How to Find Your Family History on YouTube

how to find family history on youtube

Pieces of your family history are on video on YouTube, and in this episode I’m showing you how to find them! Here’s what you’re going to learn:

  • Why you can almost be sure that there are videos on YouTube pertaining to your family’s history.
  • The best strategies for finding videos about your family history.
  • 7 things to do when you find a video about some part of your family history.

How to find family history related videos on YouTube

Can you really find family history related videos on YouTube? You bet you can! Thanks to the tremendous growth in online video, your chances are better than ever. Here’s how much online video has grown in recent years:

  • YouTube is now the second most popular search engine next to Google.com.
  • Cisco reports: 2014 64% of all Internet traffic was video. The prediction for 2021 is 85%.
  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month to watch and upload video.
  • Digitizing video is easier and more affordable than ever.

So, what kind of videos can be found that have to do with your family history? Here are just a few examples:

Old home movies.
Perhaps uploaded by a close or distance family member, or a friend of the family who happened to capture your family in their home movies.

Vintage news reels and TV news broadcasts.
Your family members don’t have to be famous to show up in local news reports.

Corporate videos.
Companies often create instructional and promotional films.

Video tours.
Filmed at historical locations, churches, and other places where your ancestors may have lived.

Historical documentaries.
These can provide great background information about the times and places where your ancestors lived.

How to start finding family history videos on YouTube

The easiest way to get started is by selecting a person in your family tree. If you’re looking for actual  film footage of the person, you’ll want to focus on more recent people in your family. However, there’s a treasure trove of videos available on YouTube so don’t worry if you’re trying to learn more about an ancestor born in 1800. You can still find all kinds of videos that can shed more life on your ancestor’s world and the life they may have led.

Once you’ve selected an ancestor, make a list of things you know about them. Here are some examples of what you could look for:

  • Names of associate ancestors
  • Places where they lived
  • Where they went to school
  • Where they worked
  • Events they were involved in
  • Hobbies / Groups / Clubs
  • Friends / Associates
  • etc.

 

Search your ancestor’s name at YouTube

Start by searching for your ancestor’s name in the search field at YouTube. Example search: Will Ivy Baldwin

Review the results. Keep an eye out for film footage that looks older. Hover your mouse over the results to see if words appear that further explain why you received that video as result. You may see an indication that what you searched for appears in the text of the video description (found just below the video) or the captions. If they appear in the captions, that means that someone in the video said the name you searched for! Automated closed captions are fairly new so you will find that not all videos have captions.

Next add more keywords relevant to their life. Example: Will Ivy Baldwin tightrope

Use quotation marks to get exact matches on the important words. Example: Will Ivy “Baldwin” “tightrope”. (Learn more about search operators such as quotation marks in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.)

Try variations and search multiple times. Examples:

  • Will Ivy “Baldwin” “tightrope”
  • Will “Ivy Baldwin” “tightrope”
  • “Will Ivy Baldwin” “tightrope”
  • Will Ivy “Baldwin” “Colorado”

You can also search for the phrase Home Movie and a family surname. Example search: “Home movie” “Burkett”

What to do when you find a family history video on YouTube

#1 Add to your “Watch Later” YouTube playlist.
Click the plus sign under the video and check the box for Watch Later.”

#2 Create a new playlist and add the video.
Click the plus sign and then Create New Playlist. Consider creating a playlist for each surname you research.

Save video to Watchlist YouTube

Click the plus sign to save to your Watch List or create a new genealogy playlist.

#3 Share to Social Media, your website, etc.
Click Share under the video.

#4 Comment to collaborate.
Comments can be found below the video description. You’ll need to be signed into YouTube with a free Google account.

#5 Subscribe to get new uploaded videos.
The red SUBSCRIBE button can be found on every video and channel. After clicking it, click the bell icon to receive notifications of new videos from that channel.

#6 Search the YouTube Channel for more related videos.
There’s a good chance if the channel has one relevant video it will have another! Click the name of the channel below the video and then on the channel page click the magnifying glass search icon.

#7 Read the video description to learn more.
The channel “Creator” who uploaded the video probably added some additional information to the video description. Click SHOW MORE to see everything. Look for recommended related videos and playlists. You may also see more details on the content of the video which you can then use to expand your search.

Expanding Your Search to Find More Family History Videos

Now it’s time to dig back into our list and continue the search. Here are some examples of how to find videos.

Search for Ancestral Locations

Search for locations associate with your family history such as cities, counties, regions, states, countries. Even if your ancestors is not in the video, it could be very enlightening to see film footage from a place they talked about or wrote about. Watching a video about the place can help bring your family history to life.

Search examples:

Search for Events

Review old newspapers, journals, family interviews and more to come up with a list of events your family was involved with. It doesn’t have to be a big event. It could be as simple as a school talent show. It’s possible that someone else who attended took home movies.

Here are a few examples of events searched:

1946 roses parade

Today’s YouTube results for 1946 Rose Parade

Search for Occupations

Try search for the names of business where your ancestors worked. Add in locations such as town names. Try adding the word history to help YouTube find older film footage.

