August 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.

Chilling Historical Video Footage Found in Online Archive

Eastland disasterA determined graduate student found some chilling historical video footage of a ship that capsized in Chicago. It was in an online archive–but he still had to dig deep for it!

Recently Gems fan Kathy sent us a story about an amazing video footage find. The subject line of her email caught my eye: “Gems can’t always be found by ‘panning:’ sometimes we have to ‘dig!'” She went on to say:

“You’re always stressing the importance of looking in the less obvious places but this is one of the best examples. Attached is an article about a horrific tragedy that happened in Chicago 100 years ago….It explains how video footage [about this disaster] was found in a British online newsreel–but it was not referenced under “Eastland,” the name of the ship, or “Chicago,” the location. We all like the easy way of finding things but finding gems sometimes takes digging and you just can’t pan for it.” (Click here to see the footage, though it may not be something everyone wants to watch.)

Thank you, Kathy! I often encourage people to dig for historical video footage (see Resources, below). Old footage shows us the past so compellingly! Also, did you notice that the video for a Chicago disaster was found in a British archive?? Not even the same country! Not too long ago, we blogged about how the media often picks up out-of-town stories. We may discover coverage about our relatives in newspapers and newsreels far from their homes. Just a tip to help YOU find more gems.

 

Resources:

My Most Amazing Find Ever: Family History on YouTube (No Kidding!)

Find Your Family History in the 1950s (tips for finding video footage)

6 Tips for Using YouTube for Family History

Update Now! RootsMagic Update for FamilySearch Compatibility

Rootsmagic upgradeIf you use RootsMagic to work with FamilySearch Family Tree, you must install a RootsMagic update (version 7.0.6.0) to continue working with it after July 30, 2015!

FamilySearch will be making changes to its own site on July 30, 2015. These changes require RootsMagic to change their own code a little, so RootsMagic users can stay fully compatible with FamilySearch Family Tree.

Here’s the scoop from a RootsMagic press release:

“If you are running RootsMagic 7…. If you haven’t already downloaded the update, 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 are running RootsMagic 6….To continue working with FamilySearch through RootsMagic, you have 2 options:

  1. Order the upgrade to RootsMagic 7 [it’s $19.95] OR
  2. Download the free RootsMagic 7 Essentials and install it (leave your RM6 installed as well). RootsMagic 6 and 7 have the same file format, so you can switch back and forth between them with your same database. You can use all the features in your paid RM6, and use RM7 Essentials when you need to work with FamilySearch Family Tree.

For the full scoop on what’s new with this update, click here. Please share this important post with other RootsMagic users!

Read these articles next for more on RootsMagic:

Best Family History Software (And Why Use It!)

Why I Use RootsMagic Family History Software

Free RootsMagic Magic Guides

Free Support for RootsMagic Users

RootsMagic + MyHeritage = Heritage Magic!

 

Old Artifacts Become New Again: Jewelry with Found Objects

necklances closeupWhat old family artifacts do you have that would make a great piece of jewelry?

Recently I heard again from Gems follower Jen McGraw, whose question inspired a recent blog post on researching in state capitals. “I make necklaces with vintage postage stamps (from the 1890s thru 1970s) or vintage skeleton keys,” she told me. “I would love to make one for you and give it to you as a gift of thanks for your info and help.” She asked what countries I’m interested in (she has stamps from just about everywhere) and what color metals I wear, then custom-created this gift for me. (She does this for others, too: here’s her Facebook page.)

FullSizeRender (1)A public thanks to Jen–I love this new necklace! What fun to see how she has incorporated these old stamps and keys into new jewelry. Jewelry with found objects is unique and trendy, but I love it because it can be a real conversation-starter. The colorful designs on stamps and their history can say something about the wearer’s family history. To me, old keys symbolize unlocking the fascinating mysteries of the past.

I have blogged before about incorporating family history into jewelry, like this post about turning a piece of found jewelry (a single earring) into a unique hair accessory. I love hearing about YOUR creative displays and jewelry, too: feel free to send your pictures and stories!  Click here to read our blog posts about crafts and displays, or follow my Pinterest board on Family History Craft Projects.

