"So you do genealogy, right?" How a Legacy Hint and MyHeritage solved the case


This really happened.

After talking about our cows and gardens, my neighbor asked, "so you do genealogy, right?" While I didn't know where he was going with this, I liked what he was thinking. He told me about a distant cousin of his that went to high school with him in the 1960s, and that he lost contact with her shortly thereafter. She hadn't shown up for their 50th school reunion the week earlier. He knew that she married, but had no idea to whom.  He asked, "can you find her?"

My wife responded, "but you only find dead people though, right?" After 25 years, I guess she doesn't know me as well as I thought....

My neighbor told me what he knew of his family tree and noted that his great-grandfather was once the county sheriff. He remembered that his grandmother and his cousin's grandmother were siblings.

I told him I'd get started right away.

So I opened up my Legacy Family Tree software, created his 3-generation tree, and started sleuthing. The clue about the sheriff made his great-grandfather easy to find. I then worked my way down to his cousin. According to Legacy's Relationship Chart report, they were indeed second cousins.


This is where it got difficult. I had no clue what his cousin's married name was. Or if she was still alive. However, I did know when and where her parents died. If I could locate their obituaries, I bet they would mention the survivors' names, including her married name and residence at the time. I scoured the online newspapers but none had the issues for the time span that I needed.

And then I saw it. The beautiful orange "hint" icon appeared in Legacy's Pedigree View.


Legacy found 3 hints for his cousin's mother.


MyHeritage.com found three matches to something on the site that provided information about his cousin's parents and burial place. But I needed info on his cousin - not her grandparents.

I clicked. And there she was.


The left side of the screen displayed what I already have in my Legacy software. The right side of the screen displayed what MyHeritage had about the same family. Even though the cousin was living, because the information I knew about her was identical to the information that MyHeritage had about her from a user's tree, it displayed the match to me. (More information about this is here.) But it added one additional piece of information - her married name!

I know enough about "hints" to know that they should be scrutinized, explored, evaluated and researched. I even recently published these members-only webinars about online hinting:

So, using what I learned in our Finding the Living webinars, and now that I had her married name, I purchased a background search of his cousin  (searches public records), In minutes I had a 40+ page report of possible relatives, current and previous addresses, phone numbers, property she owned, and much more. Again, all of this is publicly available so there's no privacy issues here. Everything looked like it fit perfectly...as long as the match at MyHeritage had the right info about her married name.

Back to the obituaries. Remember how I couldn't locate the right edition of the needed newspapers online? Well, I went to the bank and took out a new loan so I could put gas in my car. Then I drove to the Idaho Historical Society in downtown Boise. In less than 5 minutes I found the obituary. The staff there was impressed. :) Again, I was predicting that the obituary of the cousin's mother would list the survivors' names and places of residences.

And it sure did!

The name of my neighbor's cousin exactly matched the hint that MyHeritage gave me. Well done Legacy Hints and MyHeritage! Well done. Case closed. I now know the cousin's identity and where she lives.

For two days now I've been calling my neighbor to give him the good news. He hasn't answered the phone. Either he's nervous to learn what I've discovered, or he's visiting his cabin in the beautiful Idaho mountains which has no cell phone reception. If I were visiting the mountains this weekend, I just might leave my phone home as well.

Cousin Russ - we'll miss you, and thank you

RussThe news of Russ Worthington's (Cousin Russ) sudden passing yesterday has shocked the entire genealogy community. I am shocked, saddened, and have a complete loss for the right words. As much as it hurts, I can't imagine the loss that his wife, his family, and his dear cousin - Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMYRTLE) must feel. When I think of Russ I think of kindness, helpfulness, humility, caring, and inspiration. His absence will be felt for a long time.

Today as I tried to find comfort, I first thought "he's in a better place now". Which I believe. But that phrase just doesn't dull the pain of loss.

