Join me for Elevenses with Lisa, the online video series where we take a break, visit and learn.
Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The movie Pride and Prejudice (2005) was filmed there. In my cup: Blueberry Merlot by Tea Forte Herbal Retreat. You can get it here at Amazon(This is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase we will be compensated at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this free show!)
How to Get Relatives Interested in Family History
For me Family and faith have always been the answer for life’s challenges and turmoil. In this hour together we will recharge and look at ways to positively influence our family, now and in the future.
Preparing Your Relatives Now
Focus on ways to make the results of your research understandable by non-genealogists and create those items now. Make it a priority to share your findings in creative and simple ways as you go to help relatives understand the value of your research to you and them. You will have much more success down the road if you help build understanding today.
Christmas Wreath and Crazy Quilt Christmas Stocking
Click here for the Genealogy Gems playlist that includes the 4 part instructional series on making these family history wreaths.
See all your options by Googling genealogy wall charts.
Embellished Picture Frames
Decorate an old picture frame with items reflecting the life of your ancestor featured in the photo.
Embellish an old photo frame with vintage items that help tell the story of your ancestor.
Family History Wall Art
Make wall art like the matte canvas photo I made in episode 6 of Elevenses with Lisa. The show notes for that episode includes details.
Posters from Family Photos
Get posters made of significant photos from the past. I ordered mine from Vista Print. If you sign up for a service’s newsletter you’ll likely get notification of sales and discount coupons. Poster frames can be ordered online through Amazon and stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.
Celebrate the history of your family members!
Tabletop Family Story Displays
I took an old locker and filled it with items reflecting my husband’s story. You could also use a small cabinet, crate, basket, etc.
Create short books that tell a single family history story.
Google Earth “Family History Tour”
Back in 2009 I pioneered a use for the free Google Earth program called “Family History Tours”. These tours take a little time but are fairly easy to create, and they make a big impact. You can download Google Earth Pro for free here. Then, watch my video below for a closer look at family history tours in Google Earth.
Resources for learning how to create family history tours:
Google Earth for Genealogy step-by-step tutorial video series by Lisa Louise Cooke. Now for a limited time get 25% off with coupon code EARTH11.
Turn Family History Photos into Eye-Catching Memes
I use the Retype app. (About $2.99)
Other free alternatives include apps like Adobe Spark Post or Over.
Add text to photos, customize the font and text color, and save. An easy way to access old family photos on your smartphone or tablet is to save copies of the photos to a free cloud service on your computer. Then open that app on your phone. Select a photo and save it to your device. Once the photo is in your Photos app, you can then open Retype and import that photo. Add text, font, color and more.
Apps can turn family history photos into social media image that generate conversation.
Create a Video that Tells a Story
It’s easier than ever to create videos, and no special skills are required. Video is the #1 type of content on the Web and with the next generation. Get instructions and ideas here at Genealogy Gems.
I trust all of my old home movies (8mm, VHS, mini DV, High-8, etc.) conversion and digitization to Larsen Digital. They do spectacular work! Click here for exclusive special discounts for Elevenses with Lisa fans!
The video below features one of my grandmother’s old home movies that Larsen Digital converted for me. And boy oh boy was I excited by what I discovered!
Elevenses with Lisa viewer Jillian T. shared how she is bringing family history into her home office:
“I have tried to tune in each week to your Genealogy Gems ‘Elevenses’ (which is 5 pm here in Ireland and therefore a perfect end to my workday). A few weeks ago, you shared how you found the photo of your husbands ancestors and through newspapers found out more about the musical troupe. You organized to have the photo printed on canvas and the finished project was wonderful.
I have always wishing to do a ‘family tree’ on the wall of my office but was afraid it would end up looking like an arts and crafts project. You gave me the kick I needed and decided, if not now, when?
So, I measured up the wall, researched and trawled through my vast collection of photos. I was very conscious that I have better historic photos on my ‘dads’ side with thanks to a wonderful elderly cousin who shares my passion. But as a genealogist, I wished to ensure I had balance and so decided only three photos from each ‘side’. I found a decal that was a good price (about $20) and the perfect size for my wall. I organised for the photos to be printed and mounted on canvas (more expensive but knew if the project didn’t work, I could find another use for the mounted photos).
It took a few weeks for everything to arrive, as you will see in the attached, I did the base of the tree first – we called it the haunted tree as we had to wait another week for the photos to arrive. Then we took time deciding on the placing of the photos and then added the leaves.
I am writing to say a huge thank you. I will have this lovely project to remind me of this time, and as I sit here and type, it is lovely to know my family ‘has my back’.
Thank you for your initiative of the weekly meet up. Your energy and enthusiasm are infectious. I met you at RootsTech in 2016 and have continued to follow you since. Thank you for all you do and to you and your family, let me share an old Irish blessing “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
Warmest wishes, Stay smart, Jillian”
Jillian’s ancestors “have her bacK” in her office!
Gayle P. shares some of the ways she protects her family history from destruction.
“I have organized many things into books. My living room is my grandma’s family history room and some of my grandchildren love to look through things. However, when I ask if they would be interested in having certain books, they ask me, “Grama, why don’t you scan it and give me a flash drive or CD.” I decided to give memory flash drives for Christmas presents. I feel relieved that I have several backups.
For example, while my son was serving a two-year mission in Germany, 1990-1992, he wrote faithfully every week. 30 years later, he is now working for the Air Force in Germany close to where he served his mission.
I scanned his letters and pictures he sent to me, organized them in books and sent them to him. His children enjoy the scanned version of his memoirs. He plans on revisiting many of the areas where he served 30 years ago. He wrote four simple words that brought many tears: “Mom, thank you forever.”
Another example is I have scanned and organized my pictures by years and share many of these years with my family. Over Memorial Day, my daughter-in-law was in a panic because she could not retrieve her 2012 pictures. She called and asked if I could share my 2012 pictures. Within a short time, I was able to scan about 5000 pictures I had for that year and share with her. I had many, many pictures of her daughter and her family. Another “thank you forever” brought tears to my eyes.
I currently have over 500,000 pictures/documents scanned and have three personal backups. I am still have a lot to scan and probably will not get everything scanned before I die, but I am sharing what I have now so I know that some of my family will have a copy of my most treasured work and memories.
Scanning and sharing a ton in Idaho, Gayle”
Now there’s a woman who doesn’t need a “round tuit”, and who is definitely a positive influence on her family!
Cathy G wrote a comment to ask about the templates I use for my notebook covers and spines.
“Wonderful shows – really enjoying the elevenses. Such good information always. Especially enjoyed the ones on organizing paper and hard drive database. More please. One quick question: you mentioned printing your own binder covers and spines – can’t find a template in my Word program. Can you direct us to the one you use? Thanks.”
I’m happy to share my simple yet effective templates for the covers and spines on my notebooks. Genealogy Gems Premium members can now download these from the Resources section of the Elevenses with Lisaepisode 6 show notes.
Gayle has been hard at work creating family history notebooks.
Watch My Free Presentation
Watch my free Facebook Live presentation of Fabulous Photo Discoveries at MyHeritage.
I hope you enjoyed the ideas presented in this episode, and that you take action on at least one of them. It may be just what your relatives need to see the family history clearer.
That being said, even if no one else in your family cares right now or wants your genealogy, It’s ok. We’ve done all we can and the rest is out of our control.
If genealogy has brought You joy, sharpened your mind, given you countless hours of amusement, connection, and satisfaction, then it’s all been worth it! No one can take that away from you.
And the way I look at it, when we get to heaven we’ll know a lot more people!
Next Episode of Elevenses with Lisa
Episode 12 will air Live on June 18, 2020 at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. After the live show, the episode will be available as a video. Show notes will be published on June 19.
Click the video above to Set your reminder for episode 12, or click here. Please be sure to click our channel’s Subscribe button while you’re there. Then click the Notifications bell to so you’ll know when we post new videos and episodes.
Subscribe and watch at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel
Click the bell too!
Stay smart and stay brave! Thanks so much for watching friend. I’ll talk to you soon.
Will you please do me a favor and take this quick 3 question survey about the show? Thanks!
(UPDATED April 14, 2020 to reflect the show is moving from Facebook to YouTube LIVE)
What’s even better than listening to a genealogy podcast? Watching and listening to a genealogy online show! Elevenses with Lisa is the new online video series by author and international genealogy speaker and host of The Genealogy Gems Podcast, Lisa Louise Cooke. In this article you’ll learn what the show is about, how to watch live and how to watch the replay videos, how to set up reminders so you don’t miss an episode, and an easy way to share it with your friends so they can watch with you.
A New Online Show About Genealogy and Family History
As my world, like yours, started getting physically smaller last month, I became determined to branch out in different ways. I started by making a list of things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Some of them I had felt a little intimidated by, and some had fallen prey to a lack of time. So, it felt great this week to take one head on and give it my best shot.
And that’s how Elevenses with Lisa, a LIVE online show, came to be.
I tried one or two quick Facebook LIVE’s several years ago. Back then the system seemed unreliable and a bit frustrating. Revisiting it this week I discovered it is more complex on the back end, and yet far more stable. In addition to forcing myself to sit down and really figure it out, I also took on learning a new software program that would bring the production-values I felt you deserved.
The Show is Available on YouTube (Live & Video)
After the third episode I decided to move the show from Facebook to YouTube. It makes more sense for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel is already very well established, and an account is not required to watch. (That being said, signing into YouTube with your free Google account will make it even easier to follow the show and receive notifications of new episodes. More on that below.)
Elevenses is a lovely traditional short morning tea break, and we make it sweeter by adding genealogy.
It all came together very quickly and on Thursday March 26, 2020 many of you joined me live. If you missed it click the video above to watch it on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel or click the video above.
Elevenses with Lisa is a 30 minute break to check in with each other and chat about genealogy. In this show I share some of my favorite tips and tools that I use while Googling for family history.
Amazingly it came off without a hitch, and candidly I had a blast!
In episode 1 I asked you if you’d like to see more in this series, and your responses have warmed my heart!
After watching the show on YouTube Tracey commented: Thank you so much for this Lisa! I would love to see anything that you would like to share with us. I find your work to be incredibly helpful and I just love listening to you – it’s like you’re an old friend. Your tips make me look like a genius which I also appreciate!!! Thank you💛
Mark Your Calendar for “Elevenses with Lisa” (Live on YouTube)
Episodes will air live on Thursdays at 11:00 AM Central on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Mark your calendars!
If you use Google Calendar, set it up once for this Thursday, and then change it to “Weekly”. (Image 1) You can also set notifications to remind you just before the show starts. Select email, “notification” (which will pop up in your web browser), or both!
Image 1 – Set your Google calendar for Elevenses with Lisa
How to Tune In to the Live Show
If Youtube is new to you, joining me for the live show might feel like a bit of a stretch. Well, I have good new for you, it’s actually super easy to tune in. Here’s how:
1. Put it on your calendar
Click here to figure out what time 11:00 am Central is in your time zone.
2. Go to the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel
Click here to go to the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel (or just search “Genealogy Gems” in the YouTube search box.)
Although a YouTube/Google account is not required to watch the show, I strongly recommend signing into YouTube with your free Google account. The reason is that it will allow you to customize what you see to your liking when you visit YouTube, and it will allow you to subscribe to my channel for free and receive notifications of episodes and videos.
If you don’t have a Google account, go to Google.com and click the Sign In button. If you don’t have a Google account you’ll be prompted to create one. Once created, sign into YouTube with that same account. (Image 2)
Image 2 – At Google.com click “Sign in” and you will be prompted to sign in with your Google account or set one up.
3. Look for the Live show on my Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel
Another great thing about having the show on YouTube is that I can schedule episodes ahead of time and you can receive reminders to watch.
Now that you’re logged into YouTube, when you arrive at the Genealogy Gems channelyou can click the Subscribe button. (Image 3) This will put the Genealogy Gems channel in your list of favorite channels. And that means when you visit YouTube you’ll probably see more about my videos and other genealogy videos, and less about things you’re not interested in.
Image 3 – Subscribe and watch at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel
After you click Subscribe a bell icon will appear. (image 4) Click the bell to receive notifications of new videos I publish on the channel.
Image 4 – Click the bell icon for notifications.
The first video will be my featured video. Below that you’ll find “Newest Videos”. The next scheduled “Elevenses with Lisa” episode will appear at the top of the list of videos. Click the “Set Reminder” button for the episode. (Image 3) This will send you a special notification when the show is about to go live.
4. Come back when we go live.
Click the link in your notification and it will take you back to the live episode on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. You will see the introductory image or video with background music until we go live. Then you’ll automatically see the video live stream. If you don’t after 11:00 Central, try refreshing the page.
You don’t have to do anything but have your speakers on. If you don’t hear sound, click the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of the video to turn the sound on.
5. Leave a comment or question
In addition to sharing ideas, I hope to spend some time interacting with you. The video chat is the place to leave your comment or question. Your comments and questions are my favorite part of doing the show!
6. Watch later
If you miss the live broadcast or want to see it again, watch the replay here on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel (Image 5). The most recent videos appear first.
Image 5 – Elevenses with Lisa on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel
Click the episode to watch. To find all the episodes just click “Playlists” and then click “Elevenses with Lisa” (Image 6):
Image 6 – Elevenses with Lisa Playlist
You can leave comments and questions under each video on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. It’s your feedback that helps me determine what we’ll talk about and how often to produce the show. If you like it, please be sure to click the “Like” button. Remember, this is a two-way conversation show!
7. Share with Your Friends
Will you please do me a favor and help me get the word out about “Elevenses with Lisa”? If you’re enjoying the show, you are the perfect person to let other family historians know about your find. I’m keeping the show free, so there’s no money for advertising to spread the word. I’m dependent on and grateful for your help! It’s easy – just click “Share” under the next scheduled episode or any previously recorded episode. (Image 7) Sharing is fun because you can visit with your friends as you watch in the Chat area.
Image 7 – Please share Elevenses with Lisa
You’ll find lots of options for sharing the show. (Image 8)
Image 8 – Youtube sharing options.
Everyone likes a good cup of tea (or coffee, or…), a snappy tech tip, and learning ways to be more productive and inspired, right? I hope you’ll consider even sharing “Elevenses with Lisa” with your friends who say they’re not interested in genealogy. You never know, they might just get interested in family history.
Thank you for sharing Genealogy Gem’s “Elevenses with Lisa”!
Questions or Comments about Elevenses with Lisa?
Being couped up at home doesn’t mean we can’t stretch our wings. Thank you for helping me stretch mine! If you have any questions about how to tune in, or you have a question you’d like me to answer on the show, please leave a comment below.
Family history can be found in many places. We turn to steadfast repositories such as libraries, archives and historical societies. And these days we can also search online at free genealogy websites like FamilySearch, and subscription websites like MyHeritage and Ancestry. All have something unique to offer.
Most importantly, we start our search at home, talking to our oldest relatives and combing through old family papers. We then turn our attention to the family photo albums and scrapbook on the bookshelf, and old home movies if we are lucky enough to have them.
The great news is that the closets in your home are not the only place where you can potentially find old film footage pertaining to your family’s past. The largest online video repository in the world is YouTube (which is owned by Google), and it is the perfect place to look for film. That’s why I’m so excited to share some of my YouTube search strategies from my new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 3rd Edition. These strategies can help you find old home movies (from your family or someone else’s family that came in contact with your family), news and newsreel films, documentaries, amateur and professional film footage, and countless other subjects that can shed more light on your family’s history.
How to Find Family History on YouTube in 5 Steps
Does finding your family history on YouTube sound unlikely? Believe me, it’s not. YouTube is a treasure trove if you know how to search it. Here are 5 steps from my Google Search Methodology for Genealogy and how to apply them specifically to YouTube.
Step #1. Create a Search Plan
Just like genealogy research, successful Googling, even on YouTube, requires a plan. Rather than searching willy-nilly, take a few moments to determine what it is you hope to find. Having a search plan will save you a lot of time and frustration!
The key to a good research question and plan is to be specific. This means that instead of just searching for family names or places, you have a specific event, place, and / or time frame in mind.
Below is a great example of searching with a specific plan in mind that I received from one of my Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners a while back. I have bolded the keywords that she incorporated into her YouTube search.
From Carol K.: “I really enjoyed (Genealogy Gems) Podcast (episode) #223, particularly the segment with David Haas MD. (Editor’s note: that episode covers Dr. Haas’ vast collection of old home movies and his quest to upload them all to YouTube.)
I had tried researching YouTube for something about my family, including where they settled in Connecticut. I had not come up with much when I decide to search my dad’s ship, The USS Tuscaloosa (Image 1).
Image 1: Carol’s father, Mario Ponte, served on the USS Tuscaloosa
My dad, Mario Ponte, served in the Navy from 1936-1939 (Image 2).
