Getting genealogy organized is just one of the topics we cover here at Genealogy Gems, and Premium Members have exclusive access to podcast and video content to help you accomplish that goal.
We’ve put together a step-by-step plan for getting the most out of Premium Membership, and going from unorganized to organized in nothing flat!
A new Gem’s reader recently sent us the following email:
I have recently joined Genealogy Gems as a Premium member and wanted to ask if there is a good place to get started.
I have a ton of family information collected, but as yet have not figured out a plan of attack.
I was wondering if you could guide me in which podcasts, premium podcasts, and videos would be good ones to start with. I need to put this information into some semblance of order so that I can move constructively on it, as well as to be able to share the family history with others and have it make sense. Thanks, Gerri.
Getting Genealogy Organized with Premium Content
We are so glad to have you as a Genealogy Gems Premium Member. Welcome!
The best place to start is by digging into these blog posts that I highly recommend:
- The Beginning Genealogist’s Biggest Mistake and How to Fix It
- Which Way Do I Go Now? Organize a Genealogy Research Plan
- 6 Tips: How to Organize Your Family History
- How to Get Organized and Put Your Family History Household in Order
- Hard Drive Organization Part 1 and Part 2
- Use Evernote to Create a Research Plan
- Podcast episode 114: Paper Organization
- Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast episodes 31 & 32: Organizing Your Genealogy Files.
Getting genealogy organized is one of the most overwhelming tasks new and seasoned genealogists deal with. Whether you’re new to Premium Membership or a long time member, make sure you have a solid basic structure for your genealogy organization, as it is the backbone of everything that follows. That basic structure for getting genealogy organized might look like this:
A Quick Plan for Getting Genealogy Organized
- Assess what you have.
- Pick a genealogy database software program. We recommend RootsMagic.
- Set-up a few 3-ring binders with acid free sheet protectors so you have a place to put documents and other important things.
- Set-up a basic folder and file structure for your hard drive based on the Premium videos Hard Drive Organization.
- Have a back-up plan for your precious family history files. We recommend BackBlaze as a way to automatically back-up your computer files.
- Sign-up for our free newsletter (if you haven’t already) to stay up-to-date on all the latest records and techniques.
- Don’t wait to be fully organized before you begin. Stay motivated by scheduling “fun” research time, as well as organization time.
- Make appointments with yourself to stay on track, and listen to the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast while you organize.
- Regularly tap into all of the Genealogy Gems resources like what’s new in books and guides.
Like us on our Facebook page to see more genealogy ideas
Become a Genealogy Gems Premium Member
If you are not a Genealogy Gems Premium Member, take a look at what you are missing! Premium Members are able to listen to our Premium podcasts packed with even more tips and techniques for all things genealogy. You also have access to my most popular training videos.
For a limited time, new members will receive
this exclusive digital PDF e-book,
a collection of my most popular
articles from Family Tree Magazine!
(the e-book will be emailed to you
within 24 hours of purchase)
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 208
with Lisa Louise Cooke
In this episode:
- A free webinar!
- Great comments from you: An inspiring Google Books success story, how one listener gets her shy husband talking about his life story, and a listener’s own version of the poem, “Where I’m From”
- The Archive Lady talks to us about historical scrapbooks at archives that may be packed with genealogy gems for us
- A genealogy hero who saved a life story
- Your first look at RootsTech 2018
FREE GENEALOGY WEBINAR
Newspaper Research Worksheet from Lisa Louise Cooke
Genetic Genealogy: Here’s What You Need to Know from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard
NEWS: FIRST LOOK AT ROOTSTECH 2018
Going to RootsTech for the first time? Read this RootsTech Q&A.
MAILBOX: PAT INTERVIEWS HER SHY HUSBAND
“Remembering Dad” video
Pat’s tip: When someone is shy about sharing life stories, interview them informally while traveling. Pat uses her iPad to transcribe his responses, then polishes it up when she gets home and transfers it to her own computer. “Eventually we will have enough to write the story of his life, with lots of pictures. And it’s completely painless.”
MAILBOX: GOOGLE BOOKS SUCCESS STORY FROM KIM
Click here for another inspiring genealogy discovery using Google Books?with how-to tips and a free video preview of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Premium video tutorial, “Google Books: The Tool You Need Every Day”
MAILBOX: “WHERE I’M FROM” POEM SUBMISSION
Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 185: Learn more about the “Where I’m From” poetry project and hear a conversation with the original author, Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon.
THE ARCHIVE LADY: HISTORICAL SCRAPBOOKS
Scrapbooks are one of my favorite record sources to do genealogy research in and to also process in the archives. There are all kinds of scrapbooks; each and every one is unique and one-of-a-kind. They were put together with love and the hope that what was saved and pasted onto those pages will be remembered.
The origins of scrapbooking is said to go back to the 15th century in England and it is still a hobby enjoyed by many today. Most archives, libraries, historical and genealogical societies have scrapbooks in their collections. They will most likely be found in the Manuscript Collection as part of a specifically named collection.
