My Certification as a Genealogist Decision is…

that I did not receive certification. Two judges said yes and one, no. My portfolio went to a fourth judge for arbitration who agreed with the no – insufficient for certification.
I was looking forward to the rubric results but I’m a little confused by them. For example, on the ratings for a Case Study, Judge 1 said I partially met 5 standards and 2 standards were undetermined. Judge 2 said I met all the standards and Judge 3 said I met 5 standards and partially met 2. That’s a wide disagreement!
Further clarification regarding the ratings is also given. That, too, varies greatly from judge to judge. Judge 1 wrote “…Court proceedings’ information is described as “secondary” and the hospital admission information as ‘firsthand.’ When informants and their ability to know facts are unknown, information can only be considered as ‘undetermined.’ (Standard 36)” I agree but I knew and wrote who provided the information; the hospital information was given by the subject of the Case Study as she signed the document and the court information was provided by her sister, who was named and attested she was the sister.
Judge 2 did not include any comments about the Case Study. Judge 3 wrote, “…Research extends to commonly used sources and the use of hospital and court records for [subject’s] insanity hearing and institutionalization is well done…”
All 3 rubric results follow this same pattern for the remaining portfolio submissions.
I don’t think the Genealogical Standards are subjective. I’m unclear, though, how I received ratings and comments with such variance all based on the same Standards.
I was hoping that the rubric would benefit my growth as a genealogist because I don’t know what I don’t know. Instead, I’m left with trying to determine what I’d improve upon. One judge noted, “…There are minor capitalization and punctuation differences between the original and the transcription…The research plan demonstrates awareness of commonly used record groups; however, attempting to anticipate all contingencies at the outset interferes with efficient focus…” while another stated, “The document is accurately transcribed and abstracted, background is carefully described, and a thorough research plan is proposed.” So, did I make a thorough research plan or not? I have no idea.
I thought about posting all but the BCG supplied document on my website,, but decided it might not be a good idea as three of the entries were generated for clients and there is a lot of personal information included. I did have permission from all of them to use for the portfolio but posting online is another matter. I also thought about posting the rubrics but I don’t know how that would benefit anyone without seeing the portfolio.
In reflecting on almost the past two years since I decided to pursue certification I think the process was worth it. I did spend a lot of time away from my family and I’m not ready to do that again. For now, I won’t be reapplying any time soon. I plan on continuing to research, write and learn. Maybe I’ll change my mind some day but for now, that’s my plan and I’m good.

Hints to Get Your Needed Records During the Upcoming Year

I’m not sure what it is about holidays – maybe it’s the food, knowing time away from work is coming or the spirit of the season but I’ve learned that when I have a needed record to obtain those are the best times for me to secure it.

The good news is there are holidays all year long and you can use that to your advantage! Here’s what has happened to me and maybe this “Month of the Year Research Calendar” will work for you, too:

January – Last year I was writing a Kinship Determination Paper for by Board for Certification of Genealogists portfolio on the Harbaugh family and I needed clarification about their religious beliefs. Most of the first generation was buried in a Lutheran Cemetery in Indiana but the second generation was buried in a Brethren Cemetery. I was trying to understand when the change occurred so I called several churches in the area during the Christmas season seeking parishioner records from the 1880’s. The timing was wrong – churches are extremely busy then. I followed up via email in January and reminded them of the prior phone call, mentioned I hoped they had an enjoyable Christmas and before they got busy with Lent, would love them to check their parish records for me. It worked! By Valentine’s Day I had pictures of relatives I had never seen, a copy of the parish record book, an understanding of why the family went to a different denomination (it was across the street from where they lived) and a diary on DVD in which a parishioner had recorded daily life in the area that just happened to record ALL of the births and deaths of the family I was searching. January is for me, the best time to obtain church records!

