Momma Is Calling Via Find-A-Record

Find A Record Cleans Up FamilySearch


As you spend time on FamilySearch Family Tree, you'll so recognize the tree needs a lot of pruning for it to become healthy and vigorous. There is an app and web tool that helps us find spots on the the tree that need a little tender loving care. So, get your gardening sheers ready and let's dive deep into Find-A-Record, the resource that searches FamilySearch and it's source hints to return results of records that exist in the place and time of our ancestors! And that's not all.


Find-A-Record Record Hints
Click on the details button to learn more.

 I logged into Find-A-Record, and I was shocked to see the first entry. That's my mother. I have her death record. I don't need to find the death record. What in the world could be going on?

Simplifying Father's Day - Family History for Children

Simplify Father's Day Family History for Children


Call me a traitor to mothers and father's everywhere, but I'm not a fan of Mother's Day and Father's Day. Or more accurately, I'm not a fan of the pressures of these days for grand gestures, gifts, and projects. For those who like those things, have at it. There's no one way to celebrate the patriarchs and matriarchs in the family. For those like me who shrug your shoulders, let me make a suggestion. Simplify Father's Day.

This Father's Day, just say THANK YOU to the father's in your life.

Meet Devon Noel Lee on NextGen Live!



Howdy readers. I wanted to invite you to watch me on YouTube Live as Eric Wells from The NextGen Genealogy Networks interviews me. We'll discuss how I became involved in genealogy, my genealogy specialty, and my favorite books. Eric promises to wear something shiny along with me, so be sure to find out what that is!!!

Watch: Monday, June 19 at 6 PM Central Time.


Follow either of these links to watch the live stream.

YouTube Link:Faces of NextGen Live: Devon Noel Lee! (If you click on this link now, you can press a gray button that says "Reminder" and YouTube will remind you when we go live!)

Facebook Link: Faces of NextGen Live: Devon Noel Lee! (If you click the "Going" or "Maybe" button on this event page, Facebook will remind you when we go live, so you won't miss it!)


Before the interview, be sure to check out my latest video on FamilyHistoryFanatics.com.


READER CHALLENGE: 

In the comments section below, see if you can answer any of these questions:

  1. What is my favorite genealogy book?
  2. What is my favorite non-genealogy book?
  3. What is my most exciting genealogy discovery? 
  4. How did I get started in genealogy?

These questions will be answered in the NextGen interview, and more, but I'd like to see which fan knows me best!

My Ancestor Has Multiple Names, Which Name Do I Use?

Genealogy Research Problems Which Name Do I Use


Do you ever cringe when someone gets your name wrong? My husband doesn't because his name is pretty hard to mess up- Andrew and Andy. For me, my mother gave me a name that people rarely say right at first glance- Devon. There's one way that when pronounced I hear nails scratching down the chalkboard and shudder.

Names are important and in genealogy, names help us find more records and details about our ancestors. When you discover a new ancestor through your research, how do you manage their name as you acquire more records about that ancestor? In other words, as you find records about your ancestor, what name should you use on an online tree’s profile about that ancestor?

When you're using FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, or paper records, you have one line for the name of your ancestor. There are additional places to record alternate names, but what do you write in the name blank?

9 Ways I Preserve Family History for My Descendants

9 Ways To Share Family History With Children


Family History is meaningful when we preserve the perishable and share our stories. There will always be time to find a new relative to add to the tree (and often it takes considerable effort to do so), but saving and preserving our family history is my top priority. Here are 9 tasks that I do regularly to ensure our family history is captured and preserved for my children, grandchildren, and cousins.

Friday Funny: Would You Agree to These Wedding Vows

It's wedding season for the June brides. But let's go back in time to see if you'd like to have these vows recited:



Can you guess what year this wee writing appeared in print?

The modern bridgegroom led the modern bride to the altar. The modern clergyman was waiting for them with his modern wedding ceremony.
"Will you," he said to the bridegroom, "take this divorced woman to be your social wife, to have and to hold until you are both tired of each other?"
"I will," said the groom, "with the understanding that she is not to kick up a row, no matter who I bring home with me, and that she turns over all her available cash to help me out of my scrapes."
"And will you," sad the clergyman to the woman, "take this man to be your companion in misery for so long as you think best?"
"I will," said the woman, "if I don't have to nurse him when he is sick or take breakfast with him."
"Is there any one," said the clergyman, "who objects?"
"No one," said the spokesman for the congregation. "We are all very glad of it. It makes gossip, and the mere fact that we are here will enable us to have our names in the papers. Let the ceremony proceed."
"There!" said the clergyman, "I prounce you man and wife. Send me a check or cash by registered mail, give your names and a description of your presents to the society reporters, and when you want a divorce, here's the card of the best lawyer in the business."

