Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WDYTYAL--My observations about British genealogists.

I'm going to get a little bit out of chronological order here. I'm going to tell you in the next blog posts about the great genealogy conference we just went to--Who Do You Think You Are Live in London England. I learned so much there that we as American Genealogists need to make note of. Then after a few blog posts to that effect--I'm going to go back and tell you more about what we found when looking for Trefusis. It was amazing and hopefully by next week I will have gotten my mind around it all.

These observations are just that, observations I personally made while talking to the consumers at Who Do You Think You Are Live. I recognize that these are sweeping generalizations, and are only based on my experiences, not any formal sampling of the genealogy community in England. However every observation I make here I observed consistently in many people as we were talking to them at our booth at the conference last weekend. I do think we are in a unique position to analyze these differences since we constantly see the actual genealogy files from people all over the world, and when we are at conferences, we are talking to people specifically about the research they have already accomplished and how to best print it out.

British genealogists are archive oriented while American genealogists are Internet oriented. It seemed that for the Brits that I talked to, doing genealogy online was a second thought. In fact, an amazing amount of the people we talked to did not have any of their information digitized, I would estimate 40-50% of the people we talked to had nothing but hand written research. The rest had entered their information into genealogy Internet sites. Only about 10-20% had anything in a genealogy software. They all knew what a gedcom was, they just didn't see much reason to use one other than to get their information back out of a genealogy website. I think Americans have to do their genealogy online because they are so far away from the records. But unfortunately I'm told that the Brits aren't any better than we are at citations. Their genealogy stands on the archives, but neither one of us are any good at documenting it. Darn.
British genealogists are not name collectors like Americans are. In America we have people come up to us at conferences consistently and ask if we can print, 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 names on a chart. (we can, our record still holds at just over 30,000 people which took 600 feet of charts). In England the consistent question was, " you probably can't print my file it is 200, or 240, or 260 people. When I showed pictures of some of the large charts we do in my lecture, I was met with some really strange looks.

British people didn't seem to be sharing their research with cousins or looking at the research of other people. Of those who had their information online, it didn't seem that they were looking for other people's research, but rather more documents to tie in. There was no name collecting going on that I could see. Again, I was never once approached by someone wanting to print out over a thousand names. I get approached about that in the states all the time and there isn't a conference that goes by where we aren't approached about printing 8,000 to 20,000 names at least a couple of times.
British people seem to be obsessed with getting the whole picture. Over and over and over again we were asked about charts showing all the brothers and sisters in a family, showing all the descendants that come from several ancestral lines, or all-in-one trees. They were not interested in the straight ancestral lines. They wanted to see all the lines and all the families.

British people are very localized in their research unlike Americans who have to know lots of different localities. In America we have to get our ancestor back over the ocean before we can do much. And then when we do we often have ancestors from several different countries. In my parent's generation you were talking about maybe 1-3 different countries because the immigrants had usually married within their own culture. But in my generation you are usually talking about 3-6 different areas of research and that will double again for my children's generation. We are a melting pot, and in being so, American genealogists have to learn to do research in several different areas. For the most part, British genealogists are dealing with one country, maybe Ireland or Wales or Scotland, and all of the records are treated the same. Even within the states we have 50 different ways the records have been kept. So genealogy is just a much harder scholarly research endeavor in the states, even though we aren't as inclined to be do the real research into the real documents but rely on compiled genealogies more.
In all, I think the British people are very very lucky to be so close to the record repositories and to live in a culture so closely tied to the past. I came away feeling that America is highly new and quick and flashy and disposable. But more on that to come...
Coming up next:
  • What has caused the excitement in England and why are they able to have so much interest in genealogy?
  • Differences in Marketing between the British and Americans
  • What the Americans need to learn from the British about how to hold a genealogy conference.
  • Janet Few--Harnessing the Facebook Generation--a fabulous lecture I got to go to.
And then, once I've processed it a little more, I can't wait to show you what I found at Trefusis.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trefusis part 3

We've arrived in London and are working through the jet lag so that we'll be ready and energized for the conference. We came a little early so that we would be rested and ready for 3 days and the 20,000 people they say are coming to this conference. We've never been to such a large conference, and I don't know any other small US based company who has tried actually purchasing a "stand" (booth) and running it with a smaller number of people (Ancestry and FamilySearch are here--but they have more people here than we do.) So we're not sure what we are actually in for. Thus we have a couple of extra days in England to work through the jet lag and go ancestor hunting.

