October 4, 2015

About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com. She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.

“Help! Why Is My Ancestor Listed TWICE in the Census?”

It’s a common problem to not find your family history in the census AT ALL. But what happens when you find them listed TWICE?

Ancestors Listed Twice in the Census

Donna recently wrote in with this head-scratching question: “Lisa, I love your podcast, and have been to several of your presentations, and lots of your webinars. You make everything seem like it is all within my reach. So when I came across this issue, I thought you’d be the perfect one to ask advice from.

“Like most of us…citing my sources has not always been the best.  So I decided to go back and redo my files, making sure that I have all the sources cited.  In looking at my husband’s family, I have found something weird.  Usually, I find that family is not included in the census, but have you ever found it where they are listed twice?”

She transcribed both 1910 census listings for Fred Dierks’ family with me, both in Whitman County, Washington (one in Harper Precinct and one in Colfax City). Then she wrote, “Not all the kids are in both households, but the younger ones are in both.  And both censuses are enumerated by different people. What do you make of this? What was the protocol for counting the same families in different locations? My family is from the South and I usually find them missing from censuses, not having them show up twice! How would you cite this?  Would you choose one and forget the other?  Or cite them both?  Or…?”

Really? An ancestor listed TWICE in the census?

Yes, this is very possible, and I have a case in my own family. Just this weekend a gentleman came up to me at a seminar and told me about a case in his family, and that his grandmother had birth certificates in not one, or two, but THREE different locations!

In the case of the census, there are a variety of reasons why you might find an ancestor listed twice in the census: owning more than one piece of property, living in one location and working as a domestic in another, or moving during the census-taking period, for example.

Without seeing the documents I can’t speak to Donna’s case specifically, but here are some suggestions for anyone who finds an ancestor listed twice in the census:

census informant 1940 census1. Look at the date each enumeration was taken.

2. For later censuses, look at who provided the information. In the 1940 census the informant is indicated by a plus sign with a circle around it. If there are two entries, each with a different informant, that might explain why the family didn’t realize they were counted twice. Unfortunately, in earlier census records it typically isn’t indicated who provided the information. (Click here for the census enumeration instructions for 1910, the year in question here.)

Ancestors listed twice in the census Meadow St

The street name (Meadow) shows up on one of this family’s listings in the census. Image from the 1910 census at Ancestry.com.

3. Compare the neighbors’ names and the street name in each listing: are they the same (evidence that both were taken at the same physical location) or different (evidence of different physical locations–or different routes taken in the same neighborhood that only overlapped by that household). This census image shows that the family lived on Meadow Street; the other listing doesn’t say (page backward to find the street name). But the next-door neighbors in both listings are different.

4. Look for an address for the family from that time period from another source, like a WWII draft registration card or city directory. Which census listing address matches up with it?

5. Look at local maps from the time period and census enumeration district maps (FamilySearch has many in this browsable collection). Did your ancestor live on the boundary of a census district and inadvertently get counted twice by different enumerators?

Google may be able to help map this last problem. I searched “1910 map Colfax WA” and found the 1910 plat map shown below on the left. Meadow Street is marked, but Almota Street (the next cross-street listed further down the census page) isn’t marked. A modern Google Maps image shows the intersection clearly, and I can compare them using the bend in the creek and the intersection of Lake St and Thorn St. Comparing this neighborhood to census enumeration district maps may help determine whether in fact these were overlapping census enumeration districts.

Colfax Washington map

1910 plat map from Washington State University Digital Collections. Click to view.

For Donna and others of you out there finding multiple census entries for your ancestors: you’re not alone! Here’s an interesting conversation on Ancestry about other genealogists who have experienced duplicate census entries. And here’s a fun page about famous people enumerated twice in the census.

By the way, be sure to cite both sources. Thanks for the question, Donna! You’re a Gem!

More Resources for Mapping Your Family History at Genealogy Gems

How to Find Enumeration District Maps

1940 Enumeration District Maps

The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (all-new 2nd edition newly revised in 2015!) teaches skills like the ones used above for searching for modern and historical maps in Google, Google Maps and Google Earth.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. A Genealogy Gems Premium website membership required–but you can watch a clip from it for free below:

thanks youre a gemThank you for sharing this post with your friends and genealogical society members! Just copy and paste the URL into an email or share the post on your favorite social media site using the social media icons on this page.

Google Alerts for Genealogy: “Not What They Used to Be?”

