Family History Daily - photo research

genealogy research help, news and stories
  1. By Marsha Peterson-Maass

    I’d like to share a miraculous family story with you that ultimately led me to a rewarding volunteer position where I use my genealogical skill set to help others. I’ll also give you some ideas for how you can help others with your genealogical skills, as well as point you to some helpful further reading in my textbook, Fundamentals of Genealogy®: The Most Helpful Tools You’ve Never Used.

    The Repatriation Of My WWII Cousin’s Remains

    In 2012, my family received an incredible gift with the repatriation of my WWII cousin’s remains from the South Pacific back to Illinois, 68 years later. (Read about the soldiers who never came home here.) There were hundreds of people involved in this process and our family benefited by receiving so much comfort, new friends, and a closer relationship with each other.

    We also gained a better understanding of what our family sacrificed at the time, a biographical tour of the wonderful person who my cousin was and our profound appreciation to all of these many strangers who helped us in this way without asking for anything in return.

    It was a blessing. A refreshing blessing, especially in today’s society where we often feel like it’s difficult to receive others’ gifts. This gift was so positive and affirming in so many ways and, although the repatriation was 68 years in the making, it confirmed to us that no man is forgotten, no man is left behind.

    2012 Group Burial Repatriation at Arlington National Cemetery [Photo by Marsha Peterson-Maass]

    My Desire To Pay This Debt Forward

    As a genealogist, I was deeply touched. Of all people for this repatriation to happen to: I’m a professional genealogist who’s had some training in forensic techniques, including DNA and repatriation, both of which were part of the process to get our cousin’s remains back home.

    I really wanted to pay this debt forward and keep this positive, affirming energy flowing. I wanted to be the stranger who helped other families benefit by reuniting them with something precious that belonged to their loved one. And I knew that I had a valuable genealogical skill set that I could use toward that end.

    But how would I help others?

    How I Found My Volunteering Opportunity

    Beginning in 2014, I could find several hours a week to volunteer but what organization could use my genealogical talents and my desire to help in this very specific way? At that point in time, my father encouraged me by saying, “Just put it out there, look around and the right opportunity will find you.” I kept my ears open, talked to fellow genealogists, attended genealogical conferences in my interest area and sure enough, it did.

    I discovered the charitable foundation, Purple Hearts Reunited, Inc. while attending a forensic genealogy conference. This organization was started by Major Zachariah Fike (a purple heart recipient himself) when he discovered that there was no U.S. government agency where people could send “lost purple heart medals” in order to have them reunited with the veterans or their families.

    Purple Hearts Reunited [...]

  2. ​This deal from has ended. You can find regular prices and start an Ancestry free trial here instead. is offering a sudden 50% off flash sale of its subscriptions for Veterans Day. This deal includes new subscriptions AND upgrades on current subscriptions!  You will need to be logged in to Ancestry to see the upgrade offer. After clicking the link in this article use the sign in button in the upper right hand corner of your screen to log in. You should then be redirected back to the offer. If you are not, simply follow one of the links on this page again.

    You can get the deal here until 9PM PT Nov 11th only. This kind of large discount almost never happens at Ancestry so take advantage of it while you can.

    Please know that we have partnered with many genealogy organizations, including Ancestry, to bring you help, news and special offers and may earn money to support our work if you choose to take advantage of this deal. ​

    The deal starts tonight, Nov 10th, at 9pm PT and ends at 9PM PT tomorrow, Sat Nov 11th.  We have broken down the discounted prices for you below. 

    U.S. Discovery – includes access to all U.S. records. Normally $19.99 for one month or $99 for 6 months  – this subscription is only $9.99 for a month right now or $49 for 6 months

    World Explorer – access to all U.S. and international records. Normally $34.99 a month or $149 for 6 months – this subscription is only $17.49 for a month or $74 for 6 months right now.

    All Access Membership – full access to Ancestry’s records, basic access to and access to Fold3. Normally $44.99 per month or $199 for 6 months – this subscription is now only $22.49 for a month or $99 for 6 months. Honestly, that’s a pretty insane deal. 

    If you’ve been waiting for a great price to come along for Ancestry, this is it. They almost never do these types of huge discounts so take advantage of it if you can.

