June 16, 2020
Research Plans and Avoiding Distractions You will find the complete notes for the topics discussed in this episode (and more) in the show notes page here.  Getting Your History Digitized Our family’s history comes in many forms, and some of them over time can become obsolete. I shared in this episode my continuing progress on my own project of converting the rest of my old home movies that are in a variety of formats (8mm, mini DV, High 8, and VHS.)  I use Larsen Digital and have been extremely pleased with the service and results. The folks at Larsen Digital have put together special and exclusive discounts for Genealogy Gems listeners and readers. Get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App Get the right app for your phone or tablet .   Follow Lisa and Genealogy Gems on Social Media:   Stay Up to Date with the Genealogy Gems Newsletter The Genealogy Gems email newsletter is the best way to stay informed about what’s available with your Premium eLearning Membership. Click below to sign up today.
May 12, 2020
Interview: Caryl Kidd-Osborn of the Shrubs to Trees – A Pay-It-Forward Genealogy Group on Facebook.
April 7, 2020
Genealogy expert Lisa Louise Cooke interviews: Lisa Lisson, Are You My Cousin? on Organization Andrew Lee, Family History Fanatics on DNA Kate Eakman, Legacy Tree Genealogists on Evidence & Proof
March 13, 2020
In this episode we’re going to delve into how DNA testing with companies like AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA has changed our world. Lisa Louise Cooke interviews award-winning journalist Libby Copeland, author of the new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are about genetic genealogists, the Golden State Killer case, adoption cases, NPE and privacy concerns with DNA.
February 13, 2020
February 2020 I LOVE genealogy, mysteries and puzzle solving. Are you with me on that? Well in this episode we have not one by two tales of mystery. The first has a Valentine’s theme centered around a mysterious love letter. Professional genealogist Kathleen Ackerman will be here to share how a love letter that was missing its last page took her on a genealogical journey full of surprises. And our second story is a mystery full of twists,  turns and murder that will ultimately resurrect your faith that what you think is lost, may still be found. Click here for the complete show notes.
January 7, 2020
The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.  We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Genealogy Gems app. We blazed a new trail back in 2010 when we launched the app – apps were still really new back then.  I loved the idea of having a way to deliver exclusive bonus content to you as well as the audio, the show notes and best of all an easy way for you to contact me and the show. It’s more popular than ever, and as far as I know we are still the only genealogy podcast app available. If you haven’t already downloaded it just search for Genealogy Gems in Google Play or Apple’s App Store, or get the right app for your phone or tablet . In this episode I have two interviews for you on very different subjects. First up will be a follow up to last month’s episode where we focused specifically on the New York Public Library Photographers’ Identities Catalog. Well, in this episode we’re going to talk to the genealogy reference librarian at the New York Public Library, Andy McCarthy. And as you’ll hear, there are a massive amount of resource available there for genealogists everywhere. Then we’ll switch gears to Scandinavian genealogy with David Fryxell, author of the new book The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The free podcast is sponsored by The free podcast is sponsored by   Don’t wait another day. Get the computer backup that I use to view the complete show notes.  App Users: Don't miss the bonus content!
December 11, 2019
Hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke Recorded December 2019 My how time flies and it’s flying further and further way from when our ancestors’ got their photographs taken, which can make the task of identifying and dating them harder and harder. Do not fret my friend because I have the coolest free tech tool for you that can help you zero in on the date of your photos. David Lowe a Specialist in the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library will be joining me today to tell you all about it. And, we’re going to be talking about some important genealogical records that you may be missing at I wrote about How to Find and Browse Unindexed Records at Ancestry in the Genealogy Gems newsletter which linked over to my article on our website, but this is so important that we need to talk about here together. Click here for the complete show notes   This free podcast is sponsored by:   Lisa Recommends Computer Backup Learn more about Backblaze computer cloud backup and get your computer backed up today at   Read our latest articles at Genealogy Gems: Top 10 Strategies for Finding School Records New Genealogy Records Online   Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member Gain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Become a member here.   Please Help Us by Taking the 1 Minute Genealogy Gems Survey Please help us create the best podcast for you by taking this very short survey.   Join Lisa Louise Cooke in person at Genealogy Roots What:        2 days of innovative genealogy education at the Senior Expo When:       January 14 & 15, 2020. 9am – 4:30pm Where:      Dixie Convention Center in beautiful St. George, Utah Who:         All ages and skills levels Cost:          2 day pass: $50  |  Early Bird Price: $35 (Expires 12/31/19) If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend this event in Salt Lake City in October 2018, this is your chance! Click here for all the details and tickets. Watch the video recap of Day 1 of Genealogy Roots in Salt Lake City. Watch the video recap of Day 2 of Genealogy Roots in Salt Lake City.   Get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App Here   Follow Lisa and Genealogy Gems on Social Media:   Stay Up to Date with the Genealogy Gems Newsletter The Genealogy Gems email newsletter is the best way to stay informed about what’s available with your Premium eLearning Membership. Click here to sign up today.
November 12, 2019
Hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke Recorded November 2019 Federal court records are wonderful because they are so packed with genealogical information. But knowing which records are available and where to find them can sound daunting, and that stops many genealogists from ever tapping into them. In this episode our aim is to fix all that. Professional forensic genealogist Michael Strauss is here to pull back the curtain and introduce you to these valuable records. You know Michael from our Military Minutes segments here on Genealogy Gems. He also recently introduced us to descendancy research on Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 174. The response to that episode was terrific. Many of you wrote into say that it opened up a new avenue of research for you. This episode promises to do the same. Click here for the complete show notes   This free podcast is sponsored by:   Lisa Recommends Computer Backup Learn more about Backblaze computer cloud backup and get your computer backed up today at   Read our latest articles at Genealogy Gems: Top 10 Strategies for Finding School Records New Genealogy Records Online   Learn German Handwriting  Katherine Schober of SK Translations, professional German script expert, translator, and author has created Reading the Old German Handwriting Online Course - so you can be reading those old German letters in just a matter of months. Complete with videos, flash cards, games, and more, this do-it-yourself course has students raving. Learn more here.    Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member Gain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Become a member here.   Please Help Us by Taking the 1 Minute Genealogy Gems Survey Please help us create the best podcast for you by taking this very short survey.   Join Lisa Louise Cooke in person at Genealogy Roots What:        2 days of innovative genealogy education at the Senior Expo When:       January 14 & 15, 2020. 9am – 4:30pm Where:      Dixie Convention Center in beautiful St. George, Utah Who:         All ages and skills levels Cost:          2 day pass: $50  |  Early Bird Price: $35 (Expires 12/31/19) If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend this event in Salt Lake City in October 2018, this is your chance! Click here for all the details and tickets. Watch the video recap of Day 1 of Genealogy Roots in Salt Lake City. Watch the video recap of Day 2 of Genealogy Roots in Salt Lake City.   Get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App Here   Follow Lisa and Genealogy Gems on Social Media:   Stay Up to Date with the Genealogy Gems Newsletter The Genealogy Gems email newsletter is the best way to stay informed about what’s available with your Premium eLearning Membership. Click here to sign up today.
October 8, 2019
with Lisa Louise CookeOctober 2019 NEWS: New and Returning genealogy-themed television Shows: A New Leaf on NBC A New Leaf will be included in the Saturday NBC morning programming block called The More You Know beginning October 5, 2019.  From the Ancestry Blog:  “Each week ‘A New Leaf’ will follow people on the cusp of key life inflection points, who using family history, genealogy, and sometimes AncestryDNA® analysis will go on a journey of self-discovery and learn from the past while looking to the future. In partnership with Ancestry, Fuentes will join families as they learn the importance of appreciating and understanding their family history and ancestors in order to make important life decisions. ” Website: Finding Your Roots on PBS Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s sixth season of Finding Your Roots on PBS will have two new episodes this fall and eight more in January 2020. The new people featured include Melissa McCarthy, Jordan Peele, Isabella Rossellini, Gayle King, Terry Gross, Queen Latifah and many more. Check your television schedule and cable provider. Website: The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes on Oxygen Another new show that taps into genetic genealogy is The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes. It premieres October 12 at 8 p.m. on the Oxygen channel. Website: New Services for Genealogists: Legacy Tree Genealogists Offers a New Consulting Service Visit: From the press release: “Genealogist-on-Demand: Legacy Tree Genealogists Launches Virtual Consultation Service Offering Access to Family History Experts, Any Time, Any Where. Legacy Tree Genealogists announced today the launch of a new service—45-minute, virtual one-on-one consultations with a professional genealogist. At only 100 USD, these consultations provide users with a cost-effective resource to have their research questions answered in real-time by a professional genealogist, from the comfort of their own home.    Larsen Digital Now Digitizes Your Old Negatives In the past I’ve told you about the incredible work that Larsen Digital did for me getting some of my old home movies digitized. Well, they’ve just launched a new service where you can send them your old negatives and they will convert them into beautiful high-resolution digital images that you can use. We’re talking 4000 dpi images! The service is called Value because it’s less expensive than the Pro which includes restoration. It’s a great way to get all your old negatives digitized. Then you can decide if there’s further restoration you want done on select images. Negatives can deteriorate over time just like photos. The sooner you get them digitized the better condition images you will have. Larsen Digital is offering Genealogy Gems listeners a great discount on both the new value service and the Pro negative digitization service, as well as 35mm negatives & 35mm Slides.  Visit the Genealogy Gems page at  Use coupon code GENGEM.    Findmypast Now Supports Tree to Tree Hints Long gone are the days of having to search for genealogical records all alone. When you have any part of your family tree online on any of the “Genealogy Giants” websites (Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch) they do a lot of the hunting for you. They deliver hints that have a good chance of matching up with your ancestors. Your job is to carefully review them and determine if they are your ancestor’s records.  (Genealogy Gems Premium Members: Listen to Premium Podcast Episode #175 devoted to hints at Ancestry that includes a bonus download guide on Genealogy Hints at a Glance.) Up until now, Findmypast offered hints on birth, marriage and death records. Now they are joining the other Genealogy Giants in offering hints based on other user’s family tree on their website.  Read the rest of my article here.   The free podcast is sponsored by:   GEM: Downsizing with Family History in Mind with Devon Noel Lee Get your copy of Downsizing with Family History in Mind here.  (We hope you enjoyed the interview, and thank you for using our link.) At some point we all face downsizing. Whether we are helping our parents downsize to a smaller house, or we need to downsize our own belongings to carve out a spare bedroom or just make room in a closet. it’s never really an easy task. And I think it’s safe to say it’s even more difficult for the family historian, because we collect a lot of paper, photos and other things that are often near and dear to our hearts. Devon Noel Lee and her husband Andrew Lee of the Family History Fanatics YouTube channel have taken on this challenge themselves and they’ve written a new book called Downsizing with Family History in Mind. Here to help you make the tough choices and clear the clutter is Devon Noel Lee. There are many reasons for downsizing: To move to a smaller place Absorbing inherited genealogy Divorce To free up space in your own home Downsizing the sentimental items is the hardest part of downsizing. Question: A lot of us just think, well it’s a Saturday morning, I think I’ll just do some decluttering. But you say in the book that decluttering doesn’t work. Why is that? Devon’s Answer: “There are three things that experts teach us that are absolutely wrong:” We don’t give ourselves enough time for nostalgia. We’re really bad at evaluating what’s going to last for the long term We use the wrong boxes when decluttering – all the experts say to use Keep, Sell and Donate. Devon recommends the following boxes: Keep Giveaway (combining sell and donate) – to family, societies, archive, university special collections, libraries, etc. Trash (or recycle) Process How to “process”: Digitize Process the information in your binders and get rid of the binders if no one wants them. Use it: Sad to say, most people don’t want your family china. Give yourself permission to use it and enjoy it now. Make memories with it! Let your children play with things. Four Basic Downsizing Principles in the book: Reduce:  Divide things into the boxes. Preserve: This is when you’re going to digitize the things in your process box. Photograph objects. Transfer your genealogy into software and online trees. Reclaim: Take everything out of the process box after processing, and divide into Giveaway, Trash and Keep. Don’t put things into storage! Showcase: Put on display what you found worth keeping so it can be enjoyed. Transform what you have into something that is easier to pass on like videos, podcasts, scrapbooks. Focus on story-based items. From Lisa: It puts us back in control as to what happens to it. Making sure the right people get it. I’m a big fan of displays. If we haven’t taken a moment to get something on the wall - to put a display together - how can we expect our family to appreciate it and embrace our family history values?   Question: Many downsizing projects are much more than a single day. When you’re faced with a really big job, where do you recommend that people start, and where should they put their primary focus? The book includes action plans for folks who have: just an hour Weekend 3-6 months 6-12 months Capture what is right now: Photograph the outside of the home. Photograph what’s inside. Then focus on photographing the collections in their context. Mentioned by Lisa: Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #21 includes a Gem called Thanks for the Memories. In it, I share an example of mentally walking through my Grandma’s house and capturing all of my memories on paper. Get a piece of paper or pull up a word document.  Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a favorite memory from your childhood.  In my case I started with a favorite place, my maternal grandma's house.  But perhaps yours is the back alley where you and your friends played baseball, or your great uncle's garage where he showed you how to work on cars.  Whatever is meaningful to you. Now, open your eyes, and write your thoughts one at a time.  Just free flow it. They don't have to be complete sentences.  Later you can try your hand at writing more of your actual experiences or memories of a person.  Again, it doesn't have to be a novel or sound really professional.  It's just the memories from you heart.   Family Photos: Question: If we have piles and piles of family photos, particularly ones we’ve inherited, how to do we decide which to keep and which to toss? Or do you ever toss? Devon’s answer: Get rid of the duplicates! Keep 1 of the biggest and best and throw the rest away. Don’t bog yourself down with hours spent trying to track down someone else to give them to. Get rid of blurry, overexposed, underexposed, and meaningless photos. Unlabeled photos: There will be some circumstances where you will not be able to keep them. You can’t go into debt for unlabeled photos. You want to separate them from the labeled so that other family members don’t throw them all out together. If you have time, try to identify them by asking relatives, and posting them to If you can, donate the remaining unlabeled photos to orphaned photo collectors, or toss. You did the best you can. Don’t feel guilty because your ancestors didn’t label their photos. Question: What advice do you give your readers who are faced with what to do with their genealogy when they don’t have descendants or when no one in the family wants it? What encouragement can you offer when there is no one who descends from you, or there is no one who wants them. Devon’s answer: If you think you don’t have anyone in your family who is interested, you’re wrong. Downsizing and organizing will increase the chances of someone willing to take it later. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate family who wants your stuff, start looking for distant cousins actively working on a surname. They won’t want everything. You will have to divide the material. They want it organized. Do it while you’re living – don’t leave it to someone else. Digitize it and get it online where it can be shared. From Lisa: Getting your stuff in good condition makes it more desirable. Our collection, broken up, may have much more value to other people. Get your copy of Downsizing with Family History in Mind here. (We hope you enjoyed the interview, and thank you for using our link.) The free podcast is sponsored by: GEM: Profile America – The 1830 U.S. Federal Census Saturday, October 5th. The national census to be taken April 1 next year will be the 24th time this once-a-decade count has been conducted since 1790. The fifth census in 1830 profiled a quickly expanding nation, counting nearly 13 million residents — an increase of more than one-third in just 10 years. New York remained the largest city, while second and third places were a near tie between Baltimore and Philadelphia. Also, among the 10 biggest cities were Charleston, South Carolina, and Albany, New York. In the decade to follow, Cyrus McCormick invented the grain reaper, opening huge sections of the Great Plains to agriculture, and Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Sources: POP Culture: 1830     Read our latest articles at Genealogy Gems: Busting Genealogical Brick Walls with a Podcast How to Find and Use Land Records for Genealogy Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member Gain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Become a member here. Please Help Us by Taking the 1 Minute Genealogy Gems Survey Please help us create the best podcast for you by taking this very short survey. Get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App Get the right app for your phone or tablet here.   Follow Lisa and Genealogy Gems on Social Media:   Stay Up to Date with the Genealogy Gems Newsletter The Genealogy Gems email newsletter is the best way to stay informed about what’s available with your Premium eLearning Membership. Click here to sign up today.
September 11, 2019
Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 233 with Lisa Louise CookeSeptember 2019 In this episode: Today we’re going to take a look at what so many records and record collections have in common: they are often Lists. Now that may sound pretty straight forward, but there’s a lot more to Lists than meet the eye. A list of names, places or other information has a lot to tell us and can be used in unique ways. Professional genealogist Cari Taplin joins me in this episode for a conversation about what is so lovely about lists.   My Summer Vacation If you’ve been following me on Instagram – you can find me here on Instagram or by searching for genealogy gems podcast in the free Instagram app – then you know that I’ve spent a bit of my time this summer getting a taste of some of the work many of my ancestors did and probably that many of your ancestors did: farming. Bill and I have a close friend who owns his great grandfather’s 1904 homestead in North Dakota. A few years back Bill went up there to help them open it back up and get things up and running. This year we helped them harvest their crop of oats. (They even have a sign in the field that says “These oats will grow up to be Cheerios.”) Of course, we used equipment that our ancestors may not have had. I learned to drive the combine, and I disked the field with the tractor. But in many ways, things haven’t changed all that much. One of the things that really struck me was how the farming community out there pulls together. Now to put this in perspective: the 240-acre homestead is about two miles down a dirt road for Canada. The house has fallen into disrepair over the decades, so our friend bought an old farmhouse in the nearby town where he grew up. That town has a population of just over 50 people! So, we’re talking about a pretty remote location, and folks are scattered on various farms miles apart. But when a tractor was in need of repair, within the hour a neighbor would be pulling up ready to crawl under it alongside our friend to work on it till it was fixed. When a piece of equipment was needed that he didn’t have, it would soon be rolling down the road from a neighboring farm to pitch in. Everyone had one eye on the sky at all times to watch the ever-changing weather, and there was such a commitment by all to make sure no neighbor was left with unharvested crops before a storm hit. So even though the combines of today are motorized massive machines with air conditioning and stereos, the work ethic, the commitment and the community was unchanged from when his granddad first filed his homestead claim. Bill and I felt really blessed to be a part of it. Think of us next time you eat your cheerios.   GEM: Tapping into the Power of Lists with Cari Taplin If you’ve been doing genealogy for any length of time, then you have probably encountered a list. They come in all shapes and sizes, and at first glance they may seem very straight forward. Cari Taplin, a certified genealogist out of Pflugerville, Texas, says it’s worth taking the time to really examine lists carefully because there may be more there than meets the eye. Cari  currently serves on the boards of the Association for Professional Genealogists and is the Vice President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies. As the owner of GenealogyPANTS, she provides speaking, research, and consultation services, focusing on midwestern and Great Lakes states and methodology.   Types of Lists Nearly every time we sit down to do genealogy research we run into a list. There are loads of them out there. Here’s just a starter list of the lists you might run into: indexes of any kind city directories tax lists petitions censuses church membership members of a club or society fraternal organization member lists community groups committees lists in newspapers like hotel registrations, letters at post office hospital admittances and discharges cemetery books event participants jurors estate sales militia rolls voter lists land lottery winners school class lists yearbooks agricultural lists   Significance of List Construction Of course, not every list is alphabetically organized by any means. We might run into a list of prison inmates listed by number, or burial sites listed by plot or location. The information can be organized in many different ways. Cari says that the way the list maker decided to organize the list tells us a lot about the information. For example, a list that is alphabetized might be an indication that it is a recreated list. Other ways that lists may be constructed include chronologically or by location. Here are follow up tasks you can do: Evaluate for potential error Locate the original source   List Explanation or Instructions Understanding the thinking behind how the list was constructed is also important. The U.S. Federal Census is a great example of a list that has other background documents such as the enumerator instructions. We don’t see these instructional documents unless we go looking for them. The instructions provide background on the creation of the list, and that can help us get more out of it. Research Tip: Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. From that page you download the PDF of enumerator instructions. Here’s an example of how understanding the census enumerator instructions can help you better understand how to interpret it: In 1900 the census was answered as if it were a particular day. This means that if someone died a few days later, they may still be listed as alive in the 1900 census. If you know that they died that year, you now have more information that it was after the enumeration date. Genealogy websites like Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage often provide background on the creation and purpose of their record collections.   Tax List example: there are laws behind them. Look up the statute. Google to find summations of tax laws at the time. Keep in mind that they might be in order of location. When analyzing a list, ask yourself the following questions: What was this list created for? Why is it in this order? What does that then tell me about these people?   What’s we’re really talking about is educating ourselves so that we’re not contributing to the errors that get out there. It’s an investment in accuracy.   Context It can be tempting to just scan the list, grab your ancestor out of it, and move on. But if we do that, we could be leaving a lot of genealogical gold behind. “Evidence mining requires attention to detail, including details that might initially seem insignificant.” ––BCG, Genealogy Standards, #40, p. 24 Here are some ideas as to what we should look for: Sometimes it’s just a name (example: petition lists) There might be columns at the top – pay attention to those details for more understanding Other people in the list: the FAN Club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors.) Look for those names in other documents.   Organizing Your Research and the Data Collected from Lists Cari uses spreadsheets to organize her genealogical research project data. Come of the benefits of using a spreadsheet are that you can: easily sort the data easily manipulate the data visualize the data in different forms   Free Download: Read How German Address Books at are Helping Bust Brick Walls and download the free spreadsheet template.   Explore the Bigger List Often times you do a search, and you find a single record. But that single record is actually part of a massive internal list, an indexed list from which the search engine is pulling. An example of this is when you run a search for your ancestor at the Bureau of Land Management website (BLM).  After finding your ancestor’s record, you can then run a search by that land description to find other people who owned land and possibly lived nearby. Watch the FamilySearch video on the batch search technique that Lisa mentioned.   What Constitutes Proof? “Evidence mining requires attention to detail, including details that might initially seem insignificant.” – BCG, Genealogy Standards, #40, p.24 Review the Genealogical Proof Standard in the show notes for Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 232.   2 men with 1 name When everyone in the family wants to name their children after Grandpa, you can end up with a lot people in a county with the same name. You need to tease them apart. Questions to ask: Who did they associate with? Who were their siblings? Where were each of them located? All of these things can help differentiate them. A spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this.   The Yearbook List Example Very often the list of names is the full list of students. However, not every student necessarily had their photo taken. Count the names and then count the photos to verify you have the right person. Search the Ancestry Yearbook collection to try and find another photo of the person to compare.     Cari’s Main Message Don’t skip over a list because it’s lacking some identifying information. You still need to record it. You may come back to it one day!   Visit Cari Online: Genealogy Pants   Profile America: The Gregorian Correction Wednesday, September 11th. This was a day that didn’t exist in Colonial America in 1752, as the familiar calendar underwent what is called the “Gregorian correction,” switching from the ancient Julian calendar to adjust for errors accumulated over centuries. After September 2nd, the next day was September 14th. The British parliament’s Calendar Act of 1750 had also changed New Year’s Day from March 25th to January 1st. As a result, the year 1751 had only 282 days. Since then, with leap years built in as in 2020, the calendar has remained constant.  Sources:  Calendars timeline, accessed 6/6/2019   Calendar Act   Calendar riots   Printing services, County Business Patterns, NAICS 32311   Printing employment, Annual Survey of Manufacturers, NAICS 32311     News: Watch Lisa’s new MyHeritage Education Center Visit the MyHeritage Education Center to watch videos and read article to help you get more out of using MyHeritage. Watch the presentation at the MyHeritage Education Center: How to Find Your Family in Newspapers with SuperSearch
August 12, 2019
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 232 with Lisa Louise Cooke August 2019 Please take our quick podcast survey which will take less than 1 minute.  Thank you!   In this episode: Exploring what you can do to go deeper in your genealogy research for a more accurate family tree with Elissa Scalise Powell. Irish genealogy radio host Lorna Moloney, a professional genealogist with Merriman Research, discusses Irish genealogy.   MAILBOX: Marcia Finds Treasure on eBay “I recently remembered your idea of searching for family related things on eBay. My grandfather and his brother both worked as agents for the Wrought Iron Range Co. of St. Louis. They sold excellent quality wrought iron stoves and my great uncle did very well there as a supervisor. I did a search for the Wrought Iron Range Co on eBay and immediately pulled up a history of the company, an advertisement for the range and a metal they gave away. I bought them all! However, the best goodie which I am still bidding on is a “salesman’s sample Wrought Iron Range stove about 12 inches tall and 14 inches long in color and with all working parts. (Photo: The stove Lisa inherited from her grandmother.) I may not win the bid, but I am thrilled with what I found. This will bring my grandfather’s occupation to life for my great nephews!!!!” More eBay Research Strategies on Genealogy Gems: Learn more about eBay alerts in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 140.  eBay strategies on Genealogy Gems Premium episode 76 eBay strategies on Genealogy Gems Premium episode 16 Learn more here about Genealogy Gems Premium membership.   Steve Shares a New German Translation Resource “I came across a new site that you might like to inform your listeners about. It is very new and just getting started, so I know they would appreciate a mention. The name of this new site is "German Letters in Letters"  []. What they are doing is trying to collect letters written between German immigrants to the US and their relatives back home in Germany. You can very easily submit scanned copies of any letters you have and the really neat thing is that they will post them at their site. Once they post them, they are asking for translations by any volunteers. So, this is an excellent way to have any letters in your possession to be translated..... for FREE! I was given about 30 letters written to my GG grandfather, Johann Bernard Husam, who immigrated to Adams Co., Illinois about 1855. They are from his siblings, nieces, and a nephew back in Germany. They range from 1866 to the early 1900s. I scanned them and they are now on this site. I was given these letters by great granddaughter-in-law [my aunt] who spoke German as she had grown up in the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. She had escaped Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII before the Russians invaded. She, thankfully, had translated all of the letters.” Resource Learn more about German research from these articles at Genealogy Gems.   What Ann Likes About the Podcast Hi, Lisa, I'd love to say that your podcast has helped me with a genealogy brick wall but at this point I'm only a "drop-in genealogist," figuring that I'm the only one in the family interested at this time (working on one grandson though, because I think he'd be a real asset) in finding and preserving family stories. I do research in fits and starts. But, I do love your podcasts. I'm catching up on back episodes now and recently listened to one that started with you describing a granddaughter's first Christmas coming up. It reminded me of one of the best things about your podcasts - it's like you're sitting in my living room with me, having a cup of tea, discussing your stories and tips and tricks to help with mine. Thank you so much for all the information, and for your casual, personal, yet professional style!”   Kristine is No Longer a “Cooke-Cutter” Researcher “I just retired and guess what is first on my list of things I WANT to do? :-)  I jumped in with both feet listening to your Premium podcasts and realized a few times that I am the 'cookie-cutter' researcher.  But, no more. You are the Captain of my ship now. Thank you! After binging on your podcasts the last two weeks, the first bit of advice I took was changing the way I searched on My family's everyday life's treasures were buried in the pages of the local news! You made me take a second look after I dismissed the possibility of ever reading about them.  Thank you so much for your dedicated work on behalf of all the genealogists. My Premium subscription will NEVER run out.  When a family member says "I don't know what to get you" I'm prepared to solve that dilemma! Warm regards, A listener for life” Resource: Read Lisa’s article called A Shocking Family Secret and 3 Powerful Newspaper Search Tips   GEM: Overcoming Shallow Research with Elissa Scalise Powell Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, is co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP); past-president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and 2017 She won the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Achievement Award. She is a Certified Genealogist®, and Certified Genealogical LecturerSM. You can reach Elissa at (Thank you to Elissa for contributing notes for this episode.) Visit Elissa’s website at The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) The Genealogical Proof Standard was created to help genealogists gain confidence in their research conclusions by providing criteria that can be followed. A genealogical conclusion is considered proved when it meets all five GPS components. The 5 Components of the GPS Reasonably exhaustive research This type of research emphasizes original records that provide the information for all evidence that might answer a genealogist’s question about an identity, relationship, event, or situation Complete, accurate citations to the source or sources of each information item contributing—directly, indirectly, or negatively—to answers about that identity, relationship, event, or situation Tests—through processes of analysis and correlation—of all sources, information items, and evidence contributing to an answer to a genealogical question or problem Resolution of conflicts among evidence items pertaining to the proposed answer A soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion based on the strongest available evidence Resource The book Genealogy Standards by the Board for Certification of Genealogists provides a standard by which all genealogists can pattern their work. About Sources Some sources are considered “Low-hanging fruit.” They can be described as: - straightforward research - easily accessible - record type is easily understood - document states the fact desired Many times, genealogists will need to stretch and reach for harder to find sources. These types of sources are: - not straightforward - possibly unknown to you at this time - not easily accessible - time-consuming to explore - take study to understand it - not self-explanatory Elise’s Examples of the Pitfalls of Shallow Research Believing that family stories have been accurately passed down in all details. Believing that official documents are always correct. Believing that published records, especially transcriptions or abstracts, are faithful representations of the original. Premature conclusions can come back to haunt us. Disregarding ill-fitting evidence can create brick walls. Careless citation practices do not give us the tools we need for analysis. Researching and understanding historical context is crucial to solving problems. Barriers requiring expertise beyond our own should not hamper the research process. Assuming there is only one record and suspending research when the first one is found. Assuming that details are unimportant, or not noticing them at all. Elissa also points out that when we do shallow research, we can actually do more harm than good. Shallow genealogical research: Doesn’t allow our ancestors to reveal themselves or their reasons for actions Puts them in the wrong time and place Can create wrong kinship ties Misleads future researchers Causes brick walls Wastes our time Does a disservice to our current family and descendants   GEM: Irish Genealogy with Lorna Moloney of Merriman Research While speaking at THE Genealogy Show conference in Birmingham England in June of this year I got a chance to sat down for the first time with Lorna Moloney host of The Genealogy Radio show which is produced at Raidio Corcabaiscinn. Click here for podcast episodes). Lorna runs Merriman Research which is dedicated to bringing educational solutions and resources to a wide audience.  Lorna’s website: Photo: Lisa and Lorna at THE Genealogy Show in Birmingham, England in 2019.     Do you have Irish Roots? Then Irish Roots Magazine is perfect for you! Visit Irish Roots Magazine at   Join Lisa in Person for 2 Exciting and Innovative Days of Genealogy! 1 and 2 day passes available. Early-bird special: 2 days for the price of 1 until 9/15/19.
July 17, 2019
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 231 with Lisa Louise Cooke July 2019 NEWS: Google Earth News Jennifer in California sent me a fascinating item recently , and she says “Thought you might get a kick out today's blurb from Google, where they pat themselves on the back for what can be done with Google Earth. No argument from me; it's amazing!” So, what can be done with Google Earth besides all the family history projects that I teach here on the podcast and in the Premium videos? Well, Peter Welch and Weekend Wanderers in the UK are using Google Earth to find treasure! Read all about it here Visit the Weekend Wanderers website   FamilySearch adds audio, the free and massive genealogy website from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  has added a new way for you to add more memories to your tree. In addition to photos you can now add audio both at the website and the FamilySearch FamilyTree and Memories apps which you can download from your mobile device’s app store. So now as you’re selecting and uploading family photos to familysearch, you can also gather and record the stories that go with those photos. It’s sort of like being able to write on the back on the photograph, but in an even more personal way. Your voice, and the voices of your relatives can now be part of your family’s history. Read the article about adding audio From the FamilySearch website: “Photos and audio attached to deceased ancestors can be viewed by other users on the FamilySearch Family Tree. To protect privacy, photos and audio attached to living people can be seen only by the person who added the memory unless that person shares the memory or album with another user.” MyHeritage App updateAmong the newly introduced features are Family Timelines, the ability to view family trees that you’re matched with, the ability to choose which information you extract from Smart Matches™, an improved research page, and more. Read all about it here   MAILBOX: We received lots of great feedback on the article 3 Shocking Discoveries I’ve Made While Searching Cemeteries by Joy Neighbors From Craig: “After finding my Paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, I looked for my Paternal GG Grandfather in the same area. No luck. I went to the R.B. Hayes library in Tiffin, Ohio and started looking at every page in the burial listing for the township I thought he would be in. And there he was – last name misspelled! (The “A” was changed to a “K”.) I was able to drive over to the cemetery and located his stone – still readable after his burial in 1885. I plan to go back to the area this summer to look for his wife, who was buried elsewhere (they were separated.) I wish I could get someone to update the lists with the correct spelling, to match the gravestone and census papers, but that seems impossible to do.” From Ann: “My brother Ray says we have visited more dead relatives than live ones. Trying now to visit the relatives above ground!” From LeRoy: Spent many hours walking, crawling, pushing through brush brambles and briers just to find and take pictures of tombstones. I regret only one such adventure. If I may. My sweetheart and I went to a small cemetery in New Jersey to gather family names and pictures for Billion Graves and our personal records. While I was taking pictures, my wife was clipping brush and bushes from the stone that identified her families plot. We had a great day. I filled two clips of pictures and my sweetheart did a magnificent job on that stone. It was only a few hours later, when she started itching that I really “looked” at the pictures and realized that the brush that she cleared from that stone was poison ivy. Wouldn’t have been so bad, but when she found that I’m not affected by poison oak, ivy or sumac. She was not happy. From Shirley: I have recently started doing ancestry research and have been astounded at what I have found. No creepy tree stories. However, it is nice to know that some ancestors took special care to by buy family plots even though they knew eventually the girls might marry and want to be buried with their husband. I found it interesting that both my grandfather and my grandmother are both buried with their individual parents. From Patsy: Shirley’s  story jogged my memory. My mother died in 1934 when I was 4 years old. She is buried in her father’s plot rather than my paternal grandfather’s plot. I have wondered for years why the burial was arranged that way and imagine all sorts of situations. Were the families feuding? Was one family more financially able to foot the bill. Did my paternal grandfather not like my father? Hmmmm……… From Sharon: I checked out this book from the local library about a month ago. Decided I needed my own copy. All genealogist should read it. It is very informative & entertaining. From Marinell: About 5 years ago I found the farm on which my gr great grandparents were buried. The tall granite marker with the parents’ names had been knocked over, the foot stones stacked and several large rocks were around the monument and it was in the middle of a field that was being planted and harvested. We made contact with the owner and received permission to have it raised. In the meantime, I found an obituary for a son who was buried on the family farm. I also found an article about a woman who did dowsing, contacted her and she agreed to come perform the dowsing. I was videoing it when my phone went totally dead! I had never had that happen and it was charged. Thirty minutes later it came back on mysteriously! She found 2 adult women, 2 adult men and three toddlers. After further search I found another obituary for a grown daughter buried there and 3 toddler grandchildren who died in 1882. She said that the large rocks would have marked the graves. Sadly, they had totally desecrated the family cemetery. But I was excited to learn all I did and was startled by the phone totally dying. The free podcast is sponsored by RootsMagic We first talked to Julianne last year  in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 219. In that episode we explored the tragic story of Julianne’s ancestors, the Metthe family. It was a riveting case study of the twists and turns that genealogy can take us on.GEM: Checking in with Julianne Mangin Julianne had originally been a bit of a reluctant genealogist. But after a 30 year career in library science, including 14 years as a librarian and website developer for the Library of Congress in Washington DC, she could couldn’t help but try to find the truther in the piecemeal stories that she was told by her mother. Julianne has continued to research and write at her Julianne Mangin blog, and I thought it would fun to check back in with her and see what she’s been up to. Her latest blog series is called Alice’s Story. It follows the path of discovery she followed to uncover the story of a previously unknown aunt. Alice’s Story Part 1 Alice’s Story Part 2 – the Exeter School Alice’s Story Part 3 – Final Resting Place The research began where most good genealogical research begins: at the end of Alice’s life and her death certificate. Institutional Records - But with few records and no first-hand interviews available, Julianne turned to researching the institutions themselves to dig deeper into Alice’s experience. Resource:Genealogy Gems Premium Video: Institutional Records (membership required) State Census Records can help fill in the gaps between the federal census enumerations.  Search for “state census” in the card catalog:   The free podcast is sponsored by MyHeritage   Resource:State Censuses at the FamilySearch Wiki “Copies of many state censuses are on microfilm at the Family History Library. The Family History Library's most complete collections of state censuses are for Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. However censuses exist for the following states also:  Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, SouthCarolina, SouthDakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,  Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. State, colonial, and territorial censuses at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under "STATE - CENSUS RECORDS"   Old Postcards are a great resource for images. Resources:Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 16 and episode 76 feature strategies for finding family history on ebay. (Genealogy Gems Premium Membership required)   Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning MemberGain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Learn more here   Institutional Annual Reports – Julianne searched for annual reports to the Legislature for more details on the various institutions where Alice resided. Resources:Library of Congress Catalog Google Books   Old Newspapers offered a counterbalance to the annual reports. Resources:Genealogybank MyHeritage   “The institutions were like characters in the story.”   Also mentioned in this interview: The Rhode Island Historic Cemetery Commission Julianne’s Pet Cemetery Stories blog Rags, War Hero   You worked really hard on your family history – protect it with the Cloud backup service that Lisa uses:
June 11, 2019
Have you thought about telling the story of your personal history? Most of us at some point have, But let’s be honest: continuing the genealogical research of our ancestors probably seemed more appealing, and frankly, it’s probably easier than sitting down and figuring out how to capture our own story. I’ve spoken to a lot of genealogists through the years, and I often hear comments like “ah, my story isn’t all that interesting or important.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. When we don’t tell our own story, we not only take a big risk that the memory of our life will be lost down the generations, but we rob our family and our community of an important piece of THEIR history. Karen Dustman is the author of the book Writing a Memoir, from Stuck to Finished! She’s been helping folks capture and record their stories for several years in her community in the Sierra Nevada which spans Central and Eastern California, into Western Nevada. She’s known widely there as a local historian, writing on her blog and in the local newspaper about the history of the area.   Karen’s Book Writing a Memoir from Stuck to Finished!   It was Karen’s story of the history of not a family, but an old house in the Carson Valley that shed light on the fact that one of its’ inhabitants was at risk of being forgotten. And no one wants to be forgotten.  In this episode we’re going to explore the life and death of 10 year old Roy Thran. How his story tentatively made its way through the generations of the family in one simple box to the hands of his great grand-niece Krista Jenkins. It was Krista who connected the all-important dots eventually culminating in a museum exhibit that is now telling an important part of the Carson Valley history and touching the lives of its residents. In this episode we travel back to 1925, to a sparsely populated ranching community to hear the story of Roy Thran, and how it’s being shared today. My hope is that Roy’s story will transform your thinking about sharing your own story. Get the full show notes: Click here to visit the show notes page at the Genealogy Gems website where you can read the entire story complete with photos and documents referred to in this episode. Here's a wonderful and easy way to tell your story: For 20 DOLLARS off, visit when you subscribe!
May 23, 2019
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 229 with Lisa Louise Cooke May 2019 NEWS: Lisa Louise Cooke is back in the studio after two weeks on the road speaking at the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference and the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference. Each conference was great and had its own unique feel, and there were many new genealogists in attendance. Genealogy Gems listener Carol stopped by and enthusiastically shared with how the eBay search strategies for family history that Lisa discussed in episode 140 paid off in a big way!   MAILBOX: Robin wrote in to share how Sydney Orton’s song with her grandpa in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 228 brought her to tears in a toll plaza while driving!   Steve wrote in to rave about the value that his new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning membership has brought to his family history research.   Rylee says she’s grateful to have found the podcast and she shares a story of genealogical discovery that she hopes will inspire others. Rylee asks “How do I find sources for these people? I have searched all over ancestry and Family Search and have had no luck again. I really want to believe that the people I have as Adam’s parents and siblings all the way through his 2nd great-grandparents (paternal) are truly his family but I need to get more information. Where can I go for help with German records and where can I continue my search?” Lisa’s comments: You're absolutely right, what you found are just hints. It sounds like it's time for you to move on from the "Genealogy Giants" (Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc.) and into German records websites, libraries, and archives to find real sources that nail down the family tree. Lisa recommends the Genealogy Giants quick reference comparison guide. We have several articles and episodes at Genealogy Gems that can help you do this: Go to At the top of the home page select "German" from the "Start Learning" drop down menu That will take you to these results pagesfeaturing our German research strategies. I'm optimistic for you because Germans are known for keeping excellent records, and I have had good luck in searching them.    GEM: Your Master Family Tree, and Sharing Branches Online Explained I describe it this way: Plant your tree in your own backyard and share branches online. A master family tree has three important characteristics: It is owned and controlled by you. It is the final say on what you currently know about your family tree. It is protected with online backup to ensure it is safe. Plant Your Master Family Tree Lisa uses RootsMagic software for her master family tree. Learn more about GEDCOM files in this article: GEDCOM File (What is It & How to Use This Genealogy File) Protech Your Master Family Tree Lisa uses Backblaze to back up her master family tree and computer. Visit (Using this link also helps keep this free podcast free. Thank you!) Read more: How to Download Backblaze in 4 Easy Steps Share Branches Online Genealogy Giants Guide available in the Genealogy Gems store.   Read Lisa’s article: Planting Your Master Genealogy Family Tree for all of the strategies mentioned in this episode.   The free podcast is sponsored by:   PROFILE AMERICA: Friday, May 24th, 2019 In a way, today marks the 175th birthday of the World Wide Web. Only it was electro-mechanical, not digital. On this date in 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse activated the first telegraph line, sending a dots-and-dashes code message from the U.S. Capitol building to a receiver in Baltimore. By the late 1850s, the first telegraph cable had been laid across the Atlantic Ocean, and in 1861, the telegraph spanned the continental United States. Over the ensuing decades, the wires wrapped around the world. From the 1844 demonstration, telecommunications today has grown into a half-trillion dollar a year industry, and employs more than 1 million workers in over 59,000 industry establishments. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at Sources: Joseph Nathan Kane, Kane’s Famous First Facts, Fifth Edition, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY, 1997, #7692. Demonstration and development, accessed 2/20/2019 Transatlantic cable, accessed 2/20/2019 Telecommunications employees and establishments, County Business Patterns, NAICS 517 Telecommunications revenues, Economic Census, NAICS 517     Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member Gain access to the complete Premium Podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Learn more here. (Membership doesn’t auto-renew because we don’t like that either. Prior to your membership expiring you’ll receive a friendly reminder email from us.)
April 13, 2019
The Genealogy Gems PodcastEpisode 228 April 2019 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode: More new feature enhancements announced by Listeners Trisha and Betty share their stories with Lisa in person Lisa’s interview with Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist at The Tombstone Tourist, Joy Neighbors, share 3 intriguing discoveries that she’s made while searching cemeteries Military Minutes Man Michael Strauss explores an underused genealogical treasure: women's registration cards on the home front from 1917-1918 during World War I RootsTech Film Festival semi-finalist Sydney Orton shares the touching story behind newly discovered precious audio and video tape, and how she and her sister honor their grandparent’s memories.   NEWS: Newest features announced on April 9, 2019 by Revamped User Profile Page and Improved Messaging system. Ancestry’s theory is that maximizing the features added to the Profile page will increase collaboration and responsiveness. According to Ancestry, if you’re using folders to organize your messages, you probably won’t be seeing the new version of the messaging system for another 6-8 weeks.   Mailbox: In this episode you’ll be hearing from the listener’s themselves. Trisha stopped by to visit with me at RootsTech 2019. Also, at the National Genealogical Society’s conference a few years ago Betty shared an exciting discovery she made by digging into one of my favorite free online resources: Google Books. (Premium Members: watch the Premium video Google Books: The Tool I Use Every Day and download the handout.)   Image below: Trisha Mays visits me at the Genealogy Gems booth at RootsTech 2019.     GEM: Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist   Crista has worked at Ancestry since 2004 and is best known for her Barefoot Genealogist videos at Ancestry’s YouTube channel. In this episode she shares her own personal genealogy journey, and some of the new features announced by at RootsTech 2019. GEM: Joy Neighbors, The Tombstone Tourist If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium Member you met author Joy Neighbors in Premium Podcast episode 169. Joy is a delightful national speaker, author, freelance writer, and avowed Tombstone Tourist. Joy writes the weekly cemetery culture blog, A Grave Interest which you can read at  Her book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide, focuses on how to locate cemetery records, what to do when you get to the cemetery, and how to understand the silent language of the stones. She also shares a few stunning family secrets along the way. In the Premium podcast episode 169 Joy and I discussed cemetery research strategies that every genealogist can use to uncover family history. In this Gem, I’ve invited Joy to share 3 very intriguing and surprising discoveries that she’s made while searching cemeteries which you can also read here. Thanks for supporting this free podcast by using our links!   GEM: Military Minutes with Michael Strauss The Council of National Defense was created by an Act of Congress based on the Army Appropriation Act passed on August 29, 1916. This agency was made up of the Secretaries of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor along with an advisory commission that was later appointed by President Woodrow Wilson on October 11, 1916. Their purpose was to come together and coordinate the industries and resources of the United States for national security and general welfare and to be prepared for war.  Later on, April 21, 1917 a few short weeks after the United States entered World War I the Women's Committee of the Council for National Defense under the national council was created with suffragist Anna Howard Shaw appointed the Chairman.  As the women organized separate divisions and chapters were created in every state and groups that centered on the African-American community. When the division were formed registration, cards were filled out by women all across the United States requesting personal information. The cards not only offer genealogical details, but give a unique prospective into the social history of women in the early 20th century women move one step closer to national suffrage.     Details on the registration cards included: Name and address Age and marital status Color or race of applicant Country of birth and/or citizenship status Time applicant willing to pledge or volunteer for war effort Occupation and where and by whom employed Educational background Personal references for applicant Emergency service where volunteer willing to go and when Work experience or training to aid in the war effort Date and place of registration (wards or precincts in cities) Physical description General remarks Signed and dated registrar and assignment for war effort. An example from one of the registration cards from Grand Rapids is for Constance M. Rourke (1885-1941), born in Cleveland, Ohio.  She was an educator, a noted author, and historian.  Educated at Vassar College in New York she later moved back to Michigan after a brief teaching career, where she worked for the Board of Education in Grand Rapids.  She lived in the same house in town for the rest of her life after publishing several noteworthy books.   The national headquarters of the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense was located at 1814 N Street NW, Washington, DC.  The building was formally the Playhouse Club and theater and owned by Washington socialite Henrietta M. Halliday (widow of Edward C. Halliday) who leased the property to the women's committee for free during World War I.  After the end of World War, I in 1918 the council continued to operate until it was dissolved in 1921.   Several collections from different states are available online to research.  One of the largest online databases comes from the Grand Rapid Public Library in Michigan.  Their database search contains 22,836 individual registration cards that are searchable by name, address, age, and occupation.  The records cover the Michigan Division of Grand Rapids for the Women's Committee for Council of National Defense.  The card indexes offer not only offer genealogical information, but provide educational background, work skills, and employment information.  Online at In Midland, Michigan another set of cards are available at the Midland Center for the Arts has in their collection registration cards that cover their county. This collection consists of 2 boxes that contain 802 total cards for area women residents.  The cards are not digitized, but have been indexed by name along with an excellent finding aid on how to access these records:  Another set of cards that is available comes through the courtesy of the Indiana Genealogical Society.  Less than 50,000 registration cards are known to exist in the state of Indiana. Two counties (Jasper and Miami in Indiana), have known collections of registration cards, but believe other counties in Indiana have these treasures stored away in museums, courthouses, or in other libraries that are  statewide and don't know they exist.  Anyone with more information on locations of more cards should contact them.  An excellent blog post explains help they seek: Some smaller collections of online registration cards are located at the Arkansas State Archives in Little Rock.  It is under Arkansas Women's History Collection and has a finding aid online.  At this time four cards are scanned to give patrons an idea of what to expect when searching this record group.  On their website an excellent blog posting explains their records and as part of this group in Arkansas the Colored Auxiliary Council during World War I.  Both can be searched online:   and to look at the limited number of cards: Another small collection online from the University of Iowa Libraries in Iowa City, IA.  There digitized images are limited in number again to offer patron the opportunity to see what potential the records hold.  They also have scanned some of the correspondence relating to the women who belonged to the local Iowa Division.  To access their finding aids and look at the images: From this list of online sources for the registration cards it appears that most are in the Midwestern part of the United States.  It is true that several states have these available online.  If the geographic area of the country of your interest isn't listed than consider looking at different state archives, libraries, museums, and other historical sites.  Searches in card catalogs, finding aid, and other sources will often be the best way to locate potential collections.  One final location that genealogists should consider comes directly from the National Archives in College Park, MD.  This is known as Archives II.  The records of the Records of the Council of National Defense (CND) which is located in Record Group 62.  Besides the registration cards the Archives has general correspondence, weekly reports of state division activity, and minutes for meeting.  The minutes are digitized on the National Archives website and offer a glimpse into the activities of women nationwide.*:*&f.ancestorNaIds=391&sort=naIdSort%20asc&tabType=image For more information and reading about the Women's Committee for the Council of National Defense; some suggested sources: Blair, Emily Newell. The Woman's Committee United States Council of National Defense: An Interpretative Report. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1920. Online;view=1up;seq=5 Breen, William J.  Uncle Sam at Home :Civilian Mobilization, Wartime Federalism, and the Council of National Defense, 1917-1919. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1984. Clarke, Ida Clyde. American Woman and the World War. New York: D. Appleton & Son, 1918. Online Van Orsdal, Anita Anthony. “There shall be no woman slackers" The Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense and Social Welfare Activism as Home Defense, 1917-1919. 2016. Michigan State University, PhD dissertation. file:///C:/Users/Michael/Downloads/AnthonyVanOrsdal_grad.msu_0128D_14489.pdf   TECH GEM: Backup Your Computer with Backblaze Computer backup is a critical part of your genealogy research plan. Visit   GEM: Let Me Call You Sweetheart through the Generations Sydney Orton fell in love with family history and started her research when she was 11 years old. Now at 19 years old, she is even more passionate about genealogy! I discovered Sydney one day on social media when I saw a short video she posted with her sister. Turns out she had entered the video in this year’s RootsTech Film Fest. While the video didn’t win, it won my heart because it featured an audio recording from long ago that her grandpa made for her Grandma. Because the audio from the film is so wonderful just on it’s own, I asked Sydney if I could share it with you here on the show, and she graciously agreed.   The Story Behind the Song Sydney explains: “My Grandpa and my Grandma were in love when he left to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints in Australia. They were not yet engaged, but they planned to marry each other when he came back after two years. During the months he was gone, Grandpa sent Grandma gifts like a boomerang, a stuffed Koala bear toy, and photo prints. For her birthday, Grandpa sent her audio tapes of him singing love songs, while he played the guitar. For my 14th birthday, Grandpa gave me his guitar. It was about 50 years old and I loved it. Grandpa passed away suddenly in the fall of 2017. A few days after, my Dad was going through Grandpa’s computer and found the audio. Grandpa must’ve converted it a few years ago. It was such a special experience to listen to him sing. A few months later, Grandma decided to move and she hosted a garage sale. My uncle Austin looked through the items and pulled out an unmarked, dinged up, video tape. He felt like he should take it home, so he did. He searched for a VCR player for hours before he found one. Then, he discovered what the tape contained. Footage of my Grandparents and their family! No one knew it existed. The video recorder belonged to my great grandparents, but they let their son and daughter-in-law borrow it occasionally. It was colorized, but silent, and it was beautiful. Grandma and Grandpa had a special kind of love. The kind you see in classic 1930s Hollywood movies. The kind where you never doubt that they were meant for each other. My uncle showed the rest of our family the footage during our last reunion. My aunts and uncles saw video of themselves as children for the first time! I saw my grandparents raise my Dad. It was such a gift. For Christmas, I wanted to give my Grandma something special. So, I worked with my sister to put together a video compiling the audio from Grandpa’s mission and the silent footage my uncle found. My sister learned to play the chords of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” on Grandpa’s guitar because I couldn’t figure it out. She has a knack for just hearing music and playing it right. Together, we sang a duet with the recording from Grandpa. I mixed together the audio and edited the footage into one whole video. The video was not completed in time for Christmas, but I did finish it in time to enter the RootsTech Film Fest where it made it to the semi-finalist round. The video was imperfect, but it was just right for its purpose. And that purpose was to make my Grandma smile. I was away at college when I wanted my Grandma to see it. So my Mom went over to Grandma’s house and facetimed me while they watched it. Grandma said to me after, “I was at dinner tonight and someone was playing the piano. I listened to the music and I tried to remember what it was like to dance with Steve.” Together, we shared tears and laughter as we remembered my Grandpa, Steve Orton. I am forever grateful for the technology that made the video possible.” Follow Sydney on Twitter:  @genealogy_gal Visit Sydney’s website:   Get MORE Genealogy Gems with the Ad-Free Premium Podcast 1 Year Membership Featuring: Premium Podcast Audio Archive (150+ episodes) Now over 50 Premium videos! New content added monthly 12 months of access No auto-renewal (you decide!)  Become a Member   Attention Genealogy Gems Podcast App Users: Don’t miss the Bonus Content in your app for this episode! Get the App Here Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Genealogy Gems earns from qualifying purchases you make when clicking from the links we provide. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but it helps support our free blog and podcast. Thank you!
March 14, 2019
News: Major Announcements Made at RootsTech 2019 Ancestry Announcements: Historical records: Ancestry just released over 5 million Mexico Catholic records and 1 million new France Census and Birth, Marriage, Death records and have several U.S. statewide projects underway, from New York to Hawaii. They also released US WWII Draft Cards from seven states. By early next year, the full set of WWII Draft Cards – all 33 million — will be exclusively available on Ancestry and Fold3. MyTreeTags™:“MyTreeTags™ allows you to add tags to people in your family tree to indicate whether your research on them is confirmed or verified, or to record personal details, like “never married.” You can also create your own custom tags to note that a person immigrated from Denmark or worked as a blacksmith. You can even use filters as you search your tree to see everyone with the same tag.  MyTreeTags™ is one way we can help you save time and enrich your ancestor profile.” You can join the MyTreeTags™ and New & Improved DNA Matches beta at New & Improved DNA Matches: “We have redesigned the DNA Matches experience to help you make more discoveries, faster. Now you can easily sort, group and view your DNA Matches any way you’d like.  New features include color coding and custom labeling offering you more control over how you group and view the matches, quicker identification of your newest matches and new ways to filter your matches. ThruLines™: “ThruLines™ shows you the common ancestors who likely connect you to your DNA Matches—and gives you a clear and simple view of how you’re all related.  When you link your public or private searchable family tree to your AncestryDNA results, new chapters of your family story may be revealed. ThruLines™ will roll out gradually to all customers who qualify beginning today.” Source:   MyHeritage Announcements: AutoClusters“A new genetic genealogy tool that groups together DNA Matches that likely descend from common ancestors in a compelling visual chart. This easy-to-use tool helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as numerous individuals, and gain insights about branches in your family tree.” DNA Quest Now Accepting Applications“In March 2018 we launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative in which we pledged to donate 15,000 DNA kits to adoptees and those seeking to reunite with family members who were placed for adoption. Within a few months, all the DNA kits we allocated for this initiative were sent out. Applicants opened up to us to share their emotional stories of searching, their hopes for future reunions, and the sense of belonging they felt thanks to their participation in DNA Quest…Following the success of the initiative, we have decided now to extend DNA Quest and donate 5,000 additional MyHeritage DNA kits, for free, to eligible participants.” Digitizing of Israeli Cemeteries Completed  MyHeritage has completed a 5-year project of digitizing every cemetery in Israel. It is now the first country in the world to have almost all of its gravestones preserved and searchable online, with images, locations, and fully transcribed records. They’ve put up all this content for free, too. FamilySearch and MyHeritage Tree Sync (LDS members only) Geni GEDCOM Import “We are pleased to announce the return of the GEDCOM Import feature to Geni! This has been one of the most requested features on Geni and we’re excited to finally make it available to everyone. GEDCOM is a standard file format used to save, transfer, and transport family tree information. Long-time users may recall that Geni previously allowed users to start a tree using their GEDCOM files, however we disabled this feature in 2011 to avoid duplication of profiles in the World Family Tree. Our new and improved importer has been rewritten to import a few generations at a time, continuing only on branches where there are no matches to existing profiles on Geni.” “You can now import a GEDCOM file as a new tree, a new branch if you already have a tree, or onto any existing profile on which you have full permissions to edit and add onto. No longer will you need to endure the slow process of adding each individual one at a time to the tree. Now anyone can quickly add trees which didn’t exist before on Geni, saving you valuable time and allowing you to focus instead on new research.” The Theory of Family Relativity™  “This unprecedented feature helps you make the most of your DNA Matches by incorporating genealogical information from all our collections of nearly 10 billion historical records and family tree profiles, to offer theories on how you and your DNA Matches might be related. If you’ve taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded your DNA results to MyHeritage, this revolutionary technology may offer astounding new information on your family connections.”   GEM: Digging Deep into the Theory of Family Relativity™ with Ran Snir Ran Snir  is the product manager responsible for MyHeritage DNA products. He leads a really talented team of developers and engineers and designers to create and optimize DNA users entire journey. He led the development of the Chromosome browser for Shared DNA Segments feature at MyHeritage DNA, from concept to production and launch.
February 12, 2019
Welcome my friend to the podcast where we take joy in the discovery of your family’s history! This is Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #226 and in today’s show we’ll cover research strategies and new resources that will help you find your way, plus I’ve got a tech tip and a fascinating bit of military genealogy for you.   GEM: They Shall Not Grow OldThere are so many things I want to cover every month, but I try really hard to sift through it all and bring you the best of the best, the genealogy gems. And I LOVE when you bring me Gems! Just like Betty did recently. Betty is taking my online course at Family Tree University this month called Google Earth for Genealogy which I told you about in our weekly newsletter. You’re all signed up for that right? Well Betty was so excited about something she found that she wrote the following on our course discussion board. She says: “My husband and I just saw the movie "They Shall Not Grow Old" about the soldiers in WWI. We saw it in 3-D, which was amazing! The whole movie is remastered, colorized video and audio from the newsreels and also the soldiers' interviews in the 1960's and 70's. The director, Peter Jackson, introduces the movie and then, the best part is after the show.” I saw her message at about 8:00 that night, and I immediately grabbed Bill and jumped in the car and for the 9:30 pm showing.  I couldn't agree more that it was spectacular. From Betty: “When I read that you went straight to the movie, I almost cried I was so happy!  I knew you would like the last 1/2 hour the best.  When Peter Jackson talked about everyone finding out about the history of their family, I was so excited!  Wasn't it amazing what they could do with old video, still shots, cartoons, and audio interviews?   It has so much potential for genealogists. The most important thing is to gather the information and digitize the videos we already have.  In the future, maybe the technology will be more accessible to us, non-professional family historians.  What a treasure that movie was!  I hope it inspires more people to do the same with other aspects of WWI or other historical subjects.”     GEM: The History of Baby Clothes Valentine’s Day brings to mind visions of cupid, a baby dressed only in a nappy shooting arrows of love at unsuspecting couples. While this little cherub celebrates the holiday au natural, let’s take some time to talk about the fashion statements the babies in our family tree have made through the centuries. To help us visualize the togs those tots wore we could turn to our grandmother’s photo albums, but there we may find a surprise: lots of photos of female ancestors and surprisingly fewer of the males. Why is that? Allison DePrey Singleton, Librarian at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center unravels the mystery and stitches together a delightful history of baby clothing. Read more here from Allison on baby clothes.  Sources: Baumgarten, Linda. What clothes reveal: the language of clothing in colonial and federal America: the Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. Calvert, Karin Lee Fishbeck. Children in the house: the material culture of early childhood, 1600-1900. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992. F., José Blanco, Mary D. Doering, Patricia Hunt-Hurst, and Heather Vaughan Lee. Clothing and fashion: American fashion from head to toe. Vol. 1-3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2016. Hiner, N. Ray., and Joseph M. Hawes. Growing up in America: children in historical perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985. Paoletti, Jo B. "Clothing and Gender in America: Children's Fashions, 1890-1920." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 13, no. 1 (1987): 136-43. doi:10.1086/494390. Paoletti, Jo Barraclough. Pink and blue: telling the boys from the girls in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. "When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?" Accessed January 10, 2017.   MAILBOX:Mary Lovell Swetnam, Special Collections Librarian Virginia Beach Public wrote me to tell us all about a new online resource. “I was able to determine that hundreds of records of enslaved persons were not included in either of the two previous abstracts of the Overwharton Parish Register. They have now been abstracted and are available free on our site. Please see the link below. I have also included a copy of the explanatory material for the project here.”   Dana wrote in with one purpose in mind: to share her genealogy happy dance with us. And I think that’s an awesome reason to write! Email or leave a voice mail at (925) 272-4021 and share your genealogy happy dance with me! This free podcast is sponsored by:     GEM: Scottish GenealogyAmanda Epperson PhD shares 3 strategies for finding and ancestor in Scottish records. Read Amanda's article: 3 Strategies for Finding an Ancestor in Scottish Records Amanda Epperson is the author of the book The Family Tree Scottish Genealogy Guide. Since completing her Ph.D. in history from the University of Glasgow in 2003, Amanda has taught history at the college level, researched and edited family histories, most recently for, and written articles for a variety of publications including Family Tree Magazine and Your Genealogy Today.  Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning MemberGain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details. Learn more here     This free podcast is sponsored by:   TECH GEM: Backblaze’s Locate My ComputerBackblaze executive Yev Pusin explains a little known feature that just might get you out of a jam! Learn more about Backblaze computer cloud backup and get your computer backed up today at Learn more: Premium Members can watch Your Guide to Cloud Backup. (Log in required)   GEM: Military Minutes with Michael Strauss Deciphering Draft Registration CardsWe are revisiting Draft Registrations for both World War I and World War II. You will recall that this was the subject of our first "Military Minutes" together; since this aired several listeners have had questions and comments regarding the numbering on the cards, draft classifications, and how to dig deeper into other records of the Selective Service System whose office was responsible for the registering of all the men during both wars.   Click the images below to see all of the draft registration documents Michael discusses in this episode:   GEM: Profile America – America’s First Hospital Monday, February 11th. Among his very many achievements, Benjamin Franklin played a leading role in the founding of America’s first hospital. Together with Dr. Thomas Bond, he obtained a charter for a hospital to serve the poor, sick and insane in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Hospital opened on this date in 1752 in a converted house. Sources: Joseph Nathan Kane, Kane’s Famous First Facts, Fifth Edition, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY 1997, 4868 Hospitals and employment, County Business Patterns, NAICS 622   Hospital revenue, Economic Census, NAICS 622   Get the free weekly Genealogy Gems newsletter here.