NEW! Try this now! U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index

Ancestry Publishes U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

The new U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 1936 – 2007 is a critical update to our ability to access information in U.S. Social Security applications, and perfect companion to the SSDI.

“This database picks up where the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) leaves off by providing more details than those included in the SSDI,” says the database description. “It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.” Some data will not appear for newer records; click here to read more about it and access the index.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the SSDI and the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index. (Click here to read a great article by the Legal Genealogist about the limitations of the SSDI.)

First a search on Charles A. Burkett in the SSDI:

Social Security Death Index SSDI

As you can see, the information is fairly limited. And there’s something else very important missing here. In the Suggested Records list on the right, the new U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index is not listed. This is an important reminder that we must not rely solely on the bread crumb trails on any genealogy website to lead us to all online available records.

Now I’ll search for him in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index:

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index

And now I have his mother’s and father’s names!

Check back tomorrow (and every Friday) here at the Genealogy Gems blog for our full list of new and updated records from around the web.

 

WDYTYA? Premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c

WDYTYA? Who do you think you are Jennifer GoodwinActress Ginnifer Goodwin (from ABC’s Once Upon A Time) knew nothing about her paternal grandfather John Barton Goodwin’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. In the premiere episode of the brand new season of TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? she goes on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and is shocked to discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.

Like many new moms, Ginnifer became even more interested in learning about her family history after the birth of her son, Oliver. In this episode, she starts her search for information with her dad, Tim, who recalls that his father’s parents were named Nellie and John “Al” Goodwin, and that for some unknown reason, John Barton (Tim’s dad) was abandoned when he was just 11 years old. The last time he did any research, Tim found a 1910 Census return in which Nellie, Al and John Barton are living in Batesville, Arkansas.  Ginnifer wonders what could have happened for Nellie to have let an 11 year old leave her home, and heads to Arkansas to see if she can find some answers with the help of some very talented genealogists.

ginner

Local records in Batesville reveal that Nellie’s maiden name was Haynes, and a search for her marriage record returns a result for Nellie and a man named J.D. Williams, and another great grandfather Al Goodwin!

Ginnifer wondered what happened with Nellie’s first marriage that she eventually married Al Goodwin. Was Nellie a young widow?  The local genealogist explains that death records of this time are incomplete and advises Ginnifer to visit the Independence County Courthouse to search for evidence for the other alternative to the end of a marriage: divorce records.

Next week: We’ll share some additional discoveries not covered in Ginnifer’s episode. Stay tuned!

Evernote for Genealogy: Should Evernote Be My Digital Archive?

Evernote digital archive“If I put a PDF copy of a newspaper article or a jpeg photo into Evernote, can I get a copy back? I am putting them there for safe keeping and an easy way to archive them but I want to be able to use them in other places in the future.”

Recently Pam sent me the excellent question above. She’s been using Evernote for a couple of years, she says, “but not very well.” I’ve heard that before! I like how she’s now thinking carefully about not just organizing her genealogy research materials (which is important!) but also digitally archiving them effectively.

As I told Pam, folks have tried to accomplish this in a variety of ways. Here’s my two-cent’s worth on how I look at it.

First, I don’t save newspaper articles to PDF because you have to have a Premium Evernote in order to annotate PDFs and have OCR applied to them. (At least the last time I looked last week.) Personally, I prefer web clipping the article as a note and saving it directly to Evernote.

I haven’t found a simple free way to export a PDF that has been saved to Evernote back out as a PDF. This is a weakness of Evernote. (Click here for a blog post about this.)

organized videoIf you are keen on saving items to PDFs, I would suggest not bothering to store them in Evernote. If you really want a “note” of the item in Evernote, you could use this technique: First, save the PDF to your hard drive (using my Hard Drive Organization Premium Videos).

click_PDFThen right-click the PDF and “Create a Shortcut.” Drag and drop the short cut into a note. Now with one click of the shortcut in the Evernote note, you can instantly open the document on your hard drive and make any additional notations in the note about the item.