The jet lag is supposed to be making me stay awake at night and then sleep late in the morning. In all my traveling in my 20s to Europe and the Middle East, I remember jet lag being a 1-2 day thing that made you really tired in the afternoons. But this morning I am wide awake, even though I haven't had much sleep and stayed up way too late last night. I'm excited about the conference, but the thing that's got me wide awake when I should be sleeping is the prospect of finding Trefusis farm. Not only is this the magical place that allowed my great-grandfather to trace his ancestry, it is the place where his ancestors lived--clear back to the 1620s. But so exciting is all of the other the prospects of what we could find there--the church where my great great great grandparents were married, the records that my great grandfather wrote back and forth to the vicar about in 1908, the church where they lived, the town they socialized in, the actual land that my ancestors walked in the 1600s. Unreal. There are no words to describe it.

And the most important part of what has my heart a flutter is what I'll be able to take back to the kids. They have begun to be invested in this line of our ancestry too because of our extraction project last year. But I'll be able to share with them actually being able to walk this place. The pictures and the videos that I can take back to the kids--and then hopefully to bring them here soon too. I just hope it is as amazing to them as it is to me. I think it will be. I may not get the reaction out of them that I am looking for. I'm sure they won't be as excited about it as I am. But they'll get it. It will resonate in them the same way it did in me when I was 16 and my parents took us to Neiderstoken, Switzerland where another line of our ancestry came from (Have I told you about that? I'll have to soon.)

I just wish my Grandfather was still alive. I have so much to thank him for. When he wrote that little book about his father, I'm sure he had no idea what he was building in my life. I am so thankful that he wrote that book tying me to my great grandfather. But I'm also so thankful that he gave it to me as a 10 year old child, so that it could work on me and invest me in this line of my ancestry all these years. Perhaps the kids won't appreciate it when I get to bring them to Trefusis Farm because they haven't known about it and wondered about it for 30 years. But 30 years from now, they will have wondered about things. And I hope they get to have a moment like this--on the cusp of my own Who Do You Think You Are moment.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trefusis part 2

So we've been working on my Great-grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter's family history research. Our family--including the three teenagers--spent last fall extracting one of the 18 volumes of family history research he left our family. We learned alot and it's been interesting and challenging to try to follow in his footsteps.

Now I'm going to try to follow in his footsteps even more. While we are in London for Who Do You Think You Are Live--the genealogy conference where Family ChartMasters will be exhibiting, Erin and I are going to strike out to do a little family history work. We are going to go looking for an estate by the name of Trefusis. Joseph wrote that this farm was the key to his unlocking his family's history and the means by which he was able to collect so much research along his Carpenter lines.

My grandfather's book shows a picture of the farm:

The book doesn't tell where the picture came from, only that it is a picture of the Trefusis farm.

In Joseph's writings, he describes the farm as being 4 miles west of Taunton, in Bradford on Tone, Somerset.

I think I've found it here:

View Larger Map

It's the little group of buildings on the left. The best picture I can get of it in Google Street View is this:

What do you think? Are we headed in the right direction?

And then there's always the genealogists way of finding it which I didn't think of until a couple of days later. Take a look at this map. Yep I think we've got it. Amazing. It is so amazing to think that my grandfather wished he could find this place for 20 year and then had to happen upon a newspaper advertisement, write to the land surveyors and such. All I did was type it into google maps. Wow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Trefusis part 1

We're heading out to Who Do You Think You Are Live this week and we are so excited to try out this huge conference. But even more than that, I'm excited to see if I can find something else. Trefusis. My grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter wrote about Trefusis in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine in July of 1924. It is written in that wonderful flowery early 1900's prose. Part of his article goes thus:

Some unique or peculiar name appearing in families in various generations is often an index to their relationship, and is a link with the past, and many interesting facts can be told along this line of research, and which the writer has found invaluable to him on several occasions. A few concrete examples may be of interest....

