May 25, 2015

Find Old Maps and More: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 122

Genealogy Gems Premium PodcastGenealogy Gems Premium members can now listen to Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 122! This episode brings to your ears the newest Premium video: Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.

My favorite take-away from this Premium episode? The shownotes! There’s a FULL-PAGE table on Lisa’s favorite websites for free historical maps. Below is a “teaser” of the table with just the categories shown: the name of the website, how many maps it offers, the geographic coverage, what time frame, whether the maps are available for re-use by you and valuable search tips for each.

Historic maps shownotes teaser

This table can be YOUR key to unlocking the old map treasures you want to pluck from the hundreds of thousands of maps available online.

Newspaper inventionAlso in this Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode, Lisa  is joined by Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard, who talks about fascinating developments in genetic genealogy in the U.K. The episode wraps with some fun trivia: a landmark invention in history that catapulted us into the modern Newspaper Age in the late 1800s. Here’s a patent drawing of that invention: can you tell what it is?? Tune in to the episode to find out.

free_pc_400_wht_2095Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member yet? Take us for a test drive! Click here to listen to a FREE episode of our flagship Genealogy Gems podcast. Click here to watch a FREE excerpt from the Premium historical maps video on using Sanborn maps for genealogy. If you love what you see and hear, consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium member so you have access to hours and hours of Genealogy Gems programs!

3 Sources for Historic Maps that May Surprise You

Old maps are an essential tool for discovering more about your family’s history. If you have exhausted more traditional sources, here are three places to find maps that may surprise you.

#1 Surprising Finds within the David Rumsey Map Collection

www.davidrumsey.com

You’re probably aware that the David Rumsey map collection website is a terrific source for old maps. But you may be surprised by the variety of maps, some which you likely don’t come across every day. Here’s a fun little tactic I took today to see what it may hold in store beyond typical maps. A search of the word neighborhood reveals that their holdings go well beyond traditional maps. Here’s an example from San Francisco showing a neighborhood in its infancy:
google earth maps for genealogy

And the image below depicts the Country Club district of Kansas City in the 1930s. If your family lived there at that time, this is a real gem.

Google earth for genealogy maps

#2 Google Books

www.books.google.com

If you think Google Books is just books, think again. Historic maps, often unique and very specific, can often be found within those digitized pages. Try running a Google search such as: neighborhood map baltimore. 

Click the MORE menu and select BOOKS. Then click the SEARCH TOOLS button at the top of the results list, and from the drop down menu select ANY BOOKS and then click FREE GOOGLE BOOKS:

baltimore search

Select a book that looks promising. Then rather than reading through the pages or scanning the index, save loads of time by clicking the thumbnail view button at the top of the book. This way you can do a quick visual scan for pages featuring maps!

baltimore history

When you find a page featuring a map, click it display it on a single page. You can now use the clipper tool built right in to Google Books to clip an image of the map. Other options include using Evernote (free) or Snagit ($).

Google Image search for maps google books

#3 Old Newspapers at Chronicling America

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Like Google Books, the digitized pages housed at the Chronicling America website contain much more than just text. Old newspapers printed maps to help readers understand current events like the progress of war or the effect of a natural disaster. This map from The Tacoma Times in 1914 shows a map of Europe and several quick facts about the “Great War,” World War I:

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

Here’s one more example below. A search for “San Francisco earthquake” at Chronicling America brought up this bird’s eye view of San Francisco at the time of the major 1906 earthquake. Articles below the map explain what you’re seeing:

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

Learn more about using newspapers to understand your ancestors’ lives in my book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. 

Want more inspiring ideas for finding historic maps? Below is my FREE 8-minute video on using Sanborn maps. This is an excerpt from my Genealogy Gems Premium video, “5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.” (Premium membership required to watch that full video along with others like “Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.”)

Find Your Ancestors in English Manorial Records

Wingfield Manor. The view from the tower at Wingfield Manor, looking North to North East with the village of South Wingfield in the background. Little known, Wingfield Manor is a huge grand ruin of a country mansion built in 1440 by Ralph Cromwell and is one of the many places Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. It sits atop a small hill over looking the valley below and is quite imposing on the landscape. The ruin is looked after by English Heritage. Wikimedia commons image. Click to view details.

Wingfield Manor. The view from the tower at Wingfield Manor, looking North to North East with the village of South Wingfield in the background. Little known, Wingfield Manor is a huge grand ruin of a country mansion built in 1440 by Ralph Cromwell and is one of the many places Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. It sits atop a small hill over looking the valley below and is quite imposing on the landscape. The ruin is looked after by English Heritage. Wikimedia commons image. Click to view details.

