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# Monday, December 16, 2013
Decorating My "Family Tree" With Christmas Ornaments Made by Grandma
Posted by Diane

My family's Christmas tree is finally up and decorated. Well, at least the top half of it is (to help protect it from little hands).

My favorite ornaments are the ones my grandma made. She'd create one for each grandkid (there are 15 of us now) every year. Here's my collection:



Looking at them is like viewing the evolution of craft. Sewing, painting, beading, needlepoint, cross-stitch, plastic canvas—Grandma could do it all.

Some of the ornaments have the year stitched in or painted on the back. And can you tell I had a thing for teddy bears as a kid?

The angel ones remind me how Grandma would call us "Angel," and now that's what she calls my children when we visit.

Each one is a treasure to me. I'd love to hear about your favorite ornaments, too. Merry Christmas!


Family Heirlooms
Monday, December 16, 2013 10:58:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, November 18, 2013
How My Sister Tracked Down a Family for Old Photos Found in a Thrift Store Dresser
Posted by Diane




Lawyers and genealogists have a lot in common (just ask the Legal Genealogist), including investigative  skills. My lawyer sister used hers recently to find a home for a collection of family mementos.

It's a happy story, so I asked if I could blog about it.

A stranger called my sister, Jen, at work, about old photo albums, papers and trinkets she found in a dresser she bought at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop.

(Reminder to double-check inside any furniture and behind picture frames before you donate them!)

The woman looked for a name, found Jen's married surname with a photo, googled it, and found Jen's profile on her law firm's website. Jen went to pick up the stuff.  

She pored over it with her husband and his sister. It was a big collection. "There were nine photo albums of old black and whites from about the early 1900s to the 1960s, plus an album of color photos from the 1970s and '80s, old Disabled American Veterans and American Legion hats and pins, and Freemasons certificates and mementos," Jen says. (She didn't take a picture; the box pictured above is just for illustration.)  

Except for the one photo, which showed my brother-in-law's great-aunt and -uncle, none of the items appeared to be from his family.

Another name appeared a few times amongst the items (not included here for privacy purposes). Jen googled the names and came up with two obituaries for a husband and wife. One was fairly recent and mentioned no surviving children, only unnamed nieces and nephews.

Jen put on her lawyer hat and reasoned the family might still be dealing with an estate. She visited the Kenton County (Ky.) Property Valuation Administrator's website and found a home listed under the deceased couple's names. She googled the address—it was for sale. Then she tracked down the real estate agent in charge of the listing, contacted him with an explanation about the stuff, and asked him to forward her contact information to his clients.

A few days later, one of the nieces called Jen. "I described what was in the photos and what some of the names listed in the photos were, and it was all familiar to her. She came to the office to pick everything up, and was super excited about getting it."

The niece is related to my brother-in-law, at least through marriage, because his great-aunt and -uncle are her relatives, too. Happy ending!


Family Heirlooms | Research Tips
Monday, November 18, 2013 1:44:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 09, 2013
In Which I Do Some Genealogical Decorating With Pretty (Easy) Family Tree Charts
Posted by Diane

I promised our Genealogy Insider email newsletter readers that I'd show the framed family tree charts I put in my children's rooms.

You can get these charts as type-in downloads or as blank paper versions at ShopFamilyTree.com. You also can win a framed one—more on this below.

Leo's tree is the 8x10-inch Watercolor design



Why not hammer in the picture nail with what your two-year-old has immediately at hand?



For Norah's tree, I used the Floral design, also the 8x10-inch size.



Until Daddy takes care of the picture ledge item on his honey-do list, its home is on Norah's dresser (next to her hairbow frame, inspired by something I saw on Pinterest. Yes, I actually completed a project I pinned).



These obviously aren't my research charts or a complete record of all of the kids' known ancestors. Nope. Instead, they're a beautiful way to display the names of my children's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Because these trees are in children's rooms, I chose frames in kid colors. (I printed copies for their baby books, too.)

You also could use a more-versatile gold-tone frame, like our giveaway family tree. I think these decorative family trees would make lovely gifts for the holidays, a baby shower or a wedding.

Three family tree chart designs are available in ShopFamilyTree.com—the Floral and Watercolor trees I used, and this Vintage tree:



The family tree charts are available two ways in ShopFamilyTree.com:  
  • a downloadable PDF, which includes three sizes—8x10, 11x14 and 16x20. You can type names right into the spaces on the PDF file and print it on your printer (what I did), or take the file to an office store to be printed.

  • a printed chart. You get an 11x14-inch blank chart that you fill out by hand (trace lightly with pencil first, or type names on your computer and print them onto clear labels). It looks like this option might be temporarily out of stock, though.
Here's how you can win the 11x14-inch Watercolor family tree chart, printed with your family names and framed: Enter our drawing. That's it!

Oh, the giveaway deadline is Nov. 1, and you can get extra chances to win if you get friends to enter. See details on the Family Tree Chart Giveaway page.



Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy for kids | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 9:39:04 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 29, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, March 25-29
Posted by Diane

There's lots of free stuff in this week's genealogy news roundup:
  • Do you love finding out about people's heirlooms? Were you one of the thousands of people to attend the "Antiques Roadshow" taping in Cincinnati last summer? I was! The three episodes filmed here will be broadcast Mondays April 1, April 8 and April 15, at 8/7 central on PBS. 
  • More Cincinnati news: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County genealogy department has added two more volumes of its Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps to its free Virtual Library. Volumes 7 and 8, which cover Norwood and eastern neighborhoods in 1917, conclude the set that staff began digitizing four years ago. I've already made a note in my research log to dig further into this collection. View the maps here.



Get research tips for solving your genealogy brick walls in our weeklong workshop Genealogy Brick Wall Busters: Tips and Advice to Overcome Your Genealogy Brick Walls, April 19-26.


Family Heirlooms | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | NARA | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 29, 2013 10:02:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 04, 2013
Sharing Stories of Heirlooms—Old and New
Posted by Diane

When it comes to preserving and sharing the stories of family heirlooms (something we talk a lot about here at Family Tree Magazine) I think it's important to log not only antiques that have been in your family for generations, but also newer objects you hope will become heirlooms.

That's why, as part of the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt, I registered my childhood rocking chair in Houstory's Heirloom Registry.



The registry is a site where you can keep a log of your family heirlooms. You affix an Heirloom Registry sticker to an inconspicuous spot on each item, and your descendants can use the code on the sticker to look up what you had to say about that object.



This chair is something I played with, and I hope my daughter Norah will play with it. Santa (aka Mom and Dad) gave it to my two older sisters and me when I was about 18 months old, which would have been in 1975. My mom says that I "kind of took over ownership." This makes me feel better about my sisters always hiding my dolls and calling shotgun first when we were kids.

I  considered posting a photo of myself sitting in the chair, but the only one we have is a diaper shot. So instead I offer this:



Yes, I get to kiss those chubby almost-4-month-old cheeks every day.

Even if you don't want to register your family heirlooms online, pleasepleaseplease write down information about them (you can use the free downloadable Heirloom Inventory on FamilyTreeMagazine.com) and share copies with loved ones. Please.

Now for the scavenger hunt fun! 
  • If you’d like to start the scavenger hunt now, go to The Houstory Hearth blog’s special Scavenger Hunt Page. There you’ll find information about the hunt, the prizes, and the list of the other three blogs you’ll need to visit today.
  • If you already know what you’re doing, here’s the Heirloom Registry ID Code you need to obtain my secret word: CEFD-304-562-5138-2011
  • If this is your final stop for Hunt No. 1, be sure to submit your entry form with your secret words before Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at midnight PST. Instructions for Hunt No. 2, which starts on March 6, will be posted at the Houstory Hearth blog at 12 a.m. EST on March 6. Good luck—and happy hunting!
 


