Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In my defense-Great Grandma's Honey Candy

So I worked my children hard, hard, hard to get our extraction project finished for Christmas. I really wasn't as bad of a tiger mom as it sounded on the blog. Yes, we worked on recording family group sheets right up to 11:30 am Christmas Eve. And no, we hadn't baked any Christmas cookies or cooked a beautiful Christmas Dinner. But in my defense, that was because we were blessed this last Christmas to be able to go to my Mom and Dad's for the holiday. We were free to be able to work on the family history because I knew all the preparations were already set thanks to my Mom and Dad and my sisters who had worked to create a wonderful Christmas celebration waiting for us.

When we went up to Mom and Dad's on Christmas eve, we got there just in time to make Honey Candy. The recipe is one of our traditional family recipes that we make every year for Christmas. My great great grandmother Ethel Amelia Williams was born on the 15th of February 1880 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married Fred Schwendiman on the 7th of January 1897 and died on the 23 of March in 1973. She raised 5 children including my great-grandmother Viola Schwendiman. She made this recipe along with several others that have become family favorites. I met Grandma Schwendiman in 1970 when we went to Idaho to visit her. I have a picture with my mom and I, Mom's mother Eila Dana, and Grandma Schwendiman. If my great-grandmother Viola had been there we would have had a full 5 generation picture. But Grandma Schwendiman's honey candy is a family favorite that sends Mom's cousins back to their childhood, and encircles my new brother-in-laws into the family.

This year we took videos while Mom made the candy. You can hear the gorgeous sounds of my nieces and nephews, sisters and brother-in-laws all gathered for Christmas in the background. It feels so good to have captured my Mother in all of her "Christmas preparations" glory. I hope you enjoy being part of our family for a few minutes. I just wish I could give you a taste through the blog. You'll just have to come visit next Christmas--but be prepared to help with the extraction if you come. :)

and part 2:

Thank you thank you to my 15 year old son for editing the videos into a coherent flow. He even put his great-great grandmother's picture in the corner. How cool is that? And there's outtakes too. Enjoy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Teenagers and the Family History Library. Microfilm

15 year old boy is getting caught up on editing all the videos we've been taking with getting my teenagers involved. So I'm ready to start catching you up on how it's been going with my kids. We've found so many great things they've been attracted too. I'm excited to tell you about them. But before I can catch you up on giving the extraction project to my parents over Christmas and then taking them to the library and what's happened since then, I have to tell you about when we took the kids to the library last fall.

Now my kids have been to the library many times. But not since they've been teenagers (read: "yeah right, Mom.") I used to do lots of family history with them until we started Family ChartMasters. So this was a first trip *back* to the library.

In the middle of this extraction project, last fall, we decided to take the kids down to the Salt Lake library and see if we could find the source material for some of the family group sheets we'd been working on. I was all set to have them look up the parish records from the parishes that my grandfather had written to, but when we got there I decided to just let them wander and watch and see what they did. It was most fascinating. Here's what we learned:


Being curious is what gets every genealogist started. I'm so glad I was accidentally smart enough to just let them have fun. I could have come in and said, "this is how you do this, and this is how you do this..." But they had much more fun figuring it out for themselves.

Both boys (13 and 15 years old) went straight to the computers and started clicking away. I watched them both take off on the desktop that the library had set up. 13 year old boy found out he had the same birthday as a famous astronaut. 15 year old boy went to wiki.familysearch.org and started working on the youth pages. He was correcting grammar and straightening out formatting for a while, but then started adding content. He was totally at home in that environment, doing things I'd be a little more hesitant about.

13 year old boy started looking through the 1930 census for my maternal grandparents. He clicked, clicked, clicked through everything, researching quickly through several sites I had not taught him to use. He found Grandpa on find a grave, went through worldreference.com, went over to google images and downloaded pictures of my Grandpa, all of which I didn't know were out there. I think it's really interesting that he started with the oldest ancestor that he knew and remembered, even though he has been taught about many others. He knew my Grandpa well, so that was the natural place to start. And I thought I knew everything there was to know about Grandpa, but I didn't know what was out there on the net.

After a few minutes he remembered the focus of our trip, my Paternal Great-Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter. It only took him a few minutes to find him in the census and he got really excited about that. He quickly took a screenshot of the image, dumped it into paint and tweaked it and then sent it off to my mother in an email--all within a couple of minutes. It was a real testament to how youth will take to family history if they are just exposed to it.

