February 13, 2016

Dave Isay Keynoting RootsTech 2016: Catch Him There–or HERE!

rootstech 2016 dave isay TED talkStoryCorps founder Dave Isay will keynote at RootsTech 2016. Can’t catch him there? Watch his inspiring TED talk about the stories of our lives. It will make you want to go interview someone!

I’m looking forward to hearing Dave Isay at RootsTech 2016! An award-winning radio producer, MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and TED prize winner, and the founder of StoryCorps, Dave has spent his life capturing other people’s stories. He’s so passionate about it–and he’ll be sharing that passion as a RootsTech keynoter on Friday, February 5.

Dave’s TED talk on gathering people’s stories is amazing and I’m not the only one who thinks so. It’s had over 1.1 million views so far. If you’re going to be at RootsTech 2016, don’t miss his talk. If you’re not (or if you want a sneak peak of his awesomeness), watch his TED talk below:

“Every life matters equally and infinitely,” Dave says. Inviting someone to talk about his or her life “may just turn out to be one of the most important moments in that person’s life, and in yours.” We do this when we record loved ones’ life stories. We honor their feelings, experiences and opinions by asking about them and preserving them. Sometimes we share personal moments of understanding, forgiveness or revelation. As Dave says, “Amazing conversations happen.”

Why not make it a goal to capture a loved  one’s story in an interview in 2016? Better yet, why not do it soon, in celebration of Valentine’s Day? It’s a gift of love that builds your relationship with whomever you interview. And when you’re done, you’ll have documented more family history. What could be better?

We {Heart} These Ways to Capture a Loved One’s Oral History

Use the StoryCorps App (StoryCorps being the story-archiving program founded by Dave Isay)

Transcribe a Q&A with a Loved One: Write Your Family History

How to Reconstruct Childhood Memories

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Genealogy Conferences in 2016: Lisa Louise Cooke’s Calendar

genealogy conferences in 2016Will you be at any genealogy conferences in 2016? Lisa will! She’d love to meet you. Here’s the trick: register in advance so you get the best prices, hotels and more.

Are you planning to attend any genealogy conferences in 2016? Conferences are great for learning in-person from top-ranked instructors. It’s energizing to rub shoulders with attendees who share your passion for genealogy. At many conferences you can also shop for family history books and other products that boost your research.

Here’s a list of upcoming events where Lisa will be teaching. Mark your calendars and register early (many have early-bird registration discounts). And definitely say hello to Lisa when you’re there! (Click here to see the most recent calendar on her website.)

Rootstech 2016
Innovator Summit, Rootstech sessions, and the Think Tank at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems booth #1230
Salt Lake City, UT
Feb. 3-6, 2016

Elgin Genealogical Society
Live Webinar
Elgin, IL
Feb. 18, 2016

Sandi seminar testimonialOC Public Libraries | Laguna Hills Technology Library
Special Presentation: Google Earth for Genealogy
Laguna Hills, CA
March 4, 2016

Genealogy BASH!
Orange County California Genealogical Society
Huntington Beach Library, Huntington Beach, CA
All Day Seminar
March 5, 2016

Ark-La-Tex Genealogical Association
Bossier, LA
All Day Seminar
March 12, 2016

Kansas Historical Society
Topeka, KS
All Day Seminar
April 16, 2016

Bend Genealogical Society
Bend, OR
All Day Seminar
April 23, 2016

Ohio Genealogical Society Conference
Mason, OH (near Cincinnati)
April 28-30, 2016
Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton will be presenting here, too!

