June 28, 2017

Analyze Your Family Tree for Free with This Easy Tool

There’s an easy, free way to analyze your family tree for patterns! Discover your ancestors’ average life expectancy, most common first names, how long they stayed married, and more. Share the results at your next family reunion, or use them to understand your family health history just a little bit better. Here’s how.

Whether you’re a paying subscriber to MyHeritage or are signed up as a free user, you have access to a little-known but fascinating tool on the site: Family Statistics.

You’ll find this tool under the Home tab:

analyze your family tree

Use this tool to explore various statistics and patterns in your family history, and to spot the “record-holders” on your tree. You don’t have to enter any information. Just click the topic on the left that you want to view (overview, places, ages, births, marriages, children, divorce). Easy-to-read infographics and summary charts will appear:

analyze your family tree

The Family Statistics tool will tell you:

  • the most common places of birth, death, and residence
  • most common surnames and male/female first names
  • average life expectancy for men and women
  • longest-lived and shortest-lived ancestors
  • oldest/youngest living relatives on tree
  • most common birth month, and how many people were born in each month
  • number of marriages, and the longest and shortest marriages
  • age at first marriage and who was the youngest/oldest when they married
  • the biggest age differences in a couple
  • total number of divorces, as well as the average age (and oldest/youngest) age at divorce, and the longest marriage ending in divorce
  • average number of children per family and people with the most children
  • the youngest/oldest age when having a child
  • the average and biggest/smallest age difference between oldest and youngest children

You can run these statistics for all your trees together or individually. Here are some of the different ways to use the data:

For your research: Watch for possible errors or omissions on your family tree. Do you really have a relative who lived to be 112 years old, or did someone neglect to enter a death date?

For fun: Watch for interesting things to share in a trivia game or quiz at your next family reunion. You might even consider creating a “Hall of Fame” for that great-grandfather who lived to be 103, or that great-aunt who had 14 children. (Remember, don’t embarrass anyone by sharing sensitive or confidential information about living relatives or the recently-deceased.)

For understanding: Do certain patterns tend to run in your family, such as having children at a younger or older age?

For family health history: Longevity–age at death–is a measure in Family Statistics that relates to your family health history. You can’t look at cause of death with this tool, but click here to read about a clever way to look at causes of death in your family.

analyze your family treeMyHeritage is known for the technology tools on its site, such as its new Collection Catalog, the Discoveries pages, its DNA matching (click here to upload your raw data for FREE!), automatic record matching in unindexed content such as books, and automatic name translation in the search function.

Get up to speed on what MyHeritage has to offer in our totally-affordable MyHeritage Quick Guide, newly updated for 2017! Also check out our brand new quick guide, Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites Quick Guide, which compares MyHeritage to what you’ll find on Ancestry, FamilySearch and Findmypast. Each has fantastic features you’ll want to know about!

genealogy giants quick reference guide cheat sheet

Episode 204

The Genealogy Gems Podcast

Episode #204

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Canadian expert Dave Obee shares the story of the Canadian home children tips on newspaper research. Also in this episode:

New site features at MyHeritage, including improved DNA ethnicity analysis (it’s free?upload your DNA!);

An excerpt from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Fannie Flagg about The Whole Town’s Talking?and a great summer reading idea;

A detailed get-started guide to British Isles research: Terminology and census/civil BMD record tips from Kate Eakman at Legacy Tree Genealogists

Why so many weddings are traditionally held in June.

Download the show notes

NEWS: DNA AND CATALOG UPDATES AT MYHERITAGE

MyHeritage.com: DNA ethnicity estimate updates and new collection Catalog

View an example of the new ethnicity analysis presentation here: https://vimeo.com/218348730/51174e0b49

3 top uses for the new MyHeritage catalog (with additional details and commentary)

MyHeritage Quick Reference Guide (Newly-updated in 2017)

 

Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites. This brand new, comprehensive guide helps you answer the question, “Which genealogy websites should I use?”

MAILBOX: BOOK CLUB COMMENTS

Visit the book club here.

