Free Google Earth for Genealogy Video Class

Google Earth is known for its ability to virtually “fly” us to locations around the world. We can use satellite imagery, terrain maps, 3-D views of city streets and more to understand all kinds of places–even places of the past.

Google Earth for Genealogy class

In this video class you will learn how to unlock mysteries in your research, from unidentified photographs to pinpointing homesteads.

And there’s good news: Google Earth Pro is now available for free. Everything I cover in this class can be accomplished in both versions of the program. The main difference is that Google Earth Pro can print and save HD quality images. Today, the current “Pro” version of the software is now simply called “Google Earth.”

Below the video player are more resources to help you get the most out of Google Earth for genealogy. We hope you enjoy this webinar video class!

Length: 66 minutes

Resources

How to host map images online
(Free downloadable PDF)

The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 3rd edition by Lisa Louise Cooke. This book has 7 full chapters on Google Earth! Available in print here.  

The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

 

6 Tips to Create Family History Books They Can’t Put Down

I started creating family history books a decade ago. These 6 strategies helped me share my genealogy research findings in books that made fascinating, affordable and easy-to-mail gifts.

cant put down family history books

My Dilemma: How to Share My Family History

Several years ago, I began sharing my family history research with my relatives. We don’t live close to them, so I had to mail whatever I shared.

Initially, I sent CDs full of digitized photos and documents, but they just didn’t get looked at like I had hoped. Individual items on CDs didn’t easily or smoothly tell a story.

Also, I think some of my relatives found the technology a bit intimidating back then. And many people just don’t care for viewing photos, documents or stories on a computer screen.

The Solution

I found that the solution to sharing with all family members was a good old fashioned book!

Books are still hard to beat for telling a story in words and pictures in an extremely easy to use way. Self-publishing little hardbound family history books helped me break up my research sharing into digestible chunks. And the best part? My family actually opened and read them them cover to cover.

 family history book I created about my Grandma.

Cover of the family history book I created about my Grandma.

But where to begin the family story, and where to end it? It’s tempting to tell the story of one generation in each book. But even this can become an overwhelming project, with an end product that is not as meaningful for your readers (lots of dates and names, without a lot of room for stories or photos).

I wanted my family to get to know our ancestors intimately. For me, that meant focusing on one person or one event instead of entire generations or families.

Where to Start

I started with my favorite ancestor: my grandmother.

I’ve transcribed many years of her diaries, which are full of her stories about years spent in nurse’s training. Those journal entries taught me so much and led me to some great discoveries about her life. They also dovetail beautifully with my collection of photos from that period. 

So I decided that my starting point would be her graduation from high school and her decision to enter the nursing field.

Photo from my family history book

Grandma was proud to be a nurse and I’m proud to tell her story.

By the time I had pulled everything together from 1930 to 1933, I had more than enough for a nice size book: “A Nurse in Training.”

Tips to Create Family History Books

It’s really important to create your book with your “customer” in mind: your family member who will be reading the book. So here are my top tips for making your book fascinating to your reader:

#1. Convey an overall theme

Review all the available material that you have. That will give you a sense of what stories you can tell and, hopefully, a sense of your ancestors’ goals, experiences and emotions.

In the case of “A Nurse In Training,” I wanted to communicate my grandmother as a young woman, taking on a new adventure away from home. Both funny times and deeply challenging times formed the foundation of this warm, caring woman’s successful career. And she just happened to meet her husband at the same time!

Tips for how to create a family history book

A page from “A Nurse in Training.”

You don’t need every scrap of research and every photo to get this theme across. It’s your job to be a sharp editor to pick out the critical pieces.

#2. Make it readable in one sitting.

Like it or not, if the book takes too long read, your relatives won’t. Strive to create a book that doesn’t look intimidating.

I create books that are 20 double-sided pages. People will be willing to pick up a thinner book off the coffee table. And if it’s well done, they’ll find that they’ve suddenly finished the entire book without once thinking of putting it down! Hopefully they’ll walk away with a real sense of having gotten to know that ancestor.

#3. Fill it with the best of what you have.

This goes back to conveying the theme and being a tough editor.

My grandma had many funny stories, but there just wasn’t room for all of them. I picked only the best of the best. Anyone who reads the book should hopefully come away with the fact that my grandma had a sense of humor and could laugh at herself.

Photo from my book: Grandma as a nurse in the TB ward

Grandma working the TB ward at San Francisco Hospital in 1933

I made sure some of the most compelling stories were at the beginning: if you can capture their interest in the first three pages, you’ll have them hooked for the entire book.

#4. Pack it with photos and graphics. 

A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. And since words in a small book will be limited, photographs will be your best friend.