In this episode of Elevenses with Lisa I shared the example of searching for Olyphant PA fire history and finding Andrew O’Hotnicky and his son in an old newsreel film about the fire stations amazing dog.

Andrew O’Hotnicky on film on YouTube.

Post Your Own Family History Videos Online

Another great way to find old videos and home movies on YouTube is to upload your own. That may sound funny at first, but the truth is that if you’re looking for family history other people are too. When you upload a video, whether it’s an old home movie or a short video you made to tell the story of one of your ancestors, it’s great “cousin bait.” When someone else searches for the same family, your video will appear. This opens the door to them posting a comment and potentially sharing information.

If you don’t have old home movies to post, don’t worry. It’s easier and more affordable than ever to make your own videos. I’ve created several instructional videos to help you create exactly the kind of video you want Both are available exclusively for Genealogy Gems Premium Members (Learn more here about becoming a Premium Member):

  • Video Magic – a 3-part video series that walk you through crafting your story and getting it on video.
  • Elevenses with Lisa episode 16 How to Make a Family History Video with Adobe Spark walks you step-by-step through how to use a free app to make professionally looking videos.

Recording your own videos is faster, easier and less expensive than ever! You can have your own free YouTube channel with your free Google Account.

Resources

 

Questions and Comments

Please leave your questions and comments below. 

 

Episode 69 Alice the Genealogist Parts 3 & 4 Online Productivity

Video and Show Notes

This week we’re going to revisit two more early episodes of Elevenses with Lisa that will help you be more productive and organized no matter what device you using for your genealogy research. I’m bringing these episodes out from behind the Premium Membership paywall and making them available for free this week. These will be presented back-to-back as Live Video Premieres on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!) In this episode 69 we will cover parts 3 (Mobile Organization) and 4 (Online Productivity Strategies).

How Alice the Genealogist Avoids the Rabbit Hole Continued…

Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!)

Part 3

In episode 68 we covered:

1. Use a Cloud-Notetaking Service

  • Get a free Cloud note-taking tool and use it consistently. (Examples include Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.)
  • Use the website, software, and/or app to capture unexpected finds while researching. Both Evernote and OneNote work on all platforms.
  • Your notes in your account will synchronize between your devices (depending on the program and plan you choose.) You can add to your notes or work with them anytime, anywhere.

2. Schedule BSO Time

I use Google Calendar to stay organized and schedule my BSO time. Create a BSO calendar, and then schedule BSO time on your calendar. These will help you remember to follow up. Knowing you have set aside time in the future to explore the BSO helps you mentally let them go and stay on track with your research plan.

In this episode:

3. Mobile BSO Organization

Success comes from pairing your research plan and process with a great supportive research environment. We have a variety of “environments” we work within such as:

  • On paper at our desk
  • On our mobile devices
  • On our computer
Mobile Genealogy Organization (Alice

Mobile Genealogy Organization

Let’s look at how we can set up a workflow for BSOs while mobile computing. My two favorite methods for capturing BSOs on a smartphone or tablet are 1) Cloud Notetaking, and 2) Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”.

Option 1: Cloud Notetaking

I’ll be using Evernote on an iPhone as an example. (You may see slight variations in the instructions depending on the service you use and your device.)

Evernote is a great choice if you want to easily sync and use your notes on all devices including your desktop computer and / or laptop computer.

Before you begin, you’ll need a free Evernote account at evernote.com. You’ll also need to download the free Evernote app from your device’s app store, and log into your account.

When you come across a BSO while researching online in a web browser (such as the Chrome or Safari app), here’s how to capture it:

  1. Tap the Share icon on the web page.
  2. Select Evernote from the menu. If you don’t see it tap More for the complete menu of available apps. If you still don’t see it, make sure you have downloaded the app.
    Tap More to find the Evernote app

    Tap More to find the Evernote app

  3. The app will open and should open a new note. Edit the note as desired.
    Edit the BSO note

    Edit the BSO note

  4. Tag the note with the “BSO” tag, as well as any other tags you find helpful.
    Tag with the BSO tag

    Tag with the BSO tag

  5. Tap Save.
  6. The note is now saved to Evernote. If you are on WiFi, Evernote will synchronize so that the note will be available from any device signed into your Evernote account.
    The BSO tagged note

    The BSO tagged note

Option 2: Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”

Keep in mind that these aren’t the same as “Bookmarks” found in your web browser apps. I call them “Bookmark Apps” because they do save a particular web page, and they look just like apps. In the menu this feature is called “add to home screen.” (see image)

Bookmark Apps are best for when you plan to do your BSO follow up on the same mobile device.

How to capture a BSO as a Bookmark App:

  • In your browser app, when you come across a BSO web page, tap the share icon.
  • Tap Add to Home Screen.
    Tap Add to Home Screen

    Tap Add to Home Screen

  • Edit the title so it will be easy to remember why you wanted to follow up on it.
  • Tap Add (iOS – this may be different on Android, or different browsers)
  • The web page “bookmark app” is now on your home screen.

Once you have created at least two BSO bookmark apps, you can then create a folder.