After a little while, they followed me to look for some of the British microfilm. The library closed early that day so we didn't get as far as we'd hoped, but it was still fun. They wanted to take a few videos about the library. They are very intrigued with putting everything we're doing up on youtube. It was quite amusing to watch these high-tech boys then go and try to figure out how to run a microfilm reader after watching them breeze through the family history on the internet.

It is fascinating to me that my great-grandfather only wrote to the parish priests. To my knowledge he never actually saw copies of the church records where the original information was recorded. Now we have those records available to us on the internet and in the library. We can see the records he only dreamed of.

I wonder how Joseph Hatten Carpenter felt about microfilm. The entity that eventually became FamilySearch started filming genealogy records in 1938 and the Granite vault was opened in 1963, right before he died on 10 Dec 1964. I'm sure he had heard about them, but I wonder if he ever saw any. I'm sure it was this newfangled way of doing genealogy. I wonder if he felt he'd have to go back and recheck, and source everything against what the parish priests had sent him. Actual prints probably felt like great technology to him. It makes me wonder what my grandchildren will think of the research we do now.

And most awesome of all? When I asked them if they wanted to go again, 13 year old boy said "sure, how about on Monday?" Woot Woot!

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

When I got to the Family History Expo in Mesa, I was greeted with a new book. Of course I already loved the new book because it was by my favorite genealogy lady, Lisa Louise Cooke. I love Lisa's approach to genealogy. She makes it fun and engaging and I think she's better than sliced bread when it comes to the genealogy market. If you haven't ever listened to her Genealogy Gems you should. It is chock full of great ideas and I love listening because she keeps me abreast of all the new things going on.

The new book is chock full of great ideas too. It's titled, Everything You Need to Know About How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. Lisa is amazing at everything she does and this book is no exception. It is crammed with links and suggestions on how to find your family. There are links for every state, and every country, you can just open it up and get going.

But I was floored when I opened it up. In the front it says this: "Thank You Janet Hovorka. Things were a bit slow in the exhibit hall at one genealogy conference in 2011, so I got a chance to catch up with Janet Hovorka of Family Chartmasters. Janet is a kindred spirit for me. Not only are we the two tall blonde moms chatting our way from one end of the hall to the other, but we share a deep passion for not just family history, but for families and family historians. Janet has been an invaluable sounding board for me, and a cheerleader for the creation of a new book. At that conference Janet encouraged me to ask Leland Meitzler what book genealogists needed right now..."

Now I don't know if I inspire Lisa alot, but I know she inspires me. She is the same invaluable sounding board on this side and I get lots of brilliant ideas from her. We both care deeply about the soul sanctifying benefits of family history. I highly recommend her book. I know it will help you find more about your family. And you can come see Lisa at RootsTech this week, or at the UGA conference March 3rd. She is an amazing speaker and I know you'll come away energized about your family history.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

WOW, just WOW. The Week of SLIG.

Congratulations to everyone who helped create a wonderful Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy this year. Christy Fillerup, Peg Ivanyo, Sherry Stevens, Luana Darby, Jill Woodbury, Kimberly Powell, and Carrie Keele all worked hard and the hard work paid off beautifully. The level of instruction for SLIG this year was better than ever--the most exceptional genealogy instruction you can get anywhere.

Salt Lake Institute is different than any other conference I get to go to. And get to have a birds-eye view because I'm president of the Utah Genealogical Association who sponsors it. There are typically 10 to 12 tracks and each student takes 20-25 hours of instruction in one of the subject specific tracks. The instruction is on a more advanced level, and with 20 hours of focused instruction you get to go really in depth into the subject matter you are studying. It is a super-charged week that blows your mind. It is absolutely amazing what these instructors and students can find in someone's family history. Most people's brick walls simply fall over in the presence of the knowledge here. I love the brilliant, invigorating, scholarly atmosphere at this conference.

I took the Swedish track this year, taught by Geoffrey Froberg Morris and Wilma Larson, both librarians at the Nordic Desk in the Family History Library. I thought I knew a little bit about Swedish genealogy, but I found out just how very little I knew. The first day we worked on Gothic script and they had me believing I could actually learn to read it well--and maybe even teach my teenagers to as well. We were given pages and pages of vocabulary lists specific to different record types and databases. And I learned about several databases and CDroms that I didn't know existed. As the week progressed, they walked us through court records and tax records and the full scope of Swedish church records, not only blowing my mind, but showing us how to stretch our lines back 100 years past where we thought they could go. I'm especially excited about the classes on Military Records and everything I learned about how to trace Kim's great, great Grandfather's soldier records. There is so much there to fill out the details of their lives.