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Monday, March 04, 2013 11:15:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 28, 2013
Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Family Heirlooms (and Maybe Win Prizes)!
Posted by Diane

You might've seen the news about the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt that the folks over at Houstory have put together for next week.



I love how it will encourage genealogists to record and share the stories behind their family heirlooms, so I'm happy to be part of it. Plus, you can win a bunch of prizes, including our Family Tree Magazine 2012 Annual CD; How to Archive Family Keepsakes from the Family Curator herself, Denise Levenick; Preserving Your Family Photographs from Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor, and more.

Scavenger hunt days are March 4, 6 and 8, with a prize awarded each day plus a grand prize at the end.

To go on the hunt, you'll need to visit four blogs on their designated hunt day—that's Monday, March 4 for this Genealogy Insider blog. Click here to see the list of all four blogs you need to visit on Monday.

Each blogger will post about an heirloom he or she has logged in Houstory's Heirloom Registry. The post will provide that item's registry code. After you visit each blog, you'll go to the Heirloom Registry website, look up the heirloom using the registry code, view the Registry Certificate for that item, and find a secret code word. Then you'll include the code words from the four blogs on the entry form you can link to from this page.

You'll find all the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt instructions here, and you also can get updates by following Houstory on Facebook and Twitter (#HoustoryHunt).

So I'll see you back here on Monday for the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt, and I'll share a little about one of my favorite family heirlooms. 

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:51:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 10, 2013
Blog Book Tour: How to Archive Family Keepsakes
Posted by Beth



How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records (Family Tree Books, 2012) by Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, launches a blog book tour today that runs through Saturday, Jan. 26.

Visit 14 popular genealogy blogs and websites featuring Denise and her book for book excerpts, interviews, special guest posts, free downloads and giveaways. View the schedule at the Blog Book Tour Page.

With top reviews from leading genealogy bloggers and 5-star ratings on Amazon.com, this new resource by Denise will help you organize and preserve your family history heirlooms and research in 2013.

How to Archive Family Keepsakes offers practical guidance for family historians who are:
  • helping a parent or loved one downsize to a smaller home.
  • needing a simple, effective filing system for genealogy research.
  • interested in scanning and making digital copies of genealogy records.
  • looking for a way to preserve your family history and heirlooms for future generations.
The book is currently available at ShopFamilyTree.com at a 28 percent discount. Proceeds from the sale of the book during the online book tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.




Family Heirlooms | saving and sharing family history | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, January 10, 2013 9:37:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 07, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 3-7
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to all the ISFHWE competition winners—you can see their names here!


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, September 07, 2012 4:14:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Learn How to Digitize and Archive Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms
Posted by Diane

Attending Antiques Roadshow last weekend has definitely put me in the mindset of figuring out what family heirlooms we have and where they came from, and how to preserve and share their stories with family.

My sisters and I, for example, didn't know about our great-grandmother's bride's basket until I asked my mom if she had something she'd like me to take to the show for appraisal.

Victorian Glass and Silver Bridal Basket

So I'm glad to see us doing a webinar called Digitize Your Family History: How to Preserve Precious Photos, Documents and Heirlooms. It's on Thursday, Aug. 9, presented by Denise Levenick, known as the Family Curator and author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books).



If you register early, you'll be able to submit a scanned photo or document, or a picture of an heirloom that Denise might use as an example during the webinar. That means you could get preservation and digitization advice specific to your family treasure. ("Early" is the key word.)

Here's what else you'll learn in the Digitize Your Family History webinar:
  • What items you should digitize

  • How to deal with fragile and oversized items, as well as heirlooms you can’t scan (like our bridal basket)

  • Tips for creating digital copies of your photos and documents

  • How to archive and organize digital copies for your own research and for posterity

  • Key terms and online resources for digitizing heirlooms
Registrants will also get a free preview chapter of Denise's book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and a coupon for the book.

And as in every webinar, they'll receive copies of the presentation slides, as well as access to view the webinar again as often as they like (that goes even if you register but for some reason miss the webinar).

Digitize Your Family History takes place Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific).

Click here to learn more and register!



Family Heirlooms | Photos | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 2:15:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 23, 2012
Behind the Scenes at "Antiques Roadshow"
Posted by Diane

The PBS series "Antiques Roadshow" was filming in Family Tree Magazine's hometown of Cincinnati on Saturday, and I and our intern Jen were lucky enough to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Something like 37,000 people entered the lottery for 3,000 pairs of free tickets for the Cincinnati event—a show record, from what I understand.

I'll write about the experience and my interview with "Antiques Roadshow" producer Marsha Bemko in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine, but we won't have room for all the photos I took. So I'm sharing some of them here (you can see several on Facebook, too).

First, an overview: Here's the line of folks waiting for the "triage" area, where each person got a ticket to see the pottery or prints or folk art or other appraiser. The triage folks would spot unique items and decide whether an item's appraisal would be filmed. The person who brought it was sent directly to the Green Room (off limits to press) until the appraisal took place.



Here's where those lines for various types of items converged. Appraisals and filming happened in the screened area.



A big part of the day for guests was waiting in line.



These crew members are setting up to film an appraisal.



Here Wes Cowan, who's been with the show for years and also stars on PBS' "History Detectives," examines a framed photograph. Cowan is from Cincinnati, but appraisers came from everywhere for the event.



We were invited to bring items for appraisal, too (and even lucky enough to bypass the line in my first photo above), so I wrapped up this glass bowl in plenty of bubble wrap. It was a wedding gift to my great-grandparents in 1908, and I don't want to be the one to break it.



The glassware appraiser told me it's called a bride's basket, and this one's style actually dates it to earlier than 1908, from the Victorian era. So it may have already been an heirloom when my great-grandmother received it. It's not worth much money, which is fine with my mom and me—we want it to stay in our family forever. The appraisal was over in a few minutes. I got the feeling the appraiser has seen a lot of these.

Do want to make sure your family heirlooms are preserved for posterity? Here are some resources for you:

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Monday, July 23, 2012 9:21:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, August 11, 2011
Your Advice for Organizing Family Archives
Posted by Diane

Last week, Allison fessed up about her so-far-untouched mountain of boxes inherited from her grandmother, full of genealogy records, pictures and news clippings, with some nongenealogical stuff thrown in for good measure.

 

A bunch of you chimed in with advice, encouragement and stories that’ll benefit other overwhelmed family archivists. The gist of your advice is:

  • Take your time. Baby steps!
  • Sort by family, people or place.
  • Digitize.
  • Archival storage.
  • Share.
  • Consider donating what won’t be kept.

Here are some more details from your suggestions and stories. To read the full comments, go to Allison’s “Organizing Grandma’s Archive” blog post and click Comments at the bottom. 

  • Claire suggested making an inventory of the items: “Tackle one box a week. Label the first box 1, the second 2, etc. Go through the contents and list everything in a notebook under the appropriate tab. For example, in the Anderson-Dugan tab, you might have:
John Dugan birth certificate, box 1
Photo of Anderson family reunion 1930, box 1

"At some later date you might relocate everything to a better storage system," Claire adds, "but at least for now you'll know the contents of each box.”

  • Joseph Martin would allow more time: “I count 15 boxes in your stack. Give yourself two months to sort and organize one box. In less than three years, you will be done.”

  • Renee advises scheduling small chunks of time (30 to 50 minutes) a few times a week, so things don’t feel overwhelming. “I wouldn't begin to move things around until you document how the documents appeared, since what folder they were in or what they were next to can have bearing on the meaning of the document. I would take photos of the box and each item in the box as you unpack them.”

She also recommends digitizing as you go. “If you re-create the folders and boxes digitally, you'll always know the exact order they arrived in. You can then tag them or make digital copies and reorganize them according to your preference. It will make you familiar with what's there and you won't have to reorganize the actual papers. You can just store them (or toss, if needed) and work with the digital copies.” 

