Friday, May 19, 2017

A Fond Farewell

Ancestry Insider Portrait - OriginalDear friends,

I’m afraid the time has come for the Ancestry Insider to say goodbye. Over ten years ago I put virtual pen to virtual paper. Now it is time to put it down. I wonder if a couple of times a year you might still see something from me, but this may be it.

This newsletter has brought me lots of enjoyment. I’ve enjoyed trying to bring you news you didn’t get anywhere else. I’ve enjoyed teaching how to better utilize Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. Through my reports about national conferences, I’ve enjoyed promoting education. Through my series on serendipity, I’ve enjoyed sharing my belief about the miraculous nature of life and family history. Through my Monday mailbox series, I’ve enjoyed answering your questions. Through my series, “Records Say the Darnedest Things,” I’ve enjoyed teaching about records and methodology. I have enjoyed the opportunities to acknowledge FamilySearch’s sponsor—and my current employer—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This newsletter began at a time when Ancestry’s communication policy was to say nothing. FamilySearch didn’t do much better when I started reporting on the rollout of New FamilySearch. Today, both organizations have healthy, vibrant communication programs.

This newsletter has also consumed about six hours of my personal life each week and I think it is time for a change. But I put down this pen with a great measure of sadness.

This newsletter has given me the opportunity to rub shoulders with many wonderful people. Thank you. For that I am most grateful. Of myself, I am pretty insignificant and I am forever humbled that you would consider this newsletter worth a little of your time.

Before I say goodbye, I’d like to personally thank each and every single one of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…

Wow! This is going to take some time… Please feel free to go about your lives while I finish up. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …;  (inside joke), …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …, …

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Science Behind AncestryDNA -- #NGS2017GEN

Chromosome inheritance diagram credit Ancestry.comJulie Granka, of AncestryDNA, spoke about “Understanding the Science Behind Your DNA Results” at the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference last week. I’m hardly qualified to report about this session, but I’ll give it a try. Julie started by defining several terms, utilizing lots of diagrams. I was hoping to link to some pages on Ancestry.com that contain explanations as clear and simple as Julie’s. No luck. If I am going to provide links to basic information about DNA and genealogy, I will have to send you to someplace other than Ancestry. That is too bad. They should publish Julie’s presentation on their website.

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, has provided a nice list of links to introductory information. See “DNA Basics for a Sound Foundation.”

Suffice it to say, there are basic building blocks of DNA that are represented by the letters A, C, G, and T. Our chromosomes are composed of long strings of these—3 billion, in fact. Almost all the letters are the same in every single person on the planet. Julie said that only about 10 million are different among different individuals and populations. A DNA test looks at about 700,000 of them. A location in the string of letters where the letters differ between individuals is called a SNP (pronounced “snip”). A group of inherited letters is called a haplotype.

Julie studies SNPs and haplotypes in the context of human populations. “Patterns of SNPs and haplotypes among human populations are driven by history,” she said. “As humans migrate, they bring their DNA with them.” She explained the founder effect: Not everyone in a population has the same SNPs and haplotypes. If a small number of people migrate somewhere, their most common SNPs and haplotypes are likely to be different than the parent population. They have founded a population with a different profile than the parent population. A related phenomena is isolation. If I understand correctly, newborns in an isolated population are statistically more likely to have the most common SNPs and haplotypes of their population. These effects make different populations look different genetically.

AncestryDNA uses the SNPs and haplotypes to determine three things. 

  • Tiny amounts of the haplotypes and SNPs associated with a population from the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years) survive in our DNA. AncestryDNA uses this information to provide your ethnicity estimates. To determine what SNPs and haplotypes are associated with distant populations, AncestryDNA uses reference panels. These are individuals whose haplotypes and SNPs are thought to be representative of the distant populations. AncestryDNA has 26 reference panels. Founder effect and isolation make ethnicity estimates easy. Migration makes ethnicity estimates difficult.
  • Large amounts of shared haplotypes between two persons indicate recent common ancestors. The more closely related, the more DNA is shared. AncestryDNA uses this information to provide your DNA matches. There are several challenges in determining DNA matches. Just sharing DNA doesn’t mean you are closely related. DNA you share for other reasons is called identical by state (IBS). DNA shared because of recent common ancestry is called identical by descent (IBD). AncestryDNA has to determine the difference. Another challenge arises from the way DNA is processed in the laboratory. For any given SNP, the data coming from the lab does not differentiate between the value contributed by your father and the value coming from your mother. AncestryDNA uses tools to estimate which came from which. She didn’t say this, but I would guess that if they ever get it wrong, you could be shown relatives who aren’t really your relatives.
  • In between the two extremes, AncestryDNA searches for groups of people who share large numbers of matches to others within a group. They use this information to provide your Genetic Communities.

