Friday, May 25, 2012

Nerd Alert! Genealogy is Getting Remixed into new TV Series

What could be better than a "nerd" from the fab British Comedy The IT Crowd and genealogy mixed together?  Television Blend is reporting that Christopher Guest (The Princess Bride, Spinal Tap, etc.) is collaborating with Jim Piddock on a new series called Family Tree.  They've brilliantly tapped actor Chris O'Dowd, IT Crowd's lanky nerd Roy, and most recently the love interest in the hit movie Bridesmaids, to play the lead.

According to an article published in the Vulture, "for Family Tree, described as 'an improvised genealogy comedy,' the comedy actor will play a man in search of his real family."

It appears that writer-director Guest boasts a family tree that leads back to British Royalty, which seems like a background ripe for story lines for a new series.  We can only hope that family history will play a role beyond the title.

If Netflix failed to suggest the IT Crowd to you, chances are you don't watch The Office much. But computer geeks and techno-phobes alike will roar at the four available seasons (Americans must translate the British term "season" into extended but brief vacation").  O'Dowd holds his own against Richard Ayoade who steals nearly every scene with his socially awkward Maurice Moss character. This is one series I never tire of watching!  (Already a fan? Have you checked out the free "IT Sound Board" app for iPhone???)

Stay tuned to this blog and the Genealogy Gems Podcast for updates on the new series.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner - Save Money and Support the Free Podcast

As a busy mom and now grandma, I know how hard it is to find precious time for family history. That's why the focus of Genealogy Gems has always been to find the BEST resources available!

After personally evaluating and using the Flip Pal portable scanner, I can whole heartily recommend it. Here's what I love about it:
  1. Very lightweight
  2. Super easy to use - no heavy manual reading necessary!
  3. Flexible scanning options
  4. Love the built in image viewer!
I give Flip Pal 2 thumbs up! And I'm happy to announce that Genealogy Gems is an affiliate of Flip-Pal which means that if you decide to pick up one of these little gems yourself and you do so clicking one of the links on our website, the purchase will also help financially support the free podcast. Now you can get a fantastic tool and help keep the free Genealogy Gems Podcast coming at the same time.

And now save money during their big Memorial Day sale!
Promotion Codes are valid May 23-31, 2012 (Mountain Time, -6 GMT)

Please go to

Promotion Code #1: 1mday12 Save $15 when you purchase a Flip-Pal mobile scanner! (Place items in your shopping cart first before using the promotion code.)

Promotion Code #2: 2mday12
Purchase a Flip-Pal mobile scanner with Digital Creativity Suite 3.0 DVD (with Photoshop Elements!) and get a Deluxe Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case with Pocket FREE! (Both items must be placed in your shopping cart first before using the promotion code.)
I met with the Flip-Pal folks at a recent conference to learn even more about this portable little powerhouse, and they asked me to sit down for an interview:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? Paula Deen: Highlights and Deleted Scenes

If you missed Friday’s Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Paula Deen, be sure to watch it online now. And look below for a highlight along with two deleted scenes, which recount troublesome times for Deen’s ancestors during the American Revolution and Civil War eras.

NGS Announces Plans for 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas

From NGS Press Release:

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announced at their Family History Conference in Cincinnati last week that the 2013 NGS Family History Conference, Building New Bridges, will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from 8–11 May 2013. The conference hotel and venue will be the LVH−Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton). The hotel and conference center are under one roof offering excellent convenience for attendees. To ensure a reservation, attendees may reserve their accommodations now and must request the NGS conference rate when making a reservation. The LVH will accept reservations beginning 14 May 2012 via telephone 1-800-635-7711 or online at

The LVH−Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is a cultural icon. In 1969 Barbra Streisand was the opening performer. The property was known as the International, and it was the world’s largest hotel. Elvis Presley quickly became the star performer. After the Hilton chain purchased the International in 1970, the building became the Las Vegas Hilton and starred as the Whyte House in the 1971 James Bond film, “Diamonds Are Forever.” In January 2012 the property became the LVH−Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The LVH is ten minutes from McCarran International Airport and convenient to I-15 and I-515. The Las Vegas Monorail begins at the LVH and carries passengers to six major Strip resorts.

