5 Ways to Find Out Your Grandparents' Names

5 Ways to Find Out Your Grandparent's Names

Unless you are a genealogist or were very close to your grandparents, there's a good chance you don't know your grandparents' names. Surveys have shown that many Americans don't know who their grandparents were. If you are older when you start your family history journey you might not have family to ask. Here are five easy ways to find out your grandparents' names which will help to begin your family history journey.

1. Grandparent's obituary

If you don't know your grandparent's name, how on earth are you supposed to find their obituary?  Easy, depending on the date, it's very likely that either your parent(s) or you yourself are named in the obituary. Search Google for your parent's name and the word obituary. Any obituary that they are listed in should turn up in a Google search. If your mother's parents died before the 1980s and you are having trouble locating an obituary try searching for the more traditional Mrs. plus the husband's name (ie. Mrs. John Smith). If no obituary turns up in Google, try a newspaper research site such GenealogyBank.com, Newspapers.com or the newspaper search on MyHeritage.com. (Please note that these sites are subscription based.)

2. Parent's marriage certificate

You parent's marriage certificate might name both the parent's of your father and your mother. Unfortunatley, this is not consistent in all states in the United States. If you don't have a copy of your parent's marriage certificate, you can write and request it. You'll need to know the location they were married. In most cases in the United States you will write to the county for a copy of the marriage certificate. But if your parents were married in New England then you'll need to write to Town Hall. Do a Google search for Vital Records for the town or county. The government office will then provide instructions for how to obtain a copy of the certificate.

3. Parent's marriage announcement

There's a good chance that even without your parent's marriage certificate you can locate a copy of their marriage announcement. Most couples through the years have listed engagement or wedding announcements in the newspaper. Most marriage announcements list the names of the parents for the bride and the groom. You can try a Google search but in this case you'll probably want to try the newspaper sites (listed above) directly.

4. Parent's death certificate

If you've had a parent die, his or her parent's names will be listed on death certificate if known. You can request a copy of your parent's death certificate from the government office in the location where your parent died. As mentioned before this will most likely be a county office, unless you they died in New England and then you would write to the Town Hall.

5. Social Security Application

When a person applies for a social security card, the name of both their mother and father is included. While it's not likely that you have a copy of your parents' social security card applications lying around, you can apply for the information. You can make an online request for the original application of a deceased person through the Freedom of Information ACT.  

Bonus - Parent's birth certificate

The vital records - birth, marriage and death certificates - are all important sources for discovering your roots. Your parent's birth certificate, just like their marriage and death certificates, will provide information about who their parents were. The exception to that is if your parent's were adopted. In that case, depending on individual state law, the information may not be available to you. Contact the government offices where your mother and father were born for details about how to get copies of their birth certificates.

What to do next

After you discover your grandparents' names you will be curious about the rest of your family history! The next step is accessing U.S. Federal Census records to start building your family tree. Depending on the age of your parents, you will look for your parents or grandparents in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. There you will find either your parents or your grandparents or both. Families are shown as a whole - both parents and children - and that's how you'll know you have the right family. From there you will use the U.S. Federal Census to go back in time (by 10 years each time) and as you do you will discover your grandparents as children in the household of their parents. From this you will discover your great grandparents' names! 

Learn more about getting started in Family History Research by watching the six-part Legacy Family Tree Webinars Getting Started in Family History series.

 

 


Newspaper Skill Challenge Answers

SkillChallengeAnswers

Here are the answers (below the article) to last week's skill challenge.

The following fun newspaper article appeared in the Providence Evening Press on 29 April 1870.

Read the following story and see if you can answer the questions. You will have to do some detective work (ie. research) to find out the answers. In addition to answering the questions, determine what type of records would provide answers to the questions and where you will start. Also, are there any other clues in the article that would lead you to more information about this family? Because the type did not render well, the name of the town where the family lives is Somerville.

House Break In Providence Evening Gazette-1870-04-29 p3
Click to Enlarge     
The Providence Evening Press, 29 April 1870, p. 3, col. 5; digital image, MyHeritage.com (https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10620-519702/the-providence-evening-press?s=282563811 : accessed 24 October 2019), Rhode Island Newspapers, 1778-1938.                                                                    

Questions

What state is Somerville in? How do you know from the context of the article?

