Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Congratulations to our great friends.

I've been a little slow lately with some much needed congratulations.  We have had several good friends with big announcements and we want to wish them our warmest best wishes.  Lots and lots of Kudos to: 


Latest Version of Genealogy and Family Tree Software Now Available to the Public
SPRINGVILLE, Utah. — November 19, 2012 — RootsMagic, Inc. today announced the official release of RootsMagic 6, the latest version of the award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history easy and enjoyable.  With this release comes an update to the popular “RootsMagic Essentials” free genealogy software.
Family History Made Easy
Family Tree Magazine said RootsMagic is “probably the best all-around genealogy program" and "offers a winning combination of features for both casual and serious genealogists.”
Throughout it’s 11-year history, RootsMagic has helped people research and share their family trees with innovative features such as moving people from one file to another with your mouse, a SourceWizard to help you document your work, creating a Shareable CD to give to family and friends, and running RootsMagic off of a USB flash drive when you are away from home.  RootsMagic has also received numerous awards, including the award for “Easiest to Sync” from FamilySearch for their work in interfacing with that system.
New Features
RootsMagic 6 adds many new features while making existing features even easier to use.  “This release includes something for everybody,” said Bruce Buzbee, president.  “Whether you want an easier way to share your family history with family or are looking for better tools to help you organize your work, RootsMagic 6 has something new for you.”  New features include:
  • Online Publishing - Easily share your information online, including notes, sources, and pictures.  Choose which information to include, then publish it to your own page at my.RootsMagic.com.
  • Live Timeline View - A live-edit panel on RootsMagic's timeline view makes this one of the most powerful editing features ever!  Make corrections to your data while viewing it in context with other family members life events.
  • Find Everywhere - With a single search you can now find every  record in your file containing the text you want.  Quickly find people, families, notes, sources, places, to-do items, research logs, and more.  Then edit those found records directly from the search results.
  • WebTags - Link people, sources, places, and more to websites using RootsMagic 6's new WebTags.
  • CountyCheck Explorer - Look up a county, state, or country from a multi-national database.  It can even show you online maps of county boundaries for that date.
  • Plus dozens of other enhancements and features
Free “RootsMagic Essentials”
RootsMagic 6 is also available in an updated, free edition named, “RootsMagic 6 Essentials”.  RootsMagic Essentials contains many core features from the RootsMagic software and the two products are fully-compatible with one another.  “Many people are curious about their family history and don’t know where to begin,” said Michael Booth, vice president.  “RootsMagic Essentials is the perfect way for someone to get started, risk-free.”  RootsMagic Essentials is available for download at http://www.rootsmagic.com.
Available Now
RootsMagic 6 is now available online at http://www.rootsmagic.com or by calling 1-800-766-8762.  New users may purchase RootsMagic 6 for only $29.95.  Users of previous versions of RootsMagic and it’s predecessor, Family Origins may purchase RootsMagic 6 for the upgrade price of only $19.95.

Genealogy Gems

(SAN FRANCISCO, California) – December 11, 2012 –  Sometime over the first busy holiday in December 2012, The Genealogy Gems Podcast reached an incredible milestone: 1 Million Episode Downloads!

In early 2007 when the first episode was published by Lisa Louise Cooke, podcasting was in its  infancy, having just come into being in mid-2005. “It was like being part of a new Wild West of technology,” says Cooke, a genealogist since the age of about 10. “For the first time anyone with an interesting  idea, a computer, and a willingness to work long hours could produce a worldwide ‘radio’ show. The day I listened to a podcast for the first time, I knew this medium was what I had been waiting for to reach genealogists.”

Apparently a lot of other folks were also anxiously waiting for Cooke’s discovery. From long time genealogists to dabbling family history newbies, they flocked to the free podcast available through Apple’s iTunes Store and the Genealogy Gems website (www.genealogygems.com). Over the next  five years they listened in to soak up genealogy research strategies, expert interviews, tips on harnessing the power of technology in their research, and creative ideas for sharing their findings.

“There’s a lot of noise out there online that can be overwhelming,” says Cooke. “My goal has always been to spend my time sifting through all of that information, and chiseling out the gems – the items that are really worthwhile – so that my listeners can have faster and greater success . Ultimately the genealogy gems I provide on the show lead to my listener’s genealogy gems: their precious  ancestors!”

