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?

Researching online

Pexels / Pixabay

During 2020, COVID19 shut down many of the record offices, archives and libraries where genealogists around the world would have gone to do some research. But many of these repositories thought outside the box and made some resources available online. Others had already had a great online digitized presence.

These were the questions tonight:

  1. Which main genealogy sites do you use in your research? (subscription & free) What features do you find helpful? ie hints, help sections, records, shaky leaves
  2. Do you have a family tree on any genealogy websites? What are the pros and cons of putting your tree online?
  3. Have you tested your DNA? Is your DNA attached to an online tree and has this been helpful in your research
  4. What genealogy gems have you found on a genealogy website?

Sites used

  • Judy: Links to some of my favourite online resources are in ‘40 of my favourite #genealogy indexes/sources’  Others are about using FindMyPast
  • Jill: I subscribe to the 3 big subscription databases and the Free Familysearch. Love to have the convenience of anywhere, anytime availability. Other than those my staples are Trove, the NAA, NSW State Records.  I forgot to mention the Ryerson index in my list of staples. It is always open in a tab when doing Australian research. I also love the Australian Cemeteries Index and any other online cemetery index.
  • Fran: I use @Ancestry and @MyHeritage as both have loads of records and useful DNA functionality including matches to review.
  • Maggie P: Papers Past here in NZ is free and has helped me find some really informative bits of family history, and has sorted out more than a few queries
  • Pauleen: which online sites I use depends on what type of research and which country I’m focused on. I also use them to complement and crosscheck each other
  • Sandra: The most helpful for me is Ancestry and FamilySearch websites and the church record images (German research)
  • Margaret: WikiTree, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Google, Internet Archive, Find my Past, Find a Grave, BDM Online, Archway, Papers Past, Scotlands People, FreeCen, FreeReg, FreeBMD, Irishgenealogy, GRO, Canadian records, USA records, Trove, etc. I forgot about Online Cenotaph for war records. Always look there for people of the right age group.
  • Pauleen: I find Council cemetery sites invaluable for tracing deceased relatives. You can search by Council /place + cemetery. So many are online now but Toowoomba led the field.
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  • Jennifer: I Mainly use @Ancestry @findmypast @FamilySearch plus the Ancestry app. There are others I use from time to time depending on my area of research at the time
  • Shauna: Trove is my must go to website for Australian digitised newspapers. You can find some really great stories for your relatives. SA Genealogy is real value for money, have been a member for years
  • Fran: PapersPast is one of my favourites, probably 1st. I think it is because my GGF and GF were always there submitting articles and adverts. My favourites are papers past from NZ and the index search for Births, Deaths and Marriage in NZ. It covers the vital records and filling in the gaps between with Papers Past in just two sites. Always have a browser open for these 2
  • Brooke: I subscribe to Ancestry, FindMyPast, & British Newspaper Archives. My tree(s) are on Ancestry & my favourite feature is the record sets catalogue. I don’t use FamilySearch very much. I don’t know how to get the best out of it (& I don’t like the idea of the global tree). Tasmanian Names Index is brilliant for researching my husband’s family…& random convicts just for the fun of it
  • Maggie P: When I started researching it was hard to find much Irish info- but now a whole lot is available online eg civil registration, censuses, Griffiths land valuations
  • Maggie: I use mostly FamilySearch, FindmyPast and Ancestry, plus also ScotlandsPeople and irishgenealogy.ie. I love that they all have different strengths (and records!)  how could I forget about FreeBMD, and also GRO! Not to mention our very own bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz
  • Pauleen: The thing I love most about Trove (and Papers Past for NZers) is that you can find stories you’d never have been able to find any other way -unless scrolling through decades of papers is your thing.
  • Pauleen: Favourite sites include FindMyPast (Irish), Ancestry (DNA and general), ScotlandsPeople (Scotland), ScotlandsPlaces, Nat Lib Scotland, TROVE, FamilySearch, DNAPainter, MyHeritage etc. I’d place Trove & ScotlandsPeople ahead of all the rest except for DNA
  • Margaret: For DNA matching I use Ancestry, MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. I belong to various Facebook groups. I research on my Legacy tree building my matches’ pedigrees to find our MRCA
  • Carmel: The familysearch wiki familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_P… is always a good place to start but Trove has been my favourite for quite a while
  • Jane: Ancestry, FindMyPast etc. for records, DNAPainter for useful tools, Papers Past and Trove for newspapers etc. … lots of other places e.g., Lancashire Online Parish Clerk … depends what I am focused on.
  • Soc OPS: FMP has scans of Shropshire, Staffordshire & Cheshire PRs, invaluable to my #OnePlaceStudy research and otherwise only accessible at archives (currently closed), so in practical terms that’s as close to those sources as I can get. Ditto other PRs on Ancestry.
  • Pauleen: I much prefer to go direct to source when searching rather than through the “genealogy giants”. I use Qld BDM extensively and NSW as required
  • Dara: Main sites are Ancestry for trees & Findmypast for records, and where ever else the research goes. For DNA it’s Ancestry & MyHeritage. Tested at FTDNA but it’s sooo slow. May delete GEDmatch kits -concerned as users say deleted kits have reappeared. Watching!
  • Maggie ~scans: have had some great success with Ireland Reaching Out website- found a second cousin who was able to identify who was in a photo. And remain in contact.
  • Fiona: Beyond the main paid sites, I use a number of websites for my research. I have the main NZ ones listed on my website and others I have pinned on Pinterest.
  • Soc OPS: For my #OnePlaceStudy research I typically use Ancestry, FMP, FreeBMD, Shropshire BMD, GRO birth/death indexes, FamilySearch, British Newspaper Archive, GENUKI, National Library of Scotland Maps, Streetmap, Google / Google Books and others. From these sources I use records, newspaper notices and articles, parish / locality info, old and current maps, old books and whatever Google searches can bring me! And yes, Ancestry Hints and member trees too, evaluated before being accepted / rejected