Google Alerts

Do you ever feel like Google Alerts aren’t what they used to be? Or have you never used them? It’s time to revisit your strategy for using Google Alerts for genealogy!

Google Alerts are customized, automated Google keyword searches. You can set them up to constantly search the Internet for new mentions of your ancestors, their hometowns or anything else.

The key to Google Alerts is that they tell us about NEW material. After an initial barrage of results, you may not see anything for awhile, especially for very specific topics. Don’t get discouraged! Google Alerts are long-term strategies for finding family history. And Alerts will at least let you know as soon as someone puts something new online–which won’t happen if you just do your own searches every so often.

If you haven’t gotten results for a while, consider modifying your keyword search terms. Set up multiple searches, if you feel like that might help!

All editing of alerts is done in the Google Alerts dashboard. Here’s how to edit a Google Alert:

1. Go to Google Alerts and sign in to your account.
Google Alerts edit2. Locate the alert you want to edit in the alphabetical list and click the Edit icon that looks like a pencil (shown here).
3. Make the desired changes in the edit window.
4. When you’re done, click the Update Alert

How to use Google for GenealogyGoogle Alerts offer genealogists a rare opportunity to get more done in less time. That’s why in the 2nd edition of my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (totally revised for 2015!) I devoted an entire chapter on how to use Google Alerts effectively for genealogy. In that chapter, I suggest several different types of alerts you may want to create. For example, with what businesses, churches, schools and other organizations were your ancestors affiliated? Create alerts with their surnames and the names of these organizations. You’ll find several more suggestions in that chapter that will help you get the MOST out of Google Alerts!

Additional Resources

How to Set Up Google Alerts for Genealogy

A Fabulous Use for Google Alerts (Finding Homes My Great-Grandfather Built) in the FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 146 (listen and/or read the show notes)

Google Alerts for genealogy and family historyWho else do you know who should be using Google Alerts? (Like, just about everyone?) Will you please share this post with them? Just copy and paste the URL into an email address or share with your favorite social media platform, like Facebook or Pinterest. Thank you!




RootsTech 2016: Open for Business!

Are you ready for RootsTech 2016? It’s ready for you! Registration is now open. The Genealogy Gems team will be there, and here’s what we’re teaching.RootsTech 2016

Registration for RootsTech 2016 is now open! RootsTech has staked its territory as the most-attended annual genealogy conference in the world. It caters not just to seasoned researchers but beginners and even entire families. So mark your calendars and make your reservations: RootsTech 2016 will be held February 3–6 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to FamilySearch, “Attendees can expect a full lineup of inspirational keynote speakers, over 200 educational classes, exciting hands-on activities in the expo hall, and entertaining evening events, all designed to help celebrate families across generations!”

What’s new for RootsTech 2016?

RootsTech 2016 dashboardHere are some highlights for what to expect this time around:

  • Classes will now start earlier in the week, on Wednesday February 3, with the first class beginning at 1:30 p.m.
  • Attendees can now use a new scheduling tool to build, edit, and print their class schedule at RootsTech.org after they register (shown here). You can keep editing your schedule as you please. The online tool will sync with a mobile app that will be available later this year.
  • The Innovator Showdown will be back and even bigger than before. Innovators of all kinds in any industry are invited to compete with their latest hardware and software apps and services. The top six finalists will be invited to demo live onstage for over 23,000 people. The audience and a panel of renowned judges will decide the winners!

Genealogy Gems at RootsTech 2016

Future Panel LisaGenealogy Gems listeners and readers will see some familiar names on the speaker’s list, including Genealogy Gems owner, producer and podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke, Contributing Editor Sunny Morton and our resident DNA expert, Diahan Southard. Watch for more announcements of the sessions we’ll be teaching, both formal sessions in classrooms and “Outside the Box” sessions at our booth in the Exhibitor hall.

What else to know

Early-bird pricing is available now for full passes starting at just $149 and $169 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $19 for a limited single day and $39 for a limited 3-day.

Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. “The event takes place on Saturday, February 6, 2016, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the LDS Church are invited to register as families and  groups up to 10 at a time. This free one-day event includes devotionals, classes, interactive activities, and entertainment to help families and members discover, preserve, and share their family connections. Event details, including speakers and classes, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org.”

Resources for Your Family History Trip to Salt Lake City

Use Your iPad for Genealogy Research at the Family History Library

New Interactive Family History Exhibit in Downtown SLC

Genealogy Conferences: Live or Virtual? Which is Better for You?

