September 1, 2015

A Tip for Harnessing New Technologies for Genealogy

Lisa BYU Keynote

Photo courtesy of The Ancestry Insider

New technologies don’t stay new. They keep evolving. Here’s a tip for harnessing new and emerging technologies to advance family history research and stay connected with living relatives. 

Last week, I was at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in Provo, Utah. What a friendly, welcoming group! (Be sure to check out the BYU Family History Library here.) All week, I taught sessions and gave a keynote address on various technologies that help our research. The week’s discussions reminded me how quickly technology moves–and how enthusiastically genealogists continue to embrace new opportunities given them by technology.

It’s part of my job to learn about these new technologies and pass the best ones–the “gems” along to you. But here’s a tip I shared during my keynote address that will help you focus on the technologies you care most about: Think about which tasks you want to accomplish with technology, rather than just learning genealogy-specific technology. Then keep up with developments in the technologies that accomplish those tasks.

For example, by now, many of us have used (or at least heard of) Google Translate. We can use it with foreign-language documents and to correspond with overseas relatives and archives. But Google Translate’s functionality keeps improving. “By the audible gasps of the audience” (during my keynote address) reported the FamilySearch blog, “most were not aware that the Google Translate app enables you to literally hold up your phone to the computer screen or typeset document, and it will translate foreign text on the fly for you—a must have free tool when dabbling in nonnative language content.”

Genealogists are really thinking about these issues. The Ancestry Insider blogged about my keynote talk, too, and my observation that genealogists haven’t been embracing digital video at the same speed at which they embrace other forms of digital media. In the comments section of that post Cathy added, “Now what we need to do is get FamilySearch to figure out a way to let us upload our URL YOUTube videos, not only for our deceased, but for our living….Our children and grandchildren don’t write letters, they email, text, instagram. They don’t write journals, they blog. They make videos of current history….We all need to look to the future and [learn] how to save the new technologies.” Cathy gets it!

A special thanks to conference organizers Stephen Young and John Best, who welcomed me and Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton all week long. They did a fantastic job of organizing a large event while retaining a warm, personal environment.

Continue reading about applying technology to your family history here.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 179 Now Available

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryEpisode 179 of the free Genealogy Gems podcast is now available for your listening pleasure! In this episode, Lisa shares:

  • stories of TWO inspiring family history discoveries: a stash of photos and documents AND a long-lost birth mother;
  • highlights from meeting many of YOU at recent conferences across the U.S., from New England to Texas to Alaska and then to NGS in Missouri;
  • tips on creating an Evernote genealogy library;
  • more on Genealogy Gems Book Club selection The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) by Nathan Dylan Goodwin;
  • and Lisa’s thoughts from recent “Tornado Central” Texas on backing up your computer data.

evernote_libraryThe Evernote tip is easy and SO useful: Lisa gives you a quick idea for creating a list of all the genealogy books on your bookshelf. No, you’re not creating a tedious bibliography–all you do is snap a few pictures and let Evernote do the work. Just click on the episode link at the beginning of this post and listen (or read the shownotes!).

As always, Lisa takes all that genealogy buzz and technology noise out there and distills it down into the best, most usable genealogy gems. That’s what the free Genealogy Gems podcast is all about. If you love it and wish you had MORE podcast episodes to listen to, consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium member. You’ll get a full-year’s access to monthly Premium podcast episodes with MORE in-depth news, conversations and inspiring stories–and access to ALL the archived episodes from the past! Premium membership gives you access to an entire series of full-length videos, too. Click here to learn more.

FREE Live Streaming for SCG Jamboree 2015 Sessions

SCG jamboree 2015 streamingRegistration is now open for FREE streaming live sessions from the 46th Annual Southern California Genealogy SCG Jamboree. Sign up to watch Lisa present two free sessions on Saturday, June 6, “Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries” and “Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy.” Check out the schedule below to see who else you can watch for free. Handouts will be provided!

Friday, June 5
FR007: Be Prepared with a Genealogy Disaster Plan – Denise May Levenick.
FR018: Five Tips for Successful Research in a New Location – J. H.”Jay” Fonkert, CG.
FR019: Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation – Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury.
FR032: Finding and Utilizing German Church Records – Dr. Michael D. Lacopo.

Saturday, June 6
SA007: Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries – Lisa Louise Cooke.
SA014: Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA021: No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors – Lisa A. Alzo, MFA.
SA033: Plotting, Scheming and Mapping Online – Cyndi Ingle.
SA035: Midwestern and Plains States Level Census Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA047: Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy – Lisa Louise Cooke.