Scrapbooks contain all kinds of wonderful genealogical records, photographs and ephemera. There is even a scrapbook in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives that has candy bar wrappers pasted in it. This particular scrapbook is one of my absolute favorites. It was compiled and owned by Evelyn Ellis and dates to the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Among the normal newspaper clippings and event programs are interesting pieces such as a Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper with a handwritten note by Evelyn that reads “Always remember June 11, 1938 at Beach Grove at the Ice Cream Supper.” There is also an original ticket pasted into the scrapbook from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee where Evelyn Ellis visited and recorded her comments on April 1, 1939.
There are scrapbooks for just about any subject. Aside from personal scrapbooks, you can find war scrapbooks, obituary clipping scrapbooks and scrapbooks that collected and recorded local or national events. The obituaries found in scrapbooks could be a real find because sometimes they are the only pieces of the newspaper that survive and can be a treasure trove for any genealogist. Many scrapbooks contain one-of-a-kind documents, photographs and ephemera.
To find scrapbooks in an archive, ask the archivist if they have any scrapbooks in their records collections. Many times scrapbooks are housed with a particular manuscript collection and will be listed in the finding aid. Some archives have a collection of just scrapbooks that have been donated to them and can be easily accessed. Most scrapbooks will not be on research shelves and will be stored in back rooms at the archives and will have to be requested. You should also check the archives online catalog for any listings of scrapbooks before you jump in the car and drive to the archives.
I encourage all genealogists to check with the archive in the area where your ancestors were from and see if they have any scrapbooks in their archived records collections. Scrapbooks are like time capsules: you don’t know what will be found in them until you open them up.
BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users
If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is a PDF with tips for what to do if your own scrapbook gets wet. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.
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.
MyHeritage 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.
GEM: SAVING A LIFE STORY
Original story on SWVA Today: “String of Pearls: Marion’s Bob White Shares Family History Collection” by Margaret Linford, Columnist
Genealogy Gems how-to resources to help you:
Video record a loved one telling their life stories
Digitize and share your research and your own life story: Interview with Larsen Digital in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183
RootsMagic family history software has publishing tools (for print and online publishing):
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. RootsMagic is now fully integrated with Ancestry.com: you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your Ancestry.com trees and search records on the site.
A BRILLIANT WAY TO “MEET” YOUR ANCESTOR
Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shared this story from Christine:
“Friday night I brought out large cut out of my Grandmother, Christine Doering, sitting in an easy chair so it looks like she is talking with you, and I played a recording done in 1970’s of her talking and giggling about coming to America in 1896 at the age of 9. For some they had never heard her voice before.”
Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.
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
Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems newsletter to receive a free weekly e-mail newsletter, with tips, inspiration and money-saving deals.
The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode # 193
by Lisa Louise Cooke
- Genealogy milestones, anniversaries, new records, upcoming conferences and new free video tutorials;
- Email response to The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #192: another tip on the U.S. Public Records Index, a family adoption story and his own research on the changing coastline of Sussex;
- More response to the “Where I’m From” poetry initiative;
- Announcement: the NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club title;
- A key principle in genetic genealogy from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard.
NEWS: FOIA Turns 50
What is the FOIA? The Freedom of Information Act opens federal records to the public. The FOIA applies to certain kinds of information about the federal government and certain information created by the federal government. It DOESN’T apply to documents that relate to national security, privacy and trade secrets, or to documents created by state or local governments.
FOIA for genealogy research: Use the FOIA to request:
- SS5- applications (Social Security) and Railroad Board Retirement
- Post-WWII Selective Service records: draft registrations and SS-102 forms (with more draft/military information on them), through the end of 1959;
- Naturalization certificate files from 1906 to 1956;
- Alien registration forms from 1940 to 1944;
- Visa files from 1924 to1944;
- Registry files for 1929 to 1944 (these document the arrival of an immigrant whose passenger or other arrival record could not be found for whatever reason);
- A-files, alien case files for 1944 to 1951;
- Certain FBI files and certain CIA records (here’s a link to the slides from a National Archives presentation on using FBI files for family history.
Click here to read an article on the 50th anniversary of the FOIA and more on FOIA for genealogy
NEWS: NEW RECORD COLLECTIONS ONLINE
Announcement of Freedmen’s Bureau Project completion; In September 2016 you can access the full Freedmen’s Bureau Project at www.DiscoverFreedmen.org.
NEWS: AncestryDNA Hits 2 Million Samples
Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about these AncestryDNA features in:
- AncestryDNA improves genetic matching technology
- Confused by your AncestryDNA matches? Read this article
- DNA Circles: When they DON’T mean genetic connections on AncestryDNA
- AncestryDNA Common Matches tool
- AncestryDNA Works Toward Genetics + Genealogy Integration
NEWS: UPCOMING CONFERENCES
- Midwest Roots, July 15-16, 2016
- The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #178 CeCe Moore talks genetic genealogy on genealogy TV shows
- Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society 3rd Annual Conference, July 30, 2016
- 3rd Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference, Arlington,
- Hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, north of Seattle in Arlington, WA on August 17-20, 2016
- Theme: “Family Secrets Uncovered — Lost History Found”
- Keynote speakers include Blaine Bettinger, Claudia Breland and Lisa Louise Cooke
- Free Day Wednesday afternoon: Beth Foulk will address beginner’s issues — which is also a good refresher for the more seasoned genealogists
- Other features: Meet a distant cousin with the “Cousin Wall;” participate in the genealogy-related scavenger hunt on Free Day Wednesday, and enjoy the free taco bar at the evening reception. Wear a costume from your ancestors’ homeland on the Friday dress-up day.
