February 9, 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.

Why PC World Likes Backblaze for Cloud Backup

backblaze thumbs up cloud backupCloud backup services are “one of the smartest things we can do” for our computer says PC World/MacWorld. Here’s why they just gave Backblaze a shout-out.

This past week, PC World/Mac World ran an article on Backblaze‘s cloud-based computer backup service, which I use and love here at Genealogy Gems. Senior Editor Brad Chacos reminded readers that “when it comes to backing up your precious data, investing in an online backup service is one of the smartest things you can do.”

Cloud-based backup services run 24/7 through your internet connection, constantly saving changes you make to every file. That means if your computer is lost, stolen, destroyed or hit with deadly viruses, you’ll always have copies of your files available to you.

One challenge of cloud-based backup is that we’ve all got more digital stuff these days. “As more and more of our lives goes digital, from movies to photos to game libraries, hard drives are filled more than ever before,” says Chacos. It’s not so easy to download that much material online if you ever need to restore your data. The solution is to ship an entire hard drive to a customer, but that can come at a pretty pricey additional charge ($100 or more). Not fun for a customer who’s already stressed about losing their data.

Backblaze has announced a new solution: its Restore Return Refund Program. “The Restore Return Refund program is for customers who do not need to keep a USB drive after they’ve recovered their lost data,” the site says. “Backblaze offers refunds for returned drives ($99 for USB flash drives, $189 for USB hard drives) within 30 days of receiving the drive, effectively making the process of restoring free! This is a great option if a customer needs to restore a large amount of data, potentially on multiple drives, but does not need to own the USB drives after the recovery.”

The Restore Return Refund Program earns a thumbs-up from Chacos. “Giving customers access to physical backups for the cost of shipping alone removes a huge potential burden from the shoulders of Backblaze subscribers.” He points out that other leading cloud-based computer backup services either won’t ship hard drives at all or continue to charge large fees for it. The Next Web and Verge also gave Backblaze‘s new program (and Backblaze itself) high marks this week.

This new program is just one more reason I’m glad I choose Backblaze to take care of the ENORMOUS amounts of video, audio and other data I create here at Genealogy Gems. It just makes sense. At just $4.99 a month, Backblaze is so affordable–and the service it provides is so crucial–that I can’t see backing up my computers any other way. They’re a sponsor of my free Genealogy Gems podcast because I’ve checked them out thoroughly and–just as thoroughly–I recommend them.

More Gems on Cloud Backup Services

cloud storage computer backup plan backblazeOnline Trees Aren’t Secure: How I Keep My Master Family Tree Safe

“I Was Robbed!” They Took the Computer AND the Backup Drive: Another Argument for Cloud Backup

New Security Measure Improves on Backblaze’s Already Excellent Service

3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Mobile Device

getting the most out of your mobile deviceEver feel like your tablet or smart phone is smarter than you? Here are 3 quick tips for getting the most out of your mobile device.

If you’ve got a mobile device–a smart phone, tablet or iPad–but aren’t really sure how to use it, you’re not alone. This common problem makes me think of this video below of how one father uses his iPad. Check out the expression on his daughter’s face!

Don’t resort to using your mobile device as a cutting board! There are so many things you can do with it in everyday life, for work or hobbies–and especially for genealogy. I’ll teach you more step-by-step mobile genealogy in the coming months. But let’s get started with these 3 quick tips for getting the most out of your mobile device:

1. Know your mobile device. In the case of an iPad, for example, which generation do you have (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Air, Pro etc.)? Which operating system does it use? How much storage space is on the device itself and how much cloud-based storage space do you have? (How much is available right now?) Your ability to answer these questions will help you to know which apps you can use and will help you best manage your device’s memory.

Don’t be afraid to browse your device to find these answers. If you can’t find the answers, (and there’s no 15 year old handy to help you), just Google your question. Below are two sample Google searches I ran: click to read the top result for each! (You can model your specific Google search phrase after the examples below.)

2. Keep your device updated to its current operating system.

Sometimes when you’re having trouble using your mobile device, it’s because its operating system is out-of-date. (On Apple products, you’ll see that referred to as iOS.) Some people consider it annoying to have to frequently update their operating systems, but the world of mobile technology changes so quickly that you really do need the most current system to be glitch-free and good-to-go.

How to find the version of your operating system:

1. Tap Settings
2. Tap General (iOS) or About Device (Android)
3. Tap Software Update
4. You will either see that your operating system software is up to date (and what version it currently is), or you will be notified it is out of date and prompted to update it.

