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GeneaQuest 2020: Frontiers in Genealogy

CAGGNI‘s 4th biennial conference on Sept. 11-12, 2020, will be a virtual event, featuring international, national and local presenters covering a wide range of genealogy topics of interest to all skills and interest levels.

Registration Open Now!

                • Saturday registration: Members, $40; Non-members, $45
                • Friday DNA Primer (must be registered for Saturday event): $15

Early Bird Bonus: Friday Morning GeneaUs Bar

Small groups chats with CAGGNI experts – more information coming soon!

Optional Friday Afternoon Workshop: DNA Primer

Saturday conference registration required.

Saturday Programs

9-10 am
PLENARY LECTURE: Maurice Gleeson – Frontiers in Genetic Genealogy: Finding “Unknown Parents.”

10:15-11:15 am

11:30-12:30 pm

1:30-2:30 pm

 2:45-3:45 pm4-5 pm 

1A Maurice Gleeson 
Beyond 1750: Managing a Surname Project

2A Jane Haldeman 
Lifting the Fog

3A Maurice Gleeson
Combining Irish DNA & Genealogy

4A Kitty Cooper 
DNA Cousin Matching
5A Kitty Cooper 
3rd Party DNA Tools

1B Daniel Hubbard 
“I” is for Identity Crisis

2B Gail Lukasik 
White Like Her

3B Daniel Hubbard 
When a Life Becomes Myth

4B Jane Haldeman 
My Ancestor was a Farmer
5B Daniel Hubbard 
From the Source’s Mouth

1C Kitty Cooper 
Collaborative Trees


OPENING REMARKS (8:40–9 am) 

PLENARY LECTURE (9–10 am) Maurice Gleeson – Frontiers in Genetic Genealogy: Finding “Unknown Parents.” Adoptees are having great success in finding their birth families using genetic genealogy. This talk describes the methodology behind these searches and the tools and techniques that are making such searches easier to accomplish. There are several distinct stages: 1) clustering of the top matches into groups of Shared Matches; 2) gathering the family trees of the matches in each group; 3) comparing the family trees in order to triangulate on a common ancestor for each group; 4) tracing downward from the common ancestors of each group (potentially to identify where the descendants of one group intersect with the descendants of another); 5) targeted testing of living individuals to clarify the identity of the birth parent. These techniques can also be applied to historical cases including the parent with the unknown father or the illegitimate grandparent.

BREAK (10–10:15 am) Featuring our exhibitors.

1A (10:15-11:15 am) Maurice Gleeson – Beyond 1750: What to Expect from Managing a Surname Project. Intermediate level discussion of surname projects, Y-DNA methods to reach back hundreds of years to distant ancestors and geographic locations. Examples from the Spearin, Gleeson and Irish clan projects will illustrate methods. Methods for grouping testers within a project and the yse of tools (SAPP, SNP dating, TiP) will be reviewed. Analysis of potential clan associations requires an in-depth analysis of clan-associated surnames and assessing if there is the preponderance of a particular genetic signature among such surnames.

1B (10:15-11:15 am) Daniel Hubbard – “I” is for Identity Crisis. We think of identity as something fixed and simple, but as we try to reconstruct the identities of long gone people, we need to realize that identity is a much slipperier concept. The things we use to define a person’s identity can change during that person’s lifetime. There are also questions of how a person self-identifies, the motivations they can have for changing how they self-identify, and how those changes affect the records they leave behind. 

1C (10:15-11:15 am) Kitty Cooper – Collaborative Trees. One World Tree, WikiTree, Family Search’s family tree are just a few examples of the collaborative platforms for tree building. Learn how to get the most out of these trees for both your research and for storing documentation and, in some cases, DNA results.

BREAK (11:15-11:30 am) Featuring our exhibitors.

2A (11:30-12:30 pm) Jane Haldeman – Lifting the Fog: Strategies for Locating Ancestors in Your DNA Matches. Due to wars, invasions, partitioning of lands, boundaries and name changes through the generations, DNA may be the only common connection with your ancestors. The cause of war and nation boundary movements may have obscured the paper trail of your ancestors. DNA can give us clues of where to look and what questions to ask. Learn techniques to use DNA to answer your questions.

2B (11:30-12:30 pm)  Gail Lukasik – White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing. Gail will discuss the story portrayed in her bestselling book, named by The Washington Post as one of the most inspiring stories of 2017. It is the story of her mother’s “passing” for white, her struggle with the shame of mother’s choice, and her subsequent journey of self-discovery and redemption.

LUNCH (12:30-1:30 pm) Hosted virtual table meetings from 12:45-1:15 pm.

