How to Get on Genealogy Roadshow (Or Not)


Last night, PBS aired the 1st episode of their new series, “Genealogy Roadshow.”  The first episode is now online for viewing if you missed it. The first episode was filmed here in my hometown of Nashville, TN and my husband and I actually auditioned for the show, though we didn’t end up making it on. Throughout the favorable response I’ve seen online since the show aired, I thought I would share our experience as it may shed some light on the process. Of course, others may have insight too!

Being Approached

Back in April, I received an email from one of the show producers who found me through my blogging.  She introduced the premise of the show and asked if I would be interested in submitting a genealogical case for the show. I was flattered and thought it would be cool so contacted her for more info.

The Genealogical Mystery

From the very outset, the show casting calls made it clear that they were interested in solving genealogical mysteries – particularly ones that were compelling. I get it of course – it’s a television show after all! I don’t happen to have any big “mysteries” in my family tree that I felt would be particularly newsworthy, but there were a couple in Kalonji’s.  We presented two different stories – 1) seeking the father of Kalonji’s bi-racial great-grandfather Champ McClellan and 2) investigating the potential that one of Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandmothers was related to Meriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark.  The producer asked me several questions about the family tree – wanting details, dates, and names for these people.  Easy enough to do since I keep all of our family tree data online on our website.

The Audition

Within a week or two, Kalonji and I were doing a video audition for the show via Skype! That was way cool. The producer recorded us telling our stories and why were were interested in seeking out the answers to these genealogical mysteries. With lots of prompting to be animated (remember, this is television) :-). I guess they wanted to make sure they had people who were interesting to see and not going to be deadpan throughout filming. Can’t blame them for that! Our video was then shared with show producers.

Genealogist Contact

A week or so after the audition, I was then contacted by a professional genealogist who was hired to investigate. By this point, it became quite apparent to me that Genealogy Roadshow was interested in pursuing the Meriweather Lewis connection as all her questions were about this story.  We spoke for about 20 minutes while she confirmed the details she’s received from the show and I sent her the link to our family tree website.  Great!

Filming

Belmont Mansion

The Nashville episode of the show was filmed here in town on June 30th at the Belmont Mansion.  Unfortunately, we were not selected for the show but I never received confirmation one way or another until I just never heard from them by the time filming started. I guess this was just miscommunication from the show producers, which honestly left me a bit disappointed, but I’ll chalk it up to the way things work in television. Social media was all abuzz the day of filming about them being in town.

After filming, the show producers confirmed that I should be getting a packet of what research they did compile – they explained that they were not able to find enough prior to the show. So, I am hopeful that in that research there may be things that even I didn’t know.  As for being on the show – “c’est la vie” – it wasn’t meant to be, However, in these past few weeks as the show has been nearing air date, I had become increasingly excited about it and seeing the stories of those that did make it onto the show. I was able to watch it online last night and thoroughly enjoyed it! I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest as well. I am truly excited for all those that did learn more about the mystery stories in their families. :-)

 

 

 

Do RSS Feeds Puzzle You?

Then you need to sign up for my upcoming, free webinar – “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.”   I was honored to be selected to do this webinar as part of the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2013 Jamboree Extension Series.

rss feed icon

The focus of the webinar is to guide you through the myriad of options you have for getting online genealogy news content delivered to you – with a specific emphasis on how to understand and take advantage of RSS feeds — you know, the mystery behind those orange icons you see all over the web.

It has been my experience that they are widely underused and I’d love the opportunity to explain just how great they are.  Google’s decision to kill Google Reader this summer helped make more people aware of what an RSS feed is but I think this will be a great opportunity to continue and help people understand them.

The official description for the webinar is below:

RSS feeds are powerful mechanisms for having online content delivered directly to you. With the plethora of genealogy sites available online, the information river can often seem overflowing. In this session, you will learn what RSS feeds are and how they are used, understand why they are beneficial to you as a web consumer and a web publisher, and survey the different types of RSS readers available – including the newest trends of magazine-style content delivery systems for aggregated news. Whether on your desktop or on-the-go, you can make online information work for you!