National Genealogical Society Conference
Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 4 – 7 2016

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference
Ontario, Canada
June 2 – 4, 2016

Seminar QuoteMidwestern Roots Conference
Indianapolis, IN
July 15 & 16, 2016

Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois
All Day Seminar
August 13, 2016

Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society Conference
Arlington, WA
August 19, 2016

Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference
Springfield, IL
August 31 – Sept. 3, 2016

Can’t make it to any of these? Check out Lisa’s top-notch teaching in these FREE video presentations:

Google Earth for Genealogy classGoogle Earth for Genealogy Video Class

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy

Google for Genealogy: It’s All Related

NGS 2016: Now Open for Registration

NGS 2016 logoNGS 2016 is open for registration! Make your plans now to attend the National Genealogical Society conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The next annual conference of the National Genealogical Society is now open for registration. Mark your calendars from May 4 – 7, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The NGS website describes the upcoming event as “a four-day conference with more than 150 lectures on a wide range of topics. Topics like federal records, the law and genealogy, methodology, analysis and problem solving, military and land records, DNA, BCG Skillbuilding, and the use of technology. Among the local topics planned are Florida and Caribbean research.” Social events, workshops, local tours and other events are first-come, first-served add-ons to your registration for the conference. Register early so you get into the events you want most.

I will be there, teaching these lectures:

F315 – Ultimate Google Search Strategies for Genealogy 2.0, Friday, 06 May, 9:30 a.m. When working online everything is subject to change! Get the latest changes that you need for genealogical searching from Google Guru Lisa Louise Cooke.

T252 – How to Follow and Envision Your Ancestor’s Footprints Through Time with Google Earth, Thursday, 05 May, 4:00 p.m. Use the free Google Earth program to create captivating multi-media genealogical stories and discover the analytic power of data visualization at the same time. This session will be LIVE STREAMED and will be recorded and sold!

Keep an eye out for more information about what will be happening at the Genealogy Gems booth in the NGS Exhibitor Hall!

New to the idea of attending a major genealogy conference? Click here for NGS’ tips for first-time attendees. Get excited with this promotional video from NGS.

More Gems on Attending Conferences like NGS 2016

Live v. Virtual Genealogy Conferences: Which is Better for You?

 Where You Should Sit at a Genealogy Conference

Overcoming Angst! How to Prepare to Attend a Genealogy Conference



Why Register Early for RootsTech 2016

rootstech 2016 wish listAre you peeking past the holidays to RootsTech 2016? Early planning could score you extra discounts, dibs on free and limited events and a head start on planning your class schedule.

All attention seems to be on holiday planning this month, but RootsTech 2016 is just around the corner after that—the first weekend in February. Here’s a checklist of the reasons to plan your RootsTech experience NOW instead of waiting until after the holidays.

Discounted registration. If you register before January 18, you’ll save significantly on registration ($169 instead of $249 for the full event).

Online planner. This year, RootsTech has expanded its app to a full-blown online conference organizing tool. Use the RootsTech Connect tool to schedule which of the 200+ classes you’ll be attending—and pencil in some backups in case your first choice class is full. Of course we hope to see you at lectures given by Lisa and the Genealogy Gems team:

3:00 YDNA Testing for Every Surname in Your Pedigree, Diahan Southard

4:30 Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy, Lisa Louise Cooke

Friday:11:00 Soothe Your Tech Tummy Ache with These 10 Tools, Lisa Louise Cooke
1:30 Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy, Lisa Louise Cooke

11:00 Soothe Your Tech Tummy Ache with These 10 Tools, Lisa Louise Cooke
1:30 What’s Special About US Special Census Schedules? Sunny Morton

You can also use RootsTech Connect to add “Personal Time” events, like research time in the Family History Library and of course Genealogy Gems’ free Genealogy Think Tank sessions at our newly-expanded exhibit hall booth (#1230). More about that coming soon!

Rootstech 2016 think tank flier front

Dibs on free evening entertainment and limited-space labs. RootsTech always lines up crowd-pleasing entertainment in the evenings. When you register early enough for RootsTech, you can snag tickets to these for yourself and guests (until the tickets are gone, that is). So far, all RootsTech has said is that there will be a “high-energy and fun act” on Thursday for an Opening Social and a must-see closing act on Saturday. When you register, you can also pay for spots in computer labs and sponsored lunches. Computer labs usually sell out and they don’t do waiting lists, so get these early!

INSTAGRAM 640x640 altWatch for more about RootsTech 2016 in the coming days. It’s now the biggest family history event in the world, with over 20,000 attendees expected and satellite sessions that will reach thousands more throughout the world. Genealogy Gems will have an even bigger presence there this year. We look forward to seeing many of you!

