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 Ancestry.com.  And while Ancestry has some interesting visualizations for family trees and relationships, the closed-platform nature of… Read more“Visualizing my family’s migration”

A photograph of my ancestors (and me)

family history photography

I’ve been spending more time with a camera this past year, and less time doing genealogy research and website additions. This wasn’t a conscious decision, more a byproduct my professional time in 2013 and 2014 being consumed by development of a new website and CMS for my firm, GreenBiz, making ByrneFamily site additions… Read more“A photograph of my ancestors (and me)”

Levi Austin’s fleeting wealth quickly washed away

Fremont Landing California

Dead and long forgotten. I have a soft spot for those who led interesting, meaningful lives, but for one reason or another never got much attention from other researchers. Often it’s because they fall into the category of d.s.p. (descessit sine prole; died without issue). With no descendants to carry their stories, they… Read more“Levi Austin’s fleeting wealth quickly washed away”

Henry Felix Kloman’s WWI battlefield letters

Henry Felix Kloman

Gathering data online is my primary research activity these days, but there’s something special about holding a historic book, letter or photograph in your hands. This was brought home to me recently when I revisited a stash of letters from my grandparents and great grandparents.  I had glanced at them several years ago, but… Read more“Henry Felix Kloman’s WWI battlefield letters”

Keziah Whitson Coles’ 1870 photo album brought back to life

keziah coles photos

There’s a long tradition of crappy photographers in my family. Great grandmother Edna was a pioneer of bad photography with her 1900 box camera mirror photo, presaging the selfie by over a century. Her son, Valentine (Coles), inherited the bad photographer gene, and proceeded to marry my grandmother, who was possibly the worst… Read more“Keziah Whitson Coles’ 1870 photo album brought back to life”