Somerville is in Massachusetts. We know this because of the notation at the very end of the article "-Boston Traveller." That indicates that the Providence Evening Press published an article originally from the Boston Traveller.

What is the full street address of the Gurney family? List one document you can use to find out. Extra credit for each additional type of document that will provide the same information.

I'm revising this answer because, frankly, I got it wrong the first time. In my original answer I looked at the wrong column in the 1880 census. I think it's a good lesson to show that a genealogist can be wrong. Even when we try really hard not to be! If you look at something too long sometimes you can't see what's right in front of you anymore. Revised answer below.

This article was published in 1870. The US Federal Census of 1870 did not include street names or street numbers. The 1880 Federal Census did not list a street number even though it was an option on the census. The enumerator did not fill it in or perhaps there were no street numbers (but that seems unlikely to me in a busy city). While the property was still in the hands of the Gurney family in 1900 no one in the family is listed as living there at that time.

Henry Gurney is found more often in Boston, Massachusetts city directories listing his place of work with a brief  mention that his home is in Somverille. However, the 1875  City Directory of Somerville, Massachusetts has the following listing:

"Gurney Henry L., pilot, house Cedar, cor. Highland av." 

The 1873 Somerville City Directory has the same listing.

That description is very helpful because very often streets are renumbered over the years. That means that 72 Cedar Street in 1870 would not necesseary be the same house/lot as 72 Cedar Street today. But with the description of the house being located at the corner of Highland Cedar we can narrow down the location much easier.

Another place you could find the address is in the deed. FamilySearch.org holds many land records from Massachusetts. A quick search shows that Henry Gurney purchased the property from William Gates in April 1866.  The property is described in the index as "Somerville Cedar formly [sic.] Leland St. + Cedar St." This demonstrates once again that street locations and their names have been very fluid through time. You can view the original deed here (requires login with free account): https://tinyurl.com/y4hkfw8l

What are the names of the daughters who were at home that night?

The 1870 US Federal Census indicates that the most likely candidates for the two daughters are Emily, age 28, and Catherine, age 20. The article describes the girls as "...two daughters, one a young lady of about twenty years of age and the other about fourteen years of age..." This is a good reminder that not only can the information be wrong in the census but it could be wrong in newspaper articles as well. Other documents such as birth, marriage and death records would give a better indication of the daughters' true ages.

Who are the other people in the family not mentioned?

Again, we turn to the 1870 US Federal Census and find that wife, Mary Gurney, and son, Henry Gurney, were not mentioned in the newspaper article. It's a mystery where they were and why they were not home that night or why they were not mentioned in the article. There is an additional daughter, Beatrice, not mentioned in the 1870 census but found in the earlier 1860 US Federal Census.

Henry Gurney Family 1870
1870 US Federal Census showing household of Henry Gurney and family, Somerville, Massachusetts. MyHeritage.com

What does en deshabille mean? Why would a newspaper use the French phrase instead of English?

The phrase en deshabille means "in a state of undress" according to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  As this was during the Victorian Era it would likely have seemed improper to talk about young ladies in their night clothes. The French phrase provides a precise description of the situation without the risk of appearing improper.

What was the occupation of Henry L. Gurney? From that, what can we guess he was doing in Washington?

From the 1870 (and other)  US Federal Census we learn that Henry Gurney was a "Pilot." City Directories and other documents show that he was a pilot at Lewis Wharf in Boston, a center for merchants and commerce.  If we were to guess what Henry Gurney was doing in Washington, I would say that he was perhaps piloting his boat to pick up merchandise for sale at Lewis Wharf or perhaps droppoing off goods for sale in Washington.

 

Extra Credit:

How would you find out if the same house is standing today?

The first thing I would do answer this question is to look at Google maps and use the street view to see what is at the location now. Even though the street numbers likely have changed we know the house was as the corner of Cedar Street and Highland Avenue (which exact corner is the question!). Doing that indicates that three of the corners have newer commercial buildings on them. The fourth corner contains a yoga studio on the first floor of a building that could have existed in 1870. A quick Google search shows that the address of yoga studio is at 288 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02143. Using that address I would access the City of Somerville's Assessor Database in order to see when the building was built. It indicates that building at that location was built in 1920. However, older buildings are not always dated correctly in Massachusetts assessor databases so a 1920 date would not be conclusive.