The following will show how one word, Trefusis, was the key to unlock the door of the archives of my ancestry, who had reposed in silence for many generations, and, as it were, completely lost: and in looking back, and realizing what an inspiration it has been to me in further research, it is now communicated with the hope that it may be an incentive to others who are placed in a similar condition, and feel their case almost hopeless, as I did mine.

Living in London until 25 years of age, one would naturally think that I would have gathered some family history, but I must confess that, like the majority of those with whom I mingled, I had no inclination in that direction, and when my uncles and aunts, living today, cannot tell me the name of their grandmother, or where she was born, or have an inclination to find out the facts, it shows at least a great dearth of interest in ancestral research. However I remembered one name, vis., Trefusis, I had heard my father mention, as the name of the estate where his forbears lived for many generations in Somersetshire. He died when I was a boy of 10 years, and his help in after years was not available.

While attending the funeral of an uncle, Edwin Carpenter in 1884, at Wimbledon, Surrey, two years before leaving England, I noticed his home was named Trefusis. It is a prevailing custom in England, especially among the middle class, to name their homes or villas after some name to their fancy or liking; so in this case my uncle perpetuated the family residence name of Trefusis, though on a smaller scale.

To find in what parish in Somerset Trefusis was located was the dream of my first 20 years' residence in Utah. I thought it must be near Taunton, as my father was born in the latter city in 1831 and my grandfather, Robert Gibbs Carpenter, was married there in 1829 to Maria Wright of Hull, Yorks...

I called in one evening, as was my custom now and again to visit and chat with Mrs. Clara Bench, widow of John L Bench, an old resident of Manti. She was born in County Devon, as was I and we had many things in common. She was accustomed to have sent her the Exeter Times, which kept her posted on the news of the old home county. In glancing it over to glean the news, my gaze became riveted on a certain advertisement, inserted by C.R. Morris Sons and Peard, of Taunton, land surveyors, etc.. and the same inspiration came over me, and the same voice appealed to my soul as I had listened to in the bank in May 1902: "Why not write these people, and ask them in what parish Trefusis is located?"

On January 9th, 1908, I wrote them, and February 6 their answer came, worded in a very kind and courteous letter: "Trefusis Farm is in the Parish of Bradford-on-Tone, about four miles west of Taunton." I now had something definite to go on. I accordingly wrote the postmaster, there, enclosing $1 greenback to pave the way, and soliciting his aid in copying for me the records of my forefathers to be found in the Parish Registers of Bradford. He turned the mater over to the Vicar, the Rev. W. T. Reeder: A kinder, more obliging and courteous clergy man could not be found than he. This worthy Vicar, during a correspondence of three or four letters, extending over a year, gave me a complete copy of all the Carpenter names on record in his parish, back to 1630, when they first appeared.

A most fascinating and pleasing pastime followed in arranging the names as they appeared in the christenings, marriages and burials, which he sent me, and they fitted in like a puzzle, when solved, down to the year 1880, showing three branches of the Carpenter family, who today, the Vicar stated, do not claim relationship. The records show that these three lines, whose common ancestor must be in the dim past before 1630, as previous to that date no Carpenters are found there.

The postmaster of Bradford sent me several views of the village of Bradford on Tone, had special photos taken of the old Trefusis farm house and an ancient and unique barn still standing on the premises, all of which are greatly treasured, thus giving me an idea of where my ancestors lived, and how their former home looks today. This made the record complete.

The joy in obtaining this long-wished-for line of my ancestors cannot be told in words...
In reciting the above facts my aim has been to show the value of persistent effort in following up clues that are often to be found in a peculiar name: and, above all, the great part our dead kindred can and do play in putting records into the hands of their heirs in the flesh, who are earnestly seeking for them.

