You’re probably aware that the David Rumsey map collection website is a terrific source for old maps. But you may be surprised by the variety of maps, some which you likely don’t come across every day. Here’s a fun little tactic I took today to see what it may hold in store beyond typical maps. A search of the word neighborhood reveals that their holdings go well beyond traditional maps. Here’s an example from San Francisco showing a neighborhood in its infancy:
And the image below depicts the Country Club district of Kansas City in the 1930s. If your family lived there at that time, this is a real gem.
If you think Google Books is just books, think again. Historic maps, often unique and very specific, can often be found within those digitized pages. Try running a Google search such as: neighborhood map baltimore.
Click the MORE menu and select BOOKS. Then click the SEARCH TOOLS button at the top of the results list, and from the drop down menu select ANY BOOKS and then click FREE GOOGLE BOOKS:
Select a book that looks promising. Then rather than reading through the pages or scanning the index, save loads of time by clicking the thumbnail view button at the top of the book. This way you can do a quick visual scan for pages featuring maps!
When you find a page featuring a map, click it display it on a single page. You can now use the clipper tool built right in to Google Books to clip an image of the map. Other options include using Evernote (free) or Snagit ($).
Like Google Books, the digitized pages housed at the Chronicling America website contain much more than just text. Old newspapers printed maps to help readers understand current events like the progress of war or the effect of a natural disaster. This map from The Tacoma Times in 1914 shows a map of Europe and several quick facts about the “Great War,” World War I:
The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.
Here’s one more example below. A search for “San Francisco earthquake” at Chronicling America brought up this bird’s eye view of San Francisco at the time of the major 1906 earthquake. Articles below the map explain what you’re seeing:
The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.
Here’s some countdown information from the planners to help you find your way around:
To get your RootsTech name badge and conference materials, stop by Registration Check-In located in the South foyer of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Be sure to bring photo ID. Avoid the lines and check in at your earliest convenience! Registration Check-In is open at the following times:
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Innovator Summit) and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Friday Night Fun at the Library
The Family History Library is the place for a Friday Night Pizza Party. The largest library of its kind in the world is staying open late for you. Come do some research, find a name, and grab a slice of pizza. There will be an “Open Mic Night” for five-minute story sharing and then catch an episode of The Story Trek, hosted by Todd Hansen, who will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech Saturday morning. Tickets for the pizza are nearly gone, but the library is open late that night for everyone!
Interactive and Hands-on
Be sure to check out the new Family Discovery Exhibit, sponsored by FamilySearch, in the RootsTech Expo Hall. It includes:
Photo Scanning Area. Make digital copies of family photos that you can preserve, share, and even upload directly to your FamilySearch Family Tree. There are also plenty of high-capacity scanners that make great digital copies quickly. What to do: Bring the photos you want to scan and a flash drive.
Recording Booth – Record Your Story. Video or audio record your favorite family story in one of our enclosed sound booths. Your private recording session includes ten minutes of recording time and you’ll get a copy of it on a flash drive. Enjoy sharing the memory for many years to come. What to do: Think of a family story or memory that you want to capture and preserve. Story helps will be provided on-site.
Record a Call – With Someone Who Inspires You. Make a phone call that will last a lifetime. Simply call a parent, grandparent, or someone who inspires you and find out more about their life. Our app will record the conversation and you can take it and treasure the memory for years. What to do: Bring a phone number of a person you want to call and interview, as well as an email address you’d like to send the recorded file to.
See Yourself in History. How would you look as a cowboy or as one of the pretty maids all in a row? Have your face (and the faces of your friends) added to one of several fun antique photos and e-mail yourself a digital copy you can share. What to do: Have an email address to send your new photo to.
FamilySearch Book Scanning Booth. Get your family book scanned for free. We’ll make a digital copy, you keep the original and a searchable PDF copy for yourself. You can also donate personal works, books that are copyright protected, and books that are in the public domain. Questions? Email email@example.com.
A new “Archivist in a Backpack” project to support community archiving offers genealogists a great idea: a portable archiving kit for on-the-go genealogy research and preservation projects. The Archive Lady Melissa Barker explains the initiative and offers...
