NGS 2023 Speaker Spotlight—Diana Elder

March 2nd, 2023 by Teresa Kelley


Diana Elder, AG®, is a professional genealogist accredited in the Gulf South region of the United States. Diana authored Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide and co-authored the companion volume, Research Like a Pro with DNA: A Genealogist’s Guide to Finding and Confirming Ancestors with DNA Evidence. Diana and her daughter, Nicole Dyer, are the hosts of the Research Like a Pro Genealogy Podcast and share research tips on their website,

Diana is presenting three lectures at the conference.

Session Number: T112
Title: How to Evaluate an Ancestry DNA ThruLine Using Documentary Research and DNA Analysis
Ancestry DNA ThruLines™ can suggest ancestors that seem to include DNA evidence but are based on faulty family trees. In this lecture Diana will discuss how Ancestry’s algorithm works to create ThruLines – basing it first on DNA matches and then on user-submitted trees. She’ll look at considerations and limitations for using Thrulines, then discuss how it can be used as an excellent tool for creating genetic networks.

To illustrate the process of evaluating a ThruLine, Diana will use the case study of Cynthia Dillard Royston and her ThruLines’ suggested father of Hopson Milner.

Session Number: F255
Title: Who was Polly Cessna? Using Early Georgia Records to Uncover a Woman’s Identity
Researching our female ancestors who lived on the frontier pre-1850 poses many challenges. Record loss occurred frequently in the early years of a county and those records that do exist mainly name the men. A woman may have gone by several surnames and various nicknames. To combat these challenges, one must use thorough research methods and seek all possible records that could uniquely identify a woman and the men in her life.

Discover how thorough research in Georgia court, tax, and land records in several jurisdictions revealed Polly’s two marriages, a divorce, and two sets of children. This lecture will demonstrate the use of indirect evidence in building Polly’s identity.

Session Number: S326
Title: Separating Multiple Generations of Virginians with the Same Name
When many descendants of the original settler inherit his name, diagramming and careful analysis of land, tax, and probate records can reconstruct families. In this lecture Diana will review the many challenges faced when researching same-named individuals from multiple generations who resided in one geographical location.

She’ll review the record types most likely to provide information for early Virginia ancestors—probate, tax, and land records—and cover practical techniques for tracking the families: the Airtable research log, diagramming tools, and genealogy software.

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