Adoptee? Here’s A FREE Opportunity for You!

I received the following email this week and wanted to share it. If you are an adoptee or knows someone who is that wants help in finding information about their birth family, then keep reading…
“MyHeritage is excited to announce a new pro bono initiative — DNA Quest — to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing.
As part of DNA Quest, we are giving out 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits — worth more than one million dollars — for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants.

MyHeritage has set up an advisory board of top experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption to guide and support this initiative on a voluntary basis. The advisory board includes: CeCe Moore, founder of The DNA Detectives; Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist; Richard Weiss of DNA Adoption; Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser; Katharine Tanya, founder of Adopted.com; Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA; Pamela Slaton, investigative genealogist; Leah Larkin, The DNA Geek; and Susan Friel-Williams, Vice President, American Adoption Congress.

Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first. The first phase of the initiative is open to U.S. residents, involving adoptions that took place in the U.S. Additional phases may be considered in the future based on the success of the first phase, which begins now. Future phases may include other countries as well as additional circumstances, such as children of sperm donors and non-paternity events.

Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018. The DNA Quest website includes additional information about the initiative, and a detailed section with answers to frequently asked questions.

Those who have already taken a DNA test with another company are invited to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.

We invite you to share the link https://www.dnaquest.org with all your followers, to reach and therefore help as many people as possible.”

I do feel it is necessary to put out this caveat: The information you gain may be difficult to deal with. Make sure you have strong supportive individuals in your life to talk with or seek out professional help. Once you take the lid off the can you CANNOT put it back on!

Ancestry.com DNA Kit Purchase Follow Up

Just received the following email from Ancestry.com regarding their Black Friday-Cyber Monday DNA Kit Sale:

There is NO COUPON CODE, as I blogged about on Sunday. Want to purchase? Click BUY NOW, look at the top of the page and reclick Buy Now.
Please note: I have NO business connection with the organization and get NO percentage of sale. This info is a follow up to my last blog about attempting to purchase the product a few days ago.
Genealogy is all about patience and this purchase definitely reinforces that!

Holiday DNA Deals? Read Before Purchasing

It’s that wonderful time of the year when the DNA companies promote their products with big savings knowing that the family get togethers will turn to great grandma’s emigration story and the question everyone wants answered – Where did we really come from?
I’ve received several emails this week notifying me of “special” offers so I decided to take advantage of the one below:

When I go to process the order I get this screen (with my personal info not showing):

The problem is that when I hit “submit order” the lock moves over the words but doesn’t process. I hit the button twice and then, fearing I ordered 4 kits instead of 2, called Ancestry.com at 1-800-Ancestry.
I spoke with Brittany who told me they had no record of the order. That was good in that I didn’t over order but since I wanted 2 kits, I still needed the order processed. I asked if they were having trouble with their website and she said no. Brittany tried and couldn’t get it to go through, either. She placed me on hold and sought out a supervisor.
I must say I was pleased that she returned to the phone after some wait time to tell me she was still checking. Nice customer service, Ancestry.com, major improvement over the years. Then it went downhill…
Brittany said that the system couldn’t calculate two discounts, meaning it could not take $10.00 off the second kit AND take off free shipping on Kit 1. I asked if this was because I was a returning customer and the offer was good for new customers only. She said no. I asked if there was an override. She said no and that the coupon code I was using had expired. I mentioned I had received the notice from several sources in the past few days and that the expiration date hadn’t occurred yet. I also told her exactly where I received the info but since I’m not trying to drag other organizations into this, I’m sure you’re understanding of why I’m not blogging my sources.
Brittany told me the amount would be $162.00 but couldn’t explain how that amount was determined. If I ordered two kits at $79.00 with free shipping the amount would be $158.00; with $10.00 shipping on both kits it would be $178.00. If it was free shipping on the first kit and half on the second it would be $163.00.
Maybe I should have just shut my mouth and taken the $162.00 offer but I don’t like paying for something when the price isn’t clear so I mentioned that there were competitors that were offering kits for less than the quoted amount. Now I know that the customer service person has no say in the price set and I’m sure she was rolling her eyes at this cheap customer but I figure if enough people speak out then maybe the powers to be will get the website working correctly to accept the offer. If the offer isn’t valid, then they need to just say that the other organizations made up the deal but I really don’t think that was the case since I got it from several sources.
We hung up without my placing an order.
I then went on a hunt to see if there was other valid coupon codes but didn’t find one. Next I tried
signing into my Ancestry.com account, clicking “Buy Now,” re-ordering and omitting the “expired” coupon code. Guess what? It shows this:

