Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Blog Series: Genealogy On the Road

I'm happy to announce a new blog series that I'm starting called Genealogy On the Road.

So why am I starting this series? I currently work full time as an IT analyst for a human resources company (it's a bit hard to explain sometimes what I do). I regularly travel to client sites as well as to offices in California during the year so I thought it would be interesting to help document some travel tips for how you can do genealogy on the road. Even when it's a work trip, I try to sneak in a little genealogy time before I go to make the best of the area. Sometimes it works out and other times I'm lucky I see something beyond a business park, a hotel, and a restaurant.

I have previously shared some posts on some of my travels to California and western New York below:

September 2017 - Local Libraries: An Undiscovered Treasure
October 2017 -  California State Archives Trip

I'm heading back to Corning, NY today and hope to squeeze in a small adventure before I leave.

I'm also interested in hearing your tips on how you fit in genealogy on a trip. Please email me at shamrockgenealogist[a] if you're interested in contributing a guest post or post on social media with #genealogyontheroad.

Happy travels!
California State Archives Front Desk and View into the Main Reading Room

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Going International

I had the honor this past weekend presenting at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference held at the University of Guelph, Ontario. This was my first official genealogy conference I lectured at and an international one as well! I gave two lectures, Prince Edward Island Records and Repositories, and How to Incorporate NextGen Tech Into Your Research. I also talked to other genealogists about NextGen Genealogy Network. We hope to grow our Canadian presence as part of our partnership with Ontario Genealogical Society. It was a great conference and there were rides involved - golf carts were transporting us all over campus.

Overall, I received great feedback and had a number of people attend my talks. It felt wonderful to have a lecture hall filled!  Some of the highlights from the conference:

1. Connecting with my dear genealogy friends that I met on Twitter and Facebook in person
2. Helping bring two genealogists together that may share a common ancestor
3. Seeing other young genealogists interested in NextGen and telling them about our non-profit
4. Giving away a DNA kit to someone who hasn't tested before

I have more ideas that I'll be submitting for OGS 2019 as well as RootsTech and other various conferences. If you're interested in having me speak at your event, please reach out to me.

I've included some pictures from the event.
Me at my 1st lecture on PEI Records and Repositories

Me at my second lecture "How to Incorporate NextGen Tech Into Your Research"

University of Guelph Gryphon Statue 

Me in front of the Air Canada logo at Toronto Airport

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Oh Canada...Join Us At OGS!

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The Shamrock Genealogist has been conducting her lectures this past year, with the most recent one done at the Salina Library in Syracuse, NY this past Monday. I covered how to use NextGen tools to get the younger generation interested in research (such as social media, blogging, mobile applications). I will be giving a variation of this lecture (which will focus more on how to use NextGen tools to further your research) as well as a new lecture on Prince Edward Island repositories and records at the upcoming Ontario Genealogical Society conference, 6/1 - 6/3 at the University of Guelph. I'm very excited to be presenting at an international conference.

Before this conference starts there will be all sorts of tours and events going on starting on that Thursday, May 31st. Do you have ancestors that travelled by train? You may be interested in the Palmerston Railway Heritage Museum Tour. Want to sneak away to do some research? You may want to check out the tour at the University of Guelph McLaughlin Library? Find yourself a foodie? There's a brewery tour as well as an olive oil tasting tour. Want to check out the city? Check out the bus tour going to the McCrae House, Guelph Civic Museum and Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate.

There are some wonderful workshops on Friday presented by speakers like Amy Johnson Crow and Kirsty Gray. Mags Gaulden (from Grandma's Genes) is giving two DNA workshops that will be of interest if you're looking for help on locating your DNA matches and how to connect them to the global family tree.

Saturday and Sunday are when the majority of lectures are occurring. There will also be an expansive Marketplace where you can check out vendors. The platinum sponsors for the conference are LivingDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry and Pass It Down. You will have the opportunity to check out the new swag offered by the NextGen Genealogy Network, who will be in attendance at the conference.

The last day to register online and order meals is May 11th. Don't delay and register!

Will I be seeing you at the conference? What lecture(s) are you looking forward to attending?

