Day 2 of the Atlanta Family History Expo started off with some early morning fun. I was scheduled to give my Traditional DNA Testing and Beyond – New Revolutions in Genetic Genealogy presentation for a second time, at 8am. Now, anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a morning person And to top it off, I was staying at my cousin’s house about 30 minutes away from the Gwinnett Center — the facility where the expo was held — instead of a nearby hotel. So this was a very early morning for me!
I arrived around 7:45am, quickly dropped a few things off at the Family Tree DNA booth in the exhibit hall, and headed to Salon 1 for my talk. Several attendees were already seated and waiting for the presentation to begin. I set up my laptop, got the digital projector working, distributed handouts, then tried to test the wireless microphone. I turned on the power, said hello into the mic, but no sound from the speaker. So I adjusted a few things, said hello again and still nothing. Then suddenly a male voice comes through the speaker, “Hello, this is Salon 2. It appears that you have the microphone that goes with my speaker, and I have the microphone that goes with your speaker!” Oops! So I walked next door to Salon 2, where Andy Pomeroy of Limited Edition Publishers was getting ready to start his presentation on Social Networking for Genealogists. We laughed and exchanged our microphones. On my way out, I jokingly suggested that we teach each other’s class from our respective rooms. I asked if he knew anything about DNA — he did not, but he asked if I knew anything about Facebook — well yes, as a matter of fact, I do! But alas, we each taught our own classes
The microphone mix-up was a nice ice-breaker for my presentation, and of course if I hadn’t been fully awake yet, I certainly was now! Once I started my presentation, it went without a hitch. I had a smaller audience than on the first day — probably around 25-30 — but that didn’t surprise me given it was a Saturday 8am presentation.
I spent the rest of the day at the Family Tree DNA booth in the exhibit room again. I had expected Saturday to be busier than Friday, but despite the fact that I didn’t get to eat lunch until late in the afternoon again, it felt less busy. However, now that I think more about it, I probably had a steady stream of visitors on Saturday, with the occasional crowd — as opposed to the constant crowd on Friday. There were times where I had several people at the table wanting to learn about Family Tree DNA’s testing options, so I ended up talking to 2, 3 or 4 people at once — essentially giving short, impromptu classes on genetic genealogy.
Many people at the conference had already heard about genetic genealogy before, but there were also many who had not. So it was a good mix. And there were many different reasons why people were interested in DNA testing. Some wanted to find matches to others with the same surname — that’s a perfect application for Y-DNA testing. Several were adoptees and wanted to know more about their ancestry — the Family Finder test is great for that. Others wanted to know about their maternal line, which is where the mtDNA test comes in. A few people asked about Native American ancestry, and I advised that any of Y-DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder could be useful for that, depending on whether the possible Native ancestor was on a direct paternal or maternal line or not. Same with identifying whether someone has Jewish ancestry. Of course, there are a variety of other ways that DNA testing can be useful to a person’s genealogy research; these are just some of the most common questions that I was asked while at the Expo.