Was your ancestor the lord of an English manor or, more likely, someone who lived and worked in the vicinity of one? Or are you a Downton Abbey fan who would just enjoy reading the old records kept by a grand manor? Then you should know about English manorial records available online and offline.

The Manorial Document Register, an arm of the National Archives (U.K.), manages manorial records and even has put some online. You can search its site by the name of the manor or, if you don’t know it, the name of the parish or county. According to the site, “The records noted in the Manorial Documents Register include court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers, documents and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor.”

What’s an English manor?

In English history,  “A manor is an estate or an agricultural unit of local government, held by a landlord,” explains the FamilySearch wiki. “The residence of the landlord was called the manor house. Those living on the manor were subject to the customs of the manor, a sort of local common law often set by the landlord and which varied from manor to manor. The landlord was referred to as Lord of the Manor, but was not necessarily a titled person….Manors began after the Norman Conquest (1066) and weren’t abolished until a property act of 1922.”

“The people who lived on the manor were either

  1. Villeins, people who owed allegiance to and were bound to the lord of the manor, or
  2. Free tenant farmers (may also be known as franklin or yeoman) were not subject to the customs of the manor or the will of the lord.

It is estimated that there were between 25,000 and 65,000 manors in England, compared to the approximately 12,000 to 15,000  parishes.”

How else can I find English manorial records?

Manorial records may also exist elsewhere, like a Harvard University collection in the U.S. that has been partly digitized. It’s worth Googling the name of a parish, manor or county and the phrase “manor records” (“manor* records” will also search for the phrase “manorial records).

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverThe all-new second edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke teaches you how to use search operators like these to find exactly what you’re looking for online (if it’s out there, Google can help you find it!).

Road Trip, Anyone? An Orphan Train Museum

genealogy book clubWe’ve heard from many of you that the best-selling novel Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, featured in our Genealogy Gems Book Club, has piqued your interest in that sad chapter in U.S. and Canadian history. So I thought I’d share this comment from Jenna Mills on our Genealogy Gems Facebook page:

“I’ve become very interested in orphan trains since I heard the interview with the author on your podcast. Fascinating and sad. I’ve since found that that over 250,000 kids are estimated to have been put on a train. 250,000!!!

NOTC-COMPLEXThe National Orphan Train Complex [a museum] is in Concordia, Kansas, so of course a visit there will be forthcoming. I’m halfway through the book and love it. What has really piqued my curiosity is that my great-grandmother adopted a boy while living in Amherst, Nebraska. The railroad doesn’t go through there anymore but did in that time period. I may be taking a trip down a rabbit hole, but this is so fascinating.”

Thanks, Jenna! We’re also aware of an orphan train museum in Louisiana and this lovely summary from an Iowa historical society about riders who landed in their little town. Recently we pinned an image of an old orphan train rider doll on Pinterest.

  Follow Lisa Louise’s board Genealogy Gems Book Club on Pinterest.

genealogy book club genealogy gemsWe invite you to follow the FREE no-commitment, no-fuss Genealogy Gems Book Club. Every quarter we feature our favorite family-history-friendly fiction and nonfiction titles AND exclusive interviews with their authors!

DNA in the UK: Are Your British Ancestors Roman?

Nature Britains Genes

The key to learning about our ancestors from our own DNA is to have a lot of people tested who can all trace their ancestry to a specific geographic location. A groundbreaking scientific study has just been published in Nature by Stephen Leslie and colleagues that details the origins of the people of the UK. (Read the abstract here.) This study has ramifications for you, as a genetic genealogist, even if you don’t have origins in the UK.

Dr. Leslie and colleagues collected data from 2,039 Britons of European ancestry who lived in rural areas and knew that their four grandparents were all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of each other. This means that their DNA should accurately represent the DNA of individuals living in that area in the late 1800s. Using multiple fancy and advanced statistical methods, the researchers identified 17 distinct genetic groups. When they overlaid these groups on a map of the UK, what they found was remarkable.  Each genetic group, with few exceptions, mapped to a very specific geographic location.

The largest cluster by far, encompassing half of those tested, maps to Central/South England. Well, the first serious settlers of Britain were from the Roman Empire whose influence in 43 AD at the time of their entry into Britain was extensive, from Spain to France to Italy to parts of the middle east and North Africa. Then around 450 AD the Angles, from modern day northern Germany and southern Denmark, and the Saxons, from Germany, invaded. According to linguistic and archeological evidence, the previous Roman culture was basically wiped out. But were the actual people destroyed, or just their culture?

To find out, the team compared the UK samples with 6,209 people from continental Europe to understand their ancestors’ contributions to Britons’ ancestry. According to the DNA evidence, the descendants of those first Roman settlers are still very much alive. In fact, the paper reports that Saxon ancestry in Central/South England is very likely to be under 50%, and most likely in the range of 10–40%, with instead a large portion of the genetics now being attributed to France and by extension, the Roman Empire.

