FamilySearch’s FamilyTree: Oh How It Excites Me!

I’ve had great fun this weekend catching up with RootsTech activity. From the formal web streams, to blog posts, and videos produced by those on site, I’ve truly enjoyed it.  Among my favorite of the material I took in this weekend though was to hear the update from Ron Tanner on FamilySearch’s Family Tree.  After his talk last year on the FamilyTree, I was able to play around with it some and did like what I saw. But, the good news from this year is that FamilyTree is now open to the public and you don’t have to be an LDS member (which I’m not) to use it.  This excites me!

You want know why don’t you? The reason is because I do an extensive amount of work for others via my USGenWeb activities and have access to information about many people. To date I have indexed thousands of names from many different types of records (newspaper articles, yearbooks, wills, etc.) and sometimes I find myself looking up these people I’m indexing and/or reading about. I do post to various genweb sites and on my own personal websites/blogs but I find that I want to place this information as directly as I can into the hands of their relatives so that they can see it sooner, rather than them happening to stumble across it different places on the web. My goal is to match up this info to their families who may be looking for them.

Given my interests, I am a fan of collaborative genealogy and am in favor of the concept of a One World Tree approach — and this is exactly what FamilySearch FamilyTree is going after.

Now, I understand a “One World Tree” will never truly be a One World Tree. But, I do like the idea of one master page for a person that many people can contribute to and work on and monitor. For a long time, I’ve felt that such an approach is the best way for me to share what I come across.. My criteria for the perfect platform = free, one master record per person, lots of people in the database, and a way for changes to be pushed out to anyone “monitoring” for changes.

In the past, I’ve experimented with the following:

  • Ancestry Member Trees
    • Advantages:  large market share which equals lots of people. Putting my info there means it is probably going to eventually be seen by those interested in it. Especially with Ancesty’s record matching technology.
    • Disadvantages: the member trees are *individual* so if I have something to add, I have to create a new record for myself, attach the item and then hope it gets picked up for others to see. Or, else, I’m manually contacting others who have that person in their tree and sending them messages. Lots of work. But, this is what I have been doing up until now.
  • Geni.com
    • Advantages: None for me now. Since they changed their membership model at the end of summer in 2011
    • Disadvantages: with their membership model one cannot search their entire database of profiles unless you pay.  This is a major barrier for me as I’m seeking a free approach to sharing. It’s hard to contribut to records you can’t see. This is a barrier for many.
  • WeRelate
    • Advantages: I’ve liked what I’ve seen from WeRelate and admire what they are trying to do. Also, their partnership with the Allen County Public Library should definitely help with their longevity.
    • Disadvantages: person editing has gotten better over the years, but the wiki format will still be confusing and a barrier for many. And, though they have 2.4 million profiles in the database, when I can’t even find 5 randomly selected former North Carolina governors in the database, it tells me that there is still much room for growth and my contributions would likely not get the traction I’m seeking .
  • WikiTree 
    • Advantages: this is another company who I think is trying to do a great thing by fostering collaborative genealogy. But, I personally see no advantages to use them.
    • Disadvantages: ads appear as I navigate the site and I find them intrusively placed. I think it used to be the case that ads were only for users who are not logged in but that’s not so any more as I see them even when logged in. Also, in my test search for the same 5 NC governors, no results were found for any of them. Again, another sign that the database has more room for growth and may not be the best for my efforts.

FamilySearch Family Tree however, seems to meet all of my criteria!

  • It’s free to use.
  • They have a HUGE database of people (all 5 of those NC governors were easily located in my search).
  • Lots of people use it. It’s FamilySearch after all – a juggernaut in genealogy!
  • Each person can be “watched” and changes are emailed to you if you are watching someone
  • And, as a One World Tree concept – their goal is one record per person. Exactly what I want to be contributing to. 

Not that it’s perfect. I have some recommendations which I’ll share in a separate post, but I see myself investing my time in Family Tree for the forseeable future and promoting that for researchers with whom I interact. IMHO, I believe this is the best platform for me and my goals and thanks to FamilySearch for opening it up! :-)


Image credit: Networking from Flickr user jairoagua. 

