January 28, 2015

5 Most Popular Searches in Historical Newspapers–and Tips for Improving Yours!

Genealogy Research in NewspapersThe British Newspaper Archive celebrated its 3rd birthday recently by looking back at how people are searching its 9 million+ newspaper pages. To date, the five most common searches are:

1. Football

2. Murder

3. Death

4. Jack the Ripper

5. Railway

Not what you expected? Your digitized newspaper searches as a family historian may be a little more specific and less sports-and-murder oriented. But are they too general to yield successful results?

Here’s a tip from Lisa: “With 9 million searchable pages, the key to finding what you want is to use the Advanced Search.

british search“You’ll find it under the search box. My initial search for my husband’s great grandfather resulted in tens of thousands of hits until I included mandatory keywords, his name as a phrase, a defined time frame, and zeroed in on advertisements. The 299 results were far more manageable and resulted in several fantastic finds!”

Armed with these tips, those with Irish or English roots should explore The British Newspaper Archive, even if you’ve searched there before. “We’ve come a long way since the website launched on 29 November 2011 with 4 million historic newspaper pages,” says a press release. “The collection is now more than twice the size, with over 9 million fully searchable pages available from 300 British and Irish titles. The newspapers cover 1710 – 1954, a much broader time period than at launch. If you weren’t able to find a particular person, event or place when The British Newspaper Archive launched, it’s well worth looking again now.” Visit www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk to try a search for free.”

Learn more about searching historical newspapers in Lisa’s book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. Chapter 4 is all about the newspaper search process, and includes a copy-able Newspaper Research Worksheet.

Last of all, check out this fun infographic below from the British Newspaper Archive in honor of its birthday:

 

British Newspaper Archive

These 1939 Dress Designs Survived the Holocaust. Their Designer Didn’t.

dresses compressedA new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee tells the story of some 1939 dress designs that made it out of Nazi-occupied territory–and pays tribute to their designer, who didn’t.

“When the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, tens of thousands of Jews applied for visas to anywhere,” explains the caption to a YouTube video about the exhibit (see below). “Among them, Paul Strnad and his wife Hedy, a dress designer. Ultimately, neither would get a visa to leave Czechoslovakia.”

Years later, their story was literally stitched together by descendants and local historians. The couple sent her dress designs to a cousin in Milwaukee in a desperate attempt to get work visas to leave. It never happened. Paul was killed. Hedy’s fate is unknown.

A few years ago, the designs were rediscovered along with letters that told their story. Now the design drawings–and dresses newly created from them–are the centerpiece of “Stitching History from the Holocaust,” an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee. Read more about the exhibit here, or click below to watch this video about it. I think you will be as moved as I am to hear this story.

 

What to Do When Genealogy Records Were Burned

flames_300_wht_8629Recently Sue from Elk Grove, Illinois wrote in with a question about what to do when records were lost due to fire (or war, or disasters, etc.):

“We have been trying to locate information on my great great grandparents Hugh and Mae Sullivan. I have never been able to find marriage or birth records and have realized that it was mainly due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Interestingly, through a directory from 1866, they may have lived only blocks from the origin of the fire. I have them in 1880 with 4 sons, the first of which was born just 10 months following the fire.

“I suspect that they may have lost other children in the tragedy. I am unsure which direction to go to find more of their story and any suggestions would be helpful. Several newspapers are reported to have lists of the missing but I have either been unable to read them or to locate them. Sam Fink’s list [an index of Cook County marriages and deaths] did not provide any information. I suspect that my ancestors were among the very poor immigrants that flooded into Chicago. There were relief societies and I have wondered if records were kept of those who were rehoused.”

Here’s my response to Sue:

genealogy gems podcast mailboxI think you are on the right track with newspapers. Newspapers.com (owned by Ancestry) carries the Chicago Daily from 1871. Here is a screen shot of the List of Missing from Oct. 11, 1871.  It might be worth a subscription to Newspapers.com to be able to really comb through all the issues.

newspapers com missing clipHere’s a tip on working with less-than-the best digital images of historical newspapers. You can “invert” the actual image (have it read white-on-black instead of black-on-white), then darken it and add a little more contrast to get the most readable copy possible. This can be done right from the Newpapers.com viewer.