Must-Have Tips for Visiting the Family History Library in SLC

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The Bombing of London in WWII: Check Out this Interactive Map of The Blitz

A new interactive map now lets you explore The Blitz: the intensive Bombing of London by the Germans in 1940-1941.

bombing of London the blitz 4

View from St. Paul’s cathedral after the Blitz. Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

We see the images often in WWII-era movies. Londoners hunched in tube station tunnels during air raids. Children evacuating the city by the thousand. The Blitz was a period of intensive bombing of London by the Germans that began in September 1940 and continued through the following June. Now we can explore exactly where and when all those bombs fell at a new interactive website, Bomb Sight.

bomb sight screen capture“With Bomb Sight you can discover what it was like in London, during WW2 Luftwaffe Blitz bombing raids, exploring maps, images and memories,” explains the site. “The Bomb Sight web map and mobile app reveal WW2 bomb census maps between 7/10/1940 and 06/06/1941, previously available only by viewing them in the Reading Room of The National Archives.”

As you can see from this screenshot, the site is map-based. All those red dots you see are bombings. (Can you imagine bombs falling that thickly in your own neighborhood?) Different icons reveal the type of bomb. Click on them to learn more about that event. You can even view historical images of that neighborhood and read stories and memories relating to that area. You can ask to map to show you only the first night of the blitz, a weekly look or an aggregate (all-inclusive) view, like the one shown here.

Though you can search visually, you can also enter a street or postcode to look at a specific area. Zoom in or out; explore different map layers for different types of information.

These maps were created from 559 map sheet originals that were declassified in 1971 but are very fragile today. So this site represents a fantastic new free resource that hasn’t been widely accessible to the public. 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. What a powerful tool for understanding the scale of The Blitz.

More Great Map Resources

Was This My Ancestor’s Neighborhood? Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps video (available to Premium website members)

5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps (available to Premium website members). Below you can watch a free clip from this video on using Sanborn fire insurance maps (and yes, there are fire insurance maps for London: they date to 1792).

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipAbout Genealogy Gems Premium Website Membership
The video class you just caught a peek of is one of the perks of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. For one low annual fee, members can watch more than 2 dozen Premium member-only videos on genealogy research strategies, organization, technology tools (like Google, Google Earth, Evernote, Dropbox and cloud computing) and more. And we keep adding new videos regularly! Premium website members also have access to our monthly Premium podcast and all archived episodes. Click here to learn more!

thank you for sharingThanks for sharing this post with others who will want to learn more about the bombing of London during World War II. Just email the URL or post this article on your favorite social media channel.


The Tech Gadget Lisa is Crazy About and Why It’s So Cool: Amazon Echo

Millions of us already rely on Siri (that disembodied voice on our iPhones) to find us the nearest gas station, make hands-free calls and answer random questions. Amazon Echo now offers that same kind of voice-activated help throughout your house.

Amazon Echo and TuneInThere’s a lot of good gadgetry in the Iron Man movies, but my favorite is Jarvis, the virtual butler in Tony Stark’s house. He anticipates Tony’s every need, controls his home technology, even comments on his personal life.

Jarvis immediately came to mind when I heard about the new Amazon Echo from longtime Premium Member Jennifer from California. She raved about it so enthusiastically I bought one!

For $179, the Amazon Echo gives you “an always-listening Siri for your living room,”as FastCompany.com describes it. “It’s Amazon’s vision of the platform of the future, one that gives you the ability to control your home by voice.”

So why am I, a genealogy podcaster, blogging about the Amazon Echo? Well, it works as a whole-house sound system for listening to music, audio books and–you guessed it–podcasts! Thanks to the smartphone, podcast listening has become much more convenient thanks to native podcast apps like Apple’s “Podcasts”and our own Genealogy Gems Podcast app. But when it comes to listening at home, you may not always want to be tethered to your smartphone or iPod. Now, with the Echo, you don’t have to be.

GGP tunein The Genealogy Gems Podcast is now on the Echo. To the best of my knowledge, podcasts are only available on the Echo via TuneIn. I knew as soon as I fell in love with Amazon Echo that The Genealogy Gems Podcast needed to be there. And now it is! TuneIn has added the Genealogy Gems podcast to its lineup so you can listen with the Amazon Echo. Click here to visit our TuneIn page.

