4 Great Local History Apps for Genealogists

In Lisa Louise Cooke’s new video interview with Amy Crow, Amy shares 4 of her favorite free local history apps and websites for genealogists.

At RootsTech 2016, Lisa Louise Cooke chatted with Amy Johnson Crow about Amy’s class, “Best Websites and Apps for Finding Local History.” In the video below, Amy shares four of her favorite (and FREE) local history apps and websites, along with tips for using them. Click the video player below to watch, and then below the video, see a summary with links to those sites.

When searching the following FREE local history apps and sites, Amy recommends searching for a place rather than an ancestor’s name.

History Pin. This website is like Pinterest for history, says Amy. It’s especially strong for local history in England, Ireland, Scotland, but also wonderful for the U.S. A lot of organizations have added photos and curated them into collections, like Pinterest boards.

Instagram. It’s not just for the kids and pictures of your food! Follow libraries, archives and historical societies that are in towns where your ancestors lived. They may post historic photos from their collections. Instagram now has a feature where you can share photos with those you follow on Instagram. Use it to share a cool old picture that relates to your family history with a young relative.

The Clio. This website and local history app (available buy malaria medication online through Google Play and on iTunes for iPhone/iPad) shows you historic sites around you when you turn on your location services. The resources, descriptions and bibliographic entries on this site are great to follow up with for your research.

What Was There. At this site (or with the iPhone app) you can view historic photos plotted on a map near your current location. Use it to look around and ask the question, “What happened here?” if you’re on a walk or visiting somewhere. The site is integrated with Google Street View. You can also upload your own old photos if you know where they were taken and do an overlay in Google Maps, in much the same way Lisa teaches about doing in Google Earth.

 

“We focus so much on the people, and we search for names. I really believe that if we have any hope of understanding the ancestors, we have to understand where they lived…what was impacting their lives.”  -Amy Johnson Crow

 

Looking for more mobile genealogy tips? Turn to Lisa Louise Cooke’s brand new book, Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research. In addition to apps specifically for genealogy, you’ll also find recommendations for free and inexpensive apps for all those related tasks: note-taking, recording interviews, taking pictures, reading, collaborating, traveling, learning and sharing genealogy with loved ones.

Lisa Louise Cooke coming to Topeka Genealogical Society

The Topeka Genealogical Society welcomes Lisa Louise Cooke to its annual conference on Sat, April 16, 2016. Early-bird registration ends soon, so register now!

Lisa Louise Cooke will give a full day of lectures at the 44th annual conference of the Topeka Genealogical Society (April 15-16, 2016). The conference theme is “New Techniques for the Family History Detective” and Lisa will definitely cover that theme in these four Saturday presentations:

  •  Google Tools & Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries
  •  Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers
  •  How to Re-Open a Cold Case
  •  The Google Earth Game Show

WHAT: Topeka Genealogical Society Annual Conference
WHEN: April 15-16, 2016
WHERE: Kansas Historical Society, 6425 SW 6th St, Topeka, KS
REGISTER: Click here for info and/or to register online

There will also be access to vendors, exhibits, and representatives from historical and lineage organizations. Early-bird registration ends March 24, 2016. Mailed registrations must be received by April 1, 2016.

Premium PodcastCan’t make it to the conference? Genealogy Gems Premium members have a full-year’s access to about 30 full-length on-demand video classes by Lisa Louise, including Google search methodologies, newspaper research, solving cold-case family history mysteries and Google Earth. Click here to see the full list of video classes. Click here to learn more about Premium membership.

Virtual Conference Special

Virtual Conference Special Package  Newspaper book

Package Includes:
How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers (paperback, retail $24.95)
and the digital PDF ebook of the book for FREE!  (emailed to the address you provide within 24 hours of payment.)

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  • Evernote for genealogy
  • Genealogy on the Go with the iPad
  • Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers
  • Ultimate Google Search Strategies
  • and more.

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Lisa Louise Cooke Coming to Oregon: Bend Genealogical Society Spring Seminar

Lisa Louise Cooke will be presenting the all-day 2016 Spring Seminar for the Bend Genealogical Society in Oregon on Saturday, April 23. 

Beautiful Bend, Oregon is not only a sought-after vacation destination, but a hub for enthusiastic genealogists. Join Lisa Louise Cooke at the 2016 Spring Seminar for the Bend Genealogical Society on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Her presentations will include:

  • Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers — Yearning to “read all about it?” Newspapers are a fantastic source of research leads, information and historical context for your family history. Learn Lisa’s approach to achieve success in locating news about your ancestors.
  • Genealogy Podcasts 101 — Learn everything you need to know about how to find and listen to genealogy and history podcasts.
  • Time Travel with Google Earth — Experience historic maps, images and videos coming together to create stunning time travel experiences in the free Google Earth program.
  • Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-Genealogists in Your Family — Learn how to capture the imagination of your non-historian friends and relatives. Lisa’s projects are guaranteed to inspire your family to ask you to tell them more about the family tree!

WHAT: Lisa Louise Cooke at Bend Genealogical Society 2016 Spring Seminar
WHEN: Saturday, April 23, 2016, 9am – 4pm (registration and coffee service open at 8:30)
WHERE: Bend Golf & Country Club, 61045 Country Club Dr, Bend, OR
REGISTER: Click here to download PDF with details

Your registration includes a syllabus, all-day coffee and tea service and a choice of a luncheon salad. Registration is required because seating is limited.