But it, too, doesn’t allow me to purchase.
I then went to Amazon.com where I purchased a kit in July during Prime Days. Since I’m a member, I get free shipping so I figure that would eliminate the need for the expired coupon code. Here’s what I get:

The promotion at Amazon is $79.00 for each kit. Better than the Ancestry.com offer but not as good as I wanted.
I’ll let you know next week what I decide to do – I’ve wasted way too much time on this today! My Turkey Day shopping is waiting for me. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Bringing A Family Heirloom Back to Life


In June, I blogged about some of my genealogy finds when we cleaned out our garage – 2 mahogany chairs in particular.
The initial estimates I got to refinish the chairs were $500.00 each and the price quoted for the upholstery was $500.00-$800.00 per chair, not including material of which two upholsterers estimated I would need 10 yards. So, it would have cost me over $2000.00 to have both chairs in usable condition.
Yes, they have been in the family since about 1880 but we thought that the quotes were way too much. I eventually found someone to refinish the chairs for $125.00 each but I had to do touch up and pull out the old tacks. Hubby had to glue the leg support as the man “forgot” to do it. It took him over 6 weeks to do his magic so instead of leaving them for him to do correctly, I told him I’d finish it myself. I’m so glad I did as the hurricanes hit the following week and they were safer with us then in his flood prone neighborhood.
I’m finally finished with upholstering and I think they came out wonderful, considering all I know about upholstery came from youtube videos and internet how-tos. I bought way too much material; I bought 8 but only used about 4 so it’ll be on Craig’s List this afternoon. I’d really like to know why both upholsterers who gave me estimates told me I needed 10 yards! When I recoop that excess, the cost to reupholster was about $50.00 per chair.
For $350.00, we’ve got 2 beautiful and comfortable antique chairs to enjoy the holidays. Best of all, hubby can finally cross this off his “To-Do” list. They’ve been on there for over 45 years – seriously!

DNA Father’s Day Specials


Unless you plan on waiting until Black Friday, which I’m going to do, there are two special offers available for DNA kits in honor of Father’s Day:

1. Ancestry DNA is $79.00, however, if you order it via Amazon.com and are a prime member, you don’t have to pay shipping. Sale ends June 18th.

2. MyHeritage DNA is $69.00 – ends June 19th.

National DNA Day

On April 25, 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick’s article, “The Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,” was published in Nature.1 Thus began the DNA revolution.

In honor of that anniversary, Thomas MacEntee has deemed April 25th as DNA Day and other organizations have come forward to offer sales and specials that may be of interest to you (Think of this as a genealogist’s own President’s Day sale!)

Ancestry.com’s price is $79.00. The offer ends April 26th. AncestryCanada price is 30% off ; AncestryUK is 25% off

MyHeritage is also offering kits for $79.00 but will bundle a kit with a subscription for even greater savings.

23 and Me is offering free shipping on their $99.00 autosomal kit with 10% off an additional kit

FamilyTreeDNA is offering Family Finder kits for $59.00

The last time these prices were this low was during the 2016 Holiday shopping season.

1 Watson, James D., and Francis Crick. “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.” Nature 171, 4356 (25 April 1953): 737-738.

Genealogy Gift Ideas

Tis the Season to Merrily Spend!  Here’s some things that I requested Santa get me this year:

  • A Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffin.  I’d like the Kindle edition.
  • Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger.  I’d like the paperback edition.  Yes, it costs  a whole bunch more than the Kindle edition but I want to flag pages.  It’s also one of my New Year’s resolutions to learn as much as I can about DNA in 2017.
  • Red Pens – I still underline relationship info with them.
  • Renew my memberships to my state and local society – they’re due January 1st!
  • Register for the National Genealogical Society Conference that will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina May 9-13.
  • A sterling silver charm shaped like a tree that I saw at a local art’s festival.
  • A package containing primary source documents for relationship of any of my numerous brick wall ancestors.  No preference of person!  I’d be thankful for any tidbit placed where I could find it.
If you’re a Santa’s helper and are looking for the perfect gift for the Genea in your life, here’s some ideas:
  • A scanner.  Check out Flippal
  • A jeweler’s head magnifier to better read those records.  They start at $7.85 on Amazon.  I have a different model that came with interchangeable lenses that I love.
  • A genealogy mousepad
  • A genealogy license plate holder
  • A genealogy travel mug
  • A subscription to – Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, Fold3.com, Newspapers.com, LegacyFamilyTree.com, National Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, your state or local society.  These organizations offer classes/workshops/conferences, journals/newsletters, and a community of like minded helpful individuals for support and ideas.
  • DNA test kits for the entire family (Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilyTreeDNA.com, 23andme.com)  Check the pricing and buy the lowest.
  • A promise you will not roll your eyes, sigh or look bored when your Genea excitedly begins to tell you about the most recent discovery.  That’s the best gift ever and it’s free!

