Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Step-by-Step Approach to Using Genealogical Cluster Research: Step Four

Expanding Jurisdictional Research into Cluster Research

Jurisdictional genealogical research is not easily understood. A jurisdiction is a geographic area that has a particular level of government. For example, a school district is under the jurisdiction of the school board. That same school district might also be part of a municipality, another jurisdiction. The municipality is likely in a county, which is part of a state and a nation. There are a large number of these jurisdictions, most of which overlap each other or are inclusive of each other in some way, i.e. a county is part of a state and a state contains counties. From a genealogical standpoint, all of these jurisdictions have the potential of creating records. As genealogists, we identify the jurisdictions, then we identify the records that each jurisdiction could have created and then search for the location of the records and finally, search the records.

A jurisdictional approach to genealogical research is well represented by the Catalog. We may think of the various categories in the Catalog as arbitrary, but the FamilySearch Catalog is a good analog of the jurisdictional approach to genealogical research. The Catalog is basically organized geographically by jurisdiction. See "Catalogs: The Key to Using and"

As you become familiar with searching in catalogs and the wide variety of jurisdictional records that are available, you will also begin to realize that the number of possible records is directly related to time. The huge flood of records that exist today begins to dwindle into a barely perceptible stream as we go back in time. Likewise, the expertise necessary to find and search the records due to availability, writing systems and language changes also increases dramatically as we move from the 19th to the 18th Century and beyond.

One interesting side note about jurisdictional analysis is that the various indexing systems used as finding aids seldom give the user any insight into the geographical nature of the records. For example, if you do a name search using an index of the U.S. Federal Census Records, you will get a list of suggested individuals whose names match your search, but the results list has no geographic organization. Even if you add a place name, the results will seldom give you a grouping of the places as well as the names that match. Using most indexes for searches is the antithesis of basing searches on jurisdictions. The exception, of course, is an index of the individual jurisdictions records. It is possible to find related individuals if the record set or collection is geographically limited or implies some other type of relationship. 

Cluster research moves beyond merely recognizing that different jurisdictions create different types of records. Once you understand the importance of recognizing that different sets of records are created for both overlapping and successional types of jurisdictions, you can start to recognize that other types of relationships between individuals and families can create records that are not geographically discernable. For example, an individual may belong to an international organization and have contacts scattered all over the world. Two individuals could be closely related within that international organization and yet, unless that organization is included in a set of records that are considered to be "genealogical" records, there is little chance that a genealogist who ignores cluster research would run across that organization's roster and find that two of the individuals were closely affiliated.

However, initially, cluster research uses the available geographically oriented records to discover other types of relationships. An example of a simple "cluster" is church membership. The fact that an individual or a family belongs to or attends a particular denomination forms a cluster of affiliation that can be used not only to discover the family when it moves to another location but also to track family members who are separated from the family. This type of relationship is extremely difficult to see if you limit your research to geographically oriented or even jurisdictionally oriented methodologies.

For example, the U.S. Federal Census makes no mention of any organizational affiliation. I like to remember when I researched agricultural organizations in the state of Utah. I found dozens of such organizations. Some of them were regional, but others were organized by the product or products produced. Belonging to a farm coop may not seem to be related to genealogical research but the fact that a person belonged to a particular coop could be used to show relationships between farms and farm families. However, there are agricultural schedules for the U.S. Federal Census for 1850, 1960 and 1870 but very small farms were not included. Membership in the farm coop was not limited by the size of the farm.

Where cluster research moves beyond jurisdictional research is when cluster research begins to consider individual and familial relationships that are not constrained by geography per se.

Stay tuned.

Remember: There is no Step Two in this series. Here are the previous posts.

Step One:
Step Two: missing but shows up as Step One
Step Three:

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Is it time to rethink traditional genealogical assumptions?

A recent news article about a woman in Bangladesh who gave birth twice nearly a month apart (See CBS News) started me thinking about some of the traditional assumptions we make about the world as genealogists. More than thirty years ago, when I first became involved in serious genealogical research I was introduced to some "assumptions" about families, marriages, ages, and over the years these "rules of thumb" have become almost codified.

For example, one such "rule of thumb" is that when you find a marriage record, you can estimate the date of birth of the individuals. The time period is around 19 to 20 years before the marriage. I still see these birth dates appearing regularly online with "about" dates. Granted such an estimate may be helpful in finding a birth record if one exists, but too many times, that estimate becomes codified into an exact birth date even in the absence of any birth record.

Now, with the story above, we have an example, if you believe the story, of a woman who had three babies 26 days apart, a single birth and then twins. If I ran across this situation in a historical record, I would automatically assume that the second birth had to be a different family. Two children born less than a month apart could not be siblings. Perhaps, this assumption fits the general community, but there appear to be exceptions. Does the exception prove the rule in all cases? I never did understand how an exception could prove anything. If there are exceptions then the rules are not rules but assumptions.

The history of Science (with a capital S) is full of theories and rules that have been disproven when exceptions were found. Isn't it about time we revise our way of thinking about genealogy and start looking at genealogical research as true historical research where we rely on actual sources and stop filling in the gaps with speculation? Another example. If we go back in history, we soon learn that the age at which young could marry was and is mostly culturally determined. What is the "law" about the age of marriage in the United States" Well, that turns out to be very complicated. The age range, either with or without parental consent, between any age in Kentucky with parental consent, to 21 without parental consent in Mississippi. So, depending on the state, the estimated birth date could be off as many as 6 years or more. From a practical standpoint, for some genealogists, this means that a search for a birth record should begin much sooner before the marriage date and continue for many more years than would otherwise seem necessary and what about counties where children can be "married" at birth?

If you look at a chart of the average age of first marriage by country (See Wikipedia: List of countries by age at first marriage) You will see something very interesting. Around the world, the average age for marriage in men varies from around 36 years old in Sweden to a low of about 21 years in various other countries. The marriage age for women varies from a low of about 16 in Bangladesh to over 30 in many countries. How did those ages change as we go back in time? With any average, there has to be a substantial number of people who marry either younger or older to "pull" the average either up or down.