January 10, 2019
with Lisa Louise Cooke GEM: A Conversation with Kenyatta D. Berry (Genealogy Roadshow) Get ready for a fun and inspiring start to your new genealogy year. I’m not going to lecture you about how to get organized and all that – you get enough of that New Year banter other places. Today I’m going to bring you a talented lady who’s a sharp genealogist and just happens to be one of the hosts of the television series Genealogy Road show., Kenyatta Berry. I had the pleasure of working with Kenyatta Berry last summer when we filmed a webinar together at the FGS national conference. She was beaming from ear to ear about the book she was working on, and I encouraged her get in touch with me when it was done so we could talk about it here on the show. Well, the book turned out to be a beauty: it’s called The Family Tree Toolkit. It’s a great overview for those new to genealogy, and  a quick reference manual for more experienced genealogists with all of its charts and resource lists. Kenyatta asked me to moderate her Dallas book tour event. In December of 2018 we met up at the Dallas main library in downtown Dallas for An Evening with Kenyatta. This was a wonderful opportunity to not only spend the evening with her and a room full of dedicated genealogists, but also to record it all and bring it you! In today’s episode, Kenyatta Berry shares how she caught the genealogy bug, busting brick walls, her thoughts on DNA, and of course some of the most memorable experiences on the Genealogy Roadshow. Kenyatta Berry’s book The Family Tree Toolkit is available here. If you enjoyed this episode and want to get a copy of Kenyatta’s book, we appreciate when you use our link (above). This financially supports us at no extra cost to you, helping us to bring this free podcast to you each month. Thank you! GEM: A Family History Discovery in Home Movies I made an amazing discovery this week thanks to my guest Dr. David Haas from episode 223. As you’ll recall David shared his family’s history of making home movies, and the hours of old film footage dating all the way back to the 1920s that he had restored and digitized. His story inspired me to start digging through my closets and I found the cannisters of 8mm film that I had converted to VHS back in the 1990s.  The problem with that first conversion is that 1) VHS is completely obsolete. And 2) the film which dated back to the 1960s was converted in its deteriorated state. It was washed out and grainy making it hard to see everything. So, in December I sent those original films off to the same company that David used – Video Conversion Experts in Chandler, AZ. Right after the new year the fully restored and digitized files arrived on my doorstep along with the original films. The results are jaw-dropping. The film is gorgeous color just like David’s were, clear as the first day they were taken back in the ‘60s, and now finally in a digital format that I can use for all kinds of projects and sharing. But here’s the kicker, in reviewing them I made a startling discovery. About 20 minutes into the film my great grandfather came on the screen. This is the only known film of him in existence, and I was floored that I hadn’t spotted him before. But the VHS was so washed out it wasn’t obvious. Now I see him smiling and standing with his son (my grandfather) and his son (my uncle). Three generations of Burkett men, the oldest having been born in 1880 – and all there on film for me to see. Left to right: My uncle, my great grandfather, and my grandfather c. 1962. View the restored video on my Instagram here I love finding genealogical documents but I would take moving images of my ancestors any day of the week over a document. It just goes to prove that you can never say never, that at any given moment something can surface that you never thought possible. Thank you to Video Conversion Experts! They did a phenomenal job, but that’s not surprising because they are one of the top labs in the country. They restore video for the movie and TV industry too. They offer varying levels of restoration. It’s not cheap, but if you need professional restoration it’s an investment you won’t regret. I certainly don’t. We don’t have a promo code with Video Conversion Experts but be sure and tell them you heard about them here on the podcast and sign up for their sale emails. In fact, we received this comment on the episode from Jodi. She writes: The episode about home movies and David Haas was wonderful. I had also found some old film footage when my parents moved back in 2011. I debated about getting them transferred to digital because of the price. But my father was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I am SO glad that I spent the money to get the project done. He was able to see the old films of his family and explain to me who some of the people were. What a gift! Thank you for encouraging people to do this and sharing all of your knowledge with us so graciously. Here’s a link to her old family videos: I took a look at Jodi’s videos, and they’re wonderful. She did a tremendous job with the documentation in the video descriptions. Absolutely brilliant the way she included the linked time stamps to the various videos that she had posted to YouTube. She really took to heart our follow up conversation in episode 224 about how to share the videos once you digitize them. Larsen Digital Saves Money and Handles a Variety of Media Yesterday I received a batch of VHS tapes that Larsen Digital converted for me. I’ve known Kristen Larsen for several years. They offer an excellent affordable option that is safe, reliable and great quality. They also really stand out because they can pretty much convert anything you have. I sent them VHS, Mini DVs and even a reel of audio tape and some cassettes of family interviews. They handled all of it affordably and Kristin and her team communicate with you along the way, so you can rest easy that all your precious memories is in good hands. I have about a zillion family history projects I want to do now that I have these audio interviews in an mp3 digital format. My first plan is to create some Animoto videos where I can drag and drop the audio in with the scanned photos that they describe. You can contact Larsen Digital at  Use the promo code GENGEM so you can get 15% off your order. View My Video Find on InstagramHead to (image right) to see the restored video of my great grandfather. Instagram is my favorite social media platform and one that I post to personally nearly every day. You can download the app to your phone for free from your app store and then just search for Lisa Louise Cooke in the app and tap follow. I post genealogy tips and ideas, behind the scenes and stuff about me and my family. It’s a lot of fun!   More with Kenyatta Berry We’re going to have a lot of fun this year! In the next Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode (#167). Premium members will hear the Q&A we did with Kenyatta after the interview was over. If you’re not a member yet, you can fix that today at
December 11, 2018
Lisa’s Recent Travels Swedish Genealogical Society in Edina, MN and a side trip to Winthrop, MN. Above: Speaking at the Swedish Genealogical Society   Above: Bill (left) with his new found Larson cousin.  Oslo Norway – MyHeritage Above: Speaking at the MyHeritage conference in Oslo, Norway The Viking Ship Museum with my genealogy crew at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway Read Are You Part Viking? By Anna Swayne A Visit to Sweden  Above: Lacey in Gothenburg, Sweden Non-Genealogical Recommended Reading: Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Howard Schubiner   Mailbox High school teacher Lindsey called in to share an unexpected occurrence of genealogy serendipity. Here the original Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 185 where George Ella Lyon reads her poem. Read more about and watch the video I created for Tom Boyer of his Where I’m From Poem is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. Give the gift of story with Storyworth StoryWorth gives your loved ones a reason to spend time with their favorite memories and share them with you giving you opportunities to become closer, even when you live far apart. It’s an easy and thoughtful gift even at the last minute. Get $20 off by visiting when you subscribe. Visit Followup on GGP 223 I’m organizing and digitizing my Grandmother’s old home movies with Video Conversion Experts. I told my uncle about it and now he’s sending me the rest of his old home movies! Video Conversion Experts is the company that Dr. Haas used to convert his films. They did an exceptional job in post production restoration, and are known for this work in the film industry. They are the ideal company to go with if you want to invest in the highest quality of restoration.  They are currently running a terrific 35% off sale now through 12/21/18.  I’m digitizing my family’s High 8 home movie tapes with Larsen Digital. The list of mediums that they can digitize is one of the most extensive I've seen. They are even able to digitize the unmarked audio tape that I found among my grandmother's hoem movies. Kristin and her team are well known in the genealogy community and are based in Utah. They have graciously extended a 15% off to my listeners. Use the coupon code: GenGem Discount is valid on: video tapes, movie film, audio reels, audio tapes, slides, negatives, photos & specialty film. Your feedback on episode 223 On Instagram from Erin: "I loved this episode Lisa! Anna’s song is so beautiful too! I learned a lot and the way you shared this story was wonderful. A favorite gem for sure." From Greg in New Zealand: "I’m loving the new narrative/profile episodes and had noticed the evolving voice and style in GGP 223. You and your team are wonderful writers...David Haas’ story reminded me of my good friend Mark Holtze. An editor in Toronto, Mark has digitised all of his grandfathers’ 16mm vacation films from across Canada in the 50s, 60s and 70s. They are brilliantly presented. Mark is very talented. I think they’re worth sharing with your listeners. I don’t know Mark’s connection to this posting specifically but it’s an amazing one on his playlist." I couldn't agree more! Here's the description of the video: A number of 8mm film reels were purchased at a Flea Market in New York City for $10. They ended up being home movies taken in the late 40's and 50's. How they ended up at a Flea Market in Manhattan all those years later is one thing, but most importantly was getting the films reconnected with the family. ...60 years later....   Thank you to our sponsor: I've used RootsMagic for years and love it. You will too!   Organizing the videos you find online After listening to episode 223, Kate was inspired to head to YouTube in search of videos that illustrate her memories. She writes: “I’ve been trying to set up a collection of my memories on you tube. Do you have any thoughts on to put this together? Is it possible to add clips and not full videos?” My suggestions: YouTube: Organize with playlists You can use Playlists to group the videos you find by topic. You could create playlists for locations, timeframes, people and so on. Sign in with your free Google account which will give you access to your YouTube “channel.” When you find a video, under the title of the video click the plus sign that says “Add to”. Select a playlist from the playlists listed in the dropdown menu. These are playlists you have already created in your account. If it’s a long list, use the search box to search for a playlist title. Or create a new Playlist by clicking “Create New Playlist” at the bottom of the menu. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't give you a way to add your own notes. And you can't create clips of videos (at least not as of this writing), but I do know that when you share a video you can mark that it start at a point in the video that you select. Which brings me to my next suggestion… Pinterest: Organize Videos into boards on Pinterest If you would like to have even more control over organizing the videos that you find, and you want to be able to add your own notes and memories, consider using Pinterest. In your free Pinterest account you can create as many boards as you want. Create a board for each topic (much like with the Playlists I suggested previously) and save YouTube videos to them. And of course, you can save any other online content "memories" that you find along with them if you want. The beauty of pinning is that you can add your own notes and memories, plus you can set the video to begin at any point within the video that you want. Simply click “Share” under the video in YouTube, and click to check the box for “Start at.” Next, click on the player timeline that runs across the bottom of the video on the spot where you want the video to begin playing. Finally, click the Pinterest icon in the Share area to pin it to your Pinterest board of choice.   Profile America: TV Tech Thursday, December 13th. The important holiday business of viewing such classics as “It's A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” on home TVs owes much to a technological advance this month 80 years ago. In December 1938, Russian-American engineer Vladimir Zworykin was awarded two patents for cathode ray tubes. One was for the iconoscope to capture video images. The other was for the kinescope, which displayed television and computer monitor images for decades until the advent of flat panel screens. Whatever the ills of TV programming, obviously the American people consider it an appliance for a wonderful life. More than 98 percent of American households own at least one set, a percentage that has held steady for years and across all age groups.
November 25, 2018
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 223 November 2018 with Lisa Louise Cooke   Bit Players in Someone Else’s Show If you happen to catch an old episode of the TV Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you may be surprised to spot Ben Affleck dribbling down a basketball court in the not so highly acclaimed role of Basketball Player #10.     Or how about funny man Jack Black of School of Rock fame in the walk-on part of “Taxi Driver” on the iconic 1980s comedy The Golden Girls.   Yep, at some point we are ALL bit players in somebody else’s show. And that is even more true with old home movies.   Your friends, your neighbors and even perfect strangers have likely at some point captured you or someone in your family in one of their own old home movies. And the same is true for your ancestors. As long as film has been around, the chances of someone in your family tree appearing in someone else’s videos at some point in time is actually quite high.   And think about it, when film – or moving pictures - came into being right around 1895, it had the capability of capturing someone born as early as even 1800. That’s a lot of potential generations of your family!   David Haas MD knows this better than most folks. he has experienced first-hand that any one of us may find ourselves, quite by surprise, as the keeper or even the Archivist of film footage that connects to potentially hundreds if not thousands of other people and families. And there’s a very good possibility that yours is one of those families.   Your family could very well indeed be one that has been a bit player in somebody else’s film, and you didn’t even know it. But that’s OK, because thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to find the celluloid that once lay sleeping in a stranger’s attic.    A Listener's Lead The best place to start our story is how I came to know David Haas.   I’ve been encouraging you my listeners through this podcast, my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and my in-person lectures to turn to online video, and specifically YouTube in search of your family. Long time listener Debby Warner Anderson contacted me to let me know that she had followed my suggestion with dramatic results. She wrote:   “I had interviewed my Dad to get details of his memories and found the 2 YouTube links about the 1945 Macy's Parade that my father went to and the video about W.C. Handy who my Dad remembered seeing. My Dad was so tickled to see the YouTube videos to go with his memories. It gave my family members and my son a real glimpse in to my Dad's memories.  Thank-you for the suggestions!”   I clicked the link she shared to an article that she wrote on her blog called Debby’s Family Genealogy. The article called Recording a Family Thanksgiving Tradition described the find in detail and included the video, called Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade – 1945. David Haas MD had uploaded this video to YouTube, and it’s one of hundreds on his YouTube channel under his name David Haas MD. You need only click it and watch just a few moments to be mesmerized. The video, comprised of old home movies, is striking in it’s color quality, and you instantly feel yourself falling back in time, pulled there even further by the haunting music that serves as the backdrop to this silent film.   Macy's parade: I was so taken by how this video, sitting out there for free on YouTube, fit so beautifully into her family history, helping to bring it just a bit more into focus.   I sat and watched the Macy’s Day parade video all the way through. It was so clear that it was carefully and thoughtfully restored and shared, and that it must have come from someone else’s personal home movie collection.   Clicking on the name of the person who uploaded any video on YouTube will bring you to their YouTube channel. Anyone can have a free YouTube channel by simply signing in with a free Google account and uploading a video. It’s called Creators Studio, and these days it sports an impressive collection of tools that anyone can use to create, enhance and share videos.   Many channels will have only one or maybe a handful of videos. This is not the case with David’s channel. It’s difficult to scroll down the page far enough to get to the end of the impressive video list. Where did all these home movies come from? What motivated him to invest the time to make the available on YouTube?   Thank you to our sponsor: Literally hundreds of people appear in the 4 ½ minute Macy's Parade (1945) film: the folks in the parade, the people lining the streets and even the people watching from the fire escapes of the surrounding buildings.   The film was created by William G Whitman Sr. A veteran of World War I, he made his way after the war as a bit of a jack of all trades, and the path eventually got the ball rolling that led to the home movies.   William G Whitman, Sr. was David’s grandfather on his mother’s side. William, his wife Catherine,  and their 10 year old daughter Catherine who is David’s mother can be found in the 1930 census  living in Brooklyn. At that time William says he’s a manager of a store. By 1940 he has followed his passion and is proudly declaring he works in Photographic retail as a photo finisher.    (Whitman family in the 1940 US Federal Census, Brooklyn, NY) But it was as far back as the year that the Great Depression hit, 1929 that William began capturing his growing family on film. In those early movies David’s mother, Catherine, was just 9 years old. David’s collection of films span from this time period all the way through the mid-1970s.   In the earliest of the home movies which you can see on David’s YouTube channel, William Whitman did what most of us do, take home movies of the people and things we love the most. In those films, David’s mom clearly relishes being in front of her father’s camera. She worshiped her father, who was a bit of a big kid himself.   David says: “My mother always remembered things in a sunny way…it’s very much like the pictures we see on the internet, where people tend to post the most rosy possible pictures.  Often times, I think it’s the same with the home movies. You really have to dig deeper to kind of get the whole story.”   This phenomenon of capturing and sharing the rosiest version of ourselves is nothing new. And as genealogists, we are in the perfect position to leverage old movies like these and dig deeper for the rest of the story. Story is a running theme through William Whitman’s films. You only need to watch a few to see what a keen eye for composition and telling stories that he had. He developed his skill while shooting weddings professionally.   William got his whole family into the act of shooting, developing and editing his films. After his daughter Catherine married David’s father, he too joined in. William passed his skills and knowledge onto his son-in-law. He soon started shooting film of his own further adding to the collection of home movies.   As with so many genealogical tales, great treasure troves like these films are often found with three part deep digging and one part luck. In David’s case, the path to the treasure starts with the family’s refrigerator. His father used to project the movies onto the white kitchen refrigerator. Many years later, after his parents passed away, he found his father’s movies. But it wasn’t until his Aunt Markie mentioned that there were much older 16mm movies in existence dating back to the 1920s that the rest of the collection was discovered in the basement. David set to work getting them digitized.   David not only discovered that these movies were a priceless find for his own family, he soon realized that they held a vast amount of treasure for many other families in a wide variety of locations. “It really was about the people…they needed to be shared!” He felt a moral obligation to do so, and it soon turned into an obsession.   The Gold Waiting to be Found And that’s the gold here! If we are all bit players in everybody else’s show, and this show was happening in so many different locations, then there are a lot of bit players out there waiting to be found by their families too, right there in David’s films. While the films of course covered Brooklyn where David’s family lived, they branch out to Queens NY, Ventner NJ, and as far away as San Francisco.   The genealogical value of old home movies is immense. If as researchers we can occasionally shift our focus from ancestors' names to locations, we could very possibly hit pay dirt and find old films online that include our family.    It was in the town of Suffern, NY that David’s father shot quite a bit of footage, but there’s plenty to be had in many different locations. Once he posted them on YouTube the response was swift.   “Our Suffern - A Remembrance Through Home Movies”.   (This compilation of footage was created to commemorate the 40th Reunion of the Suffern High School Class of 1975. It is 41 minutes in length and premiered on October 3, 2015 at the historic Lafayette Theatre in downtown Suffern, NY.)   The color video Haas family, Mickey Mantle's 500th Home Run, Yankee Stadium 1967 on David’s YouTube channel garnered dozens of comments from grateful viewers.   His father filmed elements of the game that the news didn’t which viewers appreciated. And some had been at that very game.     We’re Not Getting Any Younger David stresses that timeliness is really important when it comes to sharing old home movies like these. “People aren’t getting any younger” he says, and “Others may have insights you may miss.” One connection made through sharing the movies on YouTube, that just barely missed making a personal connection, revolved around David’s mother’s younger sister, his aunt Margaret Whitman. She lived in  Brooklyn in the 1930-1940s, and there are movies of “Markie” with her friends. One film from the 1930s included her good friend Charlie Russell. A few years ago, David received a message from a Charlie after he saw one of the videos! Sadly, he made the connection literally a week after Markie passed away at the age of 89. “If I could have made this connection 6 months earlier it would have been so wonderful for both of them. By then all their other friends had passed away.”     Another viewer who was touched by the films was a woman who saw herself walking around the Suffern swimming pool with her mother. It was priceless to her since her parents later died in an airplane crash and she had few photos of them.   David tells another story of connection: “There was a little league game that my father filmed in Suffern, and there was a young boy who struck out, and as he was walking off and one of the coaches kind of patted him on the butt, sort of saying “good try, good job”, and then the game was over and they were all kind of hugging each other because they won the game. And this young boy ended up seeing the film now, I guess 50 years later. His father had passed away not long after that little league game, and here he was seeing his father who was his coach, encouraging him after he struck out. And again, he said he couldn’t speak for hours. It was just amazing.”   Another woman even found her parents in one of the videos on Coney Island where they ran a pony ride with her grandfather!   David’s willingness to share his family’s treasure trove of home movies put him in a unique and unexpected position to touch many people’s lives in truly meaningful ways. The only difference between him and many others who have even just a few spools of film is that he took action to share them. Along the way, he learned some important lessons about what makes film so distinct in its value, and it’s those unique characteristic that told him more about his own family. He says, “What I’ve learned is that photographs are powerful, but there’s nothing like moving images”.    David’s father had captured the moments of other people’s lives while filming his own. David didn’t use to be interested in genealogy. His father, however, was obsessed with it. But now, David finds that he is grateful to be able to pull the genealogy back out and reconstruct who the people are in the movies.   It’s a word so often associated with genealogy – obsessed. David’s father became obsessed with it and now David has become obsessed with processing and making available his cache of his father’s and grandfather’s home movies. This has in turn gloriously ensnared him in the world of genealogy.   David hopes by sharing his story of how these videos have impacted and continue to impact the lives of strangers from around the world, it will inspire all of us who have a few reels of old family movies to make it a priority to get them digitized and make them available. Our families and other unknown families are counting on us.   “One thing that I’m really passionate about is that people who have home movies, if they can, they should really do their best to get them digitized” He continues, “Having gone through the experience, and it’s really been transformative, I feel very passionate about getting my wife’s movies, her family’s movies or her father when he was arrived, getting these converted and sharing these with my wife’s family. So that they can really forever see these movies and share them with their children, so that they can be passed down for generations.”  Thank you to our sponsor: is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   The process: Digitize, Enhance and Share We’ve all seen the commercial where they peer into the camera and aske “what’s in your wallet”. Our question today is “what’s in your closet”. I’ve looked through my closets and I have several home movies my grandmother shot on 8mm film. I also have a box full of VHS tapes from back when Bill and I got our first video camera right after we got married in the 1980s.   The process for digitizing and sharing your home movies can appear daunting at first glance. That’s why I asked David Haas MD to share some specifics about his project so that you can learn what you need to consider and some tips from somebody who’s already been through this in a big way.   Although David’s collection of film runs about 10 hours, has several hundred videos because he kept them short – about 4 minutes long each. This is a smart strategy because of the attention span of YouTube viewers. It’s also about the length of a song, which makes setting them to music easier.   David went the extra mile and created a website where he makes available indexes of all the videos which can be searched by location, year and person. David really thought about the potential value of these films and set up a system for making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. In a case like his where he has such a volume of these 3-5 minute videos, this is a huge help to other researchers. But don’t worry if having your own website isn’t in your wheelhouse. YouTube has a powerful search engine, and it’s called Google. You can make your videos very easily searchable by simply include the details that pertain to a particular video in the video description that appears below the video on YouTube.   Since your videos will be on your YouTube channel, researchers be able to simply go to your channel’s home page and type a name, place event or some other set of keywords in your channel’s search box. Google will search just your channel and retrieve only the videos that match the search terms. If you want to see this in action, go to my YouTube channel at  or David’s channel and try a search.    Digitizing Your Home Movies The first step is to get the movies digitized. It can be a pretty scary thought to send your precious movies off to some stranger. David considers his videos his “most priceless possession.” Through a bit of trial and error, David landed with a company who could do the job. He first tried a local place but ultimately went with Video Conversion Experts in Chandler AZ. They did an excellent job and cleaned them up and optimized the film. He recommends overnighting your films so that you can control when they arrive. You can receive both hard drives and DVDs of the digitized movies.   Sharing Your Home Movies on YouTube At first, David thought he would take the movies to the local library. His daughter Anna convinced him to try editing them with iMovie and then uploading them to YouTube. The first film he edited was called A Drive through Suffern.   Free video editing tools: (Mac) iMovie - (PC) Movie Maker -   Thank goodness for David’s daughter Anna Haas! Just think if these videos had only landed in one physical location like a library versus online. Now another generation of the Haas family has entered the picture to preserve the family’s legacy and touch the lives of so many others. And it’s Anna’s inspiring music that provides the backdrop for the Macy’s Day Parade and several others. Get the song Find Your Home on her album “Crazy Is”   Visit Anna Haas’ website: Anna’s YouTube channel: Anna Haas - "Find Your Home" - Official Music Video:   When you love people, you just can’t justify keeping old home movies to yourself. You can’t in good conscience leave them in dusty boxes stuffed away in the back of closets in risk of deteriorating to dust. For the woman who saw her parents again in the swimming pool video, to the man who felt the affection from a father long gone, and for countless unnamed others the action that David has taken to digitize, preserve and share his home movies has been valuable beyond words.   “Don’t be afraid to do it, don’t hesitate to do it. even if you don’t have the skill set to do it, there are other people who are more than happy to kind of walk you through it and help make it happen. I would be extremely encouraging of everyone to convert their old movies and share them as widely as possible.”   Resources Collection of articles on the topic of video at the Genealogy Gems website   Browse his phenomenal collection of home movies at David’s website. You’ll find inspiration and you might just find an ancestor captured on film. Because we are all bit players in everybody else’s show.
October 17, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #222 with Lisa Louise Cooke In honor of Family History Month, Lisa celebrates YOU! This episode is packed with comments, tips and questions from Genealogy Gems fans. Topics range from podcasting to metal detecting, must-use resources and inspiring genealogy discoveries. You’ll also hear from Kirsty Gray at THE Genealogy Show in the UK. NEWS: INTERNET ARCADE Internet Archive blog post: Over 1,100 New Arcade Machines Added to the Internet Arcade Internet Arcade on the Internet Archive BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a great tip from a fan on an essential resource for those of you with roots in Northern Ireland. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. MAILBOX: A PODCAST SKEPTIC?   Gary recommends Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning! Get access to more than 50 Premium Videos and 160 Premium Podcast episodes. It’s the ultimate ongoing genealogy education! Click here to read more about it. Gary mentions becoming a “happy user of” Evernote who now protects his computer with Backblaze cloud back-up service, enjoys using Google Earth for genealogy and learning more about DNA. Click on these links to start exploring for yourself—and to watch a Google Earth video for free. MAILBOX: CUBAN GENEALOGY PODCAST Cuban Genealogy Podcast MAILBOX: METAL DETECTING FOR GENEALOGY Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Homestead records Premium eLearning members also have access to these video tutorials:   MAILBOX: LOCAL HISTORY BOOK FIND BY ROBIN Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #220 Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage. Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   MAILBOX: CORAL’S FRIDAY RECORD DISCOVERY The Friday record post discoveries appear weekly on the Genealogy Gems website. Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly email with links to these posts, along with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.   MAILBOX: VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS On Florida Memory: Early Auto Registrations, 1905-1917   MAILBOX: GENI.COM QUESTION Tip: The Premium eLearning video “Genealogy Giants: The 4 Top Records Websites” explains the difference between individual and collaborative trees. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   MAILBOX: 3 MILLION GERMAN NAMES Lisa’s post on German WW1 ancestors Tim recommends the Onlineprojekt Gefallenendenkmäler   MAILBOX: TRISHA’S INSPIRING JOURNEY Another Premium eLearning video recommendation (click to see landing page):   MAILBOX: KIRSTY GRAY THE Genealogy Show Kirsty Gray has over 15 years research experience and has her foot in many genealogical doors around the world. Her first involvement in family history came at the tender age of seven years with her maternal grandfather’s tree in hand. Obsessed with her great-grandmother’s maiden name of Sillifant, Kirsty began a surname study on the name in 1999, publishing tri-annual journals on the surname for more than ten years. Founder member and Chair (now Secretary) of the Society for One-Place Studies, Kirsty has two places registered, on the Devon/Cornwall border and is considering another study of a hamlet in Cornwall. In November 2014, Kirsty founded The Surname Society with five other genealogists across the globe and the membership is already close to 500!   PROFILE AMERICA: HOME MAKING   PRODUCTION CREDITSLisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Contributing Editor Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
September 12, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #221 with Lisa Louise Cooke Live from FGS 2018! Lisa chats with a podcast listener, talks about vital records with Shannon Combs-Bennett and welcomes a drop-by guest, Daniel Horowitz of Other episode highlights: Fantastic news from RootsTech; A great new resource from Library & Archives Canada; An update from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard on MyHeritage DNA tools; The long-awaited conclusion of Project Lizzie. LIVE FROM FGS! Lisa records the podcast in the exhibit hall with guest Shannon Combs-Bennett and a live studio audience LIVE MAILBOX: CHATTING WITH JEANNETTE Jeannette from Niagara County Genealogical Society, shown here (left) with Lisa The FGS conference supports the missions and activities of genealogical societies. Learn more about FGS and find a genealogical society near you here. Genealogy Gems supports societies, too! Society memberships and reprintable articles for your newsletters. Go to the Societies dropdown menu on If your society is interested in hosting Lisa Louise Cooke for a seminar, go to the Seminars tab and click Book Lisa. INTERVIEW: SHANNON COMBS-BENNETT ON VITAL RECORDS Learn more about using vital records in your research in the free Genealogy: Family History Made Easy Podcast, episode 4. INTERVIEW: DANIEL HOROWITZ FROM MYHERITAGE As MyHeritage’s Genealogy Expert, Daniel Horowitz provides key contributions in the product development, customer support and public affairs areas. He holds board level positions at the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) among others. Daniel served as teacher and study guide editor for 15 years for the family history project "Searching for My Roots" in Venezuela. Join Daniel Horowitz and Lisa Louise Cooke at MyHeritage LIVE! Who: Daniel Horowitz, Lisa Louise Cooke and MORE great presenters! What: MyHeritage LIVE Where: Oslo, Norway at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel When: November 2-4, 2018 It’s open to anyone who would like to learn more about MyHeritage – including subscribers, DNA customers, those with free basic accounts, and those who haven’t used MyHeritage yet but would like to find out more. Tickets include entry to the Friday night reception, keynote speeches, all conference sessions, lunch and coffee breaks on Saturday and Sunday and entry to the exclusive MyHeritage LIVE party on Saturday night. Now through September 24, register for Early Bird discount price of €75.00. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly email with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals. Click here to subscribe! LIVE MAILBOX: ADRIANNE KEEPS CONNECTED WITH PODCAST How to identify old cars in photographs Savvy tips for identifying old photos: An Australian family on holiday in England Genealogy Gems Premium members may also listen to an interview with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, in Premium Podcast episode 141. She’s the author of Family Photo Detective, a must-have resource for identifying old photographs. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users Link to: If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a short but inspiring story from someone who came to one of my classes and then went and found something cool on YouTube relating to her family’s employment with airline TWA….Don’t miss it! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at NEWS: ROOTSTECH GOES TO LONDON RootsTech will host an event in London from 24–26 October 2019 at the ExCeL London Convention Centre. Registration opens in February 2019. Find out more about RootsTech London 2019 at NEWS: THE “UNCONFERENCE” EXPERIENCE REGISTER TODAY: Genealogy Roots: The “Un-Conference Experience” Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton will share a stage on October 4-5, 2018 at the SeniorExpo in Sandy, Utah. (Psst: You don’t have to be a senior to attend!) Here’s the scoop—and a special registration discount! Who: Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton What: Genealogy Roots: The Un-Conference Experience! at SeniorExpo Where: Mountain America Expo Center (South Towne Expo Center), 9081 S. State St., Sandy, Utah When: October 4-5, 2018, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm   THE ARCHIVE LADY: LIBRARY ARCHIVES CANADA CO LAB The Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) has introduced a brand-new crowd sourcing opportunity for genealogists or anyone interested in records transcription: Co-Lab. The LAC has put a call out for volunteers to be part of a collaborative project to transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using “Co-Lab” and the new “Collection Search”. The more volunteers that participate in this project, the more accessible and usable the digital collection will become for everyone. You can become a contributor in two ways: Take on a “challenge” of images put together by experts at LAC Use the new Collection Search to find materials that matter most to you, then enhance them. Anyone can now contribute to digitized images that are found while doing research. The volunteer must register and create a user account so you can keep track of the records to which you have contributed. Once this free account is established, a volunteer can contribute as much or as little as they would like. The “Challenges” are content put together under a theme. For instance, under the “Challenges” tab on the website you could choose to transcribe the “Correspondence between Sir Robert Borden and Sir Sam Hughes” The theme for this challenge is listed as “military heritage.” Or another “Challenge” someone might choose could be “New France and Indigenous Relations” whose theme is listed as “Aboriginal Heritage.” There are also new “Challenges” being posted to the site, so check back often. Maybe you would like to contribute using Collection Search. The website describes how this tool works: “When you are conducting research using our new search tool and find images, you’ll see that you have the option to enable this image for Co-Lab contributions. After answering just a few short questions, you can enable an image found in Collection Search for Co-Lab use and transcribe/translate/tag/describe to your heart’s content.” There is a short tutorial to get you started and show you the ropes. The launch of Co-Lab also introduces a new image viewer, which allows you to zoom in on different parts of the image or move around the image itself. This tool is useful when transcribing or adding keywords and image tags to describe all the small details. Every image in Co-Lab is subject to review by other members. If something is found to be incorrect or if you find something that is wrong, it can be marked as “Needs Review” for others to take another look and decide what is correct. The best part about this new Library and Archives Canada tool is that every contribution by the volunteers benefits fellow genealogy researchers and improves records access. Every additional tag or translation becomes new metadata and is searchable within 24 hours of the transcriptions or tagging being done. So, if you are like me and are eager to get as much genealogical and historical records online and transcribed, check into The Library and Archives of Canada’s new Co-Lab and Collection Search! DNA WITH DIAHAN SOUTHARD Improvements to MyHeritage DNA GEM: PROJECT LIZZIE CONCLUSION Click here to read Ron’s blog post announcing the satisfying conclusion of Project Lizzie. To learn more about Ron, stop over at, where Ron teaches business people how to tell stories. PROFILE AMERICA: PICTURE THIS PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Contributing Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady, Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
August 9, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #220 with Lisa Louise Cooke   In this episode: Two major upcoming genealogy events—one with an exclusive, meaty tip; Fun travel suggestion from The Archive Lady Melissa Barker: “Archive in a backpack” DNA specificity from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard Finding books about your ancestors’ experiences and Finding your German ancestor’s place of origin. This month’s episode includes two “Blast from the past” segments from the original Genealogy Gems Podcast episodes 19 and 20, digitally remastered with updated show notes.  NEWS: UPCOMING EVENTS Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton will share a stage on October 4-5, 2018 at the SeniorExpo in Sandy, Utah. (Psst: You don’t have to be a senior to attend!) Here’s the scoop—and a special registration discount! Who: Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton What: Genealogy Roots: The Un-Conference Experience! at SeniorExpo Where: Mountain America Expo Center (South Towne Expo Center), 9081 S. State St., Sandy, Utah When: October 4-5, 2018, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm   Join Lisa Louise Cooke at MyHeritage LIVE! Registration is now open for MyHeritage LIVE— its first ever international user conference—the weekend of 2 – 4 November 2018 in Oslo, Norway at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel in the center of Oslo, near the Royal Palace and its magnificent gardens.  It’s open to anyone, from anywhere in the world, who would like to learn more about MyHeritage – including subscribers, DNA customers, those with free basic accounts, and those who haven’t used MyHeritage yet but would like to find out more. Tickets include entry to the Friday night reception, keynote speeches, all conference sessions, lunch and coffee breaks on Saturday and Sunday and entry to the exclusive MyHeritage LIVE party on Saturday night. Now through September 24, you can register at their Early Bird discount price of just €75.00.  BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERS If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is Lisa’s roundup of her favorite “Christmas in August” crafts to make. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. Make these crafts: Pendant heritage necklace from found objects family photo charm bracelet framed ornaments Heritage stocking: (2-part video series with step-by-step instructions on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel)   MAILBOX: THANKS FOR EPISODE 219! Several listeners wrote in to thank Lisa for sharing the compelling stories of Julianne Mangin’s ancestors and her sleuthing process that led to them. Missed it? Click here to listen. The Generations Project: Watch all 3 seasons for free on BYUtv. MAILBOX: TECH TIP AND NEWSLETTER UPDATE Tech Tip: I cover lots of handy little tricks in this class, and I've got a great one to share with you today! Have you ever accidentally closed a browser tab too quickly? Maybe you were following a bread-crumb trail to get to a specific record or a found a great page buried deep in a website. That gut-wrenching moment when you close the browser accidentally has definitely plagued me before. But never fear! Restore that closed tab by pressing the following on your keyboard: Press Ctrl+Shift+T As you keep entering in the command, web pages will continue to open in the reverse-order that they were closed. So even if it wasn't the last page you closed, you can still restore it. You can also right-click on the new tab at the top of your screen and in the pop-up menu select Reopen Closed Tab. Additionally, in order to comply and as a show of good faith, we’ve sent an email to those of you who live in the EU and those who didn't provide a location when you signed up for the newsletter, asking you to reconfirm your newsletter subscription. Please click the opt-in button so that there is no disruption to your subscription to our free newsletter. Don’t receive our newsletter yet? Click here to subscribe!Many of you were affected by new legislation that took effect in the EU on Friday, May 25: the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Though we are a US-based company, we are proud to have followers from around the world, and I want to assure everyone that your information is safe and secure with Genealogy Gems. We have updated our Privacy Policy to reflect that we want to fully comply with these new laws, and you can read our entire Privacy Policy here.   BLAST FROM THE PAST: A LONG LOOK SIDEWAYS Books I’ve found that are about specific locations and experiences that apply to my ancestors: The Kinta Years by Janice Holt Giles (Oklahoma) Tunbridge Wells: I Was Born on the Pantiles by Josephine Butcher (England) Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood by Richard Cobb (England) Rebecca of Blossom Prairie by Maurine Walpole Liles (Texas) Papa's Wife, Papa's Daughter, Mama's Way: A Trilogy by Thyra Ferre Bjorn (Sweden) Anything Can Happen  and Home, and Home Again by George and Helen Papashvily –1940 (immigrant experience)  Places to find old or out of print books: Google Books Your public library Also: consult The Genealogy Gems Book Club: the ultimate genealogy-inspired reading list! Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and     Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   THE ARCHIVE LADY: ARCHIVIST IN A BACKPACK Click here to read her segment and find her go-to supply list (with recommended links!).   GEM: FINDING YOUR GERMAN ANCESTOR’S TOWN OF ORIGIN A little German village can seem like a needle in a haystack when you’re starting with ancestors who made it to the shores of the United States. But once you’ve found that gem, it will open up all kinds of records from their native land, and likely take you back several more generations. There are three important pieces to this ancestral puzzle: the village name, the parish it belonged to and the district or kreis it was part of. Find your relatives in the most recent census and work backwards.  Look for immigration and naturalization clues (such as the year of arrival or whether they had applied for citizenship). Look for naturalization records for ancestors who may have naturalized. The naturalization process created a lot of paperwork, and in that paper work your ancestors were asked for information about where they were born, where they immigrated from, the ship they traveled on, and when they arrived in America. (The more recent the naturalization, the more likely you will find listed the place of birth, date of emigration and the ship on which they sailed.) Most applied for citizenship at one of the nearest county courthouses. Try the free GenWeb website USGenWeb for the county where you think your ancestors applied for citizenship to see what resources they have available. Also, look up the county courthouse online for records and contact information. Declarations of Intent:  The first document filed for citizenship Petitions for Naturalization:  The final papers If you need a little help, read these articles on tracing your German genealogy: Beginning German genealogy: Defining “German” Finding hard-to-find WWI-era German ancestors Brush up on your German border history.   Most recent border changes occurred in 1945 and 1871. Consult a gazetteer at the library or online, and look up the town. This should indicate the parish and Kreis. Here are more articles to help you find German places: 5 expert tips on using Meyers Gazetteer for your German genealogy Map your German ancestors German states in 1871 (on one of my favorite websites for German research, the GenWiki at On the free Genealogy Giant website  Under Search > Records, enter the last name, and the country as Germany to see if people with the same last name are listed in the same location you have pinpointed in Germany. Also on, under Search > Catalog, search by Place to see what records exist for any locale you have pinpointed. Put the village name first and then the kreis. Timelines are a great tool for seeing the bigger picture and determining how the little bits of information fall within it. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   GERMAN ANCESTRAL VILLAGES CONTINUED What if, as in Elizabeth’s case, the passenger list and naturalization records don’t state their place of origin?  Info about the “old country” can pop up in a LOT of different places: Death certificates Marriage records Church records Obituaries Tombstones & cemetery records Probate records Delayed birth certificates (these were often created when social security came into effect in the 1930s and 1940s.) The Germans to America book series should be consulted if your German ancestor arrived between 1850 and 1897. Learn more about it here and search it at If you know from which port in Germany they departed, you may be able to locate their hometown in German passenger departure lists. (See links below.) Look sideways, at brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, even friends. If you can determine where one of them was born, you will have an EXCELLENT place to look in Germany for your ancestors! In addition, determine if your ancestors had traveling companions on their way to America and look into their backgrounds. Go back to the census and check out your ancestors’ first recorded American neighborhood. Where were their neighbors from?  Folks often settled near family and friends from the old country. Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939 (free at FamilySearch) While most of the Bremen, Germany passenger departure records were destroyed -- either by German officials or during WWII -- 2,953 passenger lists for the years 1920 – 1939 have survived. The Bremen Society for Genealogical Investigation, DIE MAUS, has transcriptions of these surviving Bremen passenger records online. Hamburg Emigration Lists (description, search tips and links free at FOIA Request Process (no longer free, there is now a fee for this service) Fill out the information as completely as possible.  Make a copy of the form for your follow up records and keep it in a pending file in your desk Mark in your calendar six months from today to follow up on the request.  Also indicate that the copy is in your pending file.   DNA SPECIFICITY FROM YOUR DNA GUIDE DIAHAN SOUTHARD Click here to read her segment and see the accompanying images.   PROFILE AMERICA: IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Contributing Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady, Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager   Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
July 8, 2018
In this episode, Lisa shares the stories of Julianne Mangin, who has explored the tragic and twisted stories of her ancestors, Graziella and Philippe Metthe. These stories caught Lisa’s eye: “The tragic tale with its surprises along the way was tantalizing enough, but the real intrigue for me was from a genealogical point of view – the confusing records and the fascinating news accounts that help shed light on them.”
June 14, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #218 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, Lisa answers your questions and shares your comments. Hot topics on your minds that are covered in this episode: discovering new records online, working with other people’s online trees, hard-to-locate military records; and getting lost in Pennsylvania research   NEWS: GOOGLE EARTH STORIES COMING “Google Earth to let users post stories, photos in coming years” at Lisa’s FREE Google Earth video class: How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition and Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series Try Google Earth for Chrome (you must use the Chrome browser to access) Download the free Google Earth Pro software.      NEWS: FAMILYSEARCH REACHES 2 BILLION IMAGES Why you should have a free FamilySearch account—and use it! How to use the FamilySearch Catalog (it’s free! Everyone should use it!) Best strategies for accessing content at (special podcast episode on the end of microfilm lending)   GEMS NEWS: LISA’S NEW COLUMN IN FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE Purchase the May/June issue in print or digital download format Subscribe to Family Tree Magazine: print format, digital download format or get a great price for both! StoryWorth for Father’s Day: Invite your dad to share stories with loved ones every week, and then get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book at the end of the year. Go to for $20 off when you subscribe. This Father’s Day is actually a gift for you, too!   BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, don’t forget to check out your bonus content for this episode! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   MAILBOX: SARA’S FRIDAY RECORD POST DISCOVERY Click here to subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive the weekly Friday records update by email. Click here to view several recent Friday records posts—see what new records have appeared online lately! Tell Lisa Louise Cooke about your “Friday records post” discoveries—or anything else—at genealogygemspodcast @ or call her voicemail at 925-272-4021.   MAILBOX: ONLINE FAMILY TREE MATCHES Reviewing tree hints at   MAILBOX: BACK TO RESEARCH AFTER 10 YEARS! Lisa’s recommendations to a new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member for getting back into the swing of research: Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems newsletter. Watch the Premium video, “Take Control of Your Family Tree” (Premium eLearning membership required) Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It's a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.  Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   MAILBOX: MILITARY DRAFT REGISTRATIONS Click here to read about finding military draft registrations   INTERVIEW: JIM BEIDLER ON PENNSYLVANIA RESEARCH QUESTION James M. Beidler is the author of The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide and Trace Your German Roots Online. Learn more Pennsylvania research techniques in his on-demand webinar download, Best Pennsylvania Genealogy Research Strategies. Click here to read a summary of some of Jim’s tips AND find a collection of links we curated to help you find more Pennsylvania birth records online. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!  FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
May 9, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #217 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this special episode, host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke takes a look at the Golden State killer, one of the most notorious crime sprees in recent memory. She’ll talk about the role that DNA testing played in an ultimate arrest, and the impact that these events are having on genealogists and the use of DNA in genealogy. The Golden State Killer “Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over” docuseries (As an Amazon Associate, Genealogy Gems earns from qualifying purchases) “The Golden State Killer,” 48 Hours episode on (44-minute episode) Between 1974 and 1986, activities attributed to the Golden State Killer include at least 12 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California from 1974 through 1986. The criminal’s methods led some investigators to believe that these differently-labeled criminals were very likely one in the same. In 2001, DNA definitively linked several rapes in Contra Costa County believed to have been part of the East Area Rapist series, a series of murders in Southern California. In 2011, DNA evidence proved that the Domingo–Sanchez murders were committed by the same man, known as the Golden State Killer. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, don’t forget to check out your bonus content for this episode! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. StoryWorth makes it easy and fun for Mom to share stories with loved ones every week. At the end of the year, she’ll get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book. Strengthen your bond as you get to know her in a whole new way! Go to for $20 off when you subscribe. Give a gift for Mother’s Day that is actually a gift for you, too! Help solve DNA mysteries with these resources: “A DNA Match with No Tree? No Problem!” and “Take Control of Your Family Tree,” Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning video classes The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke Breaking Down Brick Walls with DNA by Diahan Southard Gedmatch: A Next Step for Your Autosomal DNA Testing by Diahan Southard Caution: In this episode, Lisa shares her personal opinions on the use of technology for crime fighting and the implications for DNA testing for genealogy. She encourages everyone to do their own homework and make informed decisions in line with their own values, opinions and objectives.  Reality check: “The only way to ensure privacy is to never put anything of any kind online. Just like the only way to ensure you will never be in a car accident is to never—under any circumstances—get in a car.” Read more about DNA testing company partnerships: “Another personal genetics company is sharing client data,” article by Katie M. Palmer, published 21 July 2015, on’s partnership with Google-owned Calico biotech firm “23andMe teams with Big Pharma to find treatments hidden in our DNA,” article by Davey Alba, published 12 January 2015, on 23andMe’s partnership with Pfizer Several ways we already use DNA matches Genealogists use to build family trees Adoptees use to identify birth parents (or other biological relatives) Orphans trying to find long lost siblings and relatives Anyone looking for estranged family members Researchers identifying unidentified human remains, including POW/MIAs Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at More information on DNA testing How to download, transfer and upload your DNA with various testing companies by Diahan Southard “How DIY genetic testing kits can be used against you,” article by Gavin Fernando, published 3 May, 2018. “When you test, you are also making a decision on behalf of your parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, and future descendants. Regardless of good intentions or stated ethics codes in the genealogy community, it isn’t possible to write and get the express permission of everyone who could be affected by you having your DNA tested.” –Lisa Louise Cooke How Genealogy Gems can help you—whether you test or not! Keep listening to the Genealogy Gems Podcast for genealogy news, tips, inspiration and strategies (DNA is one of many tools talked about!) Read free online articles at Click here to read dozens of articles on DNA. Click here to view our complete line of DNA quick reference guides Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member, to get access to all the Premium video classes and the entire Premium Podcast: new monthly episodes plus the full archive of more than 150 previous ones. PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, DNA Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
April 11, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #216 with Lisa Louise Cooke   In this episode: Lisa introduces you to a couple of fantastic genealogists she met on her recent trip Down Under—the organizers of the 15the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, which she keynoted recently; Enjoy Lisa’s exclusive RootsTech 2018 interview with Findmypast CEO Tamsin Todd; Military Minutes contributor Michael Strauss shines a spotlight on women who have served in the U.S. military; Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard introduces the MyHeritage chromosome browser; and Genealogy Gems Premium membership gets its biggest boost ever. LISA AND BILL IN AUSTRALIA Wally the Humpback Wrasse and Bill at the Great Barrier Reef Soaring above the rains forest treetops of Queensland, Australia   NEWS: ROOTSTECH 2018 RECAP Click here to watch the short RootsTech 2018 official recap video—and watch for Jim Beidler at the Genealogy Gems booth right at the beginning! NEWS: GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM eLEARNING Genealogy Gems Premium membership is now Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning! More than 20 DNA video tutorials have been added—but it’s still all available for one low annual price. And now you can really make the most of 50+ Premium Videos and 150+ Premium Podcast episodes with the new Premium eLearning Companion Guide book. It’s the ultimate ongoing genealogy education! Click here to read the full announcement.   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users: Beginning German Genealogy: Defining "German" If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is some get-started-now tips from Legacy Tree Genealogists on tracing your German ancestors. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. To learn more about Legacy Tree services and its research team, visit Exclusive Offer for Genealogy Gems readers: Receive $100 off a 20-hour research project using code GGP100. (Offer may expire without notice.) MILITARY MINUTES WITH MICHAEL STRAUSS: CELEBRATING WOMEN IN U.S. MILITARY HISTORY Click here to see the full article (and plenty of images!) on the Genealogy Gems website. INTERVIEW: TAMSIN TODD AND BEN BENNETT, FINDMYPAST.COM is the Genealogy Giant best known for its deep, unparalleled historical record content for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Tamsin Todd is the Chief Executive Officer of She “has worked in the travel, retail and technology sectors, and brings with her a track record of leading successful growth businesses. She spent the early part of her career at Amazon and then Microsoft, where she led the introduction of ecommerce and search products into the UK and Europe. This was followed by stints as Head of Ecommerce at Betfair, and Managing Director of TUI-owned Crystal Ski Holidays. She joins Findmypast from Addison Lee, where she was Chief Customer Officer of Europe's largest car service company. Tamsin lives in London with her family, and is Digital Trustee of the Imperial War Museums.” Ben Bennett is Executive Vice President, North America and International at, “focused on helping families stay connected in the United States and other markets across the globe.” EPISODE SPONSOR: CASPER MATTRESSES  The original Casper mattress combines multiple, supportive memory foams for a quality sleep surface with the right amounts of both sink and bounce. Breathable design helps you sleep cool and regulates your body temperature throughout the night Delivered right to your door in a small, ‘how do they do that?!’ sized box! Free shipping and returns in the US and Canada. Exclusive Genealogy Gems offer! Get $50 toward select mattresses by visiting and using gems at checkout. (Terms and conditions apply.)   YOUR DNA GUIDE DIAHAN SOUTHARD: MYHERITAGE CHROMOSOME BROWSER Just last year, if you had asked me if I thought anyone could catch AncestryDNA in their race to own the genetic genealogy market, I would have been skeptical. However, it is clear that MyHeritage intends to be a contender, and they are quickly ramping up their efforts to gain market share–and your confidence. MyHeritage began 2018 by making a much needed change to their DNA matching algorithm, which had some errors in it. They were able to adjust it, and now it is humming right along, telling our second cousins from our fourth. Another development, launched in February, is the addition of a Chromosome Browser. THE NEW MYHERITAGE DNA CHROMSOME BROWSER  Much like you would browse the library shelves for the perfect book, or browse through the sale rack for a great bargain, you can use a Chromosome Browser to look through your chromosomes for the pieces of DNA you share with your genetic cousins. Chromosome Browsers can be everything from a fun way to review your genetic genealogy results, to a tool to assist in determining how you are related to someone else. Let’s go over three tips to help you make use of this new tool. NAVIGATING TO THE CHROMOSOME BROWSER There are actually two different kinds of Chromosome Browsers in MyHeritage: one to view only the segments you share with one match (the One-to-One Browser), and a browser where you can see the segments shared with multiple matches (the One-to-Many Browser). To get to the One-to-One Browser, head over to your match page and find a cousin for whom you would like to see your shared DNA segments. Click on Review DNA Match, then scroll down past all the individual match information, past the Shared Matches and Shared Ethnicities until you see the Chromosome Browser. USING THE ONE-TO-MANY CHROMOSOME BROWSER To find the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser, you can use the main DNA navigation menu at the top of the MyHeritage homepage. Click on DNA, then on Chromosome Browser, as shown below. In the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser you can compare yourself, or any account you manage, to anyone else in your match page. To choose a match to evaluate, just click on their name and they will be added to the queue at the top, as shown here. Clicking on Compare will then allow you to see the actual segments you share with each person: In this One-To-Many view, each individual match gets their own line for each chromosome. Since we have added 7 people to the Chromosome Browser, there are seven lines next to each chromosome number. Each match not only gets their own line, but also their own color. So you can easily match up the lines on the chromosome to the match that shares that piece of DNA with you. For the majority of people the majority of the time, these Chromosome Browsers are just another fun way to visualize the connection you have with your DNA match. In the end, it doesn’t matter where you are sharing on the chromosome, just how much DNA you are sharing. You can obtain that information from your main match page and never look at this Chromosome Browser image, and still make fantastic genetic genealogy discoveries. THE TRIANGULATION TOOL Another feature of the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage is the Triangulation tool. To understand how this works, you first need to understand that you actually have two copies of each chromosome. Two copies of chromosome 1, two copies of chromosome 2, etc. One copy is from mom, and the other from dad. However, in the Chromosome Browser image, you see only one line for yourself (in grey). Therefore, when you see someone matching you on chromosome 14, for example, you don’t know if that person is matching you on the chromosome 14 you got from your mom, or the chromosome 14 you got from your dad. Likewise, if you see two people whose shared piece with you looks to be in the same location on the same chromosome, you can’t tell if they are both sharing on the same copy of that chromosome, or if one match is related to your dad’s family, and the other match is related to your mom’s family. However, this is what the Triangulation tool does for us. It tells us if two (or three or four, etc.) matches are sharing on the same copy of the same chromosome. Be careful when you use this tool, though. Many erroneously assume that when they see a segment shared between multiple people, that indicates the presence of a recent common ancestor for all of those people. However, that is not always the case. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. Ready to start exploring what the MyHeritage DNA chromosome browser may tell you about your family history? You have two options. Click here to upload your autosomal DNA test results from another company to MyHeritage for FREE. Or click here to order a MyHeritage DNA test kit. Either way, you can start using all the great tools at MyHeritage DNA! PROFILE AMERICA: FORD LAUNCHES ASSEMBLY LINE PRODUCTION CREDITS: Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Michael Strauss, Military Minutes Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!   FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
March 20, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #215 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this “Blast from the Past” episode, Lisa gives voice to the era of silent films, in a unique approach to understanding her great-grandmother’s life. Her passion for this mostly-forgotten film genre comes through in her conversation with film archivist Sam Gill of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California. Don’t miss these fun segments, too: A listener writes in after discovering a birth mom’s story in passport records (see what lengths he goes to in order to access the records!). Just after RootsTech 2018, Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard reports on the latest DNA news you’ll want to know. NEWS: ROOTSTECH 2018 DNA NEWS ROUNDUP FROM YOUR DNA GUIDE DIAHAN SOUTHARD           First up was MyHeritage, showing their support for the 7 million adopted individuals in the United States with their new DNA Quest campaign. MyHeritage will provide 15,000 DNA test kits to eligible participants free of charge, in order to help these adoptees use DNA to reunite them with their biological families. With this initiative they “hope to make this project a shining light for corporate philanthropy and an example to be followed by other commercial companies in their own lines of expertise to make the world a better place.” MyHeritage has assembled an advisory board of genetic genealogists and genetic counselors to help drive this project and ensure it meets the needs of the community. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, you can head on over to the DNA Quest website ( to fill out an application. But you better hurry, the application deadline is April 30, 2018.  Next, addressing the biggest problem in genetic genealogy, namely the looming What Next? question facing millions of newly swabbed participants, MyHeritage announced the Big Tree – a giant network of genetic and genealogy results that will automate much of the match comparison and tree searching to replace your head-scratching with light-bulb moments. They have already made significant headway on this project, as reported in the journal Science, which MyHeritage’s own chief scientific officer Yaniv Erlich collaborated on. The journal reports that the team of scientists successfully extracted public family trees from (a MyHeritage daughter company), and then used a computer program to clean up and link the trees together. It sounds like MyHeritage will be adding genetic data to this kind of tree data in their Big Tree project. MyHeritage isn’t the only company out to improve the DNA matching experience. UK based LivingDNA announced that they plan to add DNA matching to their popular origins test by third quarter 2018. When they launched in October of 2016, LivingDNA was not offering cousin matching, but opted instead to focus all of their resources on providing very detailed origins reports, including breaking down the UK in to 46 categories. In the months since their launch, they have been working on a genetic matching system, called Family Networks, that will appeal to a wide range of users and will “reduce the risk of human error and take away the tedious task of figuring out how each person on a user’s list are related to one another.” They are promising an experience that provides “a level of relationship prediction and specificity beyond anything currently on the market.”  So it sounds like if you are currently struggling with turning your DNA matches into genealogical discoveries, our testing companies want you to know you are not alone, and they are working hard to provide solutions to these problems. Time will only tell if they can succeed. Diahan also provides answers to questions asked about this blog post announcing updates to MyHeritage DNA matching technology and its new chromosome browser. MAILBOX: TOM’S PASSPORT SEARCH SUCCESS Kathleen Head’s passport applications U.S. passport applications on Ancestry and FamilySearch through 1925 National Archives article on passport applications U.S. State Department passport application (since 1925) copy requests Frequently asked Questions about the Freedom of Information Act   BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users                 If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a marvelous soundtrack of silent film music, played live (you’ll hear audience laughter occasionally in the background) and supplied by Sam Gill at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.               Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and             Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at GEM: INTRODUCTION TO SILENT FILMS (Image above: a page from Lisa's grandmother's journal) Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #2 about transcribing family journals and letters was remastered in Episode #134. Episode #8 Stanford Theatre, Palo Alto, CA (shows silent films) Internet Movie Database (IMDB) Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum: the website for this museum is packed with resources: links to Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations; the International Buster Keaton Society; Classic Images Magazine; a timeline and early history of film and more. Films mentioned in this episode: Diary of a Lost Girl starring Louise Brooks (watch trailer) Safety Last starring Harold Lloyd (watch here) The Mender of Nets with Mary Pickford (watch here) The Blot directed by Lois Weber (watch here) Don’t Park There with Will Rogers (watch here) Flivvering by Victor Moore Wife and Auto Trouble directed by Bill Henderson (watch here) A Trip Down Market Street (watch here) Wings (watch here) All Quiet on the Western Front (watch here) Destruction of San Francisco by Blackhawk Films (watch part here) Four Sons (watch trailer) INTERVIEW: SAM GILL, FILM HISTORIAN AND ARCHIVIST               Shown above: Sam Gill and Lisa Cooke at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on the day of this interview. Throughout their conversation, you hear the sounds of excited theater patrons filling the auditorium before a screening. Sam Gill’s interest in silent film dates to 1966, when as a college student he traveled to Hollywood to interview his aging heroes from the silent screen comedy era. For more than 20 years, he was Archivist of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, where he established the Academy’s Special Collections and helped it grow to its current status as the preeminent repository for the study of American cinema. He is currently a Board Member of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Over the years, he has consulted on or otherwise contributed his expertise to numerous film festivals, museum film programs and film history books. Sam recently sent us these delightful photos (below) of himself over the years: (Image 1) 1966: His first trip to Hollywood (Image 2) 1974: A news article about a research trip to Florida (Image 3) 2017: A birthday party for Diana Serra Cary (Baby Peggy), the last surviving star of the silent screen, held at the Edison Theater of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum; also shown is Rena Kiehn, the museum's publicity director and store manager San Francisco Silent Film Festival How to identify old cars in photographs (a technique that adapts well to film!) National Film Preservation Foundation (click here to see where to find films they have helped preserve, including Japanese internment camp footage) Old Town Music Hall             Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at    is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. GEM: HOW TO FIND SILENT FILMS If you’re looking for a specific movie, start with a Google search with the name in quotations (and, if you like, anything else you know about it, such as an actor or director’s name or the year). You may find lots of results, including a Wikipedia page and film history write-ups, but if you want to WATCH it, limit your search results to Video. You can also turn to free curated collections online, such as: 101 free silent films: the great classics (links to free film footage on YouTube, Internet Archive, etc.) YouTube playlist of silent movies Internet Archive Silent Films collection: feature and short silent films uploaded by Internet Archive users watch several classic silent films Netflix subscribers can access the service’s little-known collection of silent films by entering the Netflix link for browsing its film categories and then the category specific to silent films, 53310: 53310 (Click here to read an article about this tip, along with Netflix’ full list of specific film categories.) YouTube: watch for free, rent or buy, as shown here: More places to explore for silent films: Turner Classic Movies ( under TCMDb, click Database Home and search for a title you want to watch Search for titles in the Video section; or search the Classic Silent films category Your local public library (search catalog: try searching for an actor’s name as author) Ebay: May be the right place to purchase a hard-to-find title. Click here to view current results for a search on silent films, filtered to include only movie/film items.   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog! FREE NEWSLETTER:
February 13, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #214 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, Irish expert Donna Moughty joins host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke to talk about Irish genealogy—to help you get a jump on yours before everyone starts talking about their Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day next month! Also in this episode: Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard has DNA news and an answer to a listener who called in with a question about YDNA. Other listeners write in with inspiring successes Michael Strauss musters in with tips on finding your ancestors in the five branches of the U.S. military. NEWS: MYHERITAGE DNA MATCHING UPDATE The MyHeritageDNA test matching algorithm has gotten better—AND they’ve added a chromosome browser. Time to test with MyHeritage DNA or upload your results from another company for free? Click here to read all about it! MAILBOX: LISTENERS ON FAMILY HISTORY VIDEOS Muffy in Seattle sent this link to her family history video. Great job! Melissa asked about finding copyright-free music to add to family history videos. Lisa’s tips: Unfortunately, free royalty-free music sites are few and far between. You're smart to be cautious because if you were to put your video on YouTube they have the technology to identify any song that is used that is a violation of copyright. YouTube does make free music available: Sign into YouTube with your Google account Click on your picture in the upper right corner and go to your Creator Studio. Upload your video (you can keep it private if you wish) and then on the video page click "Audio" (above the video title). Choose among the many music tracks there. Once you've added a track and saved it, you should be able to download the video with the music included. The other source of music I use is music that comes with the programs I use (Animoto and Camtasia). GENEALOGY BUSINESS ALLIANCE GBA Buzz game for RootsTech 2018; Play the game. See websites for complete rules. Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at INTERVIEW: DONNA MOUGHTY ON IRISH RESEARCH Preparing for Success in Irish Records by Donna M Moughty The following review appeared in the January 2018 newsletter of the Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library:  “If you want a quick guide on how to get started on Irish research, this short, four-page guide is an excellent resource. This guide will help you start your research in the United States, so you can figure out where in Ireland your ancestor came from. It is organized into 12 steps with helpful websites added. This guide is the first in the Irish Research Series by Donna M Moughty.” Donna Moughty, shown left with Lisa Louise Cooke, is a professional genealogist and former Regional Manager for Apple Computers. She has been conducting family research for over 20 years. She teaches classes for beginners and lectures on a variety of subjects including Internet, Irish research, and computer topics. In addition, she provides consultations, research assistance, and training. She is a member of Association of Professional Genealogists and the Genealogical Speakers Guild. Websites mentioned in their conversation: National Library of Ireland Donna’s Irish guide series Get the value-priced bundle of three or purchase them individually through the links below: Preparing for Success in Irish Records Research - Guide #1 (reviewed above): Without the right preparation, researching in Ireland can be frustrating! Before you jump the pond, start your research at home to determine a place in Ireland, as well as details to help differentiate your person from someone of the same name. This research guide will walk you through the process of identifying records in the US to set you up for success in your Irish research. Irish Civil Registration and Church Records - Guide #2. Civil Registration for all of Ireland began in 1864, with Protestant marriages dating back to 1845. Even if your ancestors left before that date, they likely had relatives that remained in Ireland. Prior to Civil Registration, the only records of births (baptisms), marriages or deaths (burials) are in church records. This Reference Guide will explain how to use the new online Civil Registration records as well as how to identify the surviving church records for your ancestors in Ireland.  Land, Tax, and Estate Records - Guide #3 (NEW!). Had the Irish census records for the 19th century survived, Griffith’s Valuation, a tax list, would not be one of the most important resources for Irish researchers. Without any context, however, it can just seem like a list that includes lots of people of the same name. This Guide explains how and why Griffith’s Valuation was done, and how to use it to glean the most information about your family. Once you know your ancestor’s locality in Ireland, Griffith’s Valuation can place them on a specific piece of land between 1846 and 1864. After Griffith’s Valuation, the Revision Books allow you to follow the land and in some cases, to the 1970s, possibly identifying cousins still living on the land. Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. MILITARY MINUTES: 5 BRANCHES OF THE MILITARY Each of the military branches is listed below, detailing information about when each was organized and resources available to genealogists on your ancestors who served in any of these branches. United States Army. The largest of the five military branches dates back to June 14, 1775, during the early days of the Revolutionary War. Prior to the formation of the Army, each colony had companies and battalions of Associators and local militia. With the war, the need for a professional standing army to fight the British saw the formation of the Continental Army. With the end of the Revolutionary War, the Army disbanded in 1783 after the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Later in 1796, two legions formed under the command of General Anthony Wayne would later become the nucleus of the United States Army. The Encyclopedia Britannica published this nice article on the history of the Army from its inception to the present. A number of excellent genealogical resources are available to search for ancestors who served in the United States Army since the beginning. These databases are found on Ancestry, Fold3, and Family Search.  One of the largest collections of records covers the United States Regular Army enlistments from 1798 to 1914 (available by subscription at Searching the card catalogs of, Fold3 and FamilySearch will yield many databases that contain information about soldiers who served, and sacrificed their lives with the Army over the last two centuries. United States Navy. The United States Navy dates from October 13, 1775 when it was officially established by an Act passed by the Continental Congress.  At the end of the Revolutionary War it was disbanded, and again reestablished under the Naval Act of 1794 which created the Navy as a permanent branch of the military. The history of the Navy and technology can be divided into two major eras. The earlier period, called the "Old Navy," was the age of wooden sailing ships, and still later came the birth of the ironclads during the Civil War. The later period called the "New Navy" occurred with further innovations in late nineteenth century as the United States transformed into a global power recognized the throughout the world. The United States Navy website has a nice background history of the service.   Numerous databases and searches for records of the Navy covering multiple war period detailing pensions, continental sailors, muster rolls, ships logs, and cruise books are located on, Fold3 and FamilySearch.  Consult each database individually for records of interest. Another organization related to the Navy is the United States Merchant Marines. Although not officially a branch of the military, the Merchant Marines sacrificed and lost lives since the days of the Revolutionary War, carrying out their missions of supply and logistics during times of war. Here’s an excellent website on the history of the Merchant Marines.   United States Air Force. The modern day Air Force dates from September 18, 1947, when it was formed as part of the Security Act of 1947. The Air Force and aviation history began under the authority of the United States Army, starting on August 1, 1907 when it was organized under the name of the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps.  Over the next 30 years the service changed names several times: Aviation Section of the Signal Corps (1914-1918); Division of Military Aeronautics (1918); Air Service of the United States Army (1918-1926); United States Army Air Corps (1926-1941); United States Army Air Forces (1941-1947). In that final year, it was separated as its own organization as it is known today. Click here for a complete history of the Air Force from 1907 to the present. Two excellent online sources covering the early history of the Air Force from World War I and World War II are located on Fold3: Gorrell's history when part of the AEF in 1917-1918  and Missing air crew reports during the World War II United States Marines. This elite branch of the military began with the organization of the Continental Marines on November 19, 1775. The mission of the Marines initially comprised ship-to-ship fighting, security onboard naval vessels, and assistance in landing force operations. This mission would continue to evolve over the years. At the end of the Revolutionary War, the Marines were disbanded on October 4, 1783. Along with the Navy, under the Naval Act of 1794, the United States Marines were again re-established and would serve faithfully in every major war period and in peacetime between conflicts. The Marines will forever remain true to their motto of "Semper Fidelis" or Always Faithful as they continue to live up to their long-running tradition of honor and service. Click here to watch an interesting and accurate history of the Marine Corps is viewable online on You Tube. has an excellent online genealogical resource for discovering Marine Corps ancestors: fully searchable Marine Corps muster rolls from 1798 to 1958 for enlistees. Coast Guard. The history of this seagoing service dates back to August 4, 1790.  Established as the Revenue Cutter Marines under the direction of Alexander Hamilton, the name was changed in 1894 to the Revenue Cutter Service until 1915. That year, an Act of Congress was passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson called the "Act to Create Coast Guard." The United States Live Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service came together. Later, in 1939, the United States Light House Service was added to form the modern day United States Coast Guard.  The complete history of the United States Coast Guard from 1790 is on the Historians Office. It includes information about each of the separate organizations that came together to form the Coast Guard at. has a collection of casualties of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Very few additional online sources are available online for this branch of the service. Researchers must access these documents and records onsite at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  Military Minutes Case Study By Michael Strauss Subject: Russell Strauss Died: December 27, 1981-Jonestown, PA Son of Harry B. Strauss & Agnes S. (Gerhart) Strauss Over the last 30 plus years doing genealogy research, I’ve discovered that nearly all of my family members who served in the military were in the United States Army. But I have been occasionally surprised to find relatives who served in other branches of the military. On the paternal family several years ago one of my cousins gave me a box of photographs. One of the images was marked Russell G. Strauss. He wore the uniform of the United States Navy during World War II. I recognized his name and knew that he was my grandfather’s first cousin. I was 16 years old when he died and didn't know him very well. His uniform indicated that he was a third class petty officer in the Navy during the war. I looked further at his uniform and noticed a diamond shaped "S" as part of the insignia. This military occupation indicated that he was a specialist that would require further research. I spoke with a couple of my older family members who knew Russell. All of my family interviewed said that he in the military police (M.P.) during the war. With additional research, I discovered that his insignia was that of the Shore Patrol. When I compared what my family said to me and his uniform told me the information matched very closely.  I found on Ancestry his application for compensation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1950 when he served in the Shore Patrol in Norfolk, Virginia as part of his military duty (inserted below). Putting information from his photograph together with what my family members shared with me helped answer questions I had regarding of my relatives.         PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
January 10, 2018
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #213 with Lisa Louise Cooke NEWS: HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR TO KEYNOTE ROOTSTECH Click here to read about all RootsTech keynote speakers Click here to read about the Genealogy Gems experience at RootsTech 2018 Click here to hear Lisa Louise Cooke’s conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 133 GEMS NEWS: UPDATED PREMIUM VIDEO Genealogy Gems Premium subscribers can now enjoy an updated version of Lisa’s Premium video, “Making Evernote Effortless.” You’ll learn how to use Evernote’s: Quick Keys: Help you get things done faster Search Operators: Digging deeper and faster into your notes Shortcuts: Learn how to set them up to accomplish repetitive tasks faster Reminders: Help you track and meet deadlines Note Sharing: Collaboration just got easier Source Citation: Merging notes to include sources; Source Citation with “Info” feature Web Clipper Bookmarklet: a hack for adding it to your mobile tablet’s browser   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. Keep your family history research safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a lightning-quick tech tip from Lisa Louise Cooke on how to undo that last browser you just closed and didn’t mean to! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users MILITARY MINUTES: REGULAR, VOLUNTEER OR MILITIA? To gain a better understanding of what life in the military was like for your ancestors, it is essential to know in what capacity someone may have served. Did your ancestor serve in the regulars, or was he a volunteer soldier, or did he have service with the local militia? These terms are generally associated with the records of the United States Army. The other branches enlisted men using different terminology. Free download: Military Service Records at the National Archives by Trevor K. Plante (Reference Information Paper 109) Click here for National Archives reference materials for military acronyms, abbreviations, and dictionaries that will aid genealogists when researching how exactly their ancestors served Journal of the American Revolution: Explaining Pennsylvania’s militia: One of the best examples of how colonial militias operated (laws, rules, and regulations, and parent organizations). Pennsylvania followed very closely the doings of other colonies during the same period. Samuel Howard in the Civil War Because of his age he wasn’t able to enlist until 1865 when he turned 18. He was a volunteer soldier who served as a substitute for another man who was drafted. After his discharge, he again enlisted in the Regular Army in 1866. He was assigned to the 13th U.S. Infantry, where he served one month before deserting at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Samuel was married in 1867 (this may have some relevance to his decision to leave the military). He lived in Pennsylvania from the end of the war until his death in 1913. Shown here in 1876, Lebanon, PA. Both his Regular and Volunteer Army enlistment forms are included here, along with the above photograph of Samuel with his wife circa 1876 from an early tintype. The forms look very similar, as each contains common information asked of a typical recruit. However they are decidedly different as the one covers his Civil War service and the other his post war service when he joined the regular Army after the men who served during the war would have been discharged.   GEM: AN INSPIRING FAMILY HISTORY VIDEO   Watch this inspiring Where I’m From video based on poem by Tom Boyer How to create your own family history videos Learn more about the Where I’m From poetry project and hear a conversation with the original author, Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 185. Hannah’s Animoto Advice: You’ll find when using the video templates, timing the photos to the narration can pose some challenges. Originally, when she put the photos in place and “previewed” the video, the narration didn’t line up at all with the images. Hannah explains: “When I was in “creator” mode, I selected a picture that I wanted to appear on the screen for a longer duration then I clicked the “spotlight” button that is on the left-hand side in the editor column. Or If you double click the image, it will open into a larger single view and you can select the “star” button which will do the same thing. I applied this spotlight option to several photos within my gallery. I knew which photos to do this to by previewing the video several times to make sure I liked the timing of it all. Now if your problem is not with just a few photos but the overall timing, then try editing the pace of your photos.  In the top right-hand corner, click the “edit song/trim and pacing” button. Here you can trim you uploaded mp3 audio as well as the pace to which your photos appear. My photos appeared too fast on the screen in comparison to the narration I had, so I moved the pace button to left by one notch and previewed the video. This did the trick and the result was a heart-warming poem, turned into a visually beautiful story.” Do you have a darn good reason to take action right now to get your family history in front of your family? Perhaps: a video of the loving couples in your family tree for Valentine’s Day a video of your family’s traditional Easter Egg hunt through the years a tribute to the mom’s young and old in your family on Mother’s Day your child’s or grandchild’s graduation a video to promote your upcoming family reunion to get folks really visualizing the fun they are going to have Or perhaps it’s the story of a genealogy journey you’ve been on where you finally busted a brick wall and retrieved an ancestor’s memory from being lost forever. 5 Steps to Jump-Starting Your Video Project Pick one family history topic Write the topic in one brief sentence – the title of your video Select 12 photos that represent that topic. On a piece of paper, number it 1 – 12 and write one brief sentence about each photo that convey your message. You don’t have to have one for every photo, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Scan the photos if they aren’t already and save them to one folder on your hard drive. And now you are in great shape to take the next step and get your video made in a way that suits your interest, skill, and time. 4 Easy Methods for Creating Video Got an iPhone? iOS 10 now has “Memories” a feature of your Photos app that can instantly create a video of a group of related photos. There’s the free Adobe Spark Video app which can you can add photos, video clips and text to, pick a theme and a music track from their collection, and whip up something pretty impressive in a very short time. Visit your device’s app store or There’s Animoto which does everything that Spark does, but gives you even more control over the content, and most importantly the ability to download your video in HD quality. You can even add a button to the end that the viewer can tap and it will take them to a website, like your genealogy society website, a Facebook group for your family reunion or even a document on FamilySearch. And finally, if you have the idea, and pull together the photos, you can book Hannah at Genealogy Gems to create a video with your content. Go to and scroll to the Contact form at the bottom of the home page to request ordering information. The most important thing is that your family history can be treasured and shared so that it brings joy to your life today, and also, to future generations. The thing is, if your kids and grandkids can see the value of your genealogy research, they will be more motivated to preserve and protect it.   PREMIUM INTERVIEW: SYLVIA BROWN In Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #155, publishing later this month, Sylvia Brown (of the family connected to Brown University) will join Lisa Louise Cooke to talk about researching her new book, Grappling with Legacy, which traces her family’s involvement in philanthropy, Rhode Island history and the institution of slavery hundreds of years. A Kirkus review of this book calls it “an often riveting history of a family that left an indelible impact on the nation.”       PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: These show notes contain affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!   FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
