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Free RootsTech 2014 Flipboard Magazine

Where Genealogy and Technology Converge

Originally designed specifically for the iPad in 2010, the free Flipboard app has moved onto all the major mobile platforms. And this cool new technology has just gotten better with a big dose of genealogy!

I invite you to explore the newly released free Flipboard magazine RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge.

Genealogy Gems has published the magazine in conjunction with the RootsTech program team in a continuing effort to help family historians embrace new technologies and present RootsTech attendees with the possibilities.

Consider what’s been happening in the mobile space this last year:

  • Smartphone usage in the U.S. increased by 50 percent (Kleiner Perkins)
  • The number of emails being opened on mobile increased by 330 percent (Litmus)
  • Tablet usage doubled in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)

The bottom line: More than ever folks are accessing websites, videos, podcasts, blogs and other online information on their mobile devices. That’s where the free Flipboard app comes in.

The free Flipboard app is a social-network and online aggregator of web content and RSS channels for Android, Blackberry 10, iOS, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. Content is presented in a captivating magazine format allowing users to “flip” through it with a simple swipe of the finger.

As a genealogy new media content creator and publisher, we’re excited to introduce a creative use of this emerging technology to the genealogy industry. RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge is a free magazine available at The magazine pulls together great web content from RootsTech speakers, exhibitors, and official bloggers in one beautiful and convenient place.

This magazine has presented an opportunity to crowd-source the know-how and talent of all of those who work to make RootsTech a success. The magazine offers an exciting look at the RootsTech experience the innovative technologies emerging in the genealogy industry, and a new vehicle for everyone in the RootsTech community to converge! The pages go beyond text and images by also delivering video and audio!

How to Access the Magazine in Flipboard:

  1. Get the free Flipboard app at, in iTunes or Google Play.
  2. Set up for your free account
  3. In the search box at the top of the homepage, search for ROOTSTECH
  4. Tap “RootsTech 2014″ by Lisa Louise Cooke (you’ll see a magazine icon next to it.)
  5. When the magazine loads, tap the SUBSCRIBE icon at the top of the page
  6. Starting at the right hand side of the page, swipe your finger from right to left over each page to “flip!”

Looking for more great genealogy themed Flipboard magazines? Check out two more new issues from Lisa Louise Cooke:

Stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems Blog and Podcast for Lisa’s upcoming exclusive interview with the folks at Flipboard!


Digitizing Colonial Genealogy
If you’ve got British colonial roots in North America, you know how tough it can be to learn more about your family during that time. That’s why I was excited to read a recent article in the Harvard Gazette.

According to the article, plans are afoot to digitize and make available millions of British colonial documents. And yet, there are still that many colonial-era documents sitting largely untouched in public and private archives, far from the reach of the everyday genealogist.

The Gazette reports not one but two major digitizing projects underway relating to British colonial documents in the U.S. Harvard University is leading the first project, which is already funded and underway. It will capture around 30 million pages of 17th- and 18th-century material from more than 1600 manuscript collections at 12 different Harvard repositories.

As if that’s not good enough news, a much larger project is in the works, too. A larger-scale Colonial Archives of North America has plans to digitally assemble pre-Revolutionary War material from Harvard and several historical societies, archives and Libraries in New England, New York and beyond (including Montreal). I was pleased to see that records relating to businesses, poverty, public health and indigent care will form part of the anticipated collection. These kinds of documents talk about everyday folks and their living conditions; just what we want for our colonial genealogy. This second project is not funded yet but researchers are confident it will be.

