Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear GeneaSanta

Dear GeneaSanta,

This year I would like:

My Great Grandmother's high school ring that I lost. Sugar City High School 1919. Fit perfectly on my pinky. I don't know how in the world I could have lost it in college but I did. That has been so heartbreaking over the years, and I know I've asked before, but if I could have one thing, this would be it. Please bring it back. I just know you can do it.

The Expandable table of my Grandma Carpenter's that my sister sold at a garage sale. It would have matched my furniture so perfectly and we would have loved having Thanksgiving dinner around Grandma's table. I wish I had spoken up, or even bought it from her. If you could bring it back too, that would be great.

A family group picture of Kim's Swedish Anderson ancestors. We have had so much fun researching this line of the family. I have felt so close to them as I have studied the places they lived, and found church records about their challenges and losses. I have wondered about them as I've seen that they have married late in life, or lost young children to disease and death. I would love to see a picture of them. Surely someone brought one over to America with them to be able to remember the family by. If you could find it for me, that would be so great. If you happen across a journal, that would be incredibly wonderful too.

Thank you for the World War II Wedding Cake topper of Grandma and Grandpa Dana's you brought me last year. It is so precious. I have put it in our china hutch next to our wedding cake topper (ala Wilton). I wonder if our inexpensive Wilton cake topper will ever be as precious to someone as Grandma and Grandpa's cake topper is to me.

Also, my friends at school all tell me you don't really live at the North Pole, but are disguised in San Diego under the name Randy Seaver. Considering the "Genea..." name and his picture on facebook, I'm not sure. Please advise.

Lots of love,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Rush, A New Photo Article Published and FamilySearch Certified Affiliates Announcement.

Christmas rush is keeping me hopping, so I haven't been able to post much lately. We are pretty much done accepting custom charts (call me quick if you absolutely have to have it and are willing to pay a rush fee) but we are still taking orders for fill-in-the-blank charts and gift cards until the 19th. The new gift cards look really great--they are self explanatory, good for anything on the site and we send them to you with free shipping.

I have so much to tell you about, but it is going to have to wait a couple more weeks. Watch out in January, I'll probably bombard you. In the meantime, I'll cram a few other things into this post:

So first, I had an online article published yesterday at Meridian You can see the article on Care and Repair of Photographs here. It is similar to the previous NGS article I wrote on the same topic, and I've briefly talked about the subject here on this blog. So the article should give you a much broader discussion. (Note in the bio that I have apparently become more famous for than for :-).

And then, I think I'll resort to spreading the news about what other people are writing. Renee Zamora beat me to it but I'm going to repost it here. Received this yesterday from FamilySearch Support:

Information on FamilySearch Certified Software Affiliates

One of the Family History Department’s responsibilities in assisting family history consultants is to keep consultants informed about products and services that are available to help members with their family history work. In doing this, the department does not solicit or encourage consultants or members to purchase products or services. The department does not promote one product or service over another.

In the immediate future, will be updated with a page that shares information about FamilySearch Certified Affiliates. FamilySearch Certified Affiliates are third-party companies and organizations that provide products and services with features that are compatible with FamilySearch programs. Certified PAF Add-ins are programs that allow people who use Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 5 to access, print, update, and synchronize with online information in the new FamilySearch. Please note that these products and services are developed and supported by their respective organizations, not FamilySearch.

To view the page that provides information about these programs, click here.

You are encouraged to learn about these affiliate products and the wide scope of services they provide. Additional information can be found about these affiliates and their services on their respective websites. These programs can be of great assistance to family history patrons as they use new FamilySearch, PAF and other family history programs.

Likewise there is a new page linked from We understand that this page will be changing--hopefully it will be corrected to list our "print" certification soon.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Traditions--Carnival of Genealogy

While I have written about sharing your family history by utilizing your family traditions recently, I get to share a few more family holiday traditions thanks to the Carnival of Genealogy. I am so thankful to Jasia for giving me so many great excuses to play with my family history here on this blog. I hope you will check out my previous post for the real information and ideas. I'm going to stick to pictures on this one.

(Carpenter, Snow, Schwendiman, Dana and Romney)
Christmas Traditions.
A photo essay from past to present.

Christmas Trees and Music.
(The Fred and Ethel Schwendiman Family, date unknown possibly early 1930s. My mother's mother's mother's family)
Lining up the family for a picture
(The Rose and Erastus B. Snow Jr. Family 1933. My father's mother Hortense's family)

Sending Christmas Cards
(Patricia and Marcia Dana, 1949. My mother Patricia on left.)
Visiting Santa
(Patricia and Marcia Dana again. Christmas 1954.)

Gathering everyone together.
(Viola Schwendiman Romney Talbot family. Christmas 1963. My Mother Patricia in red, My Mother's Mother Eila in red on the right and my Mother's Mother's Mother Viola in black on the left.)

Spoiling the Little Ones Rotten
(Me on the left and Kim on the right. Christmas 1969 and 1957 respectively.)
Pajamas on Christmas Eve.
My Children--several years ago. (This picture actually started a new tradition--family pictures of each Christmas displayed together on the piano. You'll have to come visit and see all the adorable pictures sometime.)
I have several more posts to write in my Sharing your Family History with your Family series but have been hit with Christmas Rush at Generation Maps lately. That is the most recent Hovorka family tradition I guess--definitely a good one. I'm hoping to get a bunch more of of my series posted this week. We'll see how far I get. We'll get them done eventually. Enjoy your happy holiday season.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Report from the Mesa Family History Expo

I'm back. We have been partying again. I so love conferences. I brought you some pictures this time.

I caravaned down to Mesa with Dear Myrtle and Janene Morgan of Family History Expos. Myrt and I were so excited to see 1.99 gas in Panguitch we stopped to take a picture. I thought I would never see that again in my life. Hopefully Panguitch can be an example to the rest of the world huh? Myrt and Janene are great Caravan partners and we had a great time even though it was a long drive. Myrt bought a GPS system while we were down there and we all had a good laugh yesterday while she was telling us about how testy it was on the way home. The lady apparently gets louder and yells at her when she isn't obedient about turning left. You'll have to ask her about it.