Come to Texas Genealogy Conference and SAVE!

TSGS with codeThe Texas State Genealogical Society 2015 Family History conference kicks off in less than 2 weeks. I’ll be there! Can you come? Here’s a discount code just for Gems fans!

My home state of Texas does EVERYTHING in a big way. So it’s no surprise the upcoming Texas genealogy conference will pack so much into their 2-day event, October 31 – November 1. Here’s a run-down of the weekend AND my friends-and-family discount code that you can use to save on registration.

2 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS. I’m looking forward to sharing the keynote stage with J. Mark Lowe, an expert genealogist and a very skilled and fun teacher. I think we’ll all have a lot of fun during these presentations.

GET-IT-DONE WORKSHOPS. Come and learn super practical skills to move your family history research ahead! I’m teaching “Learn How to Time Travel with Google Earth” and “How to Use Evernote for Genealogy” (Levels 1 and 2). Mark will teach a workshop on Genealogical Research in the South and another called “Following a Case through Court.”

43 CLASSES IN 14 TRACKS. Beginners are welcome–and intermediate/advanced researchers will have plenty to chew on–during 2 days of breakout sessions with topics that include: Genealogy for Beginners, DNA, African-American Research, Courthouse Records & Records Loss, Adoption, Hispanic Research, Methodology, Libraries & Repositories, Historical Context, Societies & Communities, and Digital Genealogy.

TSGS coupon codeEarly-bird registration has officially ended, but I have coupon code that passes on my friends-and-family discount to YOU. Use coupon code family20 to get $20 off the $150 fee for the full 3-day registration or coupon code family10 to get $10 off any single-day registrations. Click here to register now.

P.S. You can share this code with YOUR friends and family! Please do, in fact! Thank you!

Click below to read more about attending genealogy conferences:

Classroom at RootsTech 2012. Where will you sit? (Photo credit: LDS Church News)

Classroom at RootsTech 2012. Where will you sit? (Photo credit: LDS Church News)

The Benefits of Attending Genealogy Conferences: Podcast interview with Dick Eastman. Listen for free!

Where Should You Sit at a Genealogy Conference?



Texas State Genealogical Society Conference 2015

Register Now for the TSGS 2015
Family History Conference

Take advantage of the early-bird discount!

Registration is now open for the TSGS 2015 Family History Conference scheduled for Oct 31-Nov 1 in Austin, Texas. This jam-packed event will take place at the Crowne Plaza Austin located in Austin, Texas, and is for genealogists and family historians of all skill levels!

keynotes Texas State Genealogical Society Conference 2015
Take advantage of the special early-bird price of $130 for a full 3-day pass including lunches on both Saturday and Sunday. This price is only available through October 10, 2015. Attend only Friday for $50 or only Saturday or Sunday for $80. Become a TSGS member and enjoy a further savings of $20 off the early-bird pricing. (New members will receive their personal discount code via email within 24 hours of paying membership online.) Don’t have your membership discount code? Email memberinfo@txsgs.org.

Register now at: http://www.txsgs.org/conference/conference-registration/.

TSGS 2015 by the Numbers

See what’s in store for you at this 3-day genealogy extravaganza!

  • TSGS is pleased to welcome not 1, but 2 keynote speakers — national-level speakers Lisa Louise Cooke and J. Mark Lowe — who will be giving a total of 6 keynote presentations!
  • Attendees will enjoy learning from the 14 different tracks including Genealogy for Beginners, DNA, African-American Research, Courthouse Records & Records Loss, Adoption, Hispanic Research, Methodology, Libraries & Repositories, Historical Context, Societies & Communities, and Digital Genealogy.
  • This year’s 27 breakout session speakers from 7 states bring a breadth of genealogy research experience to share with you in a total of 43 breakout sessions!
  • Exchange ideas and ask questions in the the 2 scheduled panelsBoth Sides of the Reference Desk and Society Projects A-plenty.
  • The TSGS 2015 program features a total of 7 add-on workshops on topics including DNA, technology, Southern research, and court records facilitated by speakers Debbie Parker-Wayne, Lisa Louise Cooke, and J. Mark Lowe.


