Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for the Genealogist

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!  Tomorrow is the big day and if you are short of time or your favorite store is short on everything then here’s two ideas that might help:

1.  Genealogical.com has a 3 month special offering all of their 750 books for purchase to be viewed online.  It’s a nice idea while libraries were closed and it allows you to see if it is a book you’d like to purchase in the future. I know many in person sites will be opening soon but if you’re like me – have read everything you have at home AND are not wild about the idea of going out yet, this might be the ideal gift.

I’ve been using it for the past 2 weeks and I have found some interesting info as I’ve been researching Barbados which is not a well represented topic in my local libraries.  Have I found anything earth shattering? Not yet but I’ve obtained some clues to go forward with. 

There are some glitches with the site so I want to share that info to avoid frustration.  First, the log in is quirky.  I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and good ole Internet Explorer thinking that might be the issue but it isn’t.  It never can recognize my password unless I sign in through my Google account.  I’m telling you this because I’ve been locked out and when you’re paying for something for a limited time that’s frustrating.

I know I’m not alone as someone else had commented that once you’re in, you often get sent to a page to purchase books.  Here’s how to get around that – Click Home and Click on Book Bonanza at the top.  You’ll be in the right area to read at that point.

Next issue is it always takes you back to page 1 of the books listed.  What would have been nice would have been a long page listing all the book titles/authors (I don’t care what the cover looks like!) with a link directly to the book.  After a few days of use I decided I would approach this as I do when I’m just surfing a shelf in a brick and mortar library – I looked at all the offerings on the site page by page and wrote down the titles of interest.  Now, when I’m back on page 1 (you get logged off if you step away for a bit so when you log back on you automatically return to page 1) I just type the title I’m interested in the search button.

Here’s another hint – the list of books I created I checked WorldCat and Ancestry and 18 were there so I will be using those sites for those books.  That way, I don’t have to feel pressure to get through all the other ones that I can’t access anywhere else.

You can’t download the books – just read them – so remember where you left off.  It’s not like Kindle so you have to make a number of clicks to go back where you were.  The other issue is that the page numbers don’t appear so using the Index is difficult.  For example, in Barbados Records in Marriages 1643-1800 Vol. 1, I checked out the index for my Alexanders and derivations of Hollingshead and I find a few I didn’t know existed.  There’s no page number or book section listed so the only way to find them is to scan every page in the book (which is a list of marriage records, duh, so it’s all names) arranged in chronological order by parish to find them.  That is time intensive and yes, I have 3 months, but there are other books I also want to check out.  I used a back door to get more info on the possible relatives listed – looked them up on genealogy sites online to get a better understanding of relationships, years they were in that country (my peeps were gone by 1720 so if the others were there in 1800 I don’t need to check further), and where they originated from in England. 

Going back from a page to another part of the book is also a pain.  You can use the back arrow but if, for example, you’re looking at H’s in the index, you’ve clicked numerous times to get through the A’s-G’s so it’s a lengthy process to return.  It also loads pages slowly, maybe that’s just on my end, but it makes me crazy so now I just click the top arrow to go back to good ole page 1 of all the offerings, retype in the name of the book and then use the index to go where I want. 

So now you’re thinking – why in the world, Lori, would you recommend this as a Mother’s Day gift?!  Well, there’s not a lot out there to purchase and your dear mom isn’t gonna get the ‘rona using this.  Just show her this blog and she can hit the ground running.  I’m not making any money off this – just trying to be helpful.

2.  Next option is to sign up for a National Genealogical Society conference package.  This is what my family got me for my birthday and I’m really excited.  I’ve attended past in-person conferences and loved them!  I was unable to go out to Salt Lake this year due to my other job’s schedule so this gift is really making me happy.  On May 20th, the “live” online offerings are available from 11 AM to 7 PM.  In July, based on the package purchased, you can view up to 85 other lectures that would have been available if the conference was held in person and those are available through May 2021!  That’s more genealogical courses then you could have ever attended in person so I think this is an awesome opportunity.  Sure – you don’t get the camaraderie of being around other genealogists, the immediate answer to your question or the excitement of travel but in these times, I’m good with what is being offered. 

