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

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Focus your DNA connections with MyHeritage Genetic Groups

One of the most obvious advancements that increases the value and usability of DNA testing is the availability of a support system that helps the genealogical researcher identify specific ancestral connections. Most of the large, online DNA testing companies give their users some sort of Ethnicity Estimate. For serious researchers, these "estimates" are vague and not overly useful. However, has begun to break through the barrier of vagueness and provide some thought-provoking information. 

MyHeritage recently announced a dramatic increase in the focus of its DNA testing with a huge number of ethnicity groups.

Adding this number of new fields or groups increases the ability of a researcher to actually use the information for suggesting areas of research. In my own DNA testing results, the newly added Ethnicity Groups raise some interesting challenges. Here is my current estimate.

The English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh connections are obvious to me. What is still a mystery is the connections to Italian and Baltic. Interestingly, I do have a theory about the small West Asian connection. I am certain that over time, these estimates will become even further focused and maybe those outlier connections will be resolved. 

Here is a quote from a recent MyHeritage press release about the new groups. 

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today the release of Genetic Groups. A major enhancement to MyHeritage DNA’s ethnicity estimates, Genetic Groups accurately identify ancestral origins with an incredibly high resolution of 2100 geographic regions, more than any other DNA test on the market. As of today, Genetic Groups form a key part of MyHeritage DNA test results and are included free of charge for all new and existing MyHeritage DNA customers.

Genetic Groups provide greater granularity than standard ethnicity breakdowns by segmenting larger ethnic groups, such as Scandinavians, into smaller groups that share a common historical background. Populations that lived together for centuries, originating in the same small locations or migrating together to new lands, often formed unique genetic signatures. The MyHeritage DNA test detects these signatures among people who descend from these groups.

For example, beyond learning that they have Scandinavian origins, a user can now find out that they are Danish. Not only that, but they may now learn where exactly in Denmark their ancestors came from, including locations such as the Faroe Islands or Western Greenland; or, they may find that their ancestors were Danish settlers in Minnesota. These are just a few of the 187 Genetic Groups that MyHeritage detects from Scandinavia, and the 54 Genetic Groups from neighboring Finland. 

Here is an important statement about the nature of the new groups.

Membership in a Genetic Group is binary; an individual is either a member, or they are not, and in contrast to ethnicities, the groups do not come with percentages. Instead, MyHeritage assigns each Genetic Group a confidence level that is based on the number of DNA segments a person has in common with those that define a specific group. This confidence level reflects the quality and quantity of DNA segments that a person shares with the genetic data that represents each group.

The Genetic Groups feature includes detailed genealogical insights about each group. Users can view a group's migration patterns and drill down to view its precise whereabouts during different time periods from the 17th century until today. For each Genetic Group, users can view common ancestral surnames and common given names, the most prevalent ethnicities among the group's members, a list of other groups that have high affinity to the current one, and more.

This is a major step for DNA testing and moves these tools from the area of telling you what you already know into the realm of what you did not know previously. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Live on Facebook to the whole world


We are just two days away from this awesome opportunity to hear from this panel of experienced genealogists. I have known Thomas MacEntee and Lisa Louise Cooke for many years and they are some of the most consistently, outstanding and dedicated promoters and educators in the world genealogical community. Daniel Horowitz is a wonder. He is easily the most traveled and knowledgeable genealogist in the long history of genealogical research. I think Daniel has probably spoken in more different places to more genealogy societies and in more countries than anyone has ever done. I have met Maureen Taylor on a few occasions over the years and have admired her unbelievable knowledge of genealogy, history, and photography. Her website is a great asset to all those who have an interest in genealogy. Roberta Estes and Diahan Suthard are worldwide experts in DNA testing and the use of the results from the tests. Both of these DNA experts have had an enormous impact on the greater genealogy community and are well-known outside the field of genealogy.

This panel discussion will be a marvelous opportunity for the entire genealogical community to review some of the issues of this particularly difficult year and hear what may develop in the world of genealogy in the upcoming, more promising year. 