Image 2: Mario DaRin Ponte beside the USS Tuscaloosa – July 27, 1937
I knew he had been on a Goodwill South American Cruisein1939 (Image 3) as he talked about it often and I even have the Cruise Book from that voyage.
image 3: U.S.S. Tuscaloosa South American Good Will Cruise route April – June 1939
On a goodwill tour of South America in 1939, three US cruisers found little goodwill in this angry sea. Newsreel cameras aboard the USS San Francisco recorded this epic struggle of the ships which included the USS Quincy and USS Tuscaloosa.
I don’t recall my father ever mentioning this to me, but my husband said he had heard the story. I only wish my dad were here to share this memory with me. At least, I have been able to share this treacherous event with many in my family.
When you see the tossing, turning and huge waves in the video, I feel they were lucky to have survived. Just think, if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here to tell this story today.
Thanks Lisa and David. I’m now convinced that YouTube can be used for genealogy and to add to our stories.”
Carol’s fascinating success can be directly tied to the fact that she developed a research plan focused on specific information.
2. Craft Your YouTube Search Query
As you can see, Carol didn’t just search YouTube for her Dad’s name. In fact, unless your ancestor was famous in some way, that is likely not a strategy that will pay off.
Instead, she assembled the pertinent information and used that in her query. Here are the keywords and phrases I pulled from her email:
The USS Tuscaloosa
Goodwill South American Cruisein1939
Navy from 1936-1939
I included her dad’s name in this list because it never hurts to run your ancestor’s name through a search just in case something pops up. You never know what might be on YouTube. For example, perhaps a childhood friend has uploaded an old home movie to YouTube and named him as being in the movie too!
When conducting your initial YouTube search, include all the important information. If the results are unsatisfactory, you can always remove or add search terms. Since we can’t be sure what if anything is on YouTube pertaining to our research subject, we have to be flexible, and that means expecting to run several variations of our search. We’ll talk more about that in step 3.
In Carol’s case, her research plan was focused on finding a video pertaining to the U.S.S. Tuscaloosa’s Goodwill cruise that her father participated in. She could start with a search such as:
USS Tuscaloosa Goodwill South American Cruise in 1939
The results for this search query are excellent and include the video that Carol found:
Image 4: YouTube search for family history
3. Analyze Your YouTube Search Results
Even though these results successfully delivered the video that satisfied our research plan, we would miss tremendous opportunity if we didn’t take a few extra moments to further analyze the results. You never know what else might be out there!
Here are just a few of the things you should be looking for when reviewing your YouTube results:
LOOK FOR: Should I be more specific in my search query?
Look at our search results (Image 4 above). What stands out to me is that there appear to be many different videos on YouTube about war time ships and cruisers. This is great for family historians, but it means that there are more results to look through than we might have expected.
As you have probably experienced in the past, not all the words in our search query are included in every search result we receive. There is a way to quickly and easily find only videos that specifically mention the words and phrases we want to find. By putting quotation marks around “U.S.S. Tuscaloosa” we can tell YouTube to only give us videos that mention that exact phrase.
When Google searching (and Google is the search engine under the hood of YouTube), quotation marks function as a search operator. They tell Google specific instructions about what to do with our word or phrase. In this case, they tell Google that the phrase is mandatory, and must appear exactly as typed and spelled. The one exception is the periods in U.S.S. Generally speaking, Google disregards punctuation, so it ignores the periods. It doesn’t matter whether you include them or not.
It is important to note that operators don’t always work as consistently in YouTube as they do in regular searches at Google.com. That being said, it’s great to have a variety of tools that we can use to improve our searches, and they are definitely worth a try. My book includes a wide range of additional search operators and how to use them.
Running a second search on “USS Tuscaloosa” opens many new video opportunities (Image 5):
Image 5: Search results for a query containing the quotation marks search operator.
This search not only includes the 1939 tour, but also other videos of the ship that may also be applicable to the family’s history. As you can see, sometimes less words in a search is more!
LOOK FOR: What do the unwanted video results have in common? Sometimes you may notice that you are receiving many results that are not a good match for what you are looking for. When this happens, take a look at your results and try to come up with words that are associated with the unwanted videos, and have no relevance to your goal.
