Friday, December 17, 2010

NBC Announces Who Do You Think You Are Season 2 Celebrities

Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are will premiere February 4, 2011  (8-9 p.m. ET) according to a recent NBC press releases.  Celebrities starring in season 2 include:
  1. Gwyneth Paltrow
  2. Tim McGraw
  3. Rosie O’Donnell
  4. Steve Buscemi
  5. Kim Cattrall
  6. Lionel Richie
  7. Vanessa Williams
  8. Ashley Judd  
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – December 16, 2010 – 
From executive producers Lisa Kudrow (“Friends,” “The Comeback”) and Dan Bucatinsky (“Lipstick Jungle,” “The Comeback”) – through their production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Shed Media U.S. (“Supernanny,” “The Real Housewives of New York City”) -- “Who Do You Think You Are?” is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series that leads celebrities on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that often are linked to crucial events in American history.

“I've been a fan of the U.K. version of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ for a long time, so it's very rewarding that the U.S. version is back with more compelling stories this season that are illuminating, touching and aspirational,” said Kudrow. “This is such a unique show for network television and we're all thrilled that the American audience has embraced it.”

From the trenches of the Civil War to the shores of the Caribbean, and from the valleys of Virginia to the island nations of Australia and Ireland, “Who Do You Think You Are?” will reveal the fabric of humanity through everyone’s place in history. Each week a different celebrity takes a journey into their family’s past, traveling all over the world. While giving viewers an in-depth look into their favorite stars’ family tree, each episode will expose surprising facts and life changing encounters that will unlock people’s emotions, show just how connected everyone is not only to the past, but to one another.

Here's a clip from last season

Monday, December 13, 2010

Genealogy Gems Goodness for the Droid Now Available!

Ever since we launched the Genealogy Gems Podcast App for the iPhone and iPod Touch earlier this year, we’ve heard from Android users that they want to be able to stream the show on their mobile devices too. And now they can! The Genealogy Gems Podcast Companion App for Android is now LIVE in the Android marketplace!

Genealogy Gems is the only genealogy podcast to enter the app market, and we’re thrilled at the overwhelming response from our listeners:
Susan H. wrote on Facebook: "Wow, you granted my wish! Lisa, you are awesome! Going to install it right now. Thanks for the early Christmas present."

And Mary L. emailed exclaiming, “The Genealogy Gems Podcast is now on my Droid phone! It was very easy to download and install, and, it works like a charm! Best $2.99 I've spent in a long time. Thank you for making this available.”

The Genealogy Gems Podcast App for Android allows genealogists to stream the entire catalogue of podcast episodes (which has just topped 100!) as well have exclusive access to bonus content such as videos, pdf files and much more. The new app is compatible with OS 1.6 or later.

Downloading this little gem is easy as going to the Android Marketplace and doing a quick search on Genealogy Gems Podcast. Or check it out at the AppBrain website.

Harnessing emerging technology for genealogy is my passion, and I’m committed to staying on the cutting edge. My hope is that our iPhone and Android apps will help genealogists around the world find it even easier to listen to the show so they can stay up to date on the latest genealogy news, research tips, interviews and project.

Vote for the Best Genealogy Blogs Now

Voting is now open for the 40 Best Genealogy blogs - the Family Tree 40!

The final list will appear in the July 2011 Family Tree Magazine, and your help is needed to choose from blogs nominated by the genealogy community.

To vote, use the survey at .

The nominees are divided into eight categories. In each category, please choose five blogs (you'll get an error message if you choose too many).

Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. You may vote multiple times.

It was my honor to serve as a Family Tree 40 panelist along with Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver, Myrt of the DearMyrtle blog and Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.  Our job was to help formulate the blog categories and qualifications, as well as narrow categories with the most nominations. With so many fantastic blogs out there, it was a challenge indeed!

I'm excited to see the final selections that the genealogy community makes.  Be sure and vote today!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sneak Peek: New Interactive Preview of NARA website

The National Archives and Records Administration just announced that it will launch a redesigned web site on December 13, 2010, as part of its Open Government Initiative.  But you can get an interactive preview of the redesigned right now at
"It's essential for the National Archives to have a user-friendly online presence,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, (the first Archivist to blog, tweet, and launch a Facebook page). “We hope to reach new audiences while still engaging our long-time users, researchers and visitors. This redesign – part of the National Archives flagship Open Government Initiative – reflects the ongoing effort to engage the public and make records of the National Archives easier to find and use."

The new web site will feature:
  • A brand new home page voted by the public in July 2010
  • A new interactive “Our Locations” map of NARA’s facilities nationwide
  • Historical documents and streamlined access to military service records (81 percent of visitors are looking for this information)
  • Single topically organized sections focused on the needs of both casual browsers and professional researchers
  • Easy links to National Archives’ social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and both the Archivist's AOTUS blog and other National Archives blogs.

According to NARA the public and National Archives staff participated in the redesign process. A multi-faceted participatory approach, including online card sorts, voting on home page designs, and usability testing was used to gather input to create content organization on

The interactive preview will explain what has and has not changed and give you the opportunity to walk through the redesign. NARA recognizes that a web site is never done and acknowledges that this is the first step in a number of ongoing changes.

They are looking for your input. You can contact us at

National Archives Challenges the Twitter-verse to Tweet the Bill of Rights

Here's a fun way to celebrate history!

Washington, D.C. . . The National Archives is celebrating the 219th

anniversary of the Bill of Rights (December 15, 2010) social media-style

with a contest to tweet @archivesnews condensing each amendment to the

U.S. Constitution into a single tweet counting down to the First

Amendment using hashtag #BillofRights. On Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15)

the final contest will be to create one tweet summarizing all ten

amendments. See the contest schedule and more information below.

The previous day’s winner will be announced at 10 a.m. on the

National Archives Facebook and Twitter (@archivesnews) site. Archivist

of the United States David S. Ferriero will select one winner for each

amendment. Each winner will receive a Bill of Rights poster from the

National Archives eStore, and the winning tweets may be used in a future

Archive store product!

Contest Schedule:
December 6:

Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the

Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the

States respectively, or to the people.

December 7:

Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,

shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the


December 8: (same day, but a separate tweet for each!)

Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive

fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment VII: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy

shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be

preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined

in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the

common law.

December 9: (same day, but a separate tweet for each!)

Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the

right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State

and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district

shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the

nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses

against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his

favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or

otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a

Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in

the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor

shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in

jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to

be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or

property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be

taken for public use, without just compensation.

December 10:

Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons,

houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,

shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable

cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the

place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

December 13:

Amendment III: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any

house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a

manner to be prescribed by law.

December 14:

Amendment II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security

of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall

not be infringed.

December 15:

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of

religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the

freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably

to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

BONUS: In one tweet, summarize the entire Bill of Rights!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Your Adoption Question Could Be Featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network

Long time Genealogy Gems Podcast listener Brandt wrote me recently in hopes of helping a friend:

"Hi Lisa.  A friend of mine who was adopted as a toddler in 1987 is trying to find some information on her birth parents. She has her father's name, and the adoption agency says he was a Vietnam vet, who died but she doesn't know when (after his service in the war at least). (She also has) her mother's last name, but her first name is unknown. She's asked for help in getting info on her parents, mostly her mom. I have the contact info for the adoption agency, but I've never contacted one before and I'm not sure how to approach them, or whether they'd even release info to me. Do you have any pointers on what I can do to help my friend?"

Now folks like Brandt and his friend who have adoption questions can apply to have their case taken on by adoption research specialist and genealogist Pam Slaton on the new show Search coming to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) Announces Free Family Builder 5.0

News from the folks at MyHeritage:
London, England & Tel Aviv, Israel – December 1, 2010 –, the largest family network on the web, today announced the launch of Family Tree Builder 5.0, the most advanced and easy-to-use free genealogy software in the world. Introducing a range of new practical features, Family Tree Builder 5.0 makes researching, building, printing and sharing family trees easier than ever. The new ‘To-Do’ lists and unique ‘Tree Consistency Checker’ are amongst the useful new tools for genealogists, while the new fully customizable family tree charts and professional poster prints provide a colorful way for any family to showcase its past and present. With improved privacy settings, Family Tree Builder 5.0 also gives users more flexibility and security for sharing family history data.

Family history enthusiasts and genealogists around the world use Family Tree Builder to find long-lost relatives, and discover and showcase their family roots. Popular free features, such as Smart Matches™ and Facial Recognition, empower users to overcome the challenges of family history research in a fun and innovative way. Family Tree Builder users can synchronize their data with a private online family site on Family sites serve as an ideal platform for families to share their heritage and stay in touch – through photo sharing, event planning and other social networking tools.

"We’re witnessing a massive upward trend in people being passionate to discover their roots", said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of "Our newly released Family Tree Builder 5.0 software is the ideal companion in the journey to explore your family’s past. Easy-to-use, packed with innovative features and completely free, it transforms family history into a hobby that is accessible and enjoyable for everyone.”

The new Family Tree Builder 5.0, free to download at, offers several new ways of organizing, documenting and showcasing family history. The major new features include:

· ‘To-Do’ Lists: A new feature that makes organizing and conducting research much more effective. Users can enter tasks that need to be done and associate them with people and locations, and organize the next steps they need to do in their research and prioritize them. Offers the ability to find all tasks associated with a certain person or location.

· Tree Consistency Checker: A unique and free tool that helps find mistakes in family tree data, automatically identifying errors and inconsistencies in 40 categories. The tool excels in detecting anomalies – for example if users have entered dates inside place fields or tagged someone in a photo before that person’s birth – and shows users exactly how to fix them.

· Improved Privacy Settings: A centralized place for controlling privacy settings. Users can now make specific information (e.g., names, facts and notes) of family members private and prevent this data from being published to family sites, or exclude it from family tree charts.

