Tue, 11 November 2014
We all need a little inspiration now and then, and in this episode I hope to bring you some through good books, inspiring comments from other listeners, and some new ideas to try.
Once I got past the organization of my new office, what I’ve really enjoyed doing is devoting time to display family photos and artifacts, and just decorating the room. It may seem frivolous, but I don’t this it is. We spend a lot of time in our offices, and you may have a home office, or corner of a room where you work on your genealogy. Considering the importance of the work and the time you spend doing it, I think it’s time and effort well spent to put effort in to inspiring decorations and displays.
(Lisa's new office display)
Feedback on the “Lizzie” interview from Alvie
They were so very interesting reading but I had no use for them so I turned them over to our local museum in Lakeland, FL. I don't know what became of them.
Kay loves MyHeritage too
"Loved this podcast today - I listened while I walked my 3-mile loop. Just want to share a MyHeritage story.
GEM: BOOK CLUB conversation with Sunny Morton
“When [your] parent dies…your relationship with their history changes almost overnight. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you because you feel like you are the only one left who is in a position to remember it. So having never wanted to know anything about my mother’s life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything….It felt to me that I couldn’t…stake out the parameters of what I’d lost until I knew everything there was to know about her.” -Emma Brockes, on She Left Me the Gun
Suggestion from Mary:
Here’s one along a similar theme of secrets in a mother’s past and the mother-daughter relationship. One of our listeners, Mary, wrote to us about it. She said, "I just ordered this book and thought you might be interested in reading it. I am looking forward to reading it myself.” The book is The Woman in the Photograph by Mani Feniger. Here’s a little blurb on the book: Mani Feniger wanted nothing to do with the relics of her mother's life before she escaped from Nazi Germany in 1936. But when the fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the buried secrets and startling revelations of her mother's past, she was drawn into an exploration-of history and family, individuality and identity, mothers and daughters-that would change her life forever."
Listener suggestion from Mike:
"Here's a book I found that you and your listeners might also enjoy. The Lost German Slave Girl recounts the story of a poor emigrant family and what happened to one of the daughters. I found it fascinating. The story is non-fiction and takes place around New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century. There is much family research involved, some heart-wrenching descriptions of what the emigrants suffered, and delightful insights into the New Orleans of that time period. It's the kind of research that we family historians love to do but is more dramatic than many of the personal stories we work on."
Profile America: Thursday, November 13th
Improvements in Using Autosomal DNA for Genealogy
You may recall from our recent DNA discussion on the Genealogy Gems podcast (Episode 168) that Ancestry.com recently discontinued their mtDNA and YDNA tests (the two that trace our direct maternal and direct paternal lines) to focus on autosomal DNA (which delivers information about both your mother’s and your father’s side of your ancestral tree).
Well, recently I attended an all-day meeting hosted by Ancestry.com: a summit to talk about current trends and accomplishments at Ancestry DNA , and ideas about the future of DNA testing at Ancestry.com. Free Shipping on Ancestry DNA Kit w Code: FREESHIPDNA
The meeting included a diverse group of Ancestry representatives, from CEO Tim Sullivan to members of the marketing, scientific, communications, and even computer science departments, as well as some of the top voices in genetic genealogy. It was an open and lively discussion, and I walked away with a few gems I want to share with you today.
More Powerful DNA Hints Coming
In AncestryDNA, the ‘shaky leaf” hints are meant to help you find a common ancestor between you and your DNA matches. The computer code behind the old hints was not very efficient. Lazy, in fact. It started at the bottom of your tree—and the bottom of your match’s tree—and slapped on a shaky leaf at the first sign of a shared common ancestor.
While this method worked for a large number of cases, it was leaving a lot of stones unturned. But the IT guys at Ancestry have beefed up the computer power, allowing them to cover a much greater distance through our trees and the trees of our matches before making a judgment about the best place to assign that shaky leaf.
The result? Better hints about how you and your match COULD be related. Remember, the leaf is still just a SUGGESTION on how you and your match might be related. It is not a crystal ball.
Did You Know?
There is no question that the genetic genealogy industry is rapidly advancing, and our discussion with Ancestry certainly didn’t disappoint. While I will be sharing with you in future posts about some of the exciting changes, I do want you to be ready for one that will be coming online fairly soon.
It has to do with your matches. If you have been tested by AncestryDNA, you may have been initially excited, then nearly immediately overwhelmed, by the number of individuals listed in your match page, all claiming to have some kind of connection to you and your family tree.
All three major genetic genealogy testing companies (AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) are using basically the same laboratory methods to glean information from your DNA. What differs is how they use that data to draw conclusions about your ethnic heritage and about your relationships to other individuals. As it turns out, AncestryDNA has been reporting far more individuals as your relatives than it should have.
You can think of it like this: You have sent out tickets, in the form of your genetic code, to an exclusive party where you (of course!) are the star. However, you have lost the guest list and you are counting on the testing company to check the ticket of each guest before they enter your party to be sure they were really invited.
AncestryDNA was relatively new in the role of party bouncer, and in the interest of not turning away any VIP guests, they initially allowed guests into your party who had (gasp!) forged tickets!! But as AncestryDNA admits more guests, the experience it’s gained in party monitoring is starting to show.
You see, each of the forged tickets has some unique qualities that have started to send up red flags to the team of scientists at AncestryDNA . They are now in the process of carefully documenting what each forged ticket looks like and tossing those unwanted guests out on their ear.
The short of it: in the near future your match list at Ancestry will be much shorter. Which is good news to you, as it means only those invited genetic cousins will be around eating hors d’ oeuvres and ready to talk about your shared common ancestry.
Each testing company has its strengths and weaknesses. It was good to have a bit of insight into this one company and come to a greater understanding about why it is they do what they do. It is a great time to be in this young genetic genealogy industry, with so much room to grow and change. I will let you know when I find the next genetic gem.
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GEM: Couple Celebrates 80 years of Marriage
Watch the video and see photos through time of the successful couple at KVAL.com
Mon, 20 October 2014
In this episode I've got some exciting news, a cool free online tool, advice on translation, stories of inspirational finds, DNA for genealogy, and a Star Trek take on the innovations of yesteryear!
FamilySearch’s free interactive map
What Has Replaced Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness?
If you don’t see a group that meets your needs, create one! From your Facebook account:
1. on the left side of the page under GROUPS click “Find New Groups”
2. Here you can join groups (Facebook will likely recommend some based on your profile interests)
3. In the upper right corner click the green + CREATE GROUP button
4. Give your group a name and select whether it is public or private
5. Start posting content to your group page
6. Start promoting the page on your profile page while also friending other genealogists and soon you will likely have a vibrant group that can assist each other based on a shared interest.
From Dot: Australian Newspapers - I had to let you know how grateful I am to you and your podcasts. Thank you so much for helping our family put flesh on the bones of our ancestors. In Episode 167 of Genealogy Gems you mentioned Paul Nauta at FamilySearch let you know “that the National Library of Australia has added an additional 35 historic newspapers to their online collection at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper.
In the last couple of weeks we have found over twenty articles referring to our great grandparents and family, Charles and Margaret McIntosh. Charles McIntosh came to Australia from Scotland in 1856 and worked for the NSW Railways in various locations before settling in a Gate House Cottage in Moss Vale As well as finding obituaries for family members including our Great grandmother, we have found other interesting articles.
I have included a few examples: Charles lost two sovereigns between the pub and the house , about $300. An unwelcome visitor was found in the house – a big black snake, A cousin in California sent a description of the Golden Gate Bridge.
From Kathy Needs Help Translating Swedish Gems - I just returned from an amazing trip to Sweden. Through the help of the local genealogical societies I was able to locate the descendants of an older sibling who did not emigrate to America. My new found Swedish cousins were so delighted to meet my husband and myself. They knew they had American cousins, but had no idea where we lived. They had pictures and letters sent from California in the 1890's, describing my great grandparents' experience. My grandfather even wrote inquiring about a nice Swedish girl who might like to come to California. Priceless. (He did find a nice Swedish girl in California).
During this trip I picked up brochures, books etc....all in Swedish. I remember that you had a question from one of your listeners about how to translate a book in another language. You talked about scanning the pages and then what? I would appreciate any ideas, thoughts you might have on this subject.
Lisa’s Answer: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 96 covers translation tools.
