October 23, 2014

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.

NEW Genealogy Book Club: Here’s a Gem Inspired by You!

genealogy book club genealogy gemsWe’ve heard from you, our readers and listeners that you LOVE to read! Well, we’ve just launched a great new FREE program for you: the Genealogy Gems Book Club!

This is an idea we have been percolating on for quite a while with your encouragement. You regularly send me the names of books you love. I also hear from publishers and the authors themselves. Now we can all come together as a genealogy book club community!

The Genealogy Gems Book Club is a virtual, no-commitment option that features a book every three months that I consider a genealogy gem. We will focus on mainstream nonfiction and fiction titles that explore themes you care about, like family ties, heritage and history. These are books you will want to read for pleasure and recommend to anyone, not just other genealogy lovers.

My favorite part of the Genealogy Gems Book Club is the exclusive author interviews that will appear on the Genealogy Gems free and Premium podcasts in the third month of the featured book (after people have had time to read it). After all, podcasts are all about conversation! I’ve learned in the past that you love interviews with authors, whether you have read the book or not.

genealogy book clubThe FIRST FEATURED BOOK is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by award-winning U.K. journalist Emma Brockes. It recounts the author’s discovery of her mother’s traumatic childhood in South Africa. Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor and Book Club Guru Sunny Morton loves this book: This is a genealogical journey, complete with trips to archives, poring over old court cases and dramatic reveals. It’s also about learning the past from living relatives. This is the ultimate how-to book for exploring and sharing sensitive family stories because she shows you how it’s done.”

Here’s how the three-month cycle works for this new genealogy book club:

  • genealogy book club guru

    Sunny Morton, Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor and Genealogy Book Lovers Group Guru

    In the first month, Sunny Morton, our Genealogy Book Club Guru will introduce us to a new title on the Genealogy Gems free podcast, the Premium Podcast and on the Genealogy Gems blog. She will share a quick run-down on the book and why she recommends it.

  • In the second month, Sunny and I will discuss a gem from the book, and recommend additional titles in case you are looking for something more to read.
  • In the third month, our featured author will join the Genealogy Gems podcast for an exclusive interview. Excerpts from the interview will run on the free podcast and the entire interview will air on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast.

To follow the Genealogy Gems Book Club, go to our home page and sign up to receive our FREE monthly newsletter (you’ll receive my Google Search ebook too as a welcome gift!) Then check in periodically at the Genealogy Gems Book Club webpage, which summarizes all books covered to date and includes additional recommendations. And of course, subscribe to the Genealogy Gems Podcast in iTunes.

Ready to become a Premium member so you’ll catch the full author interviews as well as all the other in-depth coverage on the Genealogy Gems Premium Genealogy Gems book clubpodcast? Click here to learn more.

Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 172 for more details.

See you at the Genealogy Gems Book Club!

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Hard Drive v. Evernote for Genealogy: Which Should I Use?

organize genealogy with EvernoteRecently I heard from Genealogy Gems Premium member Barbara with this question ab0ut using Evernote for genealogy: “I’m a fairly experienced general researcher but am just starting to get serious about genealogy. I plan to use Evernote. I have a number of scanned pictures on my hard drive and plan to establish surname structure as you recommended [in your Premium videos]. What is the relationship between what you keep on your hard drive and what is on Evernote? Is there a podcast on this or could you just reply with a few sentences that can guide me in my early setup? Or point me to some ideas?” Barbara says she has already listened to my Premium videos on Hard Drive Organization (Parts 1 and 2) and Evernote, which are available on this website to Premium members. This is exactly where I would tell anyone else to start. Here’s more advice for Barbara and other Evernote users: Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist I use both Evernote and my hard drive, although the hard drive is mostly just for photos now since they are larger files that gobble up the allotted Evernote upload. Just about everything else just goes to Evernote. Evernote is quite a different animal from a hard drive, though both are storage facilities for our research. Evernote has such a powerful search engine that we don’t have to rely as much on “containers” such as folders like we do on our hard drive. The reason for the detailed hard drive organizational system I recommend is so that we can find things quickly because our computers aren’t as powerful in that regard. And our computer doesn’t apply OCR to our images, which Evernote does making those notes so easily searchable. While there are notebooks in Evernote, I use them sparingly, mostly for projects and top-level categories of organization. Tags are the really defining element of Evernote notes, and I have lots of those. Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideFor more on using Evernote for genealogy, check out my Quick Reference Guides: Evernote for Windows for Genealogists and Evernote for Mac for Genealogists. You can get these as PDF downloads or (in the U.S.) as laminated guides. Also, check out the “How to Organize Your Research with Evernote” Premium video for more specifics. (Not a Premium member yet? Click here to join.) Good question! Thanks for being a Premium member, Barbara!