Another interesting finding: the Viking conquerors were nearly genetically absent in most of the UK. 

Very unfortunately, this data on DNA in the UK will not be a part of the reference samples at your genetic genealogy testing company. But it does demonstrate unequivocally that THIS WORKS!  DNA testing can help us trace our ancestral origins and thanks to improved techniques and larger data sets, we have much to look forward to.   Dr. Peter Donnelly, population geneticist at Oxford and co-author of this paper said, “History is written by the winners, and archaeology studies the burials of wealthy people. But genetic evidence is interesting because it complements that by showing what is happening to the masses rather than the elite.”

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesLearn more about DNA testing for family history with my Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy Quick Guide, available now in the Genealogy Gems store. In fact, I have a whole series of Guides there on using DNA for genealogy. Check them all out!

If you’re ready for some one-on-one consulting to see what DNA can tell you about your family history, visit my website to learn more.

MyHeritage Shares Holocaust Survivor Story with Descendants

MyHeritage Jewish holocaust survivor

About a year ago, Greek-American family historian and Emmy award-winning writing, producer and author Yvette Manessis Corporon published When the Cypress Whispers: A Novel, a novel based on true stories gathered from her grandmother. Among the anecdotes was a decades-old secret from the Greek island of Erikoussa: that the entire island joined together to save a Jewish tailor and his family from the Nazis.

It’s a heroic and dangerous story of Holocaust survivors. When the Nazis arrived in Corfu, they killed most of the Jewish residents. One family escaped to Erikoussa: a man named Savas and his wife and three daughters.

“Yvette’s grandmother was one of those Islanders,” says Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist at MyHeritage. “She was good friends with one of the girls and so Yvette turned to MyHeritage to ask if we could help find the family. We did, and an emotional (although virtual) reunion took place between Yvette, and Rosa’s sons.” Apparently the story did not get passed down through Savas’ family. They were stunned to learn about their family’s experience on the island, many years after their relatives had left it for Israel and other parts of the world.

Below, watch an Israeli newscast on the story (with English subtitles), or click here to read a news story about it (in English). Click here to learn why we here at Genealogy Gems partner with MyHeritage, a leading international resource for family history trees and records

Genealogy Gems Book Club Genealogy Family HistoryAre you an avid reader? Check out the Genealogy Gems Book Club, which features great reads (fiction and nonfiction) for those who love history and family themes. (P.S., if you ever purchase a book we recommend, we appreciate you using our links! Your purchases keep the free Genealogy Gems podcast FREE.)

Heritage Cookbooks: Recipe for a Sweet Family History

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that's been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that’s been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Recently I heard from Jillian in Arkansas, USA, who wrote about “a recent – and accidental” family history discovery she made in a family cookbook.

“Not long ago, I was listening to archived episodes of your Genealogy Gems podcast where you and a guest were discussing using an address book as a source for research.

“That tidbit stuck with me, and I began to rummage through my things to see if I could find my grandmother’s old exceedingly edited book. No such luck. Just the other night, while trying to decide what to cook for supper, I found something almost as delightful: my great-grandmother passed several cookbooks to me after her death, many with her own notations.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxWhen looking through it, I noticed that the book wasn’t only a cookbook, but a bit of a history book, as well. It was printed by a group of local ladies, and with each section, there is a drawing of a historical home, and an incredibly detailed description, written by the original homeowner, or one of their descendants. The year is published in the front, the community’s history, and a rundown of the prominent citizens.

“None of my direct relatives were listed, but the unexpected breath of facts–the who’s, where’s, when’s–is invaluable to anyone looking for their loved one in that area. I never would’ve considered a cookbook as a source for genealogy research, but there it was, on a shelf, with my great-grandmother’s other books. And of course, I’m scouring them for relatives right now.”

Thanks to Jillian for writing in: click here to check out her family history blog about heritage cookbooks. The podcast episode she mentioned was likely one of our Genealogy Gems book club conversations about She Left Me the Gun, in which the author used her mother’s address book to learn family history.

Do you love the combination of food and family history? Or browsing heritage cookbooks as a window into the past? I do! I invite you to:

View-Master Toys are Going Virtual Reality

" The View-Master first appeared in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair. My View-Master Model C, pictured here, was produced between 1946 and 1955. It was made from bakelite and was the first viewer to have a slot into which the reels were placed for viewing. Believe it or not, all reels made for any view master will work in any model from 1939 to present." Image by Jack Pearce, Flickr Creative Commons.  Image used without changes; find it at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwpearce/10725366513/.