If you would rather save the PDF to a cloud service such as Dropbox rather than your hard drive, you can right click the PDF in Dropbox and select “Share Dropbox Link” and then paste that into a note. This, again, gives you one-click access to the item.

I don’t worry about making Evernote the holding tank for absolutely everything. Sometimes other technologies and services are better suited for the task at hand. But it’s pretty easy to create connections so that Evernote is still your central service. There is another alternative called CloudHQ, which can help you export items, but it is a paid service, and I don’t think the value is there for the price when you can use the method I’ve already described.

To get more answers to questions like these about using Evernote for genealogy I invite you to follow this blog.

Resources:

  • Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedEvernote for Genealogy Quick Guides for Windows and Mac will help you begin using Evernote immediately and effectively.
  • Become a Genealogy Gems Premium member to access the Ultimate Evernote Education: a series of videos that take you from beginner to advanced user.

Use Forensic Genealogy Tools: Technology Sheds New Light On History

forensic genealogy toolsThe forensic investigator pulls up to the crime scene and snaps a fresh set of rubber gloves. She props open the trunk of the car and carefully, slowly, sweeps a tube of florescent light back and forth inside the trunk, watching with an eagle eye for the glimmer of something that shouldn’t be there.

It’s a familiar scenario – well, that is, if you watch Court TV or CSI or one of the other of myriad of television shows featuring forensics. If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by this type of investigation. Criminal investigators are not all that different from genealogists: they are  looking for dead people and trying to find out what happened to dead people.

So it will be be no surprise that this recent news item grabbed my attention:

Image from the National Library of Wales website. Click to view.

Image from the National Library of Wales website. Click to view.

Poetry and pictures drawn in the margins of a medieval manuscript–and then erased–have been rediscovered using modern imaging techniques. The Black Book of Carmarthen is the oldest known surviving Welsh language manuscript. Written in 1250, it’s now “throwing up ghosts from the past after new research and imaging work revealed eerie faces and lines of verse which had previously been erased from history,” according to a National Library of Wales blog post.

“A combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software” were used to better see ancient doodles that had been erased from the margins. The process revealed “images, and snatches of poetry which are previously unrecorded in the canon of Welsh verse.”

We’ve featured several types of forensic analysis as applied to genealogy over the years. In fact, forensic genealogy principles inspired my popular presentation, How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case (if you’re a Premium Member of this website you can sign in right now and watch it under Premium Videos).

Criminal investigators are not all that different from genealogists:
they are  looking for dead people and trying to find out what happened to dead people.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episodes 89 and 90 features Dr. Robert Leonard, a forensic linguist featured on an episode of Forensic Files on TV. It was such a riveting interview that I brought him back for Premium episode 48 where his brother Dr. George Leonard joined us. And way back in the pioneer days of this podcast (2008) Episode 18 featured “Vehicular Forensics.”

vehicular forensics genealogyIt was my genealogical take on using alternative light sources on not the trunks of cars, but rather their faded license plates as they appear in old photos. That episode has been “retired” but will soon be Gems ebook remastered and available for listening (stay tuned to the free Genealogy Gems email newsletter for the publication announcement.) In the meantime you can read about it in depth in my very first book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies.

Have you looked to see what lurks on the pages and photos of your ancestors? Email me and we may share it in an upcoming blog post or episode.

She was a “Rounder?” Use Google Search Operators to Define Old or Unfamiliar Words

define rounder

McSorley’s Bar, a 1912 painting by John French Sloan. Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

Get quick definitions of old and unfamiliar words with the Google “define” search operator.

Recently, Shelly wrote to us about some correspondence she didn’t understand from an older relative. One mysterious phrase particularly stuck out:

“She has mentioned several times that various relatives of mine were ’rounders.’ An example: ‘I found out later she was a real rounder.’ Does this mean a drinker, a promiscuous person, or just someone who ran around a lot as a younger person? Apparently, I come from a big family of ’rounders’!”

