May 6, 2016

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.

Is This Website Down or Is It Just Me? Downforeveryoneorjustme

downforeveryoneorjustmeWhen a website is down, use downforeveryoneorjustme to see whether the problem is on your end or theirs. Save yourself some hassle with this free web tool!

If you’re like me, you sometimes come across websites that just don’t seem to cooperate with you.  Perhaps they never load, or you get some sort of an error message. It can be frustrating, particularly when you are hot on the trail of your genealogy research.

The good news is that there is a free website to help you quickly determine whether the problem is with your online computer access or whether it’s a problem with the website itself.

The site is Down ForEveryoneOrJustMe.com. This is what it looks like. Yes, this is the entire home page:

downforeveryoneorjustme capture

Simply type the link into their search box, click the link, and go. Downforeveryoneorjustme will give you an immediate response and offer to help you access other sites (like in the image below.)

downforeveryoneorjustme

When you Google the name of the website, you’ll see that they have webpages devoted to checking on the major social media sites with a single click:

downforeveryoneorjustme various

According to Tech Crunch.com, this bare-bones site was created by a Twitter employee. It’s sure a handy tool!Knowing whether the problem is on your end or theirs helps you know whether to check your own internet service or whether to wait for the site to come back online.

display family history photos on TV with ChromecastMore Tech Tips To Make Life Easier

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Bring Your Family History to the Big Screen: How to Use Chromecast

VIDEO: 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without (Premium website membership required)

 

Ancestral Landmark Discovery Using Google Earth for Family History

google earth for family hsitory and genealogy landmark findThom learned how to use Google Earth for family history after watching my free Google Earth for Genealogy video, and then made a landmark discovery: his ancestors’ pond, business and a photo of his family at work.

This Using Google Earth for Family History success story was recently sent in by Thom, a young genealogist who blogs at The Millennial Genealogist. Be sure to click on the picture that goes with his story–it’s really neat.

“I am writing to share with you a TOTAL (and entirely unexpected) success in using Google tools for my research. By way of introduction, I am a young genealogist (age 21) from Massachusetts. I recently discovered your podcast and have been working through the archived episodes on my daily 1.5 hour commute. I watched your Google Earth presentation last weekend, and had some time to try your tips out after work today.

My family has strong roots in North Attleboro, Bristol County, Massachusetts. So I decided that my first task would be to find a good historical map to overlay. A quick Google search yielded a 1943 USGS map of the greater Attleboro area on the University of New Hampshire website. Some quick adjustments left me with this great result:

attleboro map overlay google earth for family history

My curiosity having been piqued, I began exploring the map. I know that two sets of my second-great-grandparents, Bert Barrett and Grace Freeman, and James Adams and Elizabeth Todd, all lived near Oldtown Church (presently the First Congregational Church). I zoomed in:

Attleboro topo map google earth for family hsitory

Looking at Google’s current street names, Oldtown Church is right by the intersection of Mt. Hope and Old Post (you’ll note the small cross). Now keep following Mt. Hope Street – do you see what I see? Todd’s Pond! I just knew this couldn’t be a coincidence. So I went straight to Google again:

attleboro google search
​And the very first result, a page within a Google Book on the history of North Attleboro, was astonishing:

In the days before electric refrigeration, North Attleborough’s homes and stores relied upon ice harvested from either Whiting’s Pond or Todd’s Pond (depicted here). By the time this 1906 photograph was taken, farmers George, Henry, James, and William Todd found selling ice more profitable than farming and founded the Oldham Ice Co. Todd’s Pond was located on the westerly side of Old Post Road near the corner of Allen Avenue. The Oldtown Church is visible in the background.  -from North Attleborough by Bob Lanpher, Dorothea Donnelly and George Cunningham (Images of America series, Arcadia; click here to see the picture that goes with this photo, along with other pictures he found with a follow-up visit to the area)

The ice trade around New York; from top: ice houses on the Hudson River; ice barges being towed to New York; barges being unloaded; ocean steamship being supplied; ice being weighed; small customers being sold ice; the "uptown trade" to wealthier customers; an ice cellar being filled; by F. Ray, Harper's Weekly, 30 August 1884. Public domain image, Wikimedia Commons. Click to view.