Check out the chapter on Google Translate in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox
Amy and Jillian’s recorded comments
Jillian’s genealogy blog: www.burgessgenealogy.wordpress.com
Win a free PDF article! If you would like to receive a copy of the article I wrote for Family Tree Magazine called “Technology RX” which includes 10 of my top favorite tools for managing technology, a 5 page pdf article. All you need to do is call and leave a voice mail comment or question at 925-272-4021 Be sure to clearly leave your email address too and if we use it on the podcast you will receive the Technology RX pdf.
Do you love to read? Then you’ll be happy to hear that we are launching the new Genealogy Gems Book Club! This is an idea we’ve been percolating on for quite a while, and many of you have sent in recommendations for riveting books to dig into.
I can’t think of anyone who reads more voraciously than our own Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. So I’ve asked Sunny to be our Genealogy GemsBook Club Guru!
The first month of each quarter Sunny will introduce our featured book. The next month we’ll talk about it, as well as introduce you to a few more book gems in case you need a few other good reads to hold you over until, and our final month of the quarter where we’ll give you a sneak peek at our interview with the author to get their insight.
As always, Premium members get to take this feature to the next level. In that last month on the Premium Podcast, Sunny will join us for an extended chat with the author about the family history aspects of their book.
Our first Genealogy Gems book is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes. She’s an award-winning journalist from the UK who, after her mother’s death, began investigating hints of her mother’s difficult childhood in South Africa. Here’s a bit from the back of the book jacket, “Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land-and the life-her mother fled from years before. A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’ efforts to walk the knife-edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for her daughter.”
This is an amazing, page-turning read. It’s a memoir that is also, as one reviewer described, part family history, part investigative reporting, part travel narrative. It’s beautifully written, funny in parts, very self-aware that she is working her way around a sensitive topic with relatives she’s never met.
Sunny tells us what she thinks you will especially appreciate about this book: "I think they’ll love the way the writer describes her research and discovery process: online research, the South African archives, her discovery of her grandfather’s conviction of a serious crime that her mom’s family didn’t even know about, on top of his crimes they did know about. Then there’s the historical context: how her mother’s life straddles apartheid-era South Africa and the UK. It’s a first-generation immigrant’s tale. I think they’ll appreciate the difficulties she describes in intruding into people’s lives to ask very personal questions about the family past, and her description of the relationships between her aunts and uncles. One marvelous take-home for family historians is her ability to absorb the tragedies of the past without being sunk by them. And finally, anyone who has ever written their own family history will be absolutely inspired by the way she writes so compellingly, with such compassion but without being too sentimental."
In a couple of months, we will have an interview on the show with the author Emma Brockes. The interview is fascinating whether or not you’ve read the book, but the reason we’re telling you ahead of time is that you’ll love it even more if you read the book. Sunny gives us a hint: "So I’ve done the interview already and I’ll give you a teaser. My favorite part of the interview is something she only touches on briefly in the book: how to tell the stories of living relatives in print without hurting their feelings or your relationship with them. That was one of my favorite parts of our conversation because I can tell she cares about her family a lot. I’m really excited to share this book with GG audiences. Again, the book is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me by Emma Brockes."
Your DNA Guide: National Geographic and New Zealand with Diahan Southard
Recently a group of 100 residents from a very cosmopolitan city assembled together to determine what exactly it was they had in common. What they learned about themselves that evening, has a direct impact on you, a genealogist interested in identifying your ancestors.
Those 100 residents were from Wellington, New Zealand. Their host? Dr. Spencer Wells, Director of the National Genographic project. Their admittance fee to this party? A cheek swab.
You see, 800 years ago the first inhabitants of New Zealand were just beginning to explore their new territory. They had arrived from the eastern islands of Polynesia and lived in relative isolation for over 500 years.
While first discovered by the Dutch in 1642, New Zealand wasn’t regularly visited by Europeans until the late 18th century. Therefore the study of New Zealand’s populations can give us a relatively recent look at what has been going on all over the world for thousands of years: indigenous populations being mixed with outside population groups.
For Spencer Wells and the National Genographic Project, sampling people of New Zealand would provide a rare opportunity to study the genetic effect of a recent collision of populations.
We can think of mixing populations like adding a tablespoon of salt to a glass of water. At first it is easy to see the two different substances co-existing in the same location. But soon the salt becomes part of the water- creating a new substance, with only a small portion of the original substances remaining. This is what happened throughout history as outside groups arrived and intermarried with indigenous populations.
The goal of population genetics as a field of study, and specifically of the National Genographic project, is to look at the modern day population (in our example the salt water), and be able to identify which ancestral populations are present (in our example, determine which parts are salt, and which parts are water. This of course, without knowing beforehand that you were dealing with salt water!).
The National Genographic project has identified 9 ancestral regions from which they believe all modern populations descend. These nine would be like our salt, and our water. They have then described how 43 reference population groups (our salt water) are comprised of their own unique mix of these 9 groups. They can also describe the origins of your direct maternal line, and if you are male, your direct paternal line.
This information was gathered for the Wellington residents and it was determined that the original Polynesian population, and a small East Asian population, are certainly the minority among a predominately Western European population group.
This information will help groups like the National Genographic Project to determine the possible migration patterns of other peoples and cultures.
What does this mean for genealogy? This kind of research helps fuel the Admixture results (the pie charts and percentages) reported to you by a genetic genealogy testing company when you take an autosomal DNA test. It is this research that helps genetic genealogists look at your DNA and pick out the essential, ancestral elements- your salt and your water- and determine how your unique mix- your salt water- reveals information about the origins and migration patterns of your ancestors.
Get Diahan Southard's Genetics for Genealogists Quick Reference Guides at the Genealogy Gems Store.
GEM: A Star Trek Journey Through October Innovations
You know, through history October has turned out to be quite a month for technological innovation, particularly those that affect our every day lives through modern conveniences. In this very special Profile America segment, come with me as we boldly go where no man has gone before!
Tuesday, October 21st. An invention was demonstrated on this date in 1879 that lit the way for a dramatic change in the rhythm of Americans' daily lives. At his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, Thomas Edison set up the first incandescent light bulb, which burned for almost 14 hours. Within a few years, some cities had installed electric streetlights. The number of homes across the U.S. with electricity grew steadily, but even in 1940, more than one-in-five houses was without power. Today, there are over 10,000 electric power generating establishments. American homes on average use nearly 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The national average bill for this power is just over $107 per month, but over $203 in Hawaii.
Wednesday, October 22nd. "10 - 22 - 38 Astoria." That cryptic sequence indicating date and place was the very first photocopied image, created on this date in 1938 in Astoria, New York. A man named Chester Carlson developed a method of making dry copies of documents on plain paper, known as xerography -- which we take for granted in using photocopiers today. Before his invention, copies were made either by using carbon paper when typing or by a mimeograph machine for large numbers of copies. Both were messy and cumbersome. The first commercial copiers became available in 1959. Now, 76 years to the day after the first photocopy, making copiers is a $2.2 billion a year business in the U.S.
Saturday, October 25th. A melted candy bar led to the invention of one of today's most-used kitchen appliances. Percy Spencer of the Raytheon company was working on a military radar device in the mid-1940s when he noticed that his snack had gotten soft. Intrigued, he experimented with irradiating some kernels of popcorn, which promptly burst. Further work led to the first microwave ovens, which cost only a little less than a new car. On this date in 1955, the first consumer models were introduced, but they required installation and cost $1,200. Countertop models came along in 1967. Now, more than nine out of 10 homes across the country have microwave ovens, and manufacturing microwave ovens and other electric cooking ranges is a nearly $2.5 billion a year business.
Sunday, October 26th. Doing laundry was a wearying, time-consuming chore for many centuries. The industrial revolution and American inventiveness attacked the ancient chore on this date in 1858, when Hamilton Smith patented a rotary washing machine. But it was hand-driven and proved to be hard on both the operator and clothes. People continued to use the tub and washboard, even after the first electric washer came along in 1908. A few years later, the agitator-type machine appeared and gained immediate popularity. Finally, in the late 1930s, the fully automatic washer with a spin cycle went on sale. Today, over 85 percent of the nation's nearly 119 million households have a washing machine.
Wednesday, October 29th. The scene on this date in 1945 at Gimbel's department store in New York City was shopping chaos. Big ads the day before had trumpeted the first sale in the U.S. of a new writing instrument that guaranteed it would write for two years without refilling -- the ballpoint pen. By the end of the day, the store had sold its entire stock of 10,000 at $12.50 each. The idea of the ballpoint pen was first patented in 1888 by John Loud of Massachusetts, who never made any pens. Now, ballpoints are the standard. Vast selections are offered by the nation's 7,400 office supply stores, which employ some 94,000 workers.
