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Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 08:07 am
Got the second Irish DNA test result re my very hard to trace great granny born in Dublin in 1879. Another match, this time with the grandson of her much younger half brother - they shared the same father, who had two wives. So I can be totally confident in my Annie's mother AND father. Woot! It's also particularly nice for me, because this branch, in New Zealand, has a strong tradition of working in education, science (inc multiple PhDs) and even an early NZ computing prof (Annie's nephew). Quite a nice symmetry with my line. Original DNA blogpost here.
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Saturday, August 5th, 2017 11:08 pm
Thought some of my online friends might be interested in my blog post, which shows some of the potential of autosomal (all branches) DNA testing for cracking genealogical brick walls. I've made other DNA matches with cousins, but this is the first one that has proven a tricky-to-trace line.
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Monday, April 24th, 2017 05:13 pm
I run two one-place studies, researching specific parishes and their inhabitants in the past. I've had hand coded websites for them for years, but they're very simplistic, old-fashioned looking, and becoming cumbersome for users to read and navigate. So I've had at the back of mind for a while the wish to revamp both sites. But I was deterred by the thought of building new websites from scratch.

But on Saturday night, about midnight, I suddenly had a revelation. I already had WordPress blogs, for a number of different purposes. And I remembered that people build WordPress sites, relatively easily, including for one-place studies. It wouldn't be that hard to do would it?

Within an hour I had proto sites up and running for my two one-place studies, and within 5 hours I had fully transferred all the old resources into them, and filled them out. This included moving the existing blogs into there, but also all the transcripts and indexes of historical records.

I found it remarkably quick and easy to do, and I like the simple design, and look of the sites. It's certainly a lot better than anything I could have hand coded, without much fresh education. I've had HTML skills for over 20 years, but they are incredibly rudimentary. This end result is vastly better. At the moment the sites are hosted on, with dedicated domain names, but I may move them in future. But the priority was to build the content, and not come up with more obstacles to put me off.

The only slightly tricky thing I ran into was importing the tables for some of the lengthy transcripts/indexes, because WordPress (at least the .com version) doesn't provide any nice plugin or similar to handle those. So you have to fall back on HTML coding for them. But I'm ok with that, and the tables I was importing were existing HTML files ... That was a big "Eureka!" moment this morning when I worked that out, and how easy it would make it. The HTML tables just needed a bit of cleaning up, and they were good to go. It wouldn't be so easy for anyone who doesn't know any HTML for tables, but I was ok. There are also some great online tips for how to do this in, for example on this page.

Both sites are a work in progress, both will have new resources added to them. But I'm very pleased with how they are now, and should be encouraged to add more content in future.

Feedback on the new sites would be very welcome. Find them here: Melrose and Coldingham.
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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 03:57 pm
I picked up the family history bug from a young age. That was partly due to my Granddad dying when I was 9, and leaving us lots of family certificates, photos, and papers. But I was already hooked by then. When I was very young I used to be able to draw royal genealogy trees from Kenneth MacAlpin down to the present day, from memory.

A big reason for getting hooked was this book, published in 1975.

It's not a very good example of how to do genealogical research. There were other books that inspired me more along those lines, like Alwyn James's "Scottish Roots" bought in St Andrews Tourist Information Office on a summer holiday (when the tourist information office was in South Street, in what would later become the children's library, and later a music exchange shop). There are some tips in this book, but mainly it was about drawing family trees, going further, and further back in time.

The "monster" reference in the title refers to the mythical 5th century ancestry of the Merovingian rulers. Which I'm descended from. So if there really was a monster at the top of their tree, it's at the top of mine too!