November 28, 2015

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

Register now at:

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:!

Visit the TSGS Conference page at for details including a link to the conference hotel. Be sure to register now at 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 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”

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.

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!