Now, with the gaps between the dates of birth of children called into question, I am suggesting that we throw out our "traditional" birth, marriage, and death estimates and start doing systematic, year by year searches for records. Let's stop deluding ourselves with estimates that can clearly be off by tens of years. If we don't know the date that an event happened, let's fess up to the fact and start leaving the dates blank and that goes for places also. A blank space in our genealogy is not a admission of failure, it is a challenge to find the records.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Reclaim the Records Wins Again: Index to millions of New York marriage records reclaimed!
Here is the latest great announcement from
Greetings from Reclaim The Records! We're that scrappy little activist group of genealogists, historians, journalists, and open government advocates, fighting for better public access to government-held genealogical and historical documents. And today, we're pleased to inform you that we just won our fourth lawsuit! We fought the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) for the index to marriages performed in the state of New York post-1965, and after seven months, a judge has now ruled in our favor
This means that the basic index to millions of marriages in New York State will become available to the public. They'll go online for free public use, without any paywalls or subscriptions or usage agreements. That's because we at Reclaim The Records never charge anyone for records access; instead, we work to bring public data back to the public. 
You can read the backstory of this case here, on our website or you can also read about it in a previous issue of this newsletter. We've also posted online all the documents that go along with it, including all the requests and appeals and denials. And now you can finally read the judge's decision in this case, too — it goes step-by-step through the government's attempts to withhold these genealogical records from the public, and knocks down each excuse.
It makes me start to wonder why the government agencies try to keep these records from being accessed? It would seem that after a few lawsuits they would get the message that refusing to supply public records is not a very good idea. Granted, the Freedom of Information laws are complex and specific, but blanket refusals seem to be the order of the day with some government agencies. I am beginning to believe that the government agencies are refusing merely because they think they can sell the records to other entities and the fact that Reclaim the Records will make them available for free destroys the value of the records to sell. This is not a "privacy" issue but an attempt for the agencies to benefit from selling the records.

I guess we need to remember what the Court said in the above decision;
This Court must bear in mind "that FOIL is to be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly interpreted so that the public is granted maximum access to the records of the government." Matter of Capital Newspapers, Div. of Hearst orp. v Whalen, 69 NY2d 246, 252 (1987). In keeping with that policy, "FOIL provides that all records of a public agency are presumptively open to public inspection and copying unless otherwise specifically exempted." Matter .of Capital Newspapers Div. of Hearst Corp. v Burns, 67 NY2d 562,566 (1986)
FOIL is the Freedom of Information Act. These acts exist in every state of the United States and also the Federal Government. However, I do find that the Court's denial of attorneys' fees to Reclaim the Records to be unconscionable and arbitrary.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Step-by-Step Approach to Using Genealogical Cluster Research: Step Three

Note: There is only one previous post in this series. Originally, there was a second post but it got damaged and ended up the same as Post One. Here is the first and now the only previous post in this series. But to avoid a conflict over the title of the previous post this post is designated as Step Three.

Part One:
Part Two: missing but shows up as Part One

One of the basic scientific methodologies consists of categorizing and organizing information based on similar characteristics. The entire plant and animal classification system uses observable similarities to identify different Kingdoms, Phyla, Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, and Species. Likewise, investigations into the relationships between humans are traditionally classified into Races, Kinship Groups and Families but the relationships between the individuals in these groups are usually culturally defined with an overlay of scientific attempts at classification. Because we are all scientifically classified as the same "species" and further since there is no demonstrable biological basis for classifying individuals into different Races, these classifications have been and still are ad hoc and arbitrary. So, in the past, genealogists could conveniently adopt any classification system they chose.

 The study of anthropology has a branch that is called cultural anthropology. However, some anthropologists use the term social anthropology. Currently, there is a division between those who define Social Anthropology as the dominant constituent of anthropology usually in Europe and those in the United States who define social anthropology as a part of cultural anthropology. Genealogists, for the most part, have ignored anthropology entirely even though, as shown by this description from Wikipedia: Social anthropology, the study of genealogy would definitely fall into the discipline of social anthropology.
Topics of interest for social anthropologists have included customs, economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, kinship and family structure, gender relations, childbearing and socialization, religion, while present-day social anthropologists are also concerned with issues of globalism, ethnic violence, gender studies, transnationalism and local experience, and the emerging cultures of cyberspace.
Approaching genealogy from both a jurisdictional perspective and my analyzing clusters moves genealogy closer to the types of considerations used by academic social and cultural anthropologists primarily in the study of kinship and family structure.

Presently, genealogy has almost universally adopted the "Western European Core Family" structure as the only pattern for establishing familial relationships. The main emphasis is on a strictly biological pattern for the core family. This can be most prominently seen in the use of the very limited and restrictive traditional Western European-based pedigree chart to record families.

This standard format for recording genealogical information is pervasive. But it is also restrictive and in many cases fails to represent any portion of the reality of the family structures around the world.

A more realistic view of the family would include all sorts of relationships that are usually not clearly defined and especially are not represented on the standard pedigree chart. A few of the categories of relationships that are ignored include relationships by adoption, subsequent marriages, non-traditional relationships, and foster child relationships. This is true even though some genealogy programs allow such relationships to be defined, these programs still represent the family as a solely biological core unit.

Jurisdictional genealogical research focuses primarily on the issue of where events occurred and what kinds of records could have been created that might be used to document those specific events. Cluster research incorporated jurisdictional research and extends the search to any other cultural or social relationship that might exist.

For example, let's suppose I was investigating a family in the American Midwest in the late 1800s. Viewed from a jurisdictional perspective, a genealogical investigation would include looking for birth, marriage, and death records but could be extended to look for land and property records, school records, church records, court and probate records and so forth. All of these types of records originate as a result of the individual living within the jurisdiction of some type of government agency. But if I think about this particular type of investigation, I will soon realize that there are other types of relationships that are not part of any particular jurisdictional subdivision. The target individual or family may have an occupation, social contacts and people that are considered part of their family group of "relatives" that live outside of any of their immediate governmental agencies such as a cousin that lives on the East Coast or friends that live in the South. Cluster research attempts to identify and codify these other types of relationships and search for documents that may be created from such relationships.

