Ancestry will retire DNA Circles on July 1 replacing Circles with Thrulines. Thrulines offers a more complete overview for kinship analysis between members and their DNA matches. Members can now see how many DNA matches they have from each ancestral grandparent, through each branch, or line, stemming from the grandparent.  Matches are more visually clear in Thrulines which allows members to more quickly recognize kinship and analyze new matches.


You may have noticed recent changes to Ancestry’s Hints feature. Continued improvements to Hints allows members to better analyze their Hints before adding them to a tree. The current change gives context to each Hint, allowing members to view and compare data already in their tree with the data provided in the new Hint.

Beginning in July, Hints will contain questions instead of the current, “Yes/No/Maybe.” These questions will relate to the quality and accuracy of the new information. This feedback will allow Ancestry to continue to make improvements to the Hints feature and provide more relevant Hints.

Hopefully, more members will use these tools to analyze new Hints before adding potential misinformation to their Ancestry tree!


Ancestry is rolling out a new Personal Profile and you have to try it!
The new profile page incorporates your linked trees, DNA summary, location, photo, age
range, and interests. Best of all – you can control how much data is public.



To switch to the new Personal Profile, click on your profile and
slide the Beta button on the top right.


Here’s a hint from Ancestry: Make sure you add a photograph to your profile page. It doesn’t have to be you face, just any random personal photo. You are 3 times as likely to receive a reply to a message you send if you have a photo on your profile.



Photo Challenge

In episode #39, we challenge you to find an old photograph not necessarily of your own family and do some research from that photo.

Amy found a couple of interesting photos in a shop she visited in Tallahassee, FL. One, in particular, leads her down a road with a very interesting story.


This is Addie Lewis Wadsworth, great name eh? This photo had some writing on the back that clued to finding out about her story. This photo is sent to her Aunt Jimmie indicating a hope that they would see each other soon. Possibly Aunt Jimmie meeting little Addie for the first time. But who was Addie and why is her photo in a shop in Tallahassee, FL? That is the challenge and Amy jumped right in and started digging.


Listen in to find out who Addie Lewis Wadsworth was and how she was related to her Aunt Jimmie in our latest podcast, Photo Challenge.

We mention in this episode a few other articles regarding photos that were found and how they were traced back to their owners. They are both great reads and we hope you enjoy the stories and are inspired to do a little digging too.

Effie’s wedding: Lost photos mystery solved

The Myth of the 240-Year-Old Photograph

An Interview with author Nathan Dylan Goodwin

In our recent podcast, Episode #37, we had the pleasure of interviewing author Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Nathan writes our favorite genealogy mystery novels, the Forensic Genealogist series featuring Morton Ferrier.

We had such fun learning how Nathan comes up with ideas and does the research for his books. We go a little insight to his family and the characters in his book. We also learned what is coming up and new in print. If you are interested in learning more about Nathan Dylan Goodwin, here is a link to his website: All his books are on our website under Books (of course.)

Join us wherever you get your podcasts!

An Interview with Kenyatta D. Berry

In episode #36, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kenyatta D. Berry about her new book, The Family Tree Toolkit, a Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy. Kenyatta was in Tampa for a few TV tapings and a visit to our local genealogical society and was gracious enough to spend some time with us. 

Kenyatta is a professional genealogist, lecturer, attorney, writer and TV personality. She has been doing research for over 20 years and specializes in African American genealogy and slave ancestral research. This past year she devoted much of her time to writing her new book which helps new genealogists get started on their research journey. 

There is so much packed into this book and it is easy to read and follow. There are chapters on US records research, including census, court, and property records. Chapters on immigrations, naturalization, and military. These are very comprehensive and have multiple lists by states so you will know when and where you can research for your particular research location. Other chapters cover ethnic and European research as well as DNA and adoption. 

Kenyatta’s book would be a wonderful addition to any family historians library and desk as a quick reference guide. 

German Research



Here are a few takeaways from our podcast on German Reseach.

Do as much research at home before jetting off to Germany, I think that is a given but some of us are eager for a transatlantic vacay of sorts.

Know what town or region your ancestors were from. It is very difficult to research without that knowledge. Also, what religion were they? Lutheran? Catholic? Use Kevan M. Hansen’s Map Guide to German Parish Registers for research assistance.

Look in the census records some of which are available on Ancestry.

Online resources include and use Google translate unless you can read German which we cannot. Also, German Roots which is not in German.

Here are a few more blogs and websites that can help you learn more about research in Germany.