Now, I'm not making fun of the institution of marriage. I love my hubby tons and the children we're raising together. I was just surprised by the date of this article. Have any idea what it is, without looking ahead?

I would say modern day - 2017. Or perhaps the "Me Generation" of the 1980s.

But I would be wrong! Completely wrong. So far off, that I was shocked that this piece appeared in the 20 February 1904 edition of The Daily Tacoma of Tacoma, Washington. 1904! That was a shock.

If Family History Matters, It Should Be Organized

Organize Your Keepsakes


For several months I've focused on family history for busy people whether they are parents, grandparents, single adults. The purpose of this invitation to all, including those with full calendars, is that if your family matters, your memories should be preserved and the sooner, the better.

Some say childhood memories never fade.

Preserve Your Childhood Memories
From MyStatus360

But that's simply not true. If you don't take the time to organize the childhood memories, they'll be forgotten. With a little bit of effort, you can change that with Grow With Me  Boxes Preserve Childhood Memories.

Some people refuse to take the time to organize their life because they don't have time, but the time spent finding a place for everything pass great dividends in return.
Quote from The Organized Mom

Busy individuals benefit from organizing their daily life and creating a keepsake in the process when they make Daily Life Binders That Are Family History. These binders can be digital or hard copies. 

 The trick is to remember to:

  1. Organize in short spurts (15-minutes blocks)
  2. Work from this point forward 
  3. Incorporate the past as time permits

If you've missed the previous Busy Lives Posts, check out the series here: Family History for Busy Lives

If you have other organization tips that also serve as family history projects, share your ideas below.





Other Posts on Organization Memories
Be Organized in 2017 - Photo Collection Tips
Power Scrapbooking: Labeling Hard Copy Photos
Narrative Project: Organizing Through Roots Magic



Further Reading on Organization:
Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Messy Photo Collection
Discard Papers Fearlessly (Webinar)
Treasured Keepsakes or Clutter? A Look at Memorabilia
Organizing Your Boxes of Family History Keepsakes


Grow With Me Boxes Preserve Childhood Memories



"I didn't realize how I had saved for my oldest son and my younger daughters have so little." Do you say these words as a mother of multiple children? Or do you feel overwhelmed with the school and artwork that your kids bring home or produce? Do you wonder how you can preserve the precious memories without feeling guilty about tossing out a hand tracing, an early attempt at writing, or school achievement certificate?

Too many parents are divided into two camps when it comes to preserving their child's life... a) they don't save enough or b) they keep too much. In between, a parent will say, "Not another keepsake. Do I really need to save this?"


The answer lies in your preservation system. Whether you have a small flat or apartment or a large home, the amount of clutter memorabilia you save for your children should fit into a portable file folder box or a file drawer. If it can't fit inside, that blessed darling should consider parting with the item (or you could stuff it in the trash can when they're not looking!) 



For an excellent article, visit Daily Mom's Keepsake Bins post


There is an inexpensive system that will help you curate the most valuable treasures, so you have something to provide your offspring with to remember their childhood that will make a family historian's heart sing. 

What you'll need: 


  • 15-20 hanging file folders with tabs
  • file drawer or hanging file folder box
  • all of your child's (or your childhood) keepsakes and artwork
Childhood Family History Project
A file cabinet drawer or a file bin works well!
If you're handy with a computer, you could print out file tabs. Otherwise, go simple and preserve your handwriting using a pen or fine-tipped sharpie. Your file folders will include the grade school years and then additional folders to round out the child's life. 

  • Each school year receives a tab from Kindergarten - 12th grade (in the US)
  • Additional files could include: 
    • Infancy, 1-Year-Old, 2-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old, Pre-K
    • Vital Records, Health Records, Prenatal Care
    • Baptism, Scouts, Activity Days, Sports, Communion, Awana's, Brownies, etc.

You don't have to have a category for each file folder at the onset. As your child ages, new categories may be necessary. The beauty of this system is that it's expandable! 


Preserving Your Family Stories
Annual photo, Christmas card, and photo CD fit snuggly
in the file folder.


What goes in the files? 

