October 30, 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.

See what this intriguing census taker had to say about the neighbors

funny Gypsum census

Click image to view larger image

Eagle eye Genealogy Gems reader and listener John Roberts ran across some very unique entries in a Kansas State Census. John writes: “I thought you might find the professions listed for the people on lines 13, 16 and 33, out of the ordinary, to say the least. It appears this census taker had a critical nature. I found this census page very amusing. Hope you enjoy it too.”

Indeed I did John!

In 1875 census enumerator Frank Wilkeson made his way through a Gypsum, Kansas neighborhood making usual note of the locals as sculptor, wagon maker, and carpenter. However, his attitude changed when he reached the Law household, where he listed 27 year old Job Law as…

census genealogy family history

 

 

 

“Loafer”

genealogy census family historyHe didn’t think much more of the next Head of Household 55 year old James Coleman who he labeled “Blow Hard.”

Appearing to have settled down after that visit he went on to list the blacksmith, farmers and miller…until he reached J. Lockwood’s house where he called it like he saw it:

census genealogy family history

So who exactly was the guy who used the role of census enumerator as a platform to share his personal opinions on this Gypsum, Kansas neighborhood? I couldn’t help myself and did a bit of digging.

signature

According to the Gypsum Hill Cemetery Historical Walk, published by the City of Saline, Parks & Recreation and the Saline Public Library (and posted to Franks’s listing on Find A Grave), Frank Wilkeson led an interesting life that took many twists and turns. He was born in Buffalo, New York, on March 8, 1848, the youngest son of journalist, Samuel Wilkeson, and Catherine Cady, sister to suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton.Wilkeson“Wilkeson was only 15 when he ran away from home to join the Union Army during the Civil War. When the war ended in 1865, he had been brevetted a captain. He later published Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac, a starkly realistic view of war” (and early indicator of his brutally honest views.)

His exploits included working in Pennsylvania and Colorado as a mining engineer, working as a civil engineer for the Northern Pacific Railway and exploring the river valleys in Washington State, to which he returned many times. He then married and went to Saline County, Kansas in 1871, buying land in Gypsum Township where he established a cattle ranch and raised two sons.Frank Wilkeson

From 1887 to 1893, he wrote fishing and hunting pieces for the New York Times and the New York Sun. The last twenty years of his life, Wilkeson wandered between Kansas and Washington, writing promotional articles and dabbling in politics and various business ventures.

As a man who worked hard, was adventurous, and enjoyed putting pen to paper to share those experiences, I guess it’s no surprise that this page of the Kansas state census went down in history as it did.

Frank Wilkeson died in Chelan, Washington on April 22, 1913.

Bookmark and Share

“Just a Mom” and Becoming a Professional Genealogist

become a professional genealogistRecently I heard from Emily, a mom of younger children who is feeling inspired to take her love for family history in a more professional direction. Have you considered becoming a professional genealogist yourself? You’ll want to check out an interview I told her about (see below). Anyone can take their life’s experiences and channel them into their career path!

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist

“Dear Lisa,

I was at the Midwestern Roots conference today and I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ for something you said at your opening session this morning.  You were talking about when your daughters gave you the iPod and how you were at a point in your life when you were trying to figure out what to do, and I think you even used the expression ‘just a mom.’ 

I really related to what you said. I am a mom to two younger kids, I love my family history research, and I’m trying to find a new professional direction in life.  So, you’ve given me some hope that maybe I can use my love of genealogy to (somehow) help and teach other people.

Probably not the typical type of ‘thank you’ note you usually receive, but I just wanted you to know.”

Hi Emily,

CIMG0137

Me and my girls! Being a mom is awesome no matter how old they are!

You are very welcome and how sweet of you to take the time to write. Believe me when I say that “just a mom” was a reference to the fact moms often get that sort of response from the culture these days. (I know that other moms know what I mean.)  Being a mom is the highest calling possible, and remains my first priority. And the great news is that technology makes it possible more than ever to pursue additional dreams!

I think you might enjoy a special interview I gave recently to the Genealogy Professional Podcast. It was for folks just like you.  You’ll also find additional interviews at the bottom of my About page on my website.

Wishing you great success as you pursue your dreams!!
Lisa

Bookmark and Share

Ebola Patients Would Likely Have Been Sent Here 130 Years Ago

The Abbeville press and banner., October 12, 1892, Image 6 www.chroniclingamerica.com

The Abbeville press and banner., October 12, 1892, Image 6/ www.chroniclingamerica.com

When Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola it was unnerving for everyone here in the U.S. As a new Dallas area resident, and someone who was hopping from plane to plane for a Fall series of speaking engagements, it definitely gave me pause.

