Thursday, March 12, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 10

Welcome to week ten of the Genealogy Do-Over. This weeks topics are Reviewing DNA Testing Options and Organizing Research Materials in Digital Formats. However, I would like to address the question that Thomas MacEntee has asked, are we enjoying the variety of topics we have explored thus far. My answer is unequivocally, YES

I have learned that I while I was citing my sources I either had too much information, which I should have separated into a technique that I now know is called layering your sources. I also learned that my formats were missing little things here and there such as a space, comma and little things like this. I have learned the correct names of certain types of research such as collateral research where I include the parents, grandparents and siblings etc. and cluster research which uses F. A. N. Principle of researching friends, associates and neighbors. 

When I began my research in earnest in the summer of 1980 there were not a lot of educational programs for genealogists. Now there are genealogical education opportunities out there in the form of webinars, independent study, online degree courses offered by the University of Toronto, Harvard and Brigham Young University as well as genealogy conferences. There is also all the technology that can be used in pursuit of genealogy research. From computer, tablets, GPS and cell phones, apps like Evernote, One Note and turning cell phones into onsite scanners. There is software for building our trees/databases, spreadsheets, word processing, analyzing evidence and so much more. I can only imagine what previous family historians in my family must be thinking! 

Reviewing DNA Testing Options

This is where I confess that I wish I had never sold my genetics books from college! That being said, I have purchased or found free ebooks (Jump into Genetic Genealogy: Use Genealogical DNA Testing to Solve Family Mysteries, from Family Tree University. I have also purchased the following ebooks Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino and GEDnetics by Gednetic) on DNA testing and genealogy. I am muddling my through trying to understand what it all means for me. I am also following several blogs (all of the ones that Thomas MacEntee listed in this week's handout) that deal with these topics. I have joined a couple of Facebook groups regarding DNA Newbies and DNA Detectives which is geared towards adoptees.

As I have stated here in my blog before I am adopted. I hope that by doing DNA testing on myself and sharing the results with my family it will encourage them to consider doing them as well so that I can confirm a few theories and break down a few brick walls in the only family I have ever known. I really need to do y-DNA testing on my Williams and Rueff lines as well as for my children's paternal lines. 

My DNA test and results

I did the Ancestry autosomal DNA test back in 2011 when it was still in Beta testing. My results have changed in the last four years as their database continues to grow. This was the same year I found birth mother who provided me with the first three generations of both sides of my maternal lines. That made tracing back my maternal lines easier. Unfortunately, it did absolutely nothing for my paternal ancestry. I have all these 4th cousin and beyond matches that I had no clue what to do with. It has been frustrating to say the least!

What do my results say about me

So where does my ethnicity come from? According to my Ancestry test results I am 94% European and I am 6% West Asia. I expected the European but the West Asia through me off just a little. Let's break down my European roots. According to Ancestry's DNA database I am 56% Great Britain, 15% Ireland, 12% Scandinavia and 11% of Trace regions. Trace regions, okay. As it turns out my trace regions break down like this 5% Europe East, 3% Europe West with the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and Greece with less than 1%. Then there is West Asia and when broken down it lists Caucasus 5% with Middle East trace regions at 1%.  

I was not really all that surprised by my results, especially when you consider the history invasions of different peoples from one country to another. That being said, what did surprise me was the Caucasus of 5%, I had never head the term used in reference to an area of Asia before. To be specific Caucasus refers primarily to the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It can also be found in Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania and Turkmenistan. I have come to the conclusion that the West Asia DNA markers must go back thousands of years.

Transferring my results to FamilyTree DNA 

Last fall I took advantage of a sale at FamilyTree DNA where I could upload my Ancestry DNA results to them. In the first week I had over a thousand matches! I was really over my head and out of my depth when I began to look at the results. At last count I had 63 2nd to 4th cousin range matches. As a newbie to genealogy DNA results I decided to see who I shard the largest block with. I contacted the administrator of the test and she responded very quickly to my query. She then contacted another cousin who it turns out I matched her mother, who knew! Both of these ladies were very helpful and have helped me to locate the man we believe was my birth father. I am currently working on leads to see where they take me.

DNA Test Sale at My

At the beginning of February I was looking at My looking for records when I accidentally hit the DNA tab at the top. So glad I did too! They were having a sale on their mtDNAPlus test, it was about 50% off. The test was mailed to me from FamilyTree DNA and I am told to that results are expected mid to late April. I don't doubt my maternal birth ancestry, far from it since my youngest son favors my oldest half brother a great deal. However, I have hit a brick wall with my 4th great birth grandmother and I am hoping this will help. If it doesn't it was money well spent and can I hope give me a better understanding of my maternal ethnicity.

My Plan of Action for DNA Testing

I need to understand and use Gedmatch more. However, I also need to get a better understanding of how these DNA tests work. I plan to back through my Ancestry DNA matches, FamilyTree DNA and Gedmatch connections to see if I can find better connections than 2nd to 4th cousins. Once I have my mtDNAPlus results back I will upload those results to Gedmatch as well.

