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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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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