An up-to-date operating system helps ensure you are getting the most out of your mobile device.

3. Get to know your Settings.

settings iconYour Settings icon probably looks like a gear. Open it. Browse the different areas so you’ll become familiar with it. Some features you’ll want to use will require that you activate them in the Settings. Also, sometimes if your device is supposed to support a feature but it doesn’t work, that may be an indication that you need to update something in your Settings. It’s not difficult to do!

mobile genealogy bookIn the coming months, I’ll teach you LOTS more about using your mobile device for genealogy (and everything else). Just enter your email in the “Sign Up for the Free Email Newsletter” box on any page on my website to make sure you’ll receive these helpful articles. (You’ll also receive a free gift just for signing up!)

Ready to make ensure that you’re getting the most out of your mobile device for genealogy?
My brand-new book Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research is on SALE for those who pre-order through January 31, 2016.

Why Google Bought YouTube–And Why That’s Good for Genealogy!

why google bought youtube for genealogyUsing YouTube for genealogy can be so effective partly because of who owns YouTube: Google!

In 2006, Google acquired YouTube, a video-sharing website, not long after it was launched. Ten years later, YouTube claims the attention of a billion people around the world: a third of all internet users. At last count,  more than 300 hours of video footage are uploaded every minute to the site.

Why should genealogists care? For the same reason Susan Wojcicki wanted to buy YouTube. She was supervising Google Video acquisitions  at the time of the purchase and is now the CEO of YouTube. According to this article, she watched the video shown below of teenage boys lip-syncing to a famous boy band. She doesn’t admit whether she enjoyed their groove, but she did say, “That was the video that made me realize that ‘Wow, people all over the world can create content, and they don’t need to be in a studio.'” Check it out–then keep reading.

Yes, YouTube makes it possible for anyone to share videos of all kinds, including genealogy-friendly content like:

  • Original footage of events all the way back to the invention of the movie camera.
  • Family history documentaries created by users that may include your family.
  • Instructional videos that will help you become a better researcher, create a family heirloom, or learn the latest genealogy software.
  • Video tours of archives, libraries, and other repositories that will help you prepare for and get the most out of your visit.
  • Interviews with genealogy experts and vendors.
  • Entertaining videos that add enjoyment to one of the world’s most popular hobbies.
  • Your family in other family’s home movies.

Andrew OHotnicky on the fire truck compressedEVEN BETTER, Google’s acquisition of YouTube means you can use the same powerful search methodologies you use for Google searches to find YouTube content you want.

Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton didn’t really believe me when she read the YouTube chapter in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Then she tried it. She discovered a 1937  film news reel showing her husband’s great-grandfather driving his fire engine! (Click here to read about her discovery and about how she’ll never doubt me again, ha ha!)

Why not take five minutes now to see what YOU can find on YouTube for genealogy?

1. Look again at the list above or click here to read more details about family history content on YouTube. Choose a family line, location, brick wall, display or craft idea to search for.

2. Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverGo to YouTube’s home page. Enter a few Google search terms on the topic you hope to find.

3. Browse results. If you don’t find anything useful, widen your search or come at it from a different angle.

4. Try additional topics. Certainly DON’T give up after one search! Sunny’s discovery was made on her second topic–less than five minutes after trying a first topic and realizing she didn’t know enough about that family to recognize their lives in the cool footage she was finding. Instead, she searched YouTube for a man she knew a lot about-enough to recognize him in a video that didn’t name him.

To learn more in-depth how to use YouTube for genealogy, I invite you to read my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. The YouTube chapter helped Sunny find amazing family footage in less than five minutes–see what it can do for you!

More YouTube for genealogy gems

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

YouTube Video: How to Use a Microfilm or Microfiche Reader

10 Top Tips for Busting Through Your Genealogy Brick Wall: Live Interview

This Ancestor Wrote a Poem like “Where I’m From”

Recently Genealogy Gems podcast listeners penned their own versions of a family history poem, “Where I’m From.” This listener found that his ancestor wrote one, too.

Recently I got a lovely email from Scott, a Genealogy Gems Premium website member whom I’ve heard from before. He said:

where i'm from version by evelina bailey“We’ve chatted before about some of the letters that have been passed down to me. Your segments on the ‘Where I’m From’ poems reminded me of a very special poem that I have.  Evalina Belmont Hill was born in 1802 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  She married Francis Baker Bailey there in 1819.  Shortly after that, they moved across Virginia, then into Pope County, Arkansas before Arkansas statehood.  After Francis died, she lived with family in southern Missouri. This is a poem she wrote in 1819 shortly after the married and moved away from home, thinking that she would not see her family again. I thought I would share it as a part of ‘Where I’m From.’ Best regards.  Thanks for all you do for us.”