It is possible to share no DNA at all with cousins. The closer the cousin, the higher the probability of shared DNA. Julie showed these numbers:

Cousin Probability of shared DNA
1st 100
2nd 100
3rd 98
4th 71
5th 32
6th 11
7th 3.2

She showed a chart that looked like the one below. I think it indicated the average amount of shared DNA between two close relatives. It went by so fast, I am not certain. However, Blaine T. Bettinger provides similar data, which I’ve charted below.

Blaine T. Bettinger, “The Shared CM Project – Version 2.0 (June 25, 2016),” PDF chart, _The Genetic Genealogist_ (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com : updated 31 July 2016).
Source: Blaine T. Bettinger, “The Shared CM Project – Version 2.0 (June 25, 2016),” The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com : updated 31 July 2016).

AncestryDNA uses these numbers to estimate your relationship to your DNA matches.

She covered more, but that’s about all I have time and space for here. I’m sorry that I’m not as clear as she was, but hopefully you learned something.

 

 

Chromosome inheritance diagram credit: Catherine A. Ball, et. al., “DNA Circles White Paper,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com/cs/dna-help/circles/whitepaper : updated 18 November 2014), figure 2.1.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

FamilySearch: A Global Experience at #NGS2017GEN

The Ancestry Insider is a member of the NGS 2017 conference social media press.The 2017 National Genealogical Society conference wrapped up last Saturday, and after a couple of articles, so will I. Diane Loosely of FamilySearch spoke at the FamilySearch luncheon. Her title was “FamilySearch: A Global Experience.” She described three definitions of global for which FamilySearch is global.

One definitions of global refers to world-wide global reach. Diane showed us a FamilySearch booklet, My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together. It is available in 66 languages. FamilySearch has 5,000 family history centers located in 33 countries. They offer support to patrons in 13 languages.

FamilySearch operates cameras in countries across the globe. They have 5.6 billion names published online from many countries. They publish an additional 2 million names a day.

Diane showed a video, “Preserving and Accessing the Records of the World,” documenting record destruction in the Philippines resulting from super-Typhoon Yolanda. One town’s records, indeed all the town offices, were completely destroyed. All that was left was the cement floor of the building. Because FamilySearch had photographed their records, FamilySearch was able to restore all the records to them.

Diane said that FamilySearch is gathering the genealogies of villages in Africa that, today, are preserved only by “Rememberers.” Aging village elders have memorized the genealogies of the village. Many are old and their knowledge is perishing with them. In the case of 95-year old Opanin Kwame Nketia, FamilySearch interviewed him and documented 12 generations and 1,000 people. A couple of days later when they returned to thank him, they discovered he had passed way.

Diane said that 50 years ago FamilySearch canvassed Mexico, filming their records. It is thought that today 15 to 20% of those records have perished.

Another sense of the word global is the idea of operating on a whole set of things. To find and search all of FamilySearch’s records, you have to know a few ways of accessing the records. Diane showed a Kentucky probate collection containing 12,000 names and nearly a million images. Obviously, FamilySearch had not completely indexed the collection. To access all the records, you have to be prepared to browse through the images like you would microfilm. She also pointed out that some records are accessed only through the catalog.

Another sense of the word global is embracing the whole of something. “We feel a responsibility to help everyone discover their family history,” she said. She shared the quote from the Emory university study stating that the more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives and the higher their self-esteem. FamilySearch recently remodeled the first floor of the Salt Lake Family History Library to appeal to a younger generation.

Diane shared the well-known quote of Alex Haley:

In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.

She then challenged us to choose a person we would like to introduce to family history. Prepare beforehand. Then go and give them a meaningful experience with family history.

 

 

Note: I was interested in where one might find Alex Haley’s original quote, as very few people cite the source. Barbara Renick in her book Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage (Thomas Nelson Inc., 2003) is the only source I could find who cited a source: “What Roots Means to Me,” Reader’s Digest (May 1977), 73-74.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Darned Page Order

imageTracy Reinhart is a long-time researcher who remembers way back when accessing the census meant scrolling through microfilm. Long ago she discovered her Braford ancestors’ family in Cannon, Kent, Michigan was one of those split across pages in a census. Online publishers like Ancestry and FamilySearch have to identify these split families and join them back together. That’s a fairly straightforward process unless you run into the situation Tracy ran into recently.

“Part of the 1870 census for Cannon, Kent Co. Mich.  was not filmed in page order,” she told me.  “As a result,  when a family list carries over from one page to the next,  you will find wrong family associations.” She found that for Cannon, Kent, Michigan:

I was interested to see how FamilySearch handled this situation. Researchers with access to both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org universally advise using Ancestry.com for census research and the 1870 census on FamilySearch.org is a good illustration of why.