Companion video recommendations:

Genealogy Journey: Running Away to Home video (click here to see the book)

You Came and Saved Us” video with author Chris Cleave, Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Alan Cumming on Who Do You Think You Are? Episode summary

Not My Father’s Son  by Alan Cumming

For more information: www.nwgc.org

 

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. In the works: soon RootsMagic will be fully integrated with Ancestry.com, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your Ancestry.com trees and search records on the site.

Learn more or sign up for Backblaze here.

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at http://www.backblaze.com/.

INTERVIEW: DAVE OBEE

Continuing our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!

Dave Obee is an internationally-renowned Canadian journalist, historian and genealogist. Dave is a columnist for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today (formerly Family Chronicle). Dave has also written about family history for Canada’s History and Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom.

Put Dave’s books on your shelf – you can get them here.

Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide

Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census

Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records

Making the News: A Times Columnist Look at 150 Years of History

Canada research tips:

Look in newspapers for ship crossings, notable people sailing, approximate numbers of passengers etc.

Don’t just rely on search engines for digitized newspapers. Browse the papers where you find some hits.

Canada Home Children: Watch and Learn

 

Forgotten, an award-winning documentary (watch the trailer here)

Childhood Lost: The Story of Canada’s Home Children documentary (watch it on YouTube)

 

LEGACY TREE GEM: ENGLISH PARISH RECORDS

Visit Legacy Tree Genealogists: http://www.legacytree.com/genealogygems

Read a companion blog post on English parish records, with several image examples and links to the resources Kate Eakman recommends.

Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GG100, valid through July 31st, 2017.

GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: FANNIE FLAGG INTERVIEW

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

Genealogy Gems Premium website members may hear this entire conversation in the upcoming Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #148.

BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users

LINK IMAGE TO: http://lisalouisecooke.com/get-app/

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus audio content for this episode comes from Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, in honor of International Archives Day on June 9. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users

 

Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with Animoto.com. You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Animoto.com.

 

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.

 

PROFILE AMERICA: June Weddings

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
Check out this new episode!

SSDI Search – How to Find Hard to Find Ancestors

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) search is not necessarily as straight forward as you might think. We’re going to explore what SSDI records are, their range of availability, and how they compare across the Genealogy Giants records websites. 

SSDI Search

If you’ve been dabbling in genealogy research for a while, then you are very likely familiar with the Social Security Death Index, more commonly referred to as the SSDI. But even experienced researchers have questions, like the one that Marti sent me recently:

From Marti in Texas:

Hi Lisa!!

Thank you so much for all your helpful resources on your website!! I just listened to the SSDI Working Backwards podcast episode (Family History: Genealogy Made Easy episode 3) and my grandparents passed away in 2012 and 2014. Do you know when the last time the index has been updated, I cannot locate them.

Thank you so much!!

This two-fold question is a good one. While many genealogical record sets have privacy laws that dramatically restrict more recent records from being available, the SSDI is not one of them. But even if the records are available, there may still be times when we have trouble locating our relatives.

Whenever you run into a road block finding ancestors in a record collection, do what good detectives do, and go back to the beginning. In this case, let’s learn more about the collection itself.

Social Security Death Index Background

The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt. By 1937, more than 30 million Americans had registered. Today, the Death Master File from the Social Security Administration contains around 90 million records of deaths and they are publicly available online.

Some data goes as far back as 1937, but most of the information included in the SSDI dates from 1962. This is because the Social Security Administration began to use a computer database for processing requests for benefits in 1962. Some of the earlier records back to 1937 have not been added.

It’s important to know that the SSDI does not have a death record for everyone. It’s also very possible that you may occasionally find an error here and there if something was reported incorrectly. But don’t let that stop you from tapping into this major resource! It’s a wonderful alternative source for finding people who were counted in the 1890 census (which was unfortunately mostly destroyed) because they may still appear in the SSDI. Also, those who were born before vital records registration in their home state began, may also show up. Remember, working folks just had to live past 1937 to have been possibly included. That means some people could have been born sometime in the late 1800s.

Now that we have a handle on the history of the SSDI, let’s look at who has it and how recent their records are.

Where to Find the SSDI

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is available on all of the ‘big 4’ genealogy records websites, which we here at Genealogy Gems refer to as the Genealogy Giants.” The links below will take you directly to the SSDI search page for each.

  • FamilySearch
    (Current as of February 28, 2014)
  • Ancestry
    (1935-2014)
  • MyHeritage
    (It is not stated how current the database is, but a search for 2014 did retrieve results)
  • Findmypast
    (No dates or citation provided, but a search for people who died in 2014 did retrieve results)

In Marti’s case, she will want to search every single one of these websites for her ancestors. The good news is that they all appear to be up-to-date, but that doesn’t mean they are all exactly the same. The same collection of genealogy records can appear differently from site to site for a number of reasons such as accidental omissions, variations in the power of their search engine, differences between indexers and scanners, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) inaccuracies. These may or may not affect the SSDI, but the point is that you can’t go wrong searching each one of the Genealogy Giants just in case. And since SSDI search can be conducted for free at all of the Genealogy Giants, it doesn’t cost you anything to do so.

A quick way to find all of the websites that include the SSDI is to Google SSDI genealogy. Here’s a link to the results.

SSDI Search Head-to-Head Comparison

Genealogy Giants quick reference guide cheat sheet Big 4Another excellent reason to search the SSDI on multiple websites is that each website displays the information a little differently. And as you can see from the chart below, when it comes to the Genealogy Giants, there are definitely differences.

SSDI Search Comparison
It’s interesting to note that Ancestry is the only website that provides information about the year that the Social Security number was issued. It isn’t exact, but it’s more than the others offered in my search for Alfred H. Sporan.
 SSDI search results
genealogy giants quick reference guide cheat sheet

The differences between the 4 major websites can be sometimes subtle or quite dramatic. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, as well as free versus subscription offerings, is key to successful research that is both efficient and cost effective.

The quick reference guide Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites is a must-have for anyone serious about getting the most out of free and paid subscriptions.

The author of this 4-page full color cheat sheet, Sunny Morton, is Contributing Editor here at Genealogy Gems, and she’s packed this guide with everything you would ever want to know, and many things you probably didn’t know that you needed to know. You can pick up your copy here in our store.

SSDI Search and Beyond

There is another database at Ancestry that is worth keeping your eye on. It’s called the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index and it shouldn’t be missed! Currently this covers 1936-2007, but who knows, they may update it in the future. It includes even more information. It was first released in 2015. Read more about it here at Genealogy Gems.

Gems: Share Your SSDI Search Experience!

I invite you to take a moment to share your SSDI search experience in the comments below.

Have you had any surprises?

Did you find a difference between the records found at different websites?

We want to hear your story, because we all benefit from each other’s experiences.

Discoveries Pages from MyHeritage

Discoveries pages from MyHeritage make finding matches easier than ever. MyHeritage is known throughout the industry for it’s matching technologies, and they have just gotten even better with this great new user interface.

MyHeritage has just announced their new Discoveries pages. The Discoveries pages provide a unified experience for all matches, organizing them into two main pages: Matches by People and Matches by Source. Now, you can look at all the matches that were found for a particular individual in your family tree, all matches found in a particular collection of historical records, or a matching family tree. Whatever you choose to use, the new pages combine Smart Matches (matches with trees) and Record Matches (matches with records) into the same unified and consistent interface.

MyHeritage also displays the new information that each match provides, and matches are arranged by the value that they add to your family tree. Those matches that add the most value are listed first. This saves you time and allows you to focus on the most valuable matches. You can easily save all new and improved information to your family tree, as well.

The new Discoveries pages are easier to use, more intuitive, and much faster than the previous layout. Learn even more about the Discoveries pages in the official blog post, here.

Don’t Miss a Thing

Sign up for our free Genealogy Gems weekly newsletter and don’t miss a thing. We give you the heads-up on new technology, research techniques, and more.

