10 May 2015

FamilyTreeDNA and the tools available on that site

I have written in the past about having my DNA tested at both AncestryDNA and at 23andMe. Those are not the only two companies that do DNA testing, and a couple of those companies allow you to transfer your Raw DNA data from either Ancestry or 23andMe. I have taken advantage of FamilyTreeDNA's (FTDNA) service and gedmatch. With FTDNA you transfer your DNA and then have a choice of either paying $39 to unlock your matches or to ask 4 other people to also transfer their DNA to their company using a specially generated link. Gedmatch is a totally free, volunteer site. But today I am going to talk about a couple of the tools available on FTDNA

There are two very useful tools that I have found on FTDNA. The first is the "in common with" and the second is the "chromosome comparison."

The "in common with" tool allows you to search for people that share DNA with you and another member of their database. Say for example you have a confirmed 2nd cousin on FTDNA, you could then use the "in common with tool" to find others that also match the 2 of you to find other potential cousins. At this point I do not haven any confirmed matches on FTDNA, so I used it in a different way.

The first thing I did was find someone that I shared a good sized segment of DNA. I then clicked on the "in common with" tool and found we had 25 people that in one way or another we share as a potential match. I then used the second tool, the "chromosome comparison" tool.

Using the chromosome comparison tool I found out that 12 of the 25 people we had as common matches matched both her and I at the same area on chromosome one.

What does that mean? it means that at some point in our trees the 14 of us share a common ancestor, or ancestors. Now working together we can try and figure out who that ancestor is.

There is just one problem, when writing these matches I am finding some of them are not understanding what I am talking about when I mention the "in common with" tool and the "chromosome comparison" tool. So I have made the following pictures to hopefully help others understand these tools and how I used them.

If you have questions or something isn't clear, please contact me so I can try and make it easier to understand. Happy hunting!

06 February 2015

Using DNA Test to Find Relatives.

I have mentioned in previous posts (see blogs dated 2 Aug 2014; 24 Apr 2013; 2 Sep 2012; 8 April 2012) that I have tested with both 23andMe & with ancestry DNA tests. And that 2 of my 4 children have also taken the 23andMe test. A paternal male cousin (our fathers are brothers) has too, so that should get us the Newman line. This cousin's son has taken the ancestry DNA test, so I have a link to my paternal line on that site too.

I have done a little bit to try and contact those that are matches on to me on those 2 sites. So far no close relatives have responded to me. However I have been able to connect my 2 kids to three 2nd cousins from their fathers side. One from their paternal grandfathers line and two from their paternal grandmother's line. One of those from their grandmother's line was part of a closed adoption so doesn't have any clue to her ancestry. It made me happy to be able to tell her that while I couldn't tell her who her mother or father was, and I could only tell her that her grandparent was 1 of 13, I could tell her that her great grandparents were Thomas Francis Riordan and Grace Lillian Janvrin. I am really hoping my kids will reach out to this 2nd cousin and maybe together they can find out more for her, or at very least be a connection to her birth family for her.

On a personal side I have just joined a facebook group called "Ancestry-Gedmatch-FTDNA-23&me-Genealogy and DNA" It is a pretty large (6000+ members) and active group and I hope to learn more about how I can use these DNA tests to connect to my relatives.

I have also uploaded the raw data from the 23andMe test to FTDNA, and if I get 4 people to add their DNA test through this link I will fully unlock the site and be able to find matches on their site too for free.
Click Here if you are willing to upload your raw data to FTDNA and help me unlock the features. If I don't get 4 others to help I will have to pay $39 to unlock it and I really don't have that in my budget currently.

The people in the group have also been talking about genmatch, and when I went to upload my raw data to that site I discovered I had uploaded it July 2011! My kit number is M173936 if you are also on genmatch and want to see if we have a match.

To help me remember where I have memberships and subscriptions I have started a sheet in my research log for "online presence" where I can list all the links to websites where I have an account of some type. I have a columns for website name, url, username, password, subscription information (for those that are subscription sites), and notes. Hopefully that will keep me from forgetting where I have uploaded trees and other info!

01 February 2015

What's in your toolbox?

It's a new day, new week, new month.... the new "assignment" for week 5 of the do-over is: Building a Research Toolbox and Citing Sources.

Building a Research Toolbox basically means locating websites that will be useful to you in your research and then organizing the list in such a way that you can actually FIND the link that you are needing. One way to do that is to make folders in your browser's favorite or bookmark list to organize them. Another option is to use a spreadsheet like Excel to organize them. Or you can use a program such as Evernote or One Note to organize them. Another choice would be to share them on your blog so that others can also benefit from your work.

The assignment is to figure out what would work best with your style of working, and then be consistent in your use of it. You also have to be able to keep your links up to date and be able to remove links that no longer work. Thomas MacEntee shared with us a free program called AM-Deadlink used to verify links in your current bookmarks (Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome) or links pasted into a text file.

