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May 18, 2013

A lot has been happening in the genealogy world while I have been on the road, and my job is to boil it down so I can bring you the best genealogy gems and that’s what we are going to do in this episode.



If you didn’t make it out to Salt Lake City for the huge RootsTech conference – and I do mean huge – don’t fret because they have lots of video recordings online for you including a panel that I participated in where the topic was the Future of Genealogy. If you have ever wondered what is coming down the pike, and what some of the leaders in the genealogy community would like to see, I think you will enjoy this 1 hour video session.

While it was a tall order to get up there on that stage and try to foresee the future, we had fun trying. I would be interested in knowing what you think is out on the horizon for genealogy, and what you would like to see on the horizon for genealogy.  Drop me an email and we’ll share some of those ideas on an upcoming episode.

RootsTech Report from Sunny
And if you would like to hear more about what went on at RootsTech here's a RootsTech re-cap there written by our own Sunny Morton, contributing editor to Genealogy Gems.


FamilySearch Records Update
There are new digitized images for Australia, Austria, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the U.S. – In fact in might be faster to announce where they are NOT digitizing records!

Read FamilySearch Adds New Records

Read More Family History Records at FamilySearch

Your Ancestor’s Criminal Past

If you have British roots, you will want to check out the new collection available on a half million criminal records dating from 1770-1934!


This sounds like a pretty gripping collection, whether you've got British roots or not. It contains records like mug shots, court documents, appeals letters and registers from prison ships (which were used when mainland prisons were crowded). According to, the records "provide a wide variety of color, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims." The 500,000 records you can search now are only a fifth of the full collection of 2.5 million that will be online soon.


The company calls this the largest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales to be published online and is done in association with the National Archives (UK). members can click here to access the criminal collection directly (make sure the box for "Institutes and Organizations" is checked). Read more about it here: Find Your Criminal Ancestors: UK Collection from FindMyPast


Digitized War of 1812 Pension Files on Fold3

According to the National Archives, pension files for the War of 1812 rate among their most-requested materials. But the files haven’t been easy to use because they’re only at the National Archives–they haven’t been available in published, microfilmed or digitized form. You have either had to research the pension files onsite in Washington, D.C. or order copies from the Archives. Not exactly easy access. This is about to change. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), The National Archives, and are partners in a huge effort: to preserve and digitize 7.2 million pages of War of 1812 Pension Records and make them available for free online.  Read more about it


Who Do You Think You Are? TV Series Update #WDYTYA

In recent weeks, reports have circulated that Kelly Clarkson has filmed an episode. A fan reported seeing her in Americus, Georgia and that they were shooting footage at Andersonsville National Historic Site. Read more about it at the Genealogy Gems Blog.


Newspapers are reporting that the Danish Broadcasting Corporation is filming its own version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” According to the Bureau County Republican and the NewsTribune (Illinois Valley), popular Danish actress Suzanne Bjerrehuus was in the area filming stories of her great-great-grandparents, who emigrated from Denmark to the American Midwest in 1869. (They apparently left behind one of their six children, from whom Bjerrehuus descends.)

Read the Post at the Genealogy Gems Blog


Genealogy Jamboree:

Get all the details about the Jamboree Banquet and Classes

More details on the Genetic Conference


Church Records for Genealogy on

About 4.6 million genealogical records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are now available on This project represents a unique collection for, which partnered with the ELCA Archives to digitize and index about 1000 rolls of microfilmed records of affiliated church. According to the company, this collection represents records that have never been online before. It eliminates the major barriers we usually have in researching church records: not knowing which specific congregation an ancestor attended; not knowing where those records are now and not having easy access to them.  Read more about it at my website.


Online Historical Maps: From David Rumsey to the DPLA

Genealogists rely on historical maps to help us navigate the geography of our ancestors’ lives. One of the most important resources available online is the David Rumsey Map Collection. Well, Rumsey recently announced on his website that he will be making more than 38,000 of his historical maps–everything he’s currently got online–available at the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Read more about it...


Google’s free program Google Earth includes nearly 150 historic maps in the Layers panel.  You can also add historic maps downloaded from Rumsey’s site to Google Earth by using the Overlay feature. My video tutorial series called Google Earth for Genealogy will show you how. You can also get step-by-step instructions in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Or get them all in a discounted bundle.



Lee has some questions, and perhaps you do too:

Question: How often do the premium podcasts come out? 

Answer: Typically there is one new premium episode and one new premium video every month.  And the real value in Premium Membership is that when you join, you get the entire back catalogue of Premium podcast episodes and video. That means as soon as you become a Member you will have access to over 95 exclusive Premium episodes and over a dozen videos of my most popular classes and topics!

Question: Does the premium version cover different material than the free version or the same topics but with more depth?

Answer: Premium podcast episodes are commercial free, and very similar in format to the free show although the material I cover is different, and we often take time to go more in depth into particular genealogy topics.

Question: Is it possible to buy one episode of Premium to try it out before subscribing for the full year? 

Answer: Actually, the free podcast is the "free trial" for Premium. If you like the free podcast, you will love Premium!

Question: While searching the iPad App Store for anything new in genealogy, I see there is a paid app for Genealogy Gems but little descriptive information. Is this just for listening to the podcast? Is the price one time or for each episode? Or, have I discovered something new that you are about to tell us all about? 

Answer: The Genealogy Gems app is a one-time $2.99 purchase (which goes toward development and updates) and conveniently streams the free podcast on your mobile device. It also includes "bonus features" like unique short video, audio, images, and pdfs unique to the app.

