March 6, 2015

Google Scholar for Genealogy? Here’s Why to Try It

stick_figure_reading_on_top_of_books_11968Recently I heard from Sue Neale, whose story offers a compelling reason to use Google Scholar for genealogy research! Read it below–then I’ll tell you a little more about Google Scholar.

“I’ve been using computers for genealogy research (among other things) for about 30 years and am pretty good at finding most anything on the internet whether it pertains to genealogy or something else. It’s a continuous learning experience because computer, the internet and genealogy on the internet are always changing and updating.

[After hearing your seminars at RootsTech 2015], I tried out a couple of Google searches for my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather Silas Fletcher. Silas lived on Indian Key in the Florida Keys in the early 1820s.

My husband and I and our son visited Indian Key several years ago and the young lady who took us out in the boat had actually written her college thesis on Silas! Of course, we didn’t think to get her name or any other information. So I Googled “scholar paper Silas Fletcher’ and the first item on the search turned out to be her thesis!

I also found a second thesis on Indian Key and a research paper a third person had written–and they both contained information on Silas. In the footnotes I found references to deed books (book number and page number) that contained statements written by Silas, his wife Avis, their daughter Abigail and Mike’s 2nd great grandfather William H. Fletcher about their lives and movements in the Florida Keys.

With that information I went to Familysearch.org and found the deed books I needed for Monroe County. I was able to go find their statements very easily instead of having to ‘browse’ through the books on the off-chance I would find something (which I do if I don’t know the exact book where the record would be).

I can hardly wait to try out the rest of what I learned at your seminars to see what else I can find!”

Sue’s experience is a great example of using Google to dig for your family history. One little-known feature on Google is Google Scholar, which would help Sue and anyone else more easily find material like what she describes: doctoral dissertations, theses, academic papers and more. Your keyword searches in Google Scholar will target results from academic publishers, universities, professional societies and more.

scholar

Though scholarly literature gets a bad rap sometimes for being boring or highbrow, they do something genealogists love: THEY CITE SOURCES. Sue cleverly read the footnotes of the materials she found and they led her right to a key source she needed.

Here’s another resource she could find using the details found on Google Scholar in a Google Image search: a map of his community!

IK-annotated-sketch

 

My newly-updated, revised book The Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverGenealogist’s Google Toolbox has an all-new chapter on using Google Scholar. Among other things, I show you advanced search strategies and how to use Google Alerts with Google Scholar for continuous updates on your favorite search results. Click here

 

Google for Genealogy: New Search Operators and More

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipGenealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 120 is now available:

The “headline” of this episode is definitely the NEW tips using Google for genealogy. Google changes, so the ways we use it have to keep up if we want to get the most out of it. You’ll learn a few new, obsolete and tried-and-true search operators and strategies for finding your family history with Google.

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverThese tips come from Lisa’s newly-published, fully revised and updated The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition. It sold out quickly at RootsTech 2015 but fortunately we have a lot more in stock. Click on the book title to claim your own copy.

Also in this episode, you’ll hear comments from Genealogy Gems listeners and readers. You’ll learn about a new blog started by one of you, for which Lisa gives some helpful feedback. Someone else wrote in to recommend a book title.

The episode concludes with a fun history flashback: a spotlight on the 200-year history of rail travel in the United States.

Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member yet? Click here to learn more about membership benefits, including access to more than 2 dozen how-to genealogy videos and the full archive of Premium podcast episodes.

My Most Amazing Find Ever: Family History on YouTube! (No Kidding!)

I recently read Lisa Louise Cooke’s all-new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition. I use Google every day and this book has so many helpful new search tips! But I was skeptical about her chapter on finding your family history on YouTube. So skeptical that I immediately opened YouTube to prove her wrong. Can you guess how this ends?

Following one of her tips, I entered an ancestral hometown and state and the word “history.” The fourth search result made my mouth drop open:

This is a 1937 newsreel showing my husband’s great-grandfather, Andrew O’Hotnicky, driving his fire truck with his dog Chief! Though Andrew’s not named, I can prove it’s him. He was the driver at the Olyphant Hose Co #2 during this time. Photos of him match the driver’s face. I have stories and a newspaper clipping about his dog, Chief. A distant relative watched the newsreel and confirmed his identity–and said a young man riding on the side of the truck was Andrew’s son Bill.

