Premium Member of the Week: Nina Gafni


 Nina Gafni 


Officially, I’ve been doing German and German Jewish genealogy for almost a year. Unofficially, I’ve been doing it my whole life. I was always the one who raided my grandmother’s photo albums and wanted to know all about the family history.


The handwriting class and premium membership have been a godsend both on a personal and professional level. I am a professional translator (French, German,  and Italian into English). Genealogy is a big part of my business. That said, as any good translator knows, having other people around to question is crucial to success. Since old handwriting can be tricky to read, you want to get that much-needed second opinion. After all, you want to give your client the best possible translation. 
On a more personal note, I have been working for some time to connect various family branches. My cousin and I have been trying to figure out exactly how we are related. The key is the degree of cousinship between her father, an Austrian Holocaust survivor whose journey took him from Vienna to France, England, Canada, and finally back to Austria, and my great-grandmother. For many years, my cousin’s father would not talk about his past. When he finally did, his memory was a bit shaky. My cousin and I have used many different means to track down potential relatives. A chance finding of what is most likely my great-grandmother’s birth certificate provided some clues as to other relationships. The premium membership proved invaluable in helping me to decipher the antiquated spelling. Who knew I had an ancestor who was a toll collector, and another who was a shop assistant? 

4. What’s One Piece of Genealogy Advice You’d Give to Others?

 I think the most important bit of advice is to check everything. Talk to your family members and get their stories. If you can write these stories down or record them, that’s even better. Documenting your family history is especially important when you come from a family with a lot of common first and last names. I have my tree on I love it when Ancestry sends me hints. However, you really need to check this against your own documentation. Otherwise, you could end up accidentally adding the wrong Edward Goldberg to your family tree. 

German Church Records Webinar: Friday, May 1

I am very excited to have been asked to be a part of the Vivid-Pix Webinar Series this Friday! This webinar series, sponsored by Dan Earl, is designed to help you learn from some of genealogy’s leading experts and get “round to” getting your old photos, documents, and genealogy life in order. In my talk, I will teach you all about German church records – amazing treasure troves of information for genealogists. I hope to see you there! 

I first met Dan at RootsTech a few years ago. Since then, he has very kindly included me in his video interviews and even highlighted my new book The Magic of German Church Records in his  post Best of the RootsTech Vendor Hall at this past conference (back when we could still go to conferences…how long ago that seems!). I’m excited to continue working with him this coming Friday. I hope you’ll join us!

From Dan: 

We are living in an unprecedented time in the world’s history. Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic many people are feeling anxious and stressed and are looking for ways to connect. Experts suggest that limiting the amount of news we watch and creating new habits can help cope with stress. The Vivid-Pix “Round Tuit” web series can help those new to genealogy create new habits and is a fun and relaxing alternative to the nightly news. The series is broadcast live each Tuesday and Friday, and if the time doesn’t work for you, they’re available to watch later, anytime, anyplace.

This series is unlike any other webinar you have been to, in so many good ways. Rather than just sit through a fifty to sixty-minute lecture feverishly taking notes and hoping you don’t miss anything, this series allows you to learn from, laugh with, and get to know the speakers like never before. You will still get to listen to them teach you, but for a much more manageable thirty to forty-minutes. Have you ever wanted to know what advice your favorite speaker would give themselves if they could travel back in time to the first day they started doing genealogy? Want to find out what is still on their “genealogy bucket list?” What about the last book they read? The Vivid-Pix “Round Tuit” series will help you learn all of this and more.

Vivid-Pix, the sponsor for this series, offers their RESTORE image improvement software which utilizes their patented Artificial Intelligence to automatically bring your old, faded, sepia, black and white or color photos and documents back to life. So, head to to register for a live event or to purchase a past event and download the Vivid-Pix RESTORE software while you’re there so you can give your old photos and documents the Vivid-Pix Fix!

Hope you can join us!

Premium Member of the Week: Debra Hoffman






Debra Hoffman


I have been researching my German ancestors for over 40 years. My Grandmother Ruth Lindenmeyer inspired me as a young girl by telling me stories about them and encouraging me to research my family history. 


One way the Premium Membership has helped me advance my genealogical research is through the educational articles.