If you’re lacking in family photos, consult my Genealogy Gems Podcast episodes for countless ideas for finding appropriate images.

In A Nurse In Training, I included scanned images of skating rink tickets, programs and announcements from my grandma’s scrapbook and journal pages in my grandmother’s own hand. These types of items really add texture and interest to a book, and help the reader to see that you’ve really done your homework.

#5. Keep it in chronological order. 

This seems obvious, but it’s easy to get side-tracked and start going back and forth in time. Believe me, for the reader’s sake, use dates and keep things in chronological order.

You as the researcher know this information backwards and forwards, but this is probably your reader’s first exposure to it. Be gentle with them and keep it straightforward and simple. Your reader will thank you.

#6. Choose quality! 

High-quality glossy pages, good image quality and a hard cover binding all shout to the reader, “I’m worth your time! Read me!”

For example, I found a drawing of Dameron Hospital, which was part of my grandma’s story, but it was a low quality image and didn’t look good in the book. As much as I wanted to include it, I ended up leaving it out, and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t critical to my theme, and there were other ways to illustrate the hospital setting for the reader.

From Book to Movie: Create Your Own Family History Videos

My “Nurse in Training” book eventually became the basis for my very first family history videos. Watch them here–and see how I turned her own words into an illustrated narrative:

animoto how a genealogy society can grow membershipNext Step: Turn Your Family History Book Into a Movie

I created these before do-it-yourself video services like Animoto made it so easy. (And I think that’s why I appreciate them so much!)

If you’d like to put an ancestor’s story into video format but you’re not sure how, try writing it up as a short book first. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have an excellent start on your “screenplay.” You’ll also have a great little book to send loved ones as a gift. (If you do eventually turn that story into a short video, they’ll love it even more, because they’ll already know the story that they will see come alive on the screen.)

Click here to learn step-by-step how to create your own family history video.

FamilySearch: Civil Registrations, Military, SSDI and More!

It’s hard to keep up with the content constantly being added online at FamilySearch! If you (like me) spent the past month squeezing the last bit of travel anlaying_low_with_laptop_400_clr_5364d sun from the summer, you may have missed some great new content. Here’s a recap:

This month, over a half million indexed records and images have already shown up from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand and the United States. Highlights include updates to the United States Social Security Death Index, images from the Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921, collection, indexed records from the Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection, images from the new U.S., Indiana, Naturalization Records and Indexes, 1848-1992, collection and the Italy, Mantova, Mantova, Censuses (Comune), 1750-1900, collection, and indexed records from the U.S., Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957, collection.

In August, FamilySearch.org added more than 45 million indexed records and images from BillionGraves and from Italy, the U.S., England, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Jamaica, Chile, Honduras and more. Notable U.S. additions are updates to the New Orleans Passenger Lists and newly-indexed war collections, including: the United States, World War II Prisoners of War of the Japanese, 1941-1945, collection, the United States, Korean War Battle Deaths, 1950-1957, collection, and the United States, Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998, collection.

A few more cool additions include:

  • More than a half million images to a growing collection of Italy’s Civil Registrations;
  • Nearly a million indexed Jamaican and a quarter million Chilean civil registrations;
  • More than 2.5 million indexed recods from New Zealand passenger lists (1855-1973);
  • Nearly a half-million indexed names from Boston passenger lists (1820-1891);
  • Over 41 million indexed names added to the U.S. Public Record Index.

Search these and 3.5 billion more records at FamilySearch.org. Records are always free to search here, thanks both to the organization itself and thousands of volunteers around the world who index records. Join the effort here!

Join the Family History Relay Race: FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event

The FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event: It’s like a big, happy relay race for family historians: a display of skill with record-setting accomplishments and the coming together of a community for a cause.FS Worldwide Indexing Event 2015

Last year, 66,511 FamilySearch indexers helped set a new record for the most people indexing in a 24-hour period. Their efforts resulted in more than 5.7 million records being processed in a single day!

This year, we encourage you to participate in FamilySearch’s Worldwide Indexing Event from August 7-14, 2015. “You have one week to participate by indexing at least one batch in the language of your choice,” said FamilySearch in an invitation to current indexers. “If you are fluent in French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish-our focus languages for 2015-please help index records in one of those languages. Let’s help our friends in other countries to find their ancestors too! All it takes is one batch indexed sometime during the week to be counted.” (Special training is available.)

I’ve learned that indexing for others feels great, but I get something out of it, too. I use indexing to become more familiar with different record types, like naturalization records, border crossings or church registers (my favorite record type) from different places or time periods. I become better at reading old handwriting and picking out genealogical details from old documents–great skills that help me in my own research!