Tue, 16 September 2014
Do you have enough time to work on your family history the way you would like to? How about taking on someone else’s family history? In this episode I’ve invited someone who has jumped over his own family history to diligently working on a perfect strangers…or did he jump over it? It’s a very interesting story! We’ll also be talking later about coping and in fact excelling even in the face of technological change.
I’m home for a week before I head back out on the road. And the next stop is Naperville Illinois and the Fox Valley Genealogical Society where I’ll be presenting a full day seminar on Sept. 27, 2014. The following week I’ll be at the Pima County Genealogical Society in Tucson AZ and then in October the Heritage Quest Library in Sumner Washington. I hope you’ll check out my full schedule at http://lisalouisecooke.com/lisas-schedule/ and perhaps join me at one of the upcoming events.
Now finding the content you want, whether a podcast episode, blog article or video, is as simple as selecting the topic from the drop down menu.
We are really striving to make the website something you can turn to every day not only for the latest in genealogy, but for the topics and content you need when you need them. This is your website!
Family History Jewelry
“You are a genius. I just received my bracelet from lisa lisson. I did a generation picture of my Mother and 4 Mothers going back to my 3rd Great Grandmother. It is beautiful, and sacred. Thank you for hooking up with this website, I am thrilled. You really care about me and my needs.” Marlane
You can find the jewelry created by Esther’s Place at our store. You’ll be amazed how quickly they will create your jewelry and affordable it can be. I’ve got them working on a bracelet right now that features the women in my family tree.
Silver Surfers: Internet Use by Older Adults
Here’s what you had to say on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page:
From Sheri: "Lisa, My sister and I met you at RootsTech this year. We're already planning next year’s trip! I read the article about silver surfers and just wanted to say that when I was a kid (Fairbanks, Alaska) we had party-line phones, one TV station! My mother wrote letters to her family in Idaho regularly and long distance phone calls were very rare! I'm a baby boomer and have always been interested in technology. I do most research online with Ancestry, Fold3, FamilySearch, etc. I haven't jumped into the blogging pool but who knows! I'm currently starting to work on suggestions from your Google Earth CDs, putting together family tours. Love your podcasts. You are my favorite "source". Sheri"
From Diane: "Thanks for the article about the silver surfers. I saw you when you spoke to the San Diego Genealogical Society and learned a lot. I am a major social media user. I am on many FB groups, use Twitter, Pinterest and have my own genealogy blog. I am a baby boomer. Party lines were in use when I was a kid and for parts of my growing up our household didn't even have a phone. Here is a link to my blog."
From Sandee: "When I was a kid, we communicated mostly by letter -- which soon fell by the wayside because they took so long to write, were full of scribble-outs and add-ins, and had a long turnaround time. Phone calls were for really important stuff and emergencies. When I went to college, my parents gave me a tape recorder and several REELS of tape so I could send oral "letters" home (which I don't think I ever did). My dad read the Dick Tracy comic strip and said that someday we really would have wrist-worn telephones and would be able to see each other as well as talk. In spite of all the complaints about constant contact via cell phones and text messages and emails, modern-day communication seems to foster friendships."
Candace says: "When I was young we had a party line with 8 families. We weren't supposed to listen in to other conversations, but we all knew which ring indicated the best news."
Candace’s memories remind me of the Andy Griffith show!
From Lynn: "You asked about seniors and 'net usage. I mostly use e-mail and delight in being able to stay in touch on a daily basis with my 94 year old cousin in Michigan. She is the only person in her assisted living facility with a computer.”
Thank you to our sponsors:
Natalie in TX has success with one of Lisa's Tips:
So I clicked on the 1995 article and it was a picture of New Hope Baptist Church and the first two sentences said "New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1833. It was given in a land grant by Williamson Tucker in memory of William C. Bailey." Then the 2001 issue which was a listing for Hawkins County churches and had New Hope on it, and it gave a little more info that William Bailey gave land to the church but never made a deed for it. He then died and then my ancestor Williamson Tucker acquired the land from the Baileys and then deeded it to the church. Wow, I did not know that, and I probably would have skipped over those two hits because they were so late dated. So thank you for the tip! I've been writing a paper on my grandfather the Rev. Ellis Birl McLain who was a Methodist minister who lived in many places and so far I have found him in 15 different newspapers in six states so I really do know the importance of searching newspapers.”
Linda from South Australia writes in about Dealing with Chaos:
The harder part will be putting something in there, leaving it for later, and then going back to what I was looking for in the first place – I’m easily distracted! Especially when someone I’m NOT looking for turns out to be more interesting than the one I AM looking for.”
Del in California has been busy using Google Earth for Genealogy:
GEM: Project Lizzie – An Interview with Ron Ploof
Storyteller Ron Ploof is here to share how and why he took on such an endeavor, and some of his successes and challenges along the way which he is documenting on his new website Project Lizzie at www.projectlizzie.com
In this interview we head back to 1976 when Ron was 13 years old, and helping his uncle who had just bought a house in Massachusetts. Exploring as 13 year olds do, Ron found something intriguing in the attic of that house – a stack of 99 postcards tucked away. He’s held onto them for the past 38 years. Ron was always fascinated with the pictures on the front of the cards, but in 2012, he started studying the stories on their backs. And that's when he could see that 86 of them were addressed to a Mrs. Lizzie Milligan and postmarked between 1904 and 1925.
He has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to learn as much about her, including a trip from California to Massachusetts to find her gravesite. Ton started publishing Lizzie's story online in February of this year.
Ron has asked his readers to join in the hunt, which begs the question: Why should his readers care? It’s a very important question, because we all have had a non-genealogist relative ask us the question: Why should I care? Even when they are related to the person! If we can share the why, we can more successfully share the journey.
Profile America — Wednesday, September 17th
Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 1104, 3804
Coping and Exceling through Techological Change
This is a perfect example that we really need to cultivate our problem solving skills in today's constantly changing online environment. I totally get that it can be frustrating to visit a familiar website or refer to something in a book (or a class!) and find that things are not as they used to be.
In this case, Google removed the "Advanced Search" link from the Web Search and Image Search home pages. And I’ve had situations where I went to teach an iPad class, and the night before a new operating system was released changing practically everything!
However, if we come to expect change then we won’t have to be quite so surprised and frustrated when we run into it. And of course in most cases that change is really an attempt by the website to improve and evolve, although that can seem debatable when it's something you enjoy or depend on.
When you run up against change, you are better equipped than most to deal with it. As Genealogists the sleuthing skills we have honed become our greatest assets!
The quickest way to determine what's going on when something changes online (which again can happen nearly every day) is to just "Google It!"
After reading the student’s message, that's exactly what I did, because I didn’t have the answer on the top of my head either. So I went to Google.com and searched on: google advanced search no longer on home page.
The results quickly led me to the answer: At both the Image Search page (google.com/imghp) and the Web search page (www.google.com) the Advanced Search has been moved to "Settings." Simply click "Settings" in the bottom right corner and you will find "Advanced Search" there as one of the options.
The good news is that chances are, if we've noticed a change, others are already talking about it online, and often will have already shared the answer. "Googling it" is often the easiest way to determine what's going on, so that you can get on with your family history work. So until we meet here again, get on with your family history work!
Wed, 13 August 2014
Lisa shares her recent research successes:
GEM: Sunny Morton’s interview with Lisa Kudrow, Executive of the U.S. TV series Producer of Who Do You Think You Are?
Celebrities that will be featured on the U.S. TV show Who Do You Think You Are?
Who Do You Think You Are? season five (and second on TLC) features popular celebrities from TV and film. Tonight's episode features Valerie Bertinelli (One Day At a Time, Hot in Cleveland)
Set Your DVR: Who Do You Think You Are? Season 5 Wednesdays.
This episode was sponsored by:
Sun, 13 July 2014
Catch a glimpse of the silent movie era and how it was an integral part of your ancestors’ lives. In this episode, I find out more about the silent movies my grandmother catalogued in her diary, and how they molded a generation.
The cultural influences of the “Picture Shows”
Below is a page from my grandmother’s journal documenting the silent films she saw that year, including the actors who starred in them.
Just like today, the stars who light up the silver screen were mimicked and followed for fashion trends, hair styles, decorating ideas, and moral behavior. Understanding who the role models were at the time gives us a better understanding of the cultural influences of the era. Films are NOT primary resources, but they certainly paint a picture of life at any given time in history.
Finding silent films in my area
To learn more about silent films, I started with a simple Google search, altering my search criteria until I found movie theaters that showed silent films in my area.
