DNA Painter with Genetic Genealogist Blaine Bettinger

Show Notes: DNA Painter explained with the creator of the shared centimorgans project on DNApainter.com, Blaine Bettinger. In this video, you’ll get answers to questions such as:

  • what is DNA Painter
  • What is the Shared Centimorgans tool
  • What’s coming next in genetic genealogy

Special Guest: Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist

Watch the Video

Show Notes

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members
(This interview has been slightly edited for clarity)

What is DNA Painter

Lisa: What is DNA painter?

Blaine: DNA Painter is a really incredible website for genealogists working with their DNA results.

There are several different aspects of the website, including chromosome mapping, which is assigning segments of DNA to particular ancestors. There are some tools for testing hypotheses, like What Are the Odds. And there’s also the Shared Centimorgan Project, which allows you to hypothesize what a genealogical relationship to a match might be based on the amount of DNA you share with that match.

About Blaine Bettinger and the Shared cM Tool

Lisa: As I understand it, that’s kind of how you got involved with DNA painter, or how DNA painter evolved. Tell us a little bit about your background and your work with the Shared cM Tool.

Blaine: I have been a genetic genealogist, essentially, for almost 20 years now. I started in 2003 with my first DNA test and I’ve been a genealogist since middle school. So, I’ve been working in this DNA field for a long time.

Once autosomal DNA testing came along, we discovered that there wasn’t a lot of information about known ranges for various relationships. For example, if I test myself in a first cousin, how much DNA would we share? What might be considered a normal amount? What might be an abnormal amount, and so on? So, I started in 2015 collecting data from test takers, for example, sets of first cousins. We wanted to be able to answer questions like what’s your relationship? And how much DNA do you share? Once I started to collect enough of that data, I could get an idea about what the range for various relationships might be.

Johnny Pearl, the incredible creator behind DNA painter, asked if he could host a version of the Shared Centimorgan Project at the website. I was thrilled to see that. And so now there is a hosted version of the Shared Centimorgan Project with all of those ranges for about 40 different relationships at a DNA Painter.

shared cM tool at DNA Painter

Shared cM tool at DNA Painter

Lisa: Well, that’s really kind of the whole industry, isn’t it? It’s very collaborative. And it’s amazing how it seems like different people have different pieces of the puzzle.

How to Get Started with DNA Painter

Is DNA Painter free? How does someone get involved? Do we need an account?

Blaine: It depends on what you want to do. If you want to use the Shared Centimorgan Project tool, there’s no cost for that. That’s free for anyone to use. So, you would just go to DNA Painter, and either register for a free account, or have no account and still be able to use the Shared Centimorgan Tool.

If you want to start chromosome mapping at DNA Painter, you do get one free map. That’s the assignment of those segments to ancestors. But if you wanted to have maybe a couple maps, you would have to run into having a subscription to the site, which is well worth the money it takes to have a subscription because it’s so valuable in helping you organize your matches and working with your segment information, and so on.

What the Shared Centimorgan Tool can tell you about your DNA

Lisa: You mentioned the chromosome mapping, and the Shared Centimorgan Tool, and What Are the Odds? Can you give us an example of a burning question that a genealogist might have, and that the answer is, “you need to go to DNA painter to do that”?

Blaine: So, let’s say for example, you get a new match at testing company ABC, and that match shares 400 Centimorgans with you. The immediate question is, how is this person related to me? That’s a lot of DNA to share with someone but without a frame of reference you don’t really know. Is it could that my eighth cousin? Is it my sibling? What are the possible relationships?

If you go to DNA Painter and the Shared Centimorgan Project, you pop in 400 Centimorgans. What that’s going to do is it’s going to give you the possible relationships that that could be. And so that’s going to significantly narrow down your search for your genealogical relationship to this new DNA match that you have.

Lisa: Oh, yeah, that would be huge.

DNA Painter for Beginners

So, does this require much technical know-how? Do people have to feel like they’re scientific in nature, or can anybody do this? Could a person new to using genetic genealogy feel like they could do this?

Blaine: Absolutely! And I think one of the great things about DNA Painter and Johnny is that everything is designed to be user-friendly. The website is incredibly easy to understand and interact with the Shared Centimorgan Project. I’m of course biased, but I think it is also created in such a way to be easily understandable. The results of that search for 400 centimorgan relationships is going to give you an output that I think is easy to interpret and understand.

DNA Painter Best Tip

Lisa: What’s your favorite tip? What do you recommend that people either not miss, or make sure that they do while they are at DNA Painter?

Blaine: Bookmarking the Shared Centimorgan Project I think is really important. I think many genealogists use it on a daily basis. Again, I’m biased, but the value of the tool is that it’s free. And it’s so important to helping you understand the possible relationships for your DNA matches.