The term "cluster research" refers more to the process of identifying possible relationships and then using those relationships to differentiate one individual and family from those with similar characteristics. Let's suppose that the head of the family in the Midwest worked for a railroad. What kinds of records could have been created as a result of that employment? Where would any of those surviving records be kept? If you think about how this line of questioning might be further applied, you will realize that any possible activity of the family or individual could have created relationships that may be documented. The categories of possible relationships are endless: friends, neighbors, religious, social, fraternal, occupational, and many others.

The idea here is to expand the definition of family to include all the various kinship relationships in any particular culture and to further expand genealogical research to include all of the categories of possible relationships that could exist. Of course, contemplating this expansive view of genealogical research can be overwhelming, but limiting your view of families and individuals to the traditional pedigree chart limits your perspective to the point where you are often spending a huge amount of time looking for a particular jurisdictionally created document such as a birth, marriage, or death record when there are other relational documents that will clearly define the family or individual.

Remember, this is the second available post in this series.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Keynote Speakers Announced for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy
The 51st Annual Brigham Young University Conference on Family History and Genealogy will be held from July 30 to August 2, 20119 in the newly remodeled BYU Conference Center on Campus in Provo, Utah. The Conference will offer more than 100 classes, including a free track, this year on Wednesday, for Family History Consultants, allowing participants to gain new skills and helpful information.

This year's Keynote Speakers are the following:
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. served as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy from October 1994 to October 2011, when he was granted General Authority Emeritus status. He presided over Brigham Young University from May 2003 to May 2014 and the Salt Lake Temple from 2014 to 2017. Elder Samuelson has worked as a physician and senior vice president of Intermountain Healthcare, vice president of Health Sciences at the University of Utah, and professor and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Utah. He and his wife, Sharon, have five children and 14 grandchildren.
Stephen W. Valentine is senior vice president of FamilySearch International and a director in the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He works closely with the chief genealogical officer in the oversight and strategic development of the Family History Library. He has worked at FamilySearch for more than 20 years, helping to develop FamilySearch Indexing and establishing key partnerships to help the growth of the family history industry. He is the father of five children and grandfather of five grandchildren.
Dan Debenham is a nationally recognized news anchor, reporter, writer, and producer. He has worked for ESPN, and his production company Lenzworks produces the BYUTV series he hosts, Relative Race. He has also produced several original television shows including Endless Vacations, New Ways to Play, and RCI TV. He is the recipient of the Sports Foundations Network Journalism Award, two international ARDY Awards, and was nominated for two Emmys and three National Cable Ace Awards. Dan and his wife, Mona, live in Sandy, Utah, and have four children and four grandchildren. 
I will be presenting two classes this year also. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Are DNA Experts Genealogy Experts?

The marriage of genealogical DNA testing to more traditional genealogical research has produced some dramatic results for finding relationships in the first few generations of an ancestral line. Finding a birth mother or father or related grandparent was and is extremely difficult using research-based genealogy. This is due in the most part to both privacy concerns and court rules that "seal" adoption records and change the names on birth certificates.

But I have seen an interesting phenomenon; many classes and presentations about DNA testing talk about biology almost to the exclusion of how the DNA tests can be used in real genealogical research practice. I have spent the last few years reading and studying about DNA testing but I am sure that no one would consider me a DNA expert merely because I don't represent myself as one. Additionally, I do not have a degree in any biological science. However, I do have years of experience as a genealogical researcher and a background, including years of formal genealogical training, that qualify me as a research genealogist. What if I suddenly started billing myself as a DNA/Genealogy expert and began teaching and presenting about DNA? I guess the follow-up question is how then do DNA experts get to genealogy experts?

I have been reviewing the calls for papers for genealogy conferences around the country recently and I recently saw one from the National Genealogical Society (NGS) that said: "NGS also requests proposals that include the integration of DNA and technology in family history research as well as methodology and problem solving." That statement is exactly my point, where do you find people who are competent to address that subject? Granted, there may be a few. There probably are biologists who are now involved in genealogy and can adequately address the real issues in using DNA testing beyond the first two or three generations so it is possible that such a presentation is possible but what qualifies them as competent in both areas? Experience with solving one difficult genealogical relationship issue?

Not too long ago, in October of 2018, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) adopted Standards for DNA Evidence. Quoting from an announcement dated October 28, 2018:
BCG firmly believes the standards must evolve to incorporate this new type of evidence,” according to BCG President Richard G. Sayre. “Associates, applicants, and the public should know BCG respects DNA evidence. It respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards. BCG does not expect use of DNA to be demonstrated in every application for certification. However, all genealogists, including applicants, need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions
The announcement goes on to state, in part:
Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard requires using all available and relevant types of evidence. DNA evidence both differs from and shares commonalities with documentary evidence. Like other types of evidence, DNA evidence is not always available, relevant, or usable for a specific problem, is not used alone, and involves planning, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and reporting. Unlike other types of evidence, DNA evidence usually comes from people now living. 
I might comment that very few of the ads I have seen for genealogical DNA testing include any reference to the issues raised by BCG. Here are the areas that the new standards will address, also from the announcement.
• Planning DNA tests. The first genetic standard describes the qualities of an effective plan for DNA testing including types of tests, testing companies, and analytical tools. It also calls for selecting the individuals based on their DNA’s potential to answer a research question.
• Analyzing DNA test results. The second genetic standard covers factors that might impact a genetic relationship conclusion, including analysis of pedigrees, documentary research, chromosomal segments, and mutations, markers or regions; also, composition of selected comparative test takers and genetic groups.
• Extent of DNA evidence. The third genetic standard describes the qualities needed for sufficiently extensive DNA data.
• Sufficient verifiable data. The fourth genetic standard addresses the verifiability of data used to support conclusions.
• Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. The fifth genetic standard calls for a combination of DNA and documentary evidence to support a conclusion about a genetic relationship. It also calls for analysis of all types of evidence.
• Conclusions about genetic relationships. The sixth genetic standard defines the parameters of a genetic relationship and the need for accurate representation of genealogical conclusions.
• Respect for privacy rights. The seventh genetic standard describes the parameters of informed consent.
I certainly applaud the BCG for addressing this basic issue. One thing that articulating a standard does is raise the bar for declaring oneself an expert in both genealogy and genealogical DNA testing. The new standards have been published and are available for purchase on the BCG website and from Here is a link to the sale.
I might remind everyone that if you buy through Amazon Smile they will donate a portion of the sale to a charity. In our case, you should consider naming The Family History Guide Association as your charitable donation recipient.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Lawsuit Alleges Harvard Profits from Photos of Enslaved People
This story has seemingly been picked up by every news service in the country and is quickly spreading all over the world. This seems strange to me since the basic facts of the story date back to 1850 when Louis Agassiz had 15 daguerreotypes taken in Columbia, South Carolina. According to the following journal article:

Wallis, Brian. "Black Bodies, White Science: The Slave Daguerreotypes of Louis Agassiz." The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 12 (1996): 102-06. doi:10.2307/2963000.

