#genchat Treasures: African American Genealogy

One of the cool things about #genchat is being able to discuss the genealogy of different ethnic origins. You may not have that ethnicity yourself, but you may learn of new resources and methodologies that you can apply to your own research. Personally, I like to approach it thinking, “if I were ethnicity, where would I look?”

This past February 2, we discussed African-American genealogy led by Renate Yarborough Sanders. Before I list all the wonderful resources that were shared, I just want to say that this was one of the most moving #genchats we’ve ever had. Not only did we learn of the unique experiences and challenges of African-American ancestors, but we explored the difficult topic of having a slave-owning ancestor. All this was done in a spirit of honesty and empathy on all sides. I’m a little choked up as I write: if only the rest of our divided society could come together like this, there would be so much healing.

Courtesy Library of Congress.

So the following resources mentioned during and after #genchat are listed here, not only to aid African-Americans with their research, but also to educate everyone about the research challenges and what you may be able to do if you have a slave-holding ancestor.

Resources:

Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute

Black Pro Gen

Hidden Cemeteries of Essex County

Radiant Roots, Boricua Branches list of African-American Genealogy blogs

Kentucky Historical Society – US Colored Troop Muster for KY 7th-9th districts

Kentucky Historical Society – letters mentioning slave names

Mississippi Dept of Archives & History – Sovereignty Commission Online

Library of Congress – African American History Month site

Articles/Blogposts/Podcasts:

African Roots Podcast

Ben Franklin’s World (podcast) – episode 118 – The business of slavery in Rhode Island

New York Post – College Compiles Index of Slaves and Their Owners

Roots Revealed – Genealogy Mishap Case

Southern Poverty Law Center – quiz – How Much Do You Know About American Slavery?

Life in the Past Lane – In the Shadow of Charlottesville

The Atlantic – The Freedman’s Story

Into the Light – Restore My Name

Family Tree Magazine – How to Trace African-American History Through Oral History

Slave-Holding Ancestors:

Reclaiming Kin – Suggestions for White Descendants of Slaveholders

Slave Name Roll Project

As always, if I’ve missed any resources that were mentioned or if you have something new to add, please reply in the comments!

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Oral History: The Missing Link

Recently I was at a party where I was talking to a friend who was born in a foreign country. We were talking about family, and she was telling me that her father had two birth certificates: one saying he was born in that country, and the other saying he was born in a US territory.

Why did her father have two birth certificates? My friend explained: her father was actually born in the US territory and had that birth certificate. Once he married and started a family in the new country, the family wanted to move into an apartment in a much better neighborhood. However, to get into this new neighborhood, you needed to be “in” with the right people. And the right people only wanted to deal with those born in that country. So the father knew a guy who was able to get him what looked to be a valid birth certificate that stated he was born in that country. He got the birth certificate, which got him the apartment.

Now, imagine that you are a descendant of this man a hundred years from now. You are researching him and find two different birth certificates, but which one is correct? Say you do ascertain that the US territory certificate is correct; the question remains why there is another certificate? Maybe you ask yourself if this is even the same guy.

My point is that this is something that can really only be fleshed out with a family story, whether that be oral history or something written down. Lately, I’ve been learning a lot from my uncle and my mom about my maternal side of the family. They’ve been telling me stories about what their grandmother’s house was like, what certain cousins were like, how they were raised and certain events. These stories will never be in newspapers, DNA or vital records; they only come from the people that lived them.

I think of my favorite brick wall, George W. Colomy. The tiny clues I have of his life (his divorce, his name change) only tell me a sliver of his whole story. If I knew more, I would surely know where he came from and where he ended up before and after his marriage to Lucy Goodwin. But his story died with the people that were in it. (Don’t worry, cousins; I have NOT given up on him!)

What stories are in your family that need to be preserved? What seems to be mundane now that may interest future generations? Think about them, write them down, pass them on. But first: talk to your family and discover those stories!

#genchat: The Next Generation

As you probably know, I’ve been involved in the popular genealogy Twitter chat, #genchat, since its beginning in 2013. Which means that as of this month, #genchat turns five years old!

Courtesy genealogygenchat.com

Late last year, #genchat’s host Jen Baldwin asked Kale Liam Hobbs (aka “Sir Leprechaun Rabbit“) and I if we might consider taking over hosting. Jen was looking to focus more on her own genealogy, writing and family at this time, but didn’t want to see #genchat fall to the wayside, since it had benefited so many. After our initial shock 🙂 we decided that yes, we would take this on.

Since Liam is in Canada and I’m in Connecticut, we’ve started this long-distance coordination of what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it via emails and messages. We’re still in the process of figuring it all out, but it is starting to come together. (So please be patient!)

You can still view the schedule on genealogygenchat.com (we’re working on getting the calendar working again). As you can see, we have lots of guest hosts with some exciting topics to cover, and 2018 looks to be shaping up to be the Year of the Archive.