My father-in-law never knew his grandfather Andrew, who died before he was born. Imagine how thrilled he was to watch that newsreel! I was just as thrilled to find it. I’ve spent years researching Andrew’s family (click here to read an article about him).

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverOnly by following Lisa’s suggestions in the new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition did I make my best family history find EVER!

My own tip: search YouTube for relatives you already know something about. That way you will recognize them (from pictures or stories) when you see them. A lot of old footage won’t have names with it. I had to know who I was looking at. Once you find something, tag it with your relative’s name. You never know who will connect with you that way (check out the comments section in the above video)!

What can you learn about YOUR family history on YouTube or anywhere in the Google world? Learn how to search widely, deeply and effectively online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

What you need to know about Google Earth Pro

earth_keyOn January 28, 2015 Google announced that Google Earth PRO is now available for FREE! Not just a free trial. Google is allowing everyone to get a free key to Google Earth Pro!

In the past the software fee was hundreds of dollars. But now you can get Google Earth Pro for free and gain the ability to do things like “measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies” inside Google Earth.To get your free key to Google Earth Pro sign up here. After submitting the form, you will be emailed the free license key. Copy the license key from the email, then click the link provided to download Google Earth Pro app for PC and Mac.

 

Everything I’ve taught you about using Google Earth still applies, but now you have more tools than ever!

 

Since I announced this in the last Genealogy Gems Newsletter, I’ve received several questions. Here’s what you need to know about Google Earth Pro:

 

From Sheri: “I did get it to finally work…..instead of my phone number running together….I added the dashes between the numbers and then it went through.  FYI….in case you hear an issue from others.”

 

google earth pro downloadThanks for the tip Sheri. Most likely the problem you were running into after the big announcement that Google Earth Pro went free was the sheer amount of traffic the site received. Googlers swarmed the site, and any people found it took several attempts to get a successful download. As time passes, it should get quicker and easier to download.

 

From Kathy: “I downloaded the Google Earth Pro BUT now I have regular and Pro on my computer and all the spots marked in regular seemed to have transferred to Pro—Question—should I now uninstall the regular version?”

 

Answer: That decision is really up to you. I’ve decided to keep both for a while, but only do work from this point forward in Pro. If in a few months everything is still running smoothly, then I will probably delete the old free version just to free up disk space on my computer. For now, it certainly doesn’t hurt to leave  it there.

 

The good news is that both programs appear to pull from the same files on your computer. This means that when you create a file in Pro, you will also see it in your Places panel in the free version.

 

Question from Dea: “I downloaded Google Earth Pro on my main computer.  I now want to use the same license key for my laptop and android, as I signed up for 2 to 5 users.  I assumed that I could use the same license key.  When I tried to sign up on my laptop it said I already was a user, but do not know how I can access it from my laptop. Help!”

 

Answer: Although the sign up page asks how many users will be using the program, my understanding is that each download key is for one device. I would guess that the user question is about how many people might be using the application on that device. (Unfortunately the website isn’t clear on this point.) I’m basing this on the fact that when it was a paid version, you had to purchase a license key for each device.

 

As with the original free version of Google Earth, each device you download Google Earth to has it’s own unique Places Panel. In other words, files you create on your desktop computer don’t show up on your laptop. This is because the files are stored on that particular device and not on the Cloud (for privacy reasons).

 

So the bottom line is that to get another license key for another device you will need to use a different email. If you only have one email address, you could create a second free email in Gmail just to have an email you can use.

 

Dea’s Reply: “Thank you for such a prompt reply.  I am sure there must be more than one of you.  I do not know how you get so much accomplished….saw you at Midwest Roots in Indianapolis and, again, at a webinar for our Genealogy Society in Terre Haute, IN.  You are an excellent speaker, teacher as well as entertaining.”