  • If you search for Cannon, Kent, Michigan, you get everyone living in the entire state of Michigan!
  • If you don’t know where your person lived, but you somehow find them, FamilySearch doesn’t indicate where the person was!

The only advantage I see for searching FamilySearch’s 1870 census is that in a search you can specify another family member (in the “Other Person” field). That’s not possible on Ancestry.

But I digress…

As I compared FamilySearch.org with Ancestry.com, I noticed several interesting things.

  • The image order on FamilySearch.org matches Ancestry.com.
  • FamilySearch didn’t erroneously combine the Wolaver and Braford families. But they also didn’t correctly join the the two parts of the Brayford/Braford family.
  • While Ancestry has 31 images for Cannon, Kent, Michigan, FamilySearch has 32. Ancestry has left out one of the pages from the microfilm! I’ve seen FamilySearch do the same thing. Neither company discloses the censure. The companies deem the image to have no genealogical value so they delete it. This is a very bad practice! There is no guarantee the decision maker understands advanced methodologies that may require a knowledge of the existence of that page, its contents, or the lack thereof. (A little looking showed this particular page is facing page 31 on folio 139. It has no names on it.)
  • The digital folder number (004271429) and image number (00268) for Emma Bradford on FamilySearch.org match the image URL on Ancestry.com: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4271429_00268. That’s kind of techie, but the takeaway is that Ancestry seems to be using FamilySearch images.
  • FamilySearch misindexed the name Braford on page 30 as Bradford. Ancestry did not. Ancestry doesn’t seem to be using FamilySearch’s index.

I see several lessons we should draw from this:

  • If you don’t find your ancestor on one website, check others.
  • Search several images forward and backward from your ancestor.
  • Your ancestor’s name can be spelled differently by the same person in the same record.
  • Look at and try to understand all the information on a page.
  • When the day comes that we no longer have access to microfilm, there will be errors that we can no longer detect or overcome.
  • Everybody makes mistakes. Ancestry. FamilySearch. Microfilm. Everybody.

”Just a heads up for something that I never expected to find on Ancestry,” Tracy said.

“Grrrrrrr”

Thank you, Tracy. Image credit: Ancestry.com.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

NGS Announces Tom Jones Documentation Book at #NGS2017GEN

Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas W. JonesToday marks the opening of the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference. At the conference NGS is announcing Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas W. Jones. Tom is considered one of the top educators in the genealogical community. He is a PhD, Certified Genealogist, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, Fellow of the National Genealogical Society, and Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association. He is the author of Mastering Genealogical Proof, another in the NGS Special Topics Series.

According to NGS, “Mastering Genealogical Documentation teaches genealogists how to describe and cite their sources—including sources for which no model citation exists. … In this new step-by-step guidebook, Dr. Thomas W. Jones provides a foundation in the principles, logic, and decisions that underpin genealogical documentation. Exercises are provided at the end of each chapter (with answers at the back of the book) to reinforce concepts and provide opportunities for practice.”

You can order the book in the store on the NGS website.

It’s true that I’m prejudiced (I volunteer for the NGS), but I’m genuinely excited to get this book. I’ve attended Tom’s lectures on documentation at national institutes and they have been most helpful.

Speaking of the NGS Conference, it’s not too late to attend. You can register onsite. For more information, visit the National Genealogical Society Conference website.

Free Exhibit Hall at #NGS2017GEN

The Ancestry Insider is a member of the NGS 2017 conference social media press.The 2017 National Genealogical Society conference started today (10 May 2017) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The exhibit hall is free, so even if you don’t register for classes, come see mini-classes, product demos, product announcements, sell prices, and give-away prizes. If you are in the area, you should come down and check it out at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The exhibit hall opens at 9:00am each morning with the exception of 9:30 on Wednesday. It closes at 5:30pm each day, with the exception of 3:00pm Saturday.
The Ancestry booth presentation schedule for Wednesday, 10 May is:

image

Ancestry, Thursday, 11 May:

image

Ancestry, Friday, 12 May:

image

Ancestry, Saturday, 13 May:

image

Other vendors do product demos, either on a schedule or by request. Lisa Louise Cooke included the Genealogy Gems schedule in the conference bag:

image

Stop by the National Genealogical Society’s booth to enter daily drawings, buy their latest books, and get books signed by the authors. Judging from the advertising inserts in the conference bag, I imagine at the MyHeritage booth they would give you a coupon code for 30% off MyHeritage subscriptions. Likewise for a 15% coupon code from jigsaw genealogy. Genealogical Studies might give you a promo code for a free course and let you enter a drawing for additional free courses. Excelsior College has a drawing for an AncestryDNA kit.

