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<2017 June>

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# Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Family Tree DNA accepting DNA results from other companies
Posted by Diane

One of the major DNA testing companies announced it’s bringing back a useful feature to make DNA analysis between testing companies easier. Family Tree DNA will once again accept autosomal test results from rival testing companies 23andMe and AncestryDNA via its autosomal transfer tool.

The returning feature will allow users to upload raw data from 23andMe and AncestryDNA tests to Family Tree DNA database for free, giving AncestryDNA and 23andMe customers access to DNA matches and relationship estimates through the Family Finder—Matrix. For a $19 fee, 23andMe and AncestryDNA users can also unlock additional analysis tools, including a chromosome browser.

Until now, test-takers seeking DNA matches were mostly limited to the company they tested with. For example, if you tested with AncestryDNA, you would only receive DNA matches who also tested with AncestryDNA (and not with 23andMe, MyHeritage or Family Tree DNA). But with Family Tree DNA’s autosomal transfer, test-takers from 23andMe and AncestryDNA can now access another database of potential DNA matches, opening up new research possibilities.

While Family Tree DNA's autosomal transfer is a useful tool, sharing DNA results between testing companies isn't a new concept. MyHeritage, which launched its own DNA test in November, is also compatible with raw data from other companies, though it lacks some of Family Tree DNA's more robust analysis tools. Third-party websites like Gedmatch also already allow you to compare results from multiple companies, but Family Tree DNA’s autosomal transfer works directly with the testing company and captures all its autosomal DNA test-takers (rather than just those who also uploaded their data to Gedmatch).

See the company’s website for more about the feature, and check out Judy Russell’s post on The Legal Genealogist. Learn more about DNA analysis tools in our book The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger.

» by Andrew Koch

Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 12:38:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 February 2017
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Returns to TLC March 5!
Posted by Diane

John Stamos on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

The family history TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" is returning to TLC Sunday, March 5, with a new host of celebrities ready to dive into their genealogy. The television show, which partners with, pairs celebrities with genealogists determined to uncover their family history.

The stars travel the globe hunting for family ties and often discover family secrets. The new season will feature Jessica Biel, Courteney Cox, Julie Bowen, Jennifer Grey, Smokey Robinson, Liv Tyler, Noah Wyle and John Stamos.

Jessica Biel

In a preview video at, Courteney Cox is shown blown away by a chart a genealogist shows her. Another surprise in the preview shows Jessica Biel finding out for the first time she has Jewish ancestors, something her father never mentioned to her. For a few more appetite-whetting details on what you'll see in each episode, see TLC's website.

Whether you've just dabbled in your family history research or consider yourself a seasoned genealogist, you will no doubt relate to the twists and turns of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Smokey Robinson

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 17 February 2017 16:50:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Monday, 13 February 2017
5 Can’t-Miss Sessions at the 2017 Winter Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

RootsTech 2017 might be over, but you can still learn a lot from this season’s genealogy conference circuit. Family Tree University’s 2017 Winter Virtual Conference runs March 3–5, and you can’t afford to miss the weekend’s fifteen presentations from top-notch genealogists, with topics ranging from AncestryDNA to the Freedmen’s Bureau to WWI records.

Attendees will have access to all of the conference’s offerings, but here are Editor and Content Producer Andrew Koch’s top five Virtual Conference sessions not to miss:

  1. ”Make the Most of AncestryDNA Shared Matches” by Shannon Combs-Bennett: Genetic genealogy giant AncestryDNA just announced that its total number of test-takers has reached 3 million users. This session will teach you how to sift through all those test-takers and connect with matches who can help your research.
  2. ”Organization Strategies in 5, 10, and 30 Minutes” by Drew Smith: Whipping your genealogy into shape is no small task, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Genealogy Guy Drew Smith will show you how to break it down with nine practical organizing tasks that can be done in small chunks of time, giving you a way to work new habits into your everyday life.
  3. ”RootsMagic Essentials” by Diana Crisman Smith: With scuttling the widely used Family Tree Maker software, RootsMagic is poised to become the go-to program for genealogists. Diana will give you the top tools and techniques for using RootsMagic in a lecture that’s perfect for RootsMagic newbies, Family Tree Maker converts, and longtime desktop software users alike.
  4. ”Prussian Genealogy Research Methods” by James Beidler: Scratching your head while you try to find territory called “Prussia” on a modern map? German genealogy expert James Beidler is here to help, with strategies for finding your Prussian ancestors in records scattered across former Prussian lands in central and eastern Europe.
  5. ”Overlooked Federal Records and Repositories” by Gena Philibert Ortega: If you’ve burned out on record types to research, this session is for you. Gena outlines federal record resources that you may not have thought to check, giving you a roadmap to genealogical treasures.

In addition to the video presentations (which you can view as many times as you like), the conference also features a live speech from Genealogy Roadshow host D. Joshua Taylor, plus live chats with experts and other users throughout the weekend, daily prize drawings, and a swag bag of merch and coupons from Learn more about the conference and reserve your spot today. Use the coupon VCANDREW30 at checkout to save $30 off.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Tech Advice
Monday, 13 February 2017 16:37:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 10 February 2017
Breaking Genealogy News from the RootsTech Conference
Posted by Diane

If you’re watching RootsTech sessions online from afar like I am, or you’re there and so busy you can barely catch a breath, here’s a news digest to help you catch up quickly:
  • The Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, shared family stories and photos during Thursday’s opening session. At the end of their talk, Family History Library director Diane Loosle shared details about the brothers’ Scottish ancestry.
  • Last night’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir event was a tribute to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, with show tunes from The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, South Pacific and others. It even featured Hammerstein grandson Andy Hammerstein. I’m sorry to have missed it!
  • Friday celebrates African-American heritage. Actor Levar Burton, known for his portrayal of Kunte Kinte in the original television series “Roots,” delivered a powerful talk about storytelling and the humanity that connects us. Thom Reed from FamilySearch shared family history about Burton’s grandmother and his second- and third-great-grandparents.

  • The Innovator Showdown Finals featured "Shark Tank"-style (though a little less intense) presentations and panel interviews from six entrpreneuers in genealogy technology, with impressive cash and in-kind prizes for top contenders. Prizes went to:
    • People's Choice: Kindex (searching documents won the award)
    • Third place: Double Match Triangulator (analyzing DNA)
    • Second place: QromaTag (adding stories to photos)
    • First prize: OldNews USA (mobile searching of online newspapers)
  • FindMyPast announced its Catholic Heritage Archive of records from Catholic churches around the world. Just released are 3 million records from the archdioceses of Philadelphia and Westminster and Birmingham in Britain. Also included are the Irish Catholic Church registers that were published last year.
  • MyHeritage unveiled its new Photo Discoveries feature today. Essentially, it presents users with a set of photographs of their relatives from family trees contributed by others. Premium Plus or Complete Subscribers can add up to 10 photos per Discovery to the matching profiles in their family tree, in a single click.
  • The Journal Nature Communications published a study by Ancestry DNA that "reveals post-colonial population structure of North America.” It identifies genetically related clusters of individuals and their migrations over time. This technology can make possible detailed historical portraits of the lives of Ancestry DNA customers.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | RootsTech
Friday, 10 February 2017 16:45:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 07 February 2017
Free Expo Hall Classes and 6 Other Must-dos at RootsTech
Posted by Diane

With everything going on at FamilySearch's RootsTech conference, happening this Wedensday through Saturday in Salt Lake City, it's easy to miss opportunities for genealogy learning and fun.

You've already picked the classes you want to go to. Here's what else to put on your list of RootsTech must-dos:  

1. Of course, stop by Family Tree Magazine's Expo Hall booth No. 1136 to check out our books, genealogy cheat sheets and other offerings; find out about Family Tree University's online courses and upcoming Virtual Conference; and pick up a free Family Tree Magazine issue (while they last). 

