Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Airtable and GDAT

 Genimate Sharon left this comment on a recent post of mine.


Do you prefer Airtable to the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool for managing your DNA kits? Or do they have different purposes? What are your other uses for Airtable?

I realised that it would probably be better to respond here in a post where I can share images than to write a lengthy comment on my earlier post

Firstly I need to point out that although I have been using DNA as a genealogy research tool for around 9 years I still class myself as a basic user. I am not particularly interested in the science behind my DNA matches, my focus is on making connections.

My uses of Airtable and GDAT are for different purposes.

I use Airtable to maintain records of the DNA matches for all the kits I manage and GDAT for chromosome analysis of matches. It's taking me a while to get my head around GDAT, I am currently using it just for my matches and (if I ever get competent) will use it for the other kits I manage.

I had previously used spreadsheets to keep track of all my matches but, after seeing two demonstrations of Airtable at Rootstech 2021: and, I went exploring. 

I realised that I could link various sheets together and this would mean that I could remove some data from my Excel spreadsheets (tables on Airtable) to secondary sheets (tables) linked back to primary sheet (table). On Airtable one can have Workspaces that store Bases which can contain multiple Tables.

The following image shows what my homepage looks like on Airtable. One can have multiple Workspaces - I just have one.

The Bases in my Airtable Workspace

In my DNA Management - JPC Base I track matches for the seven kits I manage that share my ancestors. Within this base I have four tables that are related to the primary table.

The Fields I have on JPC Matches are: Kit Name, Surname, Forename, Kit Manager, Line (4 grandparents), DNA Painted, GDAT, Test Site, Columns for each match, % of Aboriginalty, Relationship to me, Match line. this next image shows part of the setup.

Further fields to the right of this image are match location, notes, and a link to the Match Details table.

You will note plenty of empty spaces as each cell is not pertinent to each tester. This is a work in progress where I add every match I find for those seven people. Each test one person does has a separate record.

I love that I can set up Multiple Select Fields for easy data entry which I use for Line, Testing Company, DNA Painted and GDAT.

Multiple select fields save typing

The possibilities for use of this program are endless. setup is easy, data entry uncomplicated and there are so many means of sorting, sifting and analysing data. There are many templates available in the Airtable community that one can use and modify to a situation.

Another way I use Airtable is to keep track of my genimates. Over the years I have met so many folk in person and online. It's good to be able to quickly find their details when my poor old memory fails. 

My Genimates base has these tables.

Genimates has details of the people I have met, Terms manages my Geneadictionary entries (which links back to Genimates), Blogs has details of various blogs (links to Genimates and Societies), Websites has details of various websites (links to Genimates and Societies), Societies/Hosts (links to Blogs, Websites and Presentations) and Presentations manages my gigs and links back to Societies/Hosts.

After playing around with Airtable for a couple of months I took out a subscription because some of my bases grew to be too large (more than 1200 records) to be covered by a free account. I also wanted the flexibility to create more bases than allowed in a free account. I have read of other genies (watch the two videos from Rootstech) who use a free Airtable account successfully for their projects.

I plan on using GDAT for chromosome analysis. The GDAT website says "Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is an app that utilizes autosomal DNA to aid in the research of family trees. The app houses a database of the autosomal data downloaded from various testing companies and provides analysis tools for family history research." 

While it's a challenge for this old girl I understand that GDAT is the gold standard for chromosome analysis. I have managed to download my matches from several other sites to GDAT and am slowly getting to know the product. I would love to have someone to hold my hand on this journey. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Trove Tuesday - Burns Night

It appears that Mr Geniaus'' Great-Grandfather, William Purves Gowans,  was a proud Scot and member of the Sydney Scottish Borderers' Association later the Sydney Scottish Association. I turned to Trove this morning to explore that relationship.

The first post I found mentioning William was in 1898 when he supported the founding of the group.

1898 'SCOTTISH BORDERERS.', The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 - 1909), 11 February, p. 3. , viewed 25 Jan 2022,

At the April meeting of the group William was elected as Secretary.

1898 'SCOTTISH BORDERERS.', The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 - 1909), 12 April, p. 2. , viewed 25 Jan 2022,

In March 1901 William became vice-president of the Association.

1901 'SCOTTISH BORDERERS' ASSOCIATION.', The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), 4 March, p. 3. , viewed 25 Jan 2022,

In 1902 William was elected as a trustee of the association. Although I have read through articles related to the association up to 1912 I can find no further mention of William.

Perhaps William's finest moment was on this day one hundred nd twenty one years ago when he sang Burns Birthday song at the associations Burns Night Celebration. 

1901 'BURNS' ANNIVERSARY.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 29 January, p. 8. , viewed 25 Jan 2022,

Monday, January 24, 2022

Accentuate the Positive - Better late than never

I am late to my own challenge! Having been inspired by the resilience and positivity displayed in posts from a bunch of amazing genimates I thought it time to reflect on my 2021. 

1. As a compulsive volunteerer finding the courage to say no to invitations and requests thus giving me time to do my own thing has given great joy. As an amateur I don't set myself lofty goals, I love having the flexibility to follow whims at my leisure. Practising Genealogy without guilt is liberating. 