GEDMatch: Helping You Find Family and Solving Crimes

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I started using GEDMatch a few years ago after I started testing my DNA and wanting to find more cousins and learn how to better analyze my results. Genetic genealogy is an important part of the genealogy tool kit to verify your paper trails. And sometimes you uncover a surprise like an NPE, a non-paternity event (ex. a parent isn't a match to a child). In my case, you find out about a child that you never knew was in the family. Check out my blog post about Thomas Corcoran. 

The process to add your DNA profile is fairly simple. You can register for a free account (or pay $10/month to be a Tier 1 subscriber for some tools). You download your DNA file from the site (usually a commercial one like Ancestry, 23andme, FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage, etc.) and upload it. Note: GEDMatch has created a generic upload that will work for other kits as well. Then you usually wait a couple of days before you can run the one to many matches to see the DNA cousins you have. Suffice to say I have a lot of DNA matches b/c of my Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

You can also add a GEDCOM file, which contains information from your family tree. This can be useful in conjunction with your DNA profile to search across your DNA matches and help narrow down cousins and hopefully find your most recent common ancestor (the one you both have in common).

GEDMatch has been in the news recently with a new suspect arrested in the "Golden Gate Killer" case. Law enforcement used GEDMatch to conduct familial DNA testing, where they locate relatives of the unknown DNA sample found at one of the murder crime scenes. This helps narrow the suspect fool to a specific family. The officers then constructed a very large family tree based on DNA matches' trees (possibly their GEDCOM files that were uploaded) to narrow down potential suspects.  When a suspect was identified that lived miles of many of the murders, the police put the suspect on surveillance, gathered evidence that had his DNA (ex. like disposed trash), and confirmed it was a match. A second DNA sample was taken from the suspect and he was arrested the following day after the match was confirmed. 1

When news spread of the arrest, discussions started occurring within the genealogy community in regard to how the police conducted their investigation to identify the suspect based on DNA. One of the main concerns was that law enforcement used GEDMatch without a warrant and that in doing so violated the rights of users who upload their DNA to GEDMatch for genealogy reasons and probably had no idea their information would be used in a police investigation. I think it's going to be an interesting trial as we learn more about the investigation.

GEDMatch's terms of services don't prohibit use of the site by law enforcement and warn users that the site could be used for "other purposes". 2 Now is the time to make terms of service crystal clear on what private web sites can be used for so that users can understand any potential risks of having their DNA uploaded, whether it's an unknown relative or a possible criminal investigation into someone related to you. I do want to encourage everyone not to panic and purge your data from GEDMatch. DNA is being used more frequently to clear suspects of charges and it's in our benefit to assist law enforcement where possible to solve these horrible crimes. We do need to make sure that our laws are up to date as technology is evolving to make sure that any necessary procedures are in place (ex. search warrants) before police start searching in a pool like GEDMatch (especially if they are not versed in constructing family trees like us genealogists).

I'm hopeful that with these changes, we can continue to capture the bad guys and help guarantee a conviction. It would be very sad if police went to such lengths to identify a killer and the case is dismissed due to improper handling of evidence.

1 -
2 - See 4/27/2018 announcement on

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Finding Ancestors: The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt

Wikimedia Commons
Genealogy is like a long version of a scavenger hunt. You get some clues and you have to figure out what they mean to get to the treasure. Maybe you have an oral history passed down, a document you found at an archive, perhaps a photo without your ancestors labelled. And your next goal is to find out more about your ancestor and then you hit a brick wall. No records found in the location you expect. If your ancestors are like mine, they pick up and can move quite far away.

Let's look at my great grandfather, Thomas James Corcoran. He grew up in Dillonstown, County Louth and was then sent off to America at the age of 26 to meet a cousin. The rest of his family stayed behind in Ireland.  You can read up more about why he left here. He never came back to Ireland so the record trail would run cold if I only continued to research him in Ireland. My 3rd great uncle Peter Dougherty also left for America. He was born in Ireland but went with his family as a young boy to Prince Edward Island, Canada and then ultimately came to America to homestead.

