April 24, 2014

Google Maps Street View Delivers a Taste of Time Travel

Google Maps Street View was given an edge today over Google Earth’s street view when Google launched a “time travel” upgrade. The ability to time travel is high on most family historians list, and Street View imagery for Google Maps desktop provides a taste of that prize.

According to Google’s blog post today they have “gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.”Google Maps Street View of Gettysburg

Here’s an example of viewing Gettysburg with the new feature. In many cases, there’s nothing earth shattering to see. But in some locations which have undergone substantial change in that short time period (such as viewing the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan) the results are riveting.

Don’t worry if you don’t see Google Maps Street View Historical Imagery feature yet. When you have millions of users it can take a while to roll out upgrades.

Members Have Been Time Traveling for a While Now
If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium Member then chances are you made a bee-line for the Time Travel with Google Earth premium video as soon as you joined. In that video we explore some incredibly powerful ways to travel back through our ancestor’s lives and times. And while I still think that those techniques deliver more relevant results for genealogists, this new Street View time travel in Google Maps is exciting in its own way. It offers a glimpse into the future.

Consider this: Google has been amassing incredible amounts of data over its short life including satellite and street view imagery. 7 years in and they can now begin to offer this collection of older imagery in a meaningful way. Imagine what historical street view imagery will look like in 10, 25, or 50 years from now!

After Looking Back in Time, I Offer This Prediction for the Future
While this feature has just rolled out in Google Maps, and is not yet available in our beloved Google Earth, I predict this omission will not last long. You may have already noticed that as you zoom in closer to street level in Google Earth a small clock icon appears at the bottom of the screen indicating historical satellite imagery is available. Next to the icon a date now appears indicating the earliest available imagery. Click the Historical Imagery icon in Google Earth’s toolbar and a time slider indicating the years available will appear.

Historical imagery Google Earth

For most areas of the world this spans about as long as satellite imagery has been around. But in some key areas, such as London and parts of Europe, the slider goes back to the World War II era. Black and white aerial imagery of war torn areas are plainly visible. (If you have World War II veterans in your family tree, this is a feature you’ll want to explore.) It can only be a matter of time before this same Historical Imagery comes to Google Earth’s Street View.

Burkett Family in San Francisco Google Earth for GenealogyMore Ways to Explore and Time Travel Now
If you are intrigued by the idea of using this technology to simulate your own genealogical time travel experience, watch my free video called Google Earth for Genealogy. You’ll travel along with me as I uncover the secrets of a photograph taken just over one hundred years ago, pinpoint the location today, and then travel back in time to further explore my ancestor’s neighborhood. From there, the sky is the limit with Google Earth and Google Maps!

Further Reading:

How Grandma Betty (& Family) is Leaving a Legacy Using Social Media

Think social media sites like Instagram and Twitter can’t really be used for family history in a meaningful way? Grandma Betty will change your mind!

Jeffersonville, Indiana’s Grandma Betty has become an Instagram Grandma Betty Instagram Family Historysensation thanks in big part to her Grandson. Betty is fighting cancer, and her family wants to ensure her memory is preserved – so they turned to social media.

I love this social media merriment on so many levels!
It celebrates:

  • love of family
  • family history
  • battling cancer head on
  • and the coming together of very different generations

If you want a dose of super awesomeness and inspiration, click the video below to learn more about Grandma Betty:

Then visit Grandma Betty’s delicious Instagram site here.

Now it’s your turn: How are you using social media to further family history?

Inspire others by sharing this video and your story on Facebook (or any other social media site) using the buttons at the top of this post. Sharing through social media is one simple way you can make your voice heard – just like Grandma Betty.

Learn how to discover and preserve your family history using technology

Listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast available in iTunes. Or get the app:Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family History

iPad App: Click here for iPad app
iPhone App: Click here for iPhone app
Android App: Click here for the Android App 

You will get Bonus content, streaming and all my Genealogy Gems in one convenient app.

It’s the Little Things: Family Heirlooms are Family History

photoWhen my kids were little I would pack away some of their mountain of toys. Then every so often I would bring them back in to “play circulation” and pack up another batch. To the kids, it was like getting brand new toys!

Our recent move has been sort of like that. As I unpacked boxes of bubble-wrapped baubles it was like finding new family heirlooms all over again.

One example is quite small: a single vintage clip-on earring.

It belonged to my beloved Grandma Burkett. Even though it had lost its match long ago, I couldn’t bear to part with it. As I unwrapped the seemingly useless single earring I was immediately struck with how I could use it. I clipped it in my hair at the end of my french braid!

Later that day I went shopping with my daughter, and several people stopped to compliment the jewel and inquire about it. When I explained it originally belonged to my Grandmother, faces lit up and family history conversations started to flow. All from one little thing…

Your challenge this week:  Look at what you have with fresh eyes, and share your family history with the world in little ways!

