Write Your Family History: A Printed Book or Digital Archive?

print v digital archive write your family historyIt’s time (maybe past time!) to write your family history. Should you write a book or throw everything into a digital archive?

Recently Joyce attended a genealogy conference I taught that was sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System. She wrote to us that she went home with a newly-resolved plan for how to write her family history:

“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you speak. I learned a lot also. There was a question asked at the conference that I had also thought a lot about: how to leave your legacy to your family. With technology changing every day, I have decided that the old-fashioned way is probably the best. Technology will not change the fact that we can sit down to a paper book. So I will keep my CDs, DVDs, and flash drives; however, I will print out books for my family to have, whether they have access to the computer or not.

 

A Combination Approach

I certainly agree that paper and books are certainly a solution for genealogical information being accessible for generations to come. I like a combination approach. Since paper can deteriorate and become damaged like anything else, having a cloud back up service (I use Backblaze) and digital items like flash drives is also a good plan.

Part of leaving a legacy also involves finding ways to share that help the next generations (particularly those not interested in research) understand the value of the family tree. That’s where a Google Earth “family history tour” or other innovative sharing comes into play. If you can click click, copy, and paste, you can create an exciting multi-media story that looks like a video game that will captivate the next generation!  (Learn how to create a Google Earth family history tour in my 2-volume Google Earth for Genealogy CD). The combination of sharing the info in fascinating ways and preserving the info in reliable multiple formats is a comprehensive strategy for the future!

Resources

How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-Free Life

Recommended File Formats for Long-Term Digital Preservation

Why I Use and Recommend Backblaze Cloud-based Computer Backup Service

email thisReady to make your own plan to write your family history and preserve it digitally? Share your resolve–along with this post–with someone else! Use the handy icons at the top of the page to share on Facebook, Pinterest or your favorite social media site, or email the link to this article to a friend. Thanks!

Celebrating 1000 Genealogy Blog Posts: #5 in the Top 10 Countdown

n Genealogy Coundown #5“This is huge!” That’s how DNA expert Diahan Southard summed up major advances at AncestryDNA this past year. Her post was huge, too: it landed the #5 spot on our Top 10 genealogy blog posts for 2015 countdown. See why! 

To those who have spent a lot of time doing genetic genealogy, bringing up the launch of significant updates to AncestryDNA earlier this year may seem like old news. But it’s not. AncestryDNA is still the only company with fairly advanced tools for integrating your genetic matches with your family tree. That combo is so attractive, they’ve already acquired more than a million samples in their current DNA database–a huge pond in which to fish for genetic matches.

That’s why Diahan’s popular post on updates to AncestryDNA and DNA Circles is still newsworthy. As she explained, “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.”

Autosomal DNA guideBefore doing any DNA test, we always encourage genealogists to do their homework. Different tests should be used for different genealogical questions. Each company offers unique tools, perks and sometimes drawbacks for genealogy customers. Unexpected results and unpredictable encounters with genetic relatives may be difficult for some. Diahan’s Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist quick guide can help you find your way. Her other guides include those specific to AncestryDNA and autosomal DNA (the type of DNA they test at Ancestry). Click here to check them out–and see a great value price to bundle her guides.

Once you’re ready to try an AncestryDNA test, click here to purchase, and you’ll support the free Genealogy Gem blog and podcast. (Thank you!)

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 cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Best Genealogy Apps Under the Big Top

Choosing genealogy apps can be like watching a three-ring circus, but not when you let me, your ringmaster, direct you to the best genealogy tools for your mobile device.

family tree magazine best genealogy appsIn my brand new article Under the Big Top featured in the March / April 2016 issue of Family Tree Magazine, we’ll skip the side shows and get right to main acts of the best apps for genealogy, like:

The Strong Men – the genealogy apps that pull a lot of weight, giving you constant access to your online tree and or the ability to search for historical records.

The Lion Tamers – A genealogy database on your computer puts you in control of your tree, but you also want to be able to access that data when you hit the road. These companion apps to two popular desktop programs let you take your master family tree with you.

