The Lost Family

Lost Family

THE LOST FAMILY by Libby Copeland

Many family historians and genealogists have taken the plunge and had their DNA tested and probably with more than one commercial company. Most tests confirm the lineage that the subject had already documented in their genealogical research. Some individuals might be surprised at the distribution of ethnicity in their results. But what happens when those DNA results indicate that the family and relatives that the subject assumed were biologically related are not? What happens when a branch of the family tree is “lopped off” by biological truth? What are the ramifications when an adoptee’s DNA matches finally identify a birth family that may not want to be found? In The Lost Family (Abrams Press; March 3, 2020), journalist Libby Copeland explores the unintended consequences of at-home DNA testing and what happens when the concepts of family, race, and ethnicity which shape an individual’s identity are upended.


Research is always ongoing

Episode 50 IMG_1128

So far so good on our new year’s resolutions. Amy is weeding through her piles of documents in her home office, watching webinars but not ones that count, and she submitted her DAR supplement application. Penny has been working on her French genealogy of her maternal grandmother which is taking up quite a bit of time.

In episode #50 of our podcast, we discuss our research and some plans and strategies we employ to make it easier and more complete. So let’s start with  Trello. Penny discovered it while listening to a webinar hosted by D. Joshua Taylor where he mentioned using it for genealogy research and was intrigued. After watching a few youtube videos (putting Trello genealogy in the search bar) to see how other genealogists use Trello she tried it out. Amy has used it at work working with colleagues on genealogical document searches as well.

Trello consists of Boards – Lists – Cards. Penny likes to think of it as the card catalog, the drawer, and the cards, just a visual in case you are a visual learner. She created a board with a genealogical question “Who were Catherine Bernert’s parents?” The lists created were:

Catherine – information about the person if there is any

Family – listing her spouse and children with any documentation that could be helpful

Things to Check – places where she could look for documents

Documents Found – Listing all the documents already found including a photo of the document and web address or source information

Documents Needed – List anything might be needed to answer the question

Answer to the question – if answered put it here.

You can choose your background and Penny plugged in “castle” in the search box and chose this one. Love it! Also, this photo is resized to fit here but it gives you a good idea of what the page looks like.

Trello 2

Each list then holds cards pertaining to the list as you can see here. You can have as many cards as you need in each list.



There are many different ways to use Trello for your research and help you see exactly what you have and what you need for your research. You can also share your boards with others and work collaboratively. Give it a try.

While working on her French genealogy, Penny utilized two different websites for trees and another for documents. The sites used for trees were Geneanet and Heredis. You can add your tree to both sites or just use them for ancestor research. Using these trees to check for ancestors and getting dates gives a clue on where and when to look for documents. After getting dates for some of her ancestors Penny utilized the Archives of the Haute Rhin which has digitized everything from 1793-1892. Her process from there goes as follows:

  • find the documents needed in the Archives
  • use a snipping tool to copy the document and save (if you can download a document then you don’t have to use a snipping tool)
  • copy the URL
  • make a new copy of the document and include the URL and citation on the document by adding a text box (Penny used Paint to add the text box) then save this new document
  • print the second document and file in binder alphabetically with a label including name, date, type of document, and where found so you have a paper file
  • file the digital document in the appropriate digital file in the computer so you have a digital file as well
  • attach the digital file to the ancestor in your personal computer-based program




Did this take some time? Heck yes! But well worth it. Those documents are backed up and are now easy to find. And truly, the most time-consuming part was finding the documents as we all know. Cheers!

















2020 Here We Come


Ok, ok, we realize it’s almost the end of January and this is just now being written and posted. But hey, at least it’s completed. Like most genealogists out there we also have made a few new years resolutions. Amy plans to get rid of her piles of paperwork that are currently living in her home office and will implement the 30 X 30 challenge created by Janine Adams over at Organize Your Family History, she will watch one webinar a month for education, and add another DAR patriot. Penny plans to organize all her online photographs – labeled and put into named folders, take a more advanced class online, and work on the French Genealogy on her maternal grandmother’s side.

In our latest podcast episode, #49, we encourage everyone to try something new in their genealogy research. Join a group, listen in or participate in a genealogy chat, or start over. There is a huge genealogy community out there and the amount of genealogy-related blogs is truly overwhelming but worth the time looking and finding new people to follow. Everyone has something to share and we can all learn a new tip to help us with our research. Here are a few we mentioned on the podcast and a few others that we like as well.