This presentation will be LIVE on Facebook on the MyHeritage Facebook page, 

on December 30th at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. By the way, if you were not aware of the MyHeritage Facebook page, you might want to check out the Videos section. There are a huge number. of inspiring and informational videos waiting for you. You can also see videos on the YouTube Channel. Don't forget that also has a rapidly growing educational website the MyHeritage Education Knowledge Base, with more videos and other resources. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

End of the Year MyHeritage Facebook Live


I am honored to be able to participate in the first End-of-the-Year Facebook Live Extravaganza to be online on December 30, at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Here are the names of the distinguished guests assuming you don't know them in person. 

Here are some links to tell you more about each one of these outstanding guests. 

This event will be a panel discussion focusing on the changes and events of the past year and what we all might see in the future. Here is the link to the MyHeritage Facebook page. You can see the Facebook live videos by clicking on the Videos tab. 

Here are some links that help you connect to me. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Finding Your Ancestors in Institutional Records


Watt Street Mental Hospital: The children left behind the walls

Institutional records include the following and many more types of records.

  • Charities
  • Convents
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Genealogical Societies
  • Historical Societies
  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Mission Societies
  • Orphan Agencies
  • Reunion Registries
  • Seminaries 
Very few of these types of records are classified as "genealogical" but they all contain valuable information. Of course, genealogical and historical societies and libraries will usually have genealogically valuable information but it is surprising how few researchers take advantage of these almost obvious repositories. The main reason for ignoring these records is that they are sometimes extremely difficult to locate and access. Fortunately, by using Google searches, researchers can usually determine both the location and any access restrictions. During the current pandemic, the task of accessing records could be insurmountable. Patience is a virtue that has to be cultivated to do any successful research.

I choose the photo at the beginning of this post at random. But then I thought about the Watt Street Mental Hospital and mentally asked the question about whether or not there were any records and where those possible records might be located. The article comes from the Illawarra Mercury Newspaper, from a region in New South Wales, Australia, and references a study made by Novocastrians. Hmm. That was a new word for me but it turns out to refer to someone from Newcastle, Australia. The building where the Watt Street Mental Hospital is located turns out to be historic. Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article, "Newcastle Government House."
Newcastle Government House is a heritage-listed former military post and official residence and now park and psychiatric hospital at 72 Watt Street, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. It is also known as Newcastle Government House and Domain, Newcastle Military Barracks & Hospital, Girls' Industrial School, Reformatory for Girls, Lunatic Asylum for Imbeciles, James Fletcher Hospital and Fletcher Park. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 22 March 2011.

A little research turned up the following website. 

The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, the University of Melbourne. “Watt Street Mental Hospital - Institution - Australian Psychiatric Care.” Document. PUBLISHER. Accessed December 23, 2020.

I am sure, at this point, that further research will provide me with information about the people who were treated in the institution and more about the history. 

How would I know to even begin to look for information from this source? Well, that is the reason I am writing this post. The idea here is to realize that research does not end with the large online genealogical database/family tree websites. Neither does it end with the sources you might find listed in some genealogy articles online. Sometimes, you have to learn about the culture, history, economy, and everything else about the places where your family lived. In this case, two of my direct family lines lived in New South Wales. Now, you can try to find information about all of the other institutions listed and any more you can imagine might exist.   

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Genealogy in the teeth of a pandemic


There are many analogies that could be made between our collective nine months in the teeth of a pandemic but I think getting stuck in the mud is a good one. You can approach the enforced social distancing as an external force over which you have no control or you can take it personally and rail against the establishment. In either case, you are at constant risk of actually becoming sick with a smaller possibility of ending up with your ancestors. 

