Premium Episode 144

Lisa Louise Cooke Genealogy Gems Family History PodcastGenealogy Gems Premium Podcast
Episode #144
with Lisa Louise Cooke

Download the show notes

In this episode, Lisa welcomes guest Nancy Hendrickson, author of the Unofficial Workbook. They discuss tips for taking your research to the next level, both on and elsewhere.

Other episode highlights:

  • a listener’s research discovery lands in an exhibit about Danish emigrants;
  • a leading Australian businessman shares what his family history means to him;
  • Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about ethnicity estimates—and how those percentages may be gaining more meaning as genetic migration maps continue to evolve.


”Who Do You Think I Am” column in The Australian by Bernard Salt


A listener’s discovery about her ancestor’s work in a Danish factory led to that ancestor’s inclusion in a museum display in Denmark.

Museum Mors: “The Emigrants” Exhibit

“The photos [below] are of the Mors Museum building, the exhibit of my husband’s ancestors’ display on the post in the room…and [right] a close up of the museum’s display of my husband’s ancestors.” -Robin

Another ancestral workplace connection:

The Joseph & Feiss Company building. By Cricchetti (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sunny met Lisa from Michigan at RootsTech 2017. While eating breakfast together, they happened to discover that Lisa’s relative worked at Joseph & Feiss Co. clothing manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio—in the same building now being renovated by her son’s school. Sunny has been looking for stories about the company to share with the students to help them feel more connected to the new building. Now she has access to handed-down tales from an employee’s family!

“Dorothy Hambrecht never married. She worked at Joseph & Feiss Co. from 1908 to 1938. The Cleveland City directories showed that she was a teacher from 1917 to 1921 and a forelady starting in 1923. I always assumed that Dorothy taught the workers how to sew. But the Western Reserve Historical Society digitized a photograph of a woman teaching English to the female employees. Maybe Dorothy actually taught English classes, not sewing classes.

My Aunt Carol remembers her as being a happy, caring woman who visited her sister Elizabeth frequently. My Aunt told me that Dorothy would bring home fabric remnants from Joseph & Feiss and used them to make quilts for herself and her family.” -Lisa from MichiganDorothy Joseph & Feiss


Nancy Hendrickson, the author of Unofficial Workbook: A How-To Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website shares tips for taking your research to the next level.

Research tips:

1. Verify what you learn in genealogy records by looking for additional records.

2. Don’t just repeat what other people’s trees all say: they may all be misquoting the same wrong information!

3. is a resource for old maps, stories, photos, county histories and more—not just indexed historical records about individuals. Looking at old maps can reveal the true nature of an ancestor’s daily lives, hardships, travels and more.

4. Ancestry owns a lot of other web resources, including Find A Grave, Fold3, and RootsWeb, one of the oldest online genealogy communities around. Don’t give up! Keep looking in other places for the information you want to find.

5. Your chance of finding early American ancestors is high in county histories: there were fewer people and early settlers were talked about, even if the family wasn’t wealthy or prominent. Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google tip: Check Google Books for old county histories. Click here to learn more about Google Books for genealogy.

Not to miss in the Workbook:

1. Read the section on using the catalog! Nancy does 95% of her research in the catalog. Read that section in her book on how to use it. If you do a general search, you’ll have thousands of hits. Narrow down by filtering to the right collections and you may only have a handful of hits.

2. The workbook is divided into topics, such as military records. Choose a chapter that fits your current goals.

3. Don’t just read the workbook: do the exercises. They teach you Nancy’s thought processes for how she finds specific answers or approaches certain types of problems. Then you can apply the same concepts to your own research.

4. Don’t skip the chapter on social history! That’s where you’ll dig into everyday life.

5. See the book for helpful forms to help you log your findings in a way to help you analyze what you’ve learned: When you buy the book, you’ll receive a link to download blank forms you can use again and again.


Where did I come from? This is a fundamental human question, and it is driving millions of individuals all over the world to have their DNA tested. Now, we genealogists would like to think that they are being tested to aid their family history efforts, or to connect with us, their cousins. But they aren’t. They are after that pretty pie chart that tells them what percentage of themselves came from where.