· New Family Tree Charts: In only a few clicks, users can create beautiful family tree charts for free using a new easy-to-use chart wizard. With a dozen different chart types to choose from (click here to view), 18 predefined chart styles (click here to view), plus a wide variety of border designs, frames, background images, decorations, colours and fonts, users now enjoy thousands of combinations for personalizing their family tree charts. Charts can be saved in PDF format, which makes them easy to print at home and to share with others.

· Family Tree Posters: With worldwide shipping, users can now order a poster sized version of any family tree chart, either direct to their home or sent as a gift to a family member. Prices start from as little as $20.

· Custom Reports: Users can copy and export to excel data specific to a particular research project (such as a wedding or trip), sorting information according to their needs – e.g. by region, emails of particular individuals, information on reunion attendees etc.

· DNA markers: Users can enter results from a genealogy DNA test or be directed to over 10 companies that conduct such tests. This information is encrypted.

· Plus dozens of additional enhancements.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How Google Earth Could Save Your Life

It starts out so innocent.

You and your spouse decide you want to take the family out for a day of enjoying the great outdoors.  The climb up the local mountain is challenging and exhilarating. Now it's time to head home, back down the mountain.  But as darkness starts to fall the trail becomes dim.  Things aren't looking like they did on the way up.  The kids are cold and tired, and all of a sudden it's not so much fun.

That's exactly what happened to a family that made the trip up  Mount Tzouhalem in British Columbia, Canada recently.  They called for help on their cell phone, and Cowichan Search and Rescue was on the case.  But how would then narrow down where to look for the stranded family?  Pull up Google Earth of course!

According to the article "Search and Rescue Uses Google Earth to Find Missing Family" from the website, searchers reviewed the terrain in Google Earth looking for landmarks, buildings, and fences described by the weary travellers.  They were brought home safe and sound.

Sometimes looking for ancestors can feel a bit like being lost in the wilderness.  Thankfully, you can use the same strategies employed by this innovative search and rescue team to locate the lost.  That's what my DVD series Google Earth for Genealogy is all about!  After I was able to identify the exact location where a 100 year old family photo was taken with Google Earth, I knew the genealogical potential for this free program was limitless

And now through Cyber Monday Nov. 29, 2010 you'll get FREE SHIPPING on any size DVD order!  Demand has been great, so this is the one and only time this year we're running a sale on the DVDs.

Check out these videos to see what you'll learn!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nominate blogs for Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

We hit a milestone last week with Episode 100 of the Genealogy Gems Podcast which was pretty cool!  Listener Pat Dalpiaz wrote me today saying "I just listened to your 100th episode with great nostalgia" and said that something distinctly stood out to her as she listened:

"I did notice how many callers mentioned blogging thanks to your encouragement and lessons.  I wonder if that might be an interesting survey--how many people started blogs directly thanks to your influence in Genealogy Gems?  I know I did!"

Well, I'm very happy to say that I've heard from many listeners over the last couple of weeks who specifically mentioned how the podcast and my How to Blog Your Family History - Genealogy Blogging video series at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel helped them to start blogging about genealogy. There's some very informative and inspiring blogging going on!  If you are blogging are enjoying reading another genealogist's work, here's your chance to get recognition and help other genealogists discover these gems.

Family Tree Magazine is once again recognizing genealogy blogging excellence with the Family Tree 40 Genealogy blog awards. They are accepting nominations of great genealogy blogs today through Tuesday, Nov. 30 so time is of the essence!
Nominators, who can nominate as many blogs as they want, are asked to provide the name of the blog and the URL, select the category it best fits into, and (optionally) say why they’re nominating it. The eight categories are:
  1. Local/regional history and genealogy
  2. Heritage groups
  3. Research Advice and How-to
  4. Cemeteries
  5. My Family History
  6. "Everything” blogs
  7. New Blogs
  8. Technology
Voting on Family Tree 40 finalists will take place from December 13 to 20, 2011. The Family Tree 40 blogs, with five blogs per category, will appear in the July 2011 Family Tree Magazine.

This year I'm honored to have been invited to be a member of the panel of experienced genealogy bloggers who are helping formulate the blog categories and qualifications.  Other panelists include:
(One note: panelist's blogs can't be nominated)
View the descriptions of the nomination categories, blog qualifications and other Family Tree 40 information.
Let the nominating begin!  Good luck! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans History Project Commemorates First Decade with New Web Feature

From the Library of Congress:
They served. Regardless of their opinions on war, the horrors they witnessed on the front lines, the conditions under which they lived on the home front, their rank, race, religion or gender – they answered the call to duty and they served.

The latest installment of the Veterans History Project’s (VHP) Experiencing War website feature, titled "VHP: The First Ten Years," has launched in time for nationwide Veterans Day observances. The website feature, one of 32 created thus far, highlights the wartime stories of 20 veterans who represent a cross-section of the more than 70,000 collections donated to the project during its first decade of existence. VHP staff members selected these collections from among their favorites and as representative of the diversity and depth of the project. Some of the veterans have been featured in previous installments of Experiencing War, while others will be new to users of the site, .