If you have a file box, you will soon realize that you can't save everything. That's the BEAUTY of the Grow With Me boxes. You're forced to keep the best artwork, the best report card, the best photos, etc. Here are a few suggestions of what to keep:

  • Annual photo of child
  • Annual family Christmas card or photo
  • CD of photos for the year
  • Copy of family journal
  • Letter to the child from the parents
  • Most meaningful recognitions, ribbons, and certificates
  • Most significant school project
  • Most outstanding art piece for the year 
  • Report Cards, IEPs, Assessment Test Results
  • Special Needs Diagnostic Results and Updates
Saving Kids School Projects Without Guilt
Save the Most Interesting School Projects and Art Pieces

DECISION-MAKING TIP: If you have trouble narrowing down pieces every year, then wait until the middle or end of the following year to pare down the potential keepsakes to the most significant. 


ADDED BENEFIT: If your child struggles in school or has a special need, this system can manage their progress and serve as a reference aid. If there is ever a question or challenge, refer to your files to review what has been achieved or needs continuing services.

Saving family journals
Include a copy of the family journal or letters. 


 It's Never Too Late To Start

Many of you are lost past your childhood or child rearing years. Your box would not grow with your offspring but could help you when you prepare to downsize or declutter your home. You'll be able to have the files made and sit with a stack of preserved documents. As you review each piece, you can file them appropriately. Be prepared with tissues if you're a weeper! The memories are powerful, but they will be better preserved. 

My friend recently shared how she started this organization system after finally purchasing her first home. Her son is a teenager, but he enjoyed sitting with his mom and sifting through his earliest scribbles and cut and paste activities. Together mother and son reviewed photos, certificates, and report cards. They speak fondly of the experience, even though they did throw out a mountain of keepsakes that were less valuable that when would fit in the files. As the son approaches adulthood, he knows his childhood has been preserved and knows where the report cards and recognitions should go when he receives them.

Click to Tweet: Guilt Free System to Save Childhood art and keepsakes. #parenting #familyhistory http://bit.ly/2r4tmPP

A Perfect Gift

If you want to give a uniquely thoughtful gift for moms-to-be or mothers who are having their third or fourth child with no planned baby showers, these systems are highly praised gifts. If the receiver already has a system, they can regift the system to another deserving mother without any stigma!

An even better gift is spending time with your disorganized children or their spouses, providing the file system and file box and then helping with the legwork of sorting the papers. It's a family history project that saves the recent past and present and plans to save the future as well.


Do you have an organization system that preserves childhood well? Let me know if the description below. If you've used this system or given it as a gift, share that below as well.

This post is part of my year dedicated to demonstrating that busy people can participate in family history! You're never too busy to contribute to genealogy! You just need to pick something that works for you. 

Mom's Advice: A Blessing, A Curse, A Cause to Preserve

Preserve Mother's Advice


"Men are like shoes.
You have to try them on until
you find the one that fits."

When I became of age to be interested in boys, my mothers would often repeat this motto. For some, it is practical advice. For others, it is eye raising. In fact, I wonder if mother's advice would have held up to standards of the beau monde during the Regency England. Regardless, my mother's dating advice carried her truism. And in her truism, I how these little mottoes are an essential part of family history.

Friday Funny: High Cost of Trowing Eggs


Can you guess what year this article appeared in print?
The costs in the assault case against Mrs. Andrews, who is accued of throwing spoiled eggs at her neighbor during a quarrel a few days ago, amount to the sum of $42.05, which the court assessed against the defendant.
Boy, times have changed when an assault is now something more egregious than spoiled eggs.  Over 113 years ago near Tacoma, Washington, two neighbors just couldn't get along. And if that $42.05 in today's dollars were assessed, the defendant would have to sacrifice about $1,000 for the eggs which could cost $2.07 a dozen.

(Article: found in The Tacoma Daily News: Tacoma, Washington, 26 April 1904)

Daily Life Binders: Organization Meets Genealogy

Genealogy Tips: Save Your Daily Life


Who has time to for family history when their daily activities are out of control? Is it possible to be more organized with your everyday life while creating a family history keepsake in the process? Of course, there is!

Think of your ancestors. Do you know what they did day to day? Do you wish you did? Would it tell you of the things that mattered to them, distracted them, or things they wish they didn't have to do? If you answered yes to these questions, consider for a moment that you are someone else's ancestor. If you have a child or a grandchild, they'll want to know about your day to day life, and it's super easy to make that happen.

The Ultimate Guide to Doing Family History as a Busy Parent

Ultimate Guide for finding time for family history


Is is possible to do family history when you're a young adult? When you have a 10-month old under foot? When you're driving around tweens and teens all over God's creation? Well, if you think it's not possible, you'd be wrong.