Sunday, June 7
SU005: Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech 4 Binding Families – Janet Hovorka, MLIS.
SU015: The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper – Cyndi Ingle.
SU022: Who, What, When, Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story – Anita Paul.
SU030: Get to Know Your Geezers – Matthew Hovorka.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Good to know about SCG Jamboree 2015 streaming sessions:

  • Session descriptions, speaker bios, suggested experience levels and schedule details are provided on the registration site and will soon be posted on the Jamboree website.
  • You won’t be bored between sessions. Videos featuring Ancestry’s crackerjack training team, Crista Cowan, Juliana Szucs and Ann Mitchell, will run during Jamboree breaks and lunches.
  • Because the sessions are sponsored by Ancestry and available for free, you can host viewing parties with one or two friends, or with a room full of fellow society members.
  • If you can’t watch a session real time as it is being live streamed, you will be able to watch it at your convenience before July 5, 2015, from the special Jamboree archive.
  • DNA live-streamed sessions will not be available for purchase on DVD, nor will they be accessible in the SCGS website archive.
  • There’s also a pay-per-view option for those who would like to watch SCGJ’s live streaming sessions from Genetic Genealogy: DNA Day.  (Here’s the DNA registration page.)
  • Registration for the pay-per-view and free Jamboree sessions will remain open through July 5, 2015, when the special archive will close.

NGS 2015 App: A New Generation in Conference Apps

NGS conference appAre you heading to NGS this week along with us and thousands of others? Download the NGS app if you haven’t already. This free, multi-event app will work for all current and future conferences of the National Genealogical Society (U.S.).

According to conference organizers, the NGS 2015 app can “help you make the most of your trip to St. Charles before, during and after the conference.” They recommend attendees begin using  it now “so you can plan and improve your conference experience.” But the app will continue to be viable in the future as they add additional events to it.

Features include:

  • The Dashboard to keep you organized with up-to-the-minute information
  • About the NGS 2015 Family History Conference to keep all conference information in one place
  • Alerts of important real-time communications from NGS
  • Twitter feed to follow and join in on the conference chatter. The Twitter hashtag is #NGS2015GEN.

You can also

  • Sync your schedule across multiple devices
  • Locate exhibitors you plan to visit
  • Access a list of Local Places based on Category
  • Connect, message, and share schedules with your colleagues through the Friends feature
  • Link to syllabus material for each lecture, which will be available about 29 April 2015

The NGS Conference App is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and web-enabled devices. Click here to download or search your app store for NGS Family History Conferences.

turtle_in_shell_400_wht_5833Are you new to attending a big genealogy conference? Click here to find a video that will help you know what to expect, how to prepare and how to get the most out of attending a conference.

Think Outside the Box at NGS and Jamboree

NGS Outside the box schedule

Click this image for a crisp downloadable version to print and keep

Major genealogy conferences like NGS and Jamboree can be both invigorating and overwhelming! It’s tough to catch all the classes I want by my favorite lecturers on the topics I need most. But at some point each day, I’m also done sitting in a boxy classroom for a little while.

We at Genealogy Gems suggest a proven “fix” for these problems: Outside the Box Sessions! We partner with favorite fellow exhibitors to schedule short live presentations on our hottest topics at our extra-large shared exhibit space. Those who attend any Outside the Box session can sign up to receive a free e-book of handouts from all the sessions.

From what you’re telling us, Outside the Box works for you! Bonnie wrote to us: “I attended several of your [Outside the Box] sessions, at least one from each of you and often more. They were terrific, at least as good and often better than conference  sessions. And the e-book of session notes, with the myriad of internet  links, is frosting on the cake. Thank you.”

Ad_RevisionA packed and lively schedule of Outside the Box sessions will run at the following upcoming events in the free exhibit hall:

National Genealogical Society conference (13-16 May)

Southern California’s Jamboree (5-7 June).

Click on the conference names above to see the full scoop on each, including classes on:

  • Google searching,
  • family reunion ideas,
  • DNA,
  • German research,
  • Google Earth for genealogy,
  • identifying and caring for old photos,
  • Evernote for genealogy,
  • using your iPad for family history
  • and more!

Since the exhibit hall is free, this is a wonderful opportunity to stop by and see what genealogy conference are all about, and pick up some excellent free training sessions while you’re there!

RootsTech Hits the Road! RootsTech Family Discovery Days Coming Your Way!

overhead_freeway_custom_sign_16324Were you among the record-breaking audience of 23,918 attendees at RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah? Even if you were, chances are you didn’t catch all the top talks.

