Restarting Your Genealogy Research – Audio Podcast Episode 275

Has it been a while since you worked on your genealogy research? As passionate as we may be about genealogy, the reality is that a little thing called “Life” can get in the way! Getting back into genealogy can actually be a bit daunting. Where did you leave off? Where should you start back up?

If it’s been months or even years since you had your hands in genealogy, you’re in the right place. In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to pick up your genealogy after a hands-off spell so that you can quickly and efficiently get back on the trail of your ancestors.

This episode will also help if you feel like you’ve gotten a little out of control and disorganized in what you’ve been doing so far. This process also works very nicely as a quick audit to help you get back on track. 

Listen to the Podcast Episode

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Show Notes & Video Version of this Episode

Show notes article and watch the video version: How to Get Back into Genealogy – Restart Your Genealogy!

Downloadable the ad-free Show Notes handout. Plus the BONUS download: Genealogy Restart Checklist (Both require Premium Membership.)

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Podcast Resources

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Free Genealogy and DNA Video Presentations Now Available from MyHeritage

The second annual MyHeritage user conference, MyHeritage LIVE 2019, was held in Amsterdam. 

MyHeritage

Below you’ll find a list of lectures from the conference which are now online. These sessions, given by world-renowned experts and valued MyHeritage staff, are now available on MyHeritage Education.

If you missed the conference or the live stream, you can now take watch these video recordings for free, from the comfort of your own home, at any time, and at your own pace.

Pick from this List of MyHeritage Video Classes

Here is a list with a full description of each and links to watch them:

Opening Session: Keynote by MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet

In his keynote address at MyHeritage LIVE, MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, talks about recent MyHeritage achievements as well as upcoming features and projects

Watch

What’s New at MyHeritage

with Maya Lerner

Maya Lerner, VP of Product at MyHeritage, gives a summary of MyHeritage’s new features and a look ahead at future plans.

Watch

free genealogy video classes

Introducing the New Educational Resource Center for MyHeritage Users

with Daniel Horowitz

This presentation will give you an inside look at MyHeritage Education, a new online resource center for enhancing your understanding of the MyHeritage platform.

Watch

Hear my interview with Daniel Horowitz in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #221.

Daniel Horowitz MyHeritage

Searching and Browsing on MyHeritage to Get the Most Out of Your Research

with Cyndi Ingle

With 10 billion historical records, MyHeritage is able to provide the most extensive genealogy searches available on the Internet. Learn how to use them efficiently to find new and relevant information to incorporate into your research.

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Discovering Immigration Stories with MyHeritage

with Lisa Alzo

Every immigrant has a story. Learn how to leverage the immigration records collection at MyHeritage to uncover key clues and make amazing discoveries about your immigrant ancestors from both sides of the pond.

Watch

Lisa Alzo has been a guest blogger here at Genealogy Gems. Her articles include Heritage Receipts – Aunties, Sprinkles and the Santa-in-his-cap cookie cutter and 4 Steps to Getting Started with Scrivener Software for Writing Family History.

Using MyHeritage to Find Ancestors from the Netherlands

with Yvette Hoitink

If you have ancestors from the Netherlands, this talk introduces you to the most important records and shows you what you can find online, even if you don’t know any Dutch. Learn how naming traditions and emigration patterns can help you find your Dutch ancestors.

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PANEL: Researching Dutch Family History Around the World 

These experts give tips and advice on how to research your roots in Surinam and the former Dutch East Indies.

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Evaluating Your Smart Matches™ and Record Matches on MyHeritage

with James Tanner

Smart Matches™ and Record Matches on MyHeritage supercharge your research. Learn how to review and evaluate these automatically generated matches and effectively use them to advance your genealogical research goals.

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An Overview of Western European Record Collections on MyHeritage

with Mike Mansfield of MyHeritage

With over three billion records from thousands of collections of European origin and a vibrant user community, MyHeritage is an incredible resource for European research. This session will provide an overview of these collections and highlight how to best find access and utilize these sources.

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Using Geni and How it is Different from Other Genealogy Platforms

with Mike Stangel

Learn more about the benefits of collaboration in a single-family tree, including adding sources to shared profiles, communicating with public discussions, understanding the revision history of profiles, and working with projects. Learn how Geni and MyHeritage work together to help improve the quality of the World Family Tree and connect you to new relatives.

