A new tool at Ancestry DNA is blowing my genealogy mysteries wide open!
I have been up since 5:30 with plenty of goals and ambitions for today. But I got distracted. Distracted by a new tool at AncestryDNA that is blowing my genealogy mysteries wide open.
The new tool AncestryDNA Common Matches tool is hiding between the “Pedigrees and Surnames” filter and the “Map and Locations” filter on your matches’ main match page. The Common Matches tool pulls out the shared 4th cousin or higher matches between two people.
Let’s take a look at how this might work for you.
Let’s say you have a second cousin, Denise, that you have already identified in the Ancestry database and you know your common ancestral couple is Joseph and Louise Mitchell. You want to gather others who share DNA with both you and Denise. Those individuals then have a high likelihood of being related to Joseph and Louise in some way.
So we click on the “Shared Matches” button on Denise’s page and find that Mike, Spencer, and Wendy all have DNA in common with you and Denise. After reviewing pedigree charts, you are able to determine that Mike is related through Louise’s sister and Wendy is related through Joseph’s brother. Note that Wendy’s actual relationship to you is not 4th cousin, as it is shown, but she is actually your 3rd cousin once removed. Remember that the relationship given is not always the exact relationship of two people who have been tested.
But what about Spencer? Spencer, unfortunately has not yet linked his family tree to his Ancestry account or answered any of your queries about his family tree. I am sure he has just been busy. Or he doesn’t know his family tree. Or his computer was captured by aliens or smashed by his two-year-old grandson just as he was about to click “send” and reveal how the two of you were connected. Whatever the case may be, up until this point you haven’t heard a peep from Spencer and therefore had absolutely no way to figure out how Spencer was related to you.
But now you know that he is somehow associated with the Joseph and Louise Mitchell family because he came up as In Common With (ICW) you and Denise.
We can take this one step further and ask Ancestry to show us who has DNA ICW you and Spencer. You can see here that while Mike still remains, Wendy has dropped off the list. Now there are two possible explanations for this: The first is that Spencer is related through Louise’s parents, John and Sarah, and that is why he is not sharing DNA with Wendy.
The other, less likely, possibility is that Spencer is related through Joseph’s parents Louis and Mary, but doesn’t share enough DNA with Wendy to be detected on this test.
While this information is helpful, it still hasn’t completely solved the case. The first thing you should do with your new-found knowledge is start sending more pointed questions to your matches. Here is an example message you might send to Spencer:
I was just playing around with the new AncestryDNA Common Matches tool and I see that you are related to a few of my other matches that connect through Joseph and Louise Mitchell. Louise’s parents, John and Sarah Marsh, were both born in Mississippi in the 1840’s and Joseph’s parents Joseph and Mary Mitchell, were born in Tennessee in 1856 and 1863 respectively.
Do any of these names or places sound familiar to you?
I am looking forward to working with you on this connection.
Your DNA Cousin, Diahan”
Assuming this garners a response, you can then work together to find your connection. If his budget is not allowing for a new computer at this time and you never hear from Spencer, the key to figuring out how he is related to you may be in the new match, Beth, who is ICW you and Spencer. If you can figure out how Beth is related to you, you will know Spencer is related in a similar way.
For a little more guidance, I suggest you purchase my laminated quick guides, “Understanding AncestryDNA and “Understanding Family Tree DNA.” These are also available as a part of a complete bundle of DNA guides specifically designed to help you navigate your results at the leading genetic genealogy testing companies. Click here to see all our DNA quick guides.
Here’s our weekly list of new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with your genealogy buddies or with societies that might be interested!
AUSTRALIA WWI WOMEN. New media resources, including a television series, Facebook page and Twitter feed have been created to share more information about Australians and New Zealanders who participated in World War I, particularly women. Click here for a related blog post from The National Archives (Australia).
COLOMBIA CHURCH RECORDS. More than a million browsable records have been added to an existing database at FamilySearch, Colombia Catholic Church Records 1600-2012. “These records include: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, pre-marriage investigations, marriage dispensations, deaths, and indexes.” Some of the collection is already indexed.
NEW JERSEY STATE CENSUS. FamilySearch just added more than 2.7 million records from the 1915 New Jersey Census to its free online collections. These records include “the names of each member of the household, location, gender, birth date (month and year) and birthplace.” Click here learn more about this and other state censuses.
TEXAS MARRIAGE RECORDS. More than half a million indexed records have been added to an existing free database, Texas County Marriage Records 1837-1977, at FamilySearch. Covering 140 years, the records include “various types of marriage records (registers, licenses, intentions to marry, etc.) from 183 of the 254 counties in Texas.”
Thank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with your genealogy friends and fellow society members via email and your favorite social media channels. Just use the Share buttons on this page!
Not sure how to use microfilm or microfiche readers? Watch these quick video tutorials before your next trip to the library!
Recently I heard from a Genealogy Gems Premium member who is digging in deep to her family history. But she confessed that she left the Oklahoma Historical Center in Oklahoma City “in tears because I really didn’t know what I was doing” with the microfiche machine and with microfilms.
I totally understand. Microfilm and fiche readers are not my favorite part of genealogy research, either. But despite the wealth of digitized records that continue to appear online, microfilm is going to be around for a while! FamilySearch and other publishers of microfilmed data (like state archives) do not have copyright permissions to digitize all their microfilmed materials. Even if they can get it, it’s going to take a long time to make that happen.
Meanwhile, we will continue to need microfilm and microfiche readers!
Microfilm is a long reel of film (up to 125 feet, I’ve heard) that are essentially page-by-page photos of a document collection, book, newspaper, etc.
Microfiche is a single sheet of film (about 4″ x 6″) that contains the same, only shrunk down so small you need a magnified reader to make sense of it.
These were standard technologies for duplicating records in the pre-digital era. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City alone has over 2.4 million rolls of microfilm. Yes, that’s million! (And yes, they will lend them out to a Family History Center or FamilySearch Library near you.)
To access these fantastic films and fiches, you will need to use microfilm readers and microfiche readers. It’s easy to walk into the library and think everyone knows how to use them but you. But that’s not true. In fact, every single genealogist has had to face their first encounter with a reader. Don’t be shy about asking politely for a tutorial (and help when you do it wrong and something gets stuck). And don’t be shy about watching these tutorials on YouTube before you go to the library again:
Are you looking for a fun, easy and downright delicious way to share some family history this Christmas? What better way to entice your family to have an interest in the family tree than wrapping that history around a luscious chocolate bar?
DIY: Stuff Their Heritage in Their Stocking
I firmly believe that family history should not sit on a shelf, but should be seen, touched, felt and even tasted!
Sometimes when a passionate genealogist shares the family history discoveries they have made, their relatives are less than enthusiastic to hear about it. (Sound familiar? I know I’ve experience this phenomenon.) This lack of interest may be more about the delivery of the information rather than the information itself. The trick is to serve up the family tree in an appealing and fun way.
That’s why a few years ago I designed these customized candy bars which I call Sweet Memories. They’re basically your favorite chocolate bar wrapped in a custom label with your own sweet family history memory on it. What could be better than that?!
Here’s the first Sweet Memories stocking stuffer candy bar I made for Christmas.
They are really simple to make. The candy bars themselves are store bought. All you need is a computer, printer and some paper and you can whip some up in an hour or so.
What I especially love about these customized delectable delights is the conversation they stimulate. I loved seeing the surprises on the faces of my family, and then the reminiscing that soon followed. They loved seeing the old photos and the clever list of “ingredients” that provided insight into the character of their ancestors.
Don’t feel like you have to do exactly what I did on mine. Instead of a list of ingredients you could include a short funny story, favorite family quotes, or little-known fun facts about the ancestors in the photo. Use your imagination and have fun!
Me having fun at Christmas in 1966. Did you have the Booby-Trap game too? (Leave a comment)
Keep reading because after the step-by-step instructions below, I’ll share some more design ideas.
How to Make “Sweet Memories” DIY Stocking Stuffer Candy Bars
Here’s how to make your own custom labels and turn plain chocolate bars into wonderful holiday gifts for your loved ones.
Start by gathering up the following supplies:
A 3.67 oz approximately sized Chocolate Bar wrapped in foil with a paper wrapper. (Dove and Cadbury are some of my favorites. Hmmmm!)
Bright white printer paper
Computer and printer
A software publishing program that you can create your label in, like Microsoft Publisher. (Or try using a word processing programming using the text box feature.)
Scanned family photos, especially old holiday photos
These instructions are for creating the labels in Microsoft Publisher, but you could also do it in PowerPoint or any other design type software or app.
1. Create a Rectangle
On the blank page, create a 7 ¾” high and 5 ¾” wide rectangle using the Shape tool. This just gives you a nice outline to work in.
2. Add a Background
An easy way to add an interesting background is to scan a piece of scrapbook paper that you like. The scrapbook paper could be textured or have a repeating design. But you could also choose a favorite digital image.
Use the INSERT IMAGE function to get the image onto your page. Next, resize it to fit just over the rectangle that you created.
Another other option for the background is to select the rectangle and use the FORMAT FILL COLOR function to color the box with the color of your choice. I used green and then chose a gradient that went from light to dark for added interest.
3. Add an Old Photo(s)
You can add any digitized photo that you like. Dig through your old family photo albums to find Christmas photos from the past, or simply feature an ancestor or family. You can use the same photo for all your stocking stuffers, or surprise each member of your family with a candy bar featuring a different ancestor.
Use INSERT IMAGE to add your photos and resize them to fit.
For the front side image, I measured down approximately two inches from the top of the label, and that is where the top of the photo was placed. I set it ¼” from the left edge. Both photos are about 2” x 2”.
My uncle, mom and aunt in 1956. I used this photo for the front side of my stocking stuffer candy bar label.
4. Adding Photos to the Back of the Label
The backside photo begins 5” from the top of the label and is set ¼” from the left edge.
You may also want to include a small text box that states the date and location of the photos and the names of the people.
Christmas Dinner at Grandma’s House (I’m in the bottom left corner, mouth wide open as usual.) I featured this photo on the backside of my label.
5. Add Descriptive Text
The last step is to insert the text boxes.
Both the “Sweet Memories” text box and the “Ingredients” text box that I included are about 3” wide and 1 1/4” high. You can format them with the borders and colors that you want.
In my example, you’ll see that I took the color cues from the colors in the photos – the crimson red and soft green. Many apps have a color picker feature that will allow you to get an exact match.
6. Add the Ingredients List
Every food item has an ingredients label on it, and this bar is no exception. I had some fun with the ingredients list and played up the family theme. I thought about my memories of my Grandmother and the values and elements she poured into each holiday. So my ingredients list reads:
Feel free to reflect your own family values in the list.
7. Print Your Label
Once you’ve got everything laid out on the screen the way you want it, it’s time to print.
From the menu, click FILE then PRINT and then click the PROPERTIES button. From this window be sure to select “high resolution paper” or “high brightness” as the media type, and select HIGH for the print quality to make sure you get the best, most professional looking label.
Print the label, then carefully cut it out.
8. Fold the Label to Fit
Follow the folding guidelines shown above, but keep in mind that your candy bar is going to dictate your actual fold lines.
The first fold line for my standard size Cadbury chocolate bar (which you can buy in bulk here) was 1 ½” from the top of the label and the second fold line is 4 ¼” from the top of the label.
(Disclosure: Genealogy Gems is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Thank you for supporting articles like these by using our links.)
9. Tape the Label Closed
Remove the original wrapper of the chocolate bar, being sure to keep the foil wrapper in place and undisturbed. Use a small piece of double sided tape to stick the label to itself on the backside snugly.
And there you have it, your own custom family history themed chocolate bar! It’s ready to tuck into a Christmas stocking, use at your next family reunion, or at any other time you want to tickle someone’s sweet tooth and share memories.
More DIY Stocking Stuffer Design ideas
I promised you more examples of these Sweet Memories candy bars. Here are some from my Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners.
I love the vignette styling Judy gave her family history photos.
Genealogy Gems Podcast listener Judy shared her version of the Sweet Memories stocking stuffer candy bar.
And this listener took this DIY idea and used it to create candy bar treats for her family reunion. What makes these SO unique is that she used a family heirloom crocheted blanket for her background image. (How clever is that?!) She spread the blanket over the bed of a scanner to make a digital image of that she could use on the label.
Get more DIY project here at Genealogy Gems. You’ll also find great heritage crafting ideas–including photo displays and heritage quilts–on my Pinterest boards. If you enjoyed this idea I’ll hope you’ll share via Pinterest or Facebook. Did you like this idea and do you have other suggestions for a new spin on it or a favorite DIY family history project? I’d love to hear it so please leave a comment below.
Backing up your genealogy with Backblaze is a critical move if you want to protect your family history. Let us answer your questions and share with you how the cloud backup service Backblaze can be the answer to effectively backing up and protecting all your genealogy data.
Recently, we received some great questions concerning the cloud-based computer backup service, Backblaze, one of our trusted sponsors of The Genealogy Gems Podcast. The answers to these questions will give you with the confidence to put a reliable cloud backup plan in place so that your family history remains safe and secure.
What is Backblaze?
Backblaze is an online back-up tool that stores copies of your computer files, and allows you to restore them in case your computer is lost, stolen, or destroyed. It offers unlimited storage and supports every type of file, including large video files and genealogy tree files.
Once installed, Backblaze works 24/7 through your internet connection to save every change you make. Backblaze also keeps your files safe offsite (at their data centers) with 24-hour staff, biometric security, and redundant power.
Unlike Evernote or Dropbox which are designed to allow you to work with your files across multiple devices, Backblaze is “set it and forget it” protection should the worst happen.
While you can sign-in and access your files from multiple devices, it’s primary purpose is to provide a back-up plan so you can restore your data if something happens to your computer. While external hard drives are great for when your computer crashes, they can’t help you if they are destroyed in a fire or flood along with your computer because they were both in the same location. Off-site backup and multiple copies (redundancy) are key when it comes to protecting your precious genealogy research.
Answers to Your Questions about Using Backblaze for Cloud Storage
Q: I am excited to begin using Backblaze for the first time! However, I am a bit uncertain of how to actually begin. Can you walk me through it?
A: Lots of our readers are a little uncertain when it comes to using something new. We have created a blog post titled “How to Download Backblaze in 4 Easy Steps” that will walk you through it!
Q: I have a number of computers at home and I also have a network drive. What does Backblaze cover? Will it back up everything?
A: No, and here are the details. You can have multiple computers backed up on your account, but each computer will require its own subscription (about $6/month). Backblaze can back up all file types and storage is unlimited, so large files from your hard drive are not a problem. It also backs up every time you make a change to a file and your backup will always have the most current version. You can view and restore your backed up files at any time via download, USB flash drive (mailed to you,) or USB hard drive (mailed to you.) Backblaze does not however support the backup of network drives.
Q: Does Backblaze also save earlier versions of my files like Dropbox does?
A: Yes. You can locate earlier versions of files or even files that have since been deleted. To learn how to do this, follow the step-by-step directions in this article from Backblaze.
Q: I live in a fairly remote location, and have a limited Internet data plan. Will Backblaze use a lot of data?
A: Backblaze, as with any Cloud backup service, does require a strong internet connection and could take days or weeks to completely back up your entire computer. This will depend quite a bit on how much data you have on your computer. If you have a limited data plan or slow internet, you could experience delays or what appears to be high data usage while the initial backup is occurring. Here is a link to a helpful page on the Backblaze website called “Bandwidth Speed Test to Backblaze”where you can test your internet speed. Backblaze is designed not to “throttle” or slow down the flow of uploads. It strives to use your full internet bandwidth. However, you do have the option to set it to slow down the backups. The “Bandwidth Speed Test to Backblaze” page provides instructions on how to throttle your download speed so that it doesn’t use up as much bandwidth. While this will cause your initial backup to take longer, it can clear help ease up on the data usage and allow for your other internet activity. You can also pause backups, or set them to start manually or at scheduled intervals. Once your initial backup is complete, the data usage should slow down.
Q: Because Backblaze backs up my computer automatically and instantly, what happens if I get a virus. Will that also be transferred to Backblaze?
A: From Backblaze blog
“Since Backblaze is…continuously running online backup solution and is not locally connected to your machine, all of your backed up files would be available for restore with minimal or no data loss (depending on the last backup time before the machine was infected).”
A Note from Lisa About Backblaze and Genealogy
“You’ve heard me talk about Backblaze on the podcast, and why it’s my first choice when it comes to backing up my precious genealogy research and personal files. I met their CEO Gleb Budman at Rootstech and after lots of research, I decided that Backblaze was the best cloud backup service out there! Maybe you’re still on the fence about it or maybe you’ve been putting it off, unsure of how complicated it is to set up or if it’s really worth the cost. So I got in touch with our friends over at Backblaze and we’ve set up a special offer for those of you have not yet begun protecting your data.”