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Aug 9, 2018

The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode #220
with Lisa Louise Cooke


In this episode:

  • Two major upcoming genealogy events—one with an exclusive, meaty tip;
  • Fun travel suggestion from The Archive Lady Melissa Barker: “Archive in a backpack”
  • DNA specificity from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard
  • Finding books about your ancestors’ experiences and
  • Finding your German ancestor’s place of origin.

This month’s episode includes two “Blast from the past” segments from the original Genealogy Gems Podcast episodes 19 and 20, digitally remastered with updated show notes. 


Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton will share a stage on October 4-5, 2018 at the SeniorExpo in Sandy, Utah. (Psst: You don’t have to be a senior to attend!) Here’s the scoop—and a special registration discount!

Who: Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard, and Sunny Morton
What: Genealogy Roots: The Un-Conference Experience! at SeniorExpo
Where: Mountain America Expo Center (South Towne Expo Center), 9081 S. State St., Sandy, Utah
When: October 4-5, 2018, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm


Join Lisa Louise Cooke at MyHeritage LIVE!

Registration is now open for MyHeritage LIVE— its first ever international user conference—the weekend of 2 – 4 November 2018 in Oslo, Norway at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel in the center of Oslo, near the Royal Palace and its magnificent gardens. 

It’s open to anyone, from anywhere in the world, who would like to learn more about MyHeritage – including subscribers, DNA customers, those with free basic accounts, and those who haven’t used MyHeritage yet but would like to find out more.

Tickets include entry to the Friday night reception, keynote speeches, all conference sessions, lunch and coffee breaks on Saturday and Sunday and entry to the exclusive MyHeritage LIVE party on Saturday night. Now through September 24, you can register at their Early Bird discount price of just €75.00. 


If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus content for this episode is Lisa’s roundup of her favorite “Christmas in August” crafts to make. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.

Make these crafts:

Pendant heritage necklace from found objects

family photo charm bracelet

framed ornaments

Heritage stocking: (2-part video series with step-by-step instructions on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel)



Several listeners wrote in to thank Lisa for sharing the compelling stories of Julianne Mangin’s ancestors and her sleuthing process that led to them. Missed it? Click here to listen.

The Generations Project: Watch all 3 seasons for free on BYUtv.


Tech Tip: I cover lots of handy little tricks in this class, and I've got a great one to share with you today! Have you ever accidentally closed a browser tab too quickly? Maybe you were following a bread-crumb trail to get to a specific record or a found a great page buried deep in a website. That gut-wrenching moment when you close the browser accidentally has definitely plagued me before. But never fear! Restore that closed tab by pressing the following on your keyboard:

Press Ctrl+Shift+T

As you keep entering in the command, web pages will continue to open in the reverse-order that they were closed. So even if it wasn't the last page you closed, you can still restore it. You can also right-click on the new tab at the top of your screen and in the pop-up menu select Reopen Closed Tab.

Additionally, in order to comply and as a show of good faith, we’ve sent an email to those of you who live in the EU and those who didn't provide a location when you signed up for the newsletter, asking you to reconfirm your newsletter subscription. Please click the opt-in button so that there is no disruption to your subscription to our free newsletter. Don’t receive our newsletter yet? Click here to subscribe!Many of you were affected by new legislation that took effect in the EU on Friday, May 25: the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Though we are a US-based company, we are proud to have followers from around the world, and I want to assure everyone that your information is safe and secure with Genealogy Gems. We have updated our Privacy Policy to reflect that we want to fully comply with these new laws, and you can read our entire Privacy Policy here.



Books I’ve found that are about specific locations and experiences that apply to my ancestors:

The Kinta Years by Janice Holt Giles (Oklahoma)

Tunbridge Wells: I Was Born on the Pantiles by Josephine Butcher (England)

Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood by Richard Cobb (England)

Rebecca of Blossom Prairie by Maurine Walpole Liles (Texas)

Papa's Wife, Papa's Daughter, Mama's Way: A Trilogy by Thyra Ferre Bjorn (Sweden)

Anything Can Happen  and Home, and Home Again by George and Helen Papashvily –1940 (immigrant experience)

 Places to find old or out of print books:

Google Books

Your public library

Also: consult The Genealogy Gems Book Club: the ultimate genealogy-inspired reading list!