My geneagoal for 2022 "Have fun and find stuff" will provide continuing joy.

2. The Covid situation gave me an opportunity to engage in many online learning activities from overseas like Rootstech, THE Genealogy Show, and the Scottish Indexes conferences at little or no cost. I was exposed to a host of international speakers that may never visit Australia to present at face-to-face events. 

3. I managed to attend a few-face to-face events at our local family history group of which I am the President. We managed a few events early in 2021 and once again at the end of the year after lockdown. You can't beat connecting with people in person.

4. My main focus this year was on nothing in particular. I don't have any rigid goals; my aim was to enjoy my research, further my knowledge and share some ancestors stories. Genies just want to have fun.

5. A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was Airtable, a very easy to use relational database that has the look and feel of a spreadsheet. I can't say that I've mastered this platform but I've used it for a number of tasks including the management of my DNA kits and connections.

6. A geneasurprise I received was on Roberts side of the family when I connected via DNA with a young genealogist in the UK who is a Ball descendant. Robert was thrilled when this new connection shared a family report written by her grandmother and a copy of the first photo we have seen of  James Ball, Roberts 2xgreat grandfather. 

7.  A Facebook Group that helped me was each of those that provided me with an answer at the point of need. When I need an answer immediately I often find guidance in Facebook groups or on YouTube.

8. My 2021 social media post that I was particularly proud of was the series of posts I managed to complete for  the 2021 #AtoZChallenge where I wrote about two of my passions, books and family history. It was a trip down memory lane where I revisited some of those books that have enriched my genealogy experience.

9.  A new (to me) genealogy/history book I enjoyed was With hearts and hands and voices : the centenary history of the Sacred Heart Parish, Hamilton 1884-1984. It wasn't a great book but it gave me
something I had been seeking for years, a photo of my 3 x great uncle and pioneer priest, Michael Harrington Ryan.

10. I was impressed by the way so many genies have used zoom to be connected, educated entertained.  It is so inspiring to see how people who had not been previously familiar with  technology embraced online learning. 

11.  A great journal or newspaper article I found was a range of short articles I found on British Newspaper Archive. When I researched my 10 convict ancestors 30+ years ago finding information on them in newspapers of the day was a daunting task I didn't undertake. As I was preparing a talk on resources for Australian convicts in 2021 I easily found mention of seven of my ancestors in newspapers of the day. My favourite was the report of John Tucker's unsuccessful attempt to break out of Ayslesbury gaol.  

12. I got the most value from several subscriptions, I am in the fortunate position to have subs to the Big Three subscription databases. I like Ancestry for its synching with RootsMagic; MyHeritage for exploring DNA matches and FindMyPast for newspapers. That's a mean question, it's like asking who is your favourite child.

13. I progressed my DNA research by attending Veronica Williams' Analysing your DNA Results using chromosome analysis course at the SAG, I was certainly challenged by the content and, as a result, I have taken the plunge and have started using GDAT to analyse my  matches. Once I get a handle on this I will start using GDAT  for the other kits I manage.

14. I taught several genimates to use various software packages, applications and databases in online presentations, group sessions and one-on-one zoom calls.

15.  A blog post that taught me something new were several from Carmel Galvin. Her series on the AJCP on the for the 2021 #AtoZChallenge is an excellent learning resource. Her Use your voice for family stories made me look at the Blogger Android app again. I have used that app to compose this post.

16. A DNA discovery I made was an answer to problem a relative seeking an unknown sibling sought help for ten years ago. Sadly I found the answer via DNA just 2 months after this relative passed away. I was able to confirm with a descendant of the sibling from a document I held that DNA doesn't lie.

17. A newly found family member (a descendant of the unknown sibling mentioned above) shared details of his family line. This traditional data is so useful for identifying DNA matches.

18. I finally found James Gowans aka James the Clock, one of my favourite ancestors,  here six feet under in Stirling, Scotland by doing a simple search on FindaGrave. An added bonus was that James was resting not alone but with several other family members under a handsome monument that memorialised even more family members. Task for 2022 - search 
FindaGrave for all family members I haven't yet killed off or buried.

19. Because I haven't been able to spend my travel budget I
 splashed out and purchased  a new, comfortable office chair, a sub to Airtable and most recently a new smartphone on which I am voice typing this post.  This phone has such a good camera that it may make the camera I bought last year obsolete. Although I have three different scanners I am finding this phone useful for scanning on the run; I won't need to pack my Flip-Pal in my gadget bag any longer.

20. Another positive I would like to share is that I am continually blown over by the genearosity of those in the genealogy community. I especially thank those who have invested time in responding to this geneameme; I am inspired by your progress and achievements. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Keeping the Threads Together

Back in 2012 I noted that one of Jenna Mills' goals on Desperately Seeking Surnames for 2012 was "Post more comments to other bloggers on their blog itself not on Twitter, Facebook or Google+".