The first theater I found was the Stanford Theatre, located in Palo Alto, California. It was first opened in 1925 and stood as Palo Alto’s premier theater house for several decades. In 1987, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation bought the theater and restored it. It is now owned and operated by the non-profit Stanford Theatre Foundation.
www.stanfordtheatre.org - The website provides all the movie schedules from 1929-1961, compiled from ads that appeared in the Palo Alto Times. Vaudeville acts were also regularly included in the lineup. And the Wurlitzer organ live accompaniment was a staple.
Grandma’s Diary Entry – Sunday, April 22, 1928
I have to lead singing at church. Walter and I went to the lake. Met Helen Weathers and Jesse Jay and Ed Taylor. Helen and I went in swimming. Went to the show afterwards. The vaudeville was keen. Lew Cody in “Adam and Eve.”
The first silent movie I saw was “Diary of a Lost Girl”, a German movie starting Louise Brooks. It was a late entry silent film released on April 24, 1930. It tells the story of an innocent young girl, who is raped by the clerk of her father’s pharmacy. After she becomes pregnant, she is rejected by her family and must fend for herself in a cruel world. It was not the wholesome far I expected but was riveting nonetheless. (I must acknowledge the organ accompaniment of Dennis James because he added a drama and magic to the film that was priceless.)
The next film I saw was the classic 1923 comedy “Safety Last” starring Harold Lloyd. This is a must-see, full of laugh-out-loud humor. I was starting to get a feel for what drew Grandma to the pictures as a young girl. It was magical, glamorous, and hugely expanded her social network.
Society’s views on the silent film era
To learn more, I was combed through newspapers from her home town in the 1920s at the State Archives. I came across two newspaper articles: “Getting Back to the Home” from January of 1925, and “Harking Back to those Old Home Days” from February 5, 1925.
The first article leads in…
“Much has been said as to the methods of checking the crime and rebelliousness among the young people of today. The automobile, trains and other means of travel as well as moving pictures, dance halls, etc. that attract young people, and so lead them to seek amusement away from home have contributed to the fact that the home is not the center of attraction for the majority of families as it once was.” The article went on to say that there were plans in the works for a community get-together.
The February 5th article reported the events of that evening, which was called “Back to the Home.” The local residents ate pumpkin pie, sang songs, listened to speeches and music, and comic readings. (And I happened to recognize the name of the cellist in the orchestra as being the man who signed as witness on my great-grandfather’s naturalization papers!) The even was a huge success and was deemed “something that will in surely bear repeating.”
Immediately my grandmother’s diary entries bemoaning her mother who was “from the old country” started to become clearer. Grandma felt that Great-Grandma just didn’t understand her. Having experienced the thrill of the old movie theater experience myself, and reading in the newspapers how it was affecting society, I began to better understand that she lamenting more than just the woes of being 15 years old. Society was changing. And as a mother, I began to sympathize with my great-grandmother’s plight of trying to raise three teenagers in the new world.
Enjoying Silent Movies at Home
I live 25 minutes from a little town that has a Silent Film Museum devoted to a company that produced hundreds of them locally back in the teens. Every Saturday night, they show two shorts, and one full length movie each week with live piano accompaniment.
Last week my husband and I went to the regular Saturday night show, and we found ourselves watching the original full-length versions of two movies about San Francisco in 1906. In the last podcast, I covered the San Francisco Earthquake and other historical events, and included a Youtube.com playlist that I created full of old and new videos about the earthquake.
The first movie short was called “A Trip Down Market Street.” This is in my Youtube.com playlist under the title “San Francisco 1905 - 1906 (short form).” The Archivist at the museum said that research has uncovered that this film was shot just about four days before the earthquake hit in April 1906. The filmmaker shot the entire movie from the back of a cable car slowly moving down Market Street toward the Ferry Building. He told us that the reason the movie survived is that the filmmaker shipped the film to their New York offices for processing just one day before the quake.
The second movie short was produced by Blackhawk Films immediately following the earthquake, (www.filmclassic.com/Blackhawk.htm) and was aptly titled “Destruction of San Francisco.” Portions of this film can also be found on the YouTube playlist.
If you don’t live within driving distance to a theater showing silent films, here are some options for viewing at home:
Netflix (UPDATED) – They have an incredible catalogue of films that can be hard to find. You can stream movies from any device at home at www.Netflix.com. Type “silent” in the search box and click the GENRE matches tab. You can also search by your favorite silent movie star (Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, Jackie Coogan, etc). Not all films are available to stream, but many can be delivered in DVD form with a subscription to www.dvd.netflix.com.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) – www.tcm.com/index.jsp - Go to the website and type SILENT in the search box, then click GO. Scroll down to the KEYWORD MATCHES to see what’s available. They often run “Silent Sundays.” I find the best way to approach TCM it to review the schedule for the week on my cable TV menu, and set movies of interest to be recorded.
The Public Library – A quick search of my local library catalogue online showed dozens of silent movies. I found that searching a particular silent era actor as an “author” worked better than searching ‘silent movies’ alone. Beware, movies held over the one week time limit incur hefty fees. But the titles were free, and in the case of my local library, I can place a request for a movie from another library in the same county system, and they will deliver it to my local branch and hold it for me for pick up free of charge. For a global search of libraries try www.worldcat.org
Amazon.com – If you have a specific title or actor in mind, a quick search will tell you if Amazon has it. And if it’s been released, they probably do. However, browsing is more challenging. To narrow your search to only silent movies, select DVD in the SEARCH area, and click GO. Then click “BROWSE GENRES.” From the next page click CLASSICS. Then, in the Browse box on the right, click SILENT FILMS. I got over 400 results. If you’re not looking for a Charlie Chaplin film, add “-Chaplin” to your search and you’ll get the results down to 282 films. You can help support this free podcast by always starting your searches in our Amazon search boxes located throughout the Genealogy Gems website at www.GenealogyGems.com
Ebay.com – If you’re looking for a title that is particularly hard to find, EBay may be the best source. www.ebay.com
Grandma’s Diary Entry – Friday, November 2nd, 1930
“Alfred, Len, Mama and I went to the show in Merced. “Four Son’s.” It was sure good!”
I looked the movie up at IMDb.com, the biggest movie database on the internet. The description stated that the movie revolved around a mother and her four grown sons living happily in a German village prior to WWI. The oldest son, Joseph, yearns to go to America, and his mother gives him her savings to realize his dream. After the war begins, two of the sons go off to battle and are killed. Meanwhile, Joseph becomes an American citizen and joins the army to fight against Germany. The youngest son then leaves to join his battalion, and is killed in battle. After the war, Joseph goes home to New York and sends for his mother. She makes the journey through Ellis Island and they finally reunite.
My grandma’s parents had emigrated from Germany in 1910, just prior to the start of the war. Great-grandfather came over first to find work. When great grandmother discovered she was pregnant with Alfred, she followed three months letter, which was sooner than planned. She secretly made the trip with her 3-year-old daughter. I had to get a copy of this film!
I couldn’t find “Four Sons” at any of the usual places, so I went to Ebay.com. There I found someone who had a copy, and I bought it. The movie was extremely moving, and I cheered for the naive yet faithful mother as she made her way alone through the confusing world of Ellis Island and the streets of New York. This movie must have been very touching for Great grandmother to watch, and I would guess that it generated conversation about her own trip. Many years later, Grandma fulfilled a life long dream and made the trip to Ellis Island to see it for herself. Before her death, she told an eager granddaughter all about Mama, the journey through Ellis Island, and about her love for the moving pictures.
GEM: Interview with Sam Gill – April 19th, 2007
(Image: Sam Gill introducing a silent film)
Do you by chance research your own family history?
Not much now. As a child I helped my mother quite a bit with her genealogical research, joining her on trips to libraries, helping at home, typing up manuscripts, filling in sheets, etc. My mother published a little pamphlet on the John Ashton family of London, Ontario, Canada for which I’ll provide a link to a recent description.
In my youth, I also recorded via reel-to-reel tape, important family members (father’s mother in depth; mother’s step-mother briefly; mother and father, and siblings casually) in the 1960s and 1970s. They—the older family members-- are all deceased now, and I am very glad I did this. I am currently transferring these tapes to CD.
My brothers George and Paul are very interested in family history, too—now, actually more so than I am, which is very surprising considering my brother Paul showed very little interest in family during his youth. I was extremely interested in family history in my youth, but not as much now, unless it be to discover whatever I can about the personal relationships family members had to one another, as well as to their friends and other loved ones.
How accurately do you think they portray life at that time?
