20 July 2022

How to stop emails from going to Spam in Gmail

If an important email has gone into Spam in Gmail, do this.

1. When you open the email, look for 3 vertical dots (probably beside 'Reply', but it may depend on what layout you use). Click the 3 vertical dots.

2. Select 'Filter messages like this'.

3. In the screen that opens, the sender's email address probably appears in 'From', but if not, type it there - or enter other details if you wish.

4. Click 'Create filter'.

On the screen shown below...

5. Tick 'Never send it to spam'.

6. Click 'Create filter'.

Due to the havoc caused by a spammer, I've had to delete an email account that I previously used when sending research reports, e-books and mini-guides. My current business address is always on the 'About' page on my website.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2022/07/how-to-stop-emails-from-going-to-spam.html.)

14 January 2022

Problems with Online Family Trees

Yesterday my cousin asked me to look at three online trees that (he said) included our ancestors.

I found that one tree belongs to a known relative with whom I exchange information. The second is a tree with which I'm familiar. It contains little-known details that have apparently been copied from my website (without acknowledgement - sigh). The third tree is one that I hadn't seen before, so I took a closer look.

It claims that Francis Alexander MILNE (born 1880, died 1955) was a son of William Francis MILNE and Colina Campbell McCALL. Colina is our relative (a descendant of our CAMPBELL ancestors from Tiree, Argyllshire, Scotland). Colina was born in 1889, so she can't have had a son born in 1880 - nine years before she herself was born! (Sigh)

At that point I was tempted to turn off the computer, but in fairness to my cousin, I double-checked my own research.

The death notice for William Francis MILNE who died in 1943 (husband of Colina) says that his children were Ian and Joan. Colina's death notice says the same (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), 18 Oct 1960). So... no Francis.

I therefore concluded that descendants of Francis Alexander MILNE (1880-1955) are not descendants of our Colina Campbell MILNE nee McCALL. I added a comment to the tree, citing my evidence. I wonder whether anyone will read it.

Last year I posted a similar cautionary tale on my Facebook page:
Ancestry's trees drive me crazy. I added this comment to one: 'Sarah Jane NICHOLSON is my great-great-grandmother. Your tree says her father was Richard NICHOLSON, born c.1781, who married Mary MILLER 27 Feb 1775. That's impossible. He can't have married before he was born. And the Mary MILLER who married Richard NICHOLSON in 1775 cannot be the mother of my Sarah Jane NICHOLSON born c.1830, because by then Mary would probably have been in her 70s.'

Just to be clear... you'll find mistakes like this in many family trees, not just those on Ancestry. In my experience, though, the problem is worse on Ancestry, probably because they make it so easy to copy someone else's data into your own tree without checking that it makes sense.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2022/01/problems-with-online-family-trees.html.)

25 February 2021

Free Online Genealogy Conference: RootsTech 2021

Right now, for the first time, we all have FREE online access to RootsTech. In 2021 this huge genealogy event is completely free, and it's 'virtual' (everything is online). The video presentations by more than a hundred speakers cover a wide range of topics. Register now, and watch the videos up to to a year later at a time that suits you.

The 'main stage' events don't really interest me, so I went straight to 'Sessions'. Here's a list of people whose presentations I'm likely to watch. In most cases I've previously heard them speak and was favourably impressed. Each link opens in a new window, and the page will show all the sessions being presented by that speaker.


Heather Garnsey

Shauna Hicks

Fiona Brooker

BRITISH research

Else Churchill

Nick Barratt

Jackie Depelle (a 'must-see' if you have Yorkshire ancestry)

Celia Heritage

Myko Clelland

Caroline Gurney

Simon Fowler

Sylvia Valentine

Amy Harris

VARIOUS topics

Judy G. Russell

Thomas MacEntee

Dan Poffenberger

Susia Zada

D. Joshua Taylor

Jenny Joyce

Carol Baxter

Thomas Wright Jones

Amy Johnson Crow


Diahan Southard

Roberta J. Estes

Debbie Kennett

Kitty Cooper

Maurice Gleeson


(1) If you want to check whether another speaker is taking part, search for his/her surname on the Speakers page (not in 'Search by title, speaker or topic' on the main search screen, because it fails to find some speakers).

