Learn to Leapfrog by Speaking Google’s Language!

Speaking Google’s language will have you “genealogy leapfrogging!” It’s a new phrase coined by Gems reader, Steve, after his amazing discovery using the Google search techniques shared by Lisa in a recent lecture. You too can make some giant leaps in your genealogy research by speaking Google’s language.

Leapfrog by Speaking Google's Language

After a recent lecture presentation, we received this email from Steve:

Hi Lisa,

Steve here. I just attended your Google Tools seminar in Kelowna. I have created a new term as a result of your workshop and it is called the “Genealogy Leapfrog.” That is when you leapfrog way ahead in your genealogy research because of something you have learned from Lisa! Here is the context. I am completely green at genealogy, this was my first conference and I have just recently commenced my family tree research. I have had a very, very hard time finding anything out about my mother’s maiden name Rochon and their family. Well, as a result of the tips I learned from you, I used my grandfather’s name “Joseph Rochon” OR “Joseph A. Rochon” Liliane (Grandmother’s name) and up pops the most incredible website I have ever seen. By clicking on the Rochon with Liliane, the complete family tree back to the 1600s is revealed. Wow…I am in complete shock. While I know that I need to research and verify this information, I am humbled at how you have enabled me to “Leapfrog” in my genealogy research. I now know more about the Rochon family than my cousin who has been researching our family tree for 20 years!

So, here is the real reason for my email – to simply say thank you. Thank you for coming to Kelowna to share your knowledge with us and thank you for your passion for genealogy research. I am a huge beneficiary of your knowledge which has enabled me to do the “Genealogy Leapfrog.”

Yours in genealogy,

Steve

Learning to Leapfrog by Speaking Google’s Language

We were tickled to hear this new phrase based on the exciting techniques that Lisa and we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast are sharing. Learning to speak Google’s language is a truly amazing tool for successful searching.

It is all based on using Google search operators correctly and Lisa shares that knowledge with you in this video below.

Happy hunting, friends! We know there is a wealth of information to comb through on the internet, but you can do it. Will you share your successes with us here in the comment section? We love to hear from you!

Learn even more about using Google for genealogy in Lisa’s book The Genealogist’s Google ToolboxYou can find this book in the printed edition or a handy e-book edition in our online Gems store.

leapfrog

How to Identify Old Cars in Photographs

Follow these tips to identify old cars in photographs from your family albums. You can often identify the make and model of the automobile; decipher and date the license plates, and even discover additional documents relating to the earliest drivers on your family tree.

how to identify cars in old photos

how to identify old cars in photographs

Image courtesy of Jennifer McCraw

A listener’s mystery photo question

Many of us have mystery photos in our family archives. Jennifer sent me a creative question about identifying hers:

“Have you ever come across any information on searching old license plate tag numbers to find an identity of the registrant? I have old photos that, according to my aunt, are the family of my grandmother’s boyfriend, Max, before [she married] my grandfather. The photos are amazing. Very ‘Great Gatsby-esque.’ Amazing clothes and car, right?! One photo has a smiling man standing in front of an old car with a portion of the license plate showing. I do not know the identity of this man or children. I’m thinking start with searches for plates beginning with 109 in the years before my grandmother was married in the state of Indiana, where she and Max lived.”I didn’t know if I had a ‘lead’ in that or not. I may be pulling at strings. I’d love your advice.”

What a great idea! I haven’t tried Jennifer’s exact approach to researching license plates as a way of identifying owners. But I have a similar story about researching an old car in my own family photo. My story, below, may help Jennifer and anyone else wanting to identify old cars in photographs. Keep reading for tips on researching the make and model of a car; deciphering the license plate to help date the photo and even on finding early drivers’ records. Owning a car was (and still is) a source of pride and excitement for many families, so it’s really worth taking a closer look at their cars in old pictures.

An old car photo in my own family

Here’s a photograph I love of my grandmother Alfreda as a teenager, beaming as she poses beside the newly purchased family automobile. In her diary, she divulges her excitement for the surprise she came home to after church:

Oct. 21, 1929 Sunday. “Went to Sunday school and when I got back there was our new car waiting for me.  Willy’s Knight. I drove it all around, went and gave Evelyn a ride. Made Mama mad.”

