Friday, November 19, 2010

Safety Rule #3 for the Genealogy Internet Playground

Safety rule #3 for the internet genealogy playground: Don’t throw sand in other people’s eyes.

Remember, remember, remember that you aren’t just talking to a computer screen, or even a database, you are talking to people. And you are talking to people about one of the most emotional topics around—their roots. Often you are even talking to people about family members that they knew and loved.

In some cases we can’t ever come to a knowledge of exactly what happened in a historical situation because we weren’t there. The best we can do is collect quality sources and learn how to interpret them the best we can. Sometimes that leaves a lot of disparity between opinions. Care must be taken to be diplomatic in all cases. Especially in dealing with people you don’t know very well.

Sometimes a discussion in a collaborative environment results not so much in the person with the most knowledge coming out victor, but the person with the most time to devote to the cause. Just double check yourself before you hit the enter key. Would you say that to a person in real life?

Play nicely and be safe on the internet playground. The internet is a fantastic boon to family history researchers. It creates an exciting gathering place where we can find distant cousins and fast friends to help us research our family tree. And remember, as any internet genealogist will tell you—Share, Share, Share is the name of the game. If you cast your bread upon the waters it may come back to you an hundred fold. It’s never too late to play by the rules and have fun. Be sure to follow these three basic safety rules and you’ll have a great time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Generation Maps Partners with MyHeritage

Salt Lake City, Utah - November 18, 2010 - Generation Maps is happy to announce another partnership making it easier for the world to print and display genealogy charts. In addition to other database and software partners, MyHeritage has joined the team of companies looking to Generation Maps for professional large scale genealogy printing.

"It is wonderful that MyHeritage users will now be able to simply and easily print genealogy charts straight from their family sites on the database," says Kim Hovorka, president of Generation Maps. "Again, a simple built in feature for printing means that the user won't have to find a large scale printer that understands the genealogist's needs, he can simply order what he wants for a chart and it will arrive on their doorstep."

Generation Maps quick printing turn around times, impeccable attention to detail, and high customer satisfaction rate makes this a win win situation for genealogy users. The various paper options and domestic and international shipping options round out a complete opportunity for the user to get exactly what they are looking for.

Portions of the My Heritage press release:
London, England & Tel Aviv, Israel - November 18, 2010 -, the largest and fastest growing family network on the web, unveiled today a host of new online family tree chart designs and features. Going one step further in enabling users to showcase their family history, launched today a professional poster printing service for any chart produced on the website.

More than 16 million families have created a site on; a private place for exploring family history, finding long-lost relatives and keeping in touch. Innovative tools, such as Smart Matching™ and photo sharing with facial recognition technology, provide a friendly and secure setting where millions of users have planted their family tree online.

Users can now create a family tree chart from their family site in a few clicks, by choosing from numerous different chart types, with a choice of 18 different predefined chart styles. As of today, adds a professional poster printing service for any chart produced on the website, starting as low as $20 per poster. With worldwide shipping, any user can now order a high quality printout of their chart packaged in a protective tube, either directly to their home or shipped as a gift to any other address. The print can be ordered on a variety of paper types (including standard paper, matt photo, glossy photo, vinyl and canvas), in almost any size and with optional lamination. For special occasions like family reunions, posters can be as large as an entire wall.

“Our beautiful family tree charts are a great reward for families who have spent many hours researching their roots”, said Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet. “Family history is much more fun when you can share what you’ve discovered with others, and family tree charts are perfect for that. Our attractive new family tree posters will be a source of pride in every home and are perfect as a gift for the upcoming holidays”.

Existing users of can create their own family tree charts by simply clicking on the 'family tree' tab on their family site and choosing 'charts and books'.

About is the most popular family network on the web. Millions of families around the world enjoy having a private place for their families to keep in touch.’s Smart-Matching technology empowers users with an exciting and innovative way to find relatives and explore their family history. With all family information stored in a secure site, is the ideal place to share family photos, and celebrate and preserve special family moments. Offering 36 languages, 650 million profiles and 16 million family trees, is nurturing family relationships and uniting families worldwide. For more information please

About Generation Maps:
Generation Maps was established in 2004 to help families express their heritage in an attractive way for all to see. Generation Maps charts provide a visual reminder of your family’s history and help establish feelings of love and confidence that come from knowing who you are and that you are part of a family. Generation Maps charts can awaken individual potential embedded in one’s inherited traits and nurture emotional healing through understanding a family’s history. Family ChArtist will carry on the Generation Maps tradition by offering a new, simplified, personalized way to create decorative charts that promote family traditions and unity.

