February 14, 2016

The priceless gift my daughter gave me at Rootstech – Heritage Jewelry

Did you know you can memorialize a loved one’s handwriting in a piece of custom jewelry? Check out this very special piece of heritage jewelry. bracelet

Last week I celebrated my birthday at RootsTech 2016. What a party! A highlight was an impromptu birthday serenade by the audience after my Think Tank lecture at the Genealogy Gems booth.

Something I’ll also never forget was receiving this birthday gift from my daughter Lacey. It’s a bracelet that says “Mother” in handwriting script. Lacey asked me, “do you recognize the handwriting?”

Recognize the handwriting? What did she mean? As I gave it a closer look, I did indeed recognize it. It was my beloved Grandma Burkett’s handwriting. I would know it anywhere.

My Grandma Burkett is so special to me. She loved me with all her heart and I always knew it. She also introduced me to family history, as I explain in the RootsTech video clip below.

Yes, I know that handwriting on my bracelet well, and it is a tender memory to wear it. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve–this is like wearing my heart around my wrist.

Lacey says it was really easy to order this custom heirloom piece, and she loves it because “no one else will ever have the same one!” Here are Lacey’s tips for ordering something like it:

1. “Plan ahead, as most of the vendors who create these types of jewelry take at least 4 weeks. I used Monogrammed Necklaces, an Etsy.com vendor.

2. In the case of the bracelet, the handwriting piece was included in the total length of the bracelet, but the writing lays flat instead of curving with your wrist so it actually shortens the length of the chain. So I would suggest ordering an inch or two longer than you need.

3. Provide them with the actual word(s) you want written. If you have more than one word, they will be squished together to be one continuous piece. (You might be able to get them written on two lines, but again the top and bottom would be squished together.)

4. Read reviews before ordering. Make sure people aren’t saying the piece breaks easily or feels low-quality. Look at examples of the jewelry to get an idea of what kind of sample you want to select. I researched several vendors before picking this one. This one also came ready to go in a pretty box, which was a nice touch. They can also engrave pendants with handwriting, which is great if you want the words with spaces between or longer writings.”

family heirlooms

This isn’t the first piece of jewelry I’ve worn in honor of Grandma Burkett. I’ve blogged in the past about turning one of her earrings into a ponytail holder, which is quite a conversation piece whenever I wear it. Click here to read that post.

Find more heritage jewelry, family history craft and display ideas on the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards. Have you made or purchased something special yourself? We’d love to hear about it!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineEach week we scour announcements of new genealogy records online and share those we think our readers most want to know about. This week, it’s all about Irish and US records!

IRELAND CENSUS RECORDS. MyHeritage.com has added to its site “over 8.7 million Irish census records from the 1901 and 1911 censuses [which record every household member]. Both collections are completely free and contain images.”

IRELAND PARISH RECORDS. Findmypast.com subscribers now have access to an exclusive index to the National Library of Ireland’s free online collection of digitized-but-not-indexed registers from 1000 parishes, with over 10 million baptisms and marriages. According to a FMP press release, “This is the first time that the collection has been indexed with the images linked online, making the search much easier and the records more accessible. As a result, family historians will now be able to make all important links between generations with the baptism records and between families with the marriage registers. These essential records cover the entire island of Ireland, both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.”

(US) DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH RECORDS. Ancestry.com has added a new collection of Dutch Reformed Church records (1701-1995)  from 14 states and has updated a separate but similar collection of Dutch Reformed Records (1639-1989).

US MARRIAGES. Findmypast has just released an enormous collection of marriage records from across the United States. “Containing over 450 million names from 1650 to 2010…the US Marriages collection will, when complete, include over 100 million records, 60% of which have never been published online before.” A third of the data (about 33 million names) are already online. LOOK NOW–this new database is FREE to search through February 15, 2016.

brick wall family secretsMore Irish Research Gems

Irish Ethnicity Reported in DNA Tests

Family Secrets, Brick Walls and Irish Adoption Policies

Irish Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library of Ireland

RootsTech 2016 Book Club Contest Has a Winner!

Book club winnerWe have a door prize winner for the Genealogy Gems Book Club Open House held at RootsTech 2016. And here’s how everyone’s a winner with the free Genealogy Gems Book Club.

