July 20, 2017

Gems Share Their Creative Solutions to Interviewing and Capturing Memories

Is lack of time or lack of cooperation getting in the way of you capturing memories? Your descendants are depending on you to pass down the family’s history. Genealogy Gems readers and listeners share their creative solutions to the age old challenge of capturing the future’s history today!

 

interviewing solutions capturing memories creatively
Recently I wrote a post called Remembering Dad with a Family History Interview Video. In that post I shared the video I made of my husband Bill’s interview about his father. I’ve been delighted to hear from so many of you Genealogy Gems readers about your own interview strategies for gleaning stories and memories from loved ones.
Sharon C. wrote to explain her creative approach to interviewing her mom:

As my mother grew older (she lived to be almost 94), her vision got very bad. So, I bought her a large screen T.V. Then, I attached my video camera to the T.V. and a microphone to her from my camera, and we went through her old photo albums, with my camera on the photos, but the photos projected to her on the large screen T.V. We then talked about the photos and I asked her questions about the people, but she saw the picture on her T.V. Her narrative and the pictures were recorded on my video. Voila!!! her pictures, her voice, her details, on the camera and she didn’t even realize that it was being recorded. She thought she was just discussing the pictures from the album. At one point, her two brothers were present and I was able to get their input as well, at the same time.

Patricia D. shares how she captures her husband’s stories without having to find time to do it in their busy schedule:

Pages app on ipad for interviewingLisa, I enjoyed your article about trying to interview your husband, who is shy about being interviewed. My husband and I found a painless way to do an interview. When we are traveling he gets sleepy if no one is talking to him, so I decided interviewing him in an informal way about events in his life would serve two purposes. He wouldn’t get sleepy, and I would get information about his life story.

I take my iPad when we’re traveling and as I ask him questions I type his responses into Pages (app). Usually one question leads to another, so we seldom run out of information. He enjoys reminiscing about the past, and I enjoy hearing it, since he seldom mentions it without being prodded.

When we get home I polish up what I have written and transfer it to my computer. I store it in a folder labeled ‘Don’s life.’ Eventually we will have enough to write the story of his life, with lots of pictures. And it’s completely painless.

This is a wonderful, creative way to capture stories and spend time with family!
Curt S. is not only capturing his stories for his family, but he’s also brightening the lives of others:

Hi Lisa, I love the story about a lady interviewing her husband while driving to keep him awake and to share his life stories. I too came up with a neat way to share my life story. Every year at Christmas time when my family gathers together I seem to always be asked to tell one of my stories, as I have a lot of stories, mostly very funny stories. Even at my former work my boss and co-workers would ask me to tell certain stories again.

So, it dawned on me that I needed to find a way to tell these stories so that I could leave a legacy to my kids and their descendants. We are always suggesting to others that they interview their living ancestors while they have the chance. So why not tell your own story.

To motivate myself to tell my stories, I created a blog, in which I tell one of my stories approx, once every other week. Then after I publish the blog story, I copy and paste into my Legacy 9 software, into the story feature, which then puts the story in chronological order that later can be published in a book format.

So here is the address to my blog. If you go there you will see the kind of stories I am telling. I have identified over two years worth of stories so far that I can share on my blog.

Brighten your day by checking out this Gem’s blog: http://curtscrazytales.org/

When it comes to family history, there is definitely an element of methodology – but that doesn’t mean there can’t also be creativity! Everyone’s family is different, and what works for some may not work for others. So don’t be afraid to put your own spin on research ideas, and customize them to work for you. Thank you to everyone who submitted their strategies, and I hope you’ve got at least one new idea to try out!


Double Dip Savings on this Resource through 7/5/17

The Story of My Life workbook, written by our very own Sunny Morton, makes it easy to record your memories, and the memories of your loved ones. Simply follow the prompts to preserve memories from your entire life.

Currently on sale at 50% off (for just $9.99 through 7/5/17), PLUS get an additional 10% off with coupon code GEMS17!

What to Ask: African-American Family History Interview Tips

Learning about your African-American family history starts with asking questions, which can sometimes be challenging. Expert Angela Walton-Raji shares tips on talking to your relatives to uncover your family’s stories and heritage. 

All of our relatives have unique stories. Like these young ladies at a Naval Air Station spring formal dance in Seattle, Washington, in 1944. (Click on the picture to learn more about it.)

Many African-American families share particular types of memories and experiences–for better or for worse–from having lived in the United States. Recently genealogy expert Angela Walton-Raji joined Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201 to share tips about researching these stories.

She especially talked about the importance of interviewing elders, and shared several questions she suggested asking. These will help you learn more about your relative’s own life and other family experiences with the Civil Rights movement, migration, and military service. These questions also delve deeper into passed-down family memories that may help you trace your family history back to the era of slavery.