MyHeritage DNA Matching – What I Like About It

MyHeritage DNA is new on the scene of genetic genealogy. With the recent launch of their DNA Matching, I decided to give it a test drive for you. I have now uploaded my test results from another company. Follow along as I share what I like about the MyHeritage DNA site…maybe it is just what you’ve been looking for!

MyHeritage DNA matching

By James Tourtellotte, photo editor of CBP Today[1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There is no question that the launch of MyHeritage DNA fully into the genetic genealogy market is exciting news. We absolutely need someone to challenge AncestryDNA. Competition is good.

In September, MyHeritage began to provide matching results for individuals who had uploaded their test results from another company to their site. As of today, uploading your DNA test results to MyHeritage DNA is still free, so if you have been thinking about it, you may want to take advantage sooner rather than later. As expected, the matches are only as good as the depth of the database, and it is early in the game. Their DNA database is small, but even now we can get an idea of what to expect from MyHeritage as they take their first steps into genetic genealogy.

One of the most exciting elements of their November 7, 2016 announcement is their development of a Founder Population project where they have hand-picked individuals to represent their reference population for calculating ethnicity. They plan to launch with 25 population groups, but will likely increase to 100 in a fairly short amount of time. This is a far more advanced ethnicity report than is currently offered anywhere else.

Transferring Your DNA Results to MyHeritage DNA

After you have figured out how to download your raw data from your testing company (see my instructions here: http://www.yourdnaguide.com/transferring), and add it to MyHeritage (you have to add a family tree to MyHeritage to do this), you will need to wait the requisite time to process.  Then, you will receive an email notice that you have new DNA matches:

MyHeritage dna match alert

Email notice from MyHeritage regarding DNA matches.

You can access DNA matches when you log on to the site: under Discoveries, click DNA Matches (as shown below).

myheritage-dna-screenshot

My Favorite Features of MyHeritage DNA

As for my favorite features, I like how they list all the possible relationships that make sense between you and your match, taking into account multiple factors like your age, gender, and your genetics instead of a simple, generic range like 2nd-4th cousins. The accompanying chart, which visually shows you all possible relationships, is also very helpful. You can access the chart by clicking on the little question mark icon next to the relationship suggestions.

I like that these suggestions remind us that our genetic relationships have different genealogical interpretations. Meaning that genetically, a 2nd-cousin-once-removed, a first-cousin-twice-removed, and a second-cousin, all fall within a similar genetic range and it is impossible to determine your exact relationship based on the genetics alone.

myheritage-dna-screenshot-relationship-details

I also like how MyHeritage offers all three genetic descriptors of your relationship:

  • total amount of shared DNA
  • how many segments are shared
  • the size of the longest piece of shared DNA.

While this is more of an intermediate to advanced piece to your results, it can be important as your relationship analysis becomes more involved.

Addressing a Concern of Genetic Genealogists

MyHeritage makes a unique claim in their press release about their matching feature addressing a main concern genetic genealogists have: the lack of pedigree information provided by their matches. MyHeritage claims that 95% of their DNA samples have pedigrees attached. That is remarkable! However, from my own quick calculation of my matches, the number with pedigrees is more like 60%.

They also indicated that they will soon be doing a bit of pedigree-analysis for you by providing a list of shared surnames and locations between you and your match. This will be based on the pedigrees you have both submitted and will certainly be a welcome addition.

According to their November 9th Q and A, MyHeritage hasn’t decided yet if the ethnicity features will be available to those who only transfer, and they hint at many more features they have in the works that may only be offered to those who purchase their test.

In short, the MyHeritage DNA site is currently functioning much like the top three genetic genealogy sites (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) and like the free tool Gedmatch: it offers a meeting place for those who have been tested at one company to meet those who have tested at another.

More on DNA Testing and Genealogy

Super DNA quick guide bundleDNA testing is an incredible tool for genealogists. With several different types of tests and testing companies, hundreds of matches, and lots of technical jargon, it can be challenging to make sense of it all. My DNA Quick Guides to help you pick the right test, understand your results, and take the next steps with your matches. These guides can be purchased in printed format or digital downloads.

 

Limited time low introductory priced DNA test: Uncover Ethnic Origins with Global DNA Testing at MyHeritage

MyHeritage joins the future of genealogy with the announcement of their new Autosomal DNA testing and services. Learn more about MyHeritage DNA and how they compare to other DNA testing companies. Their low introductory price may not last long!

DNA testing at MyHeritage

MyHeritage has big news this week. They have just launched MyHeritage DNA, their global integrated genetic testing service. MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet says,

“DNA testing is the future of family history. We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”

 

The MyHeritage DNA website has two main features. The ethnicity report maps the user’s ethnic and geographic origins. This report shows the percentage of the user’s DNA that comes from different populations around the world. Currently, the MyHeritage database includes 25 ethnicities, but will improve with time due to a special project called Founder Population. The Founder Population project is the largest of its kind ever conducted. MyHeritage says of the project:

“More than 5,000 participants have been handpicked for the project from its 85 million members. They were chosen by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services.”

The second feature called DNA Matches, is used for finding relatives. Additional features are being planned for the future.

The Kit for DNA Testing at MyHeritage

Cheek swab for DNA testing at MyHeritageMyHeritage DNA offers a home-testing kit that is simple to use and affordable to the masses. The kit includes a cheek swab and there is no need for blood or saliva. The cheek swab sample is then mailed to the MyHeritage DNA lab. Once the results have been processed, the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website.

According to MyHeritage DNA, test results take on average 3 to 4 weeks, compared to Ancestry sometimes taking between 6 to 8 weeks.

MyHeritage DNA kits are available for the limited time introductory price of $79, plus shipping and handling.

MyHeritage Cheat SheetYou may feel intimidated about starting your own family tree and navigating on MyHeritage. Genealogy Gems Editor, Sunny Morton, has authored MyHeritage.com Cheat SheetThis guide will help you use MyHeritage.com to its full potential! You’ll learn how to create a family website on MyHeritage, build your family tree, research records and other’s trees, get the most from the built in search tools, quickly navigate the website, and choose the best membership plan (free or paid) for your needs.

The MyHeritage Cheat Sheet is available in a 8.5 x 11 full-color physical guide that can be mailed to you, or as a digital download.

And, for a limited time, you can purchase the MyHeritage Cheat Sheets for 30% off using the code: SAVE30MH. (Offer ends November 30, 2016)

More on Using DNA for Genealogy

To learn even more about using DNA testing for genealogy, enjoy the collection of DNA guides by Diahan Southard. You might also check out our Premium Member video titled “Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy,” in which Diahan walks you through the answers to three important DNA questions. Watch the preview below. Not a Premium Member yet? Join today!

Family Maps and Migration Routes Traced with New Tech Tools

family maps and migration routes are easyFamily maps and migration routes can sometimes uncover new record finds and answer brick wall questions. It’s fast and simple to use these free tech tools to map your family’s history! I used them to track my ancestors as they trekked from the eastern seaboard to the Midwestern United States and found some fantastic leads!

There are two online treasures I have just discovered. FamilySearch and MyHeritage family trees can now be mapped with some neat interactive tools. MyHeritage just launched their PedigreeMap saying it is an “innovative way to view your family history,” and I think they are right. I have used migration maps to help me overcome brick walls and questions in my research for years. Using these free online tools have made it really fun and not difficult at all.

Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes at MyHeritage

PedigreeMap is free for all MyHeritage users. To access it, log on or create a MyHeritage account. If you are new to MyHeritage, you will be prompted to begin creating your free family tree when you click Sign up at the top right corner of their homepage.

Once you have created your family tree, find it by clicking Family Tree and choosing Manage trees from the pull-down menu.

family maps at myheritage

To use the PedigreeMap feature, choose your family tree from the list and then click on Apps and choose PedigreeMap from the pull-down menu.

