Premium Episode 144

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

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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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Premium Episode 115 – Newspapers, Evernote, DNA, and a Heart Warming Story

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Download the show notes here

We have so much great stuff to cover today including an update on genealogical periodicals hitting the web, great tips for using Evernote for your research, a truly heartwarming story and a success story that will inspire you to not only keep climbing your family tree, but help others along the way. First up, how about one of our favorite record groups: old newspapers!

It’s always nice to hear that more digitized records are making their way online, and in terms of genealogical record collections, newspapers is probably the most incomplete. That’s why it’s great news that…

London Standard British Newspaper ArchiveNew Editions of Old Papers Now at the British Newspaper Archive
More than 8.5 million newspaper pages from 1710-1954 are now available to search at The British Newspaper Archive. The first years from the following new titles have been added to The British Newspaper Archive:

  • Biggleswade Chronicle, covering 1912
  • Daily Record, covering 1914-1915
  • Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser, covering 1864
  • London Evening Standard, covering 1860-1862 and 1866-1867
  • Newcastle Evening Chronicle, covering 1915
  • Northern Whig, covering 1869-1870
  • Surrey Comet, covering 1854-1857 and 1859-1870
  • Watford Observer, covering 1864-1865, 1867, 1869-1870

Check out the latest additions of old news now at The British Newspaper Archive here!

Do you ever get lost when looking for ancestral hometowns in Europe or other parts of the world? Boundaries change and place names change. And darn those spelling and place name variants! There’s a great online tool for finding places on a map. It’s the FamilySearch StandardFinder. Under the Place tab, enter the place name that’s got you befuddled.

What do each of those columns mean? We asked a Product Manager at FamilySearch and here’s what he told us:

Column 1:  The official name of the place.

Column 2:  Link/official name to the jurisdiction that the place exists within.

Column 3:  “Normalized” variant names (i.e. other names the place is known by)

Column 4:  General/high-level type (the type) of the place.  Div:  The more specific type (if applicable).  Code: The code for the general type.  FC:  The feature code (taken from NGA’s feature code).

Column 5:  The years within which the place existed (typically within the jurisdiction it belongs to).

Column 6:  The full official (standardized) name of the place and its jurisdiction.

Column 7:  Culture:  The generalized culture that the place exists within.

Column 8:  ISO code:  The ISO code (if applicable).

Column 9:  Geo code:  the “centroid” (or central spot) of the place specified as the latitude and longitude.

Column 10:  The permanent identifier of the place, useful for referencing the place within applications, systems, and products.

You’ll likely notice that there are Standard Finders for names and dates, too!

Learn more about online strategies for map research with my 2-CD series, Using Google Earth for Genealogy.

You can also access video classes on geography for genealogists, including three classes on Google Earth and the newest video class, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.

PERSI Digitized Collections Gaining Ground
Just over a year ago, we shared the news that the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) was migrating to The big news was that this index to over 2.5 million names and topics in thousands of genealogy, history and ethnic publications would begin to link to full-text articles on FindMyPast.

FindMyPast recently reported: “We’ve added images to the indexes of fifteen different publications in PERSI, including The American Irish Historical Society Journal (1898-1922), The American Historical Society’s Americana (1909-1923) and the Connecticut Historical Society Annual Report (1890-1923).”

Even better, it’s FREE to search PERSI at FindMyPast and view results. If you see something really compelling, you can pay for a-la-carte access (called PayAsYouGo credits) to a detailed indexed entry and any digitized content, or subscribe for full access. But you can least learn whether an article on your topic exists (like “Silas Johnson Methodist minister” or “Swinerton family Salem, Massachusetts”) and where it was published.

If FindMyPast doesn’t have an article digitized yet or you don’t purchase access to it, you can still order a copy. Use the Allen County Public Library’s Article Fulfillment service: it’s only $7.50 USD for up to six articles, plus $0.20-per-page photocopying charge.

A Heart Warming Family News Story
Recently The National Post reported that two men who were childhood friends have been reintroduced to each other–as biological brothers.

According to the article, long-lost siblings Duncan Cumming, 72, and Ron Cole, 71, lived near each other as kids. They attended the same Canadian public school and sometimes hung out, even having their picture snapped together at the beach. And they had something in common, they were both adopted. Eventually one moved away and the friendship faded into history.

Then one day, 60 years later, an agency specializing in reuniting birth relatives brought them some startling news: they are brothers sharing the same birth mother.

Last November, an organization called Parent Finders Ottawa put the pieces together. A co-ordinator with the organization got in touch with both men to share the news.

And of course with something this incredible, there has to be a bit of genealogical serendipity playing a role. In this case just a couple of days before Ron Cole got a phone call from Parent Finders, he said he was organizing papers around his computer desk when a folder with pictures inside fell off the shelf. He says “I was moving them to get them out of the way. I dropped them, and out fell this picture of Duncan. I looked at this and I thought, ‘Why did I save this picture? What is this?’” said Cole.