I then think of our current generation where it seems like nobody really lives in the same place for long. From my personal experience, I grew up on Long Island, NY until I was 18. Then lived in central, NY at college and then back to Long Island for two more years following graduation. I then went back to central NY to live in Syracuse for the next 10 years. I'm now about to make another big move and go to Boston, MA. I wonder sometimes if anyone researching me years after I pass if they'll be able to trace my migration pattern. They would need to understand where I went to school and look at the FAN club to see that I had college friends in Syracuse, NY area (maybe one day Facebook will be archived and give some clues to who we associated with). Then I wonder what they think when they're looking for me in 2018 and I'm not in NY. I'm probably not listed in any city directory or phone book. And who would think that I would make a jump to Boston from central NY?  I don't have any close family there.

Let's throw another wrinkle into this equation. I lived in Onondaga County, NY but my marriage actually took place in Madison County, NY in a small town called Canastota. We found a wedding venue there and there was no restrictions on where we got married in NY. My marriage certificate is actually filed at city hall in Dewitt, NY (in Onondaga County in a neighboring town near where I lived).

To leave a lasting legacy we need to leave some kind of paper trail. Type up the family history and include yourself before you donate it (or leave it set up for donation after you pass) to go to a historical society. Blog about your experiences while you're still here on this Earth and share the history. Oral history is such a valuable resource and the stories passed down capture more details than most manuscripts. There are people who knew your ancestors. Record their memories and say their names to keep them alive. Leave those bread crumbs so your story can be found.

What does your scavenger hunt look like for your descendants?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Making History in Michigan

This past weekend I had the honor to be selected as a presenter for the Michigan In Perspective: Local History Conference in Sterling Heights, Michigan. I'm just starting to lecture and was happy for the opportunity to talk about genealogy. My topic was "Back to the Future: Using New Technologies in Research". I discussed social media, blogging, and mobile applications and how to apply that to your family history research. I shared some stories from my family including great grandfather Thomas Corcoran (who I previously blogged about - see my earlier post). The audience loved the story I shared about my great grandfather's first love. I felt that my talk made an impact - one couple came up to me and said they visited a cemetery after my talk! And they used the Find a Grave app that I discussed!

This conference was very different than genealogy conferences I've been to. First, there are no major companies like Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, etc. in attendance. The vendors were local to Michigan, specifically in the Detroit area. I did spot the Dearborn Genealogical Society booth and talked with a few staff members. I left with a few fact sheets and maps that will be very helpful. I also stopped by the DigMichNews booth. They asked for a shout out in my presentation and I gladly gave them a plug while discussing OldNewsUSA mobile app. Other vendors included several book publishers, some military museums with artifacts on display, and other museums and non-profits native to Michigan. Another main difference was the scope of speakers. I was the only genealogist (at least as listed on the program). Most presenters were authors or ran museums.

There was such a variety of talks though. One gentleman, Joe Grimm, wrote a book called Coney Detroit where he talked about the history of the Coney franchise. Everyone left so hungry and I thought that I wasn't going to have time to get a Coney. I met a lovely couple at the bar one evening and we bonded over the course of the conference. They took me for my first Coney before I took off heading back home. Other talks focused on Detroit history. It was nice to be around others that had a strong fascination for history - there were even women dressed up as suffragettes for their talk. One presentation was a true bonding experience. We all shared (quickly) what we did and what we're working on and started networking. What a great idea and something I hope to see at other conferences!

I encourage my genealogy readers to check out a local history conference to see what's out there. There's lots of gems out there and you may make a new friend along the way.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

We Are Connected, We Are Family, We Are Next Gen

It's hard to believe that RootsTech was just a week away. It feels like it was just yesterday. What an amazing and fast paced week! I found myself feeling very reflective after coming home from the conference.

Here's what I left with:

1. RootsTech is where I connect and reconnect with my genealogy friends. I met up with so many of my Twitter and Facebook friends that I may never have the opportunity to meet. It truly is the genealogy meet up capital. If you're ever on the fence about going to a conference, go to RootsTech. I guarantee you will meet someone that you are friends with online! 

2. Further, I have several genealogy friends that I consider my family. They were the ones that checked in on me when they saw me sobbing after a key note speech or looked very overwhelmed and anxious. It seems that a lot of our friends took Brandon Stanton's remarks to heart to reach out. We need to support each other - we're all in the same community and have the same goal to research our family history and share it with others. I may not have found cousins through the app but I left with a larger family. 

