Google Earth for Genealogy: How to Identify Old Photos’ Locations

google searchDo you have old pictures but aren’t sure where they were taken? Sometimes Google Earth has the answer. Check out this question from podcast listener Dennis:

Q: “I am scanning slides from my only trip to my ancestor’s home in rural Germany and don’t recall the names or locations of a few people. The clue hear is ‘slides’. They were taken in 1986! I have a question regarding something I thought I heard on one of your podcasts regarding identifying a building via a picture that is uploaded to a web site. Can you give me some help with this?”

A: Yes! On my website, I offer a FREE video in which I demonstrate how to identify a building in an old photo using Google Earth. You can watch the free video by going to www.GenealogyGems.com, hover your mouse over VIDEO, and click on Google Earth for Genealogy in the drop down menu.

Another option is to use the free Google app on your smart phone or tablet. Open the app, tap in the search box, tap the Camera icon, and take a photo of the photo you have that contains the building you want to identify. (This works best with more well known locations.) It’s a long shot, but you never know – Google just may be able to identify it.

Google Earth for Genealogy BundleGood luck, Dennis–and all the rest of you out there who are puzzling over how to identify old photos’ locations.

Find more tips on using Google Earth for Genealogy in my popular Google Earth for Genealogy 2-Disk Bundle. The free video is just the beginning of what you can do with Google Earth!

Backblaze Joins the Genealogy Gems Community

backblaze genealogy gems handshakeIn the last year I’ve moved from Earthquake Central (California) to Tornado Alley (Texas) and it’s been a bit of an adjustment, to say the least! Recently I presented a live webinar on using Evernote for genealogy during a tornado watch, with my husband fretting in the background. Not long after, we spent an hour in our shelter room during torrential rains, non-stop lightning, and nearby tornado touchdowns.

All this threat of danger and destruction has reinforced my decision to bring into our Genealogy Gems family a brand new sponsor. Backblaze is now the official back up of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Backblaze isn’t new to the genealogy space: if you’ve been to RootsTech, you’ve likely seen their booth. Backblaze is a trusted online cloud backup service that truly makes backing up all your most precious computer files super easy.

Many of you have asked me which company I use to back up my files. I’ve done my homework and Backblaze is my choice. The thought of losing my genealogy files is too much to bear. Now I can concentrate on keeping my loved ones safe through the storms of life because I know Backblaze is taking care of my files and photos! A few things to consider:

  • They back up ALL your files (or just those you select). Music, photos, data, documents, etc.
  • You have an unlimited amount of data storage on Backblaze.
  • In the event you lose data, you can download from any computer or have a hard drive FedExed to you.
  • For the price of a single average hard drive restoration (when it’s even possible), Backblaze could back up your computer for 50 years.
  • External drives are great, but if they’re sitting next to your computer, they would be lost in a natural disaster, too.
  • Backblaze serves both Mac and PC owners.
  • You can get started for free. And then it’s really inexpensive to have them continuously back you up. Only $5 per month, last we checked, or $50 for an entire year.

I invite you to visit www.Backblaze.com/Lisa and get all your files backed up once and for all!

Photo + Story Competition: RootsTech 2018 Contest

A new Photo + Story competition will be part of RootsTech 2018! If you can take a story-filled picture and caption it meaningfully, you should enter. Check out these tips for creating winning family history photo and story combinations. Winners will receive prizes from Canon and Dell–so start putting together your best photos and stories.

Photo + Story Competition

RootsTech 2018 Photo + Story Competition

“A good photo tells a good story. And behind every good photo and story is a photographer who recognized the moment the two had come together and snapped the shutter.” So says the press release announcing RootsTech 2018‘s Photo + Story Competition. Here’s how to enter:

“Participate by finding or capturing a photo and story, past or present, of you or a family member. Unlike standalone photo or story competitions, we want you to use the power of both photo and story to share, persuade, inform, inspire, connect, and belong.” In fact, some of those verbs are the four categories in the competition:

  • Connect
  • Belong
  • Family
  • Heritage

Winners will awarded prizes from Canon and Dell, which will certainly help your future family history storytelling! Selected entries will appear in an exhibit at RootsTech 2018.

photo + story competition RootsTech 2018This contest complements the appearance of RootsTech 2018 keynote speaker Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton. His personal glimpses into the lives of ordinary people in New York has set a standard for quality photo stories.

Details You’ll Want to Know

Here are several must-know details if you’d like to enter the contest–or encourage someone you know to enter:

  • Entrants can submit one photo and story in each of the categories.
  • Entrants must be at least 18 to apply.
  • No professional qualification, licenses, certificates, or certification is required.
  • If you didn’t take the picture, you must have permission or rights to use the photo (if it was taken after 1923). Agreeing to compete places full liability on the participant.
  • Go to RootsTech.org for contest entry details.
  • The deadline for entries is December 31, 2017.
  • Selected entries will be notified by January 15, 2018, with more information on their intent to exhibit.

Family History Storytelling Tips for You

At Genealogy Gems, we’re all about helping you to discover, preserve and share your family history. If you’re thinking of entering this contest, consider how the following tips, adapted from a Genealogy Gems article on family history storytelling, can help your Photo + Story competition entry:

  1. Create vivid “characters.” Photos can capturing someone’s expressions, body language, mood, unique clothing or a moment of intense personal drama. They can also create compelling portraits of the heirlooms or objects that store family memories. Your stories can do the same. Choose unique, meaningful details–both in words and pictures.
  2. Paint the backdrop. What’s going on in the background of your picture? The “setting” and any background action should help tell the story, not distract from it. In your story, add essential details that the image can’t communicate. Is the exact date or place important? What else?
  3. Tell why this story matters. Call it what you will: a meaning, a moral, a message–the best stories and photos say something about life. Something more than skin deep. Think about why the picture and story matter to you. Share it clearly, concisely, with humor or feeling or whatever tone best works for you and the message.

Genealogy Gems will be at RootsTech 2018 to help you discover and share your family stories! Click here to learn more.

 

Found in an Archive: 10 Unexpected Discoveries

What we expect to be found in an archive is documents, photos, memorabilia and other paper-based items. But the Archive Lady Melissa Barker’s list of “most unusual discoveries” reminds us to expect the unexpected in archival collections! Read about her top ten unique and exciting archive discoveries.

found in an archive

10 Unexpected Items I’ve Found in an Archive

Working in an archive everyday like I do in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, you can come across some of the most interesting items! Here is a list of my top 10 discoveries.

1. Looney Money

This is money that was dispensed by a local business to their employees for wages. This money usually had the store or business name on it and the money could only be spent in the store or business.

All images in this post courtesy of Melissa Barker and Houston County, TN Archives, except as noted.

2. Straight Razor

While working on circuit court case packets, I ran across one for William Hughes who was charged with going armed with a straight razor in 1952. The actual straight razor was in the packet and just as sharp as it was back in 1952.

3. Fudge Pie Recipe (with a Voting Roster?!)

While processing a collection of voting and election records, I found a 1952 local city ballot that had a handwritten fudge pie recipe written on the back. I actually made the pie and it was wonderful!

4. Lock of Hair

While processing a manuscript collection of various types of records, I found a lock of hair tied with a blue ribbon that was in perfect condition. The lock of hair was in a harmonica box and addressed to a gentleman and had been sent through the mail. So far we have not been able to determine whose lock of hair it is.

5. A 100-Year Old Vacuum Cleaner

Recently a man walked into the archives and donated a 100 year old vacuum cleaner. This vacuum cleaner is motorless and looks just like the Bissell vacuum cleaners you can buy today. The crazy thing is, it still works!

6. Snake Photo

Recently a patron donated an old photo album that had belonged to her Grandmother who had owned the local hotel back in the 1920s. The photo album included a photo of a lady holding a very, very large snake. There is a name of “Mille Viola” on the photo and it was taken at Kern Bros. Photographs in New York.

7. Moonshine

In the archives, we have come across a couple of examples of the moonshine trade. In our court records, there are numerous court cases about moonshiners. We also have several photographs of bottles of moonshine and stills. Seems it was very popular to take photographs of what the police had collected.

8. Grand Ole Opry

In one of the wonderful scrapbooks that we have at the Houston County, TN. Archives, there is an original 1943 Grand Ole Opry Ticket.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

9. Railroad Memorabilia

The railroad once went through many communities and areas including Houston County, TN. We have many items to help us remember the railroad, like railroad spikes, lanterns, and tools used to work on the railroad.

10. Dioramas

By Tracyleanne (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Click to view.

We have three dioramas in the archives, one depicting an old church, one depicting a dogtrot house and one depicting a schoolhouse. They are a very popular attraction for our patrons.

Melissa doesn’t have images of her dioramas–and every diorama is different–but here’s an example of a diorama of a wastewater treatment plant. (People create dioramas of diverse places, don’t they?)

What Have You Found in An Archive?

What treasures or unusual have you discovered in an archival collection? Tell us in the comments below!

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