Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - do a Wordle

It's Saturday Night, so it's time for more genealogy fun.

Did you see John Newmark's post today about Surname Wordles on his blog, TransylvanianDutch? Let's do that tonight.

Here's your assignment if you want to play:

1) Go to and create a Wordle with your surnames in it. As many as you want.

2) Post it on your blog or web page, and/or print it out and hang it on your wall. Show off your prowess!

3) Tell us what you've done - either in Comments to this post or in your own blog. Brag about your creation! If you want me to post it here, send a JPG file to me at

4) Can you make something else really creative or pretty? If so, show us.

Here is my Surname Wordle for my last five generations:

How did I make some of them bigger than others? I put Seaver and Carringer in four times, others in three times, others in twice, others only once. Pretty simple, eh? Brute force if you will. You can play around with the font, layout and color selections until you get something you like. I like everything horizontal and colorful.

Here is something I played around with - do you like it?

Who knew? Heh heh. Go forth and create Wordles. Have fun.

Thank you, John, for inspiring me to use this for SNGF.

My Y-DNA Results - Post 4: GeneBase Possible Matches

My daughters gifted me a 20-marker Y-DNA test from The DNA Ancestry Project ( for Christmas. I sent it in via mail in mid-January and had not heard anything back from them. I checked into it on Monday and found that my results were available on Genebase.

The first post described Getting Started on the web site. The second post described Reading the Markers - seeing my 20 Y-DNA markers for the first time. In Post 3: GeneBase Family Tree I uploaded my family tree to Genebase and showed the results.

In this post, I will show the possible matches in the Genebase Y-DNA database.

Here is the welcome screen in Genebase. I had to search hard for the link to the possible matches results.

The link to the possible matches is under the "DNA Ancestry" tab and then, for the Y-DNA results, under the "Paternal Line" link, and then click on the "DNA Reunion" link. The resulting screen looks like this:

On this screen, it says:

Compare your Y-DNA STR markers to other participants in the database. This search compares every marker that you and other participants have tested.
Show participants who have tested at least [6] of the markers that I have tested.

Allow a maximum genetic distance of [4]

I decided to set the marker number to [10] and the maximum genetic distance to [2]. I clicked on the great big "Find Matches" button (no mystery here!):

Finally. I have 114 Genetic Matches that satisfy my match criteria of at least 10 markers and a genetic distance (GD) of 2. There are 7 that match 10 out of 10 (GD+0) - but none of them are anything close to a Seaver surname. There is one match that is 19 out of 20 (GD+1), three that are 12 out of 13 (GD=1), one that is 11 out of 12 (GD=1), and one that is 19 out of 20 (GD=2).

I can compare my genetic markers with those of another tester by clicking on the "Compare Y-DNA" icon in the right-hand column - I chose the 19 out of 20 (GD=1) person - and saw:

The only marker that was on my test that we don't match on is DYS390. He tested 44 markers, more than I did. I can click on the "Family Tree" icon in the right-hand column to see his the family tree that he uploaded to see if there are any surnames or place names similar to those on my family tree. There are no common surnames, and place names are not given.

I could click on the "Contact this user" icon in the right-hand column to send a message to this person.

There is also an icon for Time of Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA), so I clicked that. It said:

Base upon a mutation rate of 0.002 for Y-DNA STR markers, you and XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX most likely shared a common paternal ancestor 13 generations ago.

Cumulative probability ranges are as follows:

The probability that you and XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX shared a common ancestor within the last 22 generations is 50%.

The probability that you and XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX shared a common ancestor within the last 39 generations is 80%.

The probability that you and XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX shared a common ancestor within the last 62 generations is 95%.

That certainly puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? The first line is very misleading! I don't associate the words "most likely" with anything less than 80% certainty. Certainly not 13 generations! The correct word in the first sentence should be "might have" rather than "most likely."

The site provides a table for likelihood and cumulative probability of TMRCA out to 150 generations. The cumulative probability of TMRCA for 13 generations is 26%.

This part of the web site and database is very well thought out. It takes some poking around to find the icons in the right-hand column - a guide at the top of the table would be very helpful.

I will continue looking for possible Y-DNA matches in other database in the next post.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What is the Value of Genealogy 2.0 Technology?

Chris Staats on the Staats Place blog has asked this question:

"...what value [do] you feel (or IF you feel) blogs, wikis, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and any other tool I am omitting, actually add?"

My general response is this: Each of the tools of Genealogy 2.0 has the potential to broadcast genealogically relevant material, draw more genealogists and relatives into online communities and to foster online collaboration between researchers and/or relatives.

1) Blogs -- Genealogy blogs have reached some maturity in the form of creative writing, genealogy news broadcasts, issue commentary and sharing of genealogy research and family stories. I have over 430 genealogy blogs in my Bloglines file, and read new posts from them every day. There is a wealth of informative and entertaining material published on genealogy blogs every day. Some of the writers have been tabbed to write articles and columns for local, regional and national genealogy periodicals. In the future, more will be selected - blogs can be an incubator of creative and reportorial talent.

While the presence of hundreds of active genealogy blogs sounds impressive, the number is actually fairly small. Blogs do have some impact on the genealogy industry by acting as the town crier (news and commentary), the tester and demonstrator (of web sites, databases, etc.), and family history writer (stories, photographs, etc.). In the long term, the family history material is what will last - will be gathered into eBooks that are distributed to family members to inform and delight descendants of common and unique ancestors.

Genealogy bloggers have tried to foster collaboration and community within themselves and the larger genealogy world - in the form of Carnivals of Genealogy (and there are several publishing on a regular basis), through groups like the Geneabloggers and The Graveyard Rabbit, and through online columns such as on Shades of the Departed and The Genealogy and Technology Examiner.

