Wednesday, May 31, 2023

NGS and Vivid-Pix Announce Family Matters Community Outreach Toolkit Lending Service


NGS and Vivid-Pix Announce Family Matters Community Outreach Toolkit Lending Service

Today the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and Vivid-Pix announced the launch of an equipment and software lending service for their Family Matters Community Engagement Program. The Family Matters program combines NGS’s vast membership with ready-to-use solutions from Vivid-Pix and NGS to assist families and loved ones with their family history pursuits.

Public interest in family history is at an all-time high. Yet, an imbalance exists between that interest and the public’s understanding of genealogy and family history research and tools. Family Matters is designed to increase family history education and programming by inviting new audiences through the doors of family history societies, libraries, archives, and museums.

The Family Matters Community Outreach Toolkit combines the Vivid-Pix Memory Station™ (scanning hardware, and software that improves images and captures stories), with turnkey marketing and education materials. “The Toolkit provides organizations with the tools needed to connect with the public and attract new audiences to the wonderful world of family history,” said Rick Voight, CEO of Vivid-Pix. 

“The opportunities for genealogy and family history organizations to expand public programming are unlimited,” said Matt Menashes, CAE, executive director of NGS. “With this equipment, software, and educational programming, genealogy organizations can open the world of family history to new audiences including youth groups, community centers, senior living facilities, and local business organizations.”

“Recording and sharing our life stories become more important as we mature. In addition to providing education to assist all individuals in sharing their stories, we are particularly pleased that genealogy organizations can help teach caregivers how to use family history and photo reminiscence to support loved ones with memory loss,” said Voight. “Organizations can provide programs that teach family and professional caregivers how to use photo reminiscence to improve connectedness and quality of life for loved ones experiencing cognitive loss.”

NGS member organizations can borrow equipment via an online request form. NGS will ship the Vivid-Pix Memory Station™ directly to those organizations. They only need to pay for return shipping. Vivid-Pix will supply software and training materials via download. NGS organization members can participate in this program immediately and begin to plan for when and how to take advantage of this new partnership.

Information and video about the program are available online.  

About Vivid-Pix
By inventing and harnessing technologies, Vivid-Pix helps individuals, families, friends, and organizations with their most treasured memories. Vivid-Pix solutions help family historians and caregivers use Photo Reminiscence Therapy to assist persons experiencing cognitive decline and dementia. Vivid-Pix patented software has been sold in over 120 countries, improving old, faded photos and documents.

About NGS
Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) inspires, connects, and leads the family history community by fostering collaboration and best practices in advocacy, education, preservation, and research. We enable people, cultures, and organizations to discover the past and create a lasting legacy. The Falls Church, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.

Media contacts

Name: Matt Menashes, Executive Director NGS
Phone: 703-525-0050

Name: Rick Voight, CEO Vivid-Pix
Phone: 404-664-9897

Friday, May 26, 2023

MyHeritage Offers Free Access to Military Records This Memorial Day

 At MyHeritage, we believe it’s our duty to preserve every family story, and that responsibility takes on added significance as we pay tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives to safeguard our freedom. In honor of Memorial Day, we’re offering free access to all 83.1 million military records on MyHeritage, from May 25–30, 2023. 

MilitaryRecords_Memorial_753 x 423

Our 65 military record collections include draft, enlistment, and service records, pension records, and military biographies from various countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and many more. These records can reveal a wealth of information about your ancestors, such as their rank, unit, date of enlistment and discharge, physical characteristics, and even their next of kin.

Please share this news with your friends and encourage them to take this opportunity to explore our military records for free and uncover the stories of bravery and sacrifice in their own families.



Daniel Horowitz 

Genealogy Expert

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Relatives at RootsTech 2023 - A new 3C2R and a 3C3R

Since my previous post from just a few days ago, a new 3rd cousin twice removed has appeared! As with my other ones, this one is descended from one of my great-grandmother Jane Belle Bodie's siblings. In this particular case, it's a direct descendant of her sister, Susan Caroline Bodie, who married an Adams. (Jane's 2nd husband, my great-grandfather Edmund Manley Martin, was originally married to another member of the Adams family.)

