Monday, August 08, 2016

MyHeritage and Wikitree: new tools

* Outreach - finding cousins and other relatives
* Research - answering questions and solving mysteries
* Paying respect - finding and telling the stories of those who can no longer speak

All of these aspects of family history research have energized my interest in the past, and I'm liking the new tools available to support that. A few years ago I was fascinated by the new use of DNA in genealogy research, and have used 23andme, Ftdna, and Gedmatch.

I started using MyHeritage because 23andme chose to use that site to display family trees. When MyHeritage offered a special deal ($99) for one year of access to their research resources, I bit. One feature I particularly enjoy is that when you find a person in, say, the census, the MH software queues up the rest of the family as well. You can quite easily not just link the family together, but also attach the source attribution to each of them.

Another nice feature is their software matching each person in your tree to resources you have not yet found, and finding that person in other trees. These both end up being very powerful. I began the tree there by simply putting in myself, my husband and our parents, and letting the software begin the work. After getting more and more census, birth, marriage, death and marriage records to the various people in the tree, I began working a bit, and filling in the holes.

As I added details, relatives, and evidence, the MH software kicked in and often suggested "Discoveries" which are sets of relatives which match one of the people in my tree. If they seem likely, I add them, as I don't consider this tree proven beyond the people whom I've researched.

I've made a real effort to bring all the trees as far forward in time as MH offers, since this is the best way to find cousins. And for cousins I already know or have proven to be related, I spend some extra time trying to make the evidence as complete as I can. Then I transfer what I can to Wikitree.

I began using Wikitree a year or so ago, by uploading my newly-cleaned GEDCOM file. Now that I have all those nice census images and other cool evidence, I've begun uploading the images, etc. to wikitree pages. Creating and linking pages for each person is a bit intensive, but it is well worth it in the end. It's quite easy to link all the people in a census image, for instance, if you've already created the pages for each.

Wikitree is created for collaboration, which is really my end goal. I don't consider any of my ancestors and other relatives as MINE, but shared with my family. So I honor each person with the parts of their lives that I've found, and hope that others will do the same.

Lately I got another special offer from FindMyPast.com, which has very clear census images. Since MH's census and some other images have been broken for some months, it's come in very handy. For building a tree, however, it seems hopeless. So if I already have a person in my tree, I can link the evidence I find. I've found no way to add people to the gedcome I uploaded, however. That will have to happen on Wikitree.

Recently I figured out how to access my complete and detailed list of matches from 23andme, so I downloaded that, and sorted by chromosome, then split the spreadsheet into one for each chromosome so I can sort by the start of each matching segment. Now to get the Gedmatch matches divided up that way, for better analysis. The text files I've been using so far are just not cutting it.

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