Sunday, November 13, 2016

“Blaine Day” at Archives of Michigan

For over a month I have been helping a family member prepare and recover from a hip replacement surgery so genealogy time has been almost null. But an opportunity arose which I am thankful I was able to attend thanks to a family member covering for me.

Blaine Bettinger at the Fall Family History Event
Yesterday was the Michigan Genealogical Council and Archives of Michigan's Fall Family History Event in Lansing. It was titled, "A Day with Blaine Bettinger."

Or in my words, "Blaine Day." A day packed with four — yes four! — presentations by Blaine Bettinger on various DNA topics.

With a start time of 9:15 a.m., this meant getting up before the chickens, scraping the first frost off the windshield, and driving "an hour and a half" to arrive in time for the 8:30 a.m. start of registration. Thankfully the weather other than a bit cold was great for driving and traffic was strangely light despite game day while the sun raced up in the rear-view mirror. I arrived with plenty of time to spare.

The event seemed to be well organized (even with a good couple handfuls of early arrivals) and from the morning announcements this was the largest attendance they had in the 12 years of hosting this event.

The Archives of Michigan
(and Library of Michigan) in Lansing, Michigan.
Another morning announcement was regarding the digitization and indexing of the naturalization records for the 70 Michigan counties that the Archives of Michigan has in its collection. The images will eventually be at the AOM's website. There will also be an index to the collection on the SeekingMichigan website and at the website. They are not announcing a timeline for the project. (Remember Michigan Death Certificate anticipation?) And since the index will be done by volunteers aka us the genealogy public, when it gets done depends on our participation. The Archives of Michigan staff is working on obtaining the naturalization records from the remaining Michigan counties that have not turned their records over to the archives.

Now as for "Blaine Day" which ran from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., the Forum auditorium was pretty much packed all day with a bit less attendance at the last of the four presentations. Bettinger's presentations were:
  • Using Y-DNA and mtDNA to Explore Your Ancestry
  • Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry
  • Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA
  • DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard

I thought each presentation was really good. Bettinger covered enough of the basics that the DNA uninitiated could understand the concepts but also enough of the technical end that intermediates had something too. The handouts, which were sent out via email a day before the event, were informative following the main points of each presentation but not every detail. One handout was not in the order of how it was presented but it was easy enough to follow along. Bettinger also made time to answer questions after each presentation which was great because there were a lot of questions.

Couldn't make it to yesterday's Family History Event? Much of the content in the presentations also seems to be covered in Bettinger's new book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. I bought a copy (along with another copy for a cousin too) about a month or so ago and I'm slowly reading it. It's not a hard read, it actually explains concepts very clearly, I have just been so busy and tired it is taking me longer than normal to read things.

So if you get a chance to see Bettinger speak or hear him via a webinar, do try to do so. I don't think you will be disappointed.

The drive home was just as pleasant. Towards the end the big moon was visible ahead of me as the sun was going down behind me. I arrived home in the driveway just as darkness fell.

Blaine Day aka a DNA Day for me was a good day. And as I learned upon getting on the internet after dinner, November 12th was also the day Family Tree DNA released its Ancient European Origins feature on it Family Finder tests. It was interesting seeing FTDNA's estimates of how much Metal Age Invader, Farmer, Hunter-Gatherer and Non-European DNA we are still carrying in our DNA. I don't think it will be of much use, but it is interesting.

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