Organizing Research Materials - Digital

I keep hearing more and more about the dangers that lie ahead for digital files. It is also one of the reasons I am so reluctant to go completely paperless and why I feel like I have a foot in both the digital and paper worlds. I have thousands of pictures of my family I need to go through and sort. Once I have done this, I am going to pick the best and/or my favorite photos (no more than 100 per person) that I will scan and upload to my i-drive account, One Drive and Dropbox accounts. I am also going to continue to store photos and documents on flash drives until the next better alternative comes around. I also want to purchase a fireproof box (one that I can carry if necessary) to store our personal birth, marriage, divorce, death and land records, passports, and pictures. 

How I Organize my Digital Files

I have seen how everyone is organizing their digital research using what I consider to be complicated file systems but that is my opinion. For me I need to "keep it simple stupid" better known as K.I.S.S.. This is a format I started using back when I began using computers for my genealogy in 1998.  I have a digital file for every surname in my tree. Inside that file I have broken it down in the following way:
  • Birth records
  • Baptism records
  • Cemetery records
  • Death records
  • Marriage records
  • Military records
  • Obituaries
  • Immigration & Passenger lists
  • Land records
  • Wills/Probate records
  • Family photos (I also keep a separate file in "photos" under each individual/group)
  • Ebooks
Here is an example of how I have been keeping track of all the information I have found while researching my Mormon Pioneer ancestor Charles Coulson Rich. He had six wives and 50 children. Below is a list of documents I have for him and his first wife, Sarah DeArmon Pea and their children.

  • Rich
    • Family of Charles Coulson Rich & Sarah DeArmon Pea
      • Birth records
      • Baptismal records
      • Land Records
      • Wills/Probate records
      • Marriage records
      • LDS records
      • Migration records (LDS Missions)
      • Military records
      • Obituaries
      • Cemetery records
      • Death records 
      • Obituaries
      • Ebooks
      • Photos
    • Daughter Sarah Jane Rich 
      • 1st Spouse John Tobin
        • Child - Ella Tobin
      • 2nd Spouse Thomas Rudolph Miller

Each child is broken down the same as their parents with digital copies of the data found for them and their own families. There maybe duplicate files such as birth and baptism records because I feel like these types of records should be in the parents file and the child's file. However information can vary depending on what records I can find for them. This is also how my paper files look with the exception of ebooks and photos. With ebooks and photos I make a list and insert it into that person's file. When I open my computer file for the surname of Rich there are multiple families from my immigrant Rich ancestor down to my grandmother, Peggy Rich. An example of what you would find if I were to go to Charles's file and click on Land records you will find each record copies of the land certificates for the roughly 200 acres of land he purchased in Caldwell County, Missouri in 1838. 


Another term I did not know about but it appears as if I have been doing this on my own anyway. When I scan and/or download a photo or document the first thing I do is go to the comments and add everything I know about the item. For photos I use the edit feature in Windows Photo Gallery which allows me to add names, geo tags and comments for my photos.

The photo to left shows the features I can add to the picture (people tags, geotag, caption and descriptive tags. At the bottom under Information you can see the file name, the date and time that the picture was taken, the size of the file, rating and flag options. The only option I don't see and have never thought about adding was copyright information.

I have added the names of my parents, but since there are separate pictures, I had to designate the hand drawn picture as "Nina Rueff as a young woman and William R Williams Sr as a young man" for the names to be applied to both. I then went to the geotag and added the information for where we were: Kathy & Thomas's house Greensboro, NC. Under Caption I wrote Mom & Dad's 59th wedding anniversary gift from Kaitlyn. Under descriptive I used the same phrase as in Caption but I added the names of everyone who was there as well. I changed the file name to "Bill & Nina 59th Wedding Anniversary". I will go back and add the copyright information. I recently downloaded all of the pictures from my cell phone to my computer so adding all the descriptions will take some time but it will be done at slow leisurely pace when time permits.

Organize AND Backup Digital Materials

I am going to follow the example set out by Thomas MacEntee by employing the 3-2-1 Rule. I will keep three copies of each file with the primary location being my hard drive. I will use i-drive, One Drive & Dropbox for cloud storage. I will also see about purchasing an external hard drive and continuing to use USB flashdrives until I can get that external hard drive. For now using these options also covers different media formats and the offsite copy. I also plan to print out a hard copy once I have finished my tree with everything I have learned in the Genealogy Do-Over. Like I said, I have one foot in the digital world and one in the paper world. Currently, I have my hard drive back up to i-drive to back up every morning.

My plan of action for Metadata

From here on out I will make a conscious effort to tag all photos, documents and files providing as much information as I possibly can. I have been using a copyright statement in my blog but I will now start doing this for my photos and documents that I find via the internet. Adding source citations to my files is something I have been doing for sometime now. Whenever I add a story, document or photo to my Ancestry tree the source citation is within the item but I was not making source citations directly in my Ancestry tree. I will continue to strive to become more familiar with metadata so that doing these simple things will be like second nature to me.

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.

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