Now, years from now, once you do this enough, you can start to remember some of the ranges. You can kind of do it in your head. But until you get to that stage, bookmark that site, and you can just refer to it quickly when you’re working with your DNA results.

Lisa: That’s a good idea. It’s very easy to just drag that URL right on to your web browser bookmark bar and have a bookmark ready to go.

Genetic Genealogy Book by Blaine Bettinger

You’ve really been on the forefront of all of this genetic genealogy. And I know that you’re the author of a book, tell us the name of your book.

Blaine: The name of my book is the Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, second edition.

DNA Genetic Genealogy book

Get Blaine’s book (this affiliate link supports our free content)

The Future of Genetic Genealogy

Lisa: What do you think we can look forward to in the future of genetic genealogy?

Blaine: I think it’s really hard to predict in some ways. Some of the tools we have now are our tools we couldn’t even have imagined several years ago. And what’s fueling this growth is the growth of the databases themselves.

For example, just in the past week or so Ancestry came out with a new tool called Side View that allows the grouping of your matches into the two different sides of your family: your paternal side and your maternal side. We couldn’t have imagined a tool like that just a couple of years ago, but it’s because of the size of the database.

For me, the future is two-fold. Number one, it’s the development of these new tools by the testing companies. And it’s also development of new tools by third parties, including the tools like the Shared Centimorgan Project, DNA Painter, and so on. I think we’re going to see more and more tools come out that allow us to work with our results in new and interesting ways.

Lisa: Do you think they’ll ever be a time where the tools and the machine learning that eventually there’s enough data accumulated between people who have tested and people who do genealogy and people who do both, that it could actually automate this process?

Blaine: I do think there’s a huge potential for automation. The one thing that I think is missing right now is that most genetic genealogists, most genealogists period, function as islands. And there isn’t enough collaboration in a way that allows us to benefit from each other’s work. And so, I think there needs to be a way to start to tie together in a more collaborative way, the work that we’ve done. For example, assigning segments of DNA to ancestors.

If I figure out that this stretch of DNA came from Jane and John Doe, that’s great, but that lives on my computer. If there were a way to share that with the world in an easy and collaborative way by clicking a couple of buttons, then, once we have thousands of people doing that, we could have a pretty incredible database and start to really work in a collaborative fashion.

Lisa: Collaboration certainly has been the key behind so much of what’s grown in genealogy.

More from Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist

Blaine, thank you so much for all of your work in this area. It’s fascinating to watch what you’ve been up to and I’m going to keep my eyes on you into the future. Please tell folks where they can visit you to learn more about you and what you have to offer.

Blaine: The two main places are thegeneticgenealogist.com, which is my blog. If you’re a Facebook user, we have Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques, which is a Facebook group. It’s free to join, and from beginner to expert, everybody I think has a really good time in that Facebook group.

Lisa: It’s always good to see you. Thank you so much, Blaine!

Blaine: Thank you so much.

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.

Learn More about Genetic Genealogy at Genealogy Gems

 

How to Edit Home Movies

Show Notes: Getting your old home movies into shape so that they can be easily enjoyed by audiences today can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right video editing tool and  a little bit of know-how you can turn digitized home movies into family history fare for all your relations. It’s time to get your home movies out of the closet and onto a screen near you. 

 

how to edit old home movies

Video and show notes

In this video, I’ll show you how to edit digitized home movies in my favorite video editing software program, Camtasia by Techsmith. (Use our affiliate link now through 8/26/22 to get 20% off Camtasia and / or Snagit. We will be compensated which helps support free videos like this one.)

If you already have another program, you can still follow along and learn best practices for great edited home movies that are easy to share and enjoyable to watch. 

Don’t have old home movies? You can also use Camtasia to create videos using static images and photos.  

Discounts:

Larsen Digital: I got my family video (and audio) tapes digitized at Larsen Digital, a family-owned business that cares about family history. Click here to get 15% off on your Larsen Digital order when you use our exclusive coupon code GenGem.

Camtasia: Use this link to Camtasia and our coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off for a limited time. (Note: Maintenance and asset add-ons are optional and can be opted out of if desired during checkout. Discount applies to Snagit as well! )

Watch the video How to Edit Home Movies:

Show Notes

Have you gotten some of your old home movies digitized, only to have them just sit on your computer. It’s it can happen really easily. It’s certainly happened to me. And in this video, what I’m going to do is show you how easy it is to edit your old home movies yourself, so that you can get them cleaned up and ready to share with your family.

I had a ton of movies that I got digitized a couple of years ago, and they just sat on my computer. Now, all I can say is I’ve been busy making videos for this channel. I guess that’s my excuse for not getting around to them.

Larsen Digital Exclusive Discount on Digitization

Recently, I found another batch of videotapes. I found VHS, High 8, and I even had an audio tape that needed to get digitized. So, I sent it off to my favorite place, Larsen Digital, a family-owned business that cares about family history. Click here to get 15% off on your Larsen Digital order when you use our exclusive coupon code GenGem.