"Our theme for this commemorative season has been ‘Illuminating the Future by Sharing the Past,’" said VHP Director Robert Patrick. "This latest web feature does just that. It shows the realities of war from 20 diverse and captivating perspectives so that people, generations from now, will be able to hear, see, and learn from these firsthand accounts."

Each veteran in "VHP: The First Ten Years" describes the wartime veteran experience in ways that are thoughtful, touching, and often riveting. Spotlighted in the feature is Vietnam Army nurse Elizabeth Allen, an African-American woman who discusses her experiences, unique due to both race and gender. Frank Buckles, the last surviving World War I veteran, shares his experiences in the feature as an Army ambulance driver. Marine Corps veteran Paul Steppe served during the Korean War and conveys his tale of survival after being wounded and then having his medical transport plane lose its landing gear upon takeoff. Eric Rosen was a Merchant Marine during World War II who spent 23 days in a lifeboat at sea after his ship was hit by a torpedo. Persian Gulf War Medical Officer Rhonda Cornum, on a mission to rescue a downed pilot, was captured by the Iraqis and held for seven harrowing days.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at  and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at .

Congress created The Veterans History Project in 2000 as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center ( to record, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of American wartime veterans from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The project relies on volunteers to record veterans’ remembrances using guidelines accessible at Volunteer interviewers may pledge to record a veteran’s story at the site, or they may request more information at or the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Lulu of a Deal - Save 40% on Genealogy Gems

Looking for more Genealogy Gems?  I've just added new bundles of Genealogy Gems Premium Archived Episodes to the my Lulu store.

 To celebrate we're offering 40% off everything.  A lulu of a deal!!

From now until Sunday Nov. 14, 2010
(just 5 days!)
you can save 40% on:

My book: Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies (paperback and ebook)
Genealogy Gems Premium Bundle: Episodes 2 - 10
Genealogy Gems Premium Bundle: Episodes 11 - 20
Genealogy Gems Premium Bundle: Episodes 21 - 30
Genealogy Gems Premium Bundle: Episodes 31 - 40
How to Find Your Living Relatives (Webinar recording and handouts)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Attn Mac Users: unveils new Family Tree Maker for Mac

If you're a Mac user there's a new option in town. Here's the press release from Ancestry:
Family Tree Maker for Mac  If you decide to buy - click this image to do so through Amazon and you'll also be supporting the free Genealogy Gems Podcast - thank you!)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., November 4, 2010 – Family Tree Maker for Mac provides an easy way to save and organize your family tree conveniently on your Mac computer and has a variety of tools that can help you share your discoveries with family and friends.

“Family Tree Maker for Mac has been a long-requested feature from our customers. We are committed to delivering the same powerful experience on the Mac that millions of Family Tree Maker customers have been enjoying for the past 20 years,” said Eric Shoup, Senior Vice President of Product for “We couldn’t be happier to provide yet another way for our members to interact with and discover, preserve and share their family history.”

Family Tree Maker for Mac combines intuitive tools with robust features and flexible options, making it ideal for family history novices and experts alike. A dynamic user interface and integration with makes it simple to create family trees, record memories, and organize photos, videos and audio clips, plus share ancestors’ stories. It’s even possible to explore family migration paths by viewing timelines and interactive maps that highlight events and places in ancestors' lives.

The first step is to start a family tree by entering and organizing family history information. From there, a myriad of features help you bring your family history to life:

· Grow your family tree – Search directly from Family Tree Maker and seamlessly merge historical records and important information you find into your tree. Family Tree Maker for Mac comes with either a free trial or subscription to

· Organize photos and documents in one location – Add photos, documents, audio, video and other media files to the people in your tree to help make their stories even more fascinating.

· Create family books, charts and reports – Publish beautiful keepsakes and books to share with friends and family.

· Craft slideshows – Create slideshows from photos in your tree.

· Cite the right information – Standard source templates make it easy.

· Explore family migration paths – View timelines and interactive maps, highlighting events and places in your ancestors' lives.

· Track information – Powerful sourcing tools let you document and rate each citation.

System requirements for Family Tree Maker for Mac include:

· Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later

· Intel-based Mac

· Hard Disk Space: 500MB for installation

· Internet access is required for all Web integration

Family Tree Maker for Mac is built on the functionality of Family Tree Maker 2010, the PC-version of the software, and is constructed from the bottom up to take full advantage of the Mac platform in terms of technology and user experience.

Early this year, expanded to another Apple® platform: the iPhone®. With the launch of its Tree To Go iPhone application in January 2010, now gives users access to generations of family history at every turn. From their iPhone, users can easily upload photos, update sources and edit trees. The Tree To Go iPhone application is available for iPhone and iPod touch® for free through the iPhone App Store or iTunes®.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reverse Genealogy and Google Tools - Back to school time!

Family Tree University just announced a terrific saving on courses that start Nov. 8 including my Reverse Genealogy and Google Tools courses. Register now and save 25%.   I don't think I've see a discount this low offered before.  

These classes are non-credit which means no-pressure, just lots of learning as we work together on increasing your family-tree-know-how.  I'll be available to you throughout the class to answer questions, and provide feedback.  Here's the scoop:

Enter coupon code THANKS10 when you register.