Lisa: Now I’m blushing!!

 

Answers to more questions:

Do you really need Google Earth Pro? Probably not, because Pro was created originally for businesses. However there are some pretty cool extras that you get by going Pro:

  • Movie-Maker: Export Windows Media and QuickTime HD movies, up to 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution. (Sweet!)
  • High-resolution printing: Print images up to 4,800 x 3,200 pixel resolution. (The free version max: 1,000 pixels.)
  • Spreadsheet import: Ingest up to 2,500 addresses at a time, assigning place marks and style templates in bulk. (My geeky side is getting giddy!)
  • Exclusive pro data layers: Demographics, parcels, and traffic count.
  • Advanced measurements: Measure parking lots and land developments with polygon area measure, or determine affected radius with circle measure.

Resources:genealogy television and video

Want to learn more about using Google Earth specifically for genealogy? Check out this free video class.

Google Earth for Genealogy and Toolbox bundleAnd there are several chapters on using Google Earth for genealogy in my brand new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition (2015). You can pick up as a special bundle here with my 2 disc DVD set Google Earth for Genealogy.

Genealogy Edu-tainment! Celebrity Interview, Bestseller for Book Club, DNA Chat and More!

tv_film_icon_400_wht_15178 (1)Are you ready for a hearty dose of genealogy edu-tainment? It’s all there in the newest episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast: a genealogy television celebrity, a best-seller for our new Genealogy Gems Book Club title and an industry insider peek at Ancestry’s DNA products.

Since it’s the beginning of the year, a lot of television shows are ramping back up (like WDYTYA in March). Genealogy Roadshow on PBS will it be back with new episodes and a new addition to the panel of hosts: professional genealogist Mary Tedesco. She joins Lisa in this episode to talk about her experience on the show and about Italian research, her specialty.

genealogy book clubDid you hear about our new featured book for Genealogy Gems Book Club? It’s the internationally best-selling novel Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline! Tune in to the episodes or click to the show notes to learn more about the book and why I chose it for our virtual book club. And don’t forget the best part of our book club: the author will join us for an exclusive interview! The interviews are fun even if you haven’t read the book, and fantastic if you have. That interview is coming up in May.

DNA Guide Diahan Southard also makes an appearance on the January Genealogy Gems podcast episodes. She offers a frank insider’s opinion of what’s going on with AncestryDNA and Ancestry.com’s DNA Circles feature. Stay up-to-date in this fast-moving and fascinating aspect of genealogy with Your DNA Guide on Genealogy Gems!

Finally, you’ll hear about Lisa’s newest project. Available by popular demand is the revised and updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox! 

Frustration Using Google Earth for Genealogy is Temporary with this Fix

Manage Genealogy files in Google EarthIf you have experienced frustration managing your genealogy files in Google Earth, you’re not alone. A recent email question from Genealogy Gems Premium Member Linda reminded me what the #1 culprit tends to be: the Temporary Folder. Linda writes:

“I have a question for you about Google Earth. I have been trying to play around with it and when I find a place and want to save it, the “Save to My Places” is grayed out and it won’t let me save. My husband said the same thing happens on his computer. I looked on a Google forum and someone posted a question about it not working recently. Do you happen to have any info about this and does the same thing happen to you?”

While Linda didn’t provide specifics as to what kind of “place” she is trying to save, I’ve been at this long enough to have a pretty good ideathat she found something like a Rumsey Historical Map that she wants to add as a permanent fixture to her geographic genealogy files in Google Earth. Fabulous! Or it may be as simple as someone emailed her a map with a single placemark on it. She has clicked to open it and Google Earth magically opened and displayed it on her screen. Awesome!

In both cases, the important thing to notice, is that the item was sent to the TEMPORARY folder in the PLACES panel. That’s because Google Earth doesn’t assume just because you wanted to look at something means you want to save it in your files forever. And this leads me to the answer to Linda’s question…

The only time “Save to My Places” will not be grayed out is when the item that you are looking to Save to My Places is in the TEMPORARY folder. In other words, it is not yet saved to My Places (as in the cases I mentioned above.)

