May 5, 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.

10 Maps for Family History at David Rumsey Map Collection

Imperial Airways Map of Empire & European Air by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1937. Online at DavidRumseyHistoricalMaps.com. Click on the image to see full citation information. Maps for family history.

Imperial Airways Map of Empire & European Air by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1937. Online at DavidRumseyHistoricalMaps.com. Click on the image to see full citation information.

Among more than 15,000 maps and images newly posted at the David Rumsey Map Collection, these caught my eye as particularly useful for family history. Do any of them look relevant to YOUR genealogy?

1. A massive group of German Invasion plans for England, Wales, and Ireland in WWII;

2. A 1682 map of the areas around Mexico City;

3, Two important early atlases of Swiss Topography;

4. An 1886 Imperial Federation Map of the British Empire;

5. A 1912 wall map of rebuilt San Francisco, The Exposition City;

6. An extraordinary mining map of West Kootenay, [British Columbia], 1893;

7. Harry Beck’s groundbreaking London Underground map 1933;

A 1937 Imperial Airways Map showing air travel routes internationally.

Historic_Maps_Video maps for family historyGenealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about using maps for family history in our full-length video class, 5 Ways to Enhance  Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. Here’s an excerpt from the video below about finding and using old Sanborn Fire Maps:

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Find Your Family History in the 1950s

1950s Fords by Bob P.B. on Flickr Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

1950s Fords by Bob P.B. on Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

When we try to research our family history from recent decades, we often find privacy barriers: U.S. census records for 1950 and beyond are closed, as are many vital records. Here are some ideas for finding family history in the 1950s and beyond:

1. Interview relatives. The good news is that in many families, there are relatives around who remembers the 1950s. If there’s not, then look to the memories of the next living generation.

Interviewing a relative is one of the most fun and meaningful ways to learn your family history. You can ask specific and personal questions, 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 free Family History Made Easy podcast episode 2 has a great segment on interviewing your relatives.

2. Read the newspaper. Use newspapers to find obituaries and discover more about daily life, current events, popular opinions of the time, prices for everyday items and more. It’s getting easier than ever to find and search digitized newspapers online, but more recent papers may still be under copyright protection.

Use online resources like to discover what newspapers served your family’s neighborhood, or even whether an ethnic, labor or religious press would have mentioned them. In the US, I always start with the US Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America to search for ALL newspapers published in a particular place and time, as well as the names of libraries or archives that have copies of these papers. Historical societies and local public libraries are also wonderful places to look for newspapers. My book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, teaches readers what to look for in papers and how to locate them online and offline.

3. Search city directories. 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 (great for mapping!), who lived at the house and sometimes additional information like where they worked, what their job was or who they worked for.

Ancestry.com has over a billion U.S. city directory entries online, up to 1989. But most other online city directory collections aren’t so recent. Look for city directories first in hometown public libraries. Check with larger regional or state libraries and major genealogical libraries.

4. Search for historical video footage. YouTube isn’t just for viral cat videos. Look there for old newsreels, people’s home movies and other vintage footage. It’s not unusual to find films showing the old family neighborhood, a school or community function, or other footage that might be relevant to your relatives.

Use the YouTube search box like you would the regular Google search box. 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 tried this tip. 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 celebrity dog! She recognized him from old photos and had read about his dog in the newspapers. (Click here to read her stunned post.) Learn more about searching for old videos in my all-new second edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which has a totally updated chapter on YouTube.

Click here to read more about the 1950s U.S. census: when it will be out and how you can work around its privacy restrictions.

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1950 Census Substitute: What To Use Until its Release Date

An enumerator interviews  President Truman and the First Family for the 1950 Census. Image from www.census.gov.

An enumerator interviews President Truman and the First Family for the 1950 Census. Image from www.census.gov.

The 1950 federal U.S. census will not be released to the public until April 2022. Here are two common questions we hear about the 1950 census:

Can I request individual census entry look-ups?

Yes, you may apply to receive copies of individual census entries from 1950-2010 for yourself or immediate relatives. 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. Click here to learn more about the “Age Search Service” offered through the Census Bureau.

Is there a 1950 census substitute database?

Yes, Ancestry has one. You might find it a little gimmicky, because it’s just taken from their city directory collection from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s. But it’s a good starting point to target your U.S. ancestors living during that time period. The annual listings in city directories can help you track families from year to year.

Your 1950s family history may appear in other records as well, and I’ve got some tips to help you in your search. Click here to learn more!