The ice trade around New York; from top: ice houses on the Hudson River; ice barges being towed to New York; barges being unloaded; ocean steamship being supplied; ice being weighed; small customers being sold ice; the “uptown trade” to wealthier customers; an ice cellar being filled; by F. Ray, Harper’s Weekly, 30 August 1884. Public domain image, Wikimedia Commons. Click to view.

Mentioned by name are great-great-grandmother Elizabeth’s​ four brothers, George, Henry, James, and William Todd. What a spectacular find! I plan to reach out to the local museum that prepared the book to see if they can provide a better copy, and even additional media should I be so fortunate.

In short, I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU so very much! Had I not been exploring Google Earth at your suggestion, I’m not sure if I ever would have ever noticed “Todd’s Pond.”

I hope you are using Google Earth for family history! Paired with Google Books and the rest of rest of Google’s genealogy tool box, it can help you unearth fascinating facts about your family history. Here’s an image I found (using Google Images) that shows the process of harvesting ice, a profession long gone with the age of modern refrigeration.

Resources for Using Google Earth for Family History

In my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, I’ll teach you how to use Google Earth for family history, along with Google Books, Google Images and more. Bundle it with my Google Earth for Genealogy video tutorial series for your complete Google Earth for family history education. Both are packed with step-by-step instructions and examples from my own family history research to inspire you. Google and all its powerful tools are FREE. Why not invest some time in learning to harness its power?

More Google Earth for Family History Success Stories

Alvie Discovers His Unknown Childhood Home: 4 Steps for Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Was This My Ancestor’s Neighborhood?

 

Trove: Australia Digitized Newspapers and More

TroveThis free video (below) introduces Trove, The National Library of Australia’s online catalog and digital archive for all things Australian. 

If you have roots in Australia, I hope you are using Trove. When I first covered it in the Genealogy Gems podcast a while back, it was a fairly new resource and I shared how it is chock full of 76 million digitized newspaper articles. Now that number is up to nearly 200 million articles. The site has expanded its other content, too. If you haven’t looked for your Aussie roots on Trove recently, you’re really missing out!

Trove helps you find and use resources relating to Australia. It’s more than a search engine. Trove brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations and gives you tools to explore and build.

Trove is many things: a community, a set of services, an aggregation of metadata, and a growing repository of fulltext digital resources.

Best of all, Trove is yours, created and maintained by the National Library of Australia.

That’s how the site introduces itself, and it sure lives up to its claim. As shown in the video below, Trove lets you search among “zones” of online content:

  • digitized newspapers; journals, articles and data sets;
  • online and offline books, audiobooks, theses and pamphlets;
  • pictures, photos and objects;
  • music, sound and video files;
  • maps, atlases, charts and globes;
  • diaries, letters and personal papers;
  • archived websites;
  • people and organizations; and
  • a zone for user-created lists.

You can browse these zones individually or search them all with a single click. You can search for just items available online, in Australian-only content, or just in libraries you specify. Creating a free user ID allows you to personalize your experience and participate in online forums. From my U.S. perspective, it would be like having the Library of Congress main website and all its offshoots such as Chronicling America rolled up together with WorldCatArchiveGrid, Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine–but focused entirely on my country.

When it comes to those nearly-200 million newspaper articles, you can search these by keyword or browse by newspaper title, state, date, category (article, ad or list) or tag. Refine search results by place, title, Newspaper Book Covercategory, whether illustrated, decade and even the length of the article. You can even sign up to receive alerts to newly-posted material that matches your search criteria.

Remember, newspaper research in genealogy isn’t just about obituaries or wedding anniversary announcements. It’s about understanding the daily lives of our ancestors, and I share more strategies on uncovering these gems in my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers (available as an e-book or in print).