December 6, 2017
The Genealogy Gems PodcastEpisode #212with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, Lisa Louise Cooke speaks with Contributing Editor Sunny Morton about turning our fleeting scraps of recollections into meaningful memories. Also: Genealogist Margaret Linford tells us how she got started in family history. Like many of our best stories, it’s not just about her, but someone who inspired her. 2017 could be called “the year of DNA.” Diahan Southard looks back with a special DNA news digest. Finding missing ancestors: tips and success stories from Genealogy Gems fans NEWS: WIKITREE HONOR CODE WikiTree Press Release on 100,000 signatures Learn more about using individual v. global/community family trees on,, and in Sunny Morton’s quick reference guide, Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites. NEWS: FAMICITY ADDS GEDCOM UPLOAD NEWS: DNA YEAR IN REVIEW WITH DIAHAN SOUTHARD As evidence of its now proven usefulness in genealogy research, the genetic genealogy industry is growing at a fast pace. has amassed the largest database, now boasting over 6 million people tested, and is growing at breakneck speeds, having doubled the size of its database in 2017. As the databases grow larger and our genealogy finds become more frequent, we can’t ignore that this kind of data, the correlated genetic and genealogical data, amassed by these companies, has great value. In November, MyHeritage announced an effort by their scientific team to “study the relationship between genetics and behavior, personal characteristics, and culture.” These studies are not new, as 23andMe is in open hot pursuit of the connections between genetics and our health, and always has been. All of our genetic genealogy companies are involved in research on one level or another and every person who swabs or spits has the opportunity to participate in other research projects (click here to read up on the consent policies at each company). At the time of testing, you have the option to opt in or out of this research, and the ability to alter that decision at any time after you test, by accessing your settings. According to an article in Fast Company, it seems we as a community are very interested in helping with research: 23andMe reports an over 80% opt-in-to-research rate among their customers. And I’ve got some breaking news for you: Family Tree DNA just started a consumer awareness campaign to reinforce the message that they will never sell your genetic data. That’s another important topic worth talking about in a future episode, so stay tuned! All our genetic genealogy companies realize that you might want to do more with your data than just look for your ancestors. This year Family Tree DNA has partnered with Vitagene in an effort to provide insight into your health via your genetic genealogy test results. Of course 23andMe is the leader in health testing when we look at our top genetic genealogy companies. This year 23andMe finally succeeded in passing several of their health tests through the FDA, a huge leap forward in their efforts to provide health testing directly to consumers. While health testing has certainly seen an explosion of interest this year, it is not the only way that our companies are using the data they have amassed. AncestryDNA took the DNA and pedigree charts of two million customers who consented to research and, using some really fancy science, were able to provide amazing insight into our recent ancestral past with the creation of their genetic communities. These genetic communities enhance our understanding of our heritage by showing us where our ancestors may have been between 1750 and 1850, the genealogical “sweet spot” that most of us are trying to fill in. Living DNA, a relative newcomer to the genetic genealogy arena, announced in October of 2017 their intention to use their database to help create a One World Family Tree. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from all over the world, specifically those who four grandparents lived in close proximity to each other. Along with this announcement, Living DNA is allowing individuals who have results from other companies and want to help with this project, to transfer into their database. So it seems that with growing databases come growing options, whether to opt-in to research, to pursue health information from your DNA test results, or to help build global databases for health or genealogy purposes. Recognizing the growing appeal to non-genealogists as well, AncestryDNA added to their list of options the ability to opt-out of the match page, and there are rumors that Living DNA will soon be adding the option to opt-in to matching (they do not currently have a cousin-matching feature as part of their offering). It can be tricky to keep up with all that goes on, but be sure we at Genealogy Gems are doing our best to keep you up-to-date with any news that might help you make better decisions about your genealogy, and ultimately better equipped to find your ancestors. GENEALOGY GEMS NEWS Premium Podcast Episode 154 (publishing later this month) NEW Premium Video: “Your Guide to Cloud Backup” This video answers the questions: What is cloud backup? Why should I use cloud backup? How does cloud backup work? Is cloud backup safe? What should I look for when selecting a cloud backup service? My personal cloud backup choice Click here to subscribe to Genealogy Gems Premium membership   Donna Moughty’s Irish Guide series has proven so popular, we’ve added a third one: Irish Guide #3, Land, Tax and Estate Records in Ireland. This Guide explains how and why Griffith’s Valuation was done, and how to use it to glean the most information about your family. After Griffith’s Valuation, the Revision Books allow you to follow the land and in some cases, to the 1970s, possibly identifying cousins still living on the land. This quick reference guide includes: Explanation of the columns in Griffith’s Valuation Rules under which Griffith’s Valuation was done. Tips for using Griffith’s to find your family Using the Revision Books to identify life events The Tithe Applotment, an earlier tax list Landed Estate Courts Estate Records Pre-ordering is open for the print version: shipping starts around Dec. 11, 2017. The digital download version will be available for purchase around the same time. Get the bundle of all 3 Irish guides and SAVE! The bundle includes:  Guide #1: Preparing for Success in Irish Records Research Guide #2: Irish Civil Registration and Church Records Guide #3: Land, Tax and Estate Records in Ireland BONUS CONTENT in the Genealogy Gems App If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode a reading of an excerpt of The Book of Christmas: Descriptive of the Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions by Thomas Kibble Hervey (The chapter Signs of the Season) published in 1845 – available for free in Google Books. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users MAILBOX Genealogy Gems blog post on finding missing ancestors Learn more about using Google Books and Google Patents in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox   Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   Lovepop Cards Unlock special pricing for 5 or more cards AND get free shipping on any order by going to   GEM: MARGARET LINFORD’S GENEALOGICAL ORIGINS Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #208 Click here to read Margaret’s memories and see her pictures of Grandma Overbay Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at   INTERVIEW: TURN MEMORY FRAGMENTS INTO MEANINGFUL STORIES Sunny Morton is a Contributing Editor at Genealogy Gems and presenter of the new Premium Video, “Share Your Own Life Stories More Meaningfully” (click here to watch a quick preview). She is also author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy (use coupon code GEMS17 for an extra 10% off by December 31, 2017). Strategies for turning memory fragments into meaningful stories (learn more about all of these in the Premium Video, “Share Your Own Life Stories More Meaningfully”): Gather together even the smallest fragments of your memories together by writing them down. Think about what missing details you could research by finding pictures, books, chronologies, maps and other resources (both online and offline). Look for common patterns or recurring themes in groups of memory fragments. (For example, Sunny shared memories of swimming in this episode.) What kind of story do these memories tell over time about your personality, circumstances, relationships or other aspects of your life?   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!   FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
November 8, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #211 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke talks with Barry Moreno, Historian at Ellis Island. Hear about the life cycle of this busy U.S. immigration station (1892-1954) and Barry’s research into thousands of Ellis Island employees—men and women—who worked there. HelloFresh: Visit and use promo code gems30 to save $30 off your first week of deliveries. More episode highlights: Archive Lady Melissa Barker tells us about the National Archives Citizen Archivist program—and Lisa profiles a volunteer effort coordinated by the British Library to geo-tag thousands of old maps that are already online. A giant genealogy lost-and-found! Two listeners write in about rescuing old artifacts and returning them to those who might be interested. Military Minutes contributor Michael Strauss talks about Official Military Personnel Files for 20th-century US servicemen and women—files that were unfortunately partially destroyed. Hear what he learned about his grandfather. NEWS National Archives Citizen Archivist Project, reported by The Archive Lady, Melissa Barker The British Library Georeferencing Project Flickr Commons collection of digitized maps from the British Library Collections—mostly 19th century maps from books published in Europe. Use Google Earth for genealogy! Check out these resources: FREE Google Earth for Genealogy video The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition by Lisa Louise Cooke. This book has 7 full chapters on Google Earth! Available in print and e-book form. Google Earth for Genealogy Video Training by Lisa Louise Cooke. Available now as a digital download.     NEW FOR GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM MEMBERS “Share Your Life Stories More Meaningfully” Premium Video Every life is fascinating when it’s well shared! Learn from the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy what stories you have that are worth telling--and several inspiring reasons to write them. Review different kinds of memories, why some memories are more vivid that others, and how to flesh them out. Learn tips for researching gaps in your memories, how to turn a memory into a good story, what to leave out and several ways to share your stories.   BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERS If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a preview of the new Premium video class, “Share Your Own Life Stories More Meaningfully” by Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users   MAILBOX: ROLAND’S HEIRLOOM RESCUE MAILBOX: NEW LISTENER PHOTO RESCUE PROJECT What can you do with a collection of unidentified photos? Return them to a loving home. In this case, it was a local historical society. Linda wisely kept the collection together because often there’s power in what some of the photos may tell you about others. Get them digitized and online so those who want them can find them. The historical society put images on Find A Grave memorials and Iowa GenWeb. They even plan to display them for locals to look at personally and try to identify! Historical and genealogical societies can also share mystery photos on their websites (or their local library’s website if they don’t have their own) or on their blogs, Facebook pages or even in their regular newsletters. These are great conversation pieces, especially when you can later report that you have solved the mystery! (Click here for more tips aimed at supporting genealogy societies.) Photo mystery SOLVED: Savvy tips to identify old photos Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and RootsMagic is now fully integrated with you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.   Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at MILITARY MINUTES: OFFICIAL MILITARY PERSONNEL FILES The military service files for your ancestors who served during the twentieth century or later are located at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO as part of the National Archives. The files are called the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and are available for each of the military branches; namely; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Researchers should be keenly aware of the devastating fire that occurred on July 12, 1973 at the research facility that destroyed or damaged between 16-18 million service files from the United States Army and the Air Force. Remember that the Air Force wasn’t officially organized until September 14, 1947. Before this date Air Force records were part of the United States Army Air Corps, then part of the U.S. Army.  National Archives at St. Louis. Overview of the holdings, media articles and PowerPoint presentations (download as PDFs) The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) Non-Archival Holdings Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) Archival Holdings Archival Research Room at the National Personnel Record Center (Request an Appointment, Availability of Records, Copy Fees, Hours of Operation, Hiring a Researcher) Request Military Service Records (Online request for Veterans, Standard Form 180, or For Burials and Emergency Requests) Mail Order Request for Record from the National Personnel Record Center (SF 180)   Zerbe H. Howard Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at   Watch the video below for an example of a family history video made with Animoto:    is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   INTERVIEW: BARRY MORENO, ELLIS ISLAND HISTORIAN Barry Moreno is a leading authority on the history of Ellis Island, the famous receiving station for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892-1954. He has worked in the Museum Services Division at Ellis Island for more than a decade. He is the author of several books, including Children of Ellis Island, Ellis Island’s Famous Immigrants (including Bob Hope, Bela Lugosi, and Max Factor) and Encyclopedia of Ellis Island (which includes information on displaced persons).        Ellis Island: Historical highlights Prior to 1890, immigration was handled by the states (primarily New York, as most passed through the Port of New York). 1920-1921: New regulations cut down immigration dramatically. Each country had quotas that could not be exceeded. New regulations were passed requiring immigrants to have a passport from their home country have medical examinations pay a tax to the American Consulate in their home country.  During the last 30 years, Ellis Island mostly handled immigrants who were "in trouble." Starting in the 1930s some immigrants arrived by air (Colonial Airways from Canada). After WWII, Air France started service, and German and Italian airlines came in the 1950s.  Ellis Island was closed in 1954 by President Eisenhower. Immigrants who were still detained when it closed were sent to jails. After 1954, Ellis Island was still used by the Coast Guard for training and by the Public Health Services department.  Barry’s research on workers at Ellis Island: Most employees were men. Interestingly, blue collar men tended to die before age 60, and better educated ones lived much longer.  Female employees were typically widows, unmarried or had husbands who did not support them. "Char woman" was a common role held by Irish, Swedish and German women. Char means "chores" (cleaning women). They worked often for about $400/ year with no pension, and lived to old ages. A nursery was opened at Ellis Island; many Christian missionaries worked there. Ludmila Foxlee (1885-1971) was one of them, a social worker with the YWCA. Click here to read more immigrant aid workers at Ellis Island. Three more great resources for discovering the stories of your immigrant ancestors: What was it like to land on Ellis Island? Read this article and watch (for free) an award-winning, official documentary) If your search at the Ellis Island website doesn’t retrieve your ancestors, head on over to Stephen P. Morse’s One Step Pages. There you will find dozens of links to search resources, including the Ellis Island Gold Form for arrivals between 1892 and 1924.  Even the folks at Ellis Island refer researchers to Morse’s site. Listen to Lisa’s interview with Stephen Morse in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #153. In Lias's free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast (episodes 29-31), genealogist Steve Danko covers immigration and naturalization records in depth and even offers up some little-known tips about deciphering some of the cryptic notes researchers often find on passenger lists.   PROFILE AMERICA: FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO BROADCAST   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Contributor: Your DNA Guide Melissa Barker, Contributor: The Archive Lady Michael Strauss, Contributor: Military Minutes Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog! Sign up for our FREE newsletter: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
October 24, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #210 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode: You’ve heard of “burned counties,” a phrase used to describe places where courthouse fires or other disasters have destroyed key genealogy records? In this episode, a listener presents the problem of her burned city—Chicago. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares some of the latest buzz about DNA health reports you can get with your DNA tests for family history—and some opinions about them News from the Genealogy Gems Book Club Get-started Swedish genealogy tips from Legacy Tree Genealogist Paul Woodbury The Archive Lady Melissa Barker shines the spotlight on archival collections that haven’t even been processed yet (and suggestions for getting to them) Five years away from the release of the 1950 US census, Lisa has tips on researching your family in the 1940s and preparing for its release MAILBOX: GEMS FOR YOU AND YOUR SOCIETY Gail mentioned the free step-by-step Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast Great news! Your genealogy society or group may reprint articles from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems blog! Click here to learn more. MAILBOX: GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB Shannon by Frank Delaney (Thank you for supporting the free podcast by using our links to get your copies of these books.) Ireland by Frank Delaney   Book Club Guru Sunny Morton recommends the novels of Frank Delaney, beginning with Shannon (and now she’s reading Ireland). Frank is a master storyteller, and family history themes wind throughout his stories. Tip: he narrates his audiobooks himself. They are well worth listening to! But they’re so beautifully written Sunny is buying them in print, too. MAILBOX: THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE Resource: “Burned county” research tips Sam Fink’s list (an index of Cook County marriages and deaths) Recommended: Family History Podcast episode #37: “I discussed a book specifically on Chicago research: Finding Your Chicago Ancestors: A Beginners Guide To Family History In The City Of Chicago by Grace DuMelle. As I recall, it was a very comprehensive book and could give you good leads on where to look.” How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke Premium Podcast Episode 143: Johnstown Flood story Premium Podcast episode 145: Eastland disaster story and tips on researching disasters in your family history Fire, Flood or Earthquake? 5 Tips for Researching Disasters in Your Family History (includes mention of GenDisasters)   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and RootsMagic is now fully integrated with you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.     Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at ARCHIVE LADY: UNPROCESSED RECORDS As an archivist, working in an archive every day, I get very excited when someone walks through the door with a records donation in hand. Many of our archives would not have the genealogical and historical records they have without the generosity of others that make records donations. Archives receive donations of documents, photographs, ephemera and artifacts almost on a daily basis. Many archives have back rooms full of unprocessed and uncatalogued records collections. Sometimes they are even sitting in the original boxes they were donated. These records collections have not been microfilmed, they are not online anywhere but they exist and the genealogist needs to seek them out. Images courtesy of Melissa Barker and Houston County, TN Archives. One tip that I like to share with genealogists is to ask the staff at the archives about these unprocessed and uncatalogued record collections. Many times these record collections haven't even been processed yet but the archivist might let you look through a specific collection. Be prepared, sometimes the archivist doesn't allow patrons to view unprocessed collections. But like I always say "It doesn't hurt to ask!" The archivist should know what they have in those collections and should be able to help you decide if a particular collection will be of help to you and your genealogy research. Many of our archives and archivists are very busy processing records, helping patrons, answer email and much more. Maybe the archive is short staffed and can’t get to the unprocessed records as quickly as they would like. This is why there are record collections sitting on shelves in back rooms waiting to be processed. If you have made a research trip to an archive, it wouldn't hurt to ask about any new record donations or collections. There could very well be records in those boxes about your ancestors. If you are emailing or talking to the archives by phone, be sure and ask about any new records collections that have been processed or that have recently been donated and are waiting to be processed. Most likely you will have to travel to the facility to see the records but you can get an idea of what is available.  Archivists love to share the records in their care and usually know what is contained in those boxes that haven’t been processed yet. The answer to your genealogical question could be sitting in a box of unprocessed records. I like to always encourage genealogists to put “unprocessed records” on their to-do list. As genealogists, we should leave no stone or box of records, unturned. DNA WITH DIAHAN: MORE DNA HEALTH REPORTS Recently, Family Tree DNA offered its customers a new $49 add-on product: a wellness report that promises to “empower you to make more informed decisions about your nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.” The report comes via a partnership with Vitagene, a nutrigenomics company. How does it work? When you order the report, Family Tree DNA shares the results of your Family Finder test with Vitagene and gives you a lifestyle questionnaire. According to the site, “this information, along with your DNA raw data results, will be analyzed using the latest research available in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and genomics. You can expect your results to be available on your dashboard within one week of purchase.” At this point, the test is only available to those who have taken the Family Tree DNA Family Finder DNA test (we called to check with them specifically about those who transfer their DNA to Family Tree DNA, but the Wellness Report isn’t available to them, either). Those who qualify will see a Wellness Report upgrade option on their Family Tree DNA dashboard: There are several components to the Family Tree DNA and Vitagene Wellness Report. The site describes them as follows: Nutrition Report. “Personalized, actionable recommendations designed to help you reach your weight goals. Learn how your DNA affects traits such as obesity risk, emotional eating, weight regain after dieting, and more. Included Reports:  Obesity Risk, Alcohol Metabolism, Cholesterol Levels, Triglyceride Levels, Lactose Sensitivity, Gluten Sensitivity, Emotional Eating, Weight Regain After Dieting, Fat Intake, Sodium Intake.” Exercise Report. “Outlines the optimal physical activities for your body to start seeing better results, faster. Included Reports: Power and Endurance Exercise, Muscle Strength, Muscle Cramps, Exercise Behavior, Blood Pressure Response to Exercise, Weight Response to Exercise.” Supplementation Report. “Reveals which deficiencies you are more inclined to suffer from and recommends a supplement regimen that will help keep you healthy and feeling 100%. Included Reports: Full Supplementation Regimen, Vitamin D Intake, Vitamin A Intake, Folate Intake, Vitamin B12 Intake, Iron Intake.” And what about your privacy? According to Family Tree DNA’s Q&A, “Your data is 100% secure and protected by industry standard security practices. We will not share your information without your explicit consent.” This is just one of many services that are cropping up or will crop up in the future to offer additional interpretations of our DNA test results. (23andMe was the first major company in the genealogy space to offer these–click here to read about their health reports, and click here and here to read about the company’s long road to FDA approval.) Essentially, each DNA test you do for family history looks at a certain number of your SNPs, or little pieces of DNA (not your entire genome, which is costly and isn’t necessary for genetic genealogy purposes). A nutrigenomic profile compares your SNPs with SNPs known to be associated with various conditions or ailments. (These genetic markers have been identified by researchers, many in academia, and deposited in ClinVar, a large, publicly-accessible database that itself is part of an even larger genetic database, SNPedia.) In this case of Vitagene, they are likely mining ClinVar for specific places in your DNA that pertain to nutrition, and were also evaluated as part of the Family Finder test. Of course, many factors affect your health, nutrition, exercise capacity, and other wellness indicators, not just your genes. The purpose of reports like these is to give you just one more piece of information to weigh personally or with your health care provider. When considering whether to purchase a nutrigenomics report such as this, I’d look carefully at what’s promised in the report, as well as the company providing it and the cost. Vitagene does also sell vitamin supplements, so they have a clear motivation to tell you about what supplements to take. And, for your information, Vitagene also offers this $49 health report for AncestryDNA and 23andMe customers. Of course, if it is health advice you want, for only $5 you can turn to and receive a health report–based on any testing company’s autosomal DNA report–that includes some nutritional factors. (I’ve blogged recently about Promethease and another inexpensive recommendation for DNA health reports. Click here to read it!) Or, I will just tell you right now, for free, without even looking at your DNA: Exercise more and eat more green vegetables and less ice cream. There. I just saved you some money. You’re welcome. GEM: COUNTDOWN TO THE 1950 CENSUS: 5 TIPS Get a copy of a census record for yourself or a relative (1950-2010) This costs $65 per person, per census year. In addition to genealogy uses, census records are legally-recognized documents to prove your identity, citizenship or age if you’re applying for a passport and you’ve lost your birth certificate or other situations like that. Order it through the “Age Search Service” offered through the US Census Bureau. Video tutorial: How to obtain a copy of your census record Find your family in all possible records before and during WWII City directories, WWII draft registrations, military yearbooks, the US Public Records Index, military enlistments, and even alien registrations or internment camp records for foreign-born residents during WWII. WWII-era newspapers: Searching for coverage Finding family history in WWII-era newspapers: Narrowing the results 5 places to find city directories: “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” at (subscription required) City Directories of the United States Library of Congress to see holdings at different libraries (may require copy service request, since originals may not circulate through interlibrary loan) Local public libraries/societies Find your family in all possible records AFTER the war City directories, yearbooks, deeds, divorce records (the divorce rate went up after WWII) Post-WWII draft registrations: Click here to order copies of draft registration records for men born 1897-1957. Requires full name of applicant, address at time of registration (tip: get it from a city directory).  Help create location tools for the 1950 US Census Steve Morse’s “Project 1950” Google your family’s history during the 1940s and 1950s Google Earth for Genealogy (FREE) Premium video: Ultimate Google Search Strategies for the Family Historian The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox 2nd ed, by Lisa Louise Cooke (there’s an entire chapter on YouTube) Follow-up your discoveries with Google and YouTube search questions. Example: You find your grandmother working as a telephone operator in the 1940s in a city directory. What would her job have been like? Search YouTube: YouTube videos on 1940s telephone operators It appears from these videos that operators essentially served as emergency dispatchers. When did 9-1-1 service begin? Search Google: LEGACY TREE TIP: START YOUR SWEDISH GENEALOGY Click here to read Paul Woodbury’s tips on the Genealogy Gems website. Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GEM S100. Expires Oct. 31st, 2017. PROFILE AMERICA: THE OPEN ROAD “The busiest spot on the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” Library of Congress photograph; image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Click here to see full citation. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a lightning-quick tech tip from Lisa Louise Cooke on how to undo that last browser you just closed and didn’t mean to! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
October 10, 2017
The Genealogy Gems PodcastEpisode 209with Lisa Louise Cooke In today’s episode: David Ouimette of FamilySearch is known to his colleagues as “the Indiana Jones of genealogy” because of his globe-trotting adventures in curating record treasures. He joins us to talk about the millions of records being digitized around the world right now. Lots of excited emails from you! Compiled military service records from Military Minutes expert Michael Strauss GENEALOGY GEMS EVENTS Thanks for a great seminar, Texas Czech Genealogical Society! (shown right: the beautiful items you see in the foreground are Czech crystal and other traditional items) Jake’s Texas Tea House, Waco, TX Bill at Jake's Magnolia Market at the Silos See Lisa Louise Cooke in October: Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado Seminar October 15, 2017 Denver, CO Wilson-Cobb History and Genealogy Research Library October 21, 2017 Roswell, NM NEWS: ROOTSMAGIC UPDATE Free update for RootsMagic 7 users: version (update primarily fixes bugs). Click on the "Update Available" indicator in the lower right corner of your RootsMagic 7 program screen. If you don't already have RootsMagic 7, click here to see what’s new Or click here to order the upgrade. RootsMagic’s new TreeShare for Ancestry   MAILBOX Gray recommends Lisa’s free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast   MAILBOX: FREE WEBINAR RESPONSES “Reveal Your Unique Story through DNA & Family History” RootsTech 2018: A First Look RootsTech Q&A  Click the image above to watch the video Click the red SUBSCRIBE button on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.   NEW GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM VIDEO Develop your search superpowers to uncover information about your family history on the web with Google at lightning speed! Explore tools like Image search, facial recognition, finding specific types of files, how to find the answers you need, and more. Click here to watch a class preview; click here to become a Genealogy Gems Premium member. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is an easy-to-access version of the new Genealogy Gems Premium video, “Google Search Secrets.” The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   INTERVIEW: DAVID OUIMETTE OF FAMILYSEARCH: “THE INDIANA JONES OF GENEALOGY” David Ouimette, CG, manages Content Strategy at FamilySearch. He has conducted research and analyzed archival materials in dozens of countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. David lectures regularly and has written for genealogists, including Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide. Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton is the author of “Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites.” Use this jammed-packed cheat sheet to quickly and easily compare the most important features of the four biggest international genealogy records membership websites:,, and Consult it every time your research budget, needs or goals change! Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   MILITARY MINUTES: COMPILED MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS If a clue found in your ancestor’s US draft registration records listed military service you will want next to search for his Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR).  The Compiled Military Service Records (often abbreviated at CMSR or CSR) record the name, unit, and period of service of the veteran along with information related to military service from the Revolutionary War to the end of the hostilities of the Philippine Insurrection after the turn of the 20th century. The information varies greatly from each of the war periods that recorded this information. Besides the identifying features listed above, they typically contain muster in/out information, rank in/out details and further highlight the soldier career by recording promotions, prisoner of war memorandums, casualties, and a number of personnel papers which may include enlistment papers and other related documents. Several of the war periods also provide physical descriptions of the soldiers including; name, age, nativity, occupation, height, hair, eyes, and complexion information. This set of records represents the volunteer Army and doesn’t include regular Army enlistments. Except for limited records of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 for the Navy, the other branches of the military (including Navy, Marines, and Revenue Cutter Service) all have their equivalent set of records. Your ancestor may have multiple entries in the CMSR. This could occur if a soldier served in more than one unit, or in the case of John LeMaster, who enlisted in two different armies. The Civil War divided our nation, testing the loyalty of all persons who lived during this time. Lemaster chose the Confederacy (as least initially) when in 1861 in Charlestown, VA he enlisted with the 2nd VA Infantry fighting alongside of his Brigade commander Thomas J. Jackson who later would be known as “Stonewall Jackson.” (Photos: John H. Lemaster and his family in Martinsburg, WV. Photos courtesy of Michael Strauss.) After the Confederate loss at the battle of Gettysburg he deserted and lived in Martinsburg in what was now West Virginia where on his Draft Registration he was listed as a deserter from the Rebel Army.  In 1864 he enlisted in the United States Army with the 3rd WV Cavalry, serving out the duration of the war until 1865. After the war he was granted a federal pension, with no mention of his former service in the Confederacy. Shown on following pages: his military service records for both the Confederate and Union armies.     Access various CMSR indexes and images online at the following: At fold3: Revolutionary War. Compiled Military Service Record images are online for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops. Genealogists should also search the local state where their ancestors were from as some Militia isn’t included in these records.    During the Revolutionary War additional Compiled Service Records were completed for the Navy, which was broken down to include Naval Personnel, Quartermaster General, and Commissary General Departments.  One additional set of CMSR images covered Revolutionary War service along with Imprisonment Cards. Click here Old Wars (1784-1811). After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States government sought to maintain a regular Army. However, volunteer soldiers who served from 1784-1811 were recorded. (One of the reasons for volunteers to be called up would have included the Whiskey Rebellion of 1793.)  Their Compiled Military Service Record full images are available online here. War of 1812. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes are online for CT, DE, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA and also the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Shawanoe Indians along with United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for the Chickasaw and Creek Indians, along with the men from Lake Erie and Mississippi.  Indian Wars. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes are online for the various Indians wars from 1815-1858.  Mexican War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes are online for AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, DC, MA, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and the Mormon Battalion and the United States Volunteers. Full copies of the CMSR are online for AR, MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion. Civil War. Click here to search:  Union: Indexes are online for AZ, CA, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI, United States Veteran Volunteers, and Veteran Reserve Corps. Full copies of CMSR for AL, AR, CA, CO, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OR, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, United States Colored Troops, United States Volunteers, and 1st NY Engineers. Confederate: indexes are online for AL, and VA. Full copies of CMSR are online for AL, AZ, AK, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, Miscellaneous, Volunteers, Indians, and Officers. Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record Indexes are online for AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, and United States Volunteers.  Full copies of CMSR are online for FL. At Revolutionary War. Full copies of the Compiled Military Service Records for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops.  This database often doesn’t list the local militia as most of the men listed were part of the continental line. Researchers can access this group of records and search by keyword or location. Search here Old Wars. This database is an index and full images of the Compiled Military Service Records of those men who served after the Revolutionary War and before the War of 1812, covering the years of 1784-1811. War of 1812. Abstracted lists of names, state, and military units from the Compiled Service Records (no images).Search here Indian Wars: Database with images for Florida: includes the Florida Wars, Second Creek War, and the Third Seminole War from 1835-1858 Mexican War. Full copies of the CMSR are online for MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion. Search here Civil War: Union:Compiled Military Service Records are searchable, with a link to the collection on Fold3 here Confederate: Compiled Military Service Records are searchable, with a link to Fold3 to view original images here. An additional set of Service Records comes from units that were raised by the Confederate Government and not from any of the states that comprised the Confederacy. The CMSR are available online to view the images and searchable by military unit here. Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record Indexes are online that cover the same geographical areas as on Fold3 here. Full copies of CMSR are online on Ancestry for Florida here. Free at Family Search has fewer Compiled Military Service Records available online that include images. One of the major collections includes the Revolutionary War CMSR’s that when searched here, the images provide a direct link to Fold3. Most of the other major war periods are microfilmed and available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. With online access through both Fold3 and Ancestry provided on the computers in the library, accessing the film is less desirable.   GEM: USNEWSMAP Free video helps you visualize where historic newspapers are located in the US Suzanne’s comment: “Did you realize that this site from the Georgia Tech Research Institute is actually a wonderful search engine for Chronicling website? I have used the LOC site often, but found it cumbersome sometimes. This is a real time saver. Thanks for the Genealogy Gem.” Lisa’s tip: In the timeline you can specify a date, like 1860 (date and month too!), then press play and it will play back and reveal the locations on mentions of your search query coming forward in time. It would be really interesting to take a word or phrase and see when it first occurred. This is a very feature-rich website! PROFILE AMERICA: HOME MAKING A short YouTube video documentary on Leavittown: it’s a great example of the do-it-yourself video narratives you can make to tell your own family’s stories! KEEP UP WITH GENEALOGY GEMS Listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcast twice a month! Check in on or after October 26, 2017 for Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 210. What’s coming? Paul Woodbury of Legacy Tree Genealogists will share some great tips for beginning Swedish genealogy—and much more! Follow Genealogy Gems on Instagram Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager
September 27, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode: A free webinar! Great comments from you: An inspiring Google Books success story, how one listener gets her shy husband talking about his life story, and a listener’s own version of the poem, “Where I’m From” The Archive Lady talks to us about historical scrapbooks at archives that may be packed with genealogy gems for us A genealogy hero who saved a life story Your first look at RootsTech 2018 NEWS: FREE WEBINAR “Reveal Your Unique Story through DNA & Family History” Handouts: Googling and Making Videos with Lisa Louise Cooke Newspaper Research Worksheet from Lisa Louise Cooke Genetic Genealogy: Here’s What You Need to Know from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard NEWS: FIRST LOOK AT ROOTSTECH 2018 Click here for more on RootsTech 2018 Going to RootsTech for the first time? Read this RootsTech Q&A. MAILBOX: PAT INTERVIEWS HER SHY HUSBAND “Remembering Dad” video Pat’s tip: When someone is shy about sharing life stories, interview them informally while traveling. Pat uses her iPad to transcribe his responses, then polishes it up when she gets home and transfers it to her own computer. “Eventually we will have enough to write the story of his life, with lots of pictures. And it's completely painless.” MAILBOX: GOOGLE BOOKS SUCCESS STORY FROM KIM Link image to:  Click here for another inspiring genealogy discovery using Google Books—with how-to tips and a free video preview of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Premium video tutorial, “Google Books: The Tool You Need Every Day” MAILBOX: “WHERE I’M FROM” POEM SUBMISSION Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 185: Learn more about the “Where I’m From” poetry project and hear a conversation with the original author, Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon. THE ARCHIVE LADY: HISTORICAL SCRAPBOOKS Scrapbooks are one of my favorite record sources to do genealogy research in and to also process in the archives. There are all kinds of scrapbooks; each and every one is unique and one-of-a-kind. They were put together with love and the hope that what was saved and pasted onto those pages will be remembered. The origins of scrapbooking is said to go back to the 15th century in England and it is still a hobby enjoyed by many today. Most archives, libraries, historical and genealogical societies have scrapbooks in their collections. They will most likely be found in the Manuscript Collection as part of a specifically named collection. Scrapbooks contain all kinds of wonderful genealogical records, photographs and ephemera. There is even a scrapbook in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives that has candy bar wrappers pasted in it. This particular scrapbook is one of my absolute favorites. It was compiled and owned by Evelyn Ellis and dates to the 1930’s and 1940’s. Among the normal newspaper clippings and event programs are interesting pieces such as a Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper with a handwritten note by Evelyn that reads "Always remember June 11, 1938 at Beach Grove at the Ice Cream Supper." There is also an original ticket pasted into the scrapbook from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee where Evelyn Ellis visited and recorded her comments on April 1, 1939. There are scrapbooks for just about any subject. Aside from personal scrapbooks, you can find war scrapbooks, obituary clipping scrapbooks and scrapbooks that collected and recorded local or national events. The obituaries found in scrapbooks could be a real find because sometimes they are the only pieces of the newspaper that survive and can be a treasure trove for any genealogist. Many scrapbooks contain one-of-a-kind documents, photographs and ephemera. To find scrapbooks in an archive, ask the archivist if they have any scrapbooks in their records collections. Many times scrapbooks are housed with a particular manuscript collection and will be listed in the finding aid. Some archives have a collection of just scrapbooks that have been donated to them and can be easily accessed. Most scrapbooks will not be on research shelves and will be stored in back rooms at the archives and will have to be requested. You should also check the archives online catalog for any listings of scrapbooks before you jump in the car and drive to the archives. I encourage all genealogists to check with the archive in the area where your ancestors were from and see if they have any scrapbooks in their archived records collections. Scrapbooks are like time capsules: you don’t know what will be found in them until you open them up. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a PDF with tips for what to do if your own scrapbook gets wet. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. This episode is sponsored by: Use coupon code STORY17 to save 30% through 10/15/17! Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. GEM: SAVING A LIFE STORY Original story on SWVA Today: “String of Pearls: Marion’s Bob White Shares Family History Collection” by Margaret Linford, Columnist Smyth County Public Library Local History webpage Genealogy Gems how-to resources to help you: Video record a loved one telling their life stories How to video record a fantastic family history interview How to create a family history video with Animoto Digitize and share your research and your own life story: Interview with Larsen Digital in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183 How to Start Blogging series in the free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (episodes 38-42) and this article: 3 Ways to Improve Your Genealogy Blog RootsMagic family history software has publishing tools (for print and online publishing):   This episode is sponsored by: Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and RootsMagic is now fully integrated with you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.   A BRILLIANT WAY TO “MEET” YOUR ANCESTOR Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shared this story from Christine: “Friday night I brought out large cut out of my Grandmother, Christine Doering, sitting in an easy chair so it looks like she is talking with you, and I played a recording done in 1970's of her talking and giggling about coming to America in 1896 at the age of 9.  For some they had never heard her voice before.”   Learn more about Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast: Explore our website at, Subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter (from the home page on the website) Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant Lacey Cooke, Service Manager FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
September 13, 2017
Interview with Mary Tedesco of the Genealogy Roadshow TV series on PBS. Also World War I Draft Cards WWI
August 22, 2017
FamilySearch has announced the end of their long-standing microfilm lending program. Diane Loosle, Director of Patron Services at FamilySearch joins me for a discussion of what this means for you and strategies for getting the genealogical records you need for your family history research.
August 10, 2017
Lisa Louise Cooke reprises a favorite research detour into vehicle forensics to identify an old family car and shares tips for creating short family history books like those she given as holiday gifts to loved ones. Listener Letters: an adoption discovery and a 1940 census mystery. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares 4 reasons to take a DNA test, if you haven’t taken the plunge yet. Genealogy Gems Book Club title: Murder in Matera by Helene Stapinski.
July 11, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #205 with Lisa Louise Cooke This episode breaks two huge pieces of genealogy news and shares two great conversations: FamilySearch ends microfilm lending:  how you can get the records you need; RootsMagic adds compatibility: sync your tree to your master RootsMagic file and search from within the software; Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, talks about visiting archives to explore original manuscript record treasures; Nicole Dyer shares a fun family history activity idea to do with kids—do you have a family gathering coming up that could use this inspiration? A SURPRISE IN MY MAILBOX! NEWS Navigating the end of FamilySearch Microfilm Lending RootsMagic Adds Sync and Search NEW PREMIUM VIDEO! Lisa Louise Cooke shows you how to use the free Google Earth Pro software to create your own historic map collection customized for your genealogy and family history research. By the end of this class you’ll have a permanent collection of hundreds of gorgeous historic and vintage maps from around the world, organized and ready to use for family history. Click here to watch a free preview of this full-length video class. Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing: click here to learn more. LISA: I thought the resolution of the jpg version wasn’t good, so I just left this ad as text. The 4th Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference This episode today is brought to you by the 4rd Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference, hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, north of Seattle in Arlington, WA. Centering on the theme, “Where Does Your Story Begin?” it’s four days PACKED full of genealogy. There will be well-known and respected keynote speakers, including our friend and genetic genealogist Diahan Southard, speaking on DNA; Kenyatta Berry of Genealogy Roadshow fame, speaking on Caribbean research and using slave schedules in research; and Daniel Earl speaking on Putting History in Your Family History. Starting off with the Free Day Wednesday afternoon, Speaker Peggy Lauritzen will address beginner's issues in her Genealogy 101 presentation, which is also a good refresher for the more seasoned genealogists.  There will be such great genealogical information for all levels, AND it'll be lot of fun! Between classes take a chance to meet a distant cousin with the “Cousin Wall”. Participate in the genealogy-related scavenger hunt, the Wednesday evening meet and greet and the Friday dress-as-your-ancestor day, and much, much more! Go to for details and to register. Check it out now -- registrations are limited, so it's good to get in early. It’s August 16-19, 2017. It’ll be a great show: don’t miss it! INTERVIEW: MELISSA BARKER, THE ARCHIVE LADY Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Records Manager, the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist and author of the popular blog A Genealogist in the Archives and bi-weekly advice column The Archive Lady. She has been researching her own family history for the past 27 years. Preserve your own family archive: Items in danger: Original items in attics, basements What to preserve first: The most precious and original items you have! Restoration tips: Clean documents and photos with archival sponges. Lay the item perfectly flat. Gently place a finger or hand to hold it steady. Work with the sponge from the center outward, in small sections. Keep two-dimensional items as flat as possible. Encase fragile items in Mylar sleeves (buy from archival supply companies). Visiting an archive: Call ahead! Don’t trust the operational hours from the website. Ask about parking – it’s often very limited. Ask ahead about access to archival items of interest. Archive etiquette: Follow the rules. Be courteous when working with staff. Museums, societies, archives, and libraries may all have collections in back rooms you can’t see—but you can ask for them. Vertical Files – in folders in cabinets Manuscript Collections – underused in genealogy! Ask for finding aid. Loose Records – the working papers of a court case, for example Unprocessed Records – not yet incorporated into the official collection Tips for using your mobile devices in archives: Ask for procedures for taking photos with your own device. There may be rules against this or a use fee. Capture the source information by photographs: cover page, page number, folder, box number, manuscript collection name, etc. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users Get the app here If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus audio content for this episode comes from Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady,  with more about finding and using original manuscript records in your genealogy research. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and RootsMagic is now fully integrated with, too: you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site. Learn more about Backblaze here Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   INTERVIEW: NICOLE DYER Nicole has been researching her ancestors and delighting in their stories for the past 15 years. Nicole volunteers at the Tucson Family History Center teaching a family history story time group for young children.    Read Nicole's blog post here Lisa suggested the free program Jing for video screen capturing: (Full disclosure: this podcast blog contains affiliate links. We will be compensated if you make a purchase through our link. Isn't that an awesome way to help keep the free podcast free?!) Visit Animoto here and start a free trial Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: A FAMILY HISTORY MURDER MYSTERY! Get the book here. Journalist Helene Stapinski’s new family history memoir: Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy  A story of poverty and power, love, tragic decisions, and a courageous and desperate woman's leap for a new life across the ocean Murder in Matera continues to unravel a past Helene explored in her fantastic first family history memoir, Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History. Find a whole list of fabulous family history-inspired reading at the Genealogy Gems Book Club!   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Lacey Cooke, Service "Happiness" Manager
June 15, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #204 with Lisa Louise Cooke Canadian expert Dave Obee shares the story of the Canadian home children tips on newspaper research. Also in this episode: New site features at MyHeritage, including improved DNA ethnicity analysis (it’s free—upload your DNA!); An excerpt from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Fannie Flagg about The Whole Town’s Talking—and a great summer reading idea; A detailed get-started guide to British Isles research: Terminology and census/civil BMD record tips from Kate Eakman at Legacy Tree Genealogists Why so many weddings are traditionally held in June.   NEWS: DNA AND CATALOG UPDATES AT MYHERITAGE DNA ethnicity estimate updates and new collection Catalog View an example of the new ethnicity analysis presentation here: 3 top uses for the new MyHeritage catalog (with additional details and commentary) MyHeritage Quick Reference Guide (Newly-updated in 2017)   Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites. This brand new, comprehensive guide helps you answer the question, "Which genealogy websites should I use?" MAILBOX: BOOK CLUB COMMENTS Visit the book club here. Companion video recommendations: Genealogy Journey: Running Away to Home video (click here to see the book) “You Came and Saved Us” video with author Chris Cleave, Everyone Brave is Forgiven Alan Cumming on Who Do You Think You Are? Episode summary Not My Father’s Son  by Alan Cumming For more information:   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and In the works: soon RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site. Learn more or sign up for Backblaze here. Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at INTERVIEW: DAVE OBEE Continuing our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday! Dave Obee is an internationally-renowned Canadian journalist, historian and genealogist. Dave is a columnist for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today (formerly Family Chronicle). Dave has also written about family history for Canada's History and Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom. Put Dave’s books on your shelf - you can get them here. Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records Making the News: A Times Columnist Look at 150 Years of History Canada research tips: Look in newspapers for ship crossings, notable people sailing, approximate numbers of passengers etc. Don’t just rely on search engines for digitized newspapers. Browse the papers where you find some hits. Canada Home Children: Watch and Learn   Forgotten, an award-winning documentary (watch the trailer here) Childhood Lost: The Story of Canada’s Home Children documentary (watch it on YouTube)   LEGACY TREE GEM: ENGLISH PARISH RECORDS Visit Legacy Tree Genealogists: Read a companion blog post on English parish records, with several image examples and links to the resources Kate Eakman recommends. Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GG100, valid through July 31st, 2017. GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: FANNIE FLAGG INTERVIEW The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg Genealogy Gems Premium website members may hear this entire conversation in the upcoming Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #148. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users LINK IMAGE TO: If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus audio content for this episode comes from Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, in honor of International Archives Day on June 9. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users   Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   PROFILE AMERICA: June Weddings PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
May 10, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke Episode #203 This episode features a special interview with renowned Canadian expert Dave Obee. He shares his favorite tips on researching the Canadian census—his insights are fascinating whether you have Canadian ancestors or not! Also in this episode: an inspiring adoption discovery, DNA testing news at 23andMe, a tip for incorporating family history into a wedding, and a brand-new resource that can finally help you solve one of genealogy’s most perplexing questions. NEWS: ATLAS OF HISTORICAL COUNTY BOUNDARIES UPDATE Atlas of Historical County Boundaries   Google Earth for Genealogy (and more on Google Earth Pro) LINK: NEWS: 23andME DNA TEST UPDATES Click here for the full news and Diahan’s comments MORE recent DNA news: Family Tree DNA enhancements:Click here for the full story, with comments and step-by-step instructions on updated myOrigins tool Get help with DNA testing at both these sites with these quick reference guides by Diahan Southard: Understanding 23andMe Understanding Family Tree DNA       NEW! GENEALOGY GIANTS GUIDE by Genealogy Gems Editor Sunny Morton Click here to watch the presentation that inspired this guide: a popular RootsTech 2017 lecture comparing the four major genealogy records websites:,, and   LINK:   Available in print or digital format This comprehensive quick reference guide explains: How knowing about all four websites can improve your family history research How the sites stack up when it comes to the numbers of historical records, names in trees, DNA profiles, site users, site languages and subscription costs Unique strengths of each website and cautions for using each What to keep in mind as you evaluate record content between sites Geographic record strengths: A unique table has an at-a-glance comparison for 30+ countries How to see what kinds of records are on each site without subscribing How family trees are structured differently at these websites—and why it matters Privacy, collaboration and security options at each site How DNA testing features differ at the two websites that offer it What you can do with free guest accounts at each website Subscription and free access options   MAILBOX: LIZ ON FINDING CHUCK’S BIRTH FAMILY Click here to learn more about Diahan Southard’s genetic genealogy video tutorials—and a special discount price for Genealogy Gems fans. LINK TO: Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and In the works: soon RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site. Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at  MAILBOX: THANKS FOR 1940 CENSUS TIPS Kate Eakman shares tips for understanding the 1940: click here to read them or click here to listen to them on Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201 MAILBOX: WEDDING TIP Before a wedding: start an online family tree and invite each family member to add what they know!  Share family history this summer: Reunions, weddings, BBQs, etc Genealogy Gems Pinterest Page: Incorporating Family History Ideas into Your Wedding Go to:   Our sponsor for this episode: StoryWorth Give Mom the gift of StoryWorth this Mother's Day Visit to get $20 off Visit: INTERVIEW: DAVE OBEE Continuing our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday! Dave Obee is an internationally-renowned Canadian journalist, historian and genealogist. Dave is a columnist for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today (formerly Family Chronicle). Dave has also written about family history for Canada's History and Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom.   Put Dave’s books on your shelf: Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records Making the News: A Times Columnist Look at 150 Years of History Canadian census tips from Dave Obee: The 1901 census is his favorite because it says for the first time where people had come from He starts his searches on but census databases are free to search on Library and Archives Canada website Marital status may not have been totally accurate. They only captured single or married or windowed. Divorced was not captured. There are two different types of enumerations: de facto and de jure, and the rules were different. This means your ancestor could be enumerated in multiple locations Lisa Louise Cooke Googled the Canadian Census Enumerator Instructions for 1901: At Library & Archives Canada Original instructions digitized at   More on Canada genealogy research: Claire Banton in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #199 Blog post on Canadian Censuses 1825-1921 Search Canadian Passenger Lists for Free at Library and Archives Canada Canadiana: Canadian Digital Archive and Portal to the Past Google Earth for Canada and Genealogy Our Sponsors: Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started. BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is EXTRA special! It’s an exclusive conversation between Your DNA Guide and Cece Moore of DNA Detectives on researching adoption or unknown parentage. Don’t miss it! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB Our featured genealogy book club author this month is Miss Fannie Flagg! The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg Read more tips on discovering the historical context of your ancestor’s lives: Tell Your Ancestor’s Story: Use Social History for Genealogy Social History for Genealogy and the Colored Farmer’s Alliance PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
April 9, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 202 Lisa Louise Cooke   Highlights of this episode include: AncestryDNA’s new Genetic Communities: An Interview with Catherine Ball, Ancestry’s Chief Scientific Officer; Meet contestant Joe Greer from Relative Race, the genealogy reality show; The new Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title: a novel from an internationally best-selling author A botched reference to the 1950 census in a Stephen King novel—and 5 tips for counting down to the 1950 census release in exactly 5 years Naming traditions tip from a listener Lisa’s Google search strategies: search operators, YouTube and more   NEWS: ANCESTRYDNA GENETIC COMMUNITIES rolls out AncestryDNA Genetic Communities FREE VIDEO: Introducing AncestryDNA Genetic Communities Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201 about new AncestryDNA study   NEWS: MYHERITAGE CONSISTENCY CHECKER Access by logging in to your MyHeritage account and find this tool under the Family Tree dropdown menu:  Thank you to our sponsor: The tool searches for different kinds of potential errors or inconsistencies in your tree:   A Similar Tool: RootsMagic Problem Search In RootsMagic, find it under the Tools menu. Select Problem Search, then Problem List to select the different kinds of problems you can have RootsMagic identify for you and to choose what age ranges you decide are out of bounds for a new father or mother. Thank you to our wonderful sponsors:   MAILBOX: NAMING TRADITIONS   Norwegian naming traditions tip from listener Irish naming conventions mentioned in this Q&A with Irish expert Kate Eakman Mexican Genealogy Guide by David A. Fryxell (Use promo code GEMS17 for 10% off this great product. Good through 12/31/17.)   2 more places to find naming traditions: Google search: for the name of the country or ethnic group, plus naming traditions FamilySearch Wiki MAILBOX: GOOGLE SEARCH OPERATOR TIP: “Oppenheim the butcher, NOT the bomb!” FREE VIDEO TUTORIAL: Speak Google’s Language: Google Search Operator Basics The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition by Lisa Louise Cooke MAILBOX: STEPHEN KING AND THE 1950 CENSUS To search inside books in Amazon:   INTERVIEW: JOE GREER ON RELATIVE RACE Meet Team Black: Joe and Madison Greer of Portland, OR Relative Race: “What happens when genealogy meets reality TV? Using their DNA as a guide, contestants embark on the ultimate road trip across America, completing challenges and meeting unknown relatives along the way.” Click here to watch past episodes online for free.  The last two episodes of season two, 9 & 10, will air back to back respectively at 7pm MT/9pm ET and 8pm MT/10PM ET on Sunday, April 30.  Click here to learn more about the show   BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERSFree PDF summary of 8 top genealogy TV shows from the past several years and where you can watch them online—a few of them for free, including Relative Race. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   INTERVIEW: Catherine Ball, Chief Scientific Officer, About Catherine Ball: Chief Scientific Officer at Ancestry FREE VIDEO DEMO: Introducing AncestryDNA Genetic Communities Study using AncestryDNA data identifies group migration patterns Thanks to Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard for joining us to talk about this new development in genetic genealogy. Click here to learn more about Diahan’s how-to DNA video tutorials and personal consultation services for solving your family history mysteries with DNA.    GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB New featured title: The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg   A multi-generational novel about a Swedish immigrant and the town he builds in the American Midwest by luring other Swedish settlers and a mail-order bride. As characters die, they take up residency in the local cemetery and continue to comment on the activities and people of the town. Also recommended by Fannie Flagg: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion   New from past Book Club authors: The Missing Man by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, a novella in his popular Forensic Genealogist series Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is now available in paperback   PROFILE AMERICA: THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
March 7, 2017
with Lisa Louise Cooke    In this episode, I chat with Angela Walton-Raji, expert in U.S. and African-American research, about tips for interviewing relatives and taking your African-American family tree back to the era of slavery. Other highlights of this episode include: A RootsTech 2017 recap, with info on archived streaming sessions; Great news from Findmypast about its new Catholic Heritage Archive; A ground-breaking study from AncestryDNA that identifies specific migration patterns among genetically-related clusters of people; Follow-up mail from Lisa’s Episode 200 celebration; An expert Q&A on finding relatives who don’t appear in the census where you expect them to; A teaser clip from the upcoming Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Annie Barrows, author of The Truth According to Us. ROOTSTECH 2017 RECAP Genealogy Gems booth streaming sessions are on the Genealogy Gems Podcast Facebook page. "Like" our page, and then scroll down to Videos and click See all (shown here). You’ll find: Lisa Louise Cooke: Google search methodology for genealogy, using Google Earth for genealogy and creating memorable, easy family history videos; Diahan Southard: Understanding your DNA ethnic pie chart; Amie Tennant: Digital journaling and scrapbooking; Sunny Morton: Jogging your memories and “Genealogy Jackpot” (on researching her ancestors’ survival of the Great Johnstown flood of 1889.   POPULAR ROOTSTECH STREAMING LECTURE “THE BIG 4” NOW ONLINE Watch “The Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage” by Gems Editor Sunny Morton and catch a summary of its main points Catch our future free Genealogy Gems streaming sessions on Facebook! "Like" and follow the Genealogy Gems Facebook page.   GENEALOGY GEMS APP BONUS MATERIAL If you listen through the Genealogy Gems app (FREE in Google Play) and $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users), your bonus material for this episode is a short video clip showing a time-lapse perspective on RootsTech 2017 from the exhibitor hall.   NEWS: FINDMYPAST CATHOLIC HERITAGE ARCHIVE Catholic Heritage Archive at In the Boston Globe: Archdiocese of Boston and New England Historic Genealogical Society plans to bring 10 million+ parish records online MAILBOX: Robin mentioned she’s learned so much from Lisa on these topics: Evernote, Google Books for genealogy, Newspaper research, How to use an iPad for genealogy, How to organize electronic files (see the free Family History Made Easy podcast, episodes 32-33) Google Drive Scrivener software for writing family history  Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at INTERVIEW: ANGELA WALTON-RAJI Angela Walton-Raji instructs the African-American Genealogy Research Essentials webinar. Purchase it with this link and use coupon code GEMS17 for 10% off, valid through 12/31/17. Angela’s oral history questions: What to ask your elders Did they happen to know anyone who had been born a slave when they were a child? Who was the oldest person that you remember when you were a child? And did that person ever talk about anyone who may have been enslaved? What do you know about where the family was from? (Were we always from Georgia, or, were we always from Pennsylvania, or was there a time when we came from another place? (Read more about the Great Migration she mentioned.) Why did we move? Who remembers that journey? Were people involved in the Civil Rights movement, in the Garvey era, with the Freedom Riders, or other important events in their lifetime? What kinds of things did they see? Who in the family participated in the military (in World War II, I, the Spanish-American War)? African-American military units through the mid-20th century were still referred to as Buffalo soldiers. (She mentioned the Triple Nickel, a unit of all-black World War II paratroopers. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search WebHints on, and Soon RootsMagic will also be able to search records and even sync your tree with, too.         EXPERT TIP ON FINDING ANCESTORS “MISSING” IN CENSUSES Read their Q&A: Kate Eakman takes on a Gems listener question from someone who has already done a lot of work trying to locate a relative in the 1940 U.S. census Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code GEMS100 to save $100 off your purchase of research services (expires 4/30/17).   YOUR DNA GUIDE DIAHAN SOUTHARD: ANCESTRYDNA STUDY BREAKTHROUGH There is no doubt that this is an exciting time to be a genealogist. Here at Genealogy Gems, we are announcing new record collections online every month, advances in genealogy databases and their ability to retrieve the information we are looking for, and of course, DNA testing. There really has been no time in history where such a wealth of information about our past has been so readily available to so many. In another ground-breaking development in the DNA world has been a recent publication in a scientific journal by the scientific team at AnccestryDNA. It is titled, “Clustering of 770,000 genomes reveals post-colonial population structure of North America.” Or, in more understandable terms, “Your DNA can tell us where you came from in America in the last 500 years.” Wow, right? So how did they do this? Well, the power really is in the numbers. In this particular paper they used 770,000 people, but now that they are approaching having testing 4 million people, you can bet the same principles will be applied to a larger data set and we will see even more as a result. But even though it takes a large data set to accomplish this, it really all still comes down to the relationship of two people. To start, Ancestry determines how just two people are genetically related. Then they find how those two are related to a third, again, looking only at pairs of people. This goes on and on and on until everyone in the group as been compared. Then we use a graph to plot those relationships, with those more closely related clustering around each other.  Then the real key, the point where we see the marriage of genetics and genealogy: they add in the family history information for each of these individuals in the cluster. What they found was astounding. They have displayed the data in Figure 3 in the paper: Distribution of ancestral birth locations in North America. Summary map from Nature Communications; click to see article with full explanation of map data. Image used with permission of It is a map of the United States with colored dots scattered across the landscape. The location of the dots corresponds to the genealogy of those tested, while the color of the dots relates to their genetic clustering. Those who clustered closest together are the same color. The result is a nearly perfect rainbow, with each color holding its respective spot on the map, with very little overlap between groups. (There are actually two maps in the paper, just to make things easier to see.) We might be tempted when looking at the maps to think, oh, well, of course there is a large population of European Jews in New York, everyone knows that, no breakthrough there. But it IS!! This isn’t their family history, or their accent or their culture that is telling us this, it is their genetics! As if that wasn’t exciting enough, further on in the paper they describe how we can trace migration patterns of different groups over just a few generations. In the paper they specifically mention French Canadians and Cajuns/Acadians, but this same principle can theoretically be applied to dozens of other groups. For example, let’s say you have an ancestor in Texas about 4 generations ago, but you aren’t sure where she came from. If technology like what is published in this paper ever reaches your testing company, your DNA could tell you that you fit into the Lower South group, meaning that your ancestor likely hails from, well, the South!  This is just a glimpse into what the advances in genetics are bringing to your genealogy toolbox. So hang on to your hats, and keep tuned in here at Genealogy Gems for all of the latest updates.   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB   The Truth According to Us by internationally best-selling author Annie Barrows It’s the summer of 1938, and wealthy young socialite Miss Layla Beck is now on the dole as a WPA worker, assigned to write a history of the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia. As she starts asking questions about the town’s past, she is drawn into the secrets of the family she’s staying with—and drawn to a certain handsome member of that family. She and two of those family members take turns narrating the story from different points of view, exploring the theme that historical truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Annie Barrows is also the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This novel takes place after World War II in a London recovering from the Blitz and an island recovering from German occupation. At the heart of Guernsey is an unlikely love story and the inspiring tale of a community that took care of each other in their darkest days with humor, compassion and good books. Click here to see more Genealogy Gems Book Club selections and how you can listen to Lisa’s upcoming exclusive conversation with author Annie Barrows about The Truth According to Us.   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Amie Tennant, Content Contributor         Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer Hannah Fullerton: Production Assistance     FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
February 6, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 200 with Lisa Louise Cooke  Listen below: It’s finally here—the 200th episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast, also celebrating its 10th year. In this special episode, Lisa invites Professor Mark Auslander to share his discoveries about a mother and young daughter separated by slavery. Learn how he pieced together their story from a poignant family heirloom found at a flea market. Throughout the episode, you will hear from several listeners, past podcast guests, Gems staffers and supporters in the genealogy industry with congratulations, memories, stories, and favorite Gems tips. Listen for the DNA success story of an adoptee who never gave up his search for his biological roots. Thanks to all listeners and friends who sent congratulations! Among them are: Allison Dolan, Publisher, Family Tree Magazine. She mentioned the Family Tree Magazine Podcast Bruce Buzbee, RootsMagic family history software DearMYRTLE, veteran online genealogy educator and author of the award-winning DearMYRTLE blog. She mentioned Lisa’s Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast; her all-day seminars at societies; and classes at her booth during conferences. Geoff Rasmussen, Legacy Family Tree webinars, and author of Kindred Voices: Listening for Our Ancestors Jim Shaughnessy, Mary Tedesco, host and genealogist on PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow, founder of Origins Italy, co-author of Tracing Your Italian Ancestors and a guest on Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #175, talking about Italian research and her work on Genealogy Roadshow Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. Listen to Lisa’s conversation with him in The Genealogy Gems Podcast episodes 120 and 121. This book and interview planted the seed for the Genealogy Gems Book Club! Yev Pusin, Social Marketing Marketer, Backblaze online computer backup service, also celebrating its 10th anniversary   NEWS: FAMICITY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN Famicity Kickstarter campaign: see several options for contributing, including options that come with a Famicity Premium subscription as a reward. Pledges will only be collected if they reach their Kickstarter goal, and subscriptions become active in the summer with the official launch. Tip: the Kickstarter page gives contributions in British currency. Google currency converter to see a tool for converting those amounts to your currency. ROOTSTECH 2017: IN PERSON AND STREAMING CLASSES IN PERSON: If you’re attending RootsTech on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah, come by the Genealogy Gems booth for exclusive 30-minute classes on the hottest topics; prizes at every class AND a Saturday Grand Prize drawing; great Gems product specials and a new and wider selection of products we love. Click here to learn more. LIVE STREAMING: Lisa will be live-streaming marked sessions (above) via the free Periscope app. Get it in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Sign up for a free account and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in. Sign up for notifications in Periscope, and your phone will “ping” whenever Lisa starts streaming! Broadcasts stay in the Periscope app for 24 hours. Like and follow the Genealogy Gems Facebook page to hear about more streaming sessions. RootsTech offers a few free live-streaming sessions; click here to see the full schedule. Gems editor Sunny Morton will be streaming on Friday, Feb 10 at 3:00 pm Mountain Time with “The Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage.” MAILBOX: LISA AND SUNNY The following were mentioned in listener emails and voicemails: Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. This is a FREE step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. One listener mentioned the series on naturalization records in episodes 29-31. The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. Monthly episodes—and the full archive of past episodes—are available to Genealogy Gems Premium website subscribers. This podcast takes what you love about the free Genealogy Gems podcast and goes deeper, broader and more exclusively into topics of interest for U.S. and international audiences. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   Using Evernote to organize your family history research: free tips and great resources to help you make the most of this free app (or its Premium version) to keep all your genealogy research notes and links organized and at your fingertips. Netvibes computer dashboard tool and mobile apps for genealogy Computer backup story from Kathy: “I was robbed! They took the computer AND the backup drive!” Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at DNA WITH YOUR DNA GUIDE DIAHAN SOUTHARD Diahan’s series of how-to videos, available to Gems fans for a special price. Diahan’s series of DNA quick guides, available in print or as digital downloads   IMAGE Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search WebHints on, and Soon RootsMagic will also be able to search records and even sync your tree with, too. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   INTERVIEW: MARK AUSLANDER Mark Auslander is an Associate Professor and Museum Director at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA and the author of The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding An American Family. “Slave Mother’s Love in 56 Carefully-Stitched Words” Mark’s path to the probable family of this artifact used these techniques: Look closely at all clues from the artifact: the fabric, stitching, colors, facts conveyed in the text, etc. Look at both the historical clues and the artistic or symbolic aspects of it. Create a profile for the people mentioned based on what is known. Probable age for Ruth Middleton in 1921, etc. Use contextual and social history clues to hypothesize a scenario. The inclusion of “South Carolina” hints that the seamstress didn’t live in South Carolina, so he guessed that she was part of the Great Migration of millions of African-Americans in the early 1900s who headed from the rural South to the industrial Midwest and other urban cities. Take advantage of unusual clues. Rose is a common name for an enslaved woman, but not Ashley. Look through all available records. Possible census listings for Ruth Middleton in 1920 didn’t seem likely candidates. He dug through marriage records for Northern states until he found a woman named Ruth who married a man named Middleton who fit the profile he’d created. Use specialized sources for African-American research, especially records created by and about the slaveholder that relate to the holding, sale or transfer of enslaved people. Mark says that some researchers describe the search process as “guided by some force larger than yourself that keeps you going through those endless hours in microfilm rooms or online. But it does connect us all in very profound ways to those who came before and those who come after….Through genealogical work, in a sense we can triumph over death itself and we can move back and forth in time in the most remarkable way.” Coming up next month in The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201: An interview with Angela Walton-Raji on finding African-American ancestors. She shares tons of resources! Even if you haven’t found any African-Americans on your family tree, the challenges and rewards of African-American genealogical research are both fascinating and moving to learn about.  Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code GEMS100 to save $100 off your purchase of research services (expires 4/30/17). CONVERSATIONS WITH MORE GEMS Amie Tennant Lacey Cooke Vienna Thomas Amie Tennant, Gems Content Contributor: see the Genealogy Gems blog Lacey Cooke, Gems Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer and Audio Editor; she mentioned a favorite Genealogy Gems Book Club title and interview were with Chris Cleave, author of Everyone Brave is Forgiven   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB   The Truth According to Us by internationally best-selling author Annie Barrows It’s the summer of 1938, and wealthy young socialite Miss Layla Beck is now on the dole as a WPA worker, assigned to write a history of the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia. As she starts asking questions about the town’s past, she is drawn into the secrets of the family she’s staying with—and drawn to a certain handsome member of that family. She and two of those family members take turns narrating the story from different points of view, exploring the theme that historical truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Click here to read an introduction to using WPA records for genealogy. Annie Barrows is also the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This novel takes place after World War II in a London recovering from the Blitz and an island recovering from German occupation. At the heart of Guernsey is an unlikely love story and the inspiring tale of a community that took care of each other in their darkest days with humor, compassion and good books. Click here to see more Genealogy Gems Book Club selections and how you can listen to Lisa’s upcoming exclusive conversation with author Annie Barrows about The Truth According to Us. Music from this episode is from the band Venice The song played at the opening was “We’re Still Here,” from the album Born and Raised. The song played at the closing was “The Family Tree” from the album 2 Meter Sessies; click to purchase the album or download the song as a single.   FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
January 11, 2017
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 199 with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, Lisa celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary with Clare Banton from Library and Archives Canada. You’ll also hear how Lisa will be marking another anniversary in 2017: the 10th year of this Genealogy Gems podcast. More episode highlights: An inspiring follow-up email from Gay, whose YouTube discovery Lisa shared in episode 198, and a great conference tip from Barbara just in time for RootsTech. Genealogy Gems Book Club Guru Sunny Morton announces the new Book Club title. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares thoughts about DNA testing with kids. JOIN THE CELEBRATION! 10th ANNIVERSARY AND 200th EPISODE You’re invited to send in well-wishes and win a chance at a prize! Email Lisa by January 31, 2017 at OR call her voicemail line at 925-272-4021. Share your first and last name, email address and where you live (your last name and email address won’t be shared on the podcast); Share a memory of listening to this podcast, such as: When did you start listening? What’s one of your favorite things you’ve learned from this show?   Lisa will randomly select one response to receive a free year of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Thanks for helping all of us here at Genealogy Gems celebrate 10 years of doing something we love!   NEWS: ROOTSTECH 2017 RootsTech will be held on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT: learn more and register. Genealogy Gems events at RootsTech Lisa will be live-streaming FREE sessions the marked session via the free Periscope app. Get it in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Sign up for a free account and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in. Sign up for notifications in Periscope, and your phone will “ping” whenever Lisa starts streaming! Broadcasts stay in the Periscope app for 24 hours. Like and follow the Genealogy Gems Facebook page to hear about more streaming sessions! NEWS: FAMICITY KICK-STARTER Famicity is a free, private website for families to share pictures, videos, memories, family activities and the family tree. The company has been very successful in France where it was launched, and the founder is working to bring the new English platform to the United States. He’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their U.S. launch. Click here to support it.   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search WebHints on, and Soon RootsMagic will also be able to search records and even sync your tree with, too.         Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   MAILBOX: YOUTUBE DISCOVERY FOLLOW-UP Remember the YouTube success story from Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 198? Gay as a young woman attended a dedication ceremony for the saline water treatment in Freeport, Texas—and with Lisa’s tips she found video footage on YouTube.   Gay wrote back to send us more about that, including this page from her diary that day and this news clipping. Check out the news clipping to see why that plant was so important, Pres. John F. Kennedy gave the dedication speech. (See what newspapers can tell you?!) Find your own family history on YouTube. Click here to learn how or read an entire chapter on YouTube in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd revised edition. Click here to learn how to turn family stories and artifacts like these into videos to share with relatives. Learn to find articles such as this one that can put your family’s story in context—locally and even nationally. Read How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke. MAILBOX: BARBARA AT NGS Speaking of that book, Barbara gave a thumbs-up to Lisa’s book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, which helped her find an obituary for someone. She was very excited! Barbara shared a great idea, too: make your own genealogy calling cards. She loves meeting new people at genealogy conferences and likes to be able to follow up with them. She trades business cards. What would YOU put on a genealogy calling card? What about your name and contact information, family surnames and locations, other special research interests and your genealogy blog or website (if you have one).   INTERVIEW: CLAIRE BANTON, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA (LAC) Claire Banton obtained her Masters of Library and Information Studies degree in 2006. She has worked in Reference Services at LAC for 10 years, where she has enjoyed learning something new every day. She is currently Chief, Orientation Services, where she works with an awesome team who help people search for information. She loves being an information detective and helping people overcome their research challenges.  Claire’s tips for genealogy research with LAC: LAC is very different from the average library. It is both a national library (search the library catalog here) and a a national archive (search the archival catalog here). You don't have to have an account to search.  Start with the LAC website (genealogy resources page) whether you are visiting in person or not. There are loads of free databases and some unindexed digitized records. The Topics page will tell you what they do and don't have.  There was no border control from the US to Canada prior to 1908, so there are no Canadian records of earlier crossings. [Tip: see border crossings to the US, 1895-1956 at and] Call LAC directly for quick answers. Schedule a Skype call with a genealogy expert to get more in depth answers: provide background information ahead of time. Click here to explore (and join) Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB The Truth According to Us by internationally best-selling author Annie Barrows (co-author, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and author, Ivy and Bean, children’s book series) It’s the summer of 1938, and wealthy young socialite Miss Layla Beck is now on the dole as a WPA worker, assigned to write a history of the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia. As she starts asking questions about the town’s past, she is drawn into the secrets of the family she’s staying with—and drawn to a certain handsome member of that family. She and two of those family members take turns narrating the story from different points of view, exploring the theme that historical truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Click here to read an introduction to using WPA records for genealogy. Click here to see more Genealogy Gems Book Club selections and how you can listen to Lisa’s upcoming exclusive conversation with author Annie Barrows about The Truth According to Us.   DNA WITH DIAHAN: DNA TESTING FOR KIDS?! I was talking with a fellow mom the other day about all the demands that are placed on kids’ time today. They have school and homework, many have after school sports and clubs, religious meetings, some have jobs or at least chores at home, not to mention all the time required to text, check social media, and hang out with friends. As parents and grandparents, we want our children to spend time on things that matter, things that will prepare them for their future lives and mold them into their future selves. According to a 2010 study out of Emory University, if we want to encourage kids toward an activity that will positively impact them, we should steer them toward family history. The researchers reported that “children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.” Now, I know I don’t need to convince you of this. You are already sold on genealogy. But I share this in the hope that it will push you over the edge and this will erase any hesitancy you have about sharing this love with your children and grandchildren. Now, since you know this is me, the genetic genealogist talking, you can probably guess what I’ll suggest for getting kids interested in family history. DNA testing is a great way to personally and physically involve them. First of all, there is the tangible process of taking the sample at home, and the marvel at how such a simple act can produce the amazing display of our ethnicity results. Since each of us is unique, it will be fun for them to compare with you and other relatives to see who got what bit of where. This will naturally lead to questions about which ancestor provided that bit of Italian or Irish, and wham! You’ll be right there to tell them about how their 5th great grandfather crossed the ocean with only the clothes on his back, determined to make a new start in a new land. If there are parts of the ethnicity report that you can’t explain, use that as a hook to encourage them to start digging and to find out why you have that smattering of eastern European or south east Asian. Taking them for a tour of the DNA match page you can show them how they share 50% of their DNA with their sister (whether they like it or not!) and how they share 25% with you, their grandparent! DNA test results give kids a totally unique look at their personal identity with technology that is cutting edge. Looking at their DNA test results can turn into a math lesson, a science lesson, a geography lesson, a lesson on heredity or biology, a discussion on identity—wherever you want to go with it! DNA is the perfect introduction to the wonders that genealogy can hold, especially for children who are so good at wondering. Click here to learn more about Diahan’s series of how-to videos, available to Gems fans for a special price. Or start your DNA journey with two guides that will help you get started with kids’ genetic genealogy: Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist   PROFILE AMERICA: ELLIS ISLAND Click here to watch the official, award-winning documentary shown at Ellis Island—free online at YouTube.   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Amie Tennant, Content Contributor         Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor Lacey Cooke, Service Manager Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
December 15, 2016
This episode’s got a bit of holiday sparkle! Lisa Louise Cooke welcomes Genealogy Gems Book Club author and Victorian lifestyle expert Sarah Chrisman to the show to talk about Victorian holiday traditions, some of which may still live on in your own life. Following that conversation, Lisa shares a fun description of Victorian-era scrapbooking: how it’s different than today’s scrapbooking hobby but also how it reminds her of modern social media. More episode highlights: Three success stories from Genealogy Gems listeners: a Google search with great results, a brick-wall busting marriage record and yet another YouTube find for family history (people keep telling us about those!). Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard chimes in with what she likes so far about MyHeritage’s new DNA testing service. An internationally-themed German research conference and a makeover for the Scotland’s People website. NEWS: GERMAN-AMERICAN GENEALOGY PARTNERSHIP CONFERENCE First-ever German-American Genealogy Partnership Conference: Minneapolis, MN, July 28-30, 2017. 70 presentations over 3 full days on the theme,  “CONNECTIONS: International. Cultural. Personal” Topics will include major German-speaking regions; social networking opportunities each day for those with common interests in specific regions For the full scoop, at and click “2017 GAGP Conference” Trace Your German Roots Online  by Jim Beidler. Click here to purchase the book and use coupon code GENEALOGYGEMS15 to save an extra 15% through 12/31/ 16, which even works if the book is on sale. NEWS: SCOTLAND’S PEOPLE The newly-relaunched ScotlandsPeople website has several exciting new features: Mobile-friendly web design and an enhanced search function; A quick search option for searching indexed records by name and an advanced search for specific types of records; Free access to several records indexes; More than 150,000 baptism entries from Scottish Presbyterian churches (other than the Old Parish Registers of the Church of Scotland) have been added and more are coming, as well as marriages and burials; More types of records held by National Records of Scotland are coming, including records of kirk sessions and other church courts; Explore the site for free, including handy how-to guides for using Scottish records such as statutory records, church registers and census returns. MAILBOX: GOOGLE SEARCH SUCCESS STORY From Joan: “I used one of the handy hints from your presentation at the South Orange County California Genealogical Society’s all day seminar in Mission Viejo, CA. I entered some of my common named ancestors, used the quotes, added a time frame and included some key words, like locations. Most of what I found were my own queries and posts. That shows it works!.... One thing I was amazed at was a multi-page article I found: ‘The Lincoln Kinsman,’ written in 1938. It included a lot of information on the Bush family [which is another of her family lines]. The article even included what I think is my ancestor Hannah Bush Radley.”  (Click here or on the image above to see a copy of “The Lincoln Kinsman” at Internet Archive.) Listen to a free 2-part series on cold-calling distant relatives or others as part of your genealogy research: “Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, episodes 14 and 15.” BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users: A handy cheat sheet with 14 tips from that series on cold-contacting distant relatives. It’s updated with brand-new suggestions, including ways to find potential relatives’ names during the research process. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users. MAILBOX: VONDA BLOGS A MARRIAGE RECORD DISCOVERY Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 197 that inspired her discovery Vonda’s blog post on her discovery: “Right Under Your Nose, or at Least, Your Fingertips! Dickey Family about 1909” MAILBOX: YOUTUBE SUCCESS STORY Gay entered “Freeport Texas history” in YouTube and found historical newsreel footage of the opening ceremony of a local water treatment plant. She and the women in her family were seated on the front row. Here’s a screenshot from that footage: maybe this is a stylish young Gay in sunglasses? (Watch the video here.) Another amazing YouTube family history find in an old newsreel: Gems Editor Sunny Morton finds an ancestor driving his fire truck—with his dog Lisa’s book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox has an entire chapter on discovering family history gems such as these on YouTube. More tips and success stories on using YouTube to find your family history in moving pictures: A woman found her dadding racing his 1959 El Camino 6 ways to use YouTube for family history Find historical documentaries about your family on YouTube   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and By the end of 2016, RootsMagic expects to be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.     Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   INTERVIEW: VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS WITH SARAH CHRISMAN Sarah Chrisman lives her life every day as if it’s the Victorian era. Her clothing, household, pastimes, chores and more all reflect the time period. Listen as Lisa and Sarah talk about the Victorian Christmas tree; gift-giving, crafts, decorating and things that might surprise us about holiday celebrations during that time. Books by Sarah Chrisman: This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion and Technologies, a memoir Sarah’s everyday life. The Book Club interview in December will focus mainly on this book. Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present and Myself; True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen: Victorian Etiquette for Modern Day Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Boys and Girls, Teachers and Students, and More; First Wheel in Town: A Victorian Cycling Club Romance. This is from her series of light-hearted historical fiction set in an era she knows well! Sarah Chrisman joins me again later this month on the Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 142 to talk about what it’s like to live every day like it’s the late 1800s. Don’t miss it! Not a Premium member? Click here to learn more about the perks of membership!   Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. Click here to learn more. GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code SAVE100 with your purchase of research services. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.         GEM: VICTORIAN SCRAPBOOKING The Victorians coined the phrase “scrapbooking:” they literally pasted paper scraps into books. As an embellishment, those who could afford to bought “relief scraps,” such as the ones shown here. These were like the precursors of modern sticker sheets or die cuts, printed just for the scrapbooking hobby. You could buy colorful images of everything from flowers or children to animals, or angels or Father Christmas. These images were raised or embossed on the paper, which is why they called them reliefs. Relief scraps could be used as embellishments around other items on scrapbook pages, but sometimes they were the only decoration on a page, arranged in pretty patterns. This Ladies Home Journal magazine from May 1891 at HathiTrust Digital Library describes quote “a Sunday Scrap-book…as a source of almost unlimited pleasure and profit to children who can read and write.” Victorian Scrapbook Gallery at the Library of Birmingham   DNA WITH DIAHAN, Your DNA Guide I don’t think there is any dispute that the four major online resources for genealogy include,, Find My Past, and My Heritage. Of those four, only has attempted any real integration of DNA test results into traditional genealogy. That is, until recently. On May 19, 2016 MyHeritage announced that they will be adding a DNA matching service to their offering, and then on November 7th announced they would be conducting DNA tests themselves. Now, MyHeritage has enjoyed partnerships with 23andMe and Family Tree DNA for quite some time now, but those partnerships have been woefully underutilized and are little more than an affiliate service, where MyHeritage provides a discounted rate to test at those companies. There is no question that the launch of DNA Heritage fully into the genetic genealogy market is exciting news. In fact, it is something I have been pushing for – we absolutely need someone to challenge AncestryDNA. Competition is good.  In September they began to provide matching results for individuals who had uploaded their results. As of today, uploading your results is still free, so if you have been thinking about it, you may want to take advantage sooner rather than later. As expected, the matches are only as good as the depth of the database, and it is early in the game, so their database is small, but even now we can get an idea of what to expect from MyHeritage as they take their first steps into genetic genealogy. One of the most exciting elements of their November 7th announcement is their development of a Founder Population project where they have handpicked individuals to represent their reference population for calculating ethnicities. They plan to launch with 25 population groups, but will likely increase to 100 in a fairly short amount of time. This is a far more advanced ethnicity report than is currently offered anywhere else. After you have figured out how to download your raw data from your testing company  (see my instructions here:, and then managed to add it to My Heritage (you have to add a family tree to MyHeritage to do this, see further instructions in their May press release), and waited the requisite time to process, you will receive a notice that you have new DNA matches. For a full review of the features and ins and outs of where to click and what to look at, please refer to the September blog post from MyHeritage. As for my favorite features, I like how they list all the possible relationships that make sense between you and your match taking into account multiple factors like your age, gender, and your genetics instead of a simple, generic range like 2nd-4th cousins. The accompanying chart that visually shows you all possible relationships is also very helpful. You can access it by clicking on the little question mark icon next to the relationship suggestions. I like that these suggestions remind us that our genetic relationships have different genealogical interpretations. Meaning that genetically, a 2nd cousin once removed, a first cousin twice removed, and a second cousin, all fall within a similar genetic range and it is impossible to determine your exact relationship based on the genetics alone. I also like that they are providing all three genetic descriptors of your relationship: total amount of shared DNA, how many segments are shared, and the size of the longest piece of shared DNA. While this more of an intermediate to advanced piece of your results, it can be important as your relationship analysis becomes more involved. One unique claim made by MyHeritage in their press release about their matching feature addresses a main concern that genetic genealogists have: the lack of pedigree information provided by their matches. MyHeritage claims that 95% of their DNA samples have pedigrees attached. That is remarkable! However, from my own quick calculation of my matches, the number with pedigrees is more like 60%. They also indicated that they will soon be doing a bit of pedigree analysis for you by providing a list of shared surnames and locations between you and your match based on the pedigrees you have both submitted. This will certainly be a welcome addition. According to the November 9th Q and A they haven’t decided yet if the ethnicity features will be available to those who only transfer, and they hint at many more features they have in the works that may only be offered to those who purchase their test. In short, the MyHeritage site is currently functioning much like the top three genetic genealogy sites (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) and like the free tool Gedmatch, offers a meeting place for those who have been tested at one company to meet those who have tested at another, with the added bonus of a promise of new features on the horizon. PROFILE AMERICA: A DICKENSENIAN TALE PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Amie Tennant, Content Contributor Vienna Thomas, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Additional Production Support
November 10, 2016
Episode 197with Lisa Louise Cooke Download these show notes This episode celebrates the most recent family history there is—our own. A chat between host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke and Gems editor Sunny Morton explores the meaning and memories behind heirlooms in Lisa’s home. They comment on the larger value, for self and others, of recording our own memories in honor of Sunny’s new book, Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy. Also in this episode: A spotlight on new marriage records online for the U.S. and around the world. Lisa walks a listener through several tips for learning more about her immigrant ancestors (a mother and daughter). Lisa shows how to use today’s technology tools to help with traditional research skills such as locating passenger lists, immigrant society records and naturalization. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about organizing your DNA matches so you can get the most out of them. Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author and Victorian lifestyle expert Sarah Chrisman describes what it’s like in her home—which doesn’t use electricity—as the days grow shorter and the darkness comes earlier.   LISA SHARES HER RECENT DISCOVERIES The original photograph of her grandmother: The writing on the backside of the photo. Can you read he second line?   NEW RECORDS ONLINE: Marriage Records New York City Marriages: a new index to more than 3 million marriage licenses for recent New York City marriages (1950-1995) Free FamilySearch marriage record collections recently added or updated include: Arkansas Church Marriages, 1860-1976  Nebraska, Box Butte County Marriages, 1887-2015 Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013  Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950  Washington, County Marriages for 1855-2008 Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013  California, County Marriages, 1850-1952  New Zealand, Civil Records Indexes, 1800-1896  Belgium, Antwerp, Civil Registration, 1588-1913; Belgium, East Flanders, Civil Registration, 1541-1914; Belgium, Liège, Civil Registration, 1621-1914; Belgium, Limburg, Civil Registration, 1798-1906 Nicaragua Civil Registration, 1809-2013 Russia, Tatarstan Church Books, 1721-1939 Argentina, Cordoba, Catholic Church Records, 1557-1974 Sweden, Gävleborg Church Records, 1616-1908; index 1671-1860 Learn more about marriage record research: Listen to Using Marriage Records in Family History: Episode 24 in Lisa Louise Cooke’s free step-by-step podcast, Genealogy: Family History Made Easy.   BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users: Finding Copies of Images Online with Google on Your Mobile Device If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is an exclusive step-by-step tutorial PDF that shows you how to use your mobile device and Google to locate copies of images online. Remember, the Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   MAILBOX: Finding a Female Immigrant Ancestor Question from Jo: “I have been fortunate to find information about most of my great-grandparents.  I have hit a wall with my maternal great grandmother who immigrated from Switzerland to the US in the 1880's when she was 8 years old. I was hoping that by upgrading to International records on Ancestry that I could find the ship and where she and her mother came from. The curious thing for me is that she and her mother travelled solo to the US and went to Cincinnati, Ohio. I've been to Cincinnati and have searched there and have found directories with addresses but no profession is listed like other people. I didn't find any ship records either. Where might you suggest that I look or search to find more information?” Tips for searching passenger arrival lists: Consider what ports would have been the most logical point of arrival for an immigrant ancestor based on the time period and the U.S. location in which you find them. Cincinnati, Ohio, was reachable by rail by the 1880s from major ports, as well as by water via the Mississippi River for southern ports, so that doesn’t narrow things down much. According to an article, more than 80% of immigrants arrived at the Port of New York by the 1890s, so Jo might scrutinize those New York passenger arrival lists for the 1880s again. Free New York City passenger arrival databases at Major U.S. Immigration Ports ( New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 ( New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 (; New York City, NARA M237) New York Passenger Lists & Arrivals, 1846-1890 Search multiple NYC passenger lists simultaneously at Steve Morse’s One-Step web portal For “deeper” searching at or other sites with powerful, flexible search interfaces: do a “nameless search” (without any name) for girls around age 8 for arrivals in particular years. Try additional searches with various combinations of name, place of origin (Switzerland) or “Swiss” in the keyword field, which will bring up that word in the ethnicity or nationality column. That column doesn’t have its own search field in but it is indexed, so use the keyword field to search it. Research Swiss immigration to Cincinnati during that time period. Who was coming, why they were coming and where they were coming from? Click here for free tips about researching historical questions such as these. The Swiss in the United States at Internet Archive Swiss-American Historical Society and Swiss Center: Genealogy Tips for researching records of immigrant societies: In the U.S., the time between an immigrant’s arrival and naturalization is often documented in records of ethnic organizations such as fraternal benefit societies, immigrant aid and colonization societies. These kinds of community groups often existed in cities and towns where specific immigrant groups had a strong presence. Germans in Hamilton County, Ohio (FamilySearch wiki) Finding aid for the Swiss Benevolent Association (Cincinnati, Ohio) records, 1871-2011 Swiss Benevolent Association, Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Library’s Genealogy and Local History Department Hamilton County Genealogical Society Become an expert Google searcher (for genealogy and everything else you want to find online) with The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition, by Lisa Louise Cooke. Or click here to get started with basic Google search strategies you can use now. Tips for researching naturalizations: Naturalization records from that time period won’t reliably tell you where an ancestor was from. But they’re still worth looking for, especially if census or other records indicated that the person naturalized. When looking for women’s and children’s naturalization records, remember that during this time period, they automatically became naturalized if their husband or father did, so individual records for married women and minor children won’t exist under their own names. But a woman could apply on her own, too. Click here to read a free article on women’s naturalizations. Learn more in a free, 3-episode series on immigration and naturalization records: episodes 29-31 in the free, step-by-step Genealogy: Family History Made Easy podcast. GET THE RIGHT GENEALOGY DATABASE: Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and And in the near future, RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.   BACKUP YOUR GENEALOGY: Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   INTERVIEW: Sunny Morton on recording your own life stories   Story of My Life  “Some people about writing their life stories like I do about going to the gym. I put off going, but once I do I remember how much I enjoy it—and how much good it does me.” -Sunny Sunny asks Lisa about this photo and her memories... Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy available as a writeable PDF ebook or as a full-sized softcover workbook   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: Sarah Chrisman   This Victorian Life Featured Genealogy Gems Book Club author Sarah Chrisman describes what it’s like when the days get shorter and the darkness comes early—in a house without electricity.         Legacy Tree Genealogists provides expert genealogy research service that works with your research goals, budget and schedule. The Legacy Tree Discovery package offers 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations: a great choice if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. Click here to learn more. GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code SAVE100 with your purchase of research services. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     DNA WITH DIAHAN SOUTHARD Parents spend a good portion of their parenting time ferreting out the real story from their children. One time when Henry was in Kindergarten he was playing outside with another little boy. I was in and out of the house watching him and checking on other things. Hours later I noticed that his bike had been spray-painted black. When confronted, he claimed he had no idea how such a thing could have happened. Unfortunately, I jumped to conclusions and blamed the other kid (you have to give me credit, at six Henry was such a good boy and had such an angelic face with his blue blue eyes and blonde blonde hair). But as I was on the phone with my husband telling him about the issue I looked over at Henry and I saw it- that guilty look and my stomach sank, recalling the things I had said to the other boy’s mom. “I’ll have to call you back,” I told my husband. As genealogists, we spend our time trying to ferret out the real story from our ancestors, or at least from the records they left behind, because they’re not sitting in front of us with guilty looks on their faces. We are constantly checking family stories against, say, the information on a census record, then comparing it to the family will, then making sure it all agrees with what’s in the military records. And even if we have total agreement, which isn’t always, more information often comes along, like in the form of DNA testing, and we may find even more apparent discrepancies. I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a reporter, Cameron McWhirter, who talks about finding just that kind of discrepancy between his family lore and his DNA. He even goes so far as to say, “I am descended, at least partially, from liars.” And he makes the point that “many immigrants reinvented themselves when they arrived here (the United States),” which could be a nice way of saying they had a chance to INVENT a new legacy, not just reinvent it. His assessments are certainly interesting, and worth reviewing, to help us see how DNA testing can affect the way we look at family stories and traditional research results. McWhirter may be the classic modern genealogist, never having set foot inside a courthouse or scanned through microfiche, relying instead entirely, he reports, on internet research. Now before you roll your eyes, just stop for a minute and appreciate how exciting this is. Here is a man who never gave his family history a second thought, yet because of the death of his parents started to tinker around a bit, and then due to the large volume of information online “was quickly pulled into the obsessive world of modern genealogical research.” I say, score one for the genealogy world! What he found was that while his dad was proudly and solidly a self-proclaimed Scot, the records and DNA revealed his heritage was actually from Ireland and eastern Europe. McWhirter says that his “father hated Notre Dame, but judging by my results he could have been one-quarter to one-half Irish. He spoke dismissively of people from Eastern Europe, but part of his genetic code likely came from that region.” McWhirter’s evaluation of his genetic report includes only his ethnicity results, which as you can hear, were meaningful to him in the way they flew in the face of his father’s prejudices and assertions of his own identity. But the ethnicity results fall short of the point of testing for most genealogists. He might even more powerfully transform his sense of family identity if he took a look at his match list and saw an actual living cousin, for example, a third cousin perhaps who was also descended from his German great-grandmother, who maybe never mentioned that she was also Jewish. Connecting with other cousins who also have paper trails to our ancestors serves to provide further confidence that we have put all of the pieces together and honored the right ancestor with a spot on our pedigree chart. It’s like we multiply our own research efforts by finding more people like us—literally—who are descended from the same people and interested in finding them. As long as they’re as diligent in their research as we are, of course. At a recent conference I met a 5th cousin. Even with a connection that distant it was exciting, and it made we want to look again at our connecting ancestors and pause for just a minute to marvel how my DNA verified my paper trail back to them, and that part of them was around, in me, and in my new cousin. To me, THAT’s a bigger picture I want to see—when the paper trail comes together with the DNA trail and turns into real live cousins, even if they turn out to be a little different than the stories and sense of identity that were handed to us when we were young. Maybe you’re something like Cameron McWhirter: you’ve taken a DNA test, been intrigued (or disappointed) by the ethnicity results, but haven’t yet fully explored all your matches on your list. I’m telling you, you may be seriously missing some opportunities. If that’s you, I may actually have written my new DNA quick guide just for you. It’s called “Next Steps: Working with Your Autosomal DNA Matches.” This guide will teach you how to leverage the power of known relatives who have tested. You’ll get an intro to chromosome browsers and their role in the search process, and access to a free bonus template for evaluating the genealogical relationship of a match in relationship to the predicted genetic relationship. This guide also gives you a methodology for converting UNknown relatives on your match list into known relatives, which is what we’re going for here. So check it out, either as a solo purchase or as part of my Advanced DNA bundle, which comes along with my new Gedmatch guide and a guide expressly for organizing your DNA matches.   PROFILE AMERICA: Lights Out   PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Editor Amie Tennant, Content Contributor Vienna Thomas, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Additional Production Support FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-book as a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
October 12, 2016
The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, expert Kate Eakman from Legacy Tree Genealogists joins us with some tips for those starting to trace their Irish ancestors into Ireland. She shares some great websites for Irish research and places to look for that elusive Irish home county;and an exclusive coupon code for anyone who could use some expert help on a tough research problem. Additional episode highlights: Gems listeners respond with strong opinions on sharing gossip about our ancestors; Genealogy Gems Book Club surprises: a past featured author has a new book out—and something different for the new Book Club pick; Mark your calendars and make some plans for big conferences in 2017; Organize your DNA test results and matches to help you get the most out of them, now and in the future. Listen now - click the player below: NEWS: 2017 Conferences RootsTech 2017 open for registration FGS 2017 hotels are open   BOOK CLUB NEWS: NEW FROM NATHAN DYLAN GOODWIN British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin, featured in the past on the Genealogy Gems Book Club with his novel The Lost Ancestor has a NEW novel out in same forensic genealogy mystery series. The Spyglass File: Hero Morton Farrier is back, and he’s on the trail of his client’s newly-discovered biological family. That trail leads to the fascinating story of a young woman who provides valuable but secret service during World War II—and who unknowingly became an entry in the mysterious Spyglass File. The connection is still so dangerous that Morton’s going to have bad guys after him again, and he may or may not be kidnapped right before he’s supposed to marry the lovely Juliette. Meanwhile, you’ll find him anguishing over the continuing mystery of his own biological roots—a story that unfolds just a little more in this new book.   MAILBOX: School Records Suggestion Responding to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #194: “For those that have these old school records, consider donating them (even a digitized image) to the school from whence they originated. I shared class photos taken in the 1940s with my parents’ grade schools. The school was so appreciative! I hope another researcher down the road benefits from the pictures as well.” - Laura MAILBOX: Passing on the Gossip Blog post with Jennifer’s letter, my response, and several more comments Here’s a link to a post about the stamp pendant Jennifer sent me  Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and In the near future, RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.   Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at   INTERVIEW: Kate Eakman and Getting Started in Irish Genealogy GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code SAVE100 to save $100 on your purchase of research services. Legacy Tree Genealogist specialist Kate Eakman shares tips about getting started in Irish genealogy. Here are the highlights: Q: Where would you recommend the hobbyist start their Irish search?  A: Not a lot of Irish records are available online for free. Top sites for Irish records include: (click here for their Ireland landing page), National Archives of Ireland, and (click here for their Ireland page). Q: What does a researcher need to know before crossing the pond? A: Where the person was born in Ireland. The county. Find out if they were Protestant or Catholic. Click here for an interactive map of Irish counties, including those of Northern Ireland. Q: Where do you recommend they look for that info in the U.S. crossing the pond? A: Death records, marriage records, church records (keep an eye on extended family), passenger lists, naturalization papers. Keep an eye out for extended family members who may have come from the same place. Be aware of traditional Irish naming conventions and patterns. Q: At what point in the Irish research process do hobbyists usually get stuck? A: Common names regularly recycled, so it can be tough to sort out who is who. Also, a huge fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922 destroyed the bulk of government records. Click here for a description of what was lost and what surviving fragments are coming soon to Q: How does it work to work with a professional genealogist at Legacy Tree Genealogists? A: Here’s the process. A manager calls or emails the client to discuss their needs and parameters. They identify the goals and determine what the client already knows. A goal is settled on and then a researcher is assigned to the client. A written report of the research conducted is provided. GENEALOGY GEMS EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Go to and use coupon code SAVE100 to save $100 on your purchase of research services. The Legacy Tree Discovery package provides for 3.5 hours of preliminary analysis and research recommendations. It’s a great way to get started if you’ve hit a brick wall in your research and could use some expert guidance. Click here to learn more. This episode is sponsored by the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     DNA GEM with Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard: Organizing Your DNA I can tell whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher by the state of the silverware drawer. If either of the boys have done it (ages 13 and 11), the forks are haphazardly in a jumble and the spoon stack has overflowed into the knife section, and the measuring spoons are nowhere to be found. If, on the other hand, it was my daughter (age 8), everything is perfectly in order. Not only are all the forks where they belong, but the small forks and the large forks have been separated into their own piles and the measuring spoons are nestled neatly in size order. Regardless of the state of your own silverware drawer, it is clear that most of us need some sort of direction when it comes to organizing our DNA test results. Organizing your matches entails more than just lining them up into nice categories like Mom’s side vs. Dad’s side, or known connections vs. unknown connections. Organizing your results involves making a plan for their use. Good organization for your test results can help you reveal or refine your genealogical goals, and help determine your next steps. The very first step is to download your raw data from your testing company and store it somewhere on your own computer. I have instructions on my website if you need help. Once that is complete, we can get to the match list. One common situation for those of you who have several generations of ancestors in the United States, you may have some ancestors that seem to have produced a lot of descendants who have caught the DNA testing vision. This can be like your overflowing spoon stack, and it may be obscuring some valuable matches. But identifying and putting all of those known matches in their proper context can help you realize these abundant matches may lead to clues about the descendant lines of your known ancestral couple that you were not aware of. In my Organizing Your DNA Matches quick sheet I outline a process for drawing out the genetic and genealogical relationships of these known connections to better understand their relationship to each other and to you. It is then easier to verify that your genetic connection is aligned with your known genealogical paper trail and spot areas that might need more research. This same idea of plotting the relationships of your matches to each other can also be employed as you are looking to break down a brick wall in your family tree, or even in cases of adoption.  They key to identifying unknowns is determining the relationships of your matches to each other, so you can better see where you might fit in. Another helpful tool is a trick I learned from our very own Lisa Louise Cooke, and that is Google Earth. Have you ever tried to use Google Earth to help you in your genetic genealogy? Remember that the common ancestor between you and your match has three things that connect you to them: their genetics, surnames, and locations. We know the genetics is working because they are showing up on your match list. But often times you cannot see a shared surname among your matches. However, by plotting their locations in the free Google Earth, kind of like separating the big forks from the little forks, you might be able to recognize a shared location that would identify which line you should investigate for a shared connection. So, what are you waiting for? Line up those spoons and separate the big forks from the little forks, your organizing efforts may just reveal a family of measuring Spoons, all lined up and waiting to be added to your family history.   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: Sarah A. Chrisman Author spotlight: Sarah A. Chrisman, living icon of the Victorian age. Sarah and her husband Gabriel live like it’s about 1889. They wear Victorian-style clothing and use a wood-burning stove and antique ice box. Sarah wears a corset day and night Gabriel wears 19th century glasses. No TV, no cell phones—and Sarah isn’t even a licensed driver. For this Book Club, you can take your pick of Sarah’s books! Which would you like to read? This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion and Technologies, a memoir Sarah’s everyday life. The Book Club interview in December will focus mainly on this book. Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present and Myself; True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen: Victorian Etiquette for Modern Day Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Boys and Girls, Teachers and Students, and More; First Wheel in Town: A Victorian Cycling Club Romance. This is from her series of light-hearted historical fiction set in an era she knows well! In honor of the Book Club theme, Genealogy Gems is going Victorian! From now through the end of the year, you’ll find Victorian-inspired crafts, recipes, décor, fashions and more on our Instagram and Pinterest sites, which of course we’ll link to regularly from the Genealogy Gems website, newsletter, podcast show notes and Facebook page. Nobody does sumptuous holiday traditions quite like the Victorians, and we look forward to celebrating that.   BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a PDF with instructions on accessing the new free Guild of One-Name databases on The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.   Receive our FREE Genealogy Gems Newsletter: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
September 14, 2016
The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke In this episode, I’m celebrating the 100th episode of another podcast I host: the Family Tree Magazine podcast. So I’ll flashback to one of my favorite interviews from that show, an inspiring get-in-shape conversation for your research skills: how you can strengthen your research muscles and tone those technology skills to find and share your family history. More episode highlights: News on Chronicling America and Scotland’s People; Comments from guest expert Lisa Alzo on millions of Czech records that have recently come online; A YouTube-for-genealogy success story from a woman I met at a conference; An excerpt from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Chris Cleave, author of Everyone Brave is Forgiven; Diahan Southard shares a DNA gem: the free website GEDmatch, which you might be ready for if you’ve done some DNA testing. Listen now - click the player below: NEWS: NEWS: GENEALOGY WEBSITE UPDATES Scotland’s People Scottish records Chronicling America Chronicling America: New state partners join the program Chronicling America: Expanding its current scope MyHeritage Adds DNA Matching NEW RECORDS ONLINE: FREE CZECH RECORDS AT FAMILYSEARCH.ORG Czech Republic Church Records 1552-1963 Czech Republic Land Records 1450-1889 Czech Republic School Registers 1799-1953 On browse-only records: Though not fully indexed, the new Czech browse-only records number over 4 million. Click here learn how to use browse-only collections on Lisa Alzo, Eastern European genealogy expert and author of the new book The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide comments on the significance of these records coming online: “These records are a real boon for Czech researchers because at one time the only to get records such as these was to write to an archive and taking a chance on getting a response or spending a lot of money to hire someone to find the records or to travel there yourself to do research in the archives.   The church records contain Images and some indexes of baptisms/births, marriages, and deaths that occurred in the Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Reformed Church parishes, as well as entries in those registers for Jews.  Land transactions containing significant genealogical detail for a time period that predates parish registers. The collection includes records from regional archives in Opava and Třeboň and from the district archive in Trutnov. School registers contain the full name for a child, birth date, place of birth, country, religion and father's full name, and place of residence. While researchers should keep in mind that not everything is yet online,and FamilySearch will likely add to its collection,  having these records from FS is an amazing resource for anyone whose ancestors may have come from these areas. And hopefully there are more records to come!” GENEALOGY GEMS NEWS Celebrating 2 million downloads of the Genealogy Gems podcast and named as one of Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Websites for 2016 Story of My Life by Sunny Morton, life story-writing journal available as a print workbook and as a writeable pdf e-book Diahan Southard will be at the Back to Our Past conference in Dublin, Ireland, October 21 to 23, 2016   Genealogy Gems app users:  For those of you who listen to this show through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus handout is a PDF document with step-by-step instructions and helpful screenshots for Google image search on mobile devices. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users   Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and And in the near future, RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.   Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at Review your search results—especially those that pop up in the Images category.   MAILBOX: Robin’s YouTube Success Story YouTube video with Robyn’s father: Cleves, Ohio: Edgewater Sports Park The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition has an entire chapter on using YouTube to find family history in historical videos YouTube for Family History: Finding Documentaries about Your Family   MAILBOX: FEEDBACK ON THE PODCASTS Free, step-by-step podcast for beginners and a “refresher” course: Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Genealogy Gems Premium podcast   SHAPING UP WITH SUNNY MORTON Family Tree Magazine Podcast celebrates 100th episode   Sunny Morton has get-in-shape advice for us—from strengthening research skills to toning tech muscles--from the article "Shaping Up" featured in the March 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine. More resources for genealogy education: Genealogy Gems Premium membership Family Tree University National Genealogical Society Educational Courses Boston University Programs in Genealogical Research Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree annual conference GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: Everyone Brave is Forgiven, the best-selling novel by British author Chris Cleave. A love story set in World War II London and Malta. This story is intense, eye-opening and full of insights into the human experience of living and loving in a war zone—and afterward. Everyone Brave is Forgiven is inspired by love letters exchanged between the author’s grandparents during World War II. Video: Chris Cleave on the U.S troops coming to Europe in World War II Click here for more Genealogy Gems Book Club titles is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.     GEDMATCH WITH DIAHAN SOUTHARD, YOUR DNA GUIDEThe genetic genealogy community has a crush. A big one.  Everyone is talking about it. “It has such great features.” says one. “It has a chromosome browser!” exclaims another. “It’s FREE!” they all shout. What are they talking about? GEDmatch. GEDmatch is a mostly free online tool where anyone with autosomal DNA test results from 23andMe, FTDNA, and AncestryDNA can meet and share information. All you need to do is download your data from your testing company and upload it into your newly created GEDmatch account. GEDmatch is set up just like your testing company in that it provides two kinds of reports: ethnicity results, and a match list. Remember that ethnicity results, meaning those pie charts that report you are 15% Italian and 32% Irish, are based on two factors: a reference population and fancy math. GEDmatch has gathered data from multiple academic sources to provide you with several different iterations of ethnicity reports. This is like getting a second (and third and fourth, etc) opinion on a science that is still emerging. It is a fun exercise, but will likely not impact your genealogy research very much. The more important match list does allow you to see genetic cousins who have tested at other companies. Of course, only those who have downloaded their results and entered them into GEDmatch will show up on your list. This means GEDmatch has the potential to expand your pool of genetic cousins, increasing your chances of finding someone to help you track down that missing ancestor. Many also flock to GEDmatch because they were tested at AncestryDNA and thus do not have access to a chromosome browser. A chromosome browser allows you to visualize the physical locations that you share with someone else. Some find this to be a helpful tool when analyzing their DNA matches (though in my opinion it is not essential). GEDmatch also has some great genealogy features that let you analyze your pedigree against someone else’s, as well as the ability to search all the pedigree charts in their system so you can look specifically for a descendant of a particular relative. However, even with all of these great features, GEDmatch is still yet another website you have to navigate, and with that will be a learning curve, and certainly some frustration. So, is it worth it? If you are fairly comfortable with the website where you were tested, and you are feeling both curious and patient, I say go for it. It’s too much to try to tell you right this minute how to download your data from your testing site and upload it to GEDmatch. BUT you’re in luck, I’ve put step-by-step instructions for getting started in a FREE tutorial on my website at After you’ve done the upload, you may need a little bit more help to navigate the GEDmatch site because there are so many great tools on it. I recently published a GEDmatch Quick Guide, where I have condensed into four pages the most essential features of GEDmatch to get you started and help you make use of this tool for genetic genealogy. Using my guide is an inexpensive and easy way to get a lot more out of a free online resource. I will also be adding more GEDmatch tutorials to my online tutorial series later this fall, which Genealogy Gems fans get a nice discount on (click here for that discount). By the way, have you tried GEDmatch? I would love to hear about your experiences. You can email me at   DNA QUICK GUIDE BUNDLES: NEW AND ON SALE Advanced DNA Quick Guide Bundle by Diahan Southard: GEDmatch: A Next Step for your Autosomal DNA Test Organizing Your DNA Matches: A Companion Guide Next Steps: Working with Your Autosomal DNA Matches   SUPER DNA Quick Guide Bundle by Diahan Southard with ALL 10 Guides Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist Mitochondrial DNA for the Genealogist Y Chromosome DNA for the Genealogist and Testing Companies: Understanding Ancestry: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist Understanding Family Tree DNA: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist Understanding 23 and Me: A Companion Guide to Autosomal DNA for the Genealogist and Advanced Tools Next Steps: Working With Your Autosomal DNA Matches Organzing Your DNA Matches GEDmatch: A Next Step for Your Autosomal DNA Test   Genealogy Gems Podcast turns 200: Tell me what you think?As we count down to the 200th episode of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast, what have been YOUR favorite things about the podcast? Any particular topics, interviews or segments of the show? What keeps you coming back? What would you like to hear more of? Email me at, or leave a voicemail at (925) 272-4021, or send mail to: P.O. Box 531, Rhome, TX 76078. FREE NEWSLETTER:
August 7, 2016
The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke Did you know you can use Google to help identify images, to find more images like them online, and even to track down images that have been moved to a different place online? Find these great Google tech tips in this episode, along with 10 tech-savvy tricks for finding an ancestor's school records. You will also hear how to create a family history photo decoupage plate: a perfect craft to give as a gift or create with children. This blast from the past episode comes from the digitally remastered Genealogy Gems Podcast episodes 11 and 12 (originally recorded in 2007). They are now interwoven with fresh narration; below you’ll find all-new show notes. Google Image searches: Updated tips Click here to watch a short new tutorial video on using Google Images to find images for your genealogy research. Conduct an initial search using the search terms you want. The Image category (along with other categories) will appear on the screen along with your search results. For images of people: enter name as search term in quotes: “Mark Twain.” If you have an unusual name or if you have extra time to scroll through results, enter the name without quotation marks. Other search terms to try: ancestral place names, tombstone, name of a building (school, church, etc.), the make and model of Grandpa’s car, etc. Click on one of the image thumbnails to get to a highlight page (shown here) where you can visit the full webpage or view the image. If you click View images, you’ll get the web address. To retrieve images that no longer appear at the expected URL: Click on View image to get the image URL. Copy the image’s URL (Ctrl+C in Windows) and paste it (Ctrl+V) into your web browser to go to that image’s page. When you click through, you’re back in Web view. The first few search results should be from the website with the image you want. Click on a link that says “cache.” A cached version is an older version of the website (hopefully a version dated before the image was moved or removed). Browse that version of the site to find the image. NEW Tip: Use Google Chrome to identify an image and find additional images showing the same subject, such as a place, person or subject. From the Google home page, click Images. In the Google search box, you’ll see a little camera icon. Click on it. If you have an image from a website, insert the URL for that image. If you have an image on your computer, click Upload an image. Choose the file you want. Google will identify the image as best it can, whether a location, person, or object, and it will show you image search results that seem comparable. Click here to watch a free video tutorial on this topic.   GEM: Decoupage a Family Photo Plate Supply List: Clear glass plate with a smooth finish (available at kitchen outlet and craft stores) Sponge craft brush Decoupage glue Fine paper-cutting scissors (Cuticle scissors work well) Small bottle of acrylic craft paint in a color you would like for the back A flat paintbrush Painter’s tape Brush-on clear acrylic varnish for a glossy finish on the back of the plate A selection of photos (including other images that complement the photos)  Assembling your plate: Lay out your design to fit the plate Add words if desired. You can draw directly on the copy or print it out and cut it to fit. Put an even coat of glue on the front of each photo. Don't worry about brush strokes, but be careful not to go over it too many times which could cause the ink to run.  Apply the photos to the back of the plate, working in reverse order (the first images placed on the plate will be in the foreground of the design). Glue the edges firmly. Turn the plate over to check the placement of images. Smooth using craft brush. Brush glue over the back of each photo. Turn the plate around so you can see the image from the front and work out the air bubbles. Continue to place the images until the entire plate is covered. Let it dry 24 hours. Use painters’ tape to tape off the edges before you apply the acrylic paint to the back of the plate. Paint the back and let dry. Apply a second coat. Let dry. Apply an acrylic varnish for a glossy finish on the back. Let dry. Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and And soon, RootsMagic will be fully integrated with, too: you’ll be able to sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site. Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems.   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB Our current book is Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Follow the story of Mary North, a wealthy young Londoner who signs up for the war effort when the Great War reaches England. Originally assigned as a schoolteacher, she turns to other tasks after her students evacuate to the countryside, but not before beginning a relationship that leads to a love triangle and long-distance war-time romance. As her love interest dodges air raids on Malta, she dodges danger in London driving ambulances during air raids in the Blitz. This story is intense, eye-opening and full of insights into the human experience of living and loving in a war zone—and afterward. Everyone Brave is Forgiven is inspired by love letters exchanged between the author’s grandparents during World War II. Video: Chris Cleave on the U.S troops coming to Europe in World War II Click here for more Genealogy Gems Book Club titles   GEM: Top 10 Tips for finding Graduation Gems in your family history Establish a timeline. Check your genealogy database to figure out when your ancestor would have attended high school or college. Consult family papers and books. Go through old family papers & books looking for senior calling cards, high school autograph books, journals and diaries, senior portraits, fraternity or sorority memorabilia and yearbooks. Search newspapers. Look for school announcements, honor rolls, sports coverage, end-of-year activities and related articles. Updated tips and online resources: has moved the bulk of its historical newspaper collection to its sister subscription website, Search your browser for the public library website in the town where your ancestor attended school. Check the online card catalogue, look for a local history or genealogy webpage, or contact them to see what newspapers they have, and whether any can be loaned (on microfilm) through interlibrary loan. Search the Library of Congress’ newspaper website, Chronicling America, for digitized newspaper content relating your ancestor’s school years. Also, search its U.S. Newspaper Directory since 1690 for the names and library holdings of local newspapers. online catalog Contact local historical and genealogical societies for newspaper holdings. Consult the websites of U.S. state archives and libraries: click here to find a directory of state libraries State historical and genealogical societies. In addition to newspapers, state historical and genealogical societies might have old yearbooks or school photograph collections. For example, the Ohio Genealogical Society library has a large (and growing) collection of Ohio school yearbooks. Local historical and genealogical societies may also have school memorabilia collections. RootsWeb, now at Check the message board for the county and state you’re looking for. Post a message asking if anyone has access to yearbooks or other school info. TIP: Use Google site search operator to find mentions of yearbooks on the county page you’re looking at. Add site: to the front of the Rootsweb page for the locale, then the word yearbook after it. For example: Search for online yearbooks at websites such as: now has a large yearbook collection and the National Yearbook Project, mentioned in the show, no longer exist as such US GenWeb at Search on the county website where the school was located. Is there anyone willing to do a lookup? Is there a place to post which yearbooks you’re looking for? Call the school, if it’s still open. If they don’t have old yearbooks, they may be able to put you in touch with a local librarian or historian who does. TIP: Go to and type the school name in “Business Name.” Call around 4:00 pm local time, when the kids are gone but the school office is still open.  ebay: Do a search on the school or town you’re looking for to see if anyone out there is selling a yearbook that you need. Also search for old photographs or postcards of the school. Here’s my extra trick: From the results page, check the box to include completed listings and email potential sellers to inquire about the books you are looking for. TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask – ebay sellers want to sell!  And if all else fails, set up an ebay Favorite Search to keep a look out for you. Go to and check out Episode #3 for instructions on how to do this. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.   FREE NEWSLETTER: Enter your email & get my Google Research e-bookas a thank you gift! Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
July 12, 2016
The Genealogy Gems Podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke Episode highlights: Genealogy milestones, anniversaries, new records, upcoming conferences and new free video tutorials; Email response to The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #192: another tip on the U.S. Public Records Index, a family adoption story and his own research on the changing coastline of Sussex; More response to the “Where I’m From” poetry initiative; Announcement: the NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club title; A key principle in genetic genealogy from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard. NEWS: FOIA Turns 50What is the FOIA? The Freedom of Information Act opens federal records to the public. The FOIA applies to certain kinds of information about the federal government and certain information created by the federal government. It DOESN’T apply to documents that relate to national security, privacy and trade secrets, or to documents created by state or local governments. FOIA for genealogy research: Use the FOIA to request: SS5- applications (Social Security) and Railroad Board Retirement Post-WWII Selective Service records: draft registrations and SS-102 forms (with more draft/military information on them), through the end of 1959; Naturalization certificate files from 1906 to 1956; Alien registration forms from 1940 to 1944; Visa files from 1924 to1944; Registry files for 1929 to 1944 (these document the arrival of an immigrant whose passenger or other arrival record could not be found for whatever reason); A-files, alien case files for 1944 to 1951; Certain FBI files and certain CIA records (here’s a link to the slides from a National Archives presentation on using FBI files for family history. Click here to read an article on the 50th anniversary of the FOIA and more on FOIA for genealogy   NEWS: NEW RECORD COLLECTIONS ONLINE Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Honeymoon and Visitor Registers, 1949-2011 The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast #133: Peggy Lauritzen on “Gretna Greens,” quickie wedding destinations (Genealogy Gems Premium website membership required to access) Announcement of Freedmen’s Bureau Project completion; In September 2016 you can access the full Freedmen’s Bureau Project at New videos to help find your family history in Freedmen’s Bureau Records Where to find Freedmen’s Bureau Records online, and the Freedmen’s Bureau indexing project   NEWS: AncestryDNA Hits 2 Million Samples blog post: AncestryDNA Reaches 2 Million Samples Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about these AncestryDNA features in: AncestryDNA improves genetic matching technology Confused by your AncestryDNA matches? Read this article DNA Circles: When they DON’T mean genetic connections on AncestryDNA AncestryDNA Common Matches tool AncestryDNA Works Toward Genetics + Genealogy Integration NEWS: UPCOMING CONFERENCES Midwest Roots, July 15-16, 2016 The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #178 CeCe Moore talks genetic genealogy on genealogy TV shows Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society 3rd Annual Conference, July 30, 2016 3rd Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference, Arlington, 3rd Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference Hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, north of Seattle in Arlington, WA  on August 17-20, 2016 Theme: "Family Secrets Uncovered -- Lost History Found” Keynote speakers include Blaine Bettinger, Claudia Breland and Lisa Louise Cooke Free Day Wednesday afternoon: Beth Foulk will address beginner's issues -- which is also a good refresher for the more seasoned genealogists Other features: Meet a distant cousin with the “Cousin Wall;” participate in the genealogy-related scavenger hunt on Free Day Wednesday, and enjoy the free taco bar at the evening reception. Wear a costume from your ancestors’ homeland on the Friday dress-up day.           GEMS NEWS: NEW VIDEOS ONLINE How to create captivating family history videos: Animoto video tutorial series Tech Tip Tuesday tutorial videos NEW Genealogy Gems Premium Video: All About Google Drive (Genealogy Gems Premium website membership required to access) Evernote blog post about changed pricing   MAILBOX: CHRIS WITH US PUBLIC RECORDS INDEX TIP AND MORE Follow-up email regarding The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #192 from Chris, who blogs at Leaf, Twig and Stem Chris’ post about a compelling story of an adopted child in his family Chris’ post about the changing coastline in Sussex U.S. Public Records Index MAILBOX: “WHERE I’M FROM” The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #185: Interview with George Ella Lyon “Where I’m From” video and contest results Tips for writing your own “Where I’m From” poem Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society “Where I'm From” contest: “Anyone near and far may join our Contest. Each entry receives a gift from the. We will have a drawing from all entries of cash or a nice prize.  Deadline for entries is Aug. 31, 2016. More information on”   NEW GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB SELECTION   Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave It’s a story inspired by love letters exchanged between his grandparents during World War II, when they were each in dangerous places: he on the island of Malta and she in London, both of which suffered some of the worst sustained bombing campaigns of the war. Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a fast-paced book. It begins in London in 1939 with Mary North, a wealthy young lady from a privileged family who, on finding out that war has been declared, immediately leaves her finishing school and signs on for the war effort without telling her parents. She fulfills an assignment as a school teacher long enough to make a meaningful connection with a school official and one of her students. Then her students (along with the rest of London’s children) are evacuated to the countryside, leaving her to figure out what to do next. The plot gets a lot more involved from here. There’s a love triangle, a long-distance romance, a series of scenes that take place on the heavily-bombarded island of Malta, harrowing descriptions of the London Blitz, homeless children who return from the evacuation only to find themselves parentless, homeless and in constant danger. It’s intense and eye-opening, but it’s compassionate and it’s still very readable for those who have less of a stomach for blood and guts but still want to understand some of the human experience of living and loving in a war zone, and then picking up the pieces afterward and figuring out how to keep living. Video: Chris Cleave on the U.S troops coming to Europe in World War II Click here for more Genealogy Gems Book Club titles   DNA GEM: GENETIC PEDIGREE V GENEALOGICAL PEDIGREE A key concept in genetic genealogy is that your genetic pedigree is different than your genealogical pedigree. Let me explain. Your genealogical pedigree, if you are diligent or lucky (or both!) can contain hundreds, even thousands of names and can go back countless generations. You can include as many collateral lines as you want. You can add several sources to your findings, and these days you can even add media, including pictures and copies of the actual documents. Every time someone gets married or welcomes a new baby, you can add that to your chart. In short, there is no end to the amount of information that can make up your pedigree chart. Not so for your genetic pedigree. Your genetic pedigree contains only those ancestors for whom you have received some of their DNA. You do not have DNA from all of your ancestors. Using some fancy math we can calculate that the average generation in which you start to see that you have inherited zero blocks of DNA from an ancestor is about seven. But of course, most of us aren’t trying to figure out how much of our DNA we received from great great great grandma Sarah. Most of us just have a list of DNA matches and we are trying to figure out if we are all related to 3X great grandma Sarah. So how does that work? Well, the first thing we need to recognize is that living descendants of Sarah’s would be our fourth cousins (though not always, but that is a topic for another post!). Again, bring in the fancy math and we can learn that living, documented fourth cousins who have this autosomal DNA test completed will only share DNA with each other 50% of the time. Yes, only half. Only half of the time your DNA will tell you what your paper trail might have already figured out: That you and cousin Jim are fourth cousins, related through sweet 3X great grandma Sarah.  But here’s where the numbers are in our favor. You have, on average, 940 fourth cousins. So if you are only sharing DNA with 470 of them, that’s not quite so bad, is it? And it only takes one or two of them to be tested and show up on your match list. Their presence there, and their documentation back to sweet Sarah, helps to verify the genealogy you have completed and allows you to gather others who might share this connection so you can learn even more about Sarah and her family. Plus, if you find Jim, then Jim will have 470 4th cousins as well, some of which will not be on your list, giving you access to even more of the 940. This genetic family tree not matching up exactly with your traditional family tree also manifests itself in your ethnicity results, though there are other reasons for discrepancies there as well.  In short, this DNA stuff is not perfect, or even complete, but if you combine it with your traditional resources, it can be a very powerful tool for verifying and extending your family history. Additional readings: 23andMe blog post: “How Many Relatives Do You Have?” “How Much of Your Genome Do You Inherit from a Particular Ancestor?”   PROFILE AMERICA: First hamburgers at a 4th of July picnic
June 9, 2016
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #192 with Lisa Louise Cooke Highlights from this episode: How to use Animoto, my favorite new tech tool for creating professional-looking slide shows and videos New Genealogy Gems team member Amie Tennant shares insights as she prepares for professional certification A listener shares a favorite genealogy database for finding recent relatives A listener uses DNA to connect adoptive and biological relatives—who were closer than she thought A segment from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with author Helen Simonson on The Summer Before the War News from Dropbox and a new initiative to capture the family histories of remote, indigenous populations   NEWS: Dropbox Improvement New on Dropbox: Now when you share Dropbox content with someone, shared links will stay active even if you move or rename the file or folder. Dropbox file-sharing tip: “If you ever want to unshare something you’ve already sent out (like to remove access to a sensitive document), it’s easy to disable an active link.” Just sign in to “Click the link icon next to the file or folder, and click ‘remove link’ in the top right corner of the box that appears. You can also remove the link by visiting and clicking ‘x’ next to the file or folder.” How to share folders on Dropbox   NEWS: MyHeritage and Tribal Quest FamilySearch Helping Preserve and Provide Access to African Records and Family Histories Ghana Oral Genealogy Project (on   NEWS: New Premium Video Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy: a new video available to Genealogy Gems Premium website members by Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard Genealogy Gems Premium website membership: Click here to learn more Click here to watch a free video preview   MAILBOX: Russ Recommends the U.S. Public Records Index Russ blogs at Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 181: What to use while waiting for the 1950 census Russ recommends the “U.S., Public Record Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 and 2.” “Volume 1 is far more interesting with more data. A search will return a Name AND Birth date, along with more than one ADDRESS, Zip Code and sometimes phone numbers.” Ancestry’s description of its online database for Volume 1 says original data comes from public records spanning all 50 states, such as voter registration lists, public record filings, historical residential records and other household database listings. U.S. Public Records Index on  Volume 1 and Volume 2 Free partial version (1970-2009) at Another partial version (1970-2010) at MyHeritage Thoughts about using the U.S. Public Records Index (some of these points come from the FamilySearch wiki): Not everyone who lived in the U.S. appears in the index, and you’re more likely to find birth information for those born between 1900 and 1990. What you’ll find is primarily where someone lived, and often when they lived there. It’s rarely possible to positively identify a relative in this index, since there’s limited information and it spans the entire country for up to a half century, and you can’t follow up on the record it comes from because the index doesn’t say where individual records come from. As Russ says, this is a great resource to use in combination with other records. It’s a similar concept to the way you might consult uncited family trees: great hints to go on and follow up with further research into verifiable sources. When you find more recent listings, you can sometimes find telephone numbers for living distant relatives. The Family History Made Easy podcast has a 2-episode series (episodes 14 and 15) about cold-calling techniques for reaching out to distant relatives you don’t know.   MAILBOX: Katie on Cold-calling and Adoption and DNA Katie blogs her family history adventures at McKinnon Ancestry. Click here to read a blog post with her story and see more pictures that go with it.   INTERVIEW: Amie Tennant Amie Tennant is the newest member of the Genealogy Gems team. She contributes to the blog at She is also preparing to become a certified genealogist, which is a professional credential offered by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). What have you learned in the process of preparing for certification? “I think the biggest thing I have learned is the meaning of true exhaustive research. We talk a lot about that in our genealogy standards, but essentially, it is looking EVERYWHERE for EVERYTHING that might shed light on your research question.” Why do you want to become certified? I want a way to determine how well I am doing. A measuring stick of sorts. What is the process like? The process is the same for everyone. Once you have decided to become certified, you apply to the BCG. They send you a packet of information and you are “on the clock.” The clock is up in one year, unless you ask for an extension. The portfolio you create consists of: Signing the Code of Ethics Listing your development activities (like formal coursework or enrichment activities); Transcribe, abstract, create a genealogy research question, analyze the data, and the write the research plan for a document that is supplied to you; Do those same 5 things for a document of your choosing; A research report prepared for another person. A case study with conflicting, indirect or negative evidence; A kinship determination project (a narrative genealogy that covers at least 3 generations) There is a lot of great free content on the BCG website: articles, examples, and skill building activities.   GEM: How to Create Family History Videos Quickly and Easily Visit our page on how to create family history videos which includes video tutorials and inspirational examples. Genealogy Gems App users can watch Episode #1 of the video tutorial in the Bonus content area.    BOOK CLUB: Interview excerpt with Helen Simonson, author of  The Summer Before the War Get the hardcover Get the Kindle ebook Beatrice Nash is a bright, cosmopolitan young lady who has grown up traveling the world with her father. Now he’s gone, and she’s landed in the small village of East Sussex, England, where the locals aren’t entirely thrilled about engaging her as a female Latin instructor for their schoolchildren. She spends a summer fighting for her job, meeting a local cast of engaging eccentric characters (both gentry and gypsy) and trying not to fall for handsome Hugh. Then the Great War breaks out. This novel follows Helen’s popular debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 21 languages. Genealogy Gems Premium website members can join us in June to hear our exclusive and fun interview with Helen Simonson.   GENEALOGY GEMS PODCAST PRODUCTION CREDITS: Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Sunny Morton, Contributing Editor Vienna Thomas, Audio Editor Additional content by Lacey Cooke, Amie Tennant
May 11, 2016
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #191 with Lisa Louise Cooke   NEWS: Upcoming Live-Streaming from FGS from Periscope Free Periscope app in App Store or Google Play Lisa’s Twitter handle: @LisaCooke   New German Records with James Beidler His new book: Trace Your German Roots Online: A Complete Guide to German Genealogy Websites. Jim mentioned this new website for Protestant church records: Links to new German genealogy databases: CHURCH. An enormous collection of Lutheran baptisms, marriages and burials is now searchable on You’ll find over 24 million records from “parish registers from numerous Protestant communities in Baden, today part of the German state of Baden-Württemberg…[and] some communities to the north, such as Wiesbaden in adjacent Hessen.” Another new collection contains over a million birth, marriage and death records taken from weekly church reports in Dresden, Germany for 1685-1879. CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Nearly 300,000 indexed names have been added to a free online collection of civil registrations for Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany (1811-1814, 1833-1928). IMMIGRATION TO U.S. A new database on catalogs German immigrants to the U.S., 1712-1933. MILITARY. Over 400,000 records are part of a new collection of Bremen military lists (1712-1914). According to the collection description, “The core of the collection are the muster rolls created by recruiting commmissions including actual musters from 1894-1917 for men born between 1874 and 1899. These records are arranged in chronological-alphabetical order and contain detailed information about male military personnel in the city.” Get the book on sale at Shop Family Tree by clicking the link below and then save an additional 15% with our coupon code: Save 15% on Lisa Louise Cooke Products at Shop Family Tree with Offer Code GENEALOGYGEMS15. Expires 12/31/2016. Trace Your German Roots Online eBook $13.99 (Retail $21.99)   MyHeritage Book Matching Sunny's result:   Canadian Conferences Coming Up Lisa Louise Cooke at the Ontario Genealogical Society, June 3-5, 2016 at the International Plaza Hotel, Toronto The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit (CANGEN), October 21-23, 2016 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Brampton, Ontario   MAILBOX: Thom’s Google Success Story with Google Earth and Google Books Click here to read a blog post to see Thom’s full story with his map overlay and the Google Book search result he found Learn more about Google Earth for genealogy: FREE Google Earth for Genealogy video (Get started!) The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition, by Lisa Louise Cooke (fully revised and updated in 2015) Google Earth for Genealogy video tutorial series: available as a digital download or a 2-CD set   Donna’s Evernote Question Q: What’s the best way to move Evernote notes into notebooks? A: Sometimes getting organized can gobble up all your research time. So one approach I often recommend is just to move Evernote notes as you use them. That way you can keep researching, while getting more organized each day. As you create new notes you'll be putting them directly where they belong, and as you use existing notes, you can tidy them up as you go. If you feel more comfortable getting everything moved in one fell swoop, that's good too. One way to save time is with a simple trick: decide what you have more of (genealogy or personal) and then move ALL your notes into that notebook. Now you only have less than 1/2 of your notes that need to be moved. You can move the rest to the other notebook by selecting multiple notes at once. Here's a step-by-step breakdown: Click the Genealogy notebook in the left column.  2. In the center column are all of your notes. Click the first note in your list to be moved. 3. Hold down the Control key on your keyboard. 4. Now click to select each additional note. (Use the wheel on your mouse to scroll down as you need to. Your notes will be collecting in the right-hand window pane, and a dialog box will appear. 5. In that dialog box, click the Move to Notebook button and click to select the desired notebook from your list. 6. For good measure, click the Sync button to manually synchronize all of your notes. Click here to find more great resources for using Evernote for genealogy, including free tips, step-by-step helps, a unique Evernote cheat sheet and free and Premium videos Click here to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium membership INTERVIEW: Amy Crow and 4 Apps for Local History (and Tips for Using Them) History Pin: “like Pinterest for history.” Especially strong for local history in England, Ireland, Scotland, but also wonderful for the U.S. A lot of organizations have added photos and curated them into collections, like Pinterest boards. Instagram. Follow libraries, archives and historical societies that are in towns where your ancestors lived. They may post historic photos from their collections. Instagram now has a feature where you can share photos with those you follow on Instagram. Use it to share a cool old picture that relates to your family history with a young relative. The Clio. This website and local history app (available through Google Play and on iTunes for iPhone/iPad) shows you historic sites around you when you turn on your location services. The resources, descriptions and bibliographic entries on this site are great to follow up with for your research. What Was There. At this site (or with the iPhone app) you can view historic photos plotted on a map near your current location. Use it to look around and ask the question, “What happened here?” if you’re on a walk or visiting somewhere. The site is integrated with Google Street View. You can also upload your own old photos if you know where they were taken and do an overlay in Google Maps, in much the same way Lisa teaches about doing in Google Earth.   GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson The Summer Before the War: A Novel From Sunny: This novel takes place in a small English town just before and then right into the events of World War I. The heroine, Beatrice Nash, is trying to find her footing as an independent, educated woman. She’s got a romance on the horizon, and she’s getting to know some fantastic characters, gypsies and gentry when—bam, here comes WWI, first as rumors and dinner conversation, then as a trickle of refugees into town and finally as a horrible pull on their local young men into combat. Lisa always asks me when we’re talking about possible titles for the Book Club, “What does this book mean to us as genealogists?” For me, The Summer Before the War does a couple of things. First, I think it can be difficult to imagine our ancestors in living color with a full range of human emotions. When we can find photos, they’re black and white (or brown and white). When we find them in print, they’re often more reserved in what they say than we like. Times were stricter then, and we may make assumptions about their passions and how they lived them out. What a novel like The Summer Before the War does for me is remind me that people at that times had just as many feelings as I do. They lived and breathed and loved and hurt and were tempted and frightened and everything else.  Yes, a novel is not a historically accurate re-creation of my ancestor’s character (or anyone else’s ancestor’s characters, for that matter), but it places the human spirit in a certain time and place, perhaps a time and place that was also inhabited by my relatives. It helps me imagine their lives from a fuller perspective. The other thing I love about this book is that it reminds me that history didn’t happen in neat intervals. Sometimes I separate out in my mind certain events in an ancestor’s timeline. During these years they went to school, or got married and started a family, or worked as a teacher. But then you dump a war on top of that timeline. You realize that for some people, the war snuck in the back door of their lives and stayed there while they were trying to get married and start a family or work as a teacher, or all of the above. Of course, for those who went to the front or to whom the fight came, the story is more dramatic, but even then, the war happened to them within the context of other things that were already happening. The Summer Before the War is really good at showing how the conflict just gradually dawned on this English village, before becoming an everyday and grim reality for many of its residents, and the final chapter for a few of them. The book is The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. Helen joins us for a fantastic conversation about the book in next month’s Genealogy Gems Premium podcast (Lisa will put an excerpt from the interview into this free podcast, too). So use the link in the show notes to grab your copy of The Summer Before the War and enjoy it. It’s a fun, easy read but with plenty of meat on its bones for those who love history---and re-imagining the lives of their ancestors.   DNA WITH DIAHAN: Changes at AncestryDNA Change is afoot at AncestryDNA. Again. While stability and predictability seem like honorable qualities in a company or product, when it comes to tech tools, in the ears of tech companies, those words sound more like dated and old. Of course, we are used to this by now. I had a client tell me recently that he wanted to be in touch sooner, but his grandson “upgraded” his computer to Windows 10 and then promptly left for college the next day, leaving him fighting with a new interface and operating system. The good news is, you won’t have this problem with Ancestry’s new update. There aren’t any changes to the interface or the layout of the information. In fact, many of you will not even notice at first that your match list has changed. But in fact, there likely have been some adjustments made, as we see below: Some of your third cousins have been demoted to fourth cousins. Some of your fourth cousins have been demoted to 5th-8th cousins. Some of your Distant Cousins have disappeared off your match list You have new cousins on your Distant Cousin match list. In general, from what Ancestry has showed us, you gain more than you lose. Changes in the dregs of your match list may not seem like that big of a deal, so why am I telling you about it? Probably because I am a nerd, and I like cool science stuff, so I think you should too. You see, Ancestry has made some big changes in the way that they are calculating matches. They are getting better at it. Which means you match list is now more representative of your ancestral connections, even at the very distant level. There are two big pieces to this matching puzzle that Ancestry has tinkered with in this latest update: phasing and matching. You will remember our discussion on DNA phasing (link) and how it can impact your matching. Ancestry has developed a robust reference database of phased DNA in order to better phase our samples. Basically, they have looked through their database at parent child duos and trios and noted that certain strings of DNA values often travel together. Its like they have noticed that our DNA says “A black cat scared the mouse” instead of  “The brown cat ate the mouse” and they can then recognize that phrase in our DNA, which in turn helps our DNA tell the true story of our heritage. In addition to updating the phasing, Ancestry has revamped their matching method. In the past they viewed our DNA in small windows of information, and then stitched those windows together to try to get a better picture of what our DNA looked like. Now instead they have turned to a point by point analysis of our DNA. Again to use a sentence example, with the window analysis we may have the following sentence windows: ack and J ill went t he hill t etch a pai l of water. Of those windows you may share the “etch a pai” with another individual in the database, earning that cousin a spot on your match page. However, the truth is, that bit could say “sketch a painting” or “stretch a painful leg” or “fetch a pail.” With Ancestry’s new method, they are able to see farther on either side of the matching segment, making this clearly “fetch a pail.” That means better matching, which means more confidence in your cousin matches. The downside to this update is going to come in the reorganization of some of your relationships. Ancestry has tightened their genetic definition of your third and fourth cousins. Basically, that means that some of your true 3rd cousins are going to show up as 4th cousins, and some of your true 4th cousins are going to be shifted down into the abyss of 5th-8th cousins. What is really upsetting about this is what this does to the Shared Matches tool (link). The shared matches tool allows you to gather matches in the database that are related to you and one other person, provided you are all related at the 4th cousin level or higher. This tightening of the belt on 4th cousins means that some of them are going to drop through the cracks of that tool, really limiting its ability. Grr. Hopefully Ancestry will fix that, and expand this tool to include all of your matches. They have their fairly good reasons for this, but still… So, as the winds of change blow yet another iteration of the AncestryDNA match page, I think we can see this as an overall win for doing genealogy with our genetics at Ancestry. Resources: Get Diahan's DNA quick reference guides at the Genealogy Gems store. Let Diahan Southard be Your DNA Guide. Click here for information on her personal DNA consulting services.      PROFILE AMERICA: The First High School Here’s a link to their post
April 6, 2016
Genealogy Gems PodcastEpisode #190Lisa Louise Cooke Highlights from this episode: Extreme Genes radio show Scott Fisher talks about his role in helping to solve a 30-year old missing persons case; Lisa advises a listener on a pesky Gmail problem; A whirlwind world tour of new genealogy records online; Searching out military service details with Google Books; One RootsTech attendee's Google search success story the new Genealogy Gems Book Club title, a brand-new, much-anticipated second novel by a breakout British novelist. Click the player below to listen: NEWS: NGS Streaming Sessions National Genealogical Society: NGS 2016 is offering registration packages for the following live-streaming lecture series: Thurs, May 5, 2016: Land Records, Maps and Google Earth How to Follow and Envision Your Ancestor’s Footprints Through Time with Google Earth by Lisa Louise Cooke    NGS Live-Streaming Registration More Conference Streaming Sessions by Lisa Louise Cooke: RootsTech 2016 (these are free!) Mobile Genealogy Tips and Tricks   Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy     NEWS: New Genealogy Records Online Birth, marriage,  and death records for Western Australia on; deeds and mortgages for South Jutland, Denmark on; Yorkshire, England Quarter Session Records and Probate Records  on; Land tax records for Devon, Plymouth & West Devon, Englandon; Brazil civil registration records on; United States War of 1812 Index to Service Records at Freedmen’s Bureau marriages at; Louisiana wills and estates updated on; North Carolina civil marriage bonds and certificates at Maryland church records on; New York State church records at Findmypast  Illinois marriage records on in 3 collections: church marriages, 1805-1985 civil marriages, 1833-1889  county marriages, 1810-1934 North Dakota funeral homes (hosted by the Red River Genealogical Society) at for free;  1945 South Dakota state census at updated    NEWS: Family Tree Maker Direct Import into RootsMagic How to directly import your Family Tree Maker files into RootsMagic.   MAILBOX: Carol and the Coast Guard in Google Books Google Books Google Books search on "USCG Beale:" search results include  this PDF document search "coast guard history" 1920..1935 "Beale:” results include Cutters Historical Bibliography U.S. Coast Guard museum and historian’s office United States Coast Guard Academy Library   MAIL: Gail’s Trouble with Gmail If you’re not receiving the Genealogy Gems free weekly email newsletter, consider these possibilities: Newsletters are going to Gmail spam. Click "Spam" in the left column and see if there are emails from When you find one, mark it as "not spam" and move it to your inbox. Then add our email address to your Contacts Newsletter emails may be going to "Promotions" or "Updates" tab in Gmail. By default you are viewing only emails in the Inbox tab. Click the other tabs to look for ours. Click on an email and drag it onto the Inbox tab to try and get them to go to Inbox. If you search our email address in Gmail it should bring up any emails you have received in other tabs.    Gmail is a powerful, free tool for using and archiving email. That’s why there’s an entire chapter on Gmail in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition. Gmail can help you sort and even keyword-search your past email, and this book will show you how. MAILBOX: Neik from The Netherlands with Research Tips Neik’s tips on researching in The Netherlands CONVERSATION GEM: Celeste’s Google Search Success Story and Google Search Methodology Tips Google for Genealogy: Google Keyword Search Tips 7 Free Google Search Features Every Genealogist Should Use For Genealogy Gems Premium members (See all Premium videos at Common Surname Search Secrets Ultimate Google Search Strategies Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search CONVERSATION GEM: Jillian on Irish adoption law A letter from a reader on Irish adoption policy   INTERVIEW: Scott from Extreme Genes Helps Solve a 30-Year Old Missing Persons Case   Extreme Genes Radio Show More “Cold Case” Inspiration: Genealogy Cold Case: Solved! Premium Video: Genealogical Cold Cases (To learn about Premium membership click here)   BOOK CLUB: The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson British author Helen Simonson’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel , became a NYT best-seller and has been translated into 21 languages. Her newest book, The Summer Before the War, is another great read: light and charming, with a dash of romance and humor. It’s so easy to read and love. It’s the early 1900s, and main character Beatrice Nash has recently lost her father. The estate settlement lost her control over her own funds and freedom. She comes to a small English town as a Latin teacher and must mind her manners and local politics to keep her job. Beatrice meets a man and the appeal appears mutual, but he’s already engaged. This isn’t just Beatrice’s story. You’ll meet an entire village full of charming and irascible and expatriate and unconventional and way-too-conventional and mysterious characters, including the local gentry and the local gypsies. They all have their own stories, which unfold as they begin to experience the first great shock of the 20th century close-up: World War I. First it’s the stunned refugees who they enter the quiet village in which the story is set, and the drama that unfolds as the village tries to rally and care for them. Eventually you’ll see the battlefront through the eyes of a few characters who enlist, not all of whom are going to make it back home. Despite the realities they face, this is somehow still an easy and charming read, one into which it’s easy to disappear. Helen Simonson will join us in June to talk about The Summer Before the War.
