Genealogy Gift Ideas: Get Organized and Find Everything!

Some genealogists–actually, most genealogists–need help being organized. These genealogy gift ideas are the perfect gift to give yourself: the gift of helping you keep track of your research, your sources and everything else in your family history world.

These ideas include those for gathering and organizing your research materials but also precious memories and original artifacts. When you shop, and click on the links from this post your purchases help support the free Genealogy Gems podcast. Thank you!

Evernote. Ok, this program is FREE so maybe it doesn’t count as a holiday gift. But sometimes the most important gifts we can give someone (including ourselves) are TIME and a FRESH START. That’s what you’ll give when you install Evernote on your computer or a loved one’s, then learn or teach someone how to use it.

Some of my most popular classes now are on how to harness Evernote to keep track of genealogy sources, online and print content, photos, research notes and all those other essential bits that can haunt you when you can’t put your hands on them. And all the options available for Evernote mean you can synch and access your stuff across several devices and computers: it’s available for Windows and Mac systems and there are apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. PRICE: Free.

 

Evernote Smart Notebook.
 Even the most paper-free researchers still need to take handwritten notes sometimes. Make your notes easy to scan and integrate into your Evernote software with this notebook. The notebook paper is lightly gridded to  make it easier to scan the pages nice and straight. But the real genius of this notebook is the accompanying “smart stickers” you can put on each page. These stickers have icons that become searchable digital tags when scanned. These tags make it easier to identify and synch your notes with other material you’ve tagged in Evernote (by surname, location, person’s name, etc). PRICE: $19.95. 

 

Evernote Quick Ref Guide

 

Evernote for Windows for Genealogists Quick Reference Guide

This is my newest publication! Evernote users (and those who want to be) appreciate having an at-a-glance tutorial, tricks and shortcuts for using this free and essential software for genealogy. Evernote helps genealogists keep track of their source material–and my laminated Quick Reference Guide helps genealogists do it smarter and faster.

Price: $9.95

 

 

 

 

My Life & TimesMy Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories.

This gorgeously-designed book by Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton helps the user capture their own life story or someone else’s. The book is organized into natural sections like childhood, family life, career, etc. Each section is filled with thoughtful memory-jogging questions about the past: relationships, events, growing experiences. A spiral-bound format with a bonus CD with extra printable pages makes the book flexible to anyone’s life: remove or add additional as needed to tell your unique story. The introduction and the beginning of each section offers compassionate and sound advice on topics like how to improve the quality of memories, understanding memories, what to do with difficult memories and more. PRICE: $29.99 (but last I checked it was on sale for $19.99 at Amazon the link above).

 

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!

4 Steps for Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Use Google Earth for genealogy to find long-lost family locations on modern maps. Here’s how!family history google earth tour

It can be very surprising to discover that you lived somewhere that you never knew you lived. That was the case for Professional genealogist Alvie Davidson, who recently wrote to me. He’d done some fantastic sleuthing on his own recent family history, and discovered that his family had lived in Huntsville, Alabama when he was a toddler. “This is the first I have even known they lived in Madison County, AL.” But he was not sure about how to use Google Earth to help him locate the family addresses he’d discovered.

“I have learned from the U S Government that my parents lived at (three) different addresses in Huntsville, Madison County, AL when I was a toddler in 1944….I never knew we lived in Huntsville but I learned my mother worked for munitions productions during World War II at Redstone Arsenal. She worked several months toward the end of 1944 and had to quit due to onset of pregnancy. We moved to Florida shortly after she left employment at Redstone Arsenal because we show up on the 1945 Florida State Census.”

Alvie sent me three family addresses. Then he asked for some step-by-step help instructions on how to put Google Earth to work to identify their location today.

4 Steps to Revealing More with Google Earth

1. Search each address in Google Earth. Enter the address in the search box in the upper left corner of Google Earth. If you get a hit, mark it with a placemark (clicking the button that looks like a push pin in Google Earth’s toolbar) and name it. In this case I found two of the three street addresses.

2. Locate a map of the area for the appropriate time period. With a little Google searching, I found the 1940 census enumeration map for Huntsville at the National Archives website. Here’s what that map looks like. (Image right) I then went in search of each of the three addresses on the map.

In this case, I conducted a block-by-block search of the 1940 enumeration district map for the missing address: 110 Winston Street. Unfortunately, not all the street names were clearly legible on this particular map, and I was unable to locate it.

You can learn more about locating enumeration district maps in my article How to Find Enumeration District Maps.

Genealogy Gems Premium Members: log in and watch my Premium video 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps featuring instruction for locating and using enumeration district maps.

3. Overlay and georeference the enumeration district map in Google Earth to compare the past to the present. Georeference just means to match up known landmarks on the historic map with physical locations on the modern-day map, thereby allowing you to match the two maps up together. By so doing, I was able to locate on the enumeration district map the modern-day locations of the two addresses that I found using Google Earth.

georeference historic map overlay in Google Earth

There are businesses in both locations today. Below right is a screen shot showing the current location of one of those addresses. Clearly no longer the old family home.Alvie Google Earth for genealogy problem

4. Dig deeper for addresses that have changed. As I mentioned previously, I searched for the 110 Winston Street address in Google Earth with no result. If that happens to you, remove the house number and run a second search on the street name alone. Numbers can change, but it is important to verify whether the street still exists today.

In this case, Google Earth did not locate a Winston Street in Huntsville, AL. Knowing that errors and typos can happen to the best of us, I ran a quick Google search for Huntsville, AL city directories, and verified that indeed Winston Street did exist at that time in history. So, at some point between 1940 and today, the name appears to have been changed.

I headed back to Google and ran the following search query:

“winston street” “huntsville alabama”

The quotation marks tell Google that each exact phrase must appear in all search results. The phrases will appear in bold in the snippet descriptions of each result.

google search

The result above caught my eye because it mentions the “Winston Street Branch Library.” Even when street names change, buildings named for those streets often don’t. However, in this case, the website discusses the history of the library, and the Winston Street Elementary School.  According to the website, the library “became a part of the Huntsville Public Library (now Huntsville-Madison County Public Library) in 1943. In 1947, the branch was renamed the Dulcina DeBerry Library.” Perhaps the street was renamed at that time as well.

Genealogy Gems Premium Members: Sign in and watch the Ultimate Google Search Strategies video class to learn more.

Jumping back into Google Earth I entered “Winston Street Branch Library” in the search box, and was immediately taken to the location, which is just south of the other two known addresses! At this point I would recommend to Alvie, who is a Genealogy Gems Premium Member, to watch my video class Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps to track down additional maps from the time frame that may have Winston Street clearly marked on the map.

Once I identified this landmark, I then marked the location with a placemark. You can turn off the 1940 enumeration district map overlay by unchecking the box next to it in the Places Panel. Doing this revealed the location on the modern day map. Finally, I headed to the Layers panel and clicked the box next to the “Roads” overlay to reveal the modern day street names.

street names

You can use this technique when you have more success than I did in finding an old address on an old map. Overlay the map, position a placemark on the location, and then turn the overlay off. With one click of the Roads layer you can now see the current street name for the old location you found on the map overlay.

Further digging online did deliver additional maps from the era and area:

google earth for genealogy

 

We all have locations in our family history that have given way over time to new buildings and parking lots. By using the power of Google Earth, Google search, and historic maps, they don’t have to be lost forever.

Get Started with Google Earth for Genealogy

Learn all these Google skills–with step-by-step tutorials and video demonstrations–in Lisa’s book and Google Earth video tutorial. Click here for a special price on the bundle!

FREE video: Get Started with Google Earth for Genealogy

Google Bundle! The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition PLUS  learn how to create your own historical map overlays in my Google Earth for Genealogy 2-video CD set.

Use Google Earth to Plot Your DNA Matches

 

 

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education

organize genealogy with EvernoteUsing Evernote for genealogy will make you a more efficient and effective researcher.

Genealogists all over the world are harnessing the power of Evernote to organize their family history researchThis free software (and website application) can bring all your research materials (text notes, photos and images from mobile devices, video, audio interviews, web content and URLs) together in one place.

Then it goes even further by making all the text items keyword-searchable. So you can much more easily locate that one little piece of information you recall only as “that bit about the fire station he worked for.”

Better yet, Evernote goes with you. With the Evernote software and companion app, your genealogy notes will be accessible from and fully-synced across all your computing devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!

Here’s how to get started

1. Download the free Evernote software here.

2. Create your free or premium Evernote account. (Click here to learn more about Evernote account options.)

3. Go to your Account page and make note of your unique Evernote email address. (Help>Go to My Account Page>Account Summary and scroll down to “Email Notes to.”)

4. Download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser.

5. Download the free Evernote app from the App Store or Google Play and sign in to your account.

Now you’re ready to use Evernote to collect your research content and source citation information!

Here are 5 ways to add content to Evernote

1. The Web Clipper: Pull data from websites with the handy web clipper and Evernote will often automatically capture information about the site you got it from.

2. Drag and Drop: Images, scanned  documents and other multimedia content can be dropped right into new or existing notes.

3. Smartphone and Tablet: Snap a photo of a record, tombstone or any other genealogical item. (I like to do a quick photo “Edit” cleanup to get it in the best shape possible). Tap the Share button and send it to Evernote.

4. Email Content: Use your unique Evernote email address to send content from anywhere to your account.

5. Good Old Typing: Click “New Note” and start typing. You can always add other content including merging notes together.