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RootsMagic Family History Software Now Available on Amazon Prime

RootsMagic bundleAre you an Amazon Prime Member or do you shop Amazon for the free Prime shipping with qualifying orders?

RootsMagic family history software is now eligible for Amazon Prime shipping. According to the company, “For those who have Amazon Prime accounts, this means you can now order RootsMagic (or RootsMagic and the book) and receive free 2 day shipping on that order.  For anyone else (those without Amazon Prime accounts), it means you can get free shipping on RootsMagic from Amazon if your total order is $35 or more.”

Click on the link below to go right to Amazon:
RootsMagic 7 Family Tree Genealogy Software

Why should you use family history software instead of just building your tree  online at a genealogy website? Click here to read why.

Why RootsMagic software? Click here to see why  I recommend it. I’m also huge fan of keeping your master tree on your own software rather than just in an online tree 

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CeCe Moore: DNA for Genealogy and Adoption and MORE on Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 178

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe latest episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast (Episode 178) has been released and it’s PACKED with gems you can use now to inspire your family history!

CeCe Moore Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178First, nationally-renowned genetic genealogist CeCe Moore joins me on the show to talk about using DNA for genealogy research, adoption, and the Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. TV show.

I love CeCe’s analogy of using different DNA test providers to “fish in different ponds.” She talks about using different types of genetic tests (autosomal, y-DNA or mDNA) to chase answers to specific genealogy research questions, and the importance of using test results together, not in isolation. Because autosomal DNA is coming onto so many people’s radar, I ask her to explain that in more depth–its uses and its limitations. CeCe shares her favorite tips for people who are getting started and gives us lots of great examples, including a helpful example for African-Americans who are trying to identify a genetic ancestor (who may also have had a slaveholder relationships with the family).

Also in this episode, we announce the newest featured title in the Genealogy Gems Book Club: The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) by British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Listen to the episode to hear what this mystery novel is about and why we chose it.

Finally, I share some fantastic new record sets that are online now and ready for you to explore, and a Genealogy Gems listener shares an important update on adoption records in Ohio.

Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems PodcastClick here to listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178. Click here to learn more about this free podcast and see an archive of past episodes. We recently celebrated more than 1.5 million downloads of our podcasts!

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Working-Class Roots? British Trade Union Records Now at FindMyPast

construction_tools_cross_icon_400_wht_15780Do you have ancestors who may have been part of a British Trade Union? They could have been carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, lithographic artists, engravers, printers, paper makers, railway servants, watermen, bargement, lightermen, woodworkers, newspaper proofreaders, school teachers, compositors, printers, boilermakers and even local government workers.  Explore these new British Trade Union records at FindMyPast.com:

British Trade Union Membership Registers are now available to browse–257 volumes of them! According to FindMyPast, “These consist of digitized images of original records books from nine different unions. The documents [like admission books, annual reports and membership lists] include details about individual members that can enrich your genealogical research such as payments made, benefits received, names of spouses, profiles of leading members, directories of secretaries and details of Union activities and proceedings.”

Britain, Trade Union Members, Service and Casualties is a new related dataset with over 61,000 entries. It contains the details of members from 18 different unions. The records are a collection of union documents from the war years and do not solely feature individuals who participated in the First World War. The records include daily trade union news and business and frequently acknowledge members who have left for war or joined the services. Many include pages of the union’s Roll of Honour and some include photographs of the members or feature short profiles about specific members. The most extraordinary of the records is the Workers’ Union Record, which regularly features full pages of photographs of service men.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Here’s a tip: Obituaries can be an excellent source of information about an ancestor’s working life. Click here to see an example of my own relative’s working life in his obituary. Click here to read more about finding recent obituaries, which are coming online in droves (by the million, in newly-indexed and/or digitized format). Learn more about finding obituaries (online or offline) in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in print or e-book editions.

 

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Heritage Cookbooks: Recipe for a Sweet Family History

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that's been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that’s been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Recently I heard from Jillian in Arkansas, USA, who wrote about “a recent – and accidental” family history discovery she made in a family cookbook.

“Not long ago, I was listening to archived episodes of your Genealogy Gems podcast where you and a guest were discussing using an address book as a source for research.