Larson has done an amazing job getting my tapes digitized in the past. They send them back quickly, and you get them on DVD as well as mp4. Larsen Digital is graciously offering all of us a great discount on digitization. If you haven’t gotten your tapes done yet, they will take care of it for you.

When you get those mp4 videos back, they can be fairly large files. That’s because some of those VHS tapes can be six hours long. Therefore, we need to do some editing. If we don’t, they’re going to be really unwatchable. Typically, we have lots of stops and starts and fingers in front of cameras and blank spots on our videos. On our tapes we had lots of chunks where we had filmed TV shows. Then we started filming home movies again! So, home movie videos typically need to be cleaned up because our relatives are not going to want to sit around and watch six hours of random, chaotic stuff.

As family historians it is our job to edit the video into something watchable and enjoyable. The good news is these days it’s not a hard job thanks to the great tools that are available. I’m going to explain how I use my favorite video editing tool called Camtasia. In the video, I’ll show you how easy this is to do. I think if you see it, you will feel like this is something you can do. I really enjoyed editing my own films.

Camtasia Software Discount 

Use this link to Camtasia and get 20% off now through 8/26/22. After that you can use our exclusive coupon code for 15% off: Gene15 (works on Snagit too!)

Camtasia is definitely a terrific product and easy to use. I use it to create my Genealogy Gems videos, and I also use it for home movies and all kinds of other projects. If you have your own video editing tool already and maybe you just haven’t gotten started working on your home movies, I think you’re still in the right spot because I’m going to show you how quick and easy it can be to get these tapes cleaned up and made usable. If you don’t happen to have home movies, you might still want to keep watching because Camtasia does a terrific job taking photographs, images, other pieces of content you can add narration and music and all kinds of stuff making your own version of home movies.

Step 1: How to Import video files into Camtasia

In Camtasia you will see the media bin, I’m going to import my media which is my mp4 video file.

You can see on the left side that there are lots of different things we can do. We’re going to touch on the most important for you for editing your home movies. Whatever you have selected, that’s what shows in this column just to the right of the menu. Make sure you’re in Media. (You can also import media through the menu at the top of the screen.) Click the Import Media button and navigate to your video file on your computer and open it. This will bring it into the Media bin.

Step 2: How to Select the Correct Project Size in Camtasia

The second step is to select your project size based on what it is you want to do. It’s really important to think about what is going to be the final purpose of the video. Do you want to be able to Airplay this up onto your TV screen on a big screen and be able to see it? If so, then you’re going to need a pretty high-resolution (large) file. Or are you really interested in getting lots of fun clips that you can share out on social media? If that’s the case, you don’t need as big of a file to be able to have it viewed on a mobile device or on the web.

Camtasia makes it super easy for you to find the right project size. At the top, click the down arrow next to the percentage number (called Canvas Options) and select Project Settings. Here you can see the current project size. What we want to do is pick from the standardized dimensions for the product (output) that we need. Here are some examples:

  • Social media: 1280 by 720 px. That’s a very standard size that would look great on anybody’s tablet or phone.
  • Full size computer screen or TV: 1920 by 1080 px (HD). That’s a very standard format

You probably don’t have 4k home movies. If you sent your tapes to a very specialized company, they might have the ability to give you 4k output. But it’s really overkill for what you’re trying to do. Typically, the 1080 HD is going to be what you want.

When you click to select the size, it is populated in width and the height. Click Apply. Now you have that exact project size. I think probably one of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my editing career was not checking project size as the first step.

Step 3: Drop the Video onto the Timeline

Next, we’re going to bring the whole movie onto the timeline where can then edit it.

When we hover our mouse over the video in the media bin, we can see all the different shots (this is called scrubbing,) When you start to drag the video out of the bin blue lines appear around the screen areas where the video can be place: the video canvas at the top of the screen and the Timeline at the bottom of the screen where the editing actually is done.

If when you drag the video into your project it looks smaller than the canvas, that means the film is a lower resolution (size) than the project size you selected. You don’t want to get too far apart in those two things. If I had a very small film (low quality) I might want to think about making my project size a little smaller because I don’t want it to look blurry when it’s done. Typically, I think you’ll find that your video file will be a standard size and will fit pretty nicely.

Using Multiple Tracks in Camtasia

I usually drop video directly onto the timeline. The reason is because usually I’ll end up adding stuff additional content to the timeline, and that’s where tracks come into play.

Your project will have two tracks at first. However, you can add many more by clicking the plus sign. Each track gives me the ability to have a piece of content on there. So, I might have my home movie on track one, narration audio on track two, annotations (text) on track three, etc. Each track gives me the chance to have different pieces of content so that I can edit them without cutting up the other items. It’s really convenient having each item on its own track.

