AI Genie

The dream of many genealogists is that the technology industry would create an AI module that would build the “master tree” and then all we would need to do is maintain it by adding new births.

DeepMind’s latest venture, Neural Algorithmic Reasoning, is using Google Maps as a test bed. I wish they had pointed their test routines at and FamilySearch. Maybe next year?

Meanwhile, FamilySearch is not setting still. They have digitized all of their microfilms and are currently indexing the lot. The trouble has been that indexing has always depended on human volunteers. There seem to be more data than there are volunteers! People like you and me just aren’t helping.

One solution FamilySearch is developing is computer-assisted indexing using artificial intelligence. Yes, really. Read this really interesting article that appeared in my Google News feed today.

The artificial intelligence the computer uses is not perfect, and that’s where people come in. You can help the system get better by actually working on your family history at FamilySearch. Records indexed by a computer are labeled with a box in your system that reads “This record was indexed by a computer. If you find an error, click here to report it.” The AI system will learn from what you tell it.

Read the above article for more understanding. The people and the FamilySearch AI systems might be able to build the “master tree” before DeepMind gets around to it! 🙂

(The article appears to be in a LDS members only site, I am not sure how long it will remain in the public domain. If you are interested in this, I would advise you to read the article pronto.)

Editing My Family Tree

A few days ago, I wrote about using LearnForeverLearn to edit a Gedcom downloaded from I have learned quite a bit since then about checking my own tree. For example, I had 84 people with unknown gender!

Ancestry does not have an edit report in their web site. At least I can’t find one. That amazed me. One would think that would be an easy program to write! Especially given that one of their main products is building trees!

MyHeritage does have a slick online editing routine called Consistency Checker. It is fun and easy to use. It even flagged a completely blank record. The problem was that that record was not attached to anything, so I couldn’t find it.

My master database is the Ancestry tree, I previously uploaded my Gedcom into MyHeritage, so I had to fix the data in Ancestry.

I finally found the blank record in Ancestry by running the List of All People found under the Tree Search when a tree is open. It had sorted to the top!

LearnForeverLearn and MyHeritage flag many of the same errors. But MyHeritage has a few unique nice ones, like multiple spaces between names in a name field.

If you are MyHeritage only, you are ok. Just run the Consistency Checker once in a while.

If you are Ancestry only, you should use the LearnForeverLearn/ancestors web site. Or use a copy of RootsMagic at our local FHC. The report you need is under Tools called Problem Search.

If you are Ancestry and MyHeritage like me, then use all 4! And slow down when adding new records. And be super careful when copying data from other trees! Edit and source as you go. (My problem lately has been adding DNA matches discovered in Thrulines to my tree. Lots of those people have not yet read these posts!) 🙂

Monthly Meeting – Nov 4, 2021 – “Online Courthouse Tour” by Junel Davidsen

Courthouse documents are rich with genealogical information. These documents include a variety of records such as: birth, civil matters, criminal, death, divorces, estates, marriage, land transactions, maps, name changes, and more. Many courthouses throughout the United States now have digital access to their early record collections as well as current information. These records can be accessed directly from the record keeper’s website at no charge or for a small fee. In addition, courthouse records for some locations can be found at the FamilySearch website by browsing non-indexed collections. This session will highlight digitized record collections that are name searchable and also provide a step-by-step process for browsing FamilySearch collections.

Junel Davidsen, CG®,, worked in San Benito County Clerk/Recorder’s office and as Assistant Registrar of Voters of Monterey County. After retirement, she obtained an AA degree in Family Research Studies from Monterey Peninsula College and has been a Board-certified genealogist for 13 years. She has attended several genealogy conferences and training workshops, most recently the 2021 Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. Junel has held various positions on the Monterey County Genealogy Society board including President. She is a regular speaker at family history events including the annual Ancestor’s Roundup. She is a professional genealogist specializing in courthouse research. She assists families in finding missing relatives and estate administrators in locating living next-of-kin.