It’s not too late to register for one or more days of the conference. Come on down and check it out.

Oh, and FamilySearch is offering free accounts in their booth. Winking smile

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook

Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy WebsiteSomehow I missed the release of the Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com by Nancy Hendrickson. When I reviewed Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org, I became a big fan of Family Tree Book's unofficial series, so I was very happy when I received a review copy of the new Ancestry book, Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website.

Chapters are organized around record types. The chapters of the book are:

  1. Search and the Card Catalog
  2. Census Records
  3. Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
  4. Military Records
  5. Immigration Records
  6. Historical Maps, Images, Newspapers, and Publications
  7. Social History [directories, tax records, land records, histories, etc.]
  8. AncestryDNA

Each chapter contains overviews of the databases of the chapter’s record type and helpful instructions on using that type. For example, from the vital records chapter:

Death records can open up new lines of research, primarily because they can contain the name of the person’s parents (including the mother’s maiden name) as well as where the parents and the decedent were born.

Each chapter has a number of exercises. Don’t think workbook quizzes; think step-by-step walkthroughs. 

Each chapter also contains some helpful “search strategies” for the chapter’s record type. Here is an example search strategy from the census chapter:

Don’t assume your ancestor was skipped during an enumeration. Look for alternate surname spellings, first name shown as initials, or location in a neighboring county.

Each chapter contains workbook forms and worksheets for things like searching the census and abstracting birth records. Appendices have additional checklists, worksheets, and census abstract forms. While a book obviously isn’t going to contain enough copies of each form or worksheet, additional copies can be downloaded from the Family Tree Magazine website.

 

Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website
Nancy Hendrickson
8.2 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches, 192 pp., paperback. 2017.
ISBN 1440349061
Family Tree Books
1-855-278-0408, shopfamilytree.com
$10.99 Kindle
$13.19 Google eBook
$14.57 Amazon
$21.99 Paperback/eBook list price, plus shipping.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Darned Record: No Father -- Just Growed

imageWe depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

Reader Steve Squier shared this:

Hello, I thought you might like to use the attached image for one of your "Records Say the Darnedest Things" posts. The first entry in this register of births is for an unnamed daughter of a Miss Knox, of whose father the clerk wrote: "hain't got none just growed."

Source: Taylor County, Iowa, Register of Births, vol. 1 (1880–1897): 160, entry no. 110 for [unnamed female]; County Courthouse, Bedford; digital images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/search/catalog/679412 : accessed 16 April 2017); imaged from FHL film no. 1,035,143, item no. 1.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you the image. To see it, visit your local family history center and click here: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DYWS-4V5.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dear #NGS2017GEN Attendees

The Ancestry Insider is a member of the NGS 2017 conference social media press.For those headed off to the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference, in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 10‒13 May 2017, I have two items: syllabus and conference app.

I attended a genealogy conference recently and heard that some attendees—first time conference attendees—were confused when presenters kept referring to handouts and syllabi. They were surprised that other attendees seemed to have copies of these handouts when they, themselves did not.

Don’t be caught in the same situation at NGS.

If you paid for a printed syllabus or syllabus on a flash drive, then you will receive said syllabus when you check-in at the conference. If not (or even if you did), you should download the syllabus PDF file beforehand and print any pages that you wish to hold in your physical paws during the conference. All conference attendees should have received by now an email with instructions on how to download the syllabus. (I received my email on Friday, 28 April 2017.) The file is 70 megabytes, so it will take forever to download if you wait and try to do it using the conference center wi-fi. Wi-fi connections at conference centers are seldom robust.

I also wanted to point out that the conference app is available now for download. To download it, visit http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/mobile-app. The app offers another way to access class syllabi. To access the syllabus through the app requires a password. You received that password in the same email that gave instructions on downloading the PDF. Reading the syllabus on a phone is difficult, but it isn’t bad on a tablet.

If you have attended an NGS conference before and never deleted the conference app, then when you install this time, there is an additional step you must take to see this year’s conference. The new conference app uses a blue color scheme (below, left). If you see the green color scheme from last year (below, right), you need to tap the icon on the bottom row that is titled “Exit to Conference List.” Then select the 2017 conference.

2017 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference app2016 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference app

The third of the two things I wanted to mention was the class schedule. Look through it beforehand to decide which classes you wish to attend, and which classes to attend if your first choices are full. If you are inclined to purchase recordings of some sessions, consider attending other sessions at corresponding times. Sessions marked “(R)” will be audio recorded and those marked “(LS)” will be lived streamed and video recorded.

