Episode 62 Transcript

Welcome to the Genealogy News from Geneatopia

I’m Patty Roy, also known as Dinah Larkham in Second Life.

Today is Thursday May 21, 2015 and this is Episode 62.

The National Genealogical Society yearly conference was held recently in St. Charles, Missouri with over 2000 people attending. Many awards were given out during the opening session. An award was given to someone you might know, Pat Richley-Erickson, also known as DearMYRTLE. She won the President’s Citation award. This award is selected by the NGS president and it’s given in recognition for outstanding, continuing, or unusual contributions to the field of genealogy.

DearMYRTLE concentrates on producing many Google+ Hangouts on Air each week. Almost every Monday is a Monday’s with Myrt session with general genealogy discussion, Wacky Wednesday is about a particular topic, and there is genealogy game night on Saturdays where everyone is encouraged to participate. She also does special sessions. Right now there are ongoing sessions for the third Mastering Genealogical Proof study group and weekly sessions for beginning genealogy.

All of these Google hangouts can be found on DearMYRTLE’s YouTube channel. At the NGS conference she continued with her AmbushCAMs and these also can be found on her YouTube channel. She did 16 of these interviews and they last anywhere from 2 minutes to 7 minutes.

Some other things that were announced at the conference, there will be a new edition of Evidence Explained coming out at the end of May. This will be the third edition. This new addition will have expanded coverage on how to cite genetic sources and there will be a quick sheet coming out for citing genetic sources.

The In-Depth Genealogist announced their In-Brief Research Guides. These are four pages that you can purchase in a laminated version for $10 or as a pdf for $2.75. There are four guides about researching your Jewish ancestors, Civil War ancestors, the Dawes Rolls, and researching the forbidden. This last guide mentioned is about researching family secrets.

Next year, 2016, the NGS Conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 4 through 7. You can book your hotel reservations for the 2016 conference starting on Wednesday May 27th.

The year after that, 2017, the conference will be in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The next big conference coming up is the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. It will be held June 5 – 7 with the Genetic Genealogy DNA Day Plus held the day before on June 4th. If you can’t attend in person you can watch some lectures from home.

The DNA Day Plus lectures will cost $99 to watch all six or you can pick the ones you are interested in for $20 each. You will have until July 5th to watch these lectures.

There will be some sessions streamed live during the Jamboree. They do this every year. The list of sessions to be streamed live will be announced sometime next week. Ancestry is the sponsor for the live streaming and they also provided the funding for the Jamboree app.


Ancestry has closed the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF). They acquired the assets of this not-for-profit company in 2012. SMGF was a genealogical research institution that was looking into how people around the world are related. Many people contributed DNA to this project many years ago by giving a sample of blood for analysis and their pedigree charts.

The SMGF website contained the pedigree charts and the results for Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA.

The notice on the front page of the website for SMGF states that “it is come to our attention the site has been used for purposes other than that which it was intended, forcing us to cease operations of the site.”

Some speculate that the reason Ancestry took down the site was because of the recent police case where Ancestry was required to provide DNA.

The case involved a teenager who was murdered in 1996. The suspect left DNA at the scene. In 2014 the police compared the DNA with public YDNA databases. They found a partial match and requested Ancestry provide them with the name of that person so they could find out the names of other male relatives in this person’s family. Of course there was a court order given for this to happen.

The police determined the son of the person who tested was a likely suspect so the police asked the court to require the suspect provide a sample for DNA testing. Not only did this suspect share the same DNA as the person who originally tested, he was also in the vicinity when the murder occurred and matched a description. The results of this test proved that the son of the person who originally tested did not commit the murder.

Since Ancestry no longer tests for Y or mitochondrial DNA when ordering an AncestryDNA test and they have closed the SMGF site, something like this will not happen again. News of court orders could make some people concerned about having their DNA tested for genealogy and Ancestry is trying to grow its AncestryDNA product.


Ancestry posted their first quarter 2015 earnings on April 22.

2014 was an important investment year for Ancestry and 2015 is all about execution. 1st quarter results demonstrate that positive trends seen at the end of last year have continued. The 2014 investments and focus on execution are paying off.

Revenue growth in Q1 was 7.1%. That was held back a bit from the value of the strong dollar overseas.

They added just over 100,000 net subscribers. Subscriber revenue increased 3.3 % in the quarter. There is a total of 2.219 million subscribers. Up from 5% at year end.