  • Patti McElligott describes her system of 3-inch binders for each family name, with each family member on a tabbed index sheet. Paper records for each person go inside clear sheet protectors behind his or her tab.
Patti’s tip for labeling photos: “Take a stack, and anytime you are sitting down, write on the back the who, what, where etc. There are pens made for this that will not damage the pictures.”
  • Cheryl Hughes was also left with an archive like Allison’s, but from several different relatives and families. She’s been working on it for 10 years. “I still get boxes, as I am thought of as the 'picture person' of all these families,” Cheryl says.
She separated papers from the pictures, and had some of the old photos and tintypes restored and copied. “I am copying all pictures to CDs or SD cards and having prints made to share with other family members … the originals are in safe, acid free boxes, with copies in albums.” 
  • Micki Gilmore’s inherited archive is smaller. “I plan to digitize. There are some great scanners out there,” she says, and plans to tackle one box at a time.
  • Diane Hart has been digitizing photos all summer. “The photos are on discs, and then I view them on a slide show on my computer. They look so nice! … From photos I received from my 83-year-old aunt, I made a disc for her with a very nice identifying label, printed a thumbnail photo gallery of disc contents, and included my contact information. Then I drove miles to deliver this to her, and we watched the slideshow. She absolutely loved it! She is the only living child in my Dad's family of 13.”
  • S. Lantz is using Clooz software to keep track of her archive. “[It] allows you to tag names in your genealogy name list with each item (photos, census, documents, books, etc.). If you assign a unique number to each item, you can run an individual report that will list all of the items tied to that individual.” 
  • Juanita Dean uses photo boxes and tabbed dividers to organize her photos by place, then event. “If you look at the photos yearly, put them in a larger box that is handy to share for reunions, otherwise use archival boxes to put them away.”
  • I love Ardith Hale’s words: “The Chinese say you can move a mountain one spoonful at a time.” She advises Allison catalog and digitize, then sort.
“I have been given a huge store of pictures, which we went through with my mother to assign names, then sort by family. Each family gets theirs. Older ones are being digitized, copied and spread around so that hopefully somewhere there will be a copy. Unidentifed ones are kept together in the hope that some reunion or gathering can attach a name.”
  • Shasta says “Take your time, think of a plan, and execute it slowly, a little bit at a time … I managed to scan our family photos by doing a few each day, a little extra when I had time.”
If you're looking for more advice, the January 2011 Family Tree Magazine has Denise Levenick's (she's the Family Curator blogger) guide to organizing a family archive like this one.

Feel free to keep sharing your stories about sorting through family collections—we love to hear 'em.

Family Heirlooms | Photos | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, August 11, 2011 9:35:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, August 04, 2011
Organizing Grandma's Archive
Posted by Allison

Speaking of organization challenges, in the November 2011 issue, I ask for readers’ help with a dilemma: how to sort and store the genealogy archive my grandmother passed on to me. I’m not one to make a mountain out of a molehill ... But this actually resembles a mountain:



For her part, Grandma did manage to loosely organize the collection into boxes for specific relatives or branches of the family.







She also sorted scores of family letters into binders.



Still, some material isn't sorted or labeled. Along with the treasures are random non-genealogy-related items that need to be weeded out. And none of it is stored in what you could call an archivally friendly manner.

I'll admit the prospect of reorganizing and digitizing this mountain of memories has overwhelmed me. So I'll pose the same question to all of you family and professional archivists out there: What's your advice for making this project manageable?

Can't wait to hear your suggestions.

Family Heirlooms | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:42:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [29]
# Wednesday, May 04, 2011
The Family History Book of My Dreams
Posted by Diane

... only it's not about my family. I came across a unique, fascinating family history display on one of FamilyTreeMagazine.com’s sister sites, a design publication called Imprint.com.

After the death of Gordon Felton, originally Gunter Fajgenbaum, his son, graphic designer Nicholas Felton, used the hundreds of artifacts his father left to create a visual synopsis of his life.

The 12-page book features infographics showing information about Gordon’s family, each decade of his life, the places he lived and traveled, his collections of music and postcards, and more.

Here are a few of the pages (click each page for a bigger view):

The first page (above) uses pie charts to show the number and types of items Gordon saved from each year of his life.

Page three summarizes his youth in England, with a photo and stats from his school reports (best and worst subject, most frequent adjectives teachers used to describe him, etc.).

The center pages show the places Gordon traveled, with at-a-glance information such as the highest altitude visited and number of locations in each hemisphere.

I admire the mad graphic design skills that went into this book. But beyond the gorgeous looks, I love how Nicholas studied his father’s ephemera and compiled facts (such as movies he saw and the type of music he listened to) that kind of summarize the family archive and give insight into what kind of person Gordon was.

You can read more about the book here.

Flip through all the pages life-size on Nicholas Felton’s website

Have you created a visual display of family history (whether in a book or another form)? Click Comments and tell us about it.


Family Heirlooms | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 3:17:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 21, 2011
Family History Project: Baby Book
Posted by Diane

You might’ve picked up from casual mentions on the blog that I have a tiny future genealogist on the way in the next week or two. So over the next few months, our other Family Tree Magazine editors and some awesome contributors will keep you up-to-date on genealogy news and resources (though I may pop back in to show a baby picture or two).

Being a family historian, I of course plan to record all the baby excitement for posterity. But I couldn’t find any baby books I really liked—ones where I could include all the information I want, add pages and pictures, and save keepsakes. So I’ve been putting together my own, and I wanted to share it in case it inspires ideas for your own babies or grandbabies:

First, I flipped through baby books at the store and googled baby book pages to get ideas for what type of things I’d want to write down (baby shower info, the baby's “firsts,” etc.). I ended up relying mostly on these printable pages, customizing them to my needs. I'll add a family tree chart, too.

I and went to the store for a cute binder (not vinyl, which isn't photo-safe), some acid-free cardstock and polypropylene envelopes. Here’s the binder:

The polypropylene envelopes (red was all I could find) got hole-punched and hold cards and other mementos:

I set up the pages in Word with fonts and borders I like (leaving a wider margin on one side for hole-punching), and printed them on the cardstock to fill in by hand. (You could type everything, if you want.):

An envelope on this page keeps baby shower memorabilia:

I also can print photos to include. A couple of tips for expectant families: Scan ultrasound images because the originals tend to fade quickly. Also, a friend advised me to take some cardstock to the hospital because the staff might make extra footprints for me.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | Photos
Friday, January 21, 2011 8:48:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Write Your Family History: Tips to Get it Together
Posted by Diane

One of the newest course offerings over at Family Tree University is an eight-week master class designed to help you make progress, step by step, on writing a family history book or personal memoir.

In the first half of Write Your Family History, you'll craft an outline for your book and start putting your family's legacy down on paper. The second half of the course is a workshop, in which you'll share your writing with instructor and professional writer Sunny McClellan Morton, and receive feedback on how to move forward. 

The Write Your Family History master class starts Jan. 17, and you can use coupon code FTU114 for 20 percent off your registration and a free 2011 desk calendar.

Here’s an excerpt on gathering and organizing your thoughts:

One of the most important habits you can cultivate as a personal or family historian is keeping a journal. Chances are you already keep one or have in the past; many writers do so almost instinctively. If you aren't in the habit of recording your personal thoughts, now's the time to make journaling a part of your routine.

Use whatever style suits you for writing your journal—you're the only one who will see what you write. Any scrap of memory or personal impression may become important later, so just get everything down now and worry about sorting it all out when the time comes. 

When you start thinking about writing a memoir or family history, it's natural to feel overwhelmed—so many colorful characters, inspiring stories, and dates and places to keep straight. You'll need to make some choices, perhaps difficult ones, about what will and won't fit into your book. Before you begin writing, it's important to devise a plan to organize your ideas and the information you'll be gathering as you complete your research.

