Saturday, December 27, 2008

My New Years Resolutions

During 2008, I have made it a big point to make my genealogy the best it can be. During this, I have completely re-started my tree, starting with myself and truly working my way backwards. I have made sure that everything is properly sourced and that I am not overlooking any records. I want my genealogy to be worth something to someone someday and that won't happen if everything isn't properly sourced and clearly written out.

While I haven't spent as much time on my genealogy as I would have liked because of school obligations, the big move I made in October, and chaos on the home front, I have done pretty well. So as I reflect as to what I want to do with the new year concerning my genealogy and blogging, I've come up with some pretty neat resolutions:

1.) Continue to have everything sourced!! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I certainly made the mistake of not doing this when I first started my genealogy and I am paying an extremely heavy price as I try to go through each person.

2.) On my desk I have a clipboard, which has multiple sheets of paper on it. On these sheets of paper is random little to-do items, websites I want to check out, and articles I want to read. I want to finally get rid of the stuff on this list so that I can have a clean slate.

3.) Since I aspire to become a future teacher, there is no doubt that I value and love education. So this year, I hope to educate myself further in genealogy and then share that knowledge with you. I want to write more how-to articles and give you guys tips. I hope that what I learn will be a bit out of the ordinary - something that gives me an edge in the genealogy world. I'm not quite sure what I will learn about genealogy that will be so different and unique - maybe a weird organizing tip or a cool way to look through records... well, we'll find out soon enough.

4.) I want my blog to have a good appearance - so I will definitely be learning some more about blogging and getting traffic here.

5.) I want my Graveyard Rabbit Blog to be the best it can be!! I want to write more content and really get it off the ground.

So there you go - my genealogy and blogging New Years Reslutions! I would love to hear about some of yours.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Recieved the Proximidade Award

I am so honored and grateful to Cindy over at Everythings Relative for giving me the Proximidade award!!

She was so sweet to nominate this blog.  I say a million "Thank Yous".  Here is what the Proximidade award is all about:

These blogs invest and believe in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers, who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I have nominated four (I know I am supposed to do 8, but I am short on time today) amazing blogs which I really think you'll enjoy:
1.) The First Blog is Sheri Fenley at The Educated Genealogist
2.) The Second Blog is Looking4Ancestors
3.) The Third Blog is Rainy Day Genealogy Readings
4.) The Fourth Blog is I Find Dead People (Honestly, what an awesome blog name!)

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 4

Hello challengers!  I hope you all have been working hard at de-cluttering your genealogy (or atleast attempting to de-clutter your genealogy - during this time of year everyone gets an A+ for effort!)

So, for part 4 of our challenge I have a task that can seem very daunting...making sure that all of your documents in your paper files match everything in your computer program.  How daunting this task seems will vary, based on how big your family tree is.

I have a very easy way to go through and make sure everything matches or doesn't match.  This will take a little bit of time, but I've cut that time down a bit with this system that I have come up with:

First, grab a notebook (or a bunch of pieces of lined paper), and a pen.  Next, take one surname folder out of your paper files.  Open up your computer genealogy program and go to the first person/couple/family (depends on what file system you use) that is in your surname file.  Finally, go through each piece of paper and compare it to what is in your computer program.  Anything that is in the file system but not in the computer program, or vice versa, write it down.  Make sure that you include the name of the person and the document that needs to be entered.

And once you've done one folder, move on to the next one.  The wonderful thing about doing this is that you can do it at all hours of the day or night (which is what I am currently doing).  Trust me - when you are done with this, you'll feel AMAZING.  Everything will match up.  No more thinking that you've entered that record, knowing in the back of your mind that you've seen that somewhere.  You'll now have it all at your fingertips, ready for research!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Miss Universe Party 2008 - The Results!

So, now that all of you know about my family's tradition of the Ms. Universe Party, I figured I would share the happenings of what happened this year.

Before I report the results, I must first explain a thing or two: My family is the type of family where we absorb people.  Once you come to a party like this - you are forever in the family.  We call these people "honorary Doerflingers" because they have stuck by our family through all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, fights, tears, and chaos.  We will never describe them as "extended family" because they feel closer than that.  We figure that if you can put up with us, then you choose to put up with us year after year, then you have earned the title of "Doerflinger".  (When I give everyone the title of "aunt" or "cousin", you are probably going to think I have a billion cousins and aunts!).

