Genealogists start with death—meaning that we generally
research ancestors from their deaths and moving back in time. But
death-record searches can be challenging for several reasons,
including when relatives died before statewide vital record-keeping or their
names were recorded oddly.
If you can't find a death certificate for a relative, look for other death records
for the time and place he died. If you've found one death record, look for others.
Different types of records might have di
- Changing scenery and pleasant temperatures make Fall an especially
good time to visit cemeteries (alongside a genealogy buddy for fun
and safety). Seeing the gravestone and viewing records in the
cemetery office may yield ancestry information you won't find in an
online database of burials—although online databases are very
issue of Family Tree Magazine, October/November 2016, has our Genealogy
Workbook on cemetery research. You'll also find essential guidance in F
spent money on a DNA test for yourself and possibly one or more relatives, but what
do you do with those results once you've got them? How can you wring every bit of
knowledge out of those results and get the most for your money?
Third-party tools (many of which are free) give genealogists more ways of exploring
and analyzing their DNA test results. DNA expert and author of The
Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy Blaine Bettinger shares
three ways you can analyze
- A cousin I met online (one who attended my grandparents’ wedding as a child!) asked
me to look at a research problem on a line we don’t share.
Her great-aunt Elizabeth Schalk was born April 4, 1893, married Wesley Thomas in 1910,
and became a widow two years later. Then she disappeared.
Was Elizabeth “lost” under a second husband’s surname? That’s not an uncommon situation
with female relatives. In a similar scenario, you might know an ancestor by a spouse's
you’ve taken an autosomal DNA test at 23andMe, AncestryDNA,
or Family Tree DNA, you likely have a long
list of genetic cousins. After sequencing portions of your DNA, the testing company
compares your results to the results of other test-takers in its database. If you
share enough DNA with another test-taker in the database, you’ll see that person in
your list of matches.
The company evaluates how close you might be to another test-taker based on the amount
of shared DNA. See the
testing is a powerful new tool for genealogists. And just like any other genealogical
record, it's capable of revealing secrets.
For example, the results of a DNA test can reveal relationships that were either long-forgotten,
or were long-held family secrets. Knowing this, what should you do when you discover
a secret in your family?
Genetic genealogy expert and author of the new book The
Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy Blaine Bettinger shares
some tips for handling s
- A flashy show staged by a 77th-generation descendant underscores the enduring cachet of the ancient philosopher.
- Average Amount of Autosomal DNA Shared With Relatives
Genetic genealogy, using DNA to study ethnicity and identify genetic cousins, is becoming
an essential part of doing genealogy. If you’ve tested yourself and want to explore
DNA tests for family, which relative should you ask to take a DNA test? Are some cousins
or relatives better to test?
Here are some tips from guest blogger and DNA expert Blaine T. Bettinger, author of
the new book The
Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic G
- Our Fall
2016 Virtual Conference is coming right up Sept. 16-18, with online genealogy
learning opportunities in video classes on genetic genealogy and DNA, using Ancestry.com,
identifying old mystery photos and more; plus live chats; our exclusive conference
message boards and more.
Now, you can save $25 on Virtual Conference registration when you enter coupon
code FTMSEPT25 at checkout. Register
Watch this quick video tour for an idea how the conference works, and
- As a lesbian mom who did not carry my baby daughter, I forget that she and I don’t share blood: I’ll hear her raspy voice and think, “She inherited my mom’s man-voice!”
- For folks who are newer or less-frequent users on Ancestry.com,
we're sharing some genealogy DOs and a DON'T for searching for ancestors on the site.
They come from Family
Tree University's Master Ancestry.com Workshop next week, Aug. 15-18.
Ancestry.com is a genealogy staple, but because it's so large and contains so much
information, it's not always easy to find what you're looking for. As the site evolves,
certain views and features change, too, which can add to your confusion. If you want
family history begins with your own memories—and what you remember can serve as a
useful springboard for learning more about your whole family's history, connecting
you emotionally to past generations.