What started as a single podcast episode has turned in to a multi-media genealogy publishing company. Genealogy Gems now encompasses offerings, many that are free, that accommodate every learning style: audio, video, articles, books, dvds, toolbar, live classes, and online webinars. The Genealogy Gems mobile app (available in the iTunes App Store, and an Android version through
Amazon) gives genealogists the flexibility to hit the road and take it all with them.

“I speak at events across the U.S. and internationally,” says Cooke, who will be a featured speaker at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London for the third consecutive year in February 2013, “but  not everyone can get out to a genealogy conference. It’s critical to me that we meet people where they are, and that’s what the Genealogy Gems website, YouTube channel, app, and toolbar are all about.  The fact that the podcast has now been downloaded 1 million times confirms that that we are  accomplishing that goal.”

And My Heritage

MyHeritage acquires Geni.com and raises $25m in new funding round
Family history network buys rival and advances international expansion with new funds
LOS ANGELES, California, PROVO, Utah & TEL AVIV, Israel – November 28, 2012 – MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, announced today it has acquired long-time rival Geni.com and closed a new USD$25M funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), with existing investors Index Ventures and Accel Partners also participatingGeni.com Founder David Sacks and BVP Partner Adam Fisher are joining the MyHeritage Board of Directors.
The acquisition reinforces MyHeritage’s position as a global power player in the family history industry and accelerates its vision of helping families everywhere build and share their legacy online. The purchase of Geni.com is the eighth and largest acquisition made by MyHeritage since the launch of its online family history network in 2005. It extends MyHeritage’s network to 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 27 million family trees, containing the most internationally diverse family history content in the world.
The new investment round will be used by MyHeritage to boost growth of its historical content services and expand commercial operations worldwide. In addition to acquiring significant record collections from Europe and rolling out global crowd-sourcing projects, the funds will enable MyHeritage to explore additional M&A opportunities and ramp up its international marketing operations. The latest funding round brings the total funds raised so far by MyHeritage to USD$49 million.
“Exploring and curating one's family past is both a timeless and universal hobby pursued by hundreds of millions of people around the world; I personally grew my own family tree to include more than 2,500 people,” said BVP Partner Adam Fisher. “The freemium model of MyHeritage/Geni not only makes online family history accessible to the casual user, but underscores the importance of user generated data to the product offering itself, which grows every day. As the international market leader with an aggressive expansion plan, we see tremendous value in their subscription business and are excited to work closely with Gilad and his team as they build on their success.”
“Today’s news is a major turning-point for the family history industry, giving us significant new resources to extend our market leadership and deliver new value to families worldwide,” said Founder and CEO of MyHeritage, Gilad Japhet. “Well established as an innovative and social brand, Geni.com is a natural addition to MyHeritage and together we look forward to taking collaborative family history to new heights.  Over the past few years our dedicated workforce has transformed MyHeritage from a garage start-up into a successful, dynamic and global company. With new funds, impressive new talent from Geni.com and new world-class leaders on our Board, we look forward to fulfilling our potential and accomplishing our mission to bring family history to the masses.”
Founded in 2007, Geni.com is well known as a pioneer in collaborative family tree building with its focus on creating the World Family Tree, and enjoys a large following in the US. Geni.com will continue to operate as a separate brand based out of its California office, which will also serve as the main engineering hub for MyHeritage in the US, alongside its main content offices in Utah. The entire staff at Geni.com will join the MyHeritage team.
The services of MyHeritage and Geni.com will initially run independently. MyHeritage plans to give respective users the option to collaborate on family history research by enabling two-way information flows between the sites that will facilitate new family discoveries and provide greater value to the users of both services.
Users from both sites will be able to discover long-lost relatives and new ancestral connections through MyHeritage’s Smart Matching technology, which finds common matches between family trees. To add new color to the ancestries of Geni.com users, MyHeritage will apply its recently launched Record Matching™ technology that matches historical records, such as birth, death, census and immigration records, to individuals in Geni.com family trees. Geni.com users will be able to enjoy extended offerings provided by MyHeritage including DNA kits for genetic genealogy.
Geni.com Founder, David Sacks, a renowned entrepreneur, and most recently the Founder and CEO of Yammer (sold to Microsoft in June 2012 for $1.2 billion), will take a seat on the Board of Directors. David’s contributions as a visionary in the family history field, combined with his sharp eye for product, make him a strategic addition to MyHeritage management.
“What we've learned over the years building Geni is that there are three key assets that customers want in the genealogy space: records, private trees, and the world family tree. This deal brings together all of these pieces to form the most complete offering in the genealogy space. Together with MyHeritage, we look forward to continuing Geni's mission of connecting humanity through a single family tree”, said Founder of Geni.com David Sacks.
We are so thankful for such wonderful friends and partners in these companies.  We appreciate the value they bring to the genealogy community.  If you haven't tried out their products lately--we highly suggest you do.