The Genealogy Gems Book Club got two thumbs-up at RootsTech 2016! Several people I talked to have enjoyed reading our featured books and then listening to the author interviews at the end of each quarter. Others are simply tuning in for the author conversations or adding the books to their “to read” lists. That’s what we love about the Genealogy Gems Book Club: there’s something for everyone.

At the Genealogy Gems Book Club Open House last Thursday at RootsTech, we offered a chance at a door prize for all those who suggested a book title for the Book Club. Alexis Maurer from Salt Lake City, UT won the drawing! She’s received a year’s Genealogy Gems Premium website membership, giving her full access to the Book Club interviews on the Premium podcast every quarter.

Orchard House Genealogy Gems Book ClubThere’s still plenty of time to enjoy this quarter’s featured title, Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow, a memoir by Tara Austin Weaver. Tara is one of the world’s leading food bloggers, as author of Tea & Cookies. Her recipe for Orchard House is one part food, one part gardening and two parts family drama, liberally seasoned with humor and introspection. She’ll appear on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast in March. (Interview excerpts are played on the free Genealogy Gems podcast, too.)

Click here to read more about the book and see other titles we’ve recommended.

This Friday: 2 Google Classes Streaming FREE from RootsTech 2016

periscope broadcastWon’t be at RootsTech? You can still watch Lisa Louise Cooke’s popular classes on using Google for genealogy for FREE online this Friday.

One of Lisa Louise Cooke’s most popular lecture topics is Google searching for genealogy. In fact, after teaching, she often hears back from people like Debbie, who recently emailed to say, “SOOOOO happy…I have had this brick wall for over ten years…couldn’t find a thing to prove a connection that I suspected. Thanks to a [webinar] by Lisa Louise Cooke, I found the solution to my brick wall yesterday! I was so ecstatic.”

That’s why I’m glad that not one but TWO of her classes on Google searching for genealogy will be live streaming this Friday for FREE. Here are the details:

“Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy” at 1:30 pm MST. This is one of only 15 popular RootsTech classes that will be streaming at RootsTech.org. Go to their website to watch and to learn about other free streaming RootsTech sessions.

periscope iconGoogle Power Strategies at 5:45 pm MST. Lisa is teaching this class at our booth and will be streaming it live through Periscope.

Get the free Periscope app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play, sign up for a free account, and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in.

Be sure to get the app and follow Lisa right away! This is our maiden voyage using Periscope, the live broadcasting app. If all goes well, we’ll stream live from the expo hall floor sporadically throughout the week in addition to this special Google session. If you sign up for notifications in Periscope you’re phone will “ping”

Mary Tedesco Genealogy Roadshow at Rootstech with Lisa Louise Cooke

Mary Tedesco from Genealogy Roadshow at Rootstech talks genealogy TV and Italian research with Lisa Louise Cooke at RootsTech.

It can be tough to choose from all the streaming classes, but don’t worry if you miss some of them! Amy Crow and Peggy Lauritzen will both be joining Lisa for YouTube videos on their streaming class topics, so you can catch the highlights later on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. That’s a great place to catch exclusive interviews like the one shown here with Mary Tedesco (click here to watch it!).

sign up newsletterSign up for the free Genealogy Gems newsletter at the top of this page (and receive a free Google search e-book!) to hear more about these and other “Genealogy Gems!”

 

 

Dave Isay Keynoting RootsTech 2016: Catch Him There–or HERE!

rootstech 2016 dave isay TED talkStoryCorps founder Dave Isay will keynote at RootsTech 2016. Can’t catch him there? Watch his inspiring TED talk about the stories of our lives. It will make you want to go interview someone!

I’m looking forward to hearing Dave Isay at RootsTech 2016! An award-winning radio producer, MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and TED prize winner, and the founder of StoryCorps, Dave has spent his life capturing other people’s stories. He’s so passionate about it–and he’ll be sharing that passion as a RootsTech keynoter on Friday, February 5.