3. NextGen's message is spreading throughout the community. Most of you know that I'm the social media coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. I was so pleased to hear more people knew about NextGen and wanted the ribbons and were even talking to others about who we are! We're a growing non-profit and it warms my heart to see this community really take off. Our NextGen meetup had approximately 30+ people drop by! And we were all connecting with each other, sharing information, and pictures. I have to give a special shout out to Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage. Not only did he take our huge group selfie but he also invited each of the NextGen attendees to their annual after party. Thank you sir for being so gracious! 

4. I need to continue to self-market. I came out in full force this year with my own ribbons and updated business cards and tried to talk to as many people as I can (including CEO's of major companies like FamilySearch and Find My Past). Sometimes I experience social anxiety and am nervous about going up to strangers but it's getting better as this community is very warm. I'm an up and coming lecturer. I'm not with a large company or historical society. I do have a day job right now doing IT work but that won't be forever. I'm going to keep pursuing my goal to move into genealogy full time and submitting proposals to conference. 

I hope you all had a wonderful RootsTech, whether you attended in person or remotely via Facebook and Twitter. I truly enjoyed sharing my experience as an ambassador and hope to continue to do it year and year. 

What was your favorite part about RootsTech? 

See you next year! 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

RootsTech Day 4

Yesterday was the fourth day of RootsTech and sadly the last day.

I attended the first MyHeritage Friends breakfast. I gathered with some of the same people that were at the fabulous MyHeritage After party the night prior. Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage gave a short talk about what's involved in the MyHeritage Friends program. I'm looking forward to partnering with MyHeritage on new features and giving feedback.

Next it twas time for the opening presentation with key note speeches by singer Natalia LaFourcade and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Natalia stunned the audience with her beautiful voice and talked about how her heritage mattered to her. Dr. Gates shared information about his life as well and also talked about how his program The Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings show involves teaching middle school children about science, DNA and genealogy, It's such a beautiful program and I hope more young people are encouraged to start learning about their past. We then had a speech by Cece Moore,  well known genetic genealogist. She talked about her work helping adoptees trace their family tree.

Following keynote speeches, I went to the Media Hub to conduct some group interviews. I had the honor to interview Cece Moore and participate in the group interview with Dr. Henry Gates Jr. You can see the interviews here:

Interview with Cece Moore

Interview with Dr. Gates (part 1 and 2)

Following interviews, I then attended the Ancestry lunch. Jenn Utley gave a talk and talked about some behind the scenes on Long Lost Family as well as the infamous 4th of July commercial that Ancestry put out. The commercial included doing descendancy research on every signer of the Constitution and almost all spots were filled. This was so neat to see, esp. the different outfits different people wore to evoke the image of the famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I then walked around the Exhibit Hall to visit the various vendors. I participated in the scavenger hunt at most booths and then discussed accreditation with a few institutes. My future feels brighter after talking with so many people this week. I may be young but I'm in this for the long haul.

I wrapped up with a lecture on World War I records in U.S. and Canada by my friend David Allen Lambert. It was an informative talk and will be very helpful with my WWI ancestors, particularly those that served in Canada. I think it's important we support our genealogy friends and I always enjoy his talks.

I didn't attend as many lectures as I did last year but I realize that face to face time and bonding with friends is much more valuable in addition to interviewing key people (how many people can say they met and interviewed Scott Hamilton). These are opportunities of a lifetime.  The classes will repeat at other conferences and online It also helps that I have my syllabus (which is the size of a phone book!) handy to review tips from genealogy experts.

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to old and new friends. I particularly loved seeing all of the familiar and new faces at the NextGen meetup. It was wonderful to hang out with so many great people. I do feel like I connect and belong in this community (this year's RootsTech theme).

I know I'll be back again and also at new conferences this year, You can see me lecture in a few weeks at the Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference as well as at Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Guelph, Ontario (6/1 - 6/3).

Saturday, March 3, 2018

RootsTech Day 3

Another day wrapped up here at RootsTech. I started off yesterday with the keynote speech by Scott Hamilton. He talked about how his upbringing (adopted at an early age) and how he got into skating. It was a very moving speech. I had the honor of participating in a group interview and asked him if he was going to pursue researching genealogy after receiving more updated information about his ancestry. Here's a link to the interview if you're interested. Below is the photo with my interview group.