Cat's Cradle--the perfect generational bridge.

Did your ancestors
play this game?
How long has it been since you've played Cat's Cradle?  Your ancestors probably played it.  Do your children and grandchildren know how?  Cat's Cradle is a fun game that only needs a length of string and two people to create an intriguing challenge that will help your children explore the past. 

Playing Cat's Cradle is a perfect example of how you can connect with your kids by connecting them with their past.  Play it with them for a while and see what fun ensues.  If you need instructions, take a look here and here.  It can be a great inter-generational game.  The older people in your family can probably teach the next generations a thing or two.

I've been in two situations lately where we've been playing historical games with kids and it's been so fun to watch modern day kids get so enthralled with the games their grandmothers played.  Be sure to tell some stories about your ancestor's childhoods while you are playing. 

This blog post is reprinted from our newsletter.  You can sign up too.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Perfect Gift

This is my favorite time of the year for a number of reasons.  But one of the biggest reasons is because of all the fantastic family history gifts we get to help people create.  We are in the thick of our Christmas rush already and loving every minute of it. I love to help people honor their family history and make their holiday celebrations more meaningful.  We'd love to help you too. 

Reprinted from our newsletter. 
The giftWhat do you get them for the holidays?  The annual problem is rearing it's head again this time of year.  Especially for parents and grandparents?  What can you do to express your love and appreciation, something important and yet at a realistic cost?

And the kids...  Not another gadget or toy they don't really need.  What can you do to strengthen their self esteem and pull them in tighter to their family? 
Large Descendancy Chart
Let us help you create the perfect gift.  Just send us your family's information--in any format--and let us help you create a beautiful family heirloom custom chart that will be appreciated for years to come. 
We've appreciated some of the recent comments we've heard...

"President Porter and I visited and he again thanked us for his chart. He said it is a magnet for his grandchildren when they come for a visit. They love to find themselves on the chart and see how they fit into this wonderful family. Please pass this along to your staff and let them know that what they do makes a difference in the lives of 1000's of people around the world." Dave D. 

Happy GrandparentsAnd with all the family gathering for holiday celebrations, what a great way to get everyone involved.  "I just wanted you to know that our Family Chart was a big hit.  We had 100 cousins participate in our Family Reunion and they loved finding  their names on the chart.  We had a Meet and Greet game that involved the chart and we were off and running for a wonderful weekend.  Thanks so much for your help.  The chart is beautiful."  Kathy N.

   It's all in the way you present it.  Let us help you present your history to your family in a visual way, with context in time and place, and your family will start to become curious. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Early Bird Sale

We have a great sale going on.  

The holidays are the perfect time to engage your family with their family history.  Draw them in with visuals that grab them and a portrait of the times, places, and relationships of your family's past.  Our beautiful custom genealogy charts are just the thing to encourage curiosity.  Send your genealogy information in for a free appraisal and we'll work back and forth with you to create a beautiful representation of of your family.

Our holiday gift rush is heating up.  If you can get your chart started right away, you'll be able to avoid the rush and get all the time and attention your family's history deserves.  And with a free appraisal and free shipping on orders placed by November 26th, you'll save money too. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teenager update--Trading for Family History

Baby computer
Plug in to your family
 From our Newsletter

One of the things I've tried recently with my kids is to "trade" them for family history.  I'll play their video game or do something else they want me to do with them for an hour, in trade for them letting me give them a tour of their family history.  It as worked remarkably well and I highly suggest you give it a try with your family.  I have learned a lot about their interests, which has strengthened our relationship--a great thing in and of itself.  But then they've been quite patient with me as I've plugged them in to some of the things they can learn about their history.  There have been a few "hmmm" and "wow" moments that I know will only strengthen their sense of self and grounding in their roots.  Every little piece of the puzzle helps put together that big picture that I want them to have as adults.  Give it a try.  And let me know how it goes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Genealogy could be boring because....

Custom chartFrom our newsletter.