The Balancing Acts – There’s a lot to juggle when it comes to genealogy: documents, stories, photos, trees, and more. These genealogy apps will help you find the right balance and fly through your research with the greatest of ease.

Send in the Clowns – Clowns bring smiles to our faces, and these apps will bring smiles to your face and the faces of the children in your family – the future genealogists!

Get the print issue

This issue also features an excellent article by our own Sunny Morton. It’s called “Triple Threat,” and Sunny explains how the “big three” genealogy sites (Ancestry, FamilyMyPast, and MyHeritage) mobile genealogy bookmeasure up to each other—and to your research needs. She compares the sites’ records, search features, and more.

For many more on the genealogy apps to use for your family history research, turn to Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research.

Save 10% with Coupon code web10

 

 

 

Watch this free video class for more tips from your app ringmaster!

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 cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Why Your Genetic Family Tree Is Not the Same as Your Family Tree

Your genetic family tree is not the same as your genealogical pedigree–and not just because of non-paternity events and adoption. Here’s how.

Genetic vs Genealogcial CousinsYour genealogical pedigree, if you are diligent or lucky (or both!) can contain hundreds, even thousands of names and can go back countless generations. You can include as many collateral lines as you want. You can add several sources to your findings, and these days you can even add media, including pictures and copies of the actual documents. Every time someone gets married or welcomes a new baby, you can add that to your chart. In short, there is no end to the amount of information that can make up your pedigree chart.

Not so for your genetic pedigree.

Your genetic pedigree contains only those ancestors for whom you have received some of their DNA. You do not have DNA from all of your ancestors.

You do not have DNA from all of your ancestors.

Using some fancy math we can calculate that the average generation in which you start to see that you have inherited zero blocks of DNA from an ancestor is about seven. But of course, most of us aren’t trying to figure out how much of our DNA we received from great great great grandma Sarah. Most of us just have a list of DNA matches and we are trying to figure out if we are all related to 3X great grandma Sarah. So how does that work?

Well, the first thing we need to recognize is that living descendants of Sarah’s would generally be our fourth cousins. Again, bring in the fancy math and we can learn that living, documented fourth cousins who have this autosomal DNA test completed will only share DNA with each other 50% of the time.

Yes, only half.

Only half of the time your DNA will tell you what your paper trail might have already figured out: that you and cousin Jim are fourth cousins, related through sweet 3X great grandma Sarah.

DNA cousinsBut here’s where the numbers are in our favor. You have, on average, 940 fourth cousins. So if you are only sharing DNA with 470 of them, that’s not quite so bad, is it? And it only takes one or two of them to be tested and show up on your match list. Their presence there, and their documentation back to sweet Sarah, helps to verify the genealogy you have completed. It also allows you to gather others who might share this connection so you can learn even more about Sarah and her family. Plus, if you find Jim, then Jim will have 470 4th cousins as well, some of which will not be on your list, giving you access to even more of the 940.

This genetic family tree not matching up exactly with your traditional family tree also manifests itself in your ethnicity results, though there are other reasons for discrepancies there as well. Read this article to learn more about why ethnicity results may not match.

In short, this DNA stuff is not a stand alone tool, but if you combine it with your traditional resources, it can be a very powerful tool for verifying and extending your family history. Remember, just because a cousin doesn’t show a match in DNA, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a genealogical connection! Genealogical research and primary sources can still prove connections even if DNA doesn’t show it.

Ready to learn more?

Read your dna guide at Genealogy GemsMy goals as Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems is to help you get the most from your DNA testing efforts, and to make it fun and easy-to-understand along the way. I’ve got more DNA articles for you. Check these out:

23andMe blog post: “How Many Relatives Do You Have?”

“How Much of Your Genome Do You Inherit from a Particular Ancestor?”

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s interview with Ancestry’s Chief Scientific Officer, Catherine Ball, on how your DNA and pedigree chart can work together to reveal your family’s migration story:

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 202.

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