Your memories also can provide critical research clues for genealogy research. When's
the last time you mined your own memories for details you can use to research your
family tree? Story
of My Life author Sunny Morton is here with a guest post on three focuses
for your dive into your
- Hi there!
My name is Madge Maril and I’m working with Family Tree Magazine this summer. You
might have seen my photo in September's issue of Family Tree Magazine. Working with
FTM’s editorial team has been a blast. Today, they let me pop onto this blog to talk
about two of my favorite things: DIY crafts and Harry Potter. "While
Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son
Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never
- As Americans age, many grow interested in tracing their family heritage and group traditions back to their origins.
- When you start writing your life’s stories, you may wonder what to put in and what
to leave out. Should you mention that time you got arrested, or when your best friend
betrayed you? What about your difficult relationship with your dad? What if telling
your stories will reveal someone else’s secrets?
Writing your life story can raise questions about how to be fair and honest, and what
stories of your life should keep private. Story
of My Life workbook author
and guest blogger S
- Chances are you've become frustrated at times when searching for ancestors online
at genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage and FamilySearch.
Knowing why genealogy searches sometimes fail can help you figure out how to fix them.
Below is our cheat sheet of common issues that trip up your searches, plus tips to
Get expert guidance on using Ancestry.com in our Become
an Ancestry.com Power User online course, starting Monday, Aug. 1, at Family Tree
University. This four-week co
- Struggling to remember part of your past? Check out these four quick ways to spark
memories from guest blogger and author of the Story of My Life workbook, Sunny
Recording your own history can be a rewarding experience, both personally and for
your genealogy research—you never know what clues you’ll recall! But it can be frustrating
when you don’t remember certain things as clearly as you’d like. Below are four strategies
to jog your memories. Use these to e
- Recently I followed our own advice (from the popular Unofficial
Guide to FamilySearch book, and now our Become
a FamilySearch.org Power User online course) to check for recently added or updated
record collections at the free FamilySearch website. It's easy to do:1. On the FamilySearch home page, hover over Search and choose Records.
2. On the Search page, choose Browse All Published Collections. (This link
may appear below the gray box, depending how wide your browser window is.)3. Finall
- Want to dig into your past? Guest blogger and author of the Story of My Life workbook
Sunny Jane Morton shares three quick tips for recalling childhood memories:
What do you remember from your childhood? If you’re like most people, the answer may
be, “Not much.” The older you get, the more remote and vague your youngest years may
seem. That can be so frustrating when you want to document your life story (and the
first chapter is missing!) or bring to mind clues from your childh
- I wanted to update you all on a couple of cool updates to the MyHeritage genealogy
website:First is something I've been wishing someone would come up with an easy way to do. PedigreeMap is
a free tool that automatically generates an interactive world map that plots events
in your MyHeritage family tree (such as births, marriages and deaths), as well as
digitized images. You can see a screenshot above.
This is a helpful way to get a big picture of where your family branches
migrated over time, s
- Hi all, our Find
Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers weeklong workshop starts July 11! You
might know old newspapers are my favorite record type. To show you what kind of
fascinating finds you might be missing out on if you're not using digitized
online newspapers, here are a few of my recent newspaper discoveries (including on
This profile of my husband's great-grandfather, then 87 years old (not the man pictured—that's
the reporter), is in the Jan. 8, 1960, Buffalo Courie
- The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and FamilySearch
have signed an agreement that will make FamilySearch.org’s
growing, free digital historical book collection accessible through the DPLA website.
The DPLA website catalogs more than 13 million digital resources from libraries, archives
and museums across America. You can keyword search the site's catalog listings (but
not the digitized items themselves) for names, places, military regiments, employers,
social clubs and other ter
- If you’re like many people, your email resembles Pandora’s box: full of unknown content
that you might be afraid of opening. The scary part isn’t so much each individual
message, but the unending stream of new content filling your inbox faster than you
can deal with.
While some productivity gurus preach the elusive concept of “inbox zero,” you actually
have a few practical ways to better manage your inbox. Co-host of The Genealogy
Guys podcast and author of Organiz
- Evernote isn't just a great tool for organizing
your genealogy, it's also makes a good tool for analyzing the information you find.