RootsTech staffers have announced that over 1000 FREE regional RootsTech events, called RootsTech Discovery Days, will be hosted around the world throughout 2015. “Select sessions and planning resources from RootsTech 2015 have been recorded, translated in 10 languages, and made available online to support…local volunteer organizers,” says a media statement.

“By the first week following the conference, 65 local family discovery day events had already been held, including 27 in Latin America, one in Korea, and another in the Philippines. Over 1,000 more events are expected to be held throughout 2015, significantly extending the reach and impact of this popular conference.”

Click here to search for a RootsTech Family Discovery Day event near you. We notice that there plenty of options across the U.S. and in England, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Where do YOU want to look for an event?

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

International Conference on Jewish Genealogy: IAJGS 2015

Jewish genealogy conferenceEarly registration for the 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (IAJGS) has been extended through Wednesday May 6, 2015, to accommodate those enjoying Passover season.

The Preliminary Program is now posted at the IAJGS 2015 website under the “Program” tab. The schedule will become interactive after Passover. Highlights:

  • Speakers and registrants hail from round the globe representing 20 nations to date including New Zealand, American Samoa, the Americas, Africa and all of Europe.
  • The keynote speaker will be Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli society today. A child survivor of the Holocaust, Rabbi Lau is an outstanding activist and orator. He will bring a message to genealogists reinforcing the value of their work researching individuals and families.
  • Dick Eastman will be speaking at the closing Banquet. In the mid-1980s, Eastman pioneered one of the first online Genealogy Forums, which has grown from a circulation of 100 to more than 60,000 genealogists.
  • Other events include the Shabbaton, Exploration Sunday, Breakfast with the Experts, SIG Luncheons and Banquet. PRE-CONFERENCE SHABBATON on the Friday-Saturday, July 3 – 4 weekend preceding the Conference, followed by an UNFORGETTABLE “EXPLORATION SUNDAY” on July 5.

Click here to visit the conference website for full details on this momentous anniversary conference in Jerusalem. are on the conference website.

Attend Free sessions in the NERGC 2015 exhibit hall

NERGC-frontI am coming to New England in a few weeks to keynote at the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC 2015). Will you be there, too? Come say hello!

Here are the classes I’ll be teaching:

  • Tech Day (Track 2) – Wednesday – 15 April 2015 – 10:45am – How to Turn your iPad or Tablet into a Genealogy Powerhouse
  • Tech Day (Track 1) – Wednesday – 15 April 2015 – 3:15pm – How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy
  • T-118 – Thursday – 16 April 2015 – 3:15pm – How to Use Evernote for Genealogy
  • S-329 – Saturday – 18 April 2015 – 3:15pm – Master Using Google for Common Surname Searches
  • S-344 – Saturday – 18 April 2015 – BANQUET – 7:00pm – The Google Earth Genealogy Game Show

I’ll also be giving a series of Outside the Box presentations in the Exhibitor Hall alongside New Englander Maureen Taylor (The Photo Detective) and Janet Hovorka (Family Tree Chartmasters). Here’s a schedule:

NERGC-schedule

New England genealogy conference NERGC 2015More about NERGC:

The conference theme, “Navigating the Past: Sailing into the Future”, references the distinctive history of Rhode Island, while focusing on methodology with “navigating the past” and looking towards the changes of the future (technology, passing on information, and getting kids involved in genealogy). There’s nearly 100 lectures over two and-a-half days,  with levels ranging from beginner to expert. There’s an Exhibit Hall (where I’ll be!), Society Fair, Special Interest Groups, and an Ancestors Road Show, in which I will also be participating. Click here to learn more.

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.

Watch RootsTech 2015 Sessions Online FREE

webinar_education_800_wht_13013 RootsTech 2015Did you miss RootsTech 2015? You can watch highlights online for FREE!

Several RootsTech 2015 keynote sessions and lectures were videotaped for live streaming. Now they’ve been archived online. Click here to see what’s available.

Our own DNA correspondent here at Genealogy Gems, Diahan Southard, was recorded. You can now watch her presentation, “Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy.” Watch with relatives who might be interested in “doing DNA” with you! She makes a complex topic MUCH easier to understand.

Genealogy DNA Quick Reference Guides Cheat SheetsRemember, once  you’re ready to test (or had testing done), Diahan’s available as a personal coach to help you navigate the exciting world of genetic genealogy. And we’ve got her entire series of genetic genealogy quick guides available in our Store. Buy just the ones you need or the entire  bundle for a great discount. These were super popular at RootsTech!

 

 

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