Day 2 of the New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown

Day 2 of the New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown

The second day of the conference featured five conference sessions with a wide variety of topics.
In the morning there were two sessions before the lunch break. A presentation by a representative of Living DNA, a DNA testing group based in England, discussed how invasions and battles over the course of history led to many ethnic groups in what is now considered the British Isles. Living DNA can match a person to 21 different areas of England with their DNA test. They are also working on an Irish One Family project that will be able to identify about 14 genetic areas in Ireland.

The second morning program I attended was “Using Geo-Tech Tools to Answer New York Research Questions” presented by Frederick Wertz of the New York G & B. Frederick mentioned Google Earth as a great free tool to use when researching locations. It is easy to use and data layers can easily be used with Google Earth and you can import third-party sources as well. Other websites to look at when doing location research include: the Geographic Names Information System, The National Map, Newberry Atlas of Historical County Boundaries and the New York Public Library Map Warper. There is a good handout included in the syllabus.

There were three programs after the lunch break. The programs I attended covered identifying DNA matches, New York State Archives collections on and tips for searching on

Blaine T. Bettinger, author of “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy,” discussed several strategies that can be used to identify people who are identified as DNA matches. Some of his tips were: determine if the person has a family tree online, use your known DNA matches to help identify unknown matches, use the match’s member profile to look for clues and use the match’s username to search for their identity. He used many examples to illustrate his tips.

Two employees from the New York State Archives went over the different collections from the Archives that are available for free through New York. They also discussed which collections were scheduled to be digitized by in the future. The handout in the syllabus has a list of all the collections discussed in the presentation.

D. Joshua Taylor, president of the New York G & B, gave many advanced searching tips that can be used on databases. Some of his search strategies included: keep a research log for your online searches, select specific collections to search using the card catalog instead of always defaulting to the opening search screen, remember that first names are not always spelled out in collections, location names in collections may be current names, not the name used at the time of the event, and read the source information of collections so you understand the origin of the original data. The handout in the syllabus is very useful.

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