Friday, September 28, 2012

Facebook apps and genealogy companies and Facebook app

I hear that has acquired the app "We're Related" used on Facebook. Pretty interesting. It is a utility that will allow the living descendants of ancestors who occupy branches of family trees to find each other as distant cousins. This is a way to connect social networking to the hobby of genealogy, and may have a lot of potential.

Living descendants can give each other helpful information about ancestors, and can encourage each other to do just a bit more research to break down those brick walls. The conversation about the past is one of the reasons the hobby of genealogy is booming.

In addition, those who pursue genetic matches always have to begin with the living match, and need to find an ancestor in common from there. By making the connection to the living match fun, social, and appealing, as it may be on a social network website, it may all become a bit easier to begin the conversations that will help identify common ancestors.

Also published on my Genealogy Trends blog

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The street address in the census and mapping

Looking at the street address in the census for your ancestors can be very helpful in tracking them from one decade to the next. If you can't find the ancestors in one census, you can plug in the neighbors' names to see if your ancestors might be there, incorrectly indexed.

Another use for knowing the address is in tracking the heritage of the folks who lived in the area over time. You might note that the community is one of immigrants, and perhaps immigrants from one area.

I have an ancestor with a very common Welsh name (and many of them are common!) who was reported by descendants to have traveled from Wales to Pennsylvania to set up a tailor shop in the 1890's. He returned to Wales by 1900. Well, that really leaves him out of all census listings, since most of the 1890 census is toast (burned in a fire in the holdings in Washington, D.C.). I thought, if only I could find the street where he set up shop. That would be something. I was cleaning out files that day, and written on the top of one was his name and the street in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, where he had worked. I was fortunate to have noted the results of a distant cousin's recollections. Always worthwhile! It was Spring Street. I wasn't able to find any historical maps of the town online, but perhaps I will be able to do so if I contact a local historical society.

I then checked the census listings for my grandparents' address in Carbondale. They arrived three decades after the Welsh ancestor was there. It turns out they were just around the corner from the Street where he set up shop. Now I have the questions: did the family hold onto land or house? Did they try to go to a neighborhood they had heard about? Were relatives next door and all around? Did they look at Spring Street and talk of their relative? As with all questions, with persistence, there will be answers. Even with  researching Welsh ancestors who might seem to have the most common names in the world (Evans, Thomas, Jones and so on).

The whole experience of discovery leads me to the observation that we researchers will be needing historical maps to overlay current maps. We will need something like google maps of the past, and my guess is that this is already in the works. I look forward to seeing it and using it for ancestor searches.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gedmatch overburdened

It appears that the interest in gedmatch has turned into a  computer overload problem. Gedmatch is an excellent website that provides great services for those of us working on DNA matching. Gedmatch has announced that the servers have been overloaded, and as a result, they have to pare away some of the data that has been submitted. This includes the match triangulation feature, which is very useful. I actually wish more people were using it! Then I could see more connections to my matches, and make some inferences. But the popularity of the feature actually seems to be the problem. Let's hope that there will be a solution that will be worthwhile to all involved. The features of should be of interest to many researchers and to many of the companies offering testing.

Again--the benefits of the triangulation feature include the following-- I ( or any researcher using genetic testing) might be stumped by a match who provides no information about his or her ancestors. In the Gedmatch triangulation utility I can look at some of the matches we have in common, and some of them may be more forthcoming with their information about ancestors. I may notice that all are from the Southern States. That gives me a clue to follow in trying to identify how the elusive matches ancestors match mine. And for all of those people who provide no information whatsoever about their ancestry when they test with RF or FF, please be aware that we researchers are not interested in the current generation. We only want to find the common ancestors we share with you. Yes, preserve your privacy, but why not let us know who your four grandparents (or if that is too close to home--who your gggrandparents) are.

The above is just one benefit of the triangulation feature. If it comes back online, try it out yourself.