2) Wikis -- The most widely known wiki is, which serves as an online encyclopedia produced by anybody who wants to participate. A similar wiki is the Encyclopedia of Genealogy started by Dick Eastman. One of the largest free genealogy person-wiki is at We Relate, which has over 2 million person pages submitted by users. You can see an overview of We Relate in this slide show. The idea of a wiki is to foster collaboration between relatives and friends using a common online platform.

I think that person-wikis have tremendous potential, but not many genealogists are using them yet. Some genealogy database providers, like, and are providing person-wiki platforms also. My guess is that less than 2,000 persons have added their GEDCOM files to despite significant publicity. added over 80 million Footnote Pages using the Social Security Death Index, but very few genealogists are aware of the site, the capability and the potential. The main drawback, in my opinion, is the limitations of GEDCOMs - they cannot upload the images of photographs and documents that researchers have attached to their genealogy software databases. Images can be uploaded one at a time to the WeRelate and Footnote wikis, but that can take a long time for those with thousands in their family tree databases. probably has the best chance to create a large person-wiki site, since it has millions of family trees already online, but only some of the users have the images attached to their online database. However, the collaboration aspect on Ancestry is not available.

3. Facebook -- The main purpose of this site (and similar sites) in the general population is to communicate and network with Friends and colleagues using email, notes and comments, share photographs and videos, play games or send gifts, join interest groups, write short comments about their activities, etc.

In the genealogy world, Facebook has been used in the classical way, but oriented toward genealogy subjects. Almost all of my Facebook Friends are in the genealogy world, and over time I get to know something about their life, their genealogy interests and skills. I would feel comfortable asking them to share a meal and conversation if they came to San Diego, if I was in their area, or if we were at a conference in another place. If I need some help in a distant place, I might ask a Facebook Friend in that place for help or information.

There are several collaborative genealogy groups on Facebook. For instance, the Unclaimed Persons group has over 500 members and has solved over 50 cold cases in less than a year on a voluntary and collaborative basis - essentially finding pertinent information, sharing it, suggesting research avenues, and coming to a conclusion about the case solution. It's fun, rewarding and challenging. The key to making any Facebook Group proliferate is to engage in projects or activities that are fun and challenging.

There are some genealogy societies on Facebook that have a group - Chris mentioned the Ohio Genealogical Society with (now) 50 group members. My local San Diego Genealogical Society has 19 group members. Those are small fractions of total society memberships. The challenge for societies is to achieve some useful objective which will excite their members to join the Facebook group. A Facebook Group can be used, as a minimum, for making society program or educational announcements.

Facebook has Applications like We're Related and Geni (and there are others) for Facebook users to add family tree information. We're Related is touted by as the #1 genealogy application, but a researcher cannot upload a GEDCOM at this time. A researcher can upload a small GEDCOM to Geni and show their family tree. Facebook users of these applications can invite relatives and friends to add to the family tree data and images. This capability has great potential for connecting to cousins and more distant relatives, but is probably not a wonderful genealogy collaboration vehicle.

4) Twitter is a site for instant communications - from an online computer, a PDA or a cell phone (by Instant Message). The user is limited to 140 characters per tweet. Some people use it for social or political activities, some to highlight their new blog posts (guilty!) or genealogy activities, and some to live-tweet a seminar or conference meeting. A Twitter user can send private messages to other users. A Facebook user can sync their tweets so that they appear as Facebook comments.

5) Collaborative Family Trees -- Examples of this category are,,,,, and many others. On these sites, a researcher can upload their GEDCOM file and their digital images, and then invite other family members to do the same. In some cases, these are subscription sites. They work as far as they go. Each site needs a critical mass of researchers to contribute their family tree data and then collaborate on adding to the information. I'm not sure that this happens on a regular basis other than immediately after the first rush of adding data and images. Again, they are good for connecting to cousins and other relatives, but probably not for genealogy collaboration with other researchers.

Chris asked what is the "value" of these sites. My opinion:

* Blogs have value for genealogy news, commentary, demonstrating and family history publishing.

* Wikis have a high potential for value in fostering genealogical collaboration but need more participants to achieve a "critical mass" of users.

* Facebook and Twitter are instant communication sites that can foster friendships and group activities.

* Family tree sites can bring relatives together to share family information and images, but probably not much research collaboration.

* Each of these sites can be tremendous time-wasters. Playing Scrabble on Facebook or tweeting every mundane act in your day may not be productive, depending on your own priorities. It helps to have a focus on the goals for the day, whether it is to write three blog posts, make new Facebook Friends, do more research at a repository, add more information to your database, write or edit a book chapter, etc. Or all of the above! I try to limit blog reading to 30 minutes a day, to limit Twitter and Facebook time to 30 minutes a day, to limit blog post writing to no more than tow hours a day, and to do something that advances the genealogy research ball toward the family history book goal line every day.

* If the genealogy industry is going to draw young people into the fold, then Genealogy 2.0 is probably one of the vehicles. Most people under age 40 are comfortable with technology and use it extensively. Using these tools is one way to add youth, enthusiasm and technology experience to the industry and our genealogical societies.

What do you think? How would you answer Chris's questions? Please comment on this blog or on Staats Place.

Some answers to newFamilySearch Questions

One of the really neat things about genealogy blogging is that it provokes almost instant responses from knowledgeable people. Such is the case with my post yesterday LDS NewFamilySearch Questions. Michael Booth and Miles Meyer were kind to respond with comments to my post. Lee Drew emailed me with some information and links. Miles emailed me with more information. Jimmy Zimmerman sent me a tweet saying FamilySearch employees would love to answer my questions but Genea-Musings is blocked on their computers (I wonder why?).

