The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.
We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Genealogy Gems app. We blazed a new trail back in 2010 when we launched the app – apps were still really new back then. I loved the idea of having a way to deliver exclusive bonus content to you as well as the audio, the show notes and best of all an easy way for you to contact me and the show.
It’s more popular than ever, and as far as I know we are still the only genealogy podcast app available. If you haven’t already downloaded it just search for Genealogy Gems in Google Play or Apple’s App Store, or get the right app for your phone or tablet here.
In this episode I have two interviews for you on very different subjects. First up will be a follow up to last month’s episode where we focused specifically on the New York Public Library Photographers’ Identities Catalog.
Well, in this episode we’re going to talk to the genealogy reference librarian at the New York Public Library, Andy McCarthy. And as you’ll hear, there are a massive amount of resource available there for genealogists everywhere.
Then we’ll switch gears to Scandinavian genealogy with David Fryxell, author of the new book The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Click here to visit the New York Public Library’s Online Catalog.
While they subscribe to many genealogy databases, they don’t host many. Use the catalog to determine what’s available, and what to ask for. See if what you’re looking for exists. Pay close attention to subject headings to identify resources.
#3 The Digital Collections
Click here to visit the Digital Collections at the New York Public Library.
City Directory Collection up to 1933.
Manhattan is the largest and is coming soon. This collection was only available previously on microfilm. It is a browse-only collection (not keyword searchable)
The 1940 Phone Directory is online.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection is digitized and online.
The Map Wharper which is a crowd-sourcing project providing for historic map overlays, and super zooming in views.
They also have a massive collection available in house of books, pamphlets, newspapers, etc. There are research and photo copying services available.
#4 Research Guides online
Click here to view the New York Public Library’s research guides.
Before you go:
Definitely reach out before you go.
Provide them with specific questions and they can help you identify what to focus on while you’re there.
Visit the Milstein home page. They also have many public classes. Check to see what will be available during your visit.
One of Andy’s Favorites Collections
The Photographic Views of NYC Collection. Arranged by cross streets
David is an award-winning author, editor, speaker and publishing consultant. He founded Family Tree Magazine, the nation’s leading genealogy publication. As a writing expert, he wrote the Nonfiction column for Writer’s Digest magazine for more than a decade and served as director of the famous Maui Writer’s Retreat. He has authored countless articles for Family Tree Magazine, and is also the author of additional books including Good Old Days, My Ass and MicroHistory: Ideas and inventions that made the modern world.
Author David Fryxell
Here’s a brief outline of my Q&A with David Fryxell on his new book and Scandinavian genealogy research:
To understand the ties between the Scandinavian countries, and why countries like Finland and Iceland aren’t included, we have to learn about the cultures and languages, right?
Scandinavian countries are really tied by language. And at one point all the countries were united. Borders change. The records reflect these various changes.
What’s the timeline of Scandinavian immigration?
The First Wave, 1825–1860
The Second Wave, 1865–1880
The Third Wave, 1880–1924
What value do you think DNA testing provides, and what should we keep in mind if we do test?
DNA results are most helpful to find other relatives who may be able to assist in your research.
Let’s say we know we’ve identified the ancestor who immigrated. What else do we need to know before we can jump the pond and start digging into Scandinavian records?
In the case of Scandinavian ancestors, you may not have to find the U.S. passenger records. They have excellent passenger departure records.
Tell us about the census in Scandinavia. Is it consistent among all three countries?
Norway and Denmark have good census records. You can find them at:
Monday, January 13th. Today is the anniversary of the first radio broadcast to the public. It took place 110 years ago in New York City, engineered by Lee deForest, a radio pioneer and inventor of the electron tube.
The 1910 broadcast wasn’t made from a purpose-built radio studio, but from the Metropolitan Opera house. DeForest broadcast the voices of Enrico Caruso and other opera singers. A small but impressed audience throughout the city gathered around special receivers to listen with headphones.
Today, 95 percent of American households have at least one radio.
One-hundred ten years after deForest’s lonely effort, some 5,400 radio stations employ about 92,000 people.
