“I am a quilter and love doing special pieces that tell our family history at the same time. I think you would enjoy [this] story and the pictures [that go with it].”
This note recently came from Genealogy Gems listener Sheri Lesh. She wrote in about a quilt she created for her father’s 80th birthday celebration. It was a very special quilt, made from pieces of old family clothing and even a wool jacket and wedding dress.
Well, Sheri, I thoroughly enjoyed your story and your unique, beautiful quilt (which you can click to see below). Heritage quilts created from family clothing items are so special!
I especially loved Sheri’s idea for her grandmother’s wedding dress. Instead of cutting into pieces for the quilt, which would have destroyed a beautiful dress with a fabulously-preserved lace collar, she tacked the entire dress to the back of the quilt! Then she labeled it so cleverly, so future generations will know exactly who this dress belonged to and when it was worn.
Click here to go to Sheri’s blog and learn more about this beautiful, inspiring quilt. If you like old quilts, click here for my own Genealogy Gems story about heritage quilts in my family. You’ll see the shownotes for a free podcast episode along with a short YouTube video to watch. As I say in that post, “Women may not have had a lot of time to use the power of the pen to document history, but they did have some mighty powerful sewing needles!”
London. Paris. Athens. Berlin. Bombay. Rome. New York City. Copenhagen. Dublin. Edinburgh. Jerusalem. The oldest known photographs of these cities and more are featured in this post at Abroad in the Yard.
Boulevard du Temple, Paris, by Louis Daguerre, 1838. Wikimedia Commons image, Scanned from The Photography Book, Phaidon Press, London, 1997.
I love the details in these photos that are usually left to our imagination. An 1858 image of a Toronto thoroughfare was likely taken in at its best, since the photo was part of a (failed) bid to become Canada’s capital. And yet the streets are still muddy enough you wouldn’t want to step off that freshly-swept sidewalk, especially if you were in a long dress.
You can read the shop signs in these pictures. See signs of construction and destruction, an eternal presence in these metropolises. Count the number of levels in the tall tenements and other buildings that sheltered our ancestors’ daily lives without air conditioning, central heat or elevators.
Despite the busy city streets shown here, they don’t look busy. So much time had to elapse during the taking of the image that anyone moving wasn’t captured. Only a few loungers and the shoe-shine man (and his customer) appear in these photos of busy streets.
Although not shown in the blog post above, my favorite historical image of a city is the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, the oldest known “comprehensive photo” of an American city. The resolution of this series of photos is so high, you can see details the photographers themselves couldn’t possibly have caught. The panorama can be explored at an interactive website, which offers “portals” to different parts of the city and city life when you click on them. Whether you had ancestors in this Ohio River town or not, this is a fascinating piece of history.
Looking for pictures of your ancestor’s hometown or daily life? There are some great search tips in Lisa’s newly-revised and updated 2nd edition of her popular book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Maybe you already use Google to search for images. Learn how to drill down to just the images you want: black and white pictures, images with faces, images taken of a particular location during a certain time period and more!
Canada at War by Stanley Turner, 1944. Online at the David Rumsey Map Collection. Click on image for full citation and to access image.
During World War II, millions of people anxiously followed the progress of battles and troop movements that affected their loved ones. Artists and map-makers stepped up to provide colorful, action-packed maps.
Toronto artist Stanley Turner was one of these. He created a series of maps between 1942 and 1945 that were printed and licensed as promotional giveaways to businesses in Canada and the U.S. Today you can find Turner’s maps digitized at the David Rumsey Map Collection.
Stanley wasn’t the only one making these beautiful maps. Read about Richard Eddes Harrison and the big changes in popular cartography during the war in my blog post, “World War II: A Revolution in Map-Making.”
Fast-forward 60 years in time, and the latest revolution in map-making and information-sharing is where? On Google Earth! Google Earth is packed with topography, but also shows us man-made features like roads and bridges, geographic boundaries, historical maps and photographs and so much more. These help us understand things like movements of our ancestors–whether they were troops in World War II or settlers in distant places.
Want to learn more about using Google Earth for genealogy (or the Google Earth Pro version that was just released FREE to the public)? Become a Genealogy Gems Premium member. You’ll have access to video classes like these:
- Time Travel with Google Earth
- 5 Ways to Enhance Your Research with Old Maps (this class’ retail value alone is $39.95)
Premium Membership is a bargain at only $29.95 for an entire year’s access, plus right now you get the free bonus ebook Lisa Louise Cooke’s 84 Best Tips, Tricks & Tools from Family Tree Magazine. Click here to learn more about Premium Membership.
Europeana is a digital doorway to European cultural heritage that everyone with European roots will find interesting and enlightening.
Funded by the European Commission and Ministries of Culture in 21 member states, the Europeana website is home to nearly: 19 million images; 13 million texts (including books, archival papers and newspapers); half a million each sound and video files and 16,000 3-D models of objects.
Europeana’s World War I Digital Archive
A major part of Europeana is its World War I digital archive. As the site describes, Europeana “has been running World War I family history roadshows around Europe, helping to digitize people’s stories, documents and memorabilia from 1914-1918. People can upload their own digitized items onto the Europeana1914-1918.eu site. In 2014, the centenary of WWI, 100,000 images and scans have already come into Europeana, creating a virtual memory bank that reflects all perspectives on the conflict.”
Europeana 1989 and the Fall of the Iron Curtain
A sister site, Europeana 1989, collects “stories, pictures, films relating to the events of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe.” You can upload your own materials or, as the site says, “let us take you on a journey through the Fall of the Iron Curtain, see it from all sides and draw your own conclusions.”
The top countries to supply images to Europeana are Germany, France and the Netherlands, each with more than 3.5 million items, and then Spain, Sweden, Italy and the U.K. The site attracted 4 million unique visitors last year. Click here to read a guide to using Europeana for genealogy and local history research.
Historical Newspapers at Europeana
Historical newspapers are another great source for genealogical and historical research. Europeana now includes the Europeana Newspapers collection which features hundreds of newspaper titles and millions of newspaper pages, spanning four centuries and 20 countries from across Europe. In addition to viewing digitized newspaper pages, many now support readable text files. These files allow you to keyword search within their contents. You can zero in on these files by using feature called ‘Search for records with full text’.
Europeana’s Newspaper Collection offers a variety of ways to access and use the content including:
It’s worth investing a few minutes in reviewing the historical newspapers guides at Europeana In order to get the most from the collection. The helpful guides explain how to navigate, search, find, and reuse Newspapers content.
More at Europeana
Other Europeana links to try:
- The Europeana portal is the search engine for the digitised collections of museums, libraries, archives and galleries across Europe.
- Our Virtual Exhibitions feature highlights from the collection.
- Follow the Europeana blog to keep updated on the projects and progress of this rapidly-growing resource for European family history.