in Burbank so i can refine my choices.

I have a roommate and she sounds delightful! I used the roommate service and talked to my new genealogy friend on the phone today.  I think we are going to get along just fine!

I checked out the volunteer opportunities, especially on Friday morning, as I think I will need a distraction before my presentation at 1:00 that same day.  Unfortunately, I missed the boat!  I looked at the form too late and the abiity to volunteer had passed.  I like to volunteer and did so at NGS.  Hopefully I will be able to do so on-site.

One thing I haven’t stated doing yet is packing–which I need to do right now!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last positing:  worked on the SGS Bulletin, the theme of which is the winners of the Family History Writing contest.  It will be a good issue.  I ordered the new EE.  I probably should have ordered the electronic version but I didn’t.  I have worked on the Fire Insurance Maps presentation.  I am also developing a beginner series of the “Big Four” record sets for the US:  censuses, probate, vital records and land records.  I am working on censuses first.  VR is next.

NGS 2015: “Take-Aways”

I like to ask each attendee at my presentations to identify one of their “take-aways”–those ideas or thoughts which resonated strongly with them.  These “take-aways” (TA) are often just a couple of comments related to each presentation. By writing them down, the attendee will better remember something about the presentation and I can tell what portion of the presentation was important to that particular attendee.  Those thoughts give me ideas about the parts I should emphasize the next time I give it.

2015 NGS crowdSo here are some of the sessions I attended at NGS and my “take-aways.”  The non-genealogists who read this blog might find the variety of the titles interesting.  The genealogist who attended NGS this year might compare their TAs with mine. And, the genealogists who didn’t attend might want to put the NGS conference on their “bucket list” for next year (Fort Lauderdale FL, 4-7 May 2016)

“Iowa: Fields of Genealogical Opportunity” (Marieta Grissom):  a general overview of the resources of the state of Iowa presented by the writer of the NGS Series on the States.

TA: there are numerous small repositories in the state but I feel that I have exhausted most of the relevant ones; the author missed the Ostfriesen collection in Wellsburg, Iowa. And you have to love the Iowa censuses.

“Analyzing Deeds and Wills: I See What It “Says” But What Does it “Mean”?” (Elizabeth Shown Mills):

TA: One of the best presentations i attended; she wrings information out of a deed.  It gave me lots of hints about how to systematically review a deed for my portfolio.

Transcriptions, Abstraction & the Records” (David McDonald).  Transcription and abstraction is a critical skill for a genealogist.

TA: Narrow the focus of the research question associated with the document, e.g “why is the grantor selling the land?” As you do a research plan, make sure you indicate where (repository) you would probably find the information.  A “gold star” presentation.

“So You Think You Want to Get Married: Marriage Records, Laws and German Customs” (Baerbel K. Johnson):

TA: Unfortunately what I remember is that the speaker was not feeling well and coughed through the entire presentation.  The presentation was on customs of Bavaria, a much different area than Ostfriesland.  Ostfriesland’s freedoms, tho’ limited in this same time period (1800s), were more liberal than Bavaria’s, e.g. individuals had a greater ability to move around and had lesser stigma associated with illegitimacy.

“Overcoming Surprising Research Barriers: A Case Study” (Tom Jones)

TA:  another memorable session on research plans and their development; this will also be applicable to my BCG portfolio.

“Introduction to Tracing your Czech Roots” (Amy Wachs)

TA: Hubby’s background on his maternal side is Czech.  This gave me a great background of some readily available records. Unfortunately, the presenter felt compelled to treat the audience like they had never done any genealogical research and spent the first 45 min. discussing US records.  I would have appreciated a little different balance but there were probably others in the audience who felt it was very appropriate.

“A Methodology for Irish Emigration to North America” (David Rencher): Head of FamilySearch and an excellent presenter.

TA: David presented a very interesting statistical approach to determining the most likely parish within a County to investigate to find your ancestor.   I am hoping this may help my friend who does not know the parish of birth of her ancestor but knows he came from County Roscomman.

That was the first two days.  There were still two days to go!  No wonder I came back energized and exhausted.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I have worked with about 6 or the 8 authors for the next SGS Bulletin to get documents to the editor for proofing.  I also set up the template for the Bulletin, changing what I could for this issue, etc. I want to publish before I go to a conference the end of June.  Also, realized I had forgotten to send a contract to Cape Cod/Falmouth so worked on that and I submitted my 6 proposals to Ohio Genealogical society for their 2016 conference.  Getting excited for Jamboree.

Photo: taken by the author prior to the live streaming session of Alison Hare, “A Time of Cholera: A Case Study about Context,” another gold star presentation.  Read the book about the topic: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson.

Potpourri: 22 May 2015

Wilder PassThis is a collection of a variety of comments, observations and thoughts about genealogy. I promise not to do this too often (Left and in the spirit of miscellany: I just like the picture of Wilder Pass (CO).  It has nothing to do with the post!)

1.  I was recently named one of the top five Social Media Reps for the NGS 2015 conference!  And to think, just a few years ago Mary Tedesco gave me the twitter tutorial.  (I am still learning how to retweet and like other people’s tweets!) :-)

2. Debbie Meiszala blogged about genealogical regrets.  I have many.  There are the usual ones—“Why didn’t I ask gramma __________?”   Or, “I should have taken that photo when I had the chance.”  Or, “I forgot to pick up that record at the courthouse.”  My prime regret, however, is that I didn’t share the information I had gathered on my mother’s family–with my mother!  Of course, I also would have liked to have shared with my Swede/Dane father that he was 6.25% Norwegian. (My aunt didn’t know.)

3. The program for the Northwest Genealogical Conference 2015 is out.  Whew!  I am not opposite Judy Russell, a very popular speaker on issues related to genealogy and the law who is making four presentations that day.   Not that the other speakers aren’t formidable–Janice Lovelace, Jean Hibben, CG, Sara Scribner, CG, etc.  I will be presenting on “House Histories! Hooray for the Tax Man”.  You are either interested in House History or not.  I am sure that however many attendees come, they will be enthusiastic.

4.I have fallen into the trap of other genealogists when I watch “Who Do You Think You Are?”  I yelled at the TV the other day “Why don’t you look for an obituary to find the siblings? You do not need to travel to _______.”  Is WDYTYA becoming my “reality TV?”

5.  At the NGS conference I went through the exhibitor area and picked up material on 3 or 4 companies.  One booth I stopped at was ArkivDigital, a pay website of photographed original Swedish records.  These records are beautiful.  There are multiple locations to obtain the Swedish records, including SVAR, FamilySearch and Ancestry but all of these records were digitized from microfilm and so they are in b&w.  ArkivDigital images are in color and they are gorgeous.  Problem:  they do not have the tax records I am looking for.

6. The other product I am seriously investigating is RootsMagic, a genealogy software product  The developer of my software which I have used since 2002 has stopped supporting the product, so I needed to get a new software that will accept the information from my old program.  I hope it works.  I am worried about losing all or part of my data.

7. I was asked to write an article for the Federation of Genealogical Societies magazine on organizing a Family History Writing Contest.  I had to beg off because in the next 6 weeks I will be attending three conferences, taking 1 vacation, assembling 1 SGS Bulletin and entertaining 3 guests for a week.  I will be pretty busy for the next seven weeks! Don’t be surprised if 1.) I post no blogs or 2.) I post more blogs than usual to get away from the mayhem!  Either option is possible.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I am starting to work on the next (and my last) SGS Bulletin, submitted my SGS monthly reports and tweaked my Jamboree presentation based on my presentation on the same topic to the Fiske Genealogical Library on Wednesday.