In the intervening ten years it seems that genies post even fewer comments on my posts than they did in 2012. Perhaps what I write isn't worthwhile, people don't actually read my posts but comment anyway or maybe they find it easier to comment on other social media platforms. Maybe I am just old-fashioned and need to move with and appreciate current trends.

While I appreciate the comments made on other social media channels I believe that this practice dilutes the value of the interactive element of the blogging platform. I am often heard to say that Blogging is a two way street  and I feel that blog post comments should be made on the street where the post resides not on some other social media thoroughfare like Twitter or Facebook.

By keeping the threads together in the comments area of a blog post the initial post can be enriched by a compilation of comments that build on each other to add value and opinions.  With all comments  neatly stored together various opinions can be explored in one space. Those comments made outside the blogging platform may just be loose threads that do not add value to the original post.

I'd love to know what you think on this topic.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Laying the bait at FindaGrave

In her presentation at the winter edition of THE Genealogy Show I was convinced by Marian Burk Wood to use FindaGrave as cousin bait.  I had mentioned FindaGrave as a source of cousin bait in my presentation at that event but I hadn't fully explored the opportunities it could provide to reel in cousins. I'm not going to spill the beans on what Marian said; you'll have to find her presentation somewhere or invite her to talk to your group.

Prior to this I had only dabbled in FindaGrave managing my parents' memorials and adding a few odd facts to other memorials. I had previously uploaded all grave photos to BillionGraves and not to FindaGrave; I have reviewed that practice. Depending on time constraints I usually take photos of some neighbouring headstones when visiting family plots.

Since being enlightened by Marian I am adding information and photographs to close relatives' profiles and adding profiles for those missing from the FindaGrave database. Thanks to Marian for her informative presentation and to those volunteers who have willingly handed over management of family memorials to me. 

I am not trying to build up a huge collection of memorials to manage; I have no time for that.  I just want to care for memorials of close family members especially those aunts and uncles with no issue.  

I will continue to add value to the memorials of cousins I encounter in my meandering on the site. I'm now leaving plenty of footprints for others to find.

I had fun linking up my Dad's parents and siblings

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Visiting the parents

We were in Sydney yesterday and in the vicinity of Botany Cemetery (now called Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park) so we popped into see Mum and Dad. 

It didn't take long for us to find their plot as I was able to access the details from my website on my phone. With the mausoleums on the opposite of the road off which the lawn plots and the clear sign of Section 41 we were able to find plot 51 with ease.

Although very spongy to walk on it was pleasing to see the lawn surrounding the graves mown and weed free. Because of Covid we haven't visited the cemetery since the new headstone I ordered  had been put in place so it was good to see that it met my expectations. 

These mausoleums are good placemarkers

Mum and Dad are along this row

The new headstone

It's a peaceful environment

Friday, January 7, 2022

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2021 - Responses

Sending a HUGE shoutout to my genimates near and far who responded to this Geneameme Challenge (it's not too late for you to join this select group of geneabloggers).

As one who hasn't yet penned her post I know how much time it takes to reflect, write, edit etc. I thank you all for your commitment and contributions which are inspiring and full of information. While Covid presented many challenges you took them head on and made stunning progress with your education and research.

Alex Daw

Andrew Redfern

Bobbie Edes

Danielle Lautrec

Dara McGivern

Jennifer Jones

Jill Ball

Lilian Magill

Linda Stufflebean


Mel Hulbert

Pauline Williams

Robyn and the Genies

Samantha John



Shauna Hicks


I will continue to add to this list. 

If I have missed anyone please let me know and I will rectify ASAP.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Lofty goals?

Over the past few days I have read several blog posts from genimates in which they outline lists of lofty goals for this new geneayear. While I admire these genies for their commitment and organisational skills I won't be joining them.

Last week I responded to a tweet from Daniel Horowitz who asked about goals for 2022 and, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I replied "Have fun". 

On reflection I realise that while fun is an element of my goal I needed to qualify the fun so my goal is now "Have fun and find stuff"

I just finished writing the President's newsletter report for my local family history group, a committed mob of amateur genies like me.  

I wrote "Many genies on social media have been setting ambitious and rigid geneagoals for the coming year and I applaud them for their commitment. I have decided to take a loose approach with one goal to “Have fun and find stuff”. Family history is a hobby for me, I don’t want to put pressure on  myself by setting lofty goals. I need to have the flexibility to change direction and go off on tangents when I find something new and interesting."

As a fan of rabbit holes, BSOs and Tangential Genealogy I don't want to have lofty goals hanging over my head, I'm opting to hang loose and follow whims. I want to track down that new DNA match when it automagically appears on my desktop. I want to help that friend who reaches out for help in starting her genealogy journey. I want to feel free to put a project aside when it starts to bore me and go on to something else until some BSO ignites my interest once more. 

I may end up with gaping holes in my research and too many projects on the go but that doesn't bother me, I need to leave some holes for future researchers to fill! I'll revel in the feast the serendipitous finds in my carefree approach reveals. 

Am I alone in my approach or are there other Genies who just want to have fun? 

Genies having fun at Rootstech London.


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