Video: Italian Genealogy Research Tips with Mary Tedesco

Do you have Italian ancestors? Did you recently discover Italian heritage in your DNA ethnicity results? Don’t miss this exclusive interview with Mary Tedesco of Genealogy Roadshow! She’s here to talk about her top tips for Italian genealogy research, as well as share a bit about working on the hit PBS series.

Mary recently published Tracing Your Italian Ancestors, an 84-page guide to researching. There’s a section on using U.S. records to learn essentials about your family, and then a section on researching in Italian records. In this interview, she talks about traveling to Italy to research for others and the importance of using Italian church records in local parish churches or diocesan archives.

Learn more about Mary at her website, Origins Italy, or visit the Genealogy Roadshow website to learn about her involvement on that show. Also, Mary joined us as a guest on the FREE Genealogy Gems podcast, episode 175. Click here to listen!

If you watch genealogy TV shows like Genealogy Roadshow or Who Do You Think You Are? or Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr, go to our home page and search on the category “Genealogy TV.” See what we’ve blogged about!

Help! My Email Doesn’t Fit in Viewer Window

screen resolution settingRecently I heard from Carol in St. Louis, Missouri, who was frustrated that she couldn’t read my entire email newsletter. “Would love to know what you are saying,” she says. But my newsletter email doesn’t fit in her email window. “I don’t want to toggle to the right to see the end of each line and then have to toggle back.”

The good news I shared with Carol is that she could fix this problem–and so can anyone else who has trouble with emails not fitting in their viewers.

Email sizing is related to your computer’s screen resolution setting, and a variety of other variables. It’s different for everyone. 98% of our readers see the email perfectly fitted to their screen.

As you can see in the screen shot here, the email Carol forwarded me appears neatly and completely in my email window in my browser. (I’m on a PC using Firefox.) In cases where it doesn’t come through to your email account that way, we provide a link at the top of the email that you can simply click to view the email on a new web browser tab fitted to the page.

sign up newsletterWant to receive our free email newsletter? Just sign up in the box in the upper right-hand corner of this webpage or on the Genealogy Gems home page. It’s free, we don’t share your email address with anyone else, and you get a free e-book of Google tips for genealogy just for signing up.

How to Upgrade Your DNA Test with Your DNA Guide

When it comes to chocolate my general rule of thumb is that more is usually better! The same is true with DNA testing. With this big DNA test upgrade sale, now is the perfect time to get MORE! I love being Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems, and today I’ll walk you through how to get the best deal and the right tests. Take my hand, and let’s get upgrading!

more is better with dna

Diahan SouthardThis month, Family Tree DNA is running this Family Tree DNA’s Friends & Family sale, which means that all of the kits and upgrades are on sale! This sale is the perfect time to upgrade your DNA tests. (By clicking our link above you are supporting the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and we will receive compensation from the affiliate link. Thank you!)

Once in your account, click the Upgrade button. In very basic terms, to Upgrade means that they are going to go back to your DNA sample that they have on file, and do more testing.

upgrade your DNA test

Depending on the tests you have already had completed at Family Tree DNA, you will see several different options in the Upgrade menu. Most of you will see this box, listing the option to do more advanced testing, find gene variants, or order certificates.

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If you’re testing for general genealogy purposes, you can most likely ignore all of those options. The advanced testing is aptly named as it is only for very specific, very, advanced problems. The gene variant report can be interesting, but you can get a similar report for only $5 from Promethease.com. As for the certificates, that is up to you. It is a printed report of your DNA values for either your YDNA or your mtDNA test. These are nice to give to relatives that have tested for you that might want something tangible to hold as evidence of their participation in your genetic genealogy efforts.

The last option in this box is to have a personalized report written. This will be several pages of information about the DNA testing you have had completed, but don’t expect them to find your ancestors or do much interpretation of the results.

Beyond those options, if you have not had mitochondrial DNA testing completed, or if you have only had the lower mtDNAPlus test completed, you will see options to evaluate your mtDNA. If you are going to try to do family history with your mtDNA test, you need to have the Full Sequence test completed. For the most part, using mtDNA in your family history won’t get you very far, but it is a good record of your direct maternal line.

ftdna tests

If you are a man with the YDNA test, you will also see options to upgrade your YDNA test to a higher number of markers. You will want to upgrade from 37 to 67 or 111 if you have other matches on your match page who have also tested at those higher levels and you would like to get a better comparison. You can check to see if they have tested at a higher level by looking at your match page under their name. In general, the 67 marker test will help you better decide if you are or are not related to someone, while the 111 marker test will help you better determine how you are related to known connections on your match list.

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If you have not yet taken the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA, that option will present itself as well. If the person tested is still available for testing, you should actually start their autosomal DNA testing experience with AncestryDNA, then transfer for free into their FTDNA account. If your family member is deceased, then you can get permission from their closest living relative, or whoever is administrating their account, to have them tested on the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA.

