Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Louise Carousel

In the most recent Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode we talked about the history of the carousel. It was an appropriate subject because William Schneider of Davenport, Iowa is credited for inventing the carousel in America this same week back in 1871. So I had carousels on the brain when the Carnival of Genealogy announced that the theme for the 53rd edition would be the Carousel. I knew immediately what I wanted to do!

There are two themes that run through my family history very prominently. In fact these themes seem to gracefully flow through my maternal female line much like the carousel horse makes it's way round and round to the organ music. And I would say in each case, there's no end in sight. (Read to the bottom to see the video: The Louise Carousel)

The first is the use of the name Louise. It wasn't until I started talking to my grandmother about our family history when I was a little girl that it dawned on me why my middle name was Louise. It was actually a family name that had been passed down the generations of my maternal line: my middle name, my mother's middle name, my Grandma's middle name, and my Great Grandma's first name. I thought that was pretty neat, and declared that my daughter's middle name would be Louise, which of course it is.

Years later, after my grandma's passing, I was cranking the microfilm wheel when across the page rolled yet another Louise: Luise (aka Lowyse) Lekczyk, my Great Great Grandmother. I was speechless (imagine that!) Luise was born Nov. 21, 1842 in the village of Beutnerdorf, in East Prussia. The possibility that there may have been even more Louise's tucked in those family tree branches became intriguing.

Further climbing revealed the next Louise: Lowyse Malkus, born 1811 in the village of Lehmanen, East Prussia. Might another Louise or two lurk further in the foliage? I plan to find out!

But in the meantime the ladies of our family are on the verge of celebrating the bicentennial of this name in our family. A surname ladder doesn't exist for women to securely place their feet on and climb their female lines. But knowing the women in my family as I do, it comes as no surprise to me that they found a way around it and established their own rungs to climb!

The second theme that stands out with these women is their creativity. From theater to fine art, from hand sewing to digital media, we have all found creative ways to express ourselves. So it was only fitting to use an artistic medium to tell my Louise story. So hang on to your cotton candy and jump on for a video ride on the Louise Carousel.

Monday, July 21, 2008

You're Invited to Attend the Ancestry Webinar on July 30, 2008

Ancestry is holding a public webinar to help educate users about the new search, and (I would hazard to guess) have a forum to answer some of the many questions and concerns that have been floating around. Here's the scoop straight from Ancestry...

There has been a lot of buzz about the new search on In the weeks since we took the new search out of Beta we’ve received great feedback from genealogists and are continuing to make changes to the search functionality. We’re holding a public webinar on Wednesday, July 30, at 8:30 pm ET for anyone who is interested in learning more about how to use the new search on

Geared toward intermediate and advanced researchers, the webinar will focus on how to use the tools in’s new search:
  • Record Previews

  • Image Snapshots

  • Refined Searches

  • Type-ahead Tools

  • Global Searches

  • Advanced Searches

  • Filters

  • Keyword Searches
Kendall Hulet, Director of Product Management for, will host this webinar. Kendall has worked specifically on product searches for a few years at Anyone can register to attend the webinar by visiting: The webinar is open to everyone; you do not have to be a member of to register for or attend the webinar.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Does A Charmed Cow Guarantee A Charmed Life?

If a cow's milk wouldn't churn to cheese, what was an ancestor to do? Put rowan branches above the milking shed to ward off evil magic of course! Well, at least there's evidence that some Scottish ancestors may have been depending on that remedy back in the 18th century.

According to a recent article from the BBC News, Dr Karen Cullen, of higher education institute UHI encountered many such tactics when recently researching for her upcoming lecture Charmed Cows and Contentious Neighbours.

Though the church advised against it, charms were often used by parishioners in need of answers for problems they often attributed to witchcraft. You can read this intriguing article on the BBC News Website.

Get Off The Genealogy Research Merry-Go-Round

When it comes to searching for genealogy research books, the Worldcat website is just about the best way to search across the country and around the world. But with that many books to choose from it's easy to get confused and feel like you're on a merry-go-round checking out books it turns out you've already been through.

Thankfully Worldcat offers a wonderful tool that can help you take control and get off that merry-go-round so you can get back to a focused and efficient search. In Premium Episode #8 I'll show you step-by-step how to set up a free account, use the Lists feature to stay organized, and even set up a Google gadget to follow your favorite lists.

But don't think I don't like a pretty Merry-Go-Round. In Episode 8 you'll get a snapshot of Carousel History from the U.S. Census Bureau. And in the show notes you'll find a snapshot of a 5 year old Lisa clinging to one of those glossy Carousel horses. Those were the days!