Image 6 (below) is an example of search results in YouTube for the following query:
USS Tuscaloosa Goodwill Cruise in 1939
Image 6: Identify unwanted videos and words in the YouTube search results
While the results page includes a few good matches, it also includes current videos about quarantines on ships which is a viral topic at the time of this writing. Since these are not applicable to our search plan, we will want to eliminate them, and we will do that in Step 4.
4. Improve Upon Your YouTube Search Results
In a case like the one above (Image 6) where you are receiving several video results not applicable to your research goal, you can try literally subtract the unwanted words that you identified in Step 3 from your search. In most cases, this should remove the videos that contain those words in their title or description.
To do this, use the minus sign (-) search operator in conjunction with the word. Here’s an example of how we can do that with this search:
USS Tuscaloosa Goodwill Cruise in 1939 -quarantine
This search will remove the results that mention quarantine.
You can subtract multiple words from your query if you wish. Each word should have a minus sign touching it, and there should be a space between each subtracted word as in this example:
USS Tuscaloosa Goodwill Cruise in 1939 -quarantine -princess -coronavirus
Googling, whether at YouTube, Google.com or any of the other free Google tools, is an art form, not a black and white science. We need to try variations in order to learn from what works and what doesn’t. To reach our goals, we need to try adding in more of what we want, and removing what we don’t want. In this case I would also try adding to my query that that cruise was in South America, and that the phrase USS Tuscaloosa is mandatory. Here’s what that search query would look like:
“USS Tuscaloosa” Goodwill South American Cruise in 1939 -quarantine
Remember, we’re not going for perfect results, we’re mining all the different “veins” in the YouTube gold mine by running multiple versions of the same basic query. Feel free to experiment with mixing and matching keywords and operators. The results may be worth it!
Learn more about Google Search operators in my video:
GOOGLE GURU TIP: Conduct each variation of your search in a new browser tab. This allows you to compare the results side-by-side while retaining each query, making it easy to return to the queries that are performing the best.
You can also potentially improve upon your YouTube search results by using the Tools button to reveal the secondary filter menu. (Image 7)
Image 7: Click “Filter” to reveal the YouTube search filter options
These filters won’t prove useful in every case, but they do offer some handy options for narrowing the scope of your search.
5. Capitalize on Your Results
When you find a video that meets your research goals, there’s a good chance that the person or company that uploaded and published the video (publishers are called “Creators” by YouTube) may have more videos on that subject. Here’s a quick and easy way to find out.
On the video page, you will see the name of the Creator right below the video in the left corner. (Image 9)
Image 9: More videos found on YouTube
Click the YouTube Creator’s name. This will take you to their YouTube channel. Every Creator who has published a video has a YouTube channel. It’s sort of like their own home page for their videos. There you will be able to see and search any additional videos they have published. Click Videos to see all their videos. (Image 10)
Image 10: More videos on the Creator’s YouTube channel
If the channel has a lot of videos, click Playlists in the channel’s menu to see how they are grouped by topic. You can also search the channel for keywords and phrases by clicking the small magnifying glass icon on the far right end of the menu.
A Bright Future for Family History on YouTube
In Step 3 we analyzed the search results for Carol’s YouTube search. Let’s take another look at those results:
Image 8: Over time new videos are uploaded to YouTube waiting to be found.
It’s interesting to note that in addition to the video that Carol found which was published 4 years ago, another video on this topic was published a year later.
It’s estimated that more than 500 hours of video is being uploaded to YouTube every minute. This is up from the 400 hours per minute announced in 2015 by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Among that vast storehouse of film footage I’ve found countless videos that have enhanced my family’s story. And readers just like you email me the gems they unearth. I love receiving these success stories. Thank you to Carol for sharing hers! If you make an exciting discovery using these strategies please share them in the Comments. It will inspire us all to continue our search.
The bottom line is that the potential for finding your family history on YouTube grows dramatically minute by minute, so don’t wait another minute!
We begin this YouTube journey with the historical footage of the funeral procession of Hiram Cronk. Cronk was the last known surviving veteran of the War of 1812 when he died in 1905, at the age of 105. The clip found on YouTube shows row after row of marching men passing by on the screen. A YouTube comment identifies them as “Civil War veterans in their 60s [and] Mexican-American War veterans in their 80s.” Another comment identifies the last group of marching soldiers as re-enactors wearing War of 1812 soldier’s uniforms.