Also, in Family History podcast episode #37 I discussed a book specifically on Chicago research: Finding Your Chicago Ancestors: A Beginners Guide To Family History In The City Of Chicago by Grace DuMelle. As I recall, it was a very comprehensive book and could give you good leads on where to look.

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

 

For more tips like these, read my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. Inside you’ll find:

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Worksheets and Checklists
  • Tech Tools You Probably Aren’t Using But Should
  • A Massive Amount of Location Specific Websites  and a Case Study that Puts It Al Together

Here is the New Book for Genealogy Gems Book Club!

The Genealogy Gems Book Club debuted to excellent response from you, our readers and listeners and social media followers! A LOT of you are passionate about books and family history!

Our last title was a memoir by a woman raised in England who told a story about her South African roots. So what’s the new book? Well, we’re going to cross the sea–and genres–to a novel by U.S. author Christina Baker Kline.

orphan train Christina Baker Kline genealogy book clubOrphan Train spent five weeks at the #1 spot  on the New York Times Bestselling list. When you read it you’ll see why. Here’s the storyline:

Vivian is an Irish immigrant child who loses her family in New York City and is forced to ride the ‘orphan train.’ Orphan trains were a common solution in the late 1800s and early 1900s for care of abandoned or orphaned children in New York City and other places. The children were loaded onto trains and paraded in front of locals at various stops across the countryside, where they might be claimed by just about anyone.

After following Vivian’s life through her childhood and young adulthood, we fast-forward. Vivian is 91, and a teenage girl named Molly comes to help her clean out her attic. Molly is a Penobscot Indian who is in the modern foster care system. Gradually they realize they have a lot in common, and you’ll love the ways they each respond to that.

Why did I choose this book for family history lovers to read? To me, the book is about the importance of family identity. Each of us has a family storyline that existed before we were born and brought us into being. Vivian’s and Molly’s experiences remind me how important it is to know and value our family backgrounds. Of course I loved learning more about orphan train riders, too. That chapter of history is now a vivid reality to me.

Click here to order your copy of Orphan Train
When you initiate your purchase here, you are helping support the FREE Genealogy Gems podcast and the Book Club, whether you choose an e-book, or new or used print book on Amazon. Thank you! Then stay tuned–we’ll chat a little more about the book in the February podcast and the author herself will join us in March for an exclusive interview.

genealogy book club genealogy gemsClick here to learn more about the Genealogy Gems Book Club and to see books we’ve featured in the past.

 

Are You Going to RootsTech 2015? So is Laura Bush

Bush_Laura_PROMOPIC copyRootsTech 2015 is just over a month away! Are you going? Genealogy Gems will be there in booth 1242 and we look forward to meeting you!

And, as recently announced, former First Lady Laura Bush will be at RootsTech, as she joins an already-impressive who’s-who list of this year’s keynote speakers and entertainers.

Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager will keynote the Friday morning general session on February 13. According to a FamilySearch press release, “The former First Lady will talk about life in the White House and the importance of family during those eight years, as well as reflect on the difficult days following September 11th. Jenna Bush Hager will join her mother onstage for a fireside chat where they will share family stories as a new mother and grandmother.”

Last year, over 9000 people from 31 countries attended this forward-thinking gen-tech conference in person. An estimated 150,000 viewed live-streaming sessions around the world. It’s tough to argue with RootsTech’s claim as “the largest family history conference in the world.” Visit us at the Genealogy Gems booth in the Expo Hall!

rootstech 2015 ambassador badgeStill need to register, or need more information? Head over to the RootsTech website.

 

NEW! Map for African-American Genealogy Resources after the Civil War

Mapping the Freedmens Bureau African-American genealogy ReconstructionThe time period after the U.S. Civil War is a messy era for searching for African-American ancestors from the South. Millions of people were emerging from slavery, without documented histories of who they were or who they were related to–many without even consistent first and last names.