In case you can’t read it easily, here’s a transcription, which includes her unique spelling:

Home

There is a lovely spot of earth
To whitch I cling with fond delight
It is the place that gave me birth
Where first my eyelids dorn the light
I little thought my wandering feet
From that dear spot so soon would rove
My waywood fate alone to meet
Far far away from native home
Fare from the friends who’s gentle care
Did all my infant pains beguile
No more I view that home so dear
No more on me those friends shall smile
But there’s a place for Souls oppress
And when life sickly dream is over
Beneth the verdant sod shall rest
These wandering feet to rove no more.

Thank you to Scott for sharing his ancestor’s poem. How homesick she seems for the past–I’m sure many of us have felt that before.

In case you missed our special series on family history poetry, click the links below. In the free Genealogy Gems podcast, you’ll hear from Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon, whose original poem “Where I’m From” has inspired thousands of people around the world to write their own versions. We recently invited podcast listeners to share theirs, which you’ll find in recent and coming episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast.

More ‘Where I’m From’ Gems

GGP 185Genealogy Gems Podcast #185 with Poet George Ella Lyon (FREE!)

Where I’m From Video and Contest Results

More Writing Ideas: 7 Prompts to Help You Write Your Family History

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineEach week, we dig through new genealogy records online and post the “gems” here. Should YOU be digging through any of these for your ancestors?

ENGLAND ELECTORAL REGISTERS. Findmypast.com has posted over 74,000 electoral registers from Plymouth and West Devon, England (1780-1973). These include ancestors’ residences and sometimes even their voting history!

ENGLAND VITAL RECORDS. Baptisms, marriages and burials for Kent, England are all newly available to Findmypast.com subscribers. These contain various bits of genealogical information, from birthplaces to parents’ names, wedding dates, occupations, ages at death and burial dates.

ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Nearly 150,000 indexed names have been added to Napoli, Italy civil registration records (1809-1865) available at FamilySearch.org.

MINNESOTA INDEXES. Free to search on Ancestry.com are two new web indexes for Minnesota: Women in Industry, 1919 and an Alien Registration Index, 1918. Data for both collections comes from the Iron Range Research Center, which you’ll find a link for, too. (Click here to read more about Ancestry Web Indexes).

NORTH CAROLINA COURT. Nearly 900,000 names indexed from Supreme Court records for North Carolina (1800-1909) are now searchable for free on FamilySearch.org. Images and indexed records are being added as they are available.

RHODE ISLAND NATURALIZATIONS.  Over 136,000 names have been added to a Rhode Island naturalization index (1906-1991) at FamilySearch.org, created from a card index file.

SOUTHERN CLAIMS COMMISSION. Ancestry.com’s database for Southern Claims Commission Allowed Claims, 1871-1880, has been updated recently. Search here for claims made by ancestors who were awarded damages for personal property losses due to the Civil War.

SWEDEN CHURCH RECORDS. More than 40,000 names have been added to a church records collection of baptisms, marriages and burials for the county of Orebro, Sweden (1613-1918) at FamilySearch.org.

thanks for sharing ancestorThank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with your friends, family and fellow society members! We love it when you help us share good news.

 

A “Where I’m From” Video and More from Our Poetry Contest

where i'm from kay littleHere are the results from the Genealogy Gems “Where I’m From” poetry contest. They include this fantastic short video version. Check it out!

During the last quarter of 2015, we ran a family history writing contest inspired by a poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From.” George Ella, the poet laureate for Kentucky, joined us on the Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 185 to share her poem and tips for others to write their own version (click here to listen–it’s free!).

Kay wrote in with this Gem: “When I heard your podcast interview with George Ella Lyon, I just knew that I needed to write a ‘Where I’m From’ poem. Since I am fortunate to have many family photos taken by my dad throughout the years, I decided to add photos to my poem and make a video. I finished it last night, and wanted to share it with you and your listeners.” Kay has posted it on her blog, Just a Little Detail, but you can also watch it below:

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastIn addition to this marvelous video, I received eight audio-recorded entries. Truly, all of them are absolutely wonderful. I had planned on randomly drawing one winner, but I changed my mind. ALL entrants will receive 1 year of Genealogy Gems Premium website membership (if they’re already members, I’m adding on a year). Taking the time to think about their personal history, writing the poem, and then overcoming nerves and recording it to share with really does show above-and-beyond dedication to family history and to our family history community!

