March 3, 2015

Google for Genealogy: New Search Operators and More

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipGenealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 120 is now available:

The “headline” of this episode is definitely the NEW tips using Google for genealogy. Google changes, so the ways we use it have to keep up if we want to get the most out of it. You’ll learn a few new, obsolete and tried-and-true search operators and strategies for finding your family history with Google.

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverThese tips come from Lisa’s newly-published, fully revised and updated The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition. It sold out quickly at RootsTech 2015 but fortunately we have a lot more in stock. Click on the book title to claim your own copy.

Also in this episode, you’ll hear comments from Genealogy Gems listeners and readers. You’ll learn about a new blog started by one of you, for which Lisa gives some helpful feedback. Someone else wrote in to recommend a book title.

The episode concludes with a fun history flashback: a spotlight on the 200-year history of rail travel in the United States.

Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member yet? Click here to learn more about membership benefits, including access to more than 2 dozen how-to genealogy videos and the full archive of Premium podcast episodes.

A New Heritage Quilt From Old Family Fabrics

wedding quilt dress“I am a quilter and love doing special pieces that tell our family history at the same time. I think you would enjoy [this] story and the pictures [that go with it].”

This note recently came from Genealogy Gems listener Sheri Lesh. She wrote in about a quilt she created for her father’s 80th birthday celebration. It was a very special quilt, made from pieces of old family clothing and even a wool jacket and wedding dress.

Well, Sheri, I thoroughly enjoyed your story and your unique, beautiful quilt (which you can click to see below). Heritage quilts created from family clothing items are so special!

I especially loved  Sheri’s idea for her grandmother’s wedding dress. Instead of cutting into pieces for the quilt, which would have destroyed a beautiful dress with a fabulously-preserved lace collar, she tacked the entire dress to the back of the quilt! Then she labeled it so cleverly, so future generations will know exactly who this dress belonged to and when it was worn.

Click here to go to Sheri’s blog and learn more about this beautiful, inspiring quilt. If you like old quilts, click here for my own Genealogy Gems story about heritage quilts in my family. You’ll see the shownotes for a free podcast episode along with a short YouTube video to watch. As I say in that post, “Women may not have had a lot of time to use the power of the pen to document history, but they did have some mighty powerful sewing needles!”

Find Historical Photos at Flickr Creative Commons

"Exercise Field Artillery Corps" album, image AKL092038, Netherlands Institute of Military History uploads at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/nimhimages/16026248719/.

“Exercise Field Artillery Corps” album, image AKL092038, Netherlands Institute of Military History uploads at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/nimhimages/16026248719/.

If you’re interested in historical photos, there has never been a better time to try the Flickr Creative Commons. Flickr is a popular photo-sharing site that’s keeping up well with the times: its new app was on the “Best of 2014″ App Store list for iPad apps. It’s a great platform for sharing your favorite photos with family and friends.

But wait, there’s more! An important part of the Flickr world is Flickr Creative Commons, which describes itself as part of a “worldwide movement for sharing historical and out-of-copyright images.”

Groups and individuals alike upload old images, tag and source them, and make them available to others. Like what kinds of groups? Well, there’s the British Library photostream, with over a million images in its photostream! And how about the (U.S.) Library of Congress, with over 23,000 photos?

Look for your favorite libraries and historical societies–and check back often. New additions post frequently. For example, as of December 2014, The Netherlands Institute of Military History now has a photostream. According to a blog announcement, “The Institute exists to serve all those with an interest in the military past of the Netherlands. Its sphere of activities covers the Dutch armed forces on land, at sea and in the air, from the sixteenth century until now. The staff of the NIMH administer a unique military history collection containing approximately 2 million images, of which they will be uploading many to the site.” At this posting, only a couple dozen images show up so far, like the one shown here. Check back–or check with the Institute to see what they’ll be posting soon–for more images.

Here’s a tip: Those who post images to Flickr Creative Commons offer different rights to those who want to download and use their images. Described here (and searchable here by the kinds of rights you want), those rights may include the ability to use a photo as long as it’s for noncommercial purposes and proper credit is given. Perfect for a responsible, source-citing genealogist!

Here’s Why You Should Use the Genealogy Gems App

get the app genealogy gems appThe Genealogy Gems App  lets you listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast on your mobile device which is great. But there are more specific reasons to use the app over just listening online or using iTunes.

Recently I heard from podcast listener Kay, who wondered about listening to the podcast on her phone without using data in places where she doesn’t have wifi (like the gym).

My answer to her: use the app! By default, it streams the episodes via an Internet connection. However, if you tap the star for an episode, you will download the episode. Then you can listen to it offline.