Next I attended the Find My Past luncheon, I had the opportunity to talk with CEO Tamsin Todd and Executive Vice President of International Business Ben Bennett. I had lovely conversation with both of them and talked about my blog and NextGen Genealogy Network.

I attended the following lectures:

World War II sacrifice by Jennifer Holik
Time For An Ancestor's Death: A Time for Reaping by Curt Witcher
Loose Women: Record Search for Female Felon by Janis Minor Forte
Using New England Probate Records by David Allen Lambert

I explored the Exhibit Hall in between sessions, checking out different vendors (including some of my friends at Family History Fanatics booth). Legacy Republic even had a photo booth set up - you ca see my pic below. 

Later yesterday evening I attended the MyHeritage After Party. The theme was Roaring Twenties and I dressed up for the occasion in my flapper dress. It was a fun time and I enjoy going to these parties every year. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

RootsTech Mid-Day Recap Day 2

Another day here at RootsTech. Today's day started with a talk by Aaron Godfrey, VP of Marketing at MyHeritage, who announced the launch of This initiative was launched to help adoptees find their birth families. 15,000 DNA kits will be provided free to eligible participants. This is such a beautiful announcement and I'm glad more companies are taking up the charge to lend a hand where they can. 

The keynote speech was by Branton Stanton, whose blog is "Humans of New York". He had such a moving speech when he talked about how you need to do what you love and not just focus on the money, the cars, etc. He also talked about how he approaches strangers to interview/photograph them, he asks very deep questions. We need to embrace the hard questions more and reach out to people. Everyone has a story - let's share our stories in our genealogy. 

I next attended the lecture "Call to Action: Diversity in Family History Tech" by D Joshua Taylor. This was a really important topic and I'm glad that it made it into the schedule this year. Josh talked about how we need to embrace our family history with an open mind. Not every family consists of a mother and father and two sets of grandparents. Each family is diverse and this is becoming so true today. We need to go beyond the standard pedigree model and focus on the individual and the people that were important in their lives. I think this was such an important message as we find that our ancestors' lives could be complicated and don't fit the cookie cutter model. The technology software needs to fit a diverse group of people and not just have band-aids applied to squeeze in other facts.

I'm going to finish up a few more lectures here before retiring to get dinner and then get ready for the NextGen Genealogy Network meet up tonight at the Marriott. I hope to see some of my NextGen friends there later!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

RootsTech Recap Day 1

I'm just wrapping up Day 1 of RootsTech. I've been here since Monday evening as I was completing my annual trip to the Family History Library and the Media dinner for RootsTech ambassadors last night.

It's been a day of DNA lectures all day, which comes in handy as more and more people are buying DNA kits looking for their elusive ancestors and finding out more about who they are.

Here's a list of the lectures I attended:

Real World Examples of the Frustrations of Endogamy - Lara Diamond

How Close Are We Really? Evaluating Shared DNA - Paul Woodbury

Introduction to Autosomal DNA Chromosome Mapping by Tim Janzen

AncestryDNA got in on the fun and were giving out buttons. You had to find your match to win a prize. So far I have not found my exact match.

At the end of the day we wrapped up with the opening session with an address by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch (who I had the pleasure of meeting with last night). It was a nice heart warming message that everyone deserves to be remembered. Everyone has a story to tell. There was also a panel discussion about the innovations that experts in the field would like to/expect to see around records access and DNA.

Finally the Exhibit Hall opened to review the vendor booths. I took a quick walk through to survey the different businesses. I will be back later this week to check out in further detail when it's not as crowded.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Final Countdown to RootsTech!

A week from today I will be travelling from New York to Salt Lake City for my annual trip to RootsTech. This is my second trip but I consider it an annual trip as I plan on attending as much as I can. I'm going through my final checklist of things to order and bring.

1. Updated business cards - check (Make sure you list your email address, web site, Social media handles. For bonus points, list surnames or areas you're researching on the back. I opted for areas of research).

2. Ribbons to pass out - check (This is the first year I'm passing out some stack a ribbons to highlight my blog. Come find me to get a ribbon! I'm also passing out NextGen Genealogy Network ribbons).

3. Research plan for the Family History Library - need to update (I highly recommend having a plan to make sure of the library as it's going to be crowded).