Hope to see you next week, at the 2017 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

NGS Live Streaming – #NGS2017GEN

Live stream NGS 2017 Family History Conference sessions.If you can’t make it to the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference, all is not lost. NGS is offering select sessions via live streaming or for three-month’s later viewing. You can purchase five sessions for Thursday, 11 May 2017 and five sessions for Friday, 12 May 2017.

  • Thursday: Viewers will be able to stream five lectures on DNA from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. These lectures will demonstrate how DNA has revolutionized genealogy problem solving, clarified contradictions in records, and found female ancestors without a known maiden name. They will also offer advice on the best practices for analyzing autosomal DNA. $95 member, $115 non-member.

image image image image image

  • Friday: View five “BCG Skillbuilding” lectures by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. This set of lectures will teach how to probe documents beyond the obvious, find rich evidence in deeds, use an ancestors’ neighbors, prepare a Genealogical Proof Summary, and build a solid conclusion from disparate evidence. $95 member, $115 non-member.

ximage image image image image

All ten sessions can be purchased for $150 member, $185 non-member, if purchased before midnight, 10 May 2017. After 14 May 2017, the price jumps to $175 member, $215 non-member.

Sessions can be viewed for three months following the conference. All packages include a full, electronic conference syllabus.

For more information, or to purchase sessions, visit http://www.playbackngs.com/7770.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

AncestryDNA Whips Past 4 Million Samples

AncestryDNA Reaches 4 Million Customers in DNA Database.Four million. It’s staggering, really. AncestryDNA has exceeded four million samples in its DNA database!

It took AncestryDNA three years to get the first million samples. (See “AncestryDNA Exceeds Million Mark” on my blog on 22 July 2015.)

It took them 11 months to reach two million. (See “AncestryDNA Database Reaches Two Million” on 28 June 2016.)

It took just seven months to get to the three million mark. (See “AncestryDNA Zips Past 3 Million Samples” on 19 January 2017.)

Less than 4 months later, AncestryDNA has reached four million persons in the DNA database. (See “AncestryDNA Reaches 4 Million Customers in DNA Database” on the Ancestry blog, 27 April 2017.) AncestryDNA must be selling over 8,000 kits a day to grow that fast. Ancestry says as many people took their DNA test during that period as got married in the United States. They said “that’s about as fast as babies are born in the United States.”

That’s astonishing.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Mailbox: FamilySearch Change or User Change?

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

Hello, I enjoy reading your emails, and wonder if I missed something important, such as:

        Did Familysearch.org change how personal family trees are managed?   

Last week I looked up my Wilmot tree there, and found someone had changed a last name of an ancestor to Wilmont, when the father and grandson were right there as Wilmot. Duh???

A friend said the family trees are now wide open and anyone can add or change information.

        Normally, all information is good, but in this case I am dealing with an idiot.  

Then someone else gave my Hessian ancestor, John Stegman, a wife who was his mother-in-law,

Does this mean that my tree can be changed by anyone going online to FamilySearch.org?

If that is the case, I will not use the program anymore.  It would be a waste of time - I am not a church member - have served/helped many years in a local Family History library.Too many people are well meaning but uneducated on proof of sources.     Ellen Thorne Morris, Monmouth Co., New Jersey

Dear Ellen,

May Day! May Day! (Yes, today is the first of May. But I digress…)

There has been no change. FamilySearch has Genealogies (personal trees) and it has Family Tree (a shared tree). What you are using is Family Tree, and yes, anyone can change anything. FamilySearch’s Genealogies feature is a GEDCOM preservation service. It is not an online tree management program like Family Tree or Ancestry Member Trees. It is merely a repository to preserve and share your life’s work.

  1. Export a GEDCOM file from your genealogy program.
  2. Go to FamilySearch.org.
  3. Select Free Account in the upper-right corner and create an account. Or if you already have an account, sign in.
  4. Select Search > Genealogies.
  5. Scroll to the bottom.
  6. Underneath “Contribute Your Research to the FamilySearch Community,” select Submit Tree.
  7. Follow the instructions to add your tree.

You will be given the opportunity to synch your tree with Family Tree. That step is unnecessary, especially since it sounds like you already have. I don’t know how long it takes to appear, but when others go to Search > Genealogies and search for a person, they will see results from your tree along with the other contributed GEDCOMs.

Ellen, let me close with a heartfelt thank you for your service in a family history center. Several times last month I had patrons express frustration at the limited hours of their local center. It is only through volunteers like yourself that FamilySearch family history centers are open at all. Thank you, thank you!

Signed,
---The Ancestry Insider

Friday, April 28, 2017

Darned Carcinogenic Names

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

What parent names their child after some kind of cancer?!