Preserving Your Genealogy

At the recent National Genealogical Society conference, there was a lot of chatter about preserving your genealogical records after you’re gone. I have to disagree with those that say if you don’t cite your work it will be tossed. I don’t know about you, but my family could care less where I find what I find. Unless the finder has been bitten by the genealogy bug, no one will understand the importance of citing and analyzing sources.

That said, I’m definitely in favor of following the standards. I think you should do the right thing but that is not going to save your years of effort from other destruction by surviving family members. I firmly believe there is only 3 ways to make sure that your research is preserved but you must plan ahead:

Donate your work locally and/or electronically so that future folks you don’t even know can benefit. These are the people who will not value your work if you didn’t follow the standards soundly.
Publish now and get your work in as many hands as possible. It’s quite simple to publish an eBook or you can print from whatever word processing program you use and have copies made at one of the big box office supply stores. Just type “how to publish an eBook” in amazon.com’s search engine and many free books are available to get you started. The holidays are around the corner and who knows?! A recipient might just get interested.
Getting a family member hooked is not as difficult as it sounds. The idea here is to match the living person’s passion to an ancestor. My kids could care less about their Great Grandma Elsie’s china. I understand that; we’ve used it for years as they’ve grown so it’s not so special. Will it be preserved? Most definitely, but it’s just not that exciting to them. On the other hand, they’re into medicine and research so learning about the life of that great uncle doctor in the 1800’s and a 5th great grandfather who was a chemist really gets them listening. The old tool box is a draw for our son while the old thread is a tie for my daughter to her 2 x’s great grandmother. An attachment develops when you can relate so find the connection and you’re work is safe!

DNA Plan


Had a wonderful time in Raleigh last week at the National Genealogical Society Conference! I focused on DNA workshops as that is an area where I would like to gain more knowledge and practical experience.

My 3 favorite sessions on this topic were by Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger and Judy Russell. Now that I have a rudimentary understanding, I plan on working through the book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Bettinger and Wayne this summer.

I also learned that the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG) had been reactivated as a free peer reviewed online resource. Check it out!

Two of the major DNA players, MyHeritage and Ancestry.com, offered conference specials but I decided to wait until Black Friday to make purchases. My plan is to purchase kits from either or several organizations but more likely from Ancestry first since it has the larger database. Then, I’ll download the results and upload to Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.

Hubby and I tested years ago through Ancestry – he did X and Y and I did X but that version is no longer supported. I’d like to do add Autosomal this time around and include other family members. Besides the benefit of identifying new family members and confirming ones we are aware of, I think it would be fascinating to see if any mutations occurred between our kids and us and between my husband and his sister.

For Mother’s Day, my family got me an e-Book, Mansions of the Dead, by Sarah Stewart Taylor. It’s a genealogical murder mystery that I find interesting as it takes place in Boston, a city I’ve happily researched in, and revolves around mourning jewelry, which I’ve been fascinated with since working with a Client several years ago that inherited a mystery piece from a paternal grandmother. The book was written when DNA analysis was relatively new and I question some of the info but it is a fun read and I can’t wait to confirm my hypothesis of who done it. Happy Hunting!

Raleigh Bound – Genealogy At Heart Hiatus


I’m off to North Carolina to attend the National Genealogical Society Conference. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. If you’re planning on attending friend me on the conference ap. Traveling with a co-worker is making the trip even more fun. I’m planning on purchasing Tom Jones’ new book that will be released there – buying that as my own Mother’s Day present. No blog until I return. In the meantime, Happy Hunting!

News from the National Genealogical Society Conference

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

Greetings on Star Wars Day!  How appropriate that the start of this year’s NGS Conference is on May 4th (Force) be with you.  If you’re following me on Twitter you may have seen my tweet this AM.  One of the sound technicians at the conference who was working hard to make the sessions available live told me he is really interested in genealogy and was so excited to learn about family history while he did his primary job.  When he showed me his travel mug – of Darth Vader with the words “I Am Your Father”- I had to take his picture and send it out into the universe.  It was a perfect way to start the day!

I mentioned in my last blog I didn’t think I was going to be able to write until the weekend after I return home from the conference but I need to share a few events that have me really excited.