Last year, more than 18,000 new indexers joined the fun during the 24-hour challenge. Why not do the same this year? Click here to learn more about FamilySearch volunteer indexing or read the articles below to learn about other indexing opportunities out there.

Resources:how to start a genealogy blog

Find Your Ancestor in Freedmen’s Bureau Records–Or Help Others Do the Same

Want to Help Index De-Classified CIA Records?

Volunteer Gem: He Indexed Milwaukee Journal Obituaries Himself

 

Episode 209

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 209

with Lisa Louise Cooke

In today’s episode:

  • David Ouimette of FamilySearch is known to his colleagues as “the Indiana Jones of genealogy” because of his globe-trotting adventures in curating record treasures. He joins us to talk about the millions of records being digitized around the world right now.
  • Lots of excited emails from you!
  • Compiled military service records from Military Minutes expert Michael Strauss

 

GENEALOGY GEMS EVENTS

Thanks for a great seminar, Texas Czech Genealogical Society! (shown right: the beautiful items you see in the foreground are Czech crystal and other traditional items)

Jake’s Texas Tea House, Waco, TX

Bill at Jakes

Magnolia Market at the Silos

NEWS: ROOTSMAGIC UPDATE

Free update for RootsMagic 7 users: version 7.5.4.0 (update primarily fixes bugs). Click on the “Update Available” indicator in the lower right corner of your RootsMagic 7 program screen.

If you don’t already have RootsMagic 7, click here to see what’s new Or click here to order the upgrade.

RootsMagic’s new TreeShare for Ancestry

 

Genealogy Gems Mailbox

Gray recommends Lisa’s free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast

 

MAILBOX: FREE WEBINAR RESPONSES

“Reveal Your Unique Story through DNA & Family History”

RootsTech 2018: A First Look

RootsTech Q&A

Click the image above to watch the video

Click the red SUBSCRIBE button on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.

 

NEW GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM VIDEO

Develop your search superpowers to uncover information about your family history on the web with Google at lightning speed! Explore tools like Image search, facial recognition, finding specific types of files, how to find the answers you need, and more. Click here to watch a class preview; click here to become a Genealogy Gems Premium member.

BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is an easy-to-access version of the new Genealogy Gems Premium video, “Google Search Secrets.” The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.

 

INTERVIEW: DAVID OUIMETTE OF FAMILYSEARCH

David Ouimette, CG, manages Content Strategy at FamilySearch. He has conducted research and analyzed archival materials in dozens of countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. David lectures regularly and has written for genealogists, including Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide.

Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton is the author of “Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites.” (discontinued) Use this jammed-packed cheat sheet to quickly and easily compare the most important features of the four biggest international genealogy records membership websites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. Consult it every time your research budget, needs or goals change!

Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with Animoto.com. You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Animoto.com. Use coupon code YEAR15 for 15% off annual plans through 12/31/17.

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.

 

MILITARY MINUTES: COMPILED MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS

If a clue found in your ancestor’s US draft registration records listed military service you will want next to search for his Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR).

The Compiled Military Service Records (often abbreviated at CMSR or CSR) record the name, unit, and period of service of the veteran along with information related to military service from the Revolutionary War to the end of the hostilities of the Philippine Insurrection after the turn of the 20th century.

The information varies greatly from each of the war periods that recorded this information. Besides the identifying features listed above, they typically contain muster in/out information, rank in/out details and further highlight the soldier career by recording promotions, prisoner of war memorandums, casualties, and a number of personnel papers which may include enlistment papers and other related documents. Several of the war periods also provide physical descriptions of the soldiers including; name, age, nativity, occupation, height, hair, eyes, and complexion information. This set of records represents the volunteer Army and doesn’t include regular Army enlistments. Except for limited records of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 for the Navy, the other branches of the military (including Navy, Marines, and Revenue Cutter Service) all have their equivalent set of records.

Your ancestor may have multiple entries in the CMSR. This could occur if a soldier served in more than one unit, or in the case of John LeMaster, who enlisted in two different armies. The Civil War divided our nation, testing the loyalty of all persons who lived during this time. Lemaster chose the Confederacy (as least initially) when in 1861 in Charlestown, VA he enlisted with the 2nd VA Infantry fighting alongside of his Brigade commander Thomas J. Jackson who later would be known as “Stonewall Jackson.” (Photos: John H. Lemaster and his family in Martinsburg, WV. Photos courtesy of Michael Strauss.)

