August 30, 2016

Amish Genealogy Revealed

Amish genealogy is revealed with Faceboook! Well, sort of. I made a recent visit to Amish country and I couldn’t resist talking genealogy with my new friends. I learned a lot about resources for family history. If you have Amish or Mennonite heritage in your family history, you won’t want to miss this amazing information!

Amish Genealogy Life on Farm

The Amish Facebook Equivalent: The Budget

The Budget is the Amish newspaper our guide wittily referred to as “Amish Facebook.” However, this Facebook alternative has been around since 1890! The Budget covers news from all over the United States and Canada pertaining to the Amish and Mennonite communities and families. Who just got married, who had a baby, and who recently passed away…it’s all in there!

Amish Genealogy Newspaper

Each weekly edition comes out on Wednesday and the cost is $1.50 per paper. However, you can pay the yearly subscription fee of between $45.00 (U.S.) and $182.00 (Canada) to make sure you don’t miss an edition. Check out all the subscription prices at their website here.

Local public libraries in the area may have copies of The Budget in their archives or on microfilm. Be sure to call the library and speak with someone in the history or genealogical department to determine what is available.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute. I didn’t think the Amish liked having their pictures taken.” You will find many nice pictures in The Budget. I learned, not all Amish and Mennonite’s have the same rules about photography. Often, rules about photography, clothing styles, and even the types of dolls a child has are determined by the Bishop and church leadership of that district.

I was delighted to also learn The Budget has their own traditional Facebook page, too, where I could keep up with some of the local news.

The Amish Church Directory

The Amish churches are divided into districts. A district may cover more than one county. They are not necessarily based on county or town borders, but rather encompass about 50 families in a given vicinity. Most Amish families are listed in a church directory for their area. Not all districts find a directory “important,” said my guide. My new friend at Yoder’s Amish Farm also shared with me the genealogical value of such a directory. He said the directories came out “most every year” in his district, though not all districts publish yearly. By using the directories for any given district, you could easily piece together a very accurate family genealogy.

The directories are listed by surname of the head-of-household. Each family listing includes their home address, which is particularly helpful to the many local government agencies, my guide mentioned. Each member of the family is listed by first name and birth date. Marriage dates and death dates, if applicable, are also included. If there has been a second marriage involved due to widowhood, the deceased spouse and the couples children are also listed. Maps are also found in the church directory so you can keep track of where all the cousins are living!

Directories can be purchased by anyone and are often found at local dry-goods stores within the communities.

Amish Genealogy Family History Books and Newsletters

You may be interested to know that many family history books or published newsletters exist for Amish family genealogies. You will most likely find these books and newsletters at a local library. Sometimes, they are available to purchase from local dry good stores in the area. Even better yet, try Google! I Googled Amish Yoder Family History and learned about the Oregon Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society newsletter. It was packed with great information!

The la
rge bound volumes of Amish genealogy may hold thousands of names and dates. Many begin with a detailed history of who came to America, or who came to a given state or area. Then, it will map out for you the family branches.

Using a few of these wonderful sources may help you trace your genealogy farther than you ever imagined. Happy hunting, friends!

Google Drive and other tipsTo learn more amazing techniques about using Google for your genealogy research, check out Lisa’s The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition. It is your go-to resource! The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is available in both print and e-book format

In its chapters–fully revised and updated –you’ll learn more about all the Google tools you need to master to aide you in your family history. Better yet, after you learn how to use these tools for family history research, you’ll find yourself using them to find all kinds of things!

 

 

How to Conduct or Attend a Virtual Funeral

A virtual funeral, is that a real thing? Absolutely. Broadcasting a live service online is an innovative way for families to come together when time and distance keep them apart.

Virtual funeral

I recently received an email marked URGENT. A long time Genealogy Gems Podcast listener and Premium Member needed help ensuring that her close relatives on the other side of the world could ‘virtually attend’ her brother’s burial service. She wrote:

“This Wednesday my brother is being buried and a service is being held at the crematorium. I have a brother and family who are in Chicago. With your wide experience, what do you consider the best app to use on my iPad or iPhone so that my family in Chicago can see and hear it.”

I was indeed sad to hear of her loss, but happy that she felt she could turn to me. I have two suggestions that might make this virtual funeral possible.

Facetime for the Virtual Funeral

One of the easiest ways to accomplish a virtual funeral is if both parties have Apple mobile devices, then you could use Facetime.

Facetime is a video chat app that comes installed on your Apple devices. You will use Facetime to ‘call’ the family privately at a designated time using either a phone number or email address, depending on the type of device you are calling. The app allows you to share the burial or funeral service with your family members anywhere in the world.

The really nice thing about Facetime is that you can see them and they can see you making this as interactive as it can be.

Android Users: Click here to read 5 Best Alternatives to Facetime for Android on Geek.com.

