Thursday, April 29, 2010

Newspaper Research Tips and a New Gig For Lisa

Her fist went up and came back down with a resounding “Yes!”  In the most recent episode of the NBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? (which is now also available in iTunes!) Susan Sarandon experienced the rush of locating an ancestor’s obituary in the newspapers preserved on microfilm.  (Watch the episode now)
It’s an exhilarating feeling to feverishly scan the microfilm reader screen and have your eyes zero in on a familiar name.  But just how did Susan (or should we say the show’s experienced researchers) figure out where to look?
To find out what the burning questions of newspaper research are and my tips for getting the scoop on your ancestors read the rest of the story at the Visit Salt Lake City Blog where I am now a regular contributor.  I'm very excited about this new gig, and I hope it will encourage more genealogists to make the trip to the greatest family history library in the world and the beautiful area that surrounds it.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday iTunes!

April 28, 2003 Apple opens the iTunes Store

While iTunes rocked the music world and changed forever how fans accessed their favorite music, by June of 2005 it had thrown open the floodgates for the podcaster.  Suddenly listeners around the world could quickly and easily locate and listen to podcasts on just about any topic their heart desired. 

Read more about the origins of iTunes and this day in tech at the website.

If you're an iTunes hold out, now is the time to take the plunge and download the free program.  It will open a world of music, podcasts, audio books, video and more to you. 

After you subscribe to the Genealogy Gems Podcast, you can download the television series Who Do You Think You Are? to your iPod, iTouch, iPhone, or iPad.

Monday, April 26, 2010

You See But You Do Not Observe

In A Scandal in Bohemia, private investigator extraordinaire Sherlock Holmes brings to our attention that our skills of observation can always be improved upon.  

Whether reviewing a fragile marriage certificate or taking in a tin type, heightened skills of observation can benefit the genealogist.  And that is just one detective method that can and should be employed.

In the newest issue of Family Tree Magazine (July 2010) which hits news stands today, I share my Top 10 Detective Strategies for finding living relatives who may just hold the answers to some of your family history mysteries.  

Thinking like a P.I. means thinking outside the box - the Internet search box that is.  When it comes to estranged relatives, unknown distant cousins or folks you've just lost track we track down the leads that go well beyond Google.

Here's an excerpt from the article that will get you started called Phone Tapping.  You can get the entire article by visiting the Shop Family Tree website.

Podcast Episode 87 Now Available

He was the tallest boy scout I had ever seen!

At over six feet tall Mark Tucker took me by surprise in full boy scout uniform at a recent Family History Expo. But I soon learned that he was supporting two activities he cares about very much: genealogy and scouting. And at his booth at the expo he took me on a fascinating tour or the history of scouting.
In Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 87 Mark takes all of us on an adventure scouting for our ancestors.

Millions of people have participarted in boy scouts over the last 100 years (and it will be 100 years for girl scouts in 2012.) That makes scouting a very viable family history research avenue. And Mark will give you the leads to get started like his most recent blog post on scouting heritage at the ThinkGenealogy Blog.
A Sampling of Mark's Boy Scout Collection

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Classes Starting at Family Tree University

Here's the latest from the new Family Tree University, and I'm very happy to be part of it.  Read on...
Discounted tuition offered to students during “preview” term

Genealogists who want to improve their research skills—and make family history progress in the process—will find guidance on the new virtual “campus” of Family Tree University.

This genealogy education website, located at , features courses designed to help students learn about genealogy topics on a flexible schedule. Each course lasts four weeks, and students can log in any time of day or night during their course session to complete lessons and interact with instructors.

“Our goal is to make the experience convenient and enjoyable,” says Family Tree University publisher and editorial director Allison Stacy. “Students can interact with instructors and other students. The lessons are dynamic—some even include video. It’s not just reading a textbook.”