One needs to be very careful with film, today as well as yesterday. Most film—even documentaries—often depict people as they want to be seen, or to perform in stories the way they themselves want to appear, or the way the filmmakers specifically want their characters to appear.
I have a friend who once coordinated the locating of antiques in the Los Angeles area for Christie’s in London, who commented that frequently the furniture he saw in teens silent films of the fairly common society-drama type, were extremely high-end antiques that would command extremely high figures in current auctions, and are the kind of antiques never seen in today’s films, or at least very rarely.
I mention this because it’s a good example of the fact that each person may see something of interest that another person would not even notice or care about. Also, films from the silent era can be important historically and culturally in showing us the way life was; but as with any photograph, it may take a lot of interpretation and understanding to know exactly what it is that we are looking at.
(Image right: Sam and Lisa in the Niles
What influence do you believe the young medium of movies had on the culture of that time?
Huge influence. I believe films from the very beginning had an enormous impact on our culture, and the culture of every country when and where films began to be shown. And as sound was added, even with radio, and later with the immediacy of television, the impact has become even more profound. Many immigrants have commented, too, then as now, on the importance of going to the movies to learn the language and culture of their new country.
I believe youth especially has been affected, but probably all ages. I mention youth because young people are so impressionable, and so things such as fashion, dating techniques, job aspirations, desires of where one might live and play, attitudes toward family and community, nearly every aspect of life has been represented and thus made available to audiences for their “selecting,” taking what each person wants or “needs” and leaving the rest. With what they take, they can mold their lives, or re-define what it is they believe they know and want.
How would you advise a family historian to approach the silent movies as a resource?
See as many films as he or she can, starting with whatever seems of most interest—documentaries; travel films; comedies; dramas; westerns; whatever. For more of the genuine “feel” of the movie-going experience, I believe what we are doing here at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on Saturday nights, is very important. These silent films were shown with music accompaniment, which aids greatly the impact and accessibility of these films.
With what movie or actor / actress would you recommend they start to become introduced to silent films?
That’s an interesting question, and one that gets at the root of what I mean when I say these films can have a profound impact on a person—especially youth. Just as someone today may be enormously impressed with Johnny Depp or Christina Ricci, or a film about the mafia life, or corporate life in New York City, or even a horror or fantasy film, the same holds true for silent films seen today.
Each of our audience members seems to relate in a highly individualistic way to a film, often to a particular “star”—perhaps being impressed with the steely reserve of William S. Hart; laughing at the often-surreal physical stunts of Buster Keaton who becomes a kind of Every Man against the harsh realities of our physical world; the adventurous-spirit of Douglas Fairbanks; the spunkiness of Mary Pickford who never let anything get her down; and so on.
The film A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906) has become a great favorite here, where a camera was placed on the front of a street-car heading down from about 8th Street to the Ferry Building in April 1906 just a few days before the earthquake and fire. Horse-drawn wagons, cars and vehicles, automobiles, people on foot, bicycles, you name it, all these methods of transportation are fascinating; but most fascinating, we are watching the people themselves, some oblivious to the filming, others intensely interested, staring right at the camera!
Any other thoughts on the subject as it pertains to folks interested in learning more about the era of 1900-1930?
There are more and more films available on DVD but I still love books, and what one can discover going to the library and pulling film books off the shelves to read at one’s leisure—historical works, cultural studies, picture books (even coffee table books), encyclopedias, biographies and autobiographies, corporate histories of film companies, on and on.
It’s all fascinating, and it’s all out there…to be discovered. Many years ago, someone told me he thought I “lived in the past,” and implied that that was a pretty terrible thing to do. I answered, “I don’t think of it as LIVING in the past, but of EXPLORING the past, like an archaeologist.” I think the truth of that may be the same for genealogists, to explore the past through the discovery of family history, which is after all, human history.
Tue, 17 June 2014
Get up to speed on the world of DNA and Genealogy in this episode. We’ll explore in depth the ramifications of Ancestry closing down some of their DNA tests along with other businesses in their portfolio. Then you’ll meet Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard. She’s a genealogy gem who will be joining us here on Genealogy Gems on a regular basis to help guide us through the murky waters of DNA research in easy to understand, and FUN terms.
Ancestry is shutting down 5 areas of their business
In a recent media conference call Ancestry gave us the heads up that the next day they were going to announce the closures, and those of us on the call had the opportunity to ask questions before the announcement.
While the spin is that they want to focus their efforts "in a way that provides the most impact, while also delivering the best service and best product experience to users"
It is clear that these businesses were not their most profitable. It makes good business sense, and we certainly do want Ancestry to remain profitable so that it can remain in business. But that doesn't mean it won't be painful for many customers.
The 5 areas shutting down are:
These closures definitely did cause some pain with their customers, and I know that includes many of you listening right now.
In fact I started receiving emails almost immediately that morning that Ancestry went public with this, and many of you also posted your comments on the Genealogy Gems Fan Page on Facebook which I invited you to do in the newsletter article I sent out.
In that article I told you that one of the most surprising moment in the conference call was when the Ancestry execs on the call were asked if the DNA samples that customer submitted, particularly those samples of deceased relatives) could be returned so as to be further processed by other companies.
The answer: No.
When pressed if they would allow customers to upgrade tests run on those samples before they were destroyed (yes, they made it very clear they will be destroyed) the answer was that well...they hadn't really thought about that. Leave it to genealogists to ask the important questions, and my hope is that Ancestry will take this question to heart before the closing date of September 5, 2014.
Read more about it on the Ancestry blog, and click through on the area you are interested in to get more answers to questions about the closures.
My impression during the call was that they were caught off guard a bit by the push back from those of us on the call regarding the DNA samples. Ancestry is focused on profitability - and I don't blame them for that, they are in business. If they don't remain profitable they go out of biz and we all lose. It probably wasn't as easy for them to think through the impact on every day family historians because some if not many of the top execs (and I've met them – they are nice people) are not genealogists.
So first I want to share with you some of the comments I’ve received, and then I will give you some of my personal opinions on the subject.
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Comments from You:
Graham in Australia writes:
"This morning I found the following Ancestry DNA announcement in my email and felt the need to immediately respond. No sooner had I sent my response and your newsletter arrived on this very subject.
I thought you might be interest in my response as I am sure there will be many people out there who will be similarly betrayed. I paid out some $250 in 2009 to have my Y-DNA test done with them knowing that this was going to be a long term investment to possibly find matches. I am glad Ancestry don't hand my superannuation savings.
To ancestry: I am disgusted that ancestry is taking this action. You appear to only be after short term gains rather than the long term which is where the strength of DNA testing resides.
In 2009 I invested in my Y-DNA test knowing that this will likely take several years to yield useful paternal match results which was the main thrust behind doing the tests. I don't know who is my biological paternal grandfather and have through the matching facility I have been in contact with the closest person yet and while quite distant it has given me some direction and hope that a match can be found in the future. Your action to remove this has just killed that possibility.
I for one will not be considering taking any autosomal tests with you as this will likely be dumped sometime in the near future."
Roxanne in Oregon writes:
This seems to violate a code of ethics that we have all come to rely on when giving samples to further science as well as our own research. Who knows what the future will hold after we are long gone? Surely our DNA samples will become more helpful as testing becomes more acute. At the very least samples should be able to be transferred to another DNA lab, even if one needs to pay for it.
Who can we write letters to at Ancestry.com and at what address? Maybe if they get enough response the policy of “destruction” will be re-analyzed."
Ken Chahine on June 12, 2014 in AncestryDNA
Comments of note on the Ancestry follow up post:
“Also, did anyone else notice that they mentioned that many of the samples are past shelf life? How does FTDNA guarantee 25 yrs of maintaining our samples?”
“What I’m a little less clear on is why you’re just deleting the results off the website. Can’t you simply archive them so that they’re viewable? Does it really take that much effort or bandwidth to simply let me see my mtDNA haplogroup?”
“BUT I have to question how committed you are to my research when you delete a valuable tool that I paid you for.”
Susan on the Genealogy Gems Podcast fan page on Facebook:
Lisa's opinion on all of this:
I think it's a mistake not to offer alternatives to their customers for retention of the samples. However, I always preach to you, my listeners that you need to retain control of all that is important to you and be responsible. We must be responsible and not put it in someone else's hands. When you test (particularly an older relative), you should save a sample and keep it in your lock box at home if it matters to you.
I'm sympathetic to all involved because this is new territory and it's easy to miss thinking through the ramifications. But it's just like I recommend that you never use Ancestry as their one and only tree. Post your tree, that's fine, but retain the master on a database on your own computer, and then back up your computer!
