Genea-Jamboree: Day 1

BURBANK, Calif.–The 39th Annual Southern California Genealogical Jamboree got underway this morning at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel. The Jamboree began with a class on “Beginning Genealogy,” which for reasons I noted last night I did not attend. More about what I did instead later. I went downstairs about 12:15 PM and spotted Randy Seaver at the check-in desk. We chatted for a few minutes, and then went off in different directions. We would meet up again later.

The hotel is under reconstruction and it’s not the easiest place to get around in right now. I thought I’d go have lunch in the hotel restaurant, but as I got there, I heard an employee tell another attendee that there were sandwiches in the Convention Center. So I walked back over there and signed in for the Jamboree and had a hot dog. I had a couple of great conversations with other attendees from various places; I enjoyed that a lot.

By the time I finished lunch, it was time for the afternoon sessions to begin. I went first to Leland Meitzler’s presentation on “The X Files–Dealing with Black Sheep in the Family Tree.” Leland is a great storyteller and he illustrated his presentation with a number of anecdotes about his family. He also described a number of websites and other sources for discovering the, ahem, unsavory branches of one’s family tree. Some I was familiar with, others were new to me. This presentation was well attend; so much so that extra chairs had to be brought into the room.

There was a thirty minute break after that presentation, so I went to a table outside the conference rooms to use the computer. I sat down at a table where there were two other people, one of whom was genealogy blogger rock star Schelly Talalay Dardashti! What a great surprise! We had a great conversation. Schelly is a great wit and a very interesting person. When the break was over, Schelly and I headed off to see Steve Morse’s presentation, “From DNA to Genetic Genealogy: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask.”

Steve Morse is a computer scientist, not a geneticist or biologist. But his description of DNA and its relevance to genealogy was the best such presentation for lay persons I’ve ever heard. It occurred to me that it was much clearer and much more educational than a similar presentation I’d heard as a judge designed to get us up to speed on DNA and genetic evidence. It was cogent and funny in the appropriate places. If you haven’t seen Steve’s “One-Step” pages, go there now! (Well, wait til you finish this!)

Following Steve Morse’s presentation, I wandered into the hallway and ran into Stephen Danko. He had flown down from Northern California today. We had a great chat, too. It is a bit weird, though, meeting all these folks that I’ve just known on the Internet!

At 4:30, Schelly gave a presentation on gen-blogging. I attended, as did Randy Seaver, Elizabeth O’Neal and Kathryn Doyle. It was, of course, excellent, and a number of potential new bloggers attended. Tomorrow is the “Bloggers Summit” featuring many of the top genea-bloggers.

Some of the other presentations that I couldn’t get to due to scheduling were:

  • Arlene Eakle, “American Church Records”
  • Dick Eastman, “Grandpa in Your Pocket” [on new hardware solutions]
  • George Morgan, “How to Get the Most out of Attending a Genealogy Conference”
  • D. Benton Simons, “Researching Witchcraft in New England”

There were also presentations on Legacy Family Tree 7 and RootsMagic 4. This is not a complete list of all the topics, but several that I thought were interesting.

Well, now it’s time for the Friday Banquet, featuring keynote speaker Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak of Roots TV. I’ll report on that early tomorrow morning. Also tomorrow, we’ll talk about the Bloggers Summit and the Exhibition Hall.

Craig

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