Moving Content on a Track

You can easily move your video around on the timeline to position it exactly where you want it. Click on the content (in this case the home movie file) and drag it to the desired location. You’ll see that Camtasia will sort of allow you to “snap” items into the best position. For example, pushing the video up to the beginning of the timeline  (the zero mark).

Editing a Video in Camtasia

How do you know where you’re going to be editing? Well, that’s where the playhead comes into play. The playhead is the marker on the timeline that shows us where we are at any point in the video. You can drag the playhead across the video – called scrubbing – to review it.  

If you want to see your entire video on the timeline, you will likely need to zoom out. Click the minus sign to zoom out, and the plus sign to zoom in. Keep clicking until you can see the entire bar of video. Hover your mouse on the video and you can see how long it is. My video is 32 minutes, and seven seconds. So, this is the whole film that I’m going to work on. As we do our editing, we’re going to want to be zoomed in because we want to be really precise with our cuts and clean up.

Initial Types of Editing

So, what kind of editing would you be doing? Well, first and foremost, I like to go through and just clean up stuff that I don’t want things like blank spots, damaged footage, and mistakes in filming. As you scrub through the video look for these areas.  

Clean-up makes watching home movies much easier on the viewer. Everything comes back to the experience of the viewer that you want to share your videos with. If you want to share home movies with your family, you got to make them easy to watch, right? We want to make them enjoyable. We don’t want them getting seasick or bored. That way when they watch the finished films, they’re going to really enjoy them. And they’re going to want to see more and talk about family history.

Scrub very slowly until you see something you don’t want. Zoom in a little bit more if necessary to see exactly where you want to make your cut. On the playhead grab the red handle and drag it. Then drag the green handle. This identifies the area you want to cut. Press play and the grey playhead will jump to the beginning of the section you marked and play it for you so you can make sure it’s what you want to cut. Review and adjust the handles as needed.

To cut the section, click the Cut button with the scissors icon. (Control X) Review the section one more time to ensure you like the cut. You will see a stitch mark where you made you cut.

These small cuts may not seem like much, but when you do this throughout a 32-minute film, you may end up with a 20-minute film that’s much more watchable.

Adding Transitions to Video in Camtasia

One of the other things that you might want to do to make your video even more watchable is to create some transitions between scenes or clips. To do this, bring the playhead back to the stitch mark where you made your cut, and zoom in to make sure you’re right on top of it.  Click the video to select it so that Camtasia knows this is the content you are working on. In the menu on the left, click to select Transitions.

There are many to choose from, however most people don’t really enjoy watching lots of wild crazy transitions. It can actually make them feel seasick. It’s better to go with something simpler and smoother. The whole point is to make it enjoyable and watchable for your family members. I really like Fade, and Fade to black. You can add these to your Favorites bin by clicking the Star. That will save you time, so you don’t have to dig through all of the Transitions every time.

  • Use Fade when cutting within the same scene or clip.
  • Use Fade to black when cutting between two different scenes or clips.

Place the playhead on the stitched cut, and then click the Split button. Now you can drag the transition onto that spot on the timeline. Camtasia will create a standard-length transition, but you can adjust it by dragging the transition. Move the playhead to a spot just before the transition and press play (or tap your keyboard’s space bar) to review it.

You can change the transition by dragging and dropping a different transition onto it. It will turn red indicating that you are changing it.

Camtasia Undo / Redo

You can undo or Redo in the menu at the top of the screen under Edit.

How to Create a Video Clip

If your film is a hodge-podge of different scenes or a mix of TV shows and home movies (like some of my VHS tapes were) then you’ll want to create clips of just the sections you want so that you can use them in another project. It’s easy to Produce / Export clips from your full-length video without creating a new project.

How to create a clip:

  1. Zoom in on the desired area
  2. Drag the green and red playhead handles to identify the desired clip.
  3. Right-click on the area and select Produce As
  4. This brings up the Camtasia production wizard. Select the desired production size. In other words, you can export the clip at any resolution you choose. It doesn’t have to be the same as your project size that you selected when you started.
  5. Name the clip and save it to the desired location on your computer hard drive.
  6. Click The clip will display on your screen when it’s done.

Additional Content that can be Added to Your Home Movies

Music and Audio files

You can import audio files such as MP3 and WAV into your media bin and then drop them onto a new track in your project. These files can be edited much like you edit video. You can get free music MP3 files from YouTube. Sign in with a free YouTube (Google) account, click on your account icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select YouTube Studio. In the studio, scroll down the menu on the left side of the screen and select Audio Library. Here you can search for and download music tracks.

Voice Narration

If you have a microphone hooked up to your computer you can narrate all or just sections of your home movie. This is a great feature particularly when working with older silent home movies. Select Voice Narration from the menu on the left, and then click the Start Voice Recording button. The recorded narration will appear on a new track on the timeline. You can even write your script and then copy and paste it into the Voice Narration tool.

