DNA and Genealogy… A Match Made in Heaven?


Paul Woodbury is a new presenter at the FEEFHS conference this year. I thought that we should get to know him a little more before the conference. He will be talking to us about genetics and DNA in genealogy. I’m excited to have him answer my burning question—”I’ve done some DNA testing, now what?”

Memorizing all of the capitals of the world and being able to draw each nation’s flag from memory by the 2nd grade combined with a family history binder from his grandma led Paul Woodbury to his love of family history. A pedigree chart showing ancestors from France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, and Isle of Man caught his attention.

Throughout his school years, Paul researched his own family. He started as a collector of names, dates, and places. After that came stories, biographies, and photos. As a junior in high school, Paul organized a family history tour through Denmark and Southern Sweden, visiting the places where many of his Scandinavian ancestors lived.

Paul’s introduction to genetic genealogy came in 2006, when PBS aired the television series African American Lives. In the program, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. investigated the family histories of prominent African Americans using traditional research in tandem with genetic genealogy. Paul said that “I was fascinated by this application of genetics to a field I loved, and I decided I wanted to become a genetic genealogist.”

Paul studied genetics at Brigham Young University between the years 2008-2014. He also minored in Family History. In his genetic studies, Paul found that most of his genetics professors “didn’t know what to do with me.” In the end, most of Paul’s genetic genealogy education was self-taught or through the mentoring of other prominent genetic genealogists like Angie Bush and CeCe Moore.

Paul taught for three years at the BYU Family History lab, offering weekly classes on various topics. He developed syllabus materials on genetic genealogy for use by the family history professors. Paul participated in a genealogy study abroad to France, Spain, and Italy. During the course of the trip, he toured and/or researched in nearly 30 archives including the Archivo Militar de Segovia (Military Archive of Segovia), the Real Chancilleria de Valladolid (The Royal Chancellery of Valladolid), the Archivo Storico di Firenze (Historical Archive of Florence), and the Archivo Segretto Vaticano (The Secret Vatican Archive).

While still at BYU, Paul began presenting at various conferences on genetic genealogy, French research, and other methodology topics. To date, he has presented at more than 20 local, national, and international conferences.

Genetics and family history aren’t the only loves in Paul’s life. He will be married in October 2015 to Robin Ellis. His favorite food is pumpkin cheesecake. He also enjoys good food, skiing, singing and dancing.


Diane Afoumado Returns to FEEFHS Conference 2015


We are pleased to have Diane Afoumado return this year as our opening plenary keynote speaker.

Diane Afoumado, Ph.D., Chief, International Tracing Service (ITS) Research Branch, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will share information with us about the records of the ITS (International Tracing Service) and how they can help us in our research.

Last year Diane brought her database and provided, in a special presentation, background on the records that are available for research and lookups. She had limited consultation times and every single hour was full with more demand than could be accommodated at that time. It is our privilege to have her for a second year.

Although connected with the Holocaust Memorial Museum, these records may be of interest to anyone who may have relatives who were persecuted by the Nazi’s or displaced during WWII, Jewish or non-Jewish.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. is the United States’ repository for the International Tracing Service (ITS) collection. According to Afoumado, the “ITS collection contains diverse information about the persecution and murder of Jews and non-Jews—Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and persons with disabilities—under Nazi rule.”

The International Tracing Service helps people find their families and learn their fate using several millions of documents. The ITS collection contains various documents such as:

Camp arrival lists

Grave locations

Transport lists

Prisoner cards

Forced labor lists

Death lists

Displaced person applications for assistance

Deportation lists

Emigration applications/questionnaires

Registration and work cards, sometimes with photographs

Diane Afoumado, Ph.D. is Chief of the Research and Reference Branch at the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Formerly Assistant Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Paris X-Nanterre and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, she worked for the two French Commissions related to compensation to Jewish victims. She also worked as a Historian for the Archival Division of the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine – Mémorial de la Shoah.

She is the author of several books: L’affiche antisémite en France sous l’Occupation, (Berg International, 2008); Exil impossibleL’errance des réfugiés juifs du paquebot « St.Louis » (L’Harmattan, 2005), co-author with Serge Klarsfeld of La spoliation dans les camps de province, (La documentation française, 2000).

She participated in the following publications:  Repicturing the Second World War. Representations in Film and Television, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Evoking Genocide. Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives, (The Key Publishing House Inc, 2009), and wrote more than twenty articles related to the Holocaust.


Are You Researching German Ancestry?

This is the year for all family history researchers interested in German research to jump into the FEEFHS Conference with both feet! FEEFHS is offering an extensive German track that will get your research moving in the right direction. The classes will start on Thursday afternoon, August 13th and will run through Saturday afternoon, August 15th. Some of the class offerings for German researchers are:

Identifying the German Hometown
German Record Sources Online
German Civil Registration
German Guilds and their Records

There are many more classes (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) listed in the schedule. This is your opportunity to learn from experienced researchers who want to help you learn and apply successful methodology to your German research. Come join us!

Ready to register? Click here.


Registration for the 2015 Conference Open

Registration is now open for the 2015 Eastern European Family History Conference.  This year’s program provides opportunity to not only understand the basics of East European research, but to dive deeply into more advanced record sources in several areas, especially Jewish, German, Russian, and Russo-German research.

The program will open on Wednesday evening, August 12th, with a networking reception.  That will be immediately followed by the opening general session.  The program will conclude on Saturday, August 15th, with an evening banquet.  There are two pre-conference workshops available.

Complete schedule and registration information may be found on this site.  We hope to see you there!


Share your Great Finds

This post is short, because it is all about the comments.  If you attended this year’s conference, please share your research experiences – great finds gained through consults, workshops, personal research, or a search in the ITS Collection.  We would love to hear from you!