We suggest you start by filling in the beginning and ending dates of your book, so you have the boundaries of your complete dateline. Then associate an event with each date. Use only a few key words or a phrase to denote each event—just enough to jog your memory when you refer to the dateline later.

After you've filled in as many dates and events as you can at this point, go back and determine the historical theme relevant to each event. The historical theme is crucial to your story; it will help place your "characters" into historical perspective.

Here are two examples of personal events with their historical themes:

Date: 3 June 1907
Event: Eleanor arrives alone at Ellis Island.
Historical theme: What was it like for a woman to go through processing at Ellis Island on her own?

Date: 25 Apr 1920
Event: Uncle Harry moves to Florida and buys land.
Historical theme: What drew people to Florida in the 1920s?

Register for Write Your Family History at Family Tree University.com (remember to use coupon code FTU114).


Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree University
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:42:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 22, 2010
Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Blogging Event
Posted by Diane

Got holiday traditions and decorations on your mind? So do genealogy bloggers.

Starting December 1, many will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blogging event. Through Dec. 24, participating bloggers respond to blogging prompts by writing about memories related to the theme and their family history.

You can visit the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blog to see the prompts (about cookie-baking, your childhood beliefs about Santa Claus, your Christmas stocking, and more) and link to bloggers’ posts. If you blog and you’d like to participate, you’ll find the how-tos there, too.

Started as a bi-annual event in December 2007 on GeneaBloggers, the affair is now annual and has dozens of participants. You can follow the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories on Facebook and Twitter.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun
Monday, November 22, 2010 8:42:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 18, 2010
MyHeritage Adds Printing Service & Free Family Charts
Posted by Diane

Family network and genealogy site MyHeritage revamped its family tree charts feature with new designs site members can customize online and print for free.

The site also launched a professional poster-printing service for any chart produced on the website, as well as a chart design service.

If you have your family tree information on MyHeritage, you can click on the Family Tree tab on your family site, then select Charts and Books. Choose from 18 chart types, including new bowtie and hourglass designs. The MyHeritage version of the hourglass format is unique in that it can include the ancestors of any spouse.

You also can customize your chart with border designs, frames, backgrounds, decorations, colors and fonts. You can opt to include information such as names, birth dates, wedding anniversaries, photos and personal notes.

This is an example of a bowtie chart, with a nuclear family in the center and each parent’s ancestors on the sides.

This all-in-one chart shows collateral relatives—aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.

You can export your chart for free in high-resolution PDF format to print or share via e-mail.

You also can order a professionally printed poster starting at $20. A variety of paper types (standard, matte photo, glossy photo, vinyl or canvas) and sizes (including huge wall charts for family reunions) are available, with optional lamination. 

MyHeritage provides free hosting for family websites up to 250MB and trees up to 250 people, with more storage and features for $6.25 to $9.95 per month. You can start a MyHeritage tree by uploading a GEDCOM or typing in names.

Learn how to make the most of your MyHeritage membership with Family Tree Magazine’s MyHeritage Web Guide download, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, November 18, 2010 11:18:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Library Contest Seeks Historical Treasures for Digitization
Posted by Diane

Do you own a historical record that cries out for digitization? Maybe a diary from a Civil War ancestor, a payroll ledger from a shipping company or a Colonial-era letter?

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is holding its second annual Digitization Contest to find historical treasures to scan and post online.

Documents, letters, diaries, and even large-scale items such as posters and maps are eligible. To enter, complete the short online entry form by the Oct. 1 deadline.

A panel of judges will narrow the entry pool and post information about the treasures online for public voting. The library will digitize the treasures receiving the most votes and add the images to its free Virtual Library website.

The library’s digitization equipment (updated even since our tour just a couple of years ago)  can create high-quality images of fragile items without causing damage.

Learn more on the Digitization Contest website.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 1:00:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 03, 2010
9 Things to Find Out About Your Family Heirlooms
Posted by Diane

There’s a family story on my mom's side about a dent in a silver pitcher Mom inherited from her dad’s mom. I don't remember how the story goes, but it has something to do with my grandpa and his brother arguing.

Luckily, I can go home tonight, call my mom and ask her to repeat the details (at which time I’ll write them down). But that opportunity won’t be around forever, so I’m planning to start keeping track of the specifics and stories about the heirlooms in our family.

If you want to do something similar, here are nine things to try to find out about each heirloom:
  • Who in your family first owned the heirloom
  • When and how it came into that person’s possession
  • When the heirloom was created and by whom
  • How the heirloom has been passed down in your family (in other words, its provenance)
  • Any stories associated with the heirloom
  • Who owns the heirloom now
  • Who will be the future owner of the heirloom (so generations to come don’t lose track of it)
  • The heirloom’s composition (so it can be properly cared for)
  • For an heirloom with monetary value, a professional appraisal amount (so it can be insured)
You can record your findings on our heirloom inventory form, downloadable free from FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Also try to take photos of the item and any manufacturer's or other identifying marks to keep with your records.

You'll find articles on preserving family photos and heirlooms on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. For more guidance, see these resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, August 03, 2010 4:31:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, July 27, 2010
July Family Tree Magazine Podcast Episode Now Live!
Posted by Diane

Hello, all! The free July 2010 Family Tree Magazine Podcast is available for your listening pleasure. In this episode, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke (who also creates the Genealogy Gems podcast), you’ll:
  • Discover some of the best preservation resources online
  • Learn how to submit photos of your Civil War-era ancestors for our 2010 commemorative Civil War calendar
  • Meet Lindsay, Family Tree Magazine’s summer intern and resident genealogy newbie
  • Find out about the Family Tree Sourcebook, a genealogy records reference appearing in bookstores this fall
You'll find the show notes on FamilyTreeMagazine.com, and you can listen there or in iTunes.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 2:55:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 11, 2010
How to Get a Decorative Family Tree Poster
Posted by Diane

So you’ve gathered a few generations’ worth of names and dates, and now you want to display your family tree on your wall.

Nowadays you have more options than ever—from free to pricey and do-it-yourself to full-service—for creating a decorative family tree poster. Here are some that we’ve come across:
  • Family networking site Geni announced yesterday that you can turn your Geni tree into a decorative family tree poster you can customize and order on archival photo paper for $29.99 (a framed one costs $119.99). Learn more on the Geni blog.
  • Most genealogy software programs, including RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker, will let you create a family tree chart to hang on the wall. Progeny Genealogy makes add-on "charting companion" software you can use to enhance the charting capabilities of several desktop family tree programs.
  • If you have a family tree on Ancestry.com, you can import the information into MyCanvas and design and print a chart for free, or order one on nice paper in a variety of sizes. (From your tree on Ancestry.com, click the Publish button in the navigation bar at the top of the page.)
  • Generation Maps’ new Family ChARTist service lets you create a decorative tree and print a free 8.5x11 version at home, or order professionally printed larger sizes.
  • You can buy decorative charts to fill out by hand from several vendors, including Fun Stuff for Genealogists and the Family History Store. Or type free decorative family tree chart into Google for blank trees you can download and print. Our Family Tree VIP members receive a printable decorative tree as part of their exclusive Family Tree Toolkit.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:25:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, March 03, 2010
We're Bundled Up
Posted by Diane

…. and we don’t mean because of the weather.



We took our CDs, books and webinars that offer genealogy help with three of the topics you’re most interested in, packaged them up into themed “bundles” and discounted them to give you a great deal. Three bundles are available at ShopFamilyTree.com:
  • The Organized Genealogy Bundle: Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD, Organization Made Easy webinar recording, Organize Now! book, 2010 Family Tree Magazine Desktop Calendar
You'll find more details on the contents of each bundle in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy books | Research Tips
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 4:40:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Ways to Leave a Family History Legacy
Posted by Diane

“What do I do now?” is something I hear from readers every once in a while, as in, I’ve done all this research—now what should I do with it?

