These genealogy sleuths used Facebook for family history when they responded to a plea to help return a family Bible to its family.
Back on March 21, Donna Whitten posted a video on her church Facebook page. Her post says, “How far would you go to get back something you’ve lost?”
She was talking about a 150 year-old family Bible she’d come across while antiquing one day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her post says, “We want to find this family and return it to them! Can you help?” (Click here to see that post and video.)
That video post got 34,000 views, thanks in part to more than 600 people who shared it! Family history fans immediately stepped up to the challenge. They looked for names on Ancestry.com and reached out to tree owners. Within two days, several descendants were aware of the Bible and asking for copies. The bible eventually went to a woman in California named Carrie Robinson, who has been researching her tree for several years. It contained obituaries clipped from newspapers and handwritten vital family events. (Wouldn’t you love to receive that kind of family treasure?) Click here to watch the follow-up video about when Donna took the bible to the new owner.
Hats off to Donna and her team of sleuths who took the time to find Carrie’s family and return their past to them! I find a few take-home messages in this story:
Social media is a great way to cast your net wide, not just when you’re sharing family history, but when you’re looking for information. Click here to read more about gathering memories through Facebook.
You can watch for orphaned heirlooms in your path and return them to descendants. Click here to read tips on how to do that.
The video Donna created got attention on Facebook! Video is powerful. Use it to share your family history. (Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I appreciate you using these links because that compensation helps make the Genealogy Gems blog possible. Thank you!)Click here to read about Animoto, a DIY-video making service I love that lets you produce your own professional-quality videos. Below is one quick video I created. Can you say shareable?!
Family history videos can captivate the non-genealogists in your family. In this step-by-step video series I’m going to show you how to create them quickly and easily!
If you’ve spent some time researching your family history, your discoveries probably look like this: old documents like census records and death certificates – not exactly exciting stuff to your kids and grand kids. And yet they are the ones you hope to pass your family’s history on to.
The truth is that the non-genealogists in your family may not be all that captivated by the same things you are. You can solve the “boring genealogy” problem with a tech tool that will help you create fabulous and captivating family history videos. It’s called Animoto. It’s super-fast and incredibly easy, and no special skills are required.
(Full disclosure: The links I provide in this article are affiliate links, but if you follow me then you know that I only recommend and provide links for services I use myself and think are “Gems.”)
There are many wonderful opportunities to share videos:
Birthdays, Weddings, & Anniversaries
Facebook and other social media
Your own genealogy website or blog
Riveting Family History Videos
Creating digital video can be intimidating. In the past I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on video editing software, and then invested hours trying to learn how to use it. When my eldest daughter got married, I offered to create a short (5 minute) video to show prior to the ceremony. My goal was simple: create a heart-warming look back at the bride and groom and how they found each other, including old photos, nice fading transitions, a few home movie video clips, and a favorite song. That short video took 3 days to create! It’s that kind of financial and time investment that keeps so many of us from attempting family history videos.
…you can use Animoto to create family history videos.
I want you to see what Animoto can do to help you share your genealogy research through riveting family history videos. In this first video we’re going to lay the groundwork for the story you’re going to tell in your video. In fact, you’ll probably find that this step takes longer than actually creating the video! Click the video below to watch Episode One of my series Creating Captivating Family History Videos. Then click here to head to my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Click the SUBSCRIBE button to get all new upcoming free videos.
This recipe for a Victorian fruit cake skips the poor-quality candied fruit that gives some pre-made modern fruitcakes a bad reputation (especially in the US). Instead, fresh coconut, citron and almonds fill this cake to bursting with natural flavors and textures.
Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.
This holiday season, Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman is helping us celebrate all things Victorian, especially recipes! Keep reading to find links to the Victorian holiday recipes we’ve shared recently.
In this post: a fruit cake that lives up to its history as a rich, flavorful dessert that’s worthy of the season.
Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.
Victorian Fruit Cake Recipe
Sarah Chrisman shared this recipe for a white fruit cake with us, along with this picture of her cracking a coconut in preparation for making this dish:
“Stir to a cream one pound of butter and one pound of powdered sugar.
Add the beaten yolks of twelve eggs, one pound of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder.
Grate one coconut, blanch and chop one-half pound of almonds, and slice one-half pound of citron and stir into the stiffly beaten white of the eggs and add to the batter.
Put in pan lined with buttered paper, and bake slowly two hours.”
-By Mrs. W.S. Standish, Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. pp. 56-57.
Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to blanch almonds:
What is Citron?
It’s a citrus fruit that is something like a lemon. According to this blog post on using citron in fruitcakes, it’s not always easy to find fresh citrons, but you can ask at your best local markets for a supplier near you or look for high-quality prepared citron that can be shipped to you.
Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman will join host Lisa Louise Cooke in the December Genealogy Gems and Genealogy Gems Premium podcasts to talk about her everyday Victorian lifestyle.
Victorian lifestyle expert and author Sarah Chrisman shares favorite–and authentic–recipes for tangy homemade cranberry sauce (served hot or cold) and a hearty vegetable hash.