Periscope App for the Virtual Funeral

periscope iconAvailable on both Android and Apple, the free Periscope is my go-to app for live broadcasting here at Genealogy Gems. (At the end of this article, you can watch a video of one of my classes that was live-streamed using Periscope.) Using the Periscope app would be a great solution for privately broadcasting the virtual funeral.

Start by downloading the free app from the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android.) If you decide to use it on your iPad rather than your iPhone, select the “iPhone” filter from the menu. Even though the app was built for iPhone, it will work on your iPad. (Periscope requires iOS 8.1 or later and is also compatible with the iPod touch.)

Sign-in with a free Twitter account or your phone number. Then, add each other as friends. Each person needs to install the app on their device.

Start a “Broadcast,” but before you click the “Start Broadcast” button that pops up, tap the lock icon. From there, you can select your “Friends” (your brother and his family in Chicago) and start a “Private Broadcast.” The Periscope app will also record the broadcast to your phone so you’ll have a video of it. Your video can be saved for a future viewing or as part of your family history.

Sharing Special Moments

Sharing special moments using new apps and technology is one of the advantages of living in today’s modern world. Even when distance keeps you apart, you and your family can lean on each other during hard times or cheer each other on in happy times. I would love to hear from you. How have you shared your special moments with family far away? Leave a comment below.

Genealogy Gems: your home for learning about the best genealogy apps! 

My book Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research will teach you about top apps (most of them free!) for all those important genealmobile genealogy bookogy tasks we do on-the-go: note-taking, file storage and management, photos, reading, collaborating and communicating, genealogy website apps and more. You’ll find recommendations for both Apple and Android device users. Click here for more information on the book, and then head to this page to watch my free video class Mobile Genealogy Tips and Tricks which we live streamed from a recent conference using Periscope!

 

WorldCat Gets a Major Addition: New Genealogy Records Online this Week

We think this week’s list of new and updated genealogical records is really the cat’s meow! WorldCat gets a major addition to their database that is going to help make strides in researching ancestors from Quebec. Search the Irish black sheep in the family and dive into records for Middlesex, European soldiers of WWI, and a helpful record collection for Iowa ancestors!Dig_Records_First_Image

 

World Cat Gets Major AdditionWorldCat

WorldCat is a catalog that itemizes the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories. If you have a book or publication that you are dying to get a hold of, you can use World Cat to track it down. Using a title or keywords you are interested in, World Cat will locate where the closest copy of a book, DVD, CD, or article, for you to view. Isn’t that wonderful?

Many genealogists use World Cat and we have some exciting news. 2.4 million new records have been added by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) to the WorldCat database. This mega contribution is dedicated to those records from Quebec or those that relate to Quebec.

To learn more about and search WorldCat, click here. And then take a few minutes to watch Lisa’s interview with Jay Jordan, President & CEO of OCLC about the collaboration between OCLC and FamilySearch to bring better acess to records and resources to everyone.

Ireland – Outrage Reports

What’s an outrage report? This new collection at Findmypast consists of thousands of reports created by the Royal Irish Constabulary between 1836 and 1840. Outrage reports were created by chief constables who were responsible for writing a short summary of all incidents, crimes, or disturbances that occurred within their county.

The original records are held at the National Archives in London. These historic Irish reports include descriptions of thefts, assaults, suicides, rescues, cases of infanticide, arson, and more. Each record includes both a transcript and digital image of the original document. Images of the original documents contain a short description of the event or offence reported or the details of the crime committed, so reader beware. If you have a black sheep in the family, you might want to take a look at this special collection.

United Kingdom – Middlesex – Court Records

Another new collection at Findmypast is titled “Middlesex, London, Old Bailey Court records, 1674-1913.” This collection holds over 782,000 court records from London’s Old Bailey. Old Bailey was the central criminal court of England and Wales. Within this collection, you will find both transcripts and links to images of the original documents. Criminal proceedings and biographies of executed criminals is just the tip of the iceberg, so you’ll want to start digging today!

United Kingdom – WWI War Diaries

Fold3.com announced their new database collection “UK WWI War Diaries.” These diaries are unit diaries. They cover operations and movements for the British and colonial united who served between 1914 and 1920 in France, Belgium, and Germany, as well as in Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign.

The diaries are separated into two titles: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium, and Germany) and UK, WWI Diaries (Gallipoli-Dardanelles.) These diaries are a daily record of events and some diaries contain more information than you might expect. You may even be able to find supplemental documents too. This collection is organized by regiment, division, and then sub-unit. Remember, these are typically handwritten records. You may want to browse the records one-by-one to make sure your search is not in vain.

Though these are not personal diaries, you may find your ancestor listed by name. It is always more meaningful to learn of our ancestors in these ways. To learn of the conditions, their movements, their gains and their losses, can paint a more realistic story of their time in WWI.