AncestryDNA business is showing continued momentum. AncestryDNA started just over 3 years ago. Q1 was the second straight quarter with over 150,000 additions to the AncestryDNA database. Now there are over 850,000 people in the AncestryDNA database. They expect to pass the 1 million milestone by the time the next earnings report comes out.

They launched this quarter something called New Ancestry Discoveries. This shows that the service will continue to get better as the database grows. New ancestor discoveries introduces the user to entirely new ancestors even if they have never before explored their own family history. This is the biggest innovation at Ancestry since the shaky leaf hint system. They are excited about the positive feedback they have received since launch.

About 10% of those who test with AncestryDNA end up subscribing to Ancestry.

AncestryDNA is expanding to other countries. During Q1 it was launched in the UK and Ireland with Canada and Australia launches planned for later this year.

For the core subscription business. On the content side they crossed the 16 billion record milestone in Q1 and they have a lot more coming.

Ancestry is gearing up this year for one of their biggest content collections ever – US probate and wills collection which ranges from the mid-nineteenth century thru the mid-twentieth century. It consists of nearly 170 million images of documents.

On the product side they continue to work on simplifying the user experience and to enhance the story telling aspects of the service. They have been testing a beta version of this new experience since February and they are getting insights and feedback from users.

Released in March was the first version of their Ancestry iOS app. This app includes search functionality and they updated the app for the Apple watch.

The Apple watch version will include some new features such as an on this day family history event notifications with such things as birthdays and anniversaries.

And they launched Ancestry Academy. This is a new educational resource that will feature video courses spanning a variety of family history topics. It’s a subscription based service. Those courses about Ancestry services and products will be free to everyone.


In the earnings call they mentioned the positive feedback for New Ancestry Discoveries. Not everyone agrees with that statement.

This new feature makes it possible to find ancestors you never knew you had just by using your DNA. You can learn about your new ancestor by clicking a link that brings up all the facts, events, and photos that are found in public member trees. Records about this ancestor are also displayed. A map shows where this ancestor lived and there are historical insights generated by Ancestry.

New ancestor discoveries are made from ancestor DNA results in the family trees shared by ancestry members. It combines DNA, family trees, and historical records.

If you’ve already taken a DNA test you don’t have take new test to get this new benefit. Your new ancestor discoveries will appear on your DNA results page.

Ancestry claims that you will have the ability to find ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago just by using DNA.

With New Ancestor Discoveries you don’t need to have a family tree at ancestry. Ancestry assigns ancestors to you based on your DNA and they use people in other member trees to create a tree of your own.

DNA Circles are being used. So new people taking a DNA test will match with a circle and find out who their ancestors are. No genealogy research is required.

The DNA circle consists of a group of people who all share a common ancestor in their family trees and share DNA. As many people have pointed out, the names in the family trees at Ancestry may not be correct. There are many errors found in the trees at Ancestry and many times there is no documentation listed.

So if your DNA matches significant number of an ancestor’s descendants in a DNA circle you are likely a descendent also and this will signal a new ancestor discovery for you.

You can see who you match in the circle with and how they are related to the new ancestor.

However your DNA may match everyone in the circle because you share DNA with maybe their brother or sister of that particular ancestor. So Ancestry has come up with an algorithm to make sure that you do match the DNA circle ancestor. They look at the number of people in the DNA circle with whom you share DNA, the amount of DNA you share with each DNA circle member, the number of generations back to the ancestor for each member in the circle, and a confidence level they have created.

Ancestry hopes that this will open the door to consumers who might be interested in family history but don’t know how or don’t have the time to look into records. They also hope it will help experienced genealogist breakthrough their brick walls.

Now for the reaction from the blogosphere. This new feature should be used as a hint just like a shaky leaf is showing you a possible match. Many people are happy to have more hints to pursue. And that is what this new feature is. It should not be used to create a family tree based on what others have put in their family trees.

Without seeing the underlying DNA for the DNA matches there is no way to known how you match someone. Ancestry does not let you see this information in a chromosome browser so you can see how you match other people.

There is no proof that this new ancestor that Ancestry is presenting to you is actually your ancestor.

Sometimes matches are made and then the ancestor that is presented to you is really the husband or wife of a sister or brother of someone in your line. Not your direct ancestor. This would be a link to a collateral line.

Genealogy research is not this easy. There needs to be documentation and proof that an ancestor is really your ancestor.