Google Tools for Genealogists: Four Resources to Enhance Your Family History 
Go beyond simple web searches and take advantage of Google’s other built-in tools, which can be just as helpful for family tree research. This course will explore four of the tools best suited to help you with your genealogy: News Archive and Timeline, Book Search, YouTube and Google Earth. 
    Find out More>>>

• Reverse Genealogy: Working Forward to Break Down Brick Walls
When we first begin researching our family tree, we’re taught that we should start with ourselves and work backward. Starting at the end of someone’s life and working backward is the most efficient and accurate way to research—in most cases. But two genealogical challenges call for a change in strategy: overcoming brick walls and finding living relatives.
    Find out More>>>

Hope to see you in class!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Free Webchat on Friday Oct 29 Answers Your Archiving Questions

Are you an Accidental Archivist with questions?  An Accidental Archivist is someone who inherits a large family photo collection and is unsure what to do next.  Read on about the upcoming free webchat that may just provide you with some answers:

Madison, WI October 25, 2010 - The Practical Archivist announced a new Q&A web chat happening on Friday, October 29, 2010 from Noon-1pm Central Time. The chat will be hosted on Sally's Practical Archivist blog,

There is no charge to participate, no pre-registration required, and no software to download.

Keepers of ancestor photos are encouraged to bring questions about how to organize, preserve and scan these treasures. Not sure what kind of box to use? Wondering whether slip-in sleeves are a good idea? Skeptical about whether an ink pen is the right tool to mark the back of a photo? Confused about the difference between ppi and dpi? Sally can help.

"I'm offering this no-cost session to celebrate Family History Month and Archives Month while educating Family Archivist and encouraging them to do the best job they can," explains Sally J. (The Practical Archivist).

"Early in my career as an archivist, I realized the vast majority of historical documents would never be cared for by a professionally trained archivist. I took it as a personal challenge to reach out to family historians and help become better family archivists."

Ermadene Able is currently enrolled in Sally's Joy of Organizing Photos program, and wants other family archivists to hear her tale of narrowly-avoided disaster: "Before, my precious ancestor and family photos, movies, videos and linen heirlooms were vulnerable to damage due to the way I was storing them. Sally taught me how to store them all properly. This was good because not long after I moved them to a new location, our hot water heater flooded where some of the photos had been. How is that for timing? Thank you, Sally!"

Sally Jacobs has a Master's in Library Science with a Specialization in Archives Management, and has worked at the Library of Congress Prints and Photos Division, the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, and American Girl. Her online CV is here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Access Records at Universities and other Non-Genealogy Archives

Have you ever come across a great reference book or photo collection that you were really excited about, and then been deflated to learn the only access was through a large university or other non-genealogy archive that you are unfamiliar with?   The questions rush into your mind:

  • Where do I start when I want to access their collections?
  • Who do I contact?
  • Would I even be allowed to access these collections if I don't attend the University?

As genealogists we feel pretty comfortable in our own territory - the Family History Library, our local public library, genealogy and historical society archives, the county courthouse, etc.  But the idea of figuring out how to maneuver our way through the unknown territory of a library at a university we didn't attend or another archive where the focus is not genealogy (gasp!) can cause us to click away from that exciting find, and all the gems it may contain.

In the newest Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode we give you the answer to this dilemma:  Think like an archivist! 

In episode #56 archivist and genealogist Nancy Loe MA, MLS gives you the inside scoop on how to bridge the communication gap and get access to the records you want in unfamiliar territory.  She'll answer some of our most common questions and empower us to take the plunge and ask for what we want.  Nancy has been featured on the Travel Channel, PBS, CNBC providing her archival expertise, and now she's on the Premium show to assist you!

Also in this episode I have a bunch of gems for you: 
  • The latest news on the Library of Congress and FamilySearch
  • Updates on Google Earth Street View and how to locate videos that will enrich your family history with almost no effort on your part!
  • and a fabulous example of what can be accomplished in Google Earth - a Premium Member shares her personal family history KMZ file and I take you on a video tour of it!
Not a Premium Member yet?  There's never been a better time.  Sign up today and use the coupon code SAVE20 to save 20% on the annual membership. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free Webinar on Saturday: 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots

There's a lot going on at Family Tree Magazine for Family History Month.  I'll be part of the upcoming free webinar and hope to see you there. Here's the latest:

Curious about your family’s past? Begin exploring your family tree this Family History Month with free programs from Family Tree Magazine.

On Oct. 16 at 2 p.m., EDT the magazine will present 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots, an hour-long online workshop to help people get started in genealogy. Part of a national Family History Month event, the program will be broadcast live over the internet to libraries and genealogical societies across the country.

“Most people get curious about their family history at some point in their lives,” says Allison Stacy, publisher/editorial director of Family Tree Magazine and the host of 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots. “The goal of this event is to give people the guidance they need to make discoveries about their family.