Kerry Scott, who wrote How
to Use Evernote for Genealogy and who will be on hand to answer questions
in next week's online Evernote
for Genealogy Bootcamp, has a ton of ways you can use Evernote to take a closer
look at your genealogy research. Here's a quick look at three of them:
Create a table of contents: This is an easy way to see a list of certain notes
at a g
- Mystery surrounds the identity of a child whose coffin was unearthed by a construction crew at a home on property that once housed a cemetery in San Francisco.
- Summer is the perfect time for taking road trips, including journeying to record repositories
and libraries. Co-host of The Genealogy
Guys podcast and author Drew Smith shares some thoughts about how to best
plan for research trips.In a time when documents from all over the world are being digitized and made available
to us in online databases, we might not spend much time thinking about the need to
travel to physical repositories, near and far. Libraries, archives, courthouses, cemeteries
- When the dreaded brick wall hits, genealogists often step back and collect their thoughts.
A difficult problem may require a plan of attack, and you can create such a plan in
a brainstorming session in which you generate as many ideas as possible. In this guest
post, author and co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast Drew
Smith describes how to use one organization strategy, mind mapping, to brainstorm
and arrange new research leads and tactics.
While plain paper or a whiteboard can be useful too
- Genealogists are often so busy trying to find and record all the details about our
ancestors' lives, that we forget our own history will eventually become family
We forget to preserve information about our own lives. Thus, in 100 or 200 years,
our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will be struggling to understand our
lives and what we were really like.
Of course, it's also often personally beneficial to reflect on your own life and experiences.
of My Life: A Workbook
- Identifying with your cultural origins isn’t what it used to be.
- “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance ...
Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to
the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost
of a free and undivided republic.”
First Decoration Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 1868.
Library of Congress.These are the words of Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand
Army of the Republic, who declared
in 1868 that May 30 would be a day to decorate the graves of Civ
- Handling all your data and research can be a struggle. In this guest post, author
and co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast Drew
Smith explains why it’s important to have dual screens in your workspace to best keep
your research organized.
Before genealogists had the benefit of computers, they used a desktop or table to
spread out their documents and notebooks. In the ideal workspace, they had plenty
of room in which to make notes to themselves or fill out a handwritten pedigree chart
- Genealogists researching old court records generally expect to find
records like deeds, probate files and trial proceedings. In our Courthouse
Research Made Easy Family Tree University course (running May 23-June 27), you'll
learn about these and other, lesser-known, ancestor records you can find at the courthouse.
I was lucky to discover an interesting one by chance, and it told me a lot about a
few days in the life of my third-great-grandfather Thomas Frost, a carpenter. Even
luckier, the reco
- Looking for early immigrants to America, before passenger lists were required in 1820?
Try these resources, which you'll learn more about in our online workshop How
to Find Your Ancestry Before 1850, May 16-22:Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s: This index by P. William
Filby and Mary K. Meyer compiles information from a variety of records. It's in print
at many libraries and searchable on Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and
through HeritageQuest Online (available
at many libraries
- The National Genealogical Society's
annual family history conference is happening now through May 7 in Fort Lauderdale,
Fla. Here's a quickupdate with news from the conference:Dr. Connie Lester, associate
professor at the University of Central Florida, gave the opening presentation
this morning. Her focus is on folks almost all of us have in our family trees: ordinary,
everyday farmers. The
Ancestry Insider has a good overview of her talk and project to preserve the stories
of Central Florida fa
- My new favorite genealogy accomplishment is figuring out whether the Theresa Seeger Kolbeck whose 1937 death announcement I found by chance in a newspaper
index on the Kenton County Public Library website was the sister of my great-great-grandfather,
German immigrant Heinrich Arnold ("H.A.") Seeger.
All I had on H.A.'s sister was her baptismal record from Steinfeld, Germany, with
her date of birth and parents' names.A
little research into the local Theresa—actually Mary Theresa&mdash
- A central Massachusetts city enabled the author’s ancestors to move into the good life of the middle class. That move is more complicated now.