If there is a blog or youtube account that you love and want to share, please let us know in the comments below.

30 X 30 Challenge (mentioned above) at Organize Your Family History by Janine Adams

Genchat – a twitter-based genealogy chat led by Liam Hobbes (@leprchaunrabbit) and Christine McCloud (@geneapleau)

Dear Myrtle Genealogy Blog led by Pat Richley-Erickson and hosting two Zoom based chat sessions

Genealogy Do-Over by Thomas MacEntee

On  Youtube, you can find videos by Ancestry, Family SearchFamily History Fanatics, Genealogy TV, Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems, Ancestral Findings, and so many more. Just put genealogy in the search bar and see what you can find.



Genealogy Gifts of Knowledge

It’s December and that means Happy Holidays and that means gift-giving and why not ask for something you truly want…more genealogy knowledge!

In our latest podcast, Episode #48, we talk about continuing our pursuit of knowledge in the genealogical field with new books for our shelves and educational opportunities either in person or online. There is no better time to ask for these items or get them for yourselves. All the books we recommend are on our Amazon storefront which makes it easy to purchase and helps support our podcast which we greatly appreciate!

Let’s get to it! Here are our top 20 in no particular order:

  1. Red Book edited by Alice Eichholz
  2. Professional Genealogy by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  3. Genealogical Standards
  4. Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  5. Numbering Your Genealogy by the National Genealogical Society
  6. Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas Jones
  7. Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas Jones
  8. Black’s Lw Dictionary 3rd or 4th edition
  9. NGS Researcher Guides for the States
  10. Guide to Genealogical Writing by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff CG, FASG
  11. A to ZAX Dictionary for Genealogists and Historians by Barbara Jean Evans
  12. Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG
  13. Guide to NDA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger
  14. Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker
  15. The Source A Guide Book to American Genealogy Edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Leubking
  16. How to Use Evernote for Everything by Kerry Scott
  17. Genealogical Proof Standard by Christine Rose
  18. The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy by Kimberly Powell
  19. Creating Family Archives by Margot Note
  20. Genealogy Fiction of any kind

In-person week-long educational opportunities we recommend are:

Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR)

July 26-31, 2020 Registration opens February 1st, 2020, the University of Georgia in Athens, GA

Courses include:

Course One – Methods & Sources
Course Coordinator: Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG®, CGL

Course Two – Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies
Course Coordinator: Angela Packer McGhie, CG®

Course Three – Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis
Course Coordinator: Judy G. Russell, JD, CG®, CGL

Course Four – Writing & Publishing for Genealogists
Course Coordinator: Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG®, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Course Five – Genetics for Genealogists: Beginning DNA
Course Coordinator: Patti Lee Hobbs, CG®

Course Six – Military Records III: Advanced Research and Methodology
Course Coordinator: Michael L. Strauss, AG

Course Seven – Scottish Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond
Course Coordinator: Paul Milner, MDiv, FUGA

Course Eight – For Land’s Sake! Advanced Analysis and Platting
Course Coordinator: Gerald H. ‘Jerry’ Smith, CG®

Course Nine – Research in the South: Cessions & Territories
Course Coordinator: J. Mark Lowe, CG®, FUGA

Course Ten – Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries & Government Documents
Course Coordinators: Benjamin B. Spratling III, JD and Patricia Walls Stamm, CG®, CGL

Course Eleven – Researching African American Ancestors: Government Documents & Advanced Tools
Course Coordinator: Deborah A. Abbott, PhD

Course Twelve – Intermediate DNA: Planning for and Conducting Research using DNA and Documentary Sources
Course Coordinator: Karen Stanbary, MA, LCSW, CG®

Course Thirteen – Researching New York: Resources and Strategies
Course Coordinator: Karen Mauer Jones, CG®, FGBS, FUGA

Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG)

Registration opens in June so be on the lookout for the 2021 class opportunities

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIPP)

From their website:

21-26 June 2020 offers seven concurrent courses: (UPDATE in progress)