Click for the Genealogy Gems iPad app:
Genealogy Gems – Your Family History Show - Wizzard Media

Click for the Genealogy Gems iPhone app: Genealogy Gems – Your Family History Show - Wizzard Media

Genealogy Gems App for Android


Joyce asks about region-locked video:

Question: Is it possible to watch the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are? online?  If so I want to.  I need to attend their conference one of these days also. Looks like you had a blast!

Lisa’s Answer: Unfortunately, the UK version is not available outside of the UK online. Many television video providers do what is called "region-locking."  However, if you are really determined to watch, a quick Google search can uncover some work around. Here's an article to get you started.

From the BBC website: Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only, but all BBC iPlayer Radio programmes are available to you.

One more thing - occasionally folks upload episodes to YouTube such as this one. Watch them soon as you can because they are often removed due to copyright issues.


New Genealogy Blogs

Blogging is in the family at Matt’s house…I love your show and look forward to every episode. I've been researching for close to 20 years now, but because of podcasts, blogs and all the other electronic communications that have come along with the Internet, I feel more connected and involved in the genealogy community than ever. I want to thank you for always encouraging us to start our own blog. I finally made that jump yesterday. My daughter, who is only 11, and has her own blog about doll crafts has also been encouraging me, so I thought I better get with the program. You can check it out at

I can't promise anything about how often I will post, but I do appreciate the encouragement you always provide to your listeners. Thanks for providing a great resource to the genealogy community.

p.s. Just in case you want to check it out, my daughter's blog is:

Amanda also has a new blog…I have been catching up on all the genealogy gems podcasts for the last month (I sometimes hear your voice when I don't have my headphones in!  :)  Anyway,  I just recently became a premium member, and I'm working my way through those podcasts and videos to catch up.  I just wanted to write to say thank you for doing what you do.  I can really tell when I listen that you love what you are doing.  

I've been "working" on our family tree since 2003 or so, but only in the last year have I gotten serious about it... and only after I started listening to you have I realized about sources.  So, I now have a tree with over 13,000 people in it and most of it isn't sourced.  

I wanted to let you know that I have started a genealogy blog (mostly so I can go back and source everything from the beginning).  I have had a blog in the past just about my kids and other general stuff, but I never kept it going.  I'm already thinking differently about this one because of all the possibilities there are...   the address is, I hope you'll check it out.  It's about more than just the Feeser line of our family, but since that's my last name now, that is what we used as the title.  

Just after my very first post some of my first cousins (who I talk to a lot) let me know about some pictures and information they have, and one of my cousins even has a recording of our great grandmother that she did when she was younger (she's the oldest cousin).  


Linda likes to blog and laugh…I have been meaning to write to you for some time now to thank you for your marvelous podcast. I have been a faithful listener to Genealogy Gems since the beginning and have enjoyed your stories, insights, and how-tos.  You have a gift for expressing the joys of learning about our family history, not to mention a contagious laugh!   Your podcasts have kept me company on walks, while doing chores, even when waiting in line.

On a warm June afternoon a couple of years ago, I found myself doing just that - listening to your podcasts on immigration records and taking copious notes as I stood in line for several hours at the Palo Alto Apple Store, waiting to "early-adopt" my first iPhone.  Some hours later, I logged onto to search for my elusive Italian Schiavone family, using your tips.   What a surprise when I found my great-grandfather Vito and his oldest son, Pasquale, in the Ellis Island records!  Your tips on how to read the ship's record led me to Pasquale's petition for immigration - and to so much more…When I finally tumbled into bed at 5:00 a.m.. my sweet (and very understanding husband) asked me why I had stayed up for so long.  I could hardly begin to tell him, because I was still crying tears of joy.

Not long after that, I reconnected with a cousin I had lost touch with and since then have made new connections with long-lost cousins I had never known from this side of the family…It turned out the other cousin remembered my grandfather Schiavone.  He had invited her family to stay at our home while our family was away on vacation.  She actually rode my tricycle and played in my sandbox!  Can you believe what a small world?  And all of this thanks to you.  Unfortunately, this cousin passed away just last year, but I feel so blessed to have met her and to have made the other connections, who I will always treasure.

By the way, I want to echo your enthusiasm for the rewards of blogging about family history.  It is so much fun, not to mention a great way to record family history for our children and for those who are searching for their roots.   But there are other rewards, too, in that researching and writing about our families allows us the opportunity to really reflect on their lives and understand them better.  This can in turn sometimes lead to some wonderful discoveries we may not have made if we had not reflected on their stories in this way.   I invite you to visit my blog, called Many Branches, One Tree, at

Bill is celebrating 160 years down under on his blog…I thought you might like to hear about another blog you inspired.  I created a web site dedicated to the Jessep Family history back in 1997.  It holds just the facts and covers the many spellings of the name.  This is my father’s page so you can see what I mean. 

My Jessep line arrived in Australia on the 29 Sep 1854 and I suddenly realized that in 2014 our line will have been Down Under 160 years.  Now that is something to get excited about and provided a starting point for the story.   The blog also allows the story to start and get added to with the help of others.  This gave it the  purpose it had been missing.  The about page has more information:


GEM: Interview with Chris Whitten, Founder of WikiTree

Part 1 of my interview with Chris was done for the Family Tree Magazine podcast.

In this episode, Part 2  Chris talks about the "GEDMatches" tool.   According to Chris: "This is really a major advance on WikiTree. It makes it much more useful for people who just want to stick their toe in the water and see if cousins are already participating here.”