February through Easter and October through December- This might not work for those somewhere other than Florida but I find those months the best time to meet folks from New England, Mid Atlantic and the Midwest as they are temporary residents here and frequently attend local workshops. So, if you’re residing in those locals then do this on the months I haven’t recorded! I pick their brains on resources from their home area, get leads on people back home they know who might help with my research and sometimes, meet a cousin. I’ve blogged previously about a serendipitous meeting I had in October 2016 (Less Than 6 Degrees of Separation and December 2015 A Transcription Treat).

March – April and November – I don’t know why these seem to be less busy times at archives but I’ve always found that the staff was readily available to help and the sites sparse with visitors. I’m talking about the Family History Library in Salt Lake and the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston. I guess most researchers are either on spring break in a warmer climate or too busy getting ready for Thanksgiving during these times leaving the facility vacant. I’ve also had quick responses from state libraries via email during these months.

May – September – Need a tombstone photo? This is the best time to get one! Why? Simply because people visit cemeteries most between Memorial Day (duh!) and Labor Day. Put a request for a photo on Find-A-Grave a week prior to Memorial Day has almost always gotten me the photo I need. Think about it, who in their right mind would go out in a blizzard to take a cemetery photo? Well, yes, I would and have but that was because I was visiting the area and wouldn’t have gotten another chance to find what I needed. If I lived in the area, I would wait til the snow melted.

Thanksgiving – December – I was pining for the marriage record for one of my 3rd great grandparents. It’s not online and I needed to verify the date I found in family records as some of those were slightly off. I had called the small town in Ohio Clerk’s Office in August and was told to follow up with an email. I gave the couple’s names, dates of birth and what I thought was the marriage date. Two weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything so I emailed again. I got a response that the clerical workers were too busy. Waited another two weeks and emailed once more. Got the response that they were still busy and wouldn’t have time to look it up. Emailed the office manager and got no response. I left the email as open in my email account as a reminder I needed to pursue it. Well, on the Monday before Christmas I sent the following: Dear (clerk’s name), I’ve been a good genealogist this year and I’m hoping that you can assist Santa in bringing me the marriage record for my great grandparents – Emma Kuhn and Francis “Frank” Landfair. It’s all I want for Christmas! Wishing you a joyous season, Lori” I got it the next day. The response also explained why it’s never been scanned and online – evidently the book is in poor condition and won’t photograph well. I’ve also used a similar tactic the day before Thanksgiving. I called a cemetery for records and the office worker finally agreed to fax them to me because I told her I was having family over the following day and we just had to know who was buried in which plots. This cemetery is located in a not so nice area so I never could get anyone to take a photo and the clerk had previously refused to release the info due to privacy previously. (BTW-the dead don’t have privacy rights but she was insistent the cemetery rules prohibited her from releasing the plot information).

Hope this helps your hunting as you plan your research for the year!

Most Read Genealogy At Heart Blogs of 2016

With the New Year approaching I decided to look back on my blogs written during 2016. When I began blogging in 2015, it was with the intention of documenting my journey to become a Certified Genealogist. Although I submitted my portfolio in August, I won’t receive a response for several more months. Since I’m no longer “On the Clock” but still don’t have a decision regarding certification, I decided to continue my twice a week musings about new discoveries, trends and ideas. Here’s what my dear readers found most interesting – the top 10 most read articles of my 2016 posts:

1. Genealogy Gift Ideas
2. Family Tree Maker’s Fall Newsletter Makes Me Feel Vindicated?
3. Ancestry’s New Connection Ap
4. DNA Lab Analysis-The Accuracy is Questioned
5. Genealogy Catch Up – Using the Extra Hour of Day Light Savingsto Keep Organized
6. Watching the Waistline – Diets from my Family’s Past
7. A New Way to Identify Name Variations
8. TIE- Less Than 6 Degrees of Separation
8. TIE – Every Genealogical Record You Need is Online. I Beg to Differ!
10. Making the Most of Your Research – Part 8 – Last in a Series

Due to Christmas falling on my usual post day of Sunday I won’t be blogging again until the following week. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday.