Sarah Chrisman, who lives every day like it’s Victorian times and writes about it in several books, is the current featured author for the Genealogy Gems Book Club. She’ll join both the Genealogy Gems podcast and the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast in December to talk about Victorian-style holidays and her books, including This Victorian Life.
In the coming weeks, Sarah will share her favorite mouth-watering, made-from-scratch Victorian recipes here on the Genealogy Gems blog. Some of her recipes come straight from cookbooks of the time period, and others she has adapted for modern kitchens and tastes.
Below, she shares a simple recipe for tangy cranberry sauce, simmered from whole, fresh cranberries, and a hot, hearty vegetable hash side dish, which Sarah calls “a good way to use up leftovers after the holiday!”
“Pick over and wash two cupfuls of fine cranberries. Put them in an earthen dish, pour over a cup of sugar, add a cupful of boiling water, cover, and cook gently nearly an hour. Serve hot or cold.”
-From Catering for Two, by Alice L. James. G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York and London. (n.d.) p. 178.
Note: the above edition of Catering for Two isn’t dated, but a first edition found online is dated 1898.
Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.
Chop rather coarsely the remains of vegetables left from a boiled dinner, such as cabbage, parsnips, potatoes, etc.
Sprinkle over them a little pepper.
Place in a saucepan or frying-pan over the fire.
Put in a piece of butter the size of a hickory nut.
When it begins to melt, tip the dish so as to oil the bottom, and around the sides.
Then put in the chopped vegetables.
Pour in a spoonful or two of hot water from the tea-kettle.
Cover quickly so as to keep in the steam.
When heated thoroughly take off the cover and stir occasionally until well cooked.
“Persons fond of vegetables will relish this dish very much.”
–The Capitol Cook Book, 1896, p. 188
More Recipes for a Very Victorian Holiday Season
Click here to see last week’s Victorian-era recipe for a rich roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing and gravy. (We even included a quick how-to video tutorial for trussing the turkey!)
Time-lapse videos first intrigued me as a child when I watched a little seed grow into a beautiful flower in a matter of seconds. Now, illuminating time-lapse videos and tools are helping genealogists visualize our changing world.
Last month, animator Max Galka published a time-lapse map of the history of urbanization over nearly 6,000 years in just three minutes.
Mr. Galka mentions on his blog that tracking urbanization occuring before the mid-20th century was a difficult task – until recently. A team of Yale researchers published a collection of urban population data dating back to ancient times which helped Galka create his video. Their collection was quoted to be a “clean, accessible dataset of cities, their locations, and their populations over time.”
I was surprised how quickly things changed and found it amazing still how many places in the world are yet to be “urbanized.”
Time-lapse Video Covering Immigration to the U.S. Since 1820
Again, Max Galka presented an amazing animation of immigration to the United States. This creation shows the countries that sent the most people to the U.S. since 1820.
The U.S. is a nation of immigrants, says Galka. As each dot flies across the page, it represents 10,000 people who immigrated to the U.S. In the bottom left corner, Mr. Galka lists the three top countries where immigrants are coming from at any given time. I was stunned as the map lit up in Russia and Africa only fairly recently. It is clearly shown that the U.S. is indeed a nation of immigrants in this colorful time-lapse video.
Time-lapse Tools for Genealogy
As a genealogist, I am constantly in search of county records. So many times, county lines or boundaries changed. I even have one family that lived on the same farm, but technically resided in three different counties over a period of about 50 years. We can’t possibly know when each county of any given state was formed or created, until now that is.
One of my favorite tools for discovering county changes over time is the Map of US.org website. You can find a map of each of the 50 states and run the interactive formation sequence. For example, I can find the Ohio map.
The Ohio map begins in 1788. It indicates the one county in the Northwest Territory (today’s Ohio) at that time. Washington County was formed as the original county of the Northwest Territory and was created from part of Illinois County, Virginia. That’s another reason I love these interactive maps. With the creation of each county, the map indicates from which parent county or counties it was formed. This is a great help for genealogy research. When I can’t find my targeted ancestor in the county I thought they should be in, I can determine when the county was formed and from what parent county or counties it was formed from. Then, I can quickly determine the other locations that may have records I need.
In addition to the interactive time-lapse maps, each state has a list of other helpful maps that may be of interest to you. For example, the map links for Oregon include the Historical Maps of Oregon, a set of beautiful old maps that can be viewed or downloaded.
Maps can give us a bigger picture of our county, our state, our country, and even the world. These tools help us picture our ever-changing world. What impacted you the most while watching these videos? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
If you feel inspired to learn more about map visualization, you will enjoy Lisa’s Google Earth video. Lisa was an early pioneer of genealogical data visualization and has been teaching genealogists how to use the free software for the last several years. You can watch the free Google Earth for Genealogy video here or check out her revised and updated e-book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox 2nd Editionto learn even more tips and tricks for Google genealogy research.