  • Be entertained during dinner by J. Mark Lowe and celebrate with the TSGS Award winners Saturday evening at the Annual TSGS Awards Banquet.
  • Enjoy meeting other family historians who share your passion for ancestors at various social events including a Welcome Reception on Friday evening and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday (included with your registration). See the full schedule of events for this 3-day genealogy extravaganza: http://www.txsgs.org/conference/schedule/!

Visit the TSGS Conference page at  http://www.txsgs.org/conference/ for details including a link to the conference hotel. Be sure to register now at http://www.txsgs.org/conference/conference-registration/ to take advantage of the special early-bird discount which is only available through October 10, 2015.

RootsTech 2016: Open for Business!

Are you ready for RootsTech 2016? It’s ready for you! Registration is now open. The Genealogy Gems team will be there, and here’s what we’re teaching.RootsTech 2016

Registration for RootsTech 2016 is now open! RootsTech has staked its territory as the most-attended annual genealogy conference in the world. It caters not just to seasoned researchers but beginners and even entire families. So mark your calendars and make your reservations: RootsTech 2016 will be held February 3–6 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to FamilySearch, “Attendees can expect a full lineup of inspirational keynote speakers, over 200 educational classes, exciting hands-on activities in the expo hall, and entertaining evening events, all designed to help celebrate families across generations!”

What’s new for RootsTech 2016?

RootsTech 2016 dashboardHere are some highlights for what to expect this time around:

  • Classes will now start earlier in the week, on Wednesday February 3, with the first class beginning at 1:30 p.m.
  • Attendees can now use a new scheduling tool to build, edit, and print their class schedule at RootsTech.org after they register (shown here). You can keep editing your schedule as you please. The online tool will sync with a mobile app that will be available later this year.
  • The Innovator Showdown will be back and even bigger than before. Innovators of all kinds in any industry are invited to compete with their latest hardware and software apps and services. The top six finalists will be invited to demo live onstage for over 23,000 people. The audience and a panel of renowned judges will decide the winners!

Genealogy Gems at RootsTech 2016

Future Panel LisaGenealogy Gems listeners and readers will see some familiar names on the speaker’s list, including Genealogy Gems owner, producer and podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke, Contributing Editor Sunny Morton and our resident DNA expert, Diahan Southard. Watch for more announcements of the sessions we’ll be teaching, both formal sessions in classrooms and “Outside the Box” sessions at our booth in the Exhibitor hall.

What else to know

Early-bird pricing is available now for full passes starting at just $149 and $169 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $19 for a limited single day and $39 for a limited 3-day.

Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. “The event takes place on Saturday, February 6, 2016, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the LDS Church are invited to register as families and  groups up to 10 at a time. This free one-day event includes devotionals, classes, interactive activities, and entertainment to help families and members discover, preserve, and share their family connections. Event details, including speakers and classes, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org.”

Resources for Your Family History Trip to Salt Lake City

Use Your iPad for Genealogy Research at the Family History Library

New Interactive Family History Exhibit in Downtown SLC

Genealogy Conferences: Live or Virtual? Which is Better for You?

Must-Have Tips for Visiting the Family History Library in SLC

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Sign up for Lisa’s Class THIS Weekend and Get $20 Off FTU Fall 2015 Virtual Conference

This weekend Lisa is teaching an online class at Family Tree University’s Fall 2015 Virtual Conference! Use our coupon code VCLISA20 to register, and you’ll get $20 off access to fabulous classes by top genealogy educators the entire weekend. Keep reading for details…

FTU Fall 2015 conference

FTU fall 2015 online public records classThis weekend Lisa will be teaching a fun and innovative class at Family Tree University’s Fall 2015 Virtual Conference. It’s called “Searching Online Public Records.” You’ll discover how to easily track down publicly-available information online. Use what you learn to boost your genealogy research, find long-lost cousins and even find out what information of your own may be easily accessible online!

