Friday, March 30, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Webinars, Family Search and Events

Thank you for joining me at the Ferndale Genies blog.  Blogs are terrific for keeping in touch and for keeping info accessible for everyone.  If you can’t tell, I love blogs.  I subscribe to a handful and pass on to you just a few of the items I find timely and interesting. 

I like webinars as much as I like blogs.  And here’s the best buy I’ve seen for Legacy Family Tree Webinars Annual Subscriptions - including renewals!  There is no better bargain for webinars.  There are more than 600 archived genealogy webinars that you can watch on demand and the presenters are the best in the business.  And you have access to the syllabus which is not available without a subscription.  There is a webinar for anything you want to learn and I’m not exaggerating!

Here’s the announcement from blogger Thomas MacEntee with his own promo code added.  “This is the BEST SALE of the year! And if you already have a subscription, use the link below to automatically extend your current plan an additional year! Regularly $49.95 USD per year, now just $28.98 USD! PLUS use promo code THOMAS15 at checkout and the price is just $24.21! Sale valid through Sunday, April 1st - click HERE to shop.”

If you don’t want to subscribe, try this free class.  Free March 28 thru April 4.  Blaine Bettinger presenting “Formulating a DNA Testing Plan”.  Rated for beginners, it is about “minimizing costs while maximizing results by formulating a testing plan early in your research”.  I’m not sure what that means but I’ll be checking out here:

Another blogger I have just started following is James Tanner at his blog “Rejoice and Be Exceedingly Glad”.  James blogs about Family Search from the LDS perspective and he announces this amazing alternative to the Family Search Family Tree “tree display”.  You can start with a video and instructions here or go directly to the program using the Virtual Pedigree link below.  James says:

“If you are frustrated with the Family Tree interface, there is an alternative. The alternative is called "Virtual Pedigree." It is an interactive Family Tree viewer from the Brigham Young University Family History Technology Lab.

Virtual Pedigree allows you to navigate your family tree with a new and revolutionary fluid interface. Simply click (or touch!) and drag, and begin exploring ancestors and their descendants! It gives you hints and help as you explore your tree…By the way, you either love it or find it difficult to use. This depends on how familiar you are with using a mouse or touchpad.”
You may be asking why I would be telling Genies about this. is a giant tree which we all share.  I never knew how far back my ancestors were recorded.  A quick look at Virtual Pedigree took my dad’s line back to the 1100’s.  Wow!  We found Alice’s ancestors back to the 1100’s too but it took us all afternoon at the Family History Center.  Here’s the usual caveat:  Beware! there are many known errors so these are excellent clues but you have to verify with your own research.
You will need to register at for a free membership.  For beginners, you will need to connect yourself with some already existing ancestors.  Click on the Family Tree button and then the Find button.  Look for your most likely ancestors like US great-grandparents.  (I was lucky.  When I first started my dad was already in there.)  If you’d like, someone can help you at our next meeting.  For people familiar with Family Search, dive right in to a new experience with Virtual Pedigree.

Goodbye for now.  Mark your calendar and we will see you soon.

WGS, April 9, “Planning & Preparing for a Research Trip” with Mary Kozy 

Skagit Valley GS, April 14, “The Lost Communities of Whatcom County’ Troy Luginbill, Director of the Lynden Historical Museum

Ferndale Genies, April 16,  “Story Writing” with our members Loretta Willems and Linda Lambert.  They both attend the Whatcom Writers and Publishers and have published writings.  You will have a short time to practice writing a story about yourself or an ancestor. 

As usual, details are on the Ferndale Genies blog under the Events tab.  If you are receiving this in your email, a shortcut is to click on the name of this post at the top.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018, the Year of DNA

In the last few months everyone is talking about DNA.  The experts are calling 2018 “the year of DNA”.  It’s exploding in popularity.  And we are already seeing new matches coming in from all the new kits they sold last Cyber Monday and through the holidays.  They are saying that over 15 million people have tested.  It is expanding exponentially.

At RootsTech I attended a panel of DNA experts (including CeCe Moore, Diahann Southard and others) about the future of DNA.  CeCe is now saying that we are no longer fishing in three ponds; there are five now.  That is to say, there are now five credible testing services for genealogists.  The two newer ones are MyHeritage and Living DNA, joining Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and 23andme.  This is big news.

The news is COMPETITION.  Every company is trying to carve out their own niche in an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds.  This means unique tools, exclusive historical records, more frequent sales, and more listening to what genealogy customers what to see. 

At our meeting this month (the 19th) we will start with DNA basics.  The rest of this post has all the news I won’t have time for this month.  It’s for people more involved and interested in the DNA industry.

MyHeritage is really coming into its own as a full-service family tree site with individual trees, historical records, unique searching techniques and DNA testing.  They have made huge improvements to their DNA algorithms and recent changes increased our matches ten-fold.  This is a great place to be matched with Europeans.  It’s where my Austrian relatives found me.  I moved my DNA results there free and you can to.  Sylvia passed along a kind-of-technical detailed explanation of MyHeritage DNA improvements here.  Most of the largest websites and testing services have blogs and it will help you to sign up for the ones you use.

In Roberta Estes’ RootsTech Day 2 blog  she calls MyHeritage “smokin’ hot” and lists their accomplishments and plans.  And Roberta is not that easy to impress.

