Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished April 29, 2014
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Download the Show Notes for this Episode
Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.
Episode 29: Immigration and Naturalization Records for Family History, Part 1
In this podcast episode, one of my favorite experts talks about one of my favorite topics: immigration and naturalization records. Stephen Danko, PhD is a genealogy lecturer and a very popular blogger. In this episode he’s helping U.S. genealogists cross the pond through the use of immigration and naturalization records. He’ll talk to us about the challenges we’ll face in locating these records—and some documents you may not even know existed: certificates of arrival.
In the next episode, we’ll continue our conversation with a discussion of Departure Passenger Lists. Departure information from European ports is often available on microfilm at the Family History Library, on Ancestry.com or other websites. Some of the passenger steamship lines themselves kept departure lists, like the White Star Line or the Red Star Line, and these are on microfilm.
Here are my favorite tips from the episode:
Once you find an ancestral hometown, use Stephen Morse’s advanced search tools (see below) to look for others who arrived from the same place. This can help you identify other relatives, friends and others who part of a group or chain migration.
Usually we start with the most recent records and work backward. But when we look for immigration and naturalization records, look FIRST for immigration papers. THEN look for naturalization papers they may have filed later. You know they arrived—but not every immigrant naturalized, and their naturalization papers may have been filed in multiple places and may not be indexed.
Beginning in 1926, applicants for naturalization who arrived in 1906 or later had to be issued a certificate of arrival. These certificates were issued after their names were confirmed by the government on the original passenger lists. Between 1926 and 1943, information about certificates of arrival was noted on the original passenger lists.
The certificate of arrival information helps you in two ways:
- The date tells you about when they applied for naturalization
- The first part of the certificate number is the naturalization district (Northeast, Midwest, West coast, etc), to help you narrow down where to look.
Anything that helps you narrow down a search for naturalization records helps!
Updates and Links
About 70 million immigration and naturalization records have been indexed in recent years through an enormous community indexing project led by FamilySearch. Check out their site (below) to see what records are searchable now.
FamilySearch.org Immigration and Naturalization Online Resources
One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse (Ellis Island Search Tool)
Timeline of U.S. Immigration Laws
We know you want to keep up-to-date with where Lisa will be giving her lectures and presentations. This fall, we have three upcoming events. Here all the details:
Lisa Louise Cooke speaking at the Columbus Ohio Metropolitan Library
Upcoming Events: Kansas
The Johnson County Genealogical Society will be holding an all day seminar on the 22nd of October. Lisa’s topics include:
- How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case
- The Great Google Earth Game Show
- Tap Into Your Inner Private Eye: Nine Strategies for Finding Living Relatives
- Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps
What: Johnson County Genealogical Society 2016 Annual Seminar
When: Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
Where: The Ritz Charles Event Center, 9000 West 137th Street, Overland Park, KS 66221
The event will take place at the Ritz Charles Event Center, 9000 West 137th St., Overland Park, Kansas. Registration is now open. To register online, click here.
Upcoming Event: Texas
Next on the list is the four day conference hosted by the Texas State Genealogical Society. This conference will take place in Dallas on October 27th through the 30th, and includes 35 speakers and an exhibit hall. Lisa will be giving two lectures:
- Beginning Evernote for Genealogists
- Using Google Earth for Genealogy
What: Texas State Genealogical Society Conference
When: Oct. 27 – 30, 2016
Where: Crowne Plaza Dallas Downtown
Online registration and payment is available through October 21st, but after that date you will need to register and pay in-person at the event, if space is still available.
Upcoming Events: Florida
Lisa’s final in-person speaking engagement for 2016 will be presenting as the Keynote Speaker for the 20th Annual Central Florida Family History Conference.
What: 20th Annual Central Florida Family History Conference
When: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Where: Olympia High School at 4301 S. Apopka Vineland Rd., Orlando, Florida.
You can register for the all-day conference online here. If you have a young person who is interested in genealogy, you’ll want to be aware that all students under the age of 18 are admitted free! Learn more details by visiting the Central Florida Family History Conference homepage.
Can’t Make it to an Upcoming Event?