I quote:
The daguerreotypes, which were taken for Agassiz in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1850, had two purposes one nominally scientific, the other frankly political. They were designed to analyze the physical differences between European whites and African blacks but at the same time, they were meant to prove the superiority of the white race. Agassiz hoped to use the photographs as evidence to prove his theory of "separate creation," the idea that the various races of mankind were, in fact, separate species. 
Although there are still vestiges of Agassiz's theory being put forth today in the form of racism, current genetic testing has shown the homogeneity of the human race as it exists today. However, that is not the basic issue raised by the present controversy over the photos but inherent issues of racial prejudice are obviously the reason why this lawsuit has garnered so much media attention.

For many years now, I have been aware of the use of old photos and documents by certain universities, archives, and museums for revenue enhancement. This is the practice of these institutions to claim "ownership" of old photos and documents and restricting access and use of these items behind a paywall. This is not an issue of copyright. Documents and photos, such as those being considered in the present lawsuit, are clearly not subject to any claims of copyright protection although a claim of copyright is commonly used as an excuse for creating the paywall especially after the original photos or documents have been incorporated into publications and sold by the institution as has been done in this case by Harvard University.

The above lawsuit seems to raise an issue of "ownership." Some of the questions I would ask are as follows: Who owns the photos? What constitutes ownership of old documents and photos? How does one acquire ownership of an old photo or document? Is possession of a photo or document sufficient to acquire commercial rights to its republication and exploitation? Can a person acquire ownership of personal property merely by possession?

Copyright law is designed to protect the originator of a work but has evolved into a complex legal system that ends up mostly protecting the rights of the "publisher" of the work. In the present case, I have yet to see that the originator or photographer who created the original daguerreotypes has been identified. It is also not yet clear how Harvard University acquired any rights to the photos other than the fact that they were "found" in a storage area of the Peabody Museum on the University campus.

What I have found, time and again, is that the university, library, museum, archive, or whatever, uses the artifacts it has "acquired" for commercial purposes assuming, I am certain, that their possession gives them the rights to do so. Reports here indicate that at least one of the photos in question was used for the cover a Harvard University book. See "Harvard Profits From Photos Of Slaves, Lawsuit Claims."

In the United States, the rights conferred by mere possession of personal property (everything that is not real property) are determined by Property Law. To begin an analysis of the status of the ownership rights to the photos it will probably be necessary to determine who "owned" the original photos. However, there is another legal principle that ownership can be acquired by possession over an extended time.

Another fundamental issue of the lawsuit is whether or not the distant heir of the person or persons portrayed in the photos has any rights at all to the photo. Did the original subject of the photos acquire any rights of ownership and could those rights have passed to that person's heirs? Does the person who claims a right to inherited property have any duty to establish a right to inherit or is there some other method of acquiring ownership or possession?

We can assume that the plaintiff in the above lawsuit is not the only descendant of the subjects of the photographs. What rights do the other descendants have? How does the lawsuit establish the rights of all the other unknown heirs?

The issue that I am mostly concerned with assumes that the institution in question, here Harvard University, can acquire ownership of the artifact. But how does the institution acquire the sole right to reproduction of a work that is clearly not protected by copyright law? Doesn't giving these institutions the right to control the publication or reproduction of the artifact a de facto copyright without any basis in the law? For example, suppose I go to a library that has a collection of very old books, say 1700s or before, and I say I would like to take photographs of the books' contents. Can the institution stop me from taking photographs? Apparently, some institutions think they can and do. For example, access to original documents in the U.S. National Archives is very limited and copies are strictly controlled. See the instructions that begin with "Plan Your Research Visit." Of course, there are good arguments for maintaining control over the documents, but in the absence of an active digitization effort, the National Archives has absolute control over who, where, and when the documents can be viewed and copied even though almost all U.S. government documents are not subject to copyright claims.

The claim made by the plaintiff in the Harvard lawsuit is similar to the issues addressed in the American Antiquities Act of 1906. It seems to me that this plaintiff is asking for a court-ordered extension of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Pub. L. 101-601, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., 104 Stat. 3048, is a United States federal law enacted on 16 November 1990. As an institution that receives Federal funding, Harvard may fall under the provisions of this act. But then the issue would become whether the photos fall within the Act's provisions and whether the plaintiff has standing to make a claim under the Act.

Well, I thought that you might like to know some of the issues involved in making such a claim.

How to Scan Your Old Photographs

This is a guest post from Max Ernst Stockburger of You can also read his blog: "Tipps and Tricks for Photos" Here is an example of photo restoration. 

What to consider when scanning your old photographs

For the best results in photo restoration, you need to have high-quality scans of your photographs. We then apply our expertise to this ‘raw material’ to restore the original beauty of your images. The good news is that you can easily follow our advice for proper scanning so that we can then have the best chance to repair and rejuvenate your old, faded, or even damaged photographs. As long as the ‘material’ you give us is of good quality, we can even fix instances of heavy damage such as watermarks and missing pieces.

In this tutorial, we will show you step by step how to set up and adjust your scanner for the best results on both MacOS and Windows 10. These settings work well with scanners of all manufacturers: Epson, Brother, Kodak, Canon, and so on. There are 7 easy steps to follow for beginners and professionals alike:

7 things to remember when scanning damaged photographs

1. Make sure your scanner is clean and free of dust and grease
2. Make sure your photograph is clean and free of dust
3. Make sure the whole of your photograph is being scanned
4. Try to avoid any reflections from occurring within the scanner while scanning
5. Always scan with at least 300 dpi
6. Always scan in 8-bit color mode (photo mode)
7. Name your files in a systematic way so that you can easily find them in the future.