I already had in my files Susan's son James Sumpter Adams, and his daughter Viola Regina Adams. I have her husband, but apparently I misspelled his last name! I did not have their son, who died in 1981, and that son is the grandfather of my new relative. This led me to the son's obituary, which named his children, so I was quickly able to figure out the path to my new relative!  One interesting detail: Viola's husband and son were Sr. and Jr., but the son dropped the "s" off the end of the surname.

At the 3rd cousin level I currently have only one remaining Relative, a 3C3R. This one comes down from Jane's brother Andrew Jackson Boddie (different siblings used different spellings of the surname). I used genealogical records to take Andrew down to thru his daughter Narcissa to her daughter Mary Elva (her husband had my new Relative's surname), so I was able to fill in all the gaps down to the new Relative.

Next up: 4th cousins.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Relatives at RootsTech 2023 - 3rd cousins twice removed

We now get back to my apparent 3rd cousins twice removed.

The first Relative is someone who I had seen in my list from the previous year, and he carried the Bodie surname that I have researched for more than 30 years. I already had his father in my database, so all I needed to do was add the Relative himself.  This gave me the opportunity to add spouses to the father and grandfather, which I didn't already have names for. And I generally find that I can trust someone for their own parents and grandparents, although as I learned yesterday, they can still get two different people confused in the Family Tree, so I still need to be careful.

The next Relative indicated that they were a descendant of my great-grandmother's sister, Mary Edna Bodie, who had married a Hazel. I had 11 of their children, but was apparently missing 2 of them. One of their children was named Darling Hazel, which reminded me of when George and I discovered that he also had a Darling Hazel in his own family tree (the father-in-law of one of his relatives). It turned out that the two Darling Hazels were grandsons of the same Darling Hazel! I was able to follow her side of the family tree down to her using obituaries.

Another Boddie descendant (again, from a sibling of my great-grandmother) was already in my tree, so I didn't have to do anything extra to verify our relationship.

The last 3C2R was a descendant of my great-grandmother's sister Anne. I already had the Relative's grandmother in my tree, so all I needed to do was add her mother and herself. Adding her mother was no problem, but I don't have enough information to add the Relative herself (I'm unsure of her full name). But I feel confident of the relationship.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Relatives at RootsTech 2023 and a return to the FamilySearch Family Tree (Days 1 and 2)

Two years ago during the month of March I shared a daily series of blog posts (linked to from The Genealogy Squad Facebook group) about my efforts to fix my ancestors' entries in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

This time, I'm going to take advantage of the extension of time that Relatives at RootsTech 2023 is available (now continuing until June 1). Each day I'm going to go through one of my closest relatives and verify the paths from us to our common relative.
I have over 12,000 Relatives listed, 98% of which are supposedly related to me through my maternal grandfather's mother, Jane Belle Bodie. I've done a lot of work on the Bodie family over the past 30 years, taking it back to the immigrant 17th-century Virginia ancestor and forward in time to countless descendants. So it shouldn't be too surprising that I would have a lot of Relatives on those lines.
So I went through my 2 closest Relatives (both 3rd cousins once removed) to see if I could verify their relationship to me. But in both cases, it didn't work out.
In one case, the Relative was listed as descended from a Benjamin Elonzo Smith who was given as the son of Wade Allen Crouch and Mary Edna Bodie. There were several problems. First, the records either indicated that the first name was Bennett or Ben, never Benjamin. But second, and more importantly, the Find a Grave entry transcribed his death record which gave the names of his actual parents (a father named Smith and a different mother). And third, my related couple had a daughter who was born a few months before Mr. Smith, so he could not have been their child either. I detached Benjamin from my relatives, attached him to new parents, and notified the Find a Grave manager that they should fix his first name.
In the other case, the Relative's grandfather appeared to have the right name, but while her actual grandfather was born in 1910 and died in 1993, my relative was born in 1912 and died in 1980. It appears that two men with the same name (and relatively close birth years) were confused. So I contacted the Relative to suggest that they connect their mother to the right man.
While not an encouraging start, I expect that things won't be so bad on the next ones.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