Annotations

Annotations are a great way to provide more information about what the viewer is watching. For example, you can add text boxes to the video. Choose from a wide range of annotations. Drag and drop the annotation on the timeline. Drag the edges of the annotation to make it the desired length. Click on it to select it and then you move it anywhere on the timeline. When selected, you will see the annotation Properties on the right side of the screen which allow you to customize it. (Font, color, line thickness, etc.)

Our final step here is going to be to export this video. Now, clearly, I haven’t finished on my editing, I’m going to finish up my editing and we’ll come back and we will export the video as a finished cleaned-up film.

Step 4: Save and Export (Produce) a Video in Camtasia

After my initial clean up my 32-minute video is now 19 minutes and four seconds. I’ve saved my family from 12 minutes of video that just wasn’t worth watching and might have gotten them discouraged about watching home movies.

Now it’s time to save your work. In the menu go to File > Save As. Hopefully, you have already created a folder on your computer where you know you’re going to keep your project and all your content. That way, you can work on it again later if you want to make more changes or export more clips.

Next, we’re going to produce the actual edited film. Another way to say it is that we are going to export the edited video. In the menu go to Export and then select where you want to send your video. You can upload directly to locations such as Vimeo or YouTube or Google Drive. If you want to export to your computer select Local File. You will again get the wizard. The wizard is going to remember the last export you did, so be careful to review that and change it if desired. Select MP4 and then click Next and select the folder on your computer and click Finish.  Depending on the size of your video, it may take several minutes to render.

Edit Your Home Movies: Wrap Up

I hope that helps you feel empowered to get started editing your home movies. It’s really worth doing and it doesn’t have to be that time-consuming. The trick is to just set aside a little bit of time every week and start doing it right away because they’re not doing anybody any good sitting on your computer where they can’t be seen. Let’s get him out in front of our family and share that family history.

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

 

FamilySearch Search Strategy Essentials

Discover the essential search strategies that every genealogist should be using when searching for records at FamilySearch.org, the popular free genealogy website.  In Elevenses with Lisa episode 64 Lisa Louise Cooke discusses:

  • Wild cards you can use when searching FamilySearch
  • Search strategies to help you get more results
  • Advanced Search strategies 

Episode 64 Show Notes 

FamilySearch.org is a free genealogy records and family tree website. You will need to be logged into your free account in order to search for genealogy records.

In this video and show notes I will outline strategies for searching for people by name in genealogy records. You can then apply these techniques to your genealogy research plan. Knowing what you’re specifically looking for will give you a better chance at success.

Learn more about preparing for genealogy research success by watching and reading 10 Questions to Rate Your Readiness for Genealogy Research Success.

familysearch best search strategies

Elevenses with Lisa episode 64 – Share on Pinterest

Starting Your Search at FamilySearch

  • In the menu go to Search > Records (then use the form).
  • Start with a broad search.
  • Search results ignore the order of first names but will preserve name order if there are two last names.
  • Click the Exact Match box to start narrowing in on specific names and spellings.
  • Even if you are confident that you know exact names and places try variations. For example, add or remove a name and turn on and turn off Exact Match.

Strategies for Searching Names FamilySearch:

  • Add or remove middle names.
  • Try searching for nicknames.
  • Try spelling variations. Use the Alternate Name You can search up to four alternate names at a time. Try clicking the Exact Match box for each alternate name.
example of Alternate Name search at FamilySearch

example of Alternate Name search at FamilySearch

  • Try spelling the name as it would have been spelled in the old country. (Example: Sporan / Sporowski / Sporovsky / Sporowski)
  • Use wildcards to help with search variations.
    Asterisk (*)  replaces zero or more characters.
    Question mark (?) replaces a single character.
  • Use cluster research techniques by searching on relationships.

A few words about searching on relationships: Try searching only with your ancestor’s first name and a known relationship such as a spouse, parent or other relative. In addition to specific people, try searching for a surname associated with the family.

  • Over time the spelling of a last name can change in a family. It’s important, even if you receive initial successful results, to try all variations, including language variations.
  • In the case of women, records will be under the last name they were using at the time the record was created. Therefore, try searching for them using their maiden name and then their married name (or names if they were married multiple times.)
  • Try leaving the last name field blank. This can be particularly effective when searching for female ancestors. This strategy works well in conjunction with entering additional information, such as the names of the spouse or parents.
  • Try just surnames, unique first names, and Other Person

Pro Tip: Use Snagit to easily create a search log

Learn more about Snagit: How to Use Snagit for Genealogy (episode 61)
Save 15% on Snagit with our exclusive discount coupon code: GENEALOGY15

Have you been using Snagit? Leave a comment

Here’s an example of a search log I created using Snagit. You can add custom text, symbols, highlighting and much more to create exactly the log that works for you. 

