Your Adventures are the Family History of Your Descendants

Family History isn’t just about looking at the past – it’s also celebrating and preserving the present for generations to come. Your adventures today are the family history of your descendants tomorrow!

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(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!)

The mammoth RootsTech family history conference in Salt Lake City was a true family affair for me this year. I’ve been speaking at the conference since its launch in 2011, but this was the first year that my husband Bill and daughter Hannah joined the Genealogy Gems team at our exhibit booth. Running the booth is a huge undertaking, and Hannah captured the heart of it with her GoPro camera in this stunning 1 minute video:

What fascinates me about this video is how she captured so much and was able to share it in such a quick and entertaining way. The GoPro did the time-lapse and photography legwork, but our favorite video creation app, (and sponsor of The Genealogy Gems Podcast) Animoto, turned it into something special, and shareable.

It’s Nice, but Sometimes Difficult, to Share

Shareable! Ah, my mind wanders back to the closet in the spare bedroom of my Grandma’s house. As a kid, I would open that door and see boxes of super 8 home movies and envelopes of photographs stacked on her cedar chest. In her youth, she meticulously assembled scrapbooks. But as the years passed and she got busy raising a family and working as a maternity nurse, her passion for documenting her family’s life turned into a pile of media and good intentions.

Fast forward to today: sharing thoughtfully assembled photos and videos can still be a challenge. Do you have “stacks” of videos and photos on your smart phone or computer waiting for some TLC? Finding the time is as much of a challenge today as it was in my Grandma’s day. And that’s where Animoto makes a monumental difference. This powerful web and mobile app not only dramatically reduces the time it takes to assemble a video; it also eliminates major roadblocks like:

  • Not possessing technical know-how,
  • Struggling with creativity and design elements,
  • Time-consuming massaging of transitions to fit the music,
  • and finding the right music that doesn’t infringe on someone else’s copyright.

The Road to RootsTech

I flew out to Salt Lake City for meetings just prior to the RootsTech conference. Bill and Hannah loaded up the booth into a trailer and drove the 2400 miles round trip. Here’s how Hannah described the trip:

When I was young, Dad and I travelled with my softball team often, but it’s a rare occurrence these days. On the start of my drive with my dad from Dallas to Salt Lake City, I thought to myself “if I’m going to record footage and images of our experience at Rootstech, then I should document how we got there!” Stories of major events always gets told, but life is a journey and that story deserves telling too.

Knowing that I planned on creating a video actually encouraged us to have fun, and Dad and I made an effort to find interesting stops along the way like the iconic Cadillac Ranch along Route 66. The end result was a spectacular father-daughter travel adventure, and a video that preserves the fun forever. Check it out:

Here are some of Hannah’s tips for easily creating a professional quality video of the history you are making today:

  • When working on your computer, create a folder dedicated to your project. That way you can just copy the images and videos into it and leave the original archived. When working on mobile, I organize my media into an Album in my iPhone’s Photos.
  • I love that you can just drag and drop your photos and video clips directly into Animoto and rearrange them to suit your story. The beauty of working on your mobile device is that images and video already appear chronologically making that process even easier.
  • Animoto makes it easy by offering up music that is suited to the video style you choose. But you can exert your creativity by selecting new different song from their music library. In your project, click Change Song > Browse Full Library, and then check the boxes for the type of music you have in mind such as the event, mood, or whether you want instrumental or vocal music.

Get Started Creating Your First Video

Whether you want to create an animated slideshow video of your Grandfather’s World War II Naval years or document this year’s father-daughter road trip, Animoto makes it super quick and easy. Simply start by signing up for a free Animoto account  here and click the Create button. Learn more about creating your videos here on our resource page.

(Disclaimer: When I fell in love with Animoto, I welcomed them as a sponsor of The Genealogy Gems Podcast. However, any opinions expressed about this product, or any other, are my own.)

Colonial Genealogy Records – New & Updated Record Collections

Colonial genealogy records are just the tip of the iceberg in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. If your roots go back to the early days of the American colonies, you will want to get started in these unique colonial genealogy records. Additionally, some fantastic finds for the United Kingdom and Denmark are also available in this week’s gems.

dig these new record collections

Attention! Special Announcement!

Each week, we bring you the new and updated genealogical collections at Findmypast and many other genealogy websites. This week, we are excited to announce that Findmypast is offering a new and lower annual subscription price! Get this brand new “Starter” local package by clicking here.

Findmypast offers millions of genealogical records including U.S. birth, marriage and death records, U.S. immigration and travel records, U.S. newspapers and a collection of U.K. census records.