We got everything started for Kimberly Savage's baby shower. Do you like the invitations I did? We are all about getting things out where you can see them :-). We are so excited for her. So we did posters announcing the new blog: How else would you expect us to do it? You can find all the information there about where and when and the virtual webcast of it all. It sounds like the "reality" shower is going to be held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake. That would be an appropriate place.

The weather was gorgeous. It is so hard to come home. I can see why people retire to Arizona.
The people at this conference were especially warm and appreciative. I think we have found a wonderful place for a conference every winter. There were lots of people very excited to have us there. You can see the opening session was outside and we had a great crowd. How nice it is to be somewhere where you could plan a gathering for November outside and know it was going to be comfortable. Of course I'm hoping they don't ever plan anything for Mesa in July or August. :-)

I ran around like a one-armed Wallpaper hanger all through the conference. This one was an exciting one for me. If you read my blog, you know how I get along with our printers. Kim didn't come to this conference and my relationship with this plotter held true. I did manage to print everything I needed to, but there was alot of electronic manipulating going on. My lecture on Monday was preceded by a discovery that my powerpoint slides were MIA about an hour before the time slot, and the line at the booth was so long I was almost late to my lecture on Saturday. Lots of things to keep my heart rate up since the hotel didn't have a gym this time. Next time I think I'll just go for the gym--and make sure I bring our printing Guru. (Although--don't tell him--but I think I learned enough that I could pull the printing off easier next time. I'm actually getting pretty good at it.)

There was a great payoff for me when one person at the conference ordered a chart for his Mother Friday and then brought her in and surprised her with it on Saturday. She was so excited. And we had several wonderful people who were so appreciative. One man said that he was glad I wasn't charging according to how satisfied he was or he would really have to pay alot. I know we helped several people get their information out where they could hang it up on the wall and write in research ideas and findings. And I know we got several databases out and on the wall for upcoming family reunions where they could have family members write on the chart and add information that they needed to collect. And another great payoff this time was getting to meet some fun fellow bloggers. Kathryn Lake Hogan of and Coleen McHugh of I also got to meet Annaleise Taylor Dearinger and many other friends from facebook. It is so fun to get to know people you know online. And of course it is great to see all of our dear old friends that we get to see at all the conferences. We really enjoy the people we get to work with.

And Myrt made sure everyone got a chance to tie the cute quilt she brought for Kimberly. She even had some of the guys helping--it is really only a square knot from scouts right? And could we have matched everything any better? I think a fun time was had by all. (Except maybe my Mother who I brought to be able to go to classes but only got to one because she was drafted to help at the booth.--She says she had a good time though.) So go check out and plan on coming to the next party.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Message from Family History Expos--Learn the tech to trace your roots.

Learn the tech to trace your roots!
A message from Generation Maps and Family History Expos:

As a sponsor of the Mesa Arizona Family History Expo on Nov. 14-15, Generation Maps has made special arrangements with Family History Expos to extend their pre-registration for our loyal readers, until Nov. 7th at 10 AM MST. We urge you to take advantage of this special by registering at: This is an opportunity to participate in more than 112 classes from learning about Computer File Management for Genealogists to finding your long lost Irish ancestor.

The EXPO will offer exciting presenters and exhibitors from all over the World. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Don R. Anderson will be presenting in the opening session. Don Anderson is the Senior Vice President of services for FamilySearch as well as FamilySearch Worldwide Support. In his role for FamilySearch, Don has traveled to more than 27 countries on five continents to ensure that services are available to those around the world searching for their ancestors.
  • Beau Sharbrough is the Friday evening dinner speaker. Beau will share his talents by taking us on a musical journey in finding our roots., as the Banquet Sponsor will be giving each attendee a free one month subscription to You will enjoy this awesome website and all the documents provided to help you discover more about your family history.
  • Professional Instructors will help you learn what you need to get off and running with your family history research. Enjoy classes like How Charting can further research, How to Find Where to Look, Immigration and Emigration Records on, DNA Ancestry, Rootsweb: How can this community site assist you in your Family History Research?, Saving the World’s History one record at a time: World Archives Project, Finding your UK Ancestors, U.S. Census and Voter Lists, Mapping Your Family History with Family Atlas, FamilySearch Family Tree, Internet Research Magic… the Future of Family History, You will never look at your old photos the same way again and more!
  • Vendors and Exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall include Generation Maps, DearMyrtle, Ages-Online, Ancestry, Family Tree Magazine, RootsMagic, FamilySearch, FamilyLink, Genealogy Gems Podcast, Legacy Family Tree, Ohana Software, Rootstamps, Family History Expos, LifeStory Productions, Footnote, Creative Continuum and the list goes on.
  • Prizes from the vendors and advertisers offer some really great gifts to registered attendees, from a one week retreat at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with a professional researcher for guidance, to software, books, t-shirts and more.
Come and participate in this unique opportunity to learn, have fun, meet new people, and get motivated to do more than ever before with your family history. This is an unprecedented bargain for only $75.00, and the benefits are priceless! Share this message with your family, friends, and neighbors through cyberspace so everyone can have an opportunity to participate in the Mesa Family History Expo. They will thank you for helping them discover their family history. We appreciate you!

Stop by our booth to learn about Generation Maps.

Discover and preserve your heritage!
Join us in Mesa, Arizona at theFamily History Expo Nov. 14-15, 2008
Visit for further information
Copyright © 2008 Family History Expos

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to share your family history with your family.--Events

Another in the Sharing Your Family History Series. There are lots of ideas out there for sharing your family history with your family by having some kind of event. These can be a one time thing, or you could set aside a regular and recurring time, like the first Monday of the month or something. The idea here is to gather the family members and do something together to celebrate the life of an ancestor.

Any of the following ideas will work for a family event:

Guess who’s coming to dinner.
I know several people who have hosted a dinner like this. You can enjoy the culture of that ancestor for dinner, food/music/decorations. Of course use any pictures or heirlooms, etc belonging to that person. You might try it as a surprise--form questions about the person and have family members guess who the dinner is about. Then tell stories about that person during dinner. Or you might do some activity after dinner that the person enjoyed.