After the Confederate loss at the battle of Gettysburg he deserted and lived in Martinsburg in what was now West Virginia where on his Draft Registration he was listed as a deserter from the Rebel Army.  In 1864 he enlisted in the United States Army with the 3rd WV Cavalry, serving out the duration of the war until 1865. After the war he was granted a federal pension, with no mention of his former service in the Confederacy.

Shown on following pages: his military service records for both the Confederate and Union armies.

 

Access various CMSR indexes and images online at the following:

At fold3:

Revolutionary War. Compiled Military Service Record images are online for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops. Genealogists should also search the local state where their ancestors were from as some Militia isn’t included in these records.

During the Revolutionary War additional Compiled Service Records were completed for the Navy, which was broken down to include Naval Personnel, Quartermaster General, and Commissary General Departments.

One additional set of CMSR images covered Revolutionary War service along with Imprisonment Cards. Click here

Old Wars (1784-1811). After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States government sought to maintain a regular Army. However, volunteer soldiers who served from 1784-1811 were recorded. (One of the reasons for volunteers to be called up would have included the Whiskey Rebellion of 1793.)  Their Compiled Military Service Record full images are available online here.

War of 1812. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes are online for CT, DE, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA and also the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Shawanoe Indians along with United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for the Chickasaw and Creek Indians, along with the men from Lake Erie and Mississippi.

Indian Wars. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes are online for the various Indians wars from 1815-1858.

Mexican War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes are online for AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, DC, MA, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and the Mormon Battalion and the United States Volunteers. Full copies of the CMSR are online for AR, MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion.

Civil War. Click here to search:

  • Union: Indexes are online for AZ, CA, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI, United States Veteran Volunteers, and Veteran Reserve Corps. Full copies of CMSR for AL, AR, CA, CO, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OR, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, United States Colored Troops, United States Volunteers, and 1st NY Engineers.
  • Confederate: indexes are online for AL, and VA. Full copies of CMSR are online for AL, AZ, AK, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, Miscellaneous, Volunteers, Indians, and Officers.

Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record Indexes are online for AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, and United States Volunteers.

Full copies of CMSR are online for FL.

At Ancestry.com:

Revolutionary War. Full copies of the Compiled Military Service Records for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops.  This database often doesn’t list the local militia as most of the men listed were part of the continental line. Researchers can access this group of records and search by keyword or location. Search here

Old Wars. This database is an index and full images of the Compiled Military Service Records of those men who served after the Revolutionary War and before the War of 1812, covering the years of 1784-1811.

War of 1812. Abstracted lists of names, state, and military units from the Compiled Service Records (no images). Search here

Indian Wars: Database with images for Florida: includes the Florida Wars, Second Creek War, and the Third Seminole War from 1835-1858

Mexican War. Full copies of the CMSR are online for MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion. Search here

Civil War:

  • Union:Compiled Military Service Records are searchable, with a link to the collection on Fold3 here
  • Confederate: Compiled Military Service Records are searchable, with a link to Fold3 to view original images here. An additional set of Service Records comes from units that were raised by the Confederate Government and not from any of the states that comprised the Confederacy. The CMSR are available online to view the images and searchable by military unit here.

Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record Indexes are online that cover the same geographical areas as on Fold3 here. Full copies of CMSR are online on Ancestry for Florida here.

Free at FamilySearch.org:

Family Search has fewer Compiled Military Service Records available online that include images. One of the major collections includes the Revolutionary War CMSR’s that when searched here, the images provide a direct link to Fold3.

Most of the other major war periods are microfilmed and available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. With online access through both Fold3 and Ancestry provided on the computers in the library, accessing the film is less desirable.

GEM: USNEWSMAP

UsNewsMap.com

Free video helps you visualize where historic newspapers are located in the US

Suzanne’s comment: “Did you realize that this site from the Georgia Tech Research Institute is actually a wonderful search engine for Chronicling America.loc.gov. website? I have used the LOC site often, but found it cumbersome sometimes. This is a real time saver. Thanks for the Genealogy Gem.”

Lisa’s tip: In the timeline you can specify a date, like 1860 (date and month too!), then press play and it will play back and reveal the locations on mentions of your search query coming forward in time. It would be really interesting to take a word or phrase and see when it first occurred. This is a very feature-rich website!

PROFILE AMERICA: HOME MAKING

A short YouTube video documentary on Leavittown: it’s a great example of the do-it-yourself video narratives you can make to tell your own family’s stories!

KEEP UP WITH GENEALOGY GEMS

Listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcast twice a month! Check in on or after October 26, 2017 for Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 210. What’s coming? Paul Woodbury of Legacy Tree Genealogists will share some great tips for beginning Swedish genealogy?and much more!

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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!

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor
Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer
Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Resources

Download the episode

Download the show notes PDF

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