google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Want to Build a Family History Legacy Book

Diving into DNA: I'm No Expert But...

DNA is hot. In case you haven’t noticed. But if you’re like me it might have taken you a while to plunge into the deep waters of DNA. Or perhaps you’re still sitting on the water's edge wondering if you should spend your hard earned money on a DNA test, especially when you don’t understand how it’s going to help you in your genealogy research. That was me. But  I've been learning from some experts and can point you in the right direction. Now it’s important to me that I refer you to someone you can understand and can get down to earth advice. So here are some blogs, books and webinars that will help you swim in the deep end of DNA.

First, which test show I use? I get asked that all the time. There are 5 that I would consider. But in all reality, the experts would probably tell you to do them all. The more databases you can get your information into the higher your chances of connecting with others who share the same ancestors. Some of these tests you can take and upload to another database. For instance, I took the 23 and Me test and uploaded it to My Heritage.

The Tests or  (for my fellow Canadians) 
Once you’ve given up your spit and sent it off to be tested I can recommend a good book you can start reading while you are waiting for the results.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy  (available in Kindle or Paperback) by Blaine Bettinger  (affiliate link)

I met Blaine and heard him speak at the Ontario Genealogy Conference in June. He’s a down to earth guy and his book reflects a down to earth approach to DNA. 

There are a growing number of videos and webinars on the Internet to help you comprehend DNA testing, your results and how to keep track of it all. You’ll notice Blaine is leading many of them. There’s a reason for that.

Another expert in the field with good reviews is: 

Videos and Webinars

There are plenty of videos and webinars available both free and for a respectful price. 

Family Tree DNA on YouTube - an extensive list of videos covering all aspects of DNA testing. 

Legacy Family Tree Webinars – 37 webinars and 123 pages of syllabus. There is also a DNA Foundations Course which includes 5 classes. If you join the yearly Webinar Membership program for $49.95 you can take your time over the course of a year to view this impressive webinar library. And you get everything else in the library, not just the DNA webinars. An incredible amount of genealogy education for the price. 

Don't forget the blogs. Always a great source of information. Here are a few blogs to follow for getting your feet wet. There are more then listed here but these ones will get you started. 


Blaine is known as the Genetic Genealogist, you can also follow his blog here.
However, it was Judy Russell the Legal Genealogist who got me revved up about DNA. She has numerous blog posts to help you to tread in these unknown waters.

Facebook Pages

If you want to start on social media here are some popular Facebook pages.

Your Genetic Genealogist Facebook Page

The DNA Detectives

DNA Tools

The Genetic Genealogist

Success Stories

If you want to read a success story on how someone else use DNA, I can recommend this book:

The Foundling: The True Story a Kidnapping, a Family Secret and My Search for the Real Me  (affiliate link)

Do you have a DNA success story? Share it with us in the comments. Or leave a link to your blog post about your success story. 

8 YouTube Channels to Improve Your Genealogy Skills

You can’t be an armchair genealogist without taking advantage of some of the incredible free learning opportunities available on YouTube. I have my favourites, but I recently scoured YouTube to see what are some of the most current YouTube channels that are happening right now that might be of some value to my readers. There are many channels offering genealogy assistance. In choosing the ones below, I looked for channels that offer relevant up to date information and are posting regularly.
When you find one you like be sure to click the “subscribe” button, so you’ll get notified of any new videos when they arrive.  

Professional Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow helps family historians with practical tips for discovering their family history. She covers a wide range of topics from organisation and preservation to DNA and breaking down brick walls.

Lisa keeps you up to date on the new technology and genealogy resources available for the family historian. Everything from using Google, to interviews with experts, DNA, behind the scenes tours and her famous Genealogy Gems Podcasts.

Even if you are not an subscriber you can still take advantage of this large library of videos. Everything to help the beginner to the expert. Videos help DNA users, they also include a Family History Expert series, along with the latest updates for their database for us faithful users.

With close to 140 videos, this YouTube channel offers plenty of videos to view on a wide range of topics including research and organisation tips, to specific areas of research. Lots of tips and tricks for improving your research.

Genealogy and Family History for Cool People by Nicka Sewell-Smith.  Nicka features episodes for her Black Progen Live group. She offers tips and tricks on narrowing down people of colour in online record sets.

BYU Family History Library
The BYU Family History Library offers an extensive library of videos on a wide range of topics for all levels of family historians.

Family Search also offers an extensive library with over 120 videos on a large variety of subjects including Irish research, heritage recipes, Rootstech videos and a variety of how to videos.

