Genealogy + Yelp = A Surprisingly Good Combination

Genealogy + Yelp = A Surprisingly Good Combination

Are you familiar with Yelp?

Yelp is a free local search program that helps the user find eateries, entertainment and home services in a specific area. When traveling or just looking for a new place to eat with my family, Yelp is the go-to app on my phone. 

But, can Yelp be used for genealogy research purposes? Absolutely!

Why You Want To Use Yelp for Genealogy Purposes

  • If you are planning a genealogy research trip, use Yelp to find unique repositories in your specified area.
  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in an area, use Yelp to see what genealogy repositories or research sites are close by and open.  
  • Use Yelp to find libraries, cemeteries, local museums, local archives and even genealogical societies.
  • Use Yelp to find local restaurants or coffee shops. After all, a researcher has to eat and researchers do not like to wander too far from a repository!

Yelp can be accessed either from your laptop or from the free app available for your smartphone. Tip: Install the Yelp app on your phone for on-the-go research.

Let's Take A Closer Look At Yelp 

1.Navigate to or open the Yelp app on your phone.  (Find directions to download the free app here.)

2.Type in your search terms.

For our example, we will be searching Portland, OR for genealogy resources. 


 Tip: Try searching  "genealogy" and "family history". The search term "genealogy" seems to consistently yield more results than "family history" for U.S based searches. In United Kingdom searches, "family history" yielded more results.

Our search results yielded 4 potential genealogy research repositories to explore. Notice results include libraries, cultural or community centers AND a genealogy society(!). 


3.To learn more about a repository or library, simply click the entry. Clicking the first result for The Genealogical Forum of Oregon brings the user to the Yelp entry for the group.


On the left side is the basic information of address, phone number, link for directions and the website for The Genealogical Forum of Oregon. Click the website link to learn even more about this entry.

GFO Genealogical Forum of Oregon

Ready to make a visit? Back on the Yelp results page, click "Get Directions" and you are ready to be off.

4. Find insider tips about a repository and genealogy research by finding User Reviews found underneath a repository's entry.  Be sure and leave your own review, too!


Now it's your turn. Explore Yelp with your own examples.

Search for  local "museums" or "historical sites" in your area of interest to learn more about the social context of the time and place your ancestor lived. 

(And when you get hungry....fine local eateries in the area.)



Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Lisa can be found online at , Facebook and Pinterest

3 Tips To Fine Tune Your Census Research

3 Tips To Fine Tune Your Census Research

Census  records are some of the first genealogy records  researchers use to begin tracing their ancestors. Tracking an ancestor through the years and generations is exciting and often yields quick results. Once we find an ancestor on one census record, we tend to proceed quickly to the next census record and the next.

Eventually, we can go no further in our census research and are left to wonder - "Now what?"

In our excitement of discovering our ancestors,  we miss vital clues in the census records leading to other helpful records.

3 Tips to Fine Tune Your Census Research

The examples in these tips are based on U. S. census research. However, the tips themselves are applicable to all census research regardless of the country.

Tip #1 - Read and make note of information under every column heading.

Each census recorded different information. Later census records can contain quite a bit of detail on our ancestors. Beyond an individual's name, age or birth date make note of things such as:

  • Is a land value listed?  If so, this indicates your ancestor owned land.  Pursue land records for your ancestor. 

    1870 Pennsylvania Census - Land Value
    1870 US Census (Source:
  • Is the indicated marriage a second marriage? If so, expand your research for previous marriages. Typically, a first or second marriage is not indicated, but I have found enough instances in my personal genealogy research to make sure I check.
  • Is an individual's occupation listed? Knowing an ancestor was a factory worker can differentiate him from someone of the same name who was a photographer in other records. 

Tip #2 - Study the individual household and determine if the information recorded in the census makes sense. 

  • Consider a family with a husband, wife and four children. Look carefully at the ages/birth dates and the marriage date (if provided). Are the ages of each child appropriate to be the children of the wife listed? Or do the ages of some of the children pre-date the couple's marriage date?  This could indicate the named wife is a second wife and a need for further research into the marriage records is warranted.
  • Do all of the individuals in the household have the same surname? If not, consider the question "Why not?." Research into each of the individuals to determine the relationship to the head of the household is warranted. Clearly defining the individuals in the household can potentially reveal collateral ancestors important to your future research.

