Download Your Data

This is your periodic reminder to download your data from those cloud-based subscription services you have. Don’t assume images on any site will be there forever. Save it while it is on your screen. Keep images on your own media in accounts/locations you have control over and can access.

AncestryDNA August 2019 Edition Webinar Available

This presentation has been recorded and is available for immediate download. If you ordered and did not receive, please email me at and I’ll take care of it.

In this presentation, we will discuss new and not-so-new features of AncestryDNA matches, including:

  • Groups
  • Notes
  • ThruLines
  • Starred matches
  • Filters
  • Searches

Our focus will be on practical, straight-forward applications of these features with particular attention paid to problem-solving and documentation of your analytical process.  Also discussed will be the creation of a customized spreadsheet to track your work and to assist in planning your analysis. Our goal is not to confuse you with how complicated we can make things, but to help you actually use the new tools at AncestryDNA to make the most of them.

And to do that—we’ll also discuss the drawbacks and potential pitfalls of approaches that are discussed.

This presentation has already been held. If you registered or pre-ordered and did not receive your download links–email me at This presentation (handout and presentation) can be ordered for immediate download via our secure ordering platform.

Attendees should have a basic understand of autosomal DNA matches.

How Complete is that Database?

We’ve mentioned it before, but reminders never hurt.

Before you spend hours searching an online database, determine how complete the database is. Some sets of data include all records in a specific series. Others may be in progress, only including part of the time span the title covers. The webpage title may say the materials are from 1850 to 1950, with 1850-1855, 1870-1880, and 1940-1950 being included. Always read the details.

Work Out the Ones You Know

Many genealogists start work on their DNA matches trying to figure out their “brick wall.” While that’s definitely a long-term goal, it may not be the best way to start.

If you are new to DNA analysis, it might be good to work on your matches for those families where you think “you know everything” already. It’s a great way to build up your skills and learn about DNA methodology. There will be “less to learn” since you already have the family worked up. And you will be better prepared for working on those “brick walls.”

You may also discover that you don’t know as much about the “already done” family as you thought you did.

Shared Looks Evidence of…

“”Through DNA analysis, I was able to determine the grandparents of a relative whose biological father was unknown. There’s no way at this point to determine which of their sons was the father of the child in question, but it’s clear that one of them was.

And a photo of a first cousin of that relative indicated they shared facial features. The similarities between their faces was a nice addition to my DNA evidence, but it really is not considered any sort of evidence itself. We have all seen siblings who bear little physical resemblance to each other and as the relationship becomes more distance the similarities can become even fewer.

But distant relatives can share some common facial features or looks. But it’s not the sort of information that can be considered proof of a relationship because passage of “looks” through the generations is partially just the luck of the genetic draw.

While travelling recently, I was told by someone ” that guy over there looks like you.” And sure enough he did–although the lack of hair helped.

Natural Children

If a person refers to someone else as their “natural child,” it usually means that the parents of the child were not married at the time the child was born.

Wills are one place where an individual can acknowledge a child as their “natural child.”

An Assignee

A colonial era deed in what’s now the United States indicated that your ancestor was the grantee on a deed where he was listed as the assignee as someone else. The probable situation is that that “someone else” initially had rights to obtain that property and that “someone else” sold those rights and/or transferred those rights to your ancestor and then your ancestor obtained the property.

Here’s the but: if you are looking at a transcription of the deed with this phrasing in it, get an original image of the document so that you can see it completely for yourself. Read the whole thing and transcribe the whole thing.

And if it doesn’t make sense: ask someone about it. Look up the meaning of words you don’t know. Maybe even ask a second person.

Transcriptions sometimes abbreviate assignee as “assn” or even as “ass.” That last one is a word you don’t want to misinterpret <grin>.

Have You Read a How-To Book?

Many genealogists are self-trained and learn about sources and methods as their research progresses. Hands-on learning, directed towards your research goals is fine, but there can easily be gaps in knowledge when one learns this way. Have you read a general research how-to book or a guide to research in the areas where your families lived?

It’s still helpful to read how-to books and guides after you’ve researched for some time.

We all have something to learn? What have you learned recently?