Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week Shared DNA Explained


It happens frequently. Someone orders an autosomal DNA test, returns their DNA specimen, and when their results come in, they are confused by what it all means — what is a cM (centimorgan), how significant is this amount of shared DNA,  and why does the predicted relationship say this match is a first cousin, when it actually is a great uncle? 

In Family Tree Magazine online, I found the basics of DNA matches explained concisely, along with a table titled “Estimating Relationships from Shared DNA”. It all fits on one printed page. A cheat sheet, if you will; it should be helpful to the DNA novice. The table is compact with each row showing:

  • average shared DNA  in cM 
  • average shared DNA  in percentages 
  • probable/possible relationship(s) for this amount of shared DNA
  • range of shared DNA in cM for this relationship 

Here’s the link to the page:

If you are interested in learning more about DNA, SGS has two user groups, the DNA Special Interest Group that meets quarterly, and a DNA Workshop Group that meets monthly.  See the Calendar of Events on the SGS website for upcoming meetings.

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week Freedmen’s Bureau Collection


A bill, passed by U.S. Congress and signed by President Abe Lincoln, established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands on March 3, 1865. It was part of their plan for reconstructing the post-Civil War South. This bureau, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was headed by Union Army General Oliver Otis Howard (Yes, Howard University was named for him).  President Andrew Jackson and the Southern States were vehemently opposed to the Freedmen’s Bureau and it was disbanded in 1872. 

From 1865-1872, the Freedmen’s Bureau was charged with overseeing the transition to freedom for over 4 million formerly enslaved people, providing assistance to them, as well as to poor whites and veterans displaced by the Civil War.

The 3.5 million records of the Freedmen’s Bureau have long been available on microfiche at the National Archives. Now that these records have been transcribed and digitized, they are searchable, and available for free to everyone via Ancestry. If you are not an Ancestry subscriber, you simply need to open a free Ancestry guest account.  

These records may help African Americans trace their family’s history in America. 

The scope of these records includes, but is not limited to:

  • Legalization of marriages entered into during slavery
  • Labor contracts with land owners
  • Bounty claims, pensions, and back pay for soldiers
  • Apprenticeship disputes and complaints

Watch this short video describing the interesting information you can find in this varied collection of records from the Freedmen’s Bureau:

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week Webtember


  Legacy Family Tree is inviting everyone to their free, online genealogy conference. When? Each Friday during the month of September 2021. 

Described as “Webtember: All Genealogy. All September Long”, there will be a combination of 30 Live and Pre-recorded webinars. No need to register for the pre-recorded webinars, but if you wish to attend any of the live webinars, please register in advance.   

One of the four speakers appearing on Friday, September 17th, is Janice Lovelace, former SGS board member. She will be presenting “Afro-LatinX in the Old West” at 11:00 AM EDT. 

For free register or more information about Webtember, visit here:

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week New York Public Library Guides

  The New York Public Library (NYPL) is on the short list of top libraries for genealogy research. Anyone who lives, works, attends school, or pays property taxes in New York State can get a library card and visit the library in person, or online. For the rest of us, there is still some good information to be had via the NYPL Local History and Genealogy Research Guides. These guides are available online to anyone. No NYPL library card required. You’ll find dozens of helpful articles. Some titles of guides available on the site are: 

  • Genealogy How-To Books: How a Little Reading Can Save You A Lot Of Time
  • Genealogy Tips: Searching the Census by Address
  • Using Maps for Genealogy Research, Parts 1 thru 5
  • How to Research Dutch Ancestors
  • Introduction to Polish Genealogy
  • 5 Ways to Research Your Italian Heritage Without Leaving Home

Start here to discovery what other articles might interest you:

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week African American Genealogical Research

  Want a preview of the SGS Fall Seminar? 

An introductory presentation by Ari Wilkins, sponsored by the Chemung County (NY) Library District, will discuss the methodology, challenges, and myths regarding African American genealogical research. It will be an overview of useful sources for researching people of African American ancestry.