Tip #3 - Use that census records to learn more about your ancestor's community.

To break down genealogy brick walls and progress our research, genealogy researchers must  understand the community where our ancestors lived. 

  • Once you find your ancestor in the census, read the census record 4-5 pages prior to the entry and 4-5 pages after the entry. Consider who was living close. Do you recognize the surnames of collateral ancestors or ancestors of the same surname? Take a look at the birth place column. do you see a common migration pattern from a certain state or country?  You could be looking at a group or chain migration of individuals. If so, look into the history of the town or county further to narrow down an area to research.
  • The occupation column mentioned above can hold clues to the lives of a community's residents. Is there a "popular" or common occupation among the community's residents? Determine if that occupation created records benefiting your research.  For example, did you ancestor work for the railroad? Check for railroad company records.  
    Railroad Record
    Example of a California Railroad Employment Record (Source:

Find an in-depth look of the 1910 U.S. census in What Is The 1910 Census Telling You About Your Ancestor?

Spend time in the census records this week.  Take your time. 

What might you have missed in your previous research?

Learn even more from the many census classes in the Legacy Library!


Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Lisa can be found online at , Facebook and Pinterest


4 Great Image Collections from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

4 Great Image Collections from New York Public Library Digital Collections

Let me just start off by admitting that I’m in love with the New York Public Library Digital Collections. Why? Because it’s in these web pages that you can find books, ephemera, maps, and images that would otherwise not be easily available. Like an online museum, I could get lost in studying these digitized items (don’t even get me started on Anna Atkin’s Photographs Of British Algae ) that help us better understand history and ultimately our ancestors.

The New York Public Library’s Digital Collections is a “living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more.” For the family historian it is a place to discover materials to research your ancestor as well as add social history context. In some cases these items are grouped into a “collection” and in others they are just solitarily digitized items just waiting to be discovered. This collection of over 746,000 items is huge in scope and depth but the following items from the collection give you an idea of its value.

New York City Directories

New York City Directories found in the Digital Collections span the years 1786 to 1934. These are digitized books and the Digital Collection's  viewer allows you to page through the book, zoom, rotate, and even print. Each book’s page includes card catalog information as well as links to other websites with the same digitized content (such as the website Digital Public Library of America).

Yizkor Book Collection 

The genealogically rich memorial books in the Yizkor Book Collection document communities destroyed in the Holocaust. “Most often privately published and compiled through the collective efforts of former community residents, they describe daily life through essays and photographs and memorialize murdered residents.” The Yizkor Book  Collection’s About information states that the New York Public Library's holdings include about 730 books but fewer that number can be found in this digitized collection. Please note that these books are in Hebrew or Yiddish.

Summer Excursions for 1874

 Ok, this book isn’t for everyone but I wanted to mention it because it is so unique and it’s a perfect example of what social history can be found in the Digital Collections. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s Summer Excursion Routes for 1874 appears to be incomplete (the introduction states that the book includes 300 routes)  on the website but this travel brochure  gives us a peek at what ephemera our ancestors may have had access to and, those with the funds, may have influenced them. We often think about our ancestor’s immigration or migration but don’t consider other travels that they could have taken including those to visit family or just for a holiday. As the introduction to this pamphlet concludes, "A glance through its pages cannot prove uninteresting, and may serve to guide summer travelers into pleasant, interesting, and profitable channels.”


Nypl.digitalcollections.510d47db-33ee-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w (2)

Of course you knew I couldn’t write about a website without pointing out what food history is available! The Digital Collections actually has more than one menu collection but the largest is the Buttolph Collection of Menus which has almost 19,000 menus. “The menu collection originated through the energetic efforts of Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924), a somewhat mysterious and passionate figure, whose mission in life was to collect menus. In 1899, she offered to donate her existing collection to the Library -- and to keep collecting on the Library's behalf” which she did until her death in 1924, amassing over 25,000 menus (not all have been digitized).