- "Genealogy Roadshow" has
released a preview of its new season, premiering Tuesday, May 17, 8 p.m. ET on PBS.
Shows this season will take place in Boston, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles.
If you haven't seen this series, it has professional genealogists D.
Joshua Taylor, Kenyatta
Berry and Mary
Tedesco use research to solve family history mysteries for ordinary people. Often,
the guests have done a little genealogy themselves and run across a family legend
or difficult research problem.
- Tracing the sale of 272 slaves in 1838 by the university’s leaders yields a wrenching question: What is owed to the slaves’ descendants?
- In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.
- Newspapers! It's newspapers. They're full of details you don't find
anywhere else (although sometimes colored by a reporter's
perspective). Because our Find
Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers webinar is coming up April 21, I'll
let my third-great-grandfather Thomas Frost demonstrate why I love this resource.
You first heard about Thomas when I blogged about his
sensational divorce (a Cincinnati Daily Enquirer newspaper article provided
the clue to look for divorce records). On Nov.
- In some ways, what has happened to online German genealogy in the last few years reflects
what’s been going on in the wider family history world: more instant communication
and loads of ways for people to connect. Guest writer and author of The
Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and the newly released Trace
Your German Roots Online, James M. Beidler, shares how collaboration made
possible by the internet has affected his genealogy research.
Two correspondents who the internet figuratively
- Amid the tear-shedding, bickering and celebrity appearances, sociological insights emerge on these shows.
- The month of March sneaked* right by, and it's already time for the
premiere of TLC's "Who
Do You Think You Are?" this Sunday at 9/8 central.
This episode features African-American actor Aisha Tyler (she was Ross' paleontologist
girlfriend on "Friends" and she's a cohost on "The
I always enjoy when a genealogy show visits places that also figure into my family
tree, so I should be happy with this one: Tyler travels to Cleveland, Ohio, and the Western
Reserve Historical Society, as well a
- Immigrant ancestors tend to capture researchers’ imaginations more than others. We’re
enchanted by the idea of our ancestors coming to a foreign land with nothing but the
clothes on their backs and a dream of better things to come.
Fortunately for those with German ancestry, researchers have access to more than one
resource to help document their ancestors’ incredible journeys. In addition to passenger arrival lists
in North America, German researchers can also find embarkatio
- A study of global genomes has found that our ancestors are even more varied than we thought.
Where Do They Find All Those Old Records? Interview With FamilySearch Content Strategist Suzanne Russo AdamsFor the January/February
2016 Family Tree Magazine, contributor Sunny Jane Morton asked Suzanne
Russo Adams, content strategist for FamilySearch (and
formerly for Ancestry.com)
about the cool old records she discovers traveling around the world for her work.
Here's the full Q&A:FTM: Tell us about the content
strategy team you work on at FamilySearch.
SRA: We're a team of nine, and we refer to each other internally as the “Raiders
of the Lost Archives.” One of our engineers
- Few can argue that reaching out to other genealogists on social media can be helpful
to researchers. Guest writer and author of The
Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and the upcoming Trace
Your German Roots Online, James M. Beidler, talks about one particular Facebook
group that sees a lot of activity from genealogists with German lineage, the
German Genealogy group.
The group, classified as a “closed group” that users can ask to be accepted in, is
a typical moderated social media
- That old genealogical staple, census records, might seem ho-hum at
first, but they're full of clues that are important to your
I recently confirmed that my great-great-grandfather's sister as Mary Theresa Seeger
did in fact marry a Herman Henry Kolbeck in Germany and move to the United States,
settling just across the Ohio River from her brother. (I'll blog more later about
how I confirmed that the two Theresas were the same).
With our Census
Problems and Solutions for Genealogy webina
- I was adopted, so I don’t know much about my family medical history. But home DNA testing is changing all that.
- The interbreeding may have given modern humans better immunity to pathogens, according to the authors of the analysis of global genomes.
Follow @newsl_genealogy on Twitter!