Ari Wilkins is a genealogy professional and staff member at the Dallas Public Library. She specializes in African American research and will be the speaker for our SGS Fall Seminar. 

This introductory event will be held via Zoom today, Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 4:00 pm PDT. Hurry, this event is free, but you must register in advance:


What’s in Scribe now:
Birth records from Whatcom County.
Census records from King County.
Marriage records from Clallam, Clark, Franklin, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Skagit, Snohomish, and Yakima counties.  
Naturalization records from Jefferson, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.  
School district registers and censuses from Clark, King, Lewis, and Pierce counties.
Haven’t used Scribe in a while?
Has it been a long time since you indexed records in Scribe? Did you index one record and forget about it? That’s OK! This program was designed for volunteers to use whenever they get the chance. Operate on your own schedule, and do it from home (even when you’re not quarantined).
Whether you index one record or thousands, your help and time are greatly appreciated.
Our mission is to make as many records as we can freely accessible to the public, and it wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. Every second of your time you put toward our mission is invaluable. So thank you for that one record three years ago, or the hundreds of records you did this week, and anything in between!
If you want to get back into Scribe, log in here. There are tools to recover your username and password if needed, or to create a new account. If you have any questions, please contact us. Happy Scribing!

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week Ancestry DNA Sale

  As it does multiple times each year, Ancestry has put their autosomal AncestryDNA test on sale for $59 ($40 savings). That’s a nice deal, but if you are interested in a 3-month Ancestry research subscription, here’s a great deal for you! They have bundled their AncestryDNA test with a 3-month World Explorer Membership for only $60 ($118 savings). World Explorer Membership gives you access to all research records Ancestry has to offer, both international and US, as well as access to all public family trees on Ancestry. This bundle offer is for new and returning subscribers only. It cannot be used for renewal of current subscriptions. The sale lasts until 11:59 ET on June 20, 2021.

A link to the offers:

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week FHL Lookup Service

  For over a year, the Family History Library (FHL), family history centers, and the affiliate libraries (SGS is an affiliate library) have been closed due to COVID, preventing researchers, like yourself, access to those pesky “locked” records, the ones that can only be viewed from within the FHL, or a family history center, or an affiliate library.

The FHL staff and volunteers have come up with a solution to this big problem. They launched a new Lookup Service. You still do the research work on FamilySearch, identifying the record that is important to you. If you find your access to that record image is restricted, fill out a Records Lookup Request Form. The staff, or a volunteer, will find the record from the information you provided and email it to you. 

Be patient. Requests may take a few weeks to process, depending on the volume of requests being handled at any given time.  

For more information on the Records Lookup Service and what types of materials (including books) it encompasses, visit:  

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week Tech Tuesday

  If you haven’t been to SGS’s “Tech Tuesday” why not drop in? As one attendee said…she didn’t have a question herself, but she always comes away with a new tidbit of information she didn’t know about. The next “Tech Tuesday” will be May 18, 2021, 10:00-11:00am PDT. Visit Calendar of Events for the Zoom meeting link.

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week May CLASSES at FamilySearch

CLASSES at FamilySearch    

The May calendar at is full of free online learning opportunities for those new to genealogy or new to the FamilySearch website. The classes are free. Registration is required. Start out on the right foot with this invaluable instruction. A sampling of the titles slated for beginners and coming up on the calendar in May are:
May 3   – Using the FamilySearch Catalog (Beginner)  
May 4   – Using the FamilySearch Wiki (Beginner)
May 13 – Comenzando tú árbol en FamilySearch (Beginner)
May 20 – The US Colored Troops & Buffalo Soldiers: History, Records, Strategies (Beginner)
May 25 – Navigate, Add, Edit, Standardize, Print on FamilySearch Family Tree (Beginner)
May 27 – Ask Your United States and Canada Research Questions (Beginner)

For a full list visit: