With 2021 coming to a close, we reflect on lessons learned. What progress did we make in our research? What do we want to learn in 2022? One of my favorite things about family history is the opportunity to research in new locations and times – opening up the opportunity for using new records and methodologies. One of the hot topics in the genealogy world is DNA and it comes as no surprise that seven out of our top ten viewed posts focus on helping you understand more about how to use DNA in your research.
We also published two popular series on German and Irish research, so if you’re interested in tackling one of those ancestors in your family tree, we’ve got you covered. Finally, the big news for 2022 will be the release of the 1950 census. Although only published a week ago, our article on how to prepare made the top ten – showing how excited we are to find our family in 1950.
Here are the top viewed blog posts in reverse order. Written by various members of our team, I think you’ll find something of interest!
Mark your calendar for 1 April 2022 – not because it is April Fool’s Day – but because the National Archives will release the 1950 U.S. Federal Census on that day. What will this census offer us as genealogists? How can we access the data? How should we prepare? Let’s consider each of these questions in turn.
No, it’s not a game show or a board game – it’s a fantastic tool in the hands of serious genetic genealogy researchers! What are the Odds? (WATO) is a tool developed by Leah Larkin, and Jonny Perl at DNAPainter.com. You can use this tool to further your research in cases where you don’t know how a person fits into a family tree, such as in adoption or unknown parentage research cases. It can also be used as a sanity check when building a family tree to help you see if you have placed a DNA match into the correct location in a family tree.
If you could name one goal for your family history research, what would it be? Would DNA help you achieve your goal? If so, there is an essential tool that will help you progress toward it.
In your DNA match list, you’ll see an estimated relationship and the amount of DNA you share with each relative. If you build a family tree based on just the predicted relationships, it will be difficult, and possibly incorrect. You need a tool to help you discern not only possible relationships but also the probable likelihood of specific relationships you share with your DNA matches.
How will discerning the probable relationships between you and a DNA match help you? A relationship tells you where to place the DNA match in your family tree. A relationship directs you to a shared ancestor. Sometimes the shared ancestor is the ancestor you are seeking to achieve your goal!
Have you wondered how you can use mitochondrial DNA in your family history research? In my last post, “Mitochondrial DNA – a Blast From the Past,” I wrote about mitochondrial DNA inheritance. This post will build on that foundation and explain how you can use mtDNA haplogroup information to discern between two possible women ancestors.
You’ll remember that both men and women inherit Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from their matrilineal ancestors. In other words, mtDNA passes from your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, etc., line down to you. mtDNA is genealogically significant because of its unique inheritance pattern, and it is most effective in researching ancestors when considered along with autosomal DNA results.
Do you have your DNA results on 23andMe and would like to use Ancestry’s tree-building capabilities to make connections and discoveries? If so, this article will provide ideas of how to work with the matches to get the best results for your DNA analysis. 23andMe provides haplogroups and X-DNA matches for autosomal testing which can help in identifying whether a DNA match is on the maternal or the paternal line. Fran Shockley, the Family Story Sleuth offers her organizational method in this guest post. Enjoy!
In this series, we’ve discussed the important resources to consult for your Irish ancestor in America. At this point, you should hopefully be armed with some specifics about your ancestor, their Irish-born family, and an idea of what province, county, or parish they came from in Ireland. Now, we will cross the Atlantic and examine the resources you will use in Ireland to pinpoint your ancestral family.
We have all heard of someone being a first cousin once removed or another relationship “once removed,” and sometimes it gets confusing, and you may think, “…Ummm, we are cousins, that’s all that matters.” If you are at an extended family reunion, that pretty much IS all that matters! If you are invited, you know that you are attending with people descended from the same parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Perhaps you’re lucky to have a family that organizes extended family reunion events, there may be descendants at the party who share even more distant grandparents with you. The challenge is that if there are many descendants, it’s hard to meet them all and keep everyone’s relationship straight in your head.
Are you one of the 44.2 million Americans with a German ancestor, but sense that researching them is more out of reach than others in your family tree? Researching our German can seem daunting because of the language hurdle, but also because the whole concept of “German” is complex. People from central Europe had particularly complicated histories compared to those with more fixed national identities such as the English. Perhaps living on an island has helped define and consolidate who is English, and made possible a more centralized government earlier on in history.
You know how it is – you look in your DNA match list and see an entry for someone you don’t know. There are a few steps you can take to discover the relationship you share. The amount of DNA you and your match share is listed in centimorgans (cM). The cM amount can point you in the right direction to discern your relationship. The DNA company estimates a relationship, but you need to figure out where the person fits in your family tree. If you can correctly place a DNA match in your family tree and determine which ancestor or ancestral couple you and your DNA match both share, you can verify that you are genetically related to that ancestor.
Using a family tree program to organize your DNA matches is useful for several reasons. You can:
– add DNA matches to your tree and link them back to your common ancestor
– include DNA matches from various testing databases in one central location
– check the evidence for each parent-child relationship and add documentation
– build quick trees for DNA matches who haven’t shared a full tree
– do descendancy research to find potential test-takers
– build out a match’s tree checking for more than one common ancestor
Many of your DNA matches may have small trees that don’t go back far enough to find a common ancestor. Genetic genealogists often use tree-building tools like Ancestry.com to create quick trees for DNA matches. Ancestry has helpful tree-building tools like hints that assist with building quick trees. However, creating a new tree for each DNA match fills up your list of Ancestry trees quickly. If you don’t want to have a long list of Ancestry trees, create one master genetic tree and include all the DNA matches of a test taker or on a particular side of the family.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!