The first session of courses will begin in early May. In the meantime, students can try out Family Tree University through a special preview class offered at a discounted rate. Registration is now open for Google Tools for Genealogists, taught by Lisa Louise Cooke, which starts April 26. This preview course costs $74.99 (25% off), and includes a free download of the recorded webinar Googling Your Genealogy. To view details, download a syllabus and register, visit .

Among the topics for the courses starting in May:

» Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Research Strategies, taught by Jana Sloan Broglin

» Land Records 101: Using Deeds, Plats, Patents and More, taught by Diana Smith

» US Vital Records: Researching Births, Marriages, Deaths and Divorces, taught by George G. Morgan

» Tracing Immigrants: How to Research Your Family’s American Arrivals, taught by Lisa A. Alzo

» Find Your German Roots: From America to Deutschland, taught by James M. Beidler

» Reverse Genealogy: Working Forward to Break Down Brick Walls, taught by Lisa Louise Cooke

In addition to four-week courses, Family Tree University also offers monthly live webinars. The program comes from the publishers of Family Tree Magazine, the leading how-to publication for family history hobbyists. “We’ve taken the friendly, accessible approach that genealogists like about the magazine and applied it to online education,” says Stacy. “Obviously, a printed magazine can’t include interactive learning elements, so this was a natural extension. Students get the best of both worlds.”

Media contact:
Allison Stacy
(513) 531-2690 x11484
About Family Tree University
Family Tree University is part of the Genealogy Community at F+W Media, Inc., which also encompasses Family Tree Magazine—America’s most popular family history magazine—the Family Tree Books imprint and the online store. These publications and products are devoted to providing engaging, easy-to-understand instruction that makes genealogy a hobby anyone can do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Thot I Saw A White House Tweet

While twolling for ancestows at the National Awchives...I thot I saw a White House tweet.
I DID!  I DID!  I DID see a White House Tweet at the Wibraiwey of Congwess!

Or at least we soon will.

The Library of Congress plans to archive every single public tweet ever made.   Talk about a substantial amount of records for our descendants to comb through!

Since they began in 2006 Twitter says billions of tweets have been created.  And nearly 55 million are sent every day.

According to the BBC News, the digital archive will include tweets from President Obama that he twittered on election day, and the first tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

"I think it shows the tweets are an interesting part of the historical record," says Alex MacGillibray, Twitter's general counsel.

Read the Library of Congress' take on the plan at the News from the Library of Congress blog.

Read "Tweet Preservation" at the Twitter blog.

Google is also getting in on the act by announcing it is going to make the Twitter archive searchable for users.  Type in a topic and find out what people said about it.  Called Replay, the new Google feature will only cover the last two months of tweets.  However, they've set a goal of covering the entire archive back to March 2006 later in summer 2010.

What do you think?  Are you saving all your tweets for the generations to come?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You are Invited to the FAMILY ChARTIST Debut Party

Here's the latest from our friends at Generation Maps.  To learn more about the new Family ChArtist listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 85

And be sure and take advantage of the special offer they have extended:
Special Coupon Code for Genealogy Gems Listeners saves you 20% until April 30, 2010!

Come and participate in the grand premiere of a most exciting new
genealogy chart tool — Family ChArtist by Generation Maps
( A celebration and premiere
party will be held at the Generation Maps booth in the National
Genealogy Society Conference vendor’s hall on Wednesday, April 28th
from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. The NGS conference ( is
being held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City
April 28th through May 1st. Admisssion to the vendor’s hall is free
to the public.

In addition to refreshments, there will be continual demonstrations of
this easy-to-use, new program. Training computers will be available so
that you can also try it out yourself. Create an 8.5 x 11 color print
free of charge, or try your hand at a larger, frameable archival print
which can be printed for a nominal fee. There will be drawings for
two $50 gift cards as well as free consultations on printing large
genealogy charts. Representatives will be available to answer
questions about printing any kind of genealogy chart you need or want.