To resolve the issue of "which corner" quickly, you could look at some historic maps such as cadastral maps (also known as land ownership maps) or Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. An 1895 street map of Somerville shows the Gurney property on the southwest corner of Highland and Cedar. The yoga property, currently on the southeast corner, is therefore not the same property. Since all the other buildings currently at that intersection are new we can say that the Gurney property is no longer standing.

Interestingly enough, the 1895 map shows that the Gurneys owned a large 2+ acre property at that location, in contrast to many much smaller house lots it was surrounded by. It would be fun to research and discover when the Gurney property was broken up.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.


Newspaper Skill Challenge

SkillChallenge

The following fun newspaper article appeared in the Providence Evening Press on 29 April 1870.

Read the following story and see if you can answer the questions. You will have to do some detective work (ie. research) to find out the answers. In addition to answering the questions, determine what type of records would provide answers to the questions and where you will start. Also, are there any other clues in the article that would lead you to more information about this family? Because the type did not render well, the name of the town where the family lives is Somerville.

The answers will be posted next Friday, 1 November 2019.

House Break In Providence Evening Gazette-1870-04-29 p3
Click to Enlarge     
The Providence Evening Press, 29 April 1870, p. 3, col. 5; digital image, MyHeritage.com (https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10620-519702/the-providence-evening-press?s=282563811 : accessed 24 October 2019), Rhode Island Newspapers, 1778-1938.                                                                    

Questions

What state is Somerville in? How do you know from the context of the article?

What is the full street address of the Gurney family? List one document you can use to find out. Extra credit for each additional type of document that will provide the same information.

What are the names of the daughters who were at home that night?

Who are the other people in the family not mentioned?

What does en deshabille mean? Why would a newspaper use the French phrase instead of English?

What was the occupation of Henry L. Gurney? From that, what can we guess he was doing in Washington?

 

Extra Credit:

How would you find out if the same house is standing today?

 

The answers will be posted next Friday, 1 November 2019.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 

 


How Do You Feel About Sharing Photos of Your Ancestors?

Caroline Nunge
Caroline Nunge, great grandmother of Marian Pierre-Louis, born 1878 in what is now Baerenthal, Moselle, France

Most genealogists tend to have pretty strong feelings, especially when it comes to genealogy and their ancestors! One topic that brings up a lot of emotions is photographs of our ancestors. Some people have them and others don't. Some people are willing to share them and others won't.

I have to admit that I have done a complete flip in how I feel about owning and sharing ancestral photos.

When I started out in genealogy many years ago I didn't have a whole lot of ancestral photos. My mom had a portait of my great grandparesnts, Jesse Forest Silver and Margaret Jane George. But I never saw much on my paternal side except for my grandparents. My great grandparents remained faceless to me.

When I did find photos I had a tendency to covet them and secret them away. I made it a policy that I wouldn't share family photos online in my blog posts or social media. Part of how I felt was that I wanted to protect my ancestors from unethical commercial entities. Those groups that would steal photos online and then sell them as stock photography to be used as advertisements. I couldn't think of a worse thing happening to my ancestors.

But I also wasn't keen on sharing with distant cousins either. I kept thinking that I was going to write and publish a family history and I would save the photos for the book.

At some point things started to change. I started a website for my Edwards ancestors. I was touched at how distant cousins from far flung branches were willing to share photos for inclusion on the website. The next big change came after my Dad's brother died. During the process of downsizing, my aunt decided to pass on to us the boxes of family photos they had stored in their basement. I was visiting my Dad one weekend and he said "I have something to show you." He started pulling out photo after photo of his ancestors. I saw my great greandparents Seeber Edwards and Sarah Estella Gurney for the first time. I was dumbfounded. For the very first time I was looking at their faces. They were suddenly real people with real features and family resemblances.