And then I pondered about what I believed was one of Russ's life missions - to help people. Specifically to help us find our ancestors. That's what he was always doing. Whether he was co-hosting Mondays with Myrt, teaching classes at a genealogy conference, or speaking to our webinar audience, he couldn't help but find innovative ways to teach others. To help others. To care for others.

Will Cousin Russ "rest in peace"? He will absolutely have peace as he now finds himself in the arms of the Prince of Peace. But will Russ rest? I'm not so sure about that. After the many happy reunions he is no doubt experiencing, I'll bet he gets right back to work doing what he does best - helping others. My hunch is that, if what I believe is true, he'll even be helping those of us, here, to find our ancestors - through a soft whisper or even an idea put in our minds. 

Thank you Russ. Until we meet again.

Success with using the Ask A Librarian service!!

IStock-648675538The obituary I requested on Friday showed up in my email on Monday. Thanks Ask A Librarian!

Friday I told you about a genealogy competition we held with the kids. Surprisingly it was my 11-year-old, Kaitlyn, that found the most about our McCall family. Since one of the McCall children she found lived here in Boise, I wanted to take Kaitlyn to the public library, teach her how to use the microfilm reader, and locate the obituary. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the library was closed. But, their website had the Ask A Librarian service where I could request the obituary for a small fee.

I was reminded of the Ask a Librarian service in last week's webinar, 50 More Websites Every Genealogist Should Know. This webinar was one for the ages!

So, I requested the obituary, added a checkmark in the "do you agree to pay the $5 service fee" box, and submitted the request.

Just minutes ago I received an email from the City of Boise which read, "The obituary for Hazel Dotson is attached! There is no charge for this since I was able to get it from our NewsBank Idaho Statesman database." Sure enough, the obituary was attached and listed the whereabouts of all the siblings at the time of the obituary's publication which was exactly what I was hoping for.

The moral to this story: never miss Webinar Wednesday! You never know what you will learn. Thankfully I was reminded of this wonderful Ask A Librarian service.

1891, 1900 and 1910 Norway census records now online


Check out the new 1891, 1900 and 1910 Norway census records at MyHeritage (announcement below) and then watch one of our webinars on Nordic research to learn how to find your Norwegian ancestor.

We’re happy to announce the addition of three important census record collections from Norway, from 1891, 1900, and 1910, to MyHeritage SuperSearch™. Added in collaboration with the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket), these 6.8 million new records are rich in family history information.

The collections provide robust coverage for Norway’s entire population during a span of two important decades in Norwegian history. Two of the collections include digital images of the original historical records. This is the first time that Norwegian collections of such high quality are available.

Search the Norwegian collections now

With the release of these new collections, MyHeritage now offers approximately 34 million historical records from Norway, including census, baptism, marriage, and burial records. As the Scandinavian market leader for family history research and DNA testing, MyHeritage also offers 136 million records from neighboring Sweden and 105 million records from Denmark. MyHeritage is the only major genealogy company to provide its services and full customer support in all three Scandinavian languages, as well as in Finnish, and offers the greatest potential for new family history discoveries for anyone with Scandinavian origins. It also has the largest user base in Scandinavia and the largest collection of Scandinavian family trees.

With the exception of Ireland, no other country saw a larger percentage of its population emigrate to the United States than Norway. Search these new Norwegian collections to learn more about your ancestors’ lives, and enhance your family tree with fascinating family history discoveries.

Read the rest of the article here.

DNA Quest Goes Global

Adopted? or know someone who is and is looking for their biological family? DNA Quest is a new pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing.

The initiative, initially launched in the USA only, received an amazing response. More than 10,000 applications have been submitted so far to receive free DNA kits, from the quota of 15,000 free DNA kits pledged by MyHeritage, worth more than one million dollars.

from the MyHeritage blog:

Being that the deadline for submissions is the end of April 2018 and there are still about 3 more weeks to go, and in light of the many requests we received from the community to expand DNA Quest worldwide, we decided to increase the scope of the project, as of today, from USA-only to global. This means that people are now eligible to participate in DNA Quest regardless of their place of residence and regardless of where the adoption took place.