- Lisa

Lisa

Family History Episode 28 – Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 2

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastFamily History: Genealogy Made Easy

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Republished April 22, 2014

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 28: Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 2

Newspapers offer such a unique perspective on history in general, and our ancestors specifically.  In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we talked about finding historical newspapers. In this episode, Jane Knowles Lindsey at the California Genealogical Society shares inspiring stories about the kinds of family items she’s found in newspapers. She offers a  dozen more fantastic tips on researching old newspapers.

Jane mentions these family history finds from old newspapers:

  • photographs (engagements, weddings, obituaries, etc)
  • family visits from out of town
  • clues on immigrant arrivals
  • who’s staying at local hotels
  • news on relatives who were missionaries overseas
  • crimes involving relatives as victims, perpetrators, investigators, etc.
  • profiles of jurors
  • family reunions
  • probate items and transcriptions from court cases, like divorces

Here are 12 more tips for researching newspapers and organizing your discoveries:

  1. If you print out newspaper content found online, make sure you note where you found it. Source citation information may not be included in what you print.
  2. Look for probate and “bigger” news items in newspapers that have wider coverage than the town: a neighboring larger city or a county-wide paper. Also look at the map to see whether the nearest big paper is out-of-county or even out of state.
  3. Social calendar items (family visits, etc) were most popular up to the 1960s and 1970s. Newspapers today don’t look at local and personal news items.
  4. Sometimes death notices for more prominent people are accompanied by a much larger article about them that runs within a week before or after the obituary.
  5. There may have been both a morning and afternoon newspaper in some areas. Learn what papers were in town.
  6. Transcribe short newspaper articles into your family history software. Transcription helps you catch details you may otherwise miss, if you’re not reading very carefully.
  7. Nowadays with OCR and scanning, you can actually keep a digital copy of the article itself.
  8. Look for ethnic newspapers in the advanced search at the U.S. Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America.
  9. Any mention in a newspaper can point you to other records: court files, immigration and naturalization papers, military documents, cemetery records and more.
  10. Google! See the link below for the updated Google News resource (for historical newspapers).
  11. Newspapers can act as a substitute or supplement for records that have been lost in courthouse fires and floods or other records.
  12. Like today, not everything we read in the newspaper is true!

Updates and Links

  • Some of the digital newspaper collections mentioned in the episode are available by library subscription, like The Early American Newspapers collection the and 19th century Newspaper Collection from The Gale Group. Check with your local library.
  • My You Tube channel now has several videos on newspaper research and on using Google’s powerful tools for your family history research. However, Google discontinued the Google News Timeline mentioned in this episode.
  • Check out the benefits of Genealogy Gems Premium Membership–including all those great video classes mentioned in the episode–here.

A few great newspaper research sites:

Chronicling America

Fold3.com (formerly Footnote.com)

Genealogy Bank

Newspapers.com

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

Finally, don’t forget this Genealogy Gems resource: How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers walks you through the process of finding and researching old newspapers. You’ll find step-by-step instructions, worksheets and checklists, tons of free online resources, websites worth paying for, location-based newspaper websites and a case study that shows you how it’s done.

The Genealogy Professional Podcast: New on the Podcasting Scene

The Genealogy Professional podcastProfessional genealogist and house historian Marian Pierre-Louis is launching a new podcast called The Genealogy Professional.

Marian describes her new show this way: “”The Genealogy Professional podcast provides a peek behind the curtain to give up-and-coming and experienced genealogists a chance to learn from active professionals working in the field. Each show contains an interview with an active genealogy professional and provides tips and guidance related to practical aspects of business such meeting deadlines, networking, finding clients, submitting articles for publication and applying for speaking engagements.”

Like our own Genealogy Gems podcast, The Genealogy Professional podcast speaks to an international audience. Her guests have included professionals from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Israel and the U.S. Shows are broadcast weekly (released on Mondays) through the above website, iTunes and Stitcher.

Free through April 30: Fold3 Civil War Collection

Here’s your opportunity to research your Civil War ancestors for free at Fold3:

“To remember the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, Fold3 invites you to explore all records in its Civil War Collection [http://go.fold3.com/civilwar/]for free April 14–30.

Civil War Photos for Genealogy and Family History

Click this image to visit the website “Original Photographs from the Civil War” for an incredible look back.

Explore Civil War documents featuring everything from military records to personal accounts and historic writings. Soldier records include service records, pension index cards, “Widows’ Pension” files, Navy survivors certificates, Army registers, and much more. Other record types include photographs, original war maps, court investigations, slave records, and beyond. Items such as the Lincoln Assassination Papers, Sultana Disaster documents, letters to the Adjutant General and Commission Branch, and the 1860 census are also contained in the Civil War Collection.

Confederate-specific records include Confederate service records, amnesty papers, casualty reports, and citizens files, as well as Confederate Navy subject files and Southern Claims Commission documents.

Join Fold3 in its commemoration of the Civil War. Discover information on famous participants as well as your own Civil War ancestors through documents, photos, and images that capture the experiences and vital information of those involved in America’s deadliest conflict. Then commemorate your ancestors by creating or expanding memorial pages for them on Fold3’s Honor Wall [http://www.fold3.com/wall/]. Get started searching the Civil War Collection here [http://go.fold3.com/civilwar/].”