The Temporary folder is the most overlooked feature of Google Earth, and can play havoc with you unless you understand how it works, particularly in conjunction with the menu functions.

Here’s how to save an item in the Temporary folder to be a permanent part of your My Places:
  1. Click to select and highlight the item in the Temporary Folder
  2. Go up to the menu click FILE
  3. Select SAVE
  4. Select SAVE TO MY PLACESGoogle Earth Genealogy Temporary Folder

The item will then jump from your Temporary folder into My Places. You may need to open My Places by clicking the small black arrow next to it in order to see it at the bottom of your list.

Google Earth Save My Places

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once an item (such as a place mark) is created, and it appears anywhere in the Places panel other than the Temporary folder (such as in a folder you created, or under My Places,) it is technically already in My Places, and therefore does not need to be Saved to My Places. And that is why that option is grayed out.

Think of “Save to My Places” as “MOVE to My Places”.

Once your item is in My Places, from that point forward you will be saving any changes you make to it by selecting FILE > SAVE > SAVE MY PLACES.

Google Earth Save My Places

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This procedure saves changes made to any and all files in your My Places, including the new file you just added. Anything in your Temporary folder will be lost when you close Google Earth.

Play it Safe!
Be smart and get into the excellent habit of saving My Places every 10 minutes or so, (in case Google Earth, our computer, or internet connection crashes,) and most definitely when you close the program at the end of your work session.

Happy Googling!

Lisa

 

Mobile Friendly Search Results Come to Google

Googling on the Go mobile computing mobile friendly search resultsMobile friendly search is now within reach! If you Google-search on a mobile phone (or on a small tablet), you know how frustrating it can be to navigate some websites on the small screens. The text is too small, the links are too tiny to click on and you have to scroll around to read the entire page.

Recently, Google added a “mobile-friendly” search label to their results. It’s already available for the English language; additional languages and features will roll out in the coming weeks. According to Google, “mobile-friendly” sites avoid software not common on mobile devices; use text that’s readable without zooming, resize their screens so you don’t have to scroll across horizontally (you may still need to scroll vertically), and space links so you can tap each one without accidentally tapping the one next to it.

Here’s  what the search result will look like, if it’s mobile-friendly:

mobile friendly search results

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience,” says the Google Webmaster Central Blog post on the topic. “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”

If mobile friendly search results get prioritized in our searches (especially when we’re on mobile devices), imagine how that will motivate companies to make their websites easier to navigate on the small screen. It’s another leap forward for Googling-on-the-Go!

Genealogy_Tablet_iPadA Genealogy Gems Premium membership, includes access to THREE how-to videos on Google searching and another on mobile genealogy:

  • Common Surname Search Secrets
  • Ultimate Google Search Strategies
  • Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search
  • Genealogy on the Go with the iPad

Watch and learn with Genealogy Gems Premium! Click here to learn more.

 

How to Transfer Google Earth Files from One Computer to Another

google earth genealogyGenealogy Gems reader and listener Walt has enjoyed creating some exciting family history and genealogy maps and files in Google Earth using the strategies I teach here at Genealogy Gems. He wrote me recently to say that he is thrilled to have a new computer, but he is now faced with how to transfer Google Earth files he created for family history from his old computer to his shiny new one. The good news is that it’s not difficult at all!

 

How to transfer your Google Earth files:google earth save files

1. On your old computer open Google Earth

2. All of your files in Google Earth are in the Places panel. In the Places panel, click the small arrow pointing at “My Places” to close it

3. Right-click on MyPlaces and select “Save Place As” from the little pop up menu

4. Name the file OLD GOOGLE EARTH and select where you want to save it on your hard drive. (Saving it to your Desktop will make it easy to find, or just your C: drive.  If you use Dropbox, you could save it there and then easily access it from Dropbox on your new computer.)
click “Save”

5. Send an email to yourself and attached the save .KMZ file that you just created.

6. Open the email on your new computer
(make sure you already have Google Earth downloaded on to your new computer)

7. Double click the attached KMZ file to open it

8. Your computer will detect it is a Google Earth file and will open it in Google Earth.

9. The file will be stored in the Places panel under Temporary Places
Click, drag and drop the file from Temporary to MyPlaces
Under the menu click FILE > SAVE > SAVE MY PLACES to save it.

google earth for genealogy and family historyWant to learn more about using maps in Google earth for your family history research? Watch my FREE class on Google Earth for Genealogy. And we have a 2 disk video tutorial bundle in our store that will walk you through exciting projects step by step.