A Premium Membership to Genealogy Gems will give you access to over 30 of Lisa Louise Cooke’s video classes. From Evernote to DNA, Cloud computing and advanced research techniques, you will find this a great resource for your learning and inspiration. For more information on becoming a Premium Member, click here.
Do you wish you knew more about your ancestor’s everyday life experience? Use social history for genealogy: to fill in the gaps between documented events.
Recently we heard from Barbara Starmans, a social historian, genealogist and longtime listener of three of Lisa’s podcasts. She wrote to share a new blog she started.
“While I’ve maintained my Out of My Tree Genealogy blog for many years, I’ve just launched The Social Historian, a longform story website featuring social history themed articles from across the centuries and around the world.”
Social history is about “the lives of ordinary people,” explains Barbara. “It is a view of history from the bottom up, rather than from the top down…. [It’s about] understanding…how people lived, worked and played in their daily lives. It is often the minutia of someone’s life that tells the story of who they were and what they believed in.”
“By exploring social history, you will be able to research all the circumstances of your ancestors’ lives and to build their life stories from the details you find.” Barbara send us a great list that we adapted and boiled down to a few core topics:
- Life cycle: Birth and birthing customs, health and lifestyle practices, medicine, diseases and epidemics, mental health, mortality rates, death and burial customs.
- Life at home: Clothing and fashion, food and cooking, housekeeping, land and property, alcohol and drug use.
- Life at work: Economy (prices, cost of living and salaries), occupations, working conditions and the labor movement, businesses and employers, social welfare and relief.
- Relationships: Morality, marriage and divorce, children and childhood, ethnicity and prejudices,
- Community life: Celebrations and holidays, traditions, education, language and literacy, religion/church, faith, crime and punishment, societal unrest, leisure pursuits.
- Game changers: War, emigration, inventions, transportation, communication, slavery and emancipation.
Barbara’s social history blog gives lots of great examples of her belief that “beyond just names and dates, those who came before us have a story to tell….By learning about their time and place and how they lived in it, you can add to your understanding of who they were.”
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke is packed with strategies for learning about your ancestors’ lives online. There’s an entire chapter on using Google Scholar for genealogy!
Where can you look for social history online? I’d start with these sites:
1. Make sure you’re using all of Google’s fantastic resources, including Google Books and Google Scholar
2. Click to find Social history resources at the Library of Congress
3. American Social History Project at the City University of New York
Have fun! I think learning about the everyday lives of our ancestors is one of the most fascinating parts of family history.
Thanks for sharing this post with others who will enjoy it!
It’s time for genealogists to start making plans for the RootsTech 2020 conference to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I’ve been attending and speaking at RootsTech since 2011, the second year that the conference was held. It’s been so rewarding to be a part of the evolution of this event! This 10th anniversary in 2020 promises to top them all.
I’ll be delivering four presentations this year:
- Reconstruct Your Ancestors’ Stories with Google
- Genealogy in Your Ears: Podcasters Talk Podcast
- 3 Cool Cases Solved: How to Identify Your Photos (premiering at RootsTech!)
- The 2020 Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology
Each year holds new surprises and opportunities to connect with your fellow genealogists. Below is the recent RootsTech press release providing all the details on registration. And here’s a tip: If you’re travelling from out of town, book your accommodations right away. Some hotels have already sold out.
RootsTech crowds enjoy the many attractions of the popular annual event.SALT LAKE CITY (18 September 2019)—
FamilySearch International has announced that registration for RootsTech 2020 Salt Lake City is now open.
RootsTech is a popular 4-day annual family history and technology conference where individuals and families are inspired to discover, share, and preserve their family roots, heritage, and stories.
The 2020 conference will be held February 26–29, 2020, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, visit rootstech.org/salt-lake. Discounts are available for early registrations.
In 2019, RootsTech attracted over 20,000 attendees from 38 different countries and all 50 states.
RootsTech 2020 will celebrate its 10th anniversary and the distinguished honor that it is the largest genealogy conference of its kind in the world.
The conference will feature a full lineup of inspiring and well-known keynote speakers, over 300 informative sessions, including hands-on computer workshops taught by industry professionals; interactive activities and helpful exhibitors in the expo hall; and entertaining events—all designed to inspire and empower personal family discoveries.