    Remember, this includes upgrades to current subscriptions! When upgrading you will be given a new subscription and a refund for the remaining balance on your current subscription. Depending on when you subscribed and what price you paid this can be a very good deal.  Ancestry explains how much you will be charged and the discount you will receive (at the bottom of the order) before you buy so go and see how much you can save here. 

  3. Looking for information about a family member who passed away while serving in a conflict can certainly present unique challenges for the family history researcher. In addition to the sense of loss that comes with knowing your family member's life ended too soon, the act of finding the true story of their service can be daunting task, especially if the loved one's remains were never returned to the United States. So, how do you take those first steps when trying to unearth information about one of your ancestors who lived and died during wartime? While government information from organizations like the Veterans Administration are often the first places we think to look, there are other resources that may be just as useful in your search.
  4. If your family history research leads you back to England or Wales, the records kept by the General Register Office, and the GRO Index, should absolutely be on your short list of amazing resources. The GRO has been recording vital information for the populations of both England and Wales since 1837. Nearly every birth, marriage, and death that has occurred there in the last 180 years has been recorded and indexed by the GRO.
  5. With the holidays on the horizon top DNA testing companies MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry are celebrating with discounts on their tests.  If you’re hoping to score a deal (or buy multiple tests as gifts) this is a great time to do it. You’ll find links for the best deals below.

    Please know that we have partnered with many genealogy companies to bring you news, helpful tips and special offers and may earn money to support our work if you choose to buy a test. Enjoy!

    Not sure which DNA to choose? For a detailed comparison of all of the top testing companies see our helpful guide.

    MyHeritage DNA Sale – $59

    MyHeritage may be the newest DNA testing company on this list but they already have some great offerings in place. This is the lowest price MyHeritage has ever offered – $40 off the normal list price (although they typically sell their test for $79).

    MyHeritage may not have all of the advanced tools of FTDNA or the large database size of Ancestry,  but they do have some really good family history integrations – making it very easy to use your DNA for genealogy research. For a full review of their genealogy-centric genetic test read our in-depth review or grab this deal here.

    Family Tree DNA Sale – $59

    FTDNA is the oldest and one of the most respected providers of personal genetic tests for genealogy. They are also the only major company offering autosomal tests (which provide ethnicity percentages and cousin matching) as well as tests of your direct maternal line (mtDNA) and of your direct paternal line (Y-DNA – men only).

    Their popular autosomal test Family Finder – which includes the recently updated MyOrigins 2.0 report, advanced tools and cousin matching – is now on sale for $59. This is a $30 savings on their normal price of $89, although they do regularly offer the test for $69.

    Find the discount here.

    AncestryDNA Sale – $79

    Although Ancestry’s DNA test (autosomal only) has not been around for nearly as long as FTDNA, their service has become incredibly popular since many researchers like to pair a DNA test with the more traditional research they are already doing on Ancestry’s site. Ancestry also recently added a new feature called Genetic Communities that many people are excited about – although some of their DNA features require a record subscription to fully appreciate.

    Although we generally recommend FTDNA or MyHeritage over Ancestry for their superior handling of customer privacy, these tests are a good choice for those who use Ancestry on a regular basis and are a nice complement to other autosomal tests you may have taken.

    Ancestry is currently offering a discount of $20 off DNA tests to those in the US. That brings the price down to $79.

    Need Some DNA Help?

    If you need help figuring out which of these ethnicity tests is best for you check out our detailed comparison guide or find out how to get additional DNA reports for free once you have tested with one of these companies.

    You may also like to sign up for our online course, The Genealogy Journey, which includes an entire [...]

  6. Years ago, as a beginner genealogist, I held many misplaced beliefs that wasted my time and valuable resources. Looking back, I wish I had known that these ideas were hindering my career as a family historian. Here are four mistakes that have limited my genealogy research over the years.
  7. What if you could transform Cyndi's List into an even more valuable online research tool than it already is? I’ll share a quick experiment that helped me do just that. 
  8. DNA testing for genealogy is more common than ever, but it's also expensive. Although we've seen prices drop quite a bit in recent years the cost is still too much for many to justify. If you've been holding off on testing your own DNA, or on expanding your testing to relatives whose information may help your research, the information in this article will help you overcome this cost-hurdle.
  9. Are you encountering a lot of indexes in your Ancestry research? This technique will show you how you can find many of the original records online for free.
  10. Genealogy organization. How important is it? If you're trying to build an accurate family tree, the simple answer is very. Here's how to accomplish it with one smart tool.

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