WSU hosts genealogy conference

The Ogden Family Search Library hosted the Family Genealogy Conference on Saturday. The event happens every year, and has been hosted for the past three years at Weber State University.

At the conference, speakers, including professional genealogists, promoted genealogical sites and products.

“It’s great to be more exposed to the latest and greatest technology,” said Linda Dursteler, who works at the library. She said it is important that people learn their genealogy.

The library not only has resources such as books, microfilm and computers, but also classes. The classes can last 2-10 weeks and are free with only the cost of materials.

“You get hooked on it,” said Bob Martin, a volunteer for the library, about genealogy.

The conference hosted five sessions, with multiple talks within each session. The classes were listed for different levels of genealogists. The beginning classes focused on starting family research and using the genealogy websites. Advanced classes were more focused on specific family research, such as Swedish or German family research.

One session included a guide to how to interpret DNA numbers. When someone sends in his or her DNA sample to find out about his or her genealogy, the results are a set of numbers. Diahan Southard, a genetic genealogical consultant, gave a talk to help people decipher those numbers.

Southard talked about finding certain family members through a DNA test with a four-step process. People should first determine what individuals should be tested, either through the maternal or paternal line. After that, the DNA can be sent out for testing. DNA tests can cost about $200. The company will then send back numbers which can then be analyzed online. Certain websites will give people the opportunity to compare their ancestors’ DNA tests.

“It’s a good record to have of your personal life, of your personal genetics,” Southard said.

Southard first got involved with genealogy when she went to college. She decided to volunteer for a teacher who was doing genealogical research.

Along with the presentations, there were also booths outside the union ballrooms. One booth advertised a new website called MyGenShare. The website helps answer questions genealogists have, like where to find documents such as marriage records from the 1800s.

“It’s a way to make people faster and more efficient genealogists,” said Dianna Ewell, the daughter of the site’s founder, Barry Ewell.

The site was started a few months ago, after four years of development.

“I came (to the conference) to learn new technologies and programs,” said Boyd Nielsen, a professional genealogist.

Nielsen has worked in the field for 48 years. He first became interested after hearing a history of his great-grandfather at a family reunion. He is hired to help people find documents and information about their ancestors.

“We are driven by something inside us that helps us and pushes us to find out where we came from,” Southard said. “We know that we are all kind of a mix of all those people who came before us, and identifying them and finding them is a way of validating our life.”