Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Northern California Family History Expo

I had an interesting time at the Family History Expo today.  This was only my second Expo, but the show appeared to be substantially smaller than last year in Pleaasanton.  Attendance seemed significantly less, and there seemed to be fewer vendors and fewer classes offered.  While the decreases are probably in part due to's withdrawal of support (now that it is producing its own genealogy events), this is the second time that the Expo was scheduled while other local events are going on.  This may not be the best time of year to hit the Bay Area market.

That said, my class on using online newspapers for research went very well, after I finally browbeat the projector into working.  About 25 people attended, and they all said it was a great class.  I volunteered for a little more than an hour at the "Ask the Pros" booth and gave several people research advice.

The one session I was able to attend was "19th Century Cased Images and Tintypes: Discovering the Picture's Date", presented by Gary Clark of  He explained the different types of photographs clearly and had very informative slides to accompany his talk.  He will generously be posting a PDF file of the presentation (and tomorrow's, "19th Century Paper Photographs: Discovering When the Picture Was Taken", which I unfortunately can't attend) on his Web site.

I also had the opportunity to visit with all of the vendors.  With two different vendors I discussed the usefulness (or lack thereof) of DNA testing in family history research, particularly for people who are just starting their research.  I find a lot of the DNA marketing to be misleading, because the results usually don't connect you concretely to other people, yet that's what purchasers tend to expect when they do the testing.  One vendor offered to pay for an autosomal test for me -- possibly in an effort to convince me how great it is?  I figured it wasn't much different from someone offering to buy me a reference book, so I said yes.  I admit I'm curious to see what the results will be, but I'll be very surprised if they create any breakthroughs in my research.


  1. Sorry I missed your class. I will be anxious to read more about the DNA test you will be having done!

  2. I admit I am curious what the DNA test will have to say. I'm always in favor of more information.

    If you will be at Family History Day in Sacramento or Digging for Your Roots in Concord this Saturday, I'll be teaching the newspaper class at both of those events. Maybe you can attend it at one of them.


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