Dave’s TED talk on gathering people’s stories is amazing and I’m not the only one who thinks so. It’s had over 1.1 million views so far. If you’re going to be at RootsTech 2016, don’t miss his talk. If you’re not (or if you want a sneak peak of his awesomeness), watch his TED talk below:

“Every life matters equally and infinitely,” Dave says. Inviting someone to talk about his or her life “may just turn out to be one of the most important moments in that person’s life, and in yours.” We do this when we record loved ones’ life stories. We honor their feelings, experiences and opinions by asking about them and preserving them. Sometimes we share personal moments of understanding, forgiveness or revelation. As Dave says, “Amazing conversations happen.”

Why not make it a goal to capture a loved  one’s story in an interview in 2016? Better yet, why not do it soon, in celebration of Valentine’s Day? It’s a gift of love that builds your relationship with whomever you interview. And when you’re done, you’ll have documented more family history. What could be better?

We {Heart} These Ways to Capture a Loved One’s Oral History

Use the StoryCorps App (StoryCorps being the story-archiving program founded by Dave Isay)

Transcribe a Q&A with a Loved One: Write Your Family History

How to Reconstruct Childhood Memories

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3 Strategies for Finding Catholic Church Records

finding ancestors in Catholic church recordsLook for ancestors’ parents in Catholic church records. Here’s a success story and 3 tips for finding Catholic parish records you need in the U.S.

Not too long ago, Lisa shared these 6 suggestions for finding an ancestor’s parents. Kathie V. wrote back to Lisa almost immediately: “Here is a 7th way to find parents.  I found my grandparents’ church marriage record, in which it listed their parents by name & WHERE THEY WERE BORN!

Kathie went on to say that the Catholic records were from St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, NY. Though Kathie grew up in that area, she’s since moved around the world, and has found it difficult and expensive to research family from back home. Finding the church records was tough, she says: she started by writing to every Catholic parish in Buffalo, “with varying results.”wedding photo

Eventually Kathie found this this church marriage record on a film ordered from the Family History Library many years ago. (Click here to learn more about using Family History Library resources wherever you are.) It’s for her grandparents, Stanislawa Zdrojewska and Konstantyn Schultz, shown in the beautiful  wedding photo here that Kathie sent us. The record is tough to read but it shows several columns packed with the names, dates and locations she most wanted  to find.

Once Kathie located the right church, she was able to get much more than just this marriage record. She found baptismal records in another book. “I also was able to get burial information on some few relatives by writing the parish, which has its own cemetery.”

3 Tips for Finding Catholic Parish Records in the U.S.

(You may also be able to use these tips to find Catholic parish records in other countries.)

1. Start with existing parishes. Catholic parishes generally keep their own sacramental records. Use this Parish Locator link to locate existing parishes near your ancestor’s home (enter a ZIP code). Contact the parish and ask how old it is, whether it has its own records and whether they can send you copies.

2. Contact Catholic archives regarding closed parishes. If a parish closes, its records are supposed to be sent to  a diocesan or archdiocesan archive. Click here to find a directory of diocesan and archdiocesan offices and contact their archivist. Ask what now-closed parishes existed in that neighborhood and time and whether they have the sacramental records.

3. Look for ethnic and national parishes. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Catholics from many countries had come to the U.S.: Irish, Italian, Polish and others. Many desperately wanted to worship and socialize in their own language at church. As a result, Catholic parishes began to be organized based on language or national origin. Look for a parish in your ancestor’s town with the right ethnic background or contact a diocesan archivist to see whether there were any.

More Gems on Finding Family History in Church Records

Evangelical Lutheran Church Records Now Online

Here’s Why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors

Irish Catholic Parish Registers Now Online

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

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s our weekly update of new genealogy records online, designed for you to scan them quickly and click to the ones that matter for your family history. Thumbs up for free access to the Irish censuses of 1901 and 1911!

ENGLAND MARRIAGES. An enormous collection of about 2.3 million names from over 1,500 parishes across 29 English counties is in Findmypast’s new database, England, Phillimore Marriage Registers, 1531-1913

IRELAND CENSUS. MyHeritage.com has posted over 8.7 million indexed records (with images) from the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses to its UK and Ireland Census Collection. These collections are FREE to search. According to the collection description, “The 1901 census lists – for every member of the household – name, age, gender, relationship to the head of the household, religion, occupation, marital status, county of birth (except for foreign births, which give country only), whether the individual spoke Irish (Gaelic), and whether the individual could read or write.” The 1911 census adds the numbers of years a woman had been married to her current husband; children born to them and children living.

