DNA tools and techniques

The topic this week  at #ANZAncestryTime was related to DNA

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Including tools on DNA testing sites and non-testing sites, which tools do you use the most? Which ones are useful? Ease of use?

My favourite DNA tools are the shared cM tool and histograms; matrix comparisons in GEDmatch; Ancestry groups; DNA painter and chromosome browsers anywhere.

I forgot to mention Clusters and My heritage’s Auto Clusters

I haven’t found the autoclusters much use yet, despite watching a few talks on them. It looks very pretty though!

Clusters can be uploaded into a chromosome map using the Cluster Auto Painter tool at DNAPainter for a different visual perspective

I build my tree from my DNA matches on my computer, tagging each link until I get back to the common ancestor (or not). Some families I match nearly every child of a common ancestor. I have a lot of brick walls to find.

Ancestry has tags for ‘DNA match’, ‘DNA connection’ etc. Or you can make your own custom tags – tags are searchable. Unfortunately they don’t sync through to Family Tree Maker though

Yes, I have most good matches on Ancestry, but have uploaded to FTDNA, MyHeritage, LivingDNA, Gedmatch. Best bang for buck 🙂

When I use the MyHeritage autocluster, I use it in conjunction with the Cluster Auto Painter at DNAPainter. WATO at DNAPainter is another tool I use a lot

Once I have clusters I explore each group in turn. I use coloured dots on Ancestry, Thrulines, and build trees for DNA matches in one big research tree. Once I prove a connection I add it to my verified tree.

used the DNA testing sites of Ancestry and myheritage. Both come out with similar results, as some matches are on both sites. Some very accurate. Use groups on ancestry but so many matches hard to keep track.

My starting point for analysing DNA matches is to do clustering using the DNA Gedcom Client. I can then import the output files into GDAT so that my analysis across all the testing sites in one place.

I use GDAT to import all my matches – then my analysis is all in one place and I can see where matches have tested at multiple sites. its a bit of a learning curve, but worth it in the end.

I also use the shared cM project on DNA Painter to work out where the possibilities could be

The shared cM project is great to show people that do not understand how you can estimate the relationship with a match. I often use it with beginners.

Important to look at the histograms too. Adding them to the cM Project calculator on DNAPainter has been hugely helpful

The tool I use the most is the dots in the @Ancestry DNA section of their website. Most nights I check for new matches & find none. If there is a new match I check the Shared Matches, pink or blue dot them if I can work out if they are maternal or paternal.

test at Ancestry because of its bigger testing pool then upload the raw dna data to MyHeritage FTDNA and Gedmatch – plus Wegene if you have East Asian ancestry – fish in all ponds as they say

I use the shared matches from Ancestry and check out any connected trees to see if there are any common names, couples, or places and group them.

In Ancestry I always go with the shared ancestors filter first as those people have a tree that can give hints to include more people on your tree

Big fan of the DNA Painter toolset. Have used the shared cM tool to help a DNA match who was an adoptee narrow down potential families she could be related to, with success!.

I did all the DNA sessions at Rootstech and have done many webinars but need to action what I learn before I forget. That’s my DNA problem

I like the thrulines on Ancestry as a way to prove some cousins back 3 or 4 generations but prior to that I need more proof.

I am always a little cautious seeing much is based on peoples trees for thrulines and my tree is not that big so I often need to verify new persons. It would be quicker if people attached sources.

I would suggest you message them and ask. I don’t have sources in my tree as it is a gedcom export from my desktop software but I am always happy to explain those sources if I get asked. Maybe they do the same.

Good suggestion. I like doing the quick and dirty DNA trees so sometimes end up having so much fun tracing up or down branches I don’t end up figuring out the connection with the match.

Ancestry’s Thru Lines, MyHeritage Theories of Relativity and Clusters, Dana Leeds – Leeds Collins method

thrulines have been hit and miss as it relies on other people’s trees which some are not correct. I have illegitimate Great grandmother but thru lines try to say who her spouse is.. incorrect.