What I like about this “Best of” excerpt from Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s “How to Be a Good Ancestor” article in the April 2005 Family Tree Magazine is that it helps answer that question. These are a few of her ideas for putting together and passing on your family history.

Start scrapbooking. Only your imagination limits the scrapbooks you can create. There's the standard heritage album, but also consider these five themes:
  • Family reunion: Make a scrapbook of the gang's get-together, including programs, photos and interviews.

  • School: Create school scrapbooks for yourself and for your spouse, as well as your children. Scan or photocopy yearbook pages and include memorabilia (report cards, your graduation tassel) plus journaled memories of events and friends.

  • Cemetery: Photograph grave markers, and find death certificates and obituaries.

  • Immigration and migration: Maps, passenger lists, passports and naturalization records document your ancestors' travels. Record their modes of transportation with images of prairie schooners or the ships that bore them across the Atlantic.

  • House history: Include deeds, pictures (take photos of similar buildings, if the houses aren't around anymore), descriptions of the furniture and décor, and information on the people who lived in each house.
Assemble an album. Photo albums are a natural legacy project. Just be sure to identify the photos with names, dates and places. One must-have guide for learning how to find and identify photographs: Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, revised edition (Family Tree Books), by Maureen A. Taylor.

But what about all those cool documents you've been collecting, such as military records, passenger arrival lists, vital records, censuses, and wills? Start a binder for each surname and organize documents and charts for each individual behind tabs in acid-free sheet protectors. Place a label on each sheet protector identifying the document and the source where you got it. Not only is this project a great legacy, but it also forces you to keep your research in order.

Put your family history into words. If writing is a pastime you enjoy, try one of these projects:
  • Book: This is the ultimate way to hand down your history legacy because you can give copies to everyone in the family — and even to libraries and archives. My book You Can Write Your Family History (Genealogical Publishing Co.) provides genealogy-focused writing and publishing advice.

  • Essays: Compile a collection of essays on topics such as your own experiences or memories of relatives, then copy and distribute them to kin. If you collect the essays in a binder, you and other family members can add to them easily.

  • Articles: Maybe you don't have enough information to fill a book, but you still want to publish your research results or tell other researchers about a brick wall you've conquered. Genealogical society journals and newsletters are good places to do this. Consult Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century edited by Henry B. Hoff (New England Historic Genealogical Society) for help writing a publication-worthy article.

  • Letters: Whether you mail them or not, compose letters to the youngest members of your family to tell them what life was like when you were growing up. Write about your parents and grandparents, recording your fondest memories of spending time with them in addition to facts about their lives. Make copies for all the kids in your family, and present them on a special occasion.
Feast on family food heritage. Gather family recipes to create a book, CD or Web site for your kin who like to cook. Along with each recipe, include a photo of the dish and the cook who's most famous for it, a brief biography of the chef, and notes about the holidays or occasions when the dish was served. If your family has a strong cultural background, such as Italian or Hispanic, incorporate some food history gleaned from ethnic cookbooks. When family members gather for a meal, don't forget to turn on that tape recorder or video camera. Capture some of the food-focused conversation to include in the recipe book.

Related resources Family Tree Magazine:


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 4:51:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, February 18, 2010
Coming Soon: Easy Decorative Family Tree Printing
Posted by Diane

Family tree chart printer Generation Maps is planning a new service that’ll make it easy for you to create decorative family trees.

Family ChArtist, to launch in early March (the exact date will be announced soon), is a Flash application you’ll use on the Generation Maps website to create decorative family tree charts. You’ll be able to print an 8.5x11-inch version for free, and purchase larger copies as instant PDFs or by mail.

The application will let you choose a design and add names and genealogical details by typing, uploading a GEDCOM, or importing information from a FamilySearch family tree (for those  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints members who have access to the “new” FamilySearch online tree-builder). Generation Maps development director Janet Hovorka says the company also is working with other online family tree services to allow data imports from those sites.

You can see several examples and get more details on Hovorka’s Chart Chick blog. This is among my favorites from her selection:




Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:30:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, January 06, 2010
May We Suggest Some Genealogy Resolutions for 2010?
Posted by Diane

Studies show (well, at least one study shows) that 66 percent of adults have ever made a New Year’s resolution.

So maybe I risk losing a third of you when I suggest making a genealogy-oriented resolution or two. But wait! If you stick around for the rest of this post, I’ll give you some ideas and link to articles that might be helpful in achieving your family history goals:
  • Back up your digitized photos, too (in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine, we’ll recommend several photo-sharing websites for backing up family photos).
Resolve to rent one title a month through a nearby Family History Center. You can get more advice on using FamilySearch in our FamilySearch Essentials Webinar recording.
  • Go through your attic and closets and catalog your family heirlooms. You can use our heirloom recording forms to note the items' original owner, provenance, and other important information. 
  • Commit an hour or so a week to volunteering for a records indexing project. Try FamilySearch Indexing or Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project, or see if your local library or historical society could use your indexing assistance.
  • If you’re a beginning family historian, resolve to search the 1930 census (the most recent one available) for every relative who was alive at the time. See our census search tips, and visit a large library to use census microfilm, HeritageQuest Online or Ancestry Library Edition.


Family Heirlooms | Oral History | Photos | Research Tips
Wednesday, January 06, 2010 12:29:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, December 03, 2009
Editors Pick: Photo-Retouching Webinar
Posted by Diane


We also could call this “Give Great-grandma a Makeover.” Everybody’s got a few family photos marred by scratches, creases and fading. Sometimes it’s the only picture you have of an ancestor or of a special event, such as a wedding.

In our next Family Tree University webinar, Family Tree Magazine art director Christy Miller, who wields photo retouching skills on a daily basis, will show you how to digitally correct these flaws and bring your old family pictures back to life.

Early color photos are especially prone to fading. Here's an example of what photo-retouching can do for faded pictures:
 

Every participant is invited to submit a photo. Christy will demo the techniques on several of these photos during the webinar. After the session, each participant will receive a digital copy of his or her retouched photo.

Christy and Family Tree Magazine editor Allison Stacy also will offer tips on getting good scans of your pictures, recommend user-friendly (and wallet-friendly) photo-editing software, and tell you how to get professional help for repairing badly damaged pictures.

The webinar, Photo Retouching: How to Bring Old Family Photos Back to Life, is next Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. Eastern. Registration costs $49.99.

Your registration includes participation in the live presentation and Q&A session, access to the webinar recording to view as many times as you like, our downloadable Genealogy Guidebook featuring 100+ brick wall-busting tips, and a digital copy of your retouched photo.

Click here to register at ShopFamilyTree.com. After you register, use the link on your order confirmation page to confirm your webcast registration.

Family Heirlooms | Photos | Webinars
Thursday, December 03, 2009 9:00:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Editors Pick: Family Tree Legacies
Posted by Diane


Family Tree Magazine editor Allison Stacy and I talked about everything we’d want in one of those “record your family history” books, and Family Tree Legacies: Preserving Memories Throughout Time is the result. We’re a little biased, but we love how well-organized, versatile and pretty it is (and we think it would make a good Christmas or wedding gift).



This book is a three-ring binder with blank fill-in pages for all kinds of information, and a CD in the back that has printable versions of all the fill-in pages.



Lovely tabbed separators divide the book into themed sections, each focusing on a different type of family history information.



Sections let you record details about your immediate family, extended family, memories and traditions, photographs, family heirlooms, relatives who served in the military, newspaper articles featuring family members, places that are prominent in your family history, family recipes and important dates.

Each section begins with tips and tricks (the one below gets you started finding newspaper articles about your family members) . . .