When you start talking about your family's history do your family members suddenly have a "pressing engagement?"  Do you see eyes rolling when you show your latest find to your children?  Why are genealogists so misunderstood?  Why don't your family members get how cool this all is?

Maybe your genealogy is boring because you haven't been using your pictures enough.  I just found a new picture for my family tree today on Wikipedia of all places--a super exciting find.  And like your family members, I was so excited to see the similarities, to see what my ancestor was really like.  One of your best friends in going from snoring and boring, to exciting and inviting is the pictures in your family's history. 

We love creating genealogy picture charts to help you show off your family tree.  I think my mom eventually turned me into a genealogist by having those pictures on the wall.  But a chart goes even further--it gives you context with the time and places of each persons life.  The graphical representation of your family is a great communication tool.  You might try pulling them in visually.  We would love to help you create a beautiful, distinct chart.  We start with a personal appraisal of your genealogy information, and then create an unique presentation just for your loved ones.

As I've said many times, family history is all in the way you tell it.  No one
Genealogy Chart
Modern and antique photos combined together can be the best genealogy bait.
will turn down a chance to look at a picture of their Great Grandfather who looked like them, see their father's report card, or find out about the trouble their Grandmother got into as a child.  It's all in the way you present it.  Let us help you present your history to your family in a visual way, with context in time and place, and your family will start to become curious. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kudos to Erin

Erin's been racking up the kudos lately.  Here are a few of them:

Just wanted to let you know that the charts have been received by Paul and Ake Sellin and they are very surprised and thrilled. Thanks so very much for all your work.


Dear Erin
Saw Dad on Saturday and he loved his family chart.
Thanks for all the work you put into it.

The chart was a big hit and was a great generator of family stories.  I think we talked more at that reunion than at any other.

I did get a picture of Archibald Douglas Leafgreen as an adult and I do need to make add a sibling for Milton Leafgreen.  Milton had an older sister
named Emma born August 28, 1853 in New Sweden, Jefferson County, Iowa.  She died April 9, 1924 in Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa.

This time when you print it for me I would like it to be something I can frame.

Thanks so much for making this a great reunion.
S. Leafgreen

Hello Erin,
We received our Family Tree Chart...The work was beautifully done, we are so pleased with it, and know it will be a hit at our family reunion. Even though this will be a interactive chart, we know that it will serve a purpose in gathering the information we need to complete our family history. We look forward to working with you again.
Thank you and your company for your hard work and service. We will pass it forward your good work of Art!!!!!
Roxanne M
More Happy Grandparents

Dave D.

I just wanted you to know that our Family Chart was a big hit.  We had 100 cousins participate in our Family Reunion and they loved finding  their names on the chart.
We had a Meet and Greet game that involved the chart and we were off and running for a wonderful weekend.  Thanks so much for your help.  The chart is beautiful.
Kathy N.

I just  wanted you to know that the wall chart was a highlight of our reunion of 300 cousins (of the approx 800 in the tree). It was about 2 feet shorter than the wall! 
Each person present put a 1/4" removable coloured dot beside his/her name to show attendance.
Sorry I don't have a better photo.
Thanks again for your help.
Marilyn T.

Hi Erin,
Received my charts Monday, look great!!!!!  I know that they will be a big hit at the family reunion next month. Thanks for the prompt service. I couldn't be happier.


We are so lucky to have Erin.  If you want to create a fantastic chart, Erin has an amazing sense of design, an incredible sense of service and an attention to detail that continually amazes me.  You can send her a file to look at through our new Personal Appraisal Page.  We'll get started right away on a masterpiece for you. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

UGA Conference Keynote: Youth and Family History

Bret Petersen, Suzanne Curley and I gave a presentation at the recent UGA conference entitled "The Cool Parts of Family History-Kids Having Fun"  In it I was able to talk about my vision for how family history conferences need to change in the United States and why it is so important to involve youth in our family history efforts.  We had many requests for the recording so I put them up on Youtube.  Unfortunately the recording isn't so hot.  But I hope you can still hear it somewhat.

Suzanne gave a wonderful presentation with great ideas about what is happening around the world.  Unfortunately her portion of the video couldn't be recorded because of copyright permissions on some of the things she showed.  But Bret had some great ideas too:

Spectacular successes, Learning from failures

Reprinted over on the UGA Blog

We say that Lincoln, Edison, etc had many spectacular failures and yet we know them to be spectacularly successful.  I think as I begin to finish up my 2 year tenure as president of the Utah Genealogical Association, we can see both in the innovative conference that UGA tried this fall too.