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Top Technology Tips for MyHeritage Users & Introduction to Family Tree Webinars

with Geoff Rasmussen

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Developing Your Own Research Plan on MyHeritage

with James Tanner

MyHeritage provides an extremely valuable platform for conducting systematic and source-based research. A formal research plan can help you organize all the information presented in a coherent, useful way, and keep you moving towards your genealogical goals.

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Using Census, Immigration, Newspaper, and Yearbook Records at MyHeritage to Explore the LIves of Your Ancestors

with Lisa Alzo

In genealogy, cluster and collateral research is a key strategy for solving complex brick wall problems. Learn how to use census, immigration, newspaper, and yearbook records at MyHeritage to explore the lives of your ancestors and their inner circles.

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free genetic genealogy DNA video classes

Science for the Non-Scientist: How Does MyHeritage Produce their DNA Results?

with Diahan Southard

DNA test results are a companion to our other research methods. A better understanding of how it all works will lead to better use of the tools for your family history research.

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Diahan has been a regular contributor here at Genealogy Gems. Read her article Adoption DNA Match Strategy: Combine DNA Test Types.

Click the video player below to watch my conversation with Diahan about common genetic genealogy misconceptions:

What Exactly is a Centimorgan? An Introduction to the Science of DNA Testing

with Ran Snir

Whether you have already taken a DNA test or this is the first time you’re hearing about it, in this session we will start from the very beginning. We’ll go over the basic terms of DNA testing and learn how DNA is passed down through generations, how and why individuals have shared DNA segments and how we’re able to estimate one’s ethnicity origins.

Watch

Ran Snir was featured in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #227. Click here to hear my interview with him on the Theory of Family Relativity™.

Mapping Your DNA Matches on MyHeritage

with Blaine Bettinger

Learn about useful tools to organize your list of DNA Matches, how to differentiate between them, and how to better utilize each tool.

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Using the Theory of Family Relativity™ to Research Your DNA Matches

with Ran Snir

Learn about the revolutionary technology that saves you dozens of hours of research by synthesizing billions of data points to craft multiple theories about how you and your DNA Matches might be related.

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PANEL: The Future of DNA Testing

Roberta Estes, Blaine Bettinger, Yaniv Erlich

This panel of DNA experts discusses the current state of DNA testing and what the future will bring.

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Formulating a DNA Testing Plan

with Blaine Bettinger

DNA testing can be expensive, but DNA evidence is a component of exhaustive research when it is available. Identify some of the ways you can minimize costs while maximizing results by formulating a DNA testing plan early in your research.

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Why You Should Complement Your DNA Data with Genealogy Research

with Diahan Southard

Building a family tree is free and adds a lot of value to your DNA test. Learn how it can help improve the accuracy of relationship estimates, trace common ancestors to uncover how exactly you are related, increase the chances DNA Matches will contact you, help you identify the family members whose DNA results would contribute the most value to your research, and more.

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The World Wide DNA Web

with Alon Diament Carmel

Alon Diament Carmel, Ph.D., researcher for the MyHeritage science team, explains what we can learn from the vast web billions of DNA Matches about genetic groups and identity.

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 Introducing the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry Test

with Yaniv Erlich

Discover how your genes affect your health and explore the valuable insights you can gain from this latest addition to our DNA product line. The MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test gives you dozens of personalized health reports that explain your genetic risk for developing certain conditions, and tell you whether you’re a carrier for hereditary conditions that can potentially be passed on to your children.

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PANEL: DNA Testing for Health

with Yaniv Erlich, Diahan Southard, Roberta Estes

This panel of DNA experts discusses the advantages of taking a Health DNA test to learn more about how your genes may affect your health and empower you for the future. 

Watch

 

Alaska Genealogy and an Important Milestone

Alaska genealogy researchers celebrate an important milestone. It’s the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase. This special commemoration includes a photography exhibit, musical program, and much more. Keep reading to learn more about resources for Alaska genealogy.

The National Archives is celebrating the sesquicentennial (150 years) of the Alaska Purchase with a special Hidden Treasure Alaska panoramic photography exhibit at the National Archives at College Park. It will also include a presentation by the exhibit curator, a musical program at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and a loan to Polar Bear Garden exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. The National Archives programs and exhibit are free and open to the public.