Knocking Down Nicknames

Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
Al who?
Al give you a kiss if you help me break through this brick wall!

Yes, that is truly a dumb knock-knock joke but it makes me think of what I’d do if I was able to identify some folks by their given names.

Who’s Al? Is he Alvin, Albert, Alfie, Alexander, Alexa, Alfred or someone else entirely? Although Al typically is a male name, I’ve known a female that used it.

Why do we even use nicknames? Wickipedia states hypocoristic, a synonym of nickname, is an “affection between those in love or with a close emotional bond, compared with a term of endearment.”

I completely understand the use of endearments but nicknames cross over into the public realm and for genealogists, can be a nightmare! I speak for myself; Lori is my nickname. Why my parents didn’t place that name on my birth certificate I don’t understand. I asked! The response was, “I don’t know.” Geez. My formal name wasn’t a family name so there was no reason they couldn’t have. My mom said she was going to name me Patty, after her friend, but when I arrived I didn’t look like a Patty and my birth certificate name just came to her. Wonderful! She never could explain to me what a Patty looked like.

I seriously considered even getting my name legally changed a few years ago when government requirements tightened and I had difficulty proving who I was as none of my legal documents matched. Hubby goes by a nickname, too, but his official records all used the same name so he had no problem. He has successfully kept his nickname out of public records.

My problem began before I was out of diapers – my parents applied for a social security card for me using my nickname. I had no problem obtaining work (or paying social security all my working life!) under that name until 10 years ago when the laws changed for license renewal. To beat the system, I had to add “aka” on my bank accounts, mortgage and credit cards and place my birth certificate name on my official records. I’m so paranoid about being identified correctly that when I did my burial pre-planning a few months ago I made sure I included my given and nickname on the document. Problem was, my name is too long so I had to use whiteout and try again. Nothing like a genealogist messing up their own record!

Even though we took great pains to name our children so they wouldn’t have the nickname dilemma, nicknames are now back in vogue. Did you know there are online generators to help you select your own nickname? Who knew! Reasons for giving yourself a nickname are because you think your birth name is boring, there are too many people with your given name in your social group and you’re being confused, your name is too long or it’s difficult to pronounce. Some folks are even changing their names as they begin a new life experience. I can only imagine how much fun this will be for future genealogists to correctly identify individuals!

On the flip side, these sites could help you in figuring out the birth name of your brick wall person. Check these out if you’re stuck identifying someone in your family tree:

1001+ Cool Nicknames
The Origins of 10 Nicknames
Common Nicknames
800+ Nicknames
Nicknames for Boys
Vintage Nicknames for Girls

Photo Preservation for Genealogy

I found it interesting that four of Legacy Family Tree’s top 10 webinars of 2016 revolved around photography (Dating Family Photographs – 1900-1940 by Jane Neff Rollins;  Enriching Your Family History through Pictures and Stories by Amie Bowser Tennant; Scrapbooking & Journaling for Family History by Amie Bowser Tennant; and Share, Store, and Save Your Family Photos by Maureen Taylor).  I guess you could even make a case that a fifth one also involves photos (Crowdsourcing with Social Media to Overcome Brick Walls in Genealogy Research by Amie Bowser Tennant) since FaceBook and Pinterest are valuable genealogical tools to find photos.

I love discovering photos and when I perform Client work I try to add them to a project.  Staring into the eyes of an ancestor elicits emotions like no other item can! 

So, that’s why I’m worried about the present habits we have developed (no pun intended!) regarding preserving our photos.  Our smart phones and other devices have made preserving memories incredibly quick, easy and inexpensive.  I use my phone’s camera for recording anything I want to refer back to, such as a whiteboard that was used during a brainstorm session in a meeting, two garments I might purchase to see which would better match the shoes I left at home, and of course, family events.  I take more photos now than at any earlier stages of my life.  I also have a horrible habit of not preserving those photos I take.  