I trust the above account of my efforts my encourage others similarly situated.
So I have to go looking for this source of serendipity in my family's genealogy don't you think? And then---we need to take the kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Teenage Project--Taking Grandma and Grandpa to the Library Part 2

Grandma and Granddaughter see some success. Following in the footsteps of her Great Great Grandfather, Granddaughter finds some more information that he apparently didn't know about.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My three favorite moments from RootsTech

Besides being able to have a party at our home Saturday night, here are my three favorite moments from the conference last week:My lecture "Advocating Genealogy and Growing the Market: Issues of the New Genealogist" went amazingly well. I told them that this was not particularly the lecture I knew how to give, but rather the lecture that I wanted to hear at RootsTech. I'm passionate about trying to engage new genealogists (that's why we do charts) and I really want to know why so many people are turned off to genealogy. So we discussed some of the brick walls that I see that the genealogy community puts up to new beginners. I had lots of questions for the audience and I wish we'd had two or three more hours to discuss these things. They had lots of great ideas and I can't wait to hear the recording that was made of the lecture. When it is available I'll post it here. As a community, genealogists need to figure out how to stop putting off new people so that we can grow and have the tools we need to become better at this.

Pretend there's a picture here

The next highlight was Saturday morning but you don't get to see the picture. (I'm still not showing you pictures of the kids--but I think we're going to have to give that up soon. They're old enough really--I'm just a overzealous mother.) I took the kids, and Drew Smith came over and asked if he could interview them for the Genealogy Guys Podcast. THANK YOU DREW. I think you put me 10 years ahead on the "Genealogy is Cool" timeline with investing the kids in our family history. It was so fun. He took us in the little glass booth at the center of the hall and told them that lots of people will hear them on the podcast. And the funniest thing happened--when he started asking questions, my self-proclaimed shy one (13-year-old boy) who didn't want to be interviewed wouldn't shut up :) His brother and sister couldn't get a word in edgewise. It was great fun. Hopefully Drew will be able to do his magical editing on it and I'll post it here when you can hear it.

And finally:
And then finally, we all got to sing happy birthday to my sister from another mother ;) Lisa Louise Cooke. I just love her so much, she inspires me like no other. And we got to spoil her for a minute. What a special treat. I get to have her back next month when she is planning to do some fantastic stuff for our spring UGA conference. Come see us there!

My very own Super Bowl Party

Even though you may have already seen the posts by Banai Feldstein, Jill Ball, Amy Coffin, I have to show you my favorite pictures from RootsTech. Over the weekend I had the honor of hosting my very own Super (bowl) party with the Giants of the genealogy industry.
Paula Hinkel, Kim Van Aspern-Parker, Caroline Pointer, Banai Feldstein, Randy Seaver, Linda Seaver, Leo Meyers
Drew Smith, Christy Fillerup, Kimberly Powell, David Pugmire, Elissa Scalise Powell, Audrey Collins, Reed Powell, Lisa Louise Cooke
Banai Feldstein, Daniel Horowitz, Mark Olsen, Paula Hinkle

There was this moment in the evening when I walked into the Family Room and saw this: It's like my facebook page come to life and sitting in my family room! So cool. All these people I love and get to work with--right here in my own home. It was just so fun.
Luana Darby, Barbara Rennick, Paul and Sue Maxwell, Dear Myrt, Carrie Keele and her husband, Thomas McEntee, Denise Levenick, Jill Ball and her husband, Lisa Alzo, and the amazing Footnote Maven. All right here in my family room. How spoiled I was for one evening. How much I want to capture them all and keep them here :)
Colette and Barry Ewell and Nancy Shivley
Drew Smith, David Pugmire, Christy Fillerup, Kimberly Powell, Elissa Powell, Audrey Collins
Gordon and Janet Clarke
Kelly and Jim Erickson, Craig Scott, and Reed Powell

Jim and Kelly Erickson, Gordon and Janet Clarke, Anne Tanner, Sue Maxwell, Elissa Powell, Dear Myrt, Lisa Louise Cooke, and Thomas MacEntee.
James and Anne Tanner. And yes Kim made it too :) Somehow he avoided most of the pictures.