Search results for first name Cancer, last name Brain
Search results for first name Cancer, last name Lung
Search results for first name Prostate, last name Cancer
Search results for first name cancer, last name De La
Search results for first name cancer, last name Del
Search results for first name cancer, last name Brain

  • Brain Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Cancer de la Laringe (larynx)
  • Cancer de la Matriz (uterus)
  • Cancer Primitivo del Higado (Primitive Cancer of the Liver)
  • Cancer del RiƱon (kidney)

Yes, records say the darnedest things!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

NGS 2017 Conference Pre-Registration Ends Today - #NGS2017GEN

Still need convincing? Pre-registration for the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference ends today (27 April 2017), so you need to get on the stick. NGS has put together a heck of a program. NGS has loosely organized sessions into 10 tracks each day:

Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
BCG Skillbuilding BCG Skillbuilding BCG Skillbuilding BCG Skillbuilding
DNA DNA DNA DNA
Research Planning Solving Problems Records & Repositories Research in the States
North Carolina Historical Context Methodology North Carolina
Historical Context Religion Military Records & Repositories
Working with Records North Carolina African American Family Stories
Tips & Techniques Records & Repositories Historical Context Methodology
Military Technology Technology Records & Repositories
Records & Repositories Organizing Research Native American Religion
Methodology Beyond the Borders Methodology Solving Problems

NGS 2017 Family History Conference - 10-13 May, Raleigh, NCPretty much every speaker is a nationally known expert or an expert in subjects in and around North Carolina. You may know these names (in no particular order):

From Ancestry:

From FamilySearch:

To see the program online, go to http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/program.

To see the PDF registration brochure, click here.

The National Genealogical Society 2017 Family History Conference is being held 10-13 May 2017 at the Raleigh, North Carolina convention center.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pre-Registration for NGS Conference Ends Tomorrow #NGS2017GEN

The Ancestry Insider is a member of the NGS 2017 conference social media press.Pre-registration for the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference ends tomorrow, 27 April 2017. The conference will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, 10-13 May 2017 at the Raleigh Convention Center. While you can register onsite starting noon on 9 May 2017, you must register by tomorrow for meals, events, and workshops. As I write this, some luncheon choices and workshops are already sold out.

According to NGS,

The conference program, Family History Lives Here, features more than 175 lectures from basic to advanced genealogical research, including eighteen presentations on DNA science and methodology. Finding records and effectively using them is the focus of fifty-seven lectures. Among the types of records discussed are a wide range of religious records, military and associated records, North Carolina and regional U.S. records, and African American and Native American records.

Organizations sponsor luncheons during the conference and provide entertaining speakers ($32). The North Carolina Genealogical Society is hosting an evening event, “Pig Pickin” ($45). Pig Pickin’ features North Carolina BBQ, a five-member blue grass band, and local artisans. NGS is hosting its annual banquet with speaker Stuart Watson, an award-winning investigative reporter ($45). 

The conference costs $240 for society members and $275 for non-members. One day registrations are available for $110 (member) and $120 (non-member).

For more information or to register for the conference, visit http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org.

I’m happy to serve again this year as an official social media reporter for the conference.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

AncestryDNA 20% Sale

Order AncestryDNA for $79 through 26 April 2017.Happy DNA Day! Today (25 April) is the anniversary of the publication of articles theorizing the helical structure of DNA. Ancestry is celebrating with a 20% sale on its DNA kit. (Thomas MacEntee has put together a list.) Normally priced $99, Ancestry is offering the kit for $79 (plus taxes and shipping) through 26 April 2017 at 11:59pm Eastern Time. While I sometimes see a $89 sale price, I don’t recall seeing the $79 price since DNA Day last year. After Thanksgiving the past couple years they have offered the kit for $69. It seems likely they will do the same this year. At RootsTech this year they were trying to overshadow the announcement of kits from other vendors by selling AncestryDNA for $49 (with no shipping since you purchased in-person). I don’t know that you will ever see that happen again.

Bottom line, if you aren’t willing to wait until after Thanksgiving, today’s the day to order AncestryDNA for $79.

National DNA Day - April 25To see what scientists, teachers, and students are doing to commemorate DNA Day, visit the National Genome Research Institute website.

Click here to order AncestryDNA for $79.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Serendipity in a Box

Glenda U'Ren Clyde photograph of John and Grace Uren childrenOver 40 years ago Glen and Joyce Alt lived in Platteville, Wisconsin where they became friends with Glenda Clyde and her husband. After several years, the two couples moved their separate ways, the Alts to Massachusetts, the Clydes to Washington state, and the couples had no further contact.