The presentation will be on Saturday, October 5th at 12pm central time. You can sign up at the SCGS website. It will be archived, but the archive is only available to SCGS members. Hope to *see* you there!

 

 

Another Successful Family Connection Thanks to Ancestry.com

Just last month I shared a successful connection story to a cousin of mine due to those Ancestry shaky leaves. Well, I’ve had another connection thanks to Ancestry and I’m so grateful!

One day when I logged online, I saw that someone had been working on my first stepfather’s family tree, Donald Garner, and the she too shared the last name. I contacted her and was pleased to know that she was indeed part of his family – a cousin.  Donald and my mother were not married long – not quite two years, but I do remember him. He also had a daughter whom would come and spend time with us from time to time.

the 4 of us in Charlotte, NC circa 1990

After Donald died, we lost connection with his family but after making contact with Donald’s cousin, who informed my stepsister that I was hoping to find her, today we became Facebook friends and had some time to catch up by phone – yeah!

picture of Donald

I am looking forward to getting to know her again and getting to know her family. :-)

Idea for Collaborative Genealogy – Easier Edit Options!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you may know that I am a huge proponent for collaborative genealogy – specifically, platforms for working on family trees and genealogical information via shared tools where multiple contributors work together.  Well, I recently stumbled across Wikipedia’s Visual Editor and it’s awesome! I have contributed to Wikipedia many times in the past, but have always abhorred having to use the Wiki markup language. However, their Visual Editor program is nice because it makes editing much more “WYSIWYG” or “what you see is what you get.”  As stated in the video below, it

..makes writing for Wikipedia like writing a paper for class or sending an email..

I am loving the Visual Editor and would love to see something like it implemented on the FamilySearch Wiki and at WeRelate. Other genealogy-based wiki’s would also benefit. I contribute to FamilySearch now as it is and they do have a visual editor option, but it works differently and I think Wikipedia’s Visual Editor approach is a great model for how FamilySearch Wiki could be improved to make it even easier for people to share what they know.

Do you contribute to FamilySearch or WeRelate? Do you think it would be great to have edits work like Wikipedia’s Visual Editor?

Those Shaky Leaves Really Work

Today has been a great day. I have been able to be in contact with a 2nd cousin of mine for a branch of my family for whom we have lost contact. And, she found me via those great Ancestry shaky leaves! Practically just like the commercial below: :-)

She shared with me that she was watching TV and an Ancestry commercial came on. She’d had a tree set up some time ago, but she’d not pursued it until the past couple of days after seeing the commercial. She logs on, checks out a leaf, and up pops my tree where she saw that I had her grand-father, Frank Robinson in it.  A few email exchanges later and we were chatting it up on the phone. And I am absolutely thrilled.  Her grandfather Frank, was a brother to my grandfather Herman, so we are 2nd cousins. Frank and Herman were the 2nd and 7th children respectively or our great-grandparents, Lewis Robinson and Lucinda Lennon Robinson.

I am hoping that from speaking with her, we can re-establish contact with some of the other family members. We’ll have to see. But at least we now have details on family my  mom hasn’t seen in close to 40 years. Yeah!  We are making plans to possibly meet in November.  Ancestry leaves FTW.  8-)

Did I Find Lovey’s Family?

Yeah – Another potential family tree revelation from a 23andMe match! A few days ago, I was looking at one of my matches family trees and noticed he had the Boston surname on his tree. Boston is a surname in my family – one of my 3rd great-grandmothers was named Lovey Boston.  To date, I don’t have a lot of information about Lovey  — she was born around 1821,  started cohabitating with Prince Walker about 1836 and they lived in Plymouth, Washington County, NC.   Lovey and Prince would go on to have at least 8 children – their son Anthony being my direct ancestor.

From 23anMe, I learned that my match (we’ll call him EW), and I share DNA of African origin. He matches my mother, my maternal uncle, and myself at the same segment.  He has a 2nd segment in common with my uncle.

EW matches me where it’s dark blue, my mom where it’s green and my uncle where it’s light blue.