Epidemics, quarantines, and communities trying to protect citizens have been age old dilemmas, so it makes sense to look back through history at the strategies employed. There is much to be learned.

If we ask the question “what would have happened if Ebola had struck the U.S. 130 years ago?” we don’t have to look much farther than the location of one of the most recent Ebola patient: New York.

north brother island quarantine

from the Humboldt Republican (Humboldt, Iowa) March 31, 1892
Courtesy www.Newspapers.com

In New York’s East River, tucked between the Bronx and Rikers Island lies North Brother Island, where in 1885 Riverside Hospital was relocated from Blackwell’s Island to isolate and treat small pox patients. From there it expanded to include the quarantine of other diseases.

North Brother Island stands idle today, closed to the public. However from 1907-1910 and 1915-1938 it housed the notorious Typhoid Mary, closing shortly after her death.

Although today the island is closed to the public, anyone can visit virtually with the aid of Google Earth. Join me on a 5+ minute tour of North Brother Island featuring the magazine and newspaper articles of the day, and written, audio and video tours of how it stands today a shell of what it once was. Click here to download and play my Google Earth Historic Tour KMZ file  on your computer. It will be added to your “Places” panel in Google Earth under “Temporary Places.” Open the folder and click the “click to play the tour” icon. Be sure your speakers are on! And take time to click to watch the video and view the articles in the placemarks.

Don’t have Google Earth loaded yet? Download it free here.

If you would like to learn to create your own Google Earth family history tours watch this free video and then pick up your copies of Google Earth of Genealogy Volume I and Volume II.

 

 

 

Bookmark and Share

How to Transfer Google Earth Files from One Computer to Another

google earth genealogyGenealogy Gems reader and listener Walt has enjoyed creating some exciting family history and genealogy maps and files in Google Earth using the strategies I teach here at Genealogy Gems. He wrote me recently to say that he is thrilled to have a new computer, but he is now faced with how to transfer Google Earth files he created for family history from his old computer to his shiny new one. The good news is that it’s not difficult at all!

 

How to transfer your Google Earth files:google earth save files

1. On your old computer open Google Earth

2. All of your files in Google Earth are in the Places panel. In the Places panel, click the small arrow pointing at “My Places” to close it

3. Right-click on MyPlaces and select “Save Place As” from the little pop up menu

4. Name the file OLD GOOGLE EARTH and select where you want to save it on your hard drive. (Saving it to your Desktop will make it easy to find, or just your C: drive.  If you use Dropbox, you could save it there and then easily access it from Dropbox on your new computer.)
click “Save”

5. Send an email to yourself and attached the save .KMZ file that you just created.

6. Open the email on your new computer
(make sure you already have Google Earth downloaded on to your new computer)

7. Double click the attached KMZ file to open it

8. Your computer will detect it is a Google Earth file and will open it in Google Earth.

9. The file will be stored in the Places panel under Temporary Places
Click, drag and drop the file from Temporary to MyPlaces
Under the menu click FILE > SAVE > SAVE MY PLACES to save it.

google earth for genealogy and family historyWant to learn more about using maps in Google earth for your family history research? Watch my FREE class on Google Earth for Genealogy. And we have a 2 disk video tutorial bundle in our store that will walk you through exciting projects step by step.

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.)

Bookmark and Share

Prison Inmate Photos: “The Eyes Are Everything”

Prison MemoryMatt from Omaha, Nebraska (U.S.) recently told me about a project his cousin is working on that is so cool the story was picked up by U.S.A. Today.

While poking around at an 1800s-era Iowa prison about to be torn down, Mark Fullenkamp came across boxes of old glass negatives. Upon closer inspection, he found they were intake photos of the inmates. Some were 150 years old!

Mark first set out to digitize and reverse the negative images of over 11,000 prison inmate photos. Others gradually became involved, like scholars at University of Iowa where he works and even inmates at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. A doctoral candidate who was interviewed by U.S.A. Today says she’s struck by the moment these photos were taken: when their lives were about to change forever. Though many look tough for the camera (and presumably the other inmates), she sees a lot of emotion in their expressions: “The eyes are everything.”

Now Fullekamp’s team is trying to connect names and stories with the photos. It’s not easy, but many of the pictures have inmate numbers on them. Some files have surfaced with inmate numbers and names in them. Others are stepping forward with memories.

Read more about the project on Matt’s blog.

Got a digital photo archiving project of your own? Click here to learn about a free ebook published by the Library of Congress on digital archiving.

Bookmark and Share

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!

Bookmark and Share

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!

Bookmark and Share

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!
logo with text
Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share