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Tune in for the best information, innovation & inspiration to help you grow your family tree!

Oct 20, 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
Click here to see the FamilySearch England & Wales 1851 Parish map.

WWI-Era Orphaned Heirloom Looking for Its Family


What Has Replaced Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness?
Facebook is the new RAOGK. And the upside is that Facebook expands the resources to folks who may be in a position to help through a shared interest while not necessarily being a genealogist.

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.


RAOGK Interntational

Read the full article



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

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.

Be sure to remind your listeners about the local genealogical societies.  Swedish genealogists spent 5 days with me looking for churches, graves and farms.  They were absolutely wonderful!

Lisa’s Answer: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 96 covers translation tools.


Google Translate

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:

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. 



GEM: The Genealogy Gems Book Club

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."

Visit the Genealogy Gems Book club page now.



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.


Original article

National Genographic Project

The 9 Ancestral Populations at the National Genographic Project

The 43 Reference Populations at the National Genographic Project


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.


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