March 9, 2016
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 189 NEWS: Relative Race BYUtv’s new reality series Relative Race ( premiered on February 28, 2016. The show “features four married couples as they travel across the US in search of long lost relatives, armed with only paper maps, a rental car, a $25 per diem and a flip phone.” (Interview with two contestants later in the show.)   Databases of Runaway Slave Notices New York Times on new websites that will launch databases of runaway slave notices: Runaway Slaves in Britain Freedom on the Move (U.S.) Irish Collections and Tips from Findmypast Index to Irish Parish Records for 1670-1900 at (FREE FOREVER to search), with links to free digitized content at the National Library of Ireland    Click here to link to Q&A with Brian Donovan, head of Irish Data and Development at Findmypast on getting started in Irish research   MyHeritage Updates Its Search Technologies Click here to learn more about Record Detective II from the MyHeritage blog.   MAILBOX: Marquise’ new blog:  The Blakeslee Tribe Kim recommends my free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast series for beginners and those who want a “genealogy do-over.” She particularly mentions a three-part series on immigration and naturalization records in Episode 29, Episode 30 and Episode 31. Matt’s suggestion for Find A Grave: leave virtual flowers on the “tombstones” of deceased relatives so other relatives can find you: Create a free individual log-in from the home page of the website After logging in, go into an individual record, where it shows your ancestor’s tombstone information. Click on the button that says, “Leave flowers and a note.” Select among several different images of flowers. Choose whether to leave a note and your name. Others who view this tombstone profile can click on your screen name and contact you through the site.                     INTERVIEW: Janice and Patrick Wright from Relative Race Relative Race host Dan J. Debenham described how BYUtv’s original competition reality show came into being: “What could we create that would be very different from what’s currently out there and that would show people discovering family all across the country?" Four teams race from San Francisco to New York in 10 days. Their goal?  Find unknown relatives, complete challenges, and don't get eliminated. In this episode you will hear from Team Black: Patrick Wright is an executive at Alpha Media, a growing radio broadcast media company based in Portland, OR; Janice is a freelance Media Consultant. They joined the Relative Race show because they love travel and adventure.  Stream the show on the app Visit the website    BOOK CLUB: Interview excerpt with Tara Austen Weaver on Orchard House Author Tara Austen Weaver talks about gardening and family, and how tending a garden isn’t so different from nourishing family relationships.   DNA GEM: 3 Reasons to Test with Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard My youngest child, Eleanor, is nearly 8, so it was fun to have a 2 year old over the other day. She loved following Eleanor around, and Eleanor was equally thrilled to have someone to mentor in the ways of big girl play. I took special delight in listening to my daughter’s patient and surprisingly complete answers to our guest’s constant inquiries of “Why?” It got me thinking about the Whys of genealogy, and especially of genetic genealogy. I decided that there are three main reasons to have your DNA tested for genealogical purposes. It is primary information. In genealogy, primary information is given by a source with firsthand knowledge of an event, with the best primary information being created at or around the time of the event. I think we can safely say that DNA falls into that category on both counts. Therefore, it is an excellent source of genealogical information and should be obtained as part of a thorough genealogical search. It is a unique record. DNA possesses several qualities that make this record type stand out from the rest. First and foremost, it cannot be falsified in any way. No name change, no deception, no miscommunication or misspelling can tarnish this record. Even if it is not a complete record of our family history, the story that it does tell is accurate. It is a physical link to our past. So much of genealogy work, especially in today’s digital world, is intangible. We add ancestors to our pedigree charts with a click of our mouse, having no idea of their physical characteristics, never once setting foot in the same places that they did, or if they preferred bread and butter or toast and jam. But with the advent of DNA testing, I am able to see a physical connection between me and my ancestor. The first time I saw it seems unremarkable. It was just a blue line on top of a grey line, representing the location in the DNA where I had the same information as my cousin. But that line meant that we had both inherited a physical piece of DNA from our common ancestor, Lucy J. Claunch. That realization didn’t add names or dates to my pedigree chart- Lucy had been on my chart since the beginning. But it did add a sense of purpose and reality to my genealogical work. In short, it inspired me to know more about Lucy and to tell her story because I felt inextricably tied to it. Perhaps many of you don’t need a DNA test to feel similarly motivated, you already understand what I learned: Her story is my story. But because I have her DNA in me, I am able to take that idea one step further. Because she lives on in me, my story is her story. So I better make it a good one. Has your DNA motivated you to find out more about your story? Genealogy Gems readers and listeners get a special price on Diahan Southard's DNA Video Training    PROFILE AMERICA: Voter Documentation
February 17, 2016
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 188 Highlights from this episode include: RootsTech news and resources for everyone; New records online for Ireland and the United States; Two inspiring emails from listeners who unravel family mysteries with determination, skill and Google sleuthing; Motivating thoughts on organizing your family history research; A Genealogy Gems Book Club update with more thoughts on the featured title Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver and book recommendations from RootsTech attendees; A critique of a recent NPR article on genetic genealogy by Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard; and A great conversation with Cindy Cochran and Sabrina Riley of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society Library at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. NEWS: Findmypast creates new partnerships During RootsTech, announced new partnerships with RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, FamilySearch, Family-Historian, Puzzilla, Billion Graves and RootsCity. A press release stated that “Findmypast will make its vast record collection of more than 8 billion records available to customers via these partners. The rollout of these partnerships will begin in 2016, with exact dates to be detailed later….Customers using these various family history products will benefit from having Findmypast’s record collection embedded within the actual product in ways that each partner determines will benefit their customers most.” NEWS: More on the Family Tree Maker Roller Coaster On February 2, announced an agreement with RootsMagic to connect their family history software with by the end of 2016. Hooray for being able to continue to sync your online tree with your master tree at home in your own control, your own software, where Ancestry says you’ll also have access to Ancestry hints and searches. On the same day, Ancestry also announced the acquisition of Family Tree Maker software for both Mac and Windows by a company called Software MacKiev. According to Ancestry, “This new agreement means you will receive software updates and new versions from Software MacKiev, and have the ability to purchase new versions of Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev as they are released.“ Ancestry hopes to have both these solutions fully functional by the time Family Tree Maker software stops being supported at the end of this year. NEWS: New Genealogy Records Online IRELAND CENSUS RECORDS. has added to its site “over 8.7 million Irish census records from the 1901 and 1911 censuses [which record every household member]. Both collections are completely free and contain images.”   IRELAND PARISH RECORDS. subscribers now have access to an exclusive index to the National Library of Ireland’s free online collection of digitized-but-not-indexed registers from 1000 parishes, with over 10 million baptisms and marriages.    (US) DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH RECORDS. has added a new collection of Dutch Reformed Church records (1701-1995)  from 14 states and has updated a separate but similar collection of Dutch Reformed Records (1639-1989).   US MARRIAGES. Findmypast has just released an enormous collection of marriage records from across the United States. “Containing over 450 million names from 1650 to 2010…the US Marriages collection will, when complete, include over 100 million records, 60% of which have never been published online before.” A third of the data are already online. NEWS: MyHeritage Audio Recordings Audio Recordings feature on the MyHeritage app: Use to interview relatives right from their profile in your family tree, where you’ll now find an audio icon that looks like earphones. Tap it to create a new recording or to access recordings you’ve previously saved. Listen to the recording anytime, download it to your own computer (which you should definitely do to store as your master file) and share it with anyone who is a member of your family website on   Audio Recordings is free and available on the latest version of the MyHeritage mobile app on the App Store and Google Play.   NEWS: RootsTech Follow-Up Live-streamed RootsTech 2016 sessions by Lisa Louise Cooke: Lisa Louise Cooke’s RootsTech 2016 lecture on Google methodology, with top tips and strategies taken from her book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. The lectures below were streamed live from the Genealogy Gems theater in the RootsTech Exhibitor Hall. Click to watch them: give the video a few seconds to adjust to the proper orientation. Google Power Strategies by Lisa Louise Cooke, a followup lecture to the one above Tablet and Smartphone Tips and Tricks: this 30-minute lecture was streamed live by Lisa from the Exhibitor Hall. Here’s the handout for that lecture.   MAILBOX: Here’s the news article Cathy sent in along with her email about learning more about her grandfather’s death. Inspired by the Genealogy Gems blog post about Googling for coroner’s records to solve mysterious deaths, she went looking for coroner’s records online, too. “Well, I still haven't found the Coroners' Records but I did find a couple of newspaper articles - & apparently the body was indeed found on 21st December - but he had been missing since June!” MAIL: Trisha finds Railroad Retirement Board Records Railroad Retirement Board’s instructions for genealogists (redirects inquiries to The National Archives, which has an entire webpage dedicated to its Railroad Retirement Board records. Additional railroad history and genealogy suggestions: National Railway Historical Society (see individual chapters) Railroad historical society index    BACKBLAZE NEWS PC World/Mac World article on Backblaze cloud-based computer backup service: “When it comes to backing up your precious data, investing in an online backup service is one of the smartest things you can do.” However, if you ever DO need to restore your hard drive, it’s not so easy to download the massive amounts of files you probably have. The solution has generally been to ship an entire hard drive to a customer, but that can cost $100 or more on top of regular backup service fees. The article gave Backblaze two thumbs-up for its new solution: the Restore Return Refund Program. It refunds the cost of those hard drives they send you when you return them within 30 days after restoring your data. It’s a $99 refund for USB flash drives and $189 for USB hard drives, so it essentially makes this a free service. Other leading cloud-based computer backup services either won’t ship hard drives at all or continue to charge large fees for it. Other online magazines--The Next Web and Verge—gave similar reports.                     INTERVIEW: Lisa talks to Cindy and Sabrina at Union College Cindy Cochran of Lincoln-Lancaster County (Nebraska) Genealogical Society and Sabrina Riley of Union College on the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society collection at Union College What’s in their collection? Originals and copies of some government records; some of these exist on microfilm but are not online Local and regional historical materials that meet their own research priorities—they can refer you to other repositories as needed Reference materials and plenty of local expertise!   BOOK CLUB: Update from Book Club Guru Sunny Morton We hope you’ve gotten to savor Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver, the current featured book of the Genealogy Gems Book Club. You’ll love her mouthwatering descriptions of food; fascinating insights into gardening; and touching descriptions of how we nurture and harvest our family relationships in ways not so different from gardening. In the next episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast, you’ll hear a snippet of our interview with Tara Weaver in the free Genealogy Gems podcast. Next month, Genealogy Gems Premium website members will be able to hear the entire interview with Tara on the Premium podcast. Additional books that were recently recommended at the Genealogy Gems Book Club Open House at RootsTech 2016: The Story We Carry in Our Bones: Irish History for Americans by Julienne Osborne-McKnight Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem, a memoir by Paula Williams Madison about the author’s journey into her family history, which resulted in a documentary by the same name The Forgotten Garden, a novel by the international best-selling author Kate Morton about a woman who learns a shocking secret about her own past and has to comes to terms with it—a story inspired by Kate’s own family history The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas, the story of a midwife in 19th-century Denver, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountain frontier   DNA GEM: Diahan Southard Comments on NPR article Recently NPR published an article entitled “DNA, Genealogy, and the Search For Who We Are.” This sounds like exactly the kind of article that I would want to read, considering that I am, after all, Your DNA Guide. However, after only the first two sentences of this article, I stopped reading. I could already tell this was one of those articles, you know, the kind meant to sensationalize and not to communicate accurate information. I closed the browser page. I just don’t have time to read information that is meant to incite, and not to inform. But then I read some comments from some friends that had read it, and then Lisa asked me to review it for you, so I read it in its entirety. It was difficult to get through, even though it wasn’t very long. There are just so many things that are wrong with the presentation of this material. Let’s take three big ones. First of all, the “facts” are taken out of context. Yes, it is true, your genetic pedigree is not the same as your genealogical pedigree. Your genetic pedigree can only contain a finite amount of information while your paper pedigree can contain limitless amounts. In general, our personal set of genetics will only connect us to half of our fourth cousins, and it is true that if we go back far enough we will have zero DNA from some of our ancestors. The author implies that this kind of incomplete information is unacceptable and should be discarded. What he is missing is that by genetically connecting me to my fourth cousin, that fourth cousin is genetically connected to another fourth cousin, who I might not share DNA with, but through the testing and the genealogical research, I can confidently identify as kin. One of the powers of DNA is that it allows you to create networks with living people who can work together to verify and expand our knowledge of our ancestors.  Secondly, this author claims that DNA testing and traditional research are mutually exclusive. He claims, “…family and family history are one thing, and DNA-based ancestry is another.” I don’t think I even need to comment on that. That is just wrong. Genetic genealogy is just one more tool in our toolbox to help us answer family history questions. Before I go on, I think we do need a little perspective about where this author is coming from. As US citizens, many of us have enjoyed the rapid growth and general acceptance of the genetic genealogy industry. The author of this article gained much of his content from sources in the UK. Unfortunately, the UK has seen a stream of less-than-reputable companies hawking genetic genealogy-like products that are frankly a scam. So, from that perspective, caution when entering a genetic genealogy experience should be exercised.   That background knowledge, provided by my colleague Debbie Kennett in the UK made me feel a little sheepish about my initial hostile reaction to the article. But then I read again where the author states, “It is family that matters — and family is relationship, not DNA,” and I am back on my soapbox. Perhaps this author did not pay attention in 7th grade biology. DNA is family. That’s how this works. I have heard so many stories from so many of you reporting how it was this very DNA stuff that led you to a discovery about your family. Just yesterday I received an email from a woman who recently reconnected with a relative she found through DNA testing. She said, “Spent a week with Carolyn and her husband out in Colorado this Fall and the time spent together is beyond words.  It is as if we had known each other our whole lives.  But then again on a different level, I am sure we have known each other.” To me, that is a story worth telling, a story that is every bit as real as one that is discovered using only paper research methods. DNA deserves a spot in your family history research. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.   PROFILE AMERICA:  “Oh Canada”
January 13, 2016
This New Year’s episode is packed with fresh energy and perspective!  We welcome the Legal Genealogist Judy Russell to the podcast. Judy takes on a Genealogy Gems listener’s fantastic question about the bounty land his War of 1812 ancestor never claimed. Also: The latest on life after Family Tree Maker software; A fresh look at why family history software is still relevant today; New strategies for using Google to answer your genealogical research questions; The new Genealogy Gems Book Club title; Why I’m so excited about RootsTech 2016, which is coming right up; New records online and up-to-the-moment emails with questions, tips and inspiring successes. NEWS: Family Tree Maker Software Discontinued Here’s the announcement and my initial comments that reached nearly 30,000 people on Facebook (at press time): What Ancestry’s Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software Means for You   NEWS: New Records Online AUSTRALIA CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. A new browse-only collection of Tasmanian civil registrations (1839-1938) is now online at It includes district registers, counterfoils of marriage certificates and some church records. ENGLAND PARISH AND ELECTORAL. Significantly-updated indexes of Kent parish registers and registers of electors (both dating to the 1500s!) are now online at FamilySearch, as Lancashire parish records to 1538 and another collection of parish registers back to 1603 that include Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATIONS: More indexed images continue to be added regularly to the free collection at! Click here for the current list. PHILIPPINES (MANILA) CIVIL REGISTRATIONS: More than 400,000 indexed records for the city of Manila have been added to an existing collection of Philippines civil registrations at WALES ELECTORAL REGISTERS. Over 1.6 million indexed names from electoral registers for Glamorgan and West Glamorgan, Wales (1839-1935) are now searchable at BONUS AUDIO ON THE APP: BRITISH IN INDIA. Findmypast has published new record collections relating to British overseas travelers, workers and expatriates. The first includes “British people who either lived, worked or travelled in India from as early as 1664 up to 1961 with an index of births, marriages, divorces and deaths compiled by the Society of Genealogists.” There are also new collections from the India Office: births and baptisms and wills and probates. DIGITAL BOOKS. A new FREE collection of 150,000 digitized books is searchable at Among the titles are family, local and military histories; city and county directories; school and university yearbooks and church and congregational minutes.   GEMS NEWS: RootsTech 2016: February 3-6 in Salt Lake City, Utah RootsTech 2016: What’s Happening! Here’s the schedule for my official RootsTech lectures and those of our regular Gems contributors: Wednesday: 3:00 YDNA Testing for Every Surname in Your Pedigree, Diahan Southard Thursday: 4:30 Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy, Lisa Louise Cooke Friday: 11:00 Soothe Your Tech Tummy Ache with These 10 Tools, Lisa Louise Cooke 1:30 Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy, Lisa Louise Cooke Saturday: 11:00 Soothe Your Tech Tummy Ache with These 10 Tools, Lisa Louise Cooke 1:30 What’s Special About US Special Census Schedules? Sunny Morton If you’ve been to my booth at a major conference in the past few years, you already know about the “Outside the Box” mini-sessions I’ve presented along with some of my partners in the past. These sessions have been SO popular that people end up lining the walkways around our booth, several deep, crowding the exhibit hall aisles in to listen and sign up for the free handouts. This year, I’m planning an even richer class experience at the Genealogy Gems booth. There will be 20 sessions, some of them shorter and some longer, taught by myself and my dynamic partners at Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine. I have quadrupled the size of our booth so we can invite many more of you to come in, have a seat and hear these sessions in comfort, without having to stand in the aisles. Here are the FREE classes we’re teaching at Genealogy Gems booth #1230 in the RootsTech exhibit hall: Remember, if you register for RootsTech before January 18, you’ll save a LOT on registration (you’ll pay $169 instead of $249 for the full 4-day event). Come by and say hello at our booth!   GEMS NEWS: “Where I’m From” Winners: Everyone who entered will receive a year of Genealogy Gems Premium Website Membership! In this episode you’ll hear Beverly Field’s wonderful poem, and you’ll hear from more winners in coming episodes. MAILBOX: Where I’m From Picture books by George Ella Lyon recommended by Katharine: Mama is a Miner Come a Tide Cecil’s Story    MAILBOX: Family Tree Maker Sue’s email: she decided to use RootsMagic family history software and, following my suggestion, signed up for Backblaze cloud-based backup service. Click here to read a blog post that answers Charles’ question about why not to continue using Family Tree Maker after it “expires.” Click here to read about specials for Family Tree Maker users and what I do with my master family tree. Click here to access Moving your tree from Family Tree Maker to Reunion, for Reunion 11 (for Mac) software, as recommended by Bill Click here to read which family history software I recommend and why Click here for more Family Tree Maker questions and a couple of bonus questions about keeping subscriptions or transferring to MyHeritage, which does offer free desktop family history software that syncs with its online trees.   MAILBOX: GOOGLE SEARCHING CORONER’S RECORDS Click here to read a detailed answer to Lydia’s question on Google searching coroner’s records The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is available through the store on my website at     INTERVIEW: Judy Russell Robert from Covington, LA wrote in with this excellent question! Here’s the full question and an accompanying image: “We have a copy of our great great grandfather's Warrant from the War of 1812. This has never been redeemed. I expect that the time for redeeming has long since expired but can't find confirmation of this anywhere. I have an affidavit from my grandmother dated 1911 stating the grant was lost or destroyed when she was a little girl being raised by her grandmother, the widow of one of the two brothers listed on the certificate. Her husband, one of those two, died before 1850 and therefore his will has no mention of the Land Grant. The certificate I have is a copy of a re-issue by the Commissioner of Pensions dated 1917. From the wording on the note the Commissioner scribbled on the copy he sent, it appears he hand copied the information on file onto a blank certificate and certified the copy.  I have attached a copy of the certificate we have (above) and a copy of what I have been able to fill in for what is not too legible (below). I have blanked out the family names and certificate number since it is not clear to me if it is or is not redeemable and I don’t have any control where this information may end up once committed to the internet. My main interest now is whether or not the certificate could still be good or if these grants have all “timed out” and none could therefore still be redeemable. I spent about a half day researching on the internet but could not find any information indicating grants were still redeemable after all this time.” Listen to the podcast to hear Judy’s advice about researching laws or statutes relating to our genealogy questions—and to hear how she answered this fantastic question. Library of Congress: A Century of Law Making for a New Nation Preserve the Pensions: War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project   Genealogy Gems Book Club: A New Book! Orchard House by Tara Austin Weaver Tara Austin Weaver's Tea & Cookies blog: Tara’s recipe for Orchard House is one part food, one part gardening and two parts family drama, liberally seasoned with humor and introspection. The “book jacket” summary of Orchard House, from the publishers: “Peeling paint, stained floors, vine-covered windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara can’t get the Seattle real estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would see the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way. So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past. For anyone who has ever planted something they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth, set in the most unlikely place.” In March, we’ll play an excerpt from an exclusive interview with Tara Austen Weaver in this podcast. Genealogy Gems Premium website members will be able to listen to the full interview in March’s Genealogy Gems Premium podcast. RootsTech Book Club Open House: Thurs, Feb 4, 10am-11am at the Genealogy Gems booth #1230 in the Exhibitor Hall. Stop by and chat about books or family history or both! Free bookmarks, display copies of featured titles a win chance to win a great Book Club prize just for suggesting a book.   PROFILE AMERICA: Ellis Island Opens
December 8, 2015
Genealogy Gems PodcastEpisode 186 This month’s episode celebrates upcoming holiday family time with a special segment on interviewing relatives. Diahan Southard offers her thanks for DNA connections that are helping fill holes left by adoption. And you’ll hear about: a great new resource from MyHeritage for connecting with other researchers, family history poetry from two Gems listeners, letters from the Gems mailbox and an excerpt from our new Genealogy Gems Book Club interview, which will appear in full later this month in the next Genealogy Gems Premium podcast. NEWS: MyHeritage Search Connect Genealogy companies are getting smarter, there’s no doubt about it. The latest smart-searching feature from is one great example. MyHeritage recently released Search Connect ™. This is new technology that helps you find others who have been searching for the same rare surnames that may be on your family tree. Here’s how it works. For several years, MyHeritage has kept a database of who is searching for what ancestors. I can only imagine how huge that database is!  They have now put that database to use as a social networking tool. They whittled it down, at least for now, to just those folks searching for rare surnames. Just that database has 30 million names in it! Now when you search for those rare surnames in the SuperSearch area of MyHeritage, results from the database of other searchers are included in your search results (and they even get translated if needed, thanks to MyHeritage’s Global Name Translation tool). You can click to look at their larger search history to see if this is really a match for you, then contact them through the site. You can also search on that database separately here. The database will continue to be updated weekly, so it will stay fresh. Also, you can opt-out if you DON’T want your past or current searches to be included in it. All you have to do is log in to your family site and click on your name in the upper right-hand side of the screen. Select ‘My Privacy, then on ‘My member preferences’ on the left and uncheck ‘Enable Search Connect™’.”                 GEMS NEWS: Contest Results Recently we ran a contest celebrating our milestone 1000th blog post on the Genealogy Gems website. We counted down our Top 10 posts of 2015 and many of you helped us share those posts on Facebook. Charles Meiser was one person who helped, and he won a copy of the Video course Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects by our very own Contributing Editor Sunny Morton.                     I do have a nice consolation prize for those who didn’t win: a coupon code for 25% off your own copy of Pain Free Family History Writing Projects Video Course. Her class is packed full of strategies to help you finally get your family history written. And her approach really helps you think outside the box about what really constitutes family history writing. She shares some fun and fantastic ways of passing along your family history without writing a 300-page volume.  GEMS NEWS: Write of Your Life Podcast A few months ago I was interviewed on the Write of Your Life podcast. The thrust of what I talked about was the importance of what I call “family founders,” those people we can look to in our tree for inspiration and think of as role models. Family history helps modern families grow and heal. The people we meet on our family tree—people with the same genes we have—inspire and teach and motivate us in ways they never could have imagined, and maybe we never could have, either, until we “met” them. Click here to listen to the interview. And then I’d love to hear from any of you about how family history has meaning in YOUR life.     MAILBOX: Where I’m From Poems On the show I shared two special poems that have come in on the Genealogy Gems voice mail. You may recall from last month’s episode that we have invited everyone to write their own version of poet George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem. Between now and the end of the year, I encourage you write your own poem. Just make a list about where you’re from—the places, people, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, phrases, songs and rhythms that are part of your story. Shape it into a poem. Then call in to share it with us on our voicemail at (925) 272-4021. Those who do so by December 30, 2015 will be eligible for a chance to win a one-year Genealogy Gems Premium membership or renewal. Next month, I’ll share a couple more of your entries on the podcast. Give it a try! Click here to learn more about this contest.   MAILBOX: The Case of the Missing Parents ContinuesI continue to hear feedback from our response to a reader question in which Sunny and I shared 6 ideas for places to look for an ancestor’s parents’ names. I read some of your additional suggestions on last month’s Genealogy Gems Premium podcast. Lynn wrote in with her own “missing parents” case. The key strategies I suggested are: Cluster research, in which you try to recognize little migratory groups and use other members of the group to learn more about your own ancestor of primary interest. It’s a concept that Contributing Editor Sunny Morton wrote an entire how-to class on. She gave some great tips from that class in the November 2015 Family Tree Magazine podcast, which I also host. That brick-wall-busting class is called Cluster and Collateral Research 101. DNA testing. Depending on which test she takes, her results may lead to common relatives descended from those “missing” parents. I recommended the “Getting Started” DNA guide I offer through the Genealogy Gems website. It’s an inexpensive and helpful way to start your DNA journey. As your DNA journey progresses, the entire series of DNA guides written by our resident DNA expert, Diahan Southard, can help with next steps.   SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Kathy Hawkins: Interviewing Tips for Older RelativesKathy Hawkins is a music therapist and a Master Trainer for a program that works with memory-impaired adults. I asked her questions about aging and memory and how the severity of Alzheimer’s or dementia affect the quality of someone’s memories. We talked about strategies for asking questions that will elicit better memories, understanding the possible limitations of those memories and how to how to have more meaningful conversations with someone who suffers from severe memory loss. Here are four tips she shared that I especially appreciated: Cut out the phrase, “Do you remember?” Ask instead specific questions about “who, what”….etc. I’ve seen people shut down when they feel like it’s a memory test. Don’t put that kind of pressure on them. Your tone and your approach are so important. Don’t be sing-songy or condescending: they’re not a child. Treat them like an adult. The emotional integrity of someone’s story is still often intact, even with memory-impairment. The emotion attached to a memory or a person will likely be really sincere. But their chronology or details may get confused with other similar events that were also true. From the genealogy researcher’s point of view--whenever you can, verify facts (especially dates) with other sources. Don’t make everything about what they remember (or don’t). Be interested in who they are now: their thoughts and creativity. Kathy shared information about Timeslips Creative Storytelling, which teaches caregivers how to have more meaningful, joyful interactions with memory-impaired loved ones. Click here to see a pdf with some creative storytelling and arts materials that Timeslips offers.                 BOOK CLUB: Excerpt from Citizens Creek This month, over on the Genealogy Gems Premium podcast, our Premium members will hear an exclusive interview with Lalita Tademy, author of Citizens Creek. In this episode, we also play a brief excerpt for you. If you’re enjoying these snippets of interviews and you’re not already a Premium website member, consider whether it’s finally time to take the plunge. With Genealogy Gems Premium website membership, one LOW price gets you an entire YEAR’s access to current and ALL back episodes of the monthly Genealogy Gems Premium podcast. That podcast is like this podcast—but on steroids. You get MORE meaty interviews, more fun conversations and exclusive, full-length interviews with the authors of our Book Club selections. You also have access to my most popular classes on video, which if you were to take them at conferences or purchase something like them from another web site would EACH be more expensive than the entire annual membership price. Why not try it for a year? Get as much out of it as you can—there’s definitely a year’s worth of materials to watch and listen to. At the end of the year, YOU decide whether to renew—I never auto-renew my subscribers. It’s always your choice to continue to enjoy Genealogy Gems Premium privileges.             DNA GEM: Filling Empty Seats at the Table with DNAAt this time of year when many of us are spending more time with family than we otherwise might, we often reflect on the empty seats at our table. We think of those who weren't able to travel to the family gathering, and back to those who have passed on. For some however, a long empty seat has been filled this year, thanks to the assistance of a DNA test. Earlier this year we related the story of Mary McPherson and her cousin Dolores Washington-Fleming who discovered a common connection through Peter Edward Williams. Mary is a descendant of his wife, and Dolores through his slave. Mary and Dolores welcomed this new connection and shared information about their common ancestor.  As they reunited for the first time, perhaps they talked about what life might have been like in the 1850’s in the south, and how their ancestors would’ve never guessed that the two of them would be gathered around the same table. As word spreads of the power of DNA testing to reveal the secrets of the past, many adoptees are flocking to genetic genealogy testing companies with the intention of filling the empty seats at their holiday tables.  The New York Times reported a touching story of Khrys Vaughan who felt her identity crumble when she found out she was adopted. Turning to DNA testing she was able to connect with cousins and feel a biological connection she didn’t know she had been missing. Even though she still has many open seats at her table, she felt that filling even one meant that she was no longer biologically adrift, but could now look at someone and say, “This is my family.” A similar story broke recently out of California. Just days old, Jen Chervin was found outside a hospital in Yuba City, CA. That was 40 years ago. But this year, Jen used the power of the genetic genealogy database in combination with some serious genealogy work to find her parents. While neither is in a position to openly embrace her as a daughter at this time in their lives, Jen now has a name card to place at seats of honor around her holiday table, all thanks to a simple saliva test. This has been a landmark year in my own family. In one seeming miracle after another, I have added the names of maternal grandparents and great grandparents to my family tree as DNA testing has helped my mom fill in some of the missing pieces in her life. We have had a true Texas welcome from some of her paternal second cousins, and an outpouring of kindness from a maternal second cousin. While our place cards for mother and father are only tentatively penciled in, I know as I look around our genetic holiday table, I am excited about the new faces I see and I can’t wait to learn more. If you want to get started filling seats at your table, there is no time like the present to give yourself, or someone else, the present of DNA testing! The first rule in DNA testing is to test the oldest generation. So parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles should be first on your list. If you are that oldest generation, then pat yourself on the back and get swabbing! The savvy shopper begins with the AncestryDNA test for all interested parties, and the YDNA 37 marker test from Family Tree DNA for all males. Then sit back and wait for the results to roll in! As they do, check back here at Genealogy Gems for tips on how to use that data to fill seats at your holiday table next year. And turn to Diahan Southard’s DNA quick reference guides in the Genealogy Gems store at   PROFILE AMERICAThe US Census Bureau’s Profile America website tells us that “111 years ago, Connecticut inventor Harvey Hubbell moved household electricity from “shock it to socket.” In November 1904, he received a patent for the world's first detachable electric plug: the two-, now sometimes three-prong plug familiar to us today. Remarkable as it sounds, at the time electric terminals would extend out from a wall, and any electrical device had to be hardwired to them--a time consuming process with a chance of electrocution. Hubbell was no one-hit wonder, as in the 1890s he created an electric switch and patented the pull-chain electric light socket.”
November 5, 2015
This month all of us here at Genealogy Gems are celebrating reaching a milestone 1000 blog posts on our website. But we’re not just celebrating our own genealogy writing. We’re celebrating YOURS! Today I have a special segment that celebrates what YOU have shared with us about your adventures in family history blogging. I also have a short, fun family history writing challenge to share with everyone, not just those who blog. I’ll introduce that challenge with a surprise guest—the poet laureate of Kentucky. Genealogy Gems App Users: Check out the Bonus Content video NEWS: More U.S. Marriage Records OnlineHave you noticed on our blog that every Friday we report new genealogy records online? Well, last week was a doozy in terms of U.S. marriage records. We had heard through the grapevine that FamilySearch had set itself to the task of tracking down every possible marriage record for the U.S. and it looks like they’re having some success! At FamilySearch alone last week, they published or updated indexed  marriage records in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. Louisiana’s collection alone contains over a million entries, and Pennsylvania’s dates to the 1600s! But FamilySearch isn’t alone in the marriage record publishing frenzy. We noticed that Ancestry has just added  new marriage indexes for West Virginia, Maine and Jackson Co, Missouri. Of course, not every ancestor who married stayed that way: Ancestry has also updated its Idaho divorce collection and added a new collection of Oregon divorce records. A lot of these are older but you’ll be surprised at how far into the 20th century some of these new marriage record collections are. Use these to recharge your research if you’ve stalled somewhere on your U.S. family tree! NEWS: National Archives (U.S.) Doing More DigitizingThe U.S. National Archives has signed contracts to digitize more of its historical records. The partnerships are with FamilySearch and Ancestry, and the records in question will include various items with births, marriages, deaths, immigration and military service information. So the National Archives has partnered with these organizations in the past, but this time around, the contract allows them to get records online faster by uploading digitized and partially-digitized collections before they’re even indexed, like FamilySearch already does. There are new provisions to protect personally identifying information, and Ancestrywill have a shorter window of exclusivity with their content. They invest in record digitization and indexing so they will have exclusive access to the images and indexes for a period of time, after which the National Archives can put the material on its site and share it with other partners. It’s a win-win even for those who don’t subscribe to Ancestry: you’ll just have to wait longer to win! And FYI, in case you wonder why FamilySearch and Ancestry seem so favored, the U.S. National Archives does sign content partnerships with other companies. Findmypast has a contract pending, and there’s already a contract with military records site Fold3. NEWS: RootsMagic for Mac and More I recently heard two really great pieces of news about RootsMagic genealogy software--for Mac users! First, RootsMagic Essentials for Mac software is now available for FREE!  This is the get-started version of RootsMagic which introduces you to this excellent family history software. If you’re still exploring which family history software is best for you, give it a try! If you decide to upgrade to the full, paid version of the software, the transition is seamless and easy. Speaking of a full Mac version of RootsMagic, you may recall that last year they launched MacBridge for RootsMagic. This was really a great step forward, but there was an additional fee and it required extra steps to download and use. But now when you buy RootsMagic 7, you can install it on both Windows and Mac computers in your household....So your single purchase includes licenses for both. Great, right?! So if you already own RootsMagic 7 for Windows, you can head back to their website, and download RootsMagic 7 for Mac any time and use the same registration key that you got with your original purchase. And something I really love about Rootstmagic is the free and easy to access support they provide their users. There’s nothing worse than struggling to use your genealogy software when you’re hot on the trail of ancestors. Well they have just published two new free PDF RootsMagic user guides – one that’s all about installing RootsMagic for Mac, and another guide on how to create a Shareable CD. So now you have lots of new things to do when it comes to Rootsmagic.   MAILBOX  This month we are celebrating 1000 blog posts on the Genealogy Gems website. It’s hard to believe we’re up to 1000 different posts on family history news, tips, stories and more! Who knew there was so much to say? But our blog is only a drop in the genealogy-blogging bucket! I keep hearing from so many of you about your blogging successes. So here’s a taste of what I’m hearing: “I absolutely love blogging about my family,” commented Diane on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page. “Once I got serious, 2 years ago, I have really enjoyed it. I've connected with cousins and made many new friends. I write tips to help other researchers and that's also been very rewarding. It's a regular part of my life now. I would really miss it if I couldn't write.” Here’s another one. Debra wrote in to say, “I have been reading about blogging for genealogy on your website and finally decided to bite the bullet and start one. Now I am trying to figure out how to get it noticed and remembered that you asked us to send you the link if we started one, so here is the information.” Her blog: Dezi Duz it, at I took a quick peek at it. It’s still a young blog, but I have to say that Debra is going about this the right way. Her blog posts are packed with family names and locations that can help other relatives find her, if they’re searching for those same names and locations online. She’s also got great stories and memories in her posts, which she’s added documents and photos to. That content will keep interested relatives reading, once they’ve discovered her, which may take some time—but it’s worth it! A new podcast listener and blogger wrote to me recently. Jolanta is a Polish immigrant to Northern Ireland and a professional translator. She says, “I only just discovered podcast as a medium and your podcast in particular. I am loving it! Love the book club, the tips and really everything about it! I drive a lot and it is recorded loud enough to comfortably listen in a car (unlike some other podcasts) and I still have quite a lot of shows to go so I will be occupied for a while!” She goes on to say, “Motivated by your show, I decided to take a plunge and start my own blog…I am not a native English speaker, but this is a way to challenge myself. I only have one post up so far and the next one nearly ready, but the more I listen to your podcasts the more ideas I have.” Since she wrote us, she’s added more to her blog at I’m so pleased that the show is inspiring Jolanta, because she’s inspiring me! What a feat, to blog in your second language! She says that as an immigrant, she feels doing her genealogy is even more important, because since she left 11 years ago, her daughter has been born. Jolanta says, “She needs to know where her roots are!” and I couldn’t agree more. Good for her! Another Debra wrote in recently with this comment: “I am fairly new to your podcast series; I enjoy listening while I work on my quilting projects. You have inspired me to start a family history blog as a starting base for writing my family history. Last week, I listened to one of your early podcasts on the subject of cold-calling. I was amazed to hear how difficult it is for many people to reach out to others for help with their research into their own family history. I took that topic and wrote a blog entry about the first cold-call that I remember. It has inspired me to write about more cold-calls in the near future. I would like to invite you to read that entry on my site, Thank you for your excitement and your inspirations.”  Well, you’re welcome, Debra, and thank you for sharing your blog post with your experience cold-contacting a distant relative: an experience that actually led to meeting that relative, who introduced her to another relative who lived in the old family home, which had a family burial plot in her back garden! What a great contact and friendship she describes! Episode 14: How to Contact Long-Lost Relatives Episode 15: More Tips for Contacting Distant Relatives Mike from Sydney, Australia wrote to say, “Congratulations on a great podcast from Down Under. I listen to every episode during my travels to and from work. I recently watched your 'how to blog your family history' series on YouTube and became motivated to finally 'get on my butt' and do something. Your recent episode 184 with Judy's blogging experience was the clincher. I have now proudly given birth to my first blog at And it wasn't painful. It has only taken about 20 years since blogging has been around! Thank you for inspiring me and all your other listeners.” It feels so good to hear that so many people are getting into the spirit of blogging their family history! It’s never too late to start! I’ll share one last letter from Chris, who wrote in after we announced the new Irish Catholic Parish Registers online from the National Library of Ireland. Chris says, “Since you turned everyone on to this latest resource I thought I'd share the results.” She sent me a link to her blog post link about using these, where she reports: “I was very lucky. I knew enough information to make a smart guess at exactly where to look and within half an hour I had baptismal records for three people in my dad's family.” In fact, these relatives she talks about have the surname Cooke, just like my married name. Do you still need more motivation to get blogging? I came across a marketing blog post on the power of blogging for businesses. Well, we as family historians are in the business of sharing our family history stories. So I think about things from that point of view when I hear the following, taken from a post on Hubspot Blogs. First, businesses that blog attract two-thirds more potential customers than those who don’t. Likewise, family historians who share their family history online can attract interest from lots of relatives, including those they’ve never met and those they never knew were interested in family history! Second, blog posts can pull in new customers for businesses whether you wrote them yesterday or years ago. It’s worth updating older blog posts with more current information and keeping your current contact information on your blog, even if you’re not actively adding to it right now. Third, marketing experts say that by 2020, customers are expected to manage about 85% of business without even talking to a human. Wow! I think we’ll see some trending that direction in family history research, too. Increasingly, our relatives are likely looking for their family history online first—not as much by reaching out to distant relatives and relatives-of-relatives by mail or phone, though I still encourage that cold-calling approach that worked so well for Debra. Fourth, the only thing blogging costs is TIME! This speaks for itself. No expensive mailings or printing copies of books and photos, hoping your relatives will pay you back. Fifth, and finally, blogs are considered a highly trusted source for accurate online information. The personal touch of a blog, together with your responsible research and the sources you cite, can help your relatives trust what you’re telling them.   GENEALOGY GEMS FOR SOCIETIES A few months ago I heard from Richard. “I have been asked by my local genealogical Society to conduct and present at the meeting in August. My thought for the class was Internet Genealogy and providing a comprehensive overview on how members and non-members can increase their sources and find ‘hidden’ records on line. Can I include images of your website and small clips of some of your online free videos as part of the presentation? I would of course include the source information and provide credit for you. I am also planning to hype up your podcast as well since it has given me a number of new outlooks on the best hobby in the world. Thank you again for your continued information and assistance in every media format known.” Thank you, Richard! I’m so glad he wants to share Genealogy Gems with his local society. I’ve actually heard that from so many of you that I’ve created a new program to meet this need. Genealogy Gems for Societies is a premium subscription service just for genealogical societies and groups, such as libraries. This is a cost-effective way for groups to enjoy my high-quality family history video presentations their regular meetings. It includes: A year-long license to show video recordings of my most popular classes as group presentations Permission to republish articles and blog posts from our enormous online archive—remember? we’re up to 1000 blog posts now!—in your society newsletter. (Your newsletter editor will LOVE this feature!), and Discounts for your society and its members on Genealogy Gems live seminars and purchases from our online store.   INTERVIEW: Where I'm From with George Ella Lyon Today I arranged for a special segment that Contributing Editor Sunny Morton recorded with George Ella Lyon, the poet laureate of Kentucky, George Ella Lyon, whose own poem on family identity has inspired hundreds of people to write their own and has even become an official statewide initiative in Kentucky! One of those who wrote their own version of the poem was Sunny’s own 11-year old son Alex. Enjoy the conversation—and listen for that writing invitation I told you was coming! George Ella Lyon is the Poet Laureate for the state of Kentucky and the author of a very popular family history writing exercise based on her poem, “Where I’m From.” She uses her poem to encourage others to make lists about where they’re from, and shape them into their own poems. As she says on her website, “the poem as a writing prompt has traveled in amazing ways. People have used it at their family reunions, teachers have used it with kids all over the United States, in Ecuador and China; they have taken it to girls in juvenile detention, to men in prison for life, and to refugees in a camp in the Sudan.” The “Where I’m From” poem has inspired a current initiative by the Kentucky Arts Council to encourage people to reflect on and document their own heritage. Of course, we hope this conversation will inspire YOU to write about where you’re from, too! Here are some of George Ella Lyon’s tips on writing your own version of “Where I’m From:” Just list whatever comes to mind to start: food, music, landscapes, people. Be open to whatever you think of. This is a process. It may take several days to craft your list.  Later, as you organize what you write into its final shape, go back and see which lines have the most energy. Read it out loud. What order feels right? The last part of my poem is a reflection, but yours doesn’t have to be. Have fun! Don’t criticize yourself. You can do this many times over the course of time. I have! You can write “Where I’m From” from your current point of view or looking back. Tell us where you are from!We would love to have you share your version of George Ella Lyon’s poem with Genealogy Gems! l invite you to call in and read your version of the poem on my voicemail: (925) 272-4021. Be sure to leave your name, phone number, and email address (phone and email will be kept private and NOT played on the show) so that you can be entered to win 1 year of Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (new or renewal). One lucky winner will be randomly selected on 12/31/15.    DNA GEM: Ethnicity Results: Exciting or Exasperating?Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems Facebook follower Kate Vaughan recently wrote in expressing her frustration with her ethnicity results provided by AncestryDNA. She gets right to the point when she writes, “the way they refer to the results is confusing.” Kate, you are not alone. Many genealogists have been lured into taking the autosomal DNA test at one of the three major DNA testing companies just to get this glimpse into their past. Remember that the autosomal DNA test can reveal information about both your mother’s side and your father’s side of your family tree. Many take the test hoping for confirmation of a particular ancestral heritage, others are just curious to see what the results will show. Though their purposes in initiating the testing may vary, the feeling of bewilderment and befuddlement upon receiving the results is fairly universal. Kate has some specific questions about her results that I think most will share. Let’s take a look at a couple of them. First up, Kate wants to know if our family tree data in any way influences the ethnicity results provided. The answer is an unequivocal “no.” None of the testing companies look at your family tree in any way when determining your ethnicity results. However, the results are dependent on the family trees of the reference population. The reference populations are large numbers of people whose DNA has been tested and THEIR family history has been documented for many generations in that region. The testing companies compare your DNA to theirs and that’s how they assign you to an ethnicity (and place of ancestral origin?).  Next Kate asks, “Do they mean England when they report Great Britain?” Or to put it more broadly, how do these testing companies decide to divide up the world? All of the companies handle this a little bit differently. Let’s look at Ancestry as an example. When you login to view your ethnicity results, you can click on the “show all regions” box below your results to get a list of all of the possible categories that your DNA could be placed in. These 26 categories include nine African regions, Native American, three Asian regions, eight European regions, two Pacific Island regions, two West Asian regions, and then Jewish, which is not a region, per se, but a genetically distinct group. Clicking on each individual location in the left sidebar will bring up more information on the right about that region. For example, clicking on Great Britain tells us that DNA associated with this region is primarily found in England, Scotland, and Wales, but is also found in Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Basically, this is telling us that people with generations of ancestry in Great Britain are quite a genetic mix from many areas. The first chart here shows that if we are to test the DNA of 100 natives of one of these primary regions (England, Scotland or Wales) then 50 of them will have the great Britain “pattern” of DNA covering 60% or more of their entire genome, and 50 of them will have that pattern in less than 60% of their DNA. The fact that this half-way number is so low, only 60%, tells us that there is a lot of uncertainty in this ethnicity estimate because there is so much mixture in this region. Kate, for you that means that when you see Great Britain in your ethnicity estimate, it could mean England, or maybe it means Italy- Ancestry can’t be certain. But that uncertainty isn’t the same for every region. Pictured here is also the ethnicity chart for Ireland. You can see that half the people who are native to Ireland will have 95% or more Irish DNA.  Kate, for us this means that if you have Irish DNA in your results, you can be pretty certain it came from Ireland. From these tables you can see your membership in some regions is more robust than others, and Ancestry is using these tables to try to help us tell the difference. In the end, the ethnicity results reported by each DNA testing company are highly dependent on two factors: the reference populations they use to compare your DNA against, and the statistical algorithms they use to compute your similarities to these populations. Every company is doing both of these things just a little bit differently. Kate, if you want to get another take on your ethnicity results, you can take your data over to Family Tree DNA, or you can be tested at 23andMe. A free option is to head over to Gedmatch and try out their various ethnicity tools. If you need help downloading and transferring, you can head over to my website:  Most people have found after searching in multiple places that their “true” results are probably somewhere in the middle. While these ethnicity results can be interesting and useful, for most they will just be a novelty; something interesting and exciting. I have found that their most useful application is acting like a fly on a fishing line. They attract our family members into DNA testing where we can then set the hook on the real goal: family history.    PROFILE AMERICA: The Statue of Liberty had a birthday just recently! On October 28, 1886, the now-famous Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor in New York City. Every school child in the U.S. knows this was a gift from France. According to Profile America, “the statue was the first glimpse of America for more than 20 million immigrants who came through nearby Ellis Island, chiefly from Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Poland. In 1910, the year of the greatest influx, some 15 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born.” Each of those 20 million immigrants to the U.S.—and each of our other ancestors from all over the world—has a unique story. Of migration or change, loss and love, being favored by fate--or not-so-favored. All the stories I find—and all the stories I hear and read from YOU—tell me that we have so much to learn from our ancestors’ lives, so much to be inspired by. Their stories shape us and, in so doing, become part of OUR stories. That gives us double the stories to tell! I invite you to get sharing those stories, if you aren’t already. Blog if that works for you, because the world is your audience. Or write something else and share it in another way. Put together a short biography of a fascinating ancestor. Transcribe an old diary or interview. Write about your research journey and how your findings inspired you. However you most want to share it: just DO it! Your own legacy will love on. The legacies of those who love from the past will live on. And legacies of those yet to come will benefit from that which you’ve left for them.
