I recently read Lisa Louise Cooke’s all-new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition. I use Google every day and this book has so many helpful new search tips! But I was skeptical about her chapter on finding your family history on YouTube. So skeptical that I immediately opened YouTube to prove her wrong. Can you guess how this ends?
Following one of her tips, I entered an ancestral hometown and state and the word “history.” The fourth search result made my mouth drop open:
This is a 1937 newsreel showing my husband’s great-grandfather, Andrew O’Hotnicky, driving his fire truck with his dog Chief! Though Andrew’s not named, I can prove it’s him. He was the driver at the Olyphant Hose Co #2 during this time. Photos of him match the driver’s face. I have stories and a newspaper clipping about his dog, Chief. A distant relative watched the newsreel and confirmed his identity–and said a young man riding on the side of the truck was Andrew’s son Bill.
My father-in-law buy medication for dogs never knew his grandfather Andrew, who died before he was born. Imagine how thrilled he was to watch that newsreel! I was just as thrilled to find it. I’ve spent years researching Andrew’s family (click hereto read an article about him).
My own tip: search YouTube for relatives you already know something about. That way you will recognize them (from pictures or stories) when you see them. A lot of old footage won’t have names with it. I had to know who I was looking at. Once you find something, tag it with your relative’s name. You never know who will connect with you that way (check out the comments section in the above video)!
What can you learn about YOUR family history on YouTube or anywhere in the Google world? Learn how to search widely, deeply and effectively online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.
I gave a presentation at RootsTech on using YouTube for family history. I got tons of excited feedback from people who didn’t realize a) how much internet users rely on YouTube as a source of information and b) how creatively we can share our family history there.
Katelyn Guderian, a reporter with the Deseret News (Utah), sent me an email afterward: “I genuinely enjoyed your presentation and the suggestions you offered. YouTube can seem overwhelming to users who aren’t familiar with how it works, and I think you did a nice job at making it seem manageable.” Even better, she shared a lot of my comments on using YouTube inthis news article. Here are my 6 tips for using YouTube for family history as she shared them in her article:
1. Identify your target audience: Who are you trying to reach? What do they specifically want to know?
2.Create usable content: Create videos that answer questions and bring insight to families.
3. Be authentic: Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Let your personality guide your posts, and people who like it will keep coming back.
4. Keep it short: Limit most videos to 3–5 minutes, with the longest posts being around 10. Leave your audience wanting more.
5. Keep it simple: Make your content direct and easy to understand. Leave your audience with a call to action.
6. Use proper lighting: If you are filming a new video, make sure to have light on your face to eliminate shadows. Audiences won’t watch something they can’t see. Try not to combine natural light with artificial light while on camera.
Thanks for the coverage and the positive comments, Katelyn!
Everyone can learn more about using YouTube for family history in a full chapter dedicated to the topic in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, fully revised and updated for 2015. There’s an entire chapter on YouTube, not just on using it to share your family history, but on researching your family history. Yep, that’s right–it’s possible to find some real gems on your family on YouTube, like historical video footage that tells you their story and may even include your relative.
YouTube for Family History! More Genealogy Gems for Making and Sharing Your Own Videos Online
It’s been a long time coming but worth the wait. Here’s a list of the features you will enjoy:
Improved search – New tools include auto-suggestion and the ability to browse for new videos while you watch
Faster Loading of videos – We like faster!
More Ways to Share Great Video Finds – Share a video on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, email or text message right from the YouTube app
Sleek New Design – YouTube Channel Guide allows you to swipe right to see new videos from all your favorite channels
More Videos – Tens of thousands of videos now unlocked for your phone
Still not convinced as a genealogist that you need the new app? Here are 5 reasons you should be using YouTube for family history research and to share your family’s stories:
#1 Learn More about Your Ancestor’s World
Search for clubs, businesses, events and other items that impacted your ancestors’s lives.
#2 Find Your Ancestors in Action
Ever since the Internet came on the scene, genealogists have been searching online for photos (or for the distant cousins possessing photos) of their family. Apply this strategy to YouTube and video. Click here to read about how a Genealogy Gems Podcast listener hit pay dirt by following this advice.
#3 Get Quick Answers to Your Genealogy Questions
Got a pressing question on how to fix your Ancestry tree to how to how to create crafty family history gifts? Videos on YouTube not only supply answers, but show you how. When you find a channel that you like, click the Subscribe button. This will set you up to be notified of new videos from that channel as soon as they are published. (Sign in to YouTube with your free Google account because, yep, Google owns YouTube.)
The Genealogy Gems Channel in the YouTube App
#4 Benefit from Genealogy Conferences from the Comfort of Your Home
Not everyone has the time or money to attend a genealogy conference. Conference organizers understand this and are harnessing the power of online video to bring key content to users where they are. To get started, check out the videos that feature popular conference speakers and the conference experience from channels like SCGS (Jamboree) by searching SCGSgenealogy in the app and NGS by searching NGSGenealogy.
#5 Learn New Techniques for Sharing Your Family History
Get crafty and creative with project ideas found on YouTube. Search for keywords such as photos, shadow boxes, quilting, scrapbooking, etc. I’ve set up a special playlist on the Genealogy Gems Channel called Family History Craft and Display Projects that is chock full of videos to get you started. Search “GenealogyGems” in the YouTube app or go directly to the playlist at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAE920F093159BD02
These are just a few ideas for using YouTube and the new YouTube app to enhance your family history adventures. Leave a comment and share the finds you have made.
Have you ever wondered if you are getting the most out of the Familysearch.org website? Now you can sit in on a video recording of the Association of PC Users Group Virtual Conference class called Using the FamilySearch.org Website for Genealogy Research