2. Also in the exhibit hall, watch one of the free 30-minute power sessions from our RootsTech neighbor Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems (booth 1039). We're joining with Lisa (that's her above, with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton) to sponsor information-packed presentations on finding German ancestral villages, mastering and more.

The power sessions are right in the booth, with prize giveaways at each one. Plus, you can enter to win a grand prize on Saturday, Feb. 11 (must be present at the booth to win). See the Genealogy Gems website for details on RootsTech power sessions.

See what else the RootsTech Expo Hall has to offer here.

3. Walk through Temple Square. The square surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Salt Lake Temple is beautiful year-round. Thursday, the Conference Center at Temple Square features the the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at an event called "Music, It Runs in the Family." It's free but you do need tickets, which you can get here.

4. Research at the Family History Library. Yes, you can access many of the library's records online, but there are so many more in the building's sea of microfilm cabinets and bookshelves. Before you hop on the plane, try a place search of the online catalog and plan which films and books you'll look at. Click here to see the FHL's extended hours during RootsTech.

5. While at the FHL, go inside the new discovery experiences area on the main floor. You can use iPads, touchscreen monitors and computers to explore your family history through photos and maps (especially if you have a FamilySearch family tree), and use recording studios to preserve family stories on audio and video. See my photos of the pilot discovery experience during RootsTech 2015.

6. Take in a featured speaker. You can watch talks by HGTV's "Property Brothers," Drew and Jonathan Scott; TLC's "Cake Boss," Buddy Valastro (who's also judging a RootsTech cake decorating competition—see all the frosted entries on display Saturday); "Reading Rainbow"'s LeVar Burton and others.

7. Take a moment to relax. Pause in the main entrance of the Salt Palace Convention Center to listen to the wooden chimes, whose sound is created by windmills outside the center.

Remember, if you can't go to RootsTech, you can watch 19 presentations live for free online. And the Genealogy Gems Expo Hall Power Sessions will be streamed on Facebook Live and Periscope!  

What do you consider a "must-do" for visiting RootsTech?

Genealogy Events | RootsTech
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 09:33:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 01 February 2017
6 Keys to Success for African-American Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane

Library of Congress

National African-American History Month began in 1926 when Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History founded Negro History Week.

** Find out about our African-American Genealogy Research Essentials webinar on Feb. 16.**

The observation was expanded to a month in February 1976 with a declaration by President Gerald Ford. In 2017, you'll find commemorations

So let's talk genealogy. Those researching African-American ancestors often face a brick wall at slavery. These keys from Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton are important to give yourself yourself the best possible chance to find your family:

Library of Congress

1. It’s not impossible. Tracing relatives in slavery is difficult due to the scarcity of historical records naming slaves. But with persistence, many African-American genealogists have been able to identify their enslaved ancestors. 

2. Trace your family back to the Civil War using typical sources and methods, such as talking to relatives and searching censuses, vital records and newspapers. You may find that some records are segregated, such as a “colored” marriage register.

3. Study your family’s migrations. During the 20th century, millions of African-Americans in the rural South moved to cities in the north and west. If your family followed this pattern, ask relatives about your family’s moves and use censuses and city directories to track them.

4. Check the 1860 and 1850 censuses. About 90 percent of African-Americans were enslaved at the time of the Civil War, and weren’t named in censuses. Free blacks often do appear in censuses and other records. 

5. Identify slaveholding families. Enslaved people didn’t have legal surnames. Freed slaves sometimes (but not always) took the surname of a former slaveholder. If this was the case for your family, the name may lead you to their location during slavery. You may need to use records of the slaveholding families, such as wills and estate inventories, to trace your enslaved ancestors’ whereabouts.

6. Go offline. To learn about African-American ancestors before 1865, you'll probably need to research in records that aren’t online. 

Click here to download our free e-book Trace Your African-American Ancestry, with six guides from Family Tree Magazine to help you discover your African-American family history.

And this just in: Genealogy website Fold3 has announced that its African-American genealogy records collection will be free to access for the month of February. You may need to set up a free Fold3 registration to use the records.

African-American roots | Free Databases | Research Tips
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 08:45:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]