Sunday, June 25, 2017

All quiet in Georgia and Trello

I’ve been a bit quiet of late. Besides Legacy  keeping my very busy I am also working on two complex DNA cases. Both are non paternity events (NPEs) requiring a lot of my time and brain power. These are client cases so I am starting completely from scratch.  One is based in West Virginia and the other is based in California, two places where I haven’t done much research before.  This isn’t a bad thing though. Learning what records these two states and their counties have has been interesting and I will be tucking all of the information away so that I can use it again.

My new toy is Trello. I had played around with it a bit but until I watched Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists by Lisa Alzo I didn’t understand how useful it could be.  Now that I am using it, I love it.  There is also a Trello for Genealogy and Family History Facebook Group that you join.

I have four boards:

  • Ancestoring — My business stuff, the blog, lecture/workshop dates, articles that I am writing, client projects
  • Genealogy — My personal genealogy
  • Legacy — My job at Legacy
  • Household — Yes, I actually have a life outside of genealogy

All of my boards are all set up the same way:

  • To Do
  • In Progress
  • Done
  • Ideas

For now I am keeping it as simple as possible but I will probably end up expanding it a bit in the future. When I start up Google Chrome in the morning four pages automatically load.  Trello is one of them.  It is always in the background so that I can switch to it quickly.  You can even have collaborative boards with other researchers.  I haven’t done this yet but this would be great for brick wall research. I need all the help I can get with staying organized.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

GEDmatch tip

After you have done your "one to many" comparison on GEDmatch, you can copy and paste the information into MS Word. Change the page orientation to Landscape, set the margins to 0.25 all the way around and set the font to Calibri 10. These settings will make everything format correctly and be readable but you can certainly tweak. If you notice, the check boxes are visible AND usable. This makes a great worksheet to keep track of who you have contacted and which testers you can link to a most recent common ancestor (MRCA).

In the below example I have blanked out the details for privacy. If there is a check mark I know exactly who that person is and how they fit in. I did this screenshot as an example for the blog but my real one is also color coded. If I have contacted someone but I haven't heard back yet, I color code that line red. That keeps me from accidentally emailing the same person more than once.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kitty Cooper is my hero today

Kitty Cooper has designed an Ancestor Chromosome Mapper tool. It has actually been around for a long time but every time I looked at it I was a little intimated so I ignored it. Today I decided to bite the bullet and generate a chromosome map for my family. I pulled data from GEDmatch.  I did a “One to Many” comparison and then check marked the boxes of the people that I know who the most recent common ancestor (MCRA) is.  I then downloaded the segment info into a CSV file.  GEDmatch includes not only the segment data for your matches but also how all of your matches match each other so I deleted the rows below my matches.  I then manipulated the columns per Kitty’s instructions and uploaded the file.  MAGIC!  This is a very limited map that only includes a few of my matches but now that I know how this works I can start adding more data into my master spreadsheet.


But that’s not all Kitty is helping me with today.  I haven’t had the time to work with putting my GEDmatch matches into tagged groups and that is what I am doing now thanks to Kitty’s GEDmatch Tag Groups blog post.

You can use Kitty’s Ancestor Chromosome Mapper free of charge but please consider sending her a donation for all of her hard work. There is a link at the bottom of her page that has instructions on how you can do that.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Never give up!

There is a particular chancery court in Mississippi that gives me fits. Trying to get anything from them is like pulling teeth. Formal requests by letter are ignored. If you call them on the phone with the EXACT details they don’t have the time to pull it. I have been fighting with them for years.  Funny thing is, the circuit court in the very same county is one of the best ones to work with. Yesterday I got a package in the mail from the chancery court.  They sent me divorce records I requested almost two years ago. I honestly think they sent them just to aggravate me but no matter, I will take them.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DNA groups on Facebook

There are a couple of unscrupulous DNA groups on Facebook that claim to help adoptees find their birth families. The “searchers” misrepresent themselves as experts when they are not and they are asking for money to “help” with your searches. If you are an adoptee looking for your birth family, or you are a birth family member looking for the adoptee, the group you need to join is Search Squad. The “Search Angels” volunteer their time and expertise and they are vetted by the administrators.  I am one of those Search Angels and I am appalled at what I am seeing in some other groups. Search Squad is an sister group to CeCe Moore’s DNA Detectives group.

