August 29, 2014

Evernote Web Clipper and Much More in Family Tree Magazine (September 2014)

Family Tree MagazineThe new issue of Family Tree Magazine is out, and I really appreciate the shout-outs to us here at Genealogy Gems–and more great tools to help you find your family history.

Directory of genealogy groups on Facebook:
A letter to the editor referred to the article “Teaming Up,” co-written by myself and Genealogy Gems/Family Tree Magazine Contributing Editor Sunny Morton in the December 2013 issue.

Katherine R. Wilson writes, “Since last summer, I’ve been compiling a list of genealogical and hisorical links (almost 3900 of them) found on Facebook, including genealogical and historical societies from around the world, surname lists, Native American genealogy links, African-American genealogy links, Jewish genealogy links, DNA lists, cemetery lists, etc. his list is frequently updated and available to download at no charge from my website.”

(Do you want to collaborate on your family history? Check out our four-part blog post series with tips and tools for researching with a buddy.)

Evernote web clipper article:
Flip to the Toolkit section, pages 66-67, to find my tutorial on using the Evernote web clipper. Because let’s face it, we need a better way to save content from and links to genealogy content we find online. Bookmarks get unwieldly (what did you name that site?) and don’t save content from pages that might disappear.

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideEvernote offers precise screen clipping for a PC or a Mac. You can import, store, organize, tag, backup, share and retrieve notes with lightning speed in Evernote. (You can even do full-text keyword searches of those screenshots! How cool is that?) Check out that article!
Learn even more with my Evernote for Genealogists quick guides for both Windows and the Mac, available in pdf format or (in the U.S.) as a printed, laminated guide. (right)
101BESTlogo_2014

Best website awards!
The Genealogy Gems website was named in this issue as one of Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Websites in the “In the Know” category. Author David Fryxell actually referred to me as the “podcast queen!” He highlighted the site’s 160 free shows plus the videos and extra content our Premium members can access for $29.95 a year.

The Genealogy Gems YouTube channel was also mentioned as an example of genealogy content you’ll find on YouTube. (Watch something there! It’s free!)

The issue is packed with much more, from a great article on creating a timeline of your ancestor’s life to how to create a genealogy disaster plan. Check it out here!

How to Make a Family History Video: Premium Video and Podcast Now Available!

figure_at_3d_movie_800_13404Last weekend at Midwestern Roots, I debuted a new talk on technology tools for family history. One thing I mentioned was harnessing YouTube to share your family history. YouTube is now one of the top search engines – period! That means people may be looking for your common heritage on YouTube. Share what you know with them (and bring what they know to you) by creating and posting a family history video.

So what goes into a family history video? What technology tools will help you create one? How do you post it online?

Genealogy Gems Premium members can now access the answers to these and more questions about making your own family history videos. This is a great project to do as a family or with your grandchildren! There’s an audio-only podcast on the topic and a video version as well:

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastListen to the Premium Podcast #111 here (and download the shownotes)

Premium Video: 10 Ways to Add Volume to Your Family History Video

Not a Premium member yet? Click here to learn more about all the benefits of Premium membership.

Historical Maps of New York City and More Now Free Online

Map of New York City, 1857. Click for full citation information.

Map of New York City, 1857. Click for full citation information.

Thousands of historical maps of New York City, the mid-Atlantic states and even the Austro-Hungarian empire (yes, really!) are now online–and they’re free.

The New York Public Library has published more than 20,000 historical maps dating from 1660-1922. They are free for public use, downloading, manipulating and publishing!  A lot of the maps are from New York City neighborhoods, like the one shown here.

The author of a news item about the collection said this: “We can’t imagine too many people wanting to remix Gangs of New York-era property charts, but it’s hard to object to getting more geographic knowledge at no charge.” Well, we genealogists may not “remix” these old property maps, but we can certainly see the value in them!

Do you use maps in your research? Have you tried overlaying a historical map showing an ancestor’s home with a modern one on Google Earth? Learn more about using Google Earth in your genealogy research in this FREE video. 

And if this post is interesting to you, you should also read this blog post about interactive historical maps of major cities (like New York City).