A question a week about your family history.
A scaled down version of "guess who is coming to dinner" is to try to infuse family history in to life a little more regularly with a short interest grabber. You might try this at a regular time such as dinnertime, or every once in a while in an e-mail if your family is more spread out. Ask a question (you could even have a small prize for the winner--like exemption from the dishes) And then of course--follow with a story.

Celebrate an Ancestor’s Birthday.
Along the lines of "guess who is coming to dinner" is to celebrate the person's birthday. This could be as elaborate as you want to make it, or it could just be stories and cake. Again, for the birthday you might go someplace or do something they liked to do. My Mother-In-Law's birthday was April 15th. I think this coming spring, we will try to get our taxes done early, and instead of worrying about that, take our kids out to dinner to celebrate her life and tell them about the Grandmother they unfortunately don't remember. A much better way to spend the evening of April 15th, don't you think?

Culture Night
If your family stayed in a single area for a long time, or you want to do something that includes a branch of the family, rather than just one ancestor, you could try a culture night. Similar to the above, you could celebrate a holiday or time period with food and activities that they might have done. (German Christmas in July, England in World War II.) Skits of a story or a person can also get everyone involved.

Many of these ideas work great for Family Reunions, or can become a sort of family reunion in and of itself. They can be a bit more work, but the payoff can be great. Let me know if you try it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2nd Triathalon--Mission Accomplished

We did it again! Amy, Me, Laurie and Kristy

I have to tell you that last mile feels so good. As I was coming down that last stretch, I hit a great song on my mp3 player: Jon Schmidt--All of Me. You can hear it here or here. Oh Man. If you haven't ever heard of him go listen. When I hit Jon Schmidt's stuff on my exersize mix it is so inspiring. And this last mile was like being in my own personal Nike commercial. It just feels so good.

But I have a confession. I do triathalons but I'm slow. Just in case you ever want to come cheer us on, just know, you'll be standing there waiting a loooooong time. The people at this triathalon were alot more competitive. There was a spectator at the end that yelled, "You're still a winner." I had to laugh. I thought I was a winner until he said that :-). And I wanted to yell back, "Yeah well, I'm running and your sitting on the side." :-) Maybe someday I'll get more competitive about it but for now I'm having fun. I do want to thank the 4 gracious people who kindly let me pass them though. I'm not worried about winning but it does feel good to pass someone.

You ought to try it sometime.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In the game of tag you have to be fast...

Picture: Eila Mae Romney Dana:
My Maternal Grandmother.

Man. This blogging community is high speed. You turn around and someone tags you and you are it. Just like when we used to play in our front yard with all the neighborhood kids--I'm going to move quick this time so I don't get stuck being "it" forever. Ahh. Late summer evenings.

Thanks to Bruce Buzbee at the RootsMagic blog and T.K. at Before My Time for tagging me. Fun to see old friends and make some new ones in the neighborhood. So here we go..

10 Years ago I:
  • Brought a child into the world. (of course the most important)
  • Finished scrapbooking my life and my husbands life up to that point (and haven't done much more since but at least did it archivally)
  • Found and bought the house we live in now.
  • Saw my Mother-in-Law for the last time before she passed away.
  • Was exhausted and blissful raising small children.
5 Things On Today's To Do List.
  1. Answer Emails (done)
  2. Change my Facebook Status (done)
  3. Do a podcast interview for Dear Myrtle and Family History Expos (done)
  4. Write this blog post (almost done)
  5. Clean my office (never done)
5 snacks I enjoy:
  • Onion Rings
  • Donuts (my favorite foods are all shaped the same?!?)
  • Heart attack popcorn (Kim makes it with soooooooo much butter--to die for.)
  • Ice Cream from Cafe Galleria in Midway
  • Anything I didn't have to cook.
5 places I've lived (Some longer than others)
  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Berkeley and Torrance, California
  3. Nazareth and Jerusalem, Israel
  4. Nairobi Kenya (only about a week and a half--does that count?)
  5. Fukui Japan
5 Jobs I've had
  • Mother
  • Development Director for a Genealogy Chart Printing Company :-)
  • Lead Reference Librarian
  • Kindergarten to 8th grade Technology Teacher
  • Instructor at a University
5 bloggers I tag to play. (Making new friends.)

Lidian at
Denise at
Becky at
Elyse at
Schelly at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to share your family history with your family.--Take them with you 2

Ok. You are going to think I'm crazy with this one. But my kids have quite enjoyed going with us on some heavy duty research. I know you will think I'm nuts, but you might give this one a try. Don't underestimate the interest or attention span of the family you are trying to involve in their family history.

My kids and I have actually quite enjoyed trips to the cemetery. I was inspired by Starr Hailey Campbell's book The Adventures of James: A Trip to the Cemetery. I read the book with my kids and then we tried it. She suggests you:

›Take a picnic
›Make file cards on who you are looking for. Have a prize for finding the right stone.
›Make maps
›Make rubbings
›Take a cemetery kit with treats, water, cleaning supplies, etc.
›Tell them about the person as you are traveling, cleaning headstones.

We put together a cemetery kit with CheeseIts, one of my grandmother's favorite treats. (You know, everything with kids goes well when there is food involved.) We sat and cleaned her stone to make a rubbing and I told them all about her. And we took a large sheet of paper so we could make a rubbing-genealogy chart of sorts of the ancestors we had in that cemetery. The kids really had quite a good time and have even enjoyed going back.

If you take them to a Library or Family History Center you might try to let them try to find something new. Or you might give them an easy find, something you already know about but know might peak their interest. The 1930’s census is very detailed, and a good place to start. If you ever take a group of kids who don't know much about their family--like a scout troop or such, the 1930 census is close enough to know who to look for (Usually grandparents or so), and can spark curiosity about their lives. With your family you might also try a Scavenger Hunt—Let them explore and find the sources for what you already know. My kids quite enjoy the trip. They really get excited when we find something new. We usually take them out to dinner and make it a fun evening. It probably doesn't hurt that we let them play on the internet so we can finish up when they start to get bored. But even though we sometimes give in a little at the end, but it is well worth it when they look forward to going again the next time.