I downloaded the program and when I ran it I did find a couple of deadlinks, but not too many. So in that aspect I am doing good. I have decided that I will just get all my bookmarked sites together in one browser (I have IE, Firefox and Chrome all installed on my computer and I have 2 computers so have a bit of combining to do). Once they are all in one browser I will then get them organized in folders and subfolders to make it easier to locate the links that I want easily.

Once I get it all organized I will share my personal toolbox with you. It may take me a bit to get it done but hopefully sometime this week I will be able to say I have finished this part of this assignment.

28 January 2015

My progress on the Genealogy Do-Over

Technically we are into week four of the do-over, but that is not where I am at yet. And that is ok with me because I know I need to get some basics in place before I get too deeply involved with working on research.

The first thing I have to do is make sure the space I am going to be working in is set up in such a way that I can function in it. That means I am taking some time to get my house in order, in between taking care of some health issues as well as watching my granddaughter while her mom is at work.

While I can work with some disorder around me, I know I will function better if part of my mind isn't worried about the dishes in the sink, or the laundry that needs doing. And I know I can make better progress if I don't have to stop and search for a pencil or pad of paper when I want to jot down a note.

So, I am going back to Step 0 as some have described it and getting my home in order.

I have managed to get my budget in order for the coming year.

I have set up a project management workbook in Excel to make sure I am getting life's to do thing taken care of (thank you Thomas MacEntee for sharing your knowledge and expertise).

I am working on getting some health issues taken care of.

I am working on getting the room that will be my office space clean up and organized so that I have a functionable space.

I have written a list of why I am doing genealogy (see previous post) and I have written a list of my short and long term goals for my research (see my post of 29 Dec 2014)

I am reading the posts in the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group, as well as some of the blogs written by others that are undertaking this journey. I am learning lots from doing that.

This is all progress. And if it isn't as fast as some would do it (or even as fast as I would ideally like to be able to do it), it is getting done. After all slow and steady wins the race, and this is a marathon not a sprint! :)

Why do I do Genealogy?

So why do I do genealogy? Maybe that is where I need to start my do-over. Making a clear statement of the why behind the search. It will help me figure out what direction I am going and the steps I need to reach my destination, or goal.

I actually have a couple of base goals.

Goal One - to get to know who I came from. The names, dates and places are just a start. I also want to know the who the people are beyond the names. What shaped their lives? What were their daily lives like? What were their interests and beliefs?

Goal Two - to be able to share my discoveries with my family. And not just my immediate family, but the extended family of cousins as well as any 2nd and 3rd cousins I can locate, because it is a part of their family story too.

Goal Three - to be able to leave a record of me and who I am in my words, in my voice, so that my children, grandchildren and someday my great grandchildren can know the who I am beyond just a name.

Goal Four - To help others learn about their family by sharing my knowledge and skills in helping them find their roots.

If you are working on your genealogy, what is your why?

04 January 2015

Reorganizing my computer files

One of the things I am working on during this Genealogy Do-Over is getting the files on my computer a bit more organized. To do that I have been considering what would work best for ME. At the moment this is how I have decided to set things up....

I have used the program Folder Marker and used a tree icon for any folder dealing with genealogy. I have started a new folder for doing the Do-over which I have named Genealogy Do-Over

Within the Genealogy Do-Over Folder I have a Folder for my tree, and a Folder for my exhusband's family (he is the father of my children so they will want his side of the family too). I again used Folder Marker to change the color on the folders so that it is easier to see which folder is which.

In each of those folders I have added two folders which I named Places and Surnames. The folder named Places will be for general information about the places my families lived, but don't necessarily mention my families specifically. I will go from Larger to smaller, for example United States > California > Sierra County > Sierra City.

Within the Surnames folder I will make folders for each surname within my tree. Then within the individual surname folders I have a folder for Documents. (Notice I put an underscore before the name, this is so that folder will always be at the top of the list.) In the Documents folder I have 22 subfolders. This where I will put the various documents that have to do with that surname. The reason for this set up is that I have surname binders and those are the tabs I have in the binders. So to me it made sense to use the same set up on my computer.

I have those folders named: General Surname Info, Birth, Marriage, Death, Obituaries, Cemetery Records, Probate, Census, Church, City Directories, Court Records, Divorce Records, Family Correspondence, Land Records, Military Service Records, Military Pension Records, Naturalization Records, Newspaper Items, Passenger Lists, School Records, Tax Records, Voter Records. You will notice that I put a number at the beginning of each name, this is to force them to stay in the order I want them listed (which is the same order that I have the tabs in my binders) rather than reverting to Alphabetical Order.

Also in the individual surname's folders I will make a folder for each individual person. I will again use Folder Marker to change the color of the folders to make them more distinct from the Documents folder. In the individual person's folder I will put anything that deals specifically with them but doesn't belong in one of the documents folderss, for example the research plan for that person.

As time goes on and I am working with this set up I may end up changing things, but for now I think this set up will work. Remember when setting up your organizational ideas to consider how YOU work because it doesn't make any difference how things are set up if you don't use it because it doesn't make sense to you!