Let’s go through each of these tips in a bit more detail.

1. Make sure your scanner is clean and free of dust and grease

Before you do anything else, check the glass surface of your scanner. Nasty particles and fingerprints can create optical aberrations or even hide certain details from appearing in the final scan. If you notice any dust or grease use a microfiber cloth and glass cleaning detergent to get rid of them. Always make sure the surface is dry again before you put your valuable photograph on the glass.

2. Make sure your photograph is clean and free of dust

What we said of the glass surface of your scanner equally applies to the surface of your damaged photograph. Any dust or particles on the photograph can hide valuable information on the resulting scan. On these delicate surfaces make use of a soft brush and/or a dust air blower with the greatest care. Never apply any force or use detergent as this may result in damaging the surfaces of your photographs.

3. Make sure the whole of your photograph is being scanned

If you are scanning multiple photographs or pieces of one damaged photograph make sure that neither individual photos nor fragments are overlapping or only being partially scanned. An easy way to avoid this is to take a look in the preview section before you do the final detailed scan.

4. Try to avoid any reflections from occurring within the scanner while scanning

Curled, torn, or damaged photographs can often cause reflections within the scanner during the scanning process. These reflections can then mask important details in the scanned image. There are two ways to approach this problem. The first is to flatten any curled or warped old photographs with heavy weights such as books. A tried and tested method is to simply place your damaged photographs between two heavy books and wait for a day or two. The second option is to place a reasonable amount of weight directly on top of your scanner. If you decide to follow this method, the vintage photograph is temporarily pressed upon the scanner surface during the scanning process. Both options help minimize internal reflections from occurring while scanning.

5. Always scan with at least 300dpi as a professional photo restoration service needs to work with data that has been scanned at least 300dpi. This way we can guarantee you that you will be able to print your restored photograph at the same size as the original. If you would like to further enlarge the photograph please scan the image at 600dpi. To see how to set up the DPI take a look at the videos below.

6. Always scan in 8-bit color mode (photo mode)

Always scan your vintage photographs in 8-bit color mode, even if it is black and white. This setting produces the highest quality scans which in turn gives us the best material to which we can apply our professional restoration skills to deliver the best results to you. Check the video below to see how it’s done.

7. Name your files in a systematic way so that you can easily find them in the future.

This is very simple but important advice. When you save your scans make sure you carefully think about and decide on a method that will ensure you can find your photographs in the future. The name of the subject, the date, whatever works for you!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Step-by-Step Approach to Using Genealogical Cluster Research: Step One

Most genealogists, as they gain experience in doing research, evolve a methodology that reflects their own personal background. If you were influenced by traditional "paper-based" genealogy, then your personal methodology will usually rely on those techniques and methods you witnesses while working with your contemporaries. In genealogical terminology, a "cluster" consists of extended family members, friends, neighbors, and other associates such as business partners. Using the term expansively, a cluster could include anyone who would possibly come in contact with the person who is the target of your research. Cluster research is a research technique or methodology that is supplemented by "jurisdictional research" and utilizes the concept of beginning your research in the lowest or basic jurisdictional level. An early exposition on jurisdictional research was described in the following book.

Jones, Vincent L., Arlene H. Eakle, and Mildred H. Christensen. 1972. Genealogical research; a jurisdictional approach. [Salt Lake City]: [Printed by Publishers Press for Genealogical Copy Service, Woods Cross, Utah].

This book was later revised and published as follows:

Jones, Vincent L., Arlene H. Eakle, and Mildred H. Christensen. 1972. Family history for fun and profit. Provo, Utah: Printed by Community Press for the Genealogical Institute.

I have yet to figure of the profit part of genealogy and I am also skeptical about the "fun" part either. I assume the title was changed in an attempt to increase sales of the book.

The idea of focusing on cluster research is essentially the same as researching in the "home jurisdiction" as the term is used in the books cited above. Jurisdictional research expands on the idea of focusing on clusters and expands research outward using both geographically and politically defined areas. But it is important to understand the need to expand your current research methodology to include the target family's or person's relational surroundings.

By the way, most books on genealogy will never really go "out-of-date." The exceptions, of course, are those that focus on technology. Even though the two books listed above (really essentially the same book) were published in 1972, now nearly 50 years ago, all of the principles laid down in the books are still valid and useful.

The currently popular emphasis on the technological aspects of genealogical research, including, but not limited to DNA testing, has almost completely overshadowed the need to understand the valuable concepts developed over time by more traditional genealogists. That is not to say, that all of the methodologies developed by traditional genealogists are presently applicable. Computerization has dramatically affected most of the ways that the traditional genealogical community gathered, stored, and reported their genealogical research.

Traditionally, the research project was visualized as a circle. However, I believe that the circle metaphor is limited. A better representation would be a web. In order to understand how to implement cluster research, it is important to place close to research in the context of general historical or genealogical research. In describing the research process, depending on your proclivities, you could use from a few too many discrete steps. Despite the fact, that I can list discrete steps in a research process, I almost never follow this pattern. Research is organic. Every time you find a document or review what has already been discovered the objectives of your research change. However notwithstanding the fluid nature of research, here is my own simplification of the process:
1. The first stage of research is generally referred to as the survey stage. In a real sense, the survey stage is a continuous process because, in the technological environment that presently exists, there is no end to the amount of information developed by others in the genealogical community usually represented by additions to online family trees. Consequently, reviewing what has been done previously or recorded previously can almost overwhelm all of the other aspects of the genealogical process. 
2. As you proceed through the survey stage, hopefully, you will accumulate some information about your family that enables you to identify documents or records that may contain information about your family. The process of identifying records and documents and then subsequently discovering where they might be located is really the most time-consuming part of genealogical research. 
3. Once you have located documents as records which may contain information about your target family or individual, you must review the documents and records and extract the information and add it to whatever method you are using to record genealogical information. At this stage, it is also really important to review how any information obtained affects any other information and conclusions which you have already made. 
4. Once you have a corpus of information you must constantly review what you have already concluded and revise any conclusions based on the acquisition of additional information obtained through records and documents.
Inexperienced genealogists almost always focus on names rather than on the overall historical context of the individuals and families they are researching.  cluster research should not be thought of as a new way to do genealogy, it is merely an extension of whatever methodology you may have already adopted. It does, however, require that you become more aware of the historical context of each of the events in your target family or individual's life. Subsequently, I am not replacing any of the discrete steps in genealogical research however they may be defined, I am intending to augment those steps in a way that increases the possibility of finding the information being sought.