DNA Painter’s WATO tool helped me prove who was my dad’s true grandfather from unknown DNA matches

That is what I want to use if possible. However, I do have endogamy in the family and I understand it does not work as well with that

I also use GEDmatch especially who matches 1 or 2 people

I find the Gedmatch matrix comparisons for ICWs easy to use and interesting to compare diff % of inheritance between cousins.

Ancestry’s dots, MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch. Wegene, DNAGedcom, DNAPainter. I eyeballed ALL Ancestry DNA results & colour dot them & do it with my sister – also my husband & his sister – there can be a lot of variation between size of matches siblings have

Shared matches on Ancestry. Comparisons using Gedmatch on WikiTree. Chromosome browsing on MyHeritage. Using my own spreadsheets of matches.

I have tested with five companies and mostly I use DNA Painter to paint chromosomes and Ancestry’s colour coding to help identifty matches. I also use Gedmatch and livewllo. The latter gives me a health report

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Has analysing your matches with tools & techniques helped you narrow down ancestral lines, place matches on your tree, find common ancestors, add or prune branches. etc?

Even with good DNA matches, the absence of records from the paper trail can make the connection impossible to pin down. One link has multiple siblings who match Mum and we know the likely county, but no Irish records means a blank wall.

Yes … DNA never stands alone … just one piece of the puzzle to be weighed up within a broader body of evidence

Having identified cousins makes it easier to allocate lines except when there are no trees or further clues to be sure where unknown matches fit. Life’s too short to be forever building trees

But sometimes building trees is where the answers lie

for years I researched my 3xgtgrandmother’s family named King, then I got 3 x 3rd cousin DNA matches all related to the same family, named Perry, discovered that 3 x gtgrandmother’s father named on her birth cert is in fact not her real father

Through DNA matching I found my paternal gggfather’s siblings and parents also my ggmother’s sister. Now trying to go back another generation. Still have brickwalls to find.

And I have found birth fathers for a number of people whose DNA match some of the kits that I manage. I have another request to help with an adoption in Victoria whose closest cousin matches one of those I helped.

haven’t used any specific tools yet just use common ancestors on Ancestry to check things out. I do paper trail first of matches to do comparisons. Myheritage comparisons are not as accurate though, even with high number of matching segments.

I’ve connected a large number of matches to my tree; some pedigree triangulations which seem, from records, genealogically correct but may or may not reflect where the DNA has come from, some segment triangulation groups which I am more sure of

I was wondering why I had no DNA matches for my 2xGGF until a recent 444 cM match turned up & changed everything. Could be a case of NPE (Non parent event / naughty parental event). Ancestors can say what they want but DNA doesn’t lie.

I bet they’d be horrified that all their secrets are coming out. I found a bigamist (just through records). I bet they never envisaged we would have access to almost all parish records simultaneously

I bet they would be too. That would have been a shock to find that out. Convict origins wanted to be forgotten. I had one research hint in Ancestry pop up that my ancestor was a convict. Which explained his free passage to Aus.

I have also helped a number of my DNA matches identify bio family. Met up with a new 3rd cousin last UK trip as we were both visiting at the same time, and went to places our ancestors lived, followed by a pub lunch.

I have confirmed most of my lines back to 3xGGPs and I’m already starting to see some 4xGGP connections. Now that I have eliminated all my known lines I’m working to identify my mystery 2xGGF with the fake name 🙂

I have also found connections to DNA matches in Australia and Canada which sheds some light on people who have ‘disappeared’

My US ancestral line name was Adams, very common name. I expected to be swamped with US Adams related DNA matches & after 4.5 years not so- Adams was an alias for real surname Brown – which I only uncovered by constructing my match’s tree and lots of hard work

DNA helped solve the mystery of my husband’s Tiearney ancestry back to East St Louis, Ireland and South Africa – confirmed family legends and corrected some misinformation

my husband’s family lore had an ancestor Daniel Dering Mathew – remittance man descended from Mary Boleyn (sister of Ann Boleyn)- Catherine Knollys then Byam Mathew’s – DNA results have supported this family legend

What a great story KerriAnne. My husband’s mother handed me her family tree showing she was a 23rd cousin to Prince William and Harry. I quickly found the huge error but let her believe it as she was over 90