Generation Maps remains the premier printing service for any kind of genealogy chart you can imagine. In addition to the new Family ChArtist program, Generation Maps continues to offer a multitude of custom chart printing services, including both decorative and working genealogy charts. Custom decorative designs come with an online preview system that gives you personalized attention and feedback until the chart is exactly the way you envisioned it. Working charts are oversized, inexpensive, family reunion-type charts that display your entire file in one place. You can write on and add information to working charts. Generation Maps has printed working charts up to 800 feet long with information for over 30,000 people. In addition, Canvas Giclee Fine Art photos are available at Generation Maps for a very competitive, reasonable price. All charts can be printed on any of 8 paper choices, plus canvas. Free consultations are always available at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspire and Involve Your Family with their Family History this Holiday Season

A few of the comments we've enjoyed over the years.

  • The kind of family tree chart I wanted was more complicated than I could do myself with the software I bought. The chart was a gift and I wanted it to be perfect... and on time. The staff at Generation Maps was friendly, professional, creative, and, most important, patient with all of my revisions. I received a preview of my chart by e-mail and it blew me away. Just as wonderful is the fact that it will be shipped today so I can give it to my friend on time. I can't thank you enough! M.M. New York
  • Here are some photos that were taken when we presented LaRee with her descendant chart at the family Christmas party. She was quite overwhelmed. She was a little quiet at first and the more she looked at it, the more involved she became when she realized just what it was. She was really quite moved. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful work for us. The whole family was very impressed. R.G. Utah
  • I must say I have been amiss not writing you and thanking you for the wonderful job you did on the family trees back in December... the delight my children and sister showed when they received them. Excited does not begin to explain their reaction to them... I can't sing your praises enough. F.G., Texas
  • You were our Christmas... you have done something for our family that will outlive those of us that are trying to put the pieces of our puzzle in place. Already, my grandchildren are asking for some of the records. I thank you... I think it will make it possible for my sisters and I to continue at the same point. They are suddenly interested after years of telling me they did not want the information. J.M., Texas

We love being an outlet for all the research that you have collected, and an easy, beautiful way for you to share your research with your family. Christmas is a great time to do it. Go to, give us a call at (801)87CHART or drop us a line at if we can help you share and inspire your family this year. We really delight in helping you show off your family history.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two New UGA Initiatives

If you've been reading this blog you know I've been serving as Vice President at the Utah Genealogical Association this year. They have been working on some great new projects that I wanted to share with you if you haven't seen them on the UGA blog. Since I wrote it over there, I'm going to cut and paste the announcement here. I'm not plagarism if it's my own writing right? We've been working hard on this projects and we'd love to have your feedback.

The Utah Genealogical Association is pleased to announce the launch of two education initiatives for genealogists of all kinds--the UGA Genealogy Training and Tutorial Library (UGaTT) and the UGA Virtual Chapter. An introductory overview of both virtual projects covers the designs and plans for each project as well as the dates and stages of roll-out. The introductory video is a great way to understand the sweep of the plans and get excited about the progress that is coming as we take UGA into its 40th anniversary year.

First, we are pleased to present the first tutorials of the UGA Genealogy Training and Tutorial Library (UGaTT). The topics covered so far are Top U.S. Research Records, Organization for Genealogists, and The Five-step Genealogy Research Process. These first tutorials are the first three pieces of the "Bronze Level" of the program. As the program continues to roll-out there will be over 100 topics covered with a bronze, silver and gold level self-evaluation program in place to to test your comprehension and track your improvement. Participants earn pins and certificates for program completion. Parts of the Bronze level will always be free to the general public, with the more advanced Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels available to UGA members as they are completed. Please fill out the survey to give us your feedback on this initial release.

Second, the first beta version of our Virtual Chapter has been released as well. The meeting is one hour long and includes an introduction and a presentation by Barry Ewell entitled "How to Effectively Conduct Genealogy Research on the Internet." Again, please give us your comments and feedback in a short 6 question survey. A second beta will be released on November 23rd with Janet Hovorka presenting "Archiving Your Genealogy Work Using the Library of Alexandria Rule" These two beta videos will be released to the general public and regular live sessions of the virtual chapter will commence in January with access to all UGA members.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Safety Rule #2 for the Genealogy Internet Playground

Safety rule #2 for the internet genealogy playground: Share your pail and shovel.

Ok. So you know not to pick up half-licked suckers on the playground and not to go home with anyone you don’t know. But to play fair on the internet genealogy playground, you need to make sure that you are a good playmate yourself. In order to do that, you’ll need to provide the sources for what you have researched.

You might say, “Why bother?”
• “It’s just a hobby. It doesn’t matter where I got it.”
• “I’m never going to publish a book or anything.”
• “The fun is in the searching”
• “I’m too busy. As long as I know it’s right that’s enough.”

To which one might answer:
• “As you work your way up, are you ever going to find a cousin genealogist?”
• “Do you want them to share what they have learned?”
• “Are you ever going to participate in a collaborative database?”
• “Do you want your children and grandchildren to be able to build on your work or do you want them to have to recheck it?”