So why is this collection important for family history? Menus provide us information about what foods were eaten during a specific place and time, prices, as well as  food availability. Food history is an important part of family history and menus can provide some valuable information in that pursuit.

747,888 and Counting

No blog post could list every collection from the New York Public Library Digital Collections that I love. My hope is to  just to give you a taste of what’s available. Don’t ignore this digital gallery because you don’t have New York ancestors. Yes, there are New York specific items but there’s so much more than that including North American maps, US postcards, and social history items that can help you better understand your ancestor’s life.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

The Keyboard Shortcuts I Couldn’t Live Without


Everyone loves a shortcut, right? Whether it’s a shorter way to get home from work, an easy way to pay bills, or just a simpler way to get a dreaded task accomplished, shortcuts are great. The same is true for using the computer. Anything that can be done quicker and with ease gives us more time to research our family history! 

A keyboard shortcut is a series of one or more keys that “invokes a command that would otherwise be accessible only through a menu, a mouse, or an aspect of the user interface.”[1] Keyboard shortcuts are available for software programs as well as your Internet browser. You could find dozens or more shortcuts that exist for all the programs you use. I don’t use every keyboard shortcut available but there are a few that I consistently use that make my life a little easier.

Here are a few of my favorites when using Microsoft Word but keep in mind that they may work with other software programs and the Internet as well:

CTRL and C , CTRL and V, and CTRL and X: These are the commands to copy, paste, and cut. Probably the more well-known of the keyboard  shortcuts, I use these three on a daily basis. Highlight the text you want to copy or cut and then use CTRL and V to paste it wherever you want it to go. For me, I use this often when I decide that a sentence or a paragraph I just wrote in Microsoft Word should either be deleted or moved elsewhere in the document. Or when I want to copy text and insert it into another program. A great time saver when you are searching the Internet.

Shift and F4: This is probably my biggest time saver when looking at a website or a document and I’m searching for a specific word or phrase. Hold the Shift key and then press the F4 key to open a Find box. This box, will appear at the top right of the website you’re searching and allows you to search on a specific word or phrase. It’s perfect when searching a web page for a specific surname. I find this function saves me a ton of time and effort. If that doesn't work try the alternativeto this,  CTRL key and F.

CTRL and S: Ok, who hasn’t been typing away happily and something goes wrong like the electricity unexpectedly goes out or the cat hits your keyboard and  everything you just worked on suddenly vanishes? Use CTRL and S to save periodically. Anytime I have to get up and interrupt what I’m doing I hit CTRL S just to be safe.

CTRL and P: There’s no easier way to print than hitting CTRL and P. Whether in Word or on the Internet, a printer dialogue box comes up and you are ready to print. I even use this command when I want to save something as a PDF since one of the choices in my print command box is to save a document as a PDF. Saving as a PDF is perfect when I run out of ink, paper, or am not quite ready to print out that document.

Wait There’s More!

There’s no way I could list every possible keyboard shortcut that exists for your favorite software, browser, or websites. Did you know that even Twitter has a list of keyboard shortcuts? To find them go to your Twitter account and in the top right side you will see your photo, click on that and a drop-down menu will appear with a link to  “Keyboard shortcuts.”

Twitter shortcuts 1

Twitter Shortcuts
Do you have some keyboard shortcuts you use? Seek out the shortcuts for the website, software, or browser you use the most and start using some of those shortcuts to make the most of your time on the computer.


[1] "Keyboard Shortcuts and System Commands for Popular Programs," TurboFuture ( accessed 9 September 2018).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Tapping Into MyHeritage's Community To Advance Your Genealogy Research

Many think of genealogy research as a solitary activity. Often we are researching on our own, but sometimes we need  a bit of help.  We need help with transcribing or translating a record.  We need help locating resources or a quick look up in a repository we cannot visit. We need a community of researchers!

Whatever our need,  the genealogy community is a generous one! 