The Musical Program

The musical program will be held on Thursday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. at William G. McGowan Theater, Washington, DC. On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, signed the Alaska Treaty of Cession that purchased Russian America. To commemorate the life and contributions of Seward, the State of Alaska is sponsoring a performance of the Alaska chamber group, Wild Shore New Music. Wild Shore will perform the work of living composers who have found inspiration through their experiences with the natural beauty and indigenous cultures of Alaska. Reservations are recommended and can be made online.

The Exhibit

The Hidden Treasure exhibit will be at the National Archives at College Park, MD, on the lower level. Hidden Treasure dramatically captures the beauty of Alaska, as captured on film by U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographers from 1910-1932. These extraordinary images of more than 6,000 panoramic photographs from the collection were used, but then stored and remained unseen for decades. Thanks to the research, work, and photographic skill of National Archives expert Richard Schneider, these images can now be seen by the public in their original panoramic format for the first time. These images capture work-life in the Alaskan wilderness, surveying techniques, towns, and geological formations, such as the Columbia Glacier. See Richard Schneider’s related Prologue Magazine story: The Alaskan Frontier in PanoramaHow the National Archives Preserved Early 20th-Century Photographs.

Schneider will discuss these historic panoramic photographs of the Alaska Territory in his presentation on Wednesday, April 12th at 2 p.m. EST. You may see it live streamed at the William G. McGowan Theater &  YouTube.

Polar Bear Garden

Beginning March 3rd through September 17, 2017, The Polar Bear Garden exhibit will be on display at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska.

Archival and contemporary photographs combined with nesting dolls, cartoons, feature-length films, and Cold War propaganda will take viewers on a journey between Alaska and Russia since the purchase. It will further explore stereotypes, language, storytelling, boundaries, and crossings. The exhibit highlights are on rare loan from the National Archives and include the original cancelled check and President Andrew Johnson’s Ratification of the Treaty.  More information about the Polar Bear Garden can be found online.

Alaska Genealogy

Your Alaskan heritage will likely include stories of great strength and perseverance. To begin your Alaska genealogy research, you may wish to review the FamilySearch Wiki article titled Alaska, United States Genealogy. In it, you will learn important tips like the fact that Alaska is not divided into counties, as nearly all the other states are. Instead, Alaska is divided into boroughs.

There is also a free guide on the wiki titled Step-by-Step Alaska Research, 1880-Present that you may particularly helpful. Among other things, it will help you located birth, marriage, and death records; wills and probates; and naturalization and immigration records.

Alaska genealogy marriage record

Marriage record found online at FamilySearch.org in collection titled “Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959”

Additionally, the Alaska State Archives have resources available. They hold many records that contain information on individuals such as:

Lastly, check out the Alaska Genealogy online guide provided by the Alaska State Library. This basic guide of Alaska related genealogy resources is not intended to be comprehensive, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Sources for several of the boroughs may be available in other Alaska libraries or through interlibrary loan at your local library. They include:

More Resources for Alaska Genealogy Research

Alaska genealogy guideThe Alaska State Research Guide Digital Download by Family Tree Magazine is a digital download you will want to have for your genealogy library. Trace your Alaska ancestors with the advice and resources in this four-page download. It includes:

  • a how-to article detailing Alaska history and records, with helpful advice on tracking your family there
  • the best websites, books and other resources for Alaska research, handpicked by our editors and experts
  • listings of key libraries, archives and organizations that hold the records you need
  • descriptions of the top historic sites for learning about your ancestors’ lives and times, including visitor information
  • timeline of key events in the state’s history
  • full-color map to put your research in geographical context

Happy hunting…or should I say mushing!

West Virginia Genealogy Research and Working with Changing County Boundaries

As many American’s know, the state of West Virginia was formed in 1863 from the state of Virginia during the Civil War. Those researching their West Virginia roots prior to that year, may wonder which counties to search and what records are available. We have some tips to make your West Virginia research a little easier!

West Virginia genealogy research

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Boston Public Library collection, Wikipedia Commons.

County level research is important when trying to find the vital records of our ancestors. Birth, marriage, and death records typically are found on the county level. This means you will need to obtain a copy of these types of certificates from the local courthouse or other county repository, such as a county archives.