What to ask in African-American oral history interviews

1. Do you know of anyone in the family who was born a slave? (If old enough: as a child, did you know anyone personally who was born a slave?)

2. Who was the oldest person that you remember when you were a child? And did that person ever talk about anyone who may have been enslaved?

3. What do you know about where the family was from? (Were we always from Georgia, or was there a time when we came from another place? Why did we move? Who remembers that journey?) These questions may help you trace your family during the Great Migration.

4. Were you (or other relatives) involved in the Civil Rights movement, in the Garvey era, with the Freedom Riders, or other important events in your lifetime? What kinds of things did you see?

5. Who in the family participated in the military (in World War II, World War I, or the Spanish-American War)? FYI: African-American military units through the mid-20th century were still referred to as Buffalo soldiers. (In the interview, Angela mentioned the Triple Nickel, a unit of all-black World War II paratroopers.

“If you just drop a couple of key words you might jar their memory and get an amazing narrative to come out.” -Angela Walton-Raji

Ready to learn more about tracing African-American ancestry? Angela Walton-Raji instructs the African-American Genealogy Research Essentials downloadable video class. Purchase it with this link and use coupon code GEMS17 for 10% off, valid through 12/31/17.

More African American Genealogy Gems

A Slave Birth Record is among the Touching Heirlooms in This Exhibit

The Colored Farmer’s Alliance: Learning the History Behind their Stories

Finding Your Free People of Color

 

 

Premium Podcast Episode 139: Chris Cleave, WWII and More

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 139 features best-selling novelist Chris Cleave, WWII newspaper tips, new Evernote vs. One Note comparisons and more!

composite-book-club-author-cover-photoGenealogy Gems Premium members can dive into the days of World War II in the newly-released Premium episode #139. Novelist Chris Cleave talks about the inspiration for his WWII-era best-selling novel,  Everyone Brave is Forgiven and how he researched the history behind the story. You’ll hear personal reflections on how he sees his home city of London today, after writing so vividly about its bombing.

Lisa Louise Cooke follows that conversation with her own top tips for discovering the daily realities of life and death during the war using the 1940s newspapers, many of which are not freely accessible online for copyright reasons.

Other episode highlights:

  • How a crowd-sourced effort on Facebook sent a family Bible back home;
  • How to save images in Google Books;
  • Thoughts on Evernote vs. One Note, and free vs. premium access to Evernote with creative solutions for making the free version work for you;
  • Follow-up listener tips on the Atlas for Historical County Boundaries;
  • A new novel from a favorite past Genealogy Gems Book Club author; and
  • An exciting story from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard about analyzing DNA from ancient ponytails–and what this doesn’t mean for your genealogy research.

Genealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and WebsiteReady to take the Genealogy Gems Premium membership plunge? You’ll get on-demand access to this Premium podcast episode and the 138 episodes before it–along with more than 30 how-to video tutorials by Lisa Louise Cooke. Click here to learn more.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 190: Missing Person’s Case SOLVED!

GGP 190In the just-published, free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 190, hear from a genealogist who helped lay to rest a 30-year old missing-person’s case–and so much more.

Don’t you love it when everyday heroes help the experts solve baffling mysteries? I especially love it when that hero is a genealogist who wields research skills with deftness, creativity and bulldog tenacity. Has Lisa Louise Cooke got a story for us!

Scott Fisher, Extreme Genes

Scott Fisher, Extreme Genes

In the new Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 190, Lisa interviews Extreme Genes radio host Scott Fisher about his now-famous role in helping to solve a 30-year old missing persons case. He’s told this story to People, FoxNews and CBS.com, but here Lisa gets Scott to really lay out the details of how he did it for fellow researchers.

There’s more to love in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 190, such as:

  • Lisa advises a listener on a pesky Gmail problem;
  • A whirlwind world tour of new genealogy records online;
  • Searching out military service details with Google Books;
  • One RootsTech attendee’s Google search success story
  • the new Genealogy Gems Book Club title, a brand-new, much-anticipated second novel by a breakout British novelist.

GGP thanks for sharingClick here to listen to the episode for FREE (no membership or login required).

Not sure what a podcast is or how to listen? Click here to learn more about these “online radio shows” that you can take with you on your mobile device. Listen while you commute, exercise, do your household chores or garden.

Family History for Kids: 3 Ways to Interest Young People in Genealogy

family history for kidsLisa Louise Cooke’s daughter Lacey Cooke shares tips on family history for kids: how to share it with them successfully. (Ignore the eye-rolling!)