More recently I have hit a milestone birthday. That has changed my perception of everything. Instead of wanting to keep everything to myself or to worry about that book that may never get published, I am suddently more concerned with making sure that everyone I am related to has access to our family history and all of our family photos. The way I see it now, our family history, memories and photos have a better chance of surviving, particularly in the digital age, if they are widely shared.

Another thing happened as well. I was on a large database site looking at family trees for my maternal line when I came across a tree that had a photo of our original immigrant ancestor who came over from the Czech Republic. I had never seen a photo of this ancestor before and never imagined that one had even existed. If this 3rd cousin of mine had not publicly shared the photo I would never have seen my ancestor. I am so grateful that he did.

It was a very special moment to see the face of my immigrant ancestor. It got me thinking that everyone who is a descendant of this person might feel the same way when seeing the photo. Everyone should have the same opportunity to get to know their ancestors. And it was at this point that I decided that photos of our ancestors need to be shared. 

There are perhaps some guidelines we can follow when sharing that will make things easier. When sharing online in public trees, blog posts or social media perhaps use a low resolution (such as 72dpi) so that photo thieves won't be able to make good quality copies. Even though I post lower resolution copies online, I like to make it known to distant cousins that I am willing to give them higher resolution copies. When sharing directly with close family, either via Dropbox or thumbdrive, I always provide the high resolution copy.

If someone has shared a family photo with you, it's always best to get permission before share it again yourself, particularly online. And always be sure to credit the person who owns the photo.

Beyond that I don't have too many rules.

How do you feel about sharing photos of your ancestors? Any guidelines that you find helpful? Let me know in the comments.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 


Test Your Skills on an Early 18th Century Document - Challenge Answers

SkillChallengeAnswers

Last week we challenged you to answer questions about an early 18th century document.

Here are the answers to our challenge.

Thomas Lovell
click to enlarge

1. What type of document is this?  This document is called a deposition. A deposition according to Black's Law Dictionary (4th edition, p. 527) is "The testimony of a witness taken upon interrogatories, not in open court, but in pursuance of a commission to take testimony issued by a court, or under a general law on the subject and reduced to writing and duly authenticated, and intended to be used upon the trial of an action in court. It is sometimes used as synonymous with "affidavit" or "oath," but its technical meaning does not include such terms."

2. Where would you find this document? This document was created in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. In that jurisdiction you will find the document in the Essex County Registry of Deeds.

3. Without worrying about months or days, what year was Thomas Lovell born? "The deposition of Thomas Lovell being in his Eighty Seventh yeare now of Ipswich." The document was recorded in 1707 when Thomas Lovell was 87 years old. That makes him born, more or less, in 1620!

4. Where was Thomas Lovell born (take a creative stab at this)?  Since we find in Essex County, Massachusetts in 1707 and not in Plymouth, it's a pretty safe bet that he came over 1630 or later. Therefore we can guess that Thomas Lovell was born in England or some other part of the British empire, and not in the American colonies.

5. What year did he live in Salem? "I this deponent does Testify that in Anno Domini One Thousand Six hundred and forty I was an inhabitant of the Towne Salem in the County of Essex in the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England in which I live about seven years..."  From this we can extract that he arrived in Salem (from where exactly we do not know) in 1640 and he lived there seven years.

6. Whose house did he live in? "...I had my aboad [abode] in the house of Mr William Bacon." From this we learn that Thomas Lovell did not own property himself but likely rented a room in the home of William Bacon.

7. How long did he live in that house? "...for about three years..."

8. What was near the house and who owned it? "...and was neer the first corn Mill that of said Traske." The house of William Bacon, which was bought from Capt. Traske, was near the first corn mill owned by Traske. Implying that something happened to the first one perhaps and that a second one was built.

9. Thomas Lovell is describing a memory/fact that occured how many years ago? It's hard to say exactly. We know that Thomas arrived in Salem in 1640 and that he stayed there for seven years. At some point during those seven years he lived with William Bacon for three years. Therefore Thomas Lovell is describing and event that happened 60-67 years in the past!

In this particular exercise we are concerned with learning about the biographical information of Thomas Lovell rather than the legal matter for which he was testifying. That matter had to with land and water rights of Capt. Traske. Thomas Lovell is testifying merely as a witness, yet because of the deposition crucial biographical information is preserved.