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The Google Search Operator That Got Away

One of my favorite Google Search Operators is the Tilde (`) which is Google lingo means Synonym. In the past you could add~genealogy to your searches and Google would look for ‘genealogy’, ‘family history’, ‘ancestry’ etc. Unfortunately, it is no more.

Google Search Operator Tilde synonym

Google explained the decision to do away with synonym search this way: “Why? Because too few people were using it to make it worth the time, money, and energy to maintain…Maintaining ALL of the synonyms takes real time and costs us real money. Supporting this operator also increases the complexity of the code base.”

So now, more than ever, it’s important to choose your keywords wisely and think like the person who may be posting information you are looking for. You may think train history, but experts on the subject may be using railroad or locomotive as they write on their website. The good news is you can include all the options in your search query.

Recommended Viewing:
Genealogy Gems Premium Video: Ultimate Google Search Strategies

Recommended Reading:
Things may change online, 
but Genealogy Gems will never change: 
We’re here to help!
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What Has Replaced Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness?

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness RAOGKWhat Has Replaced Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness? It’s a question on many family historians minds, include Genealogy Gems Podcast listener Richard who wrote in with this question:

“Many years ago Bridgett Schneider hosted the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website (RAOGK). This was one of the best sites to get assistance from people willing to give back at a free or very nominal cost (reimbursement). I know someone has attempted to create the same type of page using Wikia (RAOGK wiki) and I have just started working with it, but there are not many volunteers for this site yet.

I was a volunteer for the original RAOGK and will attempt to do the same with the wiki page, but I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for any other types of pages like this. I depend on others so much because my parents’ families are from all over the U.S. My father was career Navy, joining in Minnesota going to Colorado, where my parents met, then moving to Washington DC area, Florida and back to DC. My mom’s family are all from the Minnesota and Oregon areas, so traveling to find information is not always easy. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.”

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistHere’s the scoop on RAOGK:

You’re right, no other website has really taken hold to replace RAOGK. And that’s because Facebook has filled the bill. Genealogists are joining in droves, and many create Facebook accounts strictly for their genealogy efforts. You certainly don’t have to have personal information posted in order to take advantage of the “genealogical crowd sourcing” ability of Facebook.

By “friending” other genealogists you start to build a group of ‘genealogy friends’ you can turn to with questions. But when it comes to specific areas, I go to the Facebook search box and search for Facebook groups on the topic I’m interested in.

For example, I am researching the Munns, Bax and Dixon families of Margate, Kent, England. A search or “Margate History” brought up a fantastic group devoted to the history of Margate. They have amassed an unbelievable amount of shared info, photos, postcards and documents. Not everyone is a genealogist, but everyone is interested in the history of Margate. It’s the first place I would go to post a question or request for help, and inevitably someone will have the answer or be in a location where they can help me.

create facebook groupAlthough the Margate group is “history” focused, you can also search adding the word Genealogy to your location search for a group.And 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.

Bottom line: 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.

I hope that helps. Let me know how it goes, and thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Gems community.

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Returning Orphaned Heirlooms to the Family

custom_text_present_14586Recently my Premium Podcast included a letter from Pat, who was looking for advice on how to return lost or orphaned heirlooms to a family. Ancestry.com had a few family trees posted. Pat didn’t know “whom to contact to get the materials to the most interested, closest family members.” This was my advice–and here’s the inspirational report back.