What questions were asked in the 1950 census? In this week’s video I’ll explain what was asked, and how the answers given can help provide clues for additional research about your family. You’ll also learn what was not asked and which questions were asked for the first time in 1950. Then we’ll wrap up with my Genealogy Pro Tip for the 1950 Census.
Episode 53 Show Notes
We’re all looking forward to the 1950 census coming out in April 2022, followed soon after by the searchable index. But before we dig into it, it’s helpful to know what kinds of questions were asked and what kind of information you can expect to find about you, your parents, your grandparents or even your great grandparents.
If you haven’t watched it already, check out Elevenses with Lisa episode 51 for an overview of the 1950 census.
And I’ll have that video link for you again at the end of this video. And of course the best way to find your own genealogy gems is to follow my genealogy gems channel, so click the YouTube Subscribe button and that will toss me and this channel into your favorites list on YouTube for safe keeping and happy viewing for years to come.
The U.S. Federal Census is taken every 10 years here in the United States. Typically in genealogy we see more and more questions being asked each decade, which is awesome for us as family historians. But did you know that the 1950 population questionnaire actually asked FEWER questions than its predecessor in 1940.
Yep, according to the U.S. Census bureau, in 1940 every household was asked 34 questions. However, in 1950 they were asked just 20 questions. As we go through the questions I’ll let you know what’s the same, what unfortunately you will NOT being seeing, BUT also the few NEW questions that were asked.
Questions Asked on the 1950 U.S. Federal Census Questionnaire
The following questions were asked of everyone in the household.
1. Name of street, avenue or road where the household is located
2. Home or apartment number
3. Serial number of dwelling unit
4. Is this house on a farm (or ranch)?
5. If no, is this house on a place of three or more acres? (New question for 1950 thanks to the expansion of suburbia.)
6. Corresponding agriculture questionnaire number
8. Relationship to head
Census takers were instructed to assume that all members of the related household were the same race. For unrelated people they were to ask. And if you see a description you are unfamiliar with, consult the 1950 census enumerator instructions.)
11. How old was this person on his last birthday?
It was expected that there would be some folks who either didn’t know their exact age or didn’t care to share it. Census takers were instructed to try to zero in and get as accurate as possible. If age wasn’t known, they were instructed to enter an estimate as the very last resort, and footnote that it was an estimate.
12. Is this person now married, widowed, divorced, separated, or never married?
Marriage codes found in this column:
MAR = married
WD = widowed
D = divorced
SEP = separated
NEV = never married. People under the age of 14 were automatically labeled as never married. Also, common-law marriages were reported as Married, so while marital status can be an indicator to look for marriage records, it is possible that there may not be any.
13. What State or country was the person born in?
It’s important to note that if the baby was born in a hospital across the state line, they were reported as being born in the state where the family lived. This is important to keep in mind when hunting for birth certificates.
14. If foreign born, is the person naturalized?
This will be a yes or no. But if you see “AP” it means the person was born of American parents abroad or at sea. Also, if born at sea they were an American citizen if their father was, or if they were born after 5/24/1934 and either parent was American.
Before we get to the last six questions which were asked only of people 14 years of age and older, let’s take a look at the questions you might have expected to see that were asked in the previous 1940 census but were not.
Questions Not Asked in the 1950 Census that Were Asked in 1940
These questions include:
Home owned (O) or rented (R)
Value of home or monthly rental if rented
Attended school or college at any time since March 1, 1940?
Highest grade of school completed
Residence, April 1, 1935
City, town or village having 2,600 or more inhabitants. If less, enter “R”
State (or Territory or foreign country)
Questions Asked in the 1950 Census of People Over the Age of 14
You may be wondering why the last 6 questions of the 1950 census were only asked of people over the age of 14. It’s because these questions were about employment status. Not surprisingly, these questions vary a bit from what was asked about in employment in 1940, but they are pretty similar.
What was this person doing most of last week – working, keeping house, or something else?