This document is so important because it reminds us 

1) that people who didn't own land may be recorded in records at the Registry of Deeds

2) that biographical information may be found outside of traditional vital records or church records

3) that previously unrecorded events may be preserved at a much later time.

For an extra challenge, take a stab at transcribing the document.

Transcription:

The deposition of Thomas Lovell being in his Eighty Seventh yeare of [faded]

now of Ipswich

Recorded Aprill 8 1707

I this deponent does Testify that in Anno Domini One thousand Six

hundred + forty I was an Inhabitant of the Towne Salem in the County

of Essex in the province of Massachusetts Bay in New England in 

which I lived above Seven yeares + for about three years I had

my aboad in the house of Mr William Bacon that he Bought of

Capt. Traske + was neer the first corn Mill that of Said Traske did so

.....

One last thought, is the information in this deposition accurate? We don't know. What we do know is that in 1707 it is an accurate account of what Thomas Lovell remembered from 60 plus years earlier. No indication is given as to the accuracy of his memory. We would need to corroborate the events and people mentioned in the deposition. We could start by looking for land deeds for William Bacon and Capt. Trask in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Then we could check vital records for Thomas Lovell, William Bacon and Capt. Trask. As they were all alive during the 1640s we can make some assumptions about their life spans.

 

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 

 


Test Your Skills on an Early 18th Century Document

SkillChallenge

It's time for another skill challenge!

Try to read the document below and then see if you can answer the questions. 

The answers will be posted Friday, September 20, 2019.

Thomas Lovell
click to enlarge

1. What type of document is this?

2. Where would you find this document?

3. Without worrying about months or days, what year was Thomas Lovell born?

4. Where was Thomas Lovell born (take a creative stab at this)?

5. What year did he live in Salem?

6. Whose house did he live in?

7. How long did he live in that house?

8. What was near the house and who owned it?

9. Thomas Lovell is describing a memory/fact that occuried how many years ago?

For an extra challenge, take a stab at transcribing the document.

 

Have fun! The answers will be released next Friday, September 20, 2019.

 

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 

 

 


Test Your Skills on an 18th Century Deed - Challenge Answers

SkillChallengeAnswers

Last week we challenged you to answer questions about an 18th Century Deed.

Here are the answers to our challenge:

Jeremiah Brown deed

1. Where does Jeremiah Brown live?

Jeremiah Brown lives in Swansey [sic., the name is currently spelled Swansea], in the County of Bristol in the State Massachusetts Bay in New England.

2. How many sons does Jeremiah Brown have?

The correct answers is "at least two." Two sons are mentioned in this deed specifically by name, Samuel Miller Brown and Jeremiah Brown. Just because other sons aren't mentioned doesn't mean that Jeremiah Brown doesn't have them. At the time of this deed Samual Miller Brown was 27 years old and Jeremiah Brown was 25 years old. There were also three other sons ages 22, 13 and 11.

Jeremiah Brown deed

3. When was the land transferred?

The land was transferred 20 March 1778. "This Twentyeth Day of March A.D. 1778"

4. When was the deed recorded?

The deed was "Received May 18 1779 and Recorded"  That date is over a year after the land was transferred. This shows how important it is to note both the transfer date and the recording date because it can greatly impact your interpretation of events and facts.

5. Who are the witnesses? 

The witnesses are Peleg Shearman and Edward Luther. Witnesses should always be researched to determine if they are family, friends, neighbors or associates.

6. Who is Rebeckah Brown and how do we know?

Rebeckah Brown is the wife of Jeremiah Brown. She had a legal interest in the land because of her dower rights and therefore had the ability to reject the sale of the land. Her signature indicates her approval of the sale. For more on Dower Rights see "Dower Share, Dowry & Dower Rights" by William Dollarhide.

 

I hope you enjoyed this challenge! Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Since the rise in interest of genetic genealogy Marian has become addicted to using dna to help solve genealogy mysteries. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 


Test Your Skills on an 18th Century Deed

SkillChallenge

Let's do something different this week. Let's put your skills to the test!

The images below are two pieces of same deed from the Nathan Brown brick wall case. As some of you may recall, Nathan Brown is Geoff Rasmussen's ancestor. This deed was one of the documents that was uncovered as we built a case for his parents being Jeriamiah Brown and Rebeckah Miller.

This should be considered an intermediate challenge.

In this document, particularly in the first image, you will see use of the long 's' which looks like an f.

See if you can answer the questions. The answers will be posted in one week, on Thursday, August 22, 2019.

Image 1

BrownJeremiah-1779-deed
(click to enlarge)

Questions

  1. Where does Jeremiah Brown live?
  2. How many sons does Jeremiah Brown have?

 

Image 2

BrownJeremiah-1779-deed2
(click to enlarge)

Questions:

3. When was the land transferred?

4. When was the deed recorded?

5. Who are the witnesses?

6. Who is Rebeckah Brown and how do we know?

Good luck with the challenge and have fun!

We'll be back with the results next week.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Since the rise in interest of genetic genealogy Marian has become addicted to using dna to help solve genealogy mysteries. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 


How will you pass down your memories?

How will you pass down your memories?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my descendants lately. It got me thinking that the way we pass memories down to our children is changing. For the last 100 years it’s pretty safe to say that parents could pass along a baby book or photo albums at the minimum. Sometimes a scrapbook might have been handed down as well. Now that we are in the age of digital photography what is the best method to preserve our memories?

While it is still possible to pass down a baby book and printed photo albums it is less likely to happen. In the past year or two a major newspaper featured an article with the headline "Aging Parents with Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don't Want It." The article focused on how to dispose of a lifetime of memories and keepsakes. It makes me wonder, what is the most practical way to share with our kids and nieces and nephews and feel confident that they will keep it and pass it down again?

But there's more at stake here than just flowery china teacups that your children don't want to inherit. The memories you created with your children during their childhood are shared memories. It's not just your memories that your passing on. It's their childhood, their life, as well. With fewer and fewer people printing photographs regularly or creating scrapbooks, how will those memories get shared?

And in addition to their memories, what about the practical stuff as well? I remember my parents kept a file for each of us three kids with things like school report cards and college transcripts. Folders like these can also hold records of immunization and other practical information. When I became an adult my parents gave me the folder - a record of my life.

Regrettably in this article I don't necessarily have the answers for you (but maybe a few suggestions).

Here's what I'm doing and considering for the future:

Photo Books

Photo albums have been replaced by photo books. In this digital age there is no longer any need for printing photos and pasting them into albums. I can go online to any number of websites from my local pharmacy to a dedicated photo site like Shutterfly. I created a book with the best photos from one of our international vacations. It took a bit of work to put together but I could do it all from my desk and computer. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the book to arrive. These kinds of books can be pricey but if you wait for coupons the cost gets better. The best thing is you can create the book once and print as many copies as you like.

Baby Books

I'm not sure if this is still a thing or not but I do have baby books for my kids. The last one I bought 14 years ago. I admit that I have not been very good about filling them in. Perhaps by the time my boys are all in college I will have time to complete them. I still think this is a good idea but I wonder how practical it will be for the future.

Multimedia 

I really like the idea of passing on to my children an archive of sound and video recordings where they can hear the voices of the past and laugh at the silly antics of distant relatives in home videos. I have amassed quite a large archive already. But what I worry about is the constant need to update the file formats of the media so that it can still be viewed by the programs of the ever changing present. If I create this collection will my great grandchildren some day be able to access it?

A Digital Vault

The thought that I'm leaning toward the most is to create a digital vault for my children. I have already created electronic versions of the folders that my parents had created for me.  I can envision that when I pass these on to my children they will have several components. They'll contain important family photos both from their own childhoods and from the lives of their ancestors. They'll also contain the multimedia archive that I mentioned above. And finally it will be a trove of documents that will act both as a reminder of past work and success but also necessary documents that they will need to continue accessing in the future. I can see myself already handing my boys a thumb drive or portable solid-state drive that acts as a metaphorical "Good luck in the world, son!"

Have you given any thought to how you will pass down your memories to those you love? What are some of the ideas that you have in mind?