The Zoom meeting will start at 7:00 pm sharp. Zoom meeting details will be sent by invitation only. If you are not a member and wish to attend, send an email with your email address to our Membership VP, Marilyn Ruccello .

If you are not familiar with Zoom, click here.

”I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned.” – Abraham Lincoln

Using this site

It is weird how these blogs work. Posts drop into the front page from the top and get pushed down. Which makes posts seem to read backwards. Every so often, I need to remind “Followers” that there are other pages here. Be sure to sometimes just go to and browse around.

One of my favorite pages here is a list of blogs where there is so much to learn. This is a good page to remember during rainy days!

Another tricky thing about the MoCoGenSo blog is that most posts here are categorized and the category can be searched for. The one category that I use myself a lot is “How To”. I use that category to keep track of those posts that tell us how to do something. You can browse through the list as a memory aid.

Family Tree Editing

Suppose you have a family tree built. But you know you have errors in the data and want to edit it. If you have a PC and also have one of those genealogy programs used for family trees, like Legacy, Roots Magic, Family Tree Maker, Family Historian or Reunion, they will have a built-in editing report that can find common errors.  I hate to admit it, but I have lots of these errors, like died before born, missing dates, married too young, no gender specified, etc.   In fact, when writing this post, I discovered my tree had 8 people that had NO parents, children nor spouses! They were simply single entries — Ancestry had never alerted me to this fact.  Editing our data is another meeting MoCoGenSo could create.  

Meanwhile, many of us do not have a standalone genealogy program. We don’t want to be bothered, or we do not have a PC. If for example, you have and a tablet, how are you going to edit your tree?  One way is to export a Gedcom and then present it for free to a website called LearnForeverLearn.  (I said present because you don’t actually upload the file, the program reads the data into memory.)  I talked about this previously here

If your tree is in Ancestry, just download a Gedcom and let this site process it for you. If you don’t have a PC, come into the Family History Center and do it there!

A validation report is run when you first read the Gedcom.  You can get a copy later too by clicking on the Options icon in the upper left.  

While you are there, inside the Options icon, check out the Country/Flag option.  This can be quite a kick, depending on your tree, of course. The option displays a flag bases on the birth location of your ancestor. I just might display this at a future DNA Discussion meeting!

The tool is called “Family Tree Visualization” and it can be found here:

Saving your family tree

More thoughts in the rain.  Suppose you are one of the lucky ones who has researched and created a rather large family tree.  You want to preserve the data and share it with others, but there are many reasons why you can’t. Not everyone wants to use FamilySearch, especially when living people are involved.

The funny thing is, no one ever talks about this kind of a puzzle during the meetings here at MoCoGenSo.  We act like everyone in genealogy is just out to search or source. Trust me, I am not about to create a “talk” here about various ideas to help with this issue.  Following is just a couple of ideas that might lead someone to think outside the box. 

If just preserving the data is more important than retaining a database, I suggest that HTML will continue to exist for at least as long as other options.  Thus I would consider using GedSite to create HTML files of the entire project a very good preservation alternative.  While this does not save the project as a database, it does preserve all the data in a very readable format. 

GedSite, developed by John Cardinale, creates web pages from a GEDCOM file. It generates either narrative or grid style person pages, a master index, a surname index, source pages, and any other pages you wish to add. You can review the site on your own PC before you share it with anyone. You can publish it on the web, or distribute it via a DVD or flash drive. 

Find out more here:

There is also an archive hosting plan from Family History Hosting LLC operated by John Cardinal which ensures your genealogy files will stay online for 10 years from your last payment. Frankly, this method may be easier than trying to create a blog yourself and then building the HTML reading system yourself. You can have your own family tree web site! 

Find out more here:

I am not trying to “push” these products. In fact, I don’t use them myself. But they have a good reputation, and I am putting this information out to help folks who might have a need. Creating an HTML dump of my family tree is on my long todo list! 

