The data privacy threat lurking on your family tree

family tree data

If you keep your genealogy research online, you’ve probably got a data problem.  But unlike banking sites or Facebook, simply changing your password or deleting your account won’t solve the issue. That’s because the world’s largest for-profit genealogy services (the vast majority of sites exist to make money) are using your family-tree and… Read more“The data privacy threat lurking on your family tree”

Fernald Byrne’s deadly roller coaster ride

Giant Dipper roller coaster

Families are chock full of colorful characters, legends and tragedies. In our family, we have a famous science fiction writer, a skyjacker, Mayflower passengers, Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, the founder of Brooklyn and many others. Genealogy research has its quotient of humble-bragging, and famous relatives and/or salacious tales are simply grist for the… Read more“Fernald Byrne’s deadly roller coaster ride”

Simpler times and pleasures in my mother’s letters

pile of famiy letters

I was a chubby kid.  Borderline fat.  From around age 3 until puberty, when I shed baby fat like a discarded chrysalis, my annual visits to the pediatrician recorded height in the 50th percentile, while weight rarely dipped much below the 75th percentile. These stats are stated with great certainty, for my mother… Read more“Simpler times and pleasures in my mother’s letters”

Broom handles and traitorous china

My 10th gr-grandmother measured penises with broom handle. In the 1630s. It’s on Wikipedia, so it must be true, right?  But this one’s been well-documented by other historians, so I tend to believe it’s not a complete fabrication. Genealogy reveals some strange things about what constitutes fame.  When people find out it’s my… Read more“Broom handles and traitorous china”

Visualizing my family’s migration

Genealogy applications and software have gotten a little boring lately.  With all the fascinating technologies surrounding data visualization, machine learning, and otherwise, most people choose the path of least resistance and hand their data over to  And while Ancestry has some interesting visualizations for family trees and relationships, the closed-platform nature of… Read more“Visualizing my family’s migration”

Was my gr-gr-grandfather George Austin legitimate?

Every family has secrets. Lots of them. Entire lifetimes can be colored by efforts to keep criminal records a secret, hide out of wedlock births, or bury marriages that ended unhappily. And in some cases, those secrets are maintained by subsequent generations, with only the occasional whisper between those in the know, until… Read more“Was my gr-gr-grandfather George Austin legitimate?”