15 March 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? Live Feb 22-24, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? Live, the world’s largest genealogical conference, started with a bang this year.

The figures were up 9% from last year, and are as follows.

Friday - 22 February 5,444
Saturday - 23 February 5,365
Sunday - 24 February 3,132
Total 13,941

The Family Tree DNA stand was extremely busy on Friday so we
knew attendance was good.  Saturday appeared equally busy, and although there was drop in Sunday’s visits, we knew it was higher than last year.  Friday always has the highest volume, and Sunday is typically slower, but this year the FTDNA stand was still busy on Sunday, as well.  Family Tree DNA sold over twice as many test kits this year as in previous years, so we are finally making an impact in the UK.

Debbie Kennett's Presentation,
photo courtesy of Max Blankfeld via Debbie Kennett
The presentations for the FTDNA stand were very exceptional.  Most speakers were from the U.K. which helps bridge the gap between cultures. Dr. Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona spoke about our ancestral origins, including the recent discovering of haplogroup A0 and A00 initiated from citizen scientist Bonnie Schrack who had called attention to a curious situation in her DNA project and involved the geneticists. Debbie Kennett explained to novices the three major tests, and her presentation was well received. Scottish DNA was covered by Alasdair McDonald, and Tyrone Bowes explained how to use history and geography to find where our ancestral name probably originated. Katherine Borges spoke about the DNA of various famous people. Bruce Winney presented A Genetic Analysis of the People of the British Isles, and Chris Pomery informed the crowd about Traditional Genealogy and DNA One-Name Studies. Max Blankfeld covered DNA and Female Lines.  The presentations covered a nice range of topics and greatly informed the British population what is current in the DNA world.

We had our usual dinner at Pizza Express on Friday after the first day of the conference.  Max Blankfeld, Vice-President of Family Tree DNA, received his sheep from Brian Swann who for several years has made presentations to various members of our group.

The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) stand listed 107 surnames with variants...more than in past years...which could receive a free Y-37 marker test at the courtesy of the respective project administrators.  All one needed to do was to be male with the surname and walk by to notice your name on the chart.  Seventeen tests were given away for the following surnames:  Burton, Dunbar, Fitzgerald, Hunt, Parker, Pearse, Phillips, Phillipson, Stokes, Taylor and Wright.  Some  administrators of these projects received more than one tester.  Congratulations to all of them.  I greatly encourage DNA administrators to use the resources available online for the U.K. to bring to the present probable male testers and invite them to show up at next year's conference.  In some cases, this may be the only way to connect to your lineage in the homeland.

Kensington Palace
Most of our crew from the U.S. arrived Wednesday February 20th and immediately went into full action with a trip to Keningston Palace.  The docents there were wonderfully knowledgeable. We had tea on the grounds at the Orangery, sharing three different teas and cutting the little cakes in to portions. It's nice to see we can be polite when needed! (teasing)

Down House
Every year Brian Swann has suggested and organized some great adventures.  This year he out-did himself! The Down House trip (Charles Darwin's home) on Thursday and the trip to Cambridge and on to Hinxton  to tour the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute the following Monday were fantastic!

Emily and Brian at Sanger
Who could resist visiting the home of Charles Darwin, the man who established that all species of life descended from common ancestors and pioneered the idea of evolution?  Who could resist visiting The Eagle Pub for lunch where Francis Crick and James Watson first discussed the Double Helix, according to the plaque outside the door, and The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute where in 1992, this new center was formed to be the British arm of the Human Genome Project's sequencing efforts?

The Gang at Stonehenge

For Tuesday, Derrell Teats, one of our group from the U.S. organized a tour of Stonehenge, Bath and other interesting cities along the route.  Our guide was delightful and informative.

Maurice Gleeson and Siobhan Peal
At Stonehenge, Maurice Gleeson and I ran into a spiritualist who runs the Talking With Capricorn blog.  She states she is a tetragametic chimera which is very interesting to us genetic genealogists.  The all-day trip was wonderful, returning us to the B&B just after 9 p.m.  We needed a bit more daylight at the last stop, Avebury, to see the largest set of standing stones which are three circles, one within the other and to have more time at the The Lions Pub in the center of inner circle of stones.

Emily and Mayor Sheila Stuart,
photo courtesy of Cynthia Wells
While in Cambridge, I had the pleasure of meeting the mayor who just happens to be an Oregonian.  After seeing a news article about her in my local paper, I emailed to congratulate her and to invited her to have lunch with us at the Eagle Pub, just around the corner from her office.  I greatly enjoyed visiting her.  She volunteered herself and her husband for a DNA test, so promptly two kits came flying at us from the other tables of friends. She promptly returned the samples to FTDNA, and I'm sure she and I are both anxious to see the results.

It may be difficult to top this year's trip as far as our side trips are concerned, but there is so much to see and do that no one would be disappointed in the coming years.  This is your invitation to join us next year!

15 Mar 2013

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