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  • Hilary: I mainly use @MyHeritage for DNA matches and doing more on updating my connection to global tree @WikiTreers and @FamilySearch
  • Maggie: great to double check the same record sets across the various sites. I get free access via our National Library when I need it.
  • Maggie: Quite a few digitised records now available from here too (including WW1 service records, some land indexes): archway.archives.govt.nz
  • Jane: The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection can be useful … nzetc.victoria.ac.nz I have found one or two gems there
  • Hilary: I am using more free to access sites now and my National library of Wales access to some subscription sites
  • Sue: For DNA stuff, definitely Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, LivingDNA – but as most of my research was Tasmanian based, then Libraries Tasmania Tasmanian Names Index
  • Pauleen: I am not happy with some Family Search databases now which comply with legal requirements but IMO don’t with ethics since they include full details of a person’s Birth and parents’ marriage, not to mention adoptions.
  • Pauleen: Do you use the catalogue to search what’s available for your area, irrespective of the site you’re using? It helps you to understand what one site offers compared to another.
  • Shauna: Archway is the NZ Archives online catalogue – similar to RecordSearch in NAA or any of the state archives catalogues. Names have been indexed and some digitisation too
  • Maggie: I’ve used The Genealogist for English tithe records – great resource – but I don’t find the search facility very intuitive. Need to spend more time on the site!
  • Pauleen: MyHeritage is a bit of an acquired skill to use I’ve found and I think it’s become more challenging rather than less. Conversely they have good German family trees that match mine.
  • Sandra G: top 5 are Trove, Ancestry, SA Genealogy (member), NSW State Archives, National Archives for War service records
  • Pauleen: Records are my main reason I use all the online sites. Hints and shaky leaves intermittently – Having researched for so long I can usually recognise a valid hint immediately. Other’s trees as clues to more recent info and cousin contact info.
  • Hilary: I use Ancestry and FMP mainly Family Search sometimes also The Genealogist I rarely use My Heritage as don’t like results
  • Pauleen: Do you know you can see the British (and Irish) newspapers online if you have a Nat Library of Australia card? Also JSTOR articles…was very excited when that was done!
  • Sharn: My most used sites are Familysearch, FindmyPast, Ancestry.com, The Genealogist, Roots Ireland, Emerald Ancestors, Scotlands People, Trove, British Newspaper Archives, DNA painter
  • Pauleen: And FindMyPast is the go to for Irish records as well as irishgenealogy.ie and registers.nli.ie Fingers crossed the GV will eventually be digitised online
fumingli / Pixabay

 