After writing my post yesterday, I spent all of the morning and some of the afternoon watching the videos on the Mastering Family History site. These are very informative and helpful in understanding what is available at newFamilySearch. Michael Booth said, in his comment, that the videos are pretty accurate.

I also searched for more presentations and articles about newFamilySearch and quickly found Miles Meyer's web site at Miles has an excellent article on his site - An Introduction to New FamilySearch. This has screen views of the Individual person's information - it looks like it includes Individual vital record Details, Individual Map, Individual Timeline, Parents and Siblings, Spouses and Children, LDS Ordinances, Possible Duplicates, Individual Notes, and Combined records. Miles told me in email that "... nFS is being replaced by FamilyTree Browser which is more graphically oriented. The Life Browser components from FamilySearch Labs are not yet included in FamilyTree but some of the Pedigree Viewer components are."

Lee Drew's email provided a link to the GarysTurn Picasa Web albums with several nFS presentations online. Lee also indicated that the Life Browser and Pedigree Viewer applications, that I mentioned yesterday, are not currently included in new FamilySearch. Lee noted that something like LifeBrowser would require substantial storage, processing and bandwidth to implement.

I followed one of the Ancestry Insider's tweet links today and found Alan Mann's articles archive, which includes Family Search: What's New and What's Coming from October 2008. Alan's annotated pipeline picture is excellent - there is so much that goes into bringing records from paper to your computer screen. The article notes that "... Life Browser, may be years away from being in production."

In my earlier post, I expressed my admiration for the LifeBrowser concept, and that I really liked the integration of individual details, record images, photographs, timeline, map, biography, etc. into a wiki-type page. Unfortunately, it appears that LifeBrowser is not currently implemented in newFamilySearch.

Michael made the comment that "When you think of sheer amount of information that is contained in the database and the number of people that will want to access it, you can see why they're worried about 'scalability'- the ability for the system to handle so many users accessing so much data.The good news is that the system isn't just some pipe-dream. It exists and it works (with some bugs still). It's just a question of getting the software and hardware to catch up to the pent-up demand for it."

Lee put it into perspective with his comment that "... After all, FamilySearch resources are free and are supported out of church coffers. It costs a lot to support an application like Life Browser especially when users like you and I populate it with wild enthusiasm. I'm sure the church will never charge for any of their FamilySearch resources other than fees similar to those associated with renting a film, etc. We can see how they are teaming with governments, churches, commercial entities and the public to mitigate the costs of bring so many records to us .... the users ..... and don't we love it! "

I hope that this summary of what I've found out about new FamilySearch is interesting and useful to you. I know that I have just scratched the surface in this summary, and I am a real FamilySearch outsider, but I know that I have a better understanding of the effort and the product as it currently stands. My thanks to Michael, Miles, Lee, Gary and Alan for sharing their thoughts with me and/or for putting educational material on the Internet for all of us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) Recommendations

The report on "Open Access to Public Records: A Genealogical Perspective; A White Paper by the Records Preservation and Access Committee of The Federation of Genealogical Societies and The National Genealogical Society" was posted on the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) web site - see it at

This is a very important document for genealogists. I urge each of you to read it and understand it.

There are two really useful sections in this report for genealogy research:

1. The recommendations of RPAC for birth, death and adoption record access are:

"The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) recommends that birth records be considered open records not less than one-hundred (100) years from the date of birth.

"The RPAC recommends that death records be considered open records not less than twenty-five (25) years from the date of death.

"The RPAC recommends that adoption records be considered open records to adoptees, preferably when they reach their majority, age 18 in most states, but no later than age 30, while effective use may be made of health information. We also recommend that adoption records become open records to the public through the state archives or another means after one-hundred (100) years from the date of the adoption. "

2. The Appendix of this report provides a state-by-state summary of the records collected, the year started, applicable codes, and the availability of those records. For instance, for California:

"Birth - 1905 - Health and Safety Code § 102430

Marriage - 1905 - Family Code § 5112; Health and Safety Code § 10361 (both repealed in 1995) - FHLC Marriage Indexes 1960 – 1981; California provides for confidential marriages which are not open to the public.


Death - 1905 - Microfiche Index 1905-1995 FHLC Death Indexes 1940 – 1995

Adoption - Closed - Health and Safety Code § 102705

The RPAC has taken a responsible position in this white paper to protect privacy while making reasonable recommendations to open records to the public and to genealogy researchers. I really appreciate this effort - I know it took a long time to work it out. I hope that the states will take these recommendations to heart.

SDGS Beginning Genealogy Classes

The San Diego Genealogical Society (SDGS) offers FREE classes in Beginning Genealogy twice each year to help people learn more about their family. The next round starts this Saturday, 14 March, from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, 8350 Lake Murray Blvd. (corner of Jackson Drive), San Diego CA 92119.

The four class dates and topics are:

March 14 - Genealogy Basics
April 11 - Census Records
May 9 - Vital Records
June 13 - Computer Resources

The course will be repeated on 11 July, 8 August, 12 September and 10 October.

Registration is recommended, but not required. For more information, or to register, call 1-619-588-0065. Walk-ins are welcome.

These classes have been a good drawing card for SDGS to gain new members. They are held before the regular SDGS program meeting.

If you are interested in becoming a genealogist in San Diego, these classes are an excellent way to start your lifelong search for ancestors. You can't beat the price, and the lessons are excellent, not to mention the fellowship in the class and the subsequent SDGS meeting. You will find that this is almost the most fun there is in your intellectual life!