The theme for RootsTech 2020 will be “The Story of YOU.” Many of the classes, keynote address, and venue décor will reflect this theme.
“At RootsTech, we believe that the stories we’re creating and preserving today are just as important as the stories of our ancestors,” said Jen Allen, event director. “Reflecting on and celebrating each of our personal journeys is an important part of family history that we are excited to explore at the 2020 conference.”
RootsTech 2020 will also introduce learning forums—new class sessions covering a variety of specialized topics including: records access and preservation, innovation and technology, and DNA. One of these forums will be offered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
RootsTech 2020 will officially begin on Wednesday, February 26 with class sessions beginning at 8 AM MT. Wednesday’s general keynote session will begin on the main stage at 4:30 p.m. Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, will be the featured keynote speaker.
General keynote sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will begin on the main stage at 11 AM MT and will lead directly into the lunch hour.
Read more about what’s new at RootsTech 2020.
RootsTech Conference Pricing
Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $169 (a $130 discount on regularly priced passes). Single day RootsTech passes are also available for $99. Both one-day and full conference passes include access to the popular expo hall and keynote sessions. Early bird pricing ends October 11, 2019.
Family Discovery Day at RootsTech 2020
Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open.
The event takes place on Saturday, February 26, 2020, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This free 1-day event includes inspiring messages from Church leaders; engaging classes for families, youth, and young single adults; and evening entertainment to inspire and help families make family history connections.
My kids and their friend having fun at RootsTech
Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors found in the RootsTech expo hall. Event details, including speakers and class sessions, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org.
The event is free, but registration is required.
Considering Going for the First Time?
If you’ll be attending RootsTech for the first time, we’ve got loads of tips that will help make your experience awesome. Read my article RootsTech questions: Tips for attending world’s biggest genealogy event.
Looking for a Smaller Genealogy Event?
If you enjoy a more intimate genealogy event setting, consider joining me at Genealogy Roots. It’s two days of genealogy education with me and my special guest Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. It’s coming soon: October 10 & 11, 2019 in Sandy, Utah, just 25 minutes south of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Learn more and get the early-bird special on tickets here.
The genetic genealogy community has a crush. A big one. Everyone is talking about it. “It has such great features,” says one. “It has a chromosome browser!” exclaims another. “It’s FREE!” they all shout. What’s all the hype about? GEDmatch.
GEDmatch is a mostly free online tool where anyone with autosomal DNA test results from 23andMe, FTDNA, and AncestryDNA can meet and share information. All you need to do is download your data from your testing company and upload it into your newly created GEDmatch account.
Gedmatch Find Matches
GEDmatch is set up just like your testing company and provides two kinds of reports: ethnicity results and a match list. Remember, ethnicity results, meaning those pie charts that report you are 15% Italian and 32% Irish, are based on two factors: a reference population and fancy math. GEDmatch has gathered data from multiple academic sources to provide you with several different iterations of ethnicity reports. This is like getting a second (and third and fourth, etc) opinion on a science that is still emerging. It is a fun exercise, but will likely not impact your genealogy research very much.
The more important match list does allow you to see genetic cousins who have tested at other companies. Of course, only those who have downloaded their results and entered them into GEDmatch will show up on your list. This means GEDmatch has the potential to expand your pool of genetic cousins, increasing your chances of finding someone to help you track down that missing ancestor.
Many also flock to GEDmatch because they were tested at AncestryDNA and so do not have access to a chromosome browser. A chromosome browser allows you to visualize the physical locations that you share with someone else (see below). Some find this a helpful tool when analyzing their DNA matches, though in my opinion, it is not essential.
GEDmatch also has some great genealogy features that let you analyze your pedigree against someone else’s, as well as the ability to search all the pedigree charts in their system so you can look specifically for a descendant of a particular relative. However, even with all of these great features, GEDmatch is still yet another website you have to navigate. With that, there will be a learning curve and certainly some frustration.
GEDMatch or Not?
So, is it worth it? If you are fairly comfortable with the website where you were tested, and you are feeling both curious and patient, I say go for it!
It’s too much to tell you right this minute how to download your data from your testing site and upload it to GEDmatch, but you’re in luck! I’ve put step-by-step instructions for getting started in a free tutorial on my website at www.yourDNAguide.com/transferring.