(2) Don't spend too much time (if any) on the 'Relatives at RootsTech' section of the site. Judy Russell explains why in About those Relatives at Rootstech...

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2021/02/free-online-genealogy-conference.html.)

17 November 2020

Tips on Sending an Email to Multiple People

Image by farconville (freedigitalphotos.net)
If you want to send the same email to multiple people, put your address in the To: field, and put all the other addresses in Bcc: (blind carbon copy) so that they are hidden. Do NOT put them in To: or Cc:, where they are visible to everyone else.

Today I received a blank email with 'Test message' as the subject line, and (in 'To:') the names and addresses of about a hundred people whom I don't know. That is a serious breach of privacy - and the sender has also left all of us open to spam. To make matters worse, I am now receiving emails from other recipients, because they used 'Reply to All' instead of just 'Reply'.

Not happy!

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/11/tips-on-sending-email-to-multiple-people.html.)

31 July 2020

Why You Don't Get Replies from Ancestry Users

If you're waiting... and waiting... and waiting for a reply to your message to an Ancestry user, this may explain why.

When Ancestry introduced the new messaging system, I was annoyed that I no longer received email notifications about incoming messages. I contacted Ancestry, and they explained how to overcome that problem:
As part of the new message system, we are attempting to cut down on the emails we send to our members. The sheer number we are sending in some cases is causing email domains to pre-filter our important emails out along with promotional [spam!] and this is causing considerable hardship.

We have changed the process, so that we only send out one email for multiple replies, and we only send an email when you have been logged out completely from our site for a while. This way, you are not getting emails while you are working, but can still view your new messages within your account as they come in.

If you just close your browser instead of logging completely out, the emails may not send at all, because your browser's active login cookie tells our site you are still signed in. To prevent this, simply click on your name or username at the top right and choose Sign Out.

Once you have been signed out for a little while, notifications will start coming through email again.

This works! I now log out each time I use the site, and I'm getting notifications again. But many people don't know about this, and our messages are just sitting in their inbox at Ancestry.

There are, of course, many reasons why someone might not reply to your message - but please share Ancestry's 'log out' explanation with your friends and family history groups.

See also the excellent advice in this post by Margaret O'Brien: In-Depth Guide - Chapter 9 - Send Ancestry Messages that get Replies.

Note that you have until 31st August 2020 to download and save your messages from Ancestry's old system.

This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/07/why-you-dont-get-replies-from-ancestry.html.

29 July 2020

How to Keep AncestryDNA's Small-Segment Matches

From late August 2020, AncestryDNA will delete matches who share less than 8 cM with you - unless you have added a note about them, added them to a custom group, or messaged them. Some of my known relatives only share 6 cM or 7 cM with me, and I'm sure there are others whom I haven't identified yet. Here is my strategy to prevent those people from disappearing.

#1. In my AncestryDNA account, I created a custom group called '6-8cM Keep' (but you could skip this step and just add a Note to matches you want to keep).

#2. In the 'Shared DNA' filter, I select 'Custom centimorgan range' and set it to min=6 and max=8; then I do a series of searches, and on the results screen I either add a Note or assign people to my group '6-8cM Keep'. Examples of searches (with 'Custom centimorgan range' set to min=6 & max=8):

#3. Filter for 'Common ancestor'. (Some of the 'potential ancestors' will be wrong, because Ancestry's Thrulines derives those ancestor predictions from other people's trees, many of which are wrong - but I need to prevent those matches from disappearing so that I can later check the Thrulines theory.)

#4. Using 'Surnames in matches' trees', I do a series of searches for end-of-line ancestors' surnames, 'brick wall' surnames, unusual surnames, etc.

#5. Using 'Birth location in matches' trees', I do a series of searches for the main places where my families lived. I've also done some combined surname + birthplace searches, eg: "Surname in matches' trees" = CAMPBELL, combined with "Birth location" = Argyll, Scotland. (CAMPBELL is so common that I don't want to keep all the matches, but some small-segment matches with CAMPBELL ancestors in Argyllshire will be my relatives.)

How close is an 8 cM match? In some cases it will be closer than a 4th cousin. To see the full list of possible relationships, with probabilities for each, enter '8' in the interactive Shared Centimorgan Project tool.