DNA Lab Analysis – The Accuracy is Questioned

Recently I attended a workshop by Dick Eastman on Cloud Computing provided by my local genealogy society.  Dick spoke briefly, a lunch break was given and then the workshop resumed.  Although his information was interesting, it was the side conversations I overheard during lunch that piqued my interest.

I need to offer a disclaimer first – one of my children is employed by a large laboratory in the U.S. and part of the job responsibility is to trouble shoot and then correct problems that individual labs are encountering.   The troubleshooting my child does is regarding equipment and not results.  To my knowledge, none of that organization’s business is in DNA analysis.  Even so, this proud momma often hears from family and friends who got results back that there must have been some mistake – how could whatever level that was being measured be so high, etc.  It was with this background that I brought to eavesdropping on the conversation at the next table…

A woman was explaining that she had recently had her DNA results returned and she wasn’t matching with anyone in her family.  She is unmarried and has no children so none of them tested.  Her parents are deceased and she had no siblings.  By matching, she was referring to cousins.  A man at the table conjectured the lab had made a mistake and mixed up the samples.  Another attendee reported that his results matched with his children, siblings and first cousins but not with relatives from 3 generations back.  He, too, originally thought the lab had erred.  Then a match occurred with a surname which he was not familiar.  He thought he had somehow missed that line in his research so he went back over his records and low and behold, discovered that the matching surname lived in the same boarding house as his 2x’s great grandmother.  Hmm.  And yes, great grandma was married to who he had assumed was his great grandfather at the time.  There went all of his research on that great grandpa’s line!

Could a lab make a mistake?  Absolutely!  The likelihood, though, is not as great with the processes and procedures that are in place as is the entanglement of human relationships.

The following day I was reading a list serv to which I belong and an individual had posted how she had inadvertently given a female DNA test kit to a male relative.  The lab caught it and asked for clarification.

My advice if your returned results give you unexpected findings – get the test redone at another site.  Prices are dropping for the holidays so the cost is negligible.  There are “rumors” that Ancestry will run a special beginning November 25th for $69.00 to beat the FTDNA price of $79.00.  I don’t have that in writing so check around on the 25th to see what happens.

When the test results are returned, if they’re similar, well, you know you need to explore other lines to determine who’s the daddy.  If they are not the same, I’d contact the lab and share your findings.  You’d probably get your money refunded if the lab made the error and an offer for another test as a thank you for letting them know there is a quality control problem.  Personally, I’m betting on the relationships and not the lab as the culprit.

Genealogy Catch Up – Using the Extra Hour of Day Light Savings to Keep Organized

My goodness I accomplished a bunch last weekend with that hour of extra time!  I’m taking the advice I preach and cleaned out my emails, making sure that I saved everything that was important to my desk top and if it was super important, to the Cloud.  I use the free Dropbox.  For information that may someday be important, I save the link to an Excel file I keep in Dropbox.  For example, if there is a particularly interesting blog about clues from old photographs from Ancestor Cloud or Genealogy in Time Magazine, I copy the link in the Excel spreadsheet.  One column is Topic, next is the link and the third is comments, if any.  That way, if I ever have a brick wall or a client comes to me with a difficult quest with an area where I’m not an expert, I can quickly find useful information.

