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28 October 2015

Fill in the box! Please.

FamilySearch Reason Statements


FamilySearch's Family Tree is changing the way we do online family history, if we will play our part. Unlike other genealogy websites, if you find a birth, marriage, death, census, or military record on FamilySearch, you are presented with a box that says, "Reason to Attach Source."

Will you fill in the box!?! Please?

That box should not be skipped for sake of speed! Trust me. I know how time consuming it is to write a reason why you think the record on the left matches the person(s) on the right. It slows down the fun. It's a drag. You just want to get to the action of finding more records. I get it. I get it! However, a few moments of time can save hours of headaches later, for yourself and others.

Will you please fill in the box?

26 October 2015

Get Their Feet Wet With Writing Memories

Writing Family History
Photo by Nadia Priestley in the Creative Commons

What a blessing I have had to teach a beginning family historian in a 5-week series run throughout this year. When individuals are guided well in the beginning, genealogy does not have to be a huge, insurmountable task.

During this class series, I initially focus on the 'why' of family history. In a church setting, I will stress scriptures that support the need, blessings and promises of doing genealogy. In a conference, library, or society setting, then I stress the health and relationship benefits of preserving family memories and legacy. In a 45 minute class, half of my time will be spent on "Why."

Then it's time for them to dip their toes in the water. They are asked to think of one ancestor and write down their memories of that person. For 5 minutes quite minutes, participants reminisce and write down whatever comes to mind.

When the time beeps, class members are invited share their thoughts. Volunteers share sweet, simple stories or profound personal experiences. Stories range from a grandpa sharing grapes with a man when he was a young  to a poor mother working in Louisiana doing everything she could to lift her family out of poverty through education and good cooking. A funny story was about a grandfather who had his grandchildren every Saturday over to help do chores on the farm. When the work was done, the kindhearted but honest man would say, "Thank you so much for helping me today. The work would have gone faster without you." As the children were young, they believed the cheerfully delivered sentiment was a compliment. As they grew up, they would stop their grandpa as quizzically say, "Hey!" For the jolly grandpa, the speed of the work was not as important as the memory making experiences!

You see, family history isn't so hard. It's about recording memories. Each memory tells us something about our ancestors, and ourselves.

In the second class, participants are prepared to write for another 5 minutes and share once again. Now they have recorded 2 stories. Two more stories than they had recorded before. Two stories in their handwriting that can be passed down as a keepsake. Some participants accepted the home work assignment to write more stories between the first and second class. Others are thankful that they are kindly nudged into action during the class. Soon, they realize memory writing is so easy and fun to do! They won't need my promptings.

I love changing the myth that family history is hard and only the truly passionate should do it. When I start with the why of family history and stories, slowly but surely people's hearts change. And that's the best thing a beginner family historian can learn as they get their feet wet.

23 October 2015

Now I Know Who Is Dorothy Banta

Smith Family Plot, Section 46 Lot 79 in Green Lawn Cemetery Photo by Devon Lee

A few years ago, I asked the question, "Who is Dorothy Banta?" This large monument appeared to be a family but I wasn't sure. Previously I stated this:
I've been able to identify Helen G Smith as the daughter of Perry W and Minnie E Smith. So Perry and Minnie are the parents on this stone and are flanked by their daughter Helen. I haven't confirmed whether Harold is the son of Perry and Minnie Smith. But it seems likely given the ages.
The Smiths and Bantas are a part of a service project I did while on a research trip for my family members. As such, the urgency to flesh out the mystery was not a top priority. Recently, I have dabbled with this photography project again and I wanted to see if I could make headway on 'who is Dorothy Banta?'.

19 October 2015

Keep the Fire Burning

You may have attended a Family History Discovery Day. You may have visited the Family History Discovery Center in Salt Lake City. You may have gone to your first family history conference or genealogical society meeting. You may have heard a presentation at a social club or watched Who Do You Think You Are? or Genealogy Roadshow.  Or you have heard a commercial for Ancestry.com or 23andMe genetic genealogy testing program.

Your heart stirred and you want to know more about your ancestors and your heritage. A small spark ignited. And that's a wonderful thing.

Soon, your normal life will resume (if it hasn't already). Soon, you will be thinking about a presentation or deadline at work, a social function at church, a child's school and extracurricular activity schedule. Soon you'll be thinking about how you're going to get through a family crisis or continue caring for a disabled relative (be they young or old). Soon, the things you learned at the family history or genealogical event is behind you and quite possibly forgotten. 