United States – Iowa – State Census

Iowa_1905_Census

State censuses are unique. They were usually taken on the 5’s, like in 1885, 1895, or 1905, etc. Iowa is one of my favorite states to research in because of their state census records. If you have Iowa ancestors, you will love the 1905 Iowa State Census now available to search for free at FamilySearch.org.

The 1905 census asked similar questions to those asked in many of the U.S. Federal Censuses, such as name, age, and place of birth. This census also asked how long they had lived in the U.S. and how long they had lived in Iowa. This is particularly helpful when determining if an immigrant ancestor came “straight to Iowa,” or may have resided in another area for a time.

This census also includes signatures of those enumerated which is a neat piece of memorabilia to have for one of your kindred dead.

Learn More about Using WorldCat for Genealogy

WorldCat for Genealogy: 40 Million Records and Digital Gateway

WorldCat + FHL Catalog = True Genealogical Love!

Finding Widows, Disappearing Husbands, and Lost Relatives

Finding Widows

Great-grandma may be listed as a widow in the 1900 federal census…but she might not actually be a widow after all. Women in the past sometimes claimed widowhood to protect their family’s good name. A recent reader’s question prompted this post for sharing some tips to finding widows, disappearing husbands, and lost relatives.

Widow or Not?

Genealogy Gems reader, Mary, wrote us the following comment:

“My grandmother Kitty’s first husband was Robert Lee Jeffries. They married in 1887 and had 4 or 5 children. He died in the very early 1900’s. She later remarried my grandfather, John, and they had four children together. All this took place in Hardin County, Kentucky. I cannot find when, where, or how her first husband died, or where he is buried. Can you help me?”

I think we can give Mary some tips to help her find Robert. As you read along, consider how these same tips and techniques could help you in finding widows, disappearing husbands, and lost relatives.

Finding Death Records in the Early 1900s

A death record is typically a good way to determine where someone went. If you can locate a death record for your lost individual, they aren’t lost anymore! Finding death records for the time period that Mary is asking about isn’t usually too difficult, unless there has been a record loss for that county. By doing a quick check on FamilySearch wiki for Hardin County, Kentucky, I learned that many records between 1852 and 1911 are missing, including some of the death records. That may be why Mary wasn’t able to find one.

When a death record can’t be found, there are many alternatives that we can exhaust. Cemetery records, newspaper obituaries, and probate records are just a few suggestions. But before we move into alternative records, something caught my attention.

Misspelled Names

With a last name like “Jeffries,” there could be several ways to spell it. Jeffrys, Jefferies, Jeffres, and perhaps many more. What can you do when you have a name, first or last, that could be spelled so many different ways?

One suggestion is to search by each of the possible name spellings, but another tool is to use an asterisk or wildcard. The first part of the surname Jeffries is always the same: J e f f. Whether you are searching records at Ancestry, Findmypast, or MyHeritage, you can use an asterisk after the last “f” to indicate you are looking for any of the possible surname spellings.

DisappearingHusband_1

I didn’t find any great matches using the criteria you see in the image above, but I took off the death date range and Kitty’s name and found Bob Lee JeffERies living in his parents home in 1880 in Hardin County, Kentucky. Take a close look at this image:

DisappearingHusband_2

Do you see the mistake? If you look at the digital image of the census, it spells the surname as Jeffries, however the record is indexed as Jefferies. Not to mention that Robert Lee is recorded as Bob Lee. This combination of name differences will always cause a little hiccup in our search process. This is why it is so important to consider name spellings when searching for records.

Even though using an asterisk didn’t produce a death record, you can see how using a tip like this can help when searching for any records online.

Alternatives to Death Records

Like I mentioned before, Hardin county had some record losses. Just because their death records may have been lost or destroyed, doesn’t mean the probate records were.

Using FamilySearch.org, I used the browse option to search probate record books in Hardin county, Kentucky. I found a record dated 25 Apr 1893, in which Kitty wrote her own will. [1] She mentions Lucy (possibly Robert’s mother found in the 1880 census) and others by name. What is strange is there’s no mention of a husband. I wondered if perhaps husband Robert had died before 1893. Unfortunately, there was no Robert Jeffries (or any variation) in the previous record books and the record book that Kitty appeared in was the last one available online.

When no will can be found, that doesn’t mean there is not a probate record available. The next step would be to visit the Hardin County probate office or State Archives to see if there is an estate packet available for Robert.

An estate packet is typically filled with all sorts of genealogy goodies! Receipts, list of heirs, and affidavits may shed light on many a burning question for your targeted ancestor.

