Final day of New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown

There were two morning conference sessions and I attended a second presentation by Blaine Bettinger on the topic of “Shared Matches and Genetic Networks.” Blaine discussed how you can use shared DNA matches and shared DNA segment matches to help you locate more family members. He pointed out that Ancestry DNA will only show you shared matches that are fourth cousin or closer in their results list. Other testing companies do not have this type of cut-off. You will received many more matches when you look at your shared matches as opposed to those with shared DNA segments. He mentioned two third-party tools to help analyze your results. One program called NodeXL works with Excel and can only use Ancestry DNA shared matches data. The second program, Rootsfinder, can only be used with DNA data from GEDmatch and only works with shared segment DNA data.

A very interesting presentation was given on “Underutilized New York Records: Towns, Taxes and Much More” by Eric G. Grundset, former Library Director of the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Eric discussed the importance of locating and using town records and tax records in New York State even if they may be hard to find for some locations. He also talked about the New York Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Records Committee Reports. These documents are not limited to the American Revolution time period. The actual books can be found in Washington, D.C., Albany and Manhattan. Some of the information you can find are family bible records, cemetery and church records. There is a free online index for these reports on the DAR national website.

There were also two conference sessions in the afternoon. The final program I attended was “Writing Your Family History” presented by Kyle Hurst with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Kyle went over the different parts of the writing process from planning, adding narrative, writing and revising and putting it together. Examples were given from published family histories to show the different ways you can incorporate family trees with narrative text. The NEHGS offers free templates and a sample stylesheet to help with family history writing and as well as a free subject guide on writing a family history.

I learned something new from all of the lectures I attended. I look forward to the next conference that is scheduled for Sept. 10-12, 2020 in Albany.

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.

First day of New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown

First day of New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown

This afternoon kicked off the opening of the Exhibit Hall and conference sessions for the 2018 New York State Family History Conference in Tarrytown.

The photo above is from the table of the Genealogy Federation of Long Island. The groups meet in either Nassau or Suffolk counties and include a DNA group, different ethnic specific groups as well as three public library groups.

There were two program time slots this afternoon. In the first time slot I attended a very interesting program presented by Judy G. Russell known as The Legal Genealogist. Her talk about was Advanced U.S. Census Research. She went decade by decade through the U.S. federal census records and explained the unique information that could be found in each census. She also discussed the specialized federal census schedules such as the agricultural schedule, mortality schedule and manufacturing schedule. A very detailed handout of the talk was included in the syllabus.

The second presentation I attended was an interview with Jackie Graziano of the Westchester Archives. It was a very informative session and very helpful to anyone wanting to pursue research in Westchester County. Jackie discussed the types of collections held at the archives and pointed out that the Westchester County Historical Society is also located in the same building. She talked about some of the highlights of the collections, some items which go back to the 1600s. The archives website was discussed and she mentioned indexes that are available online as well as the digital collections available through the website. A brochure detailing collections at the archive was handed out before the program.

Friday will be a full day with conference sessions running from 9:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.