My advice:

I would first focus on the tree where the tree owner is most closely related to the folks mentioned in the memorabilia. I would probably make copies (depending on what the items are) and offer to all. If I didn’t get a confirmed answer from the first choice in a reasonable time I would offer to my second choice. I would ask the recipient to allow me to pass their contact info on to any others who get around to responding after the fact since it’s everyone’s “family”.

Pat’s response:

“I finally took up the challenge, determined to find a family and offer up the material I had recovered. This material contained old (labeled!) photos, school records, dance cards and letters home to Mom and Dad and seemed potentially quite precious.

It proved difficult to determine which family seemed to have the closest connection, so I decided to offer the material to the person whose Ancestry.com tree contained the most (valid) sources. Fortunately, the tree owner was quick to respond, eager to receive the materials I had to offer. I sent them off and the tree owner is delighted as she is the granddaughter to the original party and believes herself to be the only living descendant of that person!

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistIt feels just right to get those materials back “home”!  I encourage other listeners to do the same.  It produces a great sense of genealogical balance.  So many others have done blessedly wonderful things for me in my research, making it easy to pay it forward just a little bit.

Thank you for the encouragement and the advice. I have loved both podcasts for a number of years now–you are consistently wonderful!”

Thanks, Pat, both for the compliment and for the inspiring message! I love hearing these kinds of stories.

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How to Record Phone Calls on Skype and Smartphones

stickman_customer_service_anim_300_wht_2125Looking for ways to record phone calls for family history interviews? Janice emailed me to ask that very question, and I gave her some ideas that can help you out too.

“I live in Maine and have awesome century old relatives that love to share stories. Most are in nursing homes and have hours and hours available of awesome family stories. I am limited on traveling because most visits are five hour drives one way.  They love talking on the phone. Is there any recommendation for an app that could record our conversations for historical preservation.  I would love to share these stories with the Maine Memory Network before they are forgotten.”

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistHere’s my response:

Lucky you for having these relatives to gather stories from! You mentioned using an “app” so I’m assuming you want to be able to use your smartphone. Here’s a good article with some options for recording from a smartphone.

 

How to record phone calls on Skype

Another alternative is to get a Skype account, and call them from your computer using a headset with microphone. For about $2.95 you can call any phone number (calling another skype account is free) and then you could use the program “Pamela” to record the call. Pamela works seamlessly with Skype, automatically generating the recording when you call. The file is saved on your computer as an easy to use MP3 file. The free version of Pamela lets you record for up to 15 minutes at a time. You can always restart another recording after 15 minutes, or purchase the software for unlimited recording length.

Janice’s response to my advice: “Oh how exciting. I like the Skype idea. I have discovered so many relatives to that were orphaned this would be a great way to capture their lost stories. Thanks a million!”

More Tips for Interviewing Relatives

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastWould you like some tips on how to contact and interview long-lost relatives? Check out these two episodes of the FREE Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast:

Episode 14: How to Contact Long-Lost RelativesConnecting with someone who knows about our ancestors can really boost our research results—and even create new relationships among living kin. But it’s not always easy to send that first email or make that first call. In this episode, we chat with my cousin, Carolyn Ender, who has mastered the art of “genealogical cold calling” by conducting hundreds of telephone interviews.

Episode 15: More Tips for Contacting Distant Relatives. In today’s episode we talk more about “genealogical cold calling” with my cousin, Carolyn Ender, who has conducted hundreds of telephone interviews. Relationships are key to genealogical success and by following 14 genealogical cold calling strategies you will find your research relationships multiplying.

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RootsMagic for Mac

cheerleader_jump_custom_15272Now you can run RootsMagic on your Mac! I’ve been recommending this family tree software for a long time and I’m so pleased to see this development.

Here’s what the press release says about RootsMagic for Mac:

MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 allows you easily install and run RootsMagic on your Mac in mere minutes with almost no additional setup or configuration.