Tapping into the MyHeritage Community

Israel Lisson ( 1856 - 1917) and his wife Dora Lisson (1863 - 1930) have been on my genealogy to-do list for quite some time. Israel and Dora Lisson immigrated as Jewish immigrants from Russia in the late 1880's and early 1890's and settled in Rochester, New York. As a genealogy researcher, I have been able to document their lives here in America.

As happens to most (if not all!) genealogy researchers, I eventually hit a brick wall in my research of the couple. I was unable to determine the parents of either Israel or Dora. My research into the Lisson family stalled here for quite a while. 

Recently, I returned to my research and picked up the trail again when I found the photograph below on

Israel Lisson Tombstone

Israel & Dora Lisson, Britton Road Cemetery, Greece, NY (Source: FindAGrave used with permission)

This is great information for the researcher, but..... the back of the tombstone is where even more information was to be found. (You do check the back of your ancestors' tombstones, don't you?!)

Israel Lisson Tombstone - Back

(Back) Israel & Dora Lisson, Britton Road Cemetery, Greece, NY (Source: FindAGrave used with permission)

The back of the tombstone was engraved in Hebrew, and unfortunately, I do not speak or read Hebrew.  I needed help to translate the back of the tombstone.

I turned to the community section of MyHeritage. 


Source: MyHeritage

I uploaded the photograph of Israel and Dorothy's tombstone and inquired if anyone could translate the words on the stone. Within a few days, I had two  gracious genealogy researchers responded with the translation of the stone.

And here's the exciting part......

In the Jewish tradition on gravestones, the Hebrew side gave the names of Israel's father and Dora's father!


Reply to Translation Request at MyHeritage

The MyHeritage Community quickly and generously assisted me in the Lisson research. I can now pick up the trail and move forward in my research of  the Lisson ancestors.

Take Away For Your Research

Reach out to genealogy communities with your research questions as well as your genealogy answers to others' questions.

You can find active communities such as the MyHeritage Community on the major genealogy websites. Local genealogical societies often have active communities you can reach out to for help. Check locally where you live, and also, where your ancestors lived.

Note:  Photographs of the tombstones are used with permission of Sandi (Grimm) Enright, FindAGrave contributor.

Learn more about MyHeritage through the many free MyHeritage series webinars!


Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Lisa can be found online at , Facebook and Pinterest

Finding & Using Maps in Your Genealogy Research

Finding & Using Maps in Your Genealogy Research

I recently had an interesting conversation with a long time genealogy researcher in the foothills of North Carolina. Her family has been in the area for generations, and she knows that area - its people and its history. By this, I mean she really knows the area.

At one point in our conversation she said, "Look at the map. Maps tell the story of a person." She was right.

Maps tell us where an ancestor lived.

Maps can show migration patterns.

Maps give us clues to an ancestor's occupation.

Historical maps can show locations of towns no longer in existence.

Maps help researchers view the world through an ancestor's eyes.

Type Of Maps

Most genealogy researchers are familiar with city street maps and land ownership maps, but a variety of maps are beneficial to the genealogy researcher. Maps were created for specific reasons, and as a researcher you must understand the purpose of the map you are researching. By understanding why a map was created and its purpose, you will not miss valuable clues for your research.

Consider exploring these types of maps:

  • City, county and state/province maps - Document roads, communities and/or neighborhoods indicated. 
  • Land ownership maps - Created to show who owned land in a specific area.
  • Fire Insurance maps - Created for insurance companies to assess the risk of fire liability of buildings in more urban areas.  
  • Topographical maps - Show natural and man-made structures in an area such as hills, rivers, lakes, mountains (and mountain passes). These features impacted how our ancestors traveled.
  • Railroad maps - Document railroad routes and showed preferred routes as they changed over time. 
  • Wagon trail maps - Wagon trail maps indicate western migration routes across the U.S.  One example is the Oregon Trail. Towns along the trail are listed and potential places your ancestors may have stayed or even settled. 
  • Military maps - Document an area before and/or during a war. Often include terrain, houses (sometimes homeowners may be listed!), roads, and bridges.  

Just where do you find maps to use in your genealogy research? A number of resources exist. These are 6 great places to start your map research and begin putting your ancestors, well...on the map.

