My genealogy research has been stalled a bit during this pandemic, with many libraries and archives closed to keep the public safe. So this month, I’ve been indulging in a fun little DNA challenge–have you tried this one?
In genealogy, we spend a lot of time trying to identify the unknown father of an ancestor. To celebrate Father’s Day this month, I thought I’d pick a dad from my tree and chat about how I got him wrong.
I have some friends who became interested in family history and immediately looked for education on how to do it right, before they actually dug in. And then there are folks like me, who spent years working on our pedigree charts, more or less self-taught. Eventually, I discovered classes and conferences and webinars too, and I’ve learned a lot about genealogy best practices since those early days. I apply those standards to my research now, when I work to fill in more blanks in my family tree. But it seems I really ought to revisit some of the conclusions I came to years ago.
Case in point: the father of Magdalena Dorothea Grahling, who was born 19 Feb 1832 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York, married Michael Miller in 1848, and died there in 1883. (Hereinafter, I’ll call her Maggie to save space, though she appeared in records by several other variants.)
Every month, I pick a new genealogy project to focus on. Mother’s Day is celebrated in May here in the US, so I’ve decided this month I’ll work on the origins of my matrilineal line. It’s a quest that starts with family lore, searches for historical documents to support that story, and will end up exploring DNA evidence in order to draw a conclusion.
Curbside recycling is a wonderful thing… but it’s not where I want my decades of family history research to end up when I’m gone.
Genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen once described her work like this: “I ‘reconstruct forgotten lives.’ Nothing is more satisfying than the knowledge that a life, long lost to time, can be rediscovered and understood. Every life has purpose and significance. My goal is to honor those disappeared lives by recreating, preserving and sharing their memories.”.”1
I aspire to the same goals—and that means that I need to include “preserving and sharing” in my genealogy efforts. Like so many of us, I am staying at home during this pandemic crisis. Why not use some of this time to develop plans to make sure my research, discoveries, and family treasures don’t end up sitting abandoned on the curb one day?
We genealogists love our cemeteries and tombstones. So here’s a question for you—have you ever come across a grave marker that boasted about the county where the deceased was born? So-and-so was “a native of Erie County, Pennsylvania”?
Who does that, right? Well, I’ll tell you….
Last month I mentioned prepping for a week-long immersion in Meeting Standards Using DNA Evidence—Research Strategies, led by Karen Stanbary, CG, at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). It was a tremendously valuable experience. I’ll share some takeaways here.
I’m a little late in posting this month, but for a very good reason! Next week I am off to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) for a one-week immersion in a program called Meeting Standards Using DNA Evidence – Research Strategies, led by Karen Stanbury, CG. In this class, we will study methodologies and strategies to apply best practices when we want to combine DNA results with our documentary evidence to reach a conclusion. Since the first of the year, I’ve been preparing a DNA case-study-in-progress of my own to present to some of the class.
What does this have to do with guaranteed progress? And how could it help you?
Year-end is a great time to take a look at our DNA matches and our organization/analysis tools and maybe do a little cleanup. I’ve begun playing with a free Windows-based utility by Jonathan Brecher—the Shared Clustering tool.
Now, there are a lot of clustering tools out there for those who are ready to try that—and not everyone is ready to rumble, I mean cluster. What I really appreciate about Shared Clustering right now is the automated [Note Update] function, which you can do with or without clustering. I can make my Ancestry match notes more meaningful and consistent and then bulk upload those same notes to other kits I manage too. I’ll walk you through the steps I took, and maybe you’ll get some ideas of how to tweak the process to be helpful to you.
DNA is just one part of the bigger genealogy puzzle—genetic results can help with brick walls, but documentary evidence is essential. If you read this monthly blog for the DNA content, you may want to come back next month, because today I want to digress to talk about my recent experience with a guided research trip.
I have spent much of the past month (okay, this past *year*) preparing for my first trip to Ireland, in my quest to learn more about that side of my roots. And DNA plays an important part!