One question that keeps coming up is why some of the FamilySearch record collections are restricted to view in a FamilySearch Center or Library. This in view of the fact that almost all the libraries and centers are closed. The answer is simple but not satisfying. The reason for the existence of restrictions on viewing some of the records lies in the way the records were obtained in the first place. The entities supplying the original records to FamilySearch could restrict the usage of the records in any way they deemed suitable. For example, many of the English parishes derive some part of their income from renting or selling copies of their records to genealogists. They are not happy to have FamilySearch provide free online access to those same records so they either refuse to allow FamilySearch to digitize the records or they restrict the viewing of the records in some way. In one case in the Salt Lake City, Family History Library, I had to give my driver's license to the person guarding the records in exchange for looking at one sheet of a microform image of a multi-sheet record. 

So, the pandemic is limiting us in various ways from completing certain genealogical tasks. I adapt by simply changing what I am trying to do to those things I actually can do. Meanwhile, I am surrounded by people who still think that a pandemic that has, as of the date of this post, killed over 1.7 million people worldwide is a hoax. Depending on who you know or where you live, you may or may not know someone who has died as a result of the pandemic COVID-19 virus. I happen to live in a neighborhood where over 16 families have had the disease and 2 people (I knew) have died from the virus. 

The one factor that keeps me going and actively researching is the huge increase in digitized images online just this past year. The trick here is to spend some time learning about the new records and then adapting your research goals to align with those records that are available. If you really think that you can't do any research because the Family History Centers are closed then you need to reevaluate your objectives. 

Without the need to travel to various locations to present classes, I have had time to do a lot of other projects. I lament the loss of meeting in person with my friends but the time saved has been well used. If you view the confinement of the pandemic as a vacation, you are sadly wasting some really valuable time that could be spent in doing those tasks such as organizing family histories and researching multiple lines of your ancestry that you may never have again. Of course, my wife and I live alone. We do not have any little children to watch during the day and so we can spend all the time we want on genealogy or whatever else needs to be done. We still have to sleep, eat, and etc. but there is more time to focus on genealogy. 

All this shall pass or get worse but whichever of these happens, I will still spend as much time as I can squeeze out of each day in furthering the work I do to support others in doing genealogical research or in doing it myself. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Who was that masked man?


Courtesy of, we got a few of these really nice face masks. For all my friends out there, this is officially what I look like lately. I decided to add a couple of more photos just in case you see me with one of the alternatives and don't recognize me immediately. 

Things are really getting worse almost every day in Utah and about everywhere else but we see a light at the end of the tunnel if the vaccines become available. 

Hmm. this might be the start of something here on my blog. Maybe I should include a photo with every post? However, this might get me kicked off of Facebook just like they did with my other blog. Here is a link to a MyHeritage blog entitled, "Unmasking Pandemic Masks, Then and Now."

Updates to the family tree has announced major updates to their online family tree. You can see all of the features of the Findmypast family tree in this article: "How to build your family tree with Findmypast." Some of the new features in the family tree include the following:

  •  The ability to view five full generations at once 
  •  The ability to zoom in and out on specific individuals or branches  
  •  The ability to easily return to a family tree's “Home” person by selecting the house icon 
  •  A sidebar menu allowing easier editing of ancestor profiles  
  • Highlighting “focus” individuals for easier navigation 

Two additional features newly announced tree-to-tree hints and the previously announced feature of private messaging. Here is a quote from the email announcement of these features.

Now live on both and, “Private Messages” enables any user who receives a tree-to-tree hint to privately message the owner of that tree to ask questions, discuss their research, share discoveries, family stories, photos and even connect with distant living relatives. As long as the other user accepts their message request, the pair can then communicate through Findmypast.  

Each user gets an inbox and, to initiate contact, users first need either take out a free trial or move to one of Findmypast’s Essential or Ulitmate subscription options.   

First launched on in September 2020, private messaging will offer unique benefits to North American researchers searching for ancestors in the British Isles. By having the ability to directly correspond with family historians on the other side of the Atlantic, US and Canadian family researchers now have the ability to benefit from their existing research, local and historical knowledge, as well as their proximity to key geographic locations.  

Today’s announcement marks the latest in a series of substantial updates to Findmypast’s online family tree builder, following significant investment in the development of new tools and features.  


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Utah State Hospital Burials in the Provo City Cemetery, Provo, Utah


This grave marker ought to be an object lesson for all genealogical researchers. The Utah State Hospital Forgotten Patients Cemetery Project website states the following:

More than 500 patients died at Utah Territorial Insane Asylum, now Utah State Hospital, between 1885-1960, most buried in unmarked graves in Provo City Cemetery. A monument was completed 10 Oct 2018 to finally honor each of these precious spirits.

The website contains a list of those who are buried in the Provo City Cemetery. What is the lesson? When someone disappears from the obvious records and no burial record can be found, the person may have been lost in a multitude of different ways. This happens to be one of the saddest ways to die. Here is the reverse side of the marker. 

 Many of the people memorialized by this project were born in the 1800s when the treatment for mental illness was even more rudimentary than it is now. Here is a short quote from the Utah Department of Human Services about the history of the Utah State Hospital.

The Utah State Hospital began as the Territorial Insane Asylum in 1885 at Provo, Utah (which at the time was a days’ travel from Salt Lake City). The particular site in Provo was some eight blocks from the nearest residence and was separated from the city by swampland and the city dump. The message this reveals about the prevailing attitudes regarding mental illness is unmistakable.

The intervening years, however, have brought many changes: the swamp has been drained, the dump converted into a municipal park, and the city has expanded to the point that there is no longer a stark demarcation of where the “Asylum” begins.

From its origin, the purpose of the Hospital was to treat the mentally ill and to return them to a normal level of functioning. In spite of their best efforts, however, in its early days, the facility was little more than a human warehouse. In fact, by 1955 the population at the hospital was over 1,500 patients.

Over the years, tremendous advances in psychiatric medicine have changed the role of the Hospital to one of very active (and successful) treatment and rehabilitation.

Today, it is truly a Hospital in every sense of the word.

Furthermore, the Hospital is no longer the primary deliverer of mental health services in Utah; this role changed with the creation in 1969, of community mental health centers. Now residents throughout Utah can receive mental health services in their own community. The Hospital has changed its role from the only mental health treatment facility into a supporting role for the community mental health centers.

Today the Hospital provides 324 beds for Utah’s mentally ill citizens who require treatment in a more structured setting. Treatment is provided to patients ranging from age six years to geriatric age. Specialized programs are offered for children, adolescents, forensic and adult residents.

Since 1986 the Hospital has received full accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, certifying the high quality of the Hospital's environment and treatment programs.

The Utah State Hospital operates under the direction of the Utah Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Remember Rule Four of the Rules of Genealogy: Rule Four: There are always more records

Friday, December 18, 2020

Finding Your Ancestors in Poor House or Poor Farm Records


Frederick County Poor Farm in Virginia, United States, By AgnosticPreachersKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Poor houses and poor farms, which go by many different names, have a long history in English speaking countries. Quoting from the article, "Poorhouses Were Designed to Punish People for Their Poverty,"

The concept of the poorhouse originated in England during the 17th century. Municipalities were expected to care for their poor, and made a distinction between people who were old and unable to care for themselves and the able-bodied. People who were able to work were expected to do so—and could be imprisoned if they refused.

Refusal to work was rather liberally interpreted and were related historically to debtors' prisons. Debtors' prisons date back into ancient history. Quoting from Wikipedia: Debtors' prison

During Europe's Middle Ages, debtors, both men and women, were locked up together in a single, large cell until their families paid their debt. Debt prisoners often died of diseases contracted from other debt prisoners. Conditions included starvation and abuse from other prisoners. If the father of a family was imprisoned for debt, the family business often suffered while the mother and children fell into poverty. Unable to pay the debt, the father often remained in debtors' prison for many years. Some debt prisoners were released to become serfs or indentured servants (debt bondage) until they paid off their debt in labor.

Many genealogists dream of connecting their ancestry to royalty or a famous person or family but the reality is that there are many more poor people than those who are famous. Unfortunately, going back in time, finding the records of the poor people of the world is much more of a challenge than linking up to a royal family. One source of early records from England and a few other countries can be found in poor house records. This type of record also exists in the British colonies including colonial North America. 

In the United Kingdom, there is a major website dedicated to workhouse records. Here is a screenshot of the website with a link. 

The Workhouse, The Story of an institution

The links on this website lead to a huge number of resources. As it is with most genealogical research, moving beyond the basic, easily obtainable records includes the challenge of learning about how and where such additional records are maintained and made available. The words "easy" and "shortcut" do not apply to genealogical research. 

Some of my own ancestors in England were actually paid to leave the country and sent to Australia in an alternative to having their parish or the government pay for their maintenance in a poorhouse. 

You may also wish to review the links in this article from the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

Here is a sample list of some additional links to begin your research.
There are many fascinating areas of genealogical research that lead to a huge number of records. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Heritage Discovery Videos at RootsTech Connect 2021


RootsTech Connect 2021 will be totally online and free. You can register by clicking here. One interesting development is the opportunity to produce Heritage Discovery Videos. Here is a brief explanation from the website.
RootsTech is going global this year with RootsTech Connect! Because of this special opportunity to focus on countries from all over the world, we wanted to create videos highlighting different cultures, food, traditions, and more, and who better to tell us about those countries than the people who live there and love it?


Heritage Discovery Videos

Who: We want to hear from everyone!

Topics: We’ve divided it up into a few categories: “Food,” “Culture,” “Traditions and Travel”

Video Length: 90 seconds to 5 minutes

Requirements: Please upload in MP4 format

Deadline for Uploads from around the World: December 31, 2020 

They are interested in travel, food and recipes, and culture and traditions. There are also some opportunities to post Tricks and Tips videos. There are some examples of videos on the web page. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

18.2 million U.S. Obituary Notices added to's mammoth index of obituaries for the United States has been updated with 18.2 million entries, bringing the total to more than 50 million records. Each result of a search will show the following information. 

  • Name
  • Birth year
  • Birthdate
  • Death year
  • Death date
  • Obituary text
  • Place
  • Source link
Additional information such as images and details about the original obituary can be found on the source’s website. has been rapidly expanding their extensive British and Irish records with records from the United States. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Quick Research Basics Videos from The Family History Guide


The Family History Guide United States Records Goal A1

The Countries Learning Path on The Family History Guide is a treasure trove of research helps for all of the major genealogically related collections of records and documents around the world. 

Each country link contains a section about learning to do research in that country and links to instructional articles and/or videos about specific record sets. All of this is organized with step-by-step instructions. Here is an example from Sweden. 

You can also use the Languages link on the home page to translate the entire website with some limitations in all of the Google Translate languages. 

Remember, The Family History Guide is sponsored by The Family History Guide Association, a 501 (c) 3 corporation. The Family History Guide website is entirely free due to the donations of people like you. You can also select The Family History Guide as a charity on and your holiday purchases will help support this fabulous website. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Finding Your Ancestors in Immigration Records


Proven Ways to Find Your Immigrant Ancestors

I started out with a video because this is a topic that comes up repeatedly. There are some specific rules for starting research for an immigrant. The first and most important is that you start the research in the country of arrival not the country of departure. There is a caveat for this rule if you already know exactly where the immigrant lived in the country of departure. The reason for this rule is simple. Unless you know EXACTLY where an event occurred in your ancestor's life in the country of origin, you have no place to start looking for records. You also have no way to distinguish your ancestor from all of the other people with the same name. An illustration of this rule is simple. Do a Google search for the ancestor's name. I just did a search for one of my ancestors on Google and got 245,000 results. 

Once you accept the idea that your search for the immigrant is really no different than doing research for any other ancestor who lived in the country of arrival, you will just continue to do basic research until you find a record identifying the exact location of an event the ancestor's life. I spent about 15 years looking for one immigrant ancestor until I finally found a record where he recorded the town he came from in Northern Ireland. 

I am not saying that you might spend a long time finding the information but without that key piece, you really have no way to connect a person with someone in the "old country." Now there are exceptions. Occasionally, an ancestor has an almost unique name. The place where that name is found is a good indicator of a possible homeland. Sometimes, you can find information about the actual trip across the ocean or from one country to another. The place where the immigrant lived could be found in emigration records as well as immigration records and by connecting the date of arrival with the date of departure some people can be found. 

One good example comes from doing Latin American research. Unique names are quite rare in Spanish speaking countries. I once had a friend whose name was José Martinez. He had seven sons and every one of them had the same name: José Martinez. Literally. However, by identifying the parish church where the person was baptized or married and give a fairly accurate date, you can find almost anyone. 

Almost any genealogically significant record could give information identifying the necessary immigration information. The list is endless. You might find the precious information in a letter, a Bible, a journal, a baptismal record, a marriage record (as I did with my Northern Irish ancestor), or anywhere else. The idea is that careful, systematic research of all possible records sometimes leads to results. 

If you want a good place to begin, I suggest the links featured in The Family History Guide. Here is a screenshot of where you might start if your ancestors came to the United States or the earlier colonies. 


Another place to begin learning about immigration records is the Research Wiki. Here is the webpage for the United States Emigration and Immigration. 


The more you learn, the more places you will think to look. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Family History Guide is a free resource for libraries


As a library administrator or librarian, you can benefit from the industry-leading family history learning system: The Family History Guide. It's free, and it can open worlds of exploration for the guests who access your library services. Many of the public and even private libraries in the United States and around the world have useful online digital resources for their patrons. Now, their patrons can benefit from adding the most complete and useful instructional website for learning about genealogy and family history. 

The webpage linked above explains how library administrators can host this valuable free resource on their own websites. Click on this link to see the benefits of adding The Family History Guide to your library's resources.

If you have a library in your town or city and want to have The Family History Guide as an online resource from the library, please contact your library and tell them about this opportunity. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

The end of an ancestral line: A Significant Genealogical Challenge

All family lines eventually end even if you have one that "goes back to Adam" which, by the way, cannot be supported by any currently available contemporary sources. For some researchers, these end-of-line people beckon them like climbing Mt. Everest or going into Outer Space. Some of those who are beckoned end up obsessed with the goal. I regularly hear accounts from researchers about their efforts to find the elusive ancestor. Some researchers have spent years of effort and probably a significant amount of money pursuing their quixotic dream. 

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This is a 5 generation fan chart of one of my ancestors. 

Just as the total number of your ancestors increases exponentially, so does the available number of ends-of-lines. One thing you could learn from this rather simple fact is that pursuing any one of your end-of-line ancestors for a long time just means you are ignoring all of the others. If you finally break through and find the next generation, you have just added two more end-of-line situations. 

But wait, it might be a good idea to think about why these end-of-line situations exist. Here is a list of possible reasons.

1. You have gotten so far back in time that you have run out of records.

2. You are looking for the wrong person in the wrong time period in the wrong place.

3. The recorded research in the more recent generations is faulty or inaccurate. 

4. The end-of-line person was an orphan or a foundling and there is no record of his/her parents.

5. For some reason the person did not want to be found and the names, dates, or places have been changed or misrepresented. 

Well, the list could go on but I hope you get the point. There is probably a good reason why the records for some people and almost all end-of-line people seem to evaporate. 

Let's suppose that you are the first person in your family to start to record your genealogy and begin a family tree. You begin by entering your own personal information and then that of your immediate family including parents and grandparents. If you don't know the identity of your biological parents, they are your "end-of-line. There are no limitations on the people you can add as parents. They can be biological parents, step-parents, adopted parents, guardianship parents, in short, about any possible parental relationship that can exist. Of course, the nature of the relationship does not make the end-of-line people either appear or disappear. By the way, if you are missing parents or grandparents, you really should get one or more DNA tests on the major family tree programs, which will give you a chance at finding some relatives assuming you want to find your biological parents.

Now you could start calling the end-of-line ancestor a brick wall but that just describes your attitude, not the real question or issue. Some of my ancestors worked on specific family lines for years. I have accumulated genealogy that reflects more than a hundred years of research and notwithstanding the amount of time and energy that has gone into the research, two of my ancestral lines end in the sixth generation both in the 1700s. Breaking through that kind of an end-of-line can be satisfying but you need to be able to admit that there just are not enough records to find some people. 

Over time, more and more records will be digitized and available online. Today, while doing some research on an end-of-line for a patron from the Brigham Young University Family History Library, I found a long list of documents that need to be researched to see if the information he needs is available. Unfortunately, many of those records are only available in the state where they are located far away from me. Given the pandemic and my inability to access the BYU Family History Library or even travel, my options are very limited. But over time, given the fact that these documents do exist, it is possible that future researchers will find time to review this same end-of-line and find a clue or even the entire solution to the challenge. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

New Colorization Model for MyHeritage In Color™ has released a new colorization model for the MyHeritage In Color™ application, which produces even better results when colorizing black and white photos. MyHeritage In Color™ is based on deep-learning technology licensed by MyHeritage exclusively from DeOldify —the super talented team of Jason Antic and Dana Kelley, following pioneering work by our team member Maor Cohen. The feature quickly became a viral sensation, with more than 16 million photos colorized since its release. 

I have thousands of photos linked to my family tree on This is a screenshot of the colorization web page. 

Colorize your heritage

Here is an example of the process and the results from my own photo collection. This is the original black and white wedding photo of one of my relatives. 

There have two processes available colorization and enhancement but with the new colorization addition, you can also choose between three different colorization models in the settings to see which one produces optimal results for your photo.

Here is the result of enhancing the wedding photo.

Depending on the quality of the original photo, the difference after enhancement can be dramatic or subtle. Now, this is what happens when I colorize the enhanced photo.

Wow, this is a dramatic difference. No wonder millions of photos have been enhanced and colorized. In some instances, with other photos, I may want to try the other options. This whole process adds significant value to a MyHeritage subscription. 

Findmypast adds vast collection of Scottish Monumental Inscriptions, the leading UK genealogy website, has added a huge collection of Scottish Monumental Inscriptions. Here is a summary from an email notice.

  •  Over one million Scottish epitaphs, monuments, and memorial inscriptions now fully searchable online at Findmypast.
  •  Spanning 1000 years of Scottish history, the new collection covers over 800 burial grounds across the country and includes monuments that have long been lost to time
  • Published online for the first time thanks to new technology and a grassroots project between Findmypast and local volunteers
  • Contains some of the most interesting figures for Scottish history including Kings, Queens, the Maid of Norway, Flora MacDonald and Adam Smith.
This revolutionary new resource is the result of a collaborative grassroots project between Findmypast and 10 Scottish local and national family history societies including:
  • Aberdeen & North East Scotland FHS
  • Caithness FHS
  • Dumfries & Galloway FHS
  • East Ayrshire FHS
  • Highland FHS
  • Lanarkshire FHS
  • Moray Burial Ground Research Group
  • Scottish Genealogy Society
  • Tay Valley FHS
  • Troon@Ayrshire FHS
This work of hundreds of passionate volunteers to transcribe memorials and gravestones from all over Scotland has now been made fully searchable online for the very first time.
Here is a description of the process of compiling this huge collection.
Names, dates, locations and other biographical details such as additional family members, occupations, causes of death and more were transcribed and then digitally converted thanks to new, proprietary technology to create a national index that unlocks the long-forgotten secrets of Scotland’s dead.

Chronicling the lives and deaths of almost 1.1 million deceased, the collection has been created by merging almost 600,000 newly created records with existing documents already available on Findmypast, to create the largest single collection of its kind.

This collection also includes records of inscriptions found on buried stones, uncovered through archaeological survey with their details recorded for the first time in centuries. In addition, old books and local histories were used to document memorials that have long since been lost due lost to erosion, weathering or simply time itself, allowing researchers to gain unique new insights into to the lives of those who lived and died many centuries ago.

Some of Scotland’s most renowned sons and daughters can be found within the collection, including monarchs and their favored courtiers, Covenanters, Jacobites and revolutionaries, not to mention many thousands of poets, artists, musicians, artisans, tradespeople, laborers and more. is continually adding important new genealogically significant record collections.  


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New Languages added for use on

Quoting from the FamilySearch blog post, "New Languages available on"

Throughout 2020, FamilySearch has become available in 20 additional languages. These languages bring the total count of FamilySearch’s supported languages to 30. With these newly available languages, you can add family members to the family tree, explore historical documents, record memories, and more!

The list of languages available both already available and new is now as follows:

I welcome the expanded availability of the languages. One challenge for the greater genealogical community is expanding the supplemental genealogical information and support for all these additional languages. 

You Can Read Handwritten Documents! -- Looking at the 1910 US Census Post #7


"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 23 June 2017), Arizona > Navajo > St Joseph > ED 86 > image 2 of 4; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Note: This is not really a series although reading all the posts on this topic is useful. If you want to find additional topics, do a Google search for the first part of the post name and add the term "Genealogy's Star, like this "you can read handwritten documents! genealogy's star"]

You will probably immediately notice that the handwriting on this example page of the 1910 U.S. Federal Census is lighter than usual. As we go back in time, writing technology begins to change. You might be surprised to realize that the roller-ball or ball-point pen came into use around 1963. Many types of fountain pens were invented in the 19th Century and in 1910 there was an assortment of fountain pens available. However, the type of ink used by the enumerators, and the quality of the ink was always an issue. 

There are quite a few issues with the handwriting on this particular page of the census. Most of these issues are individual to the enumerator. In short, the handwriting is not very good. However, with some practice and using the examples and names from other census records, you can make out the names without too much difficulty. Here is an example of some of the issues.

Starting at the top of the image, you can see the name "Hartwell." The cross stroke of the "t" and the extraneous dot are followed by a letter that looks the same as the "T" for Tanner. The name of the son is "Hartwell Frederick." The next name down is "Myrtle" although the dot over the "e" looks like it is an "i" and the cross stroke for the "t" makes the name appear to be "Myrtti." Again, if you compare the name to the entries on other years, it is clear that her name was "Myrtle."

Moving down, is the name "Nettie" or "Nellie?" If we did not have the advantage of comparing the name to other records, we might also choose to see the "N" as an "M." In this case, her name was "Nell."

If you are looking at this census record and already know the names of the family members, the whole problem disappears. On the other hand, if this is the first time you have seen these names, the next entry down on the list will give quite a bit of trouble. The name is "Tanner." In the past, my last name has been read to be "Tamer," "Turner," and "Fanner." If you look down to the gender examples, you can see that the enumerator writes his "T" the same as an "F" Sometimes the cross-stroke of the F is missing. 

The next entry down is for "Leroy Parkinson Tanner." The letter is written exactly the same as the "T" and "F." Right at the bottom of the page, there is another example of a letter. Is it a "T," an "F," or some other letter? It turns out that it is actually an "L." The person's name is "John Lycurgus Westover."

If you are wondering why there are mistakes made in indexing, all you really need to do is look at a few pages of handwriting like this one to see the problem. 

One of the first things you need to do to overcome this type of problem is to expand your research efforts to additional documents including reviewing all of the census records for all of the years they are available for this time and place. Another good place to go during this time period is to the newspapers. Here is a clip from The Holbrook News (Holbrook, Arizona) from 30 March 1917 that confirms reading the letter as an "L."

As I go back in time, giving examples, finding additional examples of the people's names becomes more and more difficult. I will take another step back in time in the next post on this subject.