I'm so sorry to all the people I missed getting pictures of. But thank you all so much for coming. It was so so much fun to have you all in our home.

I have to profusely give Emily Park an overabundance of thanks for helping me pull this off. While I was speaking that morning, she was working hard getting everything ready and then was a fantastic help keeping everyone happy and fed. Her official position here at Family ChartMasters has now become "Finance Officer and Chief Party Planner." Although I must say that dipping chocolate raspberries and such in valentines sprinkles is pretty fun work. Just take a look:

If you didn't make it, please don't feel bad, just plan on coming the next time we do it. It was so very much fun I'm actually thinking we might do it again. How can I not want to do it again looking at all these pictures. Just pray that Emily is up for it :).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Keeping it real

So we've been trying to work on family history for a couple of hours each Sunday morning with the kids. Some has gone ok, some hasn't

In the 18 hours that I was home between the Mesa conference and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy the other week, I was a basketcase trying to spend some time on this. I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out the password 13 year old boy had used when he signed up for new.familysearch. When we did finally get it, everything worked out and I got him matching up his grandmother's file with new familysearch fine. He's worked on it a little more since then. He's my name collector so I think he's going to enjoy that. Hopefully he won't remember his mom being bezerk about it.

I went through my suitcase with ideas for my lectures about getting children involved and let 11 year old girl choose something she wanted to work on. She has been reading her grandmother's family histories about their ancestors, and writing in her "My Family History and Me" coloring book. Its a cute little 23 page book with spaces for the child to fill in information about their family. You can get them by calling 801-295-8131.

Husband has been working on his Swedish lines. Trolling for ancestors through the Lutheran churches of Sweden.

15 year old boy has been editing videos. I'm so proud of him. On the 29th he started in on the recordings we made of Great Grandpa Carpenter's Amberola cylinders. He worked all day on a website for it. Couldn't get him to go to bed. He's so excited and so am I. So am I.

13 year old boy has the genealogy software we loaded on his computer in a folder on his desktop entitled "Junk my parents made me install." Works for me :)

I'm going to need some more ideas for 11 year old girl soon. What do you think? I want to give them some time to explore before we head back into more extraction. Ideas?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

There's only so much you can do.

So last weekend we were going to take the kids to the library again like we had planned to do every month. But between going to the conference in Mesa, then heading straight into SLIG, going to RootsTech this weekend, and then heading out for Who Do You Think You Are Live, the UGA Spring Conference and then the Story At Home conference, I just couldn't do it. They were all set to go but I needed some down time. Helping me set up for RootsTech is going to have to be enough this week.
You win some, you lose some. 9 weeks of straight conferences with only one at home--you really can't fit more family history into life than that. Maybe I can get them to go to some more classes throughout all these conferences. I'll let you know how it goes.

Bringing the kids to RootsTech

I just had a flash of inspiration.

I had asked 15-year-old boy if there were any classes at RootsTech that looked interesting to him. He wasn't that enthralled, and in the busyness of this 9 week stretch of conferences, I didn't really push him. I had brought 11 year old girl up to help set up the booth and they were meeting people after the conference but that was about it. Someday I want to take them to classes--I have to walk the walk there. But it's not like they've never seen a genealogy conference.

But then I was thinking: a number of people have asked if they were going to get to meet my kids because they've been reading here about them. I realized on the drive home last night--I need to bring them not particularly for classes, but just to meet my genealogy family and get some feedback on our project from all of you. I love being with you all so much, and it's been so fun to talk to you all at this conference about my kids. I know you all are so excited about what we've been doing. Duh?!? I need to bring them today so that you can embrace them into our genealogy family.