DNA Quest is brought to you by MyHeritage, in collaboration with a top-notch advisory board, which includes top experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption.

Information about the DNA Quest initiative including a detailed FAQ and an application form are available on the project website, https://www.dnaquest.org/.

Watch the initial announcement of DNA Quest in this video:

Who can participate
Participation in DNA Quest is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member placed for adoption. Preference will be given to those unable to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first.

How to apply
Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018.

If you have already taken a DNA test with another company, you are invited to upload your DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.

We are very excited to expand DNA Quest globally, in order to help families reunite through the power of genetic genealogy. We look forward to the life-changing reunions that will surely take place as a result of DNA Quest.

Please help us spread the word on social media, especially with the news about DNA Quest going global, and include a link to the www.dnaquest.org website to make this dream a reality for families around the world.


DNA Quest Goes Global

MyHeritage Adds Significant Collection of New York Immigration Records with Unique Content

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90 million records from the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection bring to light the stories of millions of immigrations, arrivals and visits to America spanning 138 years 

MyHeritage, the leading international family history and DNA company, announced today the addition of the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 collection to SuperSearch™, the company’s global search engine containing more than 8.25 billion historical records. The records are of major significance for anyone looking to trace their immigrant ancestors’ arrival in America, and include names, dates, countries of origin, addresses of family members and friends, occupations, and physical descriptions, among many other details.

The passenger manifests are an unparalleled source of information spanning key years of immigration from all over the world, including those entering the United States as refugees during the First and Second World Wars. The records include millions of entries via Ellis Island, which opened its doors on January 1, 1892. The first 72 years of the collection pre-date Ellis Island; Prior to the establishment of Ellis Island, the primary immigration station in New York City was Castle Garden, which opened in 1855, and before then, immigrants were received at several piers across the city. Towards the end of the timeframe, in the 1940s and 1950s, advancements in transportation methods are noticeable as records begin to include those who arrived via airplane to various airports in and around the city. The plethora of information in the records is expected to invigorate family histories, adding previously unknown stories of how family members uprooted their lives, and replanted them in the United States.

As of 1897, immigration officials began asking those entering the United States for the name and address of the relative or friend whom they are joining in the USA, and in 1907 they began asking for the name and address of their closest relative or friend in their home country. The responses to these supplemental questions, that have been filled in the passenger manifests, have now been indexed by MyHeritage for the very first time, yielding an additional 26.6 million names in the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection on MyHeritage. These passenger manifests have been digitized by other organizations in the past, but the answers to these vital supplemental questions have never been indexed — until now. Furthermore, many of the passenger manifests span two pages, and a common omission for genealogists has been to locate the first page and miss the existence of the second. MyHeritage has solved this problem for the first time by stitching the double pages into single document images, ensuring that users do not miss information again. 

Many historical figures of interest are found among these records, including Albert Einstein (who arrived in the US on October 17, 1933), former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright (arrived November 11, 1948) and Charlie Chaplin (arrived October 1912). Composer and songwriter Irving Berlin who moved to the U.S. in 1903, appears on several manifests arriving from different places in Europe.

Users with family trees on MyHeritage will immediately benefit from Record Matching technology that automatically reveals new information about their ancestors who appear in these records.

“The Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 collection is a major asset on MyHeritage is a major asset for family history enthusiasts,” said Russ Wilding, Chief Content Officer at MyHeritage. “When we digitized this collection we employed out-of-the-box thinking to cover important aspects that were overlooked by others in the past. This makes this collection on MyHeritage the most complete and useful of its kind.”

MyHeritage is working to add additional immigration records into the collection from other port cities from around the United States, as well as several important Canadian border crossings, in the near future. 

Searching the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists collection is free. A subscription is required to view records and scanned images and to access Record Matches. 