” The View-Master first appeared in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair. My View-Master Model C, pictured here, was produced between 1946 and 1955. It was made from bakelite and was the first viewer to have a slot into which the reels were placed for viewing. Believe it or not, all reels made for any view master will work in any model from 1939 to present.” Image by Jack Pearce, Flickr Creative Commons. Image used without changes; find it at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwpearce/10725366513/.

Did you have a View-Master toy as a kid? Using these stereoscopic viewers (long before kids had cameras of their own), children could see pictures of any topic from Disney to dinosaurs to the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. According to a collector, whose image is posted here, “all reels made for any View-Master will work in any model from 1939 to the present.”

Well, this decades-only technology is about to get boosted into the 21st century. According to this news report, “Mattel is teaming up with Google on an upcoming virtual reality-based View-Master that is infused with Google Cardboard VR technology.”

“The Cardboard-based View-Master…will share some design elements with vintage View-Masters, but instead of dropping in a reel, you slide an Android smartphone into the unit. View-Master will work with a custom Mattel app, as well as any Google Cardboard-compatible app, of which there are now about 200 in the Google Play Store.”

Want to learn more about these great vintage toys–or share one with the next generation? Click here to purchase a View-Master Viewer and Reels and click here to purchase Collectible View-Master: An Illustrated Reference and Value Guide. (Thank you! Purchasing from these links helps support the Genealogy Gems podcast and blog.)

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Did you know that nostalgia buffs (and anyone else) can search Google Patents for fun objects like the View-Master? Click here to see the original patent application materials for the 1939 View-Master, including a design drawing of that first model. Here’s a tip: if your ancestor ever applied for a patent, search Google Patents for his or her name! Learn more about Google Patents–and other fabulous and FREE Google tools you can use for family history–in the new, fully-revised 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke.

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

NYT Mapping Migrations Map Screen Capture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsWe learn about so many fantastic new genealogy records online every week. So each Friday we round up several of them for you to glance through. Watch for databases and documents that your ancestors might appear in–but also watch for the kinds of records that may be out there already, that you haven’t yet looked for. This week: British women in World War I, Polish-American marriages, Irish vital records, Canadian travel photography, Scottish artifacts and documents and a Louisiana (US) press archive.

WWI WOMEN. FindMyPast has posted over 9,500 UK records that illustrate the various roles played by woman during the Frist World War. These include:

POLISH-AMERICAN MARRIAGES. A new database of Polish-American marriages has been posted by the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast.

According to a press release, “This database contains the names of couples of Polish origin who were married in select locations in the Northeast United States. The information was taken from marriage records, newspaper marriage announcements, town reports, parish histories or information submitted by Society members. The time period generally covered by these lists is 1892-1940. It includes the States of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. Connecticut and Jersey City, NJ will be added at a later date.”

IRISH BMD. Over a million records appear in a new database of Irish records of the city and county of Derry~Londonderry and Inishowen, County Donegal. Entries span 1642-1922 and include:

  • Pre-1922 civil birth and marriage registers,
  • Early baptismal and marriage registers of 97 churches,
  • Headstone inscriptions from 118 graveyards, and
  • Census returns and census substitutes from 1663 to 1901.

Click here to access these records (and other County Derry resources) at RootsIreland,ie (subscription required).

CANADIAN TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY. A small but visually rich collection of pictures promoting Canadian tourism is now at Flickr Creative Commons. Use these to explore places your ancestors may have visited (and the images that may have lured them there) if they vacationed by rail in the 1800s or early 1900s. (Click here to learn more about finding great historical photos at Flickr Creative Commons.)

SCOTTISH ARTIFACTS AND DOCUMENTS. A new digital archive at Historic Scotland has launched an online database of 400 artefacts now includes over 400 artifacts important to Scottish history. Everyday household objects, ship models, coins, weaponry, bits ‘n bobs of old homes and buildings, industrial machinery and miscellaneous photos, books and ephemera are all browsable on this site. It’s a great place to look for images that help illustrate your Scottish ancestors’ history.

LOUISIANA PRESS COVERAGE. The Louisiana Digital Media Archive has launched as “the first project in the nation to combine the media collections of a public broadcaster and a state archives,” according to its site description. “This ever-expanding site contains a combined catalog of thousands of hours of media recorded over the past half-century.  You can see interviews with Louisiana civil rights pioneers, notable political figures, war heroes, artists and literary icons. You’ll have a front row seat to Louisiana history through video of historic events. You can also visit remote and endangered Louisiana places and cultures.”

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Not sure how to find record sets like these for YOUR family history? Here’s a tip! Set up a Google Alert. Say you want to know whenever new material on Polish-Americans in Detroit is found by Google’s ever-searching search engines. Click here to learn how to set up this search (or any other) Google Alert for genealogy.

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