. . . and then has specially designed pages to record information. The pages below are in the Family Heirlooms section.



There’s also an introduction with 10 steps to discovering your family history and a reference guide with helpful references, websites and books. We also love the fold-out family tree chart (below).



You can use the stickers to mark historical family events in the calendar section, maps in the Places section and more.



We’re hoping Family Tree Legacies will become a keepsake you can pass on to future generations. 

Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy books
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 5:09:46 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, November 05, 2009
Now's the Time to Start on Family History Gifts
Posted by Diane

We don’t mean to rush you into the winter holidays—it was just Halloween—but if you’re thinking of giving family history-related gifts this year, now’s the time to start.

Many such gifts require prep work: For example, you’ll need to gather, scan, digitally touch up and label photos for a photo CD; start laying out an online photo book or calendar; or collect and transcribe family stories. Maybe you want to check another record or two before finalizing a compiled family history.

And by starting early, you can watch for coupon codes and sales; and make sure anything you order online will get to you in time.

As our early gift to you, here’s our December 2006 article with 13 family history gift ideas you can make. The projects range from very quick and easy to moderately quick and easy. The article has supply lists and step-by-step instructions for seven of the projects.

A few more sources of family tree gift ideas:
  • I’m kinda partial to this one: Family Tree Legacies, a book Family Tree Magazine editor Allison Stacy and I put together for recording all kinds of family history information—not just names and dates, but also family stories, news articles, house history, military service details, where people lived and more.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:07:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, October 20, 2009
10 Ways to Use Your December 2009 Family Tree Magazine
Posted by Diane

The December 2009 Family Tree Magazine should be hitting subscribers’ mailboxes during the next week (yes, it’s already December in Magazine Land). I randomly picked out 10 ways this issue might figure into your family history pursuit:

1. Start a family medical history with nine sources that can help you learn what illnesses your ancestors suffered and died from. (See, I thought I’d start this post on a bright note.) Click here for our online listing of health history books and Web sites

2. And for a slightly morbid yet somewhat educational five-minute time-killer, try to match up 12 archaic maladies with their modern equivalents.

3. Plan your heirloom preservation strategy with a guide to preserving a variety of keepsakes—including a quilt, a delicate wedding ring and other items our coworkers at Family Tree Magazine headquarters brought in. (Associate editor Grace Dobush blogged about the shady past of one such heirloom.)

4. Are genetic genealogy tests really 99.9 percent accurate? Will they pinpoint where your ancestors lived? Discover the truth behind common beliefs about DNA and genealogy, and use quick-reference lists of testing companies, definitions and online DNA databases.

5. Follow along with our step-by-step guide to entering genetic genealogy test results in two genealogy software programs.

6. Did you know the historical newspaper search at GenealogyBank treats personal names like keywords? That means if your name is also a word, such as White or Banker, you’ll get lots of false matches. (The site’s obituaries and SSDI database are indexed by name). You’ll find search tricks in our Web Guide to GenealogyBank.  

7. Can’t find your ancestor’s town of “Gross Herzogtum, Baden?” That’s because gross Herzogtum isn’t a town, but a term for “grand duchy.” Find explanations for this and other place terms related to ruling nobility in our guide to research in German states, including Prussia, Hesse, Bavaria and others. (See articles in our online German research toolkit here.)

8. Thinking of adding (or already have added) a genealogy app to your Facebook page? Get the lowdown on FamilyLink's We're Related and Family Builder's Family Tree, two popular genealogy apps for Facebook.

9. Chuckle over six readers’ captions for a giant-fish photo and enter our newest All in the Family Challenge.

10. Where's that one article ... the one about the census ... not the regular census but the special ones ... ? Stop flipping through all this year’s magazines and open to the 2009 index on the last page of your December issue. You'll find that the article on nonpopulation censuses was in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine on page 20.

Of course, there are even more great resources and tips in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine. It'll be available starting Nov. 3 at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | International Genealogy
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 9:38:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 25, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: September 21-25
Posted by Diane

Is it the end of September already?? Here's our last new roundup for the month 
  • Today’s the last day to get the $55 early bird registration special for the Mesa Family History Expo, Jan. 22-23 in Mesa, Ariz. If you miss the deadline, you still can save by preregistering for $65. Admission at the door costs $75. The exhibit hall is free to the public.
  • Those with African-American roots, mark your calendars for the International Black Genealogy Summit at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., Oct. 29 to 31. It’s the first gathering of African-American historical and genealogical societies from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Watch this blog for more details.
  • On his Genealogy Blog, Leland Meitzler reported on the SwedGen Tour, in which a team of Swedish genealogy experts is stopping at several research facilities to give presentations on Swedish genealogy resources (including subscription records site Genline and the Släktdata vital records site)  and offer one-on-one consultations. See the schedule and preregister at the SwedGen Tour site.
  • I came across a neat blog today called Dear Annie. A Minnesota woman is posting 700 postcards (images and transcriptions) that her Great-aunt Annie Bartos, who died in 1983, saved during her 90 years.


African-American roots | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Events | International Genealogy
Friday, September 25, 2009 2:44:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Ancestry.com to Digitize Records and Photos Free at FGS
Posted by Allison

Consider bringing your family's records with you if you’re going to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference Sept. 2-5 in Little Rock.

Ancestry.com is bringing high–speed scanners so conference-goers can digitize records and photos.

You can sign up for a 15–minute scanning session Sept. 3 through Sept. 5 during exhibit hall hours (9:30 am to 5 pm Thursday, Sept. 3; 9 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday). That's enough time to scan an estimated 100 photos and/or documents.

You'll need to stop by the scanning station in the convention center’s Toltec Lobby registration area in the morning to snag a scanning session for that day.

Ancestry.com imaging specialists will operate the scanners—a looseleaf scanner for documents and photos; a planetary scanner for books and fragile items. You’ll get the full-color digital images on a free flash drive. The cynics among you can rest assured your records won’t be uploaded to Ancestry.com.

Be judicious about the documents and photos you bring: There’s always the possibility your items could be damaged during scanning. Whatever you do, don’t pack irreplaceable records in checked luggage.

Ancestry.com asks those who plan to participate in the scanning to go to this Web page and click Register.


Ancestry.com | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:37:21 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 14, 2009
Jamie's flea market finds
Posted by Jamie

FTM_internlogo.jpg

Recently I was on vacation in western New York and visited a small-town flea market. While there were only 15 to 20 booths set up, many of them had genealogical treasures abound including old letters, photos and World War II ration books scattered across tables among the costume jewelry and used board games.

Of course my first thoughts as I saw these items outdoors and uncovered were, “Get these things out of the sun and into acid-free tissue paper!” These are someone’s family heirlooms after all. I scoured piles of unmarked pictures, scrutinizing each one and lamenting that they did not have a home. All the while I am sure the sun took a disastrous toll on them.

If you come across a similar situation, Dead Fred allows users to upload found photos, search identified photo databases, and help identify and find mates for unidentified photos. Flickr’s Found Photographs group features mostly unidentified photos picked up at garage sales, flea markets or your grandmother’s attic.

Also at the flea market I found a bag full of WWII ration cards, and I was amazed at the genealogical information available on them. Some just had name and address, but others went further supplying age, sex, weight, height and occupation. The books for sale were from the third and fourth series, both issued in 1943. The names on two of the books at the flea market were Kenneth and Hazel E. Valk. To search for your ancestors in a war ration book database of over 9,000 names click here.

While these were all great finds, the letters were most intriguing. Some sellers at least put them in plastic baggies, but still others let them bake in the sun – folded up at that! There were unopened letters, letters in envelops, envelops without letters, greeting cards, postcards, wedding invitations, governmental correspondence – even a few marked “passed by censor” sent from an infantry unit postmarked “JY. 15, 18”

Most of the letters were sent to Leroy Elder, but many are either unsigned or are signed with a nickname. They are postmarked from 1909 to 1922. One of the funnier postcards was from a pastor sternly urging Edler to pay him a visit to discuss the state of Elder's Christianity.