This new feature is still in beta so there is room for improvement.


Since my last genealogy news podcast FamilySearch has added more than 48 million indexed records and images. I’ll have links in the show notes to all those announcement in case you want to review what’ been added in the last couple of months.

And Findmypast continues to add records to its collection every Friday. I’ll also have links to those announcements in the show notes.


Last month MyHeritage announced that Instant Discoveries were available for all MyHeritage users. This feature makes it easier to find ancestors. If you find an individual in your family tree that matches in someone else’s family tree will be alerted to this and then you can choose to add everyone in that branch to your tree.

Now MyHeritage users will see these discoveries right in their family tree. There will be a yellow card labeled “Discovery!” to let you know that your ancestor matches in another tree. Currently discovery cards only shown for up to 50 discoveries in each tree. And they are only shown where a parent can be added to an existing person in the tree

In the future these discovery cards will be displayed when you can add a spouse, sibling, or child to your tree.

If you don’t want to use this new feature you can turn it off in the tree settings.

And MyHeritage has updated their Android and iOS mobile apps. The app has a new and improved look and feel. The apps are for reviewing your data, not for editing it.


GenealogyBank has released more than 450 new historical newspapers to its site. This addition represents the largest release of new content since GenealogyBank.com was first launched. Newspapers have been added from all 50 states and the District of Columbia covering the years from 1730 to 1900. They have released the full list of new newspapers on their website and I’ll have a link in the show notes to it.


And some other newspaper news, the Texas newspapers Jackboro Gazette-News and Jack County Herald are going to be digitized and they will be available on the University of North Texas’ portal to Texas history.


The Royal Library of Belgian has announced that they have placed 10 historical newspapers from Belgium online and access to them is free. There are 1.2 million newspaper pages ranging from the years 1831 to 1918.

The newspapers can be searched by keyword, by date, or browsed. The results from a search will also show newspapers from the years 1919 until 1950. However, those years are still protected by copyright and they are only viewable from within the library itself. You can view the years from 1831 to 1918 online.


The Library and Archives Canada has digitized another batch of World War I service files.

These files were put together as a collection in 1947 when they were put in envelopes as 18 to 50 pages per envelope and transferred to LAC. Each file starts with a paper that the soldier or nurse used to sign up with which gives their basic information. This is known as an attestation paper. There are medical forms, where they were trained, where they embarked overseas, the name of the ship, if they were wounded or sick, and some information about pay. There is very little correspondence in the files because the files were stripped by Veterans Affairs to include only information that was relevant to receiving benefits.

The project is being done in increments. With this latest release, over 155,000 files out of 640,000 files are available at the LAC database called Soldiers of the First World War: 1914 – 1918. The files are being processed in alphabetical order and with this latest installment that brings the files available up to the surname Gilbert.


There is a new site to register one place study names in Canada. So far only eight people have added a place to the site. One place studies focus on a single village or community to help understand what life was like for our ancestors who lived there during a previous time. There are many of these types of studies being done in the UK.


The Fichier Origine is a free online database that contains information about early Quebec settlers up to 1865. The site is run by the Quebec Federation of Genealogical Societies in partnership with the French Federation of Genealogy

The Quebec Federation of Genealogical Societies has entered into an agreement to allow FamilySearch to access 11 fields in the records. This will allow people searching at FamilySearch to bring up links to records at the Fichier Origine website.

This is a five-year agreement and during that time the Québec Federation of Genealogical Societies will provide annual updates.

The PRDH is a subscription site where you can search for the baptism, marriage, and burial dates as well as find family members together as a unit for ancestors in Quebec. The information is linked so if you find someone, you can click on their parents to see the names of who was in the family as they were children.

The PRDH is a program at the University of Montreal. They have transcribed the parish records of Ancient Quebec as well as some other records up until 1799. Now they have added records up to 1849 which amounts to 1,700,000 new records. These new records come from the Drouin Institute.

The PRDH does not contain the original records. Now with this partnership with the Drouin Institute you will be able to click a link from the results at the PRDH site to the images of the original documents at the Drouin Institute website. Of course you will need to have a subscription to the Drouin Institute website to view the images. Subscriptions cost $13 a month or $100 a year.

If you subscribe to the Drouin Institute, you will receive a bonus of 10% more hits when you subscribe or renew at the PRDH.


The subscription-based site Essex Ancestors over in the UK has completed the digitization of their wills collection. There are now over 70,000 wills available on the site covering the years 1400 to 1858.