6  Resources For Finding Historic Maps

1. The Dave Rumsey Map Collection - A large collection of historic maps from around the world. Especially helpful to genealogy researchers is the Georeferencer feature which allows you to overlay a historic map over a modern map to make comparisons.

2. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records (U. S.) - General Land Office records encompass images of over 5 million land titles  including images of survey plats and field notes. 

3. Google Maps - Most everyone is familiar with Google Maps, but may not be using this resource for genealogy purposes. Use Google Maps to find modern day locations of your ancestors. The street view allows you to explore the area as it looks today.

4. University Libraries - Libraries at major colleges and universities are great places to explore for historic map collections. Many collections have maps outside of their area or location. One example is the University of Alabama Libraries Map Collection. While many maps are focused on Alabama, the collection contains maps from around the world as well as special topic maps. 

5. ArchiveGrid - ArchiveGrid is a finding aid for historical documents, family histories, personal papers and more stored in archival institutions. 


6. Fire Insurance Maps - Created to be used by insurance companies, the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are detailed maps of residential, commercial and industrial areas of cities and towns in the United States. Other countries also created fire insurance maps as well. For example, find British fire insurance maps online at the British Library. Begin your search for fire insurance maps for other countries by conducting a search using search terms "fire insurance maps" + "[insert your country of research]". 

Sanborn-mapSanborn Map of Springfield, Missouri

Tips When Starting Your Map Research

  • Make note of the year the map was made and familiarize yourself with the description of the map. Understanding what the map shows and does not show first will save researcher time.
  • Check if an overlay feature is available. Being able to superimpose a historical map on top of a current day map provides perspective on an ancestor's location.

Now it's your turn!

Explore maps of the locations of your ancestors and see the world through your ancestor's eyes!

Learn even more about Maps from the Legacy library!


Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Lisa can be found online at , Facebook and Pinterest

Vertical Files: Like a Box of Chocolates

Vertical Files: Like a Box of Chocolates

In the movie Forrest Gump, the main character, Forrest Gump, makes the statement “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” In the world of genealogy, vertical files are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Vertical files are a fantastic genealogical record source that no genealogist should overlook. This particular collection of records could contain just about anything.

The Society of American Archivist Glossary of Terms defines Vertical Files as: “Materials, often of an ephemeral nature, collected and arranged for ready reference.” Vertical files are sometimes called Subject Files or Morgue Files. These records can be located at a library, archive, historical society or genealogical society. Anywhere records are collected and preserved, there could be a collection of vertical files.

Knowing how vertical files are compiled will help you better understand this record set and how to use the records for your genealogy research. Most, if not all, items found in vertical files are donated by individuals or organizations. Records found in vertical files can range from original documents to photocopies, from unique and one-of-a-kind records to mass publications. Ephemera and newspaper clippings are some of the most popular types of records that can be found in vertical files.

Vertical Files
photo courtesy of the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Vertical files are stored in file folders and then put into filing cabinets. They are labeled with either a surname or a subject name. Once the records are in the file folder and labeled, they are then placed in filing cabinets in alphabetical order. In most archives, there will be an index listing of what is contained in those particular archived vertical files. It is important that you ask the archivist for that index. The index could be in paper form or it could be located on an in-house computer. Keep in mind that a vertical file index will most likely not contain a listing of each and every document that is located in each file folder. So, if you see a surname or subject name that you think might help you, ask for that file to be retrieved so you can review the contents.

So what can be found in Vertical Files….

Newspapers Clippings

One of the most popular documents to be found in vertical files is newspaper clippings. In fact, some vertical file collections in some repositories are compiled of nothing but newspaper clippings. These clippings could be about anything that was found in the newspaper and cut out to be saved. The clippings could be of obituaries, birth announcements, engagement announcements, marriage announcements or anything of note that was published in the local newspaper. Newspaper clippings found in vertical files can be a true find for those of us that have found that some newspapers were not saved and microfilmed. If we're lucky someone clipped items from those missing issues and they are located in the vertical files collection.