Genealogy Gems Premium members can also watch my NEW video class online, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. (Not a Premium member? Learn more here.)

The Google Search Operator That Got Away

One of my favorite Google Search Operators is the Tilde (`) which is Google lingo means Synonym. In the past you could add~genealogy to your searches and Google would look for ‘genealogy’, ‘family history’, ‘ancestry’ etc. Unfortunately, it is no more.

Google Search Operator Tilde synonym

Google explained the decision to do away with synonym search this way: “Why? Because too few people were using it to make it worth the time, money, and energy to maintain…Maintaining ALL of the synonyms takes real time and costs us real money. Supporting this operator also increases the complexity of the code base.”

So now, more than ever, it’s important to choose your keywords wisely and think like the person who may be posting information you are looking for. You may think train history, but experts on the subject may be using railroad or locomotive as they write on their website. The good news is you can include all the options in your search query.

Recommended Viewing:
Genealogy Gems Premium Video: Ultimate Google Search Strategies

Recommended Reading:
Things may change online, 
but Genealogy Gems will never change: 
We’re here to help!
logo with text

Little House on the Prairie: A New Cookbook and Old Documents

my-prairie-cookbook-memories-and-frontier-food-from-my-little-house-to-yours-paperback-book_357Did you ever watch or read the “Little House on the Prairie” series? It certainly fired my childhood imagination and my lifelong love for history. The stories are based on a series of written-for-kids-but-loved-by-everyone books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her family helped settle the western American frontier in the late 1800s.

Now “Little House” is coming back to life in the form of a cookbook by Melissa Gilbert, who played young Laura Ingalls in the NBC television series (1974-1983). Melissa has published My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours.

In My Prairie Cookbook, Melissa dishes up comforting family recipes and childhood favorites. There are prairie breakfasts, picnic lunches and treats inspired by Nellie’s restaurant (from the Little House series). Eighty delicious dishes—crispy fried chicken, pot roasts, corn bread, apple pie, and more—let you eat like the Ingalls family! The book is garnished with Melissa’s “Little House” memories and memorabilia, including behind-the-scenes stories, anecdotes, and scrapbook images.

Laura’s Early Years in Google Earth

Often when I’m teaching about how to use Google Earth for genealogy, and in particular, how to create what I call “Family History Tour,” I use Laura’s early life as an my example. Almost everyone is familiar with the story: she was born in Wisconsin, and moved to states like Missouri, Kansas, and Minnesota during her lifetime. Seeing it come together in a virtual tour brings a new tech element to a beloved historical story.

LIW how toYou can download a quick Google Earth Family History Tour of her early years by right-clicking this link and downloading the KMZ file to your computer. Click the file, and it will launch Google Earth and save the tour to your “Temporary Places” at the bottom of the Places panel on the left side of the screen. Click the arrow to open the folder (image right)

Inside the folder double click the “movie camera” icon at the top of the list to play the tour.

The tour will navigate from the Little House in the Big Woods of Pepin, Wisconsin, (with a stop to read the History of Pepin ebook right from the map if you so desire), to Rutland, Montgomery, Kansas as the family was documented in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, and Laura was just 3 years old.

This short tour, filled with street views, videos, genealogical documents and even digital history books provides a taste of what you can accomplish with your own family. To learn more click here to watch my free introductory Google Earth for Genealogy video class.

Explore Little House in the Big Archives

Next week, The National Archives will host a program about the new cookbook with Melissa Gilbert. Why have a cookbook featured at the National Archives? Because its inspiration–the Ingalls family–was a real part of U.S. history and the National Archives houses many documents about their lives