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Feb 5, 2013

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 150

In celebration of this 150th episode and my 50th birthday, I bring you:

A Birthday from Long Ago

50 Fabulous Family History Favorites 


They are the leaders in free online records. While it’s tempting to just start typing in ancestors name for searches and hoping for the best, a strategic genealogist determines what type of record they want to find for a question about their ancestor, and then uses the catalogue to determine if FamilySearch has those records. Catalogue is one of the links above the search box, and while it doesn’t stand out, that link is really the key to understanding what familysearch has to offer. Click it and try out all the variations of searches from place names to keywords.

They are the big daddy of the subscription genealogy record sites, and of course in addition to records you can build your family tree on the site. One of the questions folks usually get around to at some point is how to delete and merge data in their Ancestry family trees, and I recently posted a video by Ancestry’s Krista Cowan that explain exactly how to do it.

3. Library of congress American memory
I’ve discussed this gold mine of public domain free ephemera several times on the show including episode 31.

and of course in Episode 54 I explained how I used the American memory website to locate the original sheet music for one of the songs in the Name that Tune segment.

4. US Bureau of Land Management
If you are looking for U.S. Homestead records then this is the site for you. And if you haven’t been there in a while you’ve got to check it out because they’ve upgraded the site and added loads of new content in including original Field Notes.

5. Google books
Premium Episode 91 – Paper, Ink and Books. One of the gems I tell my students in my Google classes is that even if they have no other interest in Google Books, go there and do a search on Ancestry Magazine, because although the magazine is no longer published, all ten years of issues are digitized, online and searchable at Google Books. Now that’s a gem!

How could I not include as a favorite website. I wrote an entire book about it for goodness sake. A piece of noteworthy news: have you noticed the changes to Google Image search lately?  I’ll be highlighting those in an upcoming episode.

7. Stanford University’s  Data Visualization Mapping Journalism’s Journey West You can see examples of it in action at my youtube channel in the newspaper Research playlist. And I give you everything you need to know about it in my book How to Find Your Family History In Newspapers

8. The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
Published by the Newberry Library, it is a genealogist’s answer to changing county boundaries over the years.   Video in Premium Episode 70

9. FamilySearch’s Research Wiki
OK if you’re not using this you are just plain old working too hard!  This site is where all the greatest research minds at the Family History Library come together just to help you find your family history. I particularly turn to the Research Wiki when researching internationally as they have some fabulous international consultants who outline what you need to know get started, all the way to the depths of the most obscure records that are available.

Genealogy is all about location, location, location, and that means that historic maps are vital to your research. David Rumsey is a cartographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area who has spent his entire life collecting over 150,000 historic maps from around the world. And over 30,000 of them have been digitized and made available online through his website. Here’s a tip: be sure to sign up for a free account to his website so that the highest resolution maps will be available to you to download. And don’t just stop with downloading the map, import your maps into Google Earth so that you can view areas today and in the past. My Google Earth for Genealogy video series shows you have to do it step by step and it’s incredible what a difference it can make to you research. I’ll have a quick little video in the show notes for you so you can see a preview of it and the other techniques I teach on the video series.


Another fabulous gem out there is YouTube. Did you ever think that YouTube would be a fabulous genealogy gem? Well, it really is, and video is the fastest growing segment online and it’s not just cute cat videos and stupid pranks.  There’s a ton of great genealogical related content, and I want to share some great family history channels to get you started

11. USNational Archives YouTube channel
You’ll find hundreds of videos, and of course not every one of them would be applicable to genealogy, so I recommend you click the Browse Videos link under the banner at the top and then click Playlists. This will sort the videos into topics. And of course, as with all YouTube channels you can search by keyword in the channel’s search box in the upper right corner. Since Google owns YouTube, you can use all the Google tricks I’ve taught you over the years and in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox to find exactly what you are looking for. I particularly love the 1940 census playlist and the one called Tracing WWII

12. AncestryCom
Here again you will find an amazing number instructional videos and the great thing about Ancestry’s channel is that they give you a list of all the playlists right on the channel’s home page so you find all the videos for a particular topic you are looking for. If you are a paid subscriber to Ancestry, this channel is really key to getting the most out of the website.

13. FamilySearch Channel
FamilySearch offers over 70 videos, and is a particularly worthwhile channel for folks who are new to family history research. But let me tell you, if you need a bit of inspiration, or just a feel good moment, don’t miss their new video called A Survivor’s Pearl Harbor Experience. I will have it in the show notes for you. It is one of my favorite videos.