Here’s a video from the National Library of Australia with an overview of Trove:

Click here to search newspapers on Trove now.

DNA down underMORE Australia Genealogy Gems

New Australia Genealogy Records Online

AncestryDNA in Australia and New Zealand

Assisted Immigration: Queensland Passenger Lists

 

 

Here’s an Exclusive Discount on NEW Mastering RootsMagic Class

Mastering RootsMagic classCheck out this exclusive discount on a new Mastering RootsMagic class. You’ve invested in the choosing the right software–now make the most of your investment.

OK, all you RootsMagic users: Last week I heard that Family Tree University is offering a brand new course on Mastering RootsMagic. That caught my attention. I use RootsMagic software to retain control of my master family tree (click here to see why) and I know many Gems listeners and readers do, too. And of course we want to be masters of the most important tools we use for our genealogy.

The FTU class is NOT on sale to the public: it’s brand new and being offered at full price. I got in touch with Family Tree University and asked them if they would extend a special discount to you since we’ve been talking so much lately about the importance of databases.

They are wonderful over there, and they agreed to a 15% discount just for Gems readers and listeners.

buy now

 

 

So here’s the scoop about the class:

Mastering RootsMagic Class

In this 4-week, no-pressure, self-pace online course, you’ll find ways to make the most of all RootsMagic has to offer. For example, you’ll learn:

  • mastering rootsmagic class coupon codeHow to get started using RootsMagic
  • Step-by-step processes for creating your family tree and uploading a gedcom
  • How to develop your family tree
  • Add source citations, edit information, attach pictures and other media, and more
  • Organization tips and tools, like creating timelines, charts, reports, and research logs
  • Making the most of RootsMagic to create a family website or write your family history

RootsMagic expert and FTU instructor Diana Smith will be available throughout to answer your questions personally.

Use your exclusive discount code GENEALOGYGEMS15  and get 15% off through 4/26/16. Enroll for just $84.99. Click HERE to learn more and enroll today!

More RootsMagic Gems

RootsMagic Review: Why I Use It

RootsMagic 7 Can Now Import Family Tree Maker Files Directly

Better RootsMagic for Mac Options Now Available

You and Albert Einstein May Have This in Common

Albert Einstein cluttered deskIs a cluttered desk a familiar sight to you? Maybe you and Albert Einstein have something in common. Or maybe you’re more like tenacious photographer Ralph Morse, who captured the now-famous image of Einstein’s desk the day he died.

Many a genealogist has written to me over the years, heaping discontent on their own heads because of their lack of organization. They are sure that those piles of papers, sticky notes and backs of napkins mean failure on their part. I always assure them that it is the sign of a prolific researcher. I also do my best to share strategies that can help ease the clutter.

But as you can see from an iconic and rare photo of Albert Einstein’s desk published in this Time article online, you are in great company indeed. This image was snapped just hours after his passing 61 years ago today.

The story of this photo is as important as the message it conveys. It’s a story of tenacity: the willingness of one photographer to think outside the box and ask for what he wanted. Certainly this is a trait worthy of a family historian emulating.

Like many other journalists and reporters, Ralph Morse jumped in his car and headed to Princeton when he heard the news of Einstein’s death. The difference between him and the others, however, was that he came prepared with a case of Scotch he picked up along the drive.

I appreciate this part of the story because it reminds me of a piece of advice that I always give in my class on how to find living relatives: “Never show up empty handed.” If we’re going to stretch our hand out in hopes of receiving advice, copies of documents or access to genealogical information, there ought to be something in that hand for the person assisting us. For example, I keep a stack of hard-cover photo books I had made up on my various family lines, ready and waiting to be given to any newly found cousins I hope to interview. (Hmm, should I bring Scotch instead? But I digress….)

Morse approached the building superintendent at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (where Einstein’s had his office) with a bottle of Scotch and a request to look inside. He received immediate, and exclusive, access. The result was an entire series of iconic and totally unique photos.