MyHeritage Introduces cM Explainer™


MyHeritage Releases cM Explainer™ to Predict Familial Relationships Between DNA Matches with Greater Accuracy

Relationship prediction for DNA Matches is available for free both on the MyHeritage platform and as a standalone tool 


TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, March 2, 2023 — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today the release of cM Explainer™, an innovative, free new feature that accurately estimates familial relationships between DNA Matches. For every DNA Match, cM Explainer™ offers a detailed prediction of the possible relationships between the two people and the respective probabilities of each relationship, determines their most recent common ancestor, and displays a diagram showing their relationship path. cM Explainer™ is fully integrated into the MyHeritage platform to shed light on any DNA Match found on MyHeritage, and is also available as a standalone tool to benefit consumers who have tested with other DNA services.


MyHeritage is home to one of the world’s most robust and fastest-growing DNA databases, with 6.5 million customers. With outstanding support for 42 languages, MyHeritage has become the leading consumer DNA test in Europe. One key feature of at-home DNA tests like MyHeritage is matching to find relatives based on shared DNA inherited from common ancestors. Matches are characterized by the amount of DNA shared between two individuals, measured using a unit of genetic distance called centimorgans (cM). cM Explainer™ is unique in the way it uses both the centimorgan value as well as the ages of the two individuals (if known) to fine-tune its predictions, making MyHeritage the only major genealogy company to offer relationship prediction at this level of granularity and accuracy.


Other relationship prediction tools typically suggest a range of possible relationships that is too broad to be useful, such as “3rd to 5th cousin”, or list many relationships with the same probability, leaving the user confused. MyHeritage’s cM Explainer™ simplifies the predictions considerably and reduces ambiguity by taking into account the age of each match and assigning a unique probability to every relationship. MyHeritage further reduces confusion by avoiding ambiguous relationship terms used by other tools, such as “first cousin once removed” (sometimes written in excessively technical codes such as “1C1R”), and instead replaces them with clear relationships such as “parent’s first cousin” or “first cousin’s child”, as the case may be. For example, in a DNA Match where there are 1,600 cM of shared DNA between two people who are age 35 and 40, MyHeritage will tell the user simply that the match is most likely a half-sibling with 90.4% probability, whereas a popular alternative tool states a 100% probability for the match to have any of the following possible relationships: grandparent, aunt or uncle, half sibling, niece or nephew, or grandchild, leaving the user baffled. This makes MyHeritage’s cM Explainer™ the most useful tool for relationship prediction of DNA Matches on the market, for novices as well as experienced genetic genealogy professionals.


cM Explainer™ was developed by MyHeritage in collaboration with Larry Jones, developer of the cM Solver technology. MyHeritage exclusively licensed this technology from Jones, and the company’s science team enhanced it further over a period of five months. Among the enhancements are an age algorithm that more accurately pinpoints specific relationships and calculates their probability, and a slick user interface that displays possible relationships and their probabilities. cM Explainer™ includes useful features such as the ability to filter the predictions by full and half relationships, and to display the probable most recent common ancestor(s) (MRCA) of a match, making it a force multiplier for genetic genealogy.


“Millions of customers rely on MyHeritage DNA to discover their family history and find relatives. cM Explainer™ makes it easier by removing much of the guesswork that was previously needed to analyze possible relationships to your DNA Matches,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “Together with Larry Jones, we’ve created an industry-leading solution for genetic genealogy that is only available on MyHeritage. cM Explainer™ joins our suite of innovative tools to help users better understand how they’re related to their DNA Matches.”


“Collaborating with MyHeritage on the development of cM Explainer™ has been thrilling,” said Larry Jones, inventor of the cM Solver technology. “I’m excited that millions of people will be able to use this feature to gain deeper insights into their matches. MyHeritage has a great product and a brilliant founder who is an inspiration to everyone around him. Brainstorming ideas with him was among the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in recent years.”


cM Explainer™ is a free feature and is available to anyone with DNA results on MyHeritage. It is also available as a free standalone tool for non-MyHeritage customers on MyHeritage DNA kits are available for purchase at


About MyHeritage


MyHeritage is the leading global discovery platform for exploring family history. With billions of historical records and family tree profiles, and with sophisticated matching technologies that work across all its assets, MyHeritage allows users to discover their past and empower their future. MyHeritage DNA is one of the world’s largest consumer DNA databases, with more than 6.5 million customers. MyHeritage is the most popular DNA test and family history service in Europe.