If you are like me and have very few examples of letters or postcards for my ancestors, you might be lucky enough to find these types of records in vertical files. Correspondence of all kinds can be found in vertical files. When an archivist is presented with a donation of a handful of letters, they are usually processed and placed in vertical files. If the donation is larger, they are usually processed into the Manuscript Collections of the archives. Finding a handwritten letter, post card, Western Union Telegram or some other note in the vertical files from or to our ancestors can be a true find.

Family Group Sheets and Family Histories

Handwritten or typed family histories are a common find in vertical files. Many genealogists have documented their family history in a narrative form and then donated a copy to the local archives where their ancestors lived. Family Group Sheets could also be found in vertical files. These are also donated by genealogists in the hopes that other researchers coming through the facility will find their family history work and make a connection. I always encourage genealogists to donate copies of their family group sheets and family histories to local archives. Be sure to include your name and contact information so other researchers can contact you.


If you are like me, you are always looking for photographs for your ancestors. I have very few photographs dating back before 1930 of my ancestors. The vertical file collections may just be where they can be located. Many archives will place photographs in their vertical files and file them by family surname, place name or by the subject of the photograph. Not only could there be photos of your particular ancestors but there could be photos of the church they attended, the school they went to and even the home where they lived. However, be aware that many archives do not place their photographs in vertical files. Photographs can also be found in Manuscript Collections or in a larger Photograph Collection within the archive.

These are just a few of the numerous types of records that can be found in vertical files. When I visit any repository that has genealogical or historical records, at the top of my to-do list is to check the vertical files. I hope the next time you are at an archive you remember to check the vertical file collections because you never know what you might find.


Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady, is a Certified Archives Manager currently working as the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist. She is also a professional genealogist and lectures, teaches and writes about the genealogy research process, researching in archives and records preservation. She has been researching her own family history for the past 28 years.


What Else Can You Do With Your Email? Two Tips for Gmail

What Else Can You Do With Your Email? Two Tips for Gmail


Sure, email is great for sending and receiving messages but did you know there’s much more you can do as a Gmail  user?  Google’s Gmail has features that can help the family history researcher plan and be productive. A whole webinar could explore Gmails many features but for now let’s focus on two.

1. Keep a To-Do List

Did you know that Gmail offers a multi-functional to-do list, called Tasks?  The instructions for using this feature differ depending on the version of Gmail you are using. In the classic version of Gmail, click on the word Gmail found in the upper left-hand column and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on Tasks.


Once you do that, a simple box will appear at the bottom of your screen. In that box you can add to-do items and they will appear with a check box. To-Do items can also be given a due date by clicking on the arrow to the right of the task. Once you have completed one of those items, you can check the box and it will remain there but show a strikethrough across that particular task until you delete it. This to-do list can contain tasks as well as subtasks.


You can email or print your tasks by clicking on the Actions link at the bottom left of the Tasks box. The Actions’ drop-down menu also has a Tips link to learn more about the service.



One last thing about Tasks: besides typing your to-do list in Tasks, you can also send an email to Tasks. This might be useful when someone emails you about your family history research and you want to remember to follow-up with their suggestions or reply to their email. To send an email to Tasks, open the email you want to send to Tasks and click on the More button at the top. A drop-down menu will provide you the option to Add to Tasks.

Please Note:

If you are using the new version of Gmail, you will notice on the right-hand side of your screen there are three icons. These icons represent Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks. Click on the third icon (it looks like a circle with a pen). A panel will appear which will allow you to create Task lists and add to-do items.

New Gmail Tasks

Delegate Someone

I have a lot of emails saved in my Gmail account. Gmail gives users 15GB for free and I take advantage of that.  I save anything that has to do with genealogy or family. But one thing I do worry about is what happens to those important emails should I depart this life sooner than expected ? Who will have access to that part of my family history?

Gmail has an answer. With Gmail you can delegate someone to have control over your Gmail account. This can be beneficial for the genealogist in a variety of ways including if you want to share an account for a family history or genealogy society project  as well as planning for a digital afterlife. Gmail’s ability to delegate someone helps with that planning.