But using the Echo for listening is just the beginning! “The key is what’s inside: Alexa, an always-listening Siri for your living room,” says that same Fastcompany.com article. “It’s Amazon’s vision of the platform of the future, one that gives you the ability to control your home by voice.”

how to use the amazon Echo

my Amazon Echo fresh out of the box

For example? It syncs with Google Calendar. Sweet! When I need to know the next deadline coming up, I ask Alexa. When I get an inspiration for the next podcast episode in the middle of making dinner (with marinade up to my elbows) I just tell Alexa to add it to my To Do list. And when I use that last clove of garlic, I just say “Alexa, add garlic to the shopping list.”

The Echo can also read you breaking headlines, tell you the weather forecast, set a timer or alarm for you, and interact with other home technologies that are gradually gaining that capacity. And of course it can answer your random questions, too. (Try these fun questions and commands from other Echo owners.)

where does the cord go on the Amazon Echo?

The most challenging part of installation: “Where does the plug go?” Right here in the bottom of the Echo!

I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of Echo! I just call her name and give her a command and she does it. I’m surprised how much I enjoy having her in the kitchen.

If you decide to purchase Amazon Echo, thanks for using our links! Your purchases support the free Genealogy Gems podcast and all the free content on our website.

Amazone Echo and Howie

My dog Howie listening to Alexa (you can tell Alexa is talking because the top lights up)

Interview with Laura Ingalls Wilder Editor Pamela Smith Hill: Genealogy Gems Book Club

Are you a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, lover of western U.S. history or writer of family history? You’ll love our exclusive interview with Pamela Smith Hill, editor of the new Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography Pioneer Girl.

Pioneer Girl Book ClubThe “grown-up” version of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s popular Little House children’s books has been published, and the Genealogy Gems Book Club got an exclusive interview with its editor, Pamela Smith Hill. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We bring you this conversation in the new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 127 (Premium membership required to access). You can also find an excerpt in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183.

Pamela Smith HillLaura wrote this never-before-published autobiography in the 1930s. She scrawled “Pioneer Girl” across the cover of a dime store paper tablet. Then she filled it with detailed recollections of family, neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads: memories of pioneering in an American West that was fading away.

For someone raised on the gentler Little House re-tellings, Laura’s straightforward stories are intriguing and sometimes stunning, as are the behind-the-scenes look at Laura’s life that Pamela offers. I was riveted by the real story behind Jack the Brindle dog! And then, as an accomplished writer and editor, Pamela shares ways that all of us can improve how we share our family history stories. If you’ve been yearning to write your family’s story, this is a must-listen episode.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Girl Rocky Ridge FarmI had the very good fortune of visiting the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO) last week. It was icing on the cake to see the treasure trove of historical artifacts in person that were detailed in the Little House books, and that Pamela brought to life even further through her annotations in Pioneer Girl.”

The Genealogy Gems Book Club brings you exclusive interviews with authors of fabulous books that anyone who loves family history will love. We feature a new title each quarter: best-selling fiction, non-fiction, memoir–anything that resonates with those who love history and themes about family and personal identity. Click here to see titles we’ve recommended in the past and hear excerpts of author interviews.

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipAbout Genealogy Gems Premium Website Membership
The The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast is one of the perks of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. For one low annual fee, members can listen to the monthly podcast–and all previous episodes. These are archived in the members-only area of our website along with more than 2 dozen Premium member-only videos on genealogy research strategies, organization, technology tools (like Google, Google Earth, Evernote, Dropbox and cloud computing) and more. Premium members can access Premium episode 127 through iTunes, the Genealogy Gems app (for iPhone/iPad or Android users) or on our new mobile-friendly website.  Click here to learn more!

A Tech Tool You Need: Another way to Use Dropbox for Genealogy

Now you can save the links to your favorite websites in Dropbox. It’s another great way to use Dropbox for genealogy! Here’s how….
Save URLs in Dropbox for genealogy

Big news: Dropbox recently announced that you can now save web page URLs to Dropbox on the web or on your PC. It’s as simple as drag and drop!

Here’s a link to a quick-read article all about it, and it includes a super short video showing you the feature in action:

Think how handy this would be for tracking genealogy website sources! Those bookmarks we create in our web browsers can get pretty cluttered. A Dropbox folder dedicated just to your genealogy would be a great place to store URLS for those websites you find yourself consulting a lot: a Rootsweb site, the Genealogy Gems blog, JewishGen, and even specific pages within those sites for articles you love.

If you’re a Dropbox user, why not try saving this article URL to your Dropbox? The article we link to above has a video in which they show the drag-and-drop in a web browser, but it works just as well when you click on the URL and drag it onto the Windows Explorer icon on your computer’s task bar. When Windows Explorer pops open, just “drop” onto the Dropbox folder! And if you’re on a Mac, try the equivalent.