MacBridge for RootsMagic is different than other solutions you may be familiar with. For starters, it does not install Windows on your Mac. It also does not create a slow and bulky virtual computer. It runs right on your Mac, using your Mac file system. You can even put the RootsMagic icon on your dock for easy one-click access! So while we are busily working on an actual native Mac version of RootsMagic, MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 gives you the ability to work on a Mac today.

RootsMagic for MacWant to see it for yourself? Here’s a short video demonstrating how quick and easy it is to download and install RootsMagic onto your Mac. Still have questions? Take a look at our answers to some Frequently-Asked Questions about MacBridge for RootsMagic.

Currently, MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 is available only as a download. The regular price is $14.95 but for a limited time, you can get it for only $9.95.

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Noisy New York City, Jamaican Slave Revolt and Other Digital Archive Projects

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, http://dsl.richmond.edu/historicalatlas/.

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, http://dsl.richmond.edu/historicalatlas/.

Digital archives are getting so much better! They’re not just about reproducing historical documents anymore. Multimedia add-ons–from searchable statistics to animated timelines–fill in the gaps not explained by the map keys.

Recently, Slate.com writer Rebecca posted on some of her favorite digital archives. Four of the five are of interest to genealogists! Read the article to learn more about them:

Historic_Maps_VideoWant to learn more about using maps in your research? Watch my FREE class on Google Earth for Genealogy. Genealogy Gems Premium members can also watch my NEW video class online, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. (Not a Premium member? Learn more here.)

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Create a Family History Website with Your Tree

tree_of_knowledge_book_drop_500_wht_489Recently I heard from David with this question:

“Because of your consistent message of starting a family blog [and] anecdotal success from listeners, I started a family history website. A blog just seemed too small….  The ultimate goal is to display the family information for my known relatives as well as create a site that will pop up on Google search results and hopefully put me in contact with new relatives.

My question is about displaying the family tree on the website.  I want to have a page that shows my family tree.  I did not know how to accomplish that, so I decided to include links to my ancestry and myheritage family trees.  The problem with this method is that ancestry requires you to have an account to view the tree, and MyHeritage only shows you some of the family tree and requires an account to view the rest.  This is not a great method to share the family tree with relatives because not everyone has, or wants, an account with these sites.  Is there a website where I can upload my family tree’s GEDCOM file and then link to it on my website where it will display all the members of my tree?”

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist

It’s always great to hear that Genealogy Gems is helping out. Congrats on the website David! I recommend blogs to my readers because they are quicker and easier to set up, but in reality I would rather recommend they create a family history website like you are doing. It’s better suited for the long haul of getting your word out and connecting with others.

You pose a great question, and so I did what I just coached everyone in my latest episode #171 to do: just Google it! What you are describing is a ‘website plugin’ so I Googled: family tree website plugin and…Ta-da! There are some out there.

I found one for Word Press (which is where I build my site) so I may have to give that one a try. However, since you are using Weebly I went back and added “weebly” to the search and there are definitely some hits there, though I’m not sure if they specifically include a visual tree plug in. Try the searches and see if you find something you like.

My friend Caroline Pointer has a YouTube video called “Build a Family History Website & Blog on Weebly.” Around the 5:50 mark she shows how she embedded family tree charts into Weebly. Looks like she used Scribd.

Keep up the great work on your family history site!

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Cruise the Caribbean with Me! Legacy Genealogy Cruise 2015

Genealogy CruiseWant to cruise the Caribbean in style with me–while learning smart strategies for family history research?

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be the featured speaker at the 12th annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise. We embark on June 20, 2015 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA and will visit Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico on the luxurious Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea ship.

During the seven-day cruise, I will teach seminars focused on getting quality genealogical results, quickly. You’ll receive loads of strategies and tips you can start using right away, from high-tech solutions to busting brick walls. I will join Legacy Family Tree’s Geoff Rasmussen and others who will offer classes on Legacy and other genealogy technology.

Click here more information or to register! You can also call their travel coordinator, Christy, at 1-800-557-8601 or send an email to LegacyFamilyTreeCruise@gmail.com.

See you on board!

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