KANSAS CENSUS. Ancestry.com has updated its   Kansas, City and County Census Records, 1919-1961. “This collection contains various city and county census records and population schedules from Kansas. They include information about inhabitants of a town, enumeration of livestock, and agriculture. Prior to 1953 the population schedules list the address, name of the head of household, and the number of individuals living in the household. Beginning in 1953 the schedules list all the members of the household and their ages.”

MISSOURI CHURCH. Ancestry.com subscribers can now search Missouri, Methodist Church Records, 1856-1970 a new database of indexed images from various United Methodist churches in Missouri. Baptisms, marriages, memberships, burials and lists of clergy are included.

SCOTLAND. A new collection of Scottish parish and other records is now searchable at Findmypast. Scotland Registers & Records dates back to the early 1600s. Record types “range from monumental inscriptions to a novel on rural life in 18th century Scotland.”

google search strategies for the family historianLooking for ancestors online? Turn to Genealogy Gems for ongoing education in using Google for genealogy (and everything else). Sign up for our FREE weekly e-mail newsletter for a free Google e-book and ongoing tips from our blog. Consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium website member so you get unlimited annual access to on-demand videos like Google Search Strategies for the Family Historian and many others.

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 131 Now Available

Premium podcast 131The new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 131 is now available for Genealogy Gems Premium members

Genealogy Gems Premium Website Members can now log in and listen to Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 131. It’s packed with news and tips aimed at making you a better genealogist now.

My personal favorite is Lisa’s quick-but-deep tutorial on the difference between searching in indexes versus searching in unstructured data in digital books and newspapers on genealogy websites. I love that kind of “a-ha” insight!

More highlights from this episode include:

  • Judy Russell chats about genealogy cruising
  • News about Findmypast and Mocavo integration, War of 1812 pension records FREE on Fold3, new records from around the world and BIG upcoming conferences (RootsTech 2016 and NGS)
  • Finding family history on ebay and an Evernote tip from a listener
  • The NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title: why we picked this tasty treat
  • Your DNA Guide’s explanation of variety in a family’s ethnic percentage DNA results

genealogists guide to dropbox premium class.JPG

Premium Spotlight: Dropbox On-Demand Video Class

Ass a Genealogy Gems Premium member we want to help you get the the most out of your annual membership. Remember, it includes Lisa’s full archive of on-demand video classes. Here’s one: “The Genealogist’s Guide to Dropbox.”

Dropbox is a free and subscription cloud-based service that allows you to sync all types of files among all your computing devices. It’s ideal for files that you want easy access to from mobile devices or for files you want to keep in a shared place for others to access, too. In this 30-minute video Lisa explains Dropbox and how to use it for genealogy.

Not a Genealogy Gems Premium Website Member yet?  Click here to learn more.

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

 

4 Steps for Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Use Google Earth for genealogy to find long-lost family locations on modern maps. Here’s how!how to map the past with google earth for genealogy

It can be very surprising to discover that you lived somewhere that you never knew you lived. That was the case for Professional genealogist Alvie Davidson, who recently wrote to me. He’d done some fantastic sleuthing on his own recent family history, and discovered that his family had lived in Huntsville, Alabama when he was a toddler. “This is the first I have even known they lived in Madison County, AL.” But he was not sure about how to use Google Earth to help him locate the family addresses he’d discovered.

“I have learned from the U S Government that my parents lived at (three) different addresses in Huntsville, Madison County, AL when I was a toddler in 1944….I never knew we lived in Huntsville but I learned my mother worked for munitions productions during World War II at Redstone Arsenal. She worked several months toward the end of 1944 and had to quit due to onset of pregnancy. We moved to Florida shortly after she left employment at Redstone Arsenal because we show up on the 1945 Florida State Census.”

Alvie sent me three family addresses. Then he asked for some step-by-step help instructions on how to put Google Earth to work to identify their location today.