But it doesn't have to be this way!

17 October 2015

Using RootsTech Site Tools to Create a Possible Schedule

Register for RootsTech 2016 !
My talented husband was selected to teach at the February 2016 RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. His presentation will be RT2028 - Audacity and the Power of Audio Editing.

Knowing that he's teaching on Friday, we made plans based on his real job's schedule and the needs of our children and child care providers. Thankfully, the RootsTech Schedule of classes is available to help us plan tickets and book our hotel. There are a few official hotels affiliated with the conference. We chose to stay a few blocks away and walk to the conference to have more amenities that fit our needs and budget. Hotels.com was a great resource to compare the options and make the best selection for us.

The RootsTech Schedule pages has a great tool for pre-selecting the classes that I'm most interested in attending. Additionally, I could mark alternative classes as well. The only challenge I have is remembering where the tool is located and how to drill down to my options and selections. I thought others might find themselves in the same boat, so here's what you need to know. (And if the site changes, let me know!)

14 October 2015

Who is Grandpa and His Brother?

After creating four heritage scrapbooks, I have learned so much and I wish to these share tips with you. In so doing, perhaps you will avoid the mistakes that frequent digital scrapbook gallery in heritage themed layouts or that I did personally.

family history scrapbooking
Life long friends: Word Art World's Ocean Views Kit
The first mistake mistakes plaques not only scrapbooks, but photo albums of various sorts. That mistake is to not use identify who is in the photo. More specifically, to use full names rather than titles such as father, brother, aunt, grandmother, and so on.


13 October 2015

Get Your PhD Before You Mrs

Read my guest post at Americas Footprints
Capturing the true character of a person can be difficult with simple descriptive words. Describing  their physical features and mentioning where they are from, may paint a visual picture of a person but the individual remains one dimensional.  If I reference phrases they often repeatedly, the person has more depth.


12 October 2015

One Name Place Study: Perry Townsend of Groveport

Previously I wrote about the success of finding a relative by using the One Name Place Study method.  Let's continue investigating the remaining Townsends in the 1880 US Census for Franklin County, Ohio. There are four left.

As you'll remember, I am in the process of investigating the Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio in an effort to find relatives of William James Townsend who was born around 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio.

The first of the final four is Perry Townsend born about 1855 in Ohio, with parents originally from Ohio.  Perry is working as a farm laborer.

06 October 2015

Tech Tuesday: Search Gateway on FamilySearch

For several months, FamilySearch has teased me with search possibilities on the the page where I view all the details of a particular ancestor. I watched as the link to search records, on the FamilySearch Records pages, evolve from a simple "search records" link to one that said "FamilySearch". The links functionality had not changed, but the terminology had. My super-sense told me that something would be coming soon that might provide the opportunity to search more than just FamilySearch.org. Recently, my hypothesis was proven correct, though little fanfare celebrated the change. I just logged in one day and noticed a difference.

When you look at the details for a particular ancestor and you look at the right hand side of the web page, you'll see a number of options grouped in boxes. The first boxed section will populate if FamilySearch has some hints to offer you. Do not be discouraged if you do not have receive hints. That doesn't mean there are no records available. It just means you might have to do some digging. And, a little hard work rarely hurts anyone.

This box also will have some other suggestions of potential problems and may suggest a person has a spouse or other children based on pattern assumptions. I won't get into those boxes, just know they could be there. If you haven't noticed this change, then you really need to log in to your account today! There could be some hints, or problems, waiting for you.

05 October 2015

Making Plans for Texas State Genealogy Conference

My darling hubby and kiddos are making room in our schedule for me to attend the Texas State Genealogy Conference scheduled for Oct 31-Nov 1 in Austin, Texas. The event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Austin and is targeted towards genealogists and family historians of all skill sets.

Texas State Genealogy Society Conference

After reviewing the class schedule, I will be attending Friday and Saturday and then attempting a hasty drive back home to help our family celebrate Halloween as a superhero troop. (Can you guess who I'm going to dress up as? Do you think she should appear at the conference?) 

01 October 2015

Double Header Photography Classes in Kingwood Texas

If you live in the Greater Houston Area and are interested in a few classes, I will be teaching at the Kingwood Library on 15 October 2015 on the topics of photography for family history. You do not have to be a dSLR toting expert to attend this class. If you are, you're welcome as well!


The first presentation is based on my Memorabilia series of posts on this blog. The second class stems from the lessons I learned while taking 500+ pictures at Ohio Cemeteries. I hope you'll come!