Here is the description of the DNA Detectives group:

“The DNA Detectives group is focused on bringing together volunteers with genetic genealogy and searching experience with those seeking biological family -- adoptees, foundlings, donor-conceived individuals, unknown paternity and all other types of unknown parentage cases, near or far. This group is for members helping members and self-education.”

And here is some information from Search Squad pinned post:

“We are a group of VOLUNTEER Search Angels. We called this group Search Squad for a reason - we work together as a team and amazing things happen. Cases are not assigned - this group is truly a squad and we work together on cases. Each volunteer has their own set of skills and databases and chooses posts they think they can help with...then finds and posts information that other volunteers can work from when they are here. With that being said, there can also be people here who are not helpful and may even be harmful. Be cautious when communicating in private with any individual, trust your instincts. If you keep your search in the open on this group, we can monitor and jump in if something seems off. If you have concerns, please let an admin know. We conduct searches on your post. We do not use email, phone calls, or texting to work your search, we work as a TEAM. You may be contacted by an “Authorized Angel” in a PM with questions or sensitive information. Those “Authorized Angels” can be found in the files section, and are also linked in your “welcome” post after your post is approved.”

DNA Detectives is more for the do-it-yourselfer and for people wanting to learn more about DNA strategies.  There are quite a few expert genetic genealogists that monitor and contribute to this group so it is a great learning environment.

Search Squad is more for the person that does not have much experience with traditional genealogy or genetic genealogy and needs help with their search.

If you stick to these two groups you will not go wrong. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Document vs. record group, Part II

I received several emails asking for another example of a document vs. a record group.  You can see the original post HERE.

Let’s say you are looking for a marriage that occurred in Marion County, Mississippi in 1825. What kind of background information would you want to know?

  • What were the laws governing marriages in Mississippi in 1825
  • Which court handled marriages
  • How did that court organize their marriage records (loose papers, registers, books, separate books for bonds vs. licenses vs. certificates, etc.) and did the organizational system change over the years
  • Is there any records loss
  • Are you looking at the original records or are you looking at official abstracts/indexes created by the clerk at a later date
  • Can you identify different clerks and analyze their style during the time period you are interested in

Here are two books that discuss analyzing the record group as a whole when you do your analysis of the actual document:

Anderson, Robert Charles. Elements of Genealogical Analysis. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014.

Osborn, Helen. Genealogy: Essential Research Methods. Ramsbury, Eng.: Robert Hale, 2012.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Document vs. record group

In Focus on the Details I mentioned putting a document in the context of the entire record set to which it belongs. I wanted to expand on that. 

Let’s say you are looking at the 1850 census and you see your family of interest.  You extract the information you need and you create your source citation.  Do you take the time to learn more about the 1850 census itself?

The United States Census Bureau is a good place to start.  They have a large History section on their webpage. If you drill down a bit you will see a page for Census Instructions and then you can pull up the Instructions for 1850.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration also has a Census Records page.

A must have book for your reference library is:

Hinckley, Kathleen W. Your Guide to the Federal Census. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002.

I also like:

Fulton, Lindsey. "The Portable Genealogist: Using the Federal Census: 1790-1840." Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

Fulton, Lindsey. "The Portable Genealogist: Using the Federal Census: 1850-1940." Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

Understanding the background information for the entire record group will help you interpret the data you find on a document within that set correctly. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Day 6–Focus on the details

This method goes along with Gather All Clues. Now you need to focus on the details of each clue you have gathered. Sherlock was very detail oriented. He wanted to know who, what, when, where and why for every clue. When you are looking a document, you will understand it better if you answer these questions:

"Who created this document?"
"Why was the document created?"
"When was the document created?" (not only the date but put the document in context of the entire record set and in context of what was going on at that place and time)
"Who are all of these other people mentioned?" (how do they relate to each other)
"Are there other documents that could shed light on this one?"

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” [Holmes to client Miss Mary Sutherland, "A Case of Identity"]

“It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles." [Holmes to client Mrs. St. Clair, "The Man with the Twisted Lip"]