This research tip of the week is in regards to DNA testing results on Ancestry.comContinue reading Research Tip
4 Brilliant Ancestry Hacks You Need to Know
Research on a Budget
I consider myself an addicted genealogist. There is a joke in the genealogy community. We are all self proclaimed addicts but you will never see a genealogist anonymous meeting. Why? Genealogists never want to quit. Perhaps we’re not a funny lot but the point is valid.
Everyday I dedicate time to researching or improving my research skills. I have been at this a long time and I consider myself a good researcher. In this field no one is ever truly an “expert”. People have specializations, but the subject is just so wide that it is is impossible to know it all at an expert level. It is a constant effort to acquire more information and skills.
If I ever strike it rich I might allow myself to spend endless amounts of money on this passion that I love so much but that is not this reality. Each of my precious genealogy budget dollars has to be used in the best way possible. I have discovered a few hacks to stretch my budget while still utilizing the vast resources at ancestry.com.
Being a member of ancestry.com can be a budget buster. The vast resources on the site, and the ease of use makes it worth the effort to subscribe to the paid site at least for short periods of time occasionally. However those monthly subscription fees can be hard to choke down.
4 Money Saving Ancestry Hacks
My first ancestry hack is to only subscribe when you are able to dedicate a considerable amount of time to research. If you are pressed for time and don’t know when you might have time to research then cancel that membership. It seems simple enough but I don’t know how many times I see people with a paid subscription to the site on auto renewal that haven’t touched the site in months. Your tree will remain there waiting for you to return at a free membership level unless YOU delete it. Don’t be afraid to save a few bucks if you can’t find the time to research.
My second ancestry hack is that even if you are researching on a regular basis cancel from time to time to get the company to offer a discount rate to stay. Often they will give 2 months for the twice of one if you have been a subscriber for awhile. It is no secret that most companies put more effort into attracting new customers than they do to ones who are loyal. I have no problem reminding companies that my research dollars are hard earned and I expect them to work for them just as they would a new customer. Ancestry is definitely one of the biggest and easiest to use sites but it is not the only place to research. I like to walk away from time to time just to remind myself that there are so many wonderful records repositories other than ancestry.
My third ancestry hack is to watch for sales. Ancestry is big on running regular sales. They typically run sales around holidays. The sales will typically offer DNA tests at $59 plus shipping and 50% off subscription services. I like to take advantage of sales around Black Friday and Mother’s Day to get my subscription services 50% off for the 6 month package.
My fourth ancestry hack is to use rakuten. It sounds too simple to be true but I always make sure I use a rakuten link when I purchase DNA tests or my regular subscription memberships. Typically, ancestry offers 7.5% cash back through rakuten. That’s right, just for buying your normal subscription you can earn 7.5% each and every time if you open a ticket through rakuten. I actually LOVE this site. They also offer 4% on DNA tests through ancestry. On a rare occasion I have even found ancestry on the double cash back list and received 15% cash back on my purchase.
Disclaimer: I will receive a small compensation from rakuten through this link however I recommend using rakuten for many of your shopping needs if you like to save money and receive cash back. I recommend this product because I think it is valuable and I have earned hundreds of dollars back in this method not because I have a referral link.
These are my 4 brilliant ancestry hacks. I use these methods to stretch my research budget and get the most out of each dollar I spend. Do you have any budget stretching ancestry hacks?
A New Leaf
Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States. It is second only to adult content searches regarding internet search terms. As family history interest passes from just being about family lore and delves further into the science realm with DNA the field is only going to continue to grow in popularity.
As interest in family history continues to grow the resources dedicated to the industry are becoming more visible. NBC has premiered a new show “A New Leaf” hosted by Daisy Fuentes and presented by Ancesty.com. The show airs on Saturday morning and is available free on demand on the network’s website.
I took a moment to review the premier episode and thought I would provide my thoughts on this show. The show is only 30 minutes in run time and that is with commercials. Actual airtime is closer to 20 minutes. I found the program enjoyable.
This episode is about a young woman, Nadia, and her mother Stephanie. Nadia is trying to learn more about her mother’s unknown father so she can learn more about that unknown side of her family. One thing that is unfortunate about the show is they skip over the process of how they identified the identity of Stephanie’s father. This was a good opportunity for the program to delve into the process of genetic genealogy but honestly in a 30-minute time slot, for an early morning weekend audience, this was probably the wisest choice.
Most of the show is about the reaction of Nadia and Stephanie as they learn about this unknown branch of their family tree. The researchers were able to locate records and photos of several of their ancestors including a very interesting interview from Stephanie’s great-great-grandmother, Martha Patton, who was 91 years old when interviewed for the Slave Narrative project 1936-1938.
Compared to a more research detailed show such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” this show is more of a feel-good show for the person with casual interest in family history. There is a lot of general history education dotted in through the program that relates to the story being researched but not as much on the actual research process.
Overall, I loved the show
I think it is a great concept that can help the average person understand the things genealogical research can reveal without getting bogged down in the detail of how it is done. I would recommend this program for anyone looking for a lighthearted program that can provide interesting educational tidbits without being too technical to appeal to a wide audience.
Have you had a chance to check out this show? Take a moment to let me know what you thought of the premier in the comments!
Start a New Project This Month
November is one of the all-star months when it comes to opportunities to preserve and share family history. Veteran’s Day gets everyone thinking about service members and the conflicts they may have served in while protecting our nation. As Veteran’s Day passes, we transition into Thanksgiving preparations and family gatherings where we try to remember to be thankful. On the heels of Family History Month in October, now is a great time to work on preserving family history for the next generations.