UGA's fall conference this year was both a spectacular success, and one of those experiences you learn alot from.  
  • Vendors were generally happy even though we put them up to a lot of extra work and had very few people there to pay them for it. Each had to have an activity booth and there were lots of great ideas they came up with.  There is alot of refinement to do there but I think we struck on an idea that was a win win for everyone.  Everyone especially loved Family Roots Publishing's free popcorn.  Thanks Leland!
  • Everyone loved the classes.  Bret Petersen did a great job of changing things up. He was a tireless conference organizer and I can't imagine anyone better suited to the task.  We had new people and new topics and all of the reviews were great.  
  • We really resonated with people.  During the Keynote Saturday morning (Recordings Posted to YouTube Here) I tried to explain our rationale for changing things up and why I'm so passionate about involving youth in genealogy.  We had person after person come up to us on Saturday and tell us that if that was what UGA was about, they wanted to be more involved.  I received some information a couple of weeks ago from a market analysis that Family Tree Magazine did. When asked what their goals were for their family history activities 85.1% said they wanted to record their family tree for posterity and 65.6 % to share their family tree with others.  We want to involve our families in our family history but we are having trouble figuring out how to do it without making their eyes gloss over. 
  • There were very few families who attended like we had hoped.  We've analyzed this and I think it comes down to a couple things.  I don't think anyone trusted us to make this entertaining enough for children.  And when I look at it--I think if I'd been on the other side, I would have had the same reaction.  Would a bunch of genealogists be able to come up with something my children would enjoy? or would they turn my kids off even more to something I so want them to love. Hopefully we gained some trust and began to turn the ship. 
What we learned:  We charged too much for families.  For the next time, everyone 18 and younger just need to be free.  In fact, across the board, throughout the genealogy community, for every event, 18 and younger just need to be free.  Also, you need to clearly label your youth activities.  We had lots of innovative classes but we should have labeled a "young and young at heart" track.  Likewise we needed shorter classes.  We knew that going in this time but weren't ready to change track quite that much.  But you do have to market to adults.  The kids won't come on their own, but they will have fun once they get there. 

On a personal level it was a spectacular success for my family.  I was able to spend the day with my kids rather than be away from them at another genealogy conference weekend.  There was little to no complaining which was a complete miracle.  They were genuinely happy to be there and enjoyed having their friends there to help them.  They had a fantastic opportunity to develop their communication skills and deal with the public.  In that--I am again continually amazed at the richness genealogy brings to the lives of my children.  Who would have thought they'd gain experience like that from family history.  I think it was good for them to watch their parents, and UGA try to change something in the world, and I personally enjoyed having them see so closely an issue that I care so deeply about.  I hope they will participate in helping me solve it.

UGA has seen some spectacular successes in the last several years.  Our membership continues to grow and grow.  Our board is young and dynamic (even those of us who are older are dynamic.) And we are trying things and moving along with the times.  I'm so proud of UGA and what we've been able to accomplish.  Board meeting is this weekend and I'm excited to see where we go next.  I hope you'll come help us move forward into the next successful things UGA decides to do. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upcoming Appearances

We’re going Multi-media several times this next month. 

This week we have a couple of appearances.  Tomorrow, the small screen on TV at 11am MST on KSL channel 5 I’ll be on Studio 5 to promote the UGA conference.  We’ll be talking about activities you can do with kids and the benefits family history brings to youth.  Of course charts are a great way to involve the youth in your family.  You can watch it live at http://studio5.ksl.com/.  

Then, tomorrow evening, I’ll be doing a smaller screen webinar for Southern California Genealogical Society entitled “Playground Rules for Beginning and Advanced Genealogy Collaboration on the Internet.”  You can sign up for the free webinar at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/131676584

Of course this coming weekend we’ll do the Real In Live Version at the Utah Genealogical Association Conference in Sandy Utah.  Suzanne Curley, Bret Petersen and I are giving keynote Saturday morning entitled “The Cool Parts of Family History—Kids Having Fun” and then I’m teaching “Magnifying Glass-Wide-angle Lens or Telescope? Charts to Visualize Your Family Tree & Further Your Research.”   It will be a great conference aimed at the whole family and I’m excited to see how it all turns out.  www.ugagenealogy.org