Trees: Where? Pros/Cons

  • Sharn: I have both public and private trees on Ancestry too. Trees I research for others are always private. My own extensive tree is public but if I’m researching actively and putting out feelers I set it to private. I have made contacts via my blog too but my best contacts have come from my Ancestry tree. A few from my My Heritage tree also. I uploaded my Ancestry Gedcom to FamilySearch specifically so I could participate in relatives around me at Rootstech. Someone changed something in my tree but it was easily fixed.
  • Sue: My main family tree online is with Ancestry but I have a basic one on MyHeritage and Family Search – find them difficult to make changes but I also have a much larger tree on home computer. In the profiles of people on my Ancestry tree, I include links to online records other than those from Ancestry databases – eg Trove, Tasmanian Names Index etc. Proves to readers you have done more research.
  • Sharn: I’ve been using the web links and the DNA tags but my tree is large so I’ll keep plodding away.
  • Maggie: I have a number of family trees online, but all are private except for skeleton ones connected to DNA accounts I manage. I think I need to flesh the latter ones out to make the most of the matching functionality.
  • Margaret: My Legacy tree on my computer is about 10,000 people. It goes everywhere including hypothetical people. I use that to get my GEDCOM but I limit that. I have lots of experimental trees too for DNA matches. I need to add more sources. I have put GEDCOMS of my Legacy tree on Ancestry, Gedmatch and FTDNA. I used to have a large MyHeritage tree, but I have deleted it back to the minimum size as I do not want to have to spend time updating that
  • Fiona: I have my main tree offline (great for creating reports for book skeletons) and only use my online trees for generating hints and DNA connections.
  • Gen X Alogy: I have a tree on Ancestry. Downside is keeping track of bits I may not wish to have uploaded, but that’s about it… so many upsides, particularly using it/having it used to connect with distant cousins. I’ve met so many great people!!
  • Shauna: Blaine Bettinger stressed complete trees when he was out here and I have been finding it really useful to trace all descendants of an ancestor couple where possible
  • Hilary: I have been updating my connections @WikiTreers with better citations and connected to @FamilySearch tree my Ancestry tree has always been private and needs updating get more connections on free sites. I like that I can write a biography for an individual @WikiTreers
  • Sandra G: I have my own website but I have not updated in a while. have public trees and some private trees on ancestry. Con for ancestry is people just copying without contacting or responding to messages.
  • Carmel: In my online tree at MyHeritage I include links to blog posts I have written about folks
  • Sandra G: So in saying that for messages on ancestry I did today receive a reply From a message I sent 13 years ago.
  • Sharn: I find having a tree online is an excellent way to find relatives providing their tree is correct. People copying my tree and popping it on to the wrong family is a downside. But the good outweighs the bad
  • Pauleen: Not to mention using photos that have a clear copyright symbol and name on them where I’ve taken them overseas. I’ve written to a few people who’ve used people photos that are incorrect – some reply and correct. I do find it frustrating when I get in touch with someone because of linked trees (& maybe DNA) and where I offer new info, only to find the next time they’ve made the tree private.
  • Brooke: But how do you decide what to leave out? Knock on wood, but I haven’t seen any negatives yet from having my full tree online.
  • Margaret: I have worked on my and many other families on FamilySearch, removing duplicates and confirming information from other records like BDM Online. I have put about 600 profiles on @WikiTreers which includes my pedigree line. I am checking these again to add any further information which will take some months. That is my best tree
  • Shauna: I have my tree online in a few places plus I have blogged about families too. It is definitely cousin bait as I have made connections I would not necessarily found. Sharing online seems to be one of the ways to make sure your research is findable in future
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  • Pauleen: I agree that blogging brings all sorts of information to the fore, much completely unexpected. Similarly having a network of people who know your research interests can make a big difference
  • Maggie ~scans: I was able to put some of my Dad’s WW2 photos online there- he had named the people in them. They let me know one day that someone had found their father in one of my Dad’s photos
  • Jane: My main trees are on Ancestry and backed up to my computer using FamilyTreeMaker. Having trees online helps with connections and collaboration
  • Carmel: online @ MyHeritage and limited trees on Ancestry and FMP All good for finding rellies. My ancestors don’t belong to just me. Gradually adding some to FamilySearch and Wikitree
  • Jill: The biggest pro is making connections. I wouldn’t put everything online just enough to be effective cousin bait.
  • Pauleen: PROS: Online trees can help you identify cousins even if they only have basic trees. They may know how many living family members of a branch. You can use them to connect for DNA. They can also see your line for DNA and research.   CONS: The inevitable potential for errors to be made, the unreliability of the data recorded, the dead-ends in many US trees when they reach immigrants, the one or three person “trees” for DNA matches
  • Fran: Keeping multiple trees is time consuming so they do get out of date easily. Sometimes I just use branches. I like the hints however can turn them off to stay focused.
  • Brooke: Ancestry is where my online tree lives. I recently ‘upgraded’ it to contain all my family tree branches & I’ve been getting great cousin participation. I sync my Ancestry trees to Family Tree Maker.
  • Fran: One of my goals with the Ancestry Tree is to improve others trees. I always attached good sources so that others might review these and fix their trees. Mine is not perfect however I do use disclaimers, eg not verified
  • Jill: I believe that, if you want to make connections you must put your research out there in cyberspace. My main database is on my PC but I have my own website, and scaled down trees on the Big 4.