4. Outfits for various dinners and events - check (I go business casual, esp for the photo ops I want to do with speakers, etc.)

5. Comfortable shoes - check (bring sneakers if you can - it will be a lot of walking)

6. Cash - check. (Most vendors take credit cards but it's good to have cash on hand for food vendors)

7. Room in my suitcase for goodies - tight but I can squeeze a book or two in. I take advantage of the shipping center at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Depending on what you're shipping it's cheaper than checking extra luggage and your exhibit hall goodies will show up safe at home. This will come in handy if you're buying multiple DNA kits and books.

Here are some of my past blog posts about RootsTech to help you make your final preparations:

1. My First Trip to the Family History Library (A Genealogist's Disneyland)

2. RootsTech: The Wrestlemania of Genealogy Conventions

3. Prepping for RootsTech

4. It's the most wonderful time of year...for genealogists!

5. RootsTech is Almost Here

There's still time to register!

If you can't attend RootsTech, follow #NotAtRootsTech on Twitter to follow along. There are also sessions being live streamed so you can experience a lot of the same sessions from home! I did this two years ago and it was a great way to feel involved.

How are you planning for the trip?

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018. I provide blog posts (in my own words), and social media coverage from now until after the conference. In return, I have free admission to RootsTech. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Love Story Emerges From a Connection with a DNA Match

Today is Saint Valentine's Day, a day where sweethearts exchange offerings like candy and flowers and go out for romantic dinners. It's a day where I start to think about our ancestors' love lives. Stories of couples living together for 50 plus years until their last breath was taken, couples who fell in love but sadly did not end up staying together and married others, ancestors who had several marriages for reasons unknown to us.

I learned one love story after getting in touch with a DNA match, who we will call "A". She was researching her grandfather Thomas Corcoran and we started to share information
Apparently, her grandfather married my great grandmother Bridget Connolly. However, I could not find any info on her in the family tree I built out. We continued to keep in touch and we exchanged details that she had. She was very curious about the family in the U.S and made a note that she was happy that he found happiness in America. I didn't really understand at the time what she meant.  Then after "A" started communicating with other members of the family, we started to realize that there was more to the story. My uncle had asked about the dates mentioned for Thomas and asked if Thomas had another wife before he married Bridget. The dates lined up so we knew we had the right Thomas Corcoran. Then we learned more of the story from "A". 

My great grandfather Thomas Corcoran had a child with a woman. They were unmarried. The story we heard from "A" is that Thomas' family were successful farmers in Dillonstown, County Louth, Ireland and the woman was a domestic that worked in the household. They were not allowed to marry each other, and Thomas was sent away to America two years after the baby was born, a son. The son's name was named Thomas and here's where it gets interesting, the baby was given the surname of Corcoran. He was raised by his mother's sister and her family, the Harmons, in County Louth, Ireland. Thomas Jr. left for England at about 18 years old and lived in County Lancashire, England His mother would later join him. I found it amazing to think of what had transpired. If my great grandfather didn't get sent to America, he wouldn't have married my great grandmother. This would mean my father's line wouldn't exist and I would not be here.

I wanted to find out more about this woman my great grandfather loved. I started to review the birth records for Ireland and was able to match up based on birth date and location a baby boy Thomas with no surname listed born to an unmarred woman, Margaret Mathews Shortly after I discovered this name, I asked "A" to verify with her siblings her grandmother's name (without providing the name I researched). She also told me Margaret Mathews. I knew I had found the right woman. She is now in the family tree as the mother of Thomas Jr. I wish that I could give her a relationship with Thomas like "first love" but sadly I don't have that option. I'm just happy that I was able to share this story with my family, including my father. Our research is a timeless reminder that our ancestors were human and fell in love multiple times.

Here are some of the records I found to help confirm the story:

Thomas Jr's Birth Register Record in Ardee, Ireland. Note that no surname is listed for the son and the father's name is left blank. Annagassan is a neighboring town next to Dillonstown. (Source: - Group Registration ID 454599).

Thomas Jr's Civil Death Registration in Preston, County Lancashire, England. Note that his birth date matches and his surname is Corcoran (Source: - England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, year 1982).