How to share your family history with your family.-- Take them with you.

For the next idea on sharing your family history with your family, try taking them with you to places in your family's history, and as you do your research. It is fun to record the places in your history with pictures and video of today, especially with your current family involved. One of the most moving experiences I have ever had was a couple of years ago when I took a day, and took my children to the places where I lived when I was their ages. We went to my elementary school, to the playground near my childhood home and to the church I went to. I was so moved to see the span of my life all in one little afternoon, and watching my children play where I had played made me really stop and evaluate where my life was and where I wanted it to go. I took some beautiful pictures that day. I put them side my side with pictures of myself in my lecture, but for the sake of my children, I don't think I'll post them here. You'll just have to catch one of my lectures I guess.

As you take a journey like this, be sure to record the places with pictures and video. One of the ways I became associated with my husband's family history was when we would visit his mother after we were first married. She would take us out to all the family sites in the area and I'm so grateful now for those pictures and video--especially with her narrative. It is also fun to compare the modern pictures with antique pictures. These are the pictures of my Grandparents' house in Westchester California: Left, just after they bought it for 6 thousand dollars, Me and Grandpa when I was little, and right a couple of years ago.
Besides taking them to tour your own family's history, you might take them to other places that help them visualize your family's history. I love places of re-enactment, such as:

  • Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • Mystic Seaport, Conneticut
  • Old Sturbridge, Massachusetts
  • This is the Place State Park, Utah
  • Civil War reenactments
  • Frontier reenactments
We volunteered for two summers up at This is the Place. It was so fun. My kids know how to thread a large loom, spin wool, train oxen, play pioneer games like graces and walking on stilts, and how to survive without air conditioning. They also really enjoyed Williamsburg last year. I even learn alot at these places. It is interesting for all of us. Did you know that as they settled the west, to make a street sign, you would have put the pole upside down from the way the tree grew, so that the cell structure was upside down and wouldn't suck water up the tree the way it would when it was alive?
You also might try regular Historical Sites/Visitors Centers/Museums such as:
  • Ellis Island
  • A Grist Mill
  • Oregon Trail
  • or any Local Sites, they don’t have to be far away.
At some of these places you can take advantage of classes, you can learn the skills and games of the time or sometimes there are activites or camps for kids.

Find a place to go and take a day trip with your family. Not only can you relax and enjoy some time together, but you can also talk to them about your family history. Enjoy.

The Generation Map Genealogy Chart

Another of our working charts that helps with getting a database or regular genealogy file out where you can see it is the first chart we ever did--the Generation Map. We called it a "generation map" because it was so much more than a genealogy chart--it maps out all of your genealogy file. In retrospect, I don't know if calling it a map --and thus our company--was such a great idea. Maybe a little confusing. But it doesn't seem to be much of an issue anymore. We are good enough at "mapping out" your genealogy that people have gotten to know us and what we do.

So let me tell you about it.

A Generation Map starts on the left and goes out to the right with the ancestors of the starting person. But then, it fits the children and grandchildren of each of the ancestor couples in under the couple. Let me show you with a close up:

The couple is listed together and then their children are listed beneath them. Those children are listed with their spouses. And then those children's children are indented underneath them.

It is shaped funny because it has to have dynamic spacing (spacing that moves depending on how much information there is) to fit the children and grandchildren under each couple. But what is wonderful about that is that the dynamic spacing keeps the chart to a managable size. To plot out 18 generations in a regular left to right pedigree, without children, on the large genealogy file I inherited, goes out about 70 feet tall. In a Generation Map, it stays at about 8 feet.

At this time we offer color coding by:
By Surname
By Birth Place (we use this at the parish level for our Swedish file so that we can see who is on what microfilm)
By Death Place
By Burial Place
By Gender
LDS Ordinances
By Lineage (which helps you if you need to adjust to the strange layout)
By Generation

We have found that this is a real genealogist's chart. It may take a day or two to get used to the layout, but then everyone loves how it gets everyone out where you can see them. We print it on inexpensive working chart paper so that we could keep the price to $29.95 for the first copy and $14.45 for any extra copies. That way you can write all over it as your research progresses and be able to print out others when you are ready for a new one.

As we have printed these, we get comments like "Now I can finally see everything I've been working on all these years." And we have chosen this as one of the charts that can really help you see what is in the New FamilySearch database. You can get one from your data there as soon as you have a log in, or you can get one from your regular genealogy computer file. You can get one here, or learn more, or ask us questions. Let us know what we can do to help you get your genealogy infrormation out where you can see it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The smile on a little girl's face.

Since I did a more recent photo in the last Carnival of Images, I looked and looked for a picture a few generations back for this Carnival. The theme is "funny bone: a picture that never fails to bring a smile to your face." But the fact is, my ancestors back further weren't all that funny. I would hope they weren't as serious as their pictures attest. So I go only one generation back for this post. To my mother.

Ahh bliss. A favorite toy. And I couldn't resist this one:

Mom looks really interested in that book doesn't she? Apparently she would rather be out in her car. The best part was when I showed this to my son and he said, "Is that a laptop?" I swear I read him books. I really did -- and still do.

We had a customer once who had a bunch of cute ancestor children pictures done as gallery wrapped giclees to decorate a nursery for a new baby. Pictures of Grandma and Great Grandma as little girls playing and Grandpa all decked out in his cowboy getup. How cute is that?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to share your family history with your family,--Traditions

And now, for another installment in the most drawn out series ever to be geneablogged.

One of the ways family history usually gets passed down in a family is through the transmission of family traditions. As we are heading into the holiday season, stop for a minute and think about your family's traditions and how you will celebrate with the people you love. You can probably make them even more Family History oriented very easily.

