Elements in my Family History Books

  • Organized and understandable
  • Goes beyond records, placing people in the context of their surroundngs
  • The facts and relationships are fully documented
  • Information accurate
  • Includes maps, charts, and photographs

DAR Begins Accepting Autosomal DNA

Great news for researchers who have a brick wall proving their lineage for DAR certification. The Society will now accept DNA results (Autosomal, mitochondrial, or Y-DNA) to help prove relationships to your Revolutionary War ancestors. This rule change is only for the first three generations of your lineage and will help adoptees or people with surprise parentage.

You can obtain more information on the DAR blog.

DNA Testing and Your Ethnicity

TV ads are making DNA test kits a favorite gift idea for adults. These are autosomal (atDNA) kits that give two types of results: ethnicity percentages and individual matches. Most of the test-takers of these gift test kits seem to be only interested in the ethnicity percentages. I feel this is true because I see that over half of my individual matches have no family trees and a reluctance to respond to my contacts. No one has responded when a family tree is not attached.

However, the ethnicity estimates that test companies supply may be confusing due to limitations in the way the testing companies calculate the ethnicity estimates. In fact, the projected ethnicities are not foolproof; they are estimates based on the comparison of the test sample to a reference population used by the testing company. The companies then used their algorithms to determine the percentage of each ethnic group you belong to you.

Are these projections reliable? Initially, some people complained that their ethnic estimates were inaccurate. Each test company has different reference populations, and these numbers cause more confusion because the ethnic percentages will differ from different companies. However, this is a relatively new science, and companies are revising their methods and base data regularly.

The testing companies regularly add DNA from new individuals and more population segments to the reference panels. Recently, they changed many ethnic estimates that now seem more accurate. The results from companies still vary when compared to other companies, and will likely continue to improve as they add more individual samples from more comprehensive geographical locations and sources. Eventually, I believe the projected ethnicities from each company will become closer to being similar.

The size and the populations in the reference panel are substantial factors determining the accuracy of an ethnicity projection. If the reference population does not include a segment of the world’s population such as Native Hawaiians, the ethnicity estimate cannot have that as one of the results, even if the test-taker has significant ancestry from that part of the world. Each testing company describes their reference populations in the help or information sections of their websites.

There are limitations as to how much detail the projected ethnicities can show due to the widespread migrations of different people across the different continents. One example of this is the population of central and western Europe. DNA between Germany and France to predict which country your ancestors left accurately. Another example is the populations in southern Europe along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There are no significant differences in the

The estimated ethnicity for broad categories such as Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas are generally accurate, but the accuracy decreases when the projection tries to be more specific as to location or country.

Another limitation in determining a person’s ethnicity arises from the fact that the person may not have received any DNA from their ancestors from a particular region. We lose portions of DNA for older generations as each generation gets DNA from their parents. The amount of DNA from each ancestor in older generations until the piece left is so small that it may not be passed along to the next generation. This scenario may completely eliminate DNA from a geographic location.

Ethnicity seems to be one of the top reasons why people are submitting DNA samples. They want to know where are their roots. However, the results are only an estimate and have severe limitations. Be cautious when evaluating and using your ethnicity results, especially if you are looking for clues to specific locations or countries. Use the results as clues and be patient because the results will be revised many times in the future.

Our Immigrant Ancestors Were Heroes

Our immigrant ancestors were heroes. Their names will not appear in history books, but their efforts impacted American history, and without their sacrifices, our country would not have developed as it did.

They were mostly farmers who felt they had to leave Europe. Some left due to religious persecution. Many immigrated to survive the poverty they were enduring. If they were married, they left to find food for their children. If they were single, they left to find work because there was an excess of farm labor and no room for them on the family farm.

In the 1600s, the American colonies offered freedom from religious persecution. In the 1700s, the colonies offered land, jobs, and the opportunity for a better life. In the 1800s, the United States needed immigrants even more as their westward movement demanded more farmers, and the growth of their factories required more workers.

As the U.S. became the leading industrial power in the world, the rapid growth of heavy industry had a ripple effect on other sectors of the U.S. economy – mining, heavy equipment, petroleum, manufacturing, and the food industries all saw rapid growth. This increase demanded more workers, and the massive spike in immigration from Europe in the early 1900s gave the need for considerable increases in manpower.

The first immigrants were seeking religious freedom. They arrived with little money and few belongings. However, many were excellent farmers, worked hard, and most were successful. They established many towns in the eastern colonies and were among the first pioneers to move across the Appalachian Mountains. Later, immigrants found farms in the Midwest and continue to build strong roots where ever they settled. During the industrial revolution, our immigrants filled critical positions in factories and mills.

My 4th great-grandfather arrived in 1770 as a redemptioner (an indentured servant), learned a trade (miller), and was one of the early pioneers in Kentucky and Indiana. He and his children help build the communities where they settled with their farming efforts and also furnishing the vital service of milling the grain of their neighbors. After eight generations, he has about 400,000 living descendants. Many of his descendants are farmers and blue-collar workers. Some are also professionals such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, architects.

Our immigrant ancestors are the foundation of our roots in the United States. Our lives would be much different if they did not endure the challenges of emigration from Europe. Do not underestimate their contributions. They may have left us some material wealth, but the most significant contribution they left is their role in the factories and farms of the United States. Their lives were the building blocks in the growth of their new country, and their immigration influenced the quality of our lives today in the United States.

Remember that they made many sacrifices for us and helped build the United States. Hopefully, what you have read in these pages has given you a few clues to expand your vision of your ancestors so you can leave your descendants with more memories of their heritage.

 

Join me for a webinar tonight 6/8

My new book: German Immigration to America

Why did your German ancestors immigrate, when did they leave, where did they leave, how did they get here?