Please join us again on January 19 when Christine Woodcock will be talking to us about “Planning Your Ancestral Tour”. #genchat starts at 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, 8pm Mountain, 7pm Pacific, and as usual, Treeverne (our virtual bar) opens a half hour beforehand for some casual conversation. Always remember to use the hashtag (#genchat) in each tweet so that we can be sure to see you*, and for each question (Q1, Q2, etc.), answer with A1, A2, etc. to make the conversation easier to follow.

*For some reason, not all tweets are showing up on the tchat.io platform, so you may want to try TweetChat, TweetDeck or another Twitter chat platform.

#genchat Treasures: French-Canadian Resources

This past Friday, I got to play host for #genchat, and the topic was French-Canadians. Normally during #genchat there is a lot of give and take and sharing of information. This time, there were a LOT of resources shared, so I thought I’d share them here.

Carver, Jonathan, and Robert Sayer And John Bennett. A new map of the Province of Quebec, according to the Royal Proclamation, of the 7th of October 1763. London, Printed for Robt. Sayer and John Bennett, 1776. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/74694799/. (Accessed October 15, 2017.)

Special thanks for those who contributed information: Jan Murphy, Diane Tourville and especially Rob Gumlaw.

Books:
French-Canadian Sources: A Guide for Genealogists – https://books.google.com/books/about/French_Canadian_Sources.html?id=svJKKvIWfUcC
French-Canadian Genealogy, by Rhonda R. McClure – https://www.americanancestors.org/education/learning-resources/read/french-canadian-guide

Societies:
NH: https://acgs.org
RI: http://afgs.org/site
CT: https://www.fcgsc.org
CA: http://www.fchsc.org
IL: http://www.hvgs.org
MI: habitantheritage.org/home
NY: http://www.nnyacgs.com
sgcf.com

DNA:
French Heritage: https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/frenchheritage/about
mtdna: https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/quebecmtdna/about
mothers of Acadia: https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/mothersofacadia/about/background

Places:
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center: http://www.genealogycenter.org/pathfinders/guides/frenchcanadian.aspx

Webinars:
US & Canada Research (10/16 – 10/20): https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_and_Canada_Research_Seminar

Podcasts:
maplestarsandstripes.com

Websites:
Drouin collection on Ancestry, 1621-1968: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091
Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 (FamilySearch): https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1321742?collectionNameFilter=false
Bibiloteque et Archives Nationales due Quebec: http://www.banq.qc.ca/accueil/
French Genealogical Word List – FamilySearch Wiki: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/French_Genealogical_Word_List
Quebec Archives: http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/recherche_simple
Maple Stars and Stripes – dissecting records: http://maplestarsandstripes.com/shownotes/mss-013-dissecting-a-french-canadian-baptism-record/
Notarial Records in New Orleans: http://www.legalgenealogist.com/2016/07/27/notarial-records-online/
Dit names: https://genspotters.com/dit-names-and-what-if-your-surname-was-not-the-original-one/
Tackling the Quebec Drouin Collection for English Speakers – http://reachingtheheartwood.blogspot.com/2013/04/tackling-quebec-drouin-collection-for.html
Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) – https://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/home
Parish locator tool: https://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/carte
Quebec Notarial Records, 1637-1935 (Ancestry): http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61062
Library & Archives Canada: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/genealogy/Pages/introduction.aspx
francogene.com/genealogy

National Archives: https://www.loc.gov/search/?in=&q=french+canadian&new=true&st=
Medical issues: http://habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/medical_issues_dna


If you have any other French-Canadian resources, please feel free to share them in the comments!

DNA: The Results Are In!

This past Thursday I got the email from MyHeritage, saying that my DNA testing results were available. Excited, I logged in, clicked on “View Results” and waited for that little wheel to spin and bring up the page.

And there it was – my ethnicity estimate! This is my breakdown:

North & West Europe 50.9%

English 23.8%
North & Western European 17.4%
Scandinavian 9.7%

East Europe 49.1%

East European 46.4%
Baltic 2.7%

 

My Google Earth rendering of my ethnicity estimate.

Absolutely no surprises here (with the exception of no Irish or Scottish, but on paper, that is a small sliver of my heritage), this matches my paper trail, so I know I’ve been barking up the right trees, so to speak.

So do I match anyone in the MyHeritage DNA database? I had about 250 matches, all at about the fourth cousin or less level. (Some said first cousin twice removed or second cousin once removed, followed by “–fourth cousin”.) I filtered the matches by surname, and many that came up were my more common surnames — White, Williams, Scott, King. Most of the surnames went back to ancestors in the 1600s and 1700s, though! And nothing more recent than surnames of my great-great grandparents. Nothing in Poland or Lithuania yet (though I noticed in MyHeritage’s DNA Terms & Conditions that Poland might not be able to use MyHeritage DNA).