I also got to help run audio visual for the week. We had the most fun virtually bringing in instructors from Wales for the Welsh course through our online meeting system. The transmission wasn't perfect, it depends not only on our internet connections and computers, but also on theirs. But everyone said the content was completely worth it. We had a Welsh specialist on emigration talk about the people who left Wales--he brought in a whole new twist on the subject. And the person who helped build the index to newspapers talked about Welsh newspapers that are unavailable online. Darris Williams did a fantastic job of getting the hang of the system. Kudos to him for being willing to give that new aspect of SLIG a try.

Tom Jones gave the keynote lecture on Monday night entitled "The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not." I honestly could listen to that man read fairy tales and still learn something. He is so brilliant. The way he presents genealogy theory makes it all come clear. I got some time later in the week to talk to him about the class he taught for the Advanced Genealogy Practicum Course. He gave them a problem that the students had to work out and then they discussed it in class. The problem was about a man who lived under an assumed name across several states, with four wives and twelve children. He actually figured out how to track him through documents with completely different names. What a challenge it was for those practicum students. And what I love best about Tom is that he is so generous and respectful to me and everyone else who is so undeserving in his presence. Again, he is one of those instructors that makes you believe you could do it yourself.

And then one of the highlights of the week was to sit by and get to listen to our banquet speaker--Lou Szucs. She is such a legend in the genealogy community, and again so generous and kind to work with. I especially loved listening to her stories about getting her children involved--how her kids were lucky enough to be the only ones with their own microfilm reader--and they knew how to use it! She said her daughter Julianna talks about "trolling for ancestors through the streets of New York" in the New York Census while other kids were out getting into trouble. She made me feel better when she said that she paid her kids $.25 per ancestor and that it wasn't bribery but "economic advantage." I want to grow up to be Lou in every way. What a generous, sweet woman.

So if you want to learn to be a REAL genealogist, plan to come to SLIG next year. My only problem now is deciding which course to take.

So it turns out heaven is located in Mesa Arizona

Last weekend I went to the Family History Expo in Mesa Arizona. We always enjoy this conference because it is a great break in January in the warm Arizona sun. But the warmth is not just the weather--it's also in the people. This conference was especially wonderful for me because I got lots of time to talk to our clients there. And I've never had such a warm welcome.

Dave Davenport is one of our all time favorite clients. We lovingly call him our Mesa Marketing Department. He loves the big elaborate charts we do with lots of pictures, like this one:When I mentioned in our e-newsletter that I was coming to Mesa, Dave sent out an email to all of his friends that we had worked with and told them to come see me at the conference. I'm so glad he did. I enjoyed the warmest reception from all the people who stopped by the booth, and who I went to meet Saturday morning. It was kind of funny that I had seen all of their pictures, but they didn't particularly know me. I felt like I knew them even though we had never met. That's the beauty of these picture charts. They pull anyone in and help them understand your family.

Dave also brought me the wonderful binder he had put together with pictures of each of the charts we had done together. It was amazing. 25 beautiful picture charts similar to the one above. I couldn't believe it. I knew we had done alot of beautiful charts with him but I hadn't ever seen all of them in one place. I was so moved to see the charts and to get to meet the people. As I told Erin over the phone, we print the charts, and send them off, and they kind of go out of our memory, but the families who create them get to enjoy them for a long, long time.

Thank you so much to all the clients who stopped by to tell us what a success their charts have been--Dave's friends and others. I had several people tell me about their family reunions, and how the charts we printed for them pulled the family together. One of the most memorable stories was from Gary Foster. He took one of our working charts and created a "torah" type casing for it. He calls it the "Foster Family Torah." He was kind enough to bring me pictures of the spindles he had created on a lathe and the rack he had created to be able to hang and turn it on the wall. He even takes it with him when he talks about family history so he created a cover for it. Isn't that fantastic? This family history is sacred ground for his family so he felt it was appropriate to take good care of it.

Thank you so much to everyone in Mesa for the warm welcome. I went home feeling so appreciated. And I'm rededicated to making sure every family representation we create is something to treasure. We are honored to help you share your family history with the next generation.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Chart Chick's Quick Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City

To help you with your trip to RootsTech and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, I've been hard at work revising and updating my earlier blog posts about Salt Lake City into a quick and easy guide that will make your trip more enjoyable.

The Chart Chick's Quick Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City.

It is available as a free pdf available at www.familychartmasters.com/slc.

And I've put it on Lulu for anyone who wants a print copy. You can order it right now until RootsTech starts on February 2nd for 30% off the regular $14.95 price making it just over $10.

