I finally put all the pieces together for this genealogy research project. And I am really happy to say: Mission Accomplished!
My in-laws had a lifelong mystery about their family. Their paternal grandfather was adopted, and there was nearly no information available to determine who he was. All they had was a loose story about a baby-in-a-basket adoption in Baltimore, MD. His name and his wife’s name, and that’s about it.
I spent 3 years researching the mystery and I finally got an answer this month. My interest in genealogy really began as an interest in genetics and science, after reading “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” for college English. In late 2017, I submitted a DNA sample (spit in a tube), and in January of 2018, it was like I was reborn into a whole new world that was hidden from me before.
The end product is this website, that I assembled to share most of what I found out.
Beyond the genealogical websites, there were a lot of skills I had to learn, improve and choose from.
- Database searching — especially sorting through a lot of records with bad data entry
- Gathering information from many, many different resources
- Record connecting
- File transfer
- Image manipulation
- Collaboration and communication with people I did not know, about sensitive issues
- Choosing the right media format for conveyance — Document, Slide Presentation or Website
- Google Sites
- Google Docs
- Google Slides
- Google My Maps (for creation and embedding)
- KML for importing drawings of borders on maps
- Google Forms
- DNA Mapping
- Maternal vs. Paternal DNA strands
- How to do triangulation with DNA
- Centimorgan value interpretation
- Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)
Probably the biggest surprise was the New Google Sites. Its very nifty and responsive. The mapping insert and interactive layout features are really impressive. Not at all like the WordPress installations that I’m used to. The WP Gutenberg Team could use some rethink, IMO; because I do not love working with WordPress anymore.
I cannot say enough how much of a sense of achievement it is to get it all done, sorted, designed, written, proofread, published and sent off to the intended recipients.
If I had a dollar for every hour I spent on this, I’d be pretty well off. But I didn’t do it for payout. I did it for the challenge and to develop new skills. And really, I love puzzles. Plus, it gave me something to do while I was holed-up with the Covid germs outside.
There’s still a few documents that I’d like to get from the state archives — another skill I need to investigate. But after this, I don’t know that I want to tackle another project of this scope. Granted, my ability to assemble a family tree is amazing right now. And I helped to sort through hundreds of families and tag hundreds of thousands of documents, easily. I don’t know if it was fun every minute, but it was always satisfying on some level. It must have been, because I did it till I’d pass out on top of the computer.
However, I didn’t come to this project to become a genealogist. I came to it to help me understand DNA — a much greater mystery of the world and life itself. This has been a fantastic exercise to grow my investigation skills and thought processes. I couldn’t be much happier with the results. Patting myself on the back.