LDS NewFamilySearch questions

Like many of you, I've been monitoring the blog posts of several genea-bloggers like Renee Zamora, The Ancestry Insider, Dan Lawyer, FamilySearch Labs, Fran Jensen and Janet Hovorka (and there may be others!) about the progress of newFamilySearch. Frankly, I'm anxious to test it and use it. But I'm not an LDS church member and therefore have to wait awhile. In the meantime, LDS members in Las Vegas, Idaho and Utah are waiting patiently (?) to use it also.

There are several questions that I would love to have answered:

1) What will it look like? What will it include? Fortunately, there are several demonstrations at Family Search Labs - see the Standard Finder, Pedigree Viewer, the Life Browser, and the FamilySearch Alpha web page. The Family Tree page is not available to people like me without a username and password. If newFamilySearch looks like what's on the publicly available pages shown, then it will likely be a wiki format for each person with a life sketch, events, timeline, photographs, record images, maps of event locations with standard localities and GPS coordinates, a discussion board, etc. I can see all of those features on the Life Browser (click on Deodat Brewster). Frankly, I like this setup much better than any other genealogy wiki I've seen. It is logical, has bells and whistles, and looks like it's fairly easy to use.

2) How will it work? I don't recall seeing how it will work in an online demonstration or presentation. If there is, I would appreciate knowing about it. I found some information today at which has 18 videos that appear to be training modules on New FamilySearch, Personal Ancestral File, Genealogical Research and Other Videos. The first one on Using newFamilySearch provides an overview of how nFS works, how to register, step-by-step instructions for correcting existing family trees on the system, etc. Are these videos obsolete, or are they currently being used to train LDS members and represent what nFS will work?

3) When will it be available for non-church members to use and browse? Janet Hovorka has a post today about her discussion of this question on her post Report from the FamilySearch Developers conference. Some good, Some bad on The Chart Chick blog. My guess of the short answer to the question is "not soon!" They have to iron out the problems with the databases first, then roll it out to the rest of their membership in the States and then overseas.

4) Will non-LDS church members be able to add content to newFamilySearch? In the long run, this is really the question I have. I would love to be able to add my ancestral and one-name study databases, because quite a bit of my records are for people not in the LDS Ancestral File or Pedigree Resource Files. If I was able to do this, I would probably have to combine many of my persons with existing persons in nFS (mostly in the IGI). My guess is the answer to this question is "Don't hold your breath!"

Patience would seem to be the watchword for all of us, LDS and non-LDS alike.

This is a massive project just to put all of the IGI, Ancestral File, and Pedigree Resource File into a new format, combine the duplicates using some rational system, and then the means for persons to upload new information, all the while making it compatible with a number of genealogy software programs and applications. Stay tuned...and watch the LDS-related genealogy blogs I mentioned.

My Y-DNA Results - Post 3: GeneBase Family Tree

My daughters gifted me a 20-marker Y-DNA test from The DNA Ancestry Project ( for Christmas. I sent it in via mail in mid-January and had not heard anything back from them. I checked into it on Monday and found that my results were available on Genebase.

The first post described Getting Started on the web site. The second post described Reading the Markers - seeing my 20 Y-DNA markers for the first time.

In this post, I will describe the uploaded family tree on Genebase. I went into my Family Tree Maker 16 program, and created a GEDCOM file of only my direct ancestors; i.e., no siblings, no extra people, just my 2,045 ancestors. For genetic purposes, those are enough. I saw no purpose in putting 23,000 persons in my database into this GEDCOM file uploaded to a genetics company. When the file was uploaded, I had to identify myself in the database so that my Y-DNA results could be attached to me in the database, and to my patrilineal ancestors also.

Now, when I click on the Family Tree tab on the Genebase Home Page, I get this page (two screens):

This identifies me as a Living Active person in the GeneBase world (Active meaning that I am a user of Genebase). The others are all listed as Deceased. The third possible category is Living, Inactive. I'm so old that I don't have any living ancestors any longer. Each person on the chart can have a birth and death date on the chart. While all of my ancestral data in the GEDCOM has birth and death dates, not all of them are shown for some reason. This may be a program flaw - I have no clue!

I can go back in time by clicking on the up-right arrow in the upper right-hand corner of each person. I went back to Robert Seaver (1608-1683), my earliest patrilineal ancestor:

For each person on the tree, the user can see what information is available for that person by clicking on the person's name. Here is the Profile provided for my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver:

I could add a photograph, add personal information, add or edit facts, add or edit the Profile information, etc. The Notes and some information about this person did not make it into the Profile for some unknown reason.

Under the "Family" link on each person (in the menu below the tabs), the family can be viewed. Here is the Family for Shubael and Hannah (Wilson) Seaver (Shubael was the son of Robert Seaver):

This chart shows only one son of Shubael and Hannah because I put only my direct ancestors in the GEDCOM file uploaded. Robert and Elizabeth (Ballard) Seaver had four sons, so if someone else inputs their Y-DNA data into this database they may or may not be able to quickly identify me as a possible Y-DNA match.

Under the "List" link in the menu below the Tabs, a list of all ancestors in the uploaded GEDCOM file can be listed:

There are other links on the menu line for Pedigree, Surname List, View All Trees and Invite Family.

This Family Tree function serves its purpose, but it needs more work. The dates and locations need to be identical to what was in the GEDCOM file. Navigation around the tree is fairly easy.

It's time to search for matches to my Y-DNA in the Genebase database. The next post will show the results. In future posts, I will go searching for more matches in other Y-DNA databases.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Genealogy News and Research Group Summary - 11 March 2009

I posted my monthly Genealogy News Summary on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog - see here. I do this summary and send it via email to my CVGS colleagues so that they know "what's new" in the genealogy world.