 

Insider Tips for Using Ancestry.com: Family Tree Magazine Podcast – July 2014

FTM podcast logoEvery month I host the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, where I check in with the editors and experts at Family Tree Magazine for a dose of genealogy fun and education.

I thought you would especially enjoy the July 2014 episode: it’s all about tips for using Ancestry.com! Highlights of what you’ll hear:


See what new tricks YOU can learn from this free podcast for maximizing your time on Ancestry.com!

WDYTYA 2014: Preview of TOMORROW’s Episode!

WDYTYA 2014This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? features talented actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen. I caught a quick preview of it and it doesn’t disappoint! I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll tell you that I especially love the “sister dynamic,” as they describe it. “We know different stories, we have different versions,” they say. Isn’t that the truth in all families?

I also love the story they discover about an ancestral servant in a grand home (you’ll love this if you’re a Downton Abbey fan!). Another peek into history unfolds their Canadian ancestors’ lives as British Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.

Here’s the description of this WDYTYA 2014 episode from TLC:

“Rachel McAdams and her younger sister Kayleen go on a journey together to unearth their maternal roots, since their mother knows so little about her history. First they follow the trail of their English grandfather’s family, and find an ancestor who sacrificed much of his personal freedom to support his wife and children. Then, while tracking their grandmother’s side, Rachel and Kayleen discover just how deeply connected they are to Canada and a pivotal moment in Canadian history.”

Airs August 6 at 9PM ET/PT on TLC. Tell us what you thought of the episode on our Facebook page after the show!

Family History Episode 40: How to Start a Genealogy Blog, Part III: Step by Step

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastFamily History: Genealogy Made Easy
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished July 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 40: How to Start a Genealogy Blog, Part III: Step by Step

In the last two episodes you’ve been hearing from experienced genealogy bloggers about family history blogging. I hope it piqued your interest and got you thinking about the possibility of doing it yourself. As we’ve discussed, it’s a great way to share your experiences with other researchers and potentially connect with long lost relatives.

Well in today’s episode I’m going to walk you through setting up your own family history blog step-by-step. By the end of this episode you could have your own family history blog up and running and sharing your enthusiasm about genealogy with the world. How does that sound? Are you willing to give it a try? And even if you’re not looking to start blogging today, listen in and plant the seeds for the future.

MAILBOX: A long-time listener wrote in this last week about the recent blogging episodes:

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist“The Transcript software mentioned by Denise Levenick looks great – I downloaded and installed it this morning. I am giving a brief software demonstration at the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society’s 30th Anniversary Celebration tomorrow and I am going to let people know about this product.

Episode 38 and Episode 39 have really got me thinking about starting my own blog. It won’t be easy with my 50 hours plus a week civil engineering job, but your podcasts have motivated me. Thank you!” -Will Haskell, Listener to All Your Podcasts

Transcript software is really cool: download the most recent version for free here. And that’s just one example of the kind of great tech tips that Denise Levenick blogs about at The Family Curator Blog!

Follow-up: when republishing this episode, we were curious about whether Will ever started a blog. He did! It’s very cool! Find Will’s Genealogy Blog at http://wchgenealogyblog.blogspot.com/.

Also, listener Anne-Marie had some questions about how to make progress with her Maw-gee research, specifically how to track down their immigration records. She wrote in again to say that she’s going to follow up on our suggestions and let us know what she finds. But she also had some comments about my interview with genealogy blogger the Footnote Maven (Episode 38):

“I have begun listening to Family History and Genealogy Gem podcasts from the beginning again. When I listened the first time I was so novice that I did not always understand what I was hearing. It’s great to have this audio reference guide.”

How to Start a Genealogy Blog: Step by Step

Now before we get started on created your blog let me just say that there are probably countless websites for setting up blogs and certainly countless ways to go about it. My goal in the approach that I’m going to take is to get you up and running in a short period of time for free. This is a great way to get your feet wet, see if it’s for you, and if you decide to get more elaborate with it later you can always do that.

