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The Legal Genealogist’s top posts for 2021

If anyone had posed the question even an hour ago — what were the top 10 posts at The Legal Genealogist in 2021? — the answer would have been exactly what it was one year ago.

The answer would’ve been: “I have absolutely no idea.”

This year — 2021 — exactly like 2020 — has just been too weird. Too many times, it’s just been too hard to focus, too hard to think, too hard to look at genealogy and the joys of family history when separated from family itself.

So, seriously, if anyone had posed the question even an hour ago about the top 10 posts for this blog in this crazy year of 2021, there’s just no way I could have even come up with a list of 10 posts — much less a list of the top 10.

Thank heavens for metrics and analytics! Looking back this crazy year, metrics and analytics tell me there are at least 10 I’m willing to admit having written and — unlike last year — not even one deals with the pandemic.

top 10 2021

So, here they are, in a reverse countdown, the top 10 posts of The Legal Genealogist in this once-again-very-weird-year of 2021:

10. Finding Margaret’s mother: the end,” posted 31 January: “It began as one of The Legal Genealogist’s earliest DNA-can-help-with-this mysteries. … The case of Margaret’s mother is at an end.”

9. Silly suit season,” posted 3 November: “The Legal Genealogist is going to go out on a limb here and declare that it must officially be silly suit season. Because a lawsuit just filed against Ancestry is really really really silly.”

8. Reconsidering that match,” posted 29 August: “It happens all the time. We identify a batch of autosomal DNA matches all in the roughly 15-20 centimorgan (cM) range … and they all have the same couple in their tree. Oh boy!! Our most recent common ancestors (MRCA)!!! Um… not so fast. There’s something else we need to consider: Just how complete are those trees that we’re comparing?

7. Digitization done,” posted 11 September: “It’s a big milestone for FamilySearch. A milestone it describes in its announcement today as one ‘83 years in the making.’ ‘Today,’ the blog post continues, ‘FamilySearch International announced the completion of a massive project to digitize its collection of millions of rolls of microfilm containing billions of family history records from around the world. The archive containing information on more than 11.5 billion individuals is now freely available to the public on’”

6. An overdue ‘thank you’,” posted 5 December: “For roughly the forty-‘leventh time in just the past few weeks, The Legal Genealogist answered a question the same way just a couple of days ago. A Facebook poster couldn’t understand why a paper-trail third cousin once removed showed up as a DNA match with whom he shared 111 centiMorgans (cM) when a published chart the poster had been using said he should expect to share much less. And my answer was the same as I’d given so many other times: put that chart away and use the Shared cM Project tool on DNA Painter instead.”

5. Not soup in 2021 either,” posted 19 September: “Repeat after The Legal Genealogist: they’re just estimates…. Yes, I got my new estimated admixture estimates from Ancestry … Folks, seriously, we have got to stop thinking of these numbers as take-them-to-the-bank-snapshots-of-our-ancestors. The DNA testing companies call these estimates, and they do it for a reason.”

4. DNA winds of change,” posted 10 January: “There have been two major developments in the DNA world this week — a change in ownership at Family Tree DNA and a change in direction at GEDmatch. And exactly what either change will mean for the typical DNA customer… Well, The Legal Genealogist is taking no bets.”

3. Don’t poison that tree,” posted 5 September: “Bottom line: ‘Since we can’t tell the difference between false small segments and valid small segments, we must avoid these small segments to avoid poisoning our genealogical conclusions with false data.’ Don’t rely on small DNA segments in trying to prove a genealogical conclusion. Don’t poison that tree.”

2. The One-Step Webpages are NOT spam,” posted 17 December: “In just a little more than three months, every American genealogist will be anxiously trying to access one website. … the same website that one great big social media platform called Facebook has decided is spam, and won’t let us include a link to it in any post there. Any post with the URL to the website gets blocked. The website, of course, is called One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse, it’s been online practically forever (in web terms), and it’s one of the most valuable collections tools a genealogist has. And why Facebook has labeled it spam is absolutely beyond comprehension.”

And the top spot for 2021, combining the law and genealogy in a very different way, goes to a pair of related posts:

1. One big change at Ancestry,” posted 4 August, and Ancestry retreats, posted 6 August: “Ancestry has just updated its terms of service and privacy statement — again — and this time there is a change buried deep in its language that is of significance to users” and “The date on the newly-updated terms and conditions at still reads 3 August 2021. But there was a change made after that date.”

On to 2022… with one more — dare I say it — normal sidetrack into the top post list for all time…

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2021 top posts,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 28 Dec 2021).

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