One email I had received from last month was for a special on Roots Magic.  For my faithful readers, you know I dearly miss the simplicity of the old PAF that Family Search once provided for free. I switched to Family Tree Maker when PAF was dying and was happy until it stopped synching with my Ancestry.com tree.  The many calls and emails I made between both organizations were pointless so I gave up and went to the Standard free version of Legacy.  I liked it so much several months later I bought the Deluxe version.  IMHO, Legacy has the BEST charts of any genealogy software product out there and is a bargain for the price.  But back to the Roots Magic email, there was a special offer for $29.95.  I thought I could do better so I hunted around and found I could get it for $20.00, along with an instructional ebook.  I decided to make the purchase, download my GEDcom from Ancestry and upload to Roots Magic in preparation for when Ancestry.com and Roots Magic are able to synch like Family Tree Maker failed to do.  I got my $20.00 price from the Association of Professional Genealogists but I also found it by looking for special offers.  Here’s the link if you’d like to purchase it – ROOTS MAGIC SPECIAL.

Another special for the upcoming weekend – November 12-13 – is Arkivdigital will be free for everyone.  If you have Swedish family it’s a must use.  Yes, the records are in Swedish but there are helpful hints on their site or you could use Google Translate.  Happy Hunting!  Now back to Roots Magic…

I was pleased with how quick the upload was; Legacy takes a whole lot longer.  After updating both Legacy and installing Roots Magic, I saved to the Cloud and to a stand alone hard drive as I am paranoid to lose the information.

While I was doing that, Hubby was working at his desk beside me.  I looked over and what did I see but visions of holiday shopping appearing on his screen!  So I gave him my gift list for this year – a new sewing box and three genealogy books.  I did have to have him log onto my National Genealogical Society account to get a discount on the books but that was a good savings, too.

All that took up my extra hour but I felt so good about cleaning up my data I decided to move on to finishing the Canvas project I started in the summer.  I’m just about done with our family poster. I think it’s a bargain for $34.95.  Granted, I’m going to have to get it framed.

Haven’t checked out how to make one?  If you click on EXTRAS on the Ancestry ribbon and then click on the drop down menu for Photo Books and Posters you leave Ancestry and go to MY CANVAS.  To make a poster, click on their ribbon FAMILY HISTORY.  You can import your Ancestry.com tree to their template and get creative from there.  It’s an awesome holiday gift.

If only I could have an extra hour every weekend!

Pursuing Genealogy on a Shoestring Budget – Part 3

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 4 Jun 2016.

This is the last in a series of posts about keeping the costs down on our very expensive practice.  Our running total for the frugal (accumulated in Parts 1 & 2) is less than $100.00 per year. Granted, that sum is based on using your local library for much of your research which could be problematic if your facility limits your time, has shortened hours due to budget cuts, and is difficult to reach, transportationwise.  That amount also does not include costs for renting microfilms from Familysearch or obtaining vital records.  Those two prices are set and non negotiable.  The best way around that is to find others who are researching your lines and are willing to share what they have found.  You may even get lucky and find that some kindhearted researcher has scanned and posted the vital you needed, thus saving you time and money.

The sites below are FREE and are good ways for you to connect with others who share your interest areas:

Ancestor Cloud – although it costs to hire their researchers, it does not cost anything to obtain their weekly emails or to view and post requests on their website.  They saved me the cost of traveling overseas  and I would use them again if the situation arises.  If you do need to pay for assistance, you negotiate the price so it will fit nicely in with your budget as opposed to other companies out there that have standard fees.

Blogs – geneabloggers is one of many that give helpful advice and resources without any cost to you. Just check out the main page and you’ll see that founder Thomas MacEntree has loads of discounted genealogy related services listed.  Subscribe to their newsletter and you’ll get the deals emailed to you as they become available.

Crestleaf will email a newsletter weekly with the updates to their records. Scroll down to check out their surname index, or browse by decade or location.  Lots of good free info for you to explore!

Cyndi’s List – for the most comprehensive genealogy sources on the web.  This site will point you in the right direction, thus saving you time and money.

Genealogy in Time is another email “magazine” with helpful information.  Their website has a search engine that is powerful and there are lots of  articles to help you find those elusive ancestors.  Sign up for their Sunday email, “The Genealogy News” which includes links to genealogy news that occurred in the past week.  I love starting my week off by reading the “News” with my morning coffee.

Geneanet – is more than just a place to search; the community forum is a place to post your queries and if you have French ancestry, you must check out their searchable collection.  You can specify a surname you’re interested in and receive an email when more information becomes available on their site.

Legacy – download the Standard edition family tree and view their training videos.  Although some do have a cost attached, their weekly webinars are free if you are able to watch them shortly after they’ve posted.

I’ve only scratched the surface of genealogical savings.  Deals are out there and the wise genealogist uses resources that give the most bang for the buck.  Happy Hunting!