Sunday, April 28, 2013

2nd Annual AAGG Conference Report

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From Left: Dean Henry (AAGG), Michael Hait, David Lynch
Yesterday I presented a talk on Virgin Islands Genealogy at the AAGG Conference “Researching African American Genealogy: Building Bridges to the Past” in Philadelphia, PA.  This was my first conference (either as a speaker or as an attendee), and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

AAGG president, Carlean Mullen, told me that she really had wanted a session on Caribbean genealogy because speakers on that area are hard to find and many people are interested. 

As I mentioned before, in Preparing my Presentation for the AAGG, I had quite a tall order.  I knew it would be impossible to cover anything in depth, but I wanted to give my audience something new, tell them something beyond “here are the birth records, here are the death records”.  50 minutes just isn’t enough time to discuss techniques or resources in depth.  So, I decided on a different approach.  I put together a presentation that introduced the West Indies, commented on the types of genealogical problems, and then used my experience with the Virgin Islands as an example of the wonderful records that exist and the rich history that few people know.  I was looking to excite interest and fascination. I think I accomplished that goal.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preparing my Presentation for the AAGG Conference

Slides (Medium)I have been quite busy preparing my presentation for This Saturday’s AAGG Conference in Philadelphia on April 27. If you missed it, the announcement is on the AAGG website.

Although I write for a living, I was amazed at the difficulty in preparing a 50-minute talk on my research.  To make matters worse, the conference organizer, Carlean Mullen, asked me to start with the whole Caribbean and then my focus area, the Virgin Islands.  While I’m not what I would call an expert on the whole Caribbean, it was quite a task to squeeze it all in.

Add to that the challenge that few people in attendance will likely have any real understanding of the Virgin Islands beyond the fact that it’s a nice vacation destination.  Hundreds of years of history, social commentary, and my research methods and case studies smashed into a mere 50 minutes (oh, and the whole Caribbean too). To top it off, I never really learned PowerPoint.

After a good week of hard work (and learning PowerPoint), I think I have something that will be interesting for the novice and veteran alike.  During my research for the presentation I made some interesting discoveries about West Indian history that I will write about afterwards.

So, keep your fingers crossed for me so that I can represent our islands well.  I’ll be sure to post a report of how the day went.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uploading DNA to FTDNA from 23andMe

When I decided to get my DNA tested, I had to decide where to send it. offers a $99 full DNA test, but their service is geared toward medical testing and offers relative finding as a secondary offering. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) charges $289 for their full test but their database is better suited for genealogy. Ancestry DNA charges $99 as well.

Both 23andMe and FTDNA allow you to download your raw DNA results for upload at other sites.  It turns out that you can get a good deal by using both. Since 23andMe data is compatible with FTDNA, you can get tested at 23andMe and uploaded the raw data to FTDNA for only $89.  So, for only $188 you can actually get both 23andMe and FTDNA. That’s less than the cost of a full test at FTDNA alone.  So, that’s what I did.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Immigrant Workers–19th Century St Croix Population-Part 2

image_thumb12In my last post, All Bahn Ya! - 19th Century St Croix Population, I showed this graph of the percentage of Crucians as compared to those born in other places throughout much of the 19th century.  I discussed the steady decrease in the numbers of residents from Africa in that post. 

As I explained, this was a direct result of the abolition of the slave trade in 1803 and the aging of those original slaves only to be replaced by a generation of native born Crucians.  This time I want to explore that other interesting feature: the rising “Other Caribbean” line. 

Understanding this feature sheds some light on not only the history of St Croix, but also gives some insight into the history and conditions on the other islands in the Caribbean.