Congratulations to the winners you’ve heard from already: Kay Little (above) and a few whose poems have already been shared on the free Genealogy Gems podcast: Kathie Duke, Wanda Stone and Dee Guyre. You’ll hear from more winners in coming episodes.

Feeling inspired? Here are more gems on writing your family history:

cousin bait where I'm fromWHY and HOW to Start a Family History Blog

7 Prompts to Help You Write Your Family History

Easy Project to Write Your Family History: Publish a Q&A

 

 

 

 

 

Tune In During 2016! How to Listen to the Free Genealogy Gems Podcast

Lisa Louise Cooke Studio FinalLooking for a fresh, motivating and FREE resource for learning to do family history? Tune in to my free, award-winning Genealogy Gems podcast. Here’s how.

Recently I heard from Alan with this question: “I am still trying to get a grip on podcasts. Can you fill me in so I can understand the process? My 86-year old brain is slow to catch on.”

I’m so glad he asked! It reminds me that not everyone knows how to listen to my free “online radio show,” the Genealogy Genealogy Gems Podcast. And some of you may not even have heard of it!

The Genealogy Gems Podcast is an award-winning monthly online show that helps you make the most of your family history research time. In each lively episode, I bring you the best websites, easy-to-use research techniques, inspiring stories and innovative ways to use top technologies for genealogy. A variety of experts, celebrities and entertainers make guest appearances on the show, including Lisa Kudrow of Who Do You Think You Are?, Mary Tedesco of Genealogy Roadshow, Tukufu Zuberi of The History Detectives, Kathy Lennon of the Lennon Sisters, Dick Eastman, CeCe Moore and many others.

How to Listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcast

First, take a few minutes to watch the welcome video on the home page of my website. This video explains the website and where to find podcasts on the website. You can always find the most recent free podcast episode on the home page of our website at www.genealogygems.com:

genealogy gems podcast how to 1

Next, to find all the free episodes, hover your mouse over PODCAST in the menu and click Genealogy Gems Podcast.

genealogy gems podcast how to 2

That will take you to the page listing all the past episodes. Here you can click  the episode you want. You can also click Frequently Asked Questions and you will find instructions for using iTunes and getting the podcast on smartphones and tablets.

genealogy gems podcast how to 3

Clicking the episode number (above) takes you to the web page for that episode (image below). This is the “show notes” page and includes all of the information and websites we talk about in that episode for your convenience.

genealogy gems podcast how to 4

Here you can click the play button on the episode player to listen to that episode. In our weekly newsletter we include links to the newest episodes so that you can quickly get to this page and listen.

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryClick here to go to a list of all past episodes of the free Genealogy Gems podcast. Give it a try! It’s free, it’s fun and it’s all about inspiring YOUR family history research.

How to Save Time and Actually FIND the Ancestors You’re Looking For

save time and find your ancestorsA recent experience reminded me how important it is to invest time getting to know the things we work with–whether they’re genealogy databases or a new piece of technology.

The other day I was trying to do something I thought was very simple: hear myself through my new high-quality gamer headset. However try as I did, I could only hear the person I was calling, and not myself. With the headset on with its big padded ear covers I felt like I was talking while holding a pillow over my head.

We tried everything so that I could hear myself: plugging the headset into different jacks and a number of computers, changing the settings in Skype and in my computer’s Control Panel. Nothing was working.

And then I heard my own voice in my head. It was repeating something I say repeatedly in my genealogy presentations: “Invest time getting to know your record collection so that you don’t waste mountains of time searching for what doesn’t exist.”

We had made an assumption that the headphone should allow me to hear myself while talking, and assumed that somehow they weren’t working correctly, even though everything else about them was working perfectly. And it was frustrating, a feeling eerily like searching the census for a family or an old newspaper for an obituary and not finding them when you’re convinced they should be there like everyone else!assume

Had I made an error to assume that I should be able to hear my voice through the headset? (You know the old saying about ASSUME) Were they actually working perfectly and never meant to broadcast the user’s voice through the headphones?