 

23andMe Match Confirms Suspected Relationship: Part 1

Tonight I was so pleased to see in my email inbox another acceptance of one of my genome sharing requests. When I logged onto 23andMe and saw the persons details, I started to get excited. I have thought of all kinds of ways to tell the story here on my blog and  none of them appealed to me. So, I figure the best way to do it is just to start typing and see where it goes.

After seeing the email, the first place I go is to my Relative Finder list to see if this person (I’ll call her Cousin P)  is a match for me, or one of the other 7 profiles I have linked to my account.  I have several family members to the test and all of them are linked to my account. Unfortunately, when 23andMe sends me the email that I have a new sharing request OR that someone has accepted my sharing request, the email does not tell me which profile it applies to.  This is definitely a potential opportunity for 23andMe to improve. So, each time I have to search through all the profiles until I find the right one. Lucky for me, since I always search me first, she popped right up.

Absent from her match information is which side of my family she matches me on. I have had both of my parents do the 23andMe test, so the system should have had an M or P next to her name. For some reason, it’s not there, so I guess I’ll report it to the company.  Anyway, I was eager to learn more for the following reasons:

  • Our predicted relationship is 3rd-6th cousin and the percentage DNA we share is 0.51%.  That’s enough to make it more likely we could find our common ancestor IF the stars lined up (so many variables affect this).  
  • She shares more DNA in common with me than a three cousins of mine (a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousin), who have done 23andMe AND for whom I already have a documented paper trail connection prior to any of us doing 23andMe testing.
  • One of her locations in the profile was “Rocky Mountain, NC”. I realized right away that this was likely “Rocky Mount, NC” and I have ancestors on my mother’s side of the family from Rocky Mount (a city in Edgecombe and Nash counties).
  • She has a View Family Tree link! Not too many people have taken the time to put in their family tree at 23andMe. The quality of the information in the tree can vary widely. But, it’s a start!

Before looking at her family information though, I wanted to find out where our DNA matched. In my next post, I’ll describe what I learned.

Blog Design for 2013

When I was growing up, we changed residences all the time. I went to a different school every year until the 11th grade. And nope, we were not military. My mom just liked variety. And, I have inherited that particular trait. So… I’ve updated my blog design again. I typically do this once a year.. this year, it just took me a little longer to get to it. :-)

I really liked my last design. I liked the social media options along the sidebar, and I liked the blank space on the screen. So, nothing against in in particular except that I was ready for something different. It used the DailyPost WordPress theme.

I have now switched to a new WordPress theme called Infosource. I chose a theme with a strong social media element, so you can find me all over the internet by using the icons on the right-hand side of the page. The colors are crisp, the lines are clean. And, my various pages are across the top navigation.

Hope you like!

 

My Updated 23andMe Ancestry Painting

Back in December, 23andMe updated the algorithms behind their Ancestry Painting feature.  I posted my original results in October 2011.  Thanks to a comment from a blog reader, I’m going to share my updated results.

My original results had me as 84% African, 13% European and 3% Asian (likely Native-American).

My new results are now 85.9% Sub-Saharan African, 11% European and 0.8% Asian (most of this Native American).

Overall, not much different from what it was before :-)

Both of my parents have done the 23andMe test, so I’m able to get my Split View.  As I’d suspected previously, the Native American/Asian DNA comes from my father’s side of the family, as does most of the European-origin DNA I have.

My Chromosome View is also updated and what is so nice is that now, each of my parents’ strands are shown separately.  In the old version, I was able to approximate what half came from which parent, but now I don’t have to guess.  Just as I’d hypothesized, the bottom strand is my father (I know b/c the bottom strands have more European DNA than the top strands). 

And, to coincide with all of this, today I was contacted by someone who is a DNA match to both sides of my family AND he has identified common surnames from both sides that are in his tree, just as they are in mine. More as it develops!

(If you would like to read my other 23andMe posts, you can find them here.)