To access this feature, open Gmail and click on the gear icon at the top right of your screen. A drop-down menu will appear, click on Settings. In Settings, one of the headings is Accounts and Import, click on that. Now scroll down to the end of that page and you will see on the left-hand side “Grant access to your account.” Click on Add Another Account to add a delegate to your account. That person must be using a Google Account in order to be designated a delegate. If they aren't, encourage them to sign up for one, it's free.

What can your delegate do? According to Gmail Help, they can:

  • Send and Reply to emails. However, their email will show as the sender. So your email contact will know that someone sent the email on your behalf
  • Read your email messages
  • Delete your email messages
  • Manage your contacts

But don’t worry, the person you delegate  cannot change your Gmail password and you can revoke their access to your account should you decide to.

Gmail Does Much More

Those are just a few of the things Gmail can do besides sending and receiving emails. Explore your Gmail Settings for other features you might be interested in including vacation responders, the ability to unsend, and filter emails.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Where to Find Genealogy Help on Facebook


Where to Find Genealogy Help on Facebook

In June 2015 we formed the Legacy User Group on Facebook. At the time we were a bit unsure if users would even be interested in something like this but the group has EXPLODED! We now have over 18,000 members. 

Because there are so many members the administrators and the moderators have to be strict with limiting the discussions to Legacy, any of the add-on programs that work with Legacy, and any of the websites Legacy can directly access or sync to but only in regard to how they work with Legacy. We can't allow general genealogy questions or tips. 

So the question is, what groups are there on Facebook for these other topics? Here are my top ten favorite Facebook genealogy groups (not in any particular order). I am adding the group descriptions as they appear on Facebook.

The Organized Genealogist
"Share your tips and tricks for organizing your genealogy. Links to products and services are acceptable. Let's all work together to get better organized!"

Technology for Genealogy 
"Discussion of technology used for genealogy purposes. Includes: software, apps, tablets, computers, gadgets, news, web sites. Topics must be related to technology and have applicability as a genealogy tool."

Genealogy! Just Ask! 
"This group is all about Genealogy/Family History. A place to ask question about these topics. To share what you have found. The purpose of this group is to assist members in research ancestors - to learn about resources and techniques that will enhance that research."

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness - RAOGK USA
[No official descriptions] This group is for general genealogy questions and research help

Ethics and the Genealogist
"Ethics and the Genealogist is a group with a diverse membership from the novice researcher to the advanced professional coming together to discuss ethical issues they encounter while researching."

Genealogy Translations
"This group provides assistance to others in the translation of their genealogical documents. Volunteers offer translation of genealogical documents including vital records, letters, obituaries, and more, in languages including – Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, plus others!"

Genealogy Do-Over: Are you ready to hit the restart button?
"Genealogy Do-Over - the educational initiative where you do get to go home again . . . and start over with your genealogy research." 

Genealogy Chit-Chat
"This group is for all of the Genealogy related stuff that is considered off topic in other groups. Feel free to share your feelings, opinions, victories, defeats, and even vent if you need to."

Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques
"Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques is a place to discuss topics in DNA ranging from beginner to advanced."

DNA Detectives
"Genetic genealogy group focused on using DNA to find biological family for adoptees, foundlings, donor-conceived individuals, unknown paternity and all other types of unknown parentage cases - recent and more distant."

There are also groups for every one of the different genealogy websites. Some are official groups sponsored by the companies themselves and there are some that are "unofficial" groups.  For example, There is a MyHeritage Users Group (unofficial). Even though it is unofficial MyHeritage employees do monitor it and also interact with the users.

Not enough options for you? Check out Katherine R. Willson's Genealogy on Facebook List. At the time of this article she had over 12,300 Genealogy Facebook groups listed. She updates it regularly. You can download it as a free PDF. There is a well-organized table of contents so it will be easy to find groups that will meet your specific research needs. All of the links are clickable. 

Keeping ALL of the Facebook groups on topic helps everyone.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


My 5 Favorite LibGuides

It’s no secret that I love LibGuides and as a family historian, you should too. LibGuides are research guides on topics and repositories that span a wide range of subjects including genealogy.