That’s when I turned the corner and turned to Google. (There’s something else I’m always lecturing people about: Just Google It!) In the Google search box I typed in the words in what I thought was the order of importance: Sennheiser headphone hear yourself while talking and immediately I found two answers:

  • A YouTube video quickly showed how you can set your microphone to broadcast through your headset, but it creates just the slightest delay which can obviously be very distracting.
  • An article deep on the Sennheiser website that explained there is something called “side tone.” It’s when the sound of you speaking in to the microphone and sound coming from the person you are talking to mix together and are fed to you through your headset. When side tone occurs it dramatically diminishes the quality of the sound you hear (think about how a telephone call sounds.) High-end gamer headsets are purposefully built NOT to feed your voice into your ear. That way you receive much higher quality sound from all the other players (or the person you have called in my case). The solution? Tilt one of the headphone earpieces off your opposite ear so you can hear yourself better. Simple and not high tech at all.

The lesson: Investing time up front getting to know the item you are using – whether a headset or a genealogy database – can save loads of time in the long run. We lost a lot of time (and experienced a lot of frustration!) searching for something that simply didn’t exist.

The descriptions of online record collections, and card catalog information for offline collections, are the “instruction manual” and contents list for the records we use to find ancestors. Take time to read them and understand what does (and does not) exist so that you know where to spend your precious research time.

California death index screenshotFor example, to the left is a screenshot of an Ancestry.com index of California death records (click the image to view that database, if you’re a subscriber). This is what you will see if you click on a database title discovered while checking out a search result, or if you search from an individual database from the Card Catalog. In every collection you search, scroll down and read more about the collection. On Ancestry.com, you’ll find:

  • Source information. This tells you where the index and/or images came from: what library, archive, publication, etc. Some indexes have been digitized from previously-published books. Sometimes you’ll be looking at an index-only and you’ll want to track down the original records to view or order. This information is what you want to know to cite your source!
  • About the record collection. This is a description of the general content of the records. Read this section to find out what records are missing from the overall collection. For example, maybe only half the counties in the statewide collection have been added to this collection so far, or maybe two years are missing from a vital records index. This is where you discover whether you are searching this collection for a record that may not be there!

alarm_clock_going_off_300_wht_13940Look for similar information when you’re reading through original, microfilmed and published records.

Remember, don’t make yourself crazy, wasting time trying to find ancestors who aren’t there! Read the instructions, whether you’re doing genealogy or working with anything else that’s new to you. I myself will be reading a lot more instruction manuals from now on, too!

 

More Time-Savers and Organizing Tips from Genealogy Gems

organized videoHow to Organize Digital Pictures

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

Hard Drive Organization, Parts 1 and 2 Video Series for Genealogy Gems Premium website members (you can find some of this content in the free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, episodes 32 and 33.

 

Russian Genealogy: A New Russian-American Digital Archive

Fort Ross Russian genealogyA new digital archive sheds light on the little-known Russian-American immigrant experience.

If you’re an American researching your Russian genealogy, you will be happy to know about a new digital archive. The Fort Ross Conservancy Digital Archive is a free online repository for digitized documents and photos relating to Russian immigrants to the U.S. and the Russian-American experience.

The core of the collection comes from the Fort Ross Conservancy, a state park cooperating agency in Sonoma County, California. The Conservancy has stewardship over important historical buildings, photographs and documents pertaining to Fort Ross, described in this news report as “the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America in the 19th century. Together with Alaska, it was an important epicenter of 19th century Russian-American relations.”

What the Archive Includes: The news release describes the collections to be digitized only as a “significant number of documents, photographs, letters and other evidence.” The Fort Ross Conservancy website lists among its holdings “30 albums of archivally-preserved historic photographs and almost 3,000 titles in the reference and circulating library.” Click on the Digital Archive itself and you’ll see what’s up already.

Major partners named in this effort are the Library of Congress and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Interestingly, however, the project does have some corporate sponsors, including U.S energy company Chevron; the Russian shipping company Sovcomflot and Transneft, a Russian oil pipeline company. A news report states that according to Transneft, “In the current atmosphere of tense relations between Moscow and Washington, the Fort Ross Dialogue remains one of the few platforms where the sides cooperate in a constructive and friendly manner.”

Do you have relatives from the group known as “Germans from Russia?” Genealogy Gems Premium website members can now access Premium podcast episode 130, in which a special guest joins us to talk about this fascinating group of immigrants.

More Digital Archives You Just Might Love

CanadianaInternet Archive for Genealogy

Canadiana: Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

New Pictorial Maps on David Rumsey Collection

 

 

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