We had our monthly CVGS Research Group meeting today and I posted that summary on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog - see here.

British Isles Panel forum at SDGS Meeting on Saturday

The next meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society is Saturday, 14 March at 12 noon at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd, (at Jackson Drive) in San Diego. From the March 2009 SDGS newsletter:

The program will be a British Isles Panel Forum, featuring June Hanson (British records and research), Jackie Webster (Scottish records and research) and Mary Russell (Ireland records and research).

If you have British Isles ancestors, you will not want to miss this unique opportunity to hear, and more importantly, to ask questions of a panel of experts. They will be discussing the research techniques needed to effectively use civil registrations, church records, censuses, tax records and the geographical division of land.

The panel is composed of long-time BIGRA members (BIGRA was recently merged into SDGS) who have extensive knowledge and research experience in each of their countries of expertise. All have taught research classes and have experience researching in the British Isles.

If you do not feel that you have gotten the most out of researching your British ancestors, this is your chance to find out more from the experts. If you have not yet taken your research "Back across the pond," then come find out the steps that will successfully bring you home to the British Isles. Be sure to have your questions ready to make the most of this special program.

I plan to attend the meeting and will ask June about finding records in the 1800 time frame in Wiltshire, other than church records, which might help identify the parents of John Richman and Ann Marshman. The church records are terrible in Wiltshire in this time period. There must be other resources that can be consulted.

My Y-DNA Results - Post 2: Reading the Markers

My daughters gifted me a 20-marker Y-DNA test from The DNA Ancestry Project ( for Christmas. I sent it in via mail in mid-January and had not heard anything back from them. I checked into it on Monday and found that my results were available on Genebase.

The first post described Getting Started on the web site. This post describes seeing my 20 Y-DNA markers for the first time.

At the end of the last post, I was about to "View My Y-DNA" on the "Explore Your Ancestry" page. I clicked on the link to "View My Y-DNA":

The top of this page says "Raw DNA Results." The page has a short summary of what Y-DNA is, a long image of something that looks like a thermometer but is not understandable, and two boxes on the right showing more information about STR's and teasing another test. The text is informative:

"Only male individuals carry Y-DNA. Unlike all of the other DNA types in your cells, Y-DNA is unique because it is inherited along the paternal line and remains relatively unchanged as it is passed down from generation to generation, making it an excellent candidate for paternal ancestral studies. An individual's Y-DNA is the same as his father's Y-DNA and it is also the same as the Y-DNA of all paternal ancestors along the paternal line (father's father's father's father…..). This means that by testing an individual's Y-DNA, we are actually testing the same DNA type as an individual's paternal ancestors from thousands of years ago, thus allowing the investigation of an individual's paternal ancestral roots."

OK, where do I find mine? There's a link "My DNA" in small type under the "Raw DNA Data" title. I clicked on "My DNA." That didn't work. It was logical, but led me to a page about Y-DNA and mtDNA, which led me back to the last page.

There is a link to "View Y-DNA STR Results" in the box on the right in fairly large print - I clicked on that and this page appeared (3 screens below):

At the top of the page there is a summary of my test. In the middle is a listing of the Y-DNA markers that GeneBase tests and my results for the 20 markers I had tested - this has the "thermometer scale" thing in the middle - the different markers are at different locations on this scale. At the bottom of the page are a series of links to informational articles about Paternal Ancient Ancestry, DNA Archaeology (Y-DNA), DNA Clans (Y-DNA), Carrier Analysis (Y-DNA) and several more.

I wrote down all of my marker values from the long table with the black background. The darn things don't seem to be in numerical order because they are in different locations on the "thermometer scale."

Aha! There is a link on the right near the top of the page that says "Print DNA Certificate." I clicked on it and saw:

OK, that's more like it. I printed it out in landscape, and can proudly post it on my wall. Or I can use it for scratch paper, whatever. I printed two - one for notes and one for saving.

So I have my Y-DNA 20-marker test results. What should I do next? I will enter my Family Tree GEDCOM into Genebase. Then I will check the Genebase database to see if anybody has matches to my markers.

I will also try to enter my marker information into other Y-DNA databases at FamilyTreeDNA, Ancestry, GeneTree, and any other site that can compare my results to other tested persons.

The process so far has been fairly easy, even with all of the false steps trying to find the links to get to the markers. Genebase should make this process easier by at least providing a list of things to do and making the steps easier to find. Several links were in the sidebar boxes. I usually consider sidebar boxes as peripheral information containing advertisements and commercial invitations, not as the path of results.

Family Photographs - Post 46: Mother and Daughter

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

This is a photograph of my grandmother, Emily Kemp (Auble) Carringer (1899-1977) holding my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002). My guess is that the picture was taken in late 1919 or early 1920, perhaps for Betty's christening (I don't have a date for a christening if it ever happened) or for her first birthday on 30 July 1920.

I love this picture. Mom looks so proud of her treasure, as well she should.

Emily was three weeks shy of 20 years old when she had the baby. She and Lyle could not know what lay ahead for their family. Would there be more children? How would their life together turn out? They were just starting out on their life adventure and here's a bundle of joy. How would the baby bless them?

Emily had her mother, Georgianna (Kemp) Auble, to help her with the baby, and I think that Grandma loved being able to help. Georgianna (1868-1952) lived with Lyle and Emily Carringer for the rest of her life, so they must have been very compatible living together as a family.

This photograph was in Lyle L. Carringer's 1910 to 1925 album, which was passed to his daughter, Betty (Carringer) Seaver in 1977 and to his grandson, Randy Seaver, in about 1988.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Genealogy Web sites You Can Use" presentation at NSDCGS COGG today

I gave my 80 minute "Genealogy Web Sites You Can Use" presentation today at the Computer Oriented Genealogy Group (COGG) meeting of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society (NSDCGS). The setup and execution went well, thanks to the folks at NSDCGS.

