How Witness Records Can Guide Your Genealogy Research – An Interview with Robyn Smith

By Family Tree Editors

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In this podcast, genealogist Robyn Smith tells us how you can use witness records to guide your genealogy research. Plus: learn what you can do with those photo negatives and how to navigate WikiTree.

This podcast is sponsored by, the largest online newspaper archive. boasts over half a billion digitized newspapers from the 1690s to the present day and can help you learn more about your family’s story. Find marriage announcements, birth announcements, obituaries, photos, and more in papers from across the United States, the UK, Canada, and beyond. Cover three centuries worth of family history!

Ep. 168: December 2022

Tree Talk: Genealogy Gift Giving (1:56)

Family Tree Magazine New Media editor Rachel Christian joins Lisa to share gift ideas with a genealogy twist.

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The Genealogy Insider email newsletter includes a digest of articles, including one or two free articles in each newsletter. Daily and weekly options. 

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Don’t hide your family history! Show it off with these inspiring projects and gift ideas using your family photos and heirlooms.

Feature: Witness Testimony (5:20)

We may not have been around when our ancestors lived, but there were witnesses to the important events in their life. In her new article for Family Tree Magazine called Witness Testimony, author and genealogist Robyn Smith explains how witnesses can help you in your genealogy research.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Robyn’ Smith’s Reclaiming Kin blog

Google Books

Internet Archive

Take your research down new paths by studying the witnesses and bondsmen named in records. Learn when they were needed and what they can reveal.
You’ve found the record you’re desperate for — too bad the old handwriting looks like chicken scratch. Here’s your ticket to deciphering difficult documents.

Family History Home: Caring for Photo Negatives (16:32)

The Photo Detective Maureen Taylor explains how to care for old family photo negatives and why they deserve a place in your collection.

Read History in Reverse by Maureen Taylor (Jan / Feb. 2023 issue of Family Tree Magazine)

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

Maureen’s Website

Learn how to care for and scan old photo negatives—and why they deserve a place in your collection.

Best Genealogy Websites: WikiTree (26:53)

The founder and President of, Chris Whitten provides a beginner’s guide to this free collaborative online family tree website.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:


Editor’s Desk: The Year in Review (34:36)

Family Tree Magazine editor Andrew Koch recaps the genealogical highlights of 2022.

Resources Mentioned in This Interview:

2022 record releases:

RootsTech: 2022 virtual lecture library; 2023 registration

Genealogy TV:

Genealogy website updates:

The 1950 census documented names, ages, occupations and more for over 150 million people. Here’s everything you need to know about using the 1950 census for genealogy research.

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