The German-American Genealogist

American Ancestors

Family Tree Magazine

Step by Step Guide for Americans of German Decent



Sibling Research


Can brothers and sisters of your ancestor help you knock down those brick walls? Absolutely! We all have those brick walls where our direct ancestor has very little to tell in terms of leaving documents behind. They do not have a birth or death certificate, they left no will. We can only find them in the census or maybe only in one or two censuses. Maybe the timing of their birth is such that they only hit the 1900 census and they are married at this point. How do we go back further in our tree? Maybe siblings can help.

First, you have to find the siblings. Most of us go to the census first. Even if they are not listed in the family look around. They might be with their own family but living very near to your ancestor. It might even be a page or more before or after your ancestor. You might find siblings in court records and probates as well. They might have sued each other. Check the inventory of estates to see who is in charge or receiving items. Who are the witnesses in marriages? These could be siblings of your ancestors.

Once you have the sibling names you can begin to research them just as you have been researching your direct ancestor. Don’t get distracted by adding children and grandchildren at this point, it will only take you off track of the mission. Take a look at the sibling’s death certificates. They might mention the parents birth locations and maiden name of the mother. Check and see where they are buried as a possible burial site for your ancestor. See if they have a will, who is mentioned, look at every page even the inventory. You never know where a name will pop up. Not only might you find information on parents but also proof that these are indeed siblings.


Other places to look are birth certificates, delayed birth certificates, funeral records,  newspapers, guardianship papers, deeds, and other court records. You can always search for their children and grandchildren and make connections to see if these new cousins have any documents that might help in your research. Reach out and connect to your new family and you might just find a fellow family historian who can use your help as well.




Genealogy Research Trip Tips

Back in April Amy and I headed up to Columbus, Ohio in search of answers to some of our most confounding genealogical questions. In the course of five days, we hit 10 counties, discovered a winery, ate delicious food and ended up exhausted. We decided four days of hard research was probably the sweet spot, take note.

You can hear all about our trip on our latest podcast, Episode #29 so I won’t go into detail in this post but I will post a few things we learned (or I learned as Amy is a seasoned pro on these trips).

Start early! Get there when the repository opens. You might need all day or you might need time to travel to another repository to find exactly the document you need. If your ancestor lived on or near the border of two counties you never know where they might have filed.

Check out the parking situation. Is there street parking? Garage parking? What is the cost or time limits and make sure you have some change if it is metered?

Take time to do a little research on where your records might be located. Every state has different offices that hold records. Of course, check out vitals, deeds, land records, and probate but don’t overlook criminal records.

Take photos of the documents if allowed. After all documents in a book are photographed take a few photos of the book cover page and outside top and spine. Do this in the same order each time and it will be easier to transcribe when you are finished. If you need copies be sure and have change with you for small amounts and credit card or larger bills for more costly copies.

Take a lunch break! Some of the places you will be are basements and vaults. It is good to get out for a bit of fresh air and sustenance then head back inside.

Check out the local library while in town. If they have a genealogy department, great, if not they may have a local history section. Both worth looking at for more information.

Be a gracious guest. Clean up after yourself, put books away in their proper place, clean up the area around the microfilm reader and printer, and always say thank you.

We would encourage you to take a trip and do some on-site research for your ancestors. Not everything is out there in the digital world and you just might find the document you need to prove a relationship or solve a brick wall mystery. If you want some practice first, go to a local courthouse near you and do some searches. This will help give you an idea of how much time it might take and what the layout of the courthouse could be when you head to your county of research.









Timelines are an invaluable tool for genealogists and family historians. They help us solve problems and see what is missing in our research. There are quite a few webinars and blogs on timelines and how to create them so I am not going to do that here. I am going to share with you what I created.

I asked for some suggestions on our Facebook page and received some wonderful ideas and even some links to view a few timelines listeners created. They were all fantastic and each had something a little different. One included an age column which I thought was very effective and another included what was happening in the world at the same time and I loved that one too. I used some of their ideas and some I found in searching the web and came up with five different timelines that I think, at least for this purpose, worked out very well.

First up, Excel and Word. Everyone has used Excel for something in their research, I know I do for logs and data, so it was pretty easy to create a timeline in Excel. To create the timeline in Word I simply added a table and filled in the columns. These two are pretty similar and both can be adjusted.

Excel Timeline Table

Word Timeline

As much as I liked these two, I love a good visual graph. I set out to create one using Excel and I have to say that although I did complete the task, it took me WAY TOO LONG to learn how to do it and was ready to throw in the towel a few times and buy a program but I persevered and with the help of a website and youtube video created this:

Excel timeline

Ok, it’s good but not great and like I said before, it took way too long. The video shows how to put your data into a power point graph so I thought I would try that next. So much easier and much better looking too.

Power Point Burk Timeline jpg

The very last one I created was really just for fun and because it was out there begging me to create it. I went to and searched timeline, chose one and filled in the basic dates, voila!

Volleyball History Timeline Infographic