Finally, I think offering only autosomal is trendy rather than a true comprehensive product tool for the genealogist. I just published some excellent "Getting Stared" DNA Guides in my website store for this very reason. No test and no company is right for everyone. So in my opinion Ancestry is now no longer offering a true complete DNA service to genealogists. They are capitalizing on a trend.
This is just my personal opinion of course.
Lisa's Answer: If it were me, I would probably get a refund and start fresh with FamilyTreeDNA. Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 92 includes an interview with their founder Bennett Greenspan.
Also, we two brand new cheat sheets in our store that are excellent resources:
Also available in a bundle at a savings here.
Randy in Seattle was concerned about another one of the businesses Ancestry is dropping MyCanvas:
I am a long time Ancestry member and a follower of your podcasts and web page. Generally I defend ancestry against a lot the complaints people have about them but this is pretty disheartening news for me. I have puts 100’s of hours into creating a number of ancestry projects and having a printed copy is not the same as having the electronic version available to update and get a new updated print.
Do you have any suggestions on how to make concerns known to ancestry, and do you think there is any possibility of getting them to modify their plans. I would be happy with finding some place or way to download the electronic projects and would at least appreciate more time to get my existing projects finished and printed, especially those I am creating for extended family who will want time to review and print their own copies.”
Leave a comment on that particular post - they are monitoring it. You can also click through on the MyCanvas link for more info. You can also tweet them on Twitter at @ancestry
As to an alternative, personally I use Lulu.com. While it is not a genealogy site, it is excellent and print on demand publishing (books, photo books, calendars, etc.) They have been around quite a while and publishing is all they do, so I expect them to be around for a long time to come.
Katharine in Ohio is also going to miss MyCanvas wrote:
Lisa recommends: http://www.familychartmasters.com
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GEM: Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide
Diahan Southard is Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She's the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists.
Book Diahan for your own consultation
“Signing up for my service will act like placing both a filter and a translator on your DNA test results. After I do a bit of prep-work in your behalf, we will virtually meet together for 45 minutes. I will provide you a link to a Go To Meeting website where we can see each other and share computer screens. We will review the information provided by the testing company, and I will filter and translate it for you to make sure you understand what you have, and what it means.
I will provide you with a video recording of our conversation as well as a summary and To Do List of your next steps. To get started, just send me an email at guide@yourDNAguide.com and we can schedule a time to meet together. If you prefer, send over your phone number and we can discuss possibilities over the phone.”
Thu, 22 May 2014
Get ready to lay a foundation in your knowledge of Colonial American genealogy research. Beth Foulk is here to walk us through early immigration to America, Indentured Servitude and Bondage, and the records and resources that can help you locate your ancestors from this time period. But first...
Lisa's youngest daughter Hannah got married last weekend!
NGS 2014 Conference in Richmond VA
New Newspaper Collection
Hat tip to Paul Nauta at FamilySearch
From Chris on Family Relics: "I loved your comments on "most treasure family relic" in the latest podcast. I'm very fortunate to have pictures and artifacts from my mother's side, but unfortunately I know very little about my dad's side and have only a few things. I could relate to the woman whose answer was "nothing".
One consolation for me has been a few little things I could find out with just a little digging. I wrote about it on my blog
Finding the things I mentioned at least lets me stand in the shoes of my ancestors and imagine life in that place and at that time. It's not as nice as a "relic", but it brings them to life as real people. I think that's important in genealogy as well. Love the podcast!"
Judy writes to as a follow up to the Google Earth for Genealogy Webinar
After watching today's webinar and seeing the gal search the GLORecords for land patents I tried for William Breeding.
S C O R E ! ! ! ! !
I had tried searching for land patents for William Breeding in the past with no success. My great results are due to finally getting confirmation that it is William Jackson Breeding for sure and watching this gal search today.
Thanks for the heads up on this webinar!!!”
Watch Google Earth for Genealogy free here at the Genealogy Gems website.
Barbara is Shocked: "I really enjoy your podcasts, and was listening to your latest one when your piece about not so happy memories really struck a chord with me.
I recently asked for the file of my Great Uncle from the Australian War Memorial. He was in World War I in France. I found that he had been charged with desertion and sent to goal( (jail)! What a shock, and I don’t think many of the family know a lot about it.
Reading through the transcript of the court marshal and the history of this time of the war, it was pretty clear he was a young man in shock after seeing several of his fellow soldiers die, who did not know what to do. He got separated from his troop and wandered around for a couple of days until he found another company and was arrested. Later he got TB and this probably shortened his life. A sad story, and during my research, I found that 306 Commonwealth solders were shot for desertion. It is quite a controversial part of our history as (thank goodness) the Australian Army refused to allow any of its soldiers to be executed, and this caused some issues with the English officers.
A new law passed on November 8th 2006 and included as part of the Armed Forces Act in the UK has pardoned men in the British and Commonwealth armies who were executed in World War I. The law removes the dishonour with regards to executions on war records but it does not cancel out the sentence of death.
I have decided not to put any of the information online, but keep it in the family archives. Anyone in the family who decides to go looking will find it at the war memorial site, but my uncle did not marry or have children, so that does seem to lessen the impact."
Barbara also asks for your help: I am trying to track down the family of an Australian sailor from WWI who wrote some lovely postcards. I bought them at a garage sale several years ago, and have only just got around to reading them. I would really love to give them to the family, as they are very touching.
Here is what I know from them:
I can be contacted via my blog Genealogy Boomerangs if any listeners have information. Any help you can give would be appreciated, and thanks again for the great podcasts, I love hearing about all your travels and experiences.
Welcome to our new sponsor: MyHeritage.com!
This episode is also sponsored by RootsMagic.
Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for supporting this FREE podcast!
GEM: Colonial Research with Beth Foulk
Look for the bibliography on her website:
During the 1600s and 1700s three-quarters of all immigrants were indentured servants and another 50-60,000 were convicts "transported" to America and sold into "slavery" on the plantations of Maryland & Virginia as their sentence for the crime. The conditions in England were abysmal, and for many this was the only out of a broken social system that had failed them.
1718: The Transportation Act is passed, which included:
1. Who could be shipped
2. Surgeon must be on board
3. Dictated the number of convicts that could be on board
Question: Where can the genealogist look to identify if their ancestor was indentured or in bondage?
Answer: The Old Bailey Online – London’s Central Criminal Court 1674 - 1913
Full transcripts of every court hearing during this time period
From the website: “The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913
Also look for:
The pre-eminent authority: Author Peter Wilson Coldham
Other possible records for Indentured:
Other possible records for Convicts:
Census (if your ancestor is the only one with that last name in the area,that could be a clue they were a convict)
There were also Political Prisoners. Look for Diary or Transcripts
Visit Beth’s website:
SONG: The Death of Wolfe
(Song used with permissions from Archiving Early America website)
Come all ye young men all, let this delight you,
Watch the video: Music in a Colonial Williamsburg Tavern
For more inspiration and information search “Colonial Genealogy” at YouTube.
CLOSING: Why You Do Genealogy
Paul wrote: "To start with my Aunt gave me 2,000+ names when I was baptized as she knew the Church members do a lot of genealogy. Many of the stories I found were interesting. But I also got to know my father who was killed about 7 months before I was born."
Tim wrote: "Just the whole destiny thing. When I go back several generations, I wonder what IF he had never married her, what IF she had not moved to this town, met her husband, what IF they had stopped having kids just before my gggrandfather was born...etc. I am who I am and where I am because of decisions that were made long ago. Just kind of cool."
Margaret: "Really nice video. I pursue my family history because I want to take myself back to THEIR time, find out what their lives were like, follow their journeys, trials, tribulations and day-to-day lives. Through census records, city directories and Sanborn maps I discovered my 2nd great grandpa lived around the corner from an ice-cream store in Savannah, with a dairy right behind it! How cool is that!"
Peter: "I do research because I want to know who my family is, where they came from and what they did. After a 20 year search to solve one of my family line missing links I solved it and yelled whoo who, it felt so rewarding."
Margaret: "My mom had always described herself as a Heinz 57. I'm much more curious about just what/who had contributed to who I am. Having roots that reach into ancestors from Germany, England, Mexico and Spain by ways of RI, IN, TX and California make for interesting research!"
Mon, 14 April 2014
I’ve been enjoying time at home getting the new house decorated. I have a wonderful sort of wall niche area in the living room that is perfect for a family history display, so the wheels are turning on what I want to do there. I’ve been pinning lots of ideas on Pinterest for that. And of course I’m getting in my time with my grandsons Davy and Joey. Now that Joey is a year and a half and running all over the place, it’s just playtime bedlam at Sha Sha’s house.