Traditions often center around the holidays you celebrate. They can include traditional foods and traditional activities. Like many other families, we always open one present on Christmas Eve. But probably unlike your family, we always have ministrone soup, clam chowder, Swiss bretzeli, and English trifle for Christmas Eve, each food a reminder of some of our heritage. One year I tried to change that and it didn't feel right. What traditions does your family have surrounding the holidays you celebrate?

Religious holidays are usually particularly traditional and family oriented. Hannukah, Easter, Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, Lent, Passover and etc., whatever your family celebrated might be a good place to start with your current family. Heritage holidays are also a good place to focus as well, St. Patricks Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc. How about participating in a good community celebration with your family? Is there a church you could visit, or a parade or festival? Take those people with you who you are wanting to share your family history with. Help them get a feel for the culture of your heritage. Alot of the little towns around us celebrate Swiss days, or Octoberfest, or the Greek Festival or whatever. Hopefully there is some of that in your area too.

The holidays that you grew up with are probably very deep in your psyche. I remember a Thanksgiving day one year when I was in the Middle East. It was very strange that no one was interested. It was just a regular Thursday there, and I couldn't help but wish I was back in my Grandmother's kitchen. Those are the feelings that ground me in my family's history. And those are the feelings I hope my children would have about the holidays I have celebrated with them.

Next, see if you can make some of your traditions more family history oriented. For several Christmases, we have decorated a family history Christmas Tree. We have simple ornaments with ancestors' pictures, and we decorate with things they might have used, like popcorn and cranberries. We finish it off with a paper chain on which we write things we are grateful for--comforts that we have now that they didn't, things that they sacrificed to be able to provide for us. Even more authentic would be to participate in some of the activities your ancestors might have done--although I wouldn't suggest German candles on the Christmas tree--I have a friend who about torched the whole house with that one. So try some new family history oriented traditions, but keep in mind that some of them aren't as popular any more for good reason. :-)

Also, in this next year, as you celebrate with your loved ones in the traditions that you have inherited from your family, be sure you talk about the people and events that established the trend. Make sure they don't eat trifle every Christmas eve and not know why. Take a minute and talk about the first time you did this, or the person it reminds you of. Make sure that your traditions are celebrations of your family heritage and it will hopefully bring your living relatives closer to your ancestors.

And then, the rest of the year, there are probably other smaller traditions that you can pass on too. Superstitions and just common things your family does are important to re-create. My great-grandmother would lick her thumb and stamp her hand to make a wish every time she saw a white horse. While my kids and I don't do it every time, we do it once in a while, and I tell them about Great-grandma. Maybe it is blowing dandelion seeds, or eating pizza backwards, or a saying "bon appetite" before eating. Tell your family about it, and tell them where it came from.

My Ancestors Found becomes Family History Expos

My Ancestors Found--the company that has brought you several wonderful family history conferences--has realigned their company name to reflect their growing focus, Family History Expos. Along with the name change comes a new blog, website, and podcast. Check them out.

Here at Generation Maps we are excited to see My Ancestors Found kick this into a higher gear. We have long been fans of their family history conferences, and have hounded them for years to do more. We are excited to be sponsors for their conferences, and you will always find us supporting them in whatever way we can. Check out our schedule for next year, and you will find us at every one of their events. You should try one (or several) too. They are the best conferences we attend. I guarantee the avalanche of knowledge you will gain will be well worth it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and the Genealogy Daily

I have Geoff Rassmussen's Genealogy Daily calendar on my desk and I thought I'd share with you a particularly timely entry for today. It talks about the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. It says "The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual explains the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). It provides standards for research, teaching and genealogical development. It includes examples of reports, proof summaries, compiled lineages and compiled genealogies." You can get the BCG Standards Manual from one of the booksellers I've mentioned before, or come to a genealogy conference and get it there. Coming from a librarian background, alot of the Manual is second nature to me. But I was thinking today, for anyone who comes to genealogy from other fields, this is a good place to get grounded in what is good research and what is not.

I think as we have moved more and more onto the Internet to do research, we have to be really vigilant about our research methods and standards of proof. It is easy to get excited about a new find on the Internet and relax our standards. But we have to remember that the Internet is not throttled by the complexities of publishing and sometimes that makes for bad quality of information. The ease of publishing on the Internet also makes it easier for a wrong fact to perpetuate itself faster (think Internet hoaxes). I've been working on my lecture "Best Research Practices" and it just seems like that subject gets more and more important every day because the speed of information gets faster and faster.

This technology tip from November 14th in the calendar sums it up nicely. "Always have a sense of skepticism with information on the Internet. Remember that even though hundreds of websites may provide the same information, they may all be citing the same inaccurate source. Always consult the original." Well said.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to share your family history with your family--Books

Ok. This series is really getting drawn out. But it will be worth it. Slow and steady.

You are going to call me the most spoiled genealogist ever when you see this one.

One of the most gorgeous ways you can work on sharing your family history with your family is to do what my mother has done. My mom isn't particularly worried about adding more people to our family's genealogy, she is mostly concerned with making sure we know about our ancestor's lives. She really is the epitome of "sharing your family history with your family" and although I wasn't interested for alot of years, I'm living proof that you can eventually get them involved.

Mom has had an incredibly busy life. From a family that was spread out over 40 years (My baby sisters were adopted when I was 18) to her mother being in a wheelchair for 30 years, Mom has had lots of people who have needed her attention. But she has plugged away at writing books about our ancestors. And over time she has accomplished alot. She sticks to the fairly close generations--people she remembers but I generally don't. I think that has been brilliant, because if she doesn't record their lives, I can't--at least not as well as she can. She has done a few on ancestors that she didn't know, and those have been harder. But they are all treasures in our family.