The answer to Shelly’s question is a perfect example of how Google can help with genealogy questions like this one. Google’s Define search operator is the key here. Go to Google.com and type define:rounder and you’ll get the following answer:

Define Google Search operator

So yes indeed, it sounds like Shelly’s ancestors enjoyed “making the rounds” to drinking establishments!

Did you know that Google is getting smarter about answering our questions with search results? Instead of just showing us links to sites with the keywords in our questions, Google has started providing answers at the top of the search results. Click here to see an example!

Resource:

How to use Google for Genealogy

The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox covers the use of search operators for genealogy in depth. I’ve fully revised and updated this new second edition.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with genealogy buddies or societies that might be interested! This week: Midwestern U.S. newspapers (Cleveland, OH and Chicago, IL) and records of Pennsylvania coal and canal workers’ and English and Welsh criminals.

CLEVELAND JEWISH NEWS. Technically this isn’t new content, but access to the Cleveland Jewish News is newly free, so it’s new to most of us! You do need to provide your name and email address for free access to 125 years of Cleveland Jewish newspapers. Subscribers have immediate access to all content as it is published; the public can access materials 90 days after they go online.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARCHIVE. For a very limited time–during beta testing of its new archive–old issues of The Chicago Tribune are free to search on its Archives website. Click here for their FAQ page or read a more detailed report on the National Genealogical Society (US) blog.

ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER OF CRIMINAL PETITIONS. Findmypast added over 77,000 records to its Registers of Criminal Petitions index to imaged registers of correspondence relating to criminal petitions. Documents usually give the outcome of any appeal and registers note the place of imprisonment.

PENNSYLVANIA COAL AND CANAL WORKERS. Ancestry just posted employee cards and applications from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company for first half of the twentieth century. “The cards may list name, marital status, occupation, birth date, record date, residence, spouse, nationality, number of children and their ages, citizenship, date range for jobs, who to notify in case of an accident, and pension date. Applications can contain other details, including parents’ names, schooling, employment record, birthplace, and height and weight.”

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064When searching digitized newspaper sites, remember that the search technology used (optical character recognition) is much less thorough for historical newspapers than modern text, especially for capitalized words. Use creative search terms if searches on an ancestor’s name aren’t productive, like the person’s occupation or death date. Click here to learn more about using Google to search digitized newspaper pages, or read Lisa Louise Cooke’s newly-revised and updated book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, available now both in print and e-book format.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Nominated! Academy of Podcasters Award

Academy AwardWe’re so pleased we just had to tell you our great news….The Genealogy Gems Podcast has been nominated for the first-ever Academy of Podcasters Awards!

Ten nominees were named in each category by The Academy of Podcasters in an event expected to become annual, according to the Academy website. We were chosen “by a combination of input from the Academy, the board,  and from other podcast rating services.” The Genealogy Gems Podcast was nominated in the “Parenting, Family and Kids” category.

Podcaster and comedian Colt Cabana will host the actual awards show on July 31, 2015 at the Omni Fort Worth in Forth Worth, Texas. It’s not far from home and I hope to stop by to celebrate on my way home from speaking at the BYU Family History Conference!

GGP award finalistIn case you’re not already a listener….The FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast, our flagship “online radio show” with 1.75 million downloads, helps you make the most of your family history research time by providing quick and easy-to-use research techniques. As the producer and host, I do my darndest to bring you the best websites, best practices, and best resources available for genealogy!

Listening has never been easier because now you can easily stream podcasts on your smartphone or tablet in addition to listening online at our website or in iTunes. To listen on your mobile device, just get the Genealogy Gems app for iPhone or iPad and Android. To learn more about the show or read FAQ, click here.

Try our other podcasts, too:

  • Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, a free step-by-step series for new or starting-over genealogists
  • The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast, a monthly in-depth news and how-to show with MORE great interviews, tips and tricks. This is available as part of our annual subscription package, which also includes a year’s access to a full range of genealogy education videos.

Thank you Academy of Podcasters!