Stacy will be joined by Diane Haddad, managing editor of Family Tree Magazine, David A. Fryxell and Nancy Hendrickson, both contributing editors to the magazine, and Lisa Louise Cooke, producer of the popular Genealogy Gems Podcast. They’ll offer tips for gathering information, searching online, finding historical records and more. Registration is free.

Those interested in digging deeper will want to take advantage of a two-week online course from Family Tree University. Enrollment for Discover Your Family Tree: Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner, which begins Oct. 11, is free in honor of Family History Month.

Beginners also can enter a contest to become Family Tree Magazine’s “Family Tree Firsts” blogger. One newbie will be selected to write about their experiences on and be featured in the magazine.

All family tree buffs will appreciate the Ultimate Family History Giveaway—one lucky person will win a genealogy prize package worth more than $2,000. The prize includes products and services from many family history companies. Learn more and enter at

For more information about Family History Month resources and programs from Family Tree Magazine, visit

About Family Tree Magazine

Family Tree Magazine, America’s leading family history publication, is part of the Genealogy Community at F+W Media, Inc. which also encompasses Family Tree University online courses and webinars , the Family Tree Books imprint and the online store. These publications and products are devoted to providing engaging, easy-to-understand instruction that makes genealogy a hobby anyone can do.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cavemen Celebrate Vital Record Today

Yabba Dabba Do!!!!
Today is the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones, everyone's favorite modern stone-age family!

Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty debuted before I did, which means I can't really remember a time without them on the family tube.  In fact, as a budding genealogist, I insisted on a visit to the Flintstone's "village of origin" when I was just a girl in pigtails...

 Back in 1971 our family jumped in our Valiant and headed to Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota.  After a long trip in the non-air-conditioned 'family outing mobile' (as my friend Cindee fondly referred to it) we unstuck our sweaty thighs from the green plastic-like upholstery and jumped back in time to an earlier mode of transportation:

Good times, good times...Happy Anniversary Flintstones!  

Check out Google's tribute to the Flintstones by going to - if you're an iGoogle you'll need to sign out for a moment to get the effect.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Premium Episode 55 - Special Google Earth for Genealogy Edition!

I've been hooked on using the FREE Google Earth program for genealogy ever since I was able to use it to identify the exact location of this old photograph:

288 Connecticut St., San Francisco, CA

As cool as that is, it's only the beginning!  In the newest volume of the tutorial video series Google Earth for Genealogy I demonstrate how your maps can evolve into compelling storytelling vehicles.  Check out Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II to learn more and pick up your copy

And in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 55 which was released today, I share an exclusive interview from the DVD.  I talk to a man who creates custom 3D models for Google Earth, and we discuss how you can actually represent your ancestor's home on the globe for everyone to see with an exciting 3D model!  You'll not only hear about it, but you'll SEE their work in action!  

We also cover a ton of related news including new free online maps, land petitions and even a bit of controversy that's been swirling around Google Earth.  

Become a Premium Member today to get not only episode 55, but all seven videos from the Volume I DVD that you can view online, plus tons more.  

And stay tuned, because I just wrapped up an interview with author Leslie Huber about her new book The Journey Takers.  Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast so you won't miss the expert tips she shares that helped her uncover the stories of her family and bring them all together in this captivating book.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ellis Island Resources for the Family Historian

“Mama arrived with 4 year old Martha gripping her hand tightly.  She said she looked feverishly around for Papa, and spotted him across the room.  She ran to meet him and gave him a kiss, which she normally would never have done in public!”

That was the scene my Grandma described as Louise and Gustaf reunited near a wooden column outside the Registry Room at Ellis Island aptly known as “The Kissing Post.”  Many public displays of affection took place there after long journeys across the ocean.

Approximately 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.  It seems like only yesterday that the long dilapidated buildings were finally restored and reopened to the public.  They have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, welcoming over 35 million visitors to date.

This month marks the 20th Anniversary of the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island which first opened on September 10, 1990.

Learn more about the Museum by watching this video: (you can check email while the ad runs at the beginning!)

According to a recent Ellis Island press release , “Just half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the museum’s exhibits highlight the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880-1924. The galleries illustrate the Ellis Island immigrant reception process, the immigrants’ arrival and settlement throughout the United States and feature their “Treasures From Home” – the cherished personal objects, photographs and papers they brought with them from their homelands. And the American Immigrant Wall of Honor® celebrates the immigrant experience with the inscription of the names of over 700,000 individuals and families who have been honored by their descendants.”

Of special note is the Ellis Island Oral History Archive, which was created by the Foundation and contains the reminiscences of over 1700 individuals who either immigrated through or worked at Ellis Island during its heyday as the country’s largest immigration processing center.   If you are lucky enough to visit in person, you can listen to excerpts from these oral histories through the museum’s popular audio tour.  You’ll walk the corridors vividly reliving the immigrant experience as if you were a "new arrival."

If an in-person trip is not on your horizon any time soon, don’t fret.  More than 1,700 first-hand life story audio recordings of Ellis Island immigrants are now available online for the first time free at

 “As immigrants created new lives in the U.S., the stories of their homelands and their remarkable journeys to America were often lost,” said Christopher Tracy, senior vice president of global content for  “We are thrilled to offer people the opportunity to hear the voices of their ancestors sharing stories of their lives.”