Now, I know you have heard me say that these kinds of results are just for fun, and don’t hold much genealogical value, but due to some interesting developments in the world of DNA, my previous ascertains of these ethnic origins results being somehow second class to our match list, might be changing.

A U.K. company called Living DNA launched their DNA product in the fall of 2016. Right now, all they are focusing on is reporting ethnic origins information. But they are doing it in a manner that changes the way we look at our DNA ethnicity results.

In addition to the standard map that you will see at any genetic genealogy company, Living DNA also offers a tool they call “Through History” and it literally takes you step-by-step back in time to show you how similar your DNA is to others on earth during 11 time periods ranging from 1,000 years ago to 80,000 years ago! In these images (shown here) we see a glimpse into my earliest time period, a peek at the middle, and a view of the last. The intensity of the blue on the chart tells you how genetically similar I am to the people in that area.

In the first chart shown here, you can see that since I am 100% European, I share DNA with, well, people from Europe. But, if we go back not very far, I am sharing DNA with people in the Middle East and Russia, as shown in the second map.

As my DNA marches further back in time I can see that I am sharing that DNA with people in a variety of locations, until we get back to the beginning of man, and I am sharing DNA with literally everyone in the world.

So, how does this work from a DNA standpoint? Well, the fact is, not all DNA markers are created equally. Some markers have developed relatively recently in on our timeline making them helpful for determining recent relationships and modern populations. Others have been around longer, linking us to early settlers of Europe or even Asia. Still others link us together as a human race and help to track our origins back to a single time and place.

Part of the struggle that these DNA testing companies have is trying to figure out the time and place for each of the markers they test. Certainly part of the puzzle is the ability to look not just at modern day populations, but ancient populations.

You may have heard of some recent reports that scientists have completed DNA testing on ancient remains. One example came from Ireland where they were able to determine that the individual tested had ancestry in the Middle East, and another from Russia. It is the combined efforts of both ancient DNA testing, and your own modern samples that unite to help us improve our understanding of our own personal origins, as well help us understand how humankind developed and evolved.

To get the most out of your genetic genealogy populations report, you may want to view your results in the context of a more historical timeline, as opposed to your own genealogical timeline. Try testing at multiple companies (you can transfer into Family Tree DNA from 23andMe or AncestryDNA for only $19) or giving the multiple population tools at Gedmatch a try, just to get a better feel for how different companies and tools can provide us a different look at the populations we are carrying around in our DNA. (My quick guide for using Gedmatch, shown here, is available as a laminated guide or digital download.)

As always, I am here to help, from my quick sheets in the Genealogy Gems store to personal consultations, I am certain I can help you figure out this DNA thing. I hope to hear from you soon at


Homicide Hunter: “I’m going back to the beginning”

Chart out where the problem area is, and then go looking for the smallest variations that might be messing up the whole thing: the one date that’s off, the one thing that doesn’t add up or will send you off the wrong branch of a family tree. Try writing things down on paper to get a different perspective or to organize the information differently.

Lisa’s tip: If your Premium podcast episodes are out of order in your feed and it’s bothering you, delete the feed. Then set it up again and sign in again. Episodes should now appear in order.


Next month, best-selling novelist Annie Barrows will join us on the Premium podcast to talk about her book, The Truth According to Us.

In this lively story about a wealthy young socialite who ends up as a federal employee writing the history of a small town during the Great Depression, Layla Beck learns quickly that history varies depending on who’s telling it. You’ll enjoy (and sympathize with) her chagrin at having to try to discern fact from fiction and write something that pleases everyone, even as she’s falling in love with a man in a family whose secrets seem to be at the center of the town’s biggest mysteries.

Also highly recommended: Annie Barrows’ internationally best-selling novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s about how a community pulled together during World War II to take care of each other, and how a woman from war-torn London found a home among them after the War. Once you’ve finished The Truth According to Us, pick up this one!

Go to the Genealogy Gems Book Club webpage to see more books we {heart}.



Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager
Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
Hannah Fullerton, Production Support

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Episode 208

The Genealogy Gems Podcast

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Download the show notes

In this episode:

  • A free webinar!
  • Great comments from you: An inspiring Google Books success story, how one listener gets her shy husband talking about his life story, and a listener’s own version of the poem, “Where I’m From”
  • The Archive Lady talks to us about historical scrapbooks at archives that may be packed with genealogy gems for us
  • A genealogy hero who saved a life story
  • Your first look at RootsTech 2018


“Reveal Your Unique Story through DNA & Family History”


Googling and Making Videos with Lisa Louise Cooke

Newspaper Research Worksheet from Lisa Louise Cooke

Genetic Genealogy: Here’s What You Need to Know from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard


Click here for more on RootsTech 2018

Going to RootsTech for the first time? Read this RootsTech Q&A.


“Remembering Dad” video

Pat’s tip: When someone is shy about sharing life stories, interview them informally while traveling. Pat uses her iPad to transcribe his responses, then polishes it up when she gets home and transfers it to her own computer. “Eventually we will have enough to write the story of his life, with lots of pictures. And it’s completely painless.”


Link image to:

Click here for another inspiring genealogy discovery using Google Books?with how-to tips and a free video preview of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Premium video tutorial, “Google Books: The Tool You Need Every Day”


Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 185: Learn more about the “Where I’m From” poetry project and hear a conversation with the original author, Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon.


Scrapbooks are one of my favorite record sources to do genealogy research in and to also process in the archives. There are all kinds of scrapbooks; each and every one is unique and one-of-a-kind. They were put together with love and the hope that what was saved and pasted onto those pages will be remembered.

The origins of scrapbooking is said to go back to the 15th century in England and it is still a hobby enjoyed by many today. Most archives, libraries, historical and genealogical societies have scrapbooks in their collections. They will most likely be found in the Manuscript Collection as part of a specifically named collection.

Scrapbooks contain all kinds of wonderful genealogical records, photographs and ephemera. There is even a scrapbook in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives that has candy bar wrappers pasted in it. This particular scrapbook is one of my absolute favorites. It was compiled and owned by Evelyn Ellis and dates to the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Among the normal newspaper clippings and event programs are interesting pieces such as a Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper with a handwritten note by Evelyn that reads “Always remember June 11, 1938 at Beach Grove at the Ice Cream Supper.” There is also an original ticket pasted into the scrapbook from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee where Evelyn Ellis visited and recorded her comments on April 1, 1939.

There are scrapbooks for just about any subject. Aside from personal scrapbooks, you can find war scrapbooks, obituary clipping scrapbooks and scrapbooks that collected and recorded local or national events. The obituaries found in scrapbooks could be a real find because sometimes they are the only pieces of the newspaper that survive and can be a treasure trove for any genealogist. Many scrapbooks contain one-of-a-kind documents, photographs and ephemera.

To find scrapbooks in an archive, ask the archivist if they have any scrapbooks in their records collections. Many times scrapbooks are housed with a particular manuscript collection and will be listed in the finding aid. Some archives have a collection of just scrapbooks that have been donated to them and can be easily accessed. Most scrapbooks will not be on research shelves and will be stored in back rooms at the archives and will have to be requested. You should also check the archives online catalog for any listings of scrapbooks before you jump in the car and drive to the archives.

I encourage all genealogists to check with the archive in the area where your ancestors were from and see if they have any scrapbooks in their archived records collections. Scrapbooks are like time capsules: you don’t know what will be found in them until you open them up.

BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a PDF with tips for what to do if your own scrapbook gets wet. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.


Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at

MYHERITAGE.COM is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.


Original story on SWVA Today: “String of Pearls: Marion’s Bob White Shares Family History Collection” by Margaret Linford, Columnist

Smyth County Public Library Local History webpage

Genealogy Gems how-to resources to help you:

Video record a loved one telling their life stories

How to video record a fantastic family history interview

How to create a family history video with Animoto

Digitize and share your research and your own life story: Interview with Larsen Digital in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183

How to Start Blogging series in the free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (episodes 38-42) and this article: 3 Ways to Improve Your Genealogy Blog

RootsMagic family history software has publishing tools (for print and online publishing):

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and RootsMagic is now fully integrated with you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your trees and search records on the site.


Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shared this story from Christine:

“Friday night I brought out large cut out of my Grandmother, Christine Doering, sitting in an easy chair so it looks like she is talking with you, and I played a recording done in 1970’s of her talking and giggling about coming to America in 1896 at the age of 9.  For some they had never heard her voice before.”

Learn more about Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast:

Explore our website at,

Subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter (from the home page on the website)

Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.


Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor

Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer

Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager


Genealogy Gems Newsletter Sign Up

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Premium Episode 74 – English Idioms, PDF Pandemonium, NewspaperMap Followup

Date Published: August 15, 2011

Click here to download the Show Notes pdf

Virtual Genealogy Conference at Family Tree University starts August 19, 2011. I’ve created a brand new class for it called Common Surname Search StrategiesGet 20% off the conference or any Family Tree University class including my classes with the coupon code GEMSFTU

Origins of Common English Idioms

The folks at All That Is Interesting did some research on some of the most common sayings and researched their fascinating and sometimes sort of wacky history – sort of the genealogy of sayings:

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride
First recorded in a Victorian music hall tune, “Why Am I Always A Bridesmaid?”, by Fred W. Leigh.

The phrase garnered popularity after Listerine the mouthwash company used it in an ad in 1924!

Pull Someone’s Leg
Historically thieves used to snag their pedestrians and subsequently rob them. One thief would be assigned ‘tripper up’ duty, and would knock the person to the ground.  

Next is one that I’m dealing with ALL the time – “Meeting a Deadline”
This one hails back at least to the Civil War, and the saying apparently stems from the prison camps, where a line was drawn to demarcate the boundaries for the prisoners. The line became to be known as a deadline because any prisoner who attempted to cross it was shot dead.

Learn more about the Depot of Prisoner’s of War on Johnson Island

And if sometimes you feel like a Basket Case, let me assure you that you are probably still in much better shape than those that the phrase basket case originally applied to: Rumors circulated during WWI that soldiers who had lost both arms and legs were carried around in baskets.

The actual term, ‘basket case’, however was coined by the US military after the close of WWI  – when they flatly denied such a practice. Fort Wayne News and Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana dated March 27, 1919

View the newspaper clipping

Major General Ireland, surgeon general of the army, today said there was no foundation for widely circulated reports of “basket cases” in army hospitals.  A “basket case” is a soldier who has lost both legs and both arms and therefore cannot be carried on a stretcher.  “I have personally examined the records,” said Gen. Ireland, “and am able to say there is not a single basket case either on this side of the water nor among the soldiers of the American expeditionary forces.  Further, I wish to emphasize that there has been no instance of an American soldier so wounded during the whole period of the war.”

Close, But No Cigar
In the old days carnival game booths favored giving cigars to winners rather than stuffed toys. The first evidence of the saying comes from a film script for Annie Oakley in 1935 starring my favorite actress Barbara Stanwyck, after which it was frequently used in newspaper articles.

Of the 4.3 million images added to this week:
Austria, Upper Austria, Linz Citizen Rolls, 1658–193702,295  New browsable image collection.
Brazil, Catholic Church Records,1835–19660903,147  Added browsable images to existing collection.
Canada, New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780–19410709,561  New browsable image collection.
Hungary Civil Registration, 1895–198002,319,187  Added browsable images to existing collection.
Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886–193302,124  Added browsable images to existing collection.
Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707–19730240,799  New browsable image collection.
U.S., Louisiana, Orleans Parish Second District Judicial Court Case Files, 1846–1880027,805  Added browsable images to existing collection.
U.S., Maine, State Archive Collections,1636–196404,845  Added browsable images to existing collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686–1881027, Added browsable images to existing collection.
U.S., New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1899–1921049,286  Added browsable images to existing collection.
U.S., North Carolina, County Records, 1833–1970, Added browsable images to existing collection.
U.S., North Carolina, State Supreme Court Case Files, 1800–1909018,865  Added browsable images to existing collection

GEM:  PDF Pandemonium
Free iBooks app

Free Adobe Reader

Free Genealogy Gems email Newsletter

My book the Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is in a pdf format

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to save a content rich family history webpage as a pdf file and then be able to read it later at your convenience on your laptop, eReader or mobile device?