Great grandfather Thomas Corcoran on passenger list arrived in America 3/25/1907, who was going to reside with cousin James Brannigan in New York. He was born in Dillonstown, Ireland (Source: - New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957)

1911 Census Record:

Thomas Jr in the Harmon household (his mother's sister's family). Note: His surname is listed as Corcoran and he's noted as a relative. 

What love stories have you found in your family tree?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

RootsTech is Almost Here!

It's T minus 27 days until RootsTech 2018! And of course I have been counting. It's the largest genealogy conference that I have ever been to. Last year was my first time and I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had. It's such a lovely feeling to be surrounded by others that share your love (read addiction) of genealogy and to meet so many friends that I met online in Facebook groups and my #genchat and #iamnextgen friends.

RootsTech was the first time I really took a solo vacation. To spend an entire week devoted to something I'm so passionate about. I feel like I've come a long way since I first started researching when I was 18 years old and just trying to learn more about my paternal grandmother. It feels fitting that I was just accepted to have my photo below displayed at the RootsTech Photo + Story Competition. This is my paternal grandmother who really inspired my start of genealogy - I feel her with me and I'm glad that I can continue to take her with me. I'm honored to be selected.

Here's my story about this photo:

This is a picture of me and my paternal grandmother in her kitchen on Long Island. For the first few years of my life, my parents, brother and I all lived in my grandmother's house with her daughter, my aunt. We were a close family and grandma would make meals with all of the trimmings. On the stove was the turkey and there was likely chocolate chip cookies going into the oven later that day. I love this picture of my grandmother. She was so happy being a homemaker to her family, taking pride in her cooking and taking care of my grandfather.

When asked why I should be chosen to win in the Family category, I wrote the following: 

My grandmother inspired me to research the family tree. I wanted to know more about her family roots. I only had the opportunity to know her for a short time (about 6 years). I remember her baking and her loving nature. When grandma went to heaven, I hoped that she was happy playing bingo and spending time with my grandfather. I recently found some new cousins through her Corcoran line that really added to the diversity of my family story.

In addition to attending the various lectures, there's also time to research at the Family History Library and also attend some parties with your new friends! You will also come home with lots of goodies from the different vendors.

Who is going to RootsTech? What are you looking forward to? 

There's still time to register for RootsTech! Click here to register. 

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018. I provide blog posts (in my own words), and social media coverage from now until after the conference. In return, I have free admission to RootsTech. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Protesting Runs in the Family

The art of protest and practicing civil disobedience is a trait that I have seen in many families, including mine. In particular several members of my family like to participate in marches.

My father marched in Washington, D.C. during the Vietnam war. He was near peope that were tear gassed. You could say he was just another hippie but he didn't believe in the war. He reported for his medical physical and was one number away from being called up for the draft.

During college I participated in several marches, including Take Back the Night as well as the March for Women's Lives in D.C. This is when I started to practice activism with the Women's Center at SUNY Oswego. These experiences truly changed my life as it gave me a voice to my experiences. When I was a young teenager I was involved in a very abusive relationship that nearly killed me.  It has been hard to trust others with my story as not everyone believed me. That's why the #MeToo movement is so powerful and important. We need to listen to each other's stories.

The Doherty family is continuing our legacy of protest with my aunt Rose participating in several marches including the last two Woman's March and several anti Trump marches and rallies. It makes me proud to see my family standing up for what they believe in. 

Did you know that archives are also interested in marches and collecting items like signs? Most recently Northeastern University collected signs before they were thrown in the trash at the end of the event. You can contribute your poster that you had at the Boston Women's March to their digital archive at Many archives and libraries around the country are collecting items. I would recommend doing some research online and contacting them to see if they would be interested in your sign at this event or any other events you participated in.

It's a whole other area to explore when you research your family tree. Did you find a picture of an ancestor holding up a sign in protest of a cause they believe in? Did they write an article in the newspaper about a particular issue? Maybe they have an arrest record for when they were participating in a demonstration.

I have included a picture of me at the March for Women's Lives. I'm on the far right in the denim jacket holding a sign. I hope my ancestors find this picture and think of me and the causes I have helped champion.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words and is a Snapshot of Memories

Over the past week I have been re-examining and seeing out more pictures of my family and ancestors. I love to find documents detailing my ancestors' service in the military, when/whom they married, how many children they had. That doesn't compare to seeing a picture of a family member I never met or seeing a picture of a family member when they were about my age in the prime of their life, getting married and starting to have children.