Since Carlsbad Library is 43 miles from home on often-clogged rush-hour freeways, I left home at 8:15 a.m., and was in the Carlsbad Library parking lot by 9:10 a.m - no problem! I met Pauline, the COGG program planner, and we went over to the City Council Chambers. This is an auditorium setting with a podium with a fixed microphone, with a hookup to an LCD projector set up by NSDCGS. I was all hooked up and ready to go by 9:30! That left time to meet new people, see old friends, have a little snackerdoodle, and visit the facilities.

After a little business, Pauline introduced me at about 10:15 a.m. I launched into my talk, which is a summary of genealogy information currently available on the Internet. The slides discussed large database sites, family tree sites, data portal sites, some topic-specific web sites. I also had a list of commercial databases available for free access at local libraries. The last slides showed some screens from, and NewFamilySearch, and my "guess" as to where genealogy on the Internet is going - more online indexed images (lots more!), more wiki formats, more social networking applications, and more software-to-database connections (bypass GEDCOMs).

There were about 70 people in attendance. I ran slightly over my 11:30 a.m. time limit. I couldn't move around as much as I like because of the fixed microphone. The audience seemed responsive, and asked a few questions during my "fire hose" spew of genealogy sites. I provided a four-page handout, and a link to a PDF version, so that they didn't have to write down all of the URLs in the presentation.

I like to ask some questions of the audience before this talk. I asked these questions (and asked for a show of hands, the percentages are my estimates):

Q: Do you use the Internet for your genealogy research?
A: All but one in attendance said YES, but this was a Computer oriented group.

Q: How often do you use the Internet?
A: at least daily - about 40%; at least weekly - about 80%; at least monthly - about 95%

Q: Do you subscribe to
A: About 40% said they did

Q: Do you subscribe to other commercial web sites?
A: About 30% said they did

Q: Have you posted a Family Tree on a web site?
A: About 25% raised their hand. That surprised me - I always figure that more people do this.

Q: Do you have your own web site?
A: One person raised their hand. That really surprised me, for a computer oriented group.

Q: How often do you visit the NSDCGS web site?
A: At least daily - about 5%; at least weekly - about 20%; at least monthly - about 70%.

Q: Have you visited an FHC in the last month?
A: About 30% said they had.

Q: Have you visited a genealogy library in the last month?
A: About 75% raised their hand - this was right next door to the best genealogy library in San Diego County.

After the meeting, Pauline invited me to lunch with her and several friends. We went to Hennessey's Tavern in Carlsbad and had a great hamburger (two-for-one) and wonderful conversation. We were back to the library at 1 p.m. and I headed home.

Thank you to Gordon Hoard, the NSDCGS President, and his Board for planning and executing a good, fun meeting. I hope that they got their money's worth!

Resolving an Evidence Conflict - Post 3: Analyzing the Evidence

This is the third post in a series about resolving an evidence conflict in my genealogy research. This task is part of applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to genealogy research problems. It's also part of my homework for my ProGen Study Group that I described in Post 1: The Assignment. Post 2: The Evidence identified the Sources I have found for my particular problem and the Evidence contained in each Source to answer the questions:

* What was Devier J. Lamphier Smith birth name?
* What was his birth date?
* What is his birthplace?

Here is my Analysis of each Source and each piece of Evidence (I am repeating the Source citation for clarity in this post):

Source 1: Devier and Abigail (Vaux) Smith Family Bible records, 1805-1946, loose family pages only, first entries made in 1889. Original pages held by Randall J. Seaver, 1154 Via Trieste, Chula Vista CA 91911 in 2009.

Analysis of Source 1:
Source Type: Original (Bible pages with informants handwriting)
Information Type: Secondary (Devier J. Smith birth information written in 1889)
Evidence Type: Direct (provides name and exact date)
Relevance: Very High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: Very High for names and dates (surely Devier J. Smith know his own birth date)
Provenance: Original document kept in Smith > Carringer > Seaver family.

Source 2: 1850 U.S. Census, Dodge County, Wisconsin, Population Schedule, Burnett township, Page 43 (stamped), Dwelling #609, Family #632, Ranslow Smith household, digital image, ( , : accessed 28 February 2009), citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 996.

Analysis of Source 2:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original > Record Copy (Federal) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 3: 1860 U.S. Census, Dodge County, Wisconsin, Population Schedule, Oak Grove township, Page 745 (penned), Dwelling #704, Family #701, Ranslow Smith household, digital image, ( , : accessed 28 February 2009), citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M653, Roll 1406.

Analysis of Source 3:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original > Record Copy (Federal) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 4: 1870 U.S. Census, Taylor County, Iowa, Population Schedule, Benton township, Page 13 (penned), Dwelling #207, Family #207, Devier Smith household, digital image, ( , : accessed 28 February 2009), citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M593, Roll 421.

Analysis of Source 4:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original > Record Copy (Federal) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 5: 1880 U.S. Census, Pottawatomie County, Kansas, Population Schedule, Shannon township, Page 243D (stamped), Dwelling #125, Family #125, D.J. Smith household, digital image, ( , : accessed 28 February 2009), citing National Archives Microfilm Publication T9, Roll 393.

Analysis of Source 5:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original > Record Copy (Federal) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 6: 1875 Kansas State Census, Cloud County, Kansas, Population Schedule, Lincoln township, Page 12 (penned), Dwelling #107, Family #107, D.J. Smith household, digital image, (, : accessed 28 February 2009), citing Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, Roll K-4.

Analysis of Source 6:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original (State) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 7: 1885 Kansas State Census, Clay County, Kansas, Population Schedule, Clyde township, Page 35 (penned), Dwelling #69, Family #82, D.J. Smith household, digital image, (, : accessed 28 February 2009), citing Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, Roll K-23.

Analysis of Source 7:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and age)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original (State) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 8: State of Wisconsin, Private & Local Laws Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin and Acts & Resolves Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, digital image, Wisconsin GenWeb, Name Changes in Wisconsin database,, accessed 28 February 2009.

Analysis of Source 8:
Source Type: Derivative (Abstract)
Information Type: Primary (relevant, timely)
Evidence Type: Direct (names person with birth and adoptive names)
Relevance: Very High (directly applies to person)
Credibility: Very High for name (provides birth and adoptive names)
Provenance: Original (Court Record) > Abstract (Book) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 9: Robert T. Ray, compiler, Cemetery Records of Red Willow County, Nebraska, Southwest Nebraska Genealogical Society, 197?, 47. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (978.2843 V3r), 12 January 2009.

Analysis of Source 9:
Source Type: Derivative (Abstract)
Information Type: Secondary (informant unknown, probably son)
Evidence Type: Indirect (provides name and birth year)
Relevance: High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and date (information generally consistent with other sources)
Provenance: Original (Gravestone) > Abstract (Book).

Source 10: Andrew County, Missouri Probate Court, Probate Records, 1841-1918; Index to Probate Records, 1841-1976, Case No. 1074, Smith, Ranslow, page 47, Andrew Count, Missouri, Courthouse, Savannah, Missouri. Family History Library Microfilm 1,006,198, Item 3, accessed on 12 January 2009.

Analysis of Source 10:
Source Type: Derivative (Record Copy, Image Copy)
Information Type: Primary (informant is father, timely)
Evidence Type: Direct (provides birth and adoptive name)
Relevance: Very High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: Very High for name (Court Record attested to by witnesses)
Provenance: Original (Court Record) > Record Copy (Court clerk book) > Image Copy (Microfilm) > Image Copy (Digital).

Source 11: Abigail (Vaux) Smith Family Papers, 1805-1894, loose family pages only, first entries probably made in about 1894. Original pages held by Randall J. Seaver, Chula Vista CA 91911 in 2009.

Analysis of Source 11:
Source Type: Original (pages in informants handwriting)
Information Type: Secondary (all information wirtten probably in 1894)
Evidence Type: Direct (provides name and exact date)
Relevance: Very High (directly applies to problem)
Credibility: High for names and dates (for Devier J. Smith, his wife probably knew his birth date)
Provenance: Original paper document kept in Smith > Carringer > Seaver family.

To summarize:

* Name: It appears that Devier J. Lamphier was adopted by Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith and changed his name to Devier J. (AKA D.J. or Devier James) Smith in 1866.

* Birth Date: The Family Bible in Devier J. Smith's own hand says 7 May 1842, and his gravestone says 1842. All census records say 1839-1840, and his wife's notes say 7 May 1839.

* Birth Place: The Ranslow Smith family resided in Henderson, Jefferson County, NY in 1840. All census records but 1885 Kansas State Census say he was born in New York; 1885 Kansas State Census says born in Ohio.

It's an interesting research problem, isn't it? Do you agree with my analysis and evaluation of the sources, information and evidence?

My next post will provide my correlation of the evidence conflicts in the information presented.

My thanks to the commenters in the first two posts - I will pursue each of those research avenues. What other sources might I find to help me resolve the conflicts in evidence noted above?

Tombstone Tuesday - Mercy Smith in Medfield MA

Mercy Smith (1772-1850) was one of my 4th-great-grandmothers. I believe that her gravestone stands in Vine Lake Cemetery near the center of Medfield, and is probably next to or near that of her husband, Aaron Smith (1765-1841). I received this photograph from a friend in the early 1990's (thank you, Linda T!):

The stone reads:

Mercy Smith
the wife of
Aaron Smith
died April 13,
AE 78.

Mercy Plimpton was born 9 September 1772 in Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, the daughter and fifth (and last) first child of Amos and Mary (Guild) Plimpton. She married Aaron Smith, son of Moses and Patience (Hamant) Smith, on 6 October 1795 in Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts. Mercy (Plimpton) Smith died on 13 April 1850 in Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts. Aaron and Mercy (Plimpton) Smith had eight children - Susanna, Patience, Mary, Alpheus, Lucy, Elizabeth, Nancy and Aaron Smith. Alpheus (1802-1840) is my ancestral connection to Aaron and Mercy.

There are a number of photographs of tombstones standing in Vine Lake Cemetery in Medfield at, courtesy of Bill Boyington.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Genealogy Junkie True Confessions Collection

Last Saturday night's funtime was a big hit with at least 17 of my genea-blogging colleagues writing posts about their, um, addiction. Here they are:

* Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings

* Charles Hansen on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog

* Leah on The Internet Genealogist

* Sheri Bush on TwigTalk

* Delia Furrer on Delia's Genealogy Blog

* M. Diane Rogers on CanadaGenealogy, or, 'Jane's Your Aunt'

* Abba-Dad on I Dream of Genea(logy)

* Schelly Talalay Dardashti on Tracing the Tribe:The Jewish Genealogy Blog

* Bill West on West in New England

* Thomas MacEntee on Destination: Austin Family

* Russ Worthington on A Worthington Weblog

* Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog

* Brenda Kay Wolfgram Moore on Day-ly Genealogy Blogposts

* Joan Miller on Luxegen's Genealogy and Family History

* Paula Hinkel on It Just Never Came Up

* Patti Browning on Consanguinity

* Terri O'Connell on Climbing the O'Connell Family Tree

Thank you all for playing, and letting us peek into your genealogy lives.

If I missed you, please let me know and I'll add it to the list. I was smarter this week - I made a list!

There are a number of relatively new genea-bloggers on this list. I have ALL of them on my Bloglines list to read. Are you reading all of them? If not, please pass them some blog-love and enjoy their true confessions.

UPDATED 3/10: Added Patti's post and Terri's post to the list!

Family History Fair Pictures

I posted my experiences at the Escondido Family History Fair on Saturday. I took too few pictures during the lectures and in the Exhibit Hall. Here are some of the ones I took.

Leland Meitzler was the Keynote speaker, and the folks at this FHC made a large banner (maybe 8 x 10 feet?) with his keynote title on it - I couldn't get far enough back to get all of Leland in this picture. The stage in back of Leland had antiques and artifacts displayed by the Escondido South Stake members.

Did you notice that they spelled "genealogy" wrong? :) Leland wore his power black suit with flashy gray shirt and tie all day - very professional! And a big smile, too.

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society had a table in the Exhibit Hall. There was a poster, some handouts on the table and a laptop showing the web site and blog.

The photo above shows John Finch (the current Program and PR chairman) and Gary Brock (the current President and Webmaster).

I took a picture of the San Diego Genealogical Society table too, with three pretty ladies (Joy Walsh, Kaye Boozel, Marna Clemmons) taking names and handing out information:

The SDGS table had a large publicity board, some of the SDGS publications, recent newspaper publicity articles, and a signup list for a free newsletter via email.

The only photo of a speaker in action that I took was of Tom Underhill during his talk about Digital Photographs. He managed to pose in the two seconds between the time I raised the camera and the flash went off.

The screen says "Don't drown in images." Tom's presentations are always lively and fun.

I wish that I had taken pictures of the other genealogy and heritage societies in the Exhibit Hall.

Ancestral Atlas Help offered

I took a look at Ancestral Atlas last week and complained about several features that were missing or didn't work well, including a Help function.

I received this email today from them:

"Dear Customer,

"We've made a couple more changes to the Ancestral Atlas web site to resolve some of the problems some of you may have been experiencing.

"These are:

"* Search Tab. When you now click on the green arrow next to a search result, the list of events at that location that match your search are now displayed. You can go back to the original search results by selecting the Back button.

"* Help pages. We've added a 'Quick Help' page to show you how to add Events and People records and how to perform some basic searching. We're hoping to make this far more comprehensive in the coming days.

"* Marriage Events. When you add a marriage event between 2 people, 'partner' relationships are now automatically created if they didn't exist already.

"* User Forum. We've set up a temporary forum at: - please join to view the latest messages or discussions regarding the site and its functionality.

"Please let us know of any other problems you may have by email to

"Ancestral Atlas is still in beta and all suggestions are gratefully received - we want to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

"Yours Faithfully,The Ancestral Atlas Team"

That's a fairly impressive response to the complaints of users and testers like myself. I appreciate it. I'll have to go back in and see how much easier it is to use.

My Y-DNA results! - Post 1: Getting Started

My daughters gifted me a Y-DNA test from The DNA Ancestry Project ( for Christmas. I sent it in via mail in mid-January and had not heard anything back from them. I realized today that it should probably be done, and I had not provided an email address or any contact information other than a street address. I found the box with the CDROM (which I have not loaded) and the small user guide which told me where to go and what to do, including the Username and Password I need to use to login.

So I went in to today to see what I could find out. I thought my readers might be interested in the process with this company, which uses GeneTrack Biolabs and

Here is the DNA Ancestry Project screen.

I clicked on the "Log In" link to get started. I had to input my login username and password provided on the test box. That worked, and I added some information to my profile. When I was done, I clicked on the Home tab in the top menu and was greeted by:

OK, where's my Y-DNA test markers? The Genebase site really wants to help me understand what it's all about - the page has Notifications, Updates to my page, Learning Center, What's New, and more. The left sidebar has lots of links for me to try and the right sidebar wants me to upgrade to more markers and other DNA tests.

I had a hard time figuring out what to do next - I tried clicking on the Announcements link and got lost. I clicked on the "My Raw DNA Data" link in the left sidebar and got lost. read somewhere that I should click on the "My Orders" link in the left sidebar, so I did:

This page told me that my Y-DNA test was completed and the results are available. I clicked on the link "Completed, view results" and got the "Explore Your Ancestry" page (two screens):

This page has sections for View Maternal Ancestry, View Paternal Ancestry, Recommended Tutorials, and Recommended Tests.

I'm going to click on the "View Y-DNA" link under Paternal Ancestry next. That should provide the details of my Y-DNA 20-marker test results. From the first Genebase page, it looks like I am in Haplogroup Group R. I'm not surprised! Already, they want me to upgrade to the Subclade R test.

The Genebase site provides the opportunity to upload a GEDCOM file so that they can have my entire researched ancestry just in case someone else matches me somehow. It looks like I can add the mitochondrial DNA results I received in September for GeneTree.

I need to learn more about what all of this means, and see how I can input my Y-DNA and mtDNA data on other DNA web sites. There are many more features on the Genebase site that I need to explore, also.

I'm confused about just who DNA Ancestry Project and Genebase are connected to. I'll have to do more research on them (frankly, when I sent the swabs in I thought it was to GeneTree!). Should I load up the CDROM on my computer? What will it do for me? I'm really not sure, other than provide a shortcut on my Windows screen and link to Genebase.

Was all of the above helpful to anybody? Should I publish my Y-DNA matches on my blog, or keep them private? Any advice? Thanks!