Sarah Vanunu

Director of Public Relations

Phone: 917-725-5018


RootsMagic Releases New Version 9

 RootsMagic has just released version 9. The following information is derived from their blog.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

 We've just published our new, monthly video at Genealogy Guys Learn. It is "Being a Self-Sufficient Genealogy Library Patron" and covers library and archive organization and classification systems, using electronic catalogs and databases, incorporating Internet searches, working with library staff, using Interlibrary Loan services, and more. Subscribe at New content is added monthly. For a complete list of our current video and written courses, please visit

Happy Learning!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Drew Smith's New Book Has Been Published

Drew Smith's new book, Generation by Generation: A Modern Approach to the Basics of Genealogy has been published by Genealogical Publishing Company. 


The question all beginners in genealogy research ask themselves is, “Where do I begin?”  “Should I join a commercial subscription service like” What if I don’t find what I’m looking for on the Internet?” “How do I organize the information I’m gathering along the way?” Fortunately, this guide answers all those questions and engages neophytes with a book that takes an entirely fresh approach to the subject.

Author Drew Smith has organized the chapters according to the actual process used in genealogical research: Start with yourself, then move on to living family and relatives, and then move backward in time, generation by generation. The question all beginners in genealogy research ask themselves is, “Where do I begin?”  “Should I join a commercial subscription service like” What if I don’t find what I’m looking for on the Internet?” “How do I organize the information I’m gathering along the way?” Fortunately, this guide answers all those questions and engages neophytes with a book that takes an entirely fresh approach to the subject.

Author Drew Smith has organized the chapters according to the actual process used in genealogical research: Start with yourself, then move on to living family and relatives, and then move backward in time, generation by generation. Each chapter describes a time period and the kinds of records available for that era, allowing beginners to learn about new types of records just as they need them.

The guide is divided into two parts. Part I (“For All Generations–Preparing to Research”) discusses such things as relationships between family members, naming practices,  genealogy software, how to review existing research and the basics of DNA testing. Part II (“Generation by Generation—Doing the Research”) begins with a discussion of the major genealogy websites, and then explains the most important record categories for all generations from the present day back to the colonial era. There are also chapters devoted to searching for the origins of American families in the records of Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and non-English-speaking nations.

This book is written in a clear and charming style. It makes ample use of consecutive Internet screenshots to take the mystery out of online searching. And it is written by an expert genealogist and teacher who is equally conversant with traditional search methods and the digital world. There is no other book like it.

About the author: Drew Smith
 is the genealogy librarian at the University of South Florida Libraries in Tampa. He is co-host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast and host of the Genealogy Connection podcast. Mr. Smith is a founder and administrator of The Genealogy Squad Facebook Group with over 53,000 members. He writes a regular productivity column for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. describes a time period and the kinds of records available for that era, allowing beginners to learn about new types of documents just as they need them.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Audrey Collins Dies

This morning, we just received the sad news that our very dear friend, Audrey Collins, died over this past weekend. Audrey was a key individual at The National Archives (TNA) in the UK. I first met her when I served as Program Chair for the 2003 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Orlando, Florida. She subsequently assisted Drew and me with coordinating our visit to the TNA by a tour group in 2005.

Audrey was an authority on research in England, especially at TNA. She was charming, humorous, generous, and loving. We will forever miss her.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

MyHeritage Publishes Huge Israel Immigration Lists Collection

Just Received from MyHeritage

Family History Library and Centers Change Names


For Immediate Release
10 January 2023


Family History Library and Centers Change Names


FamilySearch Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. © 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch announced new names for its flagship Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and all local and regional family history centers worldwide.  The library will now be known as the FamilySearch Library and local and regional family history centers will now be FamilySearch centers. The name changes will better align local centers with FamilySearch’s expanding global brand.