The conference theme for 2013 is Building New Bridges. The Mike O’Callaghan−Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, dedicated in 2010, spans the Colorado River on Native American land, connects the Las Vegas Valley to Route 66, and embodies the West as a timeless “bridge” where cultures, nations, and technologies connect. The bridge visually frames nearby Hoover Dam, which in 1935 opened the Southwest to urban and agricultural growth by harnessing the water and power of the Colorado River. In celebration of the 2013 theme, the four-day conference will offer more than 150 lectures on researching peoples and places of the West, migration to and from the West, law, military records, immigration, methodology, academic history, family history writing, BCG Skillbuilding, African American and other ethnic research, technological innovation in genealogy (GenTech), and more. In addition, Las Vegas and Clark County are home to several museums and repositories that highlight the history and culture of the area. Manuscript collections reflect the histories of immigrant, Eastern, and Midwestern families that migrated to and through the city in the twentieth century.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

FamilySearch Publishes 1940 Census Browsable Images and Searchable Indexes

From Press Release:
The 1940 US Census Community Project, which includes FamilySearchArchives.comFindmypast.comNARA, and, have now published browsable images online for 1940 U.S. Federal Census and the completed searchable indexes for six of the states. Online volunteer indexers have indexed 35% of the census. At current rates, they anticipate wrapping up the indexing by late summer. Follow the progress online at or search the records on FamilySearch also published new, free records online for Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United States, Venezuela, and Wales. Search these diverse collections and 2.5 billion other records for free at
Searchable historic records on are made available by thousands of volunteers from around the world who transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the amount of digital images being published online at Learn more about how to personally help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records as a volunteer indexer at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Come See Lisa at the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank June 8 - 10, 2012!

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is just a few weeks away!  The theme this year is Lights, Camera, Ancestors! Spotlight on Family History.  Lisa will be speaking at this conference which takes place June 8-10 at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel in Burbank, CA.  To get more information, click here

Lisa's got a great variety of classes waiting for you:

TH-001 - Conversation with the Author: Steve Luxenberg and Annie's Ghosts
TH-013 - Common Surname Google Search Strategies

Free Demo at 3:30 in the Exhibit Hall: "3 Cool Tools to Powerboost Your Newspaper Research"

SA-020 - Sharing The Joy: Projects That Will Captivate The Non-Genealogists In Your Life
SA-034 - The Google Earth Scavenger Hunt – Fascinating Family History Fun!
SA-040 - 10 Ways to Add Volume to Your Family History with Video

Free Demo at 12:30 in the Exhibit Hall: "3 Google Search Techniques You Should Be Using!"

There are also going to be some exciting special events happening over the weekend:
On Friday at 6:30 PM there will be a Hollywood Gala sponsored by Travel back in time with us to Hollywood's glory days. Red carpet, Walk of Fame stars, paparazzi, ... Lights, Cameras, and ANCESTORS! Tiaras not required but welcome. Dress up, dress down, it's up to you. Be sure to bring a big smile to the photo booth sponsored by FamilyTree DNA.

There is also a photo contest sponsored by  Share your favorite ancestor photo for a chance to win one of THREE Scan Cafe scanning kits to digitize up to 1,000 photos, slides, and or negatives (a $220 value). The photo in each of these three categories with the most “likes” by the start of Jamboree wins!
  • The most humorous photo of an ancestor
  • Pre-1900 photos
  • Photo of the best-dressed ancestor
To find out how to enter click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? Cancelled, and Deleted Scenes

Sad to say that it appears NBC is not picking up Who Do You Think You Are? for a fourth season.

The Fly on the Wall blog is reporting that posted the following comment about the cancellation: "We want to thank NBC for their support of this terrific series, which over the last three years has inspired many viewers to follow their passion to learn more about who they are and where they come from," said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of "We have a great partnership with the show's producers, Is or Isn't Entertainment and Shed Media, and we look forward to exploring other avenues of distribution."

If you missed last Friday's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the full episode featuring Rashida Jones of Parks & Recreation is now available to view online here.

Below you can watch a highlight from the show, a deleted scene, and even a sneak peek at the next episode starring Jason Sudeikis of Saturday Night Live.
Living a Showgirl's Life
Rashida learns that her grandmother lived large in the NYC nightlife as a showgirl and dancer.

A Formidable Force
Rashida learns about her Irish Jewish roots and how her family prospered in that community.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 Publishes Collection of WWII Cadet Nursing Corp Files

From Ancestry Press Release:
PROVO, UTAH – (May 7, 2012) – announced today a collection of more than 300,000 WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files is now available at The records date between 1942 and 1948 and detail the history of the Corps, providing personal information about Cadet Nursing Corps members, offering a glimpse into the backgrounds of the young women who joined this important program. is the exclusive location to search the entire Cadet Nursing Corps collection online, making it easy to review this piece of American history and discover personal connections to former Corps nurses.

Upon the United States’ entry into World War II, the Cadet Nursing Corps was established to increase the number of nurses available for war efforts. This collection tells the story of more than 124,000 young women between the ages of 17 and 35 who committed to serve in the nursing profession during this time. As a part of the program, cadets went through an accelerated training that fit a 36-month course into a 30-month period. Senior cadets then served their last six months in civilian, military and veteran hospitals and other public health agencies, which freed up registered nurses to help with the war effort. All cadets received a scholarship and a monthly stipend, effectively giving these young women an education they otherwise may not have been able to afford.

“As a former member of the Corps, I am excited to have this important part of our history not only acknowledged, but made available for more people to learn about this unique wartime effort,” said Thelma Robinson, RN MSN PNP (retired). “I consistently speak with fellow Corps members who are trying to find information about this period of their lives. Putting these records online provides an invaluable resource for them and their families.”

The Cadet Nursing Corps not only served to meet the needs of the United States during World War II, but also promoted the profession of nursing among women. There was a unique social aspect to the program for this period in history – the Corps was non-discriminatory and trained nurses from a wide variety of backgrounds including Native Americans, African Americans and even displaced Japanese Americans. Unlike other professions, where women left to pursue other interests after the World War II, 85 percent of all nursing students in the United States were a part of the Cadet Nursing Corps.

“While much of the focus around World War II remains on what happened overseas, groups like the Cadet Nursing Corps are an important reminder of the dedication of the U.S. citizens on the home front,” said Dan Jones, Vice President of Content Acquisition, “We are proud to honor those who served as a part of this distinguished group and provide new generations with the opportunity to learn more.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New National Archives Video Gives an Inside Look at the Civil War Widows’ Pension Digitization Project

From the National Archives Press Release: 
Washington, DC. . . A team of more than 60 volunteers led by professional staff at the National Archives has crossed the 100,000 mark in a project to digitize Civil War widows' pension files and is featured in a new National Archives video short. The National Archives holds 1.28 million case files of the dependents of Civil War Union soldiers who applied to the federal government for pensions.

Watch the new video short in the ongoing series "Inside the Vaults" which describes the project.  "The Civil War Widows' Pension Digitization Project at the National Archives":

The files are an astonishing compendium of Civil War history. Testimony in these files from fellow soldiers, widows, children, siblings and bereaved parents describe their deceased comrades, husbands, brothers and sons and often the circumstances in which they died. The effect of the war on family members left behind is also brought to light in great detail. 

Volunteers are painstakingly preparing the documents for digitization while creating a searchable index.  The index and images are available at, a research website in partnership with the National Archives.  A second partner, FamilySearch, provides volunteers who create the digital images.  

Archives specialist Jackie Budell, who is overseeing the project, says the volunteers range in age from 19 to 90 and come from a variety of backgrounds.  Collectively they devote more than 700 hours each month to the effort.  “The volunteers are helping to shed light on a large aspect of the Civil War that many historians and sociologists have had little readily-available primary source material to go on – the effect of the war on families back home who were left behind after the soldier’s death,” said Budell. 

While making these valuable files more widely available, the volunteers have discovered more treasures in the National Archives’ holdings – personal mementos that became “evidence” when sent to the Pension Bureau long ago and not seen since:  for example, the video includes images of some of these newly-discovered tintype images.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Deleted Scenes from Rob Lowe's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Friday on the genealogy themed TV series Who Do You Think You Are?, Rob Lowe uncovered surprises about his family tree. Watch the full episode here. Plus, I've got two deleted scenes and a highlight below. And to top things off, get a sneak peek at the next episode featuring Rashida Jones, another star of NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Fighting George Washington
Rob Lowe learns that his 5x great-grandfather fought against George Washington in the Battle of Trenton in service of Great Brittain.

A True American Story
Rob Lowe shares with his brother Chad the fascinating discoveries he made about his ancestors and how they helped shaped the foundation of America.

Frightening Chaos
Rob Lowe tours the famed Battle of Trenton where his ancestor fought against George Washington and the American Revolution

Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones uncovers her maternal family history from Manhattan to Eastern Europe and uncovers the answers to her grandmother's missing years.

New Episode: The 1880 Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Census

It only occurred once.

It's not very "PC."

It is invaluable to those genealogist's whose ancestors were affected.