I have taken my husband’s DNA, and his sister’s from MyHeritage FTDNA chromosome browsers and combined them to create a pseudo map in DNAPainter for matches that my late mother in law would have had

FTDNA mtdna and ydna have helped with my direct maternal line, direct paternal line and my husband’s direct paternal line – especially as there were illegitimacies along the way

testing other relatives really helps though it’s not a tool itself. I’ve got 1st cousins for each of my parents on each side – sorts matches by my great-grandparents.

haven’t used any specific tools yet just use common ancestors on Ancestry to check things out. I do paper trail first of matches to do comparisons. Myheritage comparisons are not as accurate though, even with high number of matching segments.

100% before these tools were around I had tested & used gedmatch. We were at sea – sending random emails hoping someone would recognise a surname. I had 1 match that took years to figure out. Compare to a recent new match on MyH which I had sorted in 2 hours

I confirmed the father of an adoptee in my family who lives in the US with the help of a child of his. in his 80’s he has now met his half siblings

It’s interesting to see how DNA inheritance will throw up a match to a new link who might not match other testers. I have found a few extra lines or confirmed hypotheses.

I always start with the highest cM and when I know where they are on the tree, I add them to my tree up to our common ancestor and use the DNA tags on Ancestry

I have added my matches down to 20cM from each site I have my DNA on except the two sites I added it to recently. They are still to be done. I colour code it by family including potential family (no trees). Then I can see what needs to be worked on

Despite having attended many DNA sessions & read books / blogs, joined FB groups, etc with my low number of 4th cousin or better matches I struggle to progress my FH research with DNA. Waiting patiently for more matches to use different tools.

DNA matches have confirmed a large part of my family history research. I hope DNA matches can find my biological German g g grandfather

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What DNA tools do you use to help with your DNA match sorting? Do you add and compare match data from different websites?

I tend to just use spreadsheets for this purpose. If you want to download your DNA match lists, you may find this Guide from Diahan Southard useful: yourdnaguide.com/ydgblog/how-to…

As a follow up I also paid for an analysis of my Ancestry DNA results by a crowd called Connected DNA. Great colour coded visualizations, multiple spreadsheets and much more sophisticated triangulation/grouping than possible on Ancestry

I use Ancestry DNA and also MyHeritage and sometimes FTDNA and Gedmatch because not everyone tests at all of these. I also find dna triangulation on MyHeritage Gedmatch and FTDNA helps – wish Ancestry had a chromosome browser so I could do triangulation there

I tried to use GenomatePro after @GenealogyLass recommended but found the setup really onerous so I just went back to checking site by site but I cross-ref in my offline tree. I’ll note a person is a match with XcM on which site, etc.

Has been replaced by GDAT now. The setup is much the same, but the functionality is more streamlined. If you need help setting up give me a shout 🙂

I import all my data into GDAT. It is all in one place, can analyse, write research notes, filter and sort, use matches who have tested at >1 site to make new connections between groups, identify names or locations in common.

Definitely worth siblings and cousins doing DNA testing because of the variation in matches that siblings etc have with the same cousin.

I have also had dad tested YDNA and mtDNA because his paper trail does not match the DNA trail on either side. I mainly got dad tested as he is 89 and the oldest in his generation. Also he is my problem DNA person. Neither test has been much use so far

Forgot I did my mtDNA as well – it has been 0 use. Have some male lines tested with Y37 just to get their DNA recorded but can’t afford the big bucks to upgrade & feel it’s a much more specialised area. With ltd Irish records, I don’t know how much use it can be.

Yes, I add my matches to my spreadsheets and to my computer-based tree. For each match I give the DNA information – so there can be information from more than one site.

analysing matches broke down brickwalls in Dad’s American ancestry – which couldn’t have been achieved without combination of DNA with traditional genealogical approaches. DNA also helped with illegitimacies – confirming family stories of who fathers were.

I haven’t done enough downloading and comparing matches from different testing sites. I get part of it done then stop.

