Saturday, February 27, 2021

RootsTech Connect 2021 - Evening 1 and Day 2!

 Homeland Heritage presentation series entry page. That Contact button is the entryway to chat rooms, or to contact attendees, vendors, or all those relatives that have been found for you. You won't get lost. On screen, there are menus, a FAQ page and a help button too. Screenshot, Mdr, 27 Feb 2021.

RootsTech Connections 2021 has been a great conference so far. This free online experience brought together in record time by FamilySearch in response to the pandemic has brought genealogists, new and not, together in a comfortable, accessible learning space. 

Everyone involved certainly rose to the challenge and exceeded our expectations. It's interesting to see how the pieces were put together and to see how presenters, vendors, exhibitors and attendees are using and even stretching the spaces. 

2021 Attendees: 501,203 people from 226 countries!  

The Main Stage streams have been translated into 11 languages and there are classes in almost 40 languages, including ASL. To search for class sessions in a specific language, go to this RootsTech Connections page. All English sessions can be auto-translated. 

After opening in the evening, Thursday, the 24th, I explored the Expo Hall, eager to see 'what's' new'.  I watched several presentations, met up with attendees visiting the 'Surnames and one-name studies' Chat Room which the Guild of One-Name Studies set up, and I had a good listen to some of the 12 finalists in the RootsTech Song Contest

After the first song I heard, I said, "Surely nothing could beat that one', but not so! All different; all moving. Don't forget to vote for your favourites!

All in all, the first night I stayed up at RootsTech till early 

Today, Friday, the 25th, I mainly sat in on classes, dropped into the Guild Chat Room several times, and explored the Expo Hall again. 

Then I headed off to attend the regular Guild of One-Name Studies Friday Pub Chat. Never a quiet moment there! Today, for example, we talked about copyright/rights, DNA, FamilySearch, My Heritage, Legacy Family Tree software - and as always, Jaffa cakes.

As a nice break, I was then able to attend the 21DayConnect⁩ Desktop Diner, sponsored by the Family Connections Experiment. This is an example of an innovative way to extend the virtual conference and encourage face-to-face discussion. 

I was in two different rooms - all had fun menu titles. The first was "Eat Your Vegetables—Ethical Considerations" with RootsTech presenter Lynn Broderick. Most of the discussion concerned DNA testing.  

The second room was with Thomas Macentee, always ready to answer questions and demonstrate tips. I saw the other day someone somewhere commented that they never leave one of Thomas' talks without something new and I say the same. (Sorry, if you said that let me know. I'll be happy to give you credit.)

Later in the day, I roamed around the Innovators Portal. I'll probably say more about that later. It is one of my favourite places at RootsTech. 

But I will tell you some of my overall Conference favourites so far. 

On the Main Stage presentations, Sunetra Sarker's Keynote discussion was broad-ranging and insightful. 

Some class sessions have been grouped into series. In the Homeland Heritage series, I quite liked "Heritage Discovery in London" by Russell Lynch AG®. A useful reminder of the genealogical and personal value on the ground research brings to family history. 

I enjoyed these two very well-presented sessions. Each left me impatiently thinking of further research to do. I recommend them to all: 

"Girls Must Feed Pigs: Things Our Ancestors Thought and Said" by Darris G. Williams

"Documenting Underrepresented Family Stories" by Larissa Lam and Baldwin Chiu

In the Expo Hall, I first decided to explore the FamilySearch booth and since I've been considering working more in FamilySearch, I watched the group of FamilySearch Memories demos with Denis Francesco Modugno and Jenny Yazzie. 

Clearly, I've been missing out. Denis demonstrated finding recipes there! That's one thing I have lots of and this would be a great place for them.

A look at a few recipes in the FamilySearch Memories section. Screenshot, Mdr, 27 Feb. 2021.

In no particular order, my other favourites in the Expo Hall were Goldie May, a genealogy research assistant, available in a free version or, with a subscription, additional functions. I was very taken with this, especially as it is set up for collaboration. And if you, like me, have families who filled out the 1900/1910 USA censuses, check out the way Goldie May can help you 'find' missing children in 1900 and 1910.

I was also intrigued with the amazing interactive digital family trees that Bright Branches offers, featuring art, photographs and what I'd call 'special effects'. My kids might like these. (And they have big TVs.)

Lastly in the Innovators Portal, my favourites were these four: 

Goldie May -described above -  Richard K Miller

Color Restoration - My Heritage 

Computer Assisted Indexing - FamilySearch  (converting hand writing into searchable text)

Connections Idea Generator - Family Connections Experiment

I have been tweeting as have many others. Hashtag #RootsTechConnect  

I wasn't able to attend #Rootschat tonight but check out the RootsTech Connect discussions there. 

See you all tomorrow. Bright and early! Don't forget your lunch.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Strays - A handsome fellow.

 Another photograph from my own Stray Photograph collection. This time it's a 'tintype' or more properly, a ferrotype. 

These were popular from the late 1850s, in some places right up until the mid 20th century. I've shown at least one before, taken in England at the seaside. Ferrotypes were quick to process, could be offered quite cheaply and made nice souvenirs. 