As I mentioned in my blog post last week I officially started doing genealogy when I was 18. That wasn't when I started to seek out family pictures. I was probably about 10 years old when I started digging through the photos that we had put in some photo boxes, not sorted, no names or dates on the back (with the exception of a few Polaroids and more recent photos where the date was time stamped - a great feature!). I would bug my mom and ask her "Who is that?" "What year/". I later invested in photo safe pens so I could label photos on the back. My intent was to start scrapbooking and putting photos in a sleeve before pasting into archival books but sadly time got away from me and when I moved out of my parents house at 22, the photos remained in their boxes, secured away in closets.

I've been asking my parents and my maternal grandmother to start breaking the photos out of their cardboard prisons and take a picture with their phones. My grandmother is quite savvy with her iPhone. I've shared a few photos here below that I was recently sent. These were pictures I only recently saw for the first time. The ancestors I researched feel more alive to me - I can look at their faces and admire their fashion sense and their closeness with family. I hope that more members of the family will continue to share photographs with me so can week our memories alive. I continue to seek out more of my cousins that I find through DNA to share pictures of loved ones I remember and those who I wish to know more about.

My 2x maternal great grandmother, Chaje (Clara) Goldman with her daughter Matilda (Mollie) Siegel

This is great grandmother Matilda (Mollie) Siegel with her husband and great grandfather Anton (Eddie) Gailunas (shortened to Gail) in front of their house in Levittown, NY.

What precious family photographs were shared with you?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What Was My Starting Point for Genealogy?

I'm participating in the 52Ancestors challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow and the AncestorChallenge2018 issued by David Allen Lambert. Each involve hightlighting an ancestor in genealogy, which I will be blogging about and sharing via social media. The prompt for 52 Ancestors is "Start". I've decided to start with how I got started in genealogy, a question that I am asked frequently at conferences and other events. I want to say out loud no, I'm not a beginner. I've been researching for 15+ years. I just have a really young face.

I first started researching my family history when I was 18 years old. I was a first year student who was taking a genetics course for my zoology major. One of our assignments was to build a family tree and conduct interviews with family members to obtain detailed medical history. It felt awkward to ask the females in our family when their last menstrual period was, how many pregnancies, how many miscarriages, etc. Really personally stuff. It did help to understand any possible medical issues to look out for in my family.

I built the family tree going back to my grandparents. Sadly I don't have a copy as I tossed out years before I really started diving deep into genealogy. This assignment really helped open the floodgates to having conversations with my family, particularly on my father's side. I started to document the family tree on (this was back in the early 2000's) and since I didn't have a subscription I was relying on public records that weren't behind the pay wall, information from my living relatives, and of course other Ancestry family trees.

It would be several years after I graduated college that I would start purchasing subscriptions, attending conferences, asking relatives to retrieve vital records they found in their collections, and of course use social media (it became popular as I was leaving college). Sometimes I'm amazed at how little I had known starting out and how much I know now.

How did you get started in genealogy?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 10 Posts of 2017

Happy New Year readers! As I start off a new year, I was inspired by my friends at GeneaBloggersTRIBE to look at the top 10 posts that I wrote in 2017. This helps me understand what's important to you to read about in my blog.

In total, this blog has been viewed 4,703 times!

Here is the list ranked based on views in 2017:

1. My Military Ancestor - Dennis Rooney - 764 views

2. Irish Soda Bread: A Family Recipe Passed Down Generations - 409 views

3. RootsTech Giveaway Contest - 349 views

4. Ancestry Genetic Communities - 220 views

5. My First Trip to the Family History Library (A Genealogist's Disneyland) - 192 views

6. Opting Out - Should You? - 172 views

7. Ch-Ch-Changes in the Genealogy World - 152 views

8. RootsTech: The Wrestlemania of Genealogy Conventions - 147 views

9. Prepping for RootsTech - 140 views

10. Why The Shamrock? and California State Archives Trip - 139 views (a tie!)

What do you find the most interesting that I blog about? What topics would you like to see me blog about? Please leave your comments below.