At RootsTech 2016, Lisa Louise Cooke took a few moments to chat with her daughter, Lacey Cooke, a recent addition to the Genealogy Gems team. Lacey grew up hearing her mom’s family history stories but never appeared to be “bitten by the bug” in the same way her mom was. Now that she’s a little older and taking more interest, Lacey responds to all those childhood stories and offers some advice to other genealogists.

Check out their video conversation here:

Lacey tips for reaching millennials and the next generations:

  • Bait us with something cool we can discover more about on our own.
  • Keep it short. Tell us one short, interesting story at a time.
  • Don’t give up! We are listening, even if we don’t act like it.

More Gems: Family History for Kids

Secrets of Happy Families Include Family History (free video)

How to Share Family History with the Non-Genealogists in Your Family

A.C. Young Talks about Being Young in Genealogy (Premium website membership required to access)

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 133 Is Now Available

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 133Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 133 has been published. Its celebration of women and families includes interview with Peggy Lauritzen, AG and Tara Austen Weaver, author of Orchard House

The newest Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode, #133, has been published and is ready for Premium members to download or listen to online. I most loved the two interviews in this episode:

Peggy Lauritzen Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 133Lisa Louise Cooke’s chat with Peggy Lauritzen, AG, about strategies for learning more about the women on our family trees. You’ll love her tips on tracking down couples who eloped over county or state lines and how she used a unique kind of searching on FamilySearch.org to find all children born to particular parents.

Tara Austin Weaver Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 133my conversation with Tara Austen Weaver, author of Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow. This is the Genealogy Gems Book Club featured selection for the first quarter of 2016. Whether you’ve read the book or not, I think you’ll really enjoy the conversation about how food is so central to our family lives, and how gardening skills—patience, hope, hard work, nurturing—are really not that different than what it takes to cultivate family relationships.

More highlights from the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 133 include:

  • the lineup for the Spring 2016 series of Who Do You Think You Are?
  • a Premium member and new blogger who shares a cool tool for syncing his blog content with his own online tree;
  • When to do a yDNA test: 3 Scenarios from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard.

Premium_2016Not a Premium member yet? You could have access to this episode and the entire Premium podcast archive, along with about 30 on-demand video tutorials on Lisa Louise Cooke’s most popular topics.  Click here to read all the benefits of joining–for one low annual price.

Psst… Secrets of Happy Families Include Family History

family history is secret to raising happy familyIn an exclusive interview with Lisa Louise Cooke, Bruce Feiler shares a family history tip from his new book, The Secrets of Happy Families.

At RootsTech 2016, Lisa Louise Cooke had a chance to sit down and chat with New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler. Their topic: how family history can actually help today’s children and families be happier.

secrets of happy familiesThe insight comes from Feiler’s new book, The Secrets of Happy Families. As part of his research, he interviewed successful people from all walks of life about how they ran their families. The tips he reports are sometimes surprising, but one rings particularly true for genealogists: teach kids their family history.

Watch the video interview below to see how including old family stories can build more resilient children and stronger family cultures today.

Are you suddenly looking for fun, inspiring ways to share family history with kids? You may enjoy the following articles on the Genealogy Gems blog:

How to Share Family History with the Non-Genealogists in Your Family (including Kids)–Free video preview

Family History for Kids Starts WITH the Kids’ Own Lives

Genealogy Game “Family House” App for iPhone and iPad

Family History and Genealogy on YouTube P.S. When Lisa posted the above video on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel, she noticed that the channel now has 5000 subscribers and over 300,000 views. Click here to see why so many are tuning in!

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 132 Published

genealogy gems premium podcast episode 132Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 132 is ready for Genealogy Gems Premium members. There’s something for everyone, from how family history can make families happier to how to use mtDNA tests for genealogy.

The new Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 132 has been published and is ready for Premium website members to enjoy. Premium members can sign in and then click here to enjoy the show.

Here’s a list of highlights for this episode:

  • The latest on RootsMagic: syncing with Ancestry.com
  • 3 more “Where I’m From” poems from listeners
  • Who should be looking at U.S. special census schedules–and a detailed handout for finding and using them
  • A conversation with New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families
  • An excerpt from Genealogy Gems Book Club title Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver
  • 3 scenarios for mtDNA testing from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard
  • The first naturalized citizen in the U.S.

One of my favorite gems in this episode is Diahan Southard’s spotlight on mtDNA for genealogy. It’s the least-used type of DNA testing, in part because it’s expensive and because its uses are limited. However, mtDNA can be extremely useful in specific situations–and Diahan tells us about those.

