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# Wednesday, April 23, 2014
11 Family Reunion Keepsake Ideas
Posted by Diane

Family reunion season is in the summer, which means now is a good time to think about details such as any mementos or souvenirs you'd like to create, whether to remember the reunion or for attendees to take home.

Here are some ideas for both types of keepsakes. Some will do double-duty as activities to keep folks busy and talking during the event:
  • A family tree thumbprint poster for each person to add his or her unique mark. You would need the blank tree, colored ink pads, and baby wipes so people can wipe off the ink. A printable blank tree is part of our Instant Family Reunion Deluxe Kit in ShopFamilyTree.com (it also includes a planning checklist and book; coordinated templates for pretty name tags, signs and other materials, a decorative family tree you can type in and print copies, and more).

  • A family cookbook, consisting of recipes handed down and relatives' new favorites. You could have contributors send recipes ahead of time and paste them into a Word document to print and share, or have people bring recipe cards you can collect, copy and share. Or go fancier and create a cookbook on a photo book website. Most sites let you share your photo project so others can order copies for themselves.

  • A quilt made of squares contributed by each person or family. You would need fabric markers or paint and cloth squares, and a handy person to sew them all together later on. You could auction off the quilt to raise money for next year's reunion (and then the winner could bring it back to be auctioned again for another relative to keep for the year).

    If you want families to be able to take something home, you could have them create two squares, one for the quilt and one to keep and frame. 
  • A scrapbook, with pages created by each family (ask attendees to bring their family photos). You can scan the pages later to share.
  • An autograph album, with the signature of each reunion attendee.
  • An ongoing album with photos from each reunion, which a designated person could keep, update with new photos, and bring back each year.
  • A large group photo, like this one or even this one. You can have reprints made for each person, or email digital copies (if a professional photographer takes the shot, be sure to get his or her permission first).
  • Have the children interview their grandparents and record it, or have someone write down the questions and answers on an interview form (part of the aforementioned Instant Family Reunion Deluxe Kit). You can create a video or compile the forms into a book to share.
  • T-shirts with your family name and an old photo or a group shot from a previous reunion. It might be fun to have fabric paint or markers so people can personalize their shirts.
  • A family calendar with birthdays and anniversaries marked, and perhaps important dates in family history. You can download calendar templates from the internet at sites such as this one or use the ones available with your word processing software.
  • Plants from Grandma's garden. You could root cuttings ahead of time, then distribute them in small flower pots.

What reunion goodies has your family created? Click Comments below to tell us.

The Instant Family Reunion Deluxe kit is on sale in April in ShopFamilyTree.com. Check it out today—fewer than 50 are left.



Family Reunions | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:07:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, February 28, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 24-28
Posted by Diane

  • The free family tree website WikiTree has teamed up with author A.J. Jacobs to find cousin connections for the Global Family Reunion, to be held June 6, 2015, in Queens, NY. The "megareunion" will be the subject of Jacobs' next book as well as a documentary. It's open to the public, and attendees with a proven relationship to Jacobs get a bracelet and will be in a photo. To learn more about the reunion, go here. To find out more about helping WikiTree research those relationships, register for WikiTree, and then go here.
  • Fficiency Software has announced a new search technology called Family Relationship Searching, available through its MyTrees.com subscription family tree website. The company says the technology will help you quickly find an ancestor in the site's database without wading through so many false matches. To search, you enter information about your ancestor and his or her person's family members. You also can specify exact or phonetically similar spelling. Visit MyTrees.com here.


Civil War | Family Reunions | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, February 28, 2014 2:39:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Family Reunion!
Posted by Diane

I’m in Madison, Wis., for the reunion of Patricia Skubis and her fourth cousin, Birgit Mose. Birgit traveled here from Denmark after Pat entered our family reunion contest with MyHeritage.

She and her daughter Christine were waiting with a sign at the airport when Birgit stepped off the escalator. 

I’ll bring you more of their story in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine.


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 11:27:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Enter to Win a Trip to Meet Long-Lost Family!
Posted by Diane

We’re getting together with family history site MyHeritage.com to host an online contest that’ll help you reconnect family ties lost through fate and time.

The contest is open to interested individuals who’ve discovered new living family connections or long-lost relatives through their family history research. 

The winner will get an expenses-paid reunion with a long-lost relative from anywhere in the world, plus a year-long VIP membership to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with MyHeritage.com. How’s that for a great prize? 

Two runners-up will win, as well: A digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-plus subscription on MyHeritage.com.

To enter, submit a few sentences describing your discovery and what it means to you by commenting on the MyHeritage.com Blog,  the MyHeritage.com Facebook page  or the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page. The entry deadline is June 15.

Click here for the full contest rules and guidelines.

I can’t wait to see how researching your genealogy has helped you connect with distant family. Good luck!


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:40:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 29, 2009
Bringing the Family History to the Reunion
Posted by Diane

This weekend we drove out to southeastern Indiana for my dad’s mom’s family reunion on the dairy farm my grand-uncle and -aunt started in 1934.