Among the stack of letters was a folded poem of sorts titled “The Charming Young Widow In The Train.” The paper is yellowed and ripping along the folds; the ink is disappearing. It wasn’t dated and it was not in an envelope. The top has some sort of imprint or watermark and the end says, “Written B. Mollie E.V.”

I did a Google search of the title and an old song pops up, written in the mid-1800s according to most accounts. The poem roughly follows the song, although some lines and words are different, the main ideas are the same. How the lyrics got among the letters is a mystery.

Overall, the trip to the flea market was eye opening. I didn’t realize how readily family history was for sale. And if sellers don’t use the modern flea market of eBay many people won’t be reunited with their relative’s items.


Family Heirlooms | Photos
Friday, August 14, 2009 1:57:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Playing Heirloom Detective
Posted by Grace

I just finished writing a super-comprehensive article on heirloom preservation for our December issue. We asked our coworkers if they had any particularly interesting heirlooms to show off, and got some great items to photograph for the magazine.

An item we didn't use was very intriguing, though. Kelly wrote:
Let me know if you guys ever do an article on gruesome heirlooms—my family has this shirt that my great-great grandfather was wearing when he was shot and murdered. (Gross! And weird—who keeps that kind of stuff?)
Genealogists do! I wanted more details.
Basically, all I know is my great-great grandfather was a pig farmer who had a farm in Lockville, Ohio. According to the story, my great-great-grandpa turned to go back into the house after refusing to sell land to this guy, and when he did, the guy shot him in the back. Yikes! And that's how my grandpa ended up with a bloody shirt in a trunk in his basement.
All I knew was her grandpa's last name, Boyer, and that the murder took place in Lockville, Ohio. Surely there would have been newspaper articles about the fracas, but I couldn't search GenealogyBank until I had a specific name. I decided to do an old-fashioned Google search, for Lockville Ohio murder.

One of the very first results was a Google Books excerpt of a tome of Ohio penitentiary pardon petitions. Bingo! A John L. Tisdale pleading for clemency after serving eight years for the murder of a George L. Boyer in 1890. With that name, I searched GenealogyBank and found this article in the June 24, 1890, Cleveland Plain Dealer:



It reads:
Murder at Lockville.
LANCASTER, June 23.—[Special.]—George (sic) Tisdale, a farm laborer, shot George L. Boyer, a prominent famrer, at Lockville, this county, this morning. As the two sons of Tisdale were quarreling with a son of Boyer about hogs that had trespassed on Boyer's farm, he came up to protect his son, when Tisdale came out of his house and shot Boyer in the right breast, Boyer dying in five minutes after.
The Google Books result gives a little more insight into Tisdale's side of the story. He says Boyer was "a coarse, passionate man, of cruel heart" and was "a quarrelsome man and possessed a violent temper." (If you were trying to suss out your ancestor's personality, what a find! Read the September 2009 issue for more on ancestral psychoanalysis.)

With a little searching on Ancestry.com, I found the Boyer family in the 1880 census:


(Click to enlarge)

And going back, the family appeared in the same spot in every census going back to 1850. Amazing, what one bloody shirt can do for a family's research!

Learn more:

Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Free Databases | Newspapers
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 10:51:25 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, June 08, 2009
Heirloom Webinar Discount Expires Tonight
Posted by Allison

Attention, coupon clippers: Today is your last chance to save $10 off registration in our next webinar, Heirloom Preservation Made Easy.

Use coupon code yc72fk78cr when you sign up to get the early bird price of $39.99. The coupon expires at midnight Eastern daylight time today, June 8. The webinar will take place June 24 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Although it's easy to get caught up in the challenges of research, this session focuses on a subject we often don't pay enough attention to until a precious memento is lost or ruined. Don't let that happen to you!


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Events | Webinars
Monday, June 08, 2009 12:01:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Learn How to Care for Your Family's Treasures
Posted by Diane



In our little house, we have a few objects—nothing super-valuable—that I consider heirlooms: A dress my grandma sewed using the same pattern as her wedding dress; my husband’s grandfather’s harmonica; a playing card box from the time my dad’s family lived in Pickstown, SD, while his dad was working on the Fort Randall dam.

It’s not so much the thing, it’s what the thing represents to you. So heirlooms can take all kinds of shapes and sizes, and present an array of storage challenges—which makes me glad our next Webinar is about Heirloom Preservation Made Easy.

It's scheduled for Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m. My colleague Grace Dobush will present expert, sensible, easy-to-follow techniques on caring for and displaying everything from photos to old dolls and toys. Your registration for this Webinar includes
  • Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
  • Online access to the workshop recording after the session concludes
  • PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
  • Quick-reference heirloom care chart
  • PDF of See and Save, a guide to protecting and storing paper, photos and textiles
  • PDF of Keep It Reel, a guide to preserving audio and video memories
Go here to learn more and register—and get an early bird coupon code good for $10 off your registration fee through June 8.

Family Heirlooms | Webinars
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 2:15:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 10, 2009
To Save or Not to Save?
Posted by Diane

My mom’s been helping clean out Grandma’s garage. Last night when I visited, Mom was telling me about the piles of old receipts Grandma’s been hanging onto all these years.

Mom had pulled out some papers—the hospital bill for my aunt’s birth, the building materials order for the family’s first home—and the rest were in what-do-we-do-with-this? limbo.

Of course, I had to go through it all. I took a bunch of papers, including the bill for Mom’s first communion around 1954



and the receipts for her second-grade schoolbooks (someone played connect-the-dots on the back)

 

and 12th-grade tuition (including a $25 graduation fee).

I’ll definitely save stuff related to my mom. But what about the other kids’ schoolbook lists, random furniture receipts, a refrigerator repair ticket, ancient correspondence from an insurance company, BBB reports on business schools an aunt was thinking about attending, and similar items?

Theoretically, it’s great to keep every piece of paper. But with limited space and crowded lives, reality demands most of us be choosy about what we save. What would you do with these papers? Click Comments (below) to reply.

Added to my to-do list: Review the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine guide for what to do when you inherit the family archives (print copies are sold out, but this issue is available as a PDF download). And if you're considering donating family materials to a historical archive, see the advice on our Now What? blog.

Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:15:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [13]
# Monday, March 02, 2009
Superstitious Ancestors? Enter Our Challenge for a Chance to Win
Posted by Diane

It’s both 15 days till St. Patrick's Day and your last chance to get in on Family Tree Magazine’s March 2009 “Lucky Charms” All in the Family Challenge.

To enter, tell us about a lucky charm or superstition in your family. For example, when I was a kid, whenever someone was getting married or we had a soccer tournament or good weather was needed for some other reason, Mom would set a figurine of Mary in the kitchen window (facing outside, or it wouldn't work).

Maybe you’ve saved Grandpa’s lucky penny or you throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder while cooking, just like Grandma always did.

Cross your fingers and describe your family’s lucky charm or superstition for us. E-mail your entry before March 9, and be sure to include your name and hometown.

If we select your entry to publish in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine (knock on wood), you’ll win our Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy digital download.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, March 02, 2009 4:25:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Difficulty of Divvying Up Family Heirlooms
Posted by Diane

We get a fair number of questions from Family Tree Magazine readers trying to split up family heirlooms—or just get a chance to copy old photos—after a relative’s death. It's an already-difficult situation that can get worse when old tensions resurface.

They’re not alone. CNN.com posted an article today about rifts over inheritances and why they’re so common.

The article also offers tips for avoiding problems, such as making sure loved ones have wills, talking ahead of time about who gets what, and getting a neutral third party involved.

See FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum members’ advice and stories about passing down heirlooms, too.


Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 8:50:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 30, 2008
Legislators Discuss Copyright Reform
Posted by Grace

Ever been hassled by a clerk who demands you have permission from the photographer before making copies of a 100-year-old portrait? Under current copyright law, you'll likely lose the fight with Wal-Mart's photo department. (Read more about copyright quandaries here.)

Legislation working its way through the House and the Senate focuses on so-called "orphan works"—creations whose copyright owners cannot be identified or located. When someone wants to use or reproduce a work that is likely copyrighted, they risk being held liable for infringement; this reform aims to free up orphan works for public use.

Although artists have concerns about the current legislation, copyright reform would be a boon for family historians, museums, libraries and educational institutions. You can read more about the legislation on the website of our sister publication The Artist's Magazine here.


Family Heirlooms | Historic preservation | Public Records
Friday, May 30, 2008 2:33:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, April 11, 2008
Edit Your Photos Online!
Posted by Grace

When it comes to image editing, the gold standard is Photoshop. Even if you haven't used the full-blown version, you've likely come across its less expensive sibling, Photoshop Elements.

Now, a free version of the software is available online—with 2 GB of storage thrown in. Adobe Photoshop Express offers many of the features included with Elements, such as cropping, color correction and some fun filter and distortion options. (Be aware, though, that agreeing to the terms of service gives other users the rights to display, print and distribute your shared images. If you don't want your pictures to go public, don't opt to share them through the site.)

Photo sharing site Flickr also recently rolled out photo editing abilities in partnership with Picnik. All Flickr users can access the basic editing options, and becoming a premium member unlocks more features. Both Picnik and Photoshop Express have some integrated functionality with other websites, like Facebook and Picasa.

Although the sites don't offer a lot in the way of restoration and delicate touchups, both Photoshop Express and Flickr are good options for people who don't want to pay a lot for a program they'll use only to resize or crop their pictures.


Family Heirlooms | Photos
Friday, April 11, 2008 10:46:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 14, 2008
Free Photo Scanning for Social Networkers
Posted by Allison

It's a Valentine's Day gift for family history lovers: Through Feb. 29, ScanMyPhotos.com. is offering free scanning of up to 1,000 4x6-inch photos—all you'll pay is the $19.95 shipping fee (compared to the regular price of $49.95).

What's the catch? The offer is open only to members of several major social networking sites: Facebook, MySpace, Blogger and Flickr (a photo-sharing network). You also have to be a US resident, and the offer's limited to one freebie per person or address. In exchange, ScanMyPhotos.com. asks that you post a review of its service. See the press release for further details.

if you've been thinking about testing the social networking waters but haven't taken the plunge, here's a good incentive.


Family Heirlooms | Historic preservation
Thursday, February 14, 2008 1:02:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 15, 2008
A Photo Doctor That Makes House Calls
Posted by Allison

On this blog and in our January 2008 issue, we introduced you to some batch photo-scanning services that will quickly and affordably digitize hundreds and even thousands of family photos. The drawback with really old photographs, of course, is you'd have to let those irreplaceable images of your possession.

A Seattle company has the remedy to that dilemma: Memeria will actually bring a high-volume scanner to your house and scan your photos on site—accomplishing in a couple of hours what might take you weeks or months to do on your home scanner, says Memeria president Anthony Miller. "This gives people more time to work on their scrapbooks and genealogy instead of scanning."

The service costs 25 cents per photo, with minimum orders ranging from $50 to $200. Memeria currently serves only the Seattle area, but plans to expand. If you live nearby and are considering a photo digitization project, give the service a look.


Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 2:05:58 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 15, 2007
Project to send data to the moon
Posted by Grace

Archivists and tech guys alike recommend using offsite data backup when creating copies of important records. But a new preservation project's storage location takes the cake.

For a donation of $10, Lunar Legacy will send your story and photo to the moon. That's right, they will send pictures of your dog, your Nana or the Grand Canyon to the celestial body orbiting the earth.

The project is backed by the Google Lunar X Prize, which challenges private companies to send a robot rover to the moon. A $20 million prize will go to the first team to complete a set of objectives including sending video, images and data back to Earth by the end of 2012.

The photos and messages uploaded to www.lunarlegacy.org will be stored on every vehicle that attempts to make the voyage. You can see what people have uploaded so far by clicking here.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun
Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:34:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 12, 2007
World Vital Records Offers Digitization Services
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy database site World Vital Records has expanded its services to include digitally preserving your family mementos. Its new Preservation Packages include
  • converting 8mm, 16mm, miniDVs and VHS tapes to DVD
  • scanning photos and documents
  • digitizing slides and negatives
  • storing digitized images on a secure server
In a World Vital Records user panel survey, 91 percent of members said they were concerned about preserving photos, videos, and/or documents.

Exact pricing isn’t available; Word Vital Records says rates are 50 to 70 percent less than retail value. Call the company toll-free (888) 377-0588 for details.

For information on several batch photo-scanning services and do-it-yourself tips, see the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine and our blog post


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, November 12, 2007 5:53:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, November 02, 2007
History of the Toothpick
Posted by Grace

Here's one before the weekend: A fascinating brief history of the toothpick

Charles Forster, inspired by the hand-carved picks used by Brazilians, saw huge potential in mass-producing wooden toothpicks in the US. He got Boston inventor Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant to create a machine that was capable of producing millions of toothpicks a day by 1870.

The real genius was in Forster's marketing campaign: One of his ploys was to have Harvard men eat at restaurants and demand a toothpick after their meal. They'd make a fuss when none was available, and when the toothpick salesmen came around a few days later, the restaurant managers bought in.

To read the article, click here.

(The Slate article is a kind of condensed version of 's book The Toothpick: Technology and Culture, which can be bought on Amazon.)

Image taken by C R.


Family Heirlooms | Social History
Friday, November 02, 2007 3:36:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Immortalize Yourself Online
Posted by Diane

If you’re like most of us, you think your life story is nothing special. You know what? Your ancestors thought the same thing of themselves, yet 100 or 300 years later, here you are, doggedly seeking every last detail about their lives. 

Maybe your story isn’t the next New York Times bestseller, but one day your descendants will find it fascinating.

Posting it permanently online is one way to make sure they can get a hold of it (and read your version of events). That's the idea behind StoryofMyLife.com, a beta Web site from Eravita, Inc.

Once you register, you write a story and upload your main photo. You can add to the story, add multimedia files and keep an online journal. Anyone can view your pages unless you make them private or place them in a “time capsule” for later release. Family members’ stories are linked.

StoryofMyLife.com is free for active accounts. After six months of inactivity, the site spends three months attempting to contact the account manager for the $1-per-megabyte “Forever Space" fee. Without payment, the story may be removed.

A user can purchase Forever Space at any time, though, to avoid posthumously sticking relatives with the decision to pay up or doom his opus to deletion.

The nonprofit Story of My Life Foundation gets part of the proceeds to use for keeping stories accessible and technologically current, and making grants to gather stories of people otherwise unable to tell them.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:40:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 04, 2007
How to Hand Down Heirlooms (and Still Be Speaking to Your Family Later)
Posted by Diane

Ever since I can remember, I've had my eye on my mom's set of pyrex nesting bowls in graduated shades of yellow. My parents received them as a wedding present back in the day, and I think they're beautiful. I'm not sure whether my best strategy is to call dibs now, or continue hiding my lust for the bowls from my sisters in hopes they haven't noticed their existence.



Visitors to the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum have been sharing stories of how their families hand down such heirlooms—and they have some pretty good ideas for keeping the peace.

See their suggestions, and add your own tales: http://www.familytreemagazine.com/forum/forums/
thread-view.asp?tid=317&posts=8&start=1
 

Family Heirlooms
Monday, June 04, 2007 3:42:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]