Her class is just one of many reasons to register for this weekend’s FTU Fall 2015 virtual conference. There’s a great lineup of internationally-renowned speakers covering use-it-now genealogy research strategies.  Our picks for the weekend include:

  • Genealogy Software Source Citation Tricks by Amy Johnson Crow. Citing sources can feel like a painstaking process—but it doesn’t have to be. Learn these useful techniques to get your genealogy software to work for you when it comes to tracking your sources.
  • Tracing Early 1800s Ancestors by D. Joshua Taylor. Finding ancestors a few generations back can be a piece of cake. But where do you look for ancestors who lived in the 1820s, when documentation was more sparse and inconsistent? This presentation offers valuable resources to tracking down elusive ancestors deep in your family tree.
  • Uncharted Territory: Top Tools to Find Defunct Places by David A. Fryxell. Did the name of an ancestor’s county change a number of times? Did your ancestor’s birthplace disappear from the map? Don’t know the first place to look to find your ancestor’s records? Learn how to use historical maps and more to follow evolving county boundaries and track down where your ancestor’s records are located.

The FTU Fall 2015 virtual conference offers a total of 15 half-hour video classes in four tracks:

1. genetic genealogy
2. genealogy technology
3. research strategies
4. ethnic research.

You don’t have to sit in a crowded classroom–or risk not getting a seat at all–to hear your favorite speakers. Your registration gets you unlimited, anytime access to all these classes all weekend long. You can even download any videos you miss to watch later! Live chats and message board discussions with the instructors and FTU staff makes your experience interactive, too.

JUST FOR OUR READERS: Get $20 off the Fall 2015 Virtual Genealogy Conference held Sept. 18-20, 2015 at Family Tree University. Click this link and use the coupon code VCLISA20 at checkout:

Coupon FTU Fall 2015Click here for $20 off the Virtual Genealogy Conference at Family Tree University, use coupon code VCLISA20 at checkout.

Hurry! Offer expires 09/20/2015

Thank you for sharing this offer with your genealogy buddies. It’s always nice to attend a conference with a friend, even virtually!

Need a Genealogy Speaker? Here’s the Affordable Solution

Genealogy Gems for societies around tableDoes your genealogy society or library group struggle to keep finding engaging, expert speakers and fresh newsletter content? Genealogy Gems for Societies offers an affordable solution!

Genealogy Gems for Societies is a subscription service that lets small societies show any or all of our Premium video presentations during meetings. Lisa Louise Cooke is a nationally-ranked genealogy speaker who teaches these same classes to standing-room-only crowds at top conferences. Her inspiring videos pair traditional research skills and record sets–like newspapers, maps and more–with empowering technology tools, like Google, Google Earth, Evernote, Dropbox and more.

Member societies also have permission to reprint their favorite Genealogy Gems website articles in their newsletters. Our site is packed with over 1000 articles on research tips, record types, inspiring ideas for sharing family history, technology tools, genealogy industry news and more. What a boon for newsletter editors, who often go begging for someone to please write something to fill their newsletter pages!

Every year, we spend hundreds of hours generating all these videos and online articles. Now small societies can purchase the rights to use them for only $199 (US) for a full year!

Genealogy Gems is a Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) partner and societies that are members of FGS qualify for an additional discount.

“FGS is excited to be partnering with Genealogy Gems,” said D. Joshua Taylor, FGS President. “The opportunity to provide educational benefits for our member societies enriches the entire genealogical community as societies adapt and grow to meet the needs of today’s members. This partnership offers FGS members access to a wide range of resources for their members and we look forward to working with Lisa Louise Cooke.”

FGS members can sign in to the FGS website here to obtain a member discount coupon code.

Additional perks include:

  • downloadable and re-printable handouts
  • discounts on Lisa’s books for the entire society

Click here to learn more about Genealogy Gems for Societies. 

Genealogy Gems for Societies Video ClassesShare the great news! Do you know a genealogical society, officer or member who would LOVE to know about Genealogy Gems for Societies? Please share this post with them through your favorite social media channel. Your society board will be glad you did!

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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.