Then on October 19th we have another webinar scheduled with Ohana Software entitled “Magnifying Glass-Wide-angle Lens or Telescope? Charts to Visualize Your Family Tree & Further Your Research.”  You can sign up for this free webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/299901346

Now to come up with an idea for the big screens.  Movie plot anyone?  J

Friday, September 7, 2012

Previous and Upcoming Genealogy Conferences

Thomas MacEntee posted an interesting blog article about the state of genealogy conferences today. http://www.geneabloggers.com/real-genealogy-conference-attendance-numbers/  It comes on the heels of the Federation of Genealogy Society Conference that I've just returned from in Birmingham Alabama.  Great to see everyone.  Lots of fun going out to dinner and such.  Not the greatest conference.  I'm fascinated with Thomas' topic on several levels. 

As a company owner of course this affects my bottom line.  The genealogy market is a very tricky market to hit and if we had healthier conferences we would be able to have a much stronger industry and much more innovation for the genealogist. 

As a frequent conference goer, I was fascinated with my trip to Who Do You Think You Are Live in London this year.  They are doing something right there--I think the final count for the three days was 15,000?  Something like that.  I wrote extensively about the differences on my blog--http://www.thechartchick.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-americans-need-to-learn-from.html and other posts in March.  Basically they come to DO genealogy at the conferences NOT LEARN about it.  Learning only gets you glossy eyes 12 hours in.  DOING makes the conference accessible to all skill levels.  It is the Home and Garden Show model as opposed to the Scholarly conference model.  We have to shift our model if we want to get the big numbers like the quilters and the other hobbyists do. Be sure to catch Mel Wolfgang's posts listed in the post above. Comments on Thomas' blog are right.  Amy is right.  Tessa is right.  We have to change it up a bit. 
I think the comments on Thomas' blog post demonstrate that the U.S. model for genealogy conferences is stale.  We've all commented that we go for the camaraderie.  That tells me that the event isn't really doing anything for us. 

So--as Utah Genealogical Association President this year I've talked my board into doing some Research and Development for the genealogy community.  (I have the BEST board).  On September 21st and 22nd at our local community college, UGA is sponsoring a Family History Fair for the Whole Family. We've reduced the price for vendors and asked them to do an activity table along with their booth.  It is a win win for them because they can create the traffic to their booth.  We have gravestone rubbings, and photo booths and free popcorn and all sorts of things going on.  We tried out our pedigree game in Southern California and it was good to shake things up for the adults as well as the younger generation.  We've freshened up the schedule, with all levels, and we're doing games for young children on Saturday.  We're hopeful that everyone will bring their children and grandchildren and learn about their family history as a family. I think it will be a great event for the whole community.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I'm not sure how a conference this different is going to go.  But we are going to learn alot.  And I'm so excited to be able to do something different. 

Thank you Thomas.  As always your refreshing attitude is so good for this industry.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Employees

We have two new employees to introduce to you:

Lara Orchard was born in Utah and raised in Indiana.  She is the mother of six children and yellow to the core.  She's not sure who wants more fun--her or her kids.  She loves to read and spend summers in the sun.  She has an appreciation for genealogy that was given to her by her Mother, who is jealous of her job at Family ChartMasters.  Lara has been a great help this summer and hopefully if we haven't scared her off you'll be seeing more of her around here. 

Jenn McKay is actually not really a new employee either.  She was a great help through Christmas Rush last year and after a little hiatus is back with us again now.  Jenn is still in the honeymoon stage with her husband Iain McKay and dotes over her two huge German Shepherds Milo and Izz.  In her spare time, Jenn is working on her Masters' degree in Special Education.  She gives Erin a run for her money for the Detail Oriented Diva position and we are very lucky to have her. 

We are very blessed to have these two lovely ladies working with us.  With their help, we're in a better position than ever to take good care of you and make your genealogy chart a beautiful representation of your family.  We look forward to creating something special for you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Teenager update--Lesson learned.

With our church group, my son recently went up to spend some time at the Riverton Family History library.  I tagged along for a little bit and I had a good laugh when they taught me something I'd never supposed. 

Suzanne Curley, the director of the Riverton library is on my UGA board.  We are working together on the Saturday morning keynote address for the UGA fall conference in September (register at ugagenealogy.com).  The title is, "The Cool Parts of Family History: Kids Having Fun." I tagged along with our youth group for a little bit to get some video for our presentation. 

