April 2, 2015

Meet the Library of Congress in 3 Short Video Clips

Library of Congress

“LOC Main Reading Room Highsmith” by Carol M. Highsmith – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm.11604.

The Library of Congress (LOC) is a dream destination for many U.S. genealogy researchers. It’s home to millions of books, maps, city directories, photographs and other materials that can help us better understand our ancestors’ lives.

A guided walking tour of the LOC will take an hour (and a trip to Washington, D.C.), but the videos below introduce you to the library and its online resources in seven minutes.

Bonus: there’s a third two-minute video below with the fastest introduction to  analyzing primary sources you’ve ever seen. Click below to watch!

VIDEO: The Library of Congress Is Your Library. This four-minute video introduces the Library of Congress and gives a brief history. 

VIDEO: Exploring LOC.gov. This three-minute video highlights the Library’s online collections and provides searching techniques. If you haven’t searched the Library of Congress website for items relating to your U.S. family history, take a few minutes and try it now!

VIDEO: Analyzing a Primary Source. This two-minute video offers a a short primary source analysis activity. It’s meant for teachers but it’s a great reminder for family historians on how we look at old documents.

 

Did your family follow the usual path? Mapping U.S. Migration Patterns

NYT Mapping Migrations Map Screen Capture

Mapping Migration in the United States. From the New York Times. Click to go straight to the source!

The U.S. has long been typified as a nation of restless wanderers. Are we still? Well, it depends on where in the U.S. you are from.

A new interactive infographic on the New York Times website looks at U.S. migration patterns: where residents of each U.S. state in 1900, 1950 and 2012 were born. According to the accompanying article, “You can trace the rise of migrant and immigrant populations all along the Southwest, particularly in Texas and Arizona, the influx of New Yorkers and other Northeasterners into Florida starting in the 1970s; and the growth in the Southern share of the Illinois population during the Great Migration.”

“In 1900, 95 percent of the people living in the Carolinas were born there, with similarly high numbers all through the Southeast. More than a hundred years later, those percentages are nearly cut in half. Taken individually, each state tells its own story, and each makes for fascinating reading.”

If you live in the U.S. now, click on your state to zoom in. You’ll see the statistics more fully represented. How many natives of that state still live there? Where else are its residents from? Where do you fall in? I am one of less than 1% of Ohioans who was born in a western state (excluding California). My husband and children are among the 75% of Ohio natives who still live here.

It might surprise you how little–or how much –your fellow state residents have been on the move. Now turn back the clock by clicking on the 1900 or 1950 maps. How did your family fit the norms for the time?

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064If you love learning history through maps, go to our Home page and click on the Maps category in the lower left under Select Content by Topic. You’ll find lots more great online map resources and plenty of great map research strategies.

How Common Was My Ancestor’s Name? Most Popular Baby Names By Decade

Edna Selby, about age 4. Taken about 1873.

Edna Selby, about age 4. Taken about 1873.

Baby names are trendy things. Sure, there are a few standbys in every culture–like William and John in English–but popular baby names come and go. In fact, sometimes you can guess about how old someone is today based on their name (think Josh, Mildred or Shirley).

Popular Baby Names by Decade can help you decide whether your great-grandma Beulah or great-uncle Earl’s names were unusual for their time or a whim of the generation (Earl ranked 21st in 1890 and Beulah ranked 78th).

The site has lists of the most common names in the U.S. census back to the 1880s. You’ll also find a master list of THE most popular baby names during the last 100 years. No surprise: in the U.S., James, John, Robert, Michael and William top the boys’ charts. But I was a little surprised at the most popular women’s names. Click here to see what they are.

Was your ancestor an ethnic minority whose name may have only been popular in their neighborhood or where lots of other Irish, African-Americans or others lived? You can also search for the most popular names within a particular state.

Take a look and think about how your own family falls in. My parents weren’t following the crowd when they named me Sunny, that’s for sure. But my grandmother was a trendy gal: all 7 of her living children’s names hit the top 15 in the 1940s! And in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 78 Lisa has talked about not only the popularity of her first name, but the soap opera star that made Lisa #1 in the early 1960s!

DNA Health Testing Back on U.S. Horizon for 23andMe

DNA shopperA direct-to-consumer genetic test, the first of its kind to be approved in the U.S., may become available through 23andMe, according to letters recently received by 23andMe customers. The FDA-approved test is designed to check to see if you are a carrier for Bloom Syndrome, a disease most common among those of Jewish heritage.

This is a huge step for 23andMe, which lost the ability to report health related information to its U.S. customers in November of 2013 and has been working to restore it ever since. Health testing for 23andMe customers is currently underway in Canada and the UK. This is the first big step toward restoring the health component of their testing to those of us in the U.S.

This kind of direct to consumer (DTC) testing is going to be a huge industry. For those of you with any experience getting a genetic test ordered and executed through your doctor’s office, you know this process can be lengthy, not to mention very expensive.

As more and more genetic tests are able to be offered directly to you via commercial companies, there will be more competition for this kind of test, meaning that there will be more research conducted into the cheapest way to produce this kind of test. Since these are the same kinds of procedures used for our genetic genealogy testing, more research and lower costs for DTC tests means cheaper genetic genealogy tests.

In further news, 23andMe announced their intention to enter the pharmaceutical industry and begin to develop medicines to address some of the diseases and conditions it has engineered genetic tests to identify. This is a good reminder that a company we have previously lumped with the other two purely genetic genealogy companies (Ancestry and Family Tree DNA) is very much a medically-minded company.

While 23andMe does provide information regarding your ancestral heritage and provides a list of genetic cousins, it is important to realize that this company’s interest in your family tree is focused more on your family’s ailments than its ancestors. (Click here to read a Forbes article about this development, and click here for more information about the laws that are in place to protect your genetic data, including health testing.)

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesAre you ready to get started with DNA testing for genealogy, or to get expert help in interpreting the tests you’ve already done? I can help! I’m “Your DNA Guide.” Consider starting with my series of genetic genealogy cheat sheets in the Genealogy Gems store:

  • Getting Started
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • YDNA, Autosomal DNA
  • Using AncestryDNA
  • Using FamilyTreeDNA

And visit my website to learn more my consulting services.

Evernote for Android Gets a New Clean Look

Evernote for AndroidAre you using Evernote for genealogy and an Android user? Then you’ll be interested the pretty substantial update that Evernote for Android just got!

Last year’s Evernote 6 for Android has been updated to meet Google’s new design specs for Android. A recent Evernote blog post explains these updates as reaching for the best of what Android has to offer now along with the unique look and function of Evernote.

According to the Evernote blog, the new look adds shadows, depth and subtle animations to guide the user experience. “The end result of this process is visually pared down,” they explain. “For example, we made the note editor as sparse as it’s ever been on Android. Evernote is your workspace, so we wanted to make it as clean and uncluttered as possible to minimize distractions to your writing.”

The collaborative features of Evernote–which I really love and talk about elsewhere on my website–also get a visual shout-out. “The note view now shows a picture of a colleague to communicate their presence in shared notes,” the product team explains. “This pairs with easy entry points into Work Chat to make the collaborative Evernote experience feel alive and dynamic.”

The team says that they listened a great deal to user feedback–in fact, that’s how they knew when to deviate from the Android norm. “Some aspects of Google’s suggestions weren’t appropriate for Evernote, and our users let us know that. The end result feels like an app experience unique to Evernote.” They also responded to user demand for a new note button that can be customized and reordered.

There’s a comment on the blog at how different the iOs and Android versions of Evernote are. This is absolutely intentional, they say! They want their apps “to feel like they were purpose built for the platform, on every platform.” Read more of their comments on the Evernote blog.

Still learning how to use Evernote for genealogy? Check out our Evernote for Genealogy cheat sheets for Windows and for Mac. These quick-start guides will get you off and running.

organize genealogy with EvernoteGenealogy Gems Premium members have access to the Ultimate Evernote Education: a series of beginner-to-advanced full-length video classes on using Evernote. These include:

Click here to learn how to become a Premium member and access the Ultimate Evernote Education.

 

Share World War I Family History

flagTo commemorate the centennial of the First World War, and to mark the last full month of the exhibition Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture, the Wolfsonian at Florida International University (FIU) created a special Tumblr for sharing family stories, WWI memorabilia, and genealogy research tips called #GreatWarStories.

I first crossed paths with FIU’s Digital Outreach Strategist Jeffery K. Guin in 2009 when he interviewed me for his Voices of the Past website and show. Jeff was an early innovator in the world of online history, and he’s now brought those talents to the Wolfsonian, a museum, library and research center in Miami that uses its collection to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design.

The Wolfsonian team of historical sleuths is inviting the public at large to help them unearth the forgotten impact of the Great War by posting family facts, anecdotes, documents, and photographs. They were inspired by their current art exhibition Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture which focuses on artists’ responses to the war. They hope that #GreatWarStories project at Tumblr will be a “living, breathing digital collection of personal WWI stories, photos, documents and letters compiled in remembrance of the transformational war on the occasion of its centennial.”

Great war
Jeff asked me to join in on this history crowd-sourcing effort, and it was easy to comply. Several years ago  in going through the last of my Grandmother’s boxes, I found a booklet she had crafted herself called The World War.As a high school student, and daughter of German immigrant parents she set about gathering and clipping images from magazines and newspapers, depicting this turning point in history. I’ve been anxious to share it in some fashion, and this was my opportunity. Here is the result:

Do you have a piece of World War I history hiding in our closet? Why not join in this experiment in storytelling, sharing and curating, and share World War I family history?

Here are some ways you can contribute:

  • Sharing the story of your family’s WWI-related history through photos, documents, or anecdotes (possibilities include guest blogging, video/podcast interview, or photo essay)
  • Using your expertise and unique perspective as a launching pad for discussing the war’s impact in a different or surprising way
  • Alerting the museum to related resources or materials that would dovetail with the mission of the project

To see the living, digital collection, visit http://greatwarstories.tumblr.comIf you would like to participate, send an email to greatwarstories@thewolf.fiu.edu and the Wolfsonian team will be in touch to discuss storytelling ideas.

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsWe learn about great new genealogy records online every week! On Fridays we round up a few for you. Watch for databases and documents that your ancestors might appear in–and get inspired by the types of records that may be out there for your family, waiting for you to discover. This week: Michigan death certificates; Zimbabwe death notices, wills and trusts and an oral history archive of New Zealand nursing.

MICHIGAN DEATHS. Images of Michigan death certificates from 1921-1939 are now available for free at Seeking Michigan. “The index for records from 1940-1952 will be made available in the next few weeks, with additional certificate images to be released each year as privacy restrictions are lifted (1940 images will be released in January 2016),” says a press release.

“Together with the records from 1897-1920 that have been available at the site for years, this collection makes Seeking Michigan the one-stop destination for more than 2.6 million free, publicly-available 20th century death records for Michigan ancestors.”

ZIMBABWE DEATH NOTICES. Over 130,000 indexed and browsable records from the Zimbabwe, Death notices, 1904–1976 are now available on FamilySearch. According to the description, “The records included in this collection consist of death notices and registers obtained from the National Archives at Harare and Salisbury, Zimbabwe. The collection includes indexes of closed and open files. The records are written in English. It appears those records that are labeled ADM are probably administrations which are separate from the death registers and they contain wills and living Trust records. Birth and death registrations did not include African tribal members until 1963.”

NEW ZEALAND ORAL HISTORIES. A new web archive of oral histories of New Zealand nurses is now available. “The aim of this website is to capture this rich history and create a resource that nurses, students, academics and family members can access in order to gain a better understanding of nursing history in New Zealand,” says the site’s home page. The site contains a “large collection of oral histories including abstracts, recordings, photos and other information. These histories have been collected from nurses who trained during the 1950s and 1960s and capture both the everyday elements of nursing practice along with some of the more unusual. Here you are able to listen to stories, read brief abstracts, and view photos of the nurses.” Got a story to tell? They are accepting new interviews. There’s also a section on hospitals and one on nursing uniforms.

 

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Not sure how to find record sets like these for YOUR family history? Here’s a tip! If your keyword searches for record types aren’t bringing up good results, try switching the order of the search terms. In English-language searches, word order counts.

This tip comes to you courtesy of the book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke–the fully-revised 2015 edition that’s packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online.

Google: A Noun. A Verb. A Way of Life

Google-Changed-ResearchThumb-300x300Who Googles? How often? How is that changing? Keep reading to see a new infographic with some fabulous statistics–and you’re in it.

If you’re reading this post, you’re among the 30% of the world’s population who uses the internet. But where else do you show up below? Among the grad students who nearly all think “research” means “Googling it?” (My elementary school-age children agree.) Where does your age group fall in search engine use? Are you a Google-r, a Bing-er, or a more rare something-else-searcher?

Finally, which Google tools are YOU using for genealogy? Click the phrases below to learn more here at Genealogy Gems about using Google for Genealogy:

Google Scholar

Google Cache

Google Alerts

Google Earth

Find our genealogy education videos on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. And–best yet–click here to purchase The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, the powerful, fully-updated-for-2015 book that teaches you to use ALL of these, including Google Earth, Google search and advanced search and Google books.

Google It
Source: GradSchoolHub.com

Assisted Immigration to Australia: Queensland Passenger Lists

Drawing_of_migrants_disembarking_from_a_ship,_ca._1885

Drawing of migrants disembarking from a ship, ca 1885. From Cassell’s Picturesque Australia vol. 3, edited by E. E. Morris : Melbourne : Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1888, opp. p. 222. Wikimedia Commons image.

Did you know that the British government has not only encouraged many people to leave Britain, it has helped them do it? This is known as “assisted immigration.” It has affected millions of our relatives’ lives, both of original migrants and their descendants.

Australia received a LOT of new residents through assisted immigration from the 1830s clear through the late 1900s. Fortunately, passenger lists kept on these folks can help you find your relatives who participated. Some of these lists have come online, including for arrivals in Queensland.

Now you can search Queensland passenger lists for assisted immigrants (1848-1912, with over a quarter million records) in two ways:

Learn more about immigration to Australia at FamilySearch. You’ll find a fun published family history about an early Australian immigrant family on our Genealogy Gems Book Club page: The Worst Country in the World: The True Story of an Australian Pioneer Family.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Here’s a Google tip for finding datasets. Often you’ll hear about NEW datasets available on major genealogy websites, as I did from FindMyPast for the above collection. But sometimes that same data (perhaps in a slightly different format) is already available for free on another site. The big genealogy websites procure data from lots of other sources that may already host it online. Yes, it’s convenient to search all these databases in one central site like FindMyPast. But don’t subscribe to a site for the sake of ONE collection without Googling the name of the dataset first. That’s what I did in this case, and I found it online at the Queensland State Archive.

 

How to Make Google Cache Pay Off in Your Genealogy Research

how to use google cacheWhat do you do when you Google something, click on a search result URL, and it says “page not found,” or “error?” Debbie recently discovered the answer in her new copy of the newly revised and updated The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (2nd edition).

She wrote to us: “I ordered my book last week and found it in my mailbox today! I immediately flipped through it, reading the headings and looking at the pictures. I love the way it reads…not “text-booky” but more enjoyable and more as if someone were just talking to me. I can’t wait to try out all the tips and see what I can discover!  In fact, I already discovered something I didn’t know…seeking out the cache when you get a page that says “not found” or “error”.  Now, if only I can remember all the times I saw that. Thank you so much!  I’m very happy that I added this book to my little genealogy library!”

Google Cache: Here’s How It Works

As you know, Google “crawls” the web constantly indexing websites. It also takes a snapshot of each page it examines and caches, or stores, the image as a backup. It’s the behind-the-scenes information that Google uses to judge if a page is a good match for your search queries.

In the case of a website that no longer exists, the cache copy provides a snapshot of the website when it was still active. Practically every search result includes a Cached link.

How to Retrieve a Cached Webpage:

  1. how to use google cacheWhen you land on a “File Note Found” error page, click the Back button on your browser to return to the Google search results page.
  2. Directly under the website title is the URL. Click the small down arrow right next to that address.
  3. “Cached” will be one of the options presented in the pop up menu. Clicking on the Cached link will take you to the Google cached version of that webpage, instead of the current version of the page.

Cached versions of websites can also be useful if the original webpage is unavailable because:

  • of internet congestion;
  • the website is down, overloaded, or just slow. Since Google’s servers are typically faster than many web servers, you can often access a page’s cached version faster than the page itself; and
  • the website owner recently removed the page from the web.

If Google returns a link to a page that appears to have little to do with your query, or if you can’t find the information you are seeking on the current version of the page, take a look at the cached version by clicking the cached link. You will then see the webpage as it looked when Google last indexed it.

You’ll notice that a gray header will appear at the top of the page. This provides you will the following information about the cached page you are viewing:

  • The original web address of the page.
  • The date and time that the page you are viewing was cached.
  • A link to the current version of that page.

how to use google cache

If you don’t see a cached link in a search result, it may have been omitted because the website owner has requested that Google remove the cached version, or requested that Google not cache their content. Also, any sites Google has not yet indexed won’t have a cached version.

Be aware that if the original page contains more than 101 kilobytes of text, the cached version of the page will consist only of the first 101 kbytes (120 kbytes for pdf files).

Interested in learning more about caching?
VIDEO: HTTP Caching

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverThis tip comes straight from my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition, all-new and revised for 2015. Find more great tips like this for getting the most out of Google for genealogy–and anything else you want to find online! Click on the link to learn more.