I have a spreadsheet for dad and another for mum and tabs in each for the different companies and comparisons within them all. I need to use it more efficiently though

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Do you consider ethnicity results as a tool to help your family history research? Discuss any thoughts, pros and cons when using ethnicity results.

The ‘ethnicity’ results have their place when weighed up alongside broader range of evidence but only as good as reference panels and algorithms used. Genetic communities more reliable (different methodology, more recent time frame)

I have found my Ethnicity changed several times so not sure how valid it really is, but I did upload my DNA to @Living_DNA a few years ago (see pic), and my Ethnicity has been the most accurate so far out of any other company

ethnicity has proven the my paper trail areas of research have been correct either north east Scotland or West Midlands in England.

Ethnicity is not much use for me or the kits I manage – we’re all typically British 🙂 But it has been useful in helping people find bio family when different lines come from different backgrounds. I used to dismiss it but always check it now

I used to dismiss ethnicity however in some cases it can help eg my husband has a Scottish great grandfather married to an Irish great grand mother – so ethnicity helped to split which lines folks in that part of the family came from

Same! I used to be very dismissive but Ancestry estimates have improved and the genetic communities are useful, so now I always check it at least.

Afro Scottish ethnicity in some of my Jamaican matches points to some relatives of my ancestors being in the West Indies in the slavery era – which was confronting when I first noticed it

Considering my DNA ethnicity is different with each of the five companies and my German doesnt show up where it should I don’t find ethnicity helps with research. maybe if I had a surprise

I used to think that ethnicity results was marketing tools to get more people to test. Acknowledge the limitations of the ethnicity data, then it can help support theories & suggest areas to research especially for adoptees and mis-attributed parental events.

I admit to treating ethnicity results with fair disdain. I had high hopes of Living DNA results but there are anomalies compared to the paper trail. Mostly I get my more recent ancestry, Irish and Scots. Still no German sadly.

My mum has 548 4th cousins or closer while dad only has 318 4th cousins or closer on Ancestry. Lot easier to colour dot mum’s matches

I have hardly any identified paternal matches across the sites. Multiple generations of people with very few kids means the matches are further back & possibly in the realm of no records to support.

I have a similar problem. Research my families and there are few descendants. Only one of my father’s sisters has descendants. Not much better for the previous generation where mainly only one child each. I have to go a long way back for matches

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Need some basic info as well as advanced DNA help – check these out

Louise Coakley blog

DNA genealogy in Australia and NZ – Facebook group run by Louise

Blog posts relating to DNA

Jane: Basics on autosomal testing, hypothesizing and speculating,

Pauleen: DNA – place and people,

Kerrie Anne: Matches in Adams/Brown family,

Great comments:

DNA is the ultimate in time distraction.

DNA tools have to be easy enough to use to make them useful.

Also check out the summary of the #ANZAncestryTime discussion on Apps for Family History. Some useful apps for DNA were mentioned.

Readers: Have you tested your DNA? Have your results been what you expected?

Finding and solving gaps in our research.

Remembering that stories are important in family history, not just the birth, death, marriage dates and places. So how do we find information to fill in the gaps in the stories was what was discussed at this #ANZAncestryTime chat.

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How do we identify gaps in our research? Is it important to do so?

I use timelines to work out where I need to look for more info eg school records, employment records etc

If you use good desktop software it may have a way to let you know what is missing

I am currently redoing my database and have queries to help find what is missing.

I have two ways of identifying gaps: (1) is writing up my research which makes clear where I’m missing information. (2) checking against my preferred sources to ensure I’ve included them.

To find gaps in knowledge/evidence about an individual … start writing up what you know about them as a sourced biographical narrative. This soon highlights the gaps which you can then set about trying to fill

Starting with what you know is a great tip Jane @Chapja It’s much easier then to see the gaps

Yes, Jane, I can get on board with this method, because my goal is a story, not a full database.

I like to try to fill in the gaps in my research. Often when traditional family history records leave gaps you can fill them using newspapers. DNA has helped me also

Love me a good timeline! Plus checklists, making sure I’ve covered at least all the basics.