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading global destination for family history and DNA. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage has transformed family history into an activity that is accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Through MyHeritage DNA, the company offers technologically advanced, affordable DNA tests that reveal users' ethnic origins and previously unknown relatives. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to find new family members, discover ethnic origins, and to share family stories, past and present, and to treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages. www.myheritage.com

FREE DOWNLOAD: Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee and Melissa Barker for this article and offer:

Disaster planning for genealogy

Given this past week’s events in Texas related to Hurricane Harvey, and as the storm makes its way through the American South this weekend, it is easy to feel helpless if you and your family are not directly impacted. In speaking with genealogy friends and colleagues, I don’t think there is any degree of separation from this disaster: we likely all know at least one person who has lost their home, their business and their possessions.

Besides contributing to various charities, gathering relief supplies and volunteering, here is something you can do for yourself: put together a disaster plan related to your genealogy and family history research.

Disaster planning guideDownload this FREE GUIDE on Disaster Planning by Melissa Barker
Melissa Barker, aka The Archive Lady, knows all too well what can happen to important papers and artifacts as well as data when a disaster hits. Whether it is fire, flood or simply a computer failure, Melissa has created a guide at Legacy Family Tree entitled Disaster Planning for the Genealogist.

Through a special arrangement with our friends at Legacy Family Tree, Melissa wants to make sure that every genealogist has access to this important information. That is why Disaster Planning for the Genealogist is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD starting Thursday, August 31st through Sunday, September 3rd, 2017. Click HERE to get your PDF copy now!

Please take a minute not to just download the guide, but please read it and seriously consider what would happen if you lost treasured family heirlooms or research data related to your genealogy. You can at least minimize damage from various disasters, if not prevent such damage all together.

So this weekend as you keep others in Texas in your thoughts and prayers, take a minute to do your homework and put together a disaster plan for your genealogy.

Free Access to 1 Billion Census Records this week

I normally don't mind who gets credit, but when there's a billion free records on the line, I don't mind giving myself a little public pat on the back. For the first time ever, MyHeritage is opening their entire collection of census records - 94 different databases containing more than 1 billion records, many of which are only available at MyHeritage - for free for a week - as part of their 8 billion historical records milestone celebration.

In the brief time we've been under new ownership, I've passed along many of your suggestions to MyHeritage management, including one of my own - "why don't we show off your census records for free for a time?" I knew they had lots of records that weren't available anywhere else, and this might be a nice way to introduce these exclusive databases to the public. Well...they listened, and between now and August 20, anyone can search these databases without the usually-required Data subscription.

You all know that much of our Legacy software's success comes as a direct result of your suggestions. It looks like MyHeritage is anxious to continue this tradition. Of course, time will tell, but this is a great start!

Which records are free on MyHeritage?


U.K. & Ireland




Number of census records 700,465,273 213,519,384 28,167,687 46,583,546 33,428,981 62,057,547
Years covered 1790 – 1940 1801 – 1911 1825 – 1911 1880 – 1920 1657 – 1915 1850 – 1930
Exclusive to MyHeritage       Sweden Household Examination Books, 1880-1920 Finland Church Census and Pre-Confirmation Books, 1657-1915 Many of the Danish Censuses
Link to search Search U.S. Census Records for Free Search U.K. and Ireland Census Records for Free Search Canada Census Records for Free Search Sweden Census Records for Free Search Finland Census Records for Free Search Denmark Census Records for Free

Click on the links above to search the records, or click here to read their full announcement.

Michele Simmons Lewis receives Certified Genealogist credential from BCG!

MicheleCongratulations to our very own Michele Simmons Lewis, CG who was notified today that she received the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Michele is one of our senior technical support staff members and is the face of our Legacy User Group on Facebook. Becoming certified is a really big deal and we are so proud of her!

We continue to support genealogy standards by hosting the webinar series for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, held the third Tuesday evening of each month. Visit www.familytreewebinars.com/BCG to register for their upcoming webinars and to view the classes in their library. And who knows, maybe we'll see Michele's picture appear on this page soon.