November 28, 2014

NGS 2015 Genealogy Conference Program Now Available

NGS 2015The FULL program and registration brochure for the next National Genealogical Society conference is now online. Browse the NGS 2015 program for some mouthwatering sessions, workshops, tours and social events!

Why read it now, right when the holiday season is kicking off? Several events have limited seating–first-come, first-served to those who register. And registration opens December 1! So set aside your Black Friday shopping lists and read this tempting list. You may give yourself a holiday gift of attendance at NGS next spring!

ALisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcastmong the sessions Lisa will be teaching at NGS 2015 are NEW topics many of you haven’t heard yet:

  • Tech Tools that Catapult the Newspaper Research Process into the 21st Century;
  • iPad & iPhone Power User Techniques for Genealogy; and
  • Six Pillars to Build Your Genealogy Business Online.

The conference will take place in St. Charles, Missouri. The 16-page brochure is downloadable here as a pdf or you can read it online here.  Register at the NGS website. Can’t make it in person? They will stream 10 sessions live for you to watch from the comfort of your own home or office. (Learn more about in coming months.)

Orphaned Heirloom WWI Medal Comes Home via Facebook

WWI World War I medal returned to familyThanks to an appeal on Facebook, an old World War I medal is back with its family!

According to the North Devon Journal in the U.K., the medal was found with the belongings of a man who died in 1980. His sister only recently realized there was a name on the medal, says a story in the North Devon Gazette. She asked a nearby museum to help her return it to a living descendant.

A Facebook appeal went out for a descendant of the soldier, Private Albert Earnest Stowell, who the Gazette says served in the Devonshire Regiment.

Within half an hour a great great grandson of Private Stowell was located. The medal was returned to him at a museum ceremony.

Inspired? Click here for tips for how YOU can help orphaned heirlooms return to their families. More interested in learning more about your own family’s participation in World War I? Click here to read about Europeana’s online archive for WWI.

FREE MyHeritage Webinar: Enrich Your Tree with Photos, Stories and More

MyHeritage.com logo updated Oct 2014Have you started using MyHeritage.com yet? I especially recommend this genealogy and family social networking mega-site for:

  • searching internationally for relatives through 26 million family trees contributed by users worldwide (and supported in tons of languages);
  • “smart” searches of 5.5 billion historical records; and 
  • connecting with living relatives. (You can post all the family pictures here and update everyone on upcoming events. And, oh, by the way, relatives can browse the family tree while they’re looking up grandma’s birthday.)

MyHeritage has posted a new YouTube video with lots of great tricks for using their website. Watch the MyHeritage webinar here:

MyHeritage is a proud sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched

“This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  This is huge.” -Diane Southard, Your DNA Guide

AncestryDNA product image new_1f_screens2I blogged a couple of weeks ago about some changes taking place over at AncestryDNA. You will recall that they are planning to slash your match list to allow only “invited guests” to your personal DNA party. (Read that post to be reminded why this is a good thing.) Ancestry has officially announced the launch of this feature update and reports that on average users will see an 80% reduction in the number of matches shown. I had a chance to look at the new site before it launched and one of my favorite features is the question mark that appears next to your match. Clicking on the question mark on your match page will bring up a menu of references to help you better understand the inner workings of matching at Ancestry, including those confidence levels that are a part of every relationship prediction. In this table below you can see that ancestry has tried to give you some fairly solid guidelines by which to assess the quality of your matches. You will want to focus on those matches with a confidence score of “High” or above to have the best chance of genealogical success. confidence chart But an update to the matching feature is only the beginning of the new features at AncestryDNA. Today Ancestry announced “DNA Circles,” a tool that helps you identify others who share common ancestors with you.  The new “DNA Circles” feature has the potential to impact the way you do genetic genealogy at Ancestry.  Here’s why: Autosomal DNA (the kind that Ancestry is testing) has a spotty inheritance pattern. On average we only have half of the DNA of each of our parents, only 25% of our grandparents, only 12.5% of our great grandparents and so on.  This means that AncestryDNA and its competitors (Family Tree DNA and 23andMe) are only able to genetically identify 50% of your genetic 4th cousins. This means that there could be 50% MORE people in these databases that you are actually related to, people that should have been invited to your DNA party, but didn’t have a ticket. Now with DNA Circles, there is a metaphorical “after-party.” After parties are “hosted” by one of your relatives. Ancestry searches your pedigree and that of your matches back 7 generations looking for suitable hosts.  An ancestor qualifies as a host if they have two or more descendants who hold an invitation. At this after-party you can meet some of these long lost cousins that, while related to you, lost their ticket to your DNA party. After-party invitations are provided to those who meet three very important qualifications:

  1. They have their DNA attached to their PUBLIC family tree.
  2. AND that PUBLIC family tree has the name of the hosting ancestor on it.
  3. AND this person shares DNA with at least one other person who also meets the above two criteria.

Here’s an example.  Below is an image of the new AncestryDNA home page. You can see I am a part of two DNA Circles (some of you will be much more popular and invited to several after-parties. For me–just the two for now).  Let’s take a closer look at my DNA Circle hosted by my paternal 5th great grandfather Minus Griggs (who knew the guy liked parties?!). AncestryDNA HomePageNov2014   Clicking on the DNA circle brings up this page where there are three things I want to show you: AncestryDNA

  1. This is your relationship to the host.
  2. This is a list of the individuals who have passed the three criteria listed above and have been invited to this after-party.
  3. This is the innovative part.  You see that the first two matches (after me–I am listed first) have only “Tree Match” in this column. This means that these two people, both descendants of our host, Minus Griggs, didn’t ever appear on my DNA match list. We do not share enough DNA to be considered genetic relatives. However, the third member of the circle has the “DNA Match” designation, meaning that this match DOES appear on my match page. In fact, this is my ONLY DNA match in the circle (there are three others not shown here).  That means that this DNA circle has connected me to FIVE other cousins.  All because I share DNA and genealogy with the third member of this circle, and he shares DNA and genealogy with everyone else.

I can click on each circle member to see exactly how Ancestry THINKS we are related.  This is my first opportunity to DOUBLE CHECK this relationship that Ancestry has handed me, to be sure that both my match and I really did receive tickets to the same after party.

Here is what that page looks like for me and one of my matches.

GriggsCircleDetail This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  In my opinion, this is huge. 

There is one catch, and it is going to be a big one for some of you.  In order to see your DNA Circles, you have to be an Ancestry.com subscriber.

Even though I am excited about these changes, I can’t help but hope for just one step more.  In order to identify these DNA Circles, Ancestry has identified pieces of DNA that can be fairly reliably assigned to a particular ancestor.  There are likely others in the Ancestry database who have these pieces of DNA, we can call them partial tickets to the after-party, but who are lacking the second requirement: a pedigree documenting a relationship to that ancestor.  I hope in the future the folks at Ancestry will honor those partial ticket holders, and allow them to the after-party, so we can sit around with our peanuts and pretzels and figure out how we are all related. Until then, I am going to enjoy the two after-parties hosted by my two generous ancestors.

your_dna_guideGenealogy DNA Quick Reference Guides Cheat SheetsReady to walk through the process of using DNA for your genealogy? Let me be your guide! Check out my quick guides (left) Purchase each guide individually or pick up the bundle of all 4 for the best deal!

Visit my website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.

NEW! Nova Scotia and South African Genealogy Records on FamilySearch

world_flags_moving_300_wht_7675Among the 3.7 million+ records new on FamilySearch this week are two updates that caught my eye for international regions that need more record sets online:

Nearly 1.4 million images are now browsable in a newly-posted collection of Nova Scotia, Canada, probate records dating from 1760-1993.  According to FamilySearch, “This collection includes records of probate proceedings from Nova Scotia. The records include estate files, inventories, wills, administrations and other records related to probate. Most of the records are dated from 1800-1940, but coverage varies by area.”

Nearly 400,000 digitized parish registers for the Church of the Province of South Africa (1801-2004) have now been indexed. FamilySearch describes the collection as “digital images and partial index of parish registers of the ‘Church of the Province of South Africa.’ Since 2006, the church has been officially known as the ‘Anglican Church of Southern Africa.’ Original records are contained within the collection of the William Cullen Library, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The Church presently includes dioceses in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Saint Helena, South Africa and Swaziland. Availability of records is largely dependent on time period and locality.”

I hope these datasets can help your South African genealogy or help you find your Nova Scotia kin.

Legacy Webinar: USE ALL CAPS FOR COUPON CODE

Thanks to everyone who attended today’s Legacy Family Tree Webinar. Please note that you must enter the coupon code in with all caps:  LEGACY5

Thanks and happy note taking!

Lisa

3 Genetic Genealogy Experts Talk Shop in Free FTM Podcast

FTM podcast logoThe newest episode of the Family Tree Magazine podcast is now online for your listening pleasure! Catch the latest news and a special spotlight on DNA with chats with THREE leading voices in genetic genealogy.

The latest and greatest in genetic genealogy!

It is so exciting to watch this industry move forward–so quickly and with such fantastic consequences for genealogists.

  • Catch Lisa’s exclusive interview with genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, who talks about what it’s like to research for the PBS show “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”
  • Lisa also gets a behind-the-scenes look at leading genetic genealogy company Family Tree DNA with founder Bennett Greenspan.
  • Finally, Family Tree University’s resident DNA expert and instructor Blaine Bettinger talks about common misconceptions in using DNA for genealogy–and advice on using genetics to bust your brick walls.

News you can use and more

Of course, as usual in the Family Tree Magazine podcast, you’ll hear “News from the Blogosphere” with Editor Diane Haddad, and Lisa stops by the Publisher’s Desk to chat with Allison Dolan, who shares some perspective on the evolution of DNA testing for genealogists.

Genealogy Book Club: Facebook Chat and More Book Picks

genealogy book club genealogy gemsMany of you are reading (or have already finished) our Genealogy Book Club featured book for the quarter, She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes. In the just-published November episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Lisa and I talk a little more about this fantastic book from the family historian’s point of view. We get a kick out of how she uses her mother’s dog-eared address book as a family history source.

facebook Family reunion book clubWhat do YOU think of the book? On Thursday, December 4, we invite everyone to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageWe welcome comments for a full 24 hours (12am-12am Eastern Standard Time, USA) for our worldwide audience. But we’ll monitor the page and give feedback from 9am-9pm EST. Emma Brockes herself hopes to pop in with comments and responses to your questions. (So start thinking of what you want to say!)

Genealogy Book Club Emma BrockesOf course, I’m really looking forward to the December podcast, when you’ll hear my conversation with Emma about the book. Here’s my favorite quote from the interview:

“When [your] parent dies…your relationship with their history changes almost overnight. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you because you feel like you are the only one left who is in a position to remember it. So having never wanted to know anything about my mother’s life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything….It felt to me that I couldn’t…stake out the parameters of what I’d lost until I knew everything there was to know about her.” -Emma Brockes, on She Left Me the Gun 

Meanwhile, we have two more books to recommend this quarter for our no-fuss genealogy book club, based on YOUR feedback:

The Woman in the PhotographOne of our listeners, Mary, wrote to us about The Woman in the Photograph by Mani Feniger. She said, “I just ordered this book and thought you might be interested in reading it. I am looking forward to reading it myself.” Here’s a little blurb I found on the book: “Mani Feniger wanted nothing to do with the relics of her mother’s life before she escaped from Nazi Germany in 1936. But when the fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the buried secrets and startling revelations of her mother’s past, she was drawn into an exploration–of history and family, individuality and identity, mothers and daughters–that would change her life forever.”