This diary entry piques my interest. What year was this? Where did the car come from?  What’s a “Willy’s Knight?” And if Mama got mad, who gave Alfreda the keys? I suspect Alfreda may have been a bit of a Daddy’s girl, but alas, this photo may not be able to reveal that family dynamic. However, the photo does contain important clues that has helped me answer at least a few of these questions.

1. Identify old cars in photographs

Before you start trying to identify an old vehicle in a family photo, it will help to know whether it’s categorized as a veteran, vintage, or classic car. What’s the difference? According to ItStillRuns.com:

“Veteran cars were manufactured before 1903, vintage cars were made between 1903 and 1933, and classic cars are considered to be vehicles manufactured from 1933 until fifteen years ago.”

With these categories in mind, visit websites that can help you identify old cars by providing descriptions and pictures of various makes and models. Two sites I suggest are Hubcap Café.com: Collector Car Resources and a Flickr group called Vintage Car Identification. (This second one is for the truly stumped because you can submit a photo that car enthusiasts from around the world could help you identify.)

I already knew from Grandma’s diary that the car in the above picture was a Willys Knight. But I wondered if I could nail down the make and model. I ran a few Google searches and found some fantastic websites.

Paul Young’s Willys Overland Knight Registry website had just what I was looking for. The site features dozens of photographs of all the different makes and models of Willys Knight automobiles in chronological order. So I scrolled down to the late 20’s and compared each photo to the photo of my great grandfather’s car. Bingo! The 1928 Willys Knight 70A Cabriolet Coupe America matched the car to a T. Everything from the convertible roof, the headlights, bumper, and side view mirrors all matched up.

From there I clicked on the Willys Knight History link, which led to not only a written history of Willys Knight but a chart of Willys Knight Specifications. A quick scroll down led me to the specs for Grandpas 1928 70A series car. I learned that great-grandpa’s car was introduced in August of 1927 for the starter price of $1,295. (Here’s a free online inflation calculator. Try plugging in 1927 and $1,295 to find out what the car would cost in today’s money.)

I also learned that the car was a 6-cylinder, as well as specs on the horsepower, the wheelbase, and even the range of serial numbers that the car would fall within. This website was jammed packed with everything you could ever want to know about the Willys Knight car. (If you’re interested in chatting with others about Willys Knight cars, you could also visit this site’s Facebook page.)

My book The Genealogist’s Google Toolboxwhich is where you’ll find all the tips you need for doing these Google searches–has an entire chapter on finding videos on YouTube. A quick YouTube search on “Willys Knight 1928” brought up this short but cool video uploaded in 2014: “Take a ride in a 1928 Willys Knight made in, owned in and driven in Toledo, Ohio.”

2. Investigate old license plates

Family Photo Detective by Maureen Taylor is your ultimate guide to identifying old objects in pictures to help you learn more about your family history.

In Family Tree Magazine a few years ago, I read an article called “Motor Trends,” written by my friend Maureen Taylor. She said that said that by 1918 all states had adopted license and registration laws. It recommended that you look for a license plate in old photos. License plates often have a year on them and possibly even the owner’s initials.

Unfortunately, the license plate in my photo is so dark I couldn’t read it at all. My guess is that this is probably the situation in many cases when someone has a photo of a car. So here’s what I did to solve this problem:

  • I opened a digital copy of the photo with the basic photograph editing software that came with my computer.
  • I cropped the photo to just show the license plate and then zoomed in to make the image as large as possible.
  • I increased the brightness of the photo and adjusted the contrast. Often when you play with these two features, adjusting first one and then the other, you’ll get pretty good results.
  • The final touch was to apply an auto-sharpening tool which defined the image even more.

As you can see in the “before and after” images below, what once was a blob of darkness now read:  2L 67 24.

There was something printed under the license number, but I still couldn’t quite read it. It looked like CAL 29, which would make sense because they lived in California and the year they bought it was 1929. But I couldn’t be certain. So I ran a Google search for “old California license plates.”