Mom has written several full sized books on her parents and grandparents, etc. These aren't usually grand productions as far as the book goes, just regular copies and spiral bound. She has usually started with an oral history, and scrapbooked some pictures into it. But the information is so wonderful to have. And they are grand productions to get written--definitely.
But then--here is the kicker. For each of these people, she has put together a beautiful children's length book. These are gorgeous books and when I show them to people they are all agog. She has used Heritage Makers, but there are several companies that can put together books like these. I wish you could see them. For each ancestor, she has given them the theme of a value that they exhibited in their life. So my Great Grandfather that lived through the depression is "Charles Roswell Dana and the Power of Hard Work." And my handcart pioneer GGGGrandmother is "Jane Dorothy Culley and the Power of Perseverance." She does one page on their family of origin, one on their childhood, one growing up, one on courtship and marriage, one on their career, etc. They are so easy to put together, she actually got my Dad to do some for his Mother and Father. And even though they died when I was 16 and 22 respectively, I learned quite a bit I didn't know about their lives from Dad's little books. This short length is good for kids, but really for adults too. Anyone can digest this much family history. Even though they are expensive, it is easier to pick up with lots of pictures and a beautiful layout and binding.

I told you I'm spoiled. I get frustrated when she gets busy with other things and puts these on the back burner. If I had a fire, these are the one thing I would try to grab. Thanks Mom. And get back to work. :-)

The Comparison Chart

Earlier I wrote about the To-do chart, one of our new charts for the New FamilySearch database. The rollout marches on and more and more people are able to use the database. I wish it was coming faster, but hopefully they are getting it right. It looks like rollout will be complete sometime next year with access for people who aren't members of the LDS church as well.

Several years ago we were asked with 6 other companies to become one of the LDS church's early commercial affiliates and to develop products to work with the new database that will eventually replace FamilySearch. We have since become one of the first certified affiliates. As we sat in the development meetings, we tried to come up with ways that Generation Maps could help the user navigate that database. We focused on getting things out and off the screen to be able to see the big picture--something we do best. Some of those ideas developed into the To-do chart, others developed into the Comparison chart.

New FamilySearch is built to encourage collaboration. On each of your ancestors, you are able to see what other people have added about that person. And if someone adds an ancestor that might be the same as yours, you are able to look at that addition and link your people together.

In this new database, every bit of information added is broken up into what is called assertion tags. Tags will be about a date, a place, a note, or anything. And every tag that is added can never be deleted, only disputed. Our comparison chart is the only place you can see every single tag for a person. So, if you have alot of cousins who also do genealogy (like I do,) the information on your ancestors might be plentiful, like the chart to the right. The Comparison chart is 24 inches wide and as long as your information goes.

On the Comparison Chart, we have color-coded each of the tags according to who contributed the information. If your family is like mine, you know that some researchers are more meticulous in their research than others are. This chart helps you follow what each researcher has done. It is good to see everyone side by side according to the information they have contributed. We are hoping this overall view will help you evaluate the information in this new database to see what you can verify and what needs to be cleaned up. There is also a mark on each disputed tag, so you can see what has been asserted, and decide if there are other tags that need to be marked as disputed.

So far, the users who have bought copies of this chart have been really excited to see the overall picture of this database. One lady said she thought she had been the only person working on her Eastern European lines, and was thrilled to find other cousins to collaborate with, and to be able to see exactly what they had done and compare it to her work.

Like with all of our charts, it is *EASY*. Just go to and click on Interpretive Charts for FamilySearch. Choose your chart, then on check out, type in your username and password for New FamilySearch, and the ID number for the person you want the chart to start with. Depending on the amount of information on your lines, download may take a couple of minutes. But then you are done. We figure out the layout, the printing, etc. You just enjoy it when it shows up in the mail.

Along these same lines, one of the other early affiliates, RootsMagic, unveiled their upcoming New FamilySearch capabilities on their blog on Friday. It looks good. The affiliates are going to make it so much easier to use this database. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Genealinspired--Tenacity and the Field of Dreams.

Another Genealinspired story from Marlo and Leanna Schuldt.

Our children and grandchildren need encouragement and direction to achieve their full potential. They will benefit from experienced and trusted role models to guide them forward. We need to teach them about the ingredients necessary for success in any endeavor – tenacity and hope. The following true story provides the perfect example.
In 1950, thirty-five year old Esbern Baadsgaard, his wife Mary Christensen and their four children were living at Lakeshore, Utah. Economic times were hard making it difficult for most men to provide for their family. Es had to work two jobs. By day, he was a bricklayer enduring the 100 degree summer heat for 12 hours and then off to the farm working the fields until after dark.
Es decided he could make some extra money by planting more corn. He scraped together the money to buy the seed. That was the easy part since he had to clear the field of weeds which was backbreaking work. He struggled for three long years fighting the weeds that strangled his corn plants. The fourth year he planted again and the weeds fought back. This big strong man who was the rock everyone leaned on sat down on the ditch bank, his head in his hands, and sobbed feeling totally defeated by the weeds. However, he continued to fight the weeds that summer and was finally rewarded with a crop he could harvest. Today we see the fruits of his efforts in a beautiful the little field of healthy corn.
A few years later Es found another disguised field of dreams. He purchased an old abandoned drive-in movie theatre. Like the corn field, he struggled for many years to pay the property taxes and to develop the land. After several years of sacrifice he was able to sell property for a substantial amount to the Albertson’s Food Market chain who wanted to build a mini mall on his field of dreams.
Click the link below to read the whole story:
Marlo and Leanna Schuldt work with Heritage Collector--a versatile software that helps you organize your family history files.
  1. Organize all your photos and family history files.
  2. Quickly find any photo or file in seconds.
  3. Easily label everyone in a photo using hotspots.
  4. Create and share slide shows on CD/DVD.
  5. Make and print storybooks
  6. Automated backup system to protect your family history.
  7. Use and run the program on an external hard drive for added portability.
  8. Watch tutorial movies to learn how to use the program.
  9. Create PDFs and much more.
Thanks Marlo and Leanna.

I love your blog award.

Tremendous honor today for the ChartChick blog. I have been nominated twice over with the

award. Both Msteri River of the Heritage Happens blog and Footnote Maven of and Shades of the Departed have nominated me for the award. I'm so honored to be mentioned by two fabulous bloggers. I'd send one back to them but I guess we are supposed to branch out (dumb joke, get it?)

