Category Archives: How To

Free Spreadsheet Programs

One of the big things in the genetic genealogy world these days is “clustering”. Basically this is a way to group matches you have into family groups to make it easier to figure out how the unknown match relates to you. Two of the popular ways are DNA Gedcom and Genetic Affairs. The beginning of this fad and still the easiest and cheapest way to cluster is to do it yourself using the Leed’s Method. A really good explanation is given by Dana Leed herself at her blog.

But, all of these methods presuppose that you have a spreadsheet! Not everyone has a spreadsheet: perhaps you just got a new computer for Christmas; perhaps you don’t like the rental paradigm that Microsoft is using. The point of this post is to remind everyone about the FREE spreadsheet programs provided by LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. In both cases, you can download and install either just a spreadsheet program or a suite that includes a spreadsheet, word processor, power-point equivalent and database. They really are free, never any strings attached. You just have to install one or the other. They come in 3 flavors: Windows, Mac, Linux.

The Monterey Family History Center has the LibreOffice Suite installed on all computers if you want to see it in action before you get it yourself. We had OpenOffice on the older computers, but LibreOffice came preinstalled (by the SaltLake FHC) on our new machines.

Don’t let the lack of a spreadsheet keep you from building a Leeds Cluster! Get thee over to Dana Leed’s blog and follow her along. Then you can come to one of the DNA Interest Group meetings and tell us how it worked! Or you could do a show-n-tell at one of the MoCoGenSo monthly meetings!


“Just because you have grown up with the Internet does not mean that the Internet is grown up.

ISOGG is Special

The Director of ISOGG, Katherine Borges, taught 4 classes at the DAR Ancestor Roundup last Saturday. Her presence made me curious, I have known about the ISOGG website for a long time, it’s reputation in the genetic genealogy world is excellent. I used to browse the Y-DNA tree quite often. ISOGG stands for International Society of Genetic Genealogy. It was founded in 2006! But I had grown complacent. smug really, over the years believing I had gone “beyond” ISOGG. After all, I had taken my first DNA test at National Genographic in January 2006! Boy was I wrong.

I went to the ISOGG web site the other day just to find out about this “director” person. While there, I began to poke around the various pages they maintain. I had forgot that they have hundreds of pages, but you have to poke around to find them. Their site is really a goldmine of data about genetic genealogy, and they have volunteers maintaining the system who really care about this hobby of ours.

You need to start your visit to ISOGG by starting at the front door, of course. Click isogg.org to get there. The initial presentation reminds me of meeting Clark Kent, who would ever imagine this was actually Super Man!

The “meat” of the site is in their Wiki pages. Click ISOGG Wiki to get there now, but the Wiki is also at the top of their Home page.

To see Super Man, though, you have to go to this next page. This page lists all of their pages, but they are RANKED by number of times read, eg. popularity! Popular Pages. This page is marked “Special”, so I don’t know if it is a permanent page or not. You best try it soon. This page is useful for ALL levels of expertise.

I will leave this post with a link to one of my favorites pages in ISOGG, the Autosomal SNP comparison chart.

Trust me, if you are interested in DNA coupled with genealogy, you need to visit ISOGG and take the time to prowl around.. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or an “old pro”, you will find things stored there that will be useful.


“Why do people say tuna fish but don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird?” – Reddit


Discoveries in the Courthouse

Junel Davidsen gave a really interesting talk during our October 2018 monthly meeting about researching Deed records and other similar documents and other discoveries you can make in Courthouses!

We have here the handout containing resources and links that Junel provided at the meeting. The file is a PDF with “live” links. Download and enjoy.

Discovering in Deeds

Immigration Records now at Family Search!

Given that Adam and Eve were born in some country other than the United States (Garden of Eden) then therefore everyone here in the USA is either an immigrant or is descended from immigrants. (Native Americans also immigrated — just longer ago than most!)

Many of our immigrant ancestors came to this country through the portals of Ellis Island. It has always been a challenge to search the records at Ellis Island. I know that Stephen Morse has made it easier on his One-Step web site. And he will be the September speaker here.

BUT — a recent blog post from FamilySearch.org announced that the complete archive of Ellis Island passenger records is now available on their website, today! They are completely indexed with the real imagine available too. Hooray.

Click here to see the blog announcement:

https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/archive-ellis-island-records/

The free records include the following:

New York Passenger Lists (Castle Garden) 1820–1891

New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) 1892–1924

New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists 1925–1957

Start searching for your ancestors now. What are you waiting for!


“There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.” – Raymond Reddington


Family Tree Visualization

This is a quick note to tell you about a web based tool I just discovered tonight. It is so much fun that I had to pop this post so you can try it too (before it goes away?).

The tool is called “Family Tree Visualization” and it can be found here:
https://learnforeverlearn.com/ancestors/

The tool analyzes your family tree (from the gedcom you upload) and then gives you an interactive display of the tree on your screen. But don’t stop there, move the mouse pointer around, click on the places where I have marked in red below (see left side too), scroll the mouse wheel, experiment => the darn thing is full of information about your tree. This is an excellent tool that is both fun and useful.

The display only shows your ancestors, but the statistics include summarizations from all of your tree! So upload a full gedcom. Use this on your desktop or laptop computer because you need the mouse. No iPads here!

“Wow, this is amazing.” If this is old news to you, then I can only say “Why didn’t you tell me before?”


Local Land Records

A couple of weeks ago, Junel Davidsen gave a talk at the Santa Cruz Genealogical Society. her talk was about Researching Local Land Records.

I wish I had been able to be there. The lecture was about finding and using local land records. Local land records contain more than property descriptions, names of buyers/sellers and legal jargon. Records kept by local officials for hundreds of years hold a treasure-trove of information. Finding these records can reward researchers with biographical information, evidence of relationships, clues to migration and more.

Junel has made the handout she created available for downloading, not only at the Santa Cruz site, but also here. Having this file, which is full of hot links, is almost as good as being there!

To get the file, Click here.

Meanwhile, if you see Junel, perhaps Wednesdays at the FHC, give her a big thanks.