You can search by name, occupation, and place of residence. This is the third and final batch of original wills to be uploaded at the site.


Indexes to the Irish civil registration records are back online at IrishGenealogy.ie. These were removed last July when the Data Protection Commissioner decided that the indexes exposed too much information. They realized that some of the indexes contained information about living individuals. Some information that could be found such as birth dates and mother’s maiden names may have been used as the answers to security questions. When they were first consulted about these indexes going online they were under the assumption that they would be about historical information.

There was also concern by placing it online for free there could be bulk downloads used to match up with records from other sources. So now when you are searching at the site before you see the results you have to enter a reCAPTCHA which proves you are a human being.

You also have to agree that you are doing a search as facilitated by “Section 61 of the Civil Registration Act, 2004” which “provides for a member of the public to make an application to an tArd-Chláraitheoir to search the indexes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages registers.”


The National Library of Ireland will be launching its new free website that will contain almost 400,000 images of Catholic parish registers on Wednesday, July 8. Images come from microfilms that have been available to visitors at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. Digitizing these records means that for the first time anyone will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.

The registers are considered an important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 census. They cover over 1000 parishes throughout the island of Ireland and consist mainly of baptismal and marriage records and date from the 1740s to the 1880s.

The digital images of these registers will be searchable by parish. They will not be transcribed or indexed.


The Global Family Reunion is almost here. It will be held on June 6th in New York. Everyone is invited and it should be the largest family reunion ever held. There will be food and entertainment. All proceeds from the day’s events will go to The Alzheimer’s Association New York City and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

The organizer of the reunion, A.J. Jacobs, is writing a book called “It’s all Relative.” It will be a funny look at the Human Family with interviews from cousins around the world. The last chapter in the book will be about the Global Family Reunion.

If you can’t attend the event in New York, it will be live streamed. Several Satellite parties are planned around the world. These are called branch parties. A list of these branch parties can be found at the Global Family Reunion website and they are open to the public.

There will be a virtual branch party in Second Life on that day. This will be in the Just Genealogy area which is where all the genealogy chats take place.

WikiTree is planning on a branch party using Google+ Hangouts on Air.

With all these options everyone will be able to participate in the Global Family Reunion.

Now for some webinars coming up.

Tuesday, May 26, 1pm Eastern
Ancestry Live Event
Top Tips for Virginia Family History Research
presented by Crista Cowen

Tuesday, May 26, 3PM Eastern
New England Historic Genealogical Society Webinar
Preparing for Your Visit to NEHGS
presented by Jean Maguire

Wednesday, May 27, 2pm eastern
Legacy Webinar
Migration Patterns East of the Mississippi Prior to 1860
presented by Mary Hill

Thursday, May 28, 8pm Eastern
FamilySearch Webinar
Using Canadian Census Records
presented by Yvonne Sorenson

Thursday, May 28, 9pm eastern
Second Life National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) Study Group
Morna Lahnice Hollister, “Goggins and Goggans of South Carolina: DNA Helps Document the Basis of an Emancipated Family’s Surname,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (September 2014): 165-176.

Saturday, May 30, 12 noon Eastern
APG Webinar
Using Technology to Manage Multiple Genealogy Projects
presented by Melanie D. Holtz

Sunday, May 31, 2 – 4pm eastern

Tuesday, June 2, 1pm Eastern
Ancestry Live Event
What’s New at Ancestry: June 2015 Edition
presented by Crista Cowen

Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 2pm eastern
Legacy Webinar
Genealogy 101, Part 3 of 3
presented by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

Wednesday, June 3, 8pm eastern
Minnesota Genealogical Society
Genealogy and GIS: A Beginner’s How-To
presented by Jennifer Alford

Thursday, June 4, 9pm Eastern
FamilySearch Webinar
Danish Research Strategies

North Carolina Genealogical Society
DNA – a case study
presented by Katherine Benbow
Webinar free viewing June 5 – 7

#genchat – Your Global Family
Friday, June 5, 10pm eastern

You can find all the webinars mentioned and more at the calendar at Geneatopia.com.

And that’s it for this episode.

You can send email to geneatopia@gmail.com.

You can find links to things mentioned in this show in the show notes at Geneatopia.com as well as a transcript. The transcript can also be found in the Geneatopia Flipboard magazine.

This is episode 62.

Thanks for listening.


Listen to the episode.

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