With so many new faces showing up at this every-other-year affair, it gets hard to keep track of who’s who. I loved my grand-aunt's generationally color-coded system for creating name tags:



Above is my husband’s name tag, with my grandma’s name in green (her brother and his wife owned the farm), my dad in black, and my own and my husband’s names in blue.

I also got to add Greg to one of the genealogy charts she hung up around the room.



She also brought old family photos and snapshots from past reunions.



Activities included catching up ...



getting to know the local residents ...



and playing basketball by the barn, at least for awhile.



If you’ve got a reunion coming up, check out these tips on bringing your family history into the picture and these recommended resources.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Reunions
Monday, June 29, 2009 9:13:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, March 27, 2009
Facebook Targets Families With New Groups Page
Posted by Diane

The AllFacebook blogger pointed out Facebook's new landing page for members to set up private groups for extended family. 

You already could set up private groups; this is just a way to get families to do it. Facebook may be trying to capitalize on the success of genealogy applications such as FamilyLink’s We’re Related and FamilyBuilder’s FamilyTree.

The landing page is here (you’ll have to log in to Facebook if you’re not already). It lets you name your family group and invite relatives already on Facebook and those not yet on Facebook. Then you can share photos and information just with this group.

More details and commentary on AllFacebook.


Family Reunions | Social Networking
Friday, March 27, 2009 8:54:43 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Tips From a Family Reunion Whiz
Posted by Diane

Remember our blog post about a year ago about the upcoming super-size Miner-Minard-Miner-Minor 2008 family reunion? 

Organizer Mark Miner sent us a post-party update. Maybe you can steal some inspiration for your own annual gatherings: He's someone who knows how to put on a reunion. Below, a few takeaways.
  • Enlarge your invite list. From his genealogy research and family Web site, Miner estimates 50,000 people were eligible to attend. They didn't all get engraved invitations, though—he used the media to get the word out, and more than 115 cousins traveled to the three-day reunion last June.

  • Consider sponsorship. It wouldn't work for everyone, but this celebration's reach and the family’s roots near Pittsburgh earned it official status as part of that city's 250th birthday.
  • Visit a historical site. “Our primary event was in the Sen. John Heinz History Center," Miner writes. "Guests were treated to remarks by history center CEO Andy Masich and Pittsburgh 250 executive director Bill Flanagan, as well the unveiling of a photo-memorial to cousin Erick Foster, killed serving in Iraq in 2007.”
Photo and memorabilia displays included a photograph of Oklahoma pioneers James R. and Lydia (Miner) Brown and letters from a cousin, Corwin D. Tilbury, who served on Pittsburgh’s city council during the city’s 150th birthday in 1908. (Mark put period postcards and photos on a Pittsburgh 150 Web page.)
In the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine (on newsstands May 5) look for tips on using family reunions to (gently) squeeze genealogy information from relatives.

And click Comments below to share your own reunion advice.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Reunions
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 7:58:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Go to This Summer's Family Reunion on a Shoestring
Posted by Diane

Now’s the time to be thinking about this summer’s family reunion. You can glean a few tips from CNN’s article about holding reunions during tough times.

The March 2008 Family Tree Magazine (now mailing to subscribers) offers a special genealogy-on-a-budget section with professional researcher Maureen A. Taylor’s how-tos for genealogy travel on a shoestring. Here's a sneak preview:
  • Explore transportation, hotel and rental car options using a metasearch engine such as Farecast or Kayak, which search several travel sites at once. (Study the fine print for any added fees, though.)
  • Instead of putting up your whole group in a hotel, consider renting a residence through a site such as Cyberrentals.
  • Try to use public transportation instead of renting a car, especially in big cities. Ask your hotel or the visitors bureau Web site for information.
  • Scout out restaurants ahead of time and shop for gift certificates priced below face value at Restaurants.com (note any restrictions on usage) and eBay.
Get more planning help in FamilyTreeMagazine.com’s Reunions section and create kid-friendly get-togethers with advice from Family Tree Kids!


Family Reunions
Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:54:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I believe in genealogy miracles
Posted by Grace

Seattle resident Jan Burak Schwert and her husband traveled to Konstanz, Germany, to trace his ancestry. They hoped to find Schwerts in cemeteries, but they ended up snagging a live one. Read her story of serendipitous genealogy finds here, and add your own in our comments!

Via Tracing the Tribe


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 11:09:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Let's Hope They Don't All Bring Potato Salad ...
Posted by Diane

Here’s one family reunion that’ll be easy to crash. More than 50,000 Minerd-Miner family members from across the United States are invited to the clan's 22nd annual reunion June 27-29 in Pittsburgh.

The event averages crowds of 100-plus people bearing the surnames Minerd, Miner, Minor, Minard and others.

Pittsburgh, near where the Minerds first put down roots, is hosting this year's Minerd-Miner reunion as part of its 250th anniversary. The family patriarchs, Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Minerd Sr. and his wife, Maria Nein, settled near Mill Run in Pennsylvania’s Fayette County in 1791. They had 12 known children, 87 grandchildren, 469 great-grandchildren and 1,344 great-great grandchildren.