DNA – matches, searching


  • Jill: I have tested with the 5 main companies. The best results have come from Ancestry. My aboriginal ethnicity been confirmed – the family stories were right. I have made new connections and reconnected with other cousins
  • Dara: Sadly, my matches are rarely interested in collaborating. What is wrong with my family?!!!
  • Maggie: I was lucky my parents were happy to do it – I gave them as Christmas gifts one year. Only took them nine months to actually do them!
  • Fiona: @patientgenie and I have done two Ancestry Facebook videos on DNA.
  • Sharn: I visited a third cousin in Chicago who found me on Ancestry. I arrived there in 2015 with DNA kits. We spat together in her kitchen the morning after I arrived and all I could think was – what if we aren’t related….. we were!
  • Sandra G: DNA on Ancestry. This has helped to confirm actual research. Also for my great great grandfather, I am sure I have worked from matches that he is not who he says he was. I need to write up my research to post it to my blog to
  • Maggie: Quite a few matches coming through on MyHeritage, but they seem to have less useful trees on there, sometimes difficult to identify where they fit in. I have a basic pedigree public for each of my parents, but it’s useful to go wide and include more than just direct ancestors – easier to identify where matches fit in. I tend to do that part offline at the moment.
  • Sue: tested with Ancestry and Living DNA but also uploaded to MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. Attached to trees on each site where possible and been very helpful especially my dad’s DNA tests – I look after about 8 DNA tests for relatives. Many I asked to prove or disprove NPE with Dad’s DNA – found he now only has half relations except for my brother and I
  • Jennifer: I was planning on learning more about DNA at DNA Down Under but was sick and couldnt go. Still don’t know much. I have had my DNA tested by @Ancestry As yet I have only attached it to my basic outline tree on Ancestry My only excuse for this is slackness. I haven’t done anything useful to my research with my DNA results. They are just sitting there waiting for me to learn more about DNA.
  • Shauna: My grandmother always refused to talk to me about the family and told me not to trace back. I always thought it was about the skeletons in her family – little did I know she was hiding her own skeleton. Truth will out
Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay
  • Soc OPS: Ancestry DNA (for myself, my father, my brothers and several cousins, linked to my Ancestry tree) which has helped confirm much of my paper trail research; no breakthroughs on my brickwall born-out-of-wedlock ancestors yet though. Plus yDNA.
  • Margaret: Parents and all 1st cousins on my father’s side dead. Two siblings have not tested. I’m the oldest, so my DNA is the best available. It seems to go back to early 1700s. I’ve done two and a third is on its way to me. Both attached to trees, one private one not. Without DNA matching I would have had no chance to find my father’s family which seems to have missed most records. I spend much time going through a list of kits. I have about 200,000 DNA matches within my close family and various cousins at various distances. I found my 2xgreat grandfather’s family by DNA matching combines with research. Now I am on the trail of the generation before,
  • Maggie ~scans: With a combo of IrelandReachingOUt website, my DNA matches, and FB- I had organised to meet a knowledgeable cousin in Ireland last year- but with COVid the trip never happened. Having my DNA attached to a tree has helped me clarify more about my Scettrini matches who emigrated to the US. Helpful as some in Oz have gone up the wrong tree!
  • Shauna: Testing my DNA revealed a very close family secret which was a shock. But then DNA helped me find my father’s biological family. No regrets because I prefer the truth.
  • Sharn: I have my DNA linked to trees on Ancestry and My Heritage. I love the moment when I click on a tree match and find the DNA also matches. The paper trail is confirmed
  • Brooke: my DNA test is connected to my Ancestry tree. So is Dad’s test. There’s some real potential there to break down the brick wall that is the mystery of Dad’s maternal grandfather
  • Jill: Haven’t found a close NPE yet but I think my large match with Mr Smith might be one. I can see that he has read my last message. Just wish he would answer!
  • Sandra C: I did an Ancestry DNA test and uploaded those results to MyHeritage and FTDNA. Two of those are attached to a tree. Very helpful. Trees are private though while I try to push back further in time and until I can find documents to further prove things.
  • Hilary: I tested with @myheritagedna but not had much success matches are distant and other trees non existent
  • Maggie: I’ve had mine and my parents’ DNA tested, and attached trees to theirs. It has been wonderful to use the results to help back up research I’ve done over the years and confirm hypotheses
  • Fran: DNA attached to my tree in @Ancestry and @MyHeritage. Does help you locate branches for DNA matches.
  • Jane: I have tested with 3 companies and have uploaded to a number of others … I always link my DNA to myself … it helps to make connections so that I can build in collateral lines
  • Pauleen: Yes I’ve tested with most of the big companies or uploaded. I’ve connected DNA to my online tree. It’s much more helpful now more people have tested and I can more readily assign them to my lines. None of the DNA companies have shown my German ethnicity, and Irish is haphazard. Cousins testing has been helpful in confirming paper trails and distant connections.