My favorite story is finding a special postcard at a local antique store. As I wandered through the store, I came across a postcard. When I picked it up and turned it over, I was shocked to see that it had been sent to my Great-Grandfather Roland Stolzenbach by his brother Howard in 1909. I considered it my postcard from heaven!

5. What’s One Piece of Genealogy Advice You’d Give to Others?

Research is not about looking up your ancestors, but rather tracking them down.

Premium Member of the Week: James M. Beidler






James M. Beidler


36 years


I don’t always tune into the “Ask the Translator” hour but I always read the “after summary” … every week I learn a few new words that may be useful in the future!


I was historian of the Daub family reunion and had corresponded with a historian of the same surname from Germany (less than 10 km from our Daub ancestral village) … I had invited him to come visit America thinking I had a year to prepare but his wife called me one morning to tell me her husband was arriving in 3 days! We all became friends and have exchanged visits ever since!

Photo: Me and Rudolf “Rudi” Daub, a distant German cousin, on the front page of the Daub Family Reunion’s newsletter after his first visit to America.

5. What’s One Piece of Genealogy Advice You’d Give to Others?

Be humble on your genealogy journey because you often know less than you think, especially about the history and circumstances that were different in your ancestors’ eras. Avoid ‘presentism’ … Challenge your assumptions!


Below is the entire story of the Daub Reunion:

How to Use Google Drive For Your Genealogy Research: 7 Questions with Expert Lianne Kruger

Thank you to Lianne for this guest post and sharing her expertise with us. For more information on Lianne, see her bio below, or check out her blog here:

1. How Can Google Drive Help With My Genealogy?

  • Back-Up: All of your important genealogy files (such as documents, photos, and letters) should be in three locations: your computer, a USB drive, and somewhere online (that way, if something happens to one, you haven’t lost all your valuable documents!). Google Drive is a good location for the online component.
  • Global Access: Google Drive allows you to access your genealogy files from anywhere, on any device, as long as you have an internet connection.
  • Sharing: Google Drive allows you to share your genealogy files and photos with family members. You can give your family the ability to add information to the documents themselves, or simply just view them if you prefer to maintain control yourself.

2. How Do I Access Google Drive?

  1. If you have a Google e-mail, you already have Google Drive. If you don’t have one yet, you can easily create one here.
  2. Once your Google e-mail is set up, open your web browser.
    1. Type in
    2. Log in to Google using the username and password setup when you created the account. Do not use the full Google email.
    3. In the top right of the page are 9 dots. This is a menu.
      Click on the dots.
    4. Select Google Drive.

3. How Do I Create a New Genealogy File in Google Drive?

If you want to write something within Google Drive, such as a family history or research log, take the following steps:

  1. From the main menu of Google Drive, click + New.

2. Select the program you want to use. For genealogical purposes, Google Docs is great for writing your family history, and Google Sheets is helpful if you are creating an inventory list or a research log. (If the program you want is not on the first list, simply click More, as shown in the image above).

3. Type your new document title at the top left of the screen.

4. Start writing down your genealogical data. Your document will be automatically saved every few minutes.

4. How Do I Upload Genealogy Files That Are Already On My Computer?

Some of your genealogy files may already be stored on your computer. You can easily upload these from your computer to your Google Drive by following the steps below:

1. Click New.

2. Click File upload.

3. Find the file on your computer and click upload. It will then be saved on your drive.

5. How Do I Create a Folder to Group Certain Genealogy Documents Together?

If you are working with multiple lines, it may be nice to group certain documents together in one place. To do so:

  1. Click New.

2. Click Folder.

3. The following window will then appear:

4. Type in the name for the folder.

(This name might be a last name for a specific line or a certain location, depending on what you are going to store and how you are grouping your items).

5. Click Create.

6. I’ve Uploaded Many Genealogy Documents. How Do I View All My Saved Files and Folders on Google Drive?

There are two ways to view files and folders: the view list and the grid list.

This is a view list:

This is a grid list:

You can choose which option works best for you.

Google Drive will also show you a “Recent List”. This is found above the grid or list views.