I'm not making a sudden announcement. I don't have a 10-month old but a friend does and her thoughts on this topic are listed below. No. I have have 5 superheroes that are home schooled. Meaning, not only do I harass them cleaning their rooms and doing their chores, I also have the joy of joyfully pestering them to do their school work throughout the day.  If we're not at a desk, where on the road going to the library, swim lessons, or co-op. At times I may grumble about the difficulty of the journey, but I wouldn't trade it for the world! And yet, their presence around the house all day means free time is taken when I can snag it.

That's why my blog's theme this year includes many posts written for busy parents. Yet, going to my genealogy society meetings and teaching at the local library, young parents are the only ones leading busy lives. However, today I wish to honor the busy parent from those with the youngest children to near adults and a near empty nest. So, I compiled this ultimate guide to making time for family history while your schedule is crazier than a toddler on too much sugar.

15 Tips For Searching Online Collections

15 Online Genealogy Research Tips


You have free time. Be it in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. You have the urge to search for more information about your ancestors. Let's jump online and see what we can find. But wait! Is there a way we can be more successful researching Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, or Newspapers.com?

In three videos, representatives from three terrific online record collections share tips with you on how to use their websites.

Overcoming Tech Barriers in Journaling

Overcoming Journaling Barriers


Journaling. Many people hate journaling because of the limitations they feel in creating the book of thoughts. Perhaps you like to speak rather than type or write. Perhaps you like to hand write rather than type but would prefer the end product to be a printed book. Will you let those factors prevent you from preserving your life story a piece at a time?

Over the past few weeks, I've shared with you several ways you can preserve your story. Just to review the top three categories of journaling for busy people, they are:

Journaling With Apps
Journaling With Blog Books
Journaling Through Social Media

 All of these options require you to input your thoughts into an app or a computer program. But, what if you don't type or text quickly? Are you out of luck? No. You have two options to help in your journaling.

3 Suppliers to Start Your Scrapbook Stash

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Digital Scrapbook Starter Kit


In 2009, I jumped on the digital scrapbook crazy and I've never looked back. I've made thousands of scrapbook pages during that time and there are three designers that I use in nearly every family scrapbook that I make, and a few of the heritage scrapbooks as well.

If you're just starting out in digital scrapbooking, you'll want to purchase Photoshop Elements. Then, you'll want to visit these three talented designers for all the basic supplies you'll need for your beginner stash of supplies. You'll have templates, background papers, decorative elements, and title art.

Guilt Free Multi-Tasking Personal History With Social Media

Social Media for Personal History

Chances are you're still feeling guilty about not keeping a journal or preserving your personal history. But today is the day to stop feeling the ghostly fears of unaccomplished tasks and accomplish something today!

If you have shared your life, your dogs, your food, or your genealogy findings on Faceobok or Twitter, you can turn those digital details into a physical world journal in less than 30 minutes! Oh, yeah. A busy person has time to record their personal history!!!

Your Ancestor is Not a Flower or Tree

6 Photos to Stop Adding to Ancestry

Online genealogy is a wonderful way to collaborate, and I highly encourage you to put your trees online and take advantage of the research hints that many database services provide. I love receiving clues about new-to-me records about my ancestors. I am especially ecstatic when there is a newly discovered photo of my ancestor in my hint queue.

What I cringe at are pictures of trees, flowers, and flags! STOP posting these unnecessary graphics on Ancestry.com. You're wasting the hinting feature resources and causing a lot of eye-rolling over here.

Journaling With Blog Books

Busy Mom Journaling Hack


One of the advantages of blogging about your life or your ancestor's lives is that you can create one 'letter' and then share it will all of your family members, friends, and others. Gone are the days when you wrote one letter and then made copies to send to everyone and hope they didn't feel slighted that you didn't write a different letter. (Okay, am I the only one who did this in the past?)

In short, blogging has made life staring more efficient. The other advantage of blogging is that you can share your life and then great a journal/diary/personal history at the same time. Man, I love time-saving hacks. Don't you?

5 Apps to Preserve Your Daily Memories

Busy Mom Journaling Apps


Knowing the benefits of journaling is one thing. A journal can help you evaluate and change your life right now, reflect on the past and treasure memories, or record your personal history for your future descendants. You know these benefits, but finding ways to keep a journal is a different matter.

Or is it? With the supercomputers we carry in our pockets or in purses, we have the power to keep a daily log of our life without the guilty. And if you're a desktop or laptop fan, like me, you have options as well. Check out these five apps that you can use to capture and preserve your life as it happens.

Friday Funny: Interesting Telephone Interview

Friday Funny Newspaper Interesting Telephone Interview

I found this funny piece in the newspaper. Try to guess what year this article was posted:

A FEMEAL STAFFER here had an interesting telephone conversation the other day. She was manning the telephones when a pleasant-sounding gentleman asked her in serious tones if he could ask her a question. Then he proceeds to inquire that, if this were the year 2000 and video-telephones were in vogue, would she be offended that he was calling in the altogether? 'Twas a somewhat different call from someone asking what happened at las tnight's City Council meeting.

When I came across this newspaper piece, I remembered watching the Jetsons. I remembered how Jane Jetson would sometimes put her 'good look' mask when she had had a bad day or just woken up. That's how she always looked good on screen.


It wouldn't be too far to imagine how people could 'hide' with video phones in 2017. But my question wasn't to think, are we living in the future of the caller's query? I was curious who was envisioning our day and asking the snickering quip?

The year was 1980, and the paper was the Merced Sun-Star from Merced, California. A location over 250 miles north of Hollywood!

Yellow and Blue Family Tree Layout

Family Tree Scrapbook Layout
Family Tree Scrapbook Layout. Template designed by Devon Noel Lee
All embellishments are recolored from their original designer.

Once you have made a digital scrapbook featuring your family history, it's easier to work on another person's project. This year I'm working on a heritage album featuring my mother-in-law as the focal person. Shhh.. she's out of the country right now. Don't tell her how the project is coming along.

What's interesting is that with her living and her life history written and photos digitized, one would think that I could jump in with both feet and knock this baby out quickly. Yet her scrapbook has been on my to-do list for a few years now. Sure life with five superheroes to raise has busy seasons. Yet this book just would not get started. Finally, I decided to just do it. I mean, I tell you to create a scrapbook about your family history now. In fact, I made a video about it. (See the video below). And yet, I wasn't practicing what I was preaching.

Inspirational video from FamilyHistoryFanatics. Click to watch.

So, I started with the first layout every heritage scrapbook should have - a family tree. I chose the colors yellow and blue because they are my mother-in-law's favorite colors, though the shades might not be the exact preferences.

In the past, I have shared family trees that I created for my parents and my mother's parents. Each one was a little different and could have worked for this scrapbook, but I wanted to do something a little different. I didn't want to have a tree image be a part of the layout. I also wanted my mother-in-law at the top. Finally, I didn't want to use ovals for the photos, as I have incorporated in previous designs.

Once I arranged some boxes for the names. I used rectangles with rounded corners for the pictures. Then I used the line tool in Photoshop Elements to establish the connections between the generations. There is a principle in scrapbooking that everything should touch in some way. The lines achieved that design tip while demonstrating the genealogical relations. Hooray! Two for one.

Finally, after I arranged the photos in a linear fashion, I didn't like it. That is until I tilted the portraits of the couples a bit. This simple customization gave the tree a more casual, intimate feel.

For the background paper, I initially chose a yellow paper with a soft pattern that was in my digital stash. I didn't like the exact color the designer had chosen, so I removed the color using Photoshop Elements. I tried to recolor the paper to the yellow of my color scheme, and it never felt right. So, I just left the gray version of the pattern paper. It was neutral, and those colors (gray, white, black, tan) always work well in heritage scrapbooks with a pop of color across the page.

Finally, I added some embellishments in the upper left corner to draw your eye to the top of the page. One would think we would start at that corner because we read from left to right and from top to bottom. However, that row of photos at the lower part of the tree kept bringing the eye there while ignoring my mother-in-law at the top. The decorative corner finished the job and now I'm happy with the results.

What do you think? Would you change anything on the layout? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments section below.

In the meantime, it's time to do the other 19 pages for my mother-in-law's book.

Staying Relevant By Serving Members - Genealogy Society Success Story

Modern Genealogy Society Tips


Are genealogical societies and libraries dying? Some might say so, but after meeting the folks who manage the Lamar County Genealogical Society while attending the Texas State Genealogy Society Conference, I was thoroughly impressed. Libraries and societies still play a vital role in preserving our local, state, and national heritage. The trick is, being relevant to members and patrons. Lamar County sets a high standard of local excellence.

Lamar County Genealogy Society Building

I love red brick buildings. They are solidly built and timeless. The color doesn't fade over time and brightens dreary winter or rainy days. But the magic doesn't end with the brick. Step inside, and you'll be inundated with resources in this far north Texas repository.

Extreme Genes at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech was an action-packed four-day event, but a highlight was meeting some of the regulars on ExtremeGenes: America's Family History Show. My husband and I made arrangements to interview Scott Fisher, David Allen Lambert, and Tom Perry and enjoyed every minute of the visits.