The rules for the award are thus:

1. Can put the logo on his/her blog

2. Must link to the person who gave the award

3. Must nominate 7 other blogs and link to them

4. Must leave a comment on each of the nominated blogs

So: the 7 blogs I nominate are:

1. Geneamusings by Randy Seaver (He and I think the same.)

2. The Genealogue by Chris Dunham (I wish I thought as funny as Chris)

3. About Genealogy by Kimberly Powell. (I met Kimberly for the first time at FGS. An instant great friend)

4. Renee's Genealogy Blog by Renee Zamora (The first genealogy blog I ever saw.)

5. Dear Myrtle by aka Dear Myrtle. (The icon in genealogy news.)

6. RootsMagic blog by Bruce Buzbee (The slow drip is marketing genius I believe someone once said.)

7. The Practical Archivist by Sally Jacobs. (Great Practical Advice.)

I'm glad this award has been going around because I don't think I could have kept this list to 7 if I hadn't seen the award already on some of my other favorite blogs. And I can't believe the blogs above haven't gotten one yet. Hopefully I'm the first. For another list of great blogs, check out the bloglist on my facebook page.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to share your family history with your family.--Gifts 2

Recent bloggers talking about Family History Gift ideas:

Go get inspired and find a great project to get working on.

How to share your family history with your family.--Gifts

Giving a gift of a family history item can be a good way to share your family history with your family. And putting together family history gifts gives you a deadline--always a good thing in genealogy. My family made a pact several years ago that we would only give family history gifts at Christmas time--none of us need any other fluff for Christmas--and it has been a wonderful thing for us. My Mom is always a little more stressed through the Christmas season because she is trying to get a genealogy project done on top of the normal schedule, but the payoff has been worth it.

Giving a gift of an heirloom or family history project on a special occasion makes the item even more meaningful. They make great wedding presents or baby shower presents. We do lots of genealogy charts for special occasions at Generation Maps. Wedding presents or wedding anniversaries are especially popular along with birthdays, Mother's day, Father's day, etc. Besides genealogy charts, other good gifts include:
  • Books about family history in general. (I'm sitting here at UGA this weekend with Jerry Millar of The Genealogy Shelf. Lots of great books.)
  • Books about your family’s history. (My mom is great at this. But that is an upcoming post.)
  • Copies of the documents/pictures you have collected. (Try Heritage Collector or Passage Express for an easy way to burn CDs for your family, but you may want to give printed copies as well.)
  • Heirlooms. (If you are ready to part with something, it is better to give it as a gift before you die, than let them fight about it after you are gone.)
  • Computerized information, transcribed letters, scanned pictures, video.
  • Traditional Food. (Food is always the way to go in my book. One of my favorite Christmas gifts is my Great-grandmother's secret recipe for Honey Candy that we make every year. It is fun to make it together and wonderful to look forward to.)

Yearly occasions also make great deadlines for family newsletters, updates of the family scrapbooks or personal histories. New Year's or birthdays make a good time to get those things done. My mother has asked for only one thing from each of us for Mother's day--again she doesn't need anything else--a page of a memory from our childhoods for a scrapbook. It has only been a couple of years but is already getting to be quite a book with lots of fun memories in it.

You might think you have a family that isn't all that interested. A couple of thoughts: 1)back to our digital archiving discussion, even if the gift isn't terribly appreciated, you have made another copy of your data in case of a problem. And 2)I was one of those uninterested recipients for many years. But eventually it kicked in (kicked in hard obviously). Don't give up, they may be soaking in more than you think they are.

So, lets see, it is the middle of September, you still have time to do something spectacular in time for the winter holidays. What are you going to do?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crowning Glory--5th Carnival of Images

I'm learning quite a bit about the history of my own life (besides exploring my family's history)by participating in these blog carnivals. I'm thankful my Mom is helpful enough to be my co-conspirator. She suggested this picture for the "Crowning Glory" theme. Apparently, when she took me to the local drug store for a picture for my 4th birthday, she wanted to pull my hair back into ponytails or a bun like she usually did. I didn't know until today, that I threw a 4-year-old fit and wanted my hair down. She was worried about how it would look, but now this is one of her favorite pictures. She says my hair really was my "crowning glory" and this about the only picture we have of it down. I guess I'll have to listen to my kids more. My children thank you, Footnote Maven, for hosting the Carnival of Images.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Genealinspired at FGS

I have to mention how much I was inspired on Thursday when the vendor's hall didn't open until later and I had some time to sneak off to Independence Hall. On the way out to the conference, I grabbed the book 1776 by David McCullough that I hadn't yet taken the time to read. I spent some time getting myself re-immersed in the patriot's cause with this well written book.

While I don't descend from any of the Signers of the Declaration, I was so moved, and so grateful to them, standing in those same places that they did. While at the conference, I had a great conversation with someone who had come out to Pennsylvania to research her ancestors there. She was able to find land records and go out and actually stand on the land her ancestors had settled. What a moving experience that is. If you haven't done that yet, you should try it. There is such a connection to be found in standing in the place where something important to your family happened. And while this wasn't my family's stomping grounds, many things that happened in Philadelphia changed the history of my family. I'm so grateful to those men who were strong and brave enough to found this country on the freedom that I now enjoy.

FGS news

If you don't know about Martha Mercer, you should. I got to spend the FGS conference next to her, and even though we didn't get much time to talk, it was nice to see her and get to talk to her a little.

Martha runs Maia's Books & etc. an online Family History book store that mostly displays at genealogy conferences but also has a brick and mortar store October through January in the Columbus Ohio area.

I brought home an American Family Paper Dolls: from the Pilgrim Period to the Civil War by Tom Tierney for my daughter this time. Martha has always had the best collection of family history items for children and I have bought many things for my family from Martha. Several years ago I bought the "Go Ask Your Grandparent" game from her as well as the "Family Lore Game." She has lots of great paper doll books and Memory Scrapbooks that are great for gifts.

