Report from Arizona Family History Expo 2011

Friday, 28 Jan 2011 | by Mark Tucker

What a great expo we had here is Arizona. Congratulation to the Family History Expos team on another successful event.


Day 1 Recap




Lisa Louise Cook started off the Expo with a great keynote encouraging us Ol’ Genealogy Dogs to learn some new tricks. Lisa started podcasting her Genealogy Gems when she felt the need to share what she was learning with others. It didn’t matter that she had no idea how to create a podcast, she learned. One of the new tricks she encouraged us to learn is how to cite our sources. Thanks Lisa!


Autosomal DNA


This was the first of 3 classes that I ended up taking on DNA and I am starting to feel a little more comfortable with the topic. Of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that each person has, two determine gender (XX for female, XY for male). The remaining chromosomes are the autosomes. This DNA is made up from the DNA of your ancestors. Whereas we get 50% from our father and 50% from our mother, that DNA is really a mix of all our ancestors. It is helpful in determining where your ancestors came from. The class was taught by Donald N. Yates, Ph.D. of DNA Consultants.


Migration – Boom or Bust


This class taught by Sharon Scott talked about how economic factors affected the migration of our ancestors. A boom might draw people to an area while a bust could push them away. The class was in a smaller room and the interest was so high that they had to bring in extra chairs. Some sat outside the open door. So in a way, the class was a boom. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough room for me, so it was a bust. Check out her website: Find My Dead


Tax Records


This was the first class I took on tax records. Especially helpful was the annual poll or head count tax that counted men starting at age 21 (usually) to 40+. The exact ages varied based on changes in the law. Leland Meitzler did a great job teaching the class. Website: Family Roots Publishing


Finding Female Ancestors


Gena Philibert Ortega taught a class on the various sources that can be used to find those female ancestors. She has a lot of good examples and reminded us how different laws affected women and their appearance in records. She did a great job. Website: Your Family History Research




On Friday night there was a dinner where M. Bridget Cook spoke. Her talk included dealing with the skeletons in our closet and how confronting them can aid the healing process. I was unsure of this topic before she spoke. She has helped write the stories of a reformed skinhead and a woman whose father was a serial killer. Dealing with these tough topics is so much more than the skeletons in my own family tree that I was left with the desire to be a little more open and honest in the telling of my own family history.



Day 2 Recap


My Presentation


At 8am I taught a class on how to navigate research like the pros. It is the same topic that I have presented as past Family History Expos, but feel that it is still relevant. The presentation went well but I had to hurry at the end to finish the 90 slides. The best part was an attendee’s comment after class. She indicated that she was a beginner but that I had made what she thought would be a boring topic very approachable. And that she was inspired to follow the steps of the Genealogical Proof Standard in her research. That made my day. It is exactly why I present this class. I wish I could find more ways to make this topic less scary to other family historians.


More DNA


My second DNA class was taught by Ugo Perego. He showed how Y-DNA and mtDNA can be combined with family trees to infer the DNA of other than your direct-male and direct-female ancestral lines. He works for Genetree.


19th Century Photographs


Gary Clark did a great job explaining how to examine the photos (and the paper that they were sealed to) to get an accurate date range of a photograph. He has an amazing website at that shows over 1000 photographs that you can compare with your photographs to aid in dating them.


Even More DNA


The last class I attended talked about how to read Y-DNA and mtDNA results and make sense of them. It was taught by Elise Friedman. She also spent some time talking about autosomal DNA and how it might be used to infer the likelihood of a specific relationship. Website: Family Tree DNA


Closing Keynote


Holly Hansen, President of Family History Expos, took a few minutes at the end of the expo to share some personal family history stories. It is a real treat to listen to her speak. I can’t imagine putting on an entire expo and then still having the state of mind to speak. 


Dick Eastman Dinner


After the expo closed, a group of 21 attendees had dinner at a local restaurant.  We had a great time. The tables were arranged so that there were groups of 4-5 people together so I didn’t get to meet everyone. Our table had a great conversation about how technology might be used to make family history accessible to the non-genealogists of the family.  Congratulations to Jennifer for winning the free dinner by guessing the closest to the actual amount of the total bill.


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  3. Hi Mark – enjoyed your posts on the AZ FH Expo! I wanted to let you know I want to give you the Ancestor Approved Award, however, I can’t seem to find your email address. So, send me your email so I can pass the award along to you. Of course, if you already have it, that’s cool too. You are definitely deserving!

    Thanks again.

    Irene Winterburn
    Jirene’s Genealogy Tips

    Comment by Irene Winterburn — 8 Feb 2011 @ 9:43 pm

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