October 6, 2015
In this episode I’ll kick things off with two fabulous online resources I think are Gems. Two of you wrote in with your own advice, one on saving your genealogy from theft and another with another tip on digital preservation. I found a funny poem online that the author gave me permission to share. And then Sunny will join me to announce our next Genealogy Gems Book Club pick—and we may or may not digress a little to talk about other fun things on our minds. So sit back and relax—or do whatever you love to do while listening to podcasts—and let’s get started. NEWS: Ancestry Web Indexes Did you see the recent article on the Genealogy Gems website about Ancestry Web Indexes? These are FREE resources that anyone can access. You don’t need to be an Ancestry subscriber or even create a free login on the site. Here’s what they’re all about. For the past few years, Ancestry has been indexing databases from other websites on their own site. They’re not stealing data or take credit for data from other places—everything is fully cited and points to the original sites. Ancestry is extending the power of its ability to help users find their family history online wherever it may be. They’re taking advantage of the fact that it’s already a place where people are looking and their site’s powerful search tools. What I think is cool is that you may have a better search experience at Ancestry than you would at the original site. Some sites that host databases or indexes don’t offer very flexible search parameters. If you search for Elizabeth Madison, they may not recognize “Beth” or “Lizzie” as acceptable search results, or alternate spellings of her last name. But Ancestry does. A subscription to that original site may be required to see any images or other content that’s members-only. But if there’s data out there, I want to know about it. Then I can decide whether I want to get access to it. Another bonus is that a lot of their big Web Indexes are from sites that are not in English. This gives English-speakers a portal to that data, in case they are intimidated by trying to search a site in another language or by applying Google Translate, which I teach about using in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Anyway, I think it’s just one more online tool we should all know about! Just within the past few weeks, here are a few new Ancestry Web Indexes: Danish Emigration (that’s Emigration with an E—for people moving OUT of the country), more than 300,000 records from 1868 to 1908. An Indiana Marriage Index for 1806-1861, with another 300,000 records; Montreal, Canada marriages and burials dating back to the 1760s; Alberta, Canada newspaper vital events index back to 1889; and Births, deaths and marriages for Gallatin, Montana back to the mid-1800s. Here’s a tip that wasn’t in our article: you can search for Ancestry Web Indexes by going to Ancestry’s drop-down Search menu. Click on Card Catalog, and do a title search for the word “Web.” You’ll see lots of results that say “Web:” followed by the name of the index. Just another helpful tip to get the most out of one of the world’s biggest genealogy websites, whether you’re a subscriber or not!   NEWS: Bomb Sight websiteWe’ve probably all seen images from the World War II bombing of London  in movies. You see Londoners hunched in tube station tunnels during air raids in The Imitation Game. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children are evacuated to the countryside to escape the Blitz. But for anyone who didn’t experience it themselves or grow up in the shadow of those bombed-out buildings, we don’t really GET the Blitz, when the Germans bombed London regularly for several MONTHS. There’s a new website and mobile app that I have to recommend that reveals the Blitz in a new way: Bomb Sight, The core of this site is a digitized version of 559 bomb census maps that show where each and every bomb fell between July of 1940 and the following June. These maps were classified until 1971, and were previously only available in their fragile, original condition in the British National Archives. Now you can explore all those neighborhoods and read about the individual bombs that devastated them. You can even see related historical images and read stories and memories. It’s stunning to look closely at a neighborhood and see how densely the bombs fell. It’s also stunning to pan out to the widest view and see SO many dots. So many bombs. So much destruction. Take a few minutes, won’t you, and explore, and you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the bombing of London.   MAILBOX: Advice to a new family history bloggerRecently Judy wrote to me after she attended one of my presentations. She says, “Just wanted to know I took your advice and started a blog on one of my cold cases. Here's the link if you'd like to see it:” So I took a look at Judy’s blog. Here is a summary of my comments: Her posts are packed with genealogical data She shows great use of search keywords: she even included all the name spelling variations! In addition to the wonderful information her blog provides to readers, it’s also wonderful Google “cousin bait” because others searching for all those names and places will find her I would love to see a "Next Steps" list after the Questions list (which I think was a great addition to the post) A Sobering Reminder about Computer Backups I met Kathy from Carmel Valley, California on the Legacy Genealogy Cruise this past June, which was SO much fun! Afterward, Kathy sent me this note: “Hi Lisa, I hope all is well with you and your family. I am still thinking about our lovely Caribbean cruise. I thought you might share a reminder with your listeners. My husband and I were out of town last week and were robbed. The robbers took only electronics (thank goodness) and did not mess up the house….another thing to be thankful for. But your listeners can not rely on external hard drives as backup. If the external hard drive is by the computer….the robbers will take that as well. Thank goodness we had a web-based backup. So we did not lose our precious research or photographs. It could have been so much worse. This is just another reason why your listeners should look at BackBlaze or another company that provides the same service. I am grateful that I did. Yes, we have to purchase new computer equipment….BUT we have our research and our photos. Gratitude, gratitude.” I’m so sorry Kathy was robbed. But I’m so glad she didn’t lose the most important part of her computer: what was on it. And I sure appreciate her sharing her close call with us. We’ve heard it before: the way to keep from losing copies of anything is to keep multiple copies in multiple physical locations. Kathy mentioned robbery, but another common scenario that would take out all your in-house computer storage is a natural disaster—a flood or fires, like the ones that recently plagued Carmel Valley where she lives (I hope Kathy wasn’t affected). But it’s a lot of work to back up everything yourself on an ongoing basis and keep distributing it to multiple physical locations. A cloud-based backup service does this work for you: both the backup and the offsite storage! Here at Genealogy Gems, I trust Backblaze as our official cloud-based computer backup service. Do your homework and find what’s right for you. But I did my homework and I recommend Backblaze. It’s less than five bucks a month for the peace of mind and security that your computer’s contents will ALWAYS be safely stored and available for you to retrieve from their secure online vault. I encourage you to check them out at Digital file storageAfter listening to the most recent Genealogy Gems podcast episode, Bill wrote in with this great comment: “I was very interested in listening to podcast Episode 183 since one of its major segments dealt with preservation of old photos and videos. For the last three years (as time permits), I've been scanning my (and my wife's family's) old photos - mainly black and white. This is still a work-in-progress. Tried to do a good bit of reading about this subject (on the Internet) before I started. Also attended a genealogy seminar in 2009 where one of the presentations covered digital photo preservation.  “Based on what I've read and heard, the ‘experts’ generally appear to recommend using the .tif file format (versus jpg, gif, png, bmp) for capturing and retaining any photos you deem valuable or important. This decision seems to be driven by the loss-less nature of the .tif format versus the "lossy" nature of the other formats. There's no question that a .tif version of a given image is substantially larger than its jpg counterpart, too. Since the choice of a file format is a pretty basic (and important) aspect of the digital preservation process, I was surprised it wasn't mentioned in the podcast or associated notes. “After exploring the Larsen Digital site for a while, I located a page there that compares the various file formats for photos, videos, etc.” Then Bill shared this webpage URL with me. I loved hearing from Bill. He’s absolutely right that TIF is preferred over JPG for just the reasons he mentioned. Kristin and I didn't cover that in our conversation due to time constraints, and the fact that we've covered the advantages of TIF over JPG several times before in past Genealogy Gems episodes (like episode 57 with Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, which is available for free online). We addressed image resolution because this is a specific area we haven't covered as much. Just a reminder, the Genealogy Gems coupon code for Larsen Digital is still good! The code is Gengem10, and it’s good for 10% off services like digitizing old photos and your family videos and film reels. Visit their website at, call them at 800-776-8357 or send an email to                 GEM: “Open Letter Grandma” Recently I came across this wonderful poem that resonated so well with me—and made me laugh—that I got the author’s permission to share it on the podcast. It’s called “Open Letter to Grandma” by Amie Bowser Tennant, and it’s posted on her blog, RootsBid. (Click on the link to read the poem.)                 GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: Citizens Creek: A Novel by Lalita TademyOur next Genealogy Gems Book Club pick is Citizens Creek by New York Times bestselling author Lalita Tademy. Some of you have probably read her previous novels, Cane River and the sequel Red River. Cane River was an Oprah Book Club selection. I read these a few years ago and really enjoyed them. So I was really excited when I heard she had a new novel out. And even more excited when I found out I’d get to interview her for Genealogy Gems Book Club! Citizens Creek is a novel, but it’s based on the lives of real people. The publisher describes it as “the evocative story of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars, and his granddaughter, who sustains his legacy of courage. “Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money—but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward? “Cow Tom’s legacy lives on—especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather’s indelible mark of courage inspires her—in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies. “Written in two parts portraying the parallel lives of Cow Tom and Rose, Citizens Creek is a beautifully rendered novel that takes the reader deep into a little known chapter of American history. It is a breathtaking tale of identity, community, family—and above all, the power of an individual’s will to make a difference.” Contributing Editor and Book Club Guru first considered this book for the Genealogy Gems Book Club because of the compelling history told about both Native Americans and African Americans. “But then,” she says, “the characters’ stories became more personal and more relatable and more obviously about family, relationships and legacy. We see how the experiences of one generation shape them—and how they shape themselves--and what effects all this has on the next generation. We see how the next generations look backward for inspiration and support and guidance, to see how best to manage in the present and think about the future.” Next episode, Sunny will share a couple of passages from the book about Rose, Cow Tom’s granddaughter, who becomes the keeper of his secrets.   DNA GEM: Some Suggestions for the Empty Handed Genetic Genealogists with Diahan Southard “Over one million people have had their DNA tested for genealogical purposes, and that number is climbing fast. If we were able to survey all of those who have tested, how many would answer that they are fully satisfied with their results? I think the level of satisfaction we feel with our genetic genealogy experience has everything to do with our expectations going in. “What did you expect going in? Many are drawn to genetic genealogy by the pretty pie charts and maps that reveal our mix of ancestral heritage. If they are expecting a nice addition to their coffee table pieces, they are pleased. If they are expecting a crystal ball into their ancestral heritage, they are often disappointed. “Likewise, when you see a 2nd-4th cousin on your match page, you may have every expectation that you can figure out how you are related to each other. But when that common ancestor remains elusive, many fear that the test is not helpful, or worse, inaccurate. “Recently we heard from Jenna on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page. Jenna has followed the autosomal DNA testing plan perfectly: She tested first with Ancestry, then transferred to Family Tree DNA. She even went the extra step and uploaded her results into GedMatch, a free third party tool, and yet, she feels she hasn’t made any positive connections. “For anyone in this situation, here are 2 explanations, and 2 next-steps to help set good expectations for your genetic genealogy experience. “First, you need to know your own family history. If your family is not from the United States, or have only recently immigrated to the United States, you will not find very many matches in the databases. This will change as time moves on and genetic genealogy gains greater exposure and acceptance in other markets.  “If you do have ancestry from the United States, but are still coming up empty handed, it might be because you happen to be the pioneer in your family, the first to jump into genetic genealogy. While 1 million people is a lot of tested individuals, I am consistently surprised by the number of people I meet who have never heard of using DNA testing in genealogy. “Unfortunately, both of these explanations just require patience to be resolved. But, while you are waiting, here are 2 tips to get the most out of what you have: “First, as our Facebook friend suggested, start with a goal. In her case, she is interested in her paternal grandmother’s father. Anytime you are researching a male, if you can find his direct paternal descendant, a living male with his surname, you should have him take the YDNA test. “In the absence, or in addition to that, having as many descendants of your ancestor tested as possible will help you fill in the genetic gaps that naturally occur as DNA is passed down. But short of throwing more money at the testing companies, you can search each database by surname and location to look for others who might share these genealogical characteristics with the individual you are looking for. “My second tip is to focus on your closest genetic match and use all the available tools to investigate your relationship. This will involve using the Common Matches tools found at, Family Tree DNA, and GEDmatch. In this way you can find multiple individuals that may all be related to you through a single common ancestor. You can then use their known genealogies to look for overlapping genealogical information, like surnames and locations to help you identify your shared common ancestor. “Most people that I talk to who feel like their DNA has left them empty handed are just simply not aware of how to use the tools and clues at their testing company to tease information out of their matches. That I why I have written the genetic genealogy quick guides that do take you step by step through your results to make sure you are making the most of your DNA test results. “You can find these guides under the Store tab at I also offer customized DNA guidance like the help I’ve been giving Lisa, which she’s talked about in her free weekly newsletter. If you’re interested in a consultant, find me through my website,”—Diahan Southard
September 2, 2015
In this episode, a special expert joins us to talk about digitizing and storing your old movies, videos, and pictures—even further updating those old movies you’ve already put on CD. You’ll hear a juicy clip from our exclusive Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with the editor of the new Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, Pioneer Girl. And Your DNA Guide is here with a story of DNA and the President. NEWS: AncestryDNA Common Matches Genealogists are losing sleep lately because of a new DNA tool, but in a good way! I’m talking about AncestryDNA’s release of its Common Matches tool. Diahan Southard, our resident DNA expert, shared the breaking news on our website recently, within hours of when the new tool when live. She loves it so much she’s already spent hours using Common Matches, which she says is blowing her genealogy mysteries wide open. This tool pulls out shared matches between two people who match at 4th cousins or closer. The tool is on AncestryDNA’s main match page, between the “Pedigrees and Surnames” filter and the “Map and Locations” filter. This link will take you to a blog post on our site with Diahan’s great visuals and explanation of how to use this new tool. We heard from Alana on Facebook after she read Diahan’s post. She said, “I stayed up for hours past my bedtime last night resolving hundreds of mystery matches. Everything makes so much more sense now. I’ve been mentally begging them to come up with a way to search for two surnames: this does an even better job than that. I did think it was funny how they broke the news by trying to sell me more tests. Oh well. I am SO thankful for this extremely useful new tool!” Have you tried it? Let us know how it works for you. We’d love to hear your success stories and how you’re making the most of DNA testing for genealogy.    DOUBLE YOUR CLOUD BACKUP SECURITY Recently Backblaze, a sponsor of this podcast, let us know that we can now activate an extra layer of security to better protect the data we have stored with them.   The feature is called two-factor verification. It requires that we present both our account credentials and a verification code from a second device to gain access to our Backblaze account. That means someone who was trying to steal our data would have to have both our account information and access to the phone that's tied to the account. The option to require both these security steps can make Backblaze’s solid security even more powerful. It’s like you’re giving Backblaze permission to lock the doors to your data with two different keys instead of a single one, because you’re willing to take the time to use that second key whenever YOU need access.   This is just one more reason I’m glad I’ve chosen Backblaze as the official cloud-based computer backup service of Genealogy Gems! I sleep more easily knowing Backblaze is backing me up, 24/7, without me having to do anything but live my life, create and edit the many files that bring you this show, and keep my Backblaze subscription current!     NEWS: RootsMagic Update for FamilySearch Family Tree If you’re a RootsMagic user, did you install the required update recently so it will continue to work with FamilySearch? On July 30, last month, FamilySearch made some changes to its own site, which required RootsMagic to tweak things on their end to keep up.   If you’re running RootsMagic 7, look for the “Update Available” indicator in the lower right corner of your RootsMagic 7 program screen, and click on it. You will then be able to continue working with FamilySearch Family Tree as if nothing has changed. If you’re running Rootmagic 6, you can either upgrade to version 7 for around $20 or you can download the free RootsMagic 7 Essentials version and switch back and forth between them with the same database. Thanks for helping us spread the word to other RootsMagic users who are now scratching their heads when trying to work with FamilySearch FamilyTree!   MAILBOX: Keeping Track of Your Master Family Tree We recently heard from a new RootsMagic user, who bought the software to keep track of his family tree. He was still finding it difficult to corral all his data in one place. He wrote, “I have my family tree splattered everywhere: FamilySearch, MyHeritage and Ancestry. I’m afraid of losing control of my tree and would like some advice on keeping things straight. Each of the sites I go on seem to offer different information, so I started posting information on different sites. Can you offer any suggestions that I can use to centralize my data across different sites?” This is NOT just a problem Louis is having! In fact, I venture a guess that most people with online trees in more than one place have this problem and some may not even realize it. I look at my RootsMagic database on my computer as my MASTER database and tree. I may post things online, but only copies. Websites come and go and I want to keep ownership of my own master file on my own computer. With this kind of thinking, I can post my tree online but not lose control of it! When I post tree data online, I’m going fishing for family, so to speak. I’m trying to connect with cousins and gain research leads. With that in mind, I upload only the portion of the tree for which I want to generate those connections and leads. I don’t put my entire tree on each site because I don’t want to get bogged down with requests and alerts for far flung branches that I’m not focused on researching right now. To do this I make a copy of my database, edit it to fit my research, and then upload it. As I find documents and data on genealogy websites, I may “attach” them to the tree on that site, but I always download a copy and retain that on my computer and make note of it in RootsMagic. That way I retain control of my tree and my sources.   Visit our sponsor and start boosting your genealogy research                 GEM: Digital Preservation If you’re lucky enough to have old home movies, then you are probably really concerned about how to preserve them and how to get them into some kind of format that you can share with your family and use in your own family history projects. And what about digitizing and preserving our old photos? We all have those. It can all seem like a pretty daunting task, and that’s why I’ve invited Digital Film Conversion expert Kristin Harding from Larsen Digital in for a chat. Here at Genealogy Gems we’ve been talking lately about the importance of backing up all your computer files, particularly since our experience with our new sponsor Backblaze has shown us how easy and inexpensive it is to have a first-rate cloud back-up service. But there’s an important step that has to happen before you can back something up: you have to digitize it in the first place! Bonus! Here's a coupon code for Larsen Digital:  Gengem10 gets Genealogy Gems listeners 10% off!  Call with any questions at   1-800-776-8357 or send an email to   Tips for digitizing still images Prioritize items that are the oldest, most special or rare, fragile or deteriorating (capture that image before it crumbles or fades). Resolve to scan at a higher resolution: Scan old family pictures at 600dpi for 4 x 6 photos. Very small photos (and images you want to enlarge from a small portion, like a group photo) should be 1200 dpi. That way, when you enlarge them, you’ll get the sharpest, most clear image possible. Consider the benefits of a professional scanning service like Larsen Digital: Professional scanners are faster and you get better color quality and contrast in your digital image. When customers bring in their photos, they all say “I just don’t have the time to do this myself!” Also, once a photo is scanned, it then usually needs to be cropped and digitally color corrected. Navigating your way through Photoshop if you are a novice can be time consuming & frustrating, and a pro can do this post-scanning editing.  Customers usually have slides and negatives, which are much more complicated to scan than photos. They often turn these over to a professional scanning company to ensure that they preserving their family memories at the highest quality. Learn more about how to organize the filenames of all your old images in a two-episode series on the free Family History Made Easy podcast: episodes 32 and 33. Genealogy Gems Premium members can also access my 2-part instructional video series, “Hard Drive Organization” (where you can WATCH how to organize your computer files).   What about moving images? So many of us have old home movies. And we have them in lots of different forms like Super 8, and VHS. You are pretty adamant that we should preserve our old home movies as MP4 digital video files, not just on DVDs and CDs as many of us have done over the past several years. DVD’s don’t last forever! The ability to read DVDs from our devices is already fading. Digital video files also offer the convenience to edit your footage and upload files online to easily share with friends & family. But it is convenient to have these on CD and DVD, also, to easily share with relatives and pop into a DVD player (for those whose televisions aren’t hooked into their computers). These “hard copies” can be kept in a safety deposit box for safe-keeping. When MP4s are saved on our hard drives, then they’re easier for our cloud back-up service to keep backed up. A final tip: save multiple copies of all these to multiple locations. Kristin advises that all media should be stored in at least two places, preferably 3. “For example, your home computer would be one location; I think an external hard drive is always a smart bet because computers crash all the time. I personally believe that storing it with a cloud provider is critical to ensure that your media never gets lost or erased. If you have your files backed up into different locations, no matter what disaster strikes, (computer crash, floods, fire, moving) you will always have a copy safe somewhere.” Bonus! Here's a coupon code for Larsen Digital:  Gengem10 gets Genealogy Gems listeners 10% off!  Call with any questions at 1-800-776-8357 or send an email to        GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: Pioneer Girl - an interview with editor Pamela Smith Hill Listen to  an excerpt from our interview with Pamela Smith Hill, editor of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is the never-before-published autobiography Laura wrote in the 1930s. The stories and memories she shares in it are the basis for her popular Little House children’s series.   Get the Full Interview: Genealogy Gems Premium members have exclusive access to the full interview in the upcoming Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 127, to be published later this month. Your membership—just one low annual fee--gives you access for a full year to all the monthly Premium podcasts as well as past ones, so you can hear our interviews with other fantastic authors on books we’ve loved. You’ll also have access to our full series of Premium how-to videos, which include the Ultimate Evernote Education series, Google and Google Earth, and my other hottest topics.   DNA GEM: William Harding DNA test New evidence in a 90 year old paternity case came to light recently in the form of a DNA test.  While most cases of unknown paternity include an unwed woman and a child, this one had the unique distinction of also involving the president of the United States. The New York Times recently named former president Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) as the father of Elizabeth Ann Blaesing after her son, James Blaesing, and two individuals related to the Hardings, were found to have shared DNA. Just to be clear, the DNA test results don’t and can’t name a specific relative as the shared source of any two individual’s DNA. Though we would like it to be, it is not DNA in, ancestors name and birth certificate out. The actual report from the testing company was that James Blaesing and Peter and Abigail Harding were second cousins.  This means that the shared ancestral couple for these three has to be among their 4 sets of great grandparents. The DNA alone cannot tell us which set. It was a combination of the DNA and the known genealogy that provided such a high level of confidence in this case. While there are certainly mixed feelings among members of the Harding family about this new evidence, this is clearly a win for DNA. A man who was thought to have never had children did in fact have one child, and now a grandchild. This preserves a genetic legacy for his family line that might have otherwise been lost. This is also a clear win for the power of curious descendants and the healing balm of time.  It was actually Harding’s grand niece and grand nephew who instigated the testing out of a pure desire to know the truth.  Time has allowed them this curiosity without threat of scandal and technology has provided the necessary tools to once and for all more fully understand their ancestor and the life he lived. AncestryDNA declared after this story broke that DNA testing can rewrite history, which may be true.  However, I prefer to think of DNA testing not as white out that can erase false accusations, but rather as a filter that allows you to separate fact from fiction so that history can reflect lives rather than lies. Here’s a link to a related article that also comments on the lack of African DNA in Harding’s descendants. Get Diahan's DNA quick reference guides to help you easily navigate your own genetic genealogy journey. Diahan Southard offers DNA consultations to help you with your results. Learn more here
August 8, 2015
You know me, I love looking outside the genealogy box to discover strategies and inspirational stories that can help us be better family historians. In today’s episode, we’re heading back to World War II, and event that in some way touched the lives of every genealogist’s family, and we’re going to hear an incredible tale deception while at the same time gather research strategies, interview techniques, and compelling story telling methods that I know you’ll love and be able to apply to your own family history. This episode is brought to you by our wonderful sponsors:                                                          In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs landed in France to conduct a secret mission. They were to create an elaborate façade of military might for an audience, the German army. These 1100 men had one goal: to fool the enemy into believing they were an American army thousands strong, and draw their attention away from the actual fighting troops.  Get ready to go behind the curtain of Twenty-third Headquarters Special Troops known as the Ghost Army with my special guest Rick Beyer, author of the book The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, and Other Audacious Fakery Rick Beyer, is not only a best-selling author, but he’s also an award-winning filmmaker, and popular speaker. He wrote and directed the acclaimed documentary film Ghost Army, which premiered on PBS in 2013, and is currently available here. (Photo above:  Rick Beyer. Photo by Brian Smith)  Please click images below for the book or DVD. Thank you for using our links to Amazon - you are helping us produce the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.     Watch the trailer for The Ghost Army:   The Interview: Rick explains the three divisions of the Ghost Army, and the deception they were responsible for. Radio, Visual:                     (Photo above: Dummy M4 Sherman Tank of the type used by the Ghost Army. 93 pounds fully inflated. Credit: National Archives)  and Sonic:                                             (Photo above:  Uncovering the Speakers of a Sonic Half-Track. Credit: National Archives)     We discuss the power of imagination and how these brave soldiers took advantage of that to defeat the enemy. Rick shares a story featured both in the book and the documentary film The Ghost Army where some men in France spotted some pretty bizarre things.                               (Photo above:  The Americans are very strong by Arthur Shilstone. Credit: Arthur Shilstone)  Then Rick takes us behind the scenes of the book to explore research strategies and in particular, effective interviewing techniques.               (Photo above:  Rick Beyer interviewing Ghost Army Veteran Jack McGlynn in 2007. Credit: Rick Beyer)  The book is compelling on many levels: the storytelling, the integration of all the art, photos and documents, and fantastic catchy chapter titles that make you want to read, and Rick shares the secret behind his success, particularly those catch chapter titles!                           (Photo above:  "Near Metz" by Sgt. George Vander Sluis, 603rd Camouflage Engineers, 1944. Credit: Jeff Vander Sluis)    Telling family history stories in a way that captivates non-genealogists can be a tough job. Rick shares his tips for telling great stories, particularly in a book format.                                             (Photo above:  Photo montage featuring some of the eleven hundred men of the Ghost Army. From the book The Ghost Army of World War II. Credit: Photos contributed by William Sayles, Dick Syracuse, Nathaniel Dahl, Jack McGlynn, Bob Boyajian)  A Very Special Gem: A Plate of Peas by Rick BeyerAttention Genealogy Gems App Users:  Watch Rick tell this heartwarming story. The video is part of your episode Bonus Content. Get the App here   Visit Rick at Get the book here and support the free podcast Get the DVD here and support the podcast Rent the film here and support the free podcast     Be a part ofThe Genealogy Gems Book Club       If you enjoyed this episode, I sure hope you will share it with your friends and family. If you have the Genealogy Gems app, it’s super easy to share an episode : Just tap the episode, and then tap to share it on Facebook, Twitter or by email. Your friends will thank you, and “It makes me feel really good that you are sharing these episodes that we work so very hard on. Thank you! "In the end, we may search with our computers, but we never want to stop searching with our hearts." Lisa Louise Cooke
July 11, 2015
Today, we’re turning back the clock to talk about two of my favorite eras, the 1950s and—well, the second one is a surprise. I’ll tell you later in the show when I introduce the NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title! But first, we’ll talk a little news—from a new Google innovation to two new record collections online that fill in a hole in American documentary history. I’ll read some mail from YOU about the new Ancestry site and family history blogging. NEWS Wouldn’t it be great if your smartphone alerted if you left your keys or eyeglasses behind when leaving the house? Google is working on it, based on a recent patent it filed. The patent describes a device that uses short-range wireless technology to link your smartphone with other must-have items like your wallet, keys or glasses. The idea is that if you leave a location with one item, but leave other items behind, an alarm will go off. A commentary on the VentureBeat website explains that “the user can control the amount of distance between the mobile device and the paired object that must exist before an alarm goes off. They can also control the type of alarm, as well as how often the device checks to see if all paired objects remain nearby.” Here’s a drawing from the patent. In one way, it makes me think that Google is taking its Alerts out of cyberspace and right into our daily lives to help them run more smoothly. Do you use Google Alerts? Setting them up lets me find out about new content online as it becomes available—24/7—relating to my favorite keyword searches. I use Google Alerts to automate my online genealogy searches and follow other favorite topics. You can learn more about Google Alerts AND how to search for patents like the one I was just talking about—for household items and inventions that shaped our relatives’ lives—in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. * In last month’s podcast, I mentioned the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors Database in response to a question from a listener who was looking for a good resource for Civil War sailors. Unfortunately, as I stressed in the blog post, the percentage of sailors included is still fairly low in that database. So I was pleased to see a new collection on Fold3 recently: U.S. NAVY SURVIVORS. Here’s a link to a post about it. Nearly 2 million records in this collection come from case files of approved pension applications between 1861 and 1910, so they include Civil War survivors and later Navy veterans until just before World War I. I love seeing all these new record collections that appear online that, ever so gradually, fill in the gaps to help us find our ancestors! At Genealogy Gems we blog about new record collections online every Friday—watch for those on our blog! * Finally, there’s another record set coming online that will just be HUGE for those researching African-American ancestors. Freedmen’s Bureau records are finally being fully indexed! Anyone with African-American roots or who has ANY Southern ancestors should know about these. The Freedmen’s Bureau was organized after the Civil War to aid newly-freed slaves in 15 states and Washington, DC. Destitute whites were also helped. For several years the Freedmen’s Bureau created marriage records, labor contracts, and other records of families and their military service, poverty, property, health and education. The richest documents are the field office records of each state. (Here’s a link to a great article from the National Archives about these records.) A few field office records are already transcribed or indexed; you can find links at the Freedmen’s Bureau Online. Now FamilySearch and other national partners have issued a call to action for the genealogy community to help finish indexing them all—an estimated 1.5 million records—within the coming year. A press release says the “records, histories and stories will be available on Additionally, the records will be showcased in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is currently under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and expected to open in late 2016.”   MAILBOX Recently I heard from Patty, who says, “Not long ago I listened to the podcast in which you encouraged people to send the links to their genealogy blogs, and after seeing this week's newsletter, I thought I finally would.” “I started a blog last summer to share my research with my family, which is fairly spread out throughout the country.  I also wanted to document a trip to Italy that my husband and I took last October, which included genealogy research as well as the chance to meet newly discovered relatives there. My website is Thanks for all the great info you provide!” You’re welcome, Patty, and I have to say, I hear from SO many people about the power of blogging your family history. Most people start because they’re just bursting to share their family history finds, and they want to do it in the small bite-size pieces that work so well on a blog. Many of them also hope to connect with other descendants who may stumble across their blogs and contact them. And you know, it really does happen! If you’re ready to start blogging your family history—or to get re-inspired and get BACK to it—I recommend you listen to my how-to series on the FREE Family History Made Easy Podcast or watch my YouTube channel version. * Finally, we continue to hear feedback on the new Ancestry site. On the Genealogy Gems Facebook page, Cynthia told us, “I absolutely love it! At first I was confused, but took the time to figure out how to find what I wanted, add new facts, photos, etc. It was a challenge and now I will never go back to the old way.” Also on Facebook, Paris told us she misses the “show how we’re related” feature with its icon, and Ken misses now having the family group view. Nora also wrote in with more detailed comments on her three favorite features. In short they are: That when you are given the option to accept hints, you now have yes, no AND MAYBE options. (And I agree—that’s so much more practical to have a MAYBE option.) She loves the Lifestory view, especially since it gives the option of removing historical events you don’t want to include from an ancestor’s timeline. She finds it easier to merge facts about the same life event when reported by multiple sources. Nora even shares step-by-step tips for how she merges facts on the new site. Here’s a link to her full comments, along with helpful screen shots. * A third piece of mail comes from Carol in St. Louis, Missouri. She was frustrated that she couldn’t read my entire email newsletter. “Would love to know what you are saying,” she says. But my newsletter email doesn’t fit in her email window. She says, “I don’t want to toggle to the right to see the end of each line and then have to toggle back.” I don’t blame her! That’s annoying. The good news is that anyone who has trouble with my emails not fitting in their viewers can fix it pretty easily. Email sizing is related to your computer’s screen resolution setting and a variety of other variables. It’s different for everyone. In cases where it doesn’t come through to your email account right, we provide a link at the top of the email that you can simply click to view the email on a new web browser tab fitted to the page. To get the free Genealogy Gems email newsletter, just sign up in the box in the upper right-hand corner on the Genealogy Gems home page. We don’t share your email address with anyone else and you get a free e-book of Google tips for genealogy just for signing up.   Sunny and I discuss her digital backup plan (or lack thereof!) My solution for her:               GEM: Find Your Family History in the 1950s What comes to mind when I say these words? Sock hops. Drive-ins. Juke boxes. Fuzzy dice. Letterman jackets. Poodle skirts, bobby socks and saddle shoes. 3D movies. Hula hoops. Of course, the 1950s. Do you remember any of these fads, or have you seen any family pictures that show them? Of course, the fifties weren’t all fun and games. Think the Korean War, McCarthyism, the Iron Curtain. The 1950s was also a time of complex social problems and conflict throughout the world. What about finding records about your fabulous family in the 1950s? You know, we’re always told to start researching the most recent generations. But national censuses and many vital records have privacy blackouts. So I want to mention four major resources for finding family in the ‘fifties: Oral history interviews. In many families, there’s at least one person around who remembers the 1950s personally. If there’s not, then look to the memories of the next living generation, who often know at least some important things about the past. Interviewing a relative is one of the most fun and meaningful ways to learn your family history. After all, you’re learning about the past first-hand (or second-hand, if you’re asking about someone’s parents). You can ask specific and personal questions of the kind that don’t appear on a census record. You can deepen your relationships with those you interview and gain a better understanding of the lives that led to you. Older people often love to have someone take a sincere interest in them. The Family History Made Easy podcast has a great episode on interviewing your relatives. Here are some tips about interviewing your family: Reach out with sincere interest in that person, not just their memories of others who have gone. Be patient and respectful when you ask questions. It can take a while to establish a rapport and discover the kinds of memories that person most wants to share. The best skill you can have is that of a good listener. Don’t interrupt. Don’t judge. And listen so intently that you can ask great follow-up questions. Newspapers are my second resource. Turn to these for more recent relatives’ obituaries and other articles that mention them. Use hometown papers to discover more about a relative’s daily life, current events that would affect them, popular opinions of the time, prices for everyday items and more. Thanks to the internet, it’s getting easier than ever to find family members in newspapers. Some newspapers have been digitized, though this isn’t as common with more recent papers that may still be under copyright protection. Still, you can use online resources to discover what newspapers served your family’s neighborhood, or even whether an ethnic, labor or religious press would have mentioned them. Each country and region has its own online newspaper resources. In the US, I always start with the US Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America. (In this case, DON’T start with searching digitized papers, which only go up to 1922.) From the home page, click on US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present, and you’ll get a fantastic search interface to locate ALL newspapers published in a particular place and time, as well as the names of libraries or archives that have copies of these papers. Links for newspapers outside the United States include: The British Newspaper Archive, the National Library of Australia digitized newspapers webpage and the Newspaper Collection webpage for Library and Archives Canada. Remember, historical societies and even local public libraries are also wonderful places to look for newspaper holdings. My book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, gives you all kinds of tips for what to look for in papers and how to locate them, both online and offline, and in free and subscription resources. City directories are the third place I look for recent relatives. By the 1950s, most towns and cities published directories of residents, mostly with telephone numbers. I use annual directory listings to track families from year to year. These might give you your first clue that someone moved, married, separated, divorced or died. I can often find their exact street address (which is great for mapping them out!), who lived at the house and sometimes additional information like where they worked, what their job was or who they worked for. Ancestry has over a billion U.S. city directory entries online, clear up to 1989. But most other online city directory collections aren’t so recent, probably for copyright reasons. Look for city directories first in hometown public libraries. I would call the library and see if there is a local history or genealogy room where they handle research requests. Also check with larger regional or state libraries and major genealogical libraries. These are pretty straightforward research lookups and may not be that expensive to request copies of your relatives’ listings in each year for a certain time period. The fourth and most fun place to look for relatives, I think, is in historical video footage! YouTube isn’t just for viral cat videos and footage of your favorite band. You can look for old newsreels, people’s home movies and other old footage that’s been converted to digital format. It’s not unusual to find videos showing the old family neighborhood, a school or community function, or other footage that’s relevant to your relatives. Use the YouTube search box like you would the regular Google search box, because it’s powered by Google. Enter terms like “history,” “old,” “footage,” or “film” along with the names, places or events you hope to find. For example, the name of a parade your relative marched in, a team he played on, a company she worked for, a street he lived on and the like. It’s hit and miss, for sure, but sometimes you can find something very special. My Contributing Editor Sunny Morton didn’t really believe me that YouTube could be a great source for family history finds. She set out to prove me wrong—and I’m glad she did! Almost immediately, with a search on the name of her husband’s ancestral hometown and the word “history,” she found a 1937 newsreel with her husband’s great-grandfather driving his fire truck with his dog! She recognized him from old photos and had read about his dog in the newspapers. What a find! Her father-in-law was stunned, because he never met his own grandfather, who died in 1950. You can learn more in my all-new second edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which has an entire, newly-updated chapter on YouTube. So that’s four places to look for 1950s relatives: in family memories, newspapers, city directories and YouTube footage. So what ABOUT those 1950 and 1951 censuses around the world? Spotlight on the 1950 US Census: The 1950 US Federal census won’t be released to the public until April 2022. If you REALLY need an entry on yourself or immediate relatives, you can apply to receive copies of individual census entries from 1950-2010. It’s not cheap—it’s $65 per person, per census year. But if you’re having research trouble you think would be answered by a census entry, it might be worth it. Here’s a link to the page at that tells you how to do this (it’s called the “age search service”). Ancestry does have a 1950 U.S. census substitute database. It’s a little gimmicky, because it appears to be just a slice of their city directory collection from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s. But this is still a good starting point to target US relatives during this time period. I have some interesting factoids on the 1951 censuses for England, Canada and Australia, which aren’t available yet to the public. At Office for National Statistics website, you can at least download a blank form for the 1951 census in England. That site says: “There was no census in 1941 and only limited population information from the 1939 National Register, making the 1951 census highly significant in tracking changes in society over 20 years. The 1951 Census revealed that the population of Britain had exceeded 50 million. It was the first census to ask about household amenities (outside loos) as Britain began to clear slums and rebuild housing after World War II. Questions about fertility and duration of marriage were reinstated. The Registrar General for England and Wales, Sir George North, asked women to be more honest about their age. Many women of the time felt that questions relating to age were of a too personal nature. Information from previous censuses suggested that women had adjusted their age upwards if they married young and down if they married later. Problem pages in newspapers and magazines were flooded with queries from distraught women, fearful that their true age would become public knowledge.” That’s so funny to me now, as our age is a basic piece of all our identifying records! So a good substitute for the 1951 census may be England’s electoral registers, at least for those who were qualified to vote. An Ancestry description of London electoral registers states that these “registers typically provide a name and place of abode, and older registers may include a description of property and qualifications to vote. Registers were compiled at a local level.” That webpage has helpful tips on searching registers by location through 1954. What about Canada? They do censuses every 10 years on the years ending in “1” also, and a population and agriculture census in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta every 10 years in the years ending in “6,” according to the Library and Archives Canada website. By law, you can’t get personal information yet from post-1921 census returns except about yourselves or for pension or other legal purposes. The site does say that “Third parties cannot obtain information about another individual without the individual's written consent,” which leads me to wonder you COULD get them if you did have consent, but that might not be easy or possible to get from the relatives you’re researching. You’ll hit up against the same privacy issues in Australia for 1951, but what is online is the entire Year Book Australia for 1951, with free downloadable chapters on topics like land, transportation, communication, education, welfare, labor, wages, prices, the population, vital statistics, and several different types of industrial reports. You won’t likely find ANY ancestors mentioned by name, but you can read generally how the country was doing at the time.                 GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB:   The new Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title is Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill. This autobiography was written by Laura in the 1930s, and is the basis of her popular Little House children’s series. But her actual autobiography was never published, and it’s the “grown-up” version—more detailed, more explicit—of all those stories and her recollections of family, and neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads: pioneering in an American West that was fading away. Across the cover of the first tablet she scrawled “Pioneer Girl.” These real stories behind the Little House stories will intrigue--and sometimes stun--any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. What makes this book a standout and a prime candidate for genealogists? The immaculate research that went into it. The stunning example it sets for source citations, which consume large portions of most of the pages. And the often never seen before photos sprinkled throughout that bring the people and times to life visually for the reader.
June 16, 2015
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 180 with Lisa Louise Cooke   Welcome to episode 180 of the Genealogy Gems podcast! Today we’re talking about big names, like Ancestry and Google and FamilySearch. We’re talking about big numbers—the possible price tag for Ancestry at auction—and small numbers: a handheld computer for under $100. We’re also talking about road trip tips, an important online Civil War database, a leading Canadian digital archive and EXCLUSIVE tips for using FamilySearch’s free digitized book collection, which now tops 200,000 titles. And because I’ve gotten so much demand for it, I’m sharing tips for backing up your data at Ancestry—not just your tree but your sources and DNA, too. Mixed in with all this news and how-tos is an assorted cast of listeners-with-questions and an inspiring story about long-lost siblings reunited by radio. Let’s get started! NEWS Certainly some of the biggest news buzzing around the genealogy world is the possible sale of Ancestry. Reuters recently reported that the buyout firm that owns most of Ancestry has hired investment bankers to put the company up for auction. The price tag, they say? Between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. So what could this mean for customers? Of course, it’s far too soon to say. Ancestry currently delivers over 15 billion genealogy records to over 2 million subscribers. Their current trajectory includes acquiring even MORE records pretty aggressively, which we love. But as I'm sure we’ve all experienced at one time or another, though, when any type of company gets sold, things can change. Or we could continue to see business as usual at the shaky-leaf genealogy giant. Mybest advice to those of you whose master family trees are on Ancestry is to download and backup your data. I'm not being alarmist or saying the sky is falling here! This announcement is simply a good opportunity to do something we routinely recommend anyway. I'll have specific advice for downloading your tree, checking your source material and getting your raw DNA from Ancestry later in the podcast. In another piece of news, have you notice that Google is now answering the questions you google instead of just giving you search results with the keywords in your questions? Say you Google the question, “What county is Chicago in?” Google will respond at the top of your search results with a big, fat “Cook County” headline followed by some key facts about the county. Google’s also creating a bit of a stir with its new Chromebit; it's a Chrome OS full size computer about the size of your hand, and it plugs into an HDMI on our computer. This sounds like a great option for on-the-go genealogical computing! A lot of folks aren’t fully cloud-based and they really don't ever plan to be: they like to work from a hard drive or desktop of some kind. So this offers them a portable way to do that. You could plug in at a public terminal--say at a library--or at someone else’s home computer, or even a television so that you could share pictures on a big screen. And best of all the Chromebit is as affordable as it is portable! A write-up at  reports that Google says the Chromebit will be less than $100! MAILBOX Recently we heard from Jennifer, who is taking a little road trip, as many others of us in the northern hemisphere are contemplating in June. She asks a great question: “I’m tagging along on my husband’s thesis research trip to Columbus, Ohio. I have some ancestors from other parts of Ohio. I was wondering what exactly I could look for in a state’s capital city's collections and archives? I was thinking that the state capital may have a “gem” that I couldn’t find elsewhere, or even duplicated information [from local repositories].” Jennifer is definitely thinking along the right lines! Here’s our advice: At the state government level there are often two key resources: the state library and the state archives. These might be combined. One might be called the state historical society. You just have to look for each state. In Ohio, the Ohio History Connection serves as the state historical society and official state archives. But there is also a state library that serves as a repository for government documents and a resource for other libraries. Each has resources for genealogists, online and in-house. Look for some links to these in our show notes. In addition, public libraries of major cities often have excellent local history and genealogy collections. This is definitely true of the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio’s state capital! We suggest you contact librarians before you go and ask what they have that can’t be found anywhere else, both on a state level and for locales you are researching. Often times that will include photograph collections, materials on old businesses, and newspapers on microfilm. If you can formulate specific genealogical questions that you want to try and answer and share those ahead of time with the librarian that will help her guide you toward the unique gems. Every state library and archive is unique, so consulting by phone with the reference librarian is the best way to go. Recently Tom wrote in with a question about a Civil War veterans database: “I’ve been a listener of your podcast for quite a long time. Great job. (Thanks, Tom!) “We have a grass-roots group trying to locate and document Civil War Veterans buried in Washington state. Is there a good website where I can enter a name and unit identification and get results of the person’s [Civil War] service?  I’m having a really hard time finding US Navy sailors.” It sounds like Tom is conducting a very worthwhile project! An excellent resource–but still in progress for sailors with only about 20% of them–is The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS). The site describes its resources as a “database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records.” This is an excellent resource for soldiers. As far as sailors go, the site says, “The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System currently contains [only] the records of approximately 18,000 African American sailors, though additional records will be added in the future. The information in the Sailors Database is derived from enlistment records and the quarterly muster rolls of Navy vessels." A Howard University research team is behind this stellar effort, using muster rolls to fill in missing data or correct apparent misinformation. Here’s a link to an article from the National Archives about African-American servicemen in the Navy during the Civil War. If a Navy ancestor isn’t among those already listed, my first instinct is always to turn to Google searches first. I ran a search in Google Books for free digitized books meeting the criteria “civil war” “sailors” and there are some resources there as well. I'll put a link to these results in the show notes. Just one example? Manchester Men, which appears to be a published list of those who served from Manchester, N.H. You can learn more about Google searching for “niche” topics like this in the fully-revised and updated 2nd edition of my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Finally, we heard from Alexis with this energetic note about her ”genealogy podcast marathon:” “I just had to email you and say thank you for all you do!  I am 23 and finding that I am obsessed with family history.  No one around me seems to understand why but I love it.  And I was thrilled when I found your podcast!  Though still pretty young, I've been behind on some technologies like podcasts but now I'm addicted to those too.  It makes work so much better. Though I wish I didn't have to work at all so I could just research and apply what you teach us instead. Wouldn't that be great?!  I have been on genealogy podcast marathons. I'm still quite behind on genealogy gems since I just found you now in 2015 but I'm working through it!  And I started a blog of course. I just mentioned you in my last post as well. It's called Geneaholic Confessions at It's just getting started but I really want to be a part of the geneablogger community ‘cause it sounds like you guys have tons of fun! Thanks for all you do!                 GEM: PROTECTING YOUR ANCESTRY DATA Okay, I promised you some tips for protecting your data on Ancestry, which you should do regularly whether the site is under threat of new management or not. First, download your current tree(s) to GEDCOM files onto your computer. Under the Trees tab, choose Create and Manage Trees. For each tree you have, choose Manage Tree, then Export Tree. At this point the green button should say “Download your GEDCOM file.” Just click on it and it will download. If you’re having difficulty, click “download tips” underneath the green button. I've heard that some of you have had difficulty downloading your trees to specific software, like Family Tree Maker or RootsMagic. For Family Tree Maker, read this article on syncing your updated online tree to your Family Tree Maker software. RootsMagic users should watch this YouTube video on importing your Ancestry tree into RootsMagic. Consult other online support options if you still need help. Next, check your sources! The Ancestry help section states, “Any pictures, charts, books, views, or similar items found in the original file will not be included in the [downloaded] GEDCOM. Vital information, notes, and sources are usually retained after conversion.” Check your GEDCOM to see whether your source notes are intact. Then make sure you have copies of documents, videos, photos and other items you may have attached to your tree. You don’t want them to disappear, should there be a hiccup (or worse) in service. Finally, if you have used AncestryDNA, download a copy of your raw DNA data. Here’s a link to show you how. We especially recommend this step! These tests are expensive. Tests for loved ones who are now deceased can’t be repeated. And Ancestry has disposed of DNA samples in the past when the company has switched directions. (Again, I'm not trying to be alarmist about this, just cautious.) If you have relied on Ancestry or any other cloud-based service to host your only or master family tree, I recommend you do some homework and consider keeping your master tree on your own computer, and a backup file with all your other backup files. We here at Genealogy Gems use Backblaze as our backup service and we love them (visit for more information).           GEM: TIPS FOR USING FAMILYSEARCH’S DIGITIZED BOOK COLLECTION So here's another tip for you. Google Books, which I mentioned before, isn't the only place to find digitized family history books online. Another free and growing resource is FamilySearch's Family History Books collection.  They've reached a milestone 200,000 titles! This collection began 8 years ago and includes "family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees,” according to the landing page. Digitally-archived volumes like these are so valuable because they are immediately accessible and because they are keyword-searchable. Here are three search strategies to use for these: ·         Look for only a surname (in case the first name is written different ways or a different relative is mentioned). ·         In addition to surnames, search for the name of a neighborhood, street, church, school, business, type of work or other keywords that pertain to your family. ·         Use the Advanced Search feature to focus your search, like for a keyword in a title, or a type of publication like a periodical. Once you’re reading a book, you can click on the info icon (a circle with an “i” in it on the upper right) to see more information about the book, including source citation and copyright information. We were curious about how well FamilySearch's digital book Viewer interfaces with mobile devices. So we asked FamilySearch. Turns out, this is still a work in progress and in fact some browsers work better than others. Dennis Meldrum at FamilySearch told us that “Safari does not work well with the Viewer.” Neither do mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad. “The Viewer works best with IE or Firefox. It also works with Chrome, but the Adobe Tools do not work. We are aware of the limitations of the Viewer and are working to replace it by the end of the year." GEM: CANADIANA DIGITAL ARCHIVE Speaking of digital libraries and archives, I've got a great one to share with you. If you have Canadian roots, you should be searching Canadiana ( regularly for family history information. Recently described Canadiana as “a digital initiative of extraordinary scale,…a joint effort of 25 leading research institutions, libraries and archives working together with the goal of creating Canada’s multi-million page, comprehensive online archive.” Its digital collections chronicle Canada’s past since the 1600s and most of its content is free. For example, the free Héritage Project “aims to digitize, preserve and make accessible Canada’s archival materials for Canadians and the world." Their large collection of genealogy materials so far includes immigration records, church records, land records, family histories, voters’ lists and more. Military history, government documents and aboriginal records are also well-represented. Check back often! More is coming, like local and regional newspaper digitization and records of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. Another part of Canadiana is The Canadiana Discovery Portal. This gateway to digital collections from 40 repositories points to 65 million pages! Sample subjects include  Ontario genealogy and War of 1812 campaigns. This portal is also free to use. One part of the site that's awesome but NOT free? Early Canadiana Online, with 5 million images already and expected to grow to 16 million. A subscription will run you $10/month or a year for $100, says that site, I'm assuming in Canadian currency. This is “a full-text collection of published documentary material, including government documents and specialized or mass-market periodicals from the 16th to 20th centuries. Law, literature, religion, education, women’s history and aboriginal history are particular areas of strength.” The site describes itself as “the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents.” Tip: scroll down on the home page to click the Genealogy and Local History portal, but don’t ignore the rest of the site! GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB This month we feature a meaty excerpt from our interview with Nathan Dylan Goodwin, author of The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist). Genealogy Gems Premium subscribers can access the full interview in this month’s podcast episode. He tells us how he got started; we talk about the plot and characters and the challenges of creating genealogical mysteries with dangerous consequences for the present and more!   DNA GEM: INTEGRATING GENETICS AND GENEALOGY TOOLS Our very own Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, joins us now. She talks about how the ideal genetic genealogy interface creates a seamless transition between genetics technology and genealogy research. AncestryDNA, she says, is really pioneering the integration with its newest product update. Read more about it here. PROFILE AMERICA Here's a this-month-in-history from Profile America. Ninety-one years ago this June, "Congress passed — and President Coolidge signed — the Indian Citizenship Act, which stated 'all noncitizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby declared to be, citizens of the United States: Provided that the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property.' "Prior to this act, about two-thirds of American Indians were already citizens by other provisions. Universal voting rights lagged until 1957, as various state laws were amended. Today, there are over 2 million single-race American Indians possessing this full citizenship and 566 federally recognized tribes." Wow, I had no idea there were so many federally recognized tribes! I close today with a story Contributing Editor Sunny Morton recently read about long-lost relatives who were reunited. We hear lots of stories like that now, relatives who rediscover each other online or through DNA tests. But this story happened in 1926! Sunny found the story in a newspaper article. The children of a man named Alonso Jones were sitting around one day listening to the radio. Then they heard the announcer say, "Alonso Jones, wherever you are, listen...Your sister wants to see you at Worthington, Ohio. She has not seen or heard from you in forty years. You were born at Antiquity, Meigs County, Ohio, at the time of the Civil War...." "You were reared by Captain William Roberts, an Ohio River flat boat man. You went with him on a produce boat when you were a boy and ran away while the boat was lying at the bank in Arkansas." The article reports that the man telegraphed his sister and arranged to meet her. All because she'd had a dream that the radio could help her find her brother, and she tried it, and it worked. What an inspiration! It reminds me of the value of thinking outside the box, of using all available technologies, and of never giving up when we are looking for family. Forty years after she lost her brother, she still thought of him, and she finally figured out how to find him.  Click below to visit our YouTube channel:
May 25, 2015
Have you ever felt like you got the short end of the genealogy stick when it comes to family heirlooms? Maybe you haven’t inherited much in the way of family photos or memorabilia, or maybe you feel like you’ve tapped out all the potential goodies that are out there to find. In this episode I’ll share an email I got from Helen, because she reminds us that you should never say never.  I’ve also got another amazing story about an adoption reunion. And we’ll also check in with our Genealogy Gems Book Club Guru Sunny Morton about this quarter’s featured book, The Lost Ancestor by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. And of course all kinds of other genealogy news and tips for you.  We’re going to take all that genealogy and technology noise out there and distill it down into the best of the best, the genealogy gems that you can use. I’m just back from several weeks on the road. Since we last got together in episode 178 I’ve been to Cape Cod to talk to the Cape Cod Genealogical Society about Time Travel with Google Earth, and all you Genealogy Gems Premium Members have that video class and handout available to you as part of your Premium membership – and if you’re not a member click Premium in the main menu at to learn more about that.  And then Bill and I headed to Providence, RI where I was the keynote at the NERGC conference. That was my first time ever to New England so it was a real treat. And we teamed up once again with the Photo Detective and Family Chartmasters and held our free Outside the Box mini genealogy sessions in our booth which were very popular. Then I had a 2 day turnaround and Lacey and I were off to Anchorage Alaska to put on an all-day seminar at the Anchorage Genealogical Society.   Another great group of genealogists! And Lacey and I added an extra couple of days to explore, and explore we did. We booked a half day ATV tour to explore the National forest outside Anchorage. Now this was before the start of tourist season, so there we are, to gals driving out of town, onto a dirt road and waiting at the meeting spot in the middle of nowhere where we met Bob the Guide. He looked like he was straight out of Duck Dynasty! He showed us how to drive the ATVs, assured us that the bears weren’t quite out yet, and then packing his side arm pistol lead us out into the wilderness for 4 ½ hours of amazing scenery. It was like we had the entire forest to ourselves. This guide would pull over every once and while, whip out a telescopic lens on a tripod and in seconds would zero in on something way over on the mountain across the valley, and he’d say “look in there. See that clump of snow with legs, that’s a Mountain Goat, or that’s a Dall Sheep.” It was incredible. We saw moose, and muskrat, the biggest rabbit’s I’ve ever seen in my entire life, which Bob the Guide called bunnies, and he was right, the only thing we never saw was bear. But that was just fine with me and Lacey! So after our mountain safari we flew home and I gave an all-day seminar in my own backyard in Denton, TX, and then Bill and I jumped in the suburban and drove to St. Charles Missouri where I spoke at the National Genealogical Society Conference. St. Charles is just on the other side of the river from St. Louis, and we were pleasantly surprised to find the a quaint little main street. Diahan Southard Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems was with us and Diahan and I drug poor Bill in and out of every “foo foo potpourri” shop they had when we weren’t busy meeting so many of you at the booth or in class. It was a 4 day conference, which is A LOT of genealogy, but we had a blast and again teamed up with Family Chartmasters, The Photo Detective and Family Tree Magazine for an Outside the Box extravaganza of free sessions in the booth. And this time Diahan Southard joined in with sessions on Genetic Genealogy. And all this reminds me of an email I received recently from Shelly. She writes: “I am a new listener and new premium member of Genealogy Gems.  Thanks for getting me motivated to organize my research and get back into learning my family history. I had never thought about attending a genealogy conference before but listening to your podcasts has gotten me interested in going.  There is a conference coming up in less than two weeks only 1 1/2 hours from me in St. Charles, Mo. I can't afford to attend the actual conference, but would it be worth it to just go to the free exhibit space? I listened to one of your podcasts that mentioned you and a few others give free mini classes. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Shelly” I told Shelly that I thought it would absolutely be worth it. In fact, that is one of our goals with our free Outside the Box sessions in our booth - to give everyone a free opportunity to experience a genealogy conference. The hall is very large, there will be loads of exhibitors, and you not only attend any and all of our sessions, but at most larger conferences you’ll usually also find companies like Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilySearch holding sessions at their booths. Well Shelly took my advice and she wrote back. She says: “Thanks for your encouragement to attend the NGS exhibitor area!  I was able to attend on Friday and enjoyed looking at all the booths and talking to some of the exhibitors.  I was also able to attend a few Outside the Box sessions also, although yours were too crowded to see or hear very well!  Thanks so much for doing this.  While waiting for a free session to start in another area, I overheard two men talking about DNA for genealogical purposes and privacy.  My ears perked up as they discussed an instance where a DNA sample sent to was used to help solve a crime committed by a relative of the DNA tester.  I don't have enough information to form any opinions on that case, but the question of privacy came up when I was asked my mother to take a DNA test for me.  The first thing she said was that it sounded interesting but she was worried whether the government or the police could get ahold of the information.  I encouraged her to read the privacy information on the site and to let me know, but I told her I didn't see how anyone could get the information.  Her curiosity got the better of her, as I knew it would, and she agreed to the testing and I am awaiting the results.  The funny thing is that my mother does have a criminal history and has served over ten years in prison (I was raised by my father from age 5).  Hopefully there aren't any serious unsolved crimes my mom has been involved in!  She is 64 now so hopefully the statute of limitations has passed for most crimes.  I will let you know if the FBI come knocking on my door :)” I want to say thank you to all of you listening who stopped by the booth and welcome to all our new listeners who got to know us at these recent conferences and seminars, we are very glad you are here! Recent Family Tree Magazine Evernote Webinar: In the last year I've moved from Earthquake central (California) to Tornado Alley (Texas) and it's been a bit of an adjustment to say the least. 2 weeks ago while I was presenting a webinar on using Evernote for genealogy for Family Tree Magazine when my husband silently placed a note in front of me. It said that we were under tornado watch and if it got any worse he was hauling me off the computer and into the storm shelter! I hung in there, and thankfully it blew over and we finished the webinar. Genealogy wins again! (And yes, the video of the webinar is coming soon to Premium Membership.) Then last night we spent about an hour in our shelter room while our county got pummeled with torrential rain, non-stop lightening, and yes, even a few tornadoes touched down. Our devoted dogs Howie and Kota instinctively blocked the doorway to the shelter in an effort to keep us safe. They did a good job, and all is well! All this threat of danger and destruction has reinforced my decision to bring into our Genealogy Gems family a brand new sponsor. Backblaze is now the official back up of Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems. If you've been to the RootsTech conference then you may already be familiar with them. Backblaze is a trusted online cloud backup service that truly makes backing up all your most precious computer files super easy.  The thought of losing my genealogy files is too much to bear. Now I can concentrate on keeping my loved ones safe through the storms of life because I know Backblaze is taking care of my files and photos! Many of you have asked me which company I use to back up my files. I've done my homework and Backblaze is my choice. I invite you to visit and get all your files backed up once and for all.   “Dear Lisa, Thanks for the latest email. I have been using Backblaze for a year now. I thankfully have not needed their complete services :-), but I love the feeling of being protected. Have a great weekend! It was so nice to meet you at Roostech in February. Thanks, Ellen” Tyler Moss, the dean of Family Tree University wrote me after a recent webinar I gave for them: “One woman typed an ellipsis (…) in to the chat box. I messaged her back and said “I’m sorry, did you mean to send a question? All I see are three periods.” And she said, “Oh no, I’m just in wonder at all the awesome things I can now do in Evernote!” The webinar we were doing was called “Enhance Your Genealogy with Evernote” and in that session which we recorded on to video as well I covered 10 terrific genealogy projects you can use Evernote for to improve your research, organization and productivity.  My motto these days is, save time by being more efficient so you have more time to spend with your ancestors, and that’s what this training session was all about. And the good news for all of you who are Genealogy Gems Premium Members is that the video and downloadable handout are coming very soon to the Premium Videos section of Look for the announcement of its release in our weekly free newsletter. You can sign up for the free Genealogy Gems weekly e-newsletter on our homepage. GEM: Evernote Library Project Create an Evernote Genealogy Book Library: Create a new notebook called “Library” With your smart phone or tablet, snap photos of the cover of each of your genealogical books Send the photos to the Library notebook in Evernote (on your mobile device tap the share icon and tap Evernote. You will need to have authorized the Evernote app.) Another option is to email them to your unique Evernote email address which will also place them in Evernote. Evernote will apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to each image making them keyword searchable. To see if you already have a book, tap the notebook and then search an applicable keyword. Inspiration and motivation from Helen: A recent email from listener Helen reminds us to search our basements and attics for unique and amazing family history finds. There’s no substitute for being able to tell family members’ stories through their own words and photographs. “I just had to tell you about my recent find. My late father-in-law served in the Canadian Navy for 39 years, entering Naval College when he was only 14. Most of my knowledge about his life came from talking with him before he died. Of course, then I did not know the questions to ask. “About a month ago, I was preparing for a lecture on his life for a local World War 1 Seminar. I starting looking around in our basement as I knew we had some material from when we cleared out his house when he died, but I had no idea of just what exciting material I would find. “I found his personal diaries, with the earliest from 1916! The journals give an amazing first-person record of naval service from a person who devoted his life to the service of his country. I was able to weave his actual words into the somewhat dry official record of his long time service [ending with] his being presented with a Commander of the British Empire medal shortly before his retirement. “I am so grateful that the family saved these invaluable documents through the myriad of moves that a naval officer’s career entails. In a different box, I found his photographs from the same era—some even earlier than the journals. I am now seriously considering publishing the journals along with the photographs, as they deserved to be shared.” Genealogy Gems Premium members can click here to access Premium podcast episode 116 to hear a discussion between two authors of books on life-story writing, and here to access a Premium podcast AND video on how to make a family history video Her Birth Mom Was Her Co-Worker! Birth Family Reunion A woman recently went searching for her birth mom after receiving a copy of her adoption records (these recently opened in her home state of Ohio). She didn’t have to search very far: just in a different department at her workplace. “When [La-Sonya] Mitchell-Clark first received her birth records in the mail on Monday and saw the name Francine Simmons, she immediately plugged it into Facebook,” reports the story on Entrepreneur. It didn’t take long for her to recognize her mother as a woman who worked at the same business she did. “Following a tearful reunion, the two…discovered that they live just six minutes away from one another,” reports the article. La-Sonya also learned that she has three birth sisters, one of whom also works at the same company. Wow! Company picnics and water cooler chats must suddenly seem a lot more meaningful after this birth family reunion. Learn to use your own DNA to search for genetic relatives (whether you’re adopted or not!) in our free Genealogy Gems podcast interview with CeCe Moore, a leading expert who appears regularly on television shows to talk about finding family with DNA.     Genealogy Gems Book Club Our featured book for the 2nd quarter of 2015 is The Lost Ancestor. Sunny's Book Recommendations: Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier novella by Nathan Dylan Goodwin The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneux Out of the Shoebox: An Autobiographical Mystery by Yaron Reshef Jimmy Fox’s Nick Herald Genealogical Mystery series: Deadly Pedigree, Jackpot Blood and Lineage and Lies Nathan Dylan Goodwin does have two other titles in the same series. I’ve read them both. Hiding the Past takes us into a genealogical mystery set in World War II and it’s a similar type of read as The Lost Ancestor. I enjoyed it. The Orange Lilies is a novella set at Christmastime. Here Morton puts his skills to work—and his emotions—to confront the story of his own origins and a family story from the Western Front in World War I a century ago. It’s a more personal story and Nathan I think is pushing into newer territory as a writer in dealing with more intimate emotion. But I like seeing Morton have these experiences. I also have a few more titles to recommend along these lines. It’s that “If you liked this book, we think you’ll also like…” The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneux. This is a novel. I opened to the first page and the About the Author made me laugh: Stephen, amateur genealogist, lives in Hampshire and the South of France with two metal detectors and a long-suffering wife.” The book opens with a scenario many of us may be sympathetic with. A genealogy buff buys a marriage certificate he sees on display at an antiques gallery. He begins researching the couple with an idea of returning the certificate to them. Eventually he uncovers several secrets, one with some money attached to it, but others are also chasing this money. It may sound a bit far-fetched but it doesn’t unfold that way. I like the surprise twists that bring the story into the present day. I also liked living out a little fantasy of own through Peter, the main character: that of being that genealogical research hero who brings something valuable from the pasts to living relatives today. Another book I recently enjoyed is Out of the Shoebox: An Autobiographical Mystery by Yaron Reshef. This one’s a more serious, and I think a little more sophisticated, read. In this memoir (so a true story), Yaron gets a phone call about a piece of property his father purchased in Israel years ago. He and his sister can inherit it, but only if they can prove that man was their father. He goes on an international paper chase into the era of World War II, the Holocaust and the making of Israel. Then a forgotten bank account surfaces. There’s more, of course, in Yaron’s two-year quest to understand the tragedies of his family’s past and recover some of its treasures. There’s another series I’ve been made aware of but haven’t read yet. This is Jimmy Fox’s Nick Herald Genealogical Mystery series: Deadly Pedigree, Jackpot Blood and Lineage and Lies. The hero is an American genealogist who lives and works in New Orleans, of course one of the most colorful and historical parts of the U.S. I’ll put links to all of these on our Genealogy Gems Book Club webpage, which you can find at
April 10, 2015
Episode 178 Lisa Louise Cooke Niche record collections that might just be what you are looking for. Interview with genetic genealogist CeCe Moore about using DNA for genealogy research, adoption, and the Finding Your Roots TV show. Announcement of the Genealogy Gems Book Club book for the 2nd quarter of 2015. A listener shares an update on adoption records in Ohio.   NEWS: RECORDS CANADIAN MENNONITE PHOTO ARCHIVE: A new databaseis now online with over 80,000 images of Mennonite life from across Canada and dating back to 1860s. A press release says that the archive “is a project of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada  and includes Mennonite archival partners in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.” An online ordering system allows visitors to order image copies for noncommercial use. GEORGIA NEWSPAPERS: The Digital Library of Georgia has launched an archive of north Georgia historical newspapers. “The North Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to six newspaper titles published in three north Georgia cities (Dalton, Gainesville, and Rome) from 1850 to 1922. Consisting of over 33,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. The site is compatible with all current browsers and the newspaper page images can be viewed without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. The archive includes the following north Georgia newspaper titles: Gainesville News (1902-1922), Georgia Cracker (Gainesville) (1894-1902), North Georgia Citizen (Dalton) (1868-1921), Rome Courier (1850-1855), Rome Tri-Weekly Courier (1860-1880), Rome Weekly Courier (1860-1878). The Digital Library of Georgia will add additional titles from the region over time. OHIO GENEALOGY INDEX. The Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, OH has created an onlineGenealogy Index to some of its most valuable and unique genealogical records, including original funeral home and Bible records. Also in the index are Jewish marriages and death notices, an index of names in a significant African-American manuscript collection, a 1907 Cleveland voter registration index, a photo database of Cleveland military personnel from WWII and the Korean War and a biographical sketch name index. Currently, there are about 320,000 records in the index; more are being added on an ongoing basis. The Society primarily archives records relating to Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Soon to be added are indexes to the 1870 mortality census for Ashtabula, Ohio and indexes to several church records collections. WWII CADET NURSING CORPS (US): The WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, new on Fold3, contain membership cards of women who joined. According to Fold3, the cards “are organized by state, nursing school, and cadet name. Some cards include the date of admission to the school, date of admission to the corps, and date of graduation (or date of other reason for termination from the school). Others contain details like the woman’s marital status, father’s/husband’s name and profession, years of college completed, place of residence, and how they heard about the corps. Still others also record the woman’s age in addition to the previously mentioned information.” MICHIGAN DEATHS. Images of Michigan death certificates from 1921-1939 are now available for free at Seeking Michigan. “The index for records from 1940-1952 will be made available in the next few weeks, with additional certificate images to be released each year as privacy restrictions are lifted (1940 images will be released in January 2016),” says a press release. NEW ZEALAND ORAL HISTORIES. A new web archive of oral histories of New Zealand nurses is now available. “The aim of this website is to capture this rich history and create a resource that nurses, students, academics and family members can access in order to gain a better understanding of nursing history in New Zealand,” says the site’s home page. The site contains a “large collection of oral histories including abstracts, recordings, photos and other information. These histories have been collected from nurses who trained during the 1950s and 1960s and capture both the everyday elements of nursing practice along with some of the more unusual. Here you are able to listen to stories, read brief abstracts, and view photos of the nurses.” Got a story to tell? They are accepting new interviews. There’s also a section on hospitals and one on nursing uniforms. WWI WOMEN. FindMyPast has posted over 9,500 UK records that illustrate the various roles played by woman during the Frist World War. These include: §  Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Records 1917-1920. It’s a relatively small collection but rich in material on each woman. §  British Women’s Royal Naval Service officer files 1917-1919 (ADM 318) details the service history of women who served as officers in the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the First World War. §  British Women’s Royal Naval Service Ratings’ Service Registers 1918-1919  contains the details of nearly 7,000 enlisted women who served as Wrens during the First World War. §  British Women’s Royal Air Force Service Records 1918-1920 is an index of 31,090 Women’s Royal Air Force service records held by The National Archives.                 MAILBOX: Adoption: Recently Genealogy Gems Premium member Katharine wrote in this with newsworthy gem: “Recent adoption records are being released in Ohio. Such an exciting time for those adoptees yearning to connect with their bloodlines! Before the bill took effect, they allowed birth mothers to redact their names. Out of 400,000 only around 110 took them up on that.  There’s also a preference form with the birth records where the mother can request not to be contacted. I wonder how often that might not be respected.  It’s such an interesting situation for someone to be in.” Thanks for the news, Katharine. She sent us this link to a local news story that covers the story. Want to learn more about accessing adoption records in any state? Check out the U.S. Adoption Research page at the FamilySearch wiki for a terrific overview and helpful links. Also, try running a Google search for the name of the state and  the keywords adoption and genealogy. You’ll find lots of great resources, like this page on adoption records at the Pennsylvania state library or this online resource from the State Historical Society of Missouri. The right Google search can shorten your search for the records you want! This tip brought to you by the newly-published, fully-revised and updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke.                 GEM: CeCe Moore on DNA CeCe writes the popular award-winning blog “Your Genetic Genealogist” and is a well-known speaker. Currently she is working as the genetic genealogy consultant for two PBS television shows “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and “Genealogy Roadshow”. She serves as the lead “Ancestry Advisor” to 23andMe and is the Co-Director of the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project. She is frequently consulted by and quoted in the press in regard to the emerging personal genomics industry.   GEM: Genealogy Gems Book Club We got excellent response from readers and listeners about Orphan Train, our first quarter book. Book Club member and listener Karen  said, “I just finished "Orphan Train" and thought it was very good. It's hard to believe that children were treated like that. I've often thought while doing my own genealogy research that it's amazing any of us are here at all given the difficult lives many of our ancestors lived.” But now it’s time to talk about our next Genealogy Gems Book Club selection. Our next book is The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) (Volume 2) , the most recent book in a mystery series by British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin.     In The Lost Ancestor , we meet the hero of the series, Morton Farrier. He’s a forensic genealogist whose cases are usually quite tame, but occasionally he takes on a job that leads him into dark and dangerous corners of the past and the present. He reminds me a bit of that famous fictional British detective, Sid Halley in Dick Francis’ books, because Morton takes at least a punch or a bullet and threats to his personal life in just about every episode. Fortunately his girlfriend is a police officer in training, so she doesn’t mind these occupational hazards so much. Morton is hired to find out what happened to his client’s great-aunt Mary, who disappeared without a trace a century ago. A tame enough premise, but then we get to the historical setting of her life story: a grand English estate where she’s a maid who’s thinking above her status. This is a drama that will speak to Downtown Abbey lovers for sure. With her proximity to a grand family comes proximity to money and power, which have a definite effect on how Mary’s story unfolds. We follow Morton to his favorite research haunts—where he scuffles with his nemesis, a grumpy librarian and envy his budget, which allows him to order vital records at will by express mail. Maybe we don’t envy the lumps and risks he takes, but they’re fun to read. The Lost Ancestor has a different feel than our previous two books, best-sellers that were a little more literary. I hope you will find it a welcome change of pace. This is a genealogy-specific find and a great choice for both men and women. It’s an excellent pick for holidays, weekend relaxing, or curling up indoors or outdoors, whatever the weather permits in your corner of the world. My hammock just went up, and it’s still hanging there empty and hopeful for it to warm up just a little more.   CLOSING Visit the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel             Please SUBSCRIBE while you’re there. Check out our new video son Evernote and DNA.