 

Lost German Slave GirlAnd here’s a suggestion from Mike: “Here’s a book I found that you and your listeners might also enjoy. The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey recounts the story of a poor emigrant family and what happened to one of the daughters.  I found it fascinating.  The story is non-fiction and takes place around New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century.  There is much family research involved, some heart-wrenching descriptions of what the emigrants suffered, and delightful insights into the New Orleans of that time period.  It’s the kind of research that we family historians love to do but is more dramatic than many of the personal stories we work on.”

Mark Your Calendar: Thursday, December 4
We invite you to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page.

Inspiring Ideas in Genealogy Gems Podcast 173

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family History“We all need a little inspiration now and then!”

That’s Lisa’s theme for the recently-released FREE Genealogy Gems podcast episode 173 (click here for the podcast in iTunes, and here for how to our app). Here are the highlights:

  • Lisa talks about creating family history ambiance in her new home office. The podcast episode page includes a picture of her new heritage display. (I love the vintage cameras and family photos.)
  • Catch Diahan Southard chatting about exciting updates to autosomal DNA research at AncestryDNA.com.
  • We hear from a listener with an inspiring story about using MyHeritage.com. If you still mentally categorize MyHeritage as “best for non-US only” research, check out this story of discovering a Civil War casualty in her family through MyHeritage. (Did you catch our recent post about the new institutional MyHeritage access at FamilySearch Centers?)
  • genealogy book club genealogy gemsLisa and I chat about the fantastic response we’re hearing to the launch of the NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club and some additional reading suggestions from listeners. Click here to read about books recommended by two of YOU.
  • Finally, catch our link to a story about a couple who is celebrating 80 years of marriage. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is!

Finally, in this episode Lisa also catches us up on some exciting news: a digital WWI archive on Europeana; newly-available German records the 1865 New York (US) state census online; and plans to digitize important Indiana records. Catch up on all the great news and get inspired in Genealogy Gems podcast 173!

Savvy DNA Shopping Tip: Transfer Genealogy DNA Test Results to FTDNA for FREE

DNA shopperSavvy shopping can save you money and time. So what does savvy DNA shopping look like? Genetic genealogy tests–yDNA, autosomal and mDNA–do require a financial investment. They aren’t cheap. But they can save you hours of traditional research and give you results that no paper trail may provide.

Three main companies are currently selling autosomal DNA tests (that’s the test that is not limited to a direct maternal or a direct paternal line, and that can help you find genetic cousins with connections back as far as six or seven generations).  Those three companies, 23andMe.com, DNA Ancestry and Family Tree DNA  are all competing for you genetic genealogy dollar. All offer a good service, and it can be difficult to decide who to give your $99 to.

When your success or failure in finding matches depends entirely on who else has also been tested, it would be nice to have a crystal ball to tell you which testing company has the most participants who are useful to your research. FTDNA has no crystal ball, but they now are offering a reasonable substitute: FREE access to their database for anyone who has test results from 23andMe (if you received results before November of 2013) and AncestryDNA. Yes, I said FREE!

There are conditions. You can see your first 20 matches (but they can’t see you), and try out some of the tools that FTDNA has to help you identify how you are related to others. To have full access to the tools and results, you can pay $38, or just recruit four of your family members or friends to transfer, and then your transfer is FREE.

So, if you have been tested by Ancestry or 23andMe, run, don’t walk, to transfer your Y-DNA results to Family Tree DNA and take a look inside their version of the crystal ball. If you haven’t “done DNA” yet, currently the best option is to be tested with AncestryDNA and then transfer to FTDNA.” (watch for holiday sales, which would probably drop the price to $79). This gives you access to TWO databases of potential relatives for around $110–if you are a savvy shopper!

DNA Guide Cheat Sheet Diahan Southard

Final DNA shopping tip: be an educated consumer! Check out these quick guides I wrote to help genealogists find and use the DNA products that will help their research. Purchase each guide individually or pick up all 4 for the best deal!

Visit my website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.