“That tidbit stuck with me, and I began to rummage through my things to see if I could find my grandmother’s old exceedingly edited book. No such luck. Just the other night, while trying to decide what to cook for supper, I found something almost as delightful: my great-grandmother passed several cookbooks to me after her death, many with her own notations.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxWhen looking through it, I noticed that the book wasn’t only a cookbook, but a bit of a history book, as well. It was printed by a group of local ladies, and with each section, there is a drawing of a historical home, and an incredibly detailed description, written by the original homeowner, or one of their descendants. The year is published in the front, the community’s history, and a rundown of the prominent citizens.

“None of my direct relatives were listed, but the unexpected breath of facts–the who’s, where’s, when’s–is invaluable to anyone looking for their loved one in that area. I never would’ve considered a cookbook as a source for genealogy research, but there it was, on a shelf, with my great-grandmother’s other books. And of course, I’m scouring them for relatives right now.”

Thanks to Jillian for writing in: click here to check out her family history blog about heritage cookbooks. The podcast episode she mentioned was likely one of our Genealogy Gems book club conversations about She Left Me the Gun, in which the author used her mother’s address book to learn family history.

Do you love the combination of food and family history? Or browsing heritage cookbooks as a window into the past? I do! I invite you to:

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Mr. Spock is Related to Captain Kirk?!? Celebrity Genealogy

"STWink Eye" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:STWink_Eye.jpg#/media/File:STWink_Eye.jpg.

“STWink Eye” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:STWink_Eye.jpg#/media/File:STWink_Eye.jpg.

After the passing of beloved actor Leonard Nimoy last month, MyHeritage.com took a closer look at his ancestry. Through resources on the world tree site Geni.com, MyHeritage discovered that this star of the Star Trek universe is related to another of its stars, though in the show they portray characters from different worlds.

According to a MyHeritage blog post, “Leonard Nimoy is William Shatner’s second cousin once removed’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s great niece’s husband’s fourth cousin’s ex-husband.”

Okay, so they’re very distantly and circuitously related! But they are, just like many of us. Click on the blog post above to see a chart showing their family relationship.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Celebrity genealogy aside, do you want to chart your own topsy-turvy family relationships? Click here to find out about relationship calculators and how they help relatives figure out how they are related to each other.

 

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Video: Italian Genealogy Research Tips with Mary Tedesco

There’s a new video interview on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel! Mary Tedesco of Genealogy Roadshow (on PBS in the US) talks about doing the show and her tips for doing Italian genealogy research.

Mary recently published Tracing Your Italian Ancestors, an 84-page guide to researching. There’s a section on using U.S. records to learn essentials about your family, and then a section on researching in Italian records. In this interview, she talks about traveling to Italy to research for others and the importance of using Italian church records in local parish churches or diocesan archives.

Learn more about Mary at her website, Origins Italy, or visit the Genealogy Roadshow website to learn about her involvement on that show. Also, Mary joined us as a guest on the FREE Genealogy Gems podcast, episode 175. Click here to listen!

If you watch genealogy TV shows like Genealogy Roadshow or Who Do You Think You Are? or Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr, go to our home page and search on the category “Genealogy TV.” See what we’ve blogged about!

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Love Finding Old Maps Online? Help “Index” Them!

The Beaver Map, 1715. By Special Collections Toronto Public Library. Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Beaver Map, 1715. By Special Collections Toronto Public Library. Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently I’ve seen two calls for volunteers to help “georeference” old maps. Basically, you’re tagging the maps in a way similar to tagging photos of people on social media sites. This makes finding old maps online easier and more accurate. It also allows sites to overlay the old and new maps. “Some places have changed significantly or disappeared completely, creating a puzzle that reveals an exciting contrast,” explains the British Library.

These two sites are asking for volunteers:

The British Library Online Gallery. The British Library is asking for volunteers to help georeference 50,000 maps it’s put online. Go right to the site and you’ll see the invitation to help on the home page. You’ll also see that you can click on a tab to search maps that are already georeferenced! The British Library tells its volunteers: “Your name will be credited, and your efforts will significantly improve public access to these collections. Contributors can see the results of their work, as well as the progress of the pilot and other participants, and the top contributor will be publicly announced.”

David Rumsey Historical Maps. This mega-maps site is also looking for volunteers to help add locations to its online map collections. On the home page, click on the left where it says Georeferencer: Help Add Location to Maps.

figures_lost_looking_at_map_anim_500_wht_15601We blog about maps a lot here at Genealogy Gems. To learn more about using old maps online and for genealogy, go to our home page and search on the Maps category on the lower left side of the page. Additionally, Genealogy Gems Premium members have access to full-length video classes like these:

Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member? Click here to become one!

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