And we can say knew them when: Family Tree Magazine named Minerd.com  to its list of Top 10 Family Web Sites back in April 2003.

At the time, the site had 850 ancestor profiles and 2,700 images; today there are 1,175 bios and 5,000 pictures. More than a million have visited since its May 2000 launch.

My favorite part, Connectedness, takes a look at Minerds who ran in the Oklahoma 1889 land rush, fought in wars, worked (and died) in steel mills, served on Pittsburgh's city council and more. Check it out, especially if you’re planning to crash the reunion—you’ll have to blend in somehow.


Family Reunions | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 3:47:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, December 21, 2007
Make the Most of Holiday Communiques
Posted by Grace

From Family Tree Magazine contributor Tara Beecham, tips for using family newsletters to aid in your ancestral quest:

Whether you think it's naughty or nice, many family history researchers use holiday communiqués to gather information for their family trees. Determining how to make this request politely requires both focus and brevity.

"I always think it's best to ask as a direct a question as you can," says Sara Skotzke, a professional genealogist based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who has included family history questions on past holiday notes. "You're more likely to get a response." Try asking for something specific that can be verified, she said, such as where a person was born, died or was buried.

Sending a genealogy-themed card such as the "Christmas Wish List" ones for sale here ($5.50 for a set of 12) is a way to humorously request the maiden name of Great-Aunt Anna.

Holiday communiqués are also a good platform for soliciting photos from your relatives. When Skotzke asks for pictures of an ancestor, she explains that she will mail the photo back to its owner as well as e-mail a digital copy. "I'll give them incentive to trust me. I will send them a CD of all of the pictures I have of the family—something they get on the other end for doing something nice."

You also could try sharing information about your own family history in the form of a family newsletter to spark dialogue with distant relatives. If you're unsure where to start, word processing programs such as Microsoft Word usually include newsletter templates that you can fill in and print out or e-mail to your family.

As excited as you may be to make headway on your family tree, don't blindside relatives with questions, cautions Doug Collier, a professional genealogist based in Nashville, Tenn. When he writes to say that he's researching the family line, he asks if he can call. "I've always found straight-up verbal conversations, to an extent, to be most-effective," he says, especially when requesting information from older relatives. "Older people have a wealth of knowledge. Every bit of information, regardless of how trivial it may appear, can and does have meaning."


Family Reunions | Research Tips
Friday, December 21, 2007 5:10:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Research Family Reunions in Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Next time you're using a database of historic newspapers, try this tip from Tom Kemp, of the GenealogyBank subscription newspaper site: Look for articles about your kin's family reunions.

Society pages in old newspapers would report on local gatherings, often with names of the family patriarch and out-of-town or well-known attendees. You can download a few examples from GenealogyBank's free downloads page.

Search for family surnames and the words family reunion. Try adding a place if you get a lot of hits. Kemp also suggests searching for reunions of high schools and colleges and military units.

A subscription to GenealogyBank costs $19.95 per month or $89.95 per year. Many public libraries offer cardholders free access to its sister database, NewsBank, through their Web sites.

Other resources include Ancestry.com's newspapers ($155.40 per year in the US Records Collection) and the growing newspaper databases at World Vital Records ($49.95 for two years).

You'll find more options for finding newspapers both online and in libraries on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Also see the newspaper research guide in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine.


Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:12:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, July 20, 2007
Traditional Recipes: Burgoo, Anyone?
Posted by Diane

Our Family Tree Magazine coworker Kathy, who has deep roots across the Ohio River in Kentucky, is yawning from a weekend preparing burgoo for the family reunion cookoff she dreamed up.

Burgoo is a big thing around here, but somehow I hadn’t heard of it. It’s a thick stew that's traditional in Kentucky, especially at church festivals. (This 1900 postcard shows group burgoo preparation.) It's even served at the Kentucky Derby alongside mint juleps.



The ingredients list spans the barnyard, with beef, chicken and pork. Vegetables include potatoes, corn and five kinds of beans; pickling spices and hot sauce are among the seasonings. The chef can substitute freely and toss in pretty much anything on hand, though, then cook it for a day or so.

Kathy’s recipe originally made 75 gallons. She cut it down but still ended up with enough for most of the tri-state area (and several lucky coworkers).

She had to do some research to adapt measures and cooking methods to modern times. For example, the recipe called for a “number 10 can” each of ketchup and tomatoes. A Google search gave the equivalent: 6 lbs, 6oz (that’s a lot of Heinz).

Apparently Kathy’s relatives got really excited about the cookoff. One family spent all Saturday together, some out back roasting meat and others inside peeling potatoes. (That clan won a ladle and bragging rights.)

A little good-natured cooking competition can spice up a ho-hum family reunion and beef up the family history element. Need help gathering and preparing old recipes? The December 2004 Family Tree Magazine features an article all about that, and FamilyTreeMagazine.com offers an excerpt plus a handy old-fashioned-to-new-fashioned measurement conversion guide.

And if you just have to make burgoo right now, here are some recipes.


Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, July 20, 2007 3:01:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]