* Roberta ESTES explains a more thorough strategy for preserving small-segment matches that may be useful.

* Blaine BETTINGER explains why many small segments are *not* valid shared DNA.

* My personal thoughts on using DNA as a tool for family history.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/07/how-to-keep-ancestrydnas-small-segment.html.)

24 April 2020

Do Online Surveys to Earn Money for Genealogy

Image courtesy of digitalart (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
If you have some free time, here's an idea that may appeal to you.

In recent years I have been able to spend more on family history (buying certificates, wills, subscriptions etc) because I earn money by doing online surveys.

Reputable sites do not generate spam emails or unwanted phone calls. Surveys are conducted by various companies, Government agencies, universities etc. Some surveys involve product testing, and I've enjoyed sampling (and giving my opinion on) items such as icecreams, cereals and teabags.

Some survey sites pay cash to your bank account or PayPal account. Others let you choose a gift card (Coles/Myer, Woolworths/Caltex, Amazon, iTunes, Bunnings, etc).

Survey panels to which I belong (updated Aug 2022) include:
  • Pure Profile: Available to residents of many countries. This site is my favourite, and (2022 update) I've earned $1,000 in one year here. Even if you are screened out of a survey, Pure Profile often pays you 5c-10c. Each time you log in, check what's currently available by selecting 'Surveys'. Even if it says 'Come back tomorrow', more surveys will usually become available at intervals throughout the day. The surveys will be more relevant if you answer the occasional 'profile' questions about your preferences and interests.

  • YouGov. Well designed surveys on a wide range of topics, and a good rewards system.

  • Australian Meal Panel: For Australians only. When asked for the 5 digit pin, enter 86127. Earn money by doing a 5-minute survey about food approximately every six weeks, and receive extra payments if you send in supermarket receipts. You will be paid via PayPal or by deposit to your bank account.

Don't despair if your earnings are low at first. Many surveys are targeted to specific groups, so you will increase your chances of being invited to relevant surveys if you answer the questions in your 'profile', update them periodically, and (if applicable) do the 'welcome survey' when you join.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/04/do-online-surveys-to-earn-money-for.html.)

12 August 2017

British Isles and German Genealogy (Roadshow 2017)

This month (August 2017) family historians in Australia and New Zealand have a unique opportunity to hear leading international genealogists Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder explain how to research our British Isles and European ancestors.

Chris and Dirk are giving a series of presentations during Unlock the Past's genealogy roadshow entitled Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors. Right now the roadshow is in Auckland, then it moves on to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth. On the roadshow's main page, click on your city to see full programme details and a booking form for that venue. There are also links to pages about the speakers, prizes, special offers, sponsors and exhibitors.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2-day event in Brisbane. Chris Paton (an engaging and entertaining speaker) talked about many aspects of Scottish and Irish genealogy. He packs a huge amount of useful information into his talks!

I also learned a great deal from Dirk Weissleder, who spoke mainly about resources for Germany, Poland, Prussia etc. He highlighted the importance of using maps to determine where our ancestors lived, and the reasons for (and problems associated with) boundary changes. He also explained why 'understanding how Germans think' can be an advantage if you want to contact record offices or visit the area where your ancestors lived.

While Chris and Dirk took a break, local speakers briefly described MyHeritage technologies, and British and European resources held by libraries and societies in Brisbane. Unfortunately we didn't learn much about the Genealogical Society of Queensland's holdings, and I was disappointed that the Queensland Family History Society didn't do more to promote their magnificent index 'Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia'.

In each Australian city a different (local) person will give an introductory talk about using DNA tests (a genealogy tool that is starting to pay dividends for me now).

I didn't let myself get carried away at the roadshow's bookstall, but there are some good discounts available. There are also great prizes to be won at each venue. And of course, it's always fun to catch up with friends and colleagues whom I rarely see, and to meet new people who share my passion for family history.

For a more in-depth report, see Pauleen Cass's posts in Family History Across the Seas.

Disclosure: Unlock the Past gave me a free ticket to the roadshow, but my comments here are my honest opinion and would be exactly the same if I'd paid my own way.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2017/08/british-isles-and-german-genealogy.html.)