The question I have for you is, which ExtremeGene do you like better? To vote, you need to watch the following videos. The ExtremeGene with the most views is differently the most popular. But, if you leave a comment on the Family History Fanatics YouTube channel for the men, that will also sway the standings. So, let the competition begin: 

Fisher shares how ExtremGenes began and a little bit about
my favorite episode involving Elmer McCurdy

David shares what it's like being the kid genealogist with
a 40-year involvement in the pursuit

Tom is the preservation expert so knowledgeable he should be a professor.

To listen to the Radio Roots Sleuths who help us shake our family trees and watch the nuts fall out, check out ExtremeGenes.com to learn when you can find them on your radio or as a podcast. 

If you enjoyed these interviews, tell me in the comments section who I should interview in the future. The Family History Fanatics video series strives to keep the fun in genealogy and serve you and your topics of interest. If you are looking for a way to support my family and me, consider subscribing to the channel, so you never miss an episode. Then, like the videos you want to see more of. 

Busy Mom Memory Keeping Compilation

Memory Keeping for Busy Lives


Memory Keeping when you're a busy mom of young ones underfoot, tweens that you chauffeuring all over, or some combination of the two while keeping a house clean and a job paying the bills is a challenge that's rarely accepted. But, no need! There are many solutions to memory keeping, you just need to find the one that works for you.

Why I Share Family History with My Children

Share Family History With Kids


Growing up far from family, I often feared what would happen to me if my parents or only brother died. I would feel like an emotional orphan even if I returned to Columbus, Ohio to live with my Grannie.

My mother did a great job of telling me a few things about my Papa, her daddy that died when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I knew that Papa was watching over me and there are times I felt him holding my hand as a latch-key kid walking to school. My greatest desire is to meet Papa and have him dance with me. Do you remember any commercial that shows little girls dancing with their feet on their daddy's? That's the imagine my mother painted about Papa, and I want to have that experience, though I probably shouldn't step on his feet since I'm not so little any longer.

End Your Photo Hoarding Guilt with Recap Photo Books

Year in Review Photobooks for Busy Moms

Snap. You just took another photo using your tablet, smartphone, or DSLR camera. But what are you going to do with that picture? Maybe you'll share it in a text to your relatives who weren't able to attend Sammy's dance recital. Maybe you'll share the photo to Flickr because you captured the most beautiful flower you've ever seen. Or maybe, you'll post to Instagram or Facebook so everyone can know about your latest field trip or vacation.

After that, what happens to your photos?

Be honest!

Most people do nothing with the thousands of photos they capture. Do you panic if your iDrive or GooglePhotos account loses a photo? Do you cringe at the thought of deleting any photo? It's your child's precious moments. It's your dream vacation or home remodel process.

But really! If you don't create something with the photos, you are a photo hoarder, and you need an intervention!

A Lunch Conversation That Opened My Eyes

Sheri Camp RootsTech Keynote


With the Cake Boss and a cake competition and large model kitchen in the Expo Hall, one obvious theme at RootsTech 2017 was food. Many presenters spoke about the need and how to preserve the traditional recipes of our families. Call me crazy if you want to, but I have a question.

"How do I preserve the number for Dominoes?"

My mother's food motto was, "If it couldn't be nuked, baked, or ordered in, it wasn't done." We ate a lot of take-out, home delivery, and frozen food. Sometimes we went crazy and had Hamburger Helper or Shake n Bake.  So, how do I pass down those recipes?

Often, I lament not having traditional family recipes to pass down to my children. This year ended that feeling after lovely epiphany-inducing experience

German Names in Print?

Can you find German names in print


Do you have Germans in your Ancestral line? I do. And I'll be honest. For the most part, I have no idea how to pronounce their names as a German would. I have a friend who patiently puts up with me saying, "How do you pronounce Geiszler?" or "How do you pronounce Puesecker?" I love that man for putting up with me. Poor guy. Who would have thought that being originally from Germany and befriending a genealogist would mean he would have to put up with my desire to learn more?

But, then I remember the stories I have heard about the destruction of German gravestones in Ohio during WWI and WWII. I've heard about Germans changing their names during that time period to hide their ethnicity. Germans received mocking from racism based on where their family lines originated. So perhaps my peppering a native German now living in my town in Texas with questions about his homeland and language is actually a sign of progress?

Regardless, I'm constantly trying to learn more about my German roots. A dear friend, Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames, shared a fun resource with me. It's called Meyer's Gazetteer. Now, the landing page doesn't explain much, so I naively plugged in my family's last name of Geiszler. The website found not hints and recommended using wildcards. So, I put in the name Gei*ler. And this is what I saw:

Suggetions for Future RootsTech Keynotes

RootsTech Keynote Wishlist


Keynote speakers set the stage for a conference and the center of many tweets, photos, and interviews. Pick the right ones, and conference attendees are thrilled and praise the event. Pick the wrong one, and people won't fill the assembly hall in the future. RootsTech has had some wonderful keynote presenters in the past, and some that were less than thrilling.