The oral histories were originally recorded by the National Park Service starting in the 1970s, and contain first-hand accounts recalling the lives these immigrants left behind, their reasons for leaving and their incredible and often-trying journeys to America.  In addition to oral histories from immigrants, the collection also includes recordings from former Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty workers, and military personnel who were stationed on Ellis Island.

“To our family it is important that we in the U.S. know the origin of the people who came to this country, settled here and made it what it is today. It makes us very proud to know that our mother was part of this,” said Yvonne Rumac, daughter of oral history participant Estelle Belford, who immigrated to the United States from Romania via Ellis Island in 1905.

And if you are interested in learning more about your own immigrant ancestors here are some resources for you:

Ancestry boasts the world’s largest online collection of U.S. immigration records.
(Comprised of more than 170 million records, the U.S. Immigration Collection includes lists of passengers who immigrated by ship to America between 1820 and 1960, including those who came through Ellis Island; more than 7 million citizenship and naturalization records; border crossings, passport applications and more to help reconstruct our ancestors’ journeys and early lives in America. has also added nearly 2 million new U.S. naturalization record indexes.)

The FamilySearch Wiki
A brain trust of some of the best researchers out there, the FamilySearch Wiki allows you to search on keywords to learn more about a vast array of topics including immigration.  Much of the information comes from the experts who work at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  You get the benefit of their immigration research knowledge from the comfort of your own home.  Then search for the records themselves on the free FamilySearch Beta website

Stephen P. Morse’s One Step Pages
If your search at the website doesn’t retrieve your ancestors head on over to Stephen Morse’s One Step Pages.  There you will find  dozens of links to search resources including the Ellis Island Gold Form for arrivals between 1892 and 1924.  Even the folks at Ellis Island refer researchers to Morse’s site.  Listen to my interview with Stephen Morse on Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #10

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast Episodes on Immigration and Naturalizaton
Genealogist Steve Danko covers immigration and naturalization in depth in episodes 29, 30, and 31.  Steve even offers up some little known tips about deciphering some of the crytic notes researchers often find on passenger lists.

Introduce Kids to History: The Dear America Series Returns

As a mom of three daughters, I've spent many hours over the years hunting for copies of the Dear America series for birthdays and Christmas.  This wonderful series of historic fiction is being re-launched and the Library of Congress will be providing online companion content.  

If you're looking for a way to introduce the kids in your life to history, the Dear America series is a great place to start.  Here are all the details from the Library of Congress:   

Library of Congress Provides Online Content For Scholastic’s Re-Launch of Dear America Series

The Library of Congress is providing historical content from its vast and unparalleled collections to enhance a new interactive website for Scholastic’s Dear America historical fiction book series.
Scholastic, the children’s publishing, education and media company, will re-launch the acclaimed and bestselling Dear America historical fiction series this fall with a combination of all-new publishing and re-issues of the classic Dear America titles plus the new website with content provided by the Library.
"The Library of Congress is excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Scholastic on the re-release of the classic Dear America series," said Laura Campbell, Associate Librarian of Strategic Initiatives. "Combining these compelling stories with the Library’s extraordinary primary source collections will help make history more accessible and engaging for teachers and students alike."
Originally launched in 1996, the Dear America series for readers ages 8-14 was written by an array of award-winning band bestselling writers. The books are presented in diary format from the perspective of girls living at different times in American history. Publication of the series ended in 2004, but fans, booksellers, educators and parents have requested that the series be brought back into print. The series will re-launch in September 2010 with "The Fences Between us," an all-new story set in the Pacific Northwest during World War II by Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Also, two classics in the series will be reissued in the fall: "A Journey to the New World" and "The Winter of Red Snow."
In cooperation with the Library, Scholastic will further expand the series with two new dedicated "Dear America" websites: one for fans and one for educators, both launching in September 2010. The website for fans,,  will be a fully interactive online community. The site will feature interactive scrapbooks for each Dear America character with online fashion galleries, crafts, recipes and fun downloads. In addition to games, quizzes, book excerpts and author interviews, there will be a moderated "living diary" blog and message board for fans.
Simultaneously, Scholastic and the Library of Congress will offer teachers and librarians a wealth of lesson plans, historical documents and archival photos and other teaching resources at the educator site,   The site also features timelines, author videos, discussion guides and more, bringing the history in each book to life.
"We are pleased to reintroduce this beloved book series with the added dimension of a rich online experience through our relationship with the Library of Congress," said Ellie Berger, president of the Trade Publishing division of Scholastic.
Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools and libraries, on-air and online at  
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 145 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

Ancestry to Acquire iArchives /

Ancestry is making it's move and will be acquiring sometime before the end of the year.  Here's the scoop hot off the press:

PROVO, Utah, September 23, 2010 – Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site,, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities.  This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other US historical events to subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

“ is highly complementary to’s online family history offering,” said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of “By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the family.”