For brickwalls I use mindmaps (from FreeMind) to review and identify what I might have missed

I love creating mind maps. I picked up that tip at Rootstech a few years ago. It’s amazing what can jump out at you as missing

Mindmapping – you could do this with pencil and paper I’ve also used Freemind Mindmaps for preparing museum exhibitions What’s really nice is that you can collapse sections or open then up

Using a research log or prompt sheet can help to identify gaps


To visualise gaps in tree … the DNAPainter ‘Ancestral Trees’ function enables you to visualise tree completeness so you can decide where in your tree you may want to focus next – dnapainter.com/#trees

I create detailed timelines for individuals and families – it’s a great way of spotting both gaps and connections I hadn’t noticed before. Creating bios for Wikitree also made me go back and look for things I’d missed, so I could tell a coherent story

As Australia doesn’t have its census records available, we have to utilise different record sets and not get caught in the decennial gap trap.

Identifying gaps in our research is important if we’re to gain a full view of the lives of our ancestors. Learning what records are available for place and time, and using them, is critical.

I find using a spreadsheet to set down timelines of each person useful. Columns represent list of possible records they would be in, when I locate I tick it in the column. Records BMD parish records and census.

As with so much in family history, it’s finding what is most intuitive for each of us that helps productivity.

When looking at gaps in our research we need to look at regional, national and world events to see how they affected our families.

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

When new records become available work through them to ensure you have not missed someone GRO site helped me

I use timelines. I include place as well as dates. For example, is it possible that my research people were in e.g. New York for 1910 census and then enumerated in England a few months later in 1911? (Yes, it is, but confirming it opened new avenues)

Yeah Sophie’s “negative space” is basically the same idea, although her approach is more colourful. I’d like to be able to do a 3-D version that layers people on top of time/place. Best I can do for that is Visio/process maps

Visio is a lovely little microsoft package – very easy to use. I also use it for presenting smaller family trees – extracts

It was inspiration from the talk given by @ScientistSoph on Negative Space that really started me thinking more about this topic, including mapping events. Read her blog post here. parchmentrustler.com/family-history…

timelines are really helpful, as is writing up a person’s life. Often realise I’m missing something crucial.

Interesting how many of us find narratives helpful to identify missing research.

I tag my Legacy trees as I find supporting sources so I know which ones I need to find.

i do a timeline sheet in my Research Log (Excel). I add date in first column then age, event and place for each person in the family with a diff colour for each person. Then i can scroll and see where each family member was on a date.

Different formats for diff research questions, but usually just a table in a Word document – year in one column, date in next, then a text field with whatever info I want to record. I find that little bit of visual organisation just enough to work for me

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

Yes … Delay no further! DNAPainter has so many useful tools and functions to help find and fill gaps in our research

I have loved DNA painter since Jonny Perl first introduced it at a RootsTech conference. He is brilliant

something I do with my students often is get them to fill out a blank direct ancestor tree just to see where they’re missing bits.

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Do you use a timeline to identify research gaps? Do you use your genealogy program, Excel or another program?

I use mainly Legacy but sometimes go with spread sheet

Funny you mention it, because I created one today about a great grandfather, using a table in WORD. I’m including citations from the many sources I have found about him. He never seemed to stay in one place for long – trying to put all the pieces together.

Those wanderers can be a lot of work to trace. I have a few of those. Timelines do help to see where they’ve been

I have a bigamist who disappears after he serves time in Victoria. Not found anywhere yet.

I suspect some bigamy with my American born Adams 2xgt gddad too. Disappears from Grafton & NSW. Then emerged close & shared DNA matches descended from Tassie man of same name who appeared in Tassie little after Grafton man disappeared. Same man or close family?

I find that now I am writing up the family histories (part of my downsizing project) I am finding gaps and then I just fill them as I go. If I can

Yes writing narratives is a great way to find gaps in information … it also helps to spot inconsistencies in the information you have too

I can be in the middle of a blog post about an ancestor and realise I have a gap. Then it’s off down a rabbit hole before I finish the blog post. That’s where I am now

Writing is the best way to spot gaps! Writing seems to trigger all sorts of analytical processes in your brain that regular research does not.