Years passed by. One day Glen’s parents were participating in a household auction in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. When they bought a box of stuff for a few dollars, the auctioneer threw in another for free. The Alts found the second box contained a bunch of old photographs and a piece of paper with names, dates, and places. For some reason, Glen’s mother threw them into a drawer instead of throwing them away. Eventually, she passed them on to Glen. Glen felt there must be someone out there who would place great value on the photographs, so he began investing great efforts in finding them. He had a clue. The paper identified the family as the Urens of Blanchardville, Wisconsin.

Glen started looking, but without success. When he went to Wisconsin on vacation three years later, he availed himself of the opportunity to ask around. He asked some old friends in Platteville if they knew any Urens. One remembered that they had a mutual friend whose maiden name was U’Ren: Glenda Clyde.

Twenty-eight years after they had last communicated, Glen found Glenda on social media. She thought the photographs and information might be of her family, so Glen sent the photographs and the paper to her. Glenda discovered that the pictures and paper were of her great-grandfather’s brother’s family. The information gave her seven new families and 31 new names.

“These precious pictures/paper were bought in the Midwest, given to Glen on the East Coast and then sent to me, a family member, on the West Coast,” Glenda wrote. “Considering the incredible preservation and journey of this valuable information, to us, it truly is a miracle.”

 

Retold with the permission of Glenda Clyde. You can also read her story in R. Scott Lloyd, “Family History Moments: Package Deal,” Deseret News (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865675767/Package-deal.html : 16 March 2017). Photograph contributed by Glenda Clyde.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ancestry Offering Irish Heritage Tour

Springfield Castle, Family Home to Lord Muskerry, IrelandAncestry ProGenealogists, in conjunction with Go Ahead Tours, is offering an 11 day tour to the Emerald Isle. “Discover the country’s highlights and enduring heritage with special insight from the expert AncestryProGenealogists team.” This guided tour visits Dublin, County Cork, County Kerry , Galway, and back to Dublin. For an extra cost, “continue your experience by adding an ancestral home visit to the places where your family members once lived, worked, worshipped, and went to school.” The tour runs 22 October through 1 November 2017.

For more information, visit https://ancestry.grouptoursite.com/.

Photograph by Gary Deane, used under license.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Erroneous AncestryDNA Genetic Community

North American Genetic Communities map from AncestryDNAReader Clytee Gold wrote me about an apparently erroneous AncestryDNA Genetic Community assignment. One of her two communities is “Mormon Pioneers in the West.” (First, I am jealous that she has two community assignments.) She is rather positive that none of her ancestors were ever Mormons. She has done extensive research and has never found any connection to the Church. As there are still pockets of prejudice against members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this assignment could be highly offensive to some people. Coincidentally—or not—it is not offensive to Clytee. Forty years ago she joined the Church and moved to Utah. She is, literally, the “Mormon Pioneer in the West” of her family.

I’m not qualified to explain how this misassignment occurred, but fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Perhaps experts among my readers can correct me. Clytee gave one possible explanation:

The only thing I can figure out is that is based on OTHERS testing (guess that makes a community - who else took the test to compare to), and that somewhere, 5-6 generations back a sibling of a great-great something of mine joined the church in Denmark in the late 1800's and came to Utah as a "Mormon Pioneer in the west" and populated the west and there are lots of descendants who took the DNA test.

Ancestry has explained that they use an algorithm called community detection to detect groups of individuals with a large number of interconnections. I think of it like large DNA Circles that don’t require common ancestors. The Mormon Pioneers community contains 89,000 testers. Just like a DNA Circle, Ancestry states a confidence level for your membership in the genetic community. My connection to the Mormon Pioneers community is “Very Likely.”

Ancestry says they then examine the Ancestry Member Trees of the genetic community “to learn about the historical forces that may have brought their ancestors together.” Of course, some testers don’t have trees, some don’t include all their ancestors, some have ancestors without complete location information, and some have complete garbage in their trees. I assume Ancestry looks for common locations in 25-year increments. If they find a large number of ancestors who lived in the same place at the same time, they look into the history of that time period and why there was a large number of individuals there. Then they give that community a name.

For example, the sweet spot for one genetic community is centered on Massachusetts in 1725-1750 (shown on the map, below left). Ancestry chose to name that community, “Settlers of Colonial New England.” Another centered on Utah at a much later time period, 1875-1900 (below, right). Ancestry called this one “Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West.”

AncestryDNA genetic community map for Settlers of Colonial New England, 1725-1750. AncestryDNA genetic community map for Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West, 1875-1900

I assume Ancestry can follow the group forward and backward in time, up and down the member trees. This provides additional touchpoints to compare against historical sources and decide if they have correctly identified and named the genetic communities. Moving forward in time gives an interesting view on migration that may not be available from other demographic sources. This may truly be groundbreaking demographic tools. For example, look at the 1900-1925 map (below) of the descendants of early residents of Chihuahua and Durango. If I am interpreting the map right, by that time they were as likely to be living in El Paso as Chihuahua. (The large circle over central Texas represents ancestors whose member trees didn’t specify where in Texas they lived.)