Resources for Success

There’s so much demand for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve created a variety of helpful resources in video, audio, print and online formats (because everyone learns differently!).

FREE YouTube Video Series: Evernote for Genealogy

I’ve posted two videos so far on my free YouTube series:

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference Guide

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideMy laminated reference guide is super handy for every day support! This guide includes:

  • A Getting Started Checklist
  • Quick Keystrokes
  • Getting the Most Out of Clipping
  • Maneuvering the Desktop Client
  • Genealogical Organization
  • Little-Known Search Strategies
  • Specialized Genealogy Focused Techniques
  • Comparison of Evernote Pricing Tiers

The guide is available for both Windows and Mac users, in both print and digital download format. Click below to view:

The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedGenealogy Gems website Premium members have a full-year’s access to my popular in-depth video classes, which include The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education video series. This series includes the following full-length and mini-series classes:

Evernote genealogy family history organizeKeep up on all my latest Evernote news and Q&As!

Click here to read my Evernote blog posts.

Sign up for my free email newsletter (that sign-up comes with a free bonus e-book!).

Who else do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share this page with your friends, relatives, family history buddies and fellow gen society members using the share icons below. Thanks!

Episode 142 – Family History Bloggers

Listen to the episode here.

Have you ever wondered how the Internet works?  I mean, how data from your computer actually makes to another computer somewhere else around the world? I found a very cool video that really manages to explain a very complex process that happens in a matter of seconds in a way that actually makes a lot of sense. And yet while it made sense, after I watched it it was almost harder to believe that it really works at all because it’s so amazing. Even if you are typically a person who doesn’t bother to click on videos, you have got to check out How Does the Internet Work in the newest of an edition of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast email newsletter

RootsTech

RootsTech 2013 Promo Video

Ancestry

Read Lisa’s blog post: Money Growing on Trees: Ancestry Buying and Selling

While the world’s largest online family history resource, Ancestry.com, awaits a possible buyout, they are keeping busy buying other companies. Reuters reported that Permira Advisers LLP has emerged as the front-runner to take Ancestry private in a deal that could exceed $1.5 billion. (Read more about the possible acquisition at PEHUB)

Ancestry also released the following press release about the company’s latest acquisition, San Francisco based 1000Memories. You can learn more about 1000 Memories by listening to my interview with Michael Katchen, Director of Business Development at 1000Memories in  Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 119.

Google Books
Google Books and Publishers Reach Settlement over Digitization

Learn more about using Google Books for genealogy in my book The Genealogist’s  Google Toolbox.  

New Premium Episode 92

Old maps can tell us a lot more than just where our ancestors lived: They put events into geographic context, reveal surprising genealogical clues, and can be incorporated into Google Earth for analysis and storytelling.

In the newest episode (#92) of the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast I’ll tell you about a terrific example of a website that has set the goal of have every image they possess (allowable by copyright) digitized and on their website by early 2013

I’m also going to tell you about something pretty shocking that happened to me recently while speaking at an international genealogy conference. I was really taken by surprise, and received some unexpected questions. I will share those with you as well as some solid answers.

It’s another packed episode. If you are a member sign in now to start listening.  Become a Member today.

MAILBOX

Stephanie also wrote in with an opinion about Ancestry Trees
“So here are my “2 bits”.  I am new to all this and honestly never considered my public tree as published.  I have used the Ancestry tree as a if were my workbook, just as if it were a software package like Roots Magic.  Because I consider it a workbook I add names as I find them and work the family as a group to document the information AFTER I add them.  It simply never occurred to me that others would see this as complete, documented information.  I have kept my tree open since I want to be open to contacts.  When I see hints from other trees I simply avoid the un-sourced ones.  The Ancestry hints have moved me along much faster than I ever could have before.  I truly hope others who get angry could see my point of view. Thank you so much for teaching us, you have made this journey so much more enjoyable and effective!!!”

From Loretta: Ancestry Trees
“I’ve had a little different reaction towards the “polluted” online trees… sarcasm. At the beginning of the year I started a blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree. I post on Tuesdays and Fridays. Both days could be considered tips for beginners but Tuesdays are examples of what NOT to do. All the examples are actual online trees and because of the propensity of newbies to mindlessly copy other trees most examples are not just on ONE tree. It makes for a lot of head meets desk moments but I’m enjoying it. Hope you and some of your listeners will too.”

Ricky in Birmingham, Alabama asks about citing sources and paper and file organization

GEM: New Family History Bloggers

Family History blogging is hotter than ever and the ideal way to get your research out on the web where others working on the same family lines can find you through Google searches!  Many of you have been taking advantage of free blogging services like Blogger at Mom Cooke’s nagging here on the podcast, and reaping some rewards.  So let me highlight a few listeners who have turned in their “Round To It” for a “Gitter Done!”