3A (1:30-2:30 pm) Maurice Gleeson – Combining Irish DNA & Genealogy. Irish genealogy is particularly challenging due to the dearth of historical records before 1800. However DNA is a very useful tool and can be used to successfully break through the 1800 barrier. Using Shared Matches to triangulate on a specific ancestral couple can help you break through Brick Walls and locate rare sources of genealogical material that may not be available in public repositories. In addition, Irish Naming Convention combined with DNA can be a powerful tool for breaking thru a particular Brick Wall. These and other techniques will be applied to Irish genealogy specifically.

3B (1:30-2:30 pm) Daniel Hubbard – When a Life Becomes Myth: History, Myth and Family Stories. This is a talk about the reconstruction of a life. An odd and dramatic family tale showed a life slowly being converted to myth over generations. Using genealogy, history and even weather records to reconstruct what seems to have happened, revealed a life that was not so far from the storyline of a myth from the very beginning. In the end, it has come full circle from story to research to storytelling.

BREAK (2:30-2:45 pm) Featuring our exhibitors.

4A (2:45-3:45 pm) Kitty Cooper – DNA Cousin Matching. No you don't have to look at all 1,000 or so of your cousin matches. Advice on how to manage them. Plus Ancestry and MyHeritage make use of user trees, your and others to attempt to find relationships. Color coding and clustering can help resolve some of those mysteries. The Genetic Affairs clustering tool is taking the genetic genealogy world by storm as it can even build trees for you.

4B (2:45-3:45 pm) Jane Haldeman – My Ancestor was a Farmer. From 1937-1946 the Farmer’s Home Administration gave low-interest loans to small farmers. These records include family information – place of birth, medical and physical information, farm and home management plan, the land’s description, what is raised, grown and may include farm soil maps. The records are in the local branches of the National Archives in Record Group 96. The case files contain valuable records about daily life, the family and farm.

BREAK (3:45–4 pm) Featuring our exhibitors.

5A (4-5 pm) Kitty Cooper – Third Party DNA Tools:  GEDmatch, DNAGedCom, DNA2Tree, and DNA Painter. Did you know that DNAGedCom has tools that combine clustering tools and chromosome browsers? Are you using the WATO, Shared Centimorgan and Painter tools at DNA Painter? Did you know that the DNA2Tree app can build out the trees of your best genetic matches to provide you a Genetic Network in a matter of seconds? GEDMatch offers a plethora of tools essential for anyone wanting to manage results from multiple DNA sites. Using real-life examples, Kitty shows how to get the most out of these popular toolkits.

5B (4-5 pm) Daniel Hubbard – A GeneaQuest Premiere! From the Source’s Mouth. Once we’ve understood that identities can be tricky to reconstruct, how do we piece together the tidbits of information that we find into an actual ancestor? How do we avoid putting together a great-great Frankenfather from the spare parts we find in the documents we dig up? Do we trust what seems to be true, or do we look long and hard into the “source’s mouth.”

CLOSING (5 pm) 

Optional Friday Afternoon: DNA Primer Workshop

Designed for DNA newbies and those wanting a better working understanding of DNA for genealogy before the Conference. The class will include a couple short exercises, and you’ll have an opportunity to track your improvement. Saturday conference registration required.

Three Workshop Style Lectures with Michelle Wilson:

1:00 pm – The Structure of DNA and The Commercially Available Kits. Learn the organization of DNA as applicable to the genealogist, how it varies from person to person, and what the various types of tests actually examine and report on. We’ll cover everything from the old-style paternity and “CODIS” tests, to the Y-DNA “STR” tests, mt-DNA tracing back female lines, and the popular autosomal or at-DNA tests offered at the “big four” (, 23andMe, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA), as well as the future – full genome sequencing.

2:15 pm – DNA Inheritance and Our Matchlists. Inheritance results in only tiny changes to the Y-DNA men get from their fathers and the mt-DNA we all get from our mothers. But the inheritance process makes a scramble of our autosomal DNA, that is, the bulk of our nuclear DNA which resides on chromosomes 1-22. And inheritance of our X-DNA follows a special patterns all its own. You’ll learn how much DNA is shared by inheritance between related individuals and the limitations and possibilities of at-DNA. This understanding is key to making sense of our matchlists, and how our matchlists are the key to both unlocking unknown parentage and to pushing back our ancestral lines.

4:00 pm – Best Practices for Working Your DNA Results. With the firm understanding of we’ve now gained, we’ll examine the Best Practices for choosing which test to order, who to order for, and the steps to use to go about analysis of your results. We’ll apply this knowledge in actual case studies.


This will be an all-virtual offering. Registered attendees will be sent links to Zoom meetings.

For more information

  • GeneaQuest on Facebook – Look for the latest news about GeneaQuest 2000 on this Facebook page.
  • Press Kit – Information on this page will assist societies, genealogy groups, libraries and others that are looking to include details about the conference in their calendars, newsletters and the like.

We reserve the right to make changes should unforeseen circumstances arise.

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