AncestryDNA genetic community map for early residents of Chihuahua and Durango, 1900-1925

Moving backwards in time gives an interesting view on where the Mormons who settled in Utah came from. In the period 1825-1850, most were living in England, with a fair number in Denmark. (See map, below.) The surnames associated with the Mormon pioneer genetic community further point to Denmark:

Jensen, Christensen, Larsen, Hansen, Allred, Nielsen, Olsen, Sorensen, Nielson, Rasmussen, Christiansen, Madsen, Peterson, Anderson, Barney, Leavitt, Child, Andersen, Petersen, and Jorgensen

AncestryDNA genetic community map for Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West, 1825-1850

Once they are sure they have identified the genetic community, Ancestry can take information from history books about that group and display it next to the migration map. However, the information may not apply to your ancestors who didn’t participate in the chain migration. That is how Clytee may have been put in a migratory group that her ancestors didn’t participate in. She told me her ancestry:

My father was half Swiss (4 generations from the immigrant to Missouri) and half German (5 generations from the immigrant to Missouri).  Mother half Norwegian (2nd generation from the immigrant to Iowa) and half Danish (2nd generation from the immigrant to Iowa).

I think the conjunction on Denmark is more than coincidence. Clytee’s Danish ancestors didn’t have to join the Mormon church for her ancestors to share DNA with those that did. I don’t think it had to have been a sibling in genealogic-time, either. I think Ancestry is looking at shared DNA in a closed community with hundreds of years of intermarriages.

There is a possibility that the genetic community Ancestry has identified is actually more specific than “all Mormon pioneers.” Ancestry may have identified DNA of Mormon pioneers of Danish origin. Look back at the dominant surnames for this genetic community. Does it look more English or Danish?

There are other possibilities. Remember the mention of confidence level? Clytee may not belong to the genetic community at all. Her DNA may just be a statistical anomaly. Remember the mention of garbage trees? Ancestry may be running calculations overwhelmed by erroneous information.

GIGO. Garbage in—garbage out.

Thank you, Clytee, for your message.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Mailbox: Browsing Ancestry Database Images

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

The database "Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records 1683-1993," offers the subscriber a "Browse this collection" window which works perfectly for all Pennsylvania counties except for Philadelphia County. The list of available images for Philadelphia County never shows up anymore—it did when the database was first launched. Perhaps because it is such a huge amount of data, it cannot load properly. Because the list of digitized probate files for Philadelphia County can only be accessed by clicking on a link from this "Browse" function (administrations, etc), it is now not possible to access those files since there is no dropdown menu.

If you know someone at Ancestry who could correct this, I know many researchers would be grateful.

With thanks,

Sandi Hewlett

Dear Sandi,

I’ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, there is a workaround. There are two ways to access the browse capability of an Ancestry collection. One is the browse you have identified on the collection page. The other is accessed via the breadcrumb path at the top of the page, underneath the title when viewing an image. If you can find a way to see any image, then you can browse to any other image. You can get to an image via browsing one of the other counties that works, or by searching for a common name. Or do this:

1. Start at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8802/005871739_00002.

2. Underneath the collection title at the top of the page, click on “Administration Files, 1764.”

3. Select from the available options.

Signed,

---The Ancestry Insider

Friday, April 14, 2017

Darned Undertaking

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

Kenneth H. Rich was the undertaker. He was also the decedent. Weird.

Kenneth H. Rich of Kokomo, Indiana was his own undertaker.

After 30 years as an undertaker, Kenneth retired just 7 weeks before his doctor started treating him for interstitial nephritis. Less than 6 weeks later, Kenneth was gone. His son, Robert, took over the family business. Six years after his father’s passing, Robert had his first born son. He named him Kenneth.

Reader Naomi Martineau shared this record with me. Thanks, Naomi!

Image credit: Ancestry.com.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Funny AncestryDNA Commercial Parody

"Have you ever questioned your family’s ancestry?" by 22 Minutes, CBC ComedyA coworker alerted me to this video from the CBC show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It is titled, “"Have you ever questioned your family’s ancestry?"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Mailbox: AncestryDNA Genetic Community List of Surnames

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

I was playing with this new feature but I did not see the list of Associated Last Names. Would you tell me where to find it please? It is fun to play with but I don't see that it gave me any new information; anything that I have not already researched.

Signed,
Colleen G. Brown Pasquale

Dear Colleen,

Do you see on the third line down in the screen shot, below, where it says “STORY | CONNECTION”? Click on CONNECTION. Scroll to the bottom of the page; it’s on the right hand side.

Signed,
---tai