Now I’m not naive. Typing in all the particulars about where you found some information is not the fun part. But, if we are going to play together on the internet genealogy playground, we are not going to get anywhere in a collaborative environment if we don’t cite our sources. If we submit data to any genealogy database without the source information, we are only contributing to conjecture—not building anything for future generations to work with. Our children will have to start all over to verify what we have done.

Citing your sources doesn’t have to be a perfect science. Record enough information so that another researcher can follow your path and not have to redo your research. And, by the way, anything can be a source—even if it is your mother’s memory or a silver tea set with a wedding date engraved on the back. However, only cite sources you have personally seen. If your cousin tells you about a census record, your cousin is the source, not the census record. If Great-Grandmother said something that was written in your aunt’s journal which was then copied into your cousin’s book which your dad emailed you about, your dad’s email is the only source you can cite. Remember, though, that a good researcher will go back to their cousin’s book, their aunt’s journal and will talk to Great-Grandmother, if possible, to get as close as they can to the original source.

It is also important to record any analysis surrounding the source. Record why you think this is a good or bad source and why you came to that conclusion. Perhaps you know that the family bible passed through the hands of an aunt who didn’t want any illegitimate births in the family recorded as such. Or maybe Grandfather lied about his age to get into the military. Elizabeth Shown Mills writes, “Once we refer researchers to a specific source, we are obligated to alert or caution them, as they may be less experienced with the materials“ (Mills, Elizabeth Shown, “Citing Your Sources,” OnBoard 1 (September 1995): 24). Even recording other researcher’s false information, and noting why, will be helpful to future researchers. Usually this kind of analysis is recorded in the notes section.

Originally published in the Generation Maps Newsletter

Friday, November 12, 2010

Safety Rule #1 for the Genealogy Internet Playground

Safety Rule #1 for the Genealogy Internet Playground
Don't pick up half-eaten suckers.

Many people who would never break the sucker rule in regular life, don't think twice about breaking a similar rule in genealogy. Some people who would never think of picking up a half-eaten sucker on a playground will take half-researched genealogy information from the internet-not knowing where it has been-and save it as gospel truth in their family history.

It used to be that when you wrote a letter to a cousin to ask about your family's history, your cousin would send you actual sources-a copy of the birth certificate, a page from the family bible, or whatever they had that would satisfy your quest. Now, when you contact a cousin about their genealogy, you often receive a computer file (such as a GEDCOM) which contains information about your family, but the file has no footnotes or citations about the sources that were used to compile the data.

Quite often, on the internet genealogy playground, the situation can be even stickier. In collaboration databases such as Ancestry's One World Tree, or, information comes from many
different people-some who cite their sources and some who don't. If you are lucky, you may be able to contact the person who submitted the information, but sometimes it is impossible to figure out where it
came from.

A researcher can get stuck when they find information on the internet that conflicts with information from sources they already have. When you come to a conflict, the only way to resolve it is by comparing sources. Comparing where both sets of information came from will allow you to resolve any differences. If there are no source citations, or the information came "from the internet somewhere," the researcher cannot determine which information is correct.

For example, if I have an immigration certificate and a church baptism record stating that my great- grandmother's birthday was June 14, 1897, and my second cousin has put information in FamilySearch stating that the birthday was July 18th 1897, there is only one way we can figure out which date is right. We will need to compare my immigration certificate and church baptism record to his sources-perhaps a copy of Grandmother's obituary. We will probably decide that the children who wrote the obituary were not as reliable a source concerning their mother's birth date as the priest who baptized her as a baby.

Likewise, I might have a great-grandfather who did lots of family history work in the early 1900s (which I do). What if now I have a cousin who thinks grandfather chose the wrong ancestor and then
continued to trace the wrong family line (which I do)? The only way we can figure out which ancestor is right is by comparing the sources my grandfather obtained to the source my cousin is looking at. My grandfather may have had access to documents that no longer exist. Or my cousin may have found records my grandfather never saw. Likewise, my great grandchildren will need to know what sources I build my research on-unless I want them to just start over as if I never did any research. If we want these collaborative databases to be of any use in the future, we have to make sure we are entering the sources we have used.

So, what do you do when you come across information about your family on the internet playground? Look at the notes and sources included with the information. Notes and sources tell you the quality of research that you are dealing with. When there are good source citations you can often just spot check the information and make sure that you can ascertain where the data came from. When there are poor source citations, you can use the data as a pointer to future research. (Like thinking "Hey there are suckers around this playground-I wonder where I can get one?") Well documented sources establish the credibility of the researcher, and well documented sources help in analyzing the research of another

Coming soon, rules 2 and 3. If you subscribed to our newsletter, you would already know what rule 2 is
. Subscribe now to find out what rule 3 is in a couple of weeks.