In the Googlepaloosa segment we talk about future Google Image Search capabilities that just might put a name to many of those unknown photographed ancestor faces out there.
All the Best, Lisa

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New at Ancestry: West Virginia, Pioneers and a little light Housekeeping

More records coming online? Bring 'em on because we can't get enough! So here are the databases that have been added to and/or updated at between July 6 and July 11:

Looking for a little light reading about some light housekeeping? Check out The Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton 1869 in the Great Britain section of Ancestry. You'll find everything from "recipes for soups," to "general observations of the common hog," to "invalid cookery" to "domestic servants." Sounds like a book right out of my ranch house in Texas!

View the full list of recently added databases at Ancestry, extending back a couple of months.

P.S. - Coming Soon to Ancestry:
North Dakota State Census, 1915 and 1925
Illinois State Census, 1825, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1855, 1865

New Records Available at FamilySearch

Many great FamilySearch online volunteer indexers continue to work hard on transcribing records for the general public to use. This week FamilySearch announced that the following collections have been posted on the FamilySearch Record Search pilot website. Users can access them for free at To see the current and upcoming projects being indexed, or to help volunteer as an indexer online, go to

Collections Recently Posted:
1870 U.S. Federal Census: 15 completed states with linked images
Lima, Peru Civil Registration 1874 to 1930: 134,000 searchable digital images
Spain Parish Records, Ciudad Rodrigo Diocese: 336,308 Searchable digital images

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Genealogy Is On The Air

FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #49 is now available for your listening pleasure!

In Part Two of my interview with Kathy Lennon, we discuss the tragic murder of her father, the strength of character of her mother and the values she passed on to her eleven children, what it's like being a famous Lennon sister, and Kathy's newest venture which has a family history twist to it. Prepare to laugh, cry and be inspired!

You'll also pick up some Train Robbery History trivia, and get all the details on our current contest and an opportunity to get your ancestor's handwriting analyzed free.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Are Your Heirlooms Catalogued?

Heirlooms come in all shapes and sizes. They can be of great financial worth, or steeped in sentimental value. In the newest Genealogy Gems Premium Episode my listeners lovingly describe the heirlooms that have made their way into their homes.

But receiving a vintage dress, table or pocket watch is only the beginning. Once a precious item comes into our possession new questions are raised. How will I remember who this belonged to and the history behind it? And how can I ensure that my wishes for passing it on will be honored?

A Premium Listener comes to the rescue in this episode by sharing her method for cataloguing heirlooms. We'll discuss everything you need to know, and you'll find three bonus download documents to help you get started in the show notes.

In this episode we'll also discuss Uncle Milty, Road History, another great Googlepalooza tool, and a wonderful activity that you and your genealogy society may want to give a try.

Become a Genealogy Gems Premium Member 20% discount on annual subscription with Coupon Code 28F10F. Expires 7/15/08


Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Homepage for Ancestry

On July 2 Ancestry launched a brand-new homepage that logged-in members will see the next time they visit the site. Their goal is to combine the best of the old homepage with all of the personalized features and tools formerly in the MyAncestry tab. Hopefully the result is quick, central access to the resources each member searches most. Here's the scoop direct from Ancestry:

Family Tree Access – Surveys and site analysis told us that the 5 million Ancestry members building their family trees on want quick access to their trees (particularly the pedigree view). We updated the homepage’s link to the family tree, added thumbnails of images uploaded to the trees, and included summaries and quick access-points to the tree. Multiple family trees can be viewed from the “My Trees” link.

Quick Links – In the “My Quick Links” section, members can add personalized Web links to any page on – or to any page anywhere on the Internet. This allows quick, instant access to resources each researcher uses most frequently: message boards, census records, or specific collections and databases.

What’s New – Surveys also showed that Ancestry researchers want information on new records and features added to the site. We created the new “What’s Happening at Ancestry” section to meet this need. The “New records on” list is dynamically updated every time new records are added to ·

Organize Research – To help members keep their research organized, we also added the Shoebox, Recent Activity, and a new To-Do list to the new homepage. Combining the old homepage and the MyAncestry page into a single page reduces the number of clicks it takes researchers to access the features they use most. As part of this combination, there is no longer a separate “My Ancestry” tab. All of the tools and features from the My Ancestry page are now on the new homepage. "

You can learn more about the new homepage at, as well as leave feedback, thoughts and ideas on the new homepage.