14. UniversalNewsReels
With over 600 videos you are almost guaranteed to find something on any world even topic. According to the channel’s description: “In the pre-TV era, people saw the news every week in their neighborhood movie theaters. Newsreels were shown before every feature film and in dedicated newsreel theaters located in large cities. Universal Newsreel, produced from 1929 to 1967, was released twice a week. Each issue contained six or seven short stories, usually one to two minutes in length, covering world events, politics, sports, fashion, and whatever else might entertain the movie audience. These newsreels offer a fascinating and unique view of an era when motion pictures defined our culture and were a primary source of visual news reporting.”  I fully admit that one of my favorites in the bunch is Much Ado About Hairdos filmed right here in the San Francisco Bay area in the early 1950s.  I think I might give that Leopard hairstyle a try.

15. Library of Congress channel
1218 videos. Use the Playlists!  You’ll find Timeless treasures and contemporary presentations from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress Channel. The Library is the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to modern day presentations held at the Library. Again look to the playlists link to help you sort through the videos. Some gems of note are the Spanish-American War playlist of videos, and America at Work, America at Leisure playlist which is an incredible collection of 150 films.

Here’s a description of that playlist from the channel: “Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.

The majority of the films presented here are from the Paper Print Collection, while the remainder are from the George Kleine Collection, both residing in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (M/B/RS) of the Library of Congress. Both of these collections have printed catalogs available in the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room at the Library.

The films were selected from these two collections on the basis of the activities pictured in the films and the quality of the available prints. As many different types of work, school, and leisure activities as could be found were sought in order to show the broadest possible representation of activities at the turn of the century. The selection is limited, however, by what is available from these collections; not every possible occupation or leisure activity from the turn of the century is represented.

The films in the Paper Print Collection were deposited for copyright from 1894 to 1912 as positive pictures on paper. Many were deposited in this manner on paper rolls frame by frame. For preservation and access purposes, the Library of Congress has made 16mm prints of these Paper Print titles, and has more recently been making 35mm prints of selected titles.”

This collection is a wonderful way to revisit how folks spent their time in the early part of the 20th century.

16. Depression Era Cooking with Clara
Clara Cannucciari is 96 year old cook, author great grandmother and YouTube star. In these fabulous videos Clara recounts her childhood during the Great Depression as she prepares meals from the era. You’ll learn how to make simple yet delicious dishes while listening to stories from the Great Depression. If you love these videos as I do, you’ll love Clara's book: "Clara's Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression" and I’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

17. Mike O’Laughlin Channel
If you have Irish roots this is a must see channel. Mike is an author of Irish Books, a producer of the Irish Roots Café Podcasts, and a lover of Irish folk Songs. And he’s been at all this since 1978. You’ll find over 25 videos including some really wonderful old Irish songs sung by Mike himself overlaying some captivating imagery.  


18. Flipboard
Download the free app, sign up for your free account, and then load Flipboard up with RSS feeds for all your favorite genealogy blogs, podcasts, and video channels. You will end up with a gorgeous color “glossy magazine-like” layout that you can easily flip through and enjoy.
in iTunes
In Google Play

19. Dropbox
sign up for a free account and then download dropbox to your computers and mobile devices. You will then have seamless file sharing and synchronization, as well as the added benefit of having your files backed up on the Cloud.
In iTunes
In Google Play

20. Pinterest
Think of Pinterest as a fun online bulletin board that makes it easy to store and share the gems you find on the Web. Check me out on Pinterest and follow my family history boards:
In Tunes
In Google Play

21. Evernote
Evernote can help the genealogist remember everything! Sign up for a free account, download the desktop client to your computer, and then get the free apps for your mobile devices and you’ll be all set to start taking notes of every kind. Notes are automatically synchronized so you are never caught working on an old version.  Genealogy Gems Premium Members can watch the video of my full length Evernote for Genealogy class.
In iTunes
In Google Play

22. RootsMagic
Hot off the press, this long awaited free app allows you to take your entire genealogy database with you! Check out the free recorded video webinar called RootsMagic for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch at
In iTunes

23. Cycloramic
Shell out 99 cents and you’ll have an app that will spin your  iPhone around in a circle taking glorious panoramic videos and photographs. Just set your iPhone on Vibrate, set it on a flat smooth surface and watch it spin.
In iTunes

24. Best Phone Security
This free iPhone app is produced by RV AppStudios LLC. According to the app’s description “It senses when it's been touched or moved. Then, a loud alarm starts blaring and a bright red light flashes, making the joke on the thief! To stop the alarm you have to enter your security PIN.  Use alarm on your iPhone/iPod/iPad when in public or also to catch those sneaky friends and family who try to peek into your iPhone when you're away. What really happens when you're in the shower, sleeping, or just away from your device. Use this high quality app to trigger an alarm.” This could come in very handy when you are researching at libraries!
In iTunes
In Google Play

25. Pocketbooth
By Project Box, 99 cents
Snap old time photo booth film strips with your family and friends. A fantastic activity for Family Reunions!
In iTunes
In Google Play

Stay tuned for the next episode where we wrap up with the second half of the list!