Doing My Part: Volunteering for the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society

A few years ago I posted my thoughts sharing frustrations I’ve had with genealogy societies, and since then, I continue to experience much of the same.  Not one to just complain though, I do try and do my part – which is why I am excited to now be a part of the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society; I am the group’s Technology Director. :-)

I’ve been working with the group for the past few months and my primary tasks are developing the new website for the group, managing several online project databases, and our major task this year is hosting the AAHGS 34th National Conference here in Nashville Oct 10-13th, 2013. 

As can be expected from me, the backend of the site is done with WordPress. And, though we still have several tweaks to make,  you can check it out below. Our URL is http://www.aahgsnashville.org/

I feel positively that working together as a group, we will be able to help advance the Chapter forward and offer the very things I felt back then was greatly needed by societies.  I will be sharing more as we continue to grow the site and as I get more involved with the conference.  Until then, please stop by and check us out!

What’s in Store for 2013?

Well, that I don’t know! But, I do know that 2012 was full of great genealogy activities for me and I look forward to what this next year will bring.  I have not blogged as much as I’d like because I have been busy, yet, I hope that changes in 2013. Check out my wordle for my 2012 blog posts – I do find it particularly telling what I talked about :-)

What are some of my genealogy highlights from  2012?

What’s in store (that I know of) for 2013?

  • We are planning some great database additions for the TNGenWeb and have had a great group of volunteers helping out
  • I’ll be doing a webinar as part of the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree Extension Series
  • I am helping with Nashville’s chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society by building their new website, special projects and helping with the hosting of the national conference this year in Nashville

Along with these things, I continue to be very proud of my involvement with the USGenWeb project and our mission to bring free genealogy online for researchers.  I am State Coordinator for TNGenWeb,  Asst. State Coordinator and Webmaster for NCGenWeb, and Assistant State Coordinator for FLGenWeb, so when I’m not working on my own stuff, you can find me sharing happily for these groups.  :-)  

Bring it on 2013!

 

I’m a 2013 Jamboree Webinar Presenter!


A few weeks ago, I shared that I’d submitted a webinar presentation for the Jamboree Webinar Extension Series the Southern California Genealogical Society hosts. I am so pleased to share that my webinar was accepted!

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 I will present “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.” Here is the description:

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!

I am too thrilled!  I’ve done webinars this summer on WordPress, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to help others really leverage the power of RSS feeds.

Now, my webinar is only one of 25 webinars on the 2013 schedule, so you will definitely want to check the offerings and see which ones you can sign up for.  You can’t beat the price either – FREE! Archives of all the webinars will be made available to SCGS members.

Imagine the Possibilities

Over the weekend while catching up on some blog reading, I came across this post by Dave Evans on the Cisco Blog – How the Internet Will Change the World for the Better.  It is great reading. 

But, I was struck by this graphic – something I know conceptually to be true, but wow – imagine the day when this 90% is connected.  

Imagine the possibilities for genealogy! We are seeing more records come online but this is such a stark reminder of how much is not yet there. 

Come Browse My Genealogy Digital Bookshelf

Approximately two years ago, I created an online site to help me organize all the great books and resources I was finding on the Internet Archive’s website. I call it my Genealogy Digital Bookshelf. I have been posting to it sporadically, but have been using it pretty regularly as my genealogy research takes me from state to state. 

Recently, I decided to freshen-up the site and will start posting to it more regularly.   I updated the theme, and added several pictures of libraries – just to make it feel more “authentic.”    :-)

I encourage you to follow along – you never know what may turn out to be of interest.  There is an RSS Feed, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.  Visit the site – look on the right sidebar and choose. 

 

 

Webinar Submitted to SCGS

This summer, I did my first webinar sessions  – they focused on WordPress and DearMyrtle was my lovely and gracious co-host.  I had a wonderful time doing them. 

More recently, I was given another opportunity – a chance to submit an webinar idea for the Southern California Genealogical Society.  Last year they started a webinar series that they refer to as their Jamboree Extension Series and I greatly enjoyed the few I had an opportunity to listen to.  I am hopeful that my idea gets accepted!  I may even submit a second idea.

Keep your fingers crossed for me :-) 

Note: image courtesy of the Citrix blog.