Guilt over a lack of organization has ground many a productive genealogy research afternoon to a screeching halt. And although good organization is certainly worth striving for, it’s not worthy of derailing your passion for family history.

Although a picture speaks a thousand words, I think I’ll give the last word to Einstein himself:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Genealogy Organization Gems For You

save time and find your ancestorsHow to Save Time and Actually FIND the Ancestors You’re Looking For

How to Organize Digital Pictures

Cloud Storage and Computer Backup: Why Have Both

 

 

 

How To Pronounce Names: Google Translate and Name Pronunciation Tools

how do you pronounce thatCheck out these 3 free online tools that help with how to pronounce names.

Recently, I heard from a Genealogy Gems listener in The Netherlands, who shared research tips for those starting to trace Dutch ancestors. I wanted to mention his email on my free Genealogy Gems podcast, but I didn’t know how to pronounce his name, Niek.

There have been other times I wished I knew how to pronounce names of ancestors or distant cousins, or other foreign words. Here are 3 free online tools that can help. They’re each a little different. I’m giving you all three so you can run the name through more than one site to be even more confident you’re getting the right pronunciation.

1. Google Translate is a powerful, free tool I use for quick translation look-ups. Google Translate now has an audio tool for some languages that will pronounce the words you enter. Look for the speaker icon in the bottom left corner of the translate box and click it:

Google Translate how to pronounce Niek

Google Translate is an awesome free tool for other reasons, too–click here to read about one of its qualities that actually got a gasp out of the audience when I mentioned it in a lecture.

how to pronounce niek2. Forvo describes itself as “the largest pronunciation guide in the world, the place where you´ll find millions of words pronounced in their original languages.” It’s like a pronunciation wiki. A quick search for “Niek” gave me the result shown here. I clicked on “Pronunciation by MissAppeltaart” to hear how that contributor (who is from The Netherlands) said that name. By the way, you can contribute your own pronunciations by clicking on “Pronounce” to see a list of words that are waiting to be recorded.

niek at pronounce names3. Pronounce Names gives you visual cues for pronouncing a name, which is helpful for those who aren’t sure they heard an audio pronunciation correctly. This is what it looks like when you ask for a name pronunciation for Niek.

More Free Online Tools–These are Gems!

Try These Two Powerful Tools for Finding Genealogy Records OnlineTry These 2 Powerful Online Tools for Finding Genealogy Records

New Online Property Map Tools for U.S. Genealogy Research

Compare Look-Alikes in Your Family with This Facial Recognition Web App

How to Add Free Genealogy Gems Sessions to the NGS 2016 app

Featured Image ngs 2016 appThe NGS 2016 app is now available. Here’s how to customize your conference experience by adding the free Genealogy Gems booth sessions to your schedule.

Those attending the National Genealogical Society conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on May 4-7 will find the new NGS 2016 app enormously helpful. With it, you can:

  • keep up-to-the-minute with conference news,
  • connect with other attendees,
  • build a personalized schedule for sessions you want to attend,
  • find exhibitors (we’re in the Genealogy Gems booth #228!),
  • take notes and download handouts and presentations, and
  • comment on the sessions you attend.

Here’s how to set it up.

01 tap exhibitors ngs 2016 app

First, click here to download the NGS 2016 app, which is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and web-enabled devices. You don’t need to be registered already for NGS to download and use the app. Here’s the NGS app home screen:

Tap “My Schedule” to add official NGS classes to your custom calendar. For example, you can add my Thursday 4:00 pm session, “How to Follow and Envision Your Ancestor’s Footprints Through Time with Google Earth” or Friday 9:30 am session, “Ultimate Google Search Strategies For Genealogy 2.0.”

You can also add the extra, FREE classes being taught at the Genealogy Gems theater in the Exhibitor Hall, which include my own and those of my NGS 2016 special guests:

schedule ngs 2016 app

You won’t find these listed in the app under “My Schedule,” but you can still add them to your custom calendar. Here’s how.

