I recently had the opportunity to read The DNA Guide for Adoptees, by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett. Shannon is a DNA Consultant at Legacy Tree Genealogists, and both authors are very well-versed in genetic genealogy and have much experience in helping adoptees identify their biological families.While the book is called The DNA Guide for Adoptees, it is actually a comprehensive guide to all avenues an adoptee can take or should consider in researching their biological ancestry. The first portion of the book covers preparations an adoptee can make before starting their journey, including emotionally preparing themselves and their adoptive families for the search. It also covers the basics of traditional or document-based genealogical research, adoptees’ rights to their own records, and why DNA testing has been such a game-changer in helping adoptees discover their birth families. The next portion explains the basics of DNA inheritance, what DNA tests are available …Read more
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Land records are some of the most underutilized, yet most useful, records available in genealogy. Often, they are the only records which state a direct relationship between family members. They can also be used to prove relationships indirectly by studying the land laws in force at the time. Sometimes they can even be used to locate an ancestor’s farm or original house, so that we can walk today where our family walked long ago.Land records exist in the United States in abundance for most locations, yet they are an often overlooked resource for many genealogists. Don’t make the same mistake! Read on for more information about how land records can help you scale seemingly impossible brick walls in your genealogy research.Land Ho! The Importance of Land RecordsThe search for new land is one of the main themes of American history, so it makes sense that land records would be an important part of researching that history. The right to own real estate was not universal in most of …Read more
"Why is it not on the map?" We discuss how learning history can help you in your family history research--especially when it involves areas with shifting boundaries and name changes!One of the biggest frustrations for a family historian is finding a new place name written in a family record … but then not being able to find that place on a modern-day map, as was the issue we recently discussed in our blog article, Finding Vital Records for Galicia, Austria-Hungary.Sometimes this quandary develops because the place name has been mangled through phonetic or oral transmission over generations or after immigration. In other instances, it may be due to an actual change of the place’s name or a shift in the boundaries of the higher jurisdiction to which the place belonged politically. This can happen anywhere in the world, but we’ll give some examples from both the United States and Europe, as well as a suggestion about how to account for place name changes in your family history …Read more
Historical maps of Europe are an often underutilized resource in European genealogy research. We share a free tool that allows you to add European maps to your genealogy toolbox!Since most records were held on the town/parish level in Europe, locating the correct town is an essential first step before researching your ancestors in their country of birth. Over the centuries, borders in Europe sometimes changed drastically, so it is important to know to which country or empire your ancestral hometown belonged in the time period of interest as well as today. Border changes can impact where records are held, the language(s) in which they were recorded, and even the name of the town. Sometimes smaller villages or hamlets named in records no longer exist today, but their former locations and names are preserved on historical maps. Finding a contemporary map of the area in the time period your ancestors lived there can also add fascinating detail to your understanding of their lives. Did …Read more