While I was there I got to watch my son and his best friend explore the internet sites they had just learned about.  They were looking for more information on their families.  My son's friend came up with some interesting discoveries that he was excited about.  Look what his response was:

That cracked me up.  What a different world they live in.  He took a picture of the screen with his Iphone in order to save it and send it to his Dad.

Now I don't know if you would have thought to record your findings that way, but I wouldn't have.  And I don't know if this is the best idea on how to record your research, but I'm sure the next one he comes up with will be something I never would have thought of too.  I found this picture to be a great symbol for what I have been learning about how to involve your teenagers.   Let them go.  Stand back and watch, and you will be amazed.  They will teach us new ways to use the technology and accomplish more if we will just get out of their way and watch them figure out how to do it.  When we come in and try to teach them up how to do it, they don't resonate with it.  We have to let them be new and let them explore.

I keep reminding myself--they don't have to do it my way.  As long as I don't squash their enthusiasm, they will be much more skilled at it when they are my age than I am now.  They don't have to be perfect at it.  They can be beginners.

And now I'm going to keep reminding myself--I have to get out of the way so that *I* can learn from *them* how to do it better and how to use technology.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teenager update--Family history trip

We had a bit of a family history trip this summer with my 15 year old son.  I took him with me to Burbank for the Southern California Genealogical Society conference.  We had a great trip and he helped me with my lectures and with the booth.  It was good to have time to talk to him on the drive.  I took the opportunity to show him around Westchester. CA where my mother grew up and where I spent my summers with my grandparents. 

We went to the house where my mother grew up.  It was easy to find because I still have the address soundly memorized because of all letters I wrote my grandparents as a little girl.  It turns out the house was for sale.  The house didn't look like it was in very good shape, but hopefully there will be new owners that love it soon.  There is my son out in front.  And the pictures below are left to right: My mother and her sister in the late 40s, me and Grandpa in about 1971 and a picture from when we visited in the late 90s after they had moved.  It was so fun to show him the neighborhood and tell him about my adventures in the summers--that's the bumpy sidewalk where I learned to roller skate, and here is the market we would walk to for "pop rocks" candy.  I showed him the church they attended and where my parent's wedding reception was.  It was so great to be in the old neighborhood again. 

We went to her high school.and her elementary school. I told him about how she and her friends would take summer school just to be closer to the beach and then they all would go hang out at the beach afterward.  Mom was in Accapella Choir here with the 60s musical group the Turtles.  We drove past the elementary school too. 

And we went out to the beach, where my Mom spent so much time and where we played as little children. I had forgotten about all the hills going out to the beach and how it seemed we would never get there--even though it was only a few minute's drive. 

He put up with me getting all sentimental.  I don't know how much he appreciated the tour but he was good natured about it.  But I was really struck with the fact that it is now up to me to pass on these memories.  I had never purposely gone back to that neighborhood on my own.  We have been past there several times with my parents since my grandparents moved in 1991.  We've taken trips down to Disneyland, etc and we always take a drive through Westchester to see how the house is doing.  But my parents were always in charge.  This was the first time I had driven there myself to show the next generation where it was. 

As we drove around, the memories were thick--I can still see my grandparents living there and smell the jasmine bush next to the kitchen window that would smell so good in the evenings when the windows were open.  I can see the strawberry cookie jar and hear the way the washing machine rattled.  But he knows none of that.  It was up to me to make that come alive for him.  I was amazed that even as young as I am--and with my parents still very much alive--the torch had already passed to me to pass down memories of people the next generation didn't know. 

And I loved my grandparents so much.  I really wanted him to know them.  I'm still working on that.  But we had a wonderful afternoon. 

And guess what--we were blessed with a little bit of serendipity.  I think my grandfather smiled down on us.  When we were done, we drove over towards the grocery store where my grandparents always shopped looking for a late lunch.  It has been turned into a strip mall.  Right where we went shopping all the time was Grandpa's favorite resturaunt.  So we had lunch there--wishing Grandpa was really there to enjoy it with us.  Maybe he was.  Maybe he really was. 

UGA's Fall Family Conference

We're at the BYU conference this week (come visit us!/ Our Schedule) but I wanted to tell you about the very different conference UGA is sponsoring in September.  Registration is at ugagenealogy.org
The Utah Genealogical Association is excited to announce their Fall conference "Come Climb Your Family Tree"

Bring your family to explore your roots: the Utah Genealogical Association Fall Conference will be a new kind of event for teens and adults.  Classes, vendors and activities will include all experience and interest levels.  Activities for young children from 1pm to 4pm Saturday.