After considering what makes me want to park my bottom at a keynote address rather than sleep in at RootsTech, I'll share with you my wish of future keynote speakers for RootsTech 2018 and beyond. Feel free to comment on these individuals or your favorites who aren't on my list.

My favorite RootsTech speakers fall into four categories: History Buffs, Eye Candy, Entertainers, and Business Leaders. If a speaker is a big name, but doesn't have an obvious connection to the theme of genealogy and technology, I have a hard time wanting to listen to the keynote. And the keynote, perhaps without realizing the pressure, have a difficult communication obstacle to overcome. The following individuals make the cut because they would have a more natural fit to the conference.

Pleasantly Suprised by Property Brothers RootsTech Keynote

Property Brothers at RootsTech

When an audience member is unfamiliar with a keynote speaker and can not the connection between a conference topic and said speaker's background, a giant hurdle blocks the communication process. The question was, could Jonathan and Drew Scott, HGTVs "Property Brothers" establish the connection between real estate and genealogy?

The keynotes from RootsTech 2016 did not grab me in the way the 2015 Keynotes from Donny Osmond and Tan Le did. I'll admit, the only 2017 speaker that excited me was LaVar Burton because I remember him on Star Trek and Reading Rainbow. Knowing he was also in the groundbreaking television mini-series "Roots," emphasized the natural connect between this celebrity and the topic of genealogy.

Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from the Scott Brothers. My family watches minuscule amounts of TV, Scott Brothers rate with the names any Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. They're out there. They do a service. Some people know who they are and want to meet them. But for me, nah! I'm not interested.

Preserving Memories: An Event at A Time

Preserving Memories an event at a time

Moms, Dads, and Grandparents alike have a big problem. They don't make time for memory keeping! Yet, preserving our memories is a vital part of our health and wellness and fuels genealogy. Parents and married couples now have a faster memory keeping project that is also frugal!

An event book can enter around one special day in a child's life or a recurring anniversary. The trick is to find a self-contained, already decorated keepsake that you simply add written words and photos too. Further, the project should have a small page count.

Improving Temple Ordinance Accuracy at RootsTech

FamilySearch Family Tree Accuracy


For 13 years, I had a problem. A colossal problem. A rookie genealogist problem that messed up my family tree and my service in a Latter-Day Saint Temple. At RootsTech, a new booth helped me improve the temple ordinance accuracy for my relative.

I am a FamilySearch.org Fan Girl. I seriously need a shirt that states the fact, but I wonder if there's a licensing issue that might get in the way. Alas, there's one limitation when you take a name to the temple that shouldn't have passed the checks. It's often difficult to prove the ordinance wasn't needed and thereby have it invalidated.

This year, I went to the FamilySearch booth at RootsTech and asked a representative for help. Now, many will say, just use the contact us options on FamilySearch.org. I have. The support staff that you can contact 24/7 365 are great, but they're volunteers. Some problems are not solvable through the volunteers. Sometimes you need to go to an engineer.


A Genealogy Conference Fling?

Family History Fanatics are Married


When you're dressed the same and at a conference, usually you're with your colleagues. It's not often that two people similarly attired are as close as Andy and me. Which is why when we tag team at conferences people often say, "Are you married?"

In October, some conference staff members at the Texas State Genealogical Society that to presenters with the last name Lee was terrific. When we stood close together, checked on each other's schedules, and even parted with a kiss, one woman hoped we weren't having an affair at the conference. Stranger things have happened! Soon, it was quite clear that Andy and I were married and very much in love. The next comment was, "Wow! That's doesn't happen often. Few couples enjoy family history together."

Imagining Andy and I having a fling at a genealogy conference was so comical in October. Yet, the same mind shocks happened in Salt Lake!

Rockin the RootsTech After Party

MyHeritageDNA RootsTech After Party Karaoke


After two days of interviewing, teaching, and networking, Andy and I were t-i-r-e-d but on a massive high. Ten days before RootsTech, I had laryngitis and had barely recovered by Wednesday. Mix in the dry Utah climate, and my throat was parched and strained. I could not drink enough water to hydrate the cords, but I continued to talk and teach I did! Friday evening, I had one more demand for my voice, and I hoped it would cooperate.

MyHeritageDNA invited Andy and me to their After Party. My friend Kerry was hoping Andy and I would willingly sing and perhaps sing first.