When Parent Finders called him, Cole said he thought it was a scam. Someone had recommended the organization to him more than a decade ago, and he had given them his phone number, but he forgot about it.

“I was about to hang up, but she had a little too much information on my adopted family. She knew things that normally people wouldn’t know,” he said. “I started to listen. When she mentioned Duncan Cumming, that name kind of rang a bell.”

Not long after he got off the phone with the organization, he got another phone call, this time from Cumming. It was their first contact in six decades.

The two kids had been raised just a few blocks away from each other, said Cole. Their parents didn’t know. “My parents had a cottage, and he’d been there, and I’d been to his place,” he said.

Cumming said the two used to hang around together after school until suppertime. He didn’t think they looked alike and said  he absolutely never would’ve guessed they were brothers. Of course we don’t tend to see those similarities ourselves do we? When I look at the photo of them on the beach, I see a strong resemblance.

But the story doesn’t stop there. The family isn’t totally reunified yet because there’s still a sister out there somewhere. They are still looking for a sister, a Diane Beattie, born in Ottawa in 1952. She was not adopted, but remained in the care of the Children’s Aid Society until she reached the age of majority.

The entire article including the photo of them on the beach as children and the men today is available at the

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistMAILBOX

Paying it Forward Update
Pat wrote a while back and I featured her question in Premium episode 110

“I am wondering if you have any thought regarding the following issue.  I decided to channel my inner “Nancy Drew” and purchased a small lot of family memorabilia with the intent to seek out the family and offer to return the items to their proper home.  It didn’t take long to find potential family members  using Ancestry family trees.

Since there seem to be at least a couple of potential families out there who are descendants of this memorabilia, how do I decide whom to contact in order to get the materials to the most interested, closest family members??  I want to get these items back to the family but I would hope they would go to “a good home”.  Do you have any thoughts on this?”

I replied: I would first focus on the tree where the tree owner is most closely related to the folks mentioned in the memorabilia. I would probably make copies (depending on what the items are) and offer to all. If I didn’t get a confirmed answer from the first choice in a reasonable time I would offer to my second choice. I would ask the recipient to allow me to pass their contact info on to any others who get around to responding after the fact since it’s everyone’s “family”.

Pat wrote to share the outcome: “I finally took up the challenge again, determined to find a family and offer up the material I had recovered.  This material contained old (labeled!) photos, school records, dance cards and letters home to Mom and Dad and seemed potentially quite precious.

It proved difficult to determine which family seemed to have the closest connection, so I decided to offer the material to the person who’s tree contained the most (valid) sources.  I did so and sat back to wait.  Fortunately, the tree owner was quick to respond, eager to receive the materials I had to offer.  I sent them off and the tree owner is delighted as she is the granddaughter to the original party and believes herself to be the only living descendant of that person!

It feels just right to get those materials back “home”!  I encourage other listeners to do the same.  It produces a great sense of genealogical balance.  So many others have done blessedly wonderful things for me in my research, making it easy to pay it forward just a little bit.

Thank you for the encouragement and the advice.  I have loved both podcasts for a number of years now–you are consistently wonderful!”

Evernote vs. Your Hard Drive
From Barbara: I’m a fairly experienced general researcher but am just starting to get serious about genealogy.  I plan to use EvernNote.  I have a number of scanned pictures on my hard drive and plan to establish surname structure as you recommended.

Question:  What is the relationship between what you keep on your hard drive and what is on Evernote?  Is there a podcast on this or could you just reply with a few sentences that can guide me in my early setup?  Or point me to some ideas?”

From Lisa: Evernote is quite a different animal from our hard drive, though both are storage facilities for our research. It has such a powerful search engine that we don’t have to rely near as much on “containers” such as folders on our hard drive. The reason for the detailed Hard Drive Org system is so that we can find things quickly because our computers aren’t as powerful in that regard. And our computer doesn’t apply OCR to our images, which Evernote does making those notes so easily searchable.

organize genealogy with EvernoteWhile there are notebooks in Evernote, I use them sparingly, mostly for projects and top level categories of organization. Tags are the really defining element of Evernote notes, and I have lots of those. Check out the “How to Organize Your Research with Evernote” Premium video for more specifics.

Barbara mentioned that she has scanned pictures, and I assume she is talking about old family photos you have digitized. John wrote me recently asking about just the same thing:

“I’ve enjoyed listening to your podcasts for a couple years now. However, I think you have given me a new choice to make. Some time back I watched your video on how to organize your genealogical files on your hard drive. That was by making folders for each family name, and then within those folders make a set of other folders for certificates, documents, obituaries, etc, I’ve found it to be a great yet simple process–except I am struggling with moving photos from all over my PC to the correct folders.