As I walk throughout my home I noticed that most of the framed photos I have on display were taken by a professional.  Back in the day, having a photograph made was an event in and of itself.  First you had to find the studio, then book an appointment, make sure everyone was dressed and ready to go and finally, return days later to view the proofs to select which you wanted to purchase.  Another trip was necessary to pick up the final product.  No wonder most of those photos are still around.  So much time, effort and cost was involved the photo was determined to be valuable.

Today, not at all.  Snap, click, delete if it wasn’t to everyone’s liking or share if it was.  We don’t print out photos like we did in the past.  Right after the “Years of the Hurricanes” in Florida in the early 2000’s I would have said it was a blessing not to have more photos to lug during an evacuation. CD and Cloud technology seemed like such a great idea.  It was the hurricanes that forced me to scan and save my family’s photos – those from the 1800’s to the recent scrapbooks I had created as my children grew up.  I thought I was being so smart when I saved to CD’s and gave them out as Christmas gifts to various relatives.  My thought was to spread them around to increase the likelihood that they would be preserved.  Have a wildfire in California or a twister in the Midwest?  No worries, the CD will live on in New England.  I never thought about CD’s going away or family members who misplaced them.  

When Cloud technology came out I simply transferred everything online.  How convenient to be able to access those photos from anywhere!  But the program I used, Picassa, became defunct.  So I transferred them to Google Photos and Dropbox and Ancestry.  

It just hit me I’ve preserved the past but not the present.  I’m not saving my current photos at the rate that I did before.  Our family’s Thanksgiving pics are still in my phone, along with birthdays and other events I’ve recently attended.  

Just as I calendar in a monthly day to download my gedcom from Ancestry to save to software (Legacy and RootsMagic7) on my hard drive, a stand alone hard drive and in the Cloud (Dropbox) I need to also be saving my pics.  Yes, I am paranoid but I’ve invested so much time I would be heartsick if all of those were lost.

What I need to do is to get in the habit of cleaning out the photos and preserving them.  My plan is to delete those that didn’t come out well and send those I want to keep to my computer.  I’ll back those up like I do the gedcom.  This is being added to my New Year’s Resolutions!

We’re Related – What to Do if Your Tree is Too Large for the New Ap

Recently I wrote about my inability to get “We’re Related” – the new ap working. Every time I tried to switch my Main Tree to yes I’d get an error message.  I surmised that it was because my tree was too large and I’m still going with that theory.  I figured out a work around and if you’re interested, here’s what to do:

  1. I created a new database in RootsMagic7 (Click File – New) and made the file name:  Lori’s Lines.  You name yours whatever you want!  I disabled WebHints and clicked “I know where the file is.”
  2. Next I dragged myself from my Main Tree gedcom that was already uploaded in RootsMagic to the click person location. A pop up asks what you want to drag and drop and I selected “Ancestors of myself.”
  3. On this new database, I then went to File – Export and unchecked LDS information, addresses, multimedia, note formatting and extra details because I wanted to make the new gedcom as concise as possible.  I clicked “Privatize living people” and then clicked ok.  I saved the gedcom on my desktop.
  4. Clicking on the ribbon “TREES” on, I used the drop down menu to click “Create & Manage New Trees.”  At the bottom, I clicked “Upload a Gedcom file.”  I chose the file sitting on my desktop and named the tree the same as the Gedcom.  I also made the tree private.  Why?  Because I only want people to use my Main Tree on Ancestry and not this subset tree.  Back in the day, I had several lines separated and when people would email me, I never knew which tree they were referring to.  I will never be doing anything with this newly uploaded tree other than using it for the ap so I also went to settings and made sure I turned off the hints.  I DO NOT want more email telling me they found something!  (Personally, I’m really tired of seeing the “Direct Bloodline” and pics of red crosses.  To me, those aren’t hints and I wish there was a way to filter that stuff out.) Then I clicked the little box that I accept the submission.
  5. You’re almost done!  Now, open the We’re Related ap on your phone.  (If you haven’t downloaded it go to Google Play Store on Android or whatever you do on IPhone and install it).  I then selected the newly uploaded tree – “Lori’s Lines” and slid the no to yes.  I selected myself as the person in my tree.  It stays on and works!

