Friday, March 15, 2019

Genies Meeting Monday with Lots of News

Our regular monthly Genies meeting is back to 3rd Mondays.  Next Monday, March 18 is our meeting day and am I ever full of things to talk about.

The RootsTech Conference is always filled with company announcements and they make the news.  On Monday Linda Q. and I will bring our syllabus handouts for your perusal and will talk about our favorite classes and tips.  Links to the syllabus and the videos are here:

The biggest news from RootsTech surrounds the DNA tools from Ancestry and MyHeritage that I wrote about in the last blogpost.  If you are really interested, don’t miss two videos made by Blaine Bettinger.  His blogpost with the videos is:

One surprising, but understandable, comment Blaine made is that the Ancestry ThruLines tool is more helpful to people with smaller trees than people who have been researching for years.  This tool hypothesizes possible ancestors through 5th great-grandparents based on DNA matches and other people’s trees.  If your tree is too small, there won’t be enough to go on and you may not have any ThruLines.

Depending on interest, we will walk through some of these DNA tools in the later part of the meeting.  Even if you are not using MyHeritage yet, you will learn about some differences between Ancestry Tools and MyHeritage tools. 

If there is time, I would like to make the case for keeping our trees in the Family Search collaborative Family Tree.  Some people underestimate the value of one big tree.  I won’t spill everything here but this is worth some discussion.

Elizabeth and I and perhaps others will be at the WGS Seminar on Saturday and surely, we will be talking about Cyndi Ingles and her technical tips on Monday.

In other news…

Thomas MacEntee writes: “I always download [records] to my computer RIGHT AWAY. Ancestry record sets have a limited license and can (and have) expired in the past. See the article Why You Should Download Your Files From Ancestry and Every Other Website”:

Another favorite of mine is Lisa Louise Cooke.  She publishes about little used records.  Try this: “School Yourself: 10 Ways to Find School Records for Genealogy” and “6 Best School Records for Genealogy”

And my newest BFF’s Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer gave a talk “Getting Organized One Paper at a Time”.  They published a blogpost with links and a podcast RLP34 here:  The 4-page handout is at the Tucson Family History Fair link., I love this mother-daughter team.  This week their podcast RLP35 is about US Church Records with part 2 next week.

I can’t stop talking.  It’s just because there are so many great resources available for genealogists.  Many are online and many are free.

Bring your own suggestions and tips and join us for genealogy conversation this Monday at 1:00.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Cyndi's Seminar, RootsTech, DNA Announcements

Whatcom Genealogical Society has been busy planning great programs for you.  The big question is whether you have registered for their Spring Seminar.  It is not too late but you have to do it at the meeting on Monday.  While you are at it, the individual membership is only $15.

March 16 – Whatcom Genealogical Society Seminar featuring Professional Genealogist Cyndi Ingle, of “Cyndi’s List” fame.

Bring your checks to the meeting this Monday. The lunch count will be closed after Monday. 

Registration fee: $40 members / $45 non-members Information and registration form are here.

WGS March 11 monthly meeting  – “Ins and Outs of Indexes: Keys to Unlock Probates, Deeds and More” with Mary Kircher Roddy. We will also enjoy the 50th Anniversary cake we missed out on last month!  

Be there or be square!  Uh, oh, I dated myself. 

RootsTech is over for this year unless you plan to go to RootsTech London in the fall.  Thomas McEntee has put together all the links in one place.  Go here  All links go to free material.

Note that the first link is the RootsTech Archive which has the live-streamed video for the last few years.  In 2018 Scott Hamilton was my favorite keynoter. 

There is also a link to the 250 syllabi and the RootsTech Sessions link is to the 2019 live-streamed videos.

At our next Genies meeting on March 18 Linda Q. and I will be talking about RootsTech and our favorite sessions this year.  Let it be noted that she went in person to the actual conference and I stayed home in my bunny slippers.  We both had a great time.

RootsTech is the event where the biggest DNA and genealogy companies reveal product announcements. 

MyHeritage rolled out their Theory of Family Relativity.  It’s found under the DNA/Matches tab at  They have created theories of how your matches are related to you using your tree, Family Search tree, Geni, and other private and public trees at MyHeritage.  They may have a clear easy-to-read tree waiting for you if your tree goes back 3-4 or more generations.  My poor Croatians didn’t get any theories here.  Oh, well.

Ancestry rolled several big changes.  They have a new CEO and I thought finally were responding to customers requests.

When I saw ThruLines I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  ThruLines are found on the DNA home page on the right where Circles used to be. They too use your DNA to find more common ancestors and show DNA matches to that ancestor all in one place.  They even mine the private searchable trees to find connections.  It’s totally amazing but off to a bumpy start.  

I have to emphasize again and again that both ThruLines and Theories are only clues.  Remember they come from other people’s trees and we don’t know if those trees are sourced or copied.  Most of the complaints so far are about Ancestry and MyHeritage suggesting ancestors that people have already proven are not theirs.  And there seem to be a lot of errors around adoptions.  Be careful and do your own research.  Beware! Beware! Beware!