At its most basic level, the first step in implementing cluster research is to become aware of the historical setting and surroundings of the target family or ancestor. In this context, I am using the term "target" in the sense that the researcher will choose a particular family or individual to research. Of course, as I mentioned already, the target family or individual will evolve and change as you work through the research. It is entirely possible, but you will find out that you are not related to your target family or individual and abandon the research altogether.

Let's suppose that you were going to research a person such as Eliza Ann Hamilton. Let's further suppose that you had done some preliminary survey of the existing information and found that family tradition said that she was born and Kentucky in the early 1800s. Using today's technology, it would seem to be indicated to simply go online and begin searching in a large online genealogical database for an Eliza Ann Hamilton in Kentucky in the early 1800s. A search for that name on the website in the Historical Records Collections using a birthday range from 1800 to 1830 and a place of Kentucky will produce 4,262 results. It should be obvious at this point that searching for a name without a sufficient amount of context information is unproductive.

In order to move beyond the "search for a name" stage, it is necessary to add additional contextual information even if we want to utilize online search engines. So it is important to put the person into their historical context and utilize all known information about the family even if you are focusing on an online search.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More about

I recently wrote a blog post entitled, "An Introduction to" I response, I received a kind letter from clarifying the difference between their "free" level and the paid level or Pro level. Here is the explanation.
A brief explanation of our account types - With a free basic account, users may add unlimited people to the tree, collaborate with others, participate in genealogy projects, and take advantage of our DNA features, which we provide in partnership with Family Tree DNA. Those who wish to have access to more advanced tools on Geni may choose to upgrade to Geni Pro. A Pro subscription includes access to Tree Matches (these are matching profiles on Geni), full access to our search engine, unlimited media storage, and priority support. Note it is not required to upgrade to use Geni. 
I appreciate this concise explanation. I guess my explanation was too simplified.  I would point out that is a useful and important option for those who want their own family tree online.

F&W Media Publisher of Family Tree Magazine Files for Bankruptcy
Apparently, I am late in the game in mentioning that F+W Media, the publishers of Family Tree Magazine and the sponsors of the Family Tree University and the Family Tree website, has filed bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Here is a link to the online case file: Delaware Bankruptcy Court Case 1:19-bk-10479 - F+W Media, Inc. This bankruptcy filing will personally affect a number of professional genealogists who either work for the company or are scheduled to speak at upcoming conferences and other activities sponsored and paid by the company. For example, here is a conference that is already scheduled. I heard that the conference may go forward, but there is a question as to whether or not the presenters will be paid.
Here is a list of the other companies involved in the action.
F+W Media, Inc.
1140 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
Tax ID / EIN: 20-2955953
aka F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company
aka Catalyst Aspire Holdings Corporation
aka Aspire Operations, LLC
aka Frontenac Aspire Holdings Corporation
aka Interweave Press, LLC
aka Aspire Media, LLC
There is apparently a pending motion on paying professionals, but that may only apply to the attorneys representing the debtor. Here is the reference to the motion:
Motion for Order Establishing Procedures for Interim Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses of Professionals Filed by F+W Media, Inc.. Hearing scheduled for 4/8/2019 at 01:00 PM at US Bankruptcy Court, 824 Market St., 6th Fl., Courtroom #3, Wilmington, Delaware. Objections due by 4/1/2019. (Attachments: # 1 Notice # 2 Exhibit A) (Kochenash, Jared) (Entered: 03/18/2019)
Most of the information in the Court file is available only for those who have logins and permission to participate in the case or are representing clients in the case. If you need information about the case, I suggest contacting an attorney who is admitted to practice in the Federal Bankruptcy Court and has access to the Court's Pacer portal.

In the past, Family Tree Magazine has been an important part of the genealogical community and I am saddened by the bankruptcy action and the impact it will have on some of the active members of the genealogical community.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Discovering Genealogical Videos has a somewhat checkered reputation for frivolity and in some cases objectionable videos. But among the millions of videos offered on this huge website are series of instructional videos that often answer specific questions. I have used YouTube videos for everything from replacing a battery in my car to learning complex software application such as Adobe Premiere Pro. For genealogists, there is a treasure trove of information and commentary from thousands of genealogically related videos just waiting for review. Of course, I have spent a lot of time contributing to that immense number, but there are other sets of videos that need mentioning.

First, you need to understand that YouTube is actually organized. It is not just a huge pile of video files. The main organization is by "Channels." Each regular contributor to YouTube can have their own Channel. Illustrated in the screenshot above is the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. The Channels are further organized as follows by subpages listed in a clickable menu near the top of the pages:

  • The Home page sometimes with a scroll down subject listing of videoes on the Channel 
  • A Videos page with a chronological list of all of the videos or a list sorted by popularity
  • Any playlists that have been created by the Channel operator
  • Community links if there is a community
  • Other Channels operated by the main Channel operator
  • An About page that gives the owner of the Channel and some statistics
You may also notice that specific YouTube users can create their own "Playlists" usually of videos that they personally like. People have created Playlists of genealogy videos with dozens of automatically playing videos. Playlists are nice if you want to listen to the same topic or a longer period of time. 

I have to admit that I listen to long playlists of music videos. I can choose exactly the type of music I like to hear and listen with only short interruptions for commercials. You can pay for a commercial free environment on YouTube, but having listened to commercial radio most of my life, I do not mind a few commercials. You can sometimes click through a really long commercial after a few seconds. 

How do you find genealogy videos? Well, there is a search field on every YouTube page marked by a small magnifying glass icon. Here is a screenshot with an arrow showing the search field:

If you do a search for "genealogy," you will get an almost unending long scroll list of videos. 