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of As part of the transaction, currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010. also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to approximately $25 million of its common stock. Under the authorization, share repurchases may be made by the Company from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions, share price and other factors and may include accelerated or forward or similar stock repurchases and/or Rule 10b5-1 plans. Part of the rationale for the repurchase is to offset dilution of equity resulting from the iArchives acquisition. No time limit was set for the completion of this program. The share repurchase program may be modified or discontinued at any time by the Board of Directors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pre-Order Opens Today for Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II

When I saw what Google Earth could do for my own genealogy research, I couldn't wait to put a DVD together to share what I had found.  I've been overwhelmed at the wonderful response and comments about the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD.  It seems you've been having as much fun and success with it as I have:

"You are doing a great service to the genealogy community, Lisa, and your listeners appreciate you.  You are keeping the fun in genealogy!  I am eagerly awaiting your volume 2 of the Google Earth series."
Gratefully, Mary J. Lohr

Susan friended me on Facebook and said: "I am a recent subscriber to your podcasts and recent purchaser of "Google Earth for Genealogy" - which is GREAT. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial and giving me a new way to use Google Earth. Keep up the good work."

And S. Hawkins wrote: "I had my popcorn while I watched (the) Google Earth videos.  I am learning so much.  Thank you!"

I love hearing from genealogists that they are Googling their was around the globe with the DVD.  And I'm VERY happy to announce today that we're going to take it to a new level with Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II!

Watch the video

Pre-orders have opened today for next DVD in this series.  If you have half the fun watching these as I did creating them, you're going to have a blast!

Head to  to find out more and reserve your copy.  Shipping begins October 1, 2010.

Happy Googling!  Now get out there and ROCK YOUR ANCESTORS WORLD!


Civil War Vet Groom, age 92, set the record in 1910

On September 10, 1910 the article "Old Man Finds His Affinity Rather Late In Life..." appeared on the front page of the Evening Standard out of Ogden, Utah. In Chicago, a man just two months shy of his 92nd birthday applied for a marriage license to wed Miss Helen Conger. "Previously eighty-five years had been the age of the oldest applicant"

Volney E. Rusco explained it this way: (I said) "It's about time we were applying for a license," and she said anytime I was ready she was."
.... Read the entire article at the Library of Congress website.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heritage Stories Contest: It Pays to Hold onto a Family Heirloom

Lands' End Press Release:

DODGEVILLE, Wis., Sept 08, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- From antique hunting in a parents' attic to digging up old treasures on the family farm, everyone is getting excited about items from long ago - including Lands' End. The company is celebrating its rich, storied past with the Lands' End Heritage Collection - well-known, classic pieces that are synonymous go-to favorites by virtue of their authenticity. Inspired by this collection, Lands' End is inviting everyone to share their own heritage with the "Heritage Stories" contest.

Beginning Sept. 8 through Sept. 30, submit a short description of the most unique thing from your family's past. Perhaps an authentic family heirloom, quality advice, or a valued family motto - that has been treasured and counted on over time.

"The things people treasure and hold dear are those that stand the test of time, much like the classic items found in the Lands' End Heritage Collection," said Shawn Colley, senior merchandise manager, Lands' End Heritage. "Staying true to our rich roots and continuing to hold on to those time-tested values that have defined us since 1963 is very important and continues to guide us today. We're excited to hear similar stories about family heirlooms or passed-down traditions have guided others."

The Lands' End "Heritage Stories" Contest Prize Package

To enter the "Heritage Stories" contest, please submit an essay, in 300 words or less, explaining the most unique thing saved from your family's history. All entries must be submitted to by Sept. 30, 2010, 11:59pm CDT. This contest is open to United States and Canadian residents. The official contest rules can be found at Winners will be notified on or around October 15, 2010.

Twenty-five winners will each receive $100 towards their choice of items in the Lands' End Heritage Collection. One Grand Prize winner will receive $250 towards the Lands' End Heritage Collection, plus a $2,000 Visa Travel Money Card to use toward continuing their family's traditions or discovering more of their family's heritage.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 95 is Ready for Listening

The nature of genealogy is that along our research path we find new data that sheds light on old data, revealing a mistake here and there in our family tree. In fact, one of my Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners recently ran up against this situation, and asked for help to make her way out of it. She wrote:

“My GGG grandfather had many children with two wives. I recently found out that wife #1 died sooner than I had thought and that about five of the middle children belonged to wife #2. Is there an easy way to move them over to wife #2? All I know to do is detach them from wife #1, but that puts the child in a third category as the child of a third unknown wife. I tried adding the child to the #2 wife, but that doesn’t take the attached documentation with it. There must be an easier way, as this is such an easy mistake to make.”

To find the answer I headed to the source,, and in the new Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 95 Jennifer Hodnett, Product Manager for Ancestry provides the solution which is also featured in this new video:

If you have an iPhone, iPad or iTouch get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App and you’ll get this kind of Bonus Content delivered directly to your mobile device.

Also in this new episode you'll get the latest genealogy news, websites, and tips on preservation from my special guest Scott Haskins, author of the book How to Save Your Stuff From A Disaster.