How to Convert a Webpage to a PDF:
1. Highlight and copy the URL address for the webpage that you want to convert to a pdf file.
2. Go to iWeb2Print
3. Paste the URL address in to the URL box
4. Click the Convert button
5. After a few moments of processing a link will appear that says Download PDF
6. Click it and the pdf version of the webpage will appear in a new window
7. Click the SAVE button to save the file to your computer.

If you have collected several family history webpages as pdf documents, you can merge them all together in one document – your own little eBook on a particular subject!

How to Merge PDF Documents:
1. Create a new folder on your hard drive
2. As you find WebPages you want to include, process them through iweb2print and save them to the folder
3. Go to iPDFftoMerge
4. Click the ADD FILE link under the PDF selection boxes until you have enough selection boxes for all of the files you want to upload.
5. Select and upload the pdf files you want to merge together by clicking the Browse button
6. Select the order your want your files to appear in
7. Click the MERGE button
8. When it’s done merging the pdf click the DOWNLOAD button Your newly merged document will appear in a new window ready to print or save to your computer.

This little gem can split large pdf documents for you into smaller one.You can split a PDF into just the useful pages you need or pull out particular chapters.

How to Split a pdf:
1. Pull the file off your computer (or you can enter the URL address for a pdf file that is hosted online)
2. Select how you want the file to be split (Burst, Range, etc)

Set up Your NetBook as an eReader from a Podcast Listener
Ruth’s Genealogy
What To Do With All These PDF Files (webpage may no longer be available)
PDF-XChange Viewer (free app)
Article: Turn Your NetBook Into a Feature Rich eBook Reader

Easily convert eBooks
There are a lot of e-readers and mobile devices and they aren’t all pdf friendly. Hampstersoft allows you convert eBooks to dozens of common formats that you can use with more than 200 gadgets!   Just add the files to convert and then select the gadget you have. he one limitation is that you can’t convert e-books that are copy-protected. The Wizard will help you with the settings. To save time, use the batch conversion mode.

Download Hampstersoft for free
Windows 7/Vista/XP compatible and supports a variety of languages>

Watch the demo video of Hampstersoft

GEM: Followup and Secrets
In Premium Episode 72 I told you about You may have noticed as I did the other day that the Historical button is missing, and that was the best part!   There is one secret place you can go to still find the Historical Button and access the historical newspaper listings.

Select the Portuguese version of Newspaper Maps:
1. Go to
2. Click Portuguese in the box in the bottom right corner of the screen.

How to Create an English Version of the Portuguese Featuring the Historical Button:
1. Go to
2. Click Portuguese in the box in the bottom right corner of the screen.
3. Copy the URL address
4. Go to Google Translate at
5. Paste the URL in the translate box
6. Select from Portuguese to English and you will then get a link to the English version of the Portuguese website.
7. Bookmark it and you can keep right on going.  

Portuguese Newspaper Map in English


Read more

What Makes Findmypast a Genealogy Giant

Here’s what makes Findmypast a Genealogy Giant Findmypast ranks as one of the Genealogy Giants: one of the world’s biggest and best genealogy websites. It’s a must-use site for tracing your roots in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Findmypast also offers... Read more

Premium Episode 145

Lisa Louise Cooke Genealogy Gems Family History PodcastGenealogy Gems Premium Podcast
Episode #145
with Lisa Louise Cooke

Download the show notes

In this episode:

  • A new Premium member shares her family disaster stories (TWO in the same family!) in response to Sunny Morton’s Johnstown Flood story.
  • The Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with international best-selling novelist Annie Barrows, talking about The Truth According to Us, and how we all must make sense of what’s true in the past.
  • Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares a great case study about mixing autosomal and mtDNA information to solve family mysteries.
  • Lisa introduces a museum curator who has done some great genealogical sleuthing to tell the stories of Texan family heirlooms now on display.
  • Lisa weaves in her own tech tips, research strategies and web resources that will help you be a more thorough and efficient genealogist, including Google (and more) for researching major disasters online and how to create your own Google Books cloud library.