Meanwhile, check out online resources like these for colonial documents:


National Archives Digitizing Projects: Colonial, WWII, Jewish and More
And there’s another digitizing project that also includes Colonial records Over $2 million in grants has been awarded by the National Archives (U.S.) to digitize important historical documents. Here’s how the awards break down:

  • $1.1 million to “nine publishing projects from the U.S. Colonial and Early National Period, including the papers of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Dolly Madison, and John Jay.  Projects to record the Documentary History of the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress also received funding”
  • Nearly $700,000 to “State and National Archives Partnership (SNAP) grants to enable 28 state historical records advisory boards to carry out their mission to support archival education and strengthen the nation’s archival network;”
  • Over $500,000 to 7 projects to “digitize World War II Oral History files; the papers of Leo Szilard, the nuclear physicist; the papers of General Oliver Otis Howard,  Civil War general, Commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau, and third president of Howard University; Historical Collective Bargaining Agreements from the 1880s through the 1980s; the Center for Jewish History’s American Soviet Jewry Movement collections; Early Connecticut manuscripts; and 19th century trademark files in the California Archives, including the original trademarks and specimens from Levi Strauss & Co. jeans, 19th century medicines and tonics, and the original trademark registered to Anheuser Busch for its Budweiser lager.”
  • As you can see, there’s a lot in there to appeal to family historians. Maybe not so much the Levi  Strauss and  Budweiser artifacts, but I could see many of us being interested in the World War II oral history files; the papers of the Freedman’s Bureau Commissioner; the Center for Jewish History’s files; those early Connecticut manuscripts and more.
  • The National Archives’ press release doesn’t say where these digitized files will end up. But I’m guessing at least some will eventually be made available on Founders Online, an award-winning database on the papers of “America’s  Founders.”

Explore Deep Ancestry
If you’ve had your DNA tested, you may have learned that you descend that you descend from Vikings. But wondered who exactly the Vikings were. There’s a cool website about ancient civilizations called  and it looks like a fun and easy way to get up to speed on history.

As the title hints, this site is all about deep roots. It covers ancient societies in all parts of the world: North and South America, Europe, the Near East, Africa, Asia and Oceania. You’ll find history and images of artifacts on peoples ranging from Arabians to Vikings!

This is a great interactive tool for brushing up on ancient history. Check it out with your kids or grandkids who are exploring these topics in school.

But this is also a helpful resource if you’re looking to learn more about your “deep ancestry” as identified by DNA tests. You may never know if you descend from a famous (or infamous) warlord, ruler or explorer. But genetic tests are becoming more specific about deep geographic roots. So maybe it’s worth checking out a little Viking warrior fashion or learn about the ancient empire of the Mandingo on this site!


Jean wrote in response to Premium Episode 104 and the story of the cemetery in Philadelphia.  She send me a link to the Hidden San Diego website that tells a similar story that occurred there in California :

Learn more about Calvary Cemetery, San Diego, CA (now a part of Calvary Pioneer Memorial Park, aka Pioneer Park; aka Catholic Cemetery, aka Mission Hills Cemetery, aka Old Catholic Cemetery) 1501 Washington Place, San Diego, CA 92103

“Dedicated to the Memory of Those Interred Within This Park”

She says: “ the San Diego story does not seem to indicate how this burial ground was changed into a park, but only the headstones were removed, so perhaps that is part of the rationale.  Sadly, the removal of the headstones did in many where to buy medication cases destroy the death records of those buried there.  Amazing.”

This was a Catholic cemetery, all the headstones were removed, but the bodies are still interred there.  In the story you told about the Philadelphia cemetery, a University had the land condemned or “rezoned,” and the bodies transferred to a mass grave, so they could build a parking lot.

I’m just remembering your great story about the discovery of the grave and body of King Henry (and I think what Jean is referring to was my interview in Premium episode 97 with Dr. Turi King about the the discover of the body of King Richard the III.) And Jean says “Wasn’t that beneath a “carpark” in Great Britain?  History does repeat itself!”

And Jean is absolutely right. And although parks are nice as in the case of San Diego, I don’t think the historical damage done is any different whether it’s a park or a parking lot. Gravestones are so critical when they were erected prior to official records being taken.

I’ll be down in San Diego giving a seminar for the San Diego Genealogical Society

Family History Seminar January 11, 2014
Register here:


Ricky has a question about computer filing:
“I’m trying to reorganize my computer files.  My question is how would you name a Census image that you download (save) from the web (Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc)?? I can’t remember now if I’ve heard you tell this during one of your Podcasts (GG, FTM or the Made Easy one).