Several websites proved interesting for learning more about old California license plates:

For example, I learned that California has required license plates since 1905. In that year, there were over 17,000 registered vehicles in the state. I found a replica 1929 license plate that read “CAL 29” across the bottom of it. Just what I’d thought mine said! And thanks to WorldLicensePlates.com, I was even able to determine that the license plate in my black and white photo had a black background and orange lettering.

What about the license plate in Jennifer’s photo? Only a partial plate is visible, but it’s enough to compare to images of Indiana license plates at WorldLicensePlates.com:

how to identify old cars in photographs

identifying old license plates

Jennifer can take several important clues from this comparison:

  • It quite a dark plate with very light numbers. Even though it’s a black and white photo, based on the contrast, I think the license probably doesn’t have orange in it. (Eliminate 1929, 1930, 1931, 1935)
  • There is no dash between the first 3 numbers and the next set (eliminate 1929)
  • The style is more of a Sans Serif font (we can eliminate 1929, and 1930)
  • Indiana appears at the bottom (eliminate 1931, 1933, 1935)

From these clues, I’d say that the 1932 plate is certainly the closest match.

3. Find records relating to early drivers

California state statutes of 1901 authorized cities and counties to license bicycles, tricycles, automobile carriages, carts, and similar wheeled vehicles. Owners paid a $2 fee and were issued a circular tag. Later, tags were either octagonal or had scalloped edges.

Registers of Motor Vehicles and Dealers in Motor Vehicles, with Indices 1905-1913

Motor Vehicles Records

So this got me curious. Could I access records associated with my great-grandfather’s license plate and automobile registration? Typically states move records of this age to their state archives. I started by Googling California State Archives. The Online Archives of California has a searchable database that includes the state archive holdings. The online catalog has motor vehicle records (61 volumes!) for the first several years they were issued (1905-1913).

A description in the online finding aid stated: “Motor Vehicle Records, 1913 transferred those functions from the Secretary of State’s office to the Department of Engineering.” There are actually two clues here: 1) the phrase “motor vehicle records” is what I likely want to use when searching for records, and 2) the office that likely kept the records for my time period (1929) was the Department of Engineering. A followup search using these search terms got 13 results. Unfortunately, none of these records included 1929, and an email inquiry to the State Archives wasn’t fruitful, either. But this showed me that driver registration records may exist.

ArchiveGrid

ArchiveGrid

So may other driving-related records. I did several searches in ArchiveGrid, an enormous online catalog for archival collections. No California motor vehicle registrations popped up. But I did find a collection of 1928 maps and guidebooks for the Automobile Club of Southern California, held at the Brigham Young University library in Provo, Utah. There was also a collection of thousands of images collected by the Automobile Club of Southern California (mostly in the 1920s and 1930s) at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

If I really wanted to learn more about the early-1900s “sport” of automobile driving in California, I could spend some time with record collections such as those.

Does this discovery change the course of my family history? No. But it was a heck of a lot of fun to learn what I did about the oldest automobile I’m aware of my family owning. It’s exciting to discover these little gems: they connect me to the past in such an interesting way. Even better, it gave me something to share with my husband, Bill, who loves old cars!

Bill

Learn more!

Listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast in favorite podcast app.

Hear inspiring stories and learn hands-on, try-it-now strategies for discovering your family history in my free Genealogy Gems Podcast. There are more than 200 episodes to get your genealogy motor running, with a new episode published each month. You’ll find the latest news, try-it-now online search strategies and inspiring stories to keep you on the road to genealogy research success.

How to Use Snagit for Genealogy

Episode 61 Show Notes 

Use Our Exclusive Code to Save 15%!

Here’s our link for purchasing your copy of Snagit (screen clipping tool) Thank you for using our link.  Use coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off.  (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.)

You’re going to learn:

  • What Snagit does and the problems it can solve for you as a genealogist!
  • How to screen capture using Snagit
  • Amazing advanced new features you didn’t know Snagit had and how to use them.
  • How to do scrolling and panoramic screen clipping (perfect for family trees, historic maps, long web pages and so much more.)
  • How I specifically use it for my genealogy research.

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members can download the exclusive ad-free cheat sheet PDF in the Resources section at the bottom of the page. Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

Please share this episode with your friends:

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How to Use Snagit 

One of the things that we all work really hard to do is solve family history mysteries. And as we do that, we are finding all kinds of goodies. But the trick is that we have to capture them. Right? If we don’t, then we may end up losing the trail.