She also has everything else under the sun genealogy. At FGS she has several of your core genealogy reference books, along with several Pennsylvania specific items. Take a look around Maia's Books. I'm sure you can find something to further your genealogy endeavors.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How to share your family history with your family--Photos

For the rest of this series, I'm just going to post a bunch of ideas about how to interest your family in their family history. Use the following posts full of ideas as a springboard into:
›What will interest your family.
›What can be applied to your family history.

Not all of the ideas will apply, but being the librarian/researcher, I have come up with too many--I'm sure you'll be able to find something that fits with your family.

Pictures are always good to spark interest and further questions and stories. Who do I look like? What are family traits? I'm sure if you have a good collection of pictures you'll be able to come up with people who look like the person you are trying to interest. These are some from my family that look similar to me. Do you think so?

Isn't Kim (on the left) the cutest thing?

Same Age/Interests ~ Pictures and artifacts are especially good when they relate to what the person you are trying to interest is experiencing in their life. Pictures of ancestors when they are the same age, report cards, drivers licenses, marriage licences, etc.
These sailor/brother pictures actually come from different branches of the family.

Or maybe you have artifacts or pictures of the same hobbies. I have a friend who's son became all interested when he found out his grandfather was also on the debate team and was given his yearbook. And my kids love my parents' high school yearbooks and especially the report card that shows that grandpa got a C in math. I have a second grade report card that shows that I was too talkative :-). Gotta love that.


I've been asking around for genealinspired stories. Here are a couple from Cina and Diana at Ohana Software.

Cina Johnson
"My life didn’t follow the path that I envisioned for myself. I imagine most of us find that to be true but sometimes I reacted poorly to my challenges. During a particularly low point in my life, the need to work on family history became overwhelming; therefore, I started reviewing research I had done years earlier. At some point, I reread my great grandmother’s
1870 diary and was struck again by the similarities in our temperament and talents. At 25, she lived at home and made her living as a seamstress. She married at age 29, had three children (one died at 13 months) then she passed away at age 47 leaving my grandfather (age 15) and his sister (age 8). My heart went out to her and I felt that she understood my feelings. I also knew that she lived through times of trial and so could I. Since then, I’ve learned of ancestors who lost five out of seven children between the ages of 6 days and 11 years. With their two surviving children, they left their home and family in France and moved to America. Another ancestor became an orphan in her early teens. I draw strength and perspective from these loved ones and my life is richer for knowing their stories."

(Cina Johnson is a customer service representative for Ohana Software, the makers of PAF Insight. As part of her job, Cina writes the monthly newsletter, Ohana Insights. She also wrote the lessons for FamilyInsight, the new name for PAF Insight. Family Insight is already certified to work with FamilySearch family tree and is currently in Beta testing. )

And from Diana Olsen:
"This probably is not what you had in mind, but I love this story.

For years I have been cleaning up all the genealogy my Grandmother had gathered. Every Memorial Day my grandparents descendants meet at the Spring City cemetery to honor all our ancestors buried there. Then we go to the Church right next to my grandparents home for lunch. My son was not supposed to go because that year he had been diagnosed with Cancer and his treatments had put his blood count very low. The weather was very cold and could be very harmful to him. But he showed up anyway. I was very mad. We decided to give him a family blessing, one of which we, as a large family, had not done together for a very long time. My uncles and cousins all gathered around him. As the prayer was administered I felt the presence of many of my ancestors, the women were around me and the men were around my son. I did not dare open my eyes, because I did not want to lose this wonderful peaceful feeling. After the blessing many came over to me and told me they too had felt the presence of others, but they did not know who they were. I knew who they were because I had been taking care of them for years. Because I had taken care of them, they were now taking care of me and my family.

My son's next exam showed the Cancer was gone. 12 years later he is still Cancer free."

Thanks Cina and Diana. If you have one you would like to add, let me know.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Show and Tell Quilt--Carnival of Genealogy

Taking a break here to show off the item I chose to bring to the Carnival of Genealogy's "Show and Tell." I always loved show and tell at school and could never decide which of my treasures to share. Still can't. So I hope we do this one again.

When my Patriarchal Grandmother Hortense Carpenter died, she left instructions that each of her grandchildren should receive a quilt that she had sewn. She had made many beautiful quilts that were distributed to her 11 grandchildren. All except me--the oldest grandchild. Somehow (and after a certain relative took a couple of extra quilts) all of the grandchildren got one but there wasn't one left for me. I wasn't really upset about it, I had inherited several things from my grandmother, but my mother was really frustrated that I hadn't received one of my grandmother's beautiful handcrafted quilts.
Grandma died in 1991. In 1996, my mother was at the family condo and looking at one of the beds, realized that there was one more of my grandmother's quilts that had been overlooked and was being used as a bedspread there. She snatched it for me and brought it home to give to me. In the days before she could give it to me, I suffered the miscarriage of my first pregnancy, a pregnancy we had been waiting and hoping for for a long time. My mother gave me the twin size, thick, warm, corduroy log cabin style quilt the day after we found out that the baby had no heartbeat. Over the next couple of days, following surgery and through intense emotional despair, I had this quilt wrapped around me constantly. My hormones were adjusting and I was freezing cold for several days, so even at work, I kept this quilt around me. It was like a huge warm hug from my grandmother.

Several years later, I discovered a picture of me and my grandmother while she was working on this quilt. It was Christmas 1974 and Grandma had made one of those typical scrumptious Christmas dinners. Grandma was a retired home economics teacher and there was nothing domestic that she didn't do perfectly. My sister and I played under most of the quilts Grandma had stretched out on the quilting frames. I remember building wonderful forts and playing with our dolls in our own little world under there. And eventually she taught us to quilt. I have one of her sewing machines and I have made several quilts on my own quilting frames.

More recently, as my wonderful children arrived, and grew big enough to understand, I have wrapped them in this quilt, and told them about how much I wanted and waited for them, and how much I loved my grandmother. As we have cuddled under this quilt, they have learned of her sewing talents, but also of her adoration of me, the long walks we had in the mountains near her home and how she taught me the names of all the wildflowers there, and many other things I loved about her. I miss my Grandmother but I am thankful my children and I can have a hug from her any time.