United States and Canada – Transatlantic Migration

First things first: where and when did your early American family arrive in the New World? Findmypast has added a new collection titled United States, Transatlantic Migration. This collection offers more than 30,000 records shedding light on the lives of your migrating ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and France from as early as the 1500s to as recent as the 1900s. Some information you may be able to find include: birth countries, date of emigration, ages, occupations, and names of family members. Once you have found where your family settled, head on over to the next record set for founding families.

United States – Colonial Genealogy Records

Findmypast’s colonial genealogy records set titled United States, Early American Families is a one-of-a-kind collection. These records will help you learn even more about your ancestral ties to early founding families in America. Dive into 140 publications containing over 86,000 records. These records provide details regarding the early families and their descendants. You might even learn the birth or death year of your family’s brick wall ancestor!

A sister colonial genealogy records collection titled United States, Early American Vital Records will also be of interest to those searching the colonial American family. This collection is filled with over 14,000 vital records as early as the 1600s! You will be delighted with the many birth, marriage, and death registers, gravestone inscriptions, and wills you can find here.

United States – Connecticut – Town Vitals

The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town records, also from Findmypast, contains over 18,000 vital record volumes pertaining to Connecticut towns. You will need to search these records by surname. If your ancestral surname is located, you will find a PDF image that may list the birth or death dates, names of family members, and other personal details of the Connecticut family.

United States – Colonial Williamsburg

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The Colonial Williamsburg Education Resource Library has been made available to everyone with a thirst for learning. What better resource to learn about your colonial American family research than with the library’s more than 100 lesson plans, background texts, and primary source media.

You will need to create an account, but it is free. Even though the account sign-up page seems to be for educators only, it is for everyone! I made my own account and got pretty excited looking through the many videos available. My son, a big history buff, is going to love this! I am always looking for ways to get the kids interested in family history.

United Kingdom – Military

Over 1.1 million War Office records covering officers, nurses, and other ranks have been updated in the British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 collection this past week. These lists cover the individuals reported as killed in action, wounded, prisoner of war, missing, died of wounds, dangerously ill, and more.

This collection at Findmypast is fully searchable and offers transcripts and digital images of the original documents. Most lists will give the person’s name, rank, service number, regiment, and status. It may also provide the date of death if applicable.

Denmark – Census

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FamilySearch.org is where to look for your Danish ancestors! The name index of the Denmark census taken in 1911 is available for free at FamilySearch or with your paid subscription at MyHeritage.

The Denmark census of 1911 was the thirteenth census for the country. Though the census includes the countries of Greenland, Faroe Islands, and the Danish West Indies, what you will find on FamilySearch is only those enumerations for Denmark. The census is divided into three sections: Copenhagen city, other cities, and rural areas.

This census is written in Danish of course, so you might need a little help with some translation. Pop on over to FamilySearch wiki here to find a helpful chart of key words in both Danish and English.

This census asks questions pertaining to names of household members, birth date and year, birth location, religion, occupation, your means of getting to work, and how long it takes to get to your location of work! Isn’t that interesting?!

More Gems on Colonial American Family Research

Looking for even more tips and tricks to researching the colonial American family? Try these Genealogy Gem favorites!

Free PodcastIf you haven’t been enjoying The Genealogy Gems (free!) Podcast, try it out today! A podcast is like listening to a favorite radio show from your computer or mobile device. Get up-to-date with everything new and exciting in the world of genealogy, learn a new tech tip, and find inspiration in these wonderful podcast programs!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Find Your Family History in World War II: WWII Yearbooks

Many of us are interested in learning about our relatives’ World War II military service. One important–but little-known–resource may be a military yearbook.

WWII yearbooks

World War II Era Yearbooks

From Eric, a Genealogy Gems Podcast listener:

Several years ago, my husband was given several mementos of his grandfather’s service in World War II. Among them was his 1942 yearbook of the 302nd Engineer’s Battalion at Fort Jackson, S.C.

WWII yearbook cover

I had never seen anything like this. Its opening pages state, “This is a pictorial record of military engineers preparing for war. As such, it will be cherished by this command in the years to come.” Pages are filled with photos of military exercises, particularly building and blowing things up. There are pages with a brief history of the battalion, group photos with individual names by company, the unit fight song, and behind-the-scenes photographs of inspection, off-hours entertainment, eating and a mock battle.

“All branches of the [U.S.] military generate yearbooks, and have done so since before World War II,” writes military historian and genealogist Eric Johnson in a 2014 issue of Ohio Genealogy News (45:3, pages 20-21, quoted here with permission). “Types of yearbooks include: training centers (boot camps), service schools, academies (U.S. and private), ROTC summer camps, senior officers’ schools, overseas deployments to a war zone or for a naval cruise to foreign ports.”