There’s a story behind every census record. In fact, there are as many stories as there are names on each census page. This is true not just for people being enumerated, but also for the census-takers themselves.
A female census taker interviews a mother and child for the 1950 US Census. Image courtesy of the US Census Bureau, found at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/uscensusbureau/5020542240/in/photostream/.
I was reminded of this by Joanne, author of the Researching Relatives blog. She wrote in response to a blog post I wrote about a census taker a few months ago:
“Thank you for inspiring me with one of your posts from October. I never paid attention to the census takers until I read your post, and then I went back and looked at some random pages and found two female census enumerators.”
Of course I went right to her blog. She says she looked through random census entries about her relatives without finding anything special. Then, “In the 1930 census, the enumerator was Anna M. Allen and, in 1940, it was Bessie Dorgan. I’m guessing that female census takers weren’t that unusual, but it still caught me by surprise. So like Lisa, I wanted to find out more.” She put her research skills to work and learned more about these women and their roles as providers for their family. Click here to read more about her discovery.
Do you blog about your family history? Have you ever blogged about a discovery made in response to a tip you got from Genealogy Gems? I’d love to hear about it! Learn more about blogging your family history in myFREE Family History Made Easy podcast,episodes 38-42. Learn how-tos and get inspired by the stories of others who are sharing their family history discoveries online!
Millions of us already rely on Siri (that disembodied voice on our iPhones) to find us the nearest gas station, make hands-free calls and answer random questions. Amazon Echo now offers that same kind of voice-activated help throughout your house.
There’s a lot of good gadgetry in the Iron Man movies, but my favorite is Jarvis, the virtual butler in Tony Stark’s house. He anticipates Tony’s every need, controls his home technology, even comments on his personal life.
Jarvis immediately came to mind when I heard about the new Amazon Echo from longtime Premium Member Jennifer from California. She raved about it so enthusiastically I bought one!
For $179, the Amazon Echo gives you “an always-listening Siri for your living room,”as FastCompany.com describes it. “It’s Amazon’s vision of the platform of the future, one that gives you the ability to control your home by voice.”
So why am I, a genealogy podcaster, blogging about the Amazon Echo? Well, it works as a whole-house sound system for listening to music, audio books and–you guessed it–podcasts! Thanks to the smartphone, podcast listening has become much more convenient thanks to native podcast apps like Apple’s “Podcasts”and our own Genealogy Gems Podcast app. But when it comes to listening at home, you may not always want to be tethered to your smartphone or iPod. Now, with the Echo, you don’t have to be.
The Genealogy Gems Podcast is now on the Echo. To the best of my knowledge, podcasts are only available on the Echo via TuneIn. I knew as soon as I fell in love with Amazon Echo that The Genealogy Gems Podcast needed to be there. And now it is! TuneIn has added the Genealogy Gems podcast to its lineup so you can listen with the Amazon Echo. Click here to visit our TuneIn page.
But using the Echo for listening is just the beginning! “The key is what’s inside: Alexa, an always-listening Siri for your living room,” says that same Fastcompany.com article. “It’s Amazon’s vision of the platform of the future, one that gives you the ability to control your home by voice.”
my Amazon Echo fresh out of the box
For example? It syncs with Google Calendar. Sweet! When I need to know the next deadline coming up, I ask Alexa. When I get an inspiration for the next podcast episode in the middle of making dinner (with marinade up to my elbows) I just tell Alexa to add it to my To Do list. And when I use that last clove of garlic, I just say “Alexa, add garlic to the shopping list.”
The Echo can also read you breaking headlines, tell you the weather forecast, set a timer or alarm for you, and interact with other home technologies that are gradually gaining that capacity. And of course it can answer your random questions, too. (Try these fun questions and commands from other Echo owners.)
The most challenging part of installation: “Where does the plug go?” Right here in the bottom of the Echo!
I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of Echo! I just call her name and give her a command and she does it. I’m surprised how much I enjoy having her in the kitchen.
If you decide to purchase Amazon Echo, thanks for using our links! Your purchases support the free Genealogy Gems podcast and all the free content on our website.
My dog Howie listening to Alexa (you can tell Alexa is talking because the top lights up)