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 http://thevirtualdimemuseum.blogspot.com/
Denise at http://www.familycurator.blogspot.com/
Becky at http://beckysgraceandglory.blogspot.com/
Elyse at http://elysesgenes.blogspot.com/
Schelly at http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/

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.