The Disappearing Husband

Sadly, not all husband’s leave their families due to their demise. In the past, it was sometimes easier and more appealing to call yourself a widow or widower when your spouse left you. Kitty wrote a will in 1893 and did not mention a husband. In 1900, she was living in her father’s house and her children were divided up among the relatives, including her in-laws. Could Robert have left Kitty and the children? There may only be one way to know for sure.

Kitty remarried. To do that, either Robert had to die or she would need to be divorced. Divorce records can sometimes be located on a county level or at a state archives. I gave Hardin County Clerk of Courts a call and found out that divorce records between the years of 1804 -1995 are held at the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. Their website provided details to ordering several types of records, including divorce records.

Looking in All the Wrong Places

Sometimes, we are so focused on one area that we can’t see past the end of our noses! Many of our ancestors lived on the borders of other counties. Hardin County, Kentucky is especially unique. It borders not only eight other Kentucky counties, but it also borders Harrison County, Indiana. It’s always a good idea to branch out to these nearby locations when you are having trouble locating records.

A Re-cap

When struggling to find a record for any targeted ancestor, try the following:

  • Consider alternate name spellings and search for common nicknames.
  • When there has been a possible record loss, search for alternative records that may hold the information you are looking for.
  • Determine which counties/states your targeted location is bordering and search there for records as well.

Have you found a disappearing person or long, lost relative? If so, share with us (in the comment section below) your story and how you finally tracked the elusive person down. Maybe your story will help others still searching for that missing ancestor!

More Gems on Finding Missing Ancestors

How to Search Your Ancestors’ Other Spouses and Childrenmy ancestor in the newspaper news

6 Sources that May Name Your Ancestors’ Parents

How to Save Time and Find the Ancestors You Are Looking For

 

 


Article References

(1) “Kentucky, Probate Records, 1727-1990,” digital images online, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 10 Aug 2016); record for Kitty A. Jeffries, 1893; citing Will Records, Index, 1893-1915, Vol. G, page 12.

Great Scott! Genealogy Gems is Attending Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference for 2016 is “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories” and will be held in Springfield, Illinois. See what your future holds by learning about the past. Genealogy Gems will be there, and you’re going to love our line-up of free 30-minute classes in the exhibit hall (booth #200). Plus, enter to win our Grand Prize drawing! Here are all the details.

Make Your Future Whatever You Want, But Make it a Good One

TeamTimeCar.com-BTTF DeLorean Time Machine-OtoGodfrey.com-JMortonPhoto.com-07

JMortonPhoto.com & OtoGodfrey.com [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

With his iconic exclamation of “Great Scott!”, Back to the Future’s Dr. Emmitt Brown reminded us that the future is in our own hands. Make your future genealogy research “a good one” by attending this year’s conference.

This Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference will benefit the novice, the professional, and anyone in between. With over 160 sessions and 72 expert speakers from all over the world, you will be inspired to reach greater heights in all things genealogy.

Each day, a new set of classes will guide you through:

  • the U.S. Midwest (regional track)
  • the United Kingdom (British Isles and Commonwealth track)
  • the continental European research (ethnic track), to give you the latest and greatest in genealogy research.

If you missed early registration, that’s okay. Walk-in registration is available by clicking here. Enjoy all four days of inspiring classes, only attend a day or two, or just meander around the exhibit hall.

Free Stuff in the Exhibit Hall

The exhibit hall is always a favorite place to network and socialize with your genealogy buddies. Wander from booth to booth to see what the future holds for genealogists and gather up all the fun and free swag, too.

Most importantly, Lisa wants to see you for our free sessions that are back by popular demand! With such a positive response last year, Genealogy Gems will once again be hosting a series of free presentations at this year’s FGS conference. Join us in our Genealogy Gems Theater in booth #200 in the exhibit hall. Our 30-minute information-packed sessions will help you think outside the box for greater genealogy success.

Attend any of our sessions and sign-up to receive our free e-book of handouts for all the sessions. Want to plan ahead so you don’t miss a thing? Glance over the schedule below (click the button to download the schedule) and mark your can’t-miss sessions. (Not able to attend? Stay tuned because we will be announcing which sessions will be broadcast live over Periscope for free.)

download now

BONUS: Join Lisa in the FGS theater area of the exhibit hall
Saturday at 12:10 for
Top Google Search Strategies for Genealogists

FGS 2016 Genealogy Gems booth schedule

Grand Prize Drawing: Total Retail Value over $210

Presenters at the Genealogy Gems Theater have pitched in for this year’s Grand Prize drawing. The winner will receive:

…from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems

…from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard

…from Family Tree Magazine: an e-book bundle valued at about $100

Click here for the Grand Prize entry form, which also gets you the free e-book with all the session handouts. Drop the entry off at booth #200. The winner will be notified by email.

map of Genealogy Gems booth at FGS

Lisa will of course be presenting lectures during the daily sessions. Jump on over to our website page for even more information about the FGS Conference.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there, friends!