Employment Codes used in questions 15:
WK = working
H = keeping house
U = unable to work
OT = other
16. If the person was “keeping house” or “something else” in question 15, did the person do any work at all last week, not counting work around the house? (Including work-for-pay, in his own business, working on a farm or unpaid family work)
17. If the person answered “no” to question 16, was he looking for work?
18. If the person answered “no” to question 17, even if he didn’t work last week, does he have a job or business?
19. If the person was working, how many hours did he or she work in the last week?
20. What kind of work does the person do?
What kind of business or industry is the person in?
Class of worker the person is.
Enumerators were to mark “P” for private employment, “G” for government employment, “O” for own business, or “NP” for working without pay
Here’s an example of an entry you might see for someone’s employment: Jewelry, Salesman, P. Armed forces was used for all types of military service.
The one glaring omission in 1950 is questions about whether the person worked for one of the government program such as the Works Progress Administration known as the WPA or The Civilian Conversation Corp known as the CCC. This actually makes sense because these employment programs were focused on helping the unemployed during the Depression. WWII had most Americans working and doing their part in some fashion creating low unemployment. Therefore, the WPA was ended in 1943.
Genealogy Clues in the 1950 Census
Let’s quickly recap what you will learn from the answers to the questions asked during the 1950 census that can help you learn more about your family history:
You’ll see the names of your relatives and ancestors, where they lived and the relationships within the family.
You’ll find out where they were living and get the actual address. You can then use this information to find old maps, search city directories and learn much more about their neighborhood and their lives.
If your relatives lived on a farm you’ve got another genealogy gem to find which is their listing in the Agricultural census. Remember the population enumeration, the one counting people, is just one of the enumerations that was conducted. The 1950 population enumeration will give you the number where you can locate them in the agricultural questionnaire.
You’re also going to learn your relative’s age which will get you even closer to determining their birthdate. This in turn will help you locate their birth records. You will also learn the state or country where they were born.
If they were foreign born you will find out if they were naturalized. It’s a little disappointing that it doesn’t tell us the year of immigration or naturalization. However, a “yes” in the “is the person naturalized” column does provide you with an excellent clue to go look for those naturalization records. Learn more about finding and using naturalization records for genealogy in my FamilyHistory: Genealogy Made Easy podcast:
And finally, you’ll not only find out if they were married and if they had any previous marriages.
Lisa’s Pro Tip for the 1950 U.S. Census
After my first video on the 1950 census I got this question from Suzanne: Will the 1950 census also have the children born to mother/children still living question?
The answer is, maybe.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for additional questions.
As in 1940, 5 percent of the population were asked an additional slate of questions. This was to provide sample data about the population. One of those questions asked was “If female and ever married, how many children has she ever borne, not counting stillbirths?”
Supplemental Questions Asked in the 1950 Census
Here are the additional questions that were asked of just 5% of the population in the 1950 U.S. Federal Census. (Note: They were asked of all ages.)
21. Was the person living in the same house a year ago? If the answer was no, then…
22. If no to question 21, was the person living on a farm a year ago?
23. If no to question 21, was the person living in the same county a year ago?
24. If no to question 23…
What county (or nearest place) was he living in a year ago?
What state or foreign country was he living in a year ago?
25. What country were the person’s mother and father born in?
26. What is the highest grade of school that the person has attended?
Enumerators were to mark “0” for no school; “K” for kindergarten; “S1” through “S12” depending on the last year of elementary or secondary school attended; “C1” through “C4” depending on the last year of undergraduate college education attended; or “C5” for any graduate or professional school.
27. Did the person finish this grade?
28. Has the person attended school since February 1st?
Enumerators could check a box for “yes” or “no” for those under thirty; for those over thirty, they were to check a box for “30 or over.”
For members of the household who were 14 years and older, they also answered these questions centered around employment details, money, military service previous marriages and the question Suzanne is hoping to have answered – children born to women in the household.
1950 census supplemental questions asked of 5% of the population.
29. If the person is looking for work, how many weeks has he been looking for work?
30. Last year, how many weeks did this person not work at all, not counting work around the house?
31. Last year, how much money did the person earn working as an employee for wages or salary?
32. Last year, how much money did the person earn working at his own business, professional occupation, or farm?
33. Last year, how much money did the person receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (aside from earnings)?
34. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did his relatives in this household earn working for wages or salary?
35. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did the person earn working at his own business, professional occupation, or farm?