Yes, and why it takes me so long to finish a blog post, let alone a research report for myself (loved your presentation on that!)

I found an infant death in Ireland following naming patterns and a gap in the births.

Tracing 19th century Aussie wanderers, it’s helpful to put the gold rushes on the timeline. A ‘missing’ person may have gone to try their luck. Check other colonies.

Good tip Brooke to add to the timeline. Also perhaps expansion of an occupation eg railway construction?

Gold rushes impacted just about everybody’s family – follow the gold. One of mine moved from Sydney to Victorian goldfields then up to the Gympie rushes in Queensland and finally over to the Western Australian gold rush. Over generations and not all moved.

Yes, my West Coast NZ gold rush ancestors all started mining life in Victoria. Most of them left family there, though contact has been mostly lost. I hope to re-establish some one day!

Another one of my mining families ducked across to Reefton for a while then back to Queensland. Have to look both sides of the Tasman

I realised one of mine did when I mapped the births of all his (many) children. Another way of spotting gaps. Map the babies.


This timeline was created for a specific research question: where was she living when she got pregnant with her children who were born out of wedlock? The timeline helped me formulate a hypothesis about the probable father, later confirmed with DNA.

My genealogy program allows you to export any query to a spreadsheet so you can work on it outside the program


Freemind is what I use for MindMaps thewindowsclub.com/freemind-free-…

Timeline but also my online tree with Ancestry where I can see on their facts or story what might be missing

Also when I write my biographies I have particular sections of their life to include which means I might need to do more research with newspapers etc to find that info

combination of Excel for checklist and offline family tree program for timeline. This then helps with writing up in more details in a blog.

If I’m looking at a timeline, I will use Excel to analyse what I have and what I’m missing. I always use date, month, year in separate columns. Alternatively I use Word document gaps. I don’t use my genealogy program for this.

my genealogy program is good for seeing gaps in the research plus you can add notes and reminders. I used to have lots of sticky yellow notes but using a program helps keep me focused.

I will write or look for other queries to identify other gaps once I have added census information

While I don’t always use a timeline I do identify gaps as I write up my research. I am using a timeline for my troublesome McSherry family. I also compare my checklist of record sources to see what I might have missed.

I’m constantly using timelines and use Legacy family history software. Occasionally I use excel for timelines

I look at my genealogy software & files for reference, but I create it in MS Word.

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What key facts do you include in your timeline? What records do you use to fill the gaps?

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations.

after looking at all possible records I then look at newspapers and overseas records. Sometimes the ancestor could be a witness or informant in a record.

BDM, children, grave or cremation, residences, any info from Rolls or Census records, newspaper stories

It depends on time period – early 19c Irish ag lab/working class leave very little trace in records so there are often big gaps, especially if they never married/had kids. Newspapers/migration/institutional records may fill gaps but often have to accept gaps

If I could just fill in the gaps in my lots of Irish ancestry I would be very happy. Wills have been useful

If you can find them, if they survive – I’ve yet to find more than a calendar entry and that for only a handful of people. The swines!

So inconsiderate of them! 🙂 I got my English 4GGF’s will. One line sums it up: “to my beloved wife, executor of this will, all my assets” – thanks Grandpa!! 😀

I like to record as many facts as possible in my timelines from cradle to the grave. I also include major events like war, famine, depression, pandemics. These events can trigger ideas for more records to search

If I am trying to find someone who is missing I will search in Newspapers or look for them travelling

Censuses and BDMs are the anchor points. Otherwise it could be anything – church records, entries in the street directory, newspaper reports, appearances as witnesses/registrants on other BDMs, court records – as long as it can be tied to a date

I like to track my ancestors’ locations, and kin, where possible to get a full picture of their lives. For immigrant ancestors I also want their immigration records – where available.

At the moment I’m including day, month, year, event, location, notes and citation. I’ve used newspaper articles, police records/gazettes, BMD certificates, electoral rolls. The guy I am researching went interstate and overseas enough to confuse us all!

