Thursday, December 16, 2010

Family History--What's in it for me.

Last year, while we were putting together a new Generation Maps Mission Statement, I spent some time reflecting on why Genealogy is important. I've been putting together some new lectures for 2011 and I want to show you one of the graphics from one of the sets of Powerpoint slides. To me, it clearly explains the 4 reasons I believe Genealogy can save the world. (Said with a little tongue in cheek, but not much.)

  • Understanding and Emotional Healing. If you haven’t found someone in your family history who is a scoundrel, you haven’t done enough family history. Likewise, if you haven’t found anyone in your family who accomplished amazing things, you haven’t done enough family history. My husband and I run a genealogy chart printing company. As we print descendancy charts for family reunions, it never ceases to amaze us how often we can see trends running through family lines, even just in the vital information on a genealogy chart. Divorces, or illegitimate children can sometimes be seen running through generations on some lines, and then you can see where when one person breaks the cycle, and intact families follow. In my own family, among many other things, there are lines of addictive personalities and I know that is something I come by easily. And in my husband’s family, it is easy to see where the trend started that gave my mother-in-law her sense of self. Understanding these trends, and how they play through the generations can help us heal and deal with family members in a more compassionate and understanding way. I know some of the personality traits ran through my family, and into me, long before I started collecting family history. But now I understand them so much better.
  • Realizing Potential. I've written many times about being inspired by your family history. (It's easier to broadcast to the world, than all my stories about healing and understanding the problems in my family's history.) Once when my very scientifically minded son was struggling over yet another dreaded book report, I made the comment to him that he certainly had it in him to write well because he came from a long line of prolific writers. After a bit, he stopped the procrastination and finished up the report. I am continually amazed at how such small comments inspire confidence in my children. Likewise, in my 20’s, when I was given a short personal history of my great-grandmother, I found that she had been through a hard trial similar to mine at about the same age. It inspired me to know that those trials hadn’t defined her life and she had gone on to be very successful. I recently learned more about the sacrifices she made when she was the same age I am now. I look at my challenges and say “I can do this. It’s in my DNA.”
  • Grounded and Enveloped in Love. If you think about how much your grandmother loved you, you can imagine how much your great-grandmother, or even great-great grandmother loves you even though you might not have had a chance to know them in this life. I want my children to know as much as they can about the sacrifices that have been made in their behalf by their ancestors so that they could have the good life that they have now. Family history is often a solace for people whose current family ties aren’t what they want them to be.
  • Spiritual Power. I've written many times about the spiritual power of Family History. I usually like to call it Serendipity, because that takes out some of the religious connotations. The coincidences, psychic connectedness, hunches, “I don’t know why,” luck, synchronicity, inspiration, intuition, and providence cross all religious, social, political and etc. boundaries. Megan Smolenyak wrote in her book, In Search of Our Ancestors,“If you were to gather fifty genealogists in a room, chances are that forty-five of them would readily admit to having experienced a few unexplainable incidents in their search for roots.” (pg.1) I teach a class on serendipity that is one of my favorite classes to teach because you can feel everyone in the room give a sigh of relief that they aren't the only crazy genealogist. And when I open up the floor and ask the class if they've ever experienced serendipity in their research, I get to hear the most fantastic stories. I absolutely love teaching that class. It leaves everyone with an amazing sense of awe and an awesome feeling of connectedness.
So go out and share your love of family history with someone--especially your own family. You just might save the world for someone.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


If you ever watched Saturday Night Live when Mike Meyers was on, he had this on-going skit called "Coffee Talk'' and got `verklempt'' at the mere mention of Barbra Streisand. I'm really not Yiddish, but I've studied German and Hebrew, and I think this is the best word at the moment.
Flattered but overwhelmed.


Saturday I was installed as the president of the Utah Genealogical Association.


I would be scared spitless, but Luana Darby has done a wonderful job the last two years getting UGA into a place where someone in their right mind would be willing to take on this responsibility. During Luana's presidency, the organization has completed a new website and new social networking communication avenues including a stronger newsletter system, facebook, twitter, blog (Thanks A.C. Ivory). This last year we've put together a better organization including a renewed committee structure and books for each committee chair to begin passing down the institutional knowledge that will sustain UGA in the future. And Barry Ewell has orchestrated the purchase of a new virtual meeting system that will not only make the organization run more smoothly, but also has facilitated the development of our new Virtual Chapter, and the UGA Online Training and Tutorial Library. While Luana was in office, our journal Crossroads (yea David Ouimette and Christy Fillerup) has been revamped and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (go Adele Marcum) has remained one of the premiere sources of genealogy training in the country. And probably the biggest accomplishment of Luana's presidency was the immensely successful hosting of the National Genealogical Society Conference in 2010 which showed off Utah’s assets to the genealogy community at large, strengthened UGA’s status in the genealogy community and set UGA on a strong footing for future development.

So we are in good shape. We have a great new board. I have two fantastic Vice Presidents, Sue Maxwell and Christy Fillerup. And we are excited to take UGA into a new year. It is the 40th anniversary year and there is lots to get going on, lots still to do. Let me know where you want to help.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Extended Deadlines

We've been working hard to keep up with the demand for meaningful family gifts this season. We're enjoying the holiday season so much, we've decided to extend things a little for domestic orders.
  • Custom chart orders are due by Monday December 13th.
  • We've extended the deadline for Family ChArtist and Pre-created charts to December 17th.
  • All rush orders must be submitted by December 20th.
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.