Seminar Details

Instructors and Course Descriptions

Alina Khuda – 7 Case Studies and Tools for the Successful Heir-search in Eastern Europe
We aim to discuss the successful and not so successful case studies of locating missing beneficiaries in the countries of Eastern Europe. As well we will provide an active toolkit of Archives, databases and repositories that could be helpful to locate missing beneficiaries. Moreover, we will discuss an impact of privacy laws in the geographic region and how to overcome those barriers.

Penny Walters – An Introduction to Forensic Genetic Genealogy
Many of us have been encouraged to do a DNA test, to find out ‘where we’re from.’ This marketing hook has been very successful, with more than 40 million direct-to-consumer DNA tests having been sold across the world, locking in on our desire to engage with our ancestral stories. Many people are intrigued by the statistical evidence which can emerge from DNA test results, especially matching with DNA relatives and learning about inherited ethnicities. People want to spread their genealogy research across a number of DNA testing or data merging sites such as GEDmatch, to increase the likelihood of finding living relatives or more ancestors. Data available in GEDmatch can often identify a 3rd cousin or closer in 90% of the population. An unexpected use of the data from DNA testing is that some information has been accessed by other unknown parties. The new practice of law enforcement uploading DNA from a crime scene, and subsequently utilising online trees and DNA, emerged during the case of the apprehension of the ‘Golden State’ serial killer. Investigative genetic genealogy is the emerging practice of using genetic information from direct-to-consumer DNA test results for identifying suspects or victims in criminal cases. This super-sleuthing of familial relationships and then apprehending a suspect divided the genealogy community, with focus being on the violation of the companies’ terms and conditions, and the invasion of customer privacy and confidentiality. Some pioneering and key case studies will be detailed. The arising ethical dilemmas of the super-sleuthing involved, the potential for outside agencies to increasingly access your tree, and the implications of the broader uses of DNA data will be identified. Do the ends justify the means?

Juli Whittaker, FGCSM – Adoption Research
Adoption has been practiced in America since its founding. The history, genealogical research practice, current topics and issues and legislation are explored for several states. Researching adoptees often involves overcoming roadblocks in research due to privacy laws and outdated attitudes towards adopted persons. Special methodology with use of traditional research sources and the advancements of genetic genealogy research is required when researching adoptees.

Juli Whittaker, FGCSM – Finding the Living
This course will show students how to find the living descendants of a deceased person. We will look at building out a tree of the family and using paid and free websites to look for living individuals. Students will learn tips and tricks to determine who those living individuals are when no records are available to identify them.

Andrew Hochreiter – Opportunities and Developments in IGG Education
The rapid advancement of technology and applications in Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) has created an ever-evolving learning environment. The value of IGG exploded in the world of law enforcement from successes such as the Golden State Killer. But it owes its initial proof of concept decades earlier to the invaluable work of Sir Alec Jeffreys in DNA fingerprinting and its application to immigrant/paternity cases and the Narborough conviction and exoneration outcomes. The need for training and educational opportunities has become critical as this technique is applied to more criminal and unidentified remains investigations. What is the status of training in IGG skills, standards, and ethics? Not only does the field lack a rubric for performance evaluation, but there are few sources to recommend a path forward for beginning practitioners. The Investigative Genetic Genealogy Accreditation Board (IGGAB) was formed in 2022 to specifically address these issues and develop community-wide standards and accreditation requirements to ensure professional guidelines. The speaker will describe the challenges that prompted this initiative, its progress in providing guidance, and existing training options. Expertise in IGG can be developed in various ways but must build on strong basic genealogical knowledge. IGGAB developed core competencies based on job task analysis that are required to practice IGG in a proficient and capable manner. The competencies are reviewed by the speaker with a survey of available learning options to meet these goals. As jurisdictions and agencies begin to regulate IGG activities, the demonstration of knowledge, experience and proficiency will be critical. This talk will provide an oversight of progress, developments, and lessons learned.

Juli Whittaker, FGCSM – Probate Case Study
In this class students will get to learn about the work a forensic genealogist is hired for in relation to probate cases. You will get to walk through a probate case step by step so you can see the types of records a forensic genealogist uses on a daily basis, and how to analyze what is in those documents. We will then walk through how to build a forensic report and what items are required to be included. The class will end with you seeing what a forensic report looks like.

Kathy Kirkpatrick – 20th Century POW Records in the US, Europe, and World-Wide
Prisoners of War held in the US and other locations were sometimes documented during WWII in records later sent to the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan for members of their respective military services, including other nationalities. Most of those records were sent by the US. Some nations kept no records of the POWs they captured, or destroyed the records when the last POWs left their nation (Britain). Visits to POW camps world-wide by the Red Cross and the Vatican resulted in records now at those institutions, including lists of prisoners. The Red Cross has digitized their WWI records and is still working on WWII. The Vatican records are available for research onsite to qualified researchers. Repatriation records of former POWs for some countries are available for searches. The US lists of former POWs are available online, while Italian and German files sent by the US usually require access by a family member and Japanese records sent by the US are also available. Italy also has records in their Army offices for repatriated POWs, and records of military service, excluding POW time, are available for research in Provincial Archives and military archives (depending on year of birth). Burials of POWs world-wide resulted in records in some of the above countries and institutions (nations of the captured and nations where the deaths occurred). Lists of burials were sent to the Red Cross by some countries. More information on POWs is also found in other locations and publications. Descriptions of all of the above records and institutions, both online and onsite, is presented.

Juli Whittaker, FGCSM – Military Repatriation
In this class the students will get to walk through a military repatriation case and learn what role a forensic genealogist plays in helping to identify fallen servicemen. You will walk through a case from the search for DNA candidates to identifying the next of kin. You will see the charts that are built and how the reports are set up. This will allow the forensic genealogist to identify who the appropriate DNA candidates are. From there we will walk through how to identify the next of kin.