Google Earth for Genealogy class Google earth tourCan’t make it? Get a free taste of one of Lisa’s lectures by clicking here to watch a free video introduction to using Google Earth for genealogy. See how to harness the power of this free technology tool to understand the world your ancestors lived in. These tips come from Lisa’s popular Google Earth for Genealogy Video tutorial series, available as a digital download or on a 2-DVD set.

Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This Post

confused by AncestryDNA matchesOpening your AncestryDNA account to find a New Ancestor Discovery can be a bit like the experience my nine-year old had at the beach today. He noticed something unusual in the sand on his way down to the beach and excitedly used his hands to unearth the treasure. However, it turned out to be a Captain Hook figurine long lost by another (likely much younger) beach-goer. His initial excitement quickly dissipated. He was disappointed as he had clearly found something he did not need or want.

I have heard from many of you that are confused and disappointed with Ancestry’s attempts to merge your genetics and your genealogy. Keep in mind that AncestryDNA matches are only using your genetics. Your DNA Circles and your New Ancestor Discoveries incorporate your linked tree into your genetic test results.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxLisa recently forwarded me a comment from Kate that perfectly illustrates the confusion I’m talking about. “We had DNA done thru Ancestry,” she writes. “The results [have] made me seriously question what they are showing me. I believe they are using my tree to show me results that are more vague than they are revealing. The latest example they show is a person not related by blood. This family is related by name only (my uncle’s spouse).

“My results from Ancestry show that they use my tree to make matches. Just checked the web page for DNA results. They show numerous matches….Three or 4 contacted me because they were convinced they were related by blood when they may have had a remote tree connection. They contacted me because the DNA results showed they were a 3rd or 4th
cousin, when in fact they would only be a 3rd or 4th cousin in my tree.”

I can see why she’s confused. First, let’s review what an AncestryDNA New Ancestor Discovery (NAD) actually IS.  NAD’s are based on the DNA Circle idea created by Ancestry. Remember that a DNA circle is when Ancestry can identify a shared genetic AND genealogical connection between three or more people. Using various standards and measures, they name an ancestor as your connection. This is the ancestor I affectionately call our Party Host. This is the ancestor who passed his or her DNA down to all of their descendants, like tickets inviting them to this party in the future. So, everyone who holds a ticket, AND who has honored that party host ancestor by placing their name in their pedigree chart, is listed as a guest in the form of a DNA circle connection. (Click here to read a blog post about this concept.)

The New Ancestor Discoveries just take that one step further.  The NAD is an attempt to find ticket holders who have not yet taken that extra step and added that important Party Host ancestor to their family tree. The NAD is like a nudge, inviting us to double check our family tree to see if this particular ancestor might need to be added. It is important to remember that a NAD comes only after a DNA circle has already been formed, and there could have been errors in that formation. So the very first thing you need to do with a NAD is to correspond with circle members and double check that the Party Host of the circle, their common ancestor, is correct. Then we can move on to evaluating the NAD.

Ancestry admits on its help pages that there are three reasons why you might get an NAD, and only one is “right” in the way you and I might view it.

NADhelpFigure1The “right” answer comes when the DNA circle was drawn correctly, the Party Host properly identified, and your DNA connection is strong to two or more members of the circle. You are then able to verify through traditional genealogical methods that you are an actual descendant of the Party Host, holding that coveted ticket, shown in blue in this modified image from the AncestryDNA help page.

There are two other alternatives.

NADhelpFigure2First, you are related to the NAD Party Host (the New Ancestor that was discovered) via marriage. In this second example from Ancestry’s help page, we see that your ancestor was married twice. The members of the DNA circle are descendants of her other marriage. Remember, that you do not share DNA with every member of the DNA circle. In this case, you share the purple DNA with a few members of the circle. But there are other members that share the blue. So the super computers at Ancestry first put all the blues together in a circle with the Party Host at the top. Then you come along with purple DNA that matches a few in the circle and their supercomputer erroneously assumes that you too must have been invited to this “blue” party, but in fact, the blue/purple members of the circle are double booked.  They have been invited to both the blue and the purple party.

How can you fix this?  If you can identify your purple Party Host, then you can add that person to your tree, and the trees of your DNA matches and likely then a new DNA Circle will form with the purple Party Host at its head, and the blue NAD will disappear.

NADhelpFigure3BasicThe other situation that many of you are seeing, especially those of you with ancestry from small communities, is demonstrated in Figure 3 of the Ancestry Help page, reproduced here.  As you can see, this one is much more complicated.  (In fact, the colors I added aren’t even quite accurate, as not all descendants of the blue NAD have the same blue, but rather different shades of blue depending on the segment they received- but this is a story for another post!)

The short of it is, the members of the previously established DNA circle share one single ancestor with each other, but they share multiple separate and distinct ancestors with you. Looking at this chart it seems very clear, but remember, in the database we only see you and the people you match.  We cannot tell from the DNA shared which piece came from which ancestor. So, it is very important to check and double check the pedigrees of those in the circle to identify additional shared lines.

The short of it is, these NAD’s are following the guilt by association rule, but in fact, you could be innocent.  Just keep in mind the simple principle that you DO share a common ancestor with those members of the circle that you share DNA with.  You do NOT necessarily share common ancestry with those in the circle that you do not share DNA with.

The key is to take these NAD’s for what they really are: research suggestions.  Keep your expectations low, and then you will be pleasantly surprised when you are able to verify a connection.

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesReady to learn more about DNA testing for family history? Click here to watch two video interviews in which Lisa and I chat about genetic genealogy.

My DNA quick reference guides can get you started on your own DNA research, or help you unpuzzle and maximize results you don’t fully understand. Click here to see all six guides: purchase them individually or as value-priced bundles.

 

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