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on, and



Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at



Click here to read her segment and find her go-to supply list (with recommended links!).



A little German village can seem like a needle in a haystack when you’re starting with ancestors who made it to the shores of the United States. But once you’ve found that gem, it will open up all kinds of records from their native land, and likely take you back several more generations.

There are three important pieces to this ancestral puzzle: the village name, the parish it belonged to and the district or kreis it was part of.

Find your relatives in the most recent census and work backwards.  Look for immigration and naturalization clues (such as the year of arrival or whether they had applied for citizenship).

Look for naturalization records for ancestors who may have naturalized. The naturalization process created a lot of paperwork, and in that paper work your ancestors were asked for information about where they were born, where they immigrated from, the ship they traveled on, and when they arrived in America. (The more recent the naturalization, the more likely you will find listed the place of birth, date of emigration and the ship on which they sailed.) Most applied for citizenship at one of the nearest county courthouses. Try the free GenWeb website USGenWeb for the county where you think your ancestors applied for citizenship to see what resources they have available. Also, look up the county courthouse online for records and contact information.

Declarations of Intent:  The first document filed for citizenship

Petitions for Naturalization:  The final papers

If you need a little help, read these articles on tracing your German genealogy:

Beginning German genealogy: Defining “German”

Finding hard-to-find WWI-era German ancestors

Brush up on your German border history.   Most recent border changes occurred in 1945 and 1871. Consult a gazetteer at the library or online, and look up the town. This should indicate the parish and Kreis. Here are more articles to help you find German places:

5 expert tips on using Meyers Gazetteer for your German genealogy

Map your German ancestors

German states in 1871 (on one of my favorite websites for German research, the GenWiki at

On the free Genealogy Giant website  Under Search > Records, enter the last name, and the country as Germany to see if people with the same last name are listed in the same location you have pinpointed in Germany. Also on, under Search > Catalog, search by Place to see what records exist for any locale you have pinpointed. Put the village name first and then the kreis.

Timelines are a great tool for seeing the bigger picture and determining how the little bits of information fall within it. is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.



What if, as in Elizabeth’s case, the passenger list and naturalization records don’t state their place of origin?  Info about the “old country” can pop up in a LOT of different places:

  • Death certificates
  • Marriage records
  • Church records
  • Obituaries
  • Tombstones & cemetery records
  • Probate records

Delayed birth certificates (these were often created when social security came into effect in the 1930s and 1940s.)

The Germans to America book series should be consulted if your German ancestor arrived between 1850 and 1897. Learn more about it here and search it at

If you know from which port in Germany they departed, you may be able to locate their hometown in German passenger departure lists. (See links below.)

Look sideways, at brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, even friends. If you can determine where one of them was born, you will have an EXCELLENT place to look in Germany for your ancestors!

In addition, determine if your ancestors had traveling companions on their way to America and look into their backgrounds. Go back to the census and check out your ancestors’ first recorded American neighborhood. Where were their neighbors from?  Folks often settled near family and friends from the old country.

Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939 (free at FamilySearch)
While most of the Bremen, Germany passenger departure records were destroyed -- either by German officials or during WWII -- 2,953 passenger lists for the years 1920 – 1939 have survived. The Bremen Society for Genealogical Investigation, DIE MAUS, has transcriptions of these surviving Bremen passenger records online.

Hamburg Emigration Lists (description, search tips and links free at

FOIA Request Process (no longer free, there is now a fee for this service)

Fill out the information as completely as possible. 

Make a copy of the form for your follow up records and keep it in a pending file in your desk

Mark in your calendar six months from today to follow up on the request.  Also indicate that the copy is in your pending file.



Click here to read her segment and see the accompanying images.





Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Contributing Editor

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor

Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady, Content Contributor

Hannah Fullerton, Production Assistant

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager


Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!