March 10, 2015
This episode features our interview with Christina Baker Kline, the author of our Genealogy Gems Book Club featured book Orphan Train. The book spent five weeks at the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestselling list as well as time at the top of The Bestsellers List in Canada, and by now after reading the book you know why. Christina will share how the book came in to being. And why she first hesitated to write it. And how, although this is a novel, in fact the details of Vivian’s story are true thanks to her extensive research. And Christina sheds light on the effect that being an orphan had on the children of yesterday and the children of today. Download the show notes NEWSAnd I want to kick off this episode with something new here at Genealogy Gems. You know, a lot of announcements and press releases about new record groups constantly cross our desks – some large and some for niche. Well we are now going to round these up for you in a blog post at every Friday. Watch for the genealogy records that your ancestors might appear in–but also watch for the kinds of records that may be out there for your kin, which might help you break down your family history “brick walls.” PRISON RECORDS. Kingston, Canada, Penitentiary Inmate Ledgers, 1913-1916, are now available on Flickr. According to, “The ledger includes frontal and profile mug shots, the inmate’s name, alias, age, place of birth, height, weight, complexion, eye colour, hair colour, distinctive physical marks, occupation, sentence, date of sentence, place of sentence, crime committed, and remarks of authorities.” And speaking of FlickrIf you’re interested in historical photos, there has never been a better time to try the Flickr Creative Commons. Flickr is a popular photo-sharing site that’s keeping up well with the times: its new app was on the “Best of 2014″ App Store list for iPad apps. It’s a great platform for sharing your favorite photos with family and friends. But wait, there’s more! An important part of the Flickr world is Flickr Creative Commons, which describes itself as part of a “worldwide movement for sharing historical and out-of-copyright images.” Groups and individuals alike upload old images, tag and source them, and make them available to others. Like what kinds of groups? Well, there’s the British Library photostream, with over a million images in its photostream! And how about the (U.S.) Library of Congress, with over 23,000 photos? Look for your favorite libraries and historical societies–and check back often. New additions post frequently. For example, as of December 2014, The Netherlands Institute of Military History now has a photostream. According to a blog announcement, “The Institute exists to serve all those with an interest in the military past of the Netherlands. Its sphere of activities covers the Dutch armed forces on land, at sea and in the air, from the sixteenth century until now. The staff of the NIMH administer a unique military history collection containing approximately 2 million images, of which they will be uploading many to the site.” At this posting, only a couple dozen images show up so far, like the one shown here. Check back–or check with the Institute to see what they’ll be posting soon–for more images. Here’s a tip: Those who post images to Flickr Creative Commons offer different rights to those who want to download and use their images. Described here (and searchable here by the kinds of rights you want), those rights may include the ability to use a photo as long as it’s for noncommercial purposes and proper credit is given. Perfect for a responsible, source-citing genealogist! CEMETERY HEADSTONES. The Canadian Headstone Photo Project is now also searchable at The original site with over a million headstone photos isn’t new. But some people don’t know about the site, and its search interface isn’t as pretty or flexible. So we think it’s nice that FamilySearch is hosting that data, too. According to FamilySearch, the collection is still growing. “This collection will include records from 1790-2013. The records include a name index of headstone inscriptions, courtesy of, which is a family history database of records and images from Canada’s cemeteries.” HISTORICAL PROPERTIES MAP INTERFACE. The state of Delaware in the United States has launched an updated version of its CHRIS (Cultural and Historical Resource Information System) GIS tool. Use this interface to explore houses, districts and National Historic Landmarks in your ancestor’s Delaware neighborhoods. Maybe a place they lived, worked, shopped, worshiped or attended is still standing! Not sure how to find record sets like these for YOUR family history? Here’s a tip! Use the “numrange” search operator in Google to locate records from a particular time period. Do this by typing the range of years to search (first and last year) into your Google search box, with two periods in between (no spaces). For example, the search “Kingston Penitentiary” 1900..1920 brings up the ledgers mentioned above. This tip comes to you courtesy of the book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke–the fully-revised 2015 edition that’s packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online.   MAILBOX From Cassandra: "I stumbled on your podcast a few months back and enjoy listening to it when occasion permits. Today, I listened to episode 22, where you spoke about turning your video iPod into a Family History Tool. Although technology has come a long way since 2007, the topic of this podcast reminded me of how fortunate I am in having an iPad mini. I appreciate that you emphasized the value of mobile devices in aiding the genealogist in various tasks. Your podcast brought to mind an experience I had last summer where my tablet became my genealogy tool. I went to visit my great aunt living just 30 minutes north of me and talked for an hour about her parents, siblings, and grandparents. (All of which were recorded.) The next visit I made was two weeks later with my parents accompanying me. We arranged for my aunt and her younger sister to be there. Bringing stories and photos, we had a marvelous evening! Besides recording animated conversation and anecdotes, I was able to use my tablet to "scan" pictures. With their permission, I have since edited and shared photos online along with their stories. As circumstances would have it, one of my aunts suffered a stroke only a month later. This has been a great sorrow for my family, but in thinking back I am so grateful I had the time to visit with her; what an opportunity to have preserved those precious conversations and photographs! Thanks for your podcast and for the valuable tips and stories.  P.S. I posted about this experience in my blog along with the value of using tablets in family history work in July last year. There is a picture of me and my Aunt Connie with my impressions of the first visit"     From Terri:  "I am so glad I found you and all the fun things you have to offer to all of us working on our Family History.  I was listening to a webinar with Gena Philibert-Ortega and she mentioned your Genealogy Gems Podcast and how useful it was.  So I went on immediately and downloaded it on my iPhone.  It has been so much fun and I have already gleaned so many helpful hints from it.  Recently, on my drive from San Antonio to Houston and back, I listened to many the ones in your archives.  Well, the Podcast led me to your website where I decided to become a premium member and have already taken advantage of many of the videos and podcasts.  I then signed up for the newsletter.   I have installed Google Earth on my computer and have already begun plotting my Family History.  It is so much fun!  With your great video on using old pictures to help find places you lived, I have been able to find the home we lived in right after I was born, 57 years ago.  It still stands, and except for a few minor renovations and a paint change, looks very much the same.  I have attached the old pics and the one from Google Earth.  It was a very exciting moment!  (I am the little one crawling around on the right of the picture) My father is 79 and he has been the one, for many years, encouraging me to delve into the family tree.  We have some interesting story lines out there that have been fun to look into.  One of the things I found was an American Revolutionary Ancestor, in my father’s line, which led me to apply for the Daughters of the American Revolution and my app was accepted in December.  I was inducted this last weekend and my dad was there to see it.  That was a very special moment.   After watching your videos on YouTube, I have started a blog, "Unearthing My Family Roots”.  It is in it’s infancy but I am enjoying it and hope to start incorporating family history and genealogy into it after the “Cruise Log” is complete.  You can find the blog here.   As you can see, I am taking full advantage of my membership, so you can imagine my disappointment when I found out that you are coming to my local genealogical society meeting (Genealogical Society of Kendall County) in March and I can’t be there.  We are expecting our second granddaughter around that time in Missouri and I am going up to help. :)  I know you will be wonderful and everyone will go home with lots of takeaways.  Thank you for all you do and I look forward to all your future GEMS!" From Lisa: Thanks for writing and I'm thrilled to hear you have become a Genealogy Gems Premium Members and that you are enjoying it! And I'm particularly happy to hear that you are putting Google Earth to good use. Congratulations on your new blog. You are a talented writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed your series on the day you found the family bible and shared it on Google+. It is so similar to my own introduction to the family history obsession! I'm sorry to hear I won't get an opportunity to meet you at the upcoming seminar. I'm really looking forward to Kendall County because all of my dealings with the folks there so far have been delightful. Recently I heard from Sue, whose story offers a compelling reason to use Google Scholar for genealogy research! Read it below–then I’ll tell you a little more about Google Scholar: “I’ve been using computers for genealogy research (among other things) for about 30 years and am pretty good at finding most anything on the internet whether it pertains to genealogy or something else. It’s a continuous learning experience because computer, the internet and genealogy on the internet are always changing and updating. After hearing your seminars at RootsTech 2015], I tried out a couple of Google searches for my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather Silas Fletcher. Silas lived on Indian Key in the Florida Keys in the early 1820s. My husband and I and our son visited Indian Key several years ago and the young lady who took us out in the boat had actually written her college thesis on Silas! Of course, we didn’t think to get her name or any other information. So I Googled “scholar paper Silas Fletcher’ and the first item on the search turned out to be her thesis! I also found a second thesis on Indian Key and a research paper a third person had written–and they both contained information on Silas. In the footnotes I found references to deed books (book number and page number) that contained statements written by Silas, his wife Avis, their daughter Abigail and Mike’s 2nd great grandfather William H. Fletcher about their lives and movements in the Florida Keys. With that information I went to and found the deed books I needed for Monroe County. I was able to go find their statements very easily instead of having to ‘browse’ through the books on the off-chance I would find something (which I do if I don’t know the exact book where the record would be). I can hardly wait to try out the rest of what I learned at your seminars to see what else I can find!” Sue’s experience is a great example of using Google to dig for your family history. One little-known feature on Google is Google Scholar, which would help Sue and anyone else more easily find material like what she describes: doctoral dissertations, theses, academic papers and more. Your keyword searches in Google Scholar will target results from academic publishers, universities, professional societies and more. Though scholarly literature gets a bad rap sometimes for being boring or highbrow, they do something genealogists love: THEY CITE SOURCES. Sue cleverly read the footnotes of the materials she found and they led her right to a key source she needed. Here’s another resource she could find using the details found on Google Scholar in a Google Image search: a map of his community! My newly-updated, revised book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox has an all-new chapter on using Google Scholar. Among other things, I show you advanced search strategies and how to use Google Alerts with Google Scholar for continuous updates on your favorite search results. Click here          GEM: Interview with Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan TrainOur Featured Book – 1st Quarter 2015 Orphan Train  by Christina Baker Kline spent five weeks at the #1 spot  on the New York Times Bestselling list and is now on top of The Bestsellers List in Canada. When you read it you’ll see why. Here’s the storyline: Vivian is an Irish immigrant child who loses her family in New York City and is forced to ride the ‘orphan train.’ Orphan trains were a common solution in the late 1800s and early 1900s for care of abandoned or orphaned children in New York City and other places. The children were loaded onto trains and paraded in front of locals at various stops across the countryside, where they might be claimed by just about anyone. After following Vivian’s life through her childhood and young adulthood, we fast-forward. Vivian is 91, and a teenage girl named Molly comes to help her clean out her attic. Molly is a Penobscot Indian who is in the modern foster care system. Gradually they realize they have a lot in common, and you’ll love the ways they each respond to that. To me, the book is about the importance of family identity. Each of us has a family storyline that existed before we were born and brought us into being. Vivian’s and Molly’s experiences remind me how important it is to know and value our family backgrounds. Of course I loved learning more about orphan train riders, too. That chapter of history is now a vivid reality to me. Click here to order your copy of Orphan Train. Tune in to upcoming episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast as we talk about Orphan Train and interview Christina Baker Kline!   Northwest Genealogy ConferenceAugust is a beautiful time in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ll be heading to Washington state for the upcoming  Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington WA, just one hour north of Seattle  August 13, 14, and 15, 2015.    The Northwest Genealogy Conference will feature 3 full days of classes from speakers like Cece Moore and Judy Russell, and I will be there as well teaching 3 classes on Evernote and mobile technology. And there will be an exciting exhibit hall where you can see genealogy products and services up close. If you’re new to genealogy, they’ve got something just for you too! The Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society is sponsoring free Beginning Genealogy Classes in conjunction with the Northwest Genealogy Conference that will be held on Wednesday 12 August from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center. Seating is limited, and pre-registration is required. Registration opens on April 1, 2015 Head to   Profile America: Deadly InfluenzaWednesday, March 11th. One of the most devastating public health crises in history hit the U.S. on this date 97 years ago — and experts are still studying it, hoping to head off a similar global pandemic. The first cases of what was called “Spanish flu” were reported among soldiers at Fort Riley, Kansas. By October, the worst month, 195,000 Americans perished. By 1920, nearly one-in-four Americans had suffered from this strain of the flu, killing about 600,000. Worldwide, estimates put the death toll up at 50 million or more. Even less dramatic strains of flu can be deadly, necessitating medical research. There are some 112,000 medical scientists and 6,700 medical laboratories in the U.S. today. The output helps America’s 737,000 physicians and surgeons in maintaining our health. Profile America is in its 18th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau. Sources: Outbreak Toll Laboratories NAICS 621511  Physicians and medical scientists
February 23, 2015
Download the show notes here In this episode we are going to check in with our Genealogy Gems Book Club Guru Sunny Morton on our featured book Orphan Train, and some additional books you’ll want to add to your reading list that also provide insight in to how you can approach writing your own family’s history. And Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems, Diahan Southard, will be here to tell you how to Social Network Your YDNA with Surname Projects But first I’ve got the RootsTech Run down for you. Last week I spoke at RootsTech 2015 which was really a two-fer conference of both RootsTech and the Federation of Genealogical Societies national conference. So needless to say it was bigger than ever. If you didn’t attend, why should you care? Because FamilySearch which is the organization behind RootsTech has really, and I mean really, upped the family history game if you will. Even though they are a non-profit, they are really leading the industry, and having a huge impact on the types of genealogy resources and services that are being developed, which directly affect your family history research. And “Family History” is the key phrase there. At a FamilySearch VIP event I attended the leadership made a point of saying there is a distinct difference between genealogy and family history. We may often use these terms interchangeably, but they made this point with purpose, to drive home the fact that they are concerned with more than just genealogy; the building of your tree and tracing of your lineage. They are extremely focused on “family history”, and from what I know about you, you are too. Family history is the holistic approach – the stories, the photos, the legacy you are creating through your research. It’s not that its critical which words you use, but I think they focused on the distinction to really help the community understand what their focus is. For example, the keynote speakers included Former first Lady Laura and Jenna Bush, (who by the way did a phenomenal job and were witty and thoroughly enjoyable),   as well as Donny Osmond, and American Idol star David Archelta. There were some negative comments about these choices floating around on social media before the conference, but for anyone who attended and saw the presentations it all made perfect sense. They all spoke, and sometimes sang, to the heart of family history. I know for all you listening, your heart is certainly in it. They offered incredible inspiration and I think everyone walked away rejuvenated and recommitted to their research. And research just isn’t the right word. They came away motivated to continue on the legacy of family history they are building. And really that is the job of the keynotes. To set the tone and inspire and motivate, because there were plenty of  indepth classes and a huge variety of topics to fulfill the educational component of why we attend conferences . Let me give you a run down on some of the stats: FamilySearch, which was formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah, celebrated its 120th birthday last fall. It now operates 300 cameras in 50 countries around the world collecting digital genealogical sources. They released two mobile apps in 2014, FamilySearch Tree, the mobile companion to Family Tree on the FamilySearch website, and The Family Search Memories app which helps you collect, preserve, and share your favorite family photos, stories and spoken words. They are launching a new indexing program which will be part of the FamilySearch website which can be used on most desktop computers, notebooks and tablets. And to give you an idea of the scope of FamilySearch Indexing , there are 321,000 volunteers who have indexed 160 million records in 2014 alone, bringing the total of records indexed to 1.26 billion. These are records being made available to all of us free on the website. In June of 2014 FamilySearch surpassed publication of 1 billion images. It took 7 years to get there and the billionth image was published in FamilySearch’s growing collection of Peruvian records. IF you consider that a single digital image can have several historic records on it, that means there are actually billions of record images on FamilySearch. FamilySearch projects that it will take just 3 to 5 years to publish the next billion images. And as for new record collections, in 2014 FamilySearch published 38 million obituaries, 10 new Freedmen’s Bureau field office collections, and new and updated collections all around the world. One of the coolest things they unveiled is their new Discovery Centers. This is something that they announced last year, and our contributing editor Sunny Morton got a chance to go through the one in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City while at the conference.  Here is a link to her blog post. The FamilySearch Discovery Center is focused on offering families simple and powerful in-person family history experiences. Each visitor gets a unique, personalized experience where they learn about themselves and where their family came from, and how they lived. They can even record a video about themselves or a family member.  You’re in luck if you live in the Seattle area because a center is expected to open there in June of 2015. The two centers will serve as a testing ground to fine tune the centers and then open more around the world.   (Image above: Amy, Sunny and Lisa at the Genealogy Gems booth) So while I was at the conference I presented three classes for FGS which included using Evernote for Genealogy which was a packed house, using criminal cold case strategies for your brick wall genealogical cases, and video marketing for genealogy societies. For RootsTech I taught Turn your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse and, and building a genealogy business which was for the Rootstech Innovator Summit.   (Image above: Lisa and Diahan filming a segment at RootsTech) And of course we had the Genealogy Gems booth in the massive expo hall where we teamed up with FamilyChartmasters, The Photo Detective and Family Tree Magazine to once again present  our Outside the Box booth sessions where folks could join us for ½ hour session on topics like Google Search, Evernote and a whole lot more.   NEW! Map for African-American Genealogy Resources after the Civil War The time period after the U.S. Civil War is a messy era for searching for African-American ancestors from the South. Millions of people were emerging from slavery, without documented histories of who they were or who they were related to–many without even consistent first and last names. A new website helps researchers locate important African-American genealogy resources from the post-war Reconstruction era. Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau is a map-based tool for helping you find the Freedmen’s Bureau offices and hospitals, Freedman’s Bank offices, “Contraband Camps,” U.S. Colored Troops battle sites and other locations nearest your ancestors that may have created records about them. Many of these record sets are just coming online or are newly indexed and are free to search, so the timing couldn’t be better. What it is a fantastic tool! I’m so pleased to see this site. Now those who know what location they’re starting with can easily glance at a map and click to see which of these resources exist in a specific locale and where to find them online or offline. Listen to my interview with African-American genealogy research expert Deborah Abbott, PhD, in the FREEGenealogy Gems Podcast episode 159.   Danish GenealogyMyHeritage has announced a new arrangement with the Danish National Archive to digitize, index and make available online millions of Danish genealogy records. According to MyHeritage, these include: “Danish national censuses, including approximately 9 million images and 31 million records, covering the years of 1787 through to 1930.  One of the most enlightening sources of historical content, census records provide a glimpse into a family’s past listing information about each household including the names of occupants, information on residence, ages, places of birth and occupations. Church records (3.9 million images) containing approximately 90 million names from 1646 to 1915. The Parish Register provides information regarding anyone who was born, baptized or confirmed (after 1737), married or died in a particular parish. The records include rich information about a person’s family: for example, for baptisms they list the date of birth, date of baptism, name of the child, parent’s names, occupations and residence, and often names of witnesses and godparents.” According to MyHeritage, “The records, spanning almost 300 years, provide a window to the lives of Danish ancestors during fascinating periods in history including the Napoleonic wars, liberalism and nationalism of the 1800s, the Schleswig Wars and industrialization. “The records will illuminate the lives and times of noted Danish historical figures such as Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr. Celebrity fans will be able to look into the family history of Danish Americans such as Scarlett Johansson and Viggo Mortensen for clues on their success. Many of the records will be made available on MyHeritage as early as April 2015 and the rest will be added during the year. MyHeritage is a leader in family history for those with Nordic roots and is “the only major company providing services in Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish. With more than 430,000 users in Denmark and an additional 600,000 registered users in Sweden, 500,000 in Norway, and 280,000 in Finland, MyHeritage has amassed the largest Nordic user base and family tree database in the market.” Just one more reason we at Genealogy Gems are pleased to have MyHeritage as a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast.   MAILBOX From Judy: "After reading your message about "getting materials back home", I thought I'd share something I've begun. Because of working on family genealogy, I have become the recipient of several family items. We have no children, just a niece and nephew who do not live nearby. So...To make sorting things easier for family at the end, I've begun a photo album with pictures of family heirlooms with a message included that tells whose item it was or who made it and/or a story about why it has been special. I'm in hopes that at least they can try to find and save these items instead of trying to guess or having to take the time to go through all of the family binders where most are also recorded."   From Sharon in California About Nov. 13 newsletter: "Lisa, in today’s email you talked about walking through your front door and seeing things differently.  Since you are a big fan of Google and Google Maps, I wanted to tell you about a speaker that we had at our San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society meeting one time who talked about using maps in genealogy.  And he said the first map we should use is the map of our house.  I thought that was a little Silly, until I thought about the first house I remember, when I was 3 or 4 years old (and I’m now 74).  As I walked up those stairs to our apartment, I remembered so many things about that house.  As I “mapped” the layout of the house, each room brought back Memories.  Memories of my bedroom where when I had measles and my Dad brought me little Scotty dog magnets and we played with them on my bed.  In the kitchen, where my Mom taught me to eat vegetables that I didn’t like by piling on the butter.  The back porch where the ice Man delivered blocks of ice.  And many, many more.  Each house, and it’s map brought back individual memories.  Maybe this isn’t genealogy, but it is family history, or maybe only MY history, but it was fun going through all those memories."   From Deanna: "I was very touched by the story of your husband's relative whose mother took her own life due to what sounds like depression.  I have a loved one who has anxiety and depression, and I am so thankful we live in a time where education, resources and medical options are available to assist those who are struggling. I am also thankful for your podcast, Genealogy Gems, which was a great source of encouragement to me during a difficult season of being the caregiver of my struggling loved one. The research tips inspired me to keep looking for those elusive ancestors, and the many stories reminded me that most life journeys have difficulties.  Most importantly, however, I was reminded that we humans are quite resilient.  Thankfully, my loved one is doing much better now, yet I still look forward to each and every Genealogy Gems podcast.  In addition, I am planning on attending the upcoming seminar in Vero Beach, FL, which is being hosted by the Indian River Genealogical Society.  Although it's a bit of a drive for me, I couldn't miss seeing you in person!  Thank you for all you do, and may God bless the life journeys of you and your family!"     GEM: Genealogy Gems Book Clubwith Sunny Morton Our current featured book, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, is getting some nice thumbs-ups from Genealogy Gems readers. Just to catch you up, this is the story of two women. It starts with Vivian, an Irish immigrant child who loses her family in New York City and is forced to ride the ‘orphan train.’ She’s placed with several different families across the Midwest, with different results, but it’s the same premise at every home: her life starts over fresh there, with new rules and expectations and little or no recognition of her past or personality. After following Vivian’s life through her childhood and young adulthood, we fast-forward. Vivian is 91, and a teenage girl named Molly comes to help her clean out her attic. Molly is a Penobscot Indian who is in the modern foster care system. On the show, I read a passage from when Vivian meets Molly. On first glance, they are so different: an old white lady with money and a Native American teenager without resources. Molly immediately judges Vivian. But Vivian’s response totally disarms her. And that’s when it starts to get fun. I hope you will have a chance to read Orphan Train before our interview with Christina Baker Kline next month! More Good Reads from the Genealogy Gems Book Club: Fabulous Family Histories I think a lot of people make genealogy goals at the new year: goals like writing up your research. I’ve noticed that one of things people often stumble over when they try to write family history is what style of writing to use. Do they want to write like a college professor, scholarly and objective? Or should their personal feelings and opinions be part of the story? Or, even more nontraditional, should they fictionalize their ancestors’ stories like a novel? My book recommendations this month are three published family histories—all fascinating reads—that happen to be examples of different kinds of writing. Mordecai: An Early American Family by Emily Bingham is perhaps the most engaging scholarly family history I’ve read. It’s based on thousands of letters and other documents that make me just go green with envy—like, how did she FIND that document??? There are more than 50 pages of endnotes. I don’t think the author is related to the Mordecais. My sense is that she’s a historian who came upon a gold mine of a family, in terms of documentation, personality and themes she saw emerge down the generations of this family. I do like to read well-written scholarly history, especially about families and religion. I am fascinated by how religious beliefs make people tick, and their effects on family and community life, especially for a family like the Mordecais who belonged to a marginalized faith at that time in U.S. history. On the show I read the opening paragraph of the introduction, to give you a sense of her voice. Many of you may have read Family by Ian Frazier, which came out several years ago and was popular among genealogists. Ian also wrote the best-selling books On the Rez He’s an expert observer, insightful, compassionate, funny and honest. So it’s no surprise he also uses a first person voice, or the use of “I” when writing about his explorations into family history. On the show I read a passage from page 9 where he is writing about his ancestor’s hometown of Norwalk, Ohio, and we compare how different his voice is, but how effectively he wraps together his own experience with his research. The Worst Country in the World  by Patsy Trench is a first-person narrative about her Australian ancestors, who were among the first European settlers in that fascinating country. Patsy actually quit her job and traveled from London to Australia several times to research the story of her fourth great-grandmother and other relatives. She describes the book she wrote as “a hybrid: part family history, part memoir, part novel. The skeleton of the story…is as true as I could make it…. But I have put flesh on the bones, invented personalities for real people, circumstances behind the facts, all in the cause of turning my family saga into what I hope is an entertaining read. The dramatised scenes are from my imagination but the outcome of them is fact.” (Introduction, page 5) She cares a lot about her research, so she tries to make it clear in the text what’s based on evidence and what’s speculation, and she includes a detailed appendix that spells out where she took liberties. On the show I read a passage from page 86 about something her ancestor may or may not have done upon her arrival in the colony. You can hear the author’s playfulness as she openly decides to buy into an unsubstantiated account for the purposes of good storytelling. Then she tells a good story, and we have a sense of the setting, other characters, social life and current events in her ancestor’s new life in Australia (whether or not that specific incident actually unfolded as it did).  All in all, these three books—great reads in and of themselves—are also great examples of the different kinds of storytelling methods and voices we might choose to adopt when we write about our ancestors’ lives. Happy reading from the Genealogy Gems Book Club!   GEM: Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems, Diahan Southard Family history organizations and studies based on individual surnames have been around for years. They are now integrating YDNA research into their efforts. Use surname projects to enhance your paternal DNA research!   Surnames are the flagships of our genealogical research. We name our files after them and we tag our research with them. We wear our last names proudly on pins and necklaces and T-shirts.   But surnames can also be misleading. Illiteracy, language barriers, and just plain carelessness led to misspellings and alterations, not to mention those ancestors who blatantly changed their name to avoid detection.   The advent of YDNA testing has changed the way many genealogists view surnames and their role in their genealogy. Because a man’s YDNA is the same as the YDNA carried by each of the ancestors in his direct paternal line, the YDNA can act like a filter, clearly indicating which men with a particular surname, or variant, truly share a direct paternal line.   So how has YDNA testing affected family organizations that do surname research? I asked Debbie Kennett, a regular contributor to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki and Facebook page who is also involved with the Guild of One Name Studies. The Guild of One Name Studies was established in 1979 to promote public understanding of one-name studies and preserve the information obtained by those studies.   “Virtually every common surname is now the subject of a DNA project,” says Debbie, including “just over 500 Guild members who are running a DNA project. That number has jumped up considerably just in the last couple of years.”   The quality of those projects varies. Debbie tells us that a quality YDNA project includes three elements: “presenting the DNA data, recruiting people from different countries and also correlating all of the genealogy information.”   Jean Morrison, a member of the Morrison surname project, says that because of DNA testing, “identifying where in Scotland this family originated prior to coming to America ca 1728 has become a realistic goal. The Morrison Q Group has identified through Y line testing at 111 markers, 22 individuals with an MRCA (most recent common ancestor) within eight generations.” In plain English, this means that a definite YDNA pattern has been associated with her Morrison surname and with a common ancestor eight generations back.   Noel and Ron Taylor were two early adopters of YDNA testing for their Taylor family project. Their first samples were submitted to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation in 2000. The former president and currently the head of the board of trustees for the Taylor Family Society, Noel says that using DNA “caught the attention of many people in our organization….It renewed great interest in the hearts of many people who had been doing research for many years [who may have] lost interest and were somewhat discouraged.” The Taylors have made significant breakthroughs with their DNA testing. They have connected several Taylor lines back to a common ancestor, verified their paper trails, and even found a line of Hodges that were actually Taylors!   It appears that YDNA is becoming part of the research plan for most family societies. But Debbie tells us that there is still much room for improvement in her organization. “Not all Guild members are running [DNA] projects. We have something like 2,700 Guild members so we are still not at the stage where the majority of Guild members are running projects.”   Besides The Guild, other organizations have been created to assist genealogists with their surname research, including a new organization just launched in November. The Surname Society’s goal is to “to build a collaborative environment where members are encouraged to develop their own approach to the investigation of their surname.” Kirsty Grey, chairman of the Surname Society, says that DNA testing has taken a front seat role in the research of one of their founders as well as several early members. “DNA is one of the many strands of family history research (and to a greater extent, surname studies) which can connect individuals, often where genealogical research cannot.”   That really is the bottom line. DNA, especially YDNA, can tell you things about the surnames in your pedigree that you can’t learn in any other way. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to jump on the YDNA bandwagon and see what your DNA has to tell you.   DNA for Genealogy Resources: Quick Reference Guides by Diahan Southard   (purchase all 6 laminated guides for the best deal): Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists; Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists; Autosomal DNA for Genealogists;and Mitochondrial DNA for Genealogists. Understanding Ancestry DNA Understanding FamilyTreeDNA Get the NEW AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA 2 guide bundle Click here Digital Guid es: Click here   Visit Diahan's website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.   New! MyHeritage Digital Guide: (Click image above to order)   Pre-Order the 2nd edition ofThe Genealogist’s Google Toolbox           Watch the newly updated iPad Premium Video
January 8, 2015
Download the show notes here I’m pretty excited  about this episode because it’s just jammed back with all kinds of fun stuff! (image right: my Grandson Joey excited about his new wagon!) First, Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton will be here to announce our new Book Club read for this first quarter of 2015.  And it is fantastic! Even better, the nationally acclaimed author who wrote it will be joining us on a future episode to give us the back story. Then, since it is January that means that a lot of television shows are ramping back up, and one of those is the Genealogy Roadshow on PBS. And not only will it be back with new episodes, it will also feature a new addition to the panel of hosts. Professional genealogist Mary Tedesco is joining Genealogy Roadshow and she will join me a little later in this episode to talk about her experience on the show and also about her specialty which is Italian research, which I couldn’t be happier about since we haven’t had a chance to delve into Italian genealogy until now. Our Genealogy Gems DNA Guide will also be here. And I have a very special announcement for you at the end of the show.   MAILBOX: Read: Merry Cemetery Displays Dirty Little Secrets of the Dead Epitaphs from Genealogy Gems listeners on Facebook: From Cindy:"One of the most fascinating epitaphs I've ever seen is in Monticello, Florida. It reads, "Remember reader as you pass by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you shall be, prepare for death and come with me." The date of death was in the 1880s. The tombstone is made of metal instead of stone." From Jan: "Most memorable epitaph to date: In Memory of Elizabeth Palmer who should have been the wife of Simeon Palmer who died Aug 1776. This in the Old Commons Cemetery, Rhode Island." Jillian writes in about the story of Mary Ann Munns Cooke’s untimely death "What an amazing, heartbreaking - yet somewhat uplifting - story. I feel compelled to share a similar struggle on my family tree - it is a bit long (for all of the details, I would advise reading my blog at, but the shorthand version involves my great-great grandmother being widowed by the Spanish Influenza, and her children being taken from her by a corrupt politician, who uses his connections to incarcerate her in an insane asylum to gain control of her late husband's property and mineral rights. She survived it, miraculously, and went on to live a happy life, even getting to see her great grandchildren being born. My grandmother told me that her father was forever changed by what his mother endured, but he was the most forgiving man she'd ever met. It reaffirms your statement that bad things may happen, but you don't have to let it determine your outlook, your path. Much love to you and your family for overcoming and living out a legacy that recognizes the struggle, and the acts involved in overcoming."   GEM: Book Club with Lisa and Sunny Morton Our last featured book, She Left Me the Gun, was a memoir by a woman raised in England who researched her South African past. This time, we fly across the pond to the new world, to a bestselling U.S. novel, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (image right). Orphan Train is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it twice and recommended it more times than I can count. I thought a lot about whether a genealogy book club, which is based on researching real history, should incorporate novels. But genealogists are three dimensional people; we’re not all fact and no fun, right? I have loved historical fiction from the time I read A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by EL Konisburg. It’s a kid’s chapter book about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine told from her point of view as she and the cast of characters from her life were sitting on a cloud in heaven waiting for her husband King Henry II to get into heaven. That novel bred in me this love for re-imagined history, in which the stories and lessons from past lives are repackaged in a way that’s meaningful to us, in a way that we’re willing to listen to. But back to Orphan Train. I’m guessing that many of you have already read it and loved it—if you have, raise your hands on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page and tell us so! If not, here’s a teaser for you. Orphan Train follows the story of Vivian, who as an Irish girl immigrant with another name entirely loses her family and is forced to ride the orphan train. What was the orphan train? It was an early, special urban brand of foster care in which homeless or neglected children were gathered up and put on trains out to the country. They advertised ahead of time their stops in little rural railroad depots, where essentially the children were lined up and local residents could come pick up kids and take them home. Essentially the children were advertised as free labor sources for farm families. So, Vivian rides the orphan train and we follow her childhood through some challenging placements with a few families and then into young adulthood when she is still trying to pin down an identity for herself. Then we move ahead in time. As a 91-year old woman, Vivian meets Molly, a teenager in today’s foster care system. Molly comes to Vivian’s home to help her clean out her attic because she’s gotten in trouble and needs community service hours. Molly thinks this old lady has nothing in common with her, not knowing anything about Vivian’s own trials as an orphan rider. So what makes this a good read for family history lovers? The core of the story is about family identity. Both these girls were separated from their families at a young age—they were told their past wasn’t good enough and they were re-booting their lives from scratch. You can’t do that to a person without serious consequences to their psyches. This book reminds me how important it is that each of us has a storyline from the past that existed before we were born, and brought us to who we are today. It’s perilous to break that story up or to be ignorant of it. The author spent a lot of time with the real stories of people who have lived in foster care or who rode the orphan trains, so the feel of the book would be authentic and real even though it’s not wholly factual. The orphan train history is so fascinating itself and this is a great way to be introduced to that chapter in history—which I have read is not limited to the U.S. I have read that about 100k children rode orphan trains in Canada, too. Read the Genealogy Gems Book Club Book for 1st Quarter 2015: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Next month Sunny will be back with a few more suggestions for fun things to read and a teaser from the book, and then in March we’ll have an interview with Christina Baker Kline. Please visit our wonderful sponsors:     Profile America: Ellis Island Opens Thursday, January 1st. The place where many of our ancestors first stepped ashore when they came to America seeking a new life opened on this date in 1892 — Ellis Island in New York Harbor. The very first immigrant processed at the new facility was a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore. Over the course of more than 60 years, some 12 million people flowed through the center. Some sources say the number is considerably higher. The peak year was 1907, when just over a million immigrants came to Ellis Island. The complex now belongs to the National Park Service and is visited by several million people a year. In 1910, the foreign-born represented nearly 15 percent of America’s population. Now, after falling through 1970, that figures sits at 12.9 percent.   GEM: Mary Tedesco on Genealogy Roadshow and Italian Genealogy Mary M. Tedesco is also the founder of ORIGINS ITALY at, which is a firm specializing in Italian and Italian-American genealogical and family history research. She speaks fluent Italian and travels often to Italy where she conducts genealogical research and visits family. Watch the new season of the Genealogy Roadshow Read about it on the Genealogy Gems Blog:Genealogy Roadshow Season 2: Pirates, Holocaust Heroes and More Visit Mary at Origins Italy at Mary’s favorite websites for Italian research: Things to know about Italy: Italy is subdivided into 20 regions Records are at the town level   Your DNA Guide with Diahan SouthardI am a huge proponent of the Chromosome Browser as an essential tool in genetic genealogy. I do agree that it should be a part of any genetic genealogy experience.  I have been in meetings with Ancestry and they do have their reasons for not providing one, with privacy being paramount in their minds.  The idea that we can have quick and relatively inexpensive access to our ENTIRE genome is a daunting thought.  We can't possibly know what will lie ahead in the many industries implementing this amazing scientific advancement.  Ancestry is just trying to be forward thinking. I too feel that this makes them seem like an overprotective parent that keeps their child in the house at all times behind two padlocked, steel-enforced doors, just so they won't wander out into the street and get hurt. And it is very frustrating.  But on some level I do understand their perspective.  They have a VERY long term perspective.  They are planning and thinking about where this technology will be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years.  At that time will will surely have moved away from the SNP testing we are doing now to full genome sequencing.  At that very high level of comparison there will be many things that a chromosome browser could reveal about our health.   I think with the implementation of DNA circles Ancestry is trying to implement tools in the areas where they are comfortable, and actually capable.  Yes, they are making mistakes.  But so are the other testing companies.  Yes the trees are flawed. They did release the DNA circles as Beta. I too have ready many concrete accounts of how this tool is making mistakes.  But they are in uncharted territory here.  No other company is trying to so fully integrate traditional genealogy with genetic genealogy, and there is something to be said for that.  And, you will probably agree that one of the biggest frustrations with any testing company is getting people to post their family trees and/or respond to your inquiries about their family trees.  By making inclusion in the Circles contingent upon having and linking your sample to a family tree (even a flawed one) it does encourage more people to post public trees.  Of course, it does completely ignore anyone without a family tree- again, frustrating. Talk to Diahan about DNA Consulting. Learn how with my series of quick guides (purchase all 4 laminated guides or the digital download bundle for the best deal); Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists; Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists; Autosomal DNA for Genealogists;and NEW! Mitochondrial DNA for Genealogists.   Lisa’s Announcement:Pre-Order the 2nd edition ofThe Genealogist’s Google Toolbox at a very special price. Reg. $24.95  Pre-order Sale Price: $19.95 Completely updated with loads of new content! Everything you need to know to stay up to date on using Google for your family history.
December 8, 2014
In this episode I'm going to share a personal story from my own family history just recently uncovered, and pull from it 3 powerful strategies that you can start using right away to further your own genealogy research in newspapers. My husband's grandfather, Raymond Harry Cooke, was born March 6, 1894 in Tunbridge Wells, England. Ever since I first started researching his family I have been aware that Raymond's mother, Mary Ann Cooke, died at a young age, around 40 years old. What I didn't realize was that in the back of my mind I sort of made some assumptions about what happened to her.  I knew she had lost one child in child birth, and had one living child, Raymond. Though the answer as to her exact date and cause of death have been elusive, I haven't been in a big hurry to find the answer, because I guess deep down I assumed that she had lost her life in a third pregnancy. So it remained one of those genealogy projects I put off for a rainy day.  This hypothesis was unexpectedly shattered last week!  Not long ago I posted on the Genealogy Gems blog about hitting over 9 million digitized pages. Last Wednesday evening I decided to take an hour out for my own genealogy (which I rarely get to do these days) and do some digging to see if I could find anything about Mary Ann's death.  With the site's powerful advanced search engine I located the answer within minutes. And it was devastating. (Image left) 3 Tips for Finding Family History in Newspapers: Look for "Search" Clues in the Articles You Find After absorbing the story of Mary Ann's untimely death, there was still work to be done. I went back through the article with a fine tooth comb making note of every unique details that could possibly be used in a future database search such as addresses, name variations, neighbors, friends, occupations, etc. This will lead you to: Look Beyond Known Names In my case, I noticed that Mary Ann Cooke was referred to as "Mrs. Cooke" in one article, and "Mrs. Cook" in another, so I omitted her first name and ran searches under both options, resulting in even more articles. And in the article about "Mrs. Cooke", her son Raymond was referred to as "Master Cooke". Indeed even more articles existed under that name as well. Go Beyond People Search for the addresses of locations where they lived. And don't necessarily include their name. Simply searching the address can give you a kind of "house history" set of search results, revealing who lived there before, descriptions of the home and its contents and who moved in after your ancestors left. In my case, I located an article about the Cooke home (by the address) being up for sale several years before they owned it. That article included a fairly detailed description of the property. The final article found in the British newspapers was also found only by address (as the Cooke name wasn't mentioned) and it detailed the contents of their household up for sale. The auction was held in prepartion for their move to Canada. Resource: How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke               GEM: Interview with Emma Brockes, Author of She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me, and More Reading Recommendations "When a parent dies, you the child, your relationship with that history changes almost over night. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you. because you feel like you're the only one left in a position to remember it. So, having never wanted to know anything about my mother's life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything. And to remember her that way. It felt to me that I couldn't, how does one put it, I couldn't stake out the parameters of what I had lost, until I knew everything there was to know about her, and of course there was this huge black hole in her background which I knew nothing about." Emma Brockes Read Sunny's blog post Genealogy Gems Book Club: MORE Great Books Recommended to find out about two more excellent books for genealogists.   GEM: Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems: Ancestry DNA Update Read Diahan's blog post AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched at the Genealogy Gems blog.
November 11, 2014
We all need a little inspiration now and then, and in this episode I hope to bring you some through good books, inspiring comments from other listeners, and some new ideas to try. Once I got past the organization of my new office, what I’ve really enjoyed doing is devoting time to display family photos and artifacts, and just decorating the room. It may seem frivolous, but I don’t this it is. We spend a lot of time in our offices, and you may have a home office, or corner of a room where you work on your genealogy.  Considering the importance of the work and the time you spend doing it, I think it’s time and effort well spent to put effort in to inspiring decorations and displays.  (Lisa's new office display) Europeana for Genealogy: WWI Digital Archive and More MORE German Genealogy Records at Indiana Genealogy Records to be Digitized by 1865 New York State Census Now on FamilySearch   MAILBOX: Feedback on the “Lizzie” interview from AlvieI am thoroughly enjoying the podcasts and videos. Recently I drove to South Florida and listened to the episode about Lizzie Milligan.  It sure brought back lots of memories.  Many years before I got heavy into genealogy a co-worker of mine gave me a large box of post cards which was passed to him by his grandmother.  These cards were mailed during the digging of the Panama Canal and these were cards sent to his grandmother by her future husband from Panama. They were so very interesting reading but I had no use for them so I turned them over to our local museum in Lakeland, FL.  I don't know what became of them.   Kay loves MyHeritage too "Loved this podcast today - I listened while I walked my 3-mile loop.  Just want to share a MyHeritage story. I had uploaded a small GEDCOM at least a couple of years ago and never done much with it.  They had no record matching to speak of in the beginning and all the family matches were to persons who had much less information about the families than I did.   However, at RootsTech last winter, I talked to one of their reps - told him I would probably just let my subscription run out.  He convince me to try uploading a larger file, get the data subscription, and in fact offered me a free three months to try again - so I really couldn't say no. Now a bit of background.  I lived in Alabama for several years - and probably about 15 years ago the newspaper had published an extended article about the Sultanadisaster, the steamboat that exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis on 27 Apr 1865 with the loss of some 1600 lives  - the Cahaba prison where so many of those unfortunate men on the Sultana had come from was only about 50 miles from us.  At that point I'd never heard of it but I became quite fascinated and interested in the story and read everything I could find - I discovered that most of the released Union prisoners who died on the Sultana were from Indiana, Illinois & Ohio and knew that I had family in Indiana during that War, but didn't think there was any personal connection. After I began to work with MyHeritage again, up popped a Kokomo Daily Tribunenewspaper obituary of the brother-in-law of one of my paternal great-grandfathers, who had died in 1925 in Howard County, IN.   And there it was - he had been on theSultana and had suffered serious burns the result of which remained problematic for the rest of his long life.  It was thought that infection from the old burn wounds were the ultimate cause of his death.  In fact, he had been reported as dead to his family, because of the unbelievable chaos that surrounded the rescues.   What joy there must have been when he did return home! I always wonder when this sort of serendipity happens.  Was I always fascinated by this saga because I knew that somehow there was a family story involved? Anyway, I, too have become a believer in MyHeritage!  The brother-in-law never applied for a pension, or otherwise mentioned his service and I had the information about where he was buried.  As a collateral relative, he wasn't really a person I spent much research time on.   I probably never would have done a thorough newspaper search.  But there it was - nicely found for me and connecting to another bit of history!"     GEM: BOOK CLUB conversation with Sunny Morton “When [your] parent dies…your relationship with their history changes almost overnight. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you because you feel like you are the only one left who is in a position to remember it. So having never wanted to know anything about my mother’s life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything….It felt to me that I couldn’t…stake out the parameters of what I’d lost until I knew everything there was to know about her.” -Emma Brockes, on She Left Me the Gun  Book Recommendations: Suggestion from Mary: The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother's Past by Mani Feniger Here’s one along a similar theme of secrets in a mother’s past and the mother-daughter relationship. One of our listeners, Mary, wrote to us about it. She said, "I just ordered this book and thought you might be interested in reading it. I am looking forward to reading it myself.” The book is The Woman in the Photograph by Mani Feniger. Here’s a little blurb on the book: Mani Feniger wanted nothing to do with the relics of her mother's life before she escaped from Nazi Germany in 1936. But when the fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the buried secrets and startling revelations of her mother's past, she was drawn into an exploration-of history and family, individuality and identity, mothers and daughters-that would change her life forever." Listener suggestion from Mike: The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans  is by John Bailey "Here's a book I found that you and your listeners might also enjoy. The Lost German Slave Girl recounts the story of a poor emigrant family and what happened to one of the daughters.  I found it fascinating.  The story is non-fiction and takes place around New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century.  There is much family research involved, some heart-wrenching descriptions of what the emigrants suffered, and delightful insights into the New Orleans of that time period.  It's the kind of research that we family historians love to do but is more dramatic than many of the personal stories we work on."   Profile America: Thursday, November 13th “Even the most mundane items we take for granted have to be invented by someone. This month 110 years ago, that someone was Connecticut inventor Harvey Hubbell. In November 1904, he received a patent for the world's first detachable electric plug: the two-, now sometimes three-prong plug familiar to us today. Remarkable as it sounds, at the time electric terminals would extend out from a wall, and any electrical device had to be hardwired to them. A time consuming process with a chance of electrocution. Hubbell was no one-hit wonder, as in the 1890s he created an electric switch and patented the pull-chain electric light socket. Electrical supplies for builders and homeowners are available at nearly 29,000 locations in the U.S., including 6,500 home centers and 12,500 hardware stores.”     Improvements in Using Autosomal DNA for GenealogyDiahan Southard, Your DNA Guide You may recall from our recent DNA discussion on the Genealogy Gems podcast (Episode 168) that recently discontinued their mtDNA and YDNA tests (the two that trace our direct maternal and direct paternal lines) to focus on autosomal DNA (which delivers information about both your mother’s and your father’s side of your ancestral tree). Well, recently I attended an all-day meeting hosted by a summit to talk about current trends and accomplishments at Ancestry DNA , and ideas about the future of DNA testing at Free Shipping on Ancestry DNA Kit w Code: FREESHIPDNA The meeting included a diverse group of Ancestry representatives, from CEO Tim Sullivan to members of the marketing, scientific, communications, and even computer science departments, as well as some of the top voices in genetic genealogy. It was an open and lively discussion, and I walked away with a few gems I want to share with you today. More Powerful DNA Hints Coming In AncestryDNA, the ‘shaky leaf” hints are meant to help you find a common ancestor between you and your DNA matches. The computer code behind the old hints was not very efficient. Lazy, in fact. It started at the bottom of your tree—and the bottom of your match’s tree—and slapped on a shaky leaf at the first sign of a shared common ancestor. While this method worked for a large number of cases, it was leaving a lot of stones unturned. But the IT guys at Ancestry have beefed up the computer power, allowing them to cover a much greater distance through our trees and the trees of our matches before making a judgment about the best place to assign that shaky leaf. The result? Better hints about how you and your match COULD be related. Remember, the leaf is still just a SUGGESTION on how you and your match might be related. It is not a crystal ball. Did You Know? Ancestry DOES store your DNA samples in a secure location. Ancestry spent months designing their own DNA collection kit. Ancestry was able to attract some of the brightest scientists in the field of population genetics because of YOU. You with your documented pedigree charts and your willingness to help move this science of discovering our ancestors forward. Looking Ahead There is no question that the genetic genealogy industry is rapidly advancing, and our discussion with Ancestry certainly didn’t disappoint. While I will be sharing with you in future posts about some of the exciting changes, I do want you to be ready for one that will be coming online fairly soon. It has to do with your matches. If you have been tested by AncestryDNA, you may have been initially excited, then nearly immediately overwhelmed, by the number of individuals listed in your match page, all claiming to have some kind of connection to you and your family tree. All three major genetic genealogy testing companies (AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) are using basically the same laboratory methods to glean information from your DNA. What differs is how they use that data to draw conclusions about your ethnic heritage and about your relationships to other individuals. As it turns out, AncestryDNA has been reporting far more individuals as your relatives than it should have. You can think of it like this: You have sent out tickets, in the form of your genetic code, to an exclusive party where you (of course!) are the star. However, you have lost the guest list and you are counting on the testing company to check the ticket of each guest before they enter your party to be sure they were really invited. AncestryDNA was relatively new in the role of party bouncer, and in the interest of not turning away any VIP guests, they initially allowed guests into your party who had (gasp!) forged tickets!! But as AncestryDNA admits more guests, the experience it’s gained in party monitoring is starting to show. You see, each of the forged tickets has some unique qualities that have started to send up red flags to the team of scientists at AncestryDNA . They are now in the process of carefully documenting what each forged ticket looks like and tossing those unwanted guests out on their ear. The short of it: in the near future your match list at Ancestry will be much shorter. Which is good news to you, as it means only those invited genetic cousins will be around eating hors d’ oeuvres and ready to talk about your shared common ancestry. Each testing company has its strengths and weaknesses. It was good to have a bit of insight into this one company and come to a greater understanding about why it is they do what they do. It is a great time to be in this young genetic genealogy industry, with so much room to grow and change. I will let you know when I find the next genetic gem. Use our affiliate link / ad to get free shipping and help support the free podcast. Free Shipping on Ancestry DNA Kit w Code: FREESHIPDNA   GEM: Couple Celebrates 80 years of Marriage Read Couple Celebrates Astonishing 80 Years of Marriage, So What's Their Secret? Watch the video and see photos through time of the successful couple at
October 20, 2014
In this episode I've got some exciting news, a cool free online tool, advice on translation, stories of inspirational finds, DNA for genealogy, and a Star Trek take on the innovations of yesteryear!  NEWS: FamilySearch’s free  interactive mapClick here to see the FamilySearch England & Wales 1851 Parish map. WWI-Era Orphaned Heirloom Looking for Its Family   What Has Replaced Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness?Facebook is the new RAOGK. And the upside is that Facebook expands the resources to folks who may be in a position to help through a shared interest while not necessarily being a genealogist. If you don’t see a group that meets your needs, create one! From your Facebook account: 1. on the left side of the page under GROUPS click “Find New Groups” 2. Here you can join groups (Facebook will likely recommend some based on your profile interests) 3. In the upper right corner click the green + CREATE GROUP button 4. Give your group a name and select whether it is public or private 5. Start posting content to your group page 6. Start promoting the page on your profile page while also friending other genealogists and soon you will likely have a vibrant group that can assist each other based on a shared interest. RAOGK U.S.A. RAOGK Interntational Read the full article   MAILBOX: From Dot: Australian Newspapers - I had to let you know how grateful I am to you and your podcasts. Thank you so much for helping our family put flesh on the bones of our ancestors. In Episode 167 of Genealogy Gems you mentioned Paul Nauta at FamilySearch let you know “that the National Library of Australia has added an additional 35 historic newspapers to their online collection at In the last couple of weeks we have found over twenty articles referring to our great grandparents and family, Charles and Margaret McIntosh.  Charles McIntosh came to Australia from Scotland in 1856 and worked for the NSW Railways in various locations before settling in a Gate House Cottage in Moss Vale  As well as finding obituaries for family members including our Great grandmother, we have found other interesting articles. I have included a few examples: Charles lost two sovereigns between the pub and the house , about $300. An unwelcome visitor was found in the house – a big black snake, A cousin in California sent a description of the Golden Gate Bridge. From Kathy Needs Help Translating Swedish Gems - I just returned from an amazing trip to Sweden.  Through the help of the local genealogical societies I was able to locate the descendants of an older sibling who did not emigrate to America.  My new found Swedish cousins were so delighted to meet my husband and myself.  They knew they had American cousins, but had no idea where we lived.  They had pictures and letters sent from California in the 1890's, describing my great grandparents' experience.  My grandfather even wrote inquiring about a nice Swedish girl who might like to come to California.  Priceless.  (He did find a nice Swedish girl in California). During this trip I picked up brochures, books etc....all in Swedish.  I remember that you had a question from one of your listeners about how to translate a book in another language.  You talked about scanning the pages and then what?  I would appreciate any ideas, thoughts you might have on this subject. Be sure to remind your listeners about the local genealogical societies.  Swedish genealogists spent 5 days with me looking for churches, graves and farms.  They were absolutely wonderful! Lisa’s Answer: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 96 covers translation tools.   Google Translate Check out the chapter on Google Translate in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox   Amy and Jillian’s recorded comments Jillian’s genealogy blog: Win a free PDF article! If you would like to receive a copy of the article I wrote for Family Tree Magazine called “Technology RX” which includes 10 of my top favorite tools for managing technology, a 5 page pdf article. All you need to do is call and leave a voice mail comment or question at  925-272-4021 Be sure to clearly leave your email address too and if we use it on the podcast you will receive the Technology RX pdf.      GEM: The Genealogy Gems Book Club Do you love to read? Then you’ll be happy to hear that we are launching the new Genealogy Gems Book Club! This is an idea we’ve been percolating on for quite a while, and many of you have sent in recommendations for riveting books to dig into. I can’t think of anyone who reads more voraciously than our own Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. So I’ve asked Sunny to be our Genealogy GemsBook Club Guru! The first month of each quarter Sunny will introduce our featured book. The next month we’ll talk about it, as well as introduce you to a few more book gems in case you need a few other good reads to hold you over until, and our final month of the quarter where we’ll give you a sneak peek at our interview with the author to get their insight. As always, Premium members get to take this feature to the next level. In that last month on the Premium Podcast, Sunny will join us for an extended chat with the author about the family history aspects of their book. Our first Genealogy Gems book is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes. She’s an award-winning journalist from the UK who, after her mother’s death, began investigating hints of her mother’s difficult childhood in South Africa. Here’s a bit from the back of the book jacket, “Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land-and the life-her mother fled from years before. A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’ efforts to walk the knife-edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for her daughter.” This is an amazing, page-turning read. It’s a memoir that is also, as one reviewer described, part family history, part investigative reporting, part travel narrative. It’s beautifully written, funny in parts, very self-aware that she is working her way around a sensitive topic with relatives she’s never met. Sunny tells us what she thinks you will especially appreciate about this book: "I think they’ll love the way the writer describes her research and discovery process: online research, the South African archives, her discovery of her grandfather’s conviction of a serious crime that her mom’s family didn’t even know about, on top of his crimes they did know about. Then there’s the historical context: how her mother’s life straddles apartheid-era South Africa and the UK. It’s a first-generation immigrant’s tale. I think they’ll appreciate the difficulties she describes in intruding into people’s lives to ask very personal questions about the family past, and her description of the relationships between her aunts and uncles. One marvelous take-home for family historians is her ability to absorb the tragedies of the past without being sunk by them. And finally, anyone who has ever written their own family history will be absolutely inspired by the way she writes so compellingly, with such compassion but without being too sentimental." In a couple of months, we will have an interview on the show with the author Emma Brockes. The interview is fascinating whether or not you’ve read the book, but the reason we’re telling you ahead of time is that you’ll love it even more if you read the book. Sunny gives us a hint: "So I’ve done the interview already and I’ll give you a teaser. My favorite part of the interview is something she only touches on briefly in the book: how to tell the stories of living relatives in print without hurting their feelings or your relationship with them. That was one of my favorite parts of our conversation because I can tell she cares about her family a lot. I’m really excited to share this book with GG audiences. Again, the book is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me by Emma Brockes." Visit the Genealogy Gems Book club page now.     Your DNA Guide: National Geographic and New Zealand with Diahan Southard Recently a group of 100 residents from a very cosmopolitan city assembled together to determine what exactly it was they had in common. What they learned about themselves that evening, has a direct impact on you, a genealogist interested in identifying your ancestors. Those 100 residents were from Wellington, New Zealand. Their host? Dr. Spencer Wells, Director of the National Genographic project.  Their admittance fee to this party? A cheek swab. You see, 800 years ago the first inhabitants of New Zealand were just beginning to explore their new territory. They had arrived from the eastern islands of Polynesia and lived in relative isolation for over 500 years. While first discovered by the Dutch in 1642, New Zealand wasn’t regularly visited by Europeans until the late 18th century. Therefore the study of New Zealand’s populations can give us a relatively recent look at what has been going on all over the world for thousands of years: indigenous populations being mixed with outside population groups. For Spencer Wells and the National Genographic Project, sampling people of New Zealand would provide a rare opportunity to study the genetic effect of a recent collision of populations. We can think of mixing populations like adding a tablespoon of salt to a glass of water. At first it is easy to see the two different substances co-existing in the same location.  But soon the salt becomes part of the water- creating a new substance, with only a small portion of the original substances remaining. This is what happened throughout history as outside groups arrived and intermarried with indigenous populations. The goal of population genetics as a field of study, and specifically of the National Genographic project, is to look at the modern day population (in our example the salt water), and be able to identify which ancestral populations are present (in our example, determine which parts are salt, and which parts are water. This of course, without knowing beforehand that you were dealing with salt water!). The National Genographic project has identified 9 ancestral regions from which they believe all modern populations descend. These nine would be like our salt, and our water.  They have then described how 43 reference population groups (our salt water) are comprised of their own unique mix of these 9 groups.  They can also describe the origins of your direct maternal line, and if you are male, your direct paternal line. This information was gathered for the Wellington residents and it was determined that the original Polynesian population, and a small East Asian population, are certainly the minority among a predominately Western European population group. This information will help groups like the National Genographic Project to determine the possible migration patterns of other peoples and cultures. What does this mean for genealogy?  This kind of research helps fuel the Admixture results (the pie charts and percentages) reported to you by a genetic genealogy testing company when you take an autosomal DNA test.  It is this research that helps genetic genealogists look at your DNA and pick out the essential, ancestral elements- your salt and your water- and determine how your unique mix- your salt water- reveals information about the origins and migration patterns of your ancestors. Get Diahan Southard's Genetics for Genealogists Quick Reference Guides at the Genealogy Gems Store.   Original article National Genographic Project The 9 Ancestral Populations at the National Genographic Project The 43 Reference Populations at the National Genographic Project   GEM: A Star Trek Journey Through October Innovations You know, through history October has turned out to be quite a month for technological innovation, particularly those that affect our every day lives through modern conveniences. In this very special Profile America segment, come with me as we boldly go where no man has gone before! From Tuesday, October 21st. An invention was demonstrated on this date in 1879 that lit the way for a dramatic change in the rhythm of Americans' daily lives. At his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, Thomas Edison set up the first incandescent light bulb, which burned for almost 14 hours. Within a few years, some cities had installed electric streetlights. The number of homes across the U.S. with electricity grew steadily, but even in 1940, more than one-in-five houses was without power. Today, there are over 10,000 electric power generating establishments. American homes on average use nearly 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The national average bill for this power is just over $107 per month, but over $203 in Hawaii. Wednesday, October 22nd. "10 - 22 - 38 Astoria." That cryptic sequence indicating date and place was the very first photocopied image, created on this date in 1938 in Astoria, New York. A man named Chester Carlson developed a method of making dry copies of documents on plain paper, known as xerography -- which we take for granted in using photocopiers today. Before his invention, copies were made either by using carbon paper when typing or by a mimeograph machine for large numbers of copies. Both were messy and cumbersome. The first commercial copiers became available in 1959. Now, 76 years to the day after the first photocopy, making copiers is a $2.2 billion a year business in the U.S. Saturday, October 25th. A melted candy bar led to the invention of one of today's most-used kitchen appliances. Percy Spencer of the Raytheon company was working on a military radar device in the mid-1940s when he noticed that his snack had gotten soft. Intrigued, he experimented with irradiating some kernels of popcorn, which promptly burst. Further work led to the first microwave ovens, which cost only a little less than a new car. On this date in 1955, the first consumer models were introduced, but they required installation and cost $1,200. Countertop models came along in 1967. Now, more than nine out of 10 homes across the country have microwave ovens, and manufacturing microwave ovens and other electric cooking ranges is a nearly $2.5 billion a year business. Sunday, October 26th. Doing laundry was a wearying, time-consuming chore for many centuries. The industrial revolution and American inventiveness attacked the ancient chore on this date in 1858, when Hamilton Smith patented a rotary washing machine. But it was hand-driven and proved to be hard on both the operator and clothes. People continued to use the tub and washboard, even after the first electric washer came along in 1908. A few years later, the agitator-type machine appeared and gained immediate popularity. Finally, in the late 1930s, the fully automatic washer with a spin cycle went on sale. Today, over 85 percent of the nation's nearly 119 million households have a washing machine. Wednesday, October 29th. The scene on this date in 1945 at Gimbel's department store in New York City was shopping chaos. Big ads the day before had trumpeted the first sale in the U.S. of a new writing instrument that guaranteed it would write for two years without refilling -- the ballpoint pen. By the end of the day, the store had sold its entire stock of 10,000 at $12.50 each. The idea of the ballpoint pen was first patented in 1888 by John Loud of Massachusetts, who never made any pens. Now, ballpoints are the standard. Vast selections are offered by the nation's 7,400 office supply stores, which employ some 94,000 workers.   AmazonPlease use our Amazon box on any page of this website to begin your searches for online shopping. Doing so financially supports this free podcast at no cost to you.  Thank you!
September 16, 2014
Do you have enough time to work on your family history the way you would like to? How about taking on someone else’s family history? In this episode I’ve invited someone who has jumped over his own family history to diligently working on a perfect strangers…or did he jump over it? It’s a very interesting story! We’ll also be talking later about coping and in fact excelling even in the face of technological change.  I’m home for a week before I head back out on the road. And the next stop is Naperville Illinois and the Fox Valley Genealogical Society where I’ll be presenting a full day seminar on Sept. 27, 2014. The following week I’ll be at the Pima County Genealogical Society in Tucson AZ and then in October the Heritage Quest Library in Sumner Washington.  I hope you’ll check out my full schedule at and perhaps join me at one of the upcoming events.  Improvements at Genealogy GemsWe have a new easier way to get exactly the content you want from the Genealogy Gems website! We've added a new feature to the bottom left hand corner of the Genealogy Gems homepage: Select Content by Topic. Now finding the content you want, whether a podcast episode, blog article or video, is as simple as selecting the topic from the drop down menu. For example: Looking to learn more about DNA? Select "DNA" in the list. Are you new to family history? Click "Beginner." You can also access our complete archive of blog articles in the "Blog Archive by Date" drop down list just below Topics. We are really striving to make the website something you can turn to every day not only for the latest in genealogy, but for the topics and content you need when you need them. This is your website!   Family History Jewelry Also new to the Genealogy Gems website has been so new items in the store including some exclusive genealogy research quick sheet bundles, and a beautiful line of customizable jewelry, perfect for showing off your family history. You can select from rings, pendants, and a charm bracelet – each one customizable with family photos creating true heirlooms. In fact Marlene was so excited about how her customized jewelry turned out she called in to tell us about it. “You are a genius.  I just received my bracelet from lisa lisson.  I did a generation picture of my Mother and 4 Mothers going back to my 3rd Great Grandmother.  It is beautiful, and sacred.  Thank you for hooking up with this website, I am thrilled.  You really care about me and my needs.” Marlane You can find the jewelry created by Esther’s Place at our store. You’ll be amazed how quickly they will create your jewelry and affordable it can be. I’ve got them working on a bracelet right now that features the women in my family tree.   Silver Surfers: Internet Use by Older AdultsWe reported on a very interesting infographic recently on the Genealogy Gems blog called Silver Surfers: Internet Use by Older Adults Interesting Stats:  In 2012 Baby Boomers aged 47-65 spent an average of 27 hours a week on the Internet Of the seniors that are online, one in three are using social media. A big change from just back in 2009 when only 13% of seniors online were using social media. In fact 1 in 5 Twitter users are over 50 49% of online seniors have a Facebook account Seniors aren’t just socializing, they are shopping too. 59% of seniors online have made a purchase online in the last 3 months Here’s what you had to say on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page: From Sheri: "Lisa, My sister and I met you at RootsTech this year. We're already planning next year’s trip! I read the article about silver surfers and just wanted to say that when I was a kid (Fairbanks, Alaska) we had party-line phones, one TV station! My mother wrote letters to her family in Idaho regularly and long distance phone calls were very rare! I'm a baby boomer and have always been interested in technology. I do most research online with Ancestry, Fold3, FamilySearch, etc. I haven't jumped into the blogging pool but who knows! I'm currently starting to work on suggestions from your Google Earth CDs, putting together family tours. Love your podcasts. You are my favorite "source". Sheri" From Diane: "Thanks for the article about the silver surfers. I saw you when you spoke to the San Diego Genealogical Society and learned a lot. I am a major social media user. I am on many FB groups, use Twitter, Pinterest and have my own genealogy blog. I am a baby boomer. Party lines were in use when I was a kid and for parts of my growing up our household didn't even have a phone. Here is a link to my blog."  From Sandee: "When I was a kid, we communicated mostly by letter -- which soon fell by the wayside because they took so long to write, were full of scribble-outs and add-ins, and had a long turnaround time. Phone calls were for really important stuff and emergencies. When I went to college, my parents gave me a tape recorder and several REELS of tape so I could send oral "letters" home (which I don't think I ever did). My dad read the Dick Tracy comic strip and said that someday we really would have wrist-worn telephones and would be able to see each other as well as talk. In spite of all the complaints about constant contact via cell phones and text messages and emails, modern-day communication seems to foster friendships." Check out Pebble Smartwatch for iPhone and Android (Black)     Candace says: "When I was young we had a party line with 8 families. We weren't supposed to listen in to other conversations, but we all knew which ring indicated the best news." Candace’s memories remind me of the Andy Griffith show! From Lynn: "You asked about seniors and 'net usage. I mostly use e-mail and delight in being able to stay in touch on a daily basis with my 94 year old cousin in Michigan. She is the only person in her assisted living facility with a computer.” Thank you to our sponsors:   MAILBOX: Natalie in TX has success with one of Lisa's Tips: “I attended your 3 classes this past weekend at the Houston Genealogical Forum and I really enjoyed them as I do all of your classes. I have done a lot of work already on newspapers for about 20 years with interlibrary loan and traveling to libraries and newspaper offices out of town.  My small towns' newspapers so far have hardly shown up online but slowly that is changing.  So when I finished your class I used some of your Google search tips on some newspaper sites.  Some things worked, others didn't but one thing I'm glad you mentioned was do not overlook was if a hit came up on a newer date, not to overlook it.  I went to the Old Fulton Postcards website and he mainly has New York newspapers on his site but he also has The Rogersview Review from Rogersville, Tennessee.   So I found  several hits on that site but the one I wanted to tell you about was I was looking for my 3Great Grandfather Williamson Tucker and there were a few hits but one was in 1995 and the other was in 2001.  So I clicked on the 1995 article and it was a picture of New Hope Baptist Church and the first two sentences said "New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1833. It was given in a land grant by Williamson Tucker in memory of William C. Bailey."  Then the 2001 issue which was a listing for Hawkins County churches and had New Hope on it,  and it gave a little more info that William Bailey gave land to the church but never made a deed for it.  He then died and then my ancestor Williamson Tucker acquired the land from the Baileys and then deeded it to the church.   Wow, I did not know that, and I probably would have skipped over those two hits because they were so late dated.  So thank you for the tip!   I've been writing a paper on my grandfather the Rev. Ellis Birl McLain who was a Methodist minister who lived in many places and so far I have found him in 15 different newspapers in six states so I really do know the importance of searching newspapers.”  Linda from South Australia writes in about Dealing with Chaos: “I just read your advice on ‘dealing with the chaos’ (a problem that has been tormenting me for ages) and a very bright light went on in my head when I read your suggestion for using Evernote to store things for future research.  I use MS OneNote to store some of my loose bits of genealogy info, but I haven’t organized them well.  I’ll use your tip – the simple idea of having a ‘future research’ section for each family makes me feel better already! The harder part will be putting something in there, leaving it for later, and then going back to what I was looking for in the first place – I’m easily distracted!  Especially when someone I’m NOT looking for turns out to be more interesting than the one I AM looking for.” Del in California has been busy using Google Earth for Genealogy: “I finally got around to watching the Google Earth video CD I purchased from you last January when you were here.  I have been doing the map overlays, which is really a neat feature…It served a practical use, as I have a plat map of the whole of Bent County, Colorado upon which I have marked all the locations where we own mineral rights (passed down from my grandfather).  I can then use the transparency feature to compare the holdings with the actual topography.  I also have overlaid plat maps of various ancestors who had original land patents in Indiana, Colorado, and Ohio.  A couple of the ancestors donated land for cemeteries, which I have visited and are visible on Google Earth and marked on the overlay maps. Fun stuff…would not have been able to actually make it work without the CD.” Google Earth for Genealogy digital video series The Genealogist's Google Toolbox book    GEM: Project Lizzie – An Interview with Ron PloofWe’re all working on our own family tree, but have you ever considered working on someone elses? Someone you’ve never met and you don’t know their descendants? Storyteller Ron Ploof is here to share how and why he took on such an endeavor, and some of his successes and challenges along the way which he is documenting on his new website Project Lizzie at In this interview we head back to 1976 when Ron was 13 years old, and helping his uncle who had just bought a house in Massachusetts. Exploring as 13 year olds do, Ron found something intriguing in the attic of that house – a stack of 99 postcards tucked away. He’s held onto them for the past 38 years. Ron was always fascinated with the pictures on the front of the cards, but in 2012, he started studying the stories on their backs. And that's when he could see that 86 of them were addressed to a Mrs. Lizzie Milligan and postmarked between 1904 and 1925. He has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to learn as much about her, including a trip from California to Massachusetts to find her gravesite. Ton started publishing Lizzie's story online in February of this year. Ron has asked his readers to join in the hunt, which begs the question: Why should his readers care? It’s a very important question, because we all have had a non-genealogist relative ask us the question: Why should I care? Even when they are related to the person! If we can share the why, we can more successfully share the journey. 2/24/18 UPDATE: Read the final installment on Ron Ploof's blog here. Profile America — Wednesday, September 17th On this date in 1787, the Constitutional Convention wrapped up in Philadelphia with the delegates accepting the document and sending it on to the states for ratification. Less than two years later, the new U.S. government had to take out a loan. This week in 1789, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was in negotiations to borrow nearly $192,000 from the Bank of New York and the Bank of North America. The money was needed to pay the salaries of President Washington and the members of the first Congress. The loan was obtained in February 1790 and paid off in June. Today, the president's salary is $400,000 a year — more than twice the amount of the first loan — and the debt of the 50 united state governments is around $1.15 trillion. Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 1104, 3804  Page 6   Coping and Exceling through Techological Change Recently I was teaching an online class, and one of the students was stumped because the class materials said to use the Advanced search link on and it wasn’t there. She stopped worked and posted that she couldn’t do it because the link wasn’t there. This is a perfect example that we really need to cultivate our problem solving skills in today's constantly changing online environment. I totally get that it can be frustrating to visit a familiar website or refer to something in a book (or a class!) and find that things are not as they used to be. In this case, Google removed the "Advanced Search" link from the Web Search and Image Search home pages. And I’ve had situations where I went to teach an iPad class, and the night before a new operating system was released changing practically everything! However, if we come to expect change then we won’t have to be quite so surprised and frustrated when we run into it. And of course in most cases that change is really an attempt by the website to improve and evolve, although that can seem debatable when it's something you enjoy or depend on. When you run up against change, you are better equipped than most to deal with it. As Genealogists the sleuthing skills we have honed become our greatest assets! The quickest way to determine what's going on when something changes online (which again can happen nearly every day) is to just "Google It!" After reading the student’s message, that's exactly what I did, because I didn’t have the answer on the top of my head either. So I went to and searched on: google advanced search no longer on home page.  The results quickly led me to the answer: At both the Image Search page ( and the Web search page ( the Advanced Search has been moved to "Settings." Simply click "Settings" in the bottom right corner and you will find "Advanced Search" there as one of the options. The good news is that chances are, if we've noticed a change, others are already talking about it online, and often will have already shared the answer. "Googling it" is often the easiest way to determine what's going on, so that you can get on with your family history work. So until we meet here again, get on with your family history work!