EWis a descendant of David Boston and wife Elizabeth of the Free Union “Piney Woods” community of Martin & Washington counties in NC.  In fact, of EW’s ancestry, 3 of his 3rd-great-grandparents were children of David & Elizabeth. At first, I was not sure how Lovey could connect, but a cousin of EW’s (we’ll call her ER) spotted people in my Lovey Boston descendancy chart that she recognized and by looking at her tree, I could see connections more clearly. One of Lovey’s daughters was the second wife to a man named Peter Moore.  Peter Moore’s first wife, was a sister of ER’s 3rd-great-grandmothers.

I’m still working on how Lovey may fit into his family tree, but right now, my current theory is that Lovey may have been another one of David & Elizabeth’s children.  Given her approximate birth date, it makes sense for her to be positioned there generationally, and it is at about the right number of generations back for our match prediction of the 4th cousin range. If Lovey was indeed one of their children, EW and I are 4th cousins exactly.  Of course, Lovey could be a niece of David’s too. Who knows?

In fact, I found a picture of one of David & Elizabeth’s documented daughters, Elizabeth Boston Brooks on the Piney Woods Project blog. Martha would have been a grand-niece of Elizabeth’s if I figured this out correctly.

Do you think Elizabeth looks like my great-grandmother Martha?

If indeed Lovey is part of David’s family then she has quite an interesting family background.  According to the book “Disciple Assemblies of Eastern North Carolina” by William James Barber (1966), David was the founder of the Piney Woods Community.

I have much more research ahead of me! But, I am so pleased to have connected with this Boston family and their many descendants!

Anticipating the Next Generation PERSI

FindMyPast has recently announced their partnership with the Allen County Public Library to revolutionize the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)a database well known to many genealogists. PERSI is a fabulous resource in that the ACPL has, over the past 30 years, been indexing publications from genealogy society newsletters and journals.

However, as great as PERSI is, two years ago I blogged suggestions for further improving it and in general, thoughts for how the genealogy publishing industry could become more aligned with models used in science and medicine for online publishing. I am so glad to see this new partnership and believe it will be a great impetus for a start in this direction!

image from http://goo.gl/bdztj9

In my blog post, I listed several features I would love to see included in PERSI – perhaps FindMyPast can incorporate some of these elements — these included RSS feeds for each title, the ability to comment at the individual article level, the ability to share publication details via social media, and offering HTML and PDF versions of articles. Ideally, I would also like to see ways to purchase access to articles (with some older ones being provided for free).

I can anticipate that many genealogy societies may have reservations about how their content will be reflected and included in the new version of PERSI, since there are plans to include full-text content, but I would also hope that many will see this as an opportunity to be open-minded and reflect on the potential for new business models.

As it stands now, I as a user, remain highly frustrated by the publishing models of many genealogy societies and hope that this may open a path for widespread consideration. Far too few offer easy-access methods for true online subscriptions to current, much less, historical content. Do you know how inconvenient it is for me to have to send a check for print volumes, or even wait for a CD to be sent? Digital delivery is greatly needed by more genealogy societies

The Federation of Genealogical Societies would be an ideal organization to help with some of the transition so the fact that D. Joshua Taylor is FGS President and lead genealogist for FindMyPast is almost too perfect! :-)

As Curt Witcher is quoted in the FindMyPast press release

Having the ability to provide much more frequent updates and further, link index entries to serial issues, is a real game-changer…

and I eagerly anticipate seeing this come to fruition for us all to benefit even more than we have in the past!

 

 

I’m Featured on Treelines.com!

Have you used Treelines.com yet?  I would highly suggest checking it out – it’s a great site that allows you to create visually interesting stories.  I learned about the site after learning that the site developer, Tammy Hepps, had won the 2013 Rootsweb Developer Challenge.  Ever-so-ready to explore new tools, I quickly signed up for an account and created my first story – one about what sparked my interest in my Koonce ancestors.

From my early use, I knew right away that I would like this site.  Particularly, how it makes story-telling accessible.  After RootsTech’s emphasis on storytelling this year, I realized while I share information here on my blog, I wasn’t doing well in the “storytelling” aspect, so I appreciated being able to use Treelines to do so.