So my next step is to turn to GEDmatch. So far, I put my raw DNA in there, I just have to upload my gedcom. I’m hoping to find more relatives in that sandbox!

U-Turn: Ellis Island Research Room

Remember how curious I was about the Ellis Island Research Room, but really didn’t know anything about it? Well, I finally emailed the folks at Ellis Island, and now I’m glad that I did not take the time to check out the Research Room.

It turns out that it is just access to the Passenger Search Database, which we can access from home. And the “consultations” are just people there who can assist you with your search. I’m sure there are some folks out there that might like this. However, I’m glad that I saved $7 and a block of time that was better spent in the museum itself.

So now we know.

MyHeritage/Legacy Acquisition: Works for Me

I, like much of the genealogy community, was quite surprised by the announcement that MyHeritage was in the process of acquiring Legacy Family Tree’s software and webinar offerings. (See press releases here and here.) Before we go any further: I am a customer of both companies; because of this I’ve been thinking about what the acquisition will mean for me. I really can’t talk about others’ experiences or opinions, so I won’t. I can only share how this situation may impact me.

MyHeritage

I’ve been a MyHeritage customer for about seven years now (since the time my interest in genealogy took off). I found it by searching for a place to keep track of my family tree for free. I knew nothing about offline software programs or even how to do genealogy the “right” way. I just knew I needed something and MyHeritage fit the bill. It wasn’t long before I outgrew the free 250-person level and I eventually became (and still am) a PremiumPlus member.

MyHeritage freebie from the Global Family Reunion! Author’s collection.

I enjoyed the few (at the time) SmartMatches that came up on my tree. I soon heart that MyHeritage’s SmartMatch technology was pretty accurate, compared to other sites’ hints and matches.

Back then, there were no record collections on MyHeritage. I think (and I may be wrong) that you could do some sort of a search that pointed you to other places that might have information on your ancestor, but it really was rudimentary. Also back in those days, there really wasn’t a way to cite your sources online (though the free software, Family Tree Builder, may have had a way). And speaking of Family Tree Builder, you originally could not sync back and forth between it and the online tree; you could only publish from FTB to the tree. Because of that, I didn’t use FTB until there was a two-way sync.

As time went on, MyHeritage made some great improvements: source citation spaces, improved SmartMatches, two-way syncing with Family Tree Builder, and RecordMatches with a newly-growing database of records (which I don’t subscribe to the paid portion, though the unpaid portion has proved to be a bit useful). Even an iPhone app had been developed, which is so handy! Ancestry it’s not, but today’s MyHeritage has come a long way from when I first used it.

Legacy

Even though I had finally downloaded Family Tree Builder, I wasn’t too crazy about it. I wanted more functionality in my desktop program, but wasn’t sure which software to go with. Then one day I was watching a Legacy Family Tree webinar about some topic, and Geoff Rassmussen did a demonstration of how to use Legacy in regard to that topic. I really liked what I saw! Finally on a Black Friday sale a few years ago, I took the plunge and bought Legacy Deluxe, version 8. I’ve been using it ever since.

I love the features of Legacy; it really fits the way my mind works. What’s made it even better is that there now an awesome Facebook group where you can discuss new features with the Legacy community and staff. The one problem I had that the Facebook group could not solve was quickly resolved by the support staff via its website.

This past year, Legacy has come out with a version 9, but I’d held off on upgrading, waiting for any bugs to be worked out and for the financial time to be right.  Meanwhile, I hadn’t used MyHeritage all that much, but had not wanted to give up on it just yet.

The Acquisition

So now we’ve received news of the acquisition. Like other recent changes in the genea-world (i.e., microfilm rental ceasing at FamilySearch, Ancestry no longer developing the Family Tree Maker software), there has been quite the emotional reaction online. My personal tendency is more towards: slice it, dice it and analyze it. The following is just my preliminary reaction.

First, I hear that eventually there will be a sync available between Legacy and MyHeritage. For me, that would be awesome! My online tree is getting pretty out-dated, so this would solve that problem. I still have logistical questions on how it would work, but there will be plenty of time for that to be worked out.

Second, I think MyHeritage could benefit greatly by the outstanding customer service that Legacy has demonstrated. In fact if I were to advise them, I would tell them: let the Legacy people do the customer service. They are that good.

Third, I love MyHeritage’s free app so much more than the outsourced “Families” app that works with Legacy (and which I paid good money for). It’s much prettier and more flexible.

Finally, Legacy Family Tree is now having a big sale to upgrade to or purchase version 9! My penny-pinching heart is so glad – my upgrade time has come!

* * *

There are still so many questions to be answered by both parties (such as, will Family Tree Builder go away? Or will it be the free Legacy Standard version?). And I’m sure there are future developments on the horizon that we haven’t even thought of yet. My attitude is: let’s see what will happen and take advantage of the best that is offered!