GEMS NEWS: NEW VIDEOS ONLINE
- How to create captivating family history videos: Animoto video tutorial series
- Tech Tip Tuesday tutorial videos
- NEW Genealogy Gems Premium Video: All About Google Drive (Genealogy Gems Premium website membership required to access)
- Evernote blog post about changed pricing
MAILBOX: CHRIS WITH US PUBLIC RECORDS INDEX TIP AND MORE
Chris’ post about a compelling story of an adopted child in his family
Chris’ post about the changing coastline in Sussex
MAILBOX: “WHERE I’M FROM”
The Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #185: Interview with George Ella Lyon
Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society “Where I’m From” contest: “Anyone near and far may join our Contest. Each entry receives a gift from the. We will have a drawing from all entries of cash or a nice prize. Deadline for entries is Aug. 31, 2016. More information on scchgs.org.”
NEW GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB SELECTION
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
It’s a story inspired by love letters exchanged between his grandparents during World War II, when they were each in dangerous places: he on the island of Malta and she in London, both of which suffered some of the worst sustained bombing campaigns of the war.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a fast-paced book. It begins in London in 1939 with Mary North, a wealthy young lady from a privileged family who, on finding out that war has been declared, immediately leaves her finishing school and signs on for the war effort without telling her parents. She fulfills an assignment as a school teacher long enough to make a meaningful connection with a school official and one of her students. Then her students (along with the rest of London’s children) are evacuated to the countryside, leaving her to figure out what to do next.
The plot gets a lot more involved from here. There’s a love triangle, a long-distance romance, a series of scenes that take place on the heavily-bombarded island of Malta, harrowing descriptions of the London Blitz, homeless children who return from the evacuation only to find themselves parentless, homeless and in constant danger. It’s intense and eye-opening, but it’s compassionate and it’s still very readable for those who have less of a stomach for blood and guts but still want to understand some of the human experience of living and loving in a war zone, and then picking up the pieces afterward and figuring out how to keep living.
Click here for more Genealogy Gems Book Club titles
DNA GEM: GENETIC PEDIGREE V GENEALOGICAL PEDIGREE
A key concept in genetic genealogy is that your genetic pedigree is different than your genealogical pedigree. Let me explain.
Your genealogical pedigree, if you are diligent or lucky (or both!) can contain hundreds, even thousands of names and can go back countless generations. You can include as many collateral lines as you want. You can add several sources to your findings, and these days you can even add media, including pictures and copies of the actual documents. Every time someone gets married or welcomes a new baby, you can add that to your chart. In short, there is no end to the amount of information that can make up your pedigree chart.
Not so for your genetic pedigree.
Your genetic pedigree contains only those ancestors for whom you have received some of their DNA. You do not have DNA from all of your ancestors. Using some fancy math we can calculate that the average generation in which you start to see that you have inherited zero blocks of DNA from an ancestor is about seven. But of course, most of us aren’t trying to figure out how much of our DNA we received from great great great grandma Sarah. Most of us just have a list of DNA matches and we are trying to figure out if we are all related to 3X great grandma Sarah. So how does that work?
Well, the first thing we need to recognize is that living descendants of Sarah’s would be our fourth cousins (though not always, but that is a topic for another post!). Again, bring in the fancy math and we can learn that living, documented fourth cousins who have this autosomal DNA test completed will only share DNA with each other 50% of the time.
Yes, only half.
Only half of the time your DNA will tell you what your paper trail might have already figured out: That you and cousin Jim are fourth cousins, related through sweet 3X great grandma Sarah. But here’s where the numbers are in our favor. You have, on average, 940 fourth cousins. So if you are only sharing DNA with 470 of them, that’s not quite so bad, is it? And it only takes one or two of them to be tested and show up on your match list. Their presence there, and their documentation back to sweet Sarah, helps to verify the genealogy you have completed and allows you to gather others who might share this connection so you can learn even more about Sarah and her family. Plus, if you find Jim, then Jim will have 470 4th cousins as well, some of which will not be on your list, giving you access to even more of the 940.
This genetic family tree not matching up exactly with your traditional family tree also manifests itself in your ethnicity results, though there are other reasons for discrepancies there as well.
In short, this DNA stuff is not perfect, or even complete, but if you combine it with your traditional resources, it can be a very powerful tool for verifying and extending your family history.
- 23andMe blog post: “How Many Relatives Do You Have?”
- “How Much of Your Genome Do You Inherit from a Particular Ancestor?”
PROFILE AMERICA: First hamburgers at a 4th of July picnic
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!