4 Steps to Revealing More with Google Earth

1. Search each address in Google Earth. Enter the address in the search box in the upper left corner of Google Earth. If you get a hit, mark it with a placemark (clicking the button that looks like a push pin in Google Earth’s toolbar) and name it. In this case I found two of the three street addresses.

Click map to see source citation.

Click map to see source citation.

2. Locate a map of the area for the appropriate time period. With a little Google searching, I found the 1940 census enumeration map for Huntsville at the National Archives website. Here’s what that map looks like. (Image right) I then went in search of each of the three addresses on the map.

In this case, I conducted a block-by-block search of the 1940 enumeration district map for the missing address: 110 Winston Street. Unfortunately, not all the street names were clearly legible on this particular map, and I was unable to locate it.

You can learn more about locating enumeration district maps in my article How to Find Enumeration District Maps.

Genealogy Gems Premium Members: log in and watch my Premium video 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps featuring instruction for locating and using enumeration district maps.

3. Overlay and georeference the enumeration district map in Google Earth to compare the past to the present. Georeference just means to match up known landmarks on the historic map with physical locations on the modern-day map, thereby allowing you to match the two maps up together. By so doing, I was able to locate on the enumeration district map the modern-day locations of the two addresses that I found using Google Earth.

georeference historic map overlay in Google Earth

There are businesses in both locations today. Below right is a screen shot showing the current location of one of those addresses. Clearly no longer the old family home.Alvie Google Earth for genealogy problem

4. Dig deeper for addresses that have changed. As I mentioned previously, I searched for the 110 Winston Street address in Google Earth with no result. If that happens to you, remove the house number and run a second search on the street name alone. Numbers can change, but it is important to verify whether the street still exists today.

In this case, Google Earth did not locate a Winston Street in Huntsville, AL. Knowing that errors and typos can happen to the best of us, I ran a quick Google search for Huntsville, AL city directories, and verified that indeed Winston Street did exist at that time in history. So, at some point between 1940 and today, the name appears to have been changed.

I headed back to Google and ran the following search query:

“winston street” “huntsville alabama”

The quotation marks tell Google that each exact phrase must appear in all search results. The phrases will appear in bold in the snippet descriptions of each result.

google search

The result above caught my eye because it mentions the “Winston Street Branch Library.” Even when street names change, buildings named for those streets often don’t. However, in this case, the website discusses the history of the library, and the Winston Street Elementary School.  According to the website, the library “became a part of the Huntsville Public Library (now Huntsville-Madison County Public Library) in 1943. In 1947, the branch was renamed the Dulcina DeBerry Library.” Perhaps the street was renamed at that time as well.

Genealogy Gems Premium Members: Sign in and watch the Ultimate Google Search Strategies video class to learn more.

Jumping back into Google Earth I entered “Winston Street Branch Library” in the search box, and was immediately taken to the location, which is just south of the other two known addresses! At this point I would recommend to Alvie, who is a Genealogy Gems Premium Member, to watch my video class Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps to track down additional maps from the time frame that may have Winston Street clearly marked on the map.

Once I identified this landmark, I then marked the location with a placemark. You can turn off the 1940 enumeration district map overlay by unchecking the box next to it in the Places Panel. Doing this revealed the location on the modern day map. Finally, I headed to the Layers panel and clicked the box next to the “Roads” overlay to reveal the modern day street names.

street names

You can use this technique when you have more success than I did in finding an old address on an old map. Overlay the map, position a placemark on the location, and then turn the overlay off. With one click of the Roads layer you can now see the current street name for the old location you found on the map overlay.

Further digging online did deliver additional maps from the era and area:

google earth for genealogy

 

We all have locations in our family history that have given way over time to new buildings and parking lots. By using the power of Google Earth, Google search, and historic maps, they don’t have to be lost forever.

Get Started with Google Earth for Genealogy

Google Earth for Genealogy and Toolbox bundleFREE video: Get Started with Google Earth for Genealogy

Google Bundle! The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition PLUS  learn how to create your own historical map overlays in my Google Earth for Genealogy 2-video CD set.

Use Google Earth to Plot Your DNA Matches

 

 

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