Last week, we talked about citing the sources that we find. This week, we’re going to be capturing our findings in a very visual way, and actually incorporating those source citations. And we’re going to be doing it with the tool that I really absolutely use every single day. And that’s Snagit.

And lots of people ask me about how I do my videos, my screen capturing and imagery and all that kind of stuff. It’s with Snagit©. It’s a fabulous product by a company called TechSmith. I also use their video product, Camtasia. Today we’re going to talk about Snagit because I really see this as being such an incredible tool for genealogy. I use it literally every day with my genealogy as well as in everything I do to put together this show for you each and every week.

The Image-Capturing Challenges that Genealogists Face

To understand the value of a tool we need to make identify the problems we face and see how it solves them. Here are some of the challenges genealogists face when it comes to capturing images:

  • We don’t need or want to save the whole page. (Why waste all that ink printing it or storage space saving it?) We may not want to download or copy an image from an unknown website. (No one wants to accidentally put a virus on their computer!)
  • The page in its entirety is blurred when printed. (This often happens with newspaper pages.)
  • We need to capture a very long or wide page that can’t be displayed in its entirety on the screen.
  • We want to annotate or add a citation to the source image.
  • It takes extra time to save to items to your computer and then add them to other documents in other programs.

Do you identify with some of these challenges? I sure do.

Let’s say that you find an article, a document, or something else, and you want to add an annotation. Maybe you want to add the source citation, a watermark, or just notes to yourself directly onto the image.

It would be time-consuming to clip the image with perhaps the free snipping tool that comes on your computer and save it to your hard drive, and then pull it into another program to annotate it. I don’t know about you, but there’s never enough time for family history so anything that we can do to save time, means we’re going to be able to spend more time with ancestors.

The solution is using Snagit.

Snagit Functionality

Here are just some of the things that Snagit can do:

  • “Capture” items that appear on your screen
  • Create videos with audio (Create > Video from Images)
  • Edit images (You can edit clipped and imported images and photos. You can also send screen shots automatically when using your computer’s snipping tool.)
  • Convert text on an image to typed text (Grab Text)
  • Create documents using templates (Create > Image from Template)
  • “Share” items to other programs with one click.

I have found that snag is so robust, and it has so many different options, I still can’t exhaust all the things that it offers me. But it’s also simple. It’s simple in the way that you use it. It certainly solves simple, everyday problems. And most importantly, it is a program that I can use not just for genealogy, but also for my business and personal use. I like to have tech tools that serve me across the board, if possible, because it takes time to get up to speed on any program. If you’re just getting programs that are only for genealogy, then you end up needing a second program to be able to do similar things in other parts of your life. Why not find tech tools that can serve you across the board. That’s what certainly Snagit does. So, while I’m focusing on showing you genealogical applications for using Snagit, just know that if you’re new to family history, or you stumbled across us this article, and you don’t do genealogy, you’re going to be able to use Snagit for just about everything.

How to Get Started with Snagit

  1. Purchase the software
  2. Download and install
  3. Open it and let it run in the background so you have easy access from your task bar

Yes, there may be a snipping tool built into your computer, and you can use Print Screen. Snagit can blow them away.

How to Capture a Screen Image with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar (Snagit should be running in the background on your computer.) This is the Capture If you don’t see it, click the blue Snagit icon to open the editor and then click the red circle Capture button at the top of the program. After your first capture, the orange Capture icon will then be open and available in your task bar.
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set the Selection to Region
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area. You may see flashing arrows. If you click one you will be ablet to scroll that direction to capture more of the page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor.

Sometimes we find an item that is larger than is visible on the screen. The page may scroll side to side or up and down. Use Scrolling capture to capture everything in one piece.

How to Scrolling Capture with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set Selection to Scrolling Window
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. You will see flashing arrows. Click the arrow pointing in the direction that you want to scroll in Snagit will automatically scroll down and capture. Click Stop at any time if you don’t want to capture the entire page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. You can then trim all sides by simply grabbing the handles and dragging.

In some situations you will need more flexibility in your scrolling. Panoramic capture allows you to select the region and then scroll manually, capturing exactly what you want to capture. Think of it as image capture and scrolling capture merged together. Panoramic capture allows you move both up and down and side to side.