Search log created with Snagit

Search log created with Snagit

Here’s how to quickly capture and keep a research log of your FamilySearch searches:

  1. Run your search as usual.
  2. Use Snagit to clip the number of results and the terms searched at the top of the results page. (Set Snagit to “Region” to precisely clip that portion of the screen.)
  3. Continue searching and clipping. When done, go back to the Snagit Editor.
  4. Click Control (Win) or Command (Mac) and click to select each clipping you made in order. You can also select all of your clippings by clicking to select the first clipping and then hold down the shift key on your keyboard and click the last clipping.
  5. Right-click on the selected clipping to access the menu. Click Combine in Template.
  6. In the pop-up Combine in Template box, select a template. I like to use Custom Steps for a research log.
  7. Click the Next
  8. Give your combined image a Title. (You can edit this again later.)
  9. Select the font and canvas color as desired.
  10. The Number Images box will probably be selected. This will place a “step” number in front of each clipping showing the order in which you clipped. You can deselect this box if you don’t want to number your clippings.
  11. Click the Combine
  12. Edit the combined image as desired. You can click to select items to move and resize them. You may need to ensure you’re not in Text mode – click the Arrow at the top of the screen and then you’ll be able to click on items like the numbered steps and move them around. Grab the edges and drag them to crop if needed.
  13. Save your image: File > Save As.

Search Strategy: Events

Try searching on known life events such as:

  • Birth
  • Marriage
  • Residence
  • Death
  • Any

Click the type of life event you want to include in your search. Enter the place and year range.

Life Events Search Tips:

  • Try your search with different events.
  • Try your search with no events.
  • Use the Residence option to find records identifying where a person was living. Some records contain an address or last place of residence. Birthplaces, marriage places, and death places are not the same as residence places.
  • Use the Any Event if you know a date and place for an event other than birth, marriage, death, or residence. For example, a search with an Any event can find dates of military enlistment or immigration.

Search Strategies: Places

  • In the place field try searching at a more or less specific place level. If you searched for a town, try the county, state, district or country.
  • Try using wildcards in place-names. (Enter * to replace zero or more characters. Enter ? to replace one character.)

Search Strategies: Years

  • In the year fields try adding a year before and a year after.
  • In the year fields, try searching with no years first, and then filter the results to narrow your search by year.

 Advanced Search Strategies

  • Include multiple events in your search when you are looking for a record that likely contains all the events.
  • Death records – try searching with both birth and death events.
  • Birth record, include only a birth event, since birth records usually do not contain death information.
  • To search for a child’s birth records, enter the child’s name, then click Parents. Enter the parents’ names. If needed, try variations such as these:
    • Both of the parents’ full names.
    • The father’s full name only.
    • The mother’s full married name only; then her full married name only.
    • The father’s full name with the mother’s first name.
    • The mother’s full maiden name with the father’s first name.
  • To find all of the children in a family, leave the first and last name fields blank.
    Then click Parents and conduct your search using only parents’ names. Try all the variations.

Searching for Marriage Records

To search for a marriage enter the name of one person in the first and last name fields. Click Spouses, and enter the name of the spouse. Try variations: the spouse’s first name and the wife’s maiden name. To limit your search results to marriage records only, click Type, and click the Marriage checkbox.

Search Best Practices

  • Have a specific search goal.
  • Start with a broad search. You do not have to enter information in all search fields. You often can get better results when you leave most blank, and then filter down.
  • FamilySearch doesn’t support Boolean Operators like Google does.
  • Expect records and indexes to contain errors, spelling variations, and estimations.
  • Try your search several times with variations.
  • Even if your ancestors had easy-to-spell names, expect spelling discrepancies. Anderson could be Andersen in some records. Try Anders?n in the Last Names search box.
  • Always look at the image, if possible. It often has more information than the index alone.

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.  Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

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Questions Asked in the 1950 U.S. Census

What questions were asked in the 1950 census? In this week’s video I’ll explain what was asked, and how the answers given can help provide clues for additional research about your family. You’ll also learn what was not asked and which questions were asked for the first time in 1950. Then we’ll wrap up with my Genealogy Pro Tip for the 1950 Census.

Episode 53 Show Notes  

We’re all looking forward to the 1950 census coming out in April 2022, followed soon after by the searchable index. But before we dig into it, it’s helpful to know what kinds of questions were asked and what kind of information you can expect to find about you, your parents, your grandparents or even your great grandparents.

If you haven’t watched it already, check out Elevenses with Lisa episode 51 for an overview of the 1950 census.

And I’ll have that video link for you again at the end of this video. And of course the best way to find your own genealogy gems is to follow my genealogy gems channel, so click the YouTube Subscribe button and that will toss me and this channel into your favorites list on YouTube for safe keeping and happy viewing for years to come.