Birth, Deaths Marriages, other key events in the life of the person. Also historical events at a certain time, for context

Trove is great for filling gaps we didn’t know we had – totally unexpected events and activities. I like to use Education, land, occupation, military records, immigration, clubs/societies inter alia.

I include every event for which I know a time and place for that ancestor. So vital events, military service, prison time, births of children, etc.

My excel sheet columns include for the names such First & Mid Name, Last Name, Full Name then vital record dates. The ID for the person. I split the dates to a columns for date, month and year. Finally the columns for the specific data I’m working with

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations

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Can you give examples where you or others have successfully plugged research gaps?

One thing that timelines can hide is contradictory activities. eg An ancestor is recorded being in one place for his child’s birth, & having a business. a legal case showed he was also working on the gold fields a distance away: there were regular coaches.

lots of those for my Dickson family. Currently working on Rev Dr David Dickson’s children A few more than in official bios

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

another TL piece: sometimes, not often, RC priests recorded both birth and baptismal dates. RC baptisms usually took place ASAP but there was a 6 week gap. Made me look more closely at godparents. They’d travelled quite a distance, another chink in brickwall

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

Our genimate @luvviealex wrote recently about her life in 12 censuses. It made me think more closely about my own presence in the records and how I wish I’d been able to see my parents’ and grandparents’ census returns.

Tried this today in a timeline but discovered it left out great chunks of our lives even our overseas postings, seems we were always in Aus. Made me think of ancestors gaps

Exactly! I don’t want to share all the nitty gritty but I think it can help highlight the challenge for the next couple of generations while privacy rules apply.

How cool! I have never been enumerated in a census in my life. The Netherlands stopped taking them in 1971 since we have a continuous population registration and they know where we live. 👀

Using DNA Trove BDMs to help adoptees to find their bio families and Collins Leeds method too

My longest running project is the collection of Electoral Data from NZers in my tree. Add another cousin to my tree creates gaps for Electoral Roll entries. Having such a large collection of addresses helps with a diverse range of other research questions

Trying to find out what happened to a woman from when she returned to Scotland in 1868 until her death. For that time period looked at censuses, deaths in her family & mapped them in time & space. Found her. Went to live with her son in England & she died there.

Timelines have been very useful me to find out where ancestors were fighting during WW1. I start with enlistment date and place and then do a timeline of their war service

I hadn’t thought do to a wartime timeline. what a great idea @SharnWhite I intend to do it

It helps to know what battles to research Jennifer and what war diaries to look for

It is always worth looking to see if there were births before a marriage one turned up this week not a relative but the person they married was

I have been trying to find out how a man in Bathurst met a woman in Hill End and how she had 4 children to him. There were no family connections between the places. Today I found on Trove his license to drive a coach from Bathurst to Hill End.  Yes unfortunately he never married her. I must do a timeline to see if his coach trips coincide with the births! I expect they did

Doing a timeline of where members of a family were in census records helped me to find a missing person

I find researching between the census records for missing children has turned up a few who died young

using census records – when I can’t find them I try all variants – Price was indexed as Grice – sometimes gaps are caused by indexing errors, bad handwriting or human error

Or search by a family member with the most distinctive first name. That worked for me.

All of my ancestors start in UK. When they emigrated to New Zealand, I found them passenger lists and rest of the information in the newspapers, even when they then moved to North America, especially the journalist ancestor, which was the subject of my blog

I’ve set up web pages with blog post sections for all my ancestral lines- sometimes cousins read these and make suggestions that I’ve missed something or drawn a wrong conclusion

My ancestors lived in a place in the Netherlands that kept mill tax records in 1700s that listed everyone in the household. I used these to see when children entered the household and prove that one child was baptized under a different name than used later.

I’m using a spreadsheet of every single event I can find for my McSherry family in the hope of breaking down my mysteries. Very clear for a 25 year block, then nada.

Timelines + checklists = winner!

Blog posts relating to the topic

Kerrie Anne – using mindmaps,

Alex – my life in censuses,

Legacy – mindmaps webinar,

Sue – examples of biographies written,

Readers: How do you find the gaps in your research? How do you find the info to fill those gaps?