I use Dropbox every day. Below I have some great resources for you including an article on the types of items a genealogist could use Dropbox to save and share with other researchers.


Tips for Collaborative Genealogy: Dropbox for Genealogists

Genealogists’ Guide to Dropbox, a video presentation available to Genealogy Gems Premium members

Dropbox v Backblaze: Does Cloud Storage for Genealogy Replace Computer Backup?


Backblaze Security Gets Even Better for Computer Backup

Backblaze extra securityWe already trust Backblaze as the official cloud-based computer backup service for Genealogy Gems. Now they’ve added another optional layer of security: even better!

Recently Backblaze, our computer backup service and a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems 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. Pretty unlikely!

“This feature is available immediately to all Backblaze users and does not require an update to be used,” they told us. It’s also not automatic–you can activate it if you choose.”

We’ve heard from so many Gems listeners and readers who have purchased Backblaze that we wanted to share with you how to enable this optional feature.

How to Activate Backblaze Computer Backup Service’s Two-factor Verification Security

1. Log in to your existing Backblaze account.

2. Open the “My Settings” page as shown here.

Backblaze my settings

(Click image above for larger view)

Backblaze phone number

Step 4

3. Click on the “Sign in Settings” link on the right hand side. If you already have a phone number set up for your account, go to Step 4. If you do not have a phone number set up for your account you will see this screen:

In the “Verify Phone Number” window, you’ll enter your phone number and then verify it is correct by having Backblaze send a verification code to the phone. That verification code is entered in this window. You can not turn on two-factor verification without successfully completing this step.

4. Once you have a phone number set up for your account, you’ll see a screen like this when you click on the “Sign in Settings” link.

Backblaze sign in settings

Step 5

5. Choose the two-factor verification setting you desire and select “Update” to change the setting.

6. The set-up/change of your two-factor verification setting is now complete.

What it will be like to use Backblaze two-factor vertification

Let’s say you have selected the “Every time I sign in” option for your two-factor verification setting. Here’s what happens when you sign in to Backblaze:

1. Click the sign-in button and enter your Backblaze account credentials.

2. A unique text message is sent to the phone number on your account, as shown here:


3. At the same time, a “Two-Factor Verification” screen is presented.

4. Enter the code from the text message you received into the “Two-Factor Verification” screen, then press “Enter Code.” You have 10 minutes to enter the code. If you do this correctly you will be logged in to your Backblaze account.

Why not use it?

backblaze online backup for genealogy Cloud backupThis is an optional feature on Backblaze. Why would you choose not to activate it?

“It is important to weigh the added security of two-factor verification against the possibility that you will not have the second device with you when you require access to your Backblaze account,” says an email from the company. Some users may not consider what they’ve got stored with Backblaze to be the kind of data that needs extra layers of protection. Others may not want the hassle of an additional layer of security.

But think carefully–Backblaze backs up ALL the files you tell it to. You may have personal and financial data in at least some documents: bank account or credit card numbers, digitized birth certificates or Social Security cards.

Consider what works best for you! Our best recommendation is to HAVE a computer back-up service in place. We chose Backblaze because of its reputation, the quality and security of its service and its very reasonable price–less than $5 a month! That’s less than you’d spend at most parking garages in a single day. Click here to learn more about Backblaze and why we selected them as a sponsor of our free Genealogy Gems Podcast.


What’s Your Computer Backup Plan? Better Than Mine Was, I Hope!

Dropbox v. Backblaze: Does Cloud Storage for Genealogy Replace Computer Backup?

How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-free Life


What I Learned from the Family Work Ethic: Happy Labor Day!

I just came across this  Labor Day post in the Genealogy Gems article archive. I’m sending it out again as a salute to our hard-working forebears and all of YOU who work hard, too.

Labor Day work ethic celebrate ancestors

Originally posted on Sept 2, 2013:

On August 15, I posted a compelling video and article on my Facebook page about the importance of hard word and making your own luck, values I am fortunate that my ancestors passed on to me. The speech came from an unlikely source: a young Hollywood actor. In the video, Ashton Kutcher stands in front of a bunch of teenagers at the Teen Choice Awards talking about the importance of hard work:

“When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground,” Kutcher said. “And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

The video went wildly viral (which is how I came across it) and it got me to thinking about my own work ethic. The credit for it sits squarely on my dad’s shoulders, and also my grandparents shoulders, and their grandparents shoulders.