How to create a folder:

  • Move the bookmark app by pressing and holding it until it shakes.
  • Keep your finger on it and drag it onto the other BSO bookmark. This will create a folder.
  • Name the folder “BSO”.
  • Press the home button to save.
    Bookmark apps in the BSO folder

    Bookmark apps in the BSO folder

     

Now whenever you have some spare time you can tap the BSO folder and get back to one of those items that previously caught your eye.

How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Part 4

Creating a Supportive Computing Environment

The following tools are available for your computer desktop or laptop.

Restore Tabs

In addition to using Ctrl+Shift+T (Win) or Cmd+Shift+T (Mac) to restore a closed browser tab, you can also right-click on the new tab plus sign and select Reopen closed tab from the pop-up menu. You can do this multiple times and web pages will continue to open in the reverse-order that they were closed.

Turn Multiple Tabs into One and Save Memory with OneTab

Online genealogy research can leave you with a lot of open web browser tabs. While using multiple tabs allows you to jump back and forth between web pages and records, they can take up valuable computer memory.

You can dramatically reduce your memory usage with the OneTab extension available for both the Chrome and Firefox browsers. With one click, OneTab will combine your open tabs into a clickable list in one browser tab. You can even export the list for future reference.

Get OneTab in the Chrome Web Store here
Get OneTab in the Firefox Web Store here

Reduce Email Distractions

  • Gmail now has a Snooze feature which allows you to temporarily file an email until the date and time you select.
  • Snoozed emails will reappear in your Inbox at the scheduled time.
  • Retrieve snoozed emails at any time by clicking “Snoozed” in the menu on the left.

Get Back on Track with MyActivity

When you are signed into your Google account, MyActivity tracks the searches you conduct and the websites you visit. By visiting your MyActivity, you can search for and return to any previous activity. You can also turn it off. Go to MyActivity and click Activity Controls from the menu. Switch the slider to the off position. Visit MyActivity at https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Save Time by Previewing Your Google Search Results

Rather than clicking on each search result and loading the page (which also takes you away from the rest of your search results), use  the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome. Once installed you can simply hover your mouse over a result link to reveal a preview of the page. Then you can decide whether to click through or preview additional results.

Click here to get the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome.

Resources for Further Learning

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

Genealogy Gems Premium Videos:

  • Organize Your Online Life
  • Using Evernote to Create a Research Plan

Evernote Quick Reference Guide, by Lisa Louise Cooke. Available at Genealogy Gems Store

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Member

 

Video #5 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy – Libraries and Archives

VIDEO & SHOW NOTES: Video #5 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy YouTube Playlist. In this video, my guest presenter Gena Philibert-Ortega covers Library and Archive websites that are must-haves for family history research. You’ll find plenty of genealogy gems waiting for free at websites #23 through 25 in our list.

 

Websites 23 through 25 of our 25  Websites for Genealogy

Some of these websites will be new to you, and others are going to be very familiar to you. In talking about the familiar websites, I want to get you thinking about them differently, explain a little bit more about what you can do at these websites, and how to get the most out of them.

In this series of 25 Websites for Genealogy, we’re going to be looking at websites in different categories. Our third category is Library and Archive websites (#23 through 25). 

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

Website #23: WorldCat

https://worldcat.org

WorldCat.org is a free website that provides access through its card catalog to millions of materials from libraries around the world. You’ll find items such as:

  • United States Civil War and other military records
  • Family Bibles, church histories, and records
  • Publications such as directories, handbooks, and magazines
  • Birth, marriage, death, wills, and obituary indexes
  • Microfilmed genealogy and local history collections
  • Newspapers from around the world
  • Photographs
  • Town histories
  • probate records
Searching for name variations at WorldCat

How to search for name variations at WorldCat.

 

Learn more with this video from Lisa Louise Cooke: 5 Things You Should Be Doing at WorldCat.

Website #24: ArchiveGrid

https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/ 

This lesser-known free website can help you locate old documents and manuscript items available in over 1,500 different archival collections. ArchiveGrid currently includes close to 5 million archival item entries!

ArchiveGrid is a companion website to WorldCat, the free online catalog of millions of library items from thousands of libraries. The difference is that ArchiveGrid focuses not on published items but (generally-speaking) on unpublished ones.

List of genealogical results at ArchiveGrid.

 

Watch this video from Lisa Louise Cooke: Bust Brick Walls & Go Deeper with ArchiveGrid (Premium)

Read How to Find Original Manuscripts with ArchiveGrid.

Click here to read this article.

 

Website #25: National Archives

https://www.archives.gov

The National Archives website and online catalog can be a bit mystifying. If you’ve ever tried to search it and wound up frustrated, you’re not alone. This is often the case because the nature of the archives and the search function of the online Catalog are not genealogically focused. Armed with an understanding of how and why it is set up the way it is, and the know-how to search, refine, and download documents, you’ll be ready to add it to your genealogy toolkit.

More links at the National Archives:

Learn more with this video from Lisa Louise Cooke: How to Search the U.S. National Archives Online Catalog for Genealogy

Resources:

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

Not a Premium Member yet? Discover the benefits and join today. 

 

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.

 

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