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedAre you getting the most out of your Genealogy Gems Premium website membership? Remember, membership gives you access to the entire archive of back episodes of the Premium podcast. You can also watch all of Lisa’s online video classes on-demand, including her Ultimate Evernote Education for genealogists, with tutorials for beginners to advanced users. (Not a member? Click here for more info!)

This Friday: 2 Google Classes Streaming FREE from RootsTech 2016

periscope broadcastWon’t be at RootsTech? You can still watch Lisa Louise Cooke’s popular classes on using Google for genealogy for FREE online this Friday.

One of Lisa Louise Cooke’s most popular lecture topics is Google searching for genealogy. In fact, after teaching, she often hears back from people like Debbie, who recently emailed to say, “SOOOOO happy…I have had this brick wall for over ten years…couldn’t find a thing to prove a connection that I suspected. Thanks to a [webinar] by Lisa Louise Cooke, I found the solution to my brick wall yesterday! I was so ecstatic.”

That’s why I’m glad that not one but TWO of her classes on Google searching for genealogy will be live streaming this Friday for FREE. Here are the details:

“Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy” at 1:30 pm MST. This is one of only 15 popular RootsTech classes that will be streaming at RootsTech.org. Go to their website to watch and to learn about other free streaming RootsTech sessions.

periscope iconGoogle Power Strategies at 5:45 pm MST. Lisa is teaching this class at our booth and will be streaming it live through Periscope.

Get the free Periscope app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play, sign up for a free account, and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in.

Be sure to get the app and follow Lisa right away! This is our maiden voyage using Periscope, the live broadcasting app. If all goes well, we’ll stream live from the expo hall floor sporadically throughout the week in addition to this special Google session. If you sign up for notifications in Periscope you’re phone will “ping”

Mary Tedesco Genealogy Roadshow at Rootstech with Lisa Louise Cooke

Mary Tedesco from Genealogy Roadshow at Rootstech talks genealogy TV and Italian research with Lisa Louise Cooke at RootsTech.

It can be tough to choose from all the streaming classes, but don’t worry if you miss some of them! Amy Crow and Peggy Lauritzen will both be joining Lisa for YouTube videos on their streaming class topics, so you can catch the highlights later on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. That’s a great place to catch exclusive interviews like the one shown here with Mary Tedesco (click here to watch it!).

sign up newsletterSign up for the free Genealogy Gems newsletter at the top of this page (and receive a free Google search e-book!) to hear more about these and other “Genealogy Gems!”

 

 

Military Bounty Land: Can You Claim Your Ancestor’s Share?

military bounty land claimCan a descendant claim an ancestor’s unused military bounty land award? Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, takes on this question in the newest episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

“We have a copy of our great-great-grandfather’s [bounty land] warrant from the War of 1812. This has never been redeemed. I expect that the time for redeeming has long since expired but can’t find confirmation of this anywhere. Do you know for sure?”

What a great question from Robert in Covington, Louisiana! Here’s a little back story:

What is military bounty land?

From colonial times through 1855, cash-poor governments in the US (or future US) often paid soldiers in land for their service. It was a win-win proposition: many colonists and settlers wanted to own land. The Governments claimed more land than they could survey. It was in the best interest of both parties (though not any native residents) to fill up that land.

The lands that were awarded are called military bounty lands. They were awarded by colonial, state and federal governments. Virginia handed out land as far back as the 1600s. Service in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War often generated bounty land awards. (Click here to read a more detailed article I wrote about US military bounty land awards.)

Veterans (or their heirs) had to apply for bounty lands. If they qualified, they were issued warrants (like coupons) that were redeemable for a certain amount of property. Many veterans sold their warrants. Others redeemed them for specific parcels of land (for which they received patents, like deeds). Applications may contain a bounty of genealogical data: the names of applicants (veterans and/or heirs), their residence and age at the time of the application and the veteran’s military service details.

Can I Claim My Ancestor’s Military Bounty Land Award?

With this question, Robert sent us “a copy of a re-issue by the Commissioner of Pensions dated 1917. From the wording on the note the Commissioner scribbled on the copy he sent, it appears he hand copied the information on file onto a blank certificate and certified the copy.” He’s blanked out some identifying information but here it is:

military bounty land expired compressed

Judy RussellThis question is fascinating and complicated. For answers and a little more context, Lisa called on Judy Russell, AKA The Legal Genealogist, who gives her response in the most recent episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast. Judy says the key is to research the law forward in time: When did the law take effect? What changes were made during its lifetime? When did it expire? Was it ever revived? If so, when did any extensions expire?

GGP 187One of her favorite websites for researching the history of US laws is the Library of Congress’ A Century of Law Making for a New Nation. Click here to listen to Judy’s interview (it’s FREE!) for more tips on researching old laws, more information on military bounty lands–and her answer to Robert’s question.