Standing in Judgement of Our Ancestors

download backblaze

Standing in judgement of our ancestors may be unavoidable. Genealogists dig up the good, the bad, and the ugly. We cannot pick and choose what we find, but we might be able to pick what and how we share it with others.

Recently, I received a letter from a Gem’s reader which included a very delicate and sensitive matter. She writes:

Hi Lisa!

I love your blog and podcast. Thank you for all you do getting gems together for us!  I have a question for you and would love to know your opinion (or the opinion of anyone else as well!)

I was recently at a family wedding. I printed out all the family and ancestor’s paper trails and documents and was passing them around to my aunt, uncles, and cousins. My mom’s eldest brother brought up a memory he had of his grandfather, my great-grandfather, a German immigrant. My uncle whispered it to me because the saying my great-grandfather often said is very prejudice. I won’t tell you what the quote is but it’s prejudice against Jewish, Irish, and Dutch people. Here’s my question – should I write down that my great-grandfather was prejudice against certain people to preserve this part of his character or should I let this information fade into history? As genealogists we are always trying to get a full view of the person we are researching – past the census records, military service paperwork, and wills – and into the real person and personality. So, I now have a more broad view of my great-grandfather, but it’s negative. Should I preserve this character flaw in my ancestry notes? I’m conflicted about what to do. Maybe if this was a further distanced relative I would have an easier time brushing aside this prejudice but I’m having a hard time with the “right thing to do.” Any advice would be wonderful!

As a side note I will tell you that in the following generations this mans’ children and grandchildren have married Irish and Jewish spouses. Haha. I guess the “saying” was never echoed by his descendants!

Thanks,
Jennifer

Judgement of Our Ancestors

This is a great question and I applaud you for thoughtfully taking a moment to really think it through and ask for advice before moving forward on recording what you were told.

You asked – Should I write down that my great-grandfather was prejudice against certain people to preserve this part of his character or should I let this information fade into history? My opinion is, no. Mother Lisa says this is gossip and you didn’t hear it straight from your great-grandfather. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone else attributing a negative comment to me without having the chance to review or rebuke it. It’s a slippery slope.
judgement of our ancestors

Little Tea & Gossip by Robert Payton Reid, Source: http:⁄⁄www.liveinternet.ru⁄users⁄pmos_nmos⁄post357791815⁄

You also asked – Should I preserve this character flaw in my ancestry notes? And there’s the slippery slope. I believe that we, in modern times, should avoid sitting in judgement of ancestors who are not here to defend themselves. We don’t want to presume that we are in a position to decide how wrong “the crime” is. We certainly don’t want to be negatively prejudiced against others ourselves, but it is impossible to put oneself in another’s shoes in a differing time and circumstance. We know nothing about what the person really said. Perhaps they were joking (even though in extremely bad taste!) Maybe the person who heard this, and passed it on, had an ax to grind and part or none of it is true. Or, maybe there was an experience that our ancestor suffered that could have given him a reason to gripe based on his personal experience. You just don’t know.

In my book, I would chalk this up to gossip and either prove it with substantiated evidence or move on. What goes around comes around so let’s hope it will prevent an occurrence of someone gossiping about you and your future descendant spreading it into the ages.

Deciding to Write the Whole Story

In cases where you have secured substantial evidence that a negative story is true, you still have a choice to make. When I come across particularly sensitive or negative information about an ancestor, and before I make it public, I ask myself, “who will this help, and who will it hurt?” Does adding it to the family history enrich it? Is there anyone living today who might be hurt? If someone stands to be injured, but you’re set on capturing the story, I encourage you to do so privately for your own records and of course, cite all of your sources.

If you do decide to write and publish sensitive stories, I know that you will want to do so in as gentle and fair a way as possible. Here are some things to consider when writing about delicate stories of our ancestors:
  • Be sure to cite your source – who told you the story and when. The reader can decide whether to take the story with a grain of salt or believe it.
  • Let your readers know your reason for sharing the story in the first place. Genealogy Gems blogger Amie Tennant recently read a family history that included a horrible childhood memory. The writer stated it was important to put the family dynamics in full view so that other stories would be seen in the “right light.”
  • If naming everyone in the story will cause hurt or embarrassment, consider documenting the essence of the story without naming names.

Story of my life workbook coverWhatever you decide, writing a family history, though difficult at times, can be a rewarding experience!

Our very own Sunny Morton has just completed her fill-in-the-blank workbook for writing personal and family history. You will find the overwhelming task of starting your story as easy as pie! For a sneak-peek at what’s inside, read Writing Your Personal History: Step-by-Step or get your copy of the book “Story of My Life” here.

 

Why I Wish the DAR DNA Policy Was a Little Different

why the DAR DNA

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) accepts limited DNA evidence to prove descent from a Revolutionary War veteran. In my opinion, the DAR DNA policy is a little too limited. Here’s why–and what you can do.

Membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been a holy grail for U.S. genealogists for 125 years. With its requirement of proof of a “lineal bloodline descendant from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence” in three categories: birth, marriage, and death, as well as proof of Revolutionary War Service, membership is exclusive to those with an iron-clad paper trail.

That is, until 2014, when the DAR added DNA evidence to its list of acceptable documents proving a relationship to a Revolutionary War ancestor.

What does the DAR DNA Policy Accept?

The DAR only accepts one of the three forms of DNA testing which is the Y chromosome test, or YDNA. The YDNA traces only a direct paternal line, making it a great choice when trying to link living males with their Revolutionary counterparts. This YDNA is basically passed unchanged from generation to generation, making the modern day holder of the YDNA the proud owner of possibly exactly the same YDNA that fought the Redcoats. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

The DAR recently announced that to further help those wanting to use their YDNA as part of their application, they have formed a project at Family Tree DNA, the company that provides the YDNA testing. Projects are absolutely the best way to get the most out of your YDNA testing. There are surname projects, location projects, haplogroup (deep ancestral group) projects, and even special interest group projects, such as this one for the DAR.

While the results of the testing are only available to members of the group, the statistics page gives us an idea of the scope of this project. They currently have 1,242 total members and what looks to be about 430 YDNA tests completed (though it is admittedly difficult to tell based on the chart online.)  This means if you think your paternal line may be a candidate for the DAR, you can have a representative of your line tested and compared to the group. If you find a match, you will have relative certainty that you do connect to that Patriot, and can then be more confident in your traditional research in pursuit of the necessary paper connections.

In April the DAR opened up project membership to include mtDNA and autosomal DNA. They will not be using these two kinds of DNA in their applications (yet), but hopefully this project will pave the way for the addition of those tests in the future (though, for several reasons, inclusion of these tests in the application process will be more difficult.)

Though, in all honesty, they have made the YDNA process difficult enough. Let’s say that you are actually able to trace down multiple generations to find a direct male descendant of your Revolutionary guy to be tested, an individual who is, the DAR mandates, “sharing your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name,” and you convince that unassuming relative to give up his saliva, you still are only half way there. The DAR guidelines also state that you have to have a second individual who is “a descendant of the same Revolutionary War ancestor through a different unbroken male lineage that has been previously proven on a DAR application…” (I added the emphasis here.)

A Practical Example of the DAR DNA Policy

OK, so let’s say you are a genealogical whiz and, let’s face it, you were lucky, and you find two such candidates and have them tested.

Well, the DAR tells us that those two men must match EXACTLY on the 37 YDNA markers tested. Now there is no telling when that YDNA might experience a mutation. So to me it seems a little unfair to require perfection. So it is possible, that even after all the work of finding the right guys to be tested, the test itself may work against you, as even one difference is enough to keep this YDNA off of your application, at least for now.

So while I applaud the DAR for using YDNA testing at all, and for spearheading a special interest project at Family Tree DNA, the reality is that the limitations of direct paternal line genealogy and the requirements of testing make it unlikely that very many will be able to take advantage of the YDNA in their DAR applications.

However, there are a few things you can take away from this article now:

  • First, collect those DNA samples whenever you can, especially for key relatives, like your paternal line and the oldest living generation (whose DNA is less likely to have experienced any mutation.)
  • Second, keep your research paper trail strong. Nothing in the near future of the genetic genealogy industry tells us that distant relative connections (like to your Revolutionary War ancestor) will be provable by DNA alone.
  • And third, definitely look at crowd-sourced studies for your particular DNA. Those surname, location, haplogroup, and special interest group projects I mentioned from FTDNA are just some of the ones that might help your research—or that you could use to help someone else’s. I’ve talked about these studies before: click here to read about them.

My Complete DNA for Genealogy Research Guide Series

I am Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, and the author of a series of genetic genealogy quick guides. You can get them all at the Genealogy Gems store at a fantastic bundle price (in laminated print or digital download format.) You’ll get:

  • DNA quick guides super bundle of 7Getting Started Genetics for the Genealogist
  • Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist
  • Mitochondrial DNA for the Genealogist
  • Y Chromosome DNA for the Genealogist
  • Understanding Ancestry: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist
  • Understanding Family Tree DNA: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist
  • Understanding 23 and Me: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist

Click here to learn more about these guides, or click here to learn more about my series of how-to videos, also available to Gems fans for a special price. Thanks for sharing this post with your genealogy friends who do DNA research (especially those who may have Revolutionary War ancestors!)