First up is David Lynch who started a blog on his St. Croix research
“I recently started in my genealogy and find your show both entertaining and helpful.  My 200 Years in Paradise

The reason I’m writing is that sometimes we forget that the world wasn’t homogeneous throughout the 1800s. Right now, I’m writing a series on illegitimate births on the island of St. Croix from 1841-1934. From my research, it seems that over 77% of the children born were to unmarried households.  Typically they formed stable family units, but just didn’t marry. In fact, in my personal family history, I have a set of ancestors who had 16 children and got married after their 12th child was born.  In the US at the same time, only about 4% of the children were illegitimate.”

Jennifer shares her blog
“Just wanted you to know that I’ve started my own blog, based largely on the encouragement in your podcasts.  What appealed to me was that it’s a medium where I can share information, but not in a way that’s an online family tree.  This will prevent readers from copying and pasting family tree branches, without slowing down to learn some context.  It also allows me a forum to correct some gigantic errors floating around out there about my ancestors.  I finally woke up to the fact that I’ve moved to the head of the line in the experience department.  I’ve placed a lot of tags on the entries, so the information is easily located in Google.” http://jenongen.blogspot.com/

Sonja Hunter wrote in to share her blogging success
First, I would like to thank you for putting together your podcasts!…I only became a listener about a year ago, but have been working my way through old Genealogy Gems podcasts as well as the Genealogy Made Easy podcasts, mostly while gardening. 

I also wanted to let you know you inspired me to start blogging. I rang in the New Year by starting a blog about doing genealogy in my hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. One primary goal is to highlight helpful area resources. I imagine this will be most helpful to those new to conducting family history research in the area.

In addition, I am trying to include Kalamazoo area or Michigan history items that I think are interesting. One example is an article I found in the local paper describing what Kalamazooans from 1884 imagined life would be like in 1984. I’ve also written about poisonous cheese in the 1880s, diphtheria and the case of my gg-grandfather’s brother-in-law who may or may not have committed suicide by slitting his throat. I consulted Paula Sassi for that case and plan to blog about her handwriting analysis in the future. 

Thank you for inspiring me to embark on this project! I’m learning a lot. And keep up the good and valuable work you do on your podcasts!

Bushwahacking Genealogy Kalamazoo and Beyond 
John Harrigan: Who Done It? (With Handwriting Analysis by Paula Sassi)

From John in Maryland:
“I want to thank you again for everything you do to inspire people to be enthusiastic about their family history.  I learn so many “Gems” within all of your resources and put many of them to practice.   You are the family history “Go-To” person in my book.  I recently started a blog for the primary reason of documenting my findings so that I wouldn’t forget what I’ve been discovering.  The blog also appears to be a good way to share my success stories with others that may be interested.  I credit you for introducing the idea of using a blog in Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast.  When I first listened to the podcasts about blogs, I didn’t think it was something that was applicable to me, as I felt I had no new information to share with others since many experts like yourself already handle this.  However, I’m giving it a try and enjoy it so far.  I really like how I’m able to place images within the text to help convey my information.”
http://recordetective.blogspot.com/  

And finally Shannon Bennett has really made a blogging splash.  She writes:
“I have been hemming and hawing on writing to you and finally took the plunge to do it.  Last spring a friend of mine told me about your podcasts (yes all of them) since I had just started into family research.  She thought I would like it, and boy was she right!  I have taken you on my iPod to drop my kids off to school and pick them up again, cleaned house, grocery shopping as well as everywhere in between. The wealth of information I have gathered from your podcasts have been very helpful, and I have loved all the interviews and tid-bits that have come along the way as well.  There is no way that I could just pick one out of so many to be my all-time favorite.  Maybe a top 10 list would cover it.

However, I do have to blame you for the latest adventure in my life, which is why I am writing.  Listening to you tell us, in almost every episode, about the importance of having a family blog finally sank in.  The first couple of times I heard you say it I thought to myself “there’s no way I would/could ever do such a thing, I barely have time to keep up with my Live Journal account.”  A few weeks went by and the thoughts began to change to “hmmm…maybe I could do this.”  Then after 4 months of thinking about it I started to do some research into how to run a successful blog.”

Shannon took the plunge and applied to Family Tree University to write for their Family Firsts Blog.  “I come to find out that they are looking for their second blogger.  I sat…I thought…I clicked the application button.  Yes, on a whim I entered because I thought I had nothing to lose.  You see I never win these types of things.

A month goes by, and I have given into the feeling that well it was a good try but of course I didn’t get it.…then later on that week I find out I won it!

So thank you, I never would have entered let alone thought about creating my own blog less than a year into my family research, without you and your wonderful podcasts.”

Trials and Tribulations of a Self-Taught Family Historian

Family Tree Firsts Blog

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