Eric says the first step to locating WWII yearbooks relevant to an ancestor’s service is to learn the “dates of service, when and where a person attended boot camp and service schools, and where a person was stationed (land or sea).” You can learn this from their military discharge papers or (beginning in 1950) their DD Form 214.

Three places to look online for WWII yearbooks are:

1. Google. A search for “302nd Engineer Battalion” brings up several websites, organizations and lists that may point me to a yearbook and teach me more of the battalion’s history and activities.

2. WorldCat, an enormous multi-library card catalog, with the name of a battalion or regiment and the phrase “military yearbook.” If you don’t find anything, search the unit name a little differently or more broadly. If you find a yearbook at a library, see if you can borrow it through interlibrary loan or (more likely) get copies from its pages.

3. eBay. This huge online auction site specializes in rare items like military yearbooks. Set up an eBay alert so if the yearbook is posted in the future, you’ll find out about it. Learn more about eBay alerts in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 140.

5 More Tips from Eric:

1. Look for military yearbooks in local, private and genealogy libraries, or from other veterans who served with an ancestor.

2. Military associations and reunion committees may have produced yearbooks, and they will likely know what yearbooks exist and perhaps where to find copies. Many of these have good websites.

3. Before purchasing a yearbook sight unseen (these can be pricy), compare a yearbook’s date to your ancestor’s service record. Make sure your ancestor was actually in that unit, boot camp, etc. during that time.

4. Check to see if your relative served on multiple ships or in more than one regiment, base, or posts. You may be looking for multiple yearbooks!

5. It’s possible you won’t find a relevant yearbook or cruise book. While searching, look for histories, living veterans or other resources to help you understand your relative’s military service experience.

More WWII Resources

The Bombing of London in WWII: Interactive Map of The Blitz

Find Your WWII Ancestors with These Military Gems

WWII Ghost Army Marches into Genealogy Gems Podcast

Veterans Day

Here at Genealogy Gems, we {heart} veterans and honor their service. Veterans Day in the U.S. is coming up. How can you honor the veterans in your family or community? #CountdownToVeteransDay How many days until Veterans Day?

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

 

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Might these collections include your ancestors? This week: Civil War stereographs, Dublin workhouse registers, Illinois naturalizations, a Jersey digital archive and Oregon motor registrations and offenses. Don’t miss our Google tip at the end!

CIVIL WAR STEREOGRAPHS. “The Library of Congress has acquired 540 rare and historic Civil War stereographs from the Robin G. Stanford Collection,” says a press release. “The first 77 images are now online, including 12 stereographs of President Lincoln’s funeral procession through several cities and 65 images by Southern photographers showing South Carolina in 1860-61. The images can be viewed in this gallery within the Library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. More images will be added each month, until all are online.”

DUBLIN WORKHOUSE REGISTERS. More than 1.5 million Dublin workhouse registers, 1840-1919 are now searchable for FindMyPast subscribers. Records include both images and transcripts, and may contain names, marital status, occupation, religion, age, birth year, admission year, name of workhouse and (on images) details about family, condition upon admitttance and date left workhouse or died.

ILLINOIS NATURALIZATIONS. Over a half million digitized images are searchable for free at US, Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906–1994 at FamilySearch.

JERSEY HERITAGE DIGITAL ARCHIVE. Over 300,000 items are now searchable at the subscription website Jersey Heritage Archives & Collections OnlineFeatured collections include registration cards of 30,000+ Channel Islanders who were there during the WWII German occupation. You’ll also find Jersey parish records dating to 1842 and (under Superintendent Registrar) parish registers from 1540-1842 and post-1842 civil marriage records.

OREGON MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS AND CONVICTIONS for 1911-1946 are now searchable by Ancestry subscribers. Registrations include license number, name and address of the vehicle owner (including county in parentheses), make of car, motor number, model or year of manufacture and type of body. Records of convictions name the offender, date, offense, license number, court, county and the amount of any fines.

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 Tip of the week: Whenever you look at any record of an ancestor, ask what additional documents, images, video footage or historical material this record points you toward. For example, you might learn from an above record that Grandpa drove a 1935 Auburn Speedster or that a relative suffered from the German occupation on Jersey. Google searches on these niche topics can lead you to a Speedster photograph or historical materials (including footage) on the occupation, like this interview with a survivor of the German occupation. Learn how to search for gems like these in Lisa’s totally-revised, updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

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