If you don’t like the recent list at the top, you can remove it by taking the following steps:

  1. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Make sure General is selected on the left.
  4. Scroll down (bar on the right) until you can see the section Suggestions.
  5. Click inside the box to remove the check mark for “Make relevant files handy when you need them in Quick Access.”

The Quick Access section will now no longer appear at the top.

You can still view this list at anytime after closing the list at the top with the following steps:

  1. On the main menu on the left, click Recent.

Recent files are listed in date categories such as Last week, Earlier this month, and Earlier this year.

7. Is It Possible to Search For A File By Name or Subject Matter?

Yes, it is. To find a file in your Google Drive:

  1. Click in the
    Search box at the top of the screen.

2. Type in the name of a file or a phrase inside the file that you are looking for.

3. A list of files that have the text as a title or text inside that file will appear.


In conclusion, Google Drive can be extremely helpful for your genealogy research. In addition to giving you peace of mind with back-up options for your files, you can also easily share letters, photos, census records, newspaper clippings and more with your family and friends. Best yet, you can also access them yourself at any library, archive, or any place of your choosing.

Do you use Google Drive? Any tips for other users? Let us know in the comments!

Lianne began doing genealogy as a youth with family at graveyards, then as a teenager with a list of names in front of a microfilm reader on Saturdays at a Family History Library. At college she began researching her paternal grandmother’s line researching back to the first European landowners of Canada.

Lianne taught genealogical courses five years at LDS Institute in Ogden, Utah. She has spoken at genealogical conferences and sessions for RootsTech, Ontario Genealogical Society, The Genealogy Show (UK), FamilyRoots, Saskatchewan, and variety of locations in Alberta. Lianne has articles published by BYU Studies Quarterly magazine,, SK Translation, AGS Relatively Speaking and Tree Climber. 

She has done webinars for The Surname Society, Virtual Genealogical Society, Red Deer Family History Fair, and a panelist for Looking 4 Ancestors.

She was President of Red Deer branch of Alberta Genealogical Society (AGS) for two years and Vice President of AGS for six years. She is now on the advisory committee and a member of the mitoYDNA board.

Lianne’s blog is

Check out Lianne’s other popular guest post: How to Use Social Media in Your German Genealogy Research

Premium Member of the Week: Maria Mueller

Introducing the new Premium Member of the Week – 

a fun way to get to know the SK Translations 

Premium Member Community!


1. What’s your name?

Maria Mueller



2. How long have you been doing German genealogy?


I have been researching the German side of my family for about 6 years. My father Oswald Müller was born in Fagaras, Romania. So far I have traced back his mother’s family back to Austrian Silesia and have a fairly large tree for her. On the other hand, his father’s ancestors are still a mystery to me.
I grew up speaking German at home and ever so grateful to be able to read the old documents. I would often get stuck, though, because of the bad handwriting, and unknown words or abbreviations.



3. How has the Premium Membership helped your research?


This Premium membership was exactly what I was looking for. I use to struggle for hours trying to figure out words. Katherine has provided the tools needed to decipher my documents and along with her individual help, my unknowns are being solved. I have already learned so much from Katherine and I look forward to improving my skills.



4. What’s your favorite genealogy story you’ve experienced?


A couple of years ago I met a Romanian student who was working at the Santa Cruz (CA) Beach Boardwalk for the summer. She translated some letters and documents for me from Romanian into English. Shortly after that I was contacted by a Romanian DNA match living in Boston. He had a German grandfather so we are working on finding our common ancestor. Well, as it turns out, the young lady that translated for me is his cousin’s daughter! It is indeed a small world.


FREE WEBINAR: 5 Top Websites to Decipher the German Handwriting

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2020

Time: 1:00 EDT

Spots Available: 150 (March 31 spots are full. Registration for April 2 still available. Please pick the April 2 slot upon sign up if you want access).

Description: Does the old German handwriting seem overwhelming? An obstacle insurmountable in your German genealogy journey? If so, it’s time to learn the top online resources that make deciphering that script much easier! Professional German genealogy translator Katherine Schober will show you the tools she uses every day to make working with those scary squiggles doable – and – dare we say it – actually kind of fun. Register now to save your seat today – limited spots available.