This genealogy researcher searched for home movies on YouTube after hearing Lisa Louise Cooke talk about the kinds of footage you can find for your family history. Check out this eye-popping discovery of a video showing her daredevil great-uncle in action…at age 82!
Awhile back, I gave a seminar at the Houston Genealogy Forum. I covered one of my favorite topics: how to find old home movies on YouTube that may feature your family’s history or even include a family member. Over the years of teaching this topic, some genealogists have responded with open skepticism to the idea–that is of course until they try it. Well, a woman named Carolyn attended that seminar and later kindly wrote me and said how much she enjoyed it. She explained how she applied what she learned with fantastic results.
I’m not surprised that she had such success. Just think of all the old film footage that people have shot over the years at parades, festivals, grand openings, school concerts or plays, races, sporting events, parties, graduations, weddings, company picnics and more. Thousands of hours of old films like these have been digitized and uploaded to YouTube!
Here’s Carolyn’s story:
“Today I decided to try YouTube, which I have never gone to before. The first thing I put in was my Great Uncle Will Ivy Baldwin, the tightrope walker. Immediately I found a video of him walking the high wire across a canyon in Colorado at age 82 in 1948! I actually saw him perform this dare devil feat! I am still filled with the thrill of it!”
Carolyn finished by saying, “Thank you so much for all we learned from you. The only problem is that I am going to have to live to be 200 to take advantage of everything you pointed out to us. I will tell all of my friends and other societies about your wonderful speech and hope to see you again.”
Can you believe how her great-uncle walked a tightrope on his 82nd birthday with no net and no harness? Incredible! Carolyn’s got some great genes to perform fantastic feats, which we hope includes more amazing family history discoveries.
While you’re on YouTube anyway searching for old home movies, why not check out the free family history video tutorials on the Genealogy Gems You Tube channel? Click the red Subscribe button while you’re there so you won’t miss a single new genealogy video we publish.
How-to: Finding old home movies on YouTube
Are you curious and ready to find old home movies on YouTube?Click hereto read my 4 terrific tips to get you started.
For the ultimate guide to searching the hundreds of thousands–possibly millions–of old film footage clips on YouTube, consider reading my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. This book has an entire chapter devoted to searching YouTube (which is owned by Google), with examples, screenshots and step-by-step instructions. It may help you discover some family history video treasures of your own on YouTube!
Old film footage can make your family stories truly unforgettable–even for those relatives who seem to forget every fact you tell them about your genealogy! Follow these tips to find old film footage and video online.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words when you share your family history, how much more do you think a video is worth?
A while back, we told the gripping story of Betty McIntosh, a Honolulu reporter-turned-World War II spy. What fun it was to research and share on the blog! The post has multimedia sources threaded throughout: an image of a young Betty from the CIA’s website, news articles, oral histories with more memories of Pearl Harbor, a YouTube video interview with Betty, and even a dramatic radio broadcast clip from the day of the attack, when the media was trying to reach the mainland with news of the attack.
We found all those sources via Google searching. And while we could go into great depth on how to find each of those kinds of sources (and I do, in resources such as my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox), in this article, I wanted to share some tips on finding old film footage online, using Betty as a case study. Think about how you might use these tips to look for old video or films related to your family history–and let me know what you find! I’d love to hear from you.
How to find old film footage online: 4 tips
1. Search for your topic on YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing website. My book The Genealogist’s Google Toolboxhas an entire chapter devoted to YouTube searches for family history, so I won’t go into great depth here. I will tell you to think of search terms that pertain to the family history stories you want to share: a person’s name, a place, an event in history, or even an occupation or industry. Enter those search terms at YouTube.com.
Betty lived in the 20th century and was recognized publicly for her work during her own lifetime. So there was a good chance that old film or video would exist about her. And they do! A YouTube search brought up video interviews with her, such as this one:
2. Repeat the searches on Google. YouTube searches can only bring up what’s actually been put on YouTube. Google searches are much wider, across millions of websites, and you may find some other wonderful resources. When your Google search results come up, click Videos to narrow your results:
You’ll have some duplication with results from YouTube. In the case of Betty McIntosh, I found two additional videos that didn’t come up on YouTube. One of them was at NBC News.com and the other was an hour-long interview on C-Span!
3. Run multiple searches on both Google and YouTube. Repeat your searches with various search parameters to broaden or narrow your results, or to capture different kinds of results. In Betty’s case, keywords such as spy and reporter were important to filter out unwanted results.
Remember that Google and YouTube aren’t specifically designed for searching for name variants like your favorite genealogy website is. So these sites may not recognize nicknames or other name variants, such as “Elizabeth” instead of “Betty.” Also search by surnames only, maiden and married names and even initials. Here’s a quick video tutorial I did on using asterisks to search for name variations on Google:
4. Pay attention to copyright restrictions if you want to share old film footage, such as if you’re making your own family history video. For example, I found these copyright restrictions for using C-Span video (noncommercial use is allowed and there’s even a handy video clipping tool right on the site if you want to clip part of it and save it).
Here’s a gem of a success story about using YouTube for family history. This woman found footage of her daddy racing his 1959 El Camino.
One of my favorite places to teach classes is at the Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree, where they know how to have a great time AND pack in top-notch family history learning.
Are Your Ancestors on YouTube?
Just before one of my sessions at the 2016 Jamboree, Robyn came up to me and introduced herself. Then she proceeded to accuse me of keeping her up all night!
It turns out that she had attended my class the day before on the subject of finding your family history on YouTube. The tips and examples I shared in that lecture came from chapter 14 of my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which is devoted to YouTube. The session inspired her to stay up late that night and try it herself.
It can seem so far-fetched buy medication canada legal when I first tell the audience that they might find amazing footage relating to their families on YouTube. But results don’t lie.
The Search on YouTube for Family History
Robyn reported a thrilling find! She searched YouTube for Cleves, Ohio:
“Up came a video that was Edgewater sports park, which was where my father drag-raced when I was a little girl,” she said. “There was a picture of him racing his 1959 El Camino! It was so exciting!”
It was a black and white video. She sent it to her brother to share–and came back to my class the next day to report her success and see what else she could try.
Thanks for sharing, Robyn! Here’s the video:
More Ideas for using YouTube for Family History
Want more inspiration and ideas for using YouTube for family history? Click the image below to read about 6 fantastic ways to use YouTube for family history!
Using YouTube for genealogy can be so effective partly because of who owns YouTube: Google!
In 2006, Google acquired YouTube, a video-sharing website, not long after it was launched. Ten years later, YouTube claims the attention of a billion people around the world: a third of all internet users. At last count, more than 300 hours of video footage are uploaded every minute to the site.
Why should genealogists care? For the same reason Susan Wojcicki wanted to buy YouTube. She was supervising Google Video acquisitions at the time of the purchase and is now the CEO of YouTube. According to this article, she watched the video shown below of teenage boys lip-syncing to a famous boy band. She doesn’t admit whether she enjoyed their groove, but she did say, “That was the video that made me realize that ‘Wow, people all over the world can create content, and they don’t need to be in a studio.'” Check it out–then keep reading.
Yes, YouTube makes it possible for anyone to share videos of all kinds, including genealogy-friendly content like:
Original footage of events all the way back to the invention of the movie camera.
Family history documentaries created by users that may include your family.
Instructional videos that will help you become a better researcher, create a family heirloom, or learn the latest genealogy software.
Video tours of archives, libraries, and other repositories that will help you prepare for and get the most out of your visit.
Interviews with genealogy experts and vendors.
Entertaining videos that add enjoyment to one of the world’s most popular hobbies.
Your family in other family’s home movies.
EVEN BETTER, Google’s acquisition of YouTube means you can use the same powerful search methodologies you use for Google searches to find YouTube content you want.
Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton didn’t really believe me when she read the YouTube chapter in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Then she tried it. She discovered a 1937 film news reel showing her husband’s great-grandfather driving his fire engine! (Click here to read about her discovery and about how she’ll never doubt me again, ha ha!)
Why not take five minutes now to see what YOU can find on YouTube for genealogy?
1. Look again at the list above or click here to read more details about family history content on YouTube. Choose a family line, location, brick wall, display or craft idea to search for.
3. Browse results. If you don’t find anything useful, widen your search or come at it from a different angle.
4. Try additional topics. Certainly DON’T give up after one search! Sunny’s discovery was made on her second topic–less than five minutes after trying a first topic and realizing she didn’t know enough about that family to recognize their lives in the cool footage she was finding. Instead, she searched YouTube for a man she knew a lot about-enough to recognize him in a video that didn’t name him.
To learn more in-depth how to use YouTube for genealogy, I invite you to read my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. The YouTube chapter helped Sunny find amazing family footage in less than five minutes–see what it can do for you!
Get inspired in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 129! You’ll hear about church records and YouTube for genealogy, locating hard-to-find records and–even better–locating ancestors’ parents.
How many ways can you think of to find family history? Lisa Louise Cooke can think of a lot–and she packs as many of them as possible into the newly-published Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #129.
In this members-only podcast, Lisa starts off with a rundown of some great new genealogy records online. I particularly enjoyed the back story she shares on the 1939 Register recently released by Findmypast for England and Wales.
Then Lisa tackles a tough two-part question that a listener sent in. We follow along with this listener’s progress in trying to track down an elusive record type. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t pan out. (Sound familiar?) So then it’s back to the drawing board with some follow-up Genealogy Gems advice and great feedback from yet another listener! I love how this show segment shows the inside process of multi-step research problems.
A segment on YouTube for family history follows. Lisa is so great at figuring out how to use everyday buy adhd medication online technologies and online resources for family history, and YouTube is no exception. I admit I was a bit skeptical the first time I read about searching YouTube for ancestors in Lisa’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, but I have since found some amazing things on YouTube. Don’t miss these tips!
Two guests join the show today. First is an exclusive Gems interview with Sabrina Riley, a Library Director at Union College. Sabrina oversees an archive of Seventh-Day Adventist church records and gives us great tips on using these (and other denominational records) for genealogy.
Then Diahan Southard chimes in with an insightful DNA commentary on when our DNA circles don’t necessarily result in family connections.
What a great lineup! If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium website member, sign in and then click here and start listening. If you’re not, click here to learn more about the benefits of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Listening to this exclusive podcast episode is just ONE of MANY benefits you’ll receive for an entire year!