I'll be speaking in Round Rock, TX at the Williamson County Genealogical Society
But soon May will be here and that means I’ll be heading to the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond Virginia. And we are going to do something very unique at NGS this year. In addition to my three scheduled presentations, we’ve got ourselves some extra booth space this year, and I’ll be giving what we are calling Outside the Box Sessions.
You know how it is, you head to a big conference, and you’re running for one 1 hour session to the next. And they are usually pretty big classrooms. Well, we are going to getting outside of that box, and holding 30 minute sessions in our booth area on the topics you’ve told me you want most.
As presenters we don’t get to have the final say on which of our presentations is selected for the main conference, so it’s really exciting to have this unique way of offering the topics you ask us for. It’s a smaller intimate setting, the sessions will be packed with tips you can start using right away, all participants will get a free ebook of the handouts for those quickie sessions, we’ll have prizes and you’ll even have some treats to nibble on. I am really excited about doing this, and I think you’ll find it refreshing, fun and informative.
I’ll doing four sessions – one each day of the conference
And, I’ve invited two of my dearest friends, Janet Hovorka of Family Chartmasters, and The Photo Detective Maureen Taylor to join me and present some of their most popular topics!
So in all, you’ll have a dozen ½ hour sessions to choose from to reinvigorate your genealogy research. If you want to get outside the box, come hand out with us, get the ebook, nibble on some treats and get away from the huge crowds.
Outside the Box Session Schedule:
10:00 Start Organizing Your Photos Today (Maureen Taylor)
New Videos at the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel:
A Sneak Peek at What Will be Included in the Future FamilySearch App with Brian Edwards
5 Tools for Paying it Forward in Genealogy With Michael Cassara
A conversation with long time Genealogy Gems listener Michael Cassara who presented a session at RootsTech this year and I thought it was so interesting I asked him to sit down with me to talk more about it. Michael shares one of the ways that he likes to give back to the genealogy community. He buys old inexpensive photographs and does his best to track down family members today and get those ancestors back in to the hands of their families. And he shares some of techniques he uses to do that which you could certainly use in your own family history research.
MJ watched the video and left this comment: “I sooo agree with the karma of sharing our genealogy and our photos. I love the Find a Grave / BillionGrave photo idea. And I know myself about good karma. I found some studio photos of a distant relative, contacted a direct descendant and sent the photos to him. He wrote back and said "my Dad looks just like his grandmother, and never knew it before! And what a gift for my son."
Go to www.Youtube.com/genealogygems and watch the video and leave your comment about your experiences.
Not all Family History is Happy Memories
In what seems to be the exact opposite of the usual obituary you come across as you are searching through newspapers, The Blaze reported that a Reno newspaper has removed an obituary supposedly submitted by children glad their mother was dead.
The obituary was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal last September in acknowledgement of the death of Marianne Theresa-Johnson Reddick. “Marianne Theresa Johnson- Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit…”
And just as importantly, that we have the opportunity to discover the gems in our tree, the unsung heroes, people who did do a good job and contributed to society. In the end, we get to pick who we admire, and we get to decide those areas that we will not perpetuate. After all, if our history stays in the dark, it is apt to look and feel even larger and scarier, but it is also apt to repeat itself.
I’d love to hear from you on this subject. You don’t to share specifics. But how has learning more about your family history empowered you. And if you think it has caused harm, I’d like to know more about that too.
Finally, to wrap up this segment before we get to the mailbox, I just want to send out a big thank you to some very nice folks out there in the genealogy community.
Evernote for Genealogists Thanks Yous
A big thank you to:
Thomas MacEntee: Hack Genealogy“You know what I love about these guides on Evernote? They are easy-to-use, the information is laid out in a format that makes it easy to find what you need, and it truly is something you can keep referring to as you work your way through Evernote and its features.”
Randy Seaver, Genea-Musings
Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog
Renee Zamora of Rene’s Genealogy Blog
Sue Maxwell, The Granite Genealogy Blog
James Tanner, The Genealogy Star Blog“I had been using Evernote extensively for quite some time. But was faced with dilemma when the program began to evolve rapidly. I simply lost touch with all the features being added and did not understand why I ran out of storage space and was shut down when I didn't purchase some upgrade. So, I transferred what I was doing on Evernote and used alternative products.
So, solely because of this handy guide, I now understood the product. I already had the program on all my devices so transitioning back is as simple as clicking. What I needed clarified was how the program functioned vis a vis the difference between the "free" version and the "paid" version. With that out of the way, I am back in the Evernote use realm. Now, I probably could have figured out all the stuff from the Evernote website, but this made it easier for me to get going and actually do something.”
Thanks again to all the bloggers who took the time to give the guides a test run. They are available in our store both for Windows and for Mac.
Genealogy Gems Premium Members can enjoy several Evernote videos as part of Premium Membership:
How the Genealogist can Remember Everything with Evernote (Beginner)
How to Organize Your Research with Evernote (Intermediate)
Making Evernote Effortless (Intermediate) BRAND NEW!
And the “Get Started with Evernote” Mini Series
New RootsMagic Video
Our long time podcast sponsor RootsMagic just published a new video I think you’ll be very interested in. It’s called Importing an Ancestry Family Tree into RootsMagic.
Have you been wondering how to do this? Well, now they have a short video that will show you how. Currently this is limited to trees that you are the owner / manager, since Ancestry doesn't appear to allow downloading a tree belonging to someone else.
You’ll find the video at the RootsMagic YouTube channel
From Jane in Edmonton, Alberta:
“Need your advice (as I am sure do thousands of others!!) First of all, let me take time to let you know how much I am enjoying my subscriptions to your Genealogy Gems and your podcasts. I purchased subscriptions at the Alberta Genealogy Conference in Edmonton last year, and have been thoroughly enjoying them.
You are not along in this genealogical dilemma! It's easy to let the records start to take over and lead you around. One way to combat that is to set a genealogical goal - define what it is you want to know. It might be something very specific about a particular ancestor, or it might just be to fill in the blanks on one particular family. Early in my research focused on one grandparent, and working backwards, I would strive to fill in all the blanks on that person, then their parents, then their siblings. I wouldn't "leave" that family until I felt that I had filled in as much of the family group sheet as possible.
In fact, we have sort of lost track of the "family group sheet" in this technological age. But it is an excellent tool for keeping you on track and focused on the blanks that need to be filled.
An additional strategy is to have a process for dealing with information that comes your way that is a bit off track. Often we feel like we have to pursue it or we'll lose it. I like to use Evernote (free at evernote.com) to capture data that I'm not ready to deal with right now, but definitely want to pursue later. I create an Evernote "notebook" for that family surname, and a note book called "future research". Drag and drop "Future Research" onto the family surname notebook which will create a "stack." Now you can create notes and drop them into the "Future Research" notebook which is inside the applicable family. Add tags to your note like "newspaper," "death record," etc. and some good searchable keywords so that the note will be easy to find when you need it. Now you can capture the item, file it away, and stay focused on the task at hand.
If you would like to learn more about how to use Evernote for genealogy I have a quick reference guide (PDF) in my store that will work wonders in keeping you organized.
From Mary Jane in KY
“Thank you Lisa, I received your ebook fine, and now have it installed on my desktop. I've been watching a lot of your videos, have watched the ones where you had interviews at Rootstech. Each day I watched on my computer, the selected Rootstech programs as they were presented. Last week our Kentucky Genealogical Society and Kentucky Historical Society had an all day Saturday viewing of 10 of the programs given out there. It was a special program that the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Genealogical Society were chosen to participate in viewing - called a Family History Fair. Your program was one of them - How to Use YouTube for Family History: Setting Up Your Own YouTube Channel. And all those syllabi were available for us to print in advance. We had 135 people to attend. We were very privileged and it was much appreciated by a large crowd of people.
You are such a pretty gal, with a bubbly personality. Kiss those babies for me. I've just become a great grandmother. I really enjoy your Genealogy Gems, have received your newsletters for several years, but I don't use anything but the computer. It's something about the older generation not being able to learn all these other gadgets.”
You can watch free videos from the RootsTech 2014 genealogy conference at https://rootstech.org/about/videos/
From Steve in Cedar Falls, Iowa
This is all your fault :)
Yes, this is your fault! That sounds ominous, but this is a good thing! I say your fault because you are the one who encouraged me, on your blog, to start blogging about family history. I started two blogs- one for the paternal side and one for the maternal side. The paternal blog is schellseekers.blogspot.com and the maternal blog is happekotte.blogspot.com.