The Genealogy Gems app turns 5 years old this month and continues to offer even more great perks like:

  • Stream episodes from anywhere
  • Receive updates with the latest episodes and an archived back catalog
  • Playback resume (when interrupted by a call or other distraction)
  • Access exclusive extras like PDFs, Wallpapers, and Bonus Content
  • Quickly access all the contact methods for the show
  • With the iOS version (compatible for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, you can follow the show on Twitter
  • On iPhone, there’s a call-in audio comment feature (We LOVE when listeners leave comments and questions!)

Click here to get the Genealogy Gems app for Apple, Android and Windows devices.

Millions of New Scandinavian Genealogy Records Now Online

ScandinaviaIf you have roots in Denmark or Sweden then you’ll be excited about the email I got recently about Scandinavian genealogy records. Here’s the news from Daniel Horowitz, the Chief Genealogist Officer at MyHeritage.com:

“I’m delighted to let you know that we’ve just brought online millions of Scandinavian records–the majority of which have never been digitized or indexed online before.

The entire 1930 Danish census (3.5 million records) is now available online. This is thanks to our partnership with the National Archives of Denmark to index and digitize over 120 million records, including all available Danish census records from 1787-1930 and parish records from 1646-1915, all of which will be released during 2015 and 2016.

We’ve also added the Swedish Household Examination Rolls from 1880-1920, which includes 54 million records with 5 million color images, of which 22 million records are already available online. The remaining records are scheduled to go online before the end of June 2015.”

MyHeritageMyHeritage is a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast. One reason I’ve partnered with them is that our audiences are both so international. My podcast reaches the entire English-speaking world. MyHeritage is known for its international reach into genealogical records and trees throughout Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Click here to learn what else I love about MyHeritage.

Myheritage tutorial how toWould you like to get more out of your MyHeritage subscription? Get our digital download quick reference guide to MyHeritage.

Oldest Known Photographs of Cities: Did Your Ancestors Live Here Then?

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, by Louis Daguerre, 1838. Wikimedia Commons image, Scanned from The Photography Book, Phaidon Press, London, 1997.

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, by Louis Daguerre, 1838. Wikimedia Commons image, Scanned from The Photography Book, Phaidon Press, London, 1997.

London. Paris. Athens. Berlin. Bombay. Rome. New York City. Copenhagen. Dublin. Edinburgh. Jerusalem. The oldest known photographs of these cities and more are featured in this post at Abroad in the Yard.

I love the details in these photos that are usually left to our imagination. An 1858 image of a Toronto thoroughfare was likely taken in at its best, since the photo was part of a (failed) bid to become Canada’s capital. And yet the streets are still muddy enough you wouldn’t want to step off that freshly-swept sidewalk, especially if you were in a long dress.

You can read the shop signs in these pictures. See signs of construction and destruction, an eternal presence in these metropolises. Count the number of levels in the tall tenements and other buildings that sheltered our ancestors’ daily lives without air conditioning, central heat or elevators.

Despite the busy city streets shown here, they don’t look busy. So much time had to elapse during the taking of the image that anyone moving wasn’t captured. Only a few loungers and the shoe-shine man (and his customer) appear in these photos of busy streets.

Although not shown in the blog post above, my favorite historical image of a city is the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, the oldest known “comprehensive photo” of an American city. The resolution of this series of photos is so high, you can see details the photographers themselves couldn’t possibly have caught. The panorama can be explored at an interactive website, which offers “portals” to different parts of the city and city life when you click on them. Whether you had ancestors in this Ohio River town or not, this is a fascinating piece of history.

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverLooking for pictures of your ancestor’s hometown or daily life? There are some great search tips in Lisa’s newly-revised and updated 2nd edition of her popular book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Maybe you already use Google to search for images. Learn how to drill down to just the images you want: black and white pictures, images with faces, images taken of a particular location during a certain time period and more!

Old Maps of Chicago Now Online

figures_lost_looking_at_map_anim_500_wht_15601Do you have ancestors who lived in the “Windy City” of Chicago, Illinois (USA)? You should check out Chicago in Maps, a web portal to historic, current and thematic maps.

As the News-Gazette reports, “There are direct links to over three dozen historic maps of Chicago, from 1834 to 1921. The thematic maps include Chicago railroad maps, transit maps and geological maps.”

Of course, there are current maps, too, including a Chicago street guide for 2014. There’s a fascinating set of maps showing the effects of landfill projects. The Sources and Links page  directs users to helpful guides to street name changes and house numbers. You’ll find links to surveyors’ maps, too.

