My mother arriving in America in 1935
My mother was born in Munich to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother so I know perfectly well why they moved to Boston in 1935. He was “retired” in the early 1930s, from his professorship at the University of Freiburg Faculty of Medicine for being jewish. However he still had an extensive private medical practice and would have stayed in Germany had my Oma not insisted that they leave. Thankfully my Opa was a prominent scientist and had many offers from different universities around the world. Happily for my existence, my Oma chose Boston over Ankara.
But why did my Norwegian ancestors come to this country? I recently started reading a book, Between Rocks and Hard Places (love that title!) by Ann Urness Gesme that answers some of those questions and describes life in Norway in the 1800s in much detail. So I wanted to share this find with all of you other Norwegian Americans and Norwegians. Many of you may have already read the wonderful article Peace, Potatoes and Pox which summarizes the reasons for the population explosion in Norway such that there were too many people on too little land, the main impetus behind emigration. He wrote that article after reading Norway to America A History of the Migration by Ingrid Semmingsen, a detailed and carefully researched book. [n.b. these book titles include my affiliate links]
My paternal grandfather was born in Kristiansand, Norway’s southernmost city, and came here when he was six years old with his family. He later married the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, one from near Drammen and the other from Etne, Hordaland. This gives me the pleasure of three different places in Norway to research for my family history.
I am fortunate to have the letters that grandfather wrote to my Dad during WWII which include a description of leaving Kristiansand in 1884: “… my grandfather brought us out in a row boat to the steamer lying out in the harbor all ready to leave for America” and “What America was I did not know, but I had imbibed enough of family talk to realize it was a land of plenty and an interesting place to go to.” Followed by a description of the crossing: “Well the Atlantic was rough and wild at times during July 1884 and our boat rolled and pitched in the heavy seas. I was tremendously impressed by the huge waves, which seemed like mountains to me.”
When my Dad rode up the elevator in our NYC apartment building, he was often asked if he was my father.
I always thought I looked just like him and just like pictures of his mom, except for my nose which came from my mother’s side.
The other day my brother showed me a cool new tool that compares a picture of yourself to pictures of any ancestors whose photos are in the FamilySearch tree. Needless to say I promptly uploaded every ancestor image I could find!
This tool is called Compare-a-Face and is part of the FamilySearch Discovery suite of tools. It is currently featured on the FamilySearch home page when you log in.
I soon discovered that the original photo of me did not get compared to the new ancestor photos that I had just put there, so I uploaded another one. I had to try several different pictures of me to get the result I wanted from the comparison to my Dad’s mom.
Notice that the images are shown in order of how like you they are: the best on the left to least on the right. You click on any little image at the top to get it front and center with a percentage of simularity.
It makes me sad to be missing Rootstech this year (blame my husband) but I am experimenting today with viewing a few of the free streaming lectures online. To get the live stream just go to the Rootstech home page and sign up. Currently, you can watch only on the day of the lectures.
One of the pleasures of a conference like Rootstech is seeing old friends plus meeting and greeting many of your virtual friends, the ones you have researched with electronically but have never met in person. So it makes me sad not to be meeting fellow genetic genealogy blogger Roberta Estes who is attending for the first time. Follow her blog for daily reports.
Another pleasure of this conference is the amazing Exhibit Hall. Every vendor has a booth and new features to announce. Much to blog about for weeks to come! Personally I found about two lectures a day were best for my own self pacing. Then of course there is the wonderful Family History Library next door; a reason all by itself to visit Salt Lake City.
Today I went to Rootstech via streaming on my PC for a very informative lecture about using Google Photos from the in depth genealogist Michelle Goodrum. The nice thing was that I could stop the lecture and go play with my Google Photos as I learned about features I had never considered.
She also discussed the app, Photo Scan, that you can use on your smartphone to scan images and document pages by taking a picture at 4 different spots to get rid of glare reflections and misalignments. The result is automatically added to your google photos.
I had always known that my Android photos were magically whisked up into the cloud to my Google photos area at https://photos.google.com/ (you need to be logged in to your google account to see them). I had often downloaded one or two images from there to illustrate this blog or add to a profile on a genealogy site. But I had never realized all the ways Google had already organized them for me or that I could do some editing there plus add information and more organization!
One thing I have always wanted when looking at my ancestry DNA matches was to list just the unstarred matches or matches that I have identified as being on a specific line. Well there is a new add-on for chrome called MedBetterDNA that will do that for you now, among other great features. Thank you Blaine for mentioning it in your Genetic Genalogy Tips and Techniques Facebook group today.
Another thing I love from this add-on is that it displays the notes you have made for this match directly on the match page so you no longer have to click each little notepad. Here is what my brother’s page looks like now:
Notice the little multi-colored people icons next to the green leaves? That is from another chrome add on called the AncestryDNA helper and a mouse-over on those icons shows the DNA relatives in common, but that is another blog post not yet written.
My dad skiing at Stowe in 1947
This New Year’s Eve I have resolved to remember my father’s advice, “Don’t let a big project overwhelm you, break it into small manageable parts.”
Personally, I have often put off starting a huge project because it seemed to be way too much to tackle. It is amazing how many other things get done when I am procrastinating!
If you had told me five years ago how many hours I would spend working with my family’s DNA results, I might never have started. That would have been sad as I would have missed out on the endless pleasure genetic genealogy has brought me and the many others I have helped.
If I had known twenty years ago where writing down the family stories would take me, I could not have imagined the thousands of hours I would spent on genealogy. I have enjoyed just about every minute of it, except perhaps going to the library or archive and not finding the record I was searching for.
Both of these hobbies are easy to break into small manageable parts. One family line at a time or one location at a time or one group of connected matches at a time or even one chromosome segment at a time. Whatever works for you.
I had been overwhelmed thinking about organizing and tidying up my office. Two years ago my New Year’s resolution was to reorganize it. I have a whole small bedroom with closet space and plenty of light, why such a shambles!
In that spirit, a week ago I started doing a little bit of office clean up each day. This is working, even if somewhat slowly.