FamilyMaps_2

You will be able to see a map of the entire world in which your ancestors lives are plotted. From my map below, I can see the large concentration in the eastern half of the United States, but also the location of my ancestors from Europe.

Not only are genealogical events like births, marriages, and deaths plotted on your map, but if you put in a location of a picture, it will plot that too. You will notice, on the left-hand side there is a list of all the places that appear in your family tree. The numbers on the list match up to the number of each place in your family tree.

FamilyMaps_3

You can zoom in or zoom out, but my favorite part is clicking a location in the list to the left. For example, if I click on Marion, Linn, another list pops up on the right. This list shows me what events took place in Marion, Linn County, Iowa.

FamilyMaps_4

Additionally, I can see major roads, rivers, and hills. I can even click on the satellite view to see the street where my great-grandparents were married!

There are many more wonderful tools on PedigreeMap that you will want to check out. To learn more about all the unique features, read their article here.

Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes with FamilySearch

RootsMapper has been around awhile and is an interactive mapping website that works with FamilySearch. As you know, FamilySearch allows users to create a family tree online and search all their records for free. Like PedigreeMap, you will need to create your free account and family tree at FamilySearch. Then, go to the FamilySearch Apps page and click on RootsMapper. Now, click Get Started.

Family maps at RootsMapper

When you are redirected to the RootsMapper homepage, click Login to begin mapping. You will use your FamilySearch username and password. By clicking Accept, you give permission for RootsMapper to use your FamilySearch tree data.

The interactive map has various features. I particularly like the lines showing both the migration of my paternal line and my maternal line.

FamilyMaps_6

Did you notice my paternal line goes right through modern day West Virginia? Several years ago, I had “lost” my Walls family line. By plotting their known whereabouts on a map and connecting the dots, I could see possible migration routes. In fact, during that time frame, they likely took nothing but trails into Monongalia, Virginia. I did a search for records along this path and was surprised to find my fifth great grandfather on a tax roll for Virginia in 1790!

You can play around with the settings and map just one generation, five generations, or even ten generations. The options allow for pins, migration lines, changing the root person you are charting and much, much more.

It really is amazing how innovative genealogy research is today. The Genealogy Gems team delights in sharing new tech tools and tips to help you in your genealogy goals. Why not try out one of these family map and migration route tools today and share with us your thoughts? Leave a comment below!

More Gems on Mapping and Migration Routesfamily maps and migration routes with old maps

Mapping U.S. Migration Patterns

5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps (Premium Member Video)

3 Sources for Historic Maps That May Surprise You

The Power and Preservation of Oral History

tribal quest oral historyHow can you preserve a family’s history when it exists only in the memories of tribal storytellers? Visit the tribe and capture its oral history, as MyHeritage is doing with its Tribal Quest initiative.

MyHeritage recently announced a new global initiative to record and preserve the family histories of tribal people living in remote locations around the world.

Their first project is in Namibia. Next they plan to move on to Papua New Guinea. Check it out in this brief video:

MyHeritage is even recruiting volunteers who want to travel to these places and help out. You can learn more at TribalQuest.org.

FamilySearch published an article a few years ago about similar work they’ve done in several African nations. “Most African tribes have a designated ‘storyteller’ who is responsible to memorize the tribe’s oral traditions, including names of ancestors going back six to thirty generations,” it says. “FamilySearch works with chiefs and local volunteers to visit these storytellers and record the information they have been charged to remember in their heads. Sometimes the interview is audio or video recorded.” FamilySearch enters what they learn into a GEDCOM (the universal family tree file format) and put it on FamilySearch.org for others to use.

How far have YOU gone to capture your family’s oral history? Probably not to a remote tribal home! Why not use the resources below to help you with your next oral history project?

