Crafting Your Genealogy Will — An Interview with Denise May Levenick

By Family Tree Editors

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In this episode, Denise May Levenick offers tips for creating your genealogy will so that your research can live on for generations. Also: learn how to navigate the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps as handy genealogical tools and how to find meaningful clues about your ancestors simply by studying what they are wearing in old photos.

This podcast is sponsored by can help you preserve the memories and stories held by the objects you collect and accumulate throughout your life. These objects may include everything from physical family heirlooms, photos and art to favorite family recipes. You can start your own free collection today at or download the app.

Ep. 165: September 2022

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Tree Talk (01:55)

Family Tree Magazine New Media editor Rachel Christian joins Lisa to share the latest in the world of genealogy including Findmypast’s new Tree Search feature.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Findmypast – Family Tree Search


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Determine if the information you find in online family trees (such as those at, FamilySearch and MyHeritage) is accurate.

Feature: Your Legacy Plan (6:11)

Without a legacy plan, your carefully documented family tree may wither and die. Denise May Levenick shares strategies on how you can pass on your genealogy research so that your family history will survive for generations to come.

Read How to Pass on Research: What to Include in Your “Genealogy Will” by Denise May Levenick in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Family Tree Magazine or online.

Create a “genealogy will” that outlines for your heirs what you’d like for your research after you’re gone. Here’s what to include in it.

Podcast Sponsor: (15:12)

Ellen Goodwin, the CEO and co-founder of, explains how the website can be used to help you bring out the stories and memories attached to important family heirlooms. That way, you can pass along both physical objects and the rich history attached to them for generations. You can get started by creating up to 5 Artifcts for free. You can also download the Artifcts app for Android or Apple to use Artifcts wherever you are.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Family History Home: Clue in family photos (18:52)

If you have old photos that aren’t labeled, there’s still a lot you can learn from them about where and when they were taken. Maureen Taylor, also known as the Photo Detective explains how old hats and fashion can provide clues.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective

Read Finding Photo Clues in Historical Hat Styles by Maureen Taylor.

This mystery photo features a lovely assortment of Gilded Age hat styles. Let’s take a closer look at the details in this photo, (including the hats!) to see what more we can learn.

Best Genealogy Websites: Sanborn Maps (28:48)

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps provide detailed drawings of the streets of your ancestors’ neighborhoods. Julie Stoner, Reference Specialist at the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress joins Lisa to discuss this free map collection and how to navigate the expansive online collection on the Library of Congress website. 

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Fire Insurance Maps at the Library of Congress: A Resource Guide

Library of Congress – Ask a Librarian

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection at the Library of Congress

Editor’s Desk (38:51)

Family Tree Magazine Digital Editor Melina Papadopoulos gives us the latest updates at

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Land Records and Map Resources

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems podcast available at her web site, and all major podcasting services, or download the Genealogy Gems Podcast app.