How to Panoramic Capture with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set Selection to Panoramic
  5. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area
  6. When you release your mouse a panoramic capture bar will appear. Click the Start button to being your panoramic capture.
  7. Click in the captured image area and drag the image as needed. The more precise you are in your movement the better the final image will be. You can move in any direction.
  8. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. You can then trim all sides by simply grabbing the handles and dragging.

Panoramic captures work great for large items like maps, online family trees and newspaper articles just to name a few things. If you zoom out in order to capture these types of items in their entirety you will end up with a blurry item when you zoom in for a closer look. Panoramic solves this problem.

Let’s discuss a few more options for capturing hard to clip items like newspapers. Sometimes, the article you need is continued on a different page or column. With Snagit you can capture the individual pieces and then combine them.

How to Combine Captured Images with Snagit

  1. Capture each section of the article individual using Image Capture (Region)
  2. In the Snagit editor press Control / Command on your keyboard and click each item you want to be included in the combined image.
  3. Press Control + Alt + C on your keyboard or at the top of the screen click Create > Image from Template.
  4. Select the desired page layout. Custom Steps or Steps Portrait works well for articles.
  5. Click on any items (such as numbered steps) and press delete on your keyboard to remove them.
  6. The combined image can then be saved to your computer or shared to another program.

Editing and Highlighting Images

There are many ways to annotate and edit images (both captured and imported) in Snagit including adding:

  • arrows
  • text (perfect for adding source citations directly onto the image
  • call outs
  • shapes
  • stamps (Images on images)
  • lines
  • squiggles and drawing
  • step by step numbering
  • You can also modify images by cutting out portions, blurring and erasing areas, and even magnifying an area on the image!

Snagit Advanced Features and Strategies

Once you’ve mastered the basics there are many more ways to use this tool to power-up your genealogy research. Here are a few more ideas we covered in the video.

How to Grab Text from an Image with Snagit

Option 1 – Grab text from existing image:

  1. Select the image in the editor so that it is displayed in the editing area
  2. In the menu Edit > Grab Text. This will grab all of the text that appears in the image. If you only want a portion of it, click the Selection tool at the top of the screen and draw a box around the area you want to grab the text from.
  3. The converted text will appear in a pop-up window
  4. Copy the text to your computer’s clipboard by clicking Copy All.
  5. Paste wherever you want the text to appear (another document, etc.)

Option 2 – Grab Text While Clipping:

  1. Display the desired page / item on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set the Selection to Grab Text
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area. You may see flashing arrows. If you click one you will be ablet to scroll that direction to capture more of the page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. The converted text will appear in a pop-up window
  8. Copy the text to your computer’s clipboard by clicking Copy All.
  9. Paste wherever you want the text to appear (another document, etc.)

Grab Text from Windows Not Easily Copied

We’ll use the example of copying the titles of computer folders into an Excel spreadsheet. Open your file explorer and navigate to the desired folders. Since a mouse can’t be used to copy all the names in one swoop, we will use Option 2 – Grab Text While Clipping instructions above.

Create Videos with Snagit

You can compile separate images into a video and add voice narration.

  1. In the editor select Create > Video from Images
  2. Click to select the first image in the tray
  3. Click the microphone button in the video recording bar if you want to record narration.
  4. Click the Webcam button if you want to appear on screen
  5. Click the red Record button to begin recording.
  6. Click each image in the order desired for the amount of time you want it to appear on the screen.
  7. Press the Stop button when done.

How to Create a Timeline with Snagit Templates

  1. In the editor add images either by importing (File > Import) or capturing
  2. Select the images to be include by holding down the Control / Command key and clicking on them
  3. Create > Image from Template
  4. Select the timeline template
  5. Add a title and captions as desired
  6. Click the Combine button

Productivity with Snagit

One of my favorite features of Snagit is how easy it is to share items to other programs directly instead of having to save them first to my computer. It’s easy to do. Simply select and display the image to be shared and in the menu go to Share > and select the program.

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.

Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

Leave a Comment

Do you have a favorite way to use Snagit for genealogy? Leave a comment below!

 

 

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