More Oral History Gems

ancestors have so much to say oral historyRecord and Share Oral History with Free MyHeritage App

Easy Family History Writing Project: Publish a Q&A (Oral History)

Premium Podcast 134: Lisa’s Tips for Recording Oral History Interviews on Your Mobile Device (Genealogy Gems Premium website subscription required)

 

 

MyHeritage Book Matching: Automated Alerts for Ancestor Names

myheritage book matching iconA new search technology is here: MyHeritage Book Matching automates the process of connecting digital book content to users’ family trees.

It used to be that our only option for finding our relatives mentioned in old family histories, county histories and other books was pretty slow. We’d head to a library, thumb through indexes and skim through likely-looking books, hoping we’d spot a familiar surname.

Google Books, the Internet Archive, FamilySearch’s Digital Books and other major digital archives have reduced the number of books we have to page through manually. Now there’s one more tool out there for digital book searching: MyHeritage Book Matching.

This new technology “automatically finds matches for people in your family tree on MyHeritage in [their] vast collection of 450,000 digitized historical books,” says a MyHeritage press release. That’s 91 million pages—and counting, because they have 50 curators out there aiming to add hundreds of millions of pages of digitized books each year. Right now they just have English-language books but they’re working to expand that.

MyHeritage Book Matching uses what they call “full semantic text analysis” to compare digital book content with the people in your family trees. In everyday terms, it means they’re matching both the names and locations on users’ family trees with book content.

The nice thing about this technology is that it’s automated. Like the main Record Matching and Newspaper Matching features on MyHeritage, the site constantly combs new content and alerts users when possibilities are found. It’s analogous to having Google Alerts for books that are digitized on MyHeritage. (If you don’t know about Google Alerts, the automated Google searching you can set up for your genealogy, click here to learn more.)

So far on my MyHeritage tree, I’ve had 6 matches from Book Matching. All appear relevant, though I haven’t dug into them to confirm. My favorite is one that mentions an ancestor and all her siblings as charter members of the Mt. Vernon Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Missouri:myheritage book matching 2

What a great lead–I could jump on this to look for those church records and see what else they can tell me about the Weedin family. I found a picture of another ancestor in a church biographical collection; a family history book I didn’t have; and another ancestor’s name in a state genealogical magazine.

Do you have to have a paid subscription at MyHeritage to use these? Yes and no. Book Matches are generated automatically for any family tree built on the website or imported into it. But a data subscription, which runs about $10 a month, is required to actually view your Book Matches. Click here to learn more about subscribing to MyHeritage, which is a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

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MyHeritage Search Connect – A New Way to Meet Relatives

myheritage search connectMyHeritage.com has created a unique new database that allows you to find others who have searched for the same relatives you’re trying to find.

Genealogy companies are getting smarter about figuring out how to use the data that’s created when people use their sites. One example is the newest smart-searching feature from MyHeritage Search Connect ™.

For several years, MyHeritage has kept track of who is searching for what ancestors. Now MyHeritage has turned their enormous archive of this information into a searchable database, with 30 million entries focused specifically on rare surnames. The database will continue to be updated weekly.

Now when you search in MyHeritage, results from  Search Connect ™ will appear in your search results. Subscribers will be able to click on those results and connect with other MyHeritage users interested in that surname. According to a company press release, “As well as connect with other MyHeritage members, you can also view the full data of their search (such as dates, places, relatives and more), as well as similar searches they’ve made.” This can help you determine whether you are indeed searching the same branch of a family.

An initial search in MyHeritage Search Connect on a rare surname in my husband’s family–O’Hotnicky–brings up results that could keep me busy for a while! We’ve never connected with overseas relatives, and many of the results shown are for MyHeritage trees created by members outside the U.S. I was pleased to see that MyHeritage’s Global Name Translation tool (released earlier this year) translated the O’Hotnicky name correctly into Eastern European spellings.

PRIVACY TIP: If you’re a MyHeritage user, you can opt out of having your searches (past, present and future) included in the database. According to MyHeritage, “To do that, log into your family site and click on your name in the upper right-hand side of the screen. Select ‘My Privacy’. Click on ‘My member preferences’ on the left and uncheck ‘Enable Search Connect™’.”

We are pleased to partner with MyHeritage, a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

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