Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your 2016 Dear Genea-Santa Letter

Christmas is coming soon, so it must be time for Randy Seaver to suggest that his readers write to Santa for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Come on, everybody, join in, accept the mission, and execute it with precision. Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him your Christmas genealogy-oriented wish list:

(1) Write your Genea-Santa letter.  Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy?  What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list?  They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue in your ancestral quest. 

(2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook status or Google Stream post. 


Here are my wishes:

I've tried hard to be a good genealogy girl again this year.  I'm still doing lots of volunteer work for a number of genealogical organizations, including serving on three boards and editing four different publications (one went away, but I added a new one).  Somehow I have been able to maintain my blog schedule, posting regularly between two to four times a week.  I had my 1,000th post a little while ago!  I've continued a robust educational program, attending four conferences, three all-day seminars, many in-person classes, and another 50 or so Webinars, in addition to teaching 30 classes myself.  Plus I've done more research on my family and helped other people with their research.  I am a genealogy geek indeed!

I'm very grateful for the gifts I received this past year.  I found a cousin willing to take a Y-DNA test and determined that my grandfather's biological father was not Mr. Sellers.  I'm now in contact with someone from a Y-DNA line that matches my father well, and I have a strong lead for my great-grandfather (this guy seems to have been somewhat of a ladies' man).  Some cousins from my mother's side of the family coordinated a small family reunion and invited me to attend, so I met more relatives and now have scans of more than 250 photographs from their branch, along with additional information for the family tree.  And an article about my Cuban cousins and the research I've done on them was published this summer.

But people always want more, don't they?  And I do have some wishes for next year.  These are things I would love to see in 2017 (and I'm dreaming big again):

• My top priority is still that I want to help my now 91-year-old aunt find and make contact with Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son she gave up for adoption 71 years ago.  We haven't made much progress since last year.  She did a DNA test through Family Tree DNA, the results of which I've uploaded to GEDMatch.  (Unfortunately, she wasn't able to manufacture enough saliva for a successful AncestryDNA test, so we aren't able to search directly in that pool.)  The bad news is that she doesn't show any close matches besides her siblings, her son, and me (i.e., family members we already knew had tested).  It's possible that her son didn't have any descendants, or that absolutely none of them has decided to try the whole DNA thing.  It is so important for her to find him, so I'm really hoping for this one.  It's the number one item on my list.

• Last year's plan for my brother and me to join a Ukrainian research project didn't end up happening.  It would be great if another project were to start this year, and maybe we can find actual records from the Kamenets Podolsky area on our Gorodetsky family (and even the Kardishes).

• I keep hoping for a treasure trove of heretofore unknown surviving Jewish records from the former Grodno gubernia to be unearthed.  If some of my relatives were mentioned in them, so much the better.

• I'm still waiting for optical character recognition (OCR) scanning of old newspapers to become more accurate and reliable.  I thought I had heard that someone had come up with a way for computers to assess poor-quality spots on newspaper pages (torn, ink blobs, type dropped out) and try logical infilling, rather than merely scanning them as is and having something that looks like a bunch of control characters come out as the search text, but I haven't seen anything more about it.

• I agree with Randy in wishing that Ancestry.com give subscribers access to their raw DNA data and permit chromosome browsing, rather than relying on the twitching, dancing leaves to do everyone's research for them.  (I gave up years ago on Ancestry correcting indexing mistakes; those corrections won't add to the bottom line, so Ancestry has no interest in putting out money for them.  I'm happy it shares the "alternative readings" that people submit.)

I don't think I'm being greedy, Genea-Santa.  Most of my wishes are for things that other people will benefit from.  If you'd really like cookies this year, I promise to get some for you.  And last year's offer of brandy or wine instead of milk is still good.  Or maybe you like a good Port?

18 comments:

  1. I hope Genea-Santa brings you all these gifts and more, including another family reunion! Happy holidays to you and yours.

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    1. Thank you, and happy holidays to you also.

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  2. These look like really great things to wish for Janice. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks, Mary! And happy holidays to you also!

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  3. Hey there. So we won't know our actual DNA results from the Ancestry DNA tests? What *will* they tell us then?

    I hope that you get all that is on your list, most especially the information on Raymond Lawrence Sellers. I'm sorry that she had to give up her son. How sad for her.

    I enjoyed reading your list.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed night!

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    1. Thanks for the good wishes.

      All Ancestry tells you is your "ethnic mixture", which is mostly a bunch of hooey. It doesn't give access to the hard data on its site. You can download it and put it on GEDMatch.

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  4. So the "hard data" will show up on the GEDMatch thing? What is GEDMatch? I hope we'll be able to get all of this stuff figured out when our results are in. Ancestry has acknowledged receiving our tests, so now we wait. Hopefully we'll know something by the end of January. The geneticist told us back in the early 2000s that we (David and I) had to have a genetic link, a common ancestor, because of the medical condition that our oldest daughter has. We're hoping to find out if that is really the case. Did I waste money on these tests, or is this the kind of thing it can tell me?

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    1. If you upload your raw data to GEDMatch.com, you can work with it more. Ancestry has no tools on its site for you to do more detailed research. It simply tells you who you match and your broad ethnic background. As for the medical condition, I don't believe Ancestry gives you any information like that. The only consumer DNA testing company I know of that does is 23andMe, and only for specific conditions. Through the testing you've done you may be able to determine if you and your husband have a common ancestor, but even if you do have one, it's also possible that one or both of no longer have any DNA from that person in your individual make-up.

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  5. I sure hope your Genea-Santa comes through for you. Happy holidays!

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! And happy holidays to you also!

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  6. I love your list for Genea-Santa, especially the one about helping your aunt find the son she gave up. I have two adopted family members who are looking for info on missing birth family members, so that request of yours is dear to my heart. I've been helping both of them with the quest. Hopefully there will be breakthroughs this year for your aunt and my two relatives. Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Thank you for your good wishes. I'll also be hoping for a breakthrough. And happy new year to you!

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  7. Janice, I hope GeneaSanta grants all your wishes, especially the one for your aunt. You certainly deserve it, as you have certainly given quite a bit back to the genealogy community through your teaching.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Linda. I appreciate your support and hope Genea-Santa hears you!

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  8. Janice, I'm so pleased your post won the blog party contest this month. It's definitely a winner.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I appreciate everyone's support of my aunt's search.

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  9. Congratulations, Janice! Your post received the most votes in the December Genealogy Blog Party! I hope that your wishes come true in 2017, especially for your aunt. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth, and thanks to everyone who voted for my post. With additional people reading about my aunt and her search, maybe someone will recognize the names and situation and contact me.

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