This fall we've focused on a family friendly conference to enhance the record numbers this year with teenage involvement at the Riverton Family History Center, the Family History Library and in indexing the 1940 census.   There are two hours of classes Friday evening on the latest technology and getting started as a beginner that are perfect genealogists and people just getting started.  With a fresh schedule and vendor's activity booths, this will be different than any genealogy conference you've ever seen. 

Friday September 21, 9:00AM-8:30 PM and Saturday September 22, 9:00 AM-5:30 PM.  Lunches will be available for pre-order and pizza and snacks will be available to purchase Friday evening.  

The conference will be at the Sandy Campus of Salt Lake Community College near the 106th South off ramp of I-15

There is individual, family and partial conference pricing.  Free Family History Consultant track.  Limited seating available.

Reserve your spot today at www.ugagenealogy.com.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Much in Common

My family and I recently used our Visit Salt Lake Connect Passes to explore the spectacular new Natural History Museum of Utah.  What an impressive place!  The building is beautiful and captures so much of the structure and beauty of this amazing state.  Visitors are greeted at the beginning with an huge hall, built to represent a canyon, with arches reaching from gallery to gallery.  In the side of the canyon wall is a glass case stretching up with pieces of each part of the museum collection, an artistic kaleidoscope of the history and nature of Utah.
I tried to capture the magnificent dinosaur exhibits but you just can't fit it all into the camera lens.  We aren't big dinosaur aficionados in our family but you couldn't help but be impressed.  The exhibits taught us all sorts of things about the way dinosaurs are interpreted by modern archeologists trying to figure out what life was like.  We were fascinated, but we were only getting started in this huge place. 

I really enjoyed the Great Salt Lake gallery with interpretive displays on the way the lake is changing and how diverse the landscape and the animals are there.  There were exhibits on the ways the lake is used and preserved and hands on exhibits about the water flow through the valley.  The Land gallery was fascinating too with interesting exhibits on how areas of the state have changed and about the fault line running through the Wasatch Front.  In the Life gallery were some fantastic exhibits about dna and speciation.  The hands on exhibits were fantastic throughout with pottery shards to reassemble and cell structures to put back together. 

But when we got to the top of the building, I was really moved by the Native Voices exhibit.  As I've been writing about in my blog, I've been working hard lately to instill in my teenage children a sense of their history: a connection with the inspirational stories of their ancestors, and an understanding of the positive and negative traits that have passed through our family.  I found in this Native Voices exhibit, the same longings.  I have a very different background from those exhibited here, but the quest for grounding was the same.  So much of what they've said in this exhibit is so close to what I've been writing.  That sense of who you are is so deep, such a hunger. 

"Ever since I grew up, I've always been told that I am Paiute and should be proud of who I am.  Now research says that the more an Indian child knows about his culture, his history, the better he's going to be academically--and if they are well-versed in their language then that's even better.  And so that's why I think it's really important for our people to know our culture --Karma Grayman, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah"

I found a profound similarity between my reaching to preserve for my kids who we are, and what they can have pride in.  And yet with each passing generation in this melting pot nation, we become more and more diverse.  I am Swiss and British, my husband is Czech and Swedish.  So while I identify with certain immigrants, my children identify with twice as many.  They are becoming more and more removed from our past.

"The full blood, now, like us, we're slowly dying off.  And what we have here now is, blonde hair, red hair, blue eyes, gray eyes, those are our young generation.  And who's going to believe them when they say, "I'm a Northwestern Shoshone?"  They have to be speaking their Native language for them to believe them.  That's their disadvantage.  So we better hurry up quickly and try to teach 'em.  --Helen Timbimboo, Northwestern Band of Shoshone."

It is so important to preserve our history, and to give our children a strong sense of their heritage.  I'm so thankful for the people who have preserved my family's stories. 

"My sister and I have so many ideas on how to bring the bear dance, circle dance, and quail dance.  My dad preserved all that he knew about the dances; I have old recordings that he'd done back in the '60s of all these old people that have passed away, so we can relearn it.  It's not dead yet, I know a lot of songs...
--Shanan Martineau, Shivwits Band, Paiute."

When you have time, go see this exhibit.  And then go teach someone in the next generation of your family about your heritage.