  • Practical Genetic Genealogy with Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.
  • Chromosome Mapping with Karen Stanbary, CG and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.
  • Beyond Fundamentals: Hands-on Forensic Genealogy with Catherine Desmarais, CG, Kelvin Meyers, Michael Ramage, J.D., CG
  • Exploring American Quaker Records with Steven W. Morrison and Annette Burke Lyttle
  • Irish Research Part IIwith David Rencher, AG, CG
  • Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentation with Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, FASG
  • Women and Children First!: Research Methods for the Hidden Half of the Family with Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

6-10 July 2020 offers six concurrent courses: (UPDATE in progress)

  • Advanced DNA Evidence with Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD
  • Who’s Your Daddy?: Using DNA to Resolve Recent Unknown Identity with Angie Bush and Eva Goodwin
  • Documentation for Lineage Societies with Sandra Rumble
  • Foundations of German Research with F. Warren Bittner, CG
  • Gateway to the Garden State: Sources and Strategies for New Jersey Research with Melissa A. Johnson, CG
  • Tools and Strategies for Tackling Tough Research Problems with Kimberly Powell

19-24 July 2020 offers seven concurrent courses: 

  • Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills with Paula Stuart‐Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA
  • Get Your Hands Dirty! A Workshop in Land and Property Records with Kimberly Powell
  • Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age with Denise May Levenick
  • Walking in Penn’s Woods: Pennsylvania Research with Amy E. K. Arner
  • Introduction to Jewish Genealogy with Emily Garber
  • Beyond the Golden Door: Immigrants to the U.S.A. after 1890 with Rich Venezia
  • Reading, Transcribing, and Abstracting Old Documents with Carla Cegielski


Genealogical Institue on Federal Records (GEN-FED)

July 12-17, 2020 online registration opens February 22, 2020


ONLINE Learning Opportunities

Boston University Certificate Program

Two programs: Genealogical Principals 7 weeks and Certificate in Genealogical Research the next course beginning on January 21. They run throughout the year.

ProGen Study Group

This is for those who are interested in furthering their skills and becoming a professional genealogist. 

National Institute of Genealogical Studies University of Toronto 

This is the link for the American Certificate in Genealogical Studies-40 Courses-Complete but you can take any of the courses offered individually and there are many to choose from.

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research

Offers a wide variety of courses check often to see what is being offered.

National Genealogical Society NGS Genealogy Courses

They offer American Genealogical Studies AGS a four-course study and Continuing Genealogical Studies CGS which is nin stand-alone courses.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

New videos are added each month and if you join you will have access to all the videos in the library. 


Society and Conference Opportunities

NGS Conference 2020 in Salt Lake City Utah May 20-23, 2020

 RootsTech 2020 in Salt Lake City Utah February 26-29, 2020

Check your local state and area genealogical and historical societies for day and weekend events.

Historical Family Photos Shared easily with Google Photos

In our latest podcast episode, #47, we talk about creating a shared Google Photo file where you can upload your historical family photos and share them with other family members who can also upload photos to the same file. There are a few wonderful things about this project one being that you can download and save in your own files the photos that your family shares in the group site. Another is using Goggles face recognition abilities to help identify who is in the photos.

  • The process is easy. First you need a google account which is free and easy to set up.
  • Enter in the address bar
  • click on CREATE in the top bar
  • click on SHARED ALBUM when the drop down box appears
  • Here you can add a title for your album and choose if you will upload photos or use face recognition to start. Can always upload your photos later if you choose “Select people and pets”
  • If you already have Google photos set up then give the face recognition a try and see what comes up. This option will populate your screen with faces in your photos. (my historical photos are not all in my Google photo file so not many came up when I did this process).
  • Click upload photos and all your photos that are in Google photos will appear, if you just signed up the album will be blank. In the upper right corner, click select from computer.
  • Choose the photos from your computer file that you would like to share and upload.
  • Click the SHARE button in the top right corner and pop up box will appear with your google contact.
  • click the ones you would like to share the album with OR type in their email where directed.
  • Once you have all your emails added you can add a message and then click the blue arrow to share. Everyone in your group can upload photos.
  • Click on a photo and add a detailed description so everyone in your group will have all the information about who is in the photo, where it was taken, who owns the photo etc.

Give Google photo sharing a try and see what photos your family has to share that you may have not ever seen before.



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.