From the home page, you can also click to a sister site on Chicago streetcars that includes a 1937 map of streetcar lines. (There’s a second sister site on Chicago bridges.)

Historic_Maps_VideoGenealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about using maps for family history research in my online video class, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. To learn more about the benefits of Premium membership (including a year’s full access to over 2 dozen full-length video classes), click here.

 

Fire Up Your Genealogy Research with Recent Obituaries

fire up your researchDo you have obituaries for all your relatives who have died in the past 40 years or so? You should.

Obituaries–even the most recent ones–can jump-start your research on a new family line or tackle a branch that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Why? Our “collateral kin” (cousins, aunts and uncles) often lived near, intermarried with and otherwise had contact with other relatives we really want to find.

That’s where recent obituaries come in. The lists of names they contain help us identify relatives (and their spouses) we may not even have known about. Places mentioned can lead us to more records, as can clues about jobs, church affiliation and where someone went to school.

FamilySearch and GenealogyBank are indexing millions of recent obituaries from GenealogyBank’s extensive newspaper collection. Search the free index, with ongoing updates (24.4 million names recently added) at United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014. Search by name or browse by state and then by the name of the newspaper. Check back often!

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersClick here to read a post about how valuable an obituary was in helping me learn more about my long-lost great uncle Paul McClellan.

Learn more about newspaper research (including how to find obituaries) in Lisa’s book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. There’s an entire chapter on online digitized newspaper collections, and one on online resources for finding newspapers (either online or offline). Yet another chapter is devoted to African American newspapers. This book will teach you to find all those elusive obituaries–and plenty more mentions of your family in old newspapers.

RootsTech Roundup, Writing Family History and More in the Newest Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 176

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe newest episode of the FREE Genealogy Gems podcast–episode 176–has published and it is PACKED with gems!

Lisa begins with her own in-depth comments on RootsTech 2015. Whether you attended or didn’t, I think you’ll find her front-row analysis of the world’s biggest family history event pretty interesting! I appreciate her insight that RootsTech isn’t just about teaching people to do family history. It’s about motivating and inspiring their legacy-building efforts. I have sometimes felt a lack of that at conferences myself: I get a lot of how-to but not the energizing “why-to” that I sometimes need myself.

I join Lisa to talk about the Genealogy Book Club and MORE great reads for family history lovers. We’re still reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, which offers up a history lesson about the thousands of neglected children who were shipped off by train to rural homes in the U.S. and Canada. In the context of an unlikely friendship between an elderly orphan train rider and a modern teenage girl in the foster care system, we learn how much of a child’s identity comes wrapped up in their family’s backstory. Lisa and I also talk about writing family history using different voices. I recommend books written in a few different voices, or styles.

Another great segment in this episode is the topic of yDNA research and surname studies. Genetics is re-invigorating those “one-name” groups that explore their common surname heritage. As in every episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast, you’ll get some great tips and learn about online resources you may not have seen. You’ll hear from our listeners and readers with questions and comments. And we hope you’ll respond with your own! Click here to listen to the podcast and read the show notes.

Can We Get DNA From a Hair Sample for Genealogy?

genetic genealogy yDNARecently, Norma wrote in with this question about getting DNA from a hair sample:
“My sister-in-law’s father passed away before she could have his DNA tested. She does have samples of his hair. She was wondering if there is a lab who would do DNA testing for genealogy using hair samples? FamilyTree DNA and 23 and Me both do not do testing on hair. There are no other male relatives that she is aware that could be tested. She is interested in the yDNA especially.”
diahan southardI turned to Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems, Diahan Southard, and here’s her answer:

“Good question! This is a common concern for many. Unfortunately, cut hair (which I am assuming is what you have) does not contain the necessary material for DNA testing. If he had any teeth pulled that she had saved, that would be a good source.  Even sometimes a razor will work.

But even if you could find a suitable sample, as you mentioned, the standard genealogical testing companies do not accept non-standard samples.  There is a company who does, called Identigene, but the testing is expensive, and really won’t give you what need, which is access to a yDNA database to look for matches.
Your best route is to continue to look for a direct paternal descendant of the line of interest.  If your friend’s dad didn’t have any brothers, then what about her grandfather?  Are there any first cousins around?  What you are looking for is a living male who has the surname you are interested in.
Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesIf you can’t find one, your friend can still explore the autosomal DNA test, which will tell her about her paternal side, just in a less direct manner.
My DNA guides will walk you through the testing process. You can find the laminated guides here in the Genealogy Gems store, and the digital downloads here.
Let me know if you need any more help!” (Contact me through my website.)