Dad and Grandpa

My dad was the first in his family to get a college degree. He went to school and studied all day and worked in the local hospital morgue at night! (image left: Dad and my proud Grandpa at Dad’s Graduation) I remember endless nights as a kid creeping up behind him as he sat in at the makeshift office in my parent’s master bedroom, puffing on a pipe and studying for his CPA. We didn’t have much in common to talk about, but it was what I saw in action that was communicating to me. Dad went on to become a successful businessman in a large company, and later created several vibrant businesses.

I guess it was that non-verbal communication between father and daughter that inspired me as a kid to pull weeds, babysit and yes even shingle the side of the garage to make a few bucks.  And I vividly remember taking a temporary job caring for a 100 old year woman for a few weeks one summer. She was testy at first as she felt generally ignored, but warmed up to her inquisitive caregiver until she was soon sharing stories of traveling as a little girl in a covered wagon. She’d found her audience and I was entranced.

At 15 I lied about my age so I could get a job at pizza place washing dishes. Within two days they promoted me to cook, a position a girl had never held in that restaurant.

Later I went on to my teenage dream job – sales clerk at the Mall record store. (Sheer persistence helped me beat out all the other teens for that one!) And then, on to a job at Radio Shack (this time the first female to be hired in the state!) as the TRS-80 hit the shelves.

I started my professional career working for free at a travel agency to get a little resume cred as I finished travel agent school, and was the first to land a job a week before graduation. I went on to working in corporate America where I received invaluable career development.

grandkids help2

Signing books with my grandsons.

But like my dad, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve created a couple of businesses and positions for myself over the years, and find myself now with Genealogy Gems living my dream and drawing from all of my past experiences.

There have been many challenges along the way – no one ever said work was easy. And in fact, my mom’s favorite saying that was drilled in to us as kids was “life isn’t fair – get over it!” She was absolutely right, and she removed the obstacle of fretting over fairness from my life, so I could just get on with working hard and creating my own dreams. I was one lucky kid!

Now whenever a challenge arises, my instinct is to say to myself: I can’t wait to find out what future opportunity this dilemma is training me for!” Almost without exception, I can look back over my past work experiences and see how they are helping me today. Some of the very worst have turned out to be blessings. (Update: I talk more about this and my career in an interview I did on the Genealogy Professional Podcast Episode 29.)

So what “lucky” opportunities have you had and created? On this Labor Day I hope you’ll join me in the comments and also share what you learned from your previous generations.

The good news: Even if the most recent generations that came before let you down, family history offers you centuries to pull new and positive values from. Your ancestors were survivors and yep, that’s why you’re here! You may have parents or grandparents who went astray, but you have countless ancestors to find, and learn from. And best of all, you get to pick which values you wish to embrace, and which will fall by the wayside.

www.geneaogygems.comLet us pass on what our ancestors taught us so our kids and grandkids can enjoy the opportunities, growth, reward and freedom that comes from good old hard work.

Why not share this post with someone YOU know who works hard? Let them know how much you admire them.


We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsHere’s our weekly list of new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with your genealogy buddies or with societies that might be interested!

AUSTRALIA WWI WOMEN. New media resources, including a television series, Facebook page and Twitter feed have been created to share more information about Australians and New Zealanders who participated in World War I, particularly women. Click here for a related blog post from The National Archives (Australia).

COLOMBIA CHURCH RECORDS. More than a million browsable records have been added to an existing database at FamilySearch, Colombia Catholic Church Records 1600-2012. “These records include: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, pre-marriage investigations, marriage dispensations, deaths, and indexes.” Some of the collection is already indexed.

ENGLAND ELECTORAL REGISTERS. Electoral registers for Manchester, England (1832-1900) are now browsable on Findmypast. Details about an ancestor’s residence and property ownership may appear.

NEW JERSEY STATE CENSUS. FamilySearch just added more than 2.7 million records from the 1915 New Jersey Census  to its free online collections. These records include “the names of each member of the household, location, gender, birth date (month and year) and birthplace.” Click here learn more about this and other state censuses.

TEXAS MARRIAGE RECORDS. More than half a million indexed records have been added to an existing free database, Texas County Marriage Records 1837-1977, at FamilySearch. Covering 140 years, the records include “various types of marriage records (registers, licenses, intentions to marry, etc.) from 183 of the 254 counties in Texas.”

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