The U.S. Federal Census is taken every 10 years here in the United States. Typically in genealogy we see more and more questions being asked each decade, which is awesome for us as family historians. But did you know that the 1950 population questionnaire actually asked FEWER questions than its predecessor in 1940.

Yep, according to the U.S. Census bureau, in 1940 every household was asked 34 questions. However, in 1950 they were asked just 20 questions. As we go through the questions I’ll let you know what’s the same, what unfortunately you will NOT being seeing, BUT also the few NEW questions that were asked.

Questions Asked on the 1950 U.S. Federal Census Questionnaire

The following questions were asked of everyone in the household.

1. Name of street, avenue or road where the household is located

2. Home or apartment number

3. Serial number of dwelling unit

4. Is this house on a farm (or ranch)?

5. If no, is this house on a place of three or more acres? (New question for 1950 thanks to the expansion of suburbia.)

6. Corresponding agriculture questionnaire number

7. Name

8. Relationship to head

9. Race

Census takers were instructed to assume that all members of the related household were the same race. For unrelated people they were to ask. And if you see a description you are unfamiliar with, consult the 1950 census enumerator instructions.)

10. Sex

11. How old was this person on his last birthday?

It was expected that there would be some folks who either didn’t know their exact age or didn’t care to share it. Census takers were instructed to try to zero in and get as accurate as possible. If age wasn’t known, they were instructed to enter an estimate as the very last resort, and footnote that it was an estimate.

12. Is this person now married, widowed, divorced, separated, or never married?

Marriage codes found in this column:
MAR = married
WD = widowed
D = divorced
SEP = separated
NEV = never married. People under the age of 14 were automatically labeled as never married. Also, common-law marriages were reported as Married, so while marital status can be an indicator to look for marriage records, it is possible that there may not be any.

13. What State or country was the person born in?

It’s important to note that if the baby was born in a hospital across the state line, they were reported as being born in the state where the family lived. This is important to keep in mind when hunting for birth certificates.

14. If foreign born, is the person naturalized?

This will be a yes or no. But if you see “AP” it means the person was born of American parents abroad or at sea. Also, if born at sea they were an American citizen if their father was, or if they were born after 5/24/1934 and either parent was American.

Before we get to the last six questions which were asked only of people 14 years of age and older, let’s take a look at the questions you might have expected to see that were asked in the previous 1940 census but were not.

Questions Not Asked in the 1950 Census that Were Asked in 1940

These questions include:

  • Home owned (O) or rented (R)
  • Value of home or monthly rental if rented
  • Attended school or college at any time since March 1, 1940?
  • Highest grade of school completed
  • Residence, April 1, 1935
    • City, town or village having 2,600 or more inhabitants. If less, enter “R”
    • County
    • State (or Territory or foreign country)
    • Farm?

Questions Asked in the 1950 Census of People Over the Age of 14

You may be wondering why the last 6 questions of the 1950 census were only asked of people over the age of 14. It’s because these questions were about employment status. Not surprisingly, these questions vary a bit from what was asked about in employment in 1940, but they are pretty similar.

  1. What was this person doing most of last week – working, keeping house, or something else?

Employment Codes used in questions 15:
WK = working
H = keeping house
U = unable to work
OT = other

16. If the person was “keeping house” or “something else” in question 15, did the person do any work at all last week, not counting work around the house? (Including work-for-pay, in his own business, working on a farm or unpaid family work)

17. If the person answered “no” to question 16, was he looking for work?

18. If the person answered “no” to question 17, even if he didn’t work last week, does he have a job or business?

19. If the person was working, how many hours did he or she work in the last week?

20. What kind of work does the person do?

    • What kind of business or industry is the person in?
    • Class of worker the person is.
      • Enumerators were to mark “P” for private employment, “G” for government employment, “O” for own business, or “NP” for working without pay

Here’s an example of an entry you might see for someone’s employment: Jewelry, Salesman, P. Armed forces was used for all types of military service.

The one glaring omission in 1950 is questions about whether the person worked for one of the government program  such as the Works Progress Administration known as the WPA or The Civilian Conversation Corp known as the CCC. This actually makes sense because these employment programs were focused on helping the unemployed during the Depression. WWII had most Americans working and doing their part in some fashion creating low unemployment. Therefore, the WPA was ended in 1943.

Genealogy Clues in the 1950 Census

Let’s quickly recap what you will learn from the answers to the questions asked during the 1950 census that can help you learn more about your family history:

You’ll see the names of your relatives and ancestors, where they lived and the relationships within the family.

You’ll find out where they were living and get the actual address. You can then use this information to find old maps, search city directories and learn much more about their neighborhood and their lives.

If your relatives lived on a farm you’ve got another genealogy gem to find which is their listing in the Agricultural census. Remember the population enumeration, the one counting people, is just one of the enumerations that was conducted. The 1950 population enumeration will give you the number where you can locate them in the agricultural questionnaire.