36. If this person is the head of the household: last year, how much money did the person receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (aside from earnings)?
37. If male: did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during…
World War II
World War I
Any other time, including present service
38. To enumerator: if the person worked in the last year, is there any entry in columns 20a, 20b, or 20c?
39. If yes, skip to question 36; if no, make entries for questions 35a, 35b, and 35c.
What kind of work does this person do in his job?
What kind or business or industry does this person work in?
Class of worker
40. If ever married, has this person been married before?
41. If married, widowed, divorced, or separated, how many years since this event occurred?
42. If female and ever married, how many children has she ever borne, not counting stillbirths?
The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast features genealogy news, interviews, stories and how-to instruction. It can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.
In this episode we’re going to delve into how DNA testing has changed our world with award-winning journalist Libby Copeland, author of the new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are.
Lisa Louise Cooke presenting her new class “3 Cool Cases Solved: How to Identify Your Photos” at RootsTech 2020. Video coming soon to Genealogy Gems Premium Membership!
Genealogy Gems Mailbox
Jenn shares her journey into genealogy and her brand new family history blog.
You even inspired me to start my own blog! This is something I thought I would never do, but with your helpful tutorials and encouragement I got started last month and I already have 7 posts!
My question is about getting my blog to show up in Google Search. I am using Blogspot. I have used Google’s Search Console to request indexing for my url’s (they are all indexed). I have included labels and pictures. I use the key words often that I think folks will search for. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Can you help me?
I have tried the following searches in Google to no avail:
Jenn has crafted some great Google search queries to see if her blog will come up in the search results. However, the query does need a few adjustments.
Numrange Search: 1788…1856
Use two periods – not three.
Synonym Search: The tilde (~genealogy)
This search is no longer supported by Google, and in reality really isn’t necessary due to the updates and improvements it has made to its search algorithm.
Simply include the word genealogy at the end of your query and it should provide search results for words like ancestry, familytree, and family history.
It can take Google up to around a month to index your site so that it will appear in search results. Give it a little more time. In the meantime, I would recommend setting up Google Analytics and Google Console for additional traffic data.
Run this search to verify your family history blog has been indexed:
This blog post by Neil Patel is a great source of additional information about how to get your site found and showing up in search results.
Lisa’s Recommended Strategy:
Keep Consistently Blogging
Use free tools like Google Analytics and Google Console.
Genealogy Gems Book Club: Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family
From the book: “In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, and delves into the many lives that have been irrevocably changed by home DNA tests.”
You’re listening to episode 239.
Get your copy of the book here. Thank you for using our affiliate link. We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, and that makes it possible for us to be bring more interviews to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.
Click image to order “The Lost Family”
Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Washington Post, New York magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications. Copeland was a reporter and editor at the Post for eleven years, has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Libby Copeland author of The Lost Family
Quotes from Libby Copeland:
‘I think that America in many ways because of commercial genetic testing is becoming a nation of seekers, and we’re all sort of seeking out our origins.”
“It’s hard to tell your story when you don’t have a beginning.”
“So, we’re sort of operating in the dark in a way. It’s like we have a flashlight and it only illuminates what’s directly in front of us.”
“We have all this information that’s available with the intention for it to be used for one thing, and we cannot anticipate the ways in which it might be used in coming years.”
“So, DNA is…really causing in many ways, the past to collide with the present. And that’s what I find so fascinating.”
Quotes from Lisa Louise Cooke:
“When you say, ‘what’s coming in the future?’ and he (Yaniv Erlich) says ‘oh, I don’t have a crystal ball, but you don’t need one because you look to the past.’ This is what we as genealogists do all the time!”
Featuring Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google Search Methodology for 2020
A lot has changed and it’s time to update your search strategy for genealogy!
Click to order your copy of “The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Third edition” by Lisa Louise Cooke
Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using the newest cutting-edge Google search strategies. A comprehensive resource for the best Google tools, this easy-to-follow book provides the how-to information you need in plain English.
This book features:
Step-by-step clear instructions
quick reference pages.
Strategies for searching faster and achieving better results.
How to use exciting new tools like Google Photos and Google Earth.