I'm talking about the 1880 Defective, Dependent and Delinquent special census and in the newest Genealogy Gems Podcast episode published on April 26, 2012, you will learn all about it from professional genealogist and lecturer Jana Broglin CG, OGSF.

Also in this episode you'll hear from listeners like you:

  • Ashley shares how she discovered the importance of citing her genealogy sources ("It wasn't until I realized that one branch of my family tree had "traced" back to Julius Caesar, who was his own grandfather according to the tree, that I went ...WAIT A MINUTE!")
  • Jack in Newport News, VA asks what to do in his family tree database with the folks who may or may not be ancestors

  • and Challe gets some help with saving old family history books

Download the free Genealogy Gems Toolbar, get the app, or load up your mp3 player in iTunes and join me on the Genealogy Gems Podcast!

1940 U.S. Census Indexing Update from FamilySearch

Here's the latest from FamilySearch:

The 1940 U.S. census indexing project was launched this April as part of a broad online community effort. Images and indexing projects for all states and territories in the 1940 census are now online. Of all the different types of historic records available to index, volunteers love census records the most, and it shows in the record-breaking levels of activity we’ve seen in the past three weeks. 
  • Over 85,000 volunteers have already completed 20 percent of the census project.
  • A record number of active indexers used the program in a single day—34,947 volunteers. 
  • In one day more than 3.2 million records were indexed and 1.5 million were arbitrated. 
Remember, this work is being accomplished by volunteers, and they keep coming: thousands are still signing up weekly. As a result, millions of people will soon be able to search every name that was recorded in the 1940 U.S. census. Follow this never before seen indexing progress at

Current and Completed Projects
To view a list of currently available indexing projects, along with their record language and completion percentage, visit the FamilySearch indexing updates page. To learn more about individual projects, visit the FamilySearch projects page.

New Projects Recently Added
  • France, Diocèse de Coutances et Avranches—Registres Paroissiaux, 1796–1880 [3e partie]
  • Brasil, Rio de Janeiro—Cartões de Imigração, 1900–1965 [Parte 3A]
  • U.S., Hawaii—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Iowa—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Kentucky—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., New Mexico—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., South Carolina—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., West Virginia—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S.—Index to Service Records of Soldiers in the War with Spain, 1898
  • U.S., Alaska—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Nevada—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., New Jersey—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., North Dakota—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Tennessee—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Vermont—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Connecticut—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., District of Columbia—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Idaho—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Maine—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Michigan—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., North Carolina—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Rhode Island—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Washington—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Wisconsin—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Wyoming—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Arizona—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Arkansas—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Georgia—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Missouri—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Missouri—1940 Federal Census [Part A]
  • U.S., Montana—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Ohio—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., South Dakota—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Illinois—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Indiana—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Maryland—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Massachusetts—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Nebraska—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., New York—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Texas—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Alabama—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., California—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Minnesota—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Pennsylvania—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Florida—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Louisiana—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Mississippi—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Oklahoma—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Virginia—1940 Federal Census
View the FamilySearch Projects page to see the full list of available projects and to learn more about how to participate.

Recently Completed Projects
(Note: Recently completed projects have been removed from the available online indexing batches and will now go through a final completion check process. They will be published at in the near future.)
  • Belgique—Registres Civile, 1851–1900 [Partie C]
  • Canada, Prince Edward Island—Baptism Card Index, 1721–1885
  • Deutschland, Mecklenburg, Schwerin—1867 Volkszählung
  • Guatemala, Guatemala—Registros Civiles 1800–1900
  • Österreich—Wiener Meldezettel
  • Russland, Sankt Petersburg—Kirchenbuchduplikat 1833–1885
  • South Africa, Cape Province—Church Records 1660–1970
  • Sverige, Örebro—Kyrkoböcker, till 1860 [Del 5]
  • UK, England and Wales—1871 Census for London and Surrey [Part C]
  • UK, England and Wales—1871 Census for London and Surrey [Part D]
  • U.S., Alabama—County Marriages, 1809–1950 [Part C]
  • U.S., Colorado—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Delaware—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Indiana, Noble County Marriages—1811–1959
  • U.S., Kansas—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Michigan—Port of Detroit Manifests, 1906–1954
  • U.S., New Hampshire—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Oregon—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Oregon, Roseburg—National Homes for Disabled Soldiers, 1866–1938
  • U.S., Tennessee—County Marriages, 1790–1950 [Part F]
  • U.S., Texas—Deaths, 1890–1976 [Part A]
  • U.S., Utah—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S., Virginia—1940 Federal Census
  • U.S.—WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918 [Part 1A]