I want to organize my files and then enter everything into RootsMagic. There I’ll source it correctly, I just want the best way (or a better way) to save my Census image files. My current method in which the file name contains an ancestors name can be confusing when families live near one another and there are multiple families on the same page.”

Lisa’s Answer Suggestions:
1) No matter what you do, just be consistent

2) I like to think of my naming conventions as hierachy: most important info to least import. For example a census image downloaded from Ancestry would be:


I put the surname in caps to make them easy to browse. If you use my hard drive organization system that I show in the Premium videos, you could do away with “Census” and even the surname if you wanted because those elements of the file name are addressed in the folders. However, if you don’t mind the longer file names, it’s nice to still include those keywords because often files are shared and put in places (such as your database) that are outside of those folders.

3) If you want to take the time to enter additional meta data in the file you could certainly do that in the files “Properties.”

4) I save multiple copies when there are multiple families on one page. It doesn’t happen that often, and with my hard drive filing system each family has their own “Census” folder so they need their own dedicated image of that census.

5) Create a naming convention that works for you, easy to remember, and containing the information that is important to you.


GEM: Digital Archives

I’ve been talking lately on the Genealogy Gems blog at my website about digital archives:

DPLA Intro to the Digital Public Library of America

I’ve blogged before about the relatively new Digital Public Library of America:

National Archives and the Digital Public Library of America (Introduction)

Rumsey TAT mapOnline Historical Maps: From David Rumsey to the DPLA

Now the Library of Congress has posted a 31-minute webcast that features the DPLA content director, Emily Gore. She not only demonstrates some great examples of what you can find in the public portal of the DPLA, but also discusses the potential for gathering even more materials (she gives an example using local sources.) It’s a great introduction to the site, and Gore answers some questions from the audience that seem to be on a lot of people’s minds.

Watch the Webcast recording here:

More reading: 250 killer Digital Libraries and Archives

Smaller Digital Archives:

We hear a lot about digital archives and libraries these days. They really are a boon to genealogists—if we know where to find them online, what they offer and how to use them.

The point of a digital archive or library is to take valuable materials that are usually buried in manuscript collections or university libraries and make them available at the click of a mouse to a much wider audience. At some sites, you’ll find digitized images of original records: government documents, photographs, reference and history books and much more. Other sites that describe themselves as digital archives at least put extended descriptions of archival material online, so you can keyword search materials like “Montana prison records.”

Some digital archives are better-known, national or international sources of digital content, like the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America)


Internet Archive

Google Books

National Archives Digital Collections

FamilySearch Digital Books

But did you know that a lot of smaller digital archives and libraries provide regional or statewide or provincial content? Often it’s just the kind of material a family historian is looking for. Here are a couple of examples within the U.S.

Virginia was a colonial gateway, a place where a lot of families with deep American roots began their lives in the New World. Just listen to the kinds of materials you can find in the Digital Collections of the The Library of Virginia newspapers, photographs, maps, Civil War and War of 1812 documents, rare books, personal histories (including narratives of former slaves), biographical sketches, the cohabitation register which was really the legal marriage register for emancipated slaves, records from counties that have suffered a lot of record loss, an index to chancery court records and even a collection of legislative petitions. These last two, the chancery court and legislative petitions, are a fantastic thing to find online and text-searchable. Often court records are not indexed at all, are poorly or partly indexed, and aren’t online. Looking for more like this? Check out Documenting the American South, another digital archive packed with books, diaries, letters, oral histories and more at

If you’re searching for family on the other side of the U.S., check out the Northwest Digital Archives : This is a gateway to archival and manuscript collections in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alask and Washington. Some of the materials they point to are available in image form online. For others, you’ll just learn a description of what resources are available, what’s in them, and where they are. That’s the case for those Montana prison records. The Northwest Digital Archives describes this collection—over 100 years’ worth of records!—at the Montana Historical Society Research Center. You’ll find other gems like a homesteader’s description of growing up in South Dakota and a book on Jews in the Northwest.

HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust Digital Library is an enormous pool of digital content: about 10.6 million volumes with about 3.7 billion pages. About a third of this content can be freely accessed by the public. A third may not sound like much, but a third of 3.7 billion pages is still a lot!

So what genealogy material do they have? You’ll find U.S. county and other local histories and about a half million government documents (state and federal) like military records and railroad commission and other reports. Many of these have lists of names you can full-text search. There are also unpublished dissertations and theses, which can be great sources for local history.

Here’s another plus. Anyone who’s a member of a participating library (or who creates a free “friend” account ) can create their own collections of digital content within the site. Then you can full-text search within just that material and/or make your collection public so others can search it, too. On the collections page, if you enter “Genealogy” you’ll find several collections created by different users ranging from really small to over 1000 volumes. There are also history collections worth browsing, like Records of the American Colonies.;c=855228657

HathiTrust has a mobile web site too. The current interface is limited: you can’t do full-text searches or browse collections. But you can still find and use great materials. I entered “Lackawanna Pennsylvania” as a search term on the mobile site and within seconds I had a 1897 county history on my iPad–no membership required.

Read more

Another NARA Historical Document Thief Sentenced

Washington, DC . . . Today, the U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake sentenced Jason Savedoff  to twelve months and one day in prison, plus two years probation, for conspiracy and theft of historical documents from cultural institutions in four states, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.

Among the items known to be stolen from the Roosevelt Library, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration, were seven “reading copies” of speeches that President Roosevelt delivered. They contained President Roosevelt’s edits and handwritten additions, along with his signature. The speeches have all been recovered.

Savedoff’s co-conspirator, Barry Landau, pled guilty, and was sentenced on July 28, 2012, to seven years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero thanked the Maryland Historical Society, the National Archives’ Holdings Protection Team and Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Justice Department, for bringing the case to justice. He stated:  “Close coordination with these tireless stewards allowed us to stop Jason Savedoff and Barry Landau, to build a case against them, and to bring them to justice.”

The Archivist continued, “The security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority. I will not tolerate any violation of the law that protects both records and property that belongs to the U.S. government and the American people.

“The National Archives does not stand alone. All repositories of historical records and artifacts are faced with the serious challenge to keep their holdings secure. Any theft of our nation’s records is an irreplaceable loss. We at the National Archives must remain constantly vigilant, to ensure the protection of our nation’s precious heritage, while at the same time balancing the right of every American to have access to original records.”


Under the current leadership, the National Archives has become more vigilant, including by ensuring the establishment of the Holdings Protection Team to assess, determine, and implement security measures to ensure the public’s access to their holdings. The Holdings Protection Team has instituted a program of security studies, risk assessments, and increased security, monitoring, and screening at National Archives facilities nationwide. The Holdings Protection Team provides training to National Archives archivists and research room staff (and other employees), as well as to staff at other institutions, all aimed at increasing awareness and communication of security issues. The National Archives has also instituted a number of other measures aimed at preventing theft, such as closed-circuit cameras, exit searches, mandatory staff training, and outgoing mail inspections. 

According to court records, seven “reading copies” of President Roosevelt’s speeches were stolen when Savedoff and Landau visited the Roosevelt Presidential Library on December 2, 2010.

“Reading copies” are the actual copies of the speeches from which the President read. They contain edits and handwritten annotations made by him and bear his signature.

Four of these “reading copies” of speeches were sold to a collector on December 20, 2010, for $35,000.  Three other “reading copies” of inaugural addresses delivered by President Roosevelt were recovered elsewhere. Each was valued at more than $100,000, and one was the water-stained reading copy of the inaugural address President Roosevelt delivered in a steady rain in 1937.

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public the permanent records of the U.S. Government that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

Read more

Chilling Historical Video Footage Found in Online Archive

Eastland disasterA determined graduate student found some chilling historical video footage of a ship that capsized in Chicago. It was in an online archive–but he still had to dig deep for it!

