Showing posts from May, 2020

Ethical Genealogy

Have you heard of the new book by journalist Libby Copeland: The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are . American Ancestors and the Boston Public Library had an interview and Q & A with her this week, full of stories and insight. I was struck by the advice from one of the "search angels" in her book, who says that she no longer tries to persuade people to DNA test. After hearing Judy Russell's webinar  DNA Rights and Wrongs: The Ethical Side of Testing , I think I would have to agree. To our cousins or others we would like to test, we owe a complete description of what testing entails, and we need to offer them fine-grained choices such as:  whether their profile will have their name or an anonymised nickname, what email will be associated with a kit, whether or not they will allow sharing of the test results, and to whom, whether or not they want to access the test results, if there are unexpected results, do they want to know those results? and so m

How Do You Use DNA Results From Multiple Sites?

Why Use Multiple Sites? The most effective research advice is to focus your efforts by asking a question, and creating a plan to find the information you need to answer that question. No one site has all the sources, information, matches, or cousins. I'm going to quote here from Wikipedia : The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is a guideline for establishing the reliability ("proof") of a genealogical conclusion with reasonable certainty. It is important within the genealogical community for clearly communicating the quality of research performed, such as by a professional genealogist. It is also useful for helping new genealogists understand what is needed to do high-quality research. It has five elements: reasonably exhaustive research; complete and accurate source citations; analysis and correlation of the collected information; resolution of any conflicting evidence; and a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.    - summarizing Board for Cert

Spring Clean Your Family Tree

Cleaning is work! Why bother? It's your tree, after all, and you can build it any way you want!  That's true, but most of us want to share our research with others and find cousins to collaborate with! And to do that successfully, we need to clear out duplicate people,  extraneous relationships (such as step-parents who didn't raise the children),  alternative facts (such as a vague "abt. 1882") when we have the precise date of birth, immigration, marriage, or death. Having accurate, clear facts and sources make it possible to tell the story of our ancestors better. And if you are working in an online genealogy site, a clean tree will allow their matching algorithms to get you the best hints to more sources, and more cousin  matches . Best Practices Be sure to list each woman with her birth surname; if you do not not know it, leave it blank. If you know only the married name, link her to a spouse with that surname and if you do not know his forename, lea


A research plan can help you break through brick walls and keep  you from chasing the proverbial BSO ( B right S hiny O bject) down  a rabbit hole. That is what happens when you suddenly realize it is 1:30 am and you have not found the obituary that you sat down to look for at 7:00 pm. A research plan helps you organize your research. It may show you what records are most likely to answer your research question so you can search those first. If you need to travel to a repository, you can have a list of sources to be searched and their call numbers or other identifying information. You may even be able to email the repository before your visit and have your research sources pulled and ready for you. I emailed the University of Kentucky Special Collections Library a week or so before I planned to be there and when I signed in, the items I needed were waiting for me on a cart. Additionally, I learned that I would not have been able to just walk in, an appointment was required. It wo