Friday, November 4, 2016

Taking a New Direction

Stymied by research problems—like my lack of progress unraveling the Kelly connections in Lafayette, Indiana—I sometimes find a detour is helpful. Mostly, such re-routing brings me closer to my research goals in the roundabout way of doing some foundational housekeeping chores.

While it isn't spring right now—well, not unless you are Down Under—this calls for some genealogical spring cleaning. In a week, I'll be headed to Houston to a DNA conference, along with our family's newly-minted anthropologist, so this would be the perfect time to take a look at the condition of our family's DNA test results and their corresponding records.

I'm focusing mainly on our Family Tree DNA results right now, because that is who is hosting this conference. Also, since there have been a lot of changes to the layout of the "dashboard" for navigating those test results, I have some catching up to do to get my own readouts up to date with those changes.

For instance, customers may now insert their matches into their family tree posted at FTDNA—assuming, of course, that the customer has actually uploaded a family tree to the site. A lot of customers haven't uploaded any family tree data at all—providing an endless source of irritation for those of us who are interested in connecting with our matches. Because plugging a third cousin once removed into our tree at FTDNA can get messy—although, thankfully, it is now possible to accomplish—I have been neglecting confirmation of those matches in my tree.

But before I can complete those linking exercises, there is another task I need to attend to. This one will turn out to be Job Number One for my spring cleaning duties on my trees at FTDNA: I need to insure that all members of each family tree are present and updated in that tree. Up until this point, several branches were not fully added at FTDNA, even though they are on my own records on Family Tree Maker and (Yes, I know, one's tree is never "done," but what I mean here is that the full catalog of what I've researched and recorded in my databases in those other locations is now represented at FTDNA, as well.)

Once that task is attended to for each of the DNA tests I administer, I can begin linking the known matches to their spot in our trees. For this, instead of utilizing FTDNA's Pedigree View, I'll be switching to their Family View, where I will hand-deliver the entries for siblings of great-grandparents and other tedious connections to make it possible to view the exact spot where each of these confirmed matches belong in our trees.

The third task will be to go back and connect with those matches where we know there has to be some common family connection, but I and the other match's admin can't find the proof for the link just yet. This will be the hardest part. Some of those matches are puzzles we've been toying with, off and on, for months.

Perhaps, having given the puzzle a rest, taking it up again with fresh eyes—and newly-added functions in the FTDNA family tree readouts—may make a difference. I hope so; there are probably four or five more matches I haven't yet confirmed just because we're stuck on figuring out the connection.

Of course, that's not even considering the hundreds more matches that have kept me at a standstill, ever since I received news of them. I know some dedicated researchers have taken to building trees for their matches, as well, but I can't say I'm to that point, yet. I know there are some trees out there which are lacking in accuracy, but I'm not quite the kind soul—yet—who is willing to take on that battle.

Maybe another go-round on the cleaning whim. Maybe another spring. For now, I'll take these tasks on, one at a time.


  1. Have fun in Houston! I guess your daughter must have graduated? ...If so congratulation to you all! :)

    1. Well...she's still in process. Hurdle number one is over, but it's not all over until that PhD, you know.

      And yes, we will enjoy Houston, even though only there for the conference. It seems the genetic genealogy crowd does include some interesting anthropologists from time to time, so we will be all ears, especially when it comes to networking!

  2. I can see the tie between anthropologist and genetic genealogy -- the apple didn't fall far from the (family) tree... :)

  3. Good point, Iggy. We have noticed a few similarities between the two disciplines, which has been helpful in expanding our awareness of details to pay attention to.


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