England Emigrants and More: New Genealogy Records Online

England emigrants to its U.S. colonies appear in new genealogy records online this week. Also: the 1891 New South Wales census; Czech church, land and school records; English parish records; and U.S. collections from the Freedmen’s Bureau, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and New England towns and cities.

dig these new record collections

Australia – New South Wales census

Findmypast.com has published over 200,000 records from the 1891 New South Wales census. The census collectors’ books are the source, as these are the only surviving documents. “While they provide less detail than a full census would, they can still be a useful aid to historians and genealogists alike in placing people at a specific moment in time,” states the collection description. “Each result will provide you with a transcript and image of the original collector’s books from the 1891 census. Original images may provide you with additional details, such as the number of individuals living in the same household or the number of residents who were Aboriginal or Chinese.”

Czechoslovakia – Church, Land and School

FamilySearch.org has added to its collection of Czech Republic Church Records spanning more than 400 years (1552-1963). You’ll find “images and some indexes of baptisms/births, marriages, and deaths that occurred in the Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Reformed Church parishes, as well as entries in those registers for Jews.” These are taken from parish registers and synagogue records now in regional archives. Though not fully indexed, the browse-only records number over 4 million! (Click here to learn how to use browse-only collections on FamilySearch.org; remember you can use the FamilySearch wiki for help in translating records in another language.)

FamilySearch has also added more than 850,000 browsable images to its existing collection of Czech Republic Land Records 1450-1889 and more than a million browsable images to the existing collection Czech Republic School Registers 1799-1953.

England Emigrants

Remember recently when we blogged about emigrant records, or those created about people leaving a country? Ancestry.com recently posted a new database called Emigrants in Bondage, which it says is “the most important list of ships’ passengers to be published in years.” Indexed are names of “more than 50,000 English men, women, and children… sentenced to be deported to the American colonies for crimes ranging from the theft of a handkerchief to bigamy or highway robbery.” The collection dates cover 1614 to 1775, after which time the British empire was not permitted to ship its “undesirables” to U.S. shores.

England – Parish records – Staffordshire and Sussex

Findmypast has added to its collections of church vital records for Staffordshire, England. Its browsable parish registers, 1538-1900 now includes 300,000 full-color page-by-page images. Separate databases of baptisms, wedding banns, marriages and burials have also been updated.

Also, more than 1.2 million indexed records have been added to FamilySearch’s collection of England, Sussex, Parish Records, dating 1538-1910.  Sussex parish registers contain baptisms, marriages/banns, and burials. Date ranges of available records vary by locality; you will want to use the coverage table at the FamilySearch wiki to see what’s available.

U.S. – Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Now that the Freedmen’s Bureau collections have been fully indexed, FamilySearch is dumping them onto its website in batches. This week, they added these new databases:

U.S. – Military

FamilySearch.org has added just over 4 million indexed records to its database of United States Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps (1798-1937). The collection is described as an “index and images of muster rolls of the United States Marine Corps located at the National Archives. The records are arranged chronologically by month, then by post, station or ship.”

This week, the Fold3.com blog reminds us of its Coast Guard collections, in honor of the Coast Guard’s 226th birthday. Hundreds of thousands of search results on the site relate to Coast Guard history, from disapproved Navy survivors pension files to photos dating to the Civil War; accounts of shipwrecks or accidents, WWII war diaries for several units, images of insignia and Navy cruise books.

U.S. – New England

FamilySearch has posted a new index of New Hampshire Vital and Town Records Index for the years 1656-1938. It contains shy of half a million records of births, marriages and deaths. Entries were sourced from multiple archives in New Hampshire; the citation for each record is included in the index entry at the bottom of the record screen.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has announced improvements to its databases for three New England cities, which now include more searchable fields and images. “Hartford, CT: General Index of Land Records of the Town of Hartford, 1639-1839, is now searchable by grantee and grantor name, and results provide the record type and volume and page of the record (available on microfilm at the Connecticut State Library). Boston, MA: Births, 1800-1849, and Dover, NH: Vital Records, 1649-1892, are now searchable by first name, last name, record type, family member names, date, and location.”

We All Have a Family History Story to Tell

Here’s an inspiring example of a quick and easy way to tell your story. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you. 

Tell Your Family History Story with Animoto

Were you one of those kids sitting in history class bored to tears? Was the common teenage mantra  “what’s this got to do with me?” running through your brain? While the teacher’s lecture may have seemed disconnected, nothing could have been further from the truth. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you.

We all have a story to tell about our place in history and Animoto is an easy and powerful way to tell that family history story. I’ve been sharing my thoughts on creating family history stories on my Genealogy Gems Podcast and in videos on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. One of my listeners and viewers, Doug Shirton, has enthusiastically embraced the idea of video storytelling and recently shared his video with me.

