Category Archives: PowerUp SIG

Power-Up SIG Notes: Family Reunions

Researching Family Reunions

    • Reunions were big around the turn of the previous century
    • Frequently mentioned in local newspapers — look for lists of guests (a good place for clues to women’s married names)
  • Many were structured, with annual minutes and scrapbooks.  Look in local libraries, museums. I found one digitized on

Hosting Family Reunions

Power-Up SIG Notes: Using Facebook for Genealogy

Facebook Overview

  • Your profile
  • Your newsfeed
  • Groups and pages
    • Pages are largely run by one or two folks, using a more curated, broadcast model
    • Groups are moderated by a couple of people, but are more communal, with any member allowed to post.
    • Groups can be
      • Open, where anyone can join and jump right in immediately
      • Closed, where you have to ask to join and a moderator approves you (sometimes they ask questions to verify that you are not a machine and not trying to sell sunglasses). Closed doesn’t mean they don’t want you — most groups close just to keep out the spammers and pornographers, so go ahead and click the Join button
      • Secret, where the group doesn’t even show up in searches and you have to be invited to join

Straight Genealogy

  • Katherine Willson’s list of 11,000+ groups on Facebook:
  • Genealogy Master List of Facebook Groups: a group on Facebook,
  • Genealogy technique groups, i.e. Genetic Genealogy Techniques & Tips
  • Genealogy software and website groups, i.e. Family Tree Maker Users
  • Genealogy societies, i.e. MHGS
  • Museums, archives, libraries, i.e. Kansas Historical Society
  • Local history, i.e. Wichita History from my Perspective
  • Just search!  There’s probably a group for that!

Keeping in Touch With Family

  • Sharing stories and photos
  • A couple ways to structure it
    • Just post to your newsfeed
    • Post, but just to selected friends
    • Create a private group — you can make private (can still be found in public list of groups) or secret (findable only by current members)

Researching Living Relatives

  • Totally optional. Don’t do it if it makes you uncomfortable!
  • General steps:
    • Search name.  If too many names, search name and city or state
    • Look at About section.  May learn birthday, marital status, birthplace, current city, jobs, education.
    • Look at Family and Relationships, under About
    • Look at photos — especially read the comments on pictures with kids or family events, since it’s amazing how many relatives post things like “you’re looking great, mom” or “that’s my grandson!”  Also see who is tagged, since you might get names of relatives
    • Look at friends — search on surnames, especially maiden or grandparent surnames.
    • Last, skim the posts on the timeline to see if there are birthday or anniversary congratulations, or a conversation about a funeral or family memory
    • Send a Friend Request!

Keeping Yourself Safe (and Sane)

  • There is enormous tension between sharing and privacy.  You need to decide what suits you today, and you will need to revisit the subject regularly as Facebook is always changing.
  • There is a difference between what other Facebook users can learn about you and what Facebook sells to marketers about you.  You don’t have much control about what Facebook knows about you, other than to not use Facebook.
    • You can see what Facebook knows about you by going to Settings, General, Download a copy of your Facebook data.
  • You have a lot of control over what other Facebook users can learn about you.  Click on the little down arrow by the question mark at the top of the window, then select Settings.
    • You can see what the public (non-friends) can see under Settings, Public Posts, View your public timeline
  • You also have a lot of control over what you see from other Facebook users.
    • You can be “friends” with someone without letting them fill your newsfeed with junk.
      • To stop seeing everything they post, Unfollow them.  You are still friends, they see what you post, and you can go to their profile page to catch up.
      • To stop seeing all those sappy pictures and inspirational quotes, click on the three dots to the right of an annoying shared post and “Hide all from xxx”

Power-Up SIG Notes: Useful Research vs Chasing Squirrels

How do you decide which people to research and which to ignore?  Do you follow parents of people who married into your family?  How about the siblings of your direct ancestors?  Do you try to follow all the children down to the present?

During our discussion, we established some general questions to ask ourselves to help decide whether to follow a line or not:

What is the purpose of our project?  And what is our goal for today?

  • Are we trying to join a lineage society?  If so, following siblings and others is probably a distraction.
  • Are we planning to write a book about the descendants of a particular couple?  How many generations down?  If someone falls in that set, follow them!
  • It might help to establish a file folder or Word document where you can jot down the interesting clues you find and decide not to pursue.  It will make it easier to move on if you know you can come back and pick it up later.