Veteran’s Day is Saturday November 11, 2017. The holiday will be rife with opportunities to research military records at discounted rates. Ancestry, Find My Past, Fold3 and countless other sites will likely have specials this weekend.
More than an opportunity to get free access to some records, Veteran’s day is a great chance to focus on preserving our veteran’s history for future generations.
Did you know?
On 12 July 1973, a fire ravaged the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St Louis, Missouri. The fire destroyed 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). An estimated 80% of Army records for personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960 are gone. The Air Force lost records for 75% of personnel discharged between 1947 and 1964. The loss was catastrophic; most of the records lost had no duplicates.
As time passes, we lose more and more of our Veterans who served in early wars. At this point every WWI veteran known to be living in the world has officially died, the last one on 4 Feb 2012 at age 110. Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, only approximately 550,000 are still living today. As seniors in their 80’s and 90’s these great veterans are dying at a rate of 362 every day. Coming fast behind the decline of the WWII veteran’s are the 5.7 million American Korean War vets of which 2.25 million are still living. With each passing day, we lose more and more of these generations.
Do You Know a WWII Veteran?
Each of us can play a part in preserving the heritage and history of these earlier generations. Ancestry.com has announced that they are working to capture the stories of as many of the last living half a million WWII service members as possible. Ancestry is inviting everyone to interview any WWII veterans willing to tell their story, record the interview, and upload it to the free searchable database they are creating. If you know a WWII veteran consider checking out the new project and adding their story to the database.
Wednesday is for Weddings
Weddings are a gift to the genealogist
Marriage records are invaluable when performing pre-1850 genealogical research on female ancestors. Prior to 1850 only heads of households were listed on the census. Locating that elusive 200-year-old marriage record could make all the difference in the quest for great-great grandmother’s name.
Here is a favorite wedding day photo of mine. The photo is from May 28, 1949 when my paternal grandparents, Jay Dee Fulkerson Jr and Loree Jane Ashley, were married in Flint, Michigan. Pictured with the new couple are both sets of parents.
Left to Right: Moman Harold Fulkerson, Lilly Mae Weatherspoon, Jay Dee Fulkerson Sr, Loree Jane Ashley, Sarah Eckler, Myron Ashley
Prior to this photo I had never seen a photo of my grandmother’s parents. In fact, my grandmother’s father, Myron Ashley, pictured on the right with a cigarette in his hand died the year after this photo was taken. His wife, Sarah Eckler, and my grandfather, Jay Dee Fulkerson Jr, both died before I was born.
During early periods in history, marriage was one of the few instances in a woman’s life when her full birth name might be recorded on documents. In lucky cases a bride’s parents may also be listed in the marriage record. Frequently, in the case of someone who was married more than once it can be a puzzle trying to locate each different surname, and surname changes are the cause of more than a few brick walls. Tracking down every marriage, and searching out not only maiden names but other possible surnames is a vital part of tracking maternal lines.
Frequently locating those marriage records can be a tricky endeavor because couples would travel to another area to get married. Other vital records searches are simplified by the fact they were typically recorded in the county or state where the person lived. Marriage records can be located in places the couple never resided.
My grandparents were from West Virginia and Michigan; they married in Angola, Indiana. Yet another set of grandparents further back in my line, both born and buried in Michigan, they married in Canada.
Tips while researching marriage records
- Always begin with searching for marriage records using the groom first; his surname was more likely to stay the same and if her surname is unexpected you know to look for other possible marriages.
- Don’t limit the geographic region of your search, people have been eloping forever.
- Marriage records can provide the bride’s maiden name….but not always… remember women changed their surnames, sometimes more often than we realize.
- Don’t disregard a record merely because both spouses don’t match. Dig deeper to see if it is truly different people or if there is more to the story.
Here is the marriage record of Lucy Bell Brown and Dallas Finley Shuck.
There are two things that could make this record tricky to locate.
- First, Dallas Finley who is listed only as Dallas F Shuck commonly went by the name Finley during life. You had to realize that his legal name was Dallas to locate this record.
- Second, Lucy was a widow when she married Finley so her last name is recorded as Jamison instead of her maiden name of Brown.
Till Death Do Us Part…. Or Not
On the flip side of the wedding coin another valuable source of information can be divorce records. While it’s easy to think of divorce as a modern-day habit, it happened more often than we realize in history. Ancestry.com has a wealth of historical divorce records on their site. Tracking down divorce records can make all the difference between accusing great grandpa of being a bigamist or realizing he might have had a few personality flaws that made him hard to live with.
My great-great-great grandfather, Leming Eckler, kept the marriage and divorce clerks of Michigan busy late in his life. I have found several marriage and divorce records for him dating from 1858 to 1907. As a male ancestor his surname never changed making following his trail possible. If he had been a female ancestor it would have been nearly impossible to follow the trail of rapidly changing names.
Divorce records also help to do something few other records do; they paint a more human picture of the person being researched. Most historical records show basic vital stats while divorce records might show character flaws such as abandonment, cruelty, or failure to support. They may not reveal some of the more flattering details of a person but it’s another way to see a new perspective on an ancestor’s personality.
From start to end weddings leave a trail to be followed
Marriage and divorce records can hold bits of information that can be vital to putting together the lineage puzzle. Locating marriage and divorce records can be challenging but the reward for success makes it worth the time investment.
Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
Ancestry.com. Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Michigan. Divorce records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan
“West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FTHY-MZQ : 4 December 2014), Dallas F Shuck and Lucy Belle Jamison, 1926; citing Nicholas, West Virginia, United States, , county clerks, West Virginia; FHL microfilm 495,646