CentiMorgan Percentages

23andMe is one of my favorite sites for DNA working.  But it has a quirk that is irritating, it show percentages of matching centiMorgans on the Match list page, not a raw value.  Sure, it is easy to click through to the chromosome browser, but that is an extra step.  I have become used to seeing how many (quantity) centiMorgans I match with whomever.

This morning, while waiting for the rain, I decided to consult Google.  Hey hey, all I have to do is multiply the percentage by 68 and I have a close approximation of the number.  What the heck, I said to myself. 68?  Where did that come from?  Besides, multiplying by 68 in my head is kinda tricky. I need to at least understand this first….

Two sites proved useful.  

Lisa Louise Cooke said: You can see the percentage of shared DNA from the main DNA Relatives home page. To convert the percentage into centiMorgans, just multiply your percentage by 68 (that will at least get you close). You can also see total shared cMs in the chromosome browser tool (go to Tools > DNA Relatives > DNA).

3.19% DNA shared => 3.19 * 68 = 217 centiMorgans

Another site said: Every person has approximately 6800 centiMorgans of DNA. This number includes both copies of each numbered chromosome, or approximately 3400 centiMorgans inherited from each parent.

So, if you share 217 centiMorgans with a match, just do this calculation:

217 / 6800 = 3.19% shared DNA

GSSCC and the Santa Cruz Public Library present Lecture Series

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 7:00 PM

Guest Speaker: Terry Jackson — How It Has Helped Me in My Research

Terry Jackson’s family has been submitting family histories to what is now called FamilySearch for many, many years. As that information has come online, it has provided lots of interesting stories and has helped to clear up some family mysteries. Using some examples from his own research, Terry will demonstrate how FamilySearch can help us with our own research. We will also look at some fun things that come with a free FamilySearch account.

Terry Jackson is a retired Social Worker who now spends his time fishing, or finding more questions than answers in his genealogical research. He also enjoys what has become a rare opportunity to spend time with his grandkids! Terry is the descendant of Mormon immigrant families. His paternal grandmother’s parents arrived in the 1890s; his paternal grandfather’s forebears came in the 1850s. Terry’s maternal line stretches back to the early 1600s in Virginia and New England. His maternal ancestors were early converts to Mormonism and were among the first Mormon settlers in what became Utah and Idaho. All the family lines that Terry has traced from the U.S. have gone back to English, Scottish, and Irish roots. Terry is a 35-year resident of Seaside.

NOTE:  You MUST register at this address in order to attend.

Off the Charts : Presenting Ancestors’ STories (PAST) meets 3rd Wednesdays via Zoom @ 1:30 pm

We are a genealogy group for people who like to think outside the box and beyond the chart. We exchange support for our work and excitement about how we’re sharing it. Our meetings include topics and speakers on writing, crafts, photo projects, organization, trips, reunions, issues, and much more.

Wednesday October 20th @ 1:30-3:30 ==> Contact Kathy or Karen 917-2042 for Zoom meeting details.

This Month: “David Bunzel”

David Bunzel will be presenting his “Curious Case of Frank Button”, which might also be called “The Clue in the Old Documents” or “The Mysterious Wedding Date”. Learn how David, whose ancestors are German and Irish, began his current attraction to history and genealogy way back, with a childhood interest in old family stories. See how he adds new research (and serendipity?) to those old family tales..

Every meeting includes a chance to connect, ask questions, and update genealogy friends on your latest discoveries or roadblocks. We also have an opportunity to receive inspiration from others and to help.

Google and YouTube Tips for Genealogists

Last night, Dayna Jacobs gave a talk at the MoCoGenSo General Meeting via Zoom. A handout was distributed to those in attendance. The talk and handout are about Google and YouTube tips for genealogists. Dayna has made the handout available for downloading by all. Having this file, which is full of searching examples, is almost as good as having been there!

To get the file, CLICK HERE.

If you see Dayna out and about, give her a big thanks. It was a great meeting and I learned quit a few new things.