Beginner Basics: What Makes a Good Source?

What is a good genealogy source


Family Trees should be based on PROOF of relationships. Otherwise, I could claim I was related to anyone I wanted - a king, a president, a famous singer, or even you! You will find proof in sources, but not all sources are created equal. What makes a good source?

A Class So Good the Door Monitor Bought Our Book - RootsTech

Start Writing Your Family History Today Lab

Networking and Ambassador status aside, Andy and I had a job today. RootsTech hired us to teach two labs on Friday afternoon, and it was time to put up or shut up as a speaker. And, a loyal blog follower was in the audience!

There are so many classes at conferences that fill your head with things to do when you leave. But Andy and I wanted to have class participants actually accomplish a task. Write one story about one event in one ancestor's life in one hour. Could it be done?


Beware the Woman and Her Gun

Beware the Woman and Her Gun a comical genealogical discovery


When a genealogist says you never know what you're going to find when you start looking, the axiom is gospel truth. When working with a friend on his family tree, I discovered an unnamed woman who was not about to be deterred by his relative and defended her home by lethal force. In short, the lesson to learn is to beware the woman and her gun when it comes to her home.


Making the Most of Meal Times - RootsTech

Networking at RootsTech


In White Christmas, Danny Kaye croons "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." I love to dance but I'll have to disagree. At RootsTech, some of my favorite moments happened while eating!

One of the best parts of a conference is the opportunity to network. I had made contact with Melissa Finlay after seeing her family's entry for the Innovator Showdown.




Unfortunately, their Little Family Tree game app didn't make the semifinals. But, I really like the pull technology they are promoting.  The app has a gallery of games for young children to play with their family heritage information pulled from FamilySearch.org.

Little Family Tree App Games
The Game Gallery on  LittleFamilyTree

The pull part of these games requires content (stories, photos, and facts) to be attached to your relatives on FamilySearch. If you try to play a game, Little Family Tree will let you know when you need more content to improve the game. See.. pull technology.

I have an interview with Melissa's husband about this app and more on FamilyHistoryFanatics in a few weeks. You'll want to subscribe to the channel so you don't miss that interview! the app.

But lunch wasn't about the app. Lunch was about bonding as mothers who homeschool and also about our passion for genealogy. We talked about so many other things while chowing down. It was such a joy and I have a new friend in the genealogy sphere.



Manger's Specials at Comfort Inn

For the second year in a row, we stayed a short distance away from the Salt Palace at Comfort Inn. What we love about the Comfort Inn is the Manager's Special on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. The special involves free drinks and appetizers. After hustling all day and a wonderful lunch from the Salt Palace vendors, all I needed was a few appetizers to fill me up.

But the best thing about the social is the social part. Other conference attendees were enjoying themselves and we gathered to discuss our favorite classes (well, their favorite classes as I hadn't attended any on the first day. Praise the Lord for the streaming post conference and handouts). We chatted about the things we love about genealogy, the things that frustrate us, and the things we'd like to see in the future. These chats are rarely with the 'celebrities' of genealogy or reality TV but they're some treasured memories. Unfortunately, I forget to take photos to remember the people I meet at these socials. But perhaps it's just as well.

As you can see, some of my best moments happened while stuffing my face! Irving Berling, you wrote a great song for a great movie, but in this cause, you're wrong!


Just in case you wanted to hear Danny Kaye croon the song that this post centers around. Click the video link above!



Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017






Interviews, Interviews, and More Interviews - RootsTech

RootsTech Expo Hall Interviews


How have you liked the coverage of RootsTech by all of the Ambassador's in the blogosphere? If you didn't attend RootsTech or if you did but didn't see everything you wanted to, hopefully the Ambassadors have helped you have more depth to your experience.

With 1.5 days to capture interviews, Andy and I hustled and are super excited about what we've captured for you. As we chatted with planned interviewees or asked people spontaneously, I became so exciting thinking about you my readers and video viewers. I became excited to shed some light on people doing great things in genealogy or just something fun. Andy and I were putting into practice the many "Rookie Smarts" tips  Liz Wiseman shared in her Wednesday keynote

RT: Covering A Conference With a Hearing Problem

Conference Coverage by Hearing Impaired Reporter

What did they say? Can you repeat that? Gosh, it's so loud, I have no idea what you said? Can I sit closer, I can't hear?

Welcome to the thoughts I that plague me when I'm in church, book club, or any workshop. Multiply this by 1,000, and I'm in trouble if I want to pursue conference coverage for this blog and the FamilyHistoryFanatics.com YouTube channel.
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