    cattu / Pixabay

Genealogy gems

  • Pauleen: I think what you get with NLA is the same as the subscription sites. Keep planning to do a full comparison, but haven’t. I use my FMP subs for newspaper searching mostly. I was doing cartwheels when I learned about JSTOR via NLA.
  • Maggie: I did a lot of my NZ research from England while I was living there – plenty of online resources available, and easy to order certs/printouts. Enjoy!
  • Society for OPS: I’ve found gems for others too, including a friend & former work colleague who was adopted as a baby. Traditional research on her maternal side (one ancestor was a stage magician!), DNA eventually unravelled her paternal side and revealed half-siblings!
  • Maggie: The most significant gem would have to be John Burke’s baptism in Aughagower parish, Co Mayo – found on RootsIreland. Was the beginning of identifying extended family all in one townland.
  • Fiona: Everyday brings genealogy gems – some happy, some not. This week has included a young family of girls emigrating from Aust to NZ in 1883 and finding out what happened to them; and today it was a murder. Each adds to the wider family story.
  • Hilary: I find the GRO indexes have helped me find missing relatives and prove a family story regarding a child who died young. Premature birth found inquest in newspaper
  • Sharn: Thanks to a passenger record for a Pan Clipper I am trying to work out why my g uncle was flying between England and New York during WW2. Was he a spy?
  • SocOPS: So many, for my own tree, and for my #OnePlaceStudy and one-name study research, it’s difficult to know where to start! Photos, records, newspaper reports . . . online resources have been a treasure trove (just as well during a pandemic-induced lockdown!)
  • Sue: Researching my direct relatives wills, I found out who gave me my piano that I used to play as a child. Didn’t know it then though.  Then I found out my GGgrandmothers brother-in-law was a piano maker in Hobart – I now wonder if the piano had come down through the family from then in the 1860s
Tama66 / Pixabay
  • Sharn: Last year through a DNA match on Ancestry.com and building a tree I linked an adoptee to my family tree. He was adopted in the 1940’s and has now met his half siblings in the US. Quite a Gem
  • Hilary: my gems have got to be newspaper finds on @findmypast things such as obituaries, Marriages and inquests various court reports and even properly sale pointing to a Burial date
  • Margaret: I found by DNA matching and research that my great grandmother’s sister had emigrated to Invercargill and was buried in the local cemetery. She had my two forenames.
  • Sandra C: My genealogy gems are when looking through the German church records and being able to find the whole family. Sad though when you find a brother or sister only to find they died at age 2.
  • Shauna: A fantastic find was a sketch of my GG grandfather in a digitised newspaper. With no photos, this was really good
  • Carmel: on Trove wonderful description of my parents wedding and extensive reporting of gt-grandparents golden wedding celebrations, on FS will of gt grandfather giving his land to daughter, my grandmother
  • Pauleen: Trove discoveries include the extent of an ancestors confectionery skills, fires, floods & near-death experiences. Another great grandfather was a bandmaster in Longreach -lost to the family memory. Recently that a great aunt had briefly joined the convent.
  • Brooke: Can’t go past Aunty Joy who found me using Ancestry messaging. She really was a gem.
  • Pauleen: Finding a news story about my great-grandfather’s anti-vax stand and with wonderful assistance from a genimate, proving a family story & learning more about my ancestor’s experience
  • Pauleen: My genealogy gems have mainly been found offline in libraries and archives. Trove however is gold for revealing all sorts of real-life stories about my ancestors that would otherwise never be known.

Love this quote:

Carmel and Fran: Love that comment that your ancestors don’t just belong to you. Sometimes people seem to be a bit territorial with their research.

Readers: What are your three favourite places to research online? Why those three?