I decided to do the same for my husband’s lines and followed the same process above.  I did have to select myself as him on We’re Related because I wasn’t an available choice.  Remember, I had pruned these new Gedcoms to bare basics -on my tree only my direct ancestors so our marriage, siblings and children weren’t imported.  Can’t wait to get in a crowd and try it out!

Blaming DNA

naturenurtureI blame my DNA a lot and I know I’m not alone.  Did you ever hear an older individual tell you as you were growing up that you were just like one of your relatives?  I had a teacher tell me I was like my Uncle George and I was perplexed.  How could I be like him?  I was a girl and he was an adult.  When I told my mom she laughed and replied that I liked to play with words like he did.  Uncle George had a nickname for everyone.  Barely five feet tall and needing to sit on a phone book to peer over the steering wheel, Uncle George called my grandmother “Cutlass Mary” as she was quite assertive in her driving.  She also just happened to drive a Cutlass.  Since I loved alliteration, rhyming and play on words I understood what my mom was saying.  I think that was the beginning of my blaming DNA for my personality.

As I began to delve into my family’s history I completely identified with relatives who had gotten into some serious trouble for their views.  Never one to take the path of least resistance, I have questioned authority for as long as I can remember.  In high school, my husband joked that must be my personal motto.  When I discovered I wasn’t the only one in my family with that trait, I also attributed it to my DNA.

I’m rethinking, though, the amount of influence my DNA has on me due to two events that happened within an hour of each other.  The first occurred while visiting a new dentist.  At this initial appointment, the dentist asked me what happened to my front teeth.  Although not very noticeable, I have some fracturing on the bottoms and a small indent on one of my top teeth.  Regarding my bottom teeth, I told the dentist, I had a playground accident as a child as my permanent teeth were erupting.  They just came up that way!  I told him we must have a genetic mutation of some type on my maternal line as every female has the same indent in the same place.  He laughed and asked if I did arts and crafts, sewing in particular.  Well, yes, I had even worked as a subcontractor with a costume design company in my younger years.  He asked if I used scissors or teeth to cut thread.  My goodness!  The realization that every woman in my family used their teeth to cut thread hit and all I could say was, “I’ve got to tell my daughter.”  So, the indent wasn’t due to DNA but to passing on a habit.  My daughter learned to sew from me as I learned from my mom and she from her mom and who knows how far back.  I recall my Great Grandmother had the same chip on the same tooth.  Who knew?!

After I left the dentist I stopped by a store as I was having one of my kid’s certificates framed.  As the clerk displayed the final product another customer asked me who was the recipient.  I told her and she said, “Wow, you must be proud.”  I am a proud Momma but I always strive to be a Momma who recognized both of my children’s accomplishments so I added an achievement recently made by the other child.  Her response surprised me; she said, “You must have good DNA.”

What does that mean – having “good DNA?”  I guess “bad DNA” would be a true mutation that resulted in a life threatening illness.  Yet mutations alone aren’t “bad,” such as adaptions to make one resistant to diseases. These thoughts quickly ran through my mind as I paid for the frame.

As I left, I turned to the customer and replied, “Naw, it’s not my DNA or my husband’s.  It was hard work, tenacity, and self discipline.”

As we delve into our family’s history, we need to be mindful of both nature and nurture.  We can blame or praise our ancestors’ influences on our lives, both genetically and observed, but the choices and decisions we make are our own.  Happy Hunting!

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 –,,,,, 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 (,,,  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!