I’m certain that if you start searching on the LibGuides website you’ll find something to help you research  your genealogy. To get you started, here are 5 of my favorite LibGuides that I think you will want to take a look at and add to your own list of must-have resources.

1) Short History of Military Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Short History of Military Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

For those researching a war time nurse, this LibGuide on military nursing is a must. Spanning World War I to the Vietnam War, readers are provided with resources, books, and videos on historic nursing. Make sure to explore the drop-down menus found by hovering your mouse on each tab, to uncover additional books and videos for each conflict. In some cases these videos include interviews and historic footage such as World War II era training videos for US Navy nurses. On the US Cadet Nursing Corps page are links to records collection for the Nursing Corps and dissertations written about these nurses. These resources will undoubtedly help you bring your military nurses’ service to life.

2) Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers: General Info from the BYU Library

  Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers: General Info from the BYU Library

Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah includes genealogical relevant resources and their more than 400 LibGuides reflect that. The Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers: General Info guide includes map links for historical and modern-day maps and gazetteers. A tab labeled Genealogy Aids includes maps from the US, England, Scotland, Germany and Denmark some of which are housed in digitized books. The Most Popular tab reveals a link to the BYU Map Collection on Internet Archive with over 300 maps. While a few of the resources mentioned in this guide are only available to users of the BYU library, there’s more than enough free mapping resources here to help you with your genealogy. Do yourself a favor and spend some time perusing the other BYU Subject Guides including the Family History/Genealogy Subject Guide  for more resources.

3) Archives and Archival Resources from the University of Notre Dame

Archives and Archival Resources from the University of Notre Dame

This Archives and Archival Resources guide is HUGE! It is packed with all kinds of materials about researching archives, archival locations and more. The downside is that some pages were either not working or not complete when I last looked at it but, nevertheless, I wanted to turn your attention to the Paleography section of this guide. This section explains that “Paleography (or Paleography) is the study and analysis of handwriting in order to read old texts with accuracy and fluency. It focuses on studying letter forms and conventions used, such as abbreviations. In addition, paleography also involves dating manuscripts and identifying the location of, called ‘localizing’, the writing used.” Paleography tutorials are essential as you get further back in your family history research. Notice that the Online Tutorial and Resources section includes tutorials for reading English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Latin, Portuguese and Spanish & Latin America texts. This is a great starting point for learning more about reading historical texts and documents you come across as you research.

4) History, U.S. & Canada: Primary Sources by Century from University of Southern California (USC)

History, U.S. & Canada: Primary Sources by Century from University of Southern California (USC)

This list of “primary sources” (genealogists use the term original sources) from the 17th to the 20th century in the United States and Canada is a section of the History, U.S. & Canada Research Guide. The downside of this wonderful list of sources is that many are found in subscription websites found only  at academic institutions (a good reason to plan a field trip!). When viewing this page, make sure to click on the Primary Sources tab to reveal a drop-down menu with lists of primary sources by century, events, topics & subject, and region. The Event & Era resources provide rich social history websites that explore the topics of  African American Pamphlets, Salem Witch Trial, and America in the 1930s. There is so much here to explore and add to the story of your ancestor’s life.

5) Genealogy by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Libraries

Genealogy by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Libraries

While this last LibGuide won’t be useful to everyone, I wanted to mention it to give you a sense of what genealogy information you might find in a LibGuide. For those with New England ancestors, this genealogy LibGuide from the University of Massachusetts is a must. Topics covered include Cemeteries, Church Records, City Directories, Cookbooks, Land Records, Marriage Records, Massachusetts Archives, Mayflower Records, US Newspapers, Probate Records, Photography, Tax Records, and Vital Records. While this LibGuide focuses on the collection of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library,  you may find similar titles available at other libraries or online including the University’s Internet Archive account with 14, 500 digitized titles.

What Will You Explore First?

LibGuides provide everything family history researchers need including resources, tips, and information. Enhance your research by searching for a LibGuide on the subject, place, or repository you'd like to visit. There's so much to explore!


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.