So I need to ask a favor this morning. If any of you at RootsTech are reading, could you make a big deal out of my kids today? If you could tell them how awesome they are that they did this big project last Christmas, they would know that Mom isn't the only crazy one out there. Give them a big pat on the back for me ok?

You guys are so awesome. Like Josh Taylor said this morning on facebook: I'm sad RootsTech is almost over. It is so fun to be with you all.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Teenagers--Faked them out.

So the kids have caught wind that I'm thinking about writing a book. I haven't particularly told them the book is going to be about them. I don't want to spoil the unpredictable element of our teenage experiment. But they know I've been blogging about them. And I think they are starting to figure it out.

That's another reason to be thankful to Thomas MacEntee for making me rework my blog posts into a book about visiting Salt Lake City. I think it will fake them out and they'll forget that I'm writing about them in this blog. I've told them all about my new "book." And I'm hoping that will help them relax about the family history projects we've been doing.

Thank you to everyone who has been interested in my little Salt Lake Book. We've had over 300 downloads and I have a few copies of the printed book that you can get from us at the Family ChartMasters booth at conferences. It's still available at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Treasure Hunt from RootsMagic

I'm honored to be asked to participate in RootsMagic's treasure hunt. Here's the announcement from Bruce and Mike and their team:

It’s been a tremendous last few months here at RootsMagic. We’ve been busy with the new releases of Personal Historian 2 and RootsMagic 5. We're also excited to participate in one of the largest genealogy events in North America- RootsTech!

We want to celebrate these momentous events with you, our loyal users! And what better way to celebrate than with a treasure hunt where you could win one of many prizes including an iPad 2!

Online Treasure Hunt

We've partnered with 15 of the best and brightest genealogy bloggers who will be reporting at the RootsTech conference. Each blogger will place one of 15 clue words on their website

From Thursday, February 2 through Wednesday, February 8, 2012, visit for a complete list of the blogs where the 15 clue words can be found. Visit each blog, collect all 15 clue words, and you could win software, prizes, or an iPad 2!

Enter at RootsTech or at Home

Once you've collected the clues there are two ways to enter. The first is at the RootsTech conference itself. Pick up an entry card at the RootsMagic booth (#224) in the Exhibit Hall. Write the clue words on the back of the card and return it to the RootsMagic booth in the Exhibit Hall by Saturday, February 4 at 1:20 pm. At that time, we will hold the prize drawings. You must be present to win.

We didn't want those who aren't able to attend RootsTech in person to feel left out so we're holding a second drawing and giving away more prizes including a second iPad 2. To enter this drawing, visit anytime between Thursday, February 2 and midnight MST on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. Fill out the online form to be entered into the second drawing. You may enter both drawings but one entry per person, per drawing. Winners will be picked at random and notified via e-mail by Friday, February 10, 2012.

Remember, the treasure hunt doesn't begin until this Thursday. Good luck!

Continuing the Teenage Project

So after we presented our project to my parents, and took everyone to the family history library, we had a family council and I asked them if they would be willing to do more family history. I gave them a couple of options, we discussed different times when we could work on it at home once a week, and talked about making a trip up to the library and going out to lunch once a month.

Guess What!!!
The kids agreed to continue our family history projects for an hour or two every Sunday morning (there seems to be the least complications then.) And once a month we're planning on going up to the library on Saturday morning (again, the least interruptions.)

So I asked them:
Why did you say yes?
"Because it will make you happy and distract you from our other evil plans."

Did it make you feel good?

From teenagers? I'll take it.

I'll say it again. Family History is like nutritious food. It may not be the most glamorous but it feels really good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Christmas Presentation--Our Teenage Experiment

Here are my Mom and Dad opening the Extraction Christmas Present that we all did for them. It's kind of anti-climatic because it was hard to describe to them what we had done with all the chaos of opening Christmas presents around. They had a hard time wrapping their minds around how big the project was, but after things slowed down, and they were able to read about our experiences, they were really excited about the present and excited to come to the library with us.

You can see the first part of our excursion to the library and my explanation of the project here:

We'll post the rest of the videos from this trip to the library next week.