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for encouraging me to get this out there. I hope you all enjoy it. Stop by the Family ChartMasters' booth and let me know what you tried out and how you liked it. We'll see you soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting the next generation involved--a testimonial

This testimonial made our day today. And just look at these pictures! This is why we do what we do.

Dear Janet and Erin,

Hope your new year's off to a good start!

I've been meaning to write and tell you just how thrilled my family was with the custom chart you created for us. It turned out even more beautifully than I had imagined, and I was so excited to give it to them Christmas morning. My mother- and father-in-law were speechless at first, then in tears when they realized what it was. My sisters- and brothers-in-law were also amazed, even though they knew I was making it, and so appreciative when I gave them their own copies. But what really surprised me was how touched my nieces, nephews, and own children were (a total of eight kids in their teens and 20's). The chart really moved them. To say it was a hit would be quite an understatement. Within a day, it was hanging in a place of honor in the front foyer.

I truly believe this is the best thing I could have possibly done to share my work on the family history and get the rest of the family interested in their ancestry. Thank you for all the hours you put into making the chart a reality for me. Family ChartMasters was a delight to work with from start to finish. You seemed to grasp my idea for the chart right away, and whenever I made yet another revision or swapped another picture you cheerfully incorporated it. The chart will be a family treasure for many years to come. I look forward to working with you again on other branches of my family!

Just to give you an idea, my 24-year-old daughter put a picture of her grandmother and grandfather holding the chart on her Facebook page with the caption, "The best Christmas gift ever!"

Thanks again and best wishes,

Monday, January 16, 2012

The 6 basic principles of sharing your family history with your children.

I've got a bunch of videos we've been editing from how things went over Christmas. I can't wait to show you Mom and Dad's reaction to the kids' family history present for them and how it went when we took everyone to the library to start verifying these records. So stay tuned for that. 15-year-old boy is editing the videos and I'm trying to get him to repress the perfectionist in his nature or you'd never see them. But as much as I want you to see them, I want him to do it himself more, so you'll have to be patient.

In the meantime I have a section of my new book for you. Likewise coming soon. Here's a sneak peek. The 6 basic principles of sharing your family history with your children.

  • If you make it boring it will be boring. Start with an attention getter and make sure you are a good story teller. Anyone would be interested in seeing a picture of their great-grandfather who looked just like them. And any child would like to see his grandfather's school report card when he was their age. All children will listen to stories about the trouble their mother got into as a child. Start with photos, games, or engaging stories if you want your family to be interested in what you have to tell them about their family's past.
  • Don't underestimate their abilities and interest level. Working with children, I've been consistently amazed at how much interest they had even when I didn't expect it. When you expect them to be interested, but keep in mind their attention level, you will find that they will surprise you with their excitement about their history. If they aren't all that interested, return to the paragraph above and analyze the way you are presenting it to them.
  • You may not inspire a self proclaimed genealogist but you will have a child that knows about their family history. While your children or grandchildren my not identify themselves as a genealogist, they may still grow up knowing alot about their family of origin. Any child can benefit from the blessings of family history whether they become a zealot for the cause or not. Each time they encounter their family's history more and more of the benefits of knowing their past will come into play in their lives.
  • Teaching about family history is a lifestyle, not a single event. Every little encounter children have with their family history is a little more they know about their past. Encounters can be as small as a comment or as large as a full scale family event. But over the course of time, big and small encounters with family history add up to a foundational knowledge about where the family came from and a more developed sense of self for the child.
  • Family history is best passed down when you know the family members you are trying to involve. Know the attention span of the children you are working with. Know how they approach problems and what frustrates them. Know what interests and hobbies they have that might tie in to a project you want to do. Find a characteristic they have in common with an ancestor. When you bring the family history to the child rather than try to bring the child to family history, your child's connection will be much stronger and easier to forge.
  • If you are excited about it, and if you have a good relationship, they will be more inclined to be excited about their family history too. My kids joke that when they work on family history with me they get in my "good zone." They know that I am passionate about it, and they know that I love it when they get involved. They know that after working on family history with me, they can talk me into many privileges that I might have otherwise said no to because I trust that their souls are fed and I can trust them more with other aspects of their lives. Hopefully they will come away from our time together with a love for family history because they love me. I know they have already developed a love for family history because they love their grandparents. And hopefully their experiences with family history will be associated with joy because their mother was so happy with them when they were working on it.

Like my Great Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter said, "One arises from the study of genealogy with a clearer and more charitable conception of the whole brotherhood of man." Who wouldn't want to inspire that in their kids?