I wonder what prompted this photograph, who this young man was and what was the occasion? He is dressed in his best. It is inevitable that we guess - perhaps it was for his mother as he was going far away to work, or for his sweetheart. 

And I wonder who the photographer was. A careful person, I think. This one is nicely done. And coloured too.

We see its rough cut edges but when this photo was new it was likely in a paper or board frame or card so those were hidden. And the paper protector may have had the photographer's name, or even the sitter's. Long lost. 

This is is 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches - most ferrotypes are small. And this is a unique image; no negative. And reversed which might be of importance if you are one who, for example, compares ears in photographs! 

I have been asked before what the backs look like, so you can see here - just shiny black, with a bit of what likely was glue on edges. If you do have some of these, be careful not to get fingerprints on the front or back. Sometimes you will see those from past handling. 

If you are wondering about those odd metal photos in your own family collections, Colin Harding wrote a helpful blog article on recognizing ferrotypes for The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, UK. This includes a lovely video that shows a photographer creating a ferrotype. I think you will find it very interesting! 

"How To Spot A Ferrotype, Also Known As A Tintype (1855–1940S)" with video by Mark Osterman from George Eastman House.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

AncestryDNA®'s Newest Communities Update - Intriguing


Woodland Branch Alcott Club, 1910s? Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Branch lantern slide. Couldn't resist this photograph. Maybe one of these young women is related to me. Could be...

Courtesy the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery: CC BY-SA 4.0 license. 

As of this week, AncestryDNA® has introduced new DNA Communities and updated results. An Ancestry blog post published 1 February 2021 outlines the update and gives some background to the Genetic Communities™. With the update, now there are 33 in Germanic Europe, 151 in the Mid-Atlantic, 138 in the Midwest and 26 in New England. (See image below.) 

 Altogether 1,300 regions are now offered by AncestryDNA® between communities and ethnic regions. Here is a graphic showing all the new Communities, courtesy of Ancestry.

Ancestry had previously identified one Community for some of my DNA matches and myself - "Scottish Lowlands, Northern England & Northern Ireland". This community fits nicely into my known genealogy and with what I usually refer to as my pretty boring DNA story. 

Effectively both my parents were only children (Uncle David died very young) so I am challenged sometimes to find close matches. At Ancestry, which certainly has the biggest DNA database for genealogy, I have only 468 labelled as 4th cousins or closer. This may be why I'm so pleased to be able to help others with their usually much grander close match results!  

My new Community was unexpected: "Ohio, Indiana & Eastern Kentucky Settlers"; more specifically "Northern Ohio & Northeastern Indiana Settlers".  Ancestry points me to three of my DNA matches, labelled as third cousins, who are now identified with me as belonging to this Community. We are also linked in AncestryDNA Thrulines™ (also based on trees and autosomal DNA results) and have been for a while. None of the three appear in the "Scottish Lowlands..." Community with me. 

As it happens, I know quite a bit about the families of these cousins and myself. We are closer cousins than third, but removed, and for sure related via common Scottish and Irish ancestors. I believe we are all in Canada, as were our known common ancestors. 

To me, it seems a bit of a warning that the three cousins are quite closely related to each other. Two do have United Empire Loyalists in their direct ancestors, although I haven't looked too closely till now at that as I know another family member already did. And one of the matches at least has family ties to Ohio. I have a close connection to Ohio too, but on a different line. 

Now I want to check out that history and genealogy for myself. I'm a bit doubtful that I'll find many close relatives related to me among the "Northern Ohio & Northeastern Indiana Settlers", but I would not be surprised if there are further back connections there perhaps via North Carolina, or certainly Ireland and Scotland.  

I'll feel less doubtful if more matches who are not so closely related to each other show up later in this same AncestryDNA® Community. But I'm intrigued enough to work on this for myself. 

It's worth remembering how Ancestry defines these communities. It's not necessarily that I have close or direct relatives there. 

"A community is a group of AncestryDNA® members who likely descend from a population of common ancestors, people who traveled to the same place around the same time, or from the same place around the same time. "

By this definition, my three cousins and I are a known community already, descending "from a population of common ancestors, people..."from the same place around the same time"

But what about that third cousin who descends in a slightly different route from our other two cousins. Might his other lines offer some interesting tidbits - or even a breakthrough - about our family members or connections? I hope to begin to investigate that for myself soon. I'll try to report back on this by the summer.

I'll be very interested to see what others find in their updates. 

If you already have DNA test results at Ancestry, do take a look to see if you have updated Communities. 

If you haven't yet had your DNA tested, but you are interested in adding DNA to your genealogy tools,  I recommend you watch Diahan Southard's webinar, aired this morning, "Me and My 1000+ DNA Cousins" which will soon be available free to watch for a week. Or 'forever' if you subscribe to the Legacy Family Tree Webinars. (Well worth every dime, in my opinion!)

This will give you a good idea what you might accomplish after taking an autosomal DNA test. (And after watching the webinar, you'll have a Legacy discount code. Also a code for Diahan Southard's book or mentoring.) Diahan is very positive about AncestryDNA®'s communities and does discuss them in the webinar.