My intent was to create a place where family could see the family history that I had found. But something else happened in addition to this intent. A guy in New York came across my maternal blog and emailed me that he had something I might be interested in. It was about my third great grandfather who was born in Germany. Before he came to America, he was a part of a German colony in Guatemala. I knew that, but had no proof of when and where he married or even where in Germany he was from. This gentleman from New York is originally from Guatemala and is connected to my third great grandmother who was also part of this colony. He sent me a copy of an original church record from Guatemala giving the date they were married in Guatemala AND the name of the town in Germany that he was from and his date of birth. It gets better!
Google Translate Tip:
My favorite podcast moments thus far are: listening to your moving challenges as you relocated to Texas (misery loves company : ), the guest who stated that it is 'not advised' to shred original documents after digitizing them, the 'Flip Pal' interview, the daunting task of catching up on technology and the learning curve that comes with that, and your suggestions for all of us to make the family names and dates more interesting, in order to get other family members excited about our family history.
Thank you for all you do for genealogists! I met you once at our local library where you gave your Google class, and hope we cross paths again. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Get well soon!
I remember you had talked about a family reunion sometime in the past , and I wonder if you had any tips of getting family history information out of my family while there are all at the wedding.”
I would suggest searching family reunion websites for ideas you can convert to a wedding reception. A search of Google and Pinterest.com should help you locate them.
If you have your guests seated at tables, that's a great opportunity to provide an icebreaker that can double as a family history gathering opportunity. You could have a form at each place setting for them to fill out. If you are having a videographer, you could have a short list of questions at each table, and when he comes to their table he records them answering the questions. (What's your earliest child hood memory? Who's the earliest ancestor you have a photograph of? What are three things you remember about Great Grandmother? Etc.)
Tue, 11 March 2014
The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Tue, 18 February 2014
In this episode you'll hear what you've been missing and how to get it from the Ancestry Wiki. Also how to do a very specialized type of Google search you may have never tried, a French-Canadian genealogy resource, and more.
Top 10 Reasons I Moved to Texas:
10. They have something here, it’s called weather
9. I live on an acre now so my neighbors don’t complain that they hear me over here talking to myself
8. There’s a Soft Surroundings store in Southlake! And a Pottery Barn, and a Coach purse store, and…
7. Genealogy Bloggers Amy Coffin and Caroline Pointer. If you know them, you understand
6. Wise County has just launched a new genealogy society and they wanted a speaker who lived less than three hours away
5. It’s been almost 10 years since I filmed a reality TV show out here, so I figure they’ve moved on.
4. My cat Ginger is from Texas and what she meows goes
3. After 18 years in California I finally get to have a pool in my backyard
2. They don’t have chicken fried steak in California
1. My Grandsons - Davy and Joey!
A few years ago while attending a genealogy conference, I decided to conduct some on-the-fly interviews for The Genealogy Gems Podcast. I asked folks to tell me about the most prized family heirloom that they possessed. I heard about everything from the door knob of a woman’s parent’s bridal suite, to the bedazzling flapper dress worn by a great grandmother.
All were interesting, but I was stopped in my tracks when one woman looked at me with pain in her eyes and declared “I have nothing. Not a thing. My cousins destroyed everything.”
It was a difficult concept to digest. As the acknowledged “keeper of the family history flame” in my family, I’ve been fortunate enough to have inherited an abundance of family heirlooms from both sides of my parent’s families. How sad it would be to have nothing concrete to hold in your hand; nothing to help you feel the generations that held the item before.
Since that day I’ve remained inspired to help people find ways to track down information and artifacts that make up their family history. Time and time again, I’ve found that just when you thought there was nothing left to find, an item will resurface. The Galaxy Quest movie quote (surely based on the famous words uttered by Winston Churchill in 1940) is one I cling to when it comes to genealogy: “Never give up! Never surrender!”
This motto has never been so gloriously justified as it was recently when a woman from Indianapolis, Indiana received the surprise of a lifetime this Christmas. The Purple Heart awarded to Pat Davis’ father, (a father she never met) was found recently and returned to her. Watch the compelling video below where the daughter holds the unearthed piece of family history in the palm of her hand.
Kyla wrote: "I had old photos and letters returned to me by a woman who found me on a genealogy message board. Her father had obtained them from my brothers who were throwing them away. It was like a miracle."
RootsTech 2014 may have come to an end, but SCGS Jamboree is just around the corner
I’m pleased to return this year to speak at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. This popular conference, hosted by The Southern California Genealogical Society, runs June 6 to 8, 2014 in Burbank, California, USA.
The theme of the 2014 Jamboree is Golden Memories: Discovering Your Family History. It promises to pack tons of fun into a long weekend, as it always does.
My classes on Friday and Saturday include:
Who Needs Google Reader? Flip Out Over Genealogy Content with Flipboard!
Ultimate Google Search Strategies for Genealogists
How to Create an Exciting Interactive Family History Tour with Google Earth.
SCGS Jamboree 2014 welcomes 55 speakers, over 60 exhibitors, 134 class sessions for a variety of experience levels, and special events. Online registration is open on the Jamboree website, and the Marriott’s website is ready to take your reservation. Hope to see you there! Read more about it here.
Genealogy Test Reveals Dad’s DNA Swapped in Artificial Insemination
It’s not uncommon for genetic DNA tests to reveal that you’re not related to people you thought you were. But here’s a twist I’ve never heard before.
A family who had a daughter by artificial insemination of the husband’s sperm eventually decided to do some DNA testing for family history. Imagine the wife’s shock when she discovered that her husband and daughter shared no DNA!
They got a bigger shock when they did a little research. Apparently the biological father worked at the lab that handled the family’s insemination process. The man is dead now, but it appears he may have deliberately swapped in his own sample for the father’s.
Of course lots of questions have come up–including how many other children may have received the DNA of a man who was a convicted kidnapper.
My heart goes out to this family and to others who now fear their genetic fatherhood was hijacked. Read the full story here (it’s popped up in several news outlets now, but I first saw it at KUTV.com). Watch the video at the Genealogy Gems Blog
Newly Remastered and Republished Podcast Episodes
Family History Episode 16 – The Family History Library Catalog
Family History Episode 17 – Using Family History Centers Part I
Family History Episode 18 – Using Family History Centers Part II
What’s New at Evernote
BillionGraves Now Accepting Your Documentation
I’m hearing so much these days about source citation and I love it! Everyone seems to be getting smarter and better at sourcing their research finds. And genealogy websites are making it easier and more collaborative. Here’s just one example, an announcement just made by BillionGraves:
“After months of work in response to hundreds of user requests, BillionGraves has added several new features designed to validate and enhance the headstone records found on BillionGraves. The Supporting Record feature now allows users to upload evidence-based documents that support the BillionGraves records that have been collected through our mobile Apps. This means that users are now able to upload headstones, birth/death, burial, marriage, cremation, and many other types of records without needing a smart phone.
Thousands of records are being uploaded every day and are breaking down genealogy brick walls and making connections that once seemed impossible. While working closely with our users and genealogists we found that there were many headstones and burials that just couldn’t be accounted for with our current systems; including unmarked graves, cremation scatterings, destroyed stones, and so on. Our Supporting Records features eliminate this problem while maintaining the validity and accuracy of the BillionGraves database.”
Answer to A Genealogical Google Search Question
Jo-Anne: “Is there a Google Earth Cd of the 1932 L.A. Olympic Games?”
Lisa’s Answer: I would try the following Google Search as follows...
Quotation Marks around a word or phrase mean that the word or phrase must appear in all results.
Adding .KMZ or .KML tells Google that you want Google Earth files as the highest priority. Put quotation marks around the file designation and you’ve just told Google to ONLY return Google Earth files.
Lisa wants to know: “What type of Google Earth files / maps / tours would you be interested in finding?”
What Would You do?
From a concerned listener: "I have a dilemma I'm not sure how to handle. I have a recent ancestor that I never met, but my parents knew. This ancestor did some remarkable things in his lifetime, but also some terrible things to members of his family, some of whom are still living. I want to write about the good things he did, but I don't want to upset the relatives he hurt. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle recent ancestors with difficult pasts?"
Lisa wants to know: What do you think? Have you faced this situation, on either end?
A Podcast for French-Canadian Research
Thank you to our wonderful sponsor
GEM: The Ancestry Wiki with Crista Cowan
In this gem, Crista Cowan explains how to find the wiki, how to search it, and how to explore it because "we don't know what we don't know."
Producer: Vienna Thomas