Win a RootsTech Pass as We Celebrate Our YouTube Anniversary

Last year, I told my husband that I wanted to expand my dream of inspiring and educating others about genealogy and family history by cre...

29 November 2016

Grab A Camera And Preserve the Artifacts

Grab A Camera And Preserve the Family Artifacts

Family history can be found the artifacts that belonged to our ancestors and that are in our homes, or those of older living relatives. Do you have a digital camera that's sitting in a box somewhere and you're afraid to use it? It's time to grab that camera and take some beginner shots of your treasures.

The two things you'll need is a lightbox and a light source. I have it easier to photograph my smaller treasures in this fashion. Now. in these photos I show the power of a DIY lightbox, though you can purchase a lightbox from Amazon for about $40.

Depending upon the season where you live, your first attempt may involve natural light. I placed my light box on a bed beside a large window on a Sunday afternoon. I turned off my flash and switched my Canon Powershot to it's macro setting. On a dSLR, you should use the AV setting.

For these photos, I read my owner's manual to learn how to set the white balance. There is a reason to keep your owner's manual handy, and the white balance configuration is one of them.

Finally, place your camera on a tripod and your object inside the lightbox. Now, I'll walk you through what is possible when you're just starting to use your camera. How do I know this? Because this is me starting to use my camera with limited photography training. If I can do it, you can do it.

22 November 2016

Genealogy Gratitude for Online Options

Genealogy Gratitude for Online Research

As 21st Century Family Historians, we have so much to be thankful for. The one that top my chart is online genealogy.

I have the opportunity to work as a volunteer at a local Family History Center. My children are older and my eldest two are old enough to watch the others while my hubby and I serve together. However, many individuals are not this fortunate.

Career, childcare, and other commitments prevent many individuals from using Family History Centers or genealogical libraries. As such, having the ability to access so many important records online is such a wonderful blessing. Any time, any where access to archives enables amazing discoveries to occur by those who are younger and younger. Otherwise, genealogy would have to be reserved for only the retired or stay-at-home mothers with all their children in school the entire day.

Additionally, online access to record sets makes genealogy more affordable. You don't have to be independently wealthy or have a surplus of cash to access records. Ordering microfilm at $5.50 a roll in the hopes of discovering one or two names is exorbitantly expensive. Today, for about $14.00/month for or $20/month for (check for current subscription prices as they may have changed), you can access numerous record collections and store your tree online. For those where this is still not affordable, is free and has access to all those microfilm records are digitized!

There still is a need for boots-on-the-ground genealogy but, now our research trips can be focused on the harder to access record collections (like church and court records). As ecclesiastical and government archives realize the value in digitizing the collections, more may be placed online and that's something to truly be thankful for.

Someone will quip that, “Not everything is online you know.”

Reflexively, I'll respond,“You're right. It currently is not online. But, I can't wait for it to be.”

What are you most thankful for in genealogy today that has improved from 5 - 10 years ago?

15 November 2016

Family History for Busy Lives: 8 Gift Ideas

Family History Themed Gift Ideas

Do you have family members who have the urge to preserve their family history but their lives are too busy to accomplish anything?

Well, plan ahead for Christmas and buy a few of these projects. If you're really an awesome relative, you could 'catch them up' by adding a few photos that you have to the collection so all they have to do is write. In fact, you could offer a date night to couples or a mother/daughter combos to complete some of these projects. See... there is a way to get those reluctant relatives to play a part.

Our Wedding Anniversary Memory Book by Rae Wakelin
Purchase at

Happily Ever After: Our Wedding Anniversary Album
by Nick Beilenson
Purchase at

These two albums are so simple, and they don't have to be for brides to be. Add a coupon for a free date night for the couple, and pre-print a photo of the couple through the years of their marriage to catch them up. All they need to do is to add a few lines about where they lived that year and a few highlights of that time period. What a great anniversary or Christmas gift.

My Baptism Memories BookDessert Books SKU 4913571

My Baptism Remembrance Bookby Mary Martha Moss
Purchase at

My First Holy Communion Keepsake Journal by Avril O'Reilly
Purchase at

What a perfect parent/child gift for someone special in your life who celebrates a religious rite. Present the book, again with some printed photographs for easy assembly. If you live nearby, add a coupon for a parent/child date night and create a can't-miss opportunity to capture these memories for the future while the events are still fresh. Many of these projects can easily be completed in a few hours.

Baby Book Keepsakes (There are so many varieties at

For many people they dread keeping up with a baby book. For others, they are such a simple way to preserve a few quick memories of a new life. Find a book that fits the personality of the person you are giving the gift to. And a print gift card so there are no major obstacles to accomplishing the goal. If you life close by or have a close relationship with the busy mother/father, set up a monthly appointment during the first year of life where you can talk about the pages in the book and help them complete them.

How to Save Your Life - One Chapter at a Timeby Tom and Alison Taylor
Purchase at Pictures and Stories

The Book of Me: A Do-It-Yourself Memoirby Nannette Stone
Purchase at
These last two options are for folks who are busy but ready for something a little more robust. They're a great way for someone to begin curating their personal history, so that you the genealogist  can have more fodder for your research.

08 November 2016

What is Your Recurring Lesson in Genealogy?

Growing Personally Through Genealogy

Many of us will have a recurring lesson that we learn while doing genealogy. Some of us find our lessons deal with the importance of organization. Some of us learn to cite our sources (or rather, we learn we should be citing our sources). What is the recurring lesson I have to keep learning? I'm so embarrassed to admit it, but for my readers I'll reveal the skeleton in my closet.

I guess I'm so persnickety that genealogy is constantly teaching me more and more about patience that I hadn't learned prior to starting my blog 5 years ago. One lesson that keeps coming up involves trying to ask someone to help me retrace their steps in acquiring pieces of genealogical evidence.