A NEW website helps researchers locate important African-American genealogy resources from the post-war Reconstruction era. Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau is a map-based tool for helping you find the Freedmen’s Bureau offices and hospitals, Freedman’s Bank offices, “Contraband Camps,” U.S. Colored Troops battle sites and other locations nearest your ancestors that may have created records about them. Many of these record sets are just coming online or are newly indexed and are free to search, so the timing couldn’t be better.

What a fantastic tool! I’m so pleased to see this site. Now those who know what location they’re starting with can easily glance at a map and click to see which of these resources exist in a specific locale and where to find them online or offline.

Listen to my interview with African-American genealogy research expert Deborah Abbott, PhD, in the FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 159.

Here’s a Cool Way to Export a Web Clipping Note from Evernote

export notes and filesRecently I posted on How to Solve a Pesky Evernote Web Clipper Problem. In that post I explained how to save an Evernote web clipping as an image file.

Genealogy Gem reader Pat wrote in about how she likes to extract notes. She writes:

Hi Lisa,
I just ready your post about getting a note in Evernote out of the program and into another format on your hard drive.  To get a text note out just open up the note and print it, to a pdf printer like Cute PDF.  The only problem I see so far with this, is that CutePDF wants to call (everything)”printed” this way (as) Evernote.pdf, so you have to change the file name to avoid writing over the previous file. And, although I’m not a Word user I think it will allow you to import or open a pdf file and then save it as a doc file.

Thanks for all your information.  I love listening to your podcast during my commute. – Pat

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastThis is a great tip. Genealogy Gems Premium Members can hear more about CutePDF in Premium Podcast episode 77. (Not a member yet? Become one here.) I’m also a fan of Primo PDF. Let me show you how the process Pat describes works.

How to Export a Web Clipping Note from Evernote to PDF:

1. Install a free PDF creator program (for example: CutePDF or PrimoPDF.)
2. In Evernote’s menu click File > Print.
3. Select PrimoPDF from the General tab.
4. Click the Print button.

Export Evernote note as PDF

5. In the pop-up window select ebook (select Prepress if you want a higher quality document.)
6. Click the Create PDF button.

Using PrimoPDF to export a note from Evernote as a PDF
7. In the Save As window select where you want to save the file.
8. Rename the file.
9. Click the Save button.

Save an Evernote note as PDF

10. And there you have it, your note as a PDF file!

Newspaper note from Evernote in PDF

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideNeed more Evernote help? My Evernote for Genealogists quick reference guide (image right) is available for both Mac and Windows users (pick up the one that goes with your computer’s operating system, not your mobile device).

Click here for digital download pdf guide.
Click here for laminated printed guide.

 

Read next:
Free: How to Save & Open Genealogy eBooks & PDFs to Your Mobile Devices
Premium Content: Premium Podcast episode 74 PDF Pandemonium

What You Can Learn from Richard III DNA “Scandal”

Earliest surviving portrait of Richard III. Wikimedia Commons image.

Earliest surviving portrait of Richard III. Wikimedia Commons image.

An article recently published in Nature Communications confirmed the identity of the remains of King Richard III by DNA testing. This result wasn’t a huge surprise, but there were some eyebrow-raising findings along the way. More to the point, now a celebrity case study teaches us more about how to use DNA in family history research.

Prior to the genetic investigation of the skeletal remains presumed to be that of Plantagenet King Richard III, there was already mounting evidence that this was indeed his body. Genetic genealogists can take cues from this research to learn how to more fully integrate your genetic testing into your genealogy.

While these researchers were able to use radiocarbon dating and skeletal analysis methods that most of us won’t have access to, they did pore over a substantial amount of historical evidence to substantiate the last known whereabouts of Richard III. The archaeological, skeletal, and historical evidence were overwhelmingly in favor of this positive identification. But it was the genetic evidence that provided the last, ahem, nail in the coffin.

In this case the nail was made of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA. King Richard shares his mtDNA with anyone who is also related in a direct maternal line to his mother. There were two such candidates found, both sharing mtDNA with the skeleton presumed to be King Richard, thus further verifying its identity. In fact, lead researcher Turi King said of the findings, “If you put all the data together, the evidence is overwhelming that these are the remains of Richard III.”