FamilySearch is known worldwide for its popular free website and state-of-the-art family research and discovery facility in Salt Lake City. Lesser known are its more than 5,000 local centers where visitors can receive individualized help and utilize web-enabled computers to access other premium family resources—all for free.

Watch “Your FamilySearch Center”.

“FamilySearch is a global brand with free local FamilySearch centers in most countries to help individuals make fun, personal discoveries about themselves and their ancestors. Center patrons can receive in-person help, and access millions of additional historical records online. The more you learn about yourself and the history of your family, the more your sense of who you are is deepened, and the more relationships and communities are strengthened,” said Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International.

In addition to FamilySearch centers, there are nearly 1,800 affiliate libraries (public libraries, museums, universities, and archives) that have privileges to limited-access FamilySearch databases. There will be no name change for the FamilySearch affiliate libraries. 

People around the world are more and more interested in family, their familial origins, and making family connections. FamilySearch is uniquely positioned to serve this demand through its growing network of local FamilySearch centers, discovery experiences, help services, and vast, ever-expanding online collections of genealogical records.

Find and share this news release in the FamilySearch Newsroom.


About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Genealogy Guys Learn LogIn Problem Resolved

 We are pleased to report that the login problem we experienced at Genealogy Guys Learn ( last week has been resolved. Our IT man determined that our hosting service had created a problem that prevented successful interfaces with our membership database site. We migrated to a new hosting service late last week and tested it, and the problem has been resolved.

Please let us know if you experience any problems. And join our subscription education site at to access nearly 100 video and written courses, with new content added each month.

Monday, January 2, 2023

New Course Added to Genealogy Guys Learn

 HAPPY NEW YEAR! We've just uploaded a new video lesson to Genealogy Guys Learn. This one is "Using to Find Genealogical Records", presented by Drew Smith. Learn how to navigate and get the most out of your research at FamilySearch.

You can subscribe to Genealogy Guys Learn at

Sunday, January 1, 2023

2023: The Year of the Research Trip to Ireland

When I decided to retire from my full-time job as a librarian at the University of South Florida Libraries, I set a date for early August 2023. This meant that I would have more flexibility with my time after that. So when I then heard that Irish genealogy expert Donna Moughty, who I have known for many years, was planning to conduct her last research trip to Dublin in October 2023, I immediately seized on the idea of being part of it, together with my brother Jeff. Neither of us had ever been to Ireland, and as all of my Grandfather Smith's ancestors were from Ireland, I wanted the opportunity for us s to learn more about them.

Both of Grandfather Smith's parents had 100% Irish ancestry, with the Smiths and Reillys from County Cavan and the Bannons and Hylands from County Laois. I decided to focus on the latter families, partly because I knew exactly where in County Laois they were from (not so with the Reillys in County Cavan) and because the surnames were somewhat more unusual (certainly less common than Smith and Reilly!).

So this meant that my research would be primarily about the ancestors of my great-grandmother Mary Ann Bannon, who married my great-grandfather, Charles Henry Smith. You may have heard me speak or write about Mary Ann Smith before, but that was almost always Mary Ann Reilly Smith, Charles' mother. What I knew about Mary Ann Bannon was that she and my great-grandfather were buried in the same plot as Mary Ann Reilly Smith, as were my grandfather William Henry Smith and one of his brothers.

Also, Mary Ann Bannon was born in England, as was her brother James Joseph Bannon. But after the birth of James Joseph, the family left England for Newark, New Jersey, between 1867 and 1872, and had one more child, Catherine R. "Kate" Bannon. A few years ago, I realized that Kate had married Patrick J. O'Connor and was buried in the same cemetery, Holy Sepulchre, as Mary Ann Bannon, but in a different plot with James Joseph Bannon. And who else was buried with them? Their parents, William Bannon and Mary Ann Hyland. 

I have much more to say about Mary Ann Bannon and her ancestors and their descendants, some of whom also came to Newark but others who remained in England. And I have a lot more work to do on the Bannons and Hylands before they left County Laois for England. 

From now through the rest of 2023, I plan to post weekly updates on the preparations for the research trip and what I am learning as I go. I hope you will enjoy it.

Photo: Abbeyleix Heritage House, which I plan to visit when I'm there