The first was the Board for Certified Genealogists “On the Clock” Dutch Treat Dinner that was held at Bravo Italiano Ristaurante on 17th Street in Ft. Lauderdale Tuesday evening.  There were 42 attendees consisting of Certified Genealogists, wanna be’s and family/friends.  Russ and James, the restaurant co-owners, and their staff did a phenomenal job making sure that our party was accommodated.  The food and atmosphere was superb!  I cannot convey how nice it is to be with a group of people who get excited about that serendipitous photo find of Great Aunt Betsy or can relate to the time you slogged through a violent rainstorm only to discover that the rural cemetery is now on private property you can’t access.  It was heartwarming!

I don’t know about you but I’ve not had much luck with connecting hubby’s or my dna that I had done through Ancestry.com.  I haven’t had it redone with the new dna kit but with the old one, my closest connection was Marie Antoinette.  I’m not making this up.  For the record, she didn’t really say “Let them eat cake” but that’s for a different blog.  Apparently others have had great match up success.  Today, I met 3rd cousins who found each other through Ancestry.com’s match.  They had never met in person before today and asked if I would snap a few pictures of them together at the conference.  They had a remarkable resemblance!  I was honored that they asked me to take their picture of that special meeting.  It was like living Long Lost Family in person!

When the Exhibition Hall opened after the keynote address, I never would have guessed what amazing event was in store for me.  I was meandering along when I came upon the booth of ArkivDigital, a Swedish Genealogical & Historical Research site online.  I had used the site once before, when I was in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library last spring. It helped me obtain the Swedish names of my husband’s maternal great grandfather, his first wife and their children.  I had tried to find information about the second wife, of whom my husband is descended from but I had no luck.  One of the ladies at the table asked me if I had any Swedish research needs and I responded that I had a major brick wall and that I absolutely hate doing Swedish research because I just don’t understand it.  She laughed and said I should speak with her co-worker who was engaged in a conversation with someone else because Swedish research is not difficult.  Yeah, right, I’m thinking.  Soon I was introduced to Kathy Meade who recommended I write down any dates I had for the ancestor and she would look them up in her database.  Since I was volunteering as a room monitor for the next session I had to run; I told Kathy I’d be back later in the day.  The other lady said she was sure that Kathy would resolve my brick wall.

After the next session ended I went online and wrote down what I knew – birth date from the death certificate, marriage date from the marriage license, death date from the death certificate, 1900-1930 census info, a few years of City Directory listings and the cemetery record.  The death certificate did not list a maiden name, of course.  The marriage record had the name of Johnson but I always figured it was wrong because she married a Johnson.  Perhaps instead, they were cousins.

I had the place of birth as Sard, Sweden but I’d never been able to find that place name.  A colleague told me she thought the place must have existed once in a rural area and was no more.  Kathy said she never heard of Sard and thought it might be a mistranslation or misunderstanding by a family member.  She recommended focusing just on known dates.  Into her database she entered the birthdate and Voila! there shows up the birth record, baptism date, census and parish exit emigration record.  I was stunned.  The first name wasn’t Louisa, it was Louvisa.  The last name wasn’t Johnson, it was Jonnason.  The emigration date matched the US census records AND she was from the same area that her future husband was from.  More research is needed but it is possible she went to the US because his first wife had died and there was small children left motherless.

Louvisa had worked as a maid in Sweden and her mother had died a few years before she emigrated.  She left behind two sisters and her father.  Once the shock of the find wore off I started crying.  Then I called my husband who told me to stop crying.  I then got up and did a happy dance.  I understand that in most public locations people observing my behavior would most likely make a judgement that I was mentally ill but at the convention I was soon joined by other attendees who had overheard what was happening.  They joined in the fun.  I tried to buy Kathy lunch but she said no.  Once I get home I’m purchasing the program AND taking her 4 Swedish research classes on Legacy.  I am sincere when I say this was worth the entire price of the conference.  If you are stumped with your Swedish line I highly recommend checking out ArkivDigital and Kathy’s Legacy classes.  Clearly, the Force was with me today at the conference!