Q&A with Shawn Carlson, Curator of Collections and Exhibits, Star of the Republic Museum, who discusses the new exhibit, “Heirloom Genealogy: Tracing Your Family Treasures,” open now through February 2018.



“One of the artifacts I researched was a red-on-white appliqué quilt. It was made in 1805 in Vermont and donated by the quilt-maker’s 3x great granddaughter who lived in Houston.

It should have been easy to figure out the lineage by the inscription on the quilt—but it wasn’t. There were two Cynthia Tuckers and two Pearl Browns in the family and one quilt owner had been married a couple of times and used a nickname. So it took a bit of sorting out. The research was all done using census data, but it all came back to the inscription on the quilt for final verification.”

A CHILD’S SUIT:buckskin suit

“Another item in our collection is a small buckskin suit that belonged to a little boy named Edward Clark Boylan. He was born in New Orleans in 1840 and died three years later near Galveston, probably from yellow fever. We knew his birth and death dates from his sister’s descendant who donated the suit, but not much else. I found some cryptic notes in our files taken by a previous curator and was able to trace Edward to Captain James Boylan who was captain of the ship Brutus during the Texas Revolution.

I found a passenger list from 1839 with Captain Boylan, his wife, and daughter traveling from Puerto Rico to New York. Mrs. Boylan would have been pregnant with Edward during that voyage. The year that Edward died, his father was mentioned frequently in the newspapers as he led a flotilla of ships out of Campeche. He was probably not present when little Edward died.”


slave birth record“One of the most interesting items we’ve received in recent years is a slave birth record that was part of a family collection. The donor’s ancestors were early settlers of Washington County. The slave record was interesting because it listed birth dates from 1832 to 1865. Out of curiosity, I tried tracking some of the slaves to see if I could find living descendants. I started with the 1870 census—looking for African Americans with the surname of the plantation owner and first names that matched the slaves in the birth record. I was able to follow through on one of the names to find a living descendant. She and her family came to visit the museum and see the birth record of their ancestor. While the family was visiting, during last year’s Texas Independence Day celebration, the donor of the slave record also visited the museum and the two families were able to meet.”


“Learn about the artifacts you have and match them to their owners. There is plenty of information online that will help you identify and date artifacts. Knowing the date of an artifact helps you determine who had it in the past.” -Shawn Carlson


Premium Podcast episode 143 (in which Gems editor Sunny Morton talks about the Johnstown flood of 1889)

Natalie’s article in the Bugle on her relative in the Eastland disaster (story starts on page 5)

View of Eastland taken from Fire Tug in river, showing the hull resting on its side on the river bottom. Wikimedia Commons image; click on image to view with full citation.

Blog post: Chilling historical video footage found

Lisa’s 5 steps for researching a historical disaster online:

1. Start with Google searches

Eastland Disaster Historical Society website

2. Dig deeper with Google Books (See step-by-step below for searching for free e-books)

American Red Cross final report on disaster relief aid

3. Set up Google Alerts so you don’t miss new information as it comes online

How to set up Google Alerts

How to get the most out of your Google Alerts for genealogy

4. Search YouTube separately

Chicago Tribune video documentary:

Eastland Disaster Historical Society animated re-creation of disaster:

5. Explore


After performing a search in Google Books:

1. Click Tools under the search box.

2. Under the “Any books” dropdown menu, choose Free Google eBooks.

Watch a free video tutorial on finding free e-books on Google:

Periodical Source Citation Index (PERSI) for searching for articles in historical and genealogical magazines and journals: Click here to learn more about it


1. Open your web browser and log in to your Google account.

2. Go to

3. Click Upload files.

4. Select files from your computer folders or drag them into the box. (Click on My Drive to select files from Google Drive.) You can choose epub documents or PDFs.

Good to know:

  • It may take a minute or two to upload an entire book, and you may or may not get a pretty picture of the cover.
  • You can’t yet search within books you upload, just with books you purchase from Google. You can’t tag them or organize them into libraries yet.
  • You can upload 1000 books into your Google Books cloud-based library. These are only visible to you with your login; you’re not sharing them with the world.