Have we hit a brick wall?  Perhaps we should be researching our subject’s FAN club.  Elizabeth Shown Mills named this research technique — Friends, Associates, Neighbors — others have called it cluster research.  The general idea is that very few people live in a vacuum, and other individuals in their lives may have left records you can use.  For example, if your ancestor was from Virginia, but you don’t know where in Virginia, perhaps he moved with a group of folks who are now his neighbors.  Perhaps if you researched some of them, you can find a clue about where they all moved from.  Or, if you’re trying to find the maiden name of a woman, perhaps you should look at the people who witnessed wills, administered probates, and bought and sold land with, to see if any of those people might be her parents or siblings.

Are we using DNA?  Matching up with cousins is much easier if we have a reasonably complete tree for the most recent generations, which allows us to recognize married names for our second cousins.  It also increases the chances that we’ll recognize situations where we link up with a cousin in more than one way.

Power-Up SIG Notes: Holiday To-Do List

The holiday season is a family-rich time of year, making this a primo opportunity to ask questions, copy photographs, swab DNA tests and otherwise make a little progress on our genealogy research!  But it only works if you know the questions, have a DNA test kit ready, and remember to bring a scanner or cell phone!  So let’s get planning…

    • Opportunities
      • Who will you be seeing in the next couple of months?
        • Do you have questions for them?
        • Do you want to record interviews?
        • Do you want to ask them to take a DNA test?
        • Is this the time to get those cool 4-generation photos?
        • Do they have photos or other records or memorabilia you’d like to get digital images of?
        • Do you have any unidentified photos you’d like them to look at?
        • Do you have anything for them, such as written profiles, thumb drives of digital images, photo books, pedigree charts or printed trees?
      • Will you be traveling?
        • Will you be near any cemeteries or repositories?
        • Will you be near any sites that you’d like photos of (old houses, schools, churches, etc)
        • Will you be near any Facebook friends or others that you could stop and meet in person?
      • Will you be sending holiday cards or gifts?
        • Do you want to include any forms to request information?
        • Do you want to include any family history gifts?
      • Will anyone ask you for a gift list?
        • Are there any genealogy reference materials you’d like?
        • Perhaps a subscription to a new website?
        • Membership in a genealogy society
        • Maybe a trip to a genealogy conference?
        • Some archival boxes for your treasures?
    • Calendar
      • Event dates
      • Shipping dates
      • Ordering lead times (printing a photo book, getting a DNA kit)
    • To-Do List!
      • Tasks
      • With due dates
      • And priorities

Power-Up SIG Notes: Genealogical Numbering Systems

    • Why?
      • Primarily – Written family histories
      • For some – filing systems
    • Systems
      • Ahnentafel (ON en TAH full) (ancestor table)
        • For numbering ancestors in a pedigree chart
        • Base person is 1. Father is 2. Mother is 3.
        • Any person’s (n) father is n x 2 and mother is n x 2 + 1
        • No numbers for anyone else
        • If you want to sound extra geeky, call it the Sosa-Stradonitz System
      • Dollarhide (William Dollarhide)
        • Adds to Ahnentafel for other descendants
        • Base person’s grandfather is 4.0. His siblings are 4.1, 4.2, 4.3
        • Has additional characters for step, half, second marriage, etc
      • Register (New England Historic and Genealogical Society Register)
        • For numbering descendants
        • Only people with descendants get a number
      • NGSQ or Modified Register (National Genealogical Society Quarterly)
        • Everyone gets a number
      • Henry (Reginald Henry)
        • Base person is 1.
        • Children get parent’s number plus an extra digit at end (11, 12, 13, 111, 112, 113…)
        • Problems with more than 9 kids!  (some use X, A, B, C, some use (10))
      • D’Aboville (Jaques d’Aboville)
        • Used a lot in France
        • Like Henry, but uses periods between generations (1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.1.1, 1.1.2…)
      • Meurgey de Tupigny (Jacues Muergey de Tupigny)
        • Generations get Roman numeral, individuals get numbers
        • I, II-1, II-2, III-1, III-3
      • De Villiers/Pama
        • Like MdT but uses letters instead of Roman numerals
        • A, B-1, B-2, B-1.C-1, B-1.C-2, B-2.C-3
        • Used in South Africa


Power-Up SIG Notes: Data Standards for Names

This month, Ellen Burd led the discussion.  She put together 2 very nice handouts with many graphics and charts, which didn’t transfer to this page well at all, so I’m just going to attach them for you to download and provide a rough summary of the discussion here.

In general, we were discussing how to record names.  We identified several issues: Continue reading Power-Up SIG Notes: Data Standards for Names