You’re also going to learn your relative’s age which will get you even closer to determining their birthdate. This in turn will help you locate their birth records. You will also learn the state or country where they were born.

If they were foreign born you will find out if they were naturalized. It’s a little disappointing that it doesn’t tell us the year of immigration or naturalization. However, a “yes” in the “is the person naturalized” column does provide you with an excellent clue to go look for those naturalization records. Learn more about finding and using naturalization records for genealogy in my Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast:

Episode 29: Immigration and Naturalization Records for Family History, Part 1
Genealogy lecturer and blogger Stephen Danko, PhD, begins a 3-part series on U.S. immigration and naturalization records. Learn about passenger arrival lists in the U.S., little-known certificates of arrival and naturalization records: how to find them and what’s in them.

Episode 30: Immigration and Naturalization Records for Family History, Part 2
Stephen Danko continues this series by focusing on passenger departure records created in European ports. He also talks more in-depth about U.S. naturalization records.

Episode 31: Immigration and Naturalization Records for Family History, Part 3
Stephen Danko talks in-depth about passenger list annotations and the immigrant’s experience at Ellis Island. You didn’t know what you were missing with those mysterious scribbles on 20th-century passenger manifests!

And finally, you’ll not only find out if they were married and if they had any previous marriages.

Lisa’s Pro Tip for the 1950 U.S. Census

After my first video on the 1950 census I got this question from Suzanne:
Will the 1950 census also have the children born to mother/children still living question?

The answer is, maybe.

Genealogy Pro Tips

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for additional questions.

As in 1940, 5 percent of the population were asked an additional slate of questions. This was to provide sample data about the population. One of those questions asked was “If female and ever married, how many children has she ever borne, not counting stillbirths?”

Supplemental Questions Asked in the 1950 Census

Here are the additional questions that were asked of just 5% of the population in the 1950 U.S. Federal Census. (Note: They were asked of all ages.)

21. Was the person living in the same house a year ago? If the answer was no, then…

22. If no to question 21, was the person living on a farm a year ago?

23. If no to question 21, was the person living in the same county a year ago?

24. If no to question 23…

    • What county (or nearest place) was he living in a year ago?
    • What state or foreign country was he living in a year ago?

25. What country were the person’s mother and father born in?

26. What is the highest grade of school that the person has attended?

    • Enumerators were to mark “0” for no school; “K” for kindergarten; “S1” through “S12” depending on the last year of elementary or secondary school attended; “C1” through “C4” depending on the last year of undergraduate college education attended; or “C5” for any graduate or professional school.

27. Did the person finish this grade?

28. Has the person attended school since February 1st?

    • Enumerators could check a box for “yes” or “no” for those under thirty; for those over thirty, they were to check a box for “30 or over.”

For members of the household who were 14 years and older, they also answered these questions centered around employment details, money, military service previous marriages and the question Suzanne is hoping to have answered – children born to women in the household.

1950 census supplemental questions

1950 census supplemental questions asked of 5% of the population.

29. If the person is looking for work, how many weeks has he been looking for work?

30. Last year, how many weeks did this person not work at all, not counting work around the house?

31. Last year, how much money did the person earn working as an employee for wages or salary?

32. Last year, how much money did the person earn working at his own business, professional occupation, or farm?

33. Last year, how much money did the person receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (aside from earnings)?

34. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did his relatives in this household earn working for wages or salary?

35. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did the person earn working at his own business, professional occupation, or farm?

36. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did the person receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (aside from earnings)?

37. If male: did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during…

    • World War II
    • World War I
    • Any other time, including present service

38. To enumerator: if the person worked in the last year, is there any entry in columns 20a, 20b, or 20c?

39. If yes, skip to question 36; if no, make entries for questions 35a, 35b, and 35c.

      • What kind of work does this person do in his job?
      • What kind or business or industry does this person work in?
      • Class of worker

40. If ever married, has this person been married before?

41. If married, widowed, divorced, or separated, how many years since this event occurred?

42. If female and ever married, how many children has she ever borne, not counting stillbirths?

Free Download of the 1950 Census Form

You can download the 1950 U.S. Federal Census form from the Census Bureau website

The 1950 U.S. Census – A Valuable Genealogical Record

So now you know all the details on what you can look forward to learning about in the 1950 census. If you would like to learn more about the 1950 census, watch The 1950 Census for Genealogy. You can watch the video and get the complete show notes here.

The 1950 Census for Genealogy

WATCH NEXT: episode 51 and get the show notes here

Yakety Yak – Talk Back in the Comments

Elevenses with Lisa is a genealogy community, and discussion is a big part of the experience. In the Comments below please share on one of these topics:

  • What question are you most looking forward to getting an answer to in the 1950 census?
  • Who you’re hoping to find in the 1950 census?
  • What question do you have for me about the 1950 census?

Resources – Get the Handout

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