Doug says “I have been wanting to do a video for a long time…Animoto was so easy.” Take a few minutes and get inspired by watching Doug’s video Genealogy Journey; Doug Shirton by clicking here.

family history story

I love the elements that Doug wove into his video. Not only did he include individual photographs of himself and his ancestors, but he also dragged and dropped into his Animoto timeline a full page family tree chart. Doug used the “Rustic” video style (one of my favorites) which is perfectly suited for his old-timey photos.

He also used music in an innovative way to tell his family history story. Rather than settling on just one song, he used portions of multiple tracks. This technique moves the viewer through the emotional levels he was striving to convey.

Adding Music to Your Family History Story

All great movies have a soundtrack! Animoto allows you to choose from their music library or add your own. Adding music to your family history video is very simple. To add additional songs, simply click the plus sign under the timeline. Animoto’s “edit song and pacing” feature makes it easy to get everything to fit perfectly.

we all have a story to tell

MUSIC SEARCH TIP: In addition to being able to upload your own songs, Animoto’s robust music library is brimming with songs that will help you hit just the right note. In addition to the filter boxes, don’t miss the handy search field at the very bottom of the list of filters. Enter a keyword to suit your mood and then scroll back up to the top of the page to pick from the results.

Choosing the Focus of Your Family History Story

Family trees are very far reaching indeed. So many direct line and collateral lines, often spanning the globe. Doug was wise to select one family history story within his tree: his Ontario, Canada pioneer ancestors.

Focusing on a particular line of your family, or a single story, makes creating your video more manageable for you and, frankly, more enjoyable to watch for your viewer. Keeping your video fairly short is also a good idea. Doug’s is just 4 minutes and I recommend going no longer than five. This is particularly important when you plan to share it on social media where attention-spans are short.

Family History Story Ideas

Here are a few ideas of stories you could explore:

  • The story of your most recent immigrant ancestor
  • A family history story that runs through your family tree, such as three generations of musicians
  • How one of your ancestral families survived a natural disaster like the Johnston Flood or the Great San Francisco Earthquake
  • The history of a first name that was used over multiple generations in your family

The idea here is to select a family history story that is short, thematic, and compelling to watch.

Need More Ideas?

Watch the Animoto sample videos here.

Visit my How to Create Family History Videos page for more ideas and step-by-step instructions for videos with Animoto, There’s no better time than now to tell your story! We would love for you to share your family history story video on our Facebook page.

Here’s the book that will help you cultivate and record your story: Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy.

Best Genealogy Websites for 2016 Includes Genealogy Gems

Wow! We can’t thank you enough for your overwhelming support of The Genealogy Gems Podcast, website, blog, and our YouTube Channel. Family Tree Magazine listed Genealogy Gems among their 101 best genealogy websites for 2016!Family Tree magazine 110 Best websites for family genealogy

Genealogy Gems Named One of the Best for 2016

Family Tree magazine writer David A. Fryxell wrote the post last week listing the 101 Best Websites for 2016. He said they were searching for “new frontiers in online genealogy [and] sites not afraid to innovate at warp speed.” As you know, we really enjoy sharing new and innovative ways to use technology around here and we are delighted they noticed!

To organize the list of 101 best genealogy websites, Family Tree Magazine broke it down into several categories. Some of the categories included, Best Websites for Exploring Your Ancestors’ Lives, Best Genetic Genealogy Websites, and Best Sites for Sharing Your Genealogy. Genealogy Gems fell into the Best Genealogy News and Help Websites of 2016 and it is because of you, our readers and listeners. Thank you!

Another Milestone: 2 Million Downloads!

2 million downloads

   Above: Podcast Stats Screenshot

As if we weren’t elated enough, The Genealogy Gems Podcast hit 2 million downloads earlier this month! We could never have accomplished this goal without your enthusiasm and support. Thank you for listening, for sharing, and for keeping us engaged in bringing you the best in genealogy and family history research tools.

Genealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and WebsiteDid you know there are two versions of The Genealogy Gems Podcast? Anyone can listen to our free podcasts (nearly 200 to date) and Premium Members can currently listen to an additional 137 exclusive Premium Episodes.

If you enjoy our free podcast, you’re going to love the Premium Episodes. Click here to peruse our vast archive, rich with family history innovation and inspiration. Premium episodes go more in depth and are commercial free!

Also included in Premium Membership is over thirty of Lisa’s most popular genealogy classes on video, complete with downloadable handouts.

What’s New for Genealogy Gems

No time to sit on our laurels because we have loads of gems in the works for the coming year. Would you like to feel more focused and organized? You’ll be hearing detailed strategies for streamlining your family history efforts and reducing overload and disorganization.

Have you seen Lisa’s Tech Tips video series? She launched it this summer to rave reviews and she’s got more incredible strategies on the way to help you save time and get better research results.

Youtube genealogy tech tip videos reviews

Start watching and learning today here at our Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. And to keep in the loop, click the Subscribe button while you’re there!

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