August 14, 2014
Lisa shares her recent research successes: Getting in touch with a distant German cousin through MyHeritage Organizing and “Visualizing” the German photos from her Great Grandmother’s Scrapbook (below is the inscription by Louise's siblings in the front cover of the scrapbook) Using Google Earth to plot out each photographer studio listed on the back of the photos in the scrapbook Finally identifying the people in one of the first old family photos she received (separate from the scrapbook) by using the “location “groups” visualization and her RootsMagic database family group sheet for the Nikolowski family   GEM: Sunny Morton’s interview with Lisa Kudrow, Executive of the U.S. TV series Producer of Who Do You Think You Are? Celebrities that will be featured on the U.S. TV show Who Do You Think You Are? Who Do You Think You Are? season five (and second on TLC) features popular celebrities from TV and film. Tonight's episode features Valerie Bertinelli (One Day At a Time, Hot in Cleveland)  Set Your DVR: Who Do You Think You Are? Season 5 Wednesdays.   This episode was sponsored by:
July 23, 2014
Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode #113 Who Do You Think You Are? has become a worldwide television phenomenon, starting in the UK and making its way around the world, telling the stories of well-known celebrities in search of their family history. July 23, 2014 marks the debut of season 5 of the series here in the U.S. and the show’s Executive Producer Dan Bucatinsky is here to tell us more about it. We hope you enjoy the free access to this Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode! Click here to subscribe today Benefits of Membership: 110+ Exclusive PremiumPodcast episodes Video recordings of Lisa’s most popular classes New video & audio content each month All for just $29.95 a year. Don’t miss another day… BONUS: For a limited time new members will receive the exclusive digital PDF ebook of a collection of Lisa’s most popular articles from Family Tree Magazine! (the ebook will be emailed to you within 24 hours of purchase)   About Dan Bucatinsky Dan Bucatinsky won the 2013 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series category for his portrayal of James Novack on the hit Shonda Rhimes series, Scandal. Bucatinsky wrote, produced, and starred in the 2001 indie romantic comedy All Over the Guy (Lionsgate). In 2003 he and partner Lisa Kudrow founded Is Or Isn't Entertainment, which produced the cult, Emmy-nominated HBO comedy The Comeback co-starring Bucatinsky as publicist, Billy Stanton. Thanks in part to their rabid fanbase, The Comeback is returning to HBO for six episodes beginning this November. Dan and Lisa’s acclaimed docu-series Who Do You Think You Are? recently received its’ second Emmy nomination, for Outstanding Structured Reality Program. The show returns for a fifth season on TLC this month. Who Do You Think You Are? Season five (and the second season on TLC) will feature six popular celebrities from TV and film: Valerie Bertinelli (One Day At a Time, Hot in Cleveland) Jesse Tyler Ferguson (ABC’s Modern Family) Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, and currently starring in NBC’s Parenthood) Kelsey Grammer (Cheers and Frasier ) Rachel McAdams (movies like Mean Girls, The Notebook) and her sister, Kayleen McAdams. Cynthia Nixon (HBO’s Sex in the City) Tune in to “Who Do You Think You Are?” Season 5 onthe TLC channel on Wednesday, July 23 at 9/8c. The 5th season opener features actress Cynthia Nixon (of Sex in the City) Watch the trailer here We hope you enjoyed this special episode of the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast. Become a Premium Member
July 14, 2014
Catch a glimpse of the silent movie era and how it was an integral part of your ancestors’ lives. In this episode, I find out more about the silent movies my grandmother catalogued in her diary, and how they molded a generation. The cultural influences of the “Picture Shows” Below is a page from my grandmother’s journal documenting the silent films she saw that year, including the actors who starred in them. Just like today, the stars who light up the silver screen were mimicked and followed for fashion trends, hair styles, decorating ideas, and moral behavior. Understanding who the role models were at the time gives us a better understanding of the cultural influences of the era.  Films are NOT primary resources, but they certainly paint a picture of life at any given time in history. Finding silent films in my area To learn more about silent films, I started with a simple Google search, altering my search criteria until I found movie theaters that showed silent films in my area. The first theater I found was the Stanford Theatre, located in Palo Alto, California. It was first opened in 1925 and stood as Palo Alto’s premier theater house for several decades. In 1987, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation bought the theater and restored it. It is now owned and operated by the non-profit Stanford Theatre Foundation. - The website provides all the movie schedules from 1929-1961, compiled from ads that appeared in the Palo Alto Times. Vaudeville acts were also regularly included in the lineup. And the Wurlitzer organ live accompaniment was a staple. Grandma’s Diary Entry – Sunday, April 22, 1928 I have to lead singing at church. Walter and I went to the lake. Met Helen Weathers and Jesse Jay and Ed Taylor. Helen and I went in swimming. Went to the show afterwards. The vaudeville was keen. Lew Cody in “Adam and Eve.” The first silent movie I saw was “Diary of a Lost Girl”, a German movie starting Louise Brooks. It was a late entry silent film released on April 24, 1930. It tells the story of an innocent young girl, who is raped by the clerk of her father’s pharmacy. After she becomes pregnant, she is rejected by her family and must fend for herself in a cruel world. It was not the wholesome far I expected but was riveting nonetheless. (I must acknowledge the organ accompaniment of Dennis James because he added a drama and magic to the film that was priceless.) The next film I saw was the classic 1923 comedy “Safety Last” starring Harold Lloyd. This is a must-see, full of laugh-out-loud humor. I was starting to get a feel for what drew Grandma to the pictures as a young girl. It was magical, glamorous, and hugely expanded her social network.   Society’s views on the silent film era To learn more, I was combed through newspapers from her home town in the 1920s at the State Archives. I came across two newspaper articles: “Getting Back to the Home” from January of 1925, and “Harking Back to those Old Home Days” from February 5, 1925. The first article leads in… “Much has been said as to the methods of checking the crime and rebelliousness among the young people of today. The automobile, trains and other means of travel as well as moving pictures, dance halls, etc. that attract young people, and so lead them to seek amusement away from home have contributed to the fact that the home is not the center of attraction for the majority of families as it once was.” The article went on to say that there were plans in the works for a community get-together. The February 5th article reported the events of that evening, which was called “Back to the Home.” The local residents ate pumpkin pie, sang songs, listened to speeches and music, and comic readings. (And I happened to recognize the name of the cellist in the orchestra as being the man who signed as witness on my great-grandfather’s naturalization papers!) The even was a huge success and was deemed “something that will in surely bear repeating.” Immediately my grandmother’s diary entries bemoaning her mother who was “from the old country” started to become clearer. Grandma felt that Great-Grandma just didn’t understand her. Having experienced the thrill of the old movie theater experience myself, and reading in the newspapers how it was affecting society, I began to better understand that she lamenting more than just the woes of being 15 years old. Society was changing. And as a mother, I began to sympathize with my great-grandmother’s plight of trying to raise three teenagers in the new world. Enjoying Silent Movies at Home I live 25 minutes from a little town that has a Silent Film Museum devoted to a company that produced hundreds of them locally back in the teens.  Every Saturday night, they show two shorts, and one full length movie each week with live piano accompaniment. Last week my husband and I went to the regular Saturday night show, and we found ourselves watching the original full-length versions of two movies about San Francisco in 1906.  In the last podcast, I covered the San Francisco Earthquake and other historical events, and included a playlist that I created full of old and new videos about the earthquake.    The first movie short was called “A Trip Down Market Street.” This is in my playlist under the title “San Francisco 1905 - 1906 (short form).” The Archivist at the museum said that research has uncovered that this film was shot just about four days before the earthquake hit in April 1906. The filmmaker shot the entire movie from the back of a cable car slowly moving down Market Street toward the Ferry Building. He told us that the reason the movie survived is that the filmmaker shipped the film to their New York offices for processing just one day before the quake. The second movie short was produced by Blackhawk Films immediately following the earthquake, ( and was aptly titled “Destruction of San Francisco.” Portions of this film can also be found on the YouTube playlist. If you don’t live within driving distance to a theater showing silent films, here are some options for viewing at home: Netflix (UPDATED) – They have an incredible catalogue of films that can be hard to find. You can stream movies from any device at home at Type “silent” in the search box and click the GENRE matches tab. You can also search by your favorite silent movie star (Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, Jackie Coogan, etc). Not all films are available to stream, but many can be delivered in DVD form with a subscription to Turner Classic Movies (TCM) – - Go to the website and type SILENT in the search box, then click GO. Scroll down to the KEYWORD MATCHES to see what’s available. They often run “Silent Sundays.” I find the best way to approach TCM it to review the schedule for the week on my cable TV menu, and set movies of interest to be recorded. The Public Library – A quick search of my local library catalogue online showed dozens of silent movies. I found that searching a particular silent era actor as an “author” worked better than searching ‘silent movies’ alone. Beware, movies held over the one week time limit incur hefty fees. But the titles were free, and in the case of my local library, I can place a request for a movie from another library in the same county system, and they will deliver it to my local branch and hold it for me for pick up free of charge. For a global search of libraries try – If you have a specific title or actor in mind, a quick search will tell you if Amazon has it. And if it’s been released, they probably do. However, browsing is more challenging. To narrow your search to only silent movies, select DVD  in the SEARCH area, and click GO. Then click “BROWSE GENRES.” From the next page click CLASSICS. Then, in the Browse box on the right, click SILENT FILMS. I got over 400 results.  If you’re not looking for a Charlie Chaplin film, add “-Chaplin” to your search and you’ll get the results down to 282 films. You can help support this free podcast by always starting your searches in our Amazon search boxes located throughout the Genealogy Gems website at – If you’re looking for a title that is particularly hard to find, EBay may be the best source. Grandma’s Diary Entry – Friday, November 2nd, 1930 “Alfred, Len, Mama and I went to the show in Merced.  “Four Son’s.”  It was sure good!” I looked the movie up at, the biggest movie database on the internet. The description stated that the movie revolved around a mother and her four grown sons living happily in a German village prior to WWI. The oldest son, Joseph, yearns to go to America, and his mother gives him her savings to realize his dream. After the war begins, two of the sons go off to battle and are killed. Meanwhile, Joseph becomes an American citizen and joins the army to fight against Germany. The youngest son then leaves to join his battalion, and is killed in battle. After the war, Joseph goes home to New York and sends for his mother. She makes the journey through Ellis Island and they finally reunite. My grandma’s parents had emigrated from Germany in 1910, just prior to the start of the war.  Great-grandfather came over first to find work. When great grandmother discovered she was pregnant with Alfred, she followed three months letter, which was sooner than planned. She secretly made the trip with her 3-year-old daughter. I had to get a copy of this film! I couldn’t find “Four Sons” at any of the usual places, so I went to There I found someone who had a copy, and I bought it. The movie was extremely moving, and I cheered for the naive yet faithful mother as she made her way alone through the confusing world of Ellis Island and the streets of New York. This movie must have been very touching for Great grandmother to watch, and I would guess that it generated conversation about her own trip.  Many years later, Grandma fulfilled a life long dream and made the trip to Ellis Island to see it for herself. Before her death, she told an eager granddaughter all about Mama, the journey through Ellis Island, and about her love for the moving pictures. GEM: Interview with Sam Gill – April 19th, 2007 Do you by chance research your own family history? Not much now. As a child I helped my mother quite a bit with her genealogical research, joining her on trips to libraries, helping at home, typing up manuscripts, filling in sheets, etc. My mother published a little pamphlet on the John Ashton family of London, Ontario, Canada for which I’ll provide a link to a recent description. In my youth, I also recorded via reel-to-reel tape, important family members (father’s mother in depth; mother’s step-mother briefly; mother and father, and siblings casually) in the 1960s and 1970s. They—the older family members-- are all deceased now, and I am very glad I did this. I am currently transferring these tapes to CD. My brothers George and Paul are very interested in family history, too—now, actually more so than I am, which is very surprising considering my brother Paul showed very little interest in family during his youth. I was extremely interested in family history in my youth, but not as much now, unless it be to discover whatever I can about the personal relationships family members had to one another, as well as to their friends and other loved ones. How accurately do you think they portray life at that time? One needs to be very careful with film, today as well as yesterday. Most film—even documentaries—often depict people as they want to be seen, or to perform in stories the way they themselves want to appear, or the way the filmmakers specifically want their characters to appear. I have a friend who once coordinated the locating of antiques in the Los Angeles area for Christie’s in London, who commented that frequently the furniture he saw in teens silent films of the fairly common society-drama type, were extremely high-end antiques that would command extremely high figures in current auctions, and are the kind of antiques never seen in today’s films, or at least very rarely. I mention this because it’s a good example of the fact that each person may see something of interest that another person would not even notice or care about. Also, films from the silent era can be important historically and culturally in showing us the way life was; but as with any photograph, it may take a lot of interpretation and understanding to know exactly what it is that we are looking at. What influence do you believe the young medium of movies had on the culture of that time? Huge influence. I believe films from the very beginning had an enormous impact on our culture, and the culture of every country when and where films began to be shown. And as sound was added, even with radio, and later with the immediacy of television, the impact has become even more profound. Many immigrants have commented, too, then as now, on the importance of going to the movies to learn the language and culture of their new country. I believe youth especially has been affected, but probably all ages. I mention youth because young people are so impressionable, and so things such as fashion, dating techniques, job aspirations, desires of where one might live and play, attitudes toward family and community, nearly every aspect of life has been represented and thus made available to audiences for their “selecting,” taking what each person wants or “needs” and leaving the rest. With what they take, they can mold their lives, or re-define what it is they believe they know and want. How would you advise a family historian to approach the silent movies as a resource?  See as many films as he or she can, starting with whatever seems of most interest—documentaries; travel films; comedies; dramas; westerns; whatever. For more of the genuine “feel” of the movie-going experience, I believe what we are doing here at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on Saturday nights, is very important. These silent films were shown with music accompaniment, which aids greatly the impact and accessibility of these films. With what movie or actor / actress would you recommend they start to become introduced to silent films? That’s an interesting question, and one that gets at the root of what I mean when I say these films can have a profound impact on a person—especially youth. Just as someone today may be enormously impressed with Johnny Depp or Christina Ricci, or a film about the mafia life, or corporate life in New York City, or even a horror or fantasy film, the same holds true for silent films seen today. Each of our audience members seems to relate in a highly individualistic way to a film, often to a particular “star”—perhaps being impressed with the steely reserve of William S. Hart; laughing at the often-surreal physical stunts of Buster Keaton who becomes a kind of Every Man against the harsh realities of our physical world; the adventurous-spirit of Douglas Fairbanks; the spunkiness of Mary Pickford who never let anything get her down; and so on. The film A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906) has become a great favorite here, where a camera was placed on the front of a street-car heading down from about 8th Street to the Ferry Building in April 1906 just a few days before the earthquake and fire. Horse-drawn wagons, cars and vehicles, automobiles, people on foot, bicycles, you name it, all these methods of transportation are fascinating; but most fascinating, we are watching the people themselves, some oblivious to the filming, others intensely interested, staring right at the camera! Any other thoughts on the subject as it pertains to folks interested in learning more about the era of 1900-1930? There are more and more films available on DVD but I still love books, and what one can discover going to the library and pulling film books off the shelves to read at one’s leisure—historical works, cultural studies, picture books (even coffee table books), encyclopedias, biographies and autobiographies, corporate histories of film companies, on and on. It’s all fascinating, and it’s all out there…to be discovered. Many years ago, someone told me he thought I “lived in the past,” and implied that that was a pretty terrible thing to do. I answered, “I don’t think of it as LIVING in the past, but of EXPLORING the past, like an archaeologist.” I think the truth of that may be the same for genealogists, to explore the past through the discovery of family history, which is after all, human history.
June 17, 2014
Get up to speed on the world of DNA and Genealogy in this episode. We’ll explore in depth the ramifications of Ancestry closing down some of their DNA tests along with other businesses in their portfolio. Then you’ll meet Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard. She’s a genealogy gem who will be joining us here on Genealogy Gems on a regular basis to help guide us through the murky waters of DNA research in easy to understand, and FUN terms.   Ancestry is shutting down 5 areas of their business In a recent media conference call Ancestry gave us the heads up that the next day they were going to announce the closures, and those of us on the call had the opportunity to ask questions before the announcement. While the spin is that they want to focus their efforts "in a way that provides the most impact, while also delivering the best service and best product experience to users" It is clear that these businesses were not their most profitable. It makes good business sense, and we certainly do want Ancestry to remain profitable so that it can remain in business. But that doesn't mean it won't be painful for many customers. The 5 areas shutting down are: MyFamily MyCanvas LegacyDNA (y-DNA and mtDNA tests will be retired),  English version of Mundia These closures definitely did cause some pain with their customers, and I know that includes many of you listening right now. In fact I started receiving emails almost immediately that morning that Ancestry went public with this, and many of you also posted your comments on the Genealogy Gems Fan Page on Facebook which I invited you to do in the newsletter article I sent out. In that article I told you that one of the most surprising moment in the conference call was when the Ancestry execs on the call were asked if the DNA samples that customer submitted, particularly those samples of deceased relatives) could be returned so as to be further processed by other companies.  The answer: No.  When pressed if they would allow customers to upgrade tests run on those samples before they were destroyed (yes, they made it very clear they will be destroyed) the answer was that well...they hadn't really thought about that. Leave it to genealogists to ask the important questions, and my hope is that Ancestry will take this question to heart before the closing date of September 5, 2014.  Read more about it on the Ancestry blog, and click through on the area you are interested in to get more answers to questions about the closures.  My impression during the call was that they were caught off guard a bit by the push back from those of us on the call regarding the DNA samples. Ancestry is focused on profitability - and I don't blame them for that, they are in business. If they don't remain profitable they go out of biz and we all lose. It probably wasn't as easy for them to think through the impact on every day family historians because some if not many of the top execs (and I've met them – they are nice people) are not genealogists. So first I want to share with you some of the comments I’ve received, and then I will give you some of my personal opinions on the subject.   Please click image to visit our Sponsor: & tell them you heard about them on The Genealogy Gems Podcast!   Comments from You: Graham in Australia writes: "This morning I found the following Ancestry DNA announcement in my email and felt the need to immediately respond. No sooner had I sent my response and your newsletter arrived on this very subject. I thought you might be interest in my response as I am sure there will be many people out there who will be similarly betrayed. I paid out some $250 in 2009 to have my Y-DNA test done with them knowing that this was going to be a long term investment to possibly find matches. I am glad Ancestry don't hand my superannuation savings. To ancestry: I am disgusted that ancestry is taking this action. You appear to only be after short term gains rather than the long term which is where the strength of DNA testing resides. In 2009 I invested in my Y-DNA test knowing that this will likely take several years to yield useful paternal match results which was the main thrust behind doing the tests. I don't know who is my biological paternal grandfather and have through the matching facility I have been in contact with the closest person yet and while quite distant it has given me some direction and hope that a match can be found in the future. Your action to remove this has just killed that possibility.  I for one will not be considering taking any autosomal tests with you as this will likely be dumped sometime in the near future." Roxanne in Oregon writes: "I am very upset with and their comments about not returning DNA (Y & mt) samples or giving the opportunity to upgrade the test. Could this be just the beginning?  I understand about “business” but their policy of “destruction” is not acceptable.  This seems to violate a code of ethics that we have all come to rely on when giving samples to further science as well as our own research.  Who knows what the future will hold after we are long gone? Surely our DNA samples will become more helpful as testing becomes more acute. At the very least samples should be able to be transferred to another DNA lab, even if one needs to pay for it.   Who can we write letters to at and at what address? Maybe if they get enough response the policy of “destruction” will be re-analyzed."    Follow up post on the Ancestry Blog Ken Chahine on June 12, 2014 in AncestryDNA Comments of note on the Ancestry follow up post: “Also, did anyone else notice that they mentioned that many of the samples are past shelf life? How does FTDNA guarantee 25 yrs of maintaining our samples?” “What I’m a little less clear on is why you’re just deleting the results off the website. Can’t you simply archive them so that they’re viewable? Does it really take that much effort or bandwidth to simply let me see my mtDNA haplogroup?” “BUT I have to question how committed you are to my research when you delete a valuable tool that I paid you for.” Susan on the Genealogy Gems Podcast fan page on Facebook: “ should NOT destroy the DNA! Especially for persons now deceased. They should make every effort to return samples if people ask for them by a specific date. I guess they're thinking about liability issues and bogus requests but I'm sure they can figure out a way to ascertain that the person asking is related to the DNA.” From Tom: Facebook page and online petition to persuade not to destroy their YDNA and mtDNA samples and data. "Stop's DNA Dump"  Lisa's opinion on all of this: It comes down to personal responsibility and forward thinking I think it's a mistake not to offer alternatives to their customers for retention of the samples. However, I always preach to you, my listeners that you need to retain control of all that is important to you and be responsible. We must be responsible and not put it in someone else's hands. When you test (particularly an older relative), you should save a sample and keep it in your lock box at home if it matters to you. I'm sympathetic to all involved because this is new territory and it's easy to miss thinking through the ramifications. But it's just like I recommend that you never use Ancestry as their one and only tree. Post your tree, that's fine, but retain the master on a database on your own computer, and then back up your computer! Finally, I think offering only autosomal is trendy rather than a true comprehensive product tool for the genealogist. I just published some excellent "Getting Stared" DNA Guides in my website store for this very reason. No test and no company is right for everyone. So in my opinion Ancestry is now no longer offering a true complete DNA service to genealogists. They are capitalizing on a trend. This is just my personal opinion of course. Linda writes: "I just purchased a dna kit from Ancestry.  Knowing now that they are discontuing that part of the program, can I send sample elsewhere?  Suggestions of what, where, how to get this done?” Lisa's Answer: If it were me, I would probably get a refund and start fresh with FamilyTreeDNA. Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 92 includes an interview with their founder Bennett Greenspan. Also, we two brand new DNA cheat sheets in our store that are excellent resources: Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist Y Chromosom DNA for the Genealogist Randy in Seattle was concerned about another one of the businesses Ancestry is dropping MyCanvas: “I just got a notice that Ancestry is dropping it’s MyCanvas service.  I can understand not wanted to invest a lot into trying to keep it up to date with other printing services.  However, they are not only dropping the service, they are doing it in less than 3 months, all content will be deleted, there is no way to export the existing projects, and there is no alternative service to which all the work which has gone into existing projects can be transferred.   I am a long time Ancestry member and a follower of your podcasts and web page.  Generally I defend ancestry against a lot the complaints people have about them but this is pretty disheartening news for me.  I have puts 100’s of hours into creating a number of ancestry projects and having a printed copy is not the same as having the electronic version available to update and get a new updated print. Do you have any suggestions on how to make concerns known to ancestry, and do you think there is any possibility of getting them to modify their plans.  I would be happy with finding some place or way to download the electronic projects and would at least appreciate more time to get my existing projects finished and printed, especially those I am creating for extended family who will want time to review and print their own copies.” Lisa’s Answer: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. You can visit their original blog post on the subject here. Leave a comment on that particular post - they are monitoring it. You can also click through on the MyCanvas link for more info. You can also tweet them on Twitter at @ancestry As to an alternative, personally I use While it is not a genealogy site, it is excellent and print on demand publishing (books, photo books, calendars, etc.) They have been around quite a while and publishing is all they do, so I expect them to be around for a long time to come. Katharine in Ohio is also going to miss MyCanvas wrote: “My heart sank when I received the email from about their MyCanvas section retiring. I just printed another chart as a wedding gift and have a couple more in the works. The service was just what I wanted, easy to work with, prompt and provided a beautiful product for a reasonable price. I've heard of Heartland and will investigate them. Can anyone else recommend places to have charts printed?” Lisa recommends:   Please click image to visit our Sponsor: & tell them you heard about them on The Genealogy Gems Podcast!   GEM: Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She's the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists.
May 22, 2014
Get ready to lay a foundation in your knowledge of Colonial American genealogy research. Beth Foulk is here to walk us through early immigration to America, Indentured Servitude and Bondage, and the records and resources that can help you locate your ancestors from this time period. But first... NEWS: Lisa's youngest daughter Hannah got married last weekend!    NGS 2014 Conference in Richmond VA In addition to teaching conference classes Lisa teamed up with Maureen Taylor (The Photo Detective) and Janet Hovorka (Family ChartMasters) to provide “Genealogy Outside the Box” free 30 minute sessions in the exhibit hall. Stay tuned for more announcements of more sessions at future genealogy conferences! New Newspaper Collection The National Library of Australia has added an additional 35 historic newspapers to their online collection at The greatest concentration of newspapers in this latest update is from New South Wales. Most of the new additions cover the date range from about 1875 to 1960, with many in the 1910 to 1945 era. Most of the additions appear to be from small towns. Hat tip to Paul Nauta at FamilySearch     MAILBOX: From Chris on Family Relics: "I loved your comments on "most treasure family relic" in the latest podcast. I'm very fortunate to have pictures and artifacts from my mother's side, but unfortunately I know very little about my dad's side and have only a few things. I could relate to the woman whose answer was "nothing".   One consolation for me has been a few little things I could find out with just a little digging. I wrote about it on my blog  Finding the things I mentioned at least lets me stand in the shoes of my ancestors and imagine life in that place and at that time. It's not as nice as a "relic", but it brings them to life as real people. I think that's important in genealogy as well. Love the podcast!" Judy writes to as a follow up to the Google Earth for Genealogy Webinar “I was so excited about your workshop. Legacy presenters are good but you are among their best. In fact I received an email from my friend: After watching today's webinar and seeing the gal search the GLORecords for land patents I tried for William Breeding.  S C O R E ! ! ! ! !  I had tried searching for land patents for William Breeding in the past with no success. My great results are due to finally getting confirmation that it is William Jackson Breeding for sure and watching this gal search today. Thanks for the heads up on this webinar!!!” Watch Google Earth for Genealogy free here at the Genealogy Gems website.   Barbara is Shocked: "I really enjoy your podcasts, and was listening to your latest one when your piece about not so happy memories really struck a chord with me.  I recently asked for the file of my Great Uncle from the Australian War Memorial.  He was in World War I in France.  I found that he had been charged with desertion and sent to goal( (jail)!  What a shock, and I don’t think many of the family know a lot about it.  Reading through the transcript of the court marshal and the history of this time of the war, it was pretty clear he was a young man in shock after seeing several of his fellow soldiers die,  who did not know what to do.  He got separated from his troop and wandered around for a couple of days until he found another company and was arrested.  Later he got TB and this probably shortened his life.  A sad story, and during my research, I found that 306 Commonwealth solders were shot for desertion.  It is quite a controversial part of our history as (thank goodness) the Australian Army refused to allow any of its soldiers to be executed, and this caused some issues with the English officers. A new law passed on November 8th 2006 and included as part of the Armed Forces Act in the UK has pardoned men in the British and Commonwealth armies who were executed in World War I. The law removes the dishonour with regards to executions on war records but it does not cancel out the sentence of death.  I have decided not to put any of the information online, but keep it in the family archives.  Anyone in the family who decides to go looking will find it at the war memorial site, but my uncle did not marry or have children, so that does seem to lessen the impact." Barbara also asks for your help: I am trying to track down the family of an Australian sailor from WWI who wrote some lovely postcards.  I bought them at a garage sale several years ago, and have only just got around to reading them.  I would really love to give them to the family, as they are very touching. I posted about them on my blog. Here is what I know from them: The writer was on board the SS Gilgai in December 1915 to February 1916, traveling from St Vincent, Cape Verde to Boston, USA. He was not the captain or 2nd officer, as these are referred to in the postcards He refers to someone, possibly a son in Australia, as Jack He refers to his wife always as My Darling Girlie He had a friend on the SS Calulu He may have been in charge of the offloading of cargo or the engines. He bought his wife a trinket made of seeds and a table centrepiece while overseas (perhaps they are still in the family?) I can be contacted via my blog Genealogy Boomerangs if any listeners have information. Any help you can give would be appreciated, and thanks again for the great podcasts, I love hearing about all your travels and experiences.    Welcome  to our new sponsor:! This episode is also sponsored by RootsMagic. Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for supporting this FREE podcast!   GEM: Colonial Research with Beth Foulk Look for the bibliography on her website: During the 1600s and 1700s three-quarters of all immigrants were indentured servants and another 50-60,000 were convicts "transported" to America and sold into "slavery" on the plantations of Maryland & Virginia as their sentence for the crime. The conditions in England were abysmal, and for many this was the only out of a broken social system that had failed them. Beth discusses: The social conditions in England The social construct that gave rise the culture of indenture Who was indentured? (male, female, young, rural) The two types of indenture. (self and spiriting (kidnapping) What life was like once in service in America.  The length of term and life thereafter. The social conditions that gave rise to the shipping of convicts to America (this was before Australia became a penal colony) The black market business of shipping convicts to America.  Who did this and why? How was it done? The Transportation Act of 1718 and the attempt to regulate this business. What life was like on board the ship. What the selling or auction process was like. What life was like in America as a "transported convict" Who was transported (not all convicts) Records  1718: The Transportation Act is passed, which included: 1.    Who could be shipped 2.    Surgeon must be on board 3.    Dictated the number of convicts that could be on board Definitions: Bondage (aka Convict in England)   Question:  Where can the genealogist look to identify if their ancestor was indentured or in bondage?  Answer:  The Old Bailey Online – London’s Central Criminal Court 1674 - 1913 (free) Full transcripts of every court hearing during this time period From the website: “The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. If you are new to this site, you may find the Getting Started and Guide to Searching videos and tutorials helpful.” Also look for: Runaway records Newspapers of the time. Books of transcripts and abstracts of runaway notices (These could include a physical description) The pre-eminent authority: Author Peter Wilson Coldham Books in Amazon  Other possible records for Indentured: Contract (very rare) Land Records Probate Deed Church (references to “Servant”) Other possible records for Convicts: Census (if your ancestor is the only one with that last name in the area,that could be a clue they were a convict) There were also Political Prisoners. Look for Diary or Transcripts Visit Beth’s website: www.genealogydecoded.comGo to “Indentured and Convicts” blog posts Email Beth at SONG: The Death of Wolfe (Song used with permissions from Archiving Early America website) Explore their early America music section Come all ye young men all, let this delight you, Cheer up ye, young men all, let nothing fright you, Never let your courage fail when you're brought to trial, Nor let your fancy move at the first denial. So then this gallant youth did cross the ocean, To free America from her invasion, He landed at Quebec with all his party, The city to attack, being brave and hearty. The French drew up their men, for death prepared. In one another's face the armies stared, While Wolfe and Montcalm together walked, Between their armies they like brothers talked. Each man then took his past at their retire. So then these numerous hosts began to fire, The cannon on each side did roar like thunder, And youths in all their pride were torn asunder. The drums did loudly beat, colors were flying, The purple gore did stream and men lay dying, When shot off from his horse fell this brave hero, And we lament his loss in weeds of sorrow. The French began to break, their ranks were flying, Wolfe seemed to revive while he lay dying, He lifted up his head as his drums did rattle, And to his army said, How goes the battle? His aide-de-camp replied, Tis in our favor, Quebec, with all her pride, nothing can save her, She falls into our hands with all her treasure, Oh then, brave Wolfe replied, I die with pleasure. Watch the video: Music in a Colonial Williamsburg Tavern By the Colonial Williamsburg YouTube channel For more inspiration and information search “Colonial Genealogy” at YouTube.   CLOSING: Why You Do Genealogy In the Feb newsletter I shared a video where I explain why I do family history, and asked all of you to share what motivates you on the Genealogy Gems Podcast Facebook page. Here’s what some of you had to say: Paul wrote: "To start with my Aunt gave me 2,000+ names when I was baptized as she knew the Church members do a lot of genealogy. Many of the stories I found were interesting. But I also got to know my father who was killed about 7 months before I was born." Tim wrote: "Just the whole destiny thing. When I go back several generations, I wonder what IF he had never married her, what IF she had not moved to this town, met her husband, what IF they had stopped having kids just before my gggrandfather was born...etc. I am who I am and where I am because of decisions that were made long ago. Just kind of cool." Margaret: "Really nice video. I pursue my family history because I want to take myself back to THEIR time, find out what their lives were like, follow their journeys, trials, tribulations and day-to-day lives. Through census records, city directories and Sanborn maps I discovered my 2nd great grandpa lived around the corner from an ice-cream store in Savannah, with a dairy right behind it! How cool is that!" Peter: "I do research because I want to know who my family is, where they came from and what they did. After a 20 year search to solve one of my family line missing links I solved it and yelled whoo who, it felt so rewarding."  Margaret: "My mom had always described herself as a Heinz 57. I'm much more curious about just what/who had contributed to who I am. Having roots that reach into ancestors from Germany, England, Mexico and Spain by ways of RI, IN, TX and California make for interesting research!"
April 15, 2014
I’ve been enjoying time at home getting the new house decorated.  I have a wonderful sort of wall niche area in the living room that is perfect for a family history display, so the wheels are turning on what I want to do there. I’ve been pinning lots of ideas on Pinterest for that. And of course I’m getting in my time with my grandsons Davy and Joey. Now that Joey is a year and a half and running all over the place, it’s just playtime bedlam at Sha Sha’s house.  I'll be speaking in Round Rock, TX at the Williamson County Genealogical Society How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case But soon May will be here and that means I’ll be heading to the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond Virginia. And we are going to do something very unique at NGS this year. In addition to my three scheduled presentations, we’ve got ourselves some extra booth space this year, and I’ll be giving what we are calling Outside the Box Sessions.  You know how it is, you head to a big conference, and you’re running for one 1 hour session to the next. And they are usually pretty big classrooms. Well, we are going to getting outside of that box, and holding 30 minute sessions in our booth area on the topics you’ve told me you want most. As presenters we don’t get to have the final say on which of our presentations is selected for the main conference, so it’s really exciting to have this unique way of offering the topics you ask us for. It’s   a smaller intimate setting, the sessions will be packed with tips you can start using right away, all participants will get a free ebook of the handouts for those quickie sessions, we’ll have prizes and you’ll even have some treats to nibble on. I am really excited about doing this, and I think you’ll find it refreshing, fun and informative.  I’ll doing four sessions – one each day of the conference Ancestral Time Travel with Google Earth Evernote Quick Tips for Genealogists Tablet Tips and Tricks for Genealogists Google Search Strategies And, I’ve invited two of my dearest friends, Janet Hovorka of Family Chartmasters, and The Photo Detective Maureen Taylor to join me and present some of their most popular topics!  So in all, you’ll have a dozen ½ hour sessions to choose from to reinvigorate your genealogy research. If you want to get outside the box, come hand out with us, get the ebook, nibble on some treats and get away from the huge crowds.   New Videos at the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel:  Genealogy Crowdsourcing: 4 Strategies and 4 Tips for Your Brick Wall!  with Drew Smith A Sneak Peek at What Will be Included in the Future FamilySearch App with Brian Edwards 5 Tools for Paying it Forward in Genealogy With Michael Cassara A conversation with long time Genealogy Gems listener Michael Cassara who presented a session at RootsTech this year and I thought it was so interesting I asked him to sit down with me to talk more about it. Michael shares one of the ways that he likes to give back to the genealogy community. He buys old inexpensive photographs and does his best to track down family members today and get those ancestors back in to the hands of their families. And he shares some of techniques he uses to do that which you could certainly use in your own family history research. MJ watched the video and left this comment: “I sooo agree with the karma of sharing our genealogy and our photos. I love the Find a Grave / BillionGrave photo idea. And I know myself about good karma. I found some studio photos of a distant relative, contacted a direct descendant and sent the photos to him. He wrote back and said "my Dad looks just like his grandmother, and never knew it before! And what a gift for my son." A few weeks later a postcard collector wrote me and asked if I wanted postcards sent by my grandfather. You bet! She sent 3 envelopes full with photos of my grandparents, my great grandparents and possibly my great great grandmother as well as aunts, uncles and cousins. I had never seen most of them before. What a gift.” Go to and  watch the video and leave your comment about your experiences.   Not all Family History is Happy Memories In what seems to be the exact opposite of the usual obituary you come across as you are searching through newspapers, The Blaze reported that a Reno newspaper has removed an obituary supposedly submitted by children glad their mother was dead. The obituary was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal last September in acknowledgement of the death of Marianne Theresa-Johnson Reddick. “Marianne Theresa Johnson- Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit…” Read more: Nobody’s family is perfect. Certainly mine isn’t. But I do think that one of the incredible things that Family history can do is shed light on the truth, and provide the power to change things for the next generation and make a difference. I’ll never forget back in probably about 2008, early on when I first started speaking at conferences regularly, I was at a Family History expo in the exhibit hall, and a local man, who appeared to be homeless, came in to the public hall, and he was absolutely distraught and angry about the pain he endured at the hands of his family, and he was hurt and deeply angry to see the family history expo being held there. In the end security guards helped lead him away, and I felt so sad for him because he was obviously in incredible pain, and he most likely didn’t have the ability or resources to actually reap some of the benefits that come from learning about your history, your whole family’s history. Not just the line of people who got way off track and caused pain, but as we know there are infinite lines out there, and there’s a lot to learn from all of them, so that history does not repeat itself. And just as importantly, that we have the opportunity to discover the gems in our tree, the unsung heroes, people who did do a good job and contributed to society. In the end, we get to pick who we admire, and we get to decide those areas that we will not perpetuate. After all, if our history stays in the dark, it is apt to look and feel even larger and scarier, but it is also apt to repeat itself. I’d love to hear from you on this subject. You don’t to share specifics. But how has learning more about your family history empowered you. And if you think it has caused harm, I’d like to know more about that too. Finally, to wrap up this segment before we get to the mailbox, I just want to send out a big thank you to some very nice folks out there in the genealogy community.   Evernote for Genealogists Thanks Yous As you probably know by now we published our Evernote for Genealogists quick reference guides, and I just want to take a moment to thank the wonderful bloggers out there who helped spread the word about these 4 page cheat sheets. A big thank you to: Thomas MacEntee: Hack Genealogy“You know what I love about these guides on Evernote? They are easy-to-use, the information is laid out in a format that makes it easy to find what you need, and it truly is something you can keep referring to as you work your way through Evernote and its features.” Randy Seaver, Genea-Musings Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog“I hate to sound like a salesperson, but I found this quick guide to be helpful and extremely easy to read. The tables are concise and the lists of quick keys are impressive. This guide is a keeper.” Renee Zamora of Rene’s Genealogy Blog Sue Maxwell, The Granite Genealogy Blog Ancestry Insider Blog DearMYRTLE James Tanner, The Genealogy Star Blog“I had been using Evernote extensively for quite some time. But was faced with dilemma when the program began to evolve rapidly. I simply lost touch with all the features being added and did not understand why I ran out of storage space and was shut down when I didn't purchase some upgrade. So, I transferred what I was doing on Evernote and used alternative products. So, solely because of this handy guide, I now understood the product. I already had the program on all my devices so transitioning back is as simple as clicking. What I needed clarified was how the program functioned vis a vis the difference between the "free" version and the "paid" version. With that out of the way, I am back in the Evernote use realm. Now, I probably could have figured out all the stuff from the Evernote website, but this made it easier for me to get going and actually do something.” Thanks again to all the bloggers who took the time to give the guides a test run. They are available in our store both for Windows and for Mac. Genealogy Gems Premium Members can enjoy several Evernote videos as part of Premium Membership: How the Genealogist can Remember Everything with Evernote (Beginner) How to Organize Your Research with Evernote (Intermediate) Making Evernote Effortless (Intermediate) BRAND NEW!   New RootsMagic Video Our long time podcast sponsor RootsMagic just published a new video I think you’ll be very interested in. It’s called Importing an Ancestry Family Tree into RootsMagic. Have you been wondering how to do this?  Well, now they have a short video that will show you how.  Currently this is limited to trees that you are the owner / manager, since Ancestry doesn't appear to allow downloading a tree belonging to someone else. You’ll find the video at the RootsMagic YouTube channel MAILBOX: From Jane in Edmonton, Alberta: “Need your advice (as I am sure do thousands of others!!) First of all, let me take time to let you know how much I am enjoying my subscriptions to your Genealogy Gems and your podcasts.  I purchased subscriptions at the Alberta Genealogy Conference in Edmonton last year, and have been thoroughly enjoying them. I am still very much a genealogy novice.  I have dabbled on Ancestry for a number of years, but have never really had time to devote properly.  Last year I decided to try to get a little more serious, and joined the local Genealogy Society, and having retired in December, I finally feel like I should be back on this in earnest, and am wondering if you could give me some needed advice. I love, and have also dabbled in Scotland's People, the free BMD Index out of England, and of course, Family Search with the LDS.  I am finding, however, that I often end up wandering around in circles and mazes as one thing leads to another, and another, and ...   I am sure you know what I am talking about.  I'm now wondering if I would be best to take it one person at a time - to find out as much as I can about that person in that point of time, before going on to another.  I seem to be jumping back and forth between my Dad's family, my Mom's family, their families, etc. until there are times that I find myself at a certain point, only to wonder "Where was I going with this?"   I have started trying to make notes about facts as I spot them, but setting them aside to continue on the current charted course, but find that I end up hopelessly out of order and just as lost. Any advice as to how to attack this would be appreciated more than you can imagine!  I am afraid that, sadly, I am one of those individuals who is now wishing I had asked more questions when I was younger, as I am now the "older" generation, and so am relying on my own memories of stories told by my parents and grandparents back when I was young enough that I'm not sure I paid attention.  I do have four siblings, but when I speak to them, I often wonder if we all grew up in the same family, as their remembered timelines differ greatly on some events than my own.” You are not along in this genealogical dilemma! It's easy to let the records start to take over and lead you around. One way to combat that is to set a genealogical goal - define what it is you want to know. It might be something very specific about a particular ancestor, or it might just be to fill in the blanks on one particular family. Early in my research focused on one grandparent, and working backwards, I would strive to fill in all the blanks on that person, then their parents, then their siblings. I wouldn't "leave" that family until I felt that I had filled in as much of the family group sheet as possible. In fact, we have sort of lost track of the "family group sheet" in this technological age. But it is an excellent tool for keeping you on track and focused on the blanks that need to be filled. An additional strategy is to have a process for dealing with information that comes your way that is a bit off track. Often we feel like we have to pursue it or we'll lose it. I like to use Evernote (free at to capture data that I'm not ready to deal with right now, but definitely want to pursue later. I create an Evernote "notebook" for that family surname, and a note book called "future research". Drag and drop "Future Research" onto the family surname notebook which will create a "stack."  Now you can create notes and drop them into the "Future Research" notebook which is inside the applicable family. Add tags to your note like "newspaper," "death record," etc. and some good searchable keywords so that the note will be easy to find when you need it. Now you can capture the item, file it away, and stay focused on the task at hand. If you would like to learn more about how to use Evernote for genealogy I have a quick reference guide (PDF) in my store that will work wonders in keeping you organized.   From Mary Jane in KY “Thank you Lisa, I received your ebook fine, and now have it installed on my desktop. I've been watching a lot of your videos, have watched the ones where you had interviews at Rootstech. Each day I watched on my computer, the selected Rootstech programs as they were presented. Last week our Kentucky Genealogical Society and Kentucky Historical Society had an all day Saturday viewing of 10 of the programs given out there.  It was a special program that the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Genealogical Society were chosen to participate in viewing - called a Family History Fair. Your program was one of them - How to Use YouTube for Family History: Setting Up Your Own YouTube Channel. And all those syllabi were available for us to print in advance. We had 135 people to attend.  We were very privileged and it was much appreciated by a large crowd of people. You are such a pretty gal, with a bubbly personality. Kiss those babies for me.  I've just become a great grandmother. I really enjoy your Genealogy Gems, have received your newsletters for several years, but I don't use anything but the computer. It's something about the older generation not being able to learn all these other gadgets.” You can watch free videos from the RootsTech 2014 genealogy conference at   From Steve in Cedar Falls, Iowa This is all your fault :) Yes, this is your fault! That sounds ominous, but this is a good thing! I say your fault because you are the one who encouraged me, on your blog, to start blogging about family history. I started two blogs- one for the paternal side and one for the maternal side. The paternal blog is and the maternal blog is My intent was to create a place where family could see the family history that I had found. But something else happened in addition to this intent. A guy in New York came across my maternal blog and emailed me that he had something I might be interested in. It was about my third great grandfather who was born in Germany. Before he came to America, he was a part of a German colony in Guatemala. I knew that, but had no proof of when and where he married or even where in Germany he was from. This gentleman from New York is originally from Guatemala and is connected to my third great grandmother who was also part of this colony. He sent me a copy of an original church record from Guatemala giving the date they were married in Guatemala AND the name of the town in Germany that he was from and his date of birth. It gets better! The German town was named Rellinghausen. When I put Rellinghausen in Google Earth, it kept taking me to Recklinghausen. Now this Recklinghausen is just north of Essen which is the place that I thought the family was from, so it seemed reasonable to assume this was the place and it had been misspelled in the Guatemala document. I order LDS microfilms from Recklinhausen and found not even one instance of the name from 1816 to the 1840s! So, I ruled out Recklinghausen. Next I entered" Rellinghausen” into Wikipedia and found that Rellinghausen had been a separate town before 1910. In 1910, it was annexed by Essen! That’s why it was not showing up on Google Earth! Next step was to contact the diocese in Essen about possible records for this ancestor. With the help of Google Translate, I wrote to the diocese office (found with a Google search) and gave the name and date of birth for this third great grandfather. I received an email back from a church secretary who said she was sending it on to someone who might help. About two weeks later, I received an email from the parish priest from the church in what was once Rellinghausen. Attached was all of the birth information including parents. I probably would have never found this otherwise! So, yes, this is all your fault and I’m VERY happy to blame you! Thanks so very much for the encouragement!” Lisa’s Answer: What an incredible story! I will happily take the blame for any part of it. :-) Google Books Tip: Be sure to search Google Books specifically for "Rellinghausen" "happekotte". A few interesting things in there. Google Translate Tip: And remember that using Google Translate will change "happekotte" as well as prevent you from seeing some snippets on books not fully available. So you'll want to search both in German and English. Steve’s Reply: “Thank you for the additional ideas for searching. The ideas that you put out there on your podcasts, the contacts someone makes through a blog, looking at possible clues in other public trees on Ancestry ALL go to show you that genealogy is much more fun and much more successful when it involves collaboration. Thanks again.” - Steve   From Carol: “I’m new into genealogy.  I’ve worked on my maternal grandfather’s side of the tree and had some success.  Yay!   Now I’m trying to work on my maternal grandmother’s side and it is more difficult.   I seem to be generating a lot more paper and search theories this time.   Is there anything out there that is a  digital basic checklist.   Something that you can check off - like census, birth record, death record, etc. Love all your Evernote tips!” Free Records Checklists and Forms: Family Tree Magazine   From Kris: “The last few months, I've begun packing up our house in Santa Clara, CA for a major life change.  This requires dividing up our 'worldly possessions' into 2 parts (one for France and one for our US home, which will be in Florida).  I spent whole days listening to your pod casts (via the app which I love on my iPhone 4s) and made it back to 2011.  Your pod casts are wonderful and as the family genealogist (for mine and my husband's family), listening to you gave me renewed energy during the long, tedious days of packing.  It occurred to me that after all this effort, I will have much more time to work on my family histories and pursue the huge file I have titled "needs further research." My favorite podcast moments thus far are:  listening to your moving challenges as you relocated to Texas  (misery loves company : ), the guest who stated that it is 'not advised' to shred original documents after digitizing them, the 'Flip Pal' interview, the daunting task of catching up on technology and the learning curve that comes with that, and your suggestions for all of us to make the family names and dates more interesting, in order to get other family members excited about our family history. Thank you for all you do for genealogists!  I met you once at our local library where you gave your Google class, and hope we cross paths again.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself.  Get well soon!   WEDDING IDEAS From Kirsty: “I have some very happy news. I got engaged last week, a very happy time for us. I remember you had talked about a family reunion sometime in the past , and I wonder if you had any tips of getting family history information out of my family while there are all at the wedding.” Lisa’s Answer: Congratulations on your engagement! How exciting. I've been busy planning my youngest daughter's wedding. She's getting married in May. I would suggest searching family reunion websites for ideas you can convert to a wedding reception. A search of Google and should help you locate them. If you have  your guests seated at tables, that's a great opportunity to provide an icebreaker that can double as a family history gathering opportunity. You could have a form at each place setting for them to fill out. If you are having a videographer, you could have a short list of questions at each table, and when he comes to their table he records them answering the questions. (What's your earliest child hood memory?  Who's the earliest ancestor you have a photograph of? What are three things you remember about Great Grandmother? Etc.) If you they won't be at tables, you could have a family history table (next to another table they are likely to visit such as guest book table) and have your activity there. Let them know that this is their gift to you. You could even have some sort of treat or little sticker they can wear that says "I shared the family history, have you?" (In the U.S. when you vote they often give you a little lapel sticker that says "I voted.")  Or you could create the "Sweet Memories Candy Bars" that feature family history that I write about in my book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies.
March 11, 2014
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 13 Originally Published 2007 Remastered March 2014 By Lisa Louise Cooke   From the MAILBOX Hello Lisa: I have just finished listening to your podcast on tracing family members through school records. You mentioned some sources to research. Alan's Website Many years ago I came across a list or resources to be found in the home. I still have the photocopy I made,  but it does not say who originally created it. I believe I found it at my local LDS.  Anyway since putting it on my site, I and others who have come to that page have added to it. I really like your show and look forward to receiving your newsletter. Allan Scahill   GEM:   Memorial Day & WW II Service Records With the month of May comes Memorial Day, and in Episode Thirteen I thought it would be a good time to do a quick check for some military records.   If you have relatives who served in World War II here are a couple of free ‘must check’ websites for you. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): The WWII enlistment records for the years of 1938 through 1946 are listed on the NARA website.  These records contain the majority of enlistments, approximately nine million men and women who enlisted in the U.S. Army, including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.  What I like about the NARA records is that they include the Army Serial Number, which I’ve not seen on the Ancestry version of the records.  And of course they are free at the NARA website.  They also have searchable WWII Prisoner of War Records. Another great website for searching for soldiers traveling overseas or returning home after the war is Steve Morse’s All New York Arrivals Search Form. I hadn’t thought of searching for traveling soldiers until I heard Steve Morse speak about it at a recent seminar.   As soon as I got home from the seminar, I used his form and immediately found my Great Uncle Elzie returning home on the Ile de France after being injured in the D-Day invasion.  With the availability of New York passenger lists up to 1957, many new research doors have been opened. If you’d like more information or historical background on Memorial Day, visit the U.S. Memorial Day website.   GEM:  Family History Books By now you may have seen my videos A Nurse In Training Part 1 & Part 2 on my YouTube channel. A Nurse In Training didn’t actually start out as a video but rather a book.  I have found that by breaking up my research into digestible chunks of time and self-publishing them in hard cover books my extended family is able to understand and enjoy our family’s history. I started self-publishing about a year ago.  We don’t live close to our families, so Christmas gifts have to be purchased ahead of time and shipped.  Family history books turned out to be a fantastic way to start sharing some of my research findings in an affordable way that could be easily mailed. In the past I’ve sent CDs full of photos and documents. But in the end I think they were a bit overwhelming to the non-genealogists in the family. I think there are many reasons for this: Computer CDs are perceived as something technical and hard to use.   The material is chopped up, and individual photos and documents don’t tell a particular story smoothly and easily. I think they’re also perceived as very time consuming.  Folks just don’t feel like they have the time to sit down and really give it the attention it deserves.  Also, many people find reading on a computer screen hard on the eyes.  The solution: a good old fashioned book!  Books are still hard to beat for telling a story in words and pictures in a user friendly way. But where to begin the story, and where to end it?  That’s the big question!  The temptation is to tell the story of one generation of the family.  That’s usually just too big of a project to take on.  The book will likely end up being lots of dates and names and not a lot of room for much else.  And there’s always the risk that it won’t be completed if it’s too large an undertaking. I wanted my family to get to know these people in our family tree intimately.  That meant focusing in much closer than an entire generation of the family.  In the end, I started with my favorite ancestor:  my grandmother.  I’ve transcribed many years of her diaries as I talked about in Episode Two.  One of the stories that really emerged out of them was her years spent in nurses training in the 1930s.  I learned so much through her journal entries, and I knew I had a good collection of photos from that period.     I decided that my starting point would be her graduation from high school and her decision to enter the nursing field.  By the time I had pulled everything together from 1930 to 1933, I had more than enough for a nice size book.  It’s really important to create your book with your audience in mind.  Your audience is your family member who will be reading the book.  Here are my Top Six Tips for making your book fascinating to your reader: #1 The Should Book Convey An Overall Theme Start by reviewing all the available material you have.  That will give you a good sense of what the time period was like for your ancestor.  You’ll also start to understand their goals, experiences, and emotions.  Ultimately a theme should begin to surface.  In the case of A Nurse In Training, I wanted to communicate my grandmother as a young woman taking on a new adventure away from home that ultimately led to this warm, caring woman’s successful career as a nurse.  I also tucked a bonus subplot in there of how she just happened to meet her husband at the same time! You don’t need every scrap of research and every photo to get this theme across.  It’s your job to be a sharp editor and to pick out the critical pieces.  You want the words and photographs that clearly communicate your theme to the reader. #2 Create a Book that can be Read in One Sitting Like it or not, if it takes too long read, they probably won’t.  Strive to create a book that doesn’t look intimidating.  I create books that are ten to twenty double sided pages.  People will be willing to pick up a thinner book off the coffee table.  If it’s well done they’ll find that all of a sudden they’ve finished the entire book without wanting to put it down.  The final goal is that they will walk away with a real sense of having gotten to know that ancestor. #3 Your Book Should Contain the Best of What You Have This goes back to conveying the theme and being a strict editor.  My grandma had many funny stories, but there just wasn’t room for all of them.  I picked the best of the best.  Anyone who reads the book should hopefully come away with the fact that she had a sense of humor and could laugh at herself.  So keep the content of your book focused, full of graphics and photos, and including the best of the best.  If you can capture their interest in the first three pages, you’ll have them for the entire book. #4 Include Lots of Photos and Graphics A picture is definitely worth a thousand words.  Since the number of words in this size book will be limited, photographs will be your best friend.  If you’re lacking in family photos, many of my previous podcasts will give you countless ideas for locating associated photos.  In A Nurse In Training I included scanned images of skating rink tickets, programs and announcements from my grandma’s scrapbook, and journal pages in my grandmother’s own hand.  These types of items really add texture and interest to your book, as well as help the reader to see that you’ve really done your homework. #5 Keep It in Chronological Order This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get side tracked and start going back and forth in time.  Believe me, for the reader’s sake keep things in chronological order. You as the researcher know this information backwards and forwards, but this is probably your reader’s first exposure to it.  Be gentle with them and keep it straight forward and simple.  Your reader will thank you. #6 Go for High Quality High quality glossy pages, good image quality and a hard cover binding all shout to the reader “I’m worth your time, read me!”  For example, I found a drawing of Dameron Hospital where my grandmother worked, but it was a low quality image and didn’t translate well in the book.  As much as I wanted to include it, I ended up leaving it out. I’m glad I did; it wasn’t critical to the book and there were other ways to communicate the hospital to the reader. Keeping these tips in mind, let’s talk about how to publish your own family history book. I create my books in the Kodakgallery which is now Shutterfly at There are several websites out there offering the ability to publish your own book.  I chose Kodakgallery because the program was very easy to use, the price was competitive, publishing and shipping time was FAST, and the quality was excellent.  I saw a book that a friend of mine published of his father’s World War II service years and it was gorgeous.  Again, quality is really key. Hopefully, these books will become family keepsakes and you’ll want them to be the highest quality possible. I use the Classic Photo Book style which is 9” x 10-1/4" in size and includes ten double sided pages for a total of twenty pages, but you can certainly add more.  It comes in a hardcover that you can do in linen fabric, smooth matte or leather.  It also includes a window in the front cover that you can see your first photo through.  I really like that feature because it never fails to capture people’s curiosity and entice them to pick up the book and take a look. They also have a larger Legacy Photo book which is 12” x 14”.  This is the size my friend used that worked really well because he was including large images of newspaper pages about the war. I’m going to walk you through the steps of setting up a book in Kodak Gallery because it’s a resource I feel very comfortable recommending.  But again, there are other options out there, and my guess is that the publishing process would be pretty similar.  I have provided a Kodak Gallery link for you at my website at GenealogyGems.TV on the STORE page.  If you decide to use Kodak, I would really appreciate you accessing it through this link because it will help support the production costs associated with producing this podcast.   In the Photo Books area of the website, click CREATE BOOK. The first thing you’ll do is choose a cover material for your book.  I used black leather for A Nurse In Training which is really nice and has a light sheen to it.  It is $10 more than linen or matte.  I created a Guest Book for my daughter’s wedding where the right side pages were photos of the happy couple and the left side pages had space for guests to sign and write notes.  I used linen for that cover in the color “baby pink” and really liked that as well.  Ultimately, I think it comes down choosing a cover style that compliments the theme and contents of the book.  Once you’ve made your selection, click the NEXT button. You will then need to choose a page design for your book.  For A Nurse in Training I used the design “Time After Time.”  It has a lovely antique look.  Go ahead and pick one you like.  Don’t worry, you can always change the page design any time before you make your final purchase.  When you’re ready, click NEXT. This will bring up a box asking if you want to auto fill your book with photos you’ve already uploaded to the website, or if you want to add them page by page.  If this is your first book, I think page by page is the way to go. Now you’re getting to the fun stuff: adding content to your book.  Anywhere you see a text box you just click inside of it and start typing.  The space for text can be somewhat limited though, so always preview your pages to be sure you didn’t lose any text. To upload photos look below the image of the book and click the UPLOAD PHOTOS link.  You can browse your hard drive and select the photos and images you want to include.  On the publishing page your photos will appear beneath the book.  Just grab the photo and drop it into the DRAG PHOTO HERE box where you want it to appear.  You can preview the pages as you go by clicking PREVIEW right below the book spine.  Images can be adjusted with zoom & arrow movement features. Keep clicking next page until you have filled all the pages.  Each page layout can be altered by clicking the CHOOSE PAGE LAYOUT button in the upper corner of the page.  Using a variety of layouts can add a lot of interest to your book.  Ultimately you’ll be selecting the layouts that accommodate your images and text.  Don’t be afraid of leaving white space on pages.  It makes the book easier to read and enjoy.  Another nice feature of the book is the cover page.  Select a good, clear, preferably simple photo of your subject for the cover page.  It will be seen through a vellum page from the cover.  Under the photo you will want to put the title of your book, and on the second line add your name as author. On the backside of the cover page you will want to create your dedication page using a text only page layout.  Here’s an example of what you could write: First Sentene: State who the book's audience is Second Sentence: Give credit to those who contributed materials Third Sentence: STate your personal goal for the book, as well as your name and the year published. I gave copies of my book about my grandma to my mom and my uncle.  It was the first time in years that I’ve seen tears in my uncle’s eyes.  He loved it; no toaster or tie could have made a better Christmas gift.  The following Christmas I did a book about my father-in-laws WWII naval years and sent a copy to everyone on my husband’s side of the family.  In the months following as I received RSVPs for my daughter’s wedding they were still raving about the book and how much it meant to them.  More than anything, they were so surprised to realize how little they knew about their father’s patriotic service.  It’s a joy to create these books as well as to give them.  They’ve stimulated wonderful family conversations and I know they won’t end up in the next garage sale.  Remember: your research can be fascinating and understandable to others in your family.  It just takes a little creativity and effort.  What good is it sitting on a shelf?  Don’t wait until you are done with your research.  It will never happen.  Start putting pieces of your family history directly into your family’s hands with a beautiful family history book.
February 18, 2014
In this episode you'll hear what you've been missing and how to get it from the Ancestry Wiki. Also how to do a very specialized type of Google search you may have never tried, a French-Canadian genealogy resource, and more. Top 10 Reasons I Moved to Texas: 10. They have something here, it’s called weather 9. I live on an acre now so my neighbors don’t complain that they hear me over here talking to myself 8. There’s a Soft Surroundings store in Southlake! And a Pottery Barn, and a Coach purse store, and… 7. Genealogy Bloggers Amy Coffin and Caroline Pointer. If you know them, you understand 6. Wise County has just launched a new genealogy society and they wanted a speaker who lived less than three hours away 5. It’s been almost 10 years since I filmed a reality TV show out here, so I figure they’ve moved on. 4. My cat Ginger is from Texas and what she meows goes 3. After 18 years in California I finally get to have a pool in my backyard 2. They don’t have chicken fried steak  in California 1. My Grandsons - Davy and Joey!   The Piece of Family History that Miraculously Made Its Way Back to This Indianapolis Woman A few years ago while attending a genealogy conference, I decided to conduct some on-the-fly interviews for The Genealogy Gems Podcast. I asked folks to tell me about the most prized family heirloom that they possessed.  I heard about everything from the door knob of a woman’s parent’s bridal suite, to the bedazzling flapper dress worn by a great grandmother. All were interesting, but I was stopped in my tracks when one woman looked at me with pain in her eyes and declared “I have nothing. Not a thing. My cousins destroyed everything.” It was a difficult concept to digest. As the acknowledged “keeper of the family history flame” in my family, I’ve been fortunate enough to have inherited an abundance of family heirlooms from both sides of my parent’s families. How sad it would be to have nothing concrete to hold in your hand; nothing to help you feel the generations that held the item before. Since that day I’ve remained inspired to help people find ways to track down information and artifacts that make up their family history. Time and time again, I’ve found that just when you thought there was nothing left to find, an item will resurface. The Galaxy Quest movie quote (surely based on the famous words uttered by Winston Churchill in 1940) is one I cling to when it comes to genealogy: “Never give up! Never surrender!”   This motto has never been so gloriously justified as it was recently when a woman from Indianapolis, Indiana received the surprise of a lifetime this Christmas.  The Purple Heart awarded to Pat Davis’ father, (a father she never met) was found recently and returned to her. Watch the compelling video below where the daughter holds the unearthed piece of family history in the palm of her hand.  Kyla wrote: "I had old photos and letters returned to me by a woman who found me on a genealogy message board. Her father had obtained them from my brothers who were throwing them away. It was like a miracle."   NEWS: RootsTech 2014 may have come to an end, but SCGS Jamboree is just around the corner I’m pleased to return this year to speak at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. This popular conference, hosted by The Southern California Genealogical Society, runs June 6 to 8, 2014 in Burbank, California, USA. The theme of the 2014 Jamboree is Golden Memories: Discovering Your Family History. It promises to pack tons of fun into a long weekend, as it always does. My classes on Friday and Saturday include: Who Needs Google Reader? Flip Out Over Genealogy Content with Flipboard! Learn how to use the free Flipboard app to turn your favorite genealogy web content into your own free customized digital magazine. You will flip over how fun and easy they are to create and share. Perfect for genealogists and societies! Ultimate Google Search Strategies for Genealogists Learn Google search techniques, tricks and tips to achieve better genealogical search results, and then elevate your search to a strategic level. Finally, see how all of this applies across the spectrum of free Google Tools. How to Create an Exciting Interactive Family History Tour with Google Earth. Learn to tell your ancestor’s story in a captivating multi-media way in Google Earth. Incorporate images, videos, genealogical documents, and historic maps and bring it all together in a virtual family history tour for sharing and research analysis. SCGS Jamboree 2014 welcomes 55 speakers, over 60 exhibitors, 134 class sessions for a v