If you look carefully, you will see that there is a way to filter the responses. Here is a screenshot of the filter categories.

There are other online venues where genealogical videos are posted. One of the most popular is However, Vimeo is aimed at more commercially made or professional videos and is mainly aimed at those who pay for those who wish to limit the distribution of their videos to members of an association or interest group who have paid to join. Currently, the big rage on Vimeo is drone made videos. Generally, if I see a video on Vimeo it is because some organization has sent me to the website. 

Back to YouTube. One feature of YouTube is that you can subscribe to different Channels and when you sign in to the website, you will see a list of your subscription channels and possibly a number if there are new videos you haven't watched. To see the list, you may have to increase the size of your window. If you click on an item in your list, you will go right to the channel. 

You will see that some videos on YouTube have millions of views. There are now celebrities, performers, and producers that have made a fortune putting up YouTube videos for free. Some of these people have made a career out of YouTube videos. 

Of course, you can always search for a very specific topic and will likely find a video made on that topic. I sometimes use YouTube videos to evaluate programs or other items before purchasing them. 

Now, what about genealogy video channels? Here is a list of links to some of them. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

An Introduction to

Genealogists tend to be a little nearsighted in their use of online genealogical tools. They get comfortable with one or two websites and seem to ignore the rest. has been online since 2007. Here is a statement about the website's goal from the website:
Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at, users add and invite their close relatives to join their family tree. All Geni users can share photos, videos, and documents with their families. Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains over 100 million living users and their ancestors. Additional pay services include enhanced research tools and premium support. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family. Geni is privately held and based in Los Angeles, California. 
In November 2012, Geni was acquired by MyHeritage Ltd. and is now a MyHeritage company. recently used the content of this huge single world family tree with other sources to create the new Theory of Family Relativity DNA analysis tool. One thing that distinguishes the Geni family tree from other "universal" family trees such as the Family Tree, is that works on two levels: the free level allows the user to enter and maintain their own individual family tree and the Geni Pro level is a subscription-based moderated and curated experience in building the world family tree.

One key to the experience is the staff of curators. Here is a brief description of the curator's job from the website.
The goal of Geni has always been to create a shared family tree, so our users around the world can meet new cousins and discover how they relate to historical figures as well as well-known contemporary public figures. Geni designated a group of experienced users as Curators to help achieve this goal. Similar to Wikipedia administrators, Geni Curators are volunteer Geni users granted special privileges by Geni to help maintain and improve the quality and accuracy of the Geni World Family Tree. 
Geni Curators are specially selected based on their integrity and the quality of their work on Geni. Candidate Curators undergo a nomination and voting process. Accepted Geni Curators are formally appointed and, like Geni Employees, they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the company to ensure they protect data confidentiality. 
Here are some of the things Curators can do that shows the major differences between the world family tree on and the Family Tree on
Curators have the following privileges:
  • Designate Master Profiles and, optionally, lock them down so that only Curators can edit and merge them.
  • Add curator notes to profiles to help prevent bad merges and edits.
  • View and edit any profile including Private Profiles when requested by a user.
  • Merge duplicate historical profiles and connect new users to the World Family Tree.
  • Convert historical living profiles to deceased.
  • Convert deceased famous and historical profiles to public (if they don't have any close relatives on Geni)
Each of these privileges also contains safeguards to make sure that they are not used irresponsibly, even by accident. As expected, Curators have already had a significant impact on the quality of the data on Geni.
As you can likely tell from this list, the experience is vastly different than other websites such as Family Tree. However, the Family Tree is entirely free and do not have anything corresponding to a moderator or curator level of usage. However, any comparison is not really possible because the usage and goal of both are extremely different.

I think there is definitely a place for a universal family tree such as the one being built by I get Record Matches on from the family tree and those can be extremely useful. If you are a frustrated FamilySearch Family Tree user, you might want to consider working on Of course, you will have to accept the fact that full use of the program will cost some money and take some real effort.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How reliable are SSDs? (Flash Drives or Thumb Drives)

The Brigham Young University Family History Library has accumulated a good-sized box of lost flash drives. Most of these were either dropped or left sticking into a USB port on one of the computers. I was reminded of this when I saw yet another dramatic drop in the prices of flash drives. You can now buy a 500 GB Flash Drive or SSD (Solid State Drive) for around $80. A 1 TB (Terabyte) Flash Drive is selling for around $230. Can you imagine losing that much information by simply forgetting to remove the drive from the public computer you have been using?

A Terabyte of information could be up to 17,000 hours of music, or 1000 hours of video, or 310,000 photos, or 500 hours of movies.  See PC Ninja: How much can a 1 TB hard drive hold?

Most genealogists will probably never use up a 1 TB hard drive or SSD in their lifetime unless they spend a huge amount of time scanning photos or documents. Think about this. A 1 TB Flash Drive (SSD) would be equivalent of 754,297 3.5" Floppy Disks. Yes, that number is correct.

Now think about this. My entire genealogy file with all my sources, however excluding photos takes up about 10 MB.  I could have 104,857 of my genealogy files on that a 1 TB Flash Drive. All of my programs and all the data on my main hard drive is less than 1.5 TBs.

Here is another thing to think about. I routinely backup my hard drives to an online service and I currently back up 8.5 TBs of information. It has taken me over 37 years of doing genealogy, writing, and scanning documents and photos to accumulate that huge pile. Can you partially understand why I would be concerned about backing up my data?

One of the things I think is most interesting about genealogists, besides the preponderance of older folks, is the preoccupation some of them have with the amount of storage space on their hard drives. Disk storage space is virtually unlimited for a very small investment.

That brings me to the reliability issue. Assuming I put all that stuff on some storage media, such as a flash drive, except for the distinct possibility of losing the drive, what is the risk of loss through a failure of the drive?

The answer to that question is rather simple: overall SSDs (including flash drives) have a failure rate of .5 % as opposed to a failure rate of 2 to 5% for spinning hard drives. See Enterprise Storage: SSD vs HD. This is why the cost factor is so important. Hard drives are still less expensive than solid-state drives for large capacities, but with the drop in prices of solid state devices, the advantage begins to disappear.