Family ChArtist is a new, user-friendly web based program that will
assist you in creating beautiful, personalized genealogy charts based
on information either from your own genealogy computer files or from
the New FamilySearch database. The website offers beautiful high
quality graphics in modern, classic and colorful patterns, as well the
ability to add as many of your own pictures as you would like. First
time users can create beautiful charts in just a few minutes without
the purchase, installation or advanced training of other design
software programs, online databases and file formats. As with all
Generation Maps charts, extra copies are always HALF PRICE. Order
copies of your chart as meaningful gifts for your children and other
family members.

Be sure to bring your genealogy computer file, genealogy information
and/or your New FamilySearch ID with you to the NGS Vendors area so
you can try out this new, easy-to-use program yourself. You'll be
amazed at how easily you can create, share and display beautiful
expressions of your family history. And if you can’t make it for the
party, you’re welcome to take it for a spin online at Hope to see you there.

For more information,
contact: Janet Hovorka

About Generation Maps:
Generation Maps was established in 2004 to help families express their
heritage in an attractive way for all to see. Generation Maps charts
provide a visual reminder of your family’s history and help establish
feelings of love and confidence that come from knowing who you are and
that you are part of a family. Generation Maps charts can awaken
individual potential embedded in one’s inherited traits and nurture
emotional healing through understanding a family’s history. Family
ChArtist will carry on the Generation Maps tradition by offering a
new, simplified, personalized way to create decorative charts that
promote family traditions and unity.

Generation Maps remains the premier printing service for any kind of
genealogy chart you can imagine. In addition to the new Family
ChArtist program, Generation Maps continues to offer a multitude of
custom chart printing services, including both decorative and working
genealogy charts. Custom decorative designs come with an online
preview system that gives you personalized attention and feedback
until the chart is exactly the way you envisioned it. Working charts
are oversized, inexpensive, family reunion-type charts that display
your entire file in one place. You can write on and add information
to working charts. Generation Maps has printed working charts up to
800 feet long with information for over 30,000 people. In addition,
Canvas Giclee Fine Art photos are available at Generation Maps for a
very competitive, reasonable price. All charts can be printed on any
of 8 paper choices, plus canvas. Free consultations are always
available at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rock Your Ancestors' World: Pre-Order Google Earth for Genealogy Video CD

Premium members have been enjoying the Google Earth for Genealogy video series for a while.  They've been learning how to take the mild mannered free Google Earth software and turn it into a family history tool that rocks your ancestors' world! 

Now these popular videos are available for the first time on a Video CD.  I'm very excited to announce that pre-order has opened up for Google Earth for Genealogy at

Watch this video to catch a glimpse of what you'll be able to do after viewing this new video CD:

Go to Google 4 Genealogy to pre-order and be among the first to get a copy of Google Earth for Genealogy.  Shipping begins Monday April 12!

Season Two Confirmed for Who Do You Think You Are? in the U.S.

It's the news we've been waiting for!  Who Do You Think You Are? has been picked up by NBC for another season.  Here are the highlights from their press release:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. - April 5, 2010 - NBC has picked up three freshman alternative series as "The Marriage Ref," "Minute to Win It" and "Who Do You Think You Are?" are renewed for the 2010-11 season. The announcement was made today by Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios...

..."All of these new series have demonstrated increasing popularity and generated far-reaching interest among viewers," said Telegdy. "Equally important, each has a compelling and innovative format, and a second season will allow these shows to grow creatively and attract an even wider audience."...
..."Who Do You Think You Are?" from executive producer Lisa Kudrow is averaging a 1.6 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers overall in "most current" results for its season thus far. In preliminary results for last Friday, "Who Do You Think You Are?" won the 8-9 p.m. ET hour in adults 18-49, marking the first time any regular competitor in this slot has beaten an original episode of CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" in 18-49 rating since November 17, 2006. "Who Do You Think You Are?" has improved the time period by 23 percent in adult 18-49 rating versus NBC's average for the traditional 2008-09 season in "live plus same day" results...