Of interesting note to us as genetic genealogists is that one of the two mtDNA samples used for reference did have one difference from the mtDNA signature shared by the other individual and the skeleton. This did not jeopardize the integrity of the results, but rather provided a good case study in how DNA does change over time.

You would think that the DNA match confirming the identity of the skeleton would be the biggest news out of this round of DNA testing. But along with the direct maternal line testing, there was also direct paternal line testing to try to verify the paternal line of the skeleton.

Genealogists worked tirelessly to identify direct paternal descendants of Richard III’s great-great grandfather Edward III and five were found and tested. Their results revealed not one but THREE different paternal lines.

While the results were not quite as expected, they weren’t exactly unexpected either, as there are plenty of royal rumors of non-paternity (click here for a summary). Watch a brief video discussion of the yDNA results here:

Again, the YDNA portion of the study provides a great case study for us in how to use YDNA, namely that it takes a lot of traditional genealogical work to find direct paternal line descendants to be tested, and that the results are conclusive, but can sometimes provide more questions than answers.

The Richard III DNA drama has started many families talking about “doing” their own DNA. Learn how with my series of quick guides (purchase all 4 laminated guides or the digital download bundle for the best deal);

Visit my website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.

The History of Mapmaking (and a Peek at the Future)

brain_looking_at_map_400_wht_15876Do you love old maps? Then you might enjoy a new video presentation now online at the Library of Congress website on the history of mapmaking and some thoughts about cartography in the future.

According to the website, “From Terra to Terabytes” Map Symposium presents “a sweeping view of the field, as it went from traditional methods of surveying in early years to remote-sensing and computer cartography of more recent years. They also discussed the future of cartography.”

Four sessions are available online. Watch the first session below:

Click to view the other sessions:

Historic_Maps_VideoAre you a Genealogy Gems Premium member? If so, you can learn a lot more about how to use old maps in your genealogy research! Your low annual membership gets you access to five video classes, including 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. In this Premium Video you will learn which historical maps every genealogist should use; some of the best online resources for finding old maps; how to locate offline historical maps; how to create and save your own historical map collection and techniques for using old maps in your research.

Click here to learn more about Premium membership.

MyHeritage to Digitize Danish Genealogy Records

denmark_flag_perspective_anim_300_wht_4774MyHeritage has announced a new arrangement with the Danish National Archive to digitize, index and make available online millions of Danish genealogy records. According to MyHeritage, these include:

  • “Danish national censuses, including approximately 9 million images and 31 million records, covering the years of 1787 through to 1930.  One of the most enlightening sources of historical content, census records provide a glimpse into a family’s past listing information about each household including the names of occupants, information on residence, ages, places of birth and occupations.
  • Church records (3.9 million images) containing approximately 90 million names from 1646 to 1915. The Parish Register provides information regarding anyone who was born, baptized or confirmed (after 1737), married or died in a particular parish. The records include rich information about a person’s family: for example, for baptisms they list the date of birth, date of baptism, name of the child, parent’s names, occupations and residence, and often names of witnesses and godparents.”

According to MyHeritage, “The records, spanning almost 300 years, provide a window to the lives of Danish ancestors during fascinating periods in history including the Napoleonic wars, liberalism and nationalism of the 1800s, the Schleswig Wars and industrialization.

“The records will illuminate the lives and times of noted Danish historical figures such as Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr. Celebrity fans will be able to look into the family history of Danish Americans such as Scarlett Johansson and Viggo Mortensen for clues on their success. Many of the records will be made available on MyHeritage as early as April 2015 and the rest will be added during the year.

MyHeritage is a leader in family history for those with Nordic roots and is “the only major company providing services in Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish. With more than 430,000 users in Denmark and an additional 600,000 registered users in Sweden, 500,000 in Norway, and 280,000 in Finland, MyHeritage has amassed the largest Nordic user base and family tree database in the market.”

MyHeritageJust one more reason we at Genealogy Gems are pleased to have MyHeritage as a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast. Click to learn more about why we’ve chosen to partner with them.