Well, I’ve just finished viewing “Organize your research with Evernote”. It appears that using the “tags” will be easier and make searching more rapid. So I am wondering if you think this new Evernote product is the way to go instead, or in addition to, the digital folders?  What say you, my Genealogical Guru?”

My answer: “It’s a really good question and here’s my personal take on whether to use Evernote to organize photos. (I say personal because in the end it will be decided by what works for YOU.)

I do not add all my photos to Evernote – rather I store them on the hard drive. The reason is simple: photos are large files and will eat up your free Evernote upload limit for the month pretty quickly. If you are an Evernote Premium member, this is not as much of an issue because you get up 4 GB of uploads a month.

Another reason is the sheer volume of photos that already exist on my hard drive. I add photos by dragging and dropping them in to notes only as I need them for genealogy projects I’m working on. I view these as “working files” and consider the photos on my hard drive the “master files.”

An example of why I might upload some photos to Evernote would be when I was working on unidentified photos. I created a notebook of them and shared the notebook with a distant cousin. As we discusses and identified them I was able to keep a note trail regarding the conclusions. When a photo was solidly identified, I also went back to my master photo on my hard drive and updated the name of the file to reflect the identification.

So, yes, it is a bit time consuming to collect the photos from around your hard drive to get them into the photo folders, but to me, it was worth it. Now that it’s done, finding and filing photos is always super easy. Here’s a video on my YouTube channel that you might find helpful that discusses photo filing, naming and metadata. Hope that helps – good for you for getting organized!”

GEM: 10 Cool Things You Can Do with EvernoteEvernote genealogy family history organize
Of course we love being able to do so much of our research nowadays from the comfort of our own home, but there’s nothing better than hitting the road and digging into archives, libraries, cemeteries, and other ancestral locations. Well, I’ve got 10 very cool ways that you can  use Evernote to help you not only get ready for the big trip, but help you out along the way.

1. Create your packing list

2.Make a note of the location of your parked car in a crowded garage

3. The door and room number of your hotel room

4. Snap a close up pic of the awesome genies you meet at a conference holding up their name tag and send the pics to Evernote. You can later type a first or last name into Evernote search and it will pull up their photo, full name and where you met them as shown on their name tag

5. Record the License plate of your taxi cab, in case you forget something

6. Snap business cards and bypass dumping them into the bottom of your purse

7. When the person sitting next to you shares an awesome research idea, whip out your smart phone and record an audio note with all the info

8. Snap a photo of a page in a book (ex: the index to a large research volume) and send it to Evernote.Once it syncs through the Evernote cloud it is now keyword searchable!

9. Create an Evernote notebook of projects you want will be working on while on the road with all the back up info you’ll need.

10. Take a photos of the genealogists you meet. Be sure their name tag is showing because with OCR Evernote will make their name keyword searchable!


DNA Guide Quick Reference Guide Cheat Sheet Diahan SouthardGEM: Your Genealogy Gems DNA Guide

Lisa talks with Diahan Southard about a recent news story and it’s impact on genealogy.

Get all three of Diahan’s DNA Quick Reference Guide as a bundle and save! Includes:
1. Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists
2. Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists
3. Autosomal DNA for Genealogists

NYTimesAn Important Month for Newspaper History
Three important dates in American newspaper history occurred in September. These anniversaries span more than three centuries. On September 15, 1982, USA Today began publishing. Critics at the time said the idea of a national newspaper was doomed to failure — now, USA Today is one of the country’s largest-selling dailies. On September 18, 1851, the New York Times issued its first edition. And, on this date in 1690, the first newspaper in America was published for one day in Boston before being shut down by British authorities unhappy with its content. Although the industry is struggling, there are 7,600 publishers of daily, weekly or other periodical newspapers in the U.S., employing over 231,000 people.

Sources: Kane’s Famous First Facts, 5609

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The History of Mapmaking (and a Peek at the Future)

Do you love old maps? Then you might enjoy a new video presentation now online at the Library of Congress website on the history of mapmaking and some thoughts about cartography in the future.

According to the website, “From Terra to Terabytes” Map Symposium presents “a sweeping view of the field, as it went from traditional methods of surveying in early years to remote-sensing and computer cartography of more recent years. They also discussed the future of cartography.”

Four sessions are available online. Watch the first session below:

Click to view the other sessions:

Historic_Maps_VideoAre you a Genealogy Gems Premium member? If so, you can learn a lot more about how to use old maps in your genealogy research! Your low annual membership gets you access to five video classes, including 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. In this Premium Video you will learn which historical maps every genealogist should use; some of the best online resources for finding old maps; how to locate offline historical maps; how to create and save your own historical map collection and techniques for using old maps in your research.

Click here to learn more about Premium membership.

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