1. Decide what the purpose of your blog is.

When it comes to a genealogy themed blog there are still lots of options – so here are some ideas:

  • A Research Log
  • A Surname Focus
  • Family Traditions, Family Recipes, Photos
  • Genealogy News
  • Focus on a certain record type
  • Provide beginner education
  • Interviews with relatives
  • History of an ancestor’s home or community
  • Have a general all purpose blog
  • Follow a pattern for each day

And remember the Footnote Maven’s good advice – You can’t be an expert in everything, so don’t even try. To me a good way to stay out of that trap is to stay narrowly focused. If you find yourself having to be an expert in everything you’re blog theme is probably too broad. And of course, be yourself. Do what you do best!

2. Use Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) to create your blog. It’s free, and easy to use.

Blogger is owned by Google so if you already have a Google account than you’re one step ahead of the game. If not that’s the first thing you’ll need to do. Then click “Create Your Blog Now.”

Note: As on any website, the organization and features of Blogger change over time. The following description was current at the time of publication. Use this following descriptions and concepts to guide you through the current version of Blogger.

Name your blog. Of course, the name should reflect what your blog is about, but it’s also good to think of one that is catchy, and one that you can get the URL address for. The URL name you pick has to be something that isn’t already being used, so it might take a few tries.

How to Name Your Blog:

  1. Type in the Title Field
  2. Type the URL you want in the “Blog Address URL” field
  3. click the Check Availability link to see if it is available
  4. Type in the word verification code
  5. Click the CONTINUE button.

3. Select a Design Template:

  1. Scroll through the design templates and pick one you like
  2. Click the select button
  3. Click the CONTINUE button
  4. You’ll get a page that says Your Blog has been created!
  5. Click the orange arrow that says START BLOGGING.

There are a couple of more things we’ll want to do with our blog before we get to the business of actually posting blog articles. First let’s just get familiar with the blog dashboard. This is sort of the “behind the scenes,” an area your readers will never see, but where you will actually do your blogging.

There are 4 tabs along the top: Posting, Settings, Layout and Monetize.

Blog Tune Up: From the Posting Tab….Click the SETTINGS tab. Type up a short description of the blog.

Vocab Word: KEYWORDS

Keywords label your blog so that when readers go searching for a blog to read they will find it. So some good keywords for this new blog that I’m creating would be

  • Genealogy
  • Family history
  • Family tree
  • Blog
  • How to

Keywords can be single words or a short keyword phrase such as “family history” which readers will very likely be searching for. Blogger allows you 500 characters.

The rest of your options on this Basic Settings page are mostly about how your content will be labeled and found on the internet. You can take a look through the options but in most cases you will want to leave them on their default settings. When you’re done just click the SAVE SETTINGS button at the bottom of the page. And for right now you can leave all of the other types of settings as is as well. There are about 9 different categories within the Settings Tab that you can tweak, but the default settings on these are just fine for now.

4. Add at least one gadget. Click the LAYOUT tab. I love working with this area because this is where you get to customize the layout and the types of gizmos and gadgets that are on your blog. We don’t want to overdo it but there are some really good ones you’re not going to want to miss.

Blogger will automatically add a couple of gadgets to the sidebar of your blog. They are:

  • Followers – people who use blogger who subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed.
  • Blog Archive – This gadget automatically archives your older blog posts.
  • About Me – This is just a place where you can tell your readers a little more about yourself and include your email address if you wish.

To see what other types of gadgets you can add just click the Add A Gadget link in top side box. That will bring up a window with lots of choices for you:

  • Search Box
  • Text
  • Photos
  • Slide show
  • Video Bar
  • Polls
  • Lists
  • RSS feed
  • Subscription Links
  • HTML / Javascript

Each one of these is very easy to use and pretty self-explanatory. But I recommend not overloading your blog. Only include, at least to start, the items you really think your readers would get some value from. Otherwise it can just be annoying distraction that gives readers a reason to leave your blog.

How to Add a Picture Gadget to Your Blog:

  1. Cick the plus sign on the right hand side of the page for the PICTURE gadget.
  2. This will bring up a page call CONFIGURE IMAGE.
  3. Give the image a title
  4. Type a Caption
  5. Link to an image on the web OR upload from your computer hard drive.
  6. (To upload from your computer make sure the “From your computer” button is selected and then just click the BROWSE button. Navigate your way to the location of the photo on your computer’s hard drive and select it.) Once the image appears that means it has been successfully uploaded to Blogger.
  7. (If you want to link this image to another website, then you will want to type in the address in the LINK field.)
  8. Click the orange SAVE button and we’re done.
  9. Now you will be back at your dashboard in the Layout mode. You will see that the top box on the side is now labeled as the title you gave your image.
  10. Click the blue PREVIEW button at the top and a preview window will open showing how your blog currently looks and it will include the image you just uploaded.