Living DNA’s claim to fame is ethnicity matching to much smaller regions (like 21 regions in England).  They are starting in the UK and currently entering Germany with the intention of covering the world.  Did I say boots on the ground trying to convince people who have never heard of DNA testing to test?  Now this is really big!  We’ve known for some time that Living DNA matching was to be released in fall of 2018, but we didn’t know that Living DNA planned to reconstruct trees from genetic data alone.  That’s it, your DNA, your gender, and your birthdate.  That’s all.  Amazing!  No downloading your family tree to try to find matches.  You can read the announcement for yourself here.
Downloading Raw DNA:  Thomas MacEntee has given us a 5-page article about how to transfer raw DNA files with step-by-step instructions for all the different websites.  Here:

Seattle Times:  At our last meeting Marjie F. brought in an article entitled  “Risks of DNA kits: Experts fear genetic data could fall into the wrong hands”, published in the Seattle Times December 10, 2017 issue.   The biggest issue is that DNA data may not be secure and that customers may be “exploited” by companies selling DNA information.  The major DNA testing companies were interviewed for the article and said they “anonymize the data and transfer only when users opt-in to participating in research”.  Senator Schumer “urged the FTC to examine the industry to ensure that companies have clear, fair privacy policies”.  If you are concerned that your DNA may fall into the hands of your employer or insurance company, do not test.  Also if you are asking relatives to test, it is your responsibility to inform them of the risks. 

With others Blaine Bettinger has published an Informed Consent Agreement and a Beneficiary  Agreement here:  People have been saying something like this is needed for a long time.  Note: This is not legal advice. 

Something else to know about…GDPR.  General Data Protection Regulation in the EU and UK.  It’s their attempt to strengthen privacy and data protections.  It has serious fines for companies who hold European personal data and don’t comply.  Example: 20 million Euros.  One smaller testing company has decided to fold and others are changing their offerings to comply.  Roberta has written about it here.  Again just for people digging deep.

Also at our last meeting…people wanted everyone to know this piece of advice for contacting matches at AncestryDNA.  This is a little obscure and you will hear it again but here goes.  Don’t use the green button, use the tan.  When you go to the Match Page for someone on your Match List, there is a green Send Message button at the top.  Don’t use this one.  Your match is not notified by email that there is a message waiting.  Instead click on the person’s name to go to their profile.  On the top of the profile page is a tan Contact button.  Use this and there will be an email sent to notify your match.  Got it?  Don’t use the green, use the tan.  Ancestry has known about this forever but they won’t change it.

DNA Day with the Genies Monday

Tomorrow is DNA Day.  We only do this a few times a year so don't miss it.  Especially if you have recent results and need a kickstart.  Especially if you are more experienced and need a boost.  Especially if you just like to hang out with your genealogy friends. 
I'll date myself by saying "Be there or be square"! 1:00 at the Ferndale Library.  See you there!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring has sprung…

And along with spring comes a flurry of educational opportunities.  We’ll be watching for you.

Tomorrow, March 12.  Whatcom Genealogical Society at 2 pm, at the Bellingham Elks Lodge, 710 Samish Way.  Another timely topic for our brick wall attacks. 

“Remember Mama - But Not Her Maiden Name” with Mary Kircher Roddy, Professional Genealogist - Women can be hard to identify. If they married, they probably changed their names. See more than 20 great strategies for finding the maiden name of "troublesome" women in your family's past - and a few more strategies for discovering married names for those sisters, daughters and aunts who have "disappeared."

Park around back and enter on the lower level (unless you have a big truck or an RV).  Visitors welcome! Contact: 360-733-8300

For those of you starting with, on the DNA Home page I suggest you start with the section on the left "DNA Story".  It will be interesting.  The rest is about people you match and this will be the focus of our monthly meeting. Poking around is always good and you can't hurt anything. 

Hands-on time for DNA results, brick walls, RootsMagic or whatever you want.

Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington Aug 15-18, 2018:  March 15 is the early bird deadline for our best closest 3 ½ day conference in Arlington.  Free half-day beginner class, national speakers.  Register here:  More info at the bottom of this post.

RootsTech:  The largest family history conference of 2018 is over but recorded sessions are available here.    Scroll down to “Watch 2018 Recorded Sessions”.

Upcoming free Family Tree Webinars here:  Free within one week of broadcast.

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society, Burlington, 2nd Sat, 1pm – 3pm
Burlington Senior Citizen Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave, Burlington, WA 98233, USA (map) 

Sat., Apr. 14 The Lost Communities of Whatcom County – Troy Luginbill, Director of the Lynden Historical Museum. Discover the communities in Whatcom County that you may never have heard of due to their brief existence in the late 19th century. A fascinating history told with stories and photographs of Skagit County's parent county.

Seattle Genealogical Society has a full schedule of talks and interest groups through April here:  and the Seattle Spring Seminar:

Saturday, May 19, 2018 Seattle GS Annual Spring Seminar
Family History: What the Future Holds by D. Joshua Taylor  On Saturday, May 19, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Fairview Christian School, 844 NE 78th Street, Seattle, WA. For more information visit: Questions? Email:

Tacoma:  A one overnight conference that you drive to is in Tacoma on April 27 and 28.  Details here: 

NWGC:  The mother of Northwest conferences is sponsored by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society in Arlington, WA.  August 15 is a half-day free beginning genealogy class.  A different instructor every year so I keep going and am never bored.  August 16-18 is three full days packed with different nationally-known headline speakers and your choice of smaller classes.  Before the Early Bird deadline of March 15 non-members pay $155 and after the Early Bird deadline $175.  Non-members are people who don’t belong to the Stillaguamish group.  Ask Elizabeth, Sandy, Peggy or me about the conference.  And don’t think you aren’t far enough along to benefit.  Info at