 

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers: FREE 2-part Podcast

find your family history in newspapersIf you tune in regularly to Genealogy Gems, you know I love using newspapers to learn more about my relatives. I wanted to alert you to two FREE back-to-back podcast episodes on how to find your family history in newspapers. These episodes will get you started or revitalize what you’re already doing:

Family History Made Easy: Episode 27: How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 1

Family History Made Easy: Episode 28: How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 2 (Part 2 will be published on April 22, 2014)

What have YOU found in old newspapers about your family? Share it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

FREE FGS Webinars: War of 1812, Using Twitter in Genealogy

FGS logoFor a limited time, you can watch FREE genealogy webinars from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2014 Webinar Series. These are top-notch experts in their fields who have a lot to share. These three caught my eye:

“Discovering Local and State Militia Records” by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA is available only until Sunday, April 27, 2014:

So is “Researching in the Post War Records of 1812″ by Craig Scott, MA, CG:

Interested in social media? Don’t miss this webinar: “Capturing the Community: Using Twitter to Connect, Engage and Educate in Genealogy” by Jen Baldwin:

Check out the full webinar series here.

Family History Episode 27 – Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 1

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastFamily History: Genealogy Made Easy

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Republished April 15, 2014

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 27: Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 1

Newspapers offer such a unique perspective on history in general, and our ancestors specifically.  You can find everything from birth, marriage and death announcements, to school and club event, crime stories, land transactions, sports activities and just about any other activity that your ancestors were part of that made the news.  So let’s get started and “Read all about it!”

In this episode, you’ll hear from Jane Knowles Lindsey at the California Genealogical Society. She is currently the president there and often teaches on this subject. Our conversation on newspaper research continues in next week’s episode!

Here are some take-away thoughts from this episode, along with some updates:

  1. Determine which newspapers existed for your ancestor’s hometown and time period. Look for ethnic and neighborhood papers, too. The most comprehensive U.S. newspaper directory is at Chronicling America. This site does let you search by language, ethnic background, labor group and more.
  2. Look for these newspapers at digitized newspaper sites, starting with the free ones. In the U.S., this means starting with Chronicling America and state digital newspaper project sites (search on the state name and “digital newspapers”). These sites came out of the government digitizing program mentioned in the show.
  3. Digitized newspaper searching is done with OCR (optical character recognition), which doesn’t pick up everything in tough-to-read historical print. Try searching with different spellings, a first name in a particular timeframe, or other people or terms that may have been mentioned.
  4. Ancestry has put lots of newspapers on their website—but not everything, and for only limited time periods. Notice what time period is covered for a specific newspaper. Ancestry has since launched Newspapers.com.
  5. If you’ve found the name of a newspaper that probably covered your family, but you haven’t found it digitized, search the name of the newspaper in your favorite web browsers. Most newspapers are on microfilm somewhere and web directories will likely list holdings. Also, some newspapers have also been indexed on USGenWeb or other sites.
  6. State archives and libraries are often a great resource for newspapers. Local libraries may have unique clippings files or scrapbooks.
  7. Several websites and databases now focus on obituary content. You can target a search for these.

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersI loved this topic so much I ended up writing a book on it! How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers walks you through the process of finding and researching old newspapers. You’ll find step-by-step instructions, worksheets and checklists, tons of free online resources, websites worth paying for, location-based newspaper websites and a case study that shows you how it’s done.

More Newspaper Links

Some of the digital newspaper collections mentioned in the episode are available by library subscription, like The Early American Newspapers collection the and 19th century Newspaper Collection from The Gale Group. Check with your local library.

Fold3.com (formerly Footnote.com)

GenealogyBank

Godfrey Memorial Library

New England Historic Genealogical Society  (by subscription only)

Newspapers.com

Small Town Papers

USGenWeb

Heroic Rescue! 5000 WWI Photos Saved by a Rubbish Collector

WWI photos, World War I photographs

British volunteers for “Kitchener’s Army” waiting for their pay in the churchyard of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. August 1914. Wikimedia Commons Image

One man has spent years rescuing thousands of WWI photos, letters and other artifacts from the trash. The full story, reported recently by the U.K’s MailOnline, tells the story of this heroic effort.

According to the article, dustman (garbage collector) Bob Smethurst began started this rescue mission about thirty years ago. As he dumped waste cans, he would sometimes spot old pictures, letters and other memorabilia spilling into the masher. He’d rescue them when he could. Now he’s got an enormous collection.

Mr. Smethurst noticed a lot of this World War I material being thrown out during the 1970s and 1980s as veterans died of old age. He guesses that a similar amount of World War II material has been heading to landfills or burn piles in recent years.

Have you ever rescued someone’s family artifacts from oblivion? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageA hat tip to Premium Member Kimberly for alerting me to this article!