5. Rearrange Your Gadgets on Your Blog. Hover your mouse over the gadget and your cursor will turn into a cross with arrows. Click and grab the gadget and drag it where you want it and drop it in place. Click the PREVIEW button to see how that looks.

Summary

We’ve made a lot of progress on our blog in a very short amount of time. Take some time this week to take the steps we took in this episode:

  1. Decide on the theme or focus on of your blog
  2. Get a Google Account and create your Blogger blog account with your chosen name and secure the URL address to go with it.
  3. Pick your design template
  4. Add at least one gadget from the choices provided
  5. And move the gadgets you have so far around until they are in the order you want.

Next week we will finish up this family history blogging lesson with adding a few more gadgets and details, doing a bit of pre-planning for our blog posts, publishing your first article, and then talking about how your readers will subscribe to your blog.

Finally, here’s a link to genealogy expert (and blogging guru) Amy Coffin’s blog post, “Another Jones Surprise or Why Genealogists Should Blog.” Next week’s episode will include handouts on Amy’s great ideas for up to a year’s worth of genealogy blog posts by societies or individuals—you won’t want to miss that!

You Don’t Have to BE a Pro to Train with Them: APG 2015 Professional Management Conference and SLIG

SLIG APG 2015Two back-to-back opportunities for professional-level genealogy education will take place in Salt Lake City in January 2015 (not too long before the RootsTech – FGS joint conference).

The APG 2015 Professional Management Conference takes place January 8-9. The Association of Professional Genealogists hosts, but includes all who want to learn from and alongside the pros. Here’s the skinny:

  • It’s January 8-9, 2015 at the downtown Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • 16 sessions include DNA, genealogical standards, adoption research, how to cite your sources and more.
  • The theme is “Professional-Grade Genealogy,” and you’ll definitely be learning from top experts in the field.
  • Early-bird registration is open at www.apgen.org/conferences. Registration for virtual access to select sessions (Virtual PMC) will open later this year.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy kicks off the following week, with week-long, in-depth instruction on more than 10 genealogical subjects. More details available at www.SLIG.ugagenealogy.org.

5 Genealogy Resources to Look For at YOUR Public Library

genealogy at the public library

genealogy at the public library

This week, I’m researching at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which has one of the best public library genealogy collections in the United States. They’ve got more than half a million items on microfilm and fiche and 350,000 more in print. Among these items are nearly 50,00o city directories; 55,000 compiled family histories; most National Archives microfilmed military service and pension records….Okay, I’ll stop before you get jealous.

But in fact, MOST public libraries have some good genealogy resources. Have you checked out the library near you lately? OR the local history and genealogy collection in a public library near where your ancestors lived? You may likely find these 5 great resources:

  1. Access to paid subscription genealogy websites like Ancestry.com Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online, Fold3 and other genealogy databases.
  2. Local historical newspapers–or at least obituaries from them. ALSO access to historical newspaper websites like GenealogyBank.com which may have papers you’ll never travel to see in person.
  3. City directories, old maps and/or local histories for that town.
  4. Surname files. These aren’t at every public library, but you’ll often find them in libraries that have dedicated genealogy rooms. These likely won’t be neatly organized files with perfect family trees in them, but collections of documents, bibliographic references and correspondence relating to anyone with that surname.
  5. Other surprising local history resources. For example, my hometown library in Euclid, Ohio, has online collections of Euclid newspapers, history, yearbooks and oral histories!

Euclid LibraryWhat does your library have? Browse its website or call and ask about its local history and genealogy collections. You might even Google the name of the county with the phrases “public library” and “local history” or “genealogy.” Another branch of the same library system (not in your own or ancestor’s town but nearby) might have just what you need to find your family history!