Then, last week, I was contacted by Tammy who asked if I’d be interested in being profiled – so of course I said yes!  You can check out the interview on the Treelines blog.

Perfect Picture for Memorial Day

My uncle Stanley Robinson passed away in July 2010.  Just 10 months later in May 2011, his mom, my grandmother Alice, also passed away. Stanley was my grandmother’s first born and they were always very close. Even though we lost them both so soon after each other, I relish in the fact that they are buried in the same cemetery – the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.

Not only are they buried in the same cemetery, but their plots are in the same diagonal row. In the picture below, Stanley’s headstone is in the foreground, with the red flowers and if you look down the row diagonally grandma is where you see the yellow flowers. Click on the picture for a larger view.

I have been meaning to post this picture for two years and today seemed like the perfect day to do it. :-)

23andMe Match Confirms Suspected Relationship: Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a great connection I made through 23andMe with a new cousin. In that post, I talked about the match in 23andMe and why I was so excited to see her show up.  This time, I’ll share what I learned about our DNA match.

For some reason, when I viewed Cousin P in my Relative Finder, the M/P designation did not show for her.  This is the designation 23andMe uses to tell you on which side of your family your match and you are related. It only works if you have had at least one parent also tested with 23andMe. Well, both of my parents have tested and I have many other matches where the designation is shown, so I am at a loss why it didn’t show that day. Must have been a bug. It shows now though. But, on that day, my next step after realizing she is a person of interest was to find out which of my parents to which she is related.

That’s done easily enough using the Family Inheritance: Advanced feature. Doing that revealed that she is related to me (purple) and my mother (blue) on Chromosome 16. Our segment match length is 38cM.

I then wanted to compare Cousin P against my mom, and my uncle (mommy’s full brother). What was interesting here is that Cousin P hardly matches my uncle – their segment match is 6cM (green)


Since 6 cM is on the cusp of matches that might be excluded as not being significant enough to determine a match that is identical by descent vs. DNA just be identical by state. Though my mother and uncle have the same parents, if only one of them had tested, and it was the one with the small amount of matching DNA, we could have missed this match.  Lesson to be learned: try and get as many family members tested as possible. :-)

The next step is to then enter Cousin P into my spreadsheet I keep for sorting my matches. This is important to do for triangulation purposes as it allows me to see if those that match me and my family members, also match others who match us. While you can do some of this comparison on the 23andMe site, I keep the spreadsheet for better record-keeping and HIGHLY encourage everyone to do something similar if you aren’t already.

My Analysis Spreadsheet has a tab for my maternal matches, and a tab for my paternal matches. I then sort matches by Chromosome Number. My columns are Chromosome, Name, % Shared DNA, Start of Segment Match (Base Pair Position #), End of Segment Match (Base Pair Position #), Distance of Match (cM), # SNPs in common and Notes.  Below is a snapshot of my spreadsheet, the tab for my maternal matches, with the Name column removed for privacy.  As you can see, I’m not always diligent in filling it out uniformly, but I capture the essence of the info needed.

Where you see clusters of color represent cases of triangulation – cases where my matches not only match me/my family members, but other matches of mine/my family members. The purple cluster is where Cousin P lies. The first row of the cluster is Cousin P. She matches us from base pair number 11,000 – 51,000. The second two purple lines are another match of mine who I’ll call Cousin W.  Cousin W matches my mother and I from base pair number 17,000-24,000 and base pair 47,000-51,000.  Upon seeing Cousin W matching my mom and I in the same place, I then went back to 23andMe and used the Advanced Family Inheritance feature to compare all three of us — I wanted to see is Cousin P also matches Cousin W for it is possible that they wouldn’t.

I was pleased to see that all three of us match! In the figure below, the

a
The blue shows where Cousin W matches my mom; the green shows where Cousin W matches Cousin P., and the light blue shows where Cousin W matches my uncle. Sweet. Thus, I was able to color the three rows in my spreadsheet as one color and I now know that Cousin W, Cousin P, and my mother all share a common ancestor.

Now knowing this, I then took a closer look at Cousin P’s family tree – information she’d filled out in her 23andMe Profile. In the next post of the series, I’ll share I learned then!