You can buy a 1 TB hard drive on Amazon for about $50. But a 2 TB hard drive is only about $60. You double the capacity for $10 more. Even if you jump to an 8 TB hard drive the price is only $140. Compare that to the prices above and you can see that the price of SSDs still has to come down some to be price competitive. But what about reliability? When you are talking about your hard-earned work product, I assume reliability would be more important than the small difference in price.

Can I afford to move to SSDs? I need at least an 8 TB drive to back up part of my data. What would that cost for an SSD? Well, that is the real difference. Right now, an 8 TB SSD is about $3,300. I am still waiting for the price drop.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Free Irish Records from MyHeritage March 14 - 20, 2019

Free Irish Record March 14-20, 2019
From March 14 and until March 20, 2019, all MyHeritage users will have FREE access to all of the Irish record collections in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year.

My RootsTech 2019 Experience
I am fairly certain that my RootsTech 2019 experience was far different than nearly everyone else attending the Conference. I have been attending the RootsTech Conferences since the very first one in 2011 except for the one last year when my wife and I were digitizing documents at the Maryland State Archives for FamilySearch on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, that first experience was far different than what we just experienced but the seeds of my own experience were planted at that first conference.

Over the years, my focus has changed. During the early years of the Conference, I presented and attended classes. Slowly, I began to focus more on interacting with the vendors in the Exhibit Hall and I stopped presenting classes and began to attend far fewer classes. Eventually, I became more involved with the vendors and began presenting for them at their booths or at what has become the Demo Theater. This year was a catch-up year. Since I missed my opportunity to talk to all the vendors, I focused on making contact with those with whom I had long-term relationships. 

My main focus was the booth for The Family History Guide. Because I am involved directly with the company, we had been preparing for RootsTech during the past year and I became instantly involved as soon as I returned to Provo, Utah from Maryland. We had a great response to the booth and the classes we taught. There are a few things we learned and will change next year but for the foreseeable future, I will be intensely involved with The Family History Guide. 

My second main area of focus was in working with and contacting the large online genealogy websites. I had a lot of contact with Of course, I presented at their booth and will continue with acting as a speaker at the upcoming MyHeritage LIVE 2019 Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I enjoyed learning about all the new developments from MyHeritage and interacting with their wonderful staff. Special thanks to Gilad Japhet and Daniel Horowitz for their support.

I am always grateful for the help and support of FamilySearch. I have been a Blogger/Ambassador since the first Conference and have enjoyed their tremendous help and all the extras that have come my way as a result of publicizing the RootsTech Conferences. I was able to conduct some interviews in the Media Center and also get interviewed. Thanks to FamilySearch for the Conference and for the Media Center and the support. I also enjoyed visiting with Ron Tanner.

I had some wonderful conversations with the folks at's booth. I was able to connect with some old acquaintances and meet some new people. I enjoyed talking with Jay Verkler and Alex Cox. Hope I have more contact in the future.

One of the most impressive things that happened at the Conference was meeting the people at the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society booth and the Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage booth. What a great experience and opportunity. I hope that I can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with both these organizations.

I had almost a full week of other memorable experiences and opportunities to talk and came up with a huge list of blog post topics. I was especially touched by all the people who said hello. It was wonderful to see some of you for the first time since communicating over the internet. I hope I made a few new friends and immensely enjoyed seeing a few of my old friends.

See you next year at RootsTech 2020. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Far-reaching Changes from MyHeritage’s The Theory of Family Relativity and AutoClusters: Part Three

The AutoCluster Tool from

Quoting from a blog post from entitled, “Introducing AutoClusters for DNA Matches,”
AutoClusters organize your MyHeritage DNA Matches into shared match clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. By grouping together DNA Matches who likely belong to the same branch and have a common ancestor, AutoClusters can be very helpful in shedding light on the relationship paths that connect you and your matches. By reviewing family trees of clustered matches, users can piece together the entire branch. Clusters are color-coded for convenience and are presented in a powerful visual chart, as well as in list format. 
This new tool was developed in collaboration with Evert-Jan Blom of, based on technology that he created, further enhanced by the MyHeritage team. Our enhancements include better clustering of endogamous populations (people who lived in isolated communities with a high rate of intermarriages, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Acadians), and automatic threshold selection for optimal clustering so that users need not experiment with any parameters.
The concept of using “clusters” has long been a staple of genealogical researchers for years. The basic idea is to identify something a group of items or people have in common and then build on that relationship to identify the group. Here is the formal definition of cluster analysis from Wikipedia: Cluster analysis.
Cluster analysis or clustering is the task of grouping a set of objects in such a way that objects in the same group (called a cluster) are more similar (in some sense) to each other than to those in other groups (clusters). It is a main task of exploratory data mining, and a common technique for statistical data analysis, used in many fields, including machine learning, pattern recognition, image analysis, information retrieval, bioinformatics, data compression, and computer graphics.
There is no one way to define and discover clusters. Genealogists can use DNA, as is used here in the MyHeritage app or religious affiliation, ethnic origin, occupation, or any combination of other ways of identifying groups. What is unique about the method demonstrated by MyHeritage is its application to a relatively large number of DNA testing results that are then graphically cross-related to each other to form actual graphics clusters. But at this point, the work for the genealogical researcher has just begun.

One immediately evident use for these graphically constructed clusters is to indicate people who may be candidates for applying The Theory of Family Relativity to discover the identity of the person who may be the common ancestor of the interrelated people in each cluster. Of course, the possibility of deriving the identity of the common ancestor depends on whether or not the target ancestor has already been identified by competent and well-documented research in a sufficient number of family trees. To do so accurately may involve an extension of both the AutoClusters and the supporting data for The Theory of Family Relativity.

With the numbers of individuals included in the larger clusters, it may be a rather long task to identify each member of the cluster and map them into a single family tree that may then show the direction the research should take to identify the common ancestor. Of course, a large enough documented family tree would immeasurably accelerate the process.

At the very least, these clusters from MyHeritage will assist traditional genealogical research in ways the can only be presently imagined.
Here are the other installments of this series:

Part One:
Part Two: