Findmypast Now Supports Tree to Tree Hints

Long gone are the days of having to search for genealogical records all alone. 

When you have any part of your family tree online on any of the “Genealogy Giants” websites (Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch) they do a lot of the hunting for you. They deliver hints that have a good likelihood of matching up with your ancestors. Your job is to carefully review them and determine if they are your ancestor’s records. 

tree to tree hints at Findmypast

(Genealogy Gems Premium Members: Listen to Premium Podcast Episode #175 devoted to hints at Ancestry that includes a bonus download guide on Genealogy Hints at a Glance.)

Up until now, Findmypast offered hints on birth, marriage and death records.

Today, they are joining the other Genealogy Giants in offering hints based on other user’s family tree on their website. 

 

Details on Tree to Tree Hints at Findmypast

Here’s the press release from Findmypast on the new tree to tree hints:

Findmypast trees collectively contain the details of millions of individuals spanning hundreds of years. This valuable information can now be presented to users in form of tree hints.

As researchers add new ancestors to their tree, Findmypast will automatically compare the relevant names and dates to all those stored on existing trees before suggesting potential matches.

Many people, often unknown to each other, share common ancestors within a few generations. By joining forces and connecting this knowledge, family historians can now benefit from research other members have done on common ancestors.

All tree-to-tree hints can be managed via the normal hint review screens used for Findmypast’s existing record hints.

Shareable information from other trees currently includes:

  • Facts and events, together with sources and attached records
  • Timelines
  • Notes

Initially, tree-to-tree hints will be generated when users actively change a person’s details (or those of a close relative) or open up the hints page for an ancestor’s profile. Between October and November, Findmypast will be running a process to generate tree-to-tree hints for all individuals stored in a tree.

Although a similar service is available on other online family tree providers, tree-to-tree hints are new to Findmypast and the company is keen to reassure users that privacy is of the upmost importance. Information on living individuals will remain strictly private and recipients of hints will not be able to edit or see the original tree.

Findmypast will not share the other member’s details but are actively working a community family tree that will allow exactly this kind of connection and collaboration. Development of the new community tree is still underway and further announcements will be made in the coming months. 

More Details on Hints at Findmypast

In addition this press release the company more specific information has been released today on the company’s blog. Of special note is the following:

Can anybody see my tree?
No, they can’t. No-one will be able to ‘browse’ or ‘search’ other trees on Google, or within the Findmypast site. It’s just the information on deceased relatives that can be shared as hints and even then, only to Findmypast members with common ancestry.

What information will be shared?
Shareable information from other trees will include:

  • Facts and events, together with sources and attached records
  • Timelines
  • Notes

Will photos be shared?
No. Many people may have more stringent privacy and ownership concerns around photos of their ancestors. So we are not sharing photos at the moment.

findmypast not photo sharing

Read the complete blog post on hints here

Who Gets Access to Hints

On Sept. 29, 2019 Findmypast announced that hinting was live on the website. They also clarified who would have access to the feature:

“Tree-to-tree hinting is already helping people find parts of their ancestry they were unable to before. Best of all, it’s free for a limited time, so you can see how it works.”

So like the other Genealogy Giants websites, hints will be available only to subscribers in the long run. 

Getting Help with a Genealogy Brick Wall

Sooner or later, we all hit genealogy brick walls: a point in our family history research where we can’t seem to make any further progress. When I hit a brick wall with great-grandpa Gus in Eastern Europe, I turned to Legacy Tree Genealogists. Here’s what their experts found that I hadn’t discovered for myself.
 
bust genealogy brick wall with new leads
 

My Genealogy Brick Wall in Eastern Europe

My great-grandfather Gustav Sporowski was born in Kotten, Kreis Johannisburg, East Prussia on July 20, 1881. His wife was born in Kreis Ortelsburg in 1878. I’ve found all of her church records, but have had no luck with his.

I’ve met so many people who get stuck researching in Eastern Europe, and East Prussia and the Belarus area in particular. (I strongly suspect that the Sporowski family came from the Sporovo lake region of Belarus). So I invited Legacy Tree Genealogists to take a look at Gus and suggest some next steps. I wondered what someone who specialized in Eastern European research might be able to tell someone like me, who knows how to genealogy but not-so-much in that part of the world.

Reviewing My Work

Legacy Tree Genealogists assigned me to a Project Manager, Camille Andrus, who reached out to discuss what I already knew and what I wanted to learn.

Camille Andrus, Project Manager, Legacy Tree Genealogists.

I requested their Discovery Research Plan, for which they just provide guidance about what record collections to consult and what methods or strategies to try. That way I can do the research myself (which I like doing!). I also asked Camille if she would write about her research process so I could share it with you. Here’s what she sent me:

We looked over Lisa’s work, and upon initial inspection everything looked great.

She had looked in the gazetteer (now available digitally at www.meyersgaz.org with maps of the area) and Lutheran church records. (Editor’s note: Learn more about using Meyers Gazetteer in the Genealogy Gems article 5 Expert Tips for Using Meyers Gazetteer for Your German Genealogy.)

She had searched the records for her ancestor’s supposed home parish. When that failed to yield results, she had done a partial radial search, searching records in several adjacent parishes. Check. Check. Check. She was following all of the integral steps, but still not having success.

What had she missed? What had she done wrong? The short answer — nothing. Her research was impeccable, and she was looking in the right places.

Getting Around the Genealogy Brick Wall

Camille had three specific suggestions for where to look next for great-grandpa Gus. At the end, she also offered some helpful reassurance. Here’s what she said:

1. Civil registration in East Prussia

After closer inspection of what Lisa had already tried, we saw several opportunities we could still pursue.

We looked up civil registration records available through a Polish archive, since what was East Prussia is now part of modern Poland.

Prussia

German civil registration in East Prussia began in October of 1874 and is an important resource for researching individuals from this area.

The Meyers Gazetteer confirmed that Kotten (where her ancestor was from) belonged to Kreis Johannisburg in the German Empire province of East Prussia. This village belonged to the Monethen (Kreis Johannisburg) civil registration district.[1]

Using Meyers Gazeteter for German places

Using Meyers Gazetteer to find German places

The Olsztyn State Archive inventory lists several birth, marriage, death, and family books for the Monethen Civil Registration Office, but the books only cover the late 1930s and early 1940s. The whereabouts of the registers covering 1874 through the early 1930s are unknown.

It appears as though the records covering this time period have been lost or destroyed. This situation is not unusual for East Prussia, in general due to the numerous conflicts that have occurred in the area over time.

2. Church records in East Prussia

Another major resource for German genealogy research is church records.

The Meyers Gazetteer database noted that Protestant residents of Kotten attended church in the nearby town of Baitkowen (Kreis Lyck).[2]

Kreis Lyck in Meyers Gazetteer

The church book inventory for Baitkowen revealed that the Protestant parish was established in 1891, a decade after the ancestor Gustav Sporowski was reportedly born. No sacramental registers for this parish are known to be extant. It should be noted that the Baitkowen parish was created from parts of the Lyck, Ostrokollen, and Drygallen parishes.[3]

The Protestant parish of Drygallen (Kreis Johannisburg) has extant baptismal records which are available on microfilm at the Family History Library for the years 1730-1821 and 1844-1875.[4] Lisa indicated that she had reviewed these files but did not find any Sporowskis.

The Lyck Landgemeinde (the congregation for parishioners living outside city limits) was founded in 1704, but there are no known extant baptismal records for this parish after 1808.[5]

3. Following up on clues

A key clue came from Lisa’s notes. She mentioned that Gustav and his wife were married in Lütgendortmund, a town hundreds of miles west of Gustav’s birthplace, before ultimately immigrating to the United States.

Louise at the time of her marriage

Louise at the time of her marriage

Luckily, their marriage occurred in a time when civil registration had been instituted. A search for marriage records showed there are civil registration records available for the town of their marriage, which are available at an archive in Detmold.

We were able to advise Lisa that further research should pursue this record, as it may list information about his parents.

The Protestant Bartholomew Church in Lütgendortmund, Dortmund, Germany. Von Smial – Eigenes Werk, FAL. Click to view.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is if you feel stuck, it’s not necessarily because you are doing anything wrong.

Review the “checkboxes” of your research plan to ensure you aren’t missing any integral clues.

If after final review of methodology concludes that you’ve pursued every avenue, the lack of success may be attributed to gaps in the records or perhaps they have been lost completely. Other times all you need is one clue to put you back on the right track.

This is exactly the kind of advice I was hoping for: expert and specific!

Hire a Professional Genealogist for a Quick Consult or Project

If you have hit a genealogy brick wall in Eastern Europe (or anywhere else) and would like a professional to review your work, I recommend contacting Legacy Tree Genealogists. They have helped many clients like me to solve their family history mysteries, and would love to help you as well!

You can hire a genealogist like Camille through their Genealogist-on-Demand™ service. Receive research strategies and advice from a professional genealogist during your 45-minute consultation that will help you continue your own research. Your virtual genealogy consultation will allow you to have your questions answered in real-time by an expert–all from the comfort of your own home!

Need even more help? Here’s an exclusive offer for Genealogy Gems readers: Receive $100 off a 20-hour research project using code GGP100. To learn more about Legacy Tree services and its research team, visit https://www.legacytree.com.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional costto you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

[1] Search the Meyers Gazetteer, Kotten, Johannisburg, Allenstein, Ostpreussen, Preussen, http://meyersgaz.org/place/11050078, accessed August 2017.

[2] Search the Meyers Gazetteer, Kotten, Johannisburg, Allenstein, Ostpreussen, Preussen, http://meyersgaz.org/place/11050078, accessed August 2017.

[3] Ostpreussen, Genealogische Quellen, Kirchbuchbestände Kreis Lyck, ev. Baitkowen (Baitenberg), http://wiki-de.genealogy.net, accesesed August 2017.

[4] Ostpreussen, Genealogische Quellen, Kirchbuchbestände Kreis Johannisburg, ev. Drigelsdorf (Drygallen), http://wiki-de.genealogy.net, accesesed August 2017.

[5] Ostpreussen, Genealogische Quellen, Kirchbuchbestände Kreis Lyck, ev. Lyck Stadtgemeinde, http://wiki-de.genealogy.net, accesesed August 2017.

Registration for FGS 2018 Is Open

Here’s the latest news from the Federation of Genealogical Societies and their 2018 conference.  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3 May 2018 – Austin, Texas Registration is open for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana 22-25...

What To Do If a Scrapbook Gets Wet (or Photo Album or Pictures)

water damaged scrapbookWhen family scrapbooks get wet, the result is not pretty. In fact, it can be quite dire for the scrapbook and its precious contents.

“Water can cause the bleeding of inks and dyes in journal entries, digital photographs, and decorative papers, causing them to appear blurry or streaked,” says this article in Scrapbook Retailer. “When exposed to water, some prints and materials will soften and stick to adjacent surfaces. Papers that get wet can become distorted or warped and some may even dissolve completely in water.”

Even more yucky? “Dirty water from sewage leaks, floodwaters from rivers, and colored liquids like fruit juices make the clean-up process more difficult and staining of the album materials more likely.”

Preventing the damage in the first place is of course the best option, but it’s not always an option we’re given. Floods happen. Spills happen. Windows get left open.

So what to do if a scrapbook gets wet? Or a photo album or loose pictures?

First, says the Library of Congress, “Take necessary safety precautions  if the water is contaminated with sewage or other hazards or if there is active (wet or furry) mold growth.”

“In general, wet photographs should be air dried or frozen as quickly as possible,” states the Northeast Document Conservation Center website. “Once they are stabilized by either of these methods, there is time to decide what course of action to take.” But don’t delay too long, they say. “Time is of the essence: the longer the period of time between the emergency and salvage, the greater the amount of permanent damage that will occur.”

A few more tips from that same article on the Northeast Document Conservation Center website, written by Gary Albright:

  • Save prints before plastic-based films, as the latter will last longer.
  • Allow water to drain off photos first, as needed. Then air dry photographs, face up, laying flat on paper towels. Negatives should be hung to dry.
  • Separate wet photos from each other and other items (like a scrapbook page) as much as possible.
  • If photos are stuck together, freeze them as a bunch, wrapped in wax paper. Then thaw them. As they gradually thaw, peel photos off and let them air dry.
  • Don’t worry if pictures curl up while they are drying. You can flatten them once they’re totally dry.

Unfortunately, some very old photo types will not survive a water bath at all. Others may weather a quick dip but not long-term exposure to dampness. It’s SO important to preserve images digitally! You can scan entire album pages if they fit on your scanner, so you can record captions or the arrangement of pictures on a page. Or use a scanner like Flip-Pal that has stitching software to help stitch together larger images.

In a pinch, snap pictures with your mobile device: close-ups of photographs and captions, and full-page images that at least capture how it’s laid out (even if at a lower resolution). Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research by Lisa Louise Cooke has a chapter on digital imaging apps that can help you digitally preserve family albums and scrapbooks–whether they’ve gotten wet or not.

Christmas in July BackblazeLisa Louise Cooke trusts all our computer files–including images, sound files and videos that have taken thousands of hours to create–to Backblaze online backup service, the official backup of Genealogy Gems. For about $5 a month (or $50 for an entire year), you can protect your files, too. It only takes a couple of minutes to give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that, even if disaster strikes, you’ll still be able to recover your digital files quickly and easily. Go to www.Backblaze.com/Lisa to get started.

 

 

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