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastWant to learn more about doing genealogy at the public library? Check out two recently republished episodes of Lisa’s Family History Made Easy podcast:

 

 

Episode 34: Do Your Genealogy at the Public Library, Part 1 Genealogy librarian Patricia VanSkaik talks to us about researching at public libraries. She shares what kinds of things may be at the library (including unique resources), how to prepare for a visit and lots of great tips for making the most of your research time there.

Episode 35: Do Your Genealogy at the Public Library, Part 2 We go deeper into genealogy research at the public library. Genealogy librarian Patricia VanSkaik is back to talk about how to search an online library card catalog including advanced search methods, the unique collections that may be at public libraries, how to ask for exactly what we want, and the obstacles librarians face when it comes to cataloguing large and unique collections that may interest genealogists.

Remember the Sears Catalog? It’s on Ancestry.com

Sears Catalog Fall 1960, Cover. Digital image from Ancestry.com. Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Sears Roebuck Catalogs 1896–1993. Vol.102–228 K. Chicago, Illinois: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Sears Catalog Fall 1960, Cover. Digital image from Ancestry.com. Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Sears Roebuck Catalogs 1896–1993. Vol.102–228 K. Chicago, Illinois: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Back in “the day,” American consumers window-shopped by mail with the Sears catalog. From 1888-1993, the Sears catalog stocked millions of American households and fed the Christmas lists of men, women and children.

Wouldn’t pages from the Sears catalog make a lively addition to your family history posts, pins, pages and  conversations? Ancestry.com thinks so, too! They’ve digitized the catalogs and they’re keyword-searchable here. (Just a word of advice: browse a certain issue or search for a specific product. A keyword search for “bicycle” brings up over 5000 results through the OCR technology used to find matches.)

According to this brief history, the Sears catalog first launched as a mailer for watches and jewelry in 1888. “The time was right for mail order merchandise,” says the article. “Fueled by the Homestead Act of 1862, America’s westward expansion followed the growth of the railroads. The postal system aided the mail order business by permitting the classification of mail order publications as aids in the dissemination of knowledge entitling these catalogs the postage rate of one cent per pound. The advent of Rural Free Delivery in 1896 also made distribution of the catalog economical.”

Here’s one more blast from the American consumer past: Sears kit houses. Have you heard of these? You used to be able to order pre-fabricated homes from Sears. You could customize one of many standard sets of plans, and all the materials would be pre-cut and delivered to your home, “some assembly required,” so to speak. Learn more about Sears kit houses and see images of several designs (1908-1940) here. Did your family ever live in a kit house? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

Do You Have Midwestern Roots? Meet me in Indianapolis

Midwestern Roots Genealogy Conference 2014I’ve been cruising the British Isles aboard the good ship Marco Polo with Unlock the Past Cruises. But this coming weekend,  I’m heading into the heartland of the United States–to the Midwestern Roots Family History & Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you’ve got roots in the American Midwest, I hope you’ll meet me there!

The Midwestern Roots conference will kick off Thursday evening, July 31 with my Great Google Earth Game Show. During this interactive, virtual globe-trotting show, you’ll not only face some geographic genealogy trivia, you’ll see firsthand how and why to use the powerful, FREE resources of Google Earth for your family history research. Then enjoy a two-day event with over 30 sessions by nationally-known speakers on research skills, technology topics and more.

There’s a definite focus on technology at this conference (the theme is “What Would Your Pioneers Have Tweeted?”). As the conference site says, “Most of the sessions will focus on using ever-changing and emerging technologies and sources online. Other sessions will cover photo preservation, DNA, methodology and using traditional sources.”  There’s something there for everyone–and Indiana is a friendly and affordable destination for a lot of folks living in the United States. Check out the full conference program here.

Online registration is still available for some pre-conference activities (some are waiting list only). You can’t register online any more for the conference, but you can register onsite beginning at 8am on the first day, so show up anyway!

Google Earth for Genealogy BundleCan’t make it to the conference but want to learn more about using Google Earth? Genealogy Gems Premium members have access to 3 videos on using Google Earth for genealogy on my website (learn more about Premium membership here). And anyone can purchase my 2-CD set, Google Earth for Genealogy. I’ll give you your own virtual tour of Google Earth and demonstrate how to find ancestral homesteads, explore your relative’s neighborhood streets, overlay historical maps with modern ones and more.