From the home screen, tap “Exhibitors.” On the exhibitor screen you can tap “L” for Lisa or search any part of the name in the search box. Here’s the easiest way to find us: search Gems.

03 search gems ngs 2016 app

Tap our listing to get more details. Tap the star button in the left column (image below) to bookmark us as one of your favorites. (And yes, you’re one of our favorites, too!)04 tap start to bookmark ngs 2016 app

Tap the settings icon (3 horizontal lines) and you can Filter by Bookmarks (image below.)

05 filter by bookmarks ngs 2016 app

 

Now add the free sessions you want to choose. It’s easy to do. From our exhibitor screen, tap the MySchedule icon. (Be sure to do this from our exhibit screen rather than the home screen because it’s going to save you a lot of typing. You’ll thank me!)

06 tap schedule ngs 2016 app

When you tap MySchedule (image above), the screen below will pop up. Perhaps you’d really like to learn how to use Evernote for genealogy. Terrific, because I’ll be teaching that class on Wednesday, May 4 at 1:15 PM in the Genealogy Gems booth in the Exhibitor Hall. Let’s add it to your calendar.07 set event ngs 2016 app

Simply tap TITLE and start typing. The location is conveniently already linked (see, I told you that you would save time using this method!). Tap the date and use the scroll menu to select the exact time and date of the class. Wrap it all up by adding the length: our classes are 30 minutes. You’ve even got a spot to add your own Notes.

08 class ngs 2016 app

 

When you’re all done, tap DONE. And there you go! Beginner Evernote is now on your schedule at 1:15 PM.

Now tap the Plus sign again and add the Advanced Evernote class. (You know you want to!)

09 all classes ngs 2016 app

I’m looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible at NGS 2016! Click here to see all the Genealogy Gems events at NGS 2016–and the free swag you can win. See you there!

NGS 2016 official social media badge

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s our weekly roundup of new genealogy records online. Which ones mention your ancestors? Think Australian, British, Czech, German, Irish and the U.S. (Illinois, New Jersey and Texas).

AUSTRALIA IMMIGRATION. A new collection of passenger lists for Victoria, Australia (1852-1924) is now browsable for free on FamilySearch.org.

BRITISH MILITARY. Findmypast.com has released over 900,000 Royal Navy and Royal Marine service and pension records (1704-1919). Transcripts and images may divulge personal details along with the particulars of a person’s military service, next of kin, payment and more.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA HOLOCAUST. A new database of selected Holocaust records for Prague, Czechoslovakia (1939-1945) is available at Ancestry.com, as is an update to a companion database of Czech Holocaust records for the same time period, both from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

ENGLAND – SURREY. Ancestry.com has posted various new records collections for Sutton, Surrey, England: Church of England vital records spanning 1538-1812; more Church of England births and baptisms (1813-1915), marriages and banns (1754-1940) and deaths and burials (1813-1985); tax collection rate books (1783-1914) and electoral registers (1931-1970).

GERMANY – HESSE CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Nearly 300,000 indexed names have been added to a free online collection of civil registrations for Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany (1811-1814, 1833-1928).

IRELAND CHURCH. The initial phase of a fantastic new collection of Irish Quaker church records has been published at Findmypast.com. Over 1.3 million Irish Quaker records are there now, including births, marriages, deaths, school and migration records, many dating back to the mid-1600s.

UK VITAL EVENTS. Ancestry.com has added new collections of UK births, marriages and deaths recorded in far-flung places or unusual settings: at sea (1844-1890); with the Army and Navy (1730-1960); and as registered by British consulates (1810-1968).

US – ILLINOIS BIRTHS. About 160,000 indexed names have been added to a collection of Cook County, Illinois birth certificates (1871-1940). Cook County includes the city of Chicago.

US – NEW JERSEY MARRIAGES. Over 100,000 names are newly-indexed in a free online collection of New Jersey marriage records (dating to 1670!) at FamilySearch.org.