These are questions we all hope to find the answers.

This book discusses the history of the Germanic people and gives some insights into possible answers to the questions about your ancestors’ immigration.

The book also presents brief histories of most of the ports that were used by German immigrants for departure from Europe and the ports where they arrived. Also covered are details of life in steerage during the voyage and the process of examination of the immigrants to gain admittance to the United States.

Continuing our Genealogical Research during the Shutdown

Are you bored? Are you becoming a couch potato?

Our libraries, historical museums, and Family History Centers are closed. How can we do research?

Actually, now is a great time to do all the research we have been putting off because we did not have the time.

Before the shutdown, there are many online opportunities, and many were free.  Today, genealogy groups and companies are adapting to this new situation and trying to make many more resources available.

From home, we can do the following:

  • Officials have closed libraries, but online resources are still available from your home. An added feature is that Ancestry is allowing access to AncestryLibrary Edition from home. This database is an excellent addition to our online arsenal during the shutdown. Do not forget to scour through newspapers.com pages for your ancestors if your library has this fantastic resource in their collection. HeritageQuest and MyHeritage are two other useful resources that some libraries offer.
  • One downside to having your library closed is no access to Familysearch’s film library. So far, FamilySearch has not flipped a switch and made these digital images available from home. However, you can go to your library’s parking lot and should be able to connect to the library’s server as if you are inside the building. From the parking lot, you should have access to FamilySearch’s film library. This method is not the best-case solution but the only one available.
  • Some people have reported that they have been able to access Family History Files from the parking lot of their Family History Center. However, I believe that you may need a church sign on to do this.
  • Lastly, do not forget the free websites.

The shutdown also gives time to organize our information. This is a great time to organize and start writing your family history. The method I described in previous blogs helps you organize your information to do better research, but it also is the beginning format for your family history. Get organized now.

Now is a great time to improve your genealogical skills and knowledge. Genealogy conferences and local society meetings are canceled, but many groups are going online. Some state societies have been using online webinars, but now I see some local societies begin using this format. In fact, I gave my April program to DuPage County Genealogical Society as an online webinar. I have also seen some groups rescheduling their in-person conference to online webinars.

Other sources for online webinars on videos:

  • The Learning Center on FamilySearch.org has a vast collection of videos on most genealogical topics. This resource is free, and probably my first choice for a genealogical educational resource.
  • Another great resource is the webinar library is at com. This library is a collection of webinars that have been recorded from the live presentation. There is an excellent selection of topics, and all are well-done. The most recent webinars are free to view for a limited time after the live presentation. You will need a subscription to view the entire collection. The subscription costs $49.95 is worth it.

Stop being a couch potato. Keep going on your family history research. You have more time to do more.

Remember to have fun.

Niech Bóg Wam Błogosławi i otoczy opieką

God Bless and Stay Safe

Libraries are closed, what can we do?

Research is important but with most research facilities shutting down, it gives us some time to compile and organize our notes to begin writing our family history. Our research will never be done, so we should begin writing our family history as soon as possible. It does not have to be a finished narrative but summaries of what we have for each individual will organize our information. Putting my information in bullet points always helped me get started. The summaries will put our research in a better format that we can show to family members and doing this now will help us do better research later. If you are frustrated with research facilities closed, start your summaries and begin getting organized. Also, have fun putting life into your ancestors.

International Tracing Service (ITS) – Where can we find the stories for Post-WW II Displaced Persons?

Did your parents or grandparents immigrate to the United States shortly after WW II? If so, they probably told you stories of staying in one or more of the refugee camps at the end of the war. The Allied forces established these camps to handle the masses of displaced persons coming from the German work camps or death camps or who fled their homes to escape communist rule.

Did your ancestors tell you the details of their lives during and after the war, or were they reluctant to talk about their experiences? The International Tracing Service had the task of saving the documents of the refugees and gives us hope to complete their stories.

The work of ITS began in 1943 when the Headquarters of the Allied Forces asked the British Red Cross to set up a registration and tracing service for missing persons. ITS grew out of the Central Tracing Bureau, which was approved on February 15, 1944. The bureau initially worked out of London but was moved from there to Versailles, then to Frankfort am Main, and then to its current location in Bad Arolsen, Germany. On July 1, 1947, the International Refugee Organization (ICRC) took over administration of the bureau on July 1, 1947, and changed the name of the bureau to International Tracing Service on January 1, 1948.

ITS collects and controls the documents, information, and research on Nazi persecution, forced labor, and displaced persons. The archive in Bad Arolsen contains about 30 million records from concentration camps, details of forced labor, and files on displaced persons. The archives have been accessible to researchers since 2007. Requests for information from individuals or descendants can be made by mail or on the ITS website (Home Page – https://arolsen-archives.org/en/). In 2015, ITS began adding records to an online database and today has over two million records in an online searchable collection of documents. Family historians should search the online archive at https://arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/ to confirm their ancestors are in the archive. However, the results will show one or two documents but not the complete file. Use the inquiry page (arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/inquiries/) to request the entire file. Be patient because the average delivery time for the files is about four months and can take as long as eleven months.

Just published my latest Book: “Czech and Slovak Immigration to America.”

When did your Czech or Slovak ancestors immigrate, where did they leave, why did they leave, how did they get here? This book is a wonderful resource. The author hopes you find the answer to some of these questions in this book. This book discusses the history of their homeland and gives some insights into possible answers to the questions about your ancestors’ immigration.

The book also presents brief histories of most of the ports that were used by your immigrants for departure from Europe and the ports where they arrived. Also covered are details of life in steerage during the voyage and the process of examination of the immigrants to gain admittance to the United States.

Available on Amazon.com