Available as e-books in the Genealogy Gems store:


Visit the Genealogy Gems Book Club webpage to see more books we love!

Book Club update: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, a former Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title, is now available in paperback at a very reasonable price!


My family recently visited the Jelly Belly Factory in northern California. Of course at the end of the tour they funnel you into their gift shop where you feel compelled to buy jelly beans and other sundry treats. My favorite part of the big box we bought were the recipes on the side to turn the already delicious variety of flavors into even more pallet-pleasing options.

This got me thinking about DNA, of course!

Specifically, I was thinking about the power of combining multiple test types to get a better picture of your overall genealogical relationship to someone else.

If you will recall, there are three kinds of DNA tests available for genealogists: autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and Y chromosome DNA (YDNA). Much of the focus these days is on how to use the autosomal DNA in our family history research. I guess this is because the autosomal DNA covers both sides of your family tree, so it is seen as a catchall for our family history. While it is a very powerful tool for our research, it can also be a bit overwhelming to try to determine how you are related to someone else.

Let’s look at an example from my own family history. My mom matched with Tom at 23andMe. Their predicted genealogical relationship, based on how much DNA they shared, was second cousins. To begin we need to understand which ancestor could be shared by people who are genetic second cousins. To figure it out, you can count backwards, like this: people who share parents are siblings, sharing grandparents makes you first cousins, while sharing great-grandparents makes you second cousins. So if my mom and Tom are true second cousins (meaning there aren’t any of those once-removed situations going on- but that’s a subject for another time), then we should be able to find their common ancestor among their great-grandparents. Each of us has eight great-grandparents.

Because we can’t usually narrow down shared DNA to a single person, but rather to an ancestral couple, we are really just looking at four possible ancestral couple connections between my mom and Tom. My mom doesn’t have any known ancestors, as she was adopted, so we can only evaluate Tom’s line. Tom was kind enough to share his pedigree chart with us, and he had all four of his couples listed. But how do we know which one is the shared couple with my mom?

Now, for those of you without an adoption, you will have some other clues to help you figure out which of the four (or eight, if you are looking at a third cousin, or 16 if you are looking at a fourth cousin) ancestral couples is shared between you and your match. Start by looking for shared surnames. If that comes up short, evaluate each couple by location. If you see an ancestral couple who is in a similar location to your line, then that couple becomes your most likely connecting point. What then? Do genealogy!! Find out everything you can about that couple and their descendants to see if you can connect that line to your own.

However in my mom’s case, we didn’t have any surnames or locations to narrow down which ancestral couple was the connection point between our line and Tom’s. But even if we had locations, that may not have helped as Tom is very homogenous! (All of his ancestors were from the same place.) But we did have one very important clue: the mitochondrial DNA, which is partially evaluated by 23andMe. Remember mtDNA traces a direct maternal line. So my mom’s mtDNA is the same as her mom’s, which is the same as her mom’s etc.

At 23andMe they don’t test the full mitochondrial DNA sequence (FMS) like they do at Family Tree DNA. For family history purposes, you really want the FMS to help you narrow down your maternal line connection to others. But 23andMe does provide your haplogroup, or deep ancestral group. These groups are named with a letter/number combination. My mom is W1.

We noticed that Tom is also W1.

This meant that my mom and Tom share a direct maternal line – or put another way, Tom’s mother’s mother’s mother was the same as my mom’s mother’s mother’s mother. That means that there is only one couple out of the four possible couples that could connect my mom to Tom: his direct maternal line ancestor Marianna Huck, and her husband Michael Wetzstien.

Now you can only perform this wondrous feat if you and your match have both tested at 23andMe, or have both taken the mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA.

Just as a Popcorn Jelly Belly plus two Blueberry Jelly Bellies makes a blueberry muffin, combining your autosomal DNA test results with your mtDNA test results (or YDNA for that matter) can yield some interesting connections that just might break down that family history brick wall.

Guides to help you do these tests:

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Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor
Lacey Cooke, Happiness Manager
Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
Hannah Fullerton, Production Support

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