In fact, YouTube offers us many opportunities to see the faces and actions of earlier generations of soldiers. Have you seen the famous footage of the storming of the beaches at Normandy? It’s on YouTube!
After sharing our last post, The Faces of U.S. Military Veterans through the Centuries, I received a comment from Stephen, a Genealogy Gems reader. Stephen’s father served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was in the Aleutian Islands. That caught my eye because my father-in-law also served in the Aleutian Islands. It was a challenging landscape in which to serve, which is evident in the YouTube video I found online.
Aleutian Islands WWII Campaign: Combat runs over Kiska, Alaska
There are other military history gems found on YouTube you may never have expected to see. This next video is a collection of early combat photos beginning in 1863 with the U.S. Civil War. The creator of this video gave some background on combat photography. He said:
“The first war photography took place in the Mexican-American War by an anonymous photographer, but it wasn’t until the American Civil War that the first combat photos were taken…The limitations posed by the time and complexity it took to take a photo in the mid-to-late 1800’s made it difficult to obtain images during battles, but a few of naval actions did emerge. There was also not a tradition of journalists and artists putting their lives on the line for an image. The overall amount of combat photography before World War I was small, but a few images did emerge from a few courageous and pioneering people. By the time of World War I, governments saw the value in having large numbers of photographers to document conflicts for propaganda purposes and improved camera technology allowed combat photographers to routinely capture most iconic images of many conflicts.”
What was it like to live in the Tudor age or the 1940s? Would you rather “watch” the answer or “read” it? Well, you can do both with these popular BBC historical documentary series and their companion books.
Ruth Goodman is known to BBC watchers as the woman who brings history to life in several documentary series. They’re all re-creations of rural life in a certain time period: the Tudor era, Victorian era, Edwardian era (which many of us know better as the Downton Abbey era) and even World War II. All of the series have episodes you can watch on YouTube for free. A couple of them also have companion books that give you the nitty-gritty–sometimes literally–in print.
Time for a little binge-watching (or reading!)! Below, you will find a sample episode from each series, along with the companion book and a link to watch more episodes on YouTube.
Tudor Monastery Farm
Tudor Monastery Farm is the official companion volume to the series. You’ll follow Ruth and her co-stars “as they discover how to build a pigsty, brew their own ale, forge their own machinery, and keep a Tudor household. Scrupulously researched, totally authentic, and with its own contemporary narrative playing out within an accurate reconstruction of Tudor England, this is a fantastic glimpse into history, as it was lived.”
Ruth’s more scholarly How to Be a Tudor riveted me–and I didn’t expect it to. My historical imagination doesn’t generally extend that far back in time. Ruth captured the little things that are so big like what it’s like not to bathe, how the food tastes, and how itchy the clothes are. When she waxed rapturous about studying a suit of clothing that was several hundred years old and falling apart in an archive, I felt an almost primal connection. I get that way about old documents. I’m just saying.
How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life is another critically-acclaimed “manual for the insatiably curious” by the “historian who believes in getting her hands dirty.” This time she reveals Victorian life (the mid and late 1800s) from daybreak to bedtime. Again, the devil and the delightful are in the details: how they got dressed, how and when and what they ate, and what work they did. I’m guessing nobody skips the chapters on the trip to the privy or “behind the bedroom door.”
“If variety is the spice of life, then Edwardian rural life has proved to be one heck of a curry.” -Ruth Goodman
In this series and the Edwardian Farm book, Ruth and her intrepid co-time-travelers live in England’s West Country as if it’s the turn of the twentieth century. At the time this was “a commercially prosperous region—a stunning rural landscape encompassing rolling farmland, wild moorland, tidal river, coast, and forest, which supported a vibrant and diverse economy.” The hosts spend a year “restoring boats, buildings, and equipment; cultivating crops; fishing; rearing animals; and rediscovering the lost heritage of this fascinating era as well as facing the challenges of increasingly commercial farming practices, fishing, and community events.”
During World War II, Britain couldn’t import much produce or other foodstuff as they were accustomed, so residents had to grow it themselves or go without. The series and the book Wartime Farm reveal “how our predecessors lived and thrived in difficult conditions with extreme frugality and ingenuity. From growing your own vegetables and keeping chickens in the back yard, to having to ‘make do and mend’, many of the challenges faced by wartime Britons have resonance today.”