Roberta Estes is always a great source for new technology.  Detailed and thorough, just look for what you need.

Ancestry’s Disappearing ThruLines (what to do if your ThruLines disappeared) here: Mine disappeared and this was a lifesaver.

Ancestry also has two beta features which you can sign up for.  MyTreeTags (for your tree not DNA) and New and Improved DNA Matches (a new layout that is intended to replace Chrome extensions and is not compatible with the extensions). 

As I said, they rolled out a lot of changes and it was rocky, but the new features are truly amazing.

Northwest Genealogy Conference is coming around again.  Featuring Thomas MacEntee, Angie Bush (DNA), and Michael Strauss.  August 14-17, 2019 in Arlington, WA.  Registration is open with early bird pricing until April 15.  See or Links go to the same place.  You can sign up for their blog to give you a feel for what be happening.

There is a free beginners class on Wednesday, August 14 from 1:00-4:30 given by Thomas MacEntee.  A wonderful boost for beginners.  Did I say free?

You haven’t heard the last of this.  This is absolutely the closest, best conference we have.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Genies Rock!

Tomorrow I will be at home pretending I am at RootsTech with all the entertainment, selected classes being live-streamed, and #NotAtRootsTech on social media.  For me right now this the perfect way to do RootsTech.  I feel so relaxed; no airplane, no hotel, no eating out, and no snow that might delay the trip home.  But before I start RootsTech, I thought I would send out a few ideas that we talked about at our last Genies meeting. 

We really rocked it.  It’s always better in person but here are a few highlights for people who couldn’t make it.  Margie C. and her family had a very fun and emotional reunion in California with their niece who was unknown and lost for 50 years.  Success was not due to genealogy but persistence.  A good reminder to stick with it.

Sylvia continues to use DNA matches and building other people’s trees to work on finding her birth father.  She shared her own forms and individual folders to keep organizing info about her matches.

David R. has been working on Italian research for the first time.  We think moving borders and social customs will play a part in his research.  He reminded us that there are lots of free sources for various records that may be subscription records at Ancestry.  One example is a collection of Norwegian birth records at the University of North Dakota.  You can always google to find those more obscure, but valuable, collections. 

David R. reminded us that “genealogy without sources is mythology”.  Many similar quotes have been researched by people more patient than I without finding anyone to attribute this quote to.  The point is well-taken.  Most of us are not giving credence to genealogy without sources cited. 

I also like a quote from Eric Stroschein who says “Researching without a question is like sailing a ship without a rudder.  You will wind up frustrated and going nowhere.”  He also cautions us to keep the questions narrow in scope and focused.  Narrow questions and citations were important in my mini-challenge. 

Some people at the meeting hadn’t heard of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  Have you ever used a link that didn’t go to the place intended?  Of course, you have.  Old links have a way of failing, don’t they?  This site has saved over 349 billion webpages over time.  Next time give it a try.

We discussed the Research Like a Pro seven-step research process that I have been mentioning here for the last few weeks.  Diana and Nicole at the Family Locket site have provided us with templates and work samples that can be found at  This page gives links to the templates which are stored on Google Drive.  They are created in Google sheets word processor and Google Sheets spreadsheets. 

The Research Project Document Template outlines the whole process and provides a place to store all writing related to your project. 

The Timeline Analysis Spreadsheet is helpful to organize the Known Facts before you get started with research.

The Locality Guide was new to me.  It’s a document to collect information about how to research in a certain local.  I’m thinking I will want a guide at the state level that applies to all counties in the state.  The state guide would be used with my county guide. 

The Citation Template is for learners like me.  It is a spreadsheet of 80-some citation samples for different record types.  I also stored the samples I wrote in the template. 

Lastly is a Research Log Sample and Template. 
In my mini-challenge I also found that I needed to stop writing on a pad and start using some of my worksheets. First, the online Timeline Analysis was invaluable for organizing events in date order and also adding citations for each fact.  Secondly, since I was working in three generations, I used a Family Group Record for each of the couples and their children.  I have Family Group Sheets I can share but it is common form you can google.  And lastly, I have two different Census worksheets that I can share. 

Since our meeting I found two Family Locket podcasts about the U.S. Federal Census.  In the show notes for Part 1, they have links to a Cheat Sheet and Census Tables for Reports docx file.  This a Word document that you can easily add rows to.  I like that it is so flexible. You can add rows many children and even neighbors.  It’s so flexible compared to a paper form with limited lines.  They also have a recent podcast #30 called “Put it in a Table” about using a table to analyze information.  It reminds me that I can use a spreadsheet too and make it serve my purpose exactly.

Diana and Nicole offer many gifts to our community.  They have also written a book Research Like a Pro; a genealogist’s guide by Diana Elder.  It’s a book or e-book available on Amazon. 

I’ve jumped around a lot and that is the way our meetings are.  You can ask your questions and we will try to help you out.  Next meeting, back to 3rd Mondays, March 18.

Until then, Happy Hunting!