US – TEXAS IMMIGRATION. About 860,000 indexed names have been added to a free existing database of Laredo, Texas passenger arrival manifests (1903-1955) at FamilySearch.org.

share celebrate balloonsThere are literally millions of new genealogy records online every week. It’s hard to keep up, so will you help us spread the word? Thanks for sharing this list on your favorite social media site.

How to Name Sources in RootsMagic 7

how to name sources in rootsmagic 7 organize your genealogy

How to name sources in RootsMagic 7 is a matter of personal preference. My preference? Simply and consistently!

Helen recently transitioned from Mac Family Tree 7 to RootsMagic 7. She sent me this question about how to name sources in RootsMagic:

“I stripped out all sources from my old file before exporting the GEDCOM because I wanted to start fresh with a consistent system in RootsMagic 7. I have watched their webinars for sourcing and understand the basic how-to. I’d love to hear your strategy for naming your sources… say census records. If the names are too general, then you have a lot of data entry for each incident. But if the name is too specific, your source list gets very long very quickly. Do you add ID numbers to your sources?

Thanks to Helen for the question! Naming your sources in RootsMagic is really a personal preference, so the first rule of thumb is not so much about what you call them, but rather that you do so consistently. If you have a naming convention that you follow that works, having a very long list won’t be as intimidating.

I used to number my sources long ago in my old database software. Actually that software did it automatically which I really liked, mainly because I put that number in the name of the digital file for the corresponding record image. RootsMagic 7 allows us to attach our images, so that is no longer an issue.

Here’s an example of my simple approach to naming sources:

Record type > Year > Surname > First name (head of household)

Example: Census 1940 Moore Jay Bee

This way, all census records are grouped together in the source list. The date gives me a time frame of reference (i.e. it is Jay Bee Moore my grandfather rather than his grandfather), Surname, then head of households first name.

If the source is about Jay Bee himself, it works. The source may also mention his wife Pauline, and his son Ronald, but I don’t need to take up space including all of those name in the file name. I know that if I need a source for where Pauline was in 1940, I would find her under her husband Jay Bee. This mirrors my hard drive organization methodology, which I teach in my Genealogy Gems Premium videos.

What if there’s another related family on the same page of that census? This is where personal preference comes in. I save that same census page to the other family’s surname folder on my computer as well. Yes, it is a duplication (and I rarely duplicate effort), but in this case it works for me and I’m consistent. I find it fits better with my hard drive organization, and saves me time down the road when I’m working with a particular family. I could have named the source “Census 1940 Kings Co CA ED16-20 p6,” which is indeed one single unique page of that census but that just isn’t as helpful to me later for retrieval.

Remember, these are your sources, and you can do with them as you please. You are the only one who will be working with them. Again, I’m sharing a process that works well for me. And I always keep my eyes open for new and better ways to do things like this, but even when I find them, I weigh them against the question, “Do I really want to invest the time in changing this that I would have invested in research?” Usually the answer is “No!” unless my way has a proven flaw that will cause me more grief in the end.

There are lots of other ways to do it out there. You know me, I often turn to Google for answers. If you have a question, chances are someone out there has had it too. Google can help you quickly tap into answers. A Google search of how to name sources in Rootsmagic leads to a web page called Organizing Source Names in RM5. It’s a discussion forum where someone posted a similar question. There are a couple of very viable options offered and great discussion about how to decide what works for you. This is one reason I like and recommend RootsMagic, which is a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast–because they provide so many helpful tutorials with their software. Another great resource is a blog series by Randy Seaver (click the label “RootsMagic”) on how to enter a new source and create a citation.

More Gems on Family History Software

sync treesKeeping Up with Online and Master Family Trees

“Is That Software Expired?” Why I Wouldn’t Use Obsolete Family Tree Maker Software

How to Download and Backup Your Ancestry Data: Why To Keep Your Master Tree at Home

 

 

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