Recently Gems fan Kathy sent us a story about an amazing video footage find. The subject line of her email caught my eye: “Gems can’t always be found by ‘panning:’ sometimes we have to ‘dig!'” She went on to say:

“You’re always stressing the importance of looking in the less obvious places but this is one of the best examples. Attached is an article about a horrific tragedy that happened in Chicago 100 years ago….It explains how video footage [about this disaster] was found in a British online newsreel–but it was not referenced under “Eastland,” the name of the ship, or “Chicago,” the location. We all like the easy way of finding things but finding gems sometimes takes digging and you just can’t pan for it.” (Click here to see the footage, though it may not be something everyone wants to watch.)

Thank you, Kathy! I often encourage people to dig for historical video footage (see Resources, below). Old footage shows us the past so compellingly! Also, did you notice that the video for a Chicago disaster was found in a British archive?? Not even the same country! Not too long ago, we blogged about how the media often picks up out-of-town stories. We may discover coverage about our relatives in newspapers and newsreels far from their homes. Just a tip to help YOU find more gems.


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

Find Your Family History in the 1950s (tips for finding video footage)

6 Tips for Using YouTube for Family History

Read more

Premium Episode 55 – Google Earth for Genealogy Special

Date Published: Sept. 28, 2010

Click here to download the Show Notes pdf

This is a special Google Earth for Genealogy edition of the Premium Podcast featuring exclusive content from the brand new DVD Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II (watch this short video to see what the DVD includes.)


Google Earth for Genealogy
Now Available!  Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II DVD

Google Earth Edition of the News

New Google Earth Imagery added during the summer of 2010 features:

Finland – Southern areas
Netherlands -Soest, Maarssen, Bussum, Vlaardingen

United States:
San Jose, CA
Sacramento, CA,
Des Moines, IA
Boston, MA
Las Vegas, NV
Seattle, WA
Waukegan (IL),
Portland (ME),
Tallahassee, and the Florida counties of Sarasota, Levy, Hernando, DeSoto and Martin

Alert Bay

Summer 2010 Google Earth Update KMZ (update: no longer available)
(Right click to Save to your computer. When you double click it to open it will automatically launch Google Earth and will display all the new imagery areas in red which makes it easy to see if it affects any of your research areas.)

New maps at David Rumsey
Google Earth for Genealogy (Volume I) video series:
Video #2  – How to import and overlay an historic map from the Rumsey Historical Maps (within the Gallery Layer) onto the Google Earth globe.
Video #6 – How to create your own historic map overlays using those maps that you’ve found over the years.
Last spring added another 764 maps, and this summer of 2010 they added another 564.

When you find a map that you want to add to your own historic map collection in Google Earth just download it from the David Rumsey website to your computer, and then follow along with video 6 in the Google Earth for Genealogy (Volume I) video series to use it to create a custom overlay and size it up to fit exactly to the Google Earth globe.  Once save to Google Earth Places Panel you can access it any time you need it.

Browse all 564 new maps added during the summer of 2010

Browse the 764 new maps added Spring of 2010

How to Search the David Rumsey website: 
1. Go to
2. Click the Launch Collection in Luna Browser button or from the menu hover your mouse over View  Collection and select Luna Browser
3. From that page click the Launch Luna Browser button
4. To browse the collection hover your mouse over EXPLORE in the menu and select Browse All
5. Along the left hand column you’ll find categories to choose from
6. In the upper right corner of the page just type some keywords into the search box.
7. Just below the search box you’ll find an Advanced Search link.

19th century maps for children

The England Jurisdictions 1851 Interactive Map at FamilySearch
  England Jurisdictions 1851    

Library and Archives Canada new Land Petitions online database:
Library and Archives Canada (LAC)  “Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763 -1865).”    

A bit of controversy – Google Earth and pools
Read the article

GEM: 3D Models for Google Earth.  An Interview with Ash Scott of Estate3D
Ash Scott, Owner of Estate3D

Visit Estate3D to learn more

PROFILE AMERICA:  Father of Space Flight

Read more

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