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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

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Gualala Arts Lecture Series presents:
Who Was Harvey Kelley?
Using DNA to Define and Verify Family Lines and Connections

with Nancy Custer
Monday, March 15, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is $5

Who Was Harvey Kelley? Gualala Arts will present a lecture by Nancy Custer titled "Who Was Harvey Kelley? Using DNA to Define and Verify Family Lines and Connections" on Monday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. There is no advanced ticket sale, but a $5 admission charge will be collected at the door.

In the mid 1980's DNA profiling made a highly publicized and often controversial entré into the forensic and legal worlds. Over time, DNA analysis has matured and its validity has been confirmed. It is now accepted as a valuable tool by police and court systems. The entertainment industry has launched DNA testing into public awareness with a myriad of movies, books and television shows that showcase its crime solving powers.

This talk will touch on some less publicized, non-forensic applications of DNA testing. It will focus mainly on direct to the consumer Y-chromosome DNA tests used by genealogists and local historians to define and verify their connections not only to each other but even to the long dead.

There are currently over 5,000 DNA-based projects designed to study the origins and histories of as many different surnames. Using data and examples from the 100-member Dorsey DNA Project that she organized and manages, Nancy will illustrate the variety of questions DNA testing can and cannot answer for genealogists and historians. She will describe how her family used DNA testing to discover the true identity of her great-great grandfather, Harvey Kelley, only to find out that Harvey's great-great grandfather wasn't who he said he was either.

For those considering using DNA as a personal ancestral tool, Nancy will talk about the various kinds of direct to the consumer DNA tests available to the public and what kind of answers each can (and cannot) be expected to provide. She will also address advertising policies of companies offering such tests and make some recommendations about how to evaluate their claims.

The program will also include details and examples about how the US military is using mitochondrial DNA profiling to account for Americans missing as a result of past conflicts and how audience members may be able to help with that project.

Finally, there will be a brief overview about how DNA testing is being used by professional and amateur scientists to trace human migratory patterns out of Africa and into the rest of the world and the re-expansion of early man into Europe following the last glacial maximum. That part of the program will briefly mention some landmark studies and explain the National Genographic Project, a massive effort by the National Geographic Society and IBM to collect and analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots. That project is open to public participation and Nancy will explain what is involved in participation and what one can learn by participating.

Nancy will also talk about some of the controversies surrounding direct to the consumer DNA testing - some of which are real concerns and others which are the results of poor understanding of the issues involved.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.