17 June 2010

Jammin' at Jamboree

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) held their Jamboree June 11-13, 2010 at the Marriott Hotel in Burbank. My understanding is that this is the third largest gathering of genealogists, behind NGS and FGS. That is prestigious! Attendance was estimated at 1700, the largest gathering for the festivities yet.

This was my first Jamboree. On Thursday, I hit the ground running. Katherine Borges and Linda Magellan picked me up at the airport and after dropping my luggage at the hotel. Upon leaving the hotel we ran into George Valko who was invited to join us on our next adventure. The four of us drove to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to see the Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies of China. There we met Kenny Hedgepath and began our self-guided tour.

And why did a group of genetic genealogist drive nearly an hour to see some mummies? These were no ordinary mummies, and we are no ordinary tourists. The mummies had been DNA tested, and we are addicted genetic genealogists! How could we miss this one!

The mummies, found in the Tarim Basin in the far Western Xinjiang Uyghur region of China, proved to have Western DNA. The Silk Road passed through this arid region, and we all know traders used this road connecting the Eastern and the Western cultures. However, one cannot help but speculate how the women and babies came to this location in the second millennium BC, let alone die here.

One of the most striking mummies is of a beautiful young woman with petite features and long curly auburn hair, dubbed the "Beauty of Xiaohe" by the archeologists. Other artifacts clearly appeared to be from a Western culture with one tapestry displaying an man who appears to have been Greek or Roman. It would seem there was a complete village of for Westerners in this region of China thousands of years ago. The exhibit was fascinating.

The display travels to Houston and then to Philadelphia. You can see a video clip from MSNBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams.

On Friday, the Jamboree began at noon, but at 8 a.m. on the other days. I helped at the Family Tree DNA table, explaining the tests and swabbing customers. To my surprise and pleasure, a member of my Lamson DNA Project visited the booth as did a new Lambson tester … every project manager’s dream! Even the wife of my Ogan genealogical cousin found me! She and I had traveled to Wales for a couple of weeks, hunting ancestors. It was old home week ... or perhaps the gathering of the clans (clans of genealogists, genetic genealogists, and ISOGG members) ... as there were people I knew from home, some I had met in London, and others I see yearly at the FTDNA conference in Houston. It was great to see everyone again!

Saturday evening Alice Fairhurst hosted a panel discussion of ISOGG members to answer questions regarding the new autosomal tests for genealogists.

Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA announced several new features coming to their Family Finder test in the next few weeks to few months. He demonstrated how you can use the smaller segments, e.g.. 1 cM in size to figure out which side of the family a person probably matches on FF. This, of course, is based on testing relevant members of your family. For example, I have tested my son and paternal first cousin. If the match is with my cousin, I know the connection is on my father’s line.

Other highlights for Family Finder include Third Party uploads available the first week in July, Ancestry Painting coming soon, and the X Chromosome pages will be completed by the end for the summer. A surprise tool is in the wings for the Administrators and will be revealed in the last quarter of the year.

There were many celebrities in the crowd, namely, Dick Eastman (Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter), Katherine Borges (founder and director of ISOGG), Megan Smolenyak (author, speaker, creator of Roots TV and much more), and Chris Haley (Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland and nephew of the late Alex Haley). Maureen Taylor (the Photo Detective), Pat Richley (DearMYRTLE), Schelly Talalay Dardashti (Tracing the Tribe), and many more notables spoke and had booths. With all the speakers, genealogists, companies, and even with groups meeting in the lobby or bar, everyone was truly "pressing the flesh," and this was very much a Jammin' Jamboree!

No doubt everyone is looking forward to next year's Jamboree!

Many thanks to the organizers whose wonderful talents made this a great event!

copyright: 17 Jun 2010 E. Aulicino
Photo courtesy of K. Borges

1 comment:

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Emily,

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you at Jamboree. I had a nice talk with Katherine borges who explained autosomal DNA in simple terms for me, which I appreciated!

One minor correction - Pat richley was not there - she cancelled.

Cheers -- Randy