So remember my general rule of thumb when it comes to chocolate and DNA testing, more is usually better. Click here to shop the Family Tree DNA Friends & Family!

Get more help with my quick guide: Understanding Family Tree DNA.

Google’s Plus Sign Now Has New Meaning – Search Operators

On October 27 I reported on this blog that Google quietly eliminated the use of the plus sign operator in Google Search. (A Change You Need to Know About


The technology community suspected that “the move was in response to their growing focus on Google+ and the possibility of a new use for the “plus” sign.” I encouraged you to stay tuned.


You didn’t have to wait long to find out why the change was made.  Yesterday Google announced on the Official Google Blog a use for that plus sign: Direct Connect from Google Search.


Direct Connect from Google Search
It’s no surprise that the plus sign’s new role has something to do with connecting users to Google+, the (fairly) new social networking platform. The + sign is now all about quickly connecting you directly to business Google+ Pages.


Many have wondered why Google+ didn’t allow for business and organization profiles since that is a big part of the Facebook offering.  It appears now that the delay was in order to re-purpose the plus sign.


Google explained it this way: “Maybe you’re watching a movie trailer, or you just heard that your favorite band is coming to town.  In buy pain medication online net both cases you want to connect with them right now, and Direct Connect makes it easy – even automatic.  Just go to Google and search for [+], followed by the page you’re interested in (like +Angry Birds). We’ll take you to their Google+ page, and if you want, we’ll add them to your circles.”


So the plus sign can now get us connected to Angry Birds, quicker?  Whoo hoo?! Gosh, I was perfectly happy with the way the plus sign got me to web pages that shared information about my ancestor (+Jehu Burkhart I miss you!)


Direct Connect is up and running for a couple of the big boy brands like +Google, +Pepsi, and +Toyota, so you can try those searches to see how they work.  Eventually the rest of the world will be allowed in and you can learn more about how Direct Connect for your organization in the Google Help Center. 


So remember, if you want to connect with Pepsi you can plus. But, if you’re looking for a specific ancestor, word, or phrase you need to surround them in quotation marksAnd you can quote me on that!


DNA Testing for Kids Sparks Interest in Family History

DNA testing for kids is a great way to spark their interest in their heritage, while teaching science, math, geography, and more. Consider these reasons and start with the budget-friendly option of an autosomal test.

DNA testing for kids

According to a 2010 study out of Emory University, if we want to encourage kids toward an activity that will positively impact them, we should steer them toward family history. The researchers reported, “Children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.”

Now, I know I don’t need to convince you of this. You are already sold on genealogy. But let’s explore how DNA testing might be able to help you share your love of family history with your children and grandchildren.

Why Try DNA Testing for Kids

Since you know this is me, the genetic genealogist talking, you can probably guess what I’ll suggest for getting kids interested in family history. DNA testing is a great way to personally and physically involve them. There is the tangible process of taking the sample at home, and the marvel at how such a simple act can produce the amazing display of our ethnicity results. Since each of us is unique, it will be fun for them to compare with you and other relatives to see who-got-what-from-who. This will naturally lead to questions about which ancestor provided that bit of Italian or Irish, and wham! You’ll be right there to tell them about how their 5th great-grandfather crossed the ocean with only the clothes on his back, determined to make a new start in a new land.

Kit for DNA testing for kids

If there are parts of the ethnicity report you can’t explain, use that as a hook to encourage them to start digging and to find out why you have that smattering of eastern European or Southeast Asian. Taking them for a tour of the DNA match page, you can show them how they share 50% of their DNA with their sister (whether they like it or not!) and how they share 25% with their grandparent!

DNA test results give kids a totally unique look at their personal identity with technology that is cutting edge. Looking at their DNA test results can turn into a math lesson, a science lesson, a geography lesson, a lesson on heredity or biology, or a discussion on identity. DNA is the perfect introduction to the wonders that genealogy can hold, especially for children.

A Warning and Caution

As with all DNA testing pursuits, this one should not be taken lightly, even with all of its benefits.

An important word to parents: Be sure to keep unintentional consequences in the forefront of your mind. This includes the possibility of revealing family secrets. Talk with your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page. In the end, this is your decision.

An important word to grandparents and other relatives: DNA testing is a parent’s decision. Even though you’re passionate about preserving the family’s history and the benefits of including children are numerous, you must obtain parental consent if you are not the parent.

More About Autosomal DNA Testing for Kids

Click here to learn more about my series of how-to videos (available to Gems fans for a special price) or start your kids’ or grandkids’ DNA journey with two of my genetic genealogy quick guides. The first is a great overview and the second talks about autosomal testing which is a good test for genetic genealogy beginners.

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