Family Tree Magazine offers over 100 videos with everything from genealogy tips, to DNA, genealogy organisation and overcoming brick walls.

Do you have a favourite genealogy YouTube Channel? Let us know in the comments.

Take a Lesson from a Professional Genealogist for less than a Cup of Coffee

Free stuff or next to free stuff doesn't come around too often so when it does it's best we make the most of it. 

Some of you may not be aware of the BCG - Board for Certification of Genealogists. While this organization provides classes that will help you to obtain your certification as a Professional Genealogist they also serve an even wider audience. They offer webinars for the average family historian looking to expand their knowledge but maybe are not necessarily ready to become a certified genealogist.  

You don't have to be seeking professional certification in order to utitlize their on-demand webinars that are available at your convenience.  Some of them are free and some will cost you a few dollars and I mean a few dollars. I've provided a sampling below of what is currently available with links to them. When you click on the link you'll get a preview before the video will stop and ask for your payment. 

The Current Free Ones! 

Kinship Determination: From Generation to Generation by Russell, Judy G.

Fine Wine in a New Bottle: Guidelines for Effective Research and Family Histories by Thomas W. Jones.

A Webinar that Cost Less than a Grande Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks

And then are others which will cost you a few dollars and I mean literally a few dollars, less than a Grande Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

Webinars like,

Elementary, My Dear Watson! Solving Your Genealogy Puzzles with Clues You Already Have by James M. Baker 

Complex Evidence What it is, How it Works, Why it Matters by Warren Bittner

'Of Sound Mind and Body' Using Probate Records in Your Research by Michael Hait

The Importance of Context in Record Analysis by Barbara Vines Little

When Worlds Collide: Resolving Conflicts in Genealogical Records by Judy G. Russell

Black Sheep Ancestors and Their Records by Ann Staley

There are plenty more. You can find them on the BCG website. Perhaps, you'll even realize you just might have what it takes to sign up and set your path to becoming a Professional Genealogist. 
For more information about the Board for Certification of Genealogists and genealogy standards, and to view the above videos you can visit The Board for Certification of Genealogists

Who Do You Think You Are? Sunday Night

On this Sunday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? at 10/9c on TLC, actress Jennifer Grey uncovers the truth about the emigrant grandfather she thought she knew, learning how he survived adversity to become a beacon of his community. Jennifer also uncovers the devastating tragedy that stopped her great-grandmother from ever making it to America.

Catch a Sneak Peak

Irish Genealogy: A book, a webinar, blog posts and free records!

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, there is always a flurry of Irish research approaching the day. So, this year, I thought I would round up some of those articles so you can tap into to a little help for those difficult Irish ancestors. If you're quick, there's also some links to a few websites with free access to Irish records. 

Irish Genealogy Help: DIY and Pro on Genealogy Gems by Lisa Louise Cooke

Why are Irish Records so Weird? By John Grenham at John Grenham – Irish Roots. And here's a link to his webinar of the same name with  Legacy Family Tree Webinars
Don't forget John's book. It's on my bookshelf. 

(affiliate link)

IGRS 80th Anniversary Archives - Last year was the 80th anniversary of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, and they launched a story writing project. They collected stories of readers about their favourite Irish born ancestors.  This is a round-up of those stories, tales of Irish men and women across the last 300 years. Some great insight into the lives of the Irish. 

Terri O’Connell (a good Irish lass) has an 8 Day Irish Research Series she posted last year but still quite relevant.  8 Days of Irish Research – Start here.

FindmyPast is a great a terrific resource for Irish Records. Check out A Complete Beginner’s Guide to FindMyPast Records  and 10 Things You Need to Know When Starting Irish Genealogy Research

Don’t forget our own Irish Research Page for Beginners. 

Saving a Little Green 

And if you’re not sure if you’re Irish, or just how Irish you might be, Ancestry is also offering 20% their DNA kit.

In celebration of St. Patrick’s the following websites are offering free research. Watch the ending dates, they vary. Maybe honour the day by dedicating to a day of Irish Research. 
American Ancestors, the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Service (NEHGS), is celebrating offering free access to its Irish resources from March 15-22. Included are unique databases (notably Boston Catholic parish records) and a guide to Irish genealogy. is offering free access to its Irish collection, until 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 19. 

Findmypast is making their entire collection of Irish records free until Friday, March 17 (6:59 pm CDT).  

Do you have an Irish brick wall? My Irish brick walls are Phelan and Stapleton. What are yours?