But what happens when the state or county wasn’t around when your ancestor lived there? Such is the case with this Genealogy Gems reader. Here is her question regarding West Virginia research:

I have a 3rd great-grandfather I am trying to find with his parents who may have been born in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. He was born in 1814. My question is that Greenbrier County was in Virginia at the time of his birth. Now it is in West Virginia which was made a state in the 1860s, so where do I look for his records? Finding his parents has been a brick wall! What would you suggest?

Birth Records in the 1800s

The first thing we want to address is the hope that this reader will find a birth record for 1814. Early birth records of this time-frame were typically kept by the churches in the form of christening or baptismal records. Civil registrations of births, which were created by the local or federal government, were not kept regularly for American states until much later. The earliest cities and states to require civil registration can be seen here, but a few examples include: New York in 1880, Virginia in 1853,and Florida in 1865. [1]

Because birth records can not always be located in church or civil registration for this early time period, we suggest using alternate records as your supporting evidence. Substitute birth records might be, but are not limited to: school records, censuses, pension records, marriage records, and biographical sketches. (Click these links to learn more about each type of record.)

West Virginia Genealogy Research: County Level

Next, let’s discuss the uniqueness of researching in West Virginia. West Virginia was created in 1863 out of the state of Virginia. Many of the counties that were once in Virginia, kept the same name and retained their records when they became part of West Virginia.

There is a wonderful resource in the book titled “Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources” which was edited by Alice Eichholz. This book has a chart for each U.S. state listing the year each county was formed and from what parent county. To find the chart, flip through to the West Virginia section. Each county is listed in alphabetical order. In this case, we would locate “Greenbrier” and take note that according to the chart, Greenbrier County, West Virginia was formed in 1778 by portions of both Montgomery and Botetourt County, Virginia. A chart like this is helpful for any genealogist in determining which counties should be researched.

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: A Timeline of Changing County Boundaries

I took the liberty of looking further into Greenbrier County, West Virginia by examining more closely the changing county boundaries of this county over time. I did this by using the chart I mentioned above found in the Red Book. First, I found Greenbrier county and it’s parent county, then, I searched the list for further instances when parts of Greenbrier county were used to form newer counties. You see, we want to see the changes of this county’s boundaries so that we know what possible places to look for records. Let me show you what I found. We are going to need a time line for this!

  • 1778: Greenbrier county was originally formed in 1778 from two parent Virginia counties: Montgomery and Botetourt.
  • 1788: part of Greenbrier County, Virginia became Kanawha County
  • 1799: Greenbrier shrunk further when a portion of its boundaries became Monroe County, Virginia
  • 1818: Nicholas County, Virginia formed from Greenbrier
  • 1831: part of Greenbrier created the new county of Fayette, Virginia
  • 1863: Greenbrier county, Virginia became part of the State of West Virginia
  • 1871: Summers County, West Virginia was created by a small portion of Greenbrier

As you can see, our Genealogy Gems reader may need to visit and research several county repositories both within the state of Virginia and West Virginia.

Greenbrier county is rather unique, as it had boundary changes quite regularly. It may be difficult to visit each of these county courthouses, spanning many miles apart, in hopes of finding targeted records for their ancestor. For this reason, our reader may wish to begin at the West Virginia State Archives. At most state archive repositories, records for all the counties can be easily looked at via microfilm. This may save valuable travel time. (Note: Before visiting any state archives facility, call ahead to verify what information and records they have, so that you do not have a wasted trip.)

There is also a free guide at Family Tree Magazine for West Virginia genealogy research that we highly recommend.

More on Advanced Research Strategies

Creating a FAN club tipsChanging county boundaries is just one area that must be mastered to ensure accurate genealogy research. Here are 3 more articles that will help you beef up your genealogy research skills:

The Genealogy FAN Club Principle Overcomes Genealogy Brick Walls

Missing Census or Missing Family: Legacy Tree Genealogists Answer

Resolving Three Common Conflicting Evidence Problems in Genealogy

ARTICLE REFERENCES

[1] Johni Cerny, “Births and Deaths in Public Records,” originally written in “The Source: A Genealogist’s Guidebook to American Genealogy,” online article, Ancestry Wiki, accessed 20 Feb 2017.

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