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Have you heard of auto-clustering for your autosomal DNA results? It's something you should try but is it going to help you or be another tool that drives you crazy? Turns out, it might depend who your ancestors were. If you've read many posts on this blog, you know my ancestors are all southern. They aren't just southern, they're all from North Georgia. This is a nightmare when it comes to using DNA (although those of you with some of the most extreme endogamous populations, you have my sympathy, I know it could  be worse). Auto-clustering, Genetic Networks, and Kissing Cousins ...
Have you realized what the biggest challenge for Occasional Genealogists is? It's not a lack of research results. It's remembering what research you've done. The solution to this problem is great organization. That's not a very helpful answer, though. Great genealogical organization involves several aspects. These aspects include: great note taking,  a great filing/retrieval system, and  great skills overall---like report/memo writing and analysis. Genealogy Organization, Simplified Occasional Genealogists need to write everything down, AND they need to be able to find it again. Every genealogist can benefit from this, but if you get to research pretty often, you can rely on your memory (you shouldn't, but you can). If you're familiar with Evernote, you probably know where I'm going with this. Occasional Genealogists can't remember everything---Evernote's tagline is "Remember Everything." [note: that was the taglin...
Have you gotten back your DNA test results and gone, "these are wrong!" but didn't know what you could do (or assumed you needed to pay for another test)? STOP! I am all for people taking multiple DNA tests for genealogy, but usually when you do it because you believe your results are wrong, you're throwing away money. Let me help you save some money or spend it wisely and figure out what you need to do. What to Do If You Think Your DNA Results are Wrong. ...
The veterans in your family tree are unique like every other ancestor and relative. So this year, instead of an attempt at a semi-comprehensive round-up of resources (covering the majority of the major U.S. conflicts) or a memorial post about the veterans in my family, I'm providing a post as unique to me as my ancestors. You can think of this as a variety-pack of tips. It doesn't have a single focus. These are tips that might fall through the cracks because they're just a bit of information, not a full post. ...
These tools weren't "born" yesterday. And that may mean you are missing out on their awesomeness simply because the buzz about them died a long time ago. Keep reading to (quickly) learn about some of my favorite, free online tools for genealogy. ...
Five ways to make this your best back to genealogy season, ever. Not surprisingly, back to school season is also back to genealogy season. I'm sure it has to do with all those years we all spent going back to school in the fall. And also like back to school season, you can follow some best practices to make the most of back to genealogy season. Here are five ways to start the genealogy season "right." ...
Want to use DNA for genealogy success? You'll need these three easy peasy, I mean three easy Ps. This week I was reminded of some basics of genetic genealogy (that's using DNA for family history). Not basics like what a centimorgan is (cM, that's a unit of measurement) or how much DNA you should expect to share with a 2nd cousin (3.125% or about 212 cMs). No, real basics, like how to get an unwilling relative to spit for you. It doesn't get any more basic than getting someone to take a DNA test! After all, it doesn't matter how many basic facts you know if you have no tests to use. Turns out the basics of getting people to take a test for you can be condensed down to 3 Ps (hmmm, that sounds familiar somehow). Here are my 3 Ps of Genetic Genealogy. ...
Creating an email template is much easier than it sounds. You may think you have to figure out technical details specific to your email program, but you don't (although for some programs, you could). Let's look at how easy it is to create an email template as well as some common reasons a genealogist might want to create one. Make an Email Template ...
Are you asking yourself, "how do I make my family history research faster?" Sadly, family history research (genealogy) takes time. Think how long it took to create! But, there are ways to be more efficient and efficient means faster. One caveat. With genealogy, you want efficient, not just fast. Fast today can mean completely stuck tomorrow! So, I have a genealogy hack for you that can make your future online genealogy research faster. Spend some time as often as you can on this (daily would be great, weekly almost as good, but monthly is better than nothing). ...
Studying Genealogy Periodicals: Journals, Newsletters, and Magazines An often underutilized source of self-education is the genealogical journal. Genealogical journals are one of the only ways to learn how to do quality genealogy by studying quality genealogy. ...
Are you fighting with your printer over another genealogy printing job? Maybe you need to go green and print to PDF. Several years ago I published a post about printing to PDF. It was on my blog for my genealogy services website which I'm now retiring so I'm updating and republishing the article here. You'll learn how simple it is to print to PDF and why genealogists, in particular, should love this option. ...
Does summer have you avoiding or missing out on genealogy? It might be the weather or maybe it's your summer schedule. No matter the reason, summer can either be a great time to accomplish some genealogy or a genealogical waste-land (that you often don't even understand). Here are some ideas to shake up your summer genealogy routine. ...
This isn't my normal type of post. This is essentially a round-up of my own posts related to a specific topic. But a topic you can't easily find with a search or a label. This post rounds-up my posts about improving your genealogy research skills. If your genealogy skills need a boost, you're in the right place. I hesitate to label these as intermediate skills or advanced skills because we all have different ideas about what is "intermediate" or "advanced" genealogy. Let's just say these posts will help you improve your genealogy skills. Some people will call these beginning skills, some intermediate, and some will consider them advanced skills. It doesn't matter, your skills have to improve to continue researching your family history. Evernote Form for Census Correlation Census Comparisons Continued Is Your Genealogy Knowledge "Fuzzy?" "Burned" Counties aren't always "burned" Success in "Burned Co...