 

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is a genealogy professional who specializes in educational outreach through webinars, internet broadcasts and video. Her areas of expertise include house history research, southern New England research and solving brick walls. Since the rise in interest of genetic genealogy Marian has become addicted to using dna to help solve genealogy mysteries. Marian is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars where she produces online genealogy education classes. Once a month you'll find her as the evening host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

 


DNA Spotlight: The Shared cM Project

When you get your DNA results, the DNA company tries to give you a sense of how you are connected to your matches. They will identify each relationship as parent, close family, sibling, second cousin, third cousin, fourth cousin, distant cousin, etc.

On MyHeritage it looks like this:

MyHeritage DNA Match

 

On Ancestry it looks like this:

Ancestry DNA Match

It's important to understand that the relationship provided is just an estimate. There are actually a number of possible ways you could be related to any given DNA match.

Now take a look at those same images and notice that next to or underneath the relationship you see a number and the initials cM. cM stands for centiMorgans which is the unit of measurement for DNA. The more cM you share with a DNA match the more closely related you are. The less cM you share, the more distant your relationship.

The Shared cM Project

In order to understand better all the possible relationships you have with a DNA match, genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger came up with a data driven tool called the Shared cM Project. Blaine asked DNA test takers to provide the amount of cM they shared with known relationships. From this he was able to create charts that showed the various possible relationships through the range and averages of centiMorgans.

From the data, Blaine produced the Shared cM Project chart below. In each box the first line is the relationship, the second line is the average cM for that relationship and the third line is the range he has determined based on the data.

So if we take the example above - 2nd-3rd cousin, 276 cM - we would look for the box where the average is closest to 276 cM. You'll notice that there are three boxes that are pretty close: Half 1C1R (226 cM), 1C2R (229 cM) and 2C (233 cM). If you look beyond the averages to the ranges you'll notice that there are even more possibilities. This is just to show that your actual relationship to your DNA match could be any of a number of possibilities besides what the DNA company estimates for you. In this particular case, I know the cousin personally and I am accurately able to identify her as my second cousin and not a third cousin or any of the other choices.

Blaine Bettinger, The Shared cM Project, https://thegeneticgenealogist.com
Blaine Bettinger, The Shared cM Project, https://thegeneticgenealogist.com
(Click to enlarge), Creative Commons attribution

Interactive Shared cM Project on DNA Painter

Recently Jonny Perl, the creator of DNA Painter presented a webinar about DNA Painter on Legacy Family Tree Webinars (which is free to watch). Jonny has transformed Blaine's chart into an interactive tool on DNA Painter.

Let's see how it works with two new DNA matches I received just today.

From the main DNA Painter home page choose the Tools menu option.

CM-DNAPainter1

On the next page choose the Shared CM Tool option:

CM-DNAPainter2Next put the amount of cM your share with your DNA in the Filter box.

CM-DNAPainter3For this exercise I will use my two brand new dna matches.

CMMatchesforNewCousins

 

For the first new cousin I get this result:

CM-DNAPainter4You can see there are a lot of possibilities for this relationship! In fact, this cousin I know personally. She and I are Half first cousins once removed (Half 1C1R). That result was in the second tier of options. It's important not to make assumptions when working with unknown matches.

The second new match of the day was also described as a 3rd-4th cousin.

CM-DNAPainter5It's interesting to see how much the results change just by changing the cM a bit. The results are quite different even though they were both presented in the same 3rd-4th cousin range. This person is unknown to me. I will have to compare our shared matches and do some research to determine which of the above relationships is accurate. It's intriguing and I can't wait to uncover this new cousin.

Both the Shared cM Project chart and DNA Painter are free to use.  These tools will greatly help you in your genetic genealogy research. Give them a try.

You can learn more about understanding your DNA results from classes in the Legacy library. If you are just starting out with DNA take a look at Blaine Bettinger's Foundations of DNA series. If you're already pretty comfortable with DNA then choose from among the 74 DNA classes in the library.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Online Education Producer for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. She hosts the monthly evening webinar on the second Tuesday of each month.  Her areas of expertise include house history research and southern New England research. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.