I really hope this post teaches you nothing. I know, strange to say. But I'd be thrilled if you are already using these in-house autosomal DNA tools from AncestryDNA. As I'm preparing my new course about getting the most from your AncestryDNA results , there are some basics I want to make sure everyone is aware of. I don't want to keep the information just for those taking the course. Ancestry DNA Tools : Are They Hidden? Can You Find Them? In this post, I'll show you three features people treat like they're hidden, point out four "hidden in plain sight" features, make sure you're aware of the basic tools, and give you some hints for using the newly revealed information. Don't worry, it's not an overwhelming amount of information. When we're done, you'll know where the hidden features are to make every visit to AncestryDNA more productive. NOTE : Since I wrote this post, AncestryDNA has made two sets of changes. I have updated ...
So many choices! Are you interested in using DNA to research your family history but don't have a clue where to start? This post will give you some information to answer the question "what's the best DNA test for genealogy." I was going to also include "what happens after I test" but that is a subject for another post. What Is the Best DNA Test for Genealogy? First, there are actually three types of tests you can take. If you know nothing about using DNA for genealogy (referred to as "genetic genealogy"), you are probably thinking about autosomal DNA. That is the type of test you see advertised on T.V. If you're just getting started, here are my recommendations. ...
There really aren't any shortcuts in genealogy . Most of the "shortcuts" come in organizing, filing, and using technology--rather than record usage. It's really about being efficient. However, I've got three fantastic shortcuts that really can help you. Here are three suggestions to save time while still doing great genealogy. If you haven't been doing some of the things mentioned (like creating a research plan and keeping a research log) because you're trying to save time, you're not taking a shortcut, you're cheating. It'll come back to bite you in the end. ...
If you got here because you Googled “genealogy FAN club,” you probably are embarking on a really fun stage of your genealogy research. At least I hope you are. A genealogy FAN club is not a “fan club” for people who are FANatical about genealogy. Although if you’re ready to learn about FAN clubs, you probably are a genealogy fanatic. ...
Do you like the idea of a genealogy checklist? A handy little list you just follow and mark items off so you know where you are? I like that idea, too. It sounds much less intimidating than a research plan or doing analysis. I still often yearn for a nice little checklist to walk me through my research. But there's a problem. Using genealogy checklists are fraught with perils! Yes, perils!!! ...
Sometimes I feel like the topic of finding a maiden name has been covered from one end to the other. As far as information being available, out there... somewhere in the world, it has been. But every day, more people start their family tree for the very first time. They don't know where all that knowledge is. In fact, I think writing about finding a maiden name is probably more valid, simply because there are so many "new" genealogists out there. So today, I'm launching the very first Occasional Genealogist mini-course. Specifically, it's about finding maiden names, but it's also designed to show you a methodology that can be adapted to any problem you label "impossible" (also called a "brick wall" in genealogy). ...
Have you discovered there's a lot you need to learn about genealogy? I have heard that sentiment so many times from readers, lately. Organize Genealogy Articles with Pinterest So, in this post I want to show you an easy way to keep your (overwhelming amount of) genealogy education sources organized. If you're reading this, I'm guessing you read a lot of online material (that's the education sources I'm referring to). Maybe you read a lot of blog posts. ...
How to Do Genealogy When You're Short on Time Today I'm going to give you a recipe for Elephant ala Genealogy. If you don't get it, it's that old joke about "how do you eat an elephant?" The answer is "one bite at a time." It's the same way you plan genealogy research. This is a bite-sized approach to doing genealogy planning, followed by research, and then the extremely important "reporting" step. This is not a recipe a professional genealogist would use for a client (it's for Occasional Genealogists) so I've adjusted the reporting step to make it easier to get started. I've laid out this recipe for 15-minute sessions because it's likely you can squeeze that amount of time in somewhere. Research planning of this type is easier if you do it frequently. You can also do this once a week for a longer time, just try and avoid redoing work each week because you don't remember where you left off. Figure out what yo...
Genealogists are notorious for their paper piles. Did you know your excessive amount of unfiled or unorganized material (paper or digital) might indicate a more serious genealogical problem? How to Organize Your Genealogy: Addressing Your Root Problem Falling prey to this problem is so easy, I do it periodically. Recently I was reminded of what I should be doing. That simple reminder adjusted how I approach my in-progress client work. It was that important. So today, I want to help you identify the difference between a simple problem with clutter and being disorganized, versus a more serious genealogical problem that IS affecting all your research. ...
Do you want to further your genealogy skills so you can research better or faster? Have you run into a problem that seems too "difficult" for your current skill level? Whatever reason you have for wanting to improve, there are three basic mistakes you have to tame before you can move "up." ...

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