So, the day started off a bit stressful, since my parents were late getting ready for the party.  We had all agreed to leaving at noon, with everyone ready at 11:30 so that if something went wrong, we had time to deal with it.  I had been ready for two hours and I was starving.  We had agreed to stop at In N Out before the party (stopping to eat somewhere before going over to the party since the food is not so tasty is a tradition that is nearly as old as this party).  We didn't eat until around 1:30 and we didn't leave until 2, which was the time we were supposed to be there.

So we finally get to the party and the conversation was wonderful.  It was so good to see these people again, especially since there are some of them that I only see once or twice a year.  I was sad that certain people weren't at the party.  I really enjoyed catching up with people and hearing all about what they are doing (many of them are retired and only live in California for six months out of the year).  Plus, my boyfriend was a huge hit at the party - everyone loved him.

The theme for this year was "Car Parts".  I was Ms. Flat Tire.  My mom was Ms. Rear Bumper and my dad was Ms. Dip Stick.

This year, my Uncle Larry tried a new thing: a trivia game with 20 questions.  While I didn't really know much since a lot of the questions were from movies from the 50s-70s, I got one question right: "What does the little drummer boy give to baby Jesus"?  "A SONG!" I screamed and sure enough I got it right.

We then did the gag gift game which was pretty funny.  I got a men's grooming kit, which went straight to my dad.  My mom got this American Indian doll-like thing that is supposed to sit on your dashboard in your car.  My boyfriend got some of the ugliest frames I have ever seen.  My dad, however, was the one that got one of the most hilarious gifts: A matching bra and underwear set!!!  (Some of the gifts get to be a bit raunchy since everyone in the family is an adult, and so that is the only raunchy gift I will discuss).  One of the hit gifts were the "Depression Era Dinner" which included spam, pork and beans, a "poor man's table cloth" which was really a newspaper, and sardines.  Another great hot gift was the singing hippo dressed in a tutu that sang "I'm coming out!" (which is hilarious for our family since we have a lot of people in our family who are gay).  

After dinner, we began the Ms. Universe Pageant.  As tradition, the youngest draws out the first name (which was me).  Thankfully, I didn't pull my boyfriend's name out.  In fact, he made it all the way to just before the semi finalists (the last 10).  No one in my family was hoping for me to win(I've already won 3 times and there are people there who have never won once!), except for my dad and boyfriend because I told them that I would give them a cut of the money winnings.  One by one, my parents got voted out and I was left.  I kept hoping that I would win, and sure enough - I made it to the top 5.  I was up there with people who had never won before and I was hoping that I would make it (and I could sure use that money right now!).  But I was I became 4th runner up.  I got close!!

So that is what happened at Miss Universe 2008!!

Mozy - A Backup Service Reviewed

I was inspired today after I read Dick Eastman's blog article (The link for that article is at the bottom of this blog entry).  I realized that I really needed to look into other ways to back up my genealogy.  So, I figured I would try the website that he recommends: Mozy

You all know that I am a huge fan of backing up your genealogy files - and luckily, I've been able to keep it all to a 2GB thumb drive (I use 2 different thumb drives - one for my genealogy and pictures and one for all of my school stuff).  

So I headed on over to to see what they have to offer.  Since I a poor college student, I immediately began searching for a free offer.  Luckily, they have a free service where you can upload 2GB of information.  This is what I am using and it compliments my 2GB thumb drive system perfectly.

I was surprised to read that for only $4.95 a month you could get unlimited storage.  If you think about it - this is SUPER CHEAP!  In a year that is about $60.  With that $60 you can save yourself a ton of headaches, crying spurts, and hair appointments to cover that new bald spot that you gained from pulled your hair out.  You'll have piece of mind knowing that if tomorrow your computer decides to crash or if a virus gets your computer - all of your important files are safe and sound.  You'll be able to restore everything.

So, the way Mozy works is that you download the program onto your computer.  Then, you just tell it what files you want it to backup, when you want it to backup - and your done.  It is pretty easy to use and very user friendly.  I've never used this service before today, and I figured it out rather easily.

However, (and this is such a small "however"), it will only backup files that are on "fixed" drives. For those of you who don't know what fixed drives are, they are drives that can't be disconnected from your computer (So, your thumb drive is not a fixed drive but your C drive is). This was a very small inconvenience that took only seconds of my time to fix: I simply copied the folders that I wanted onto my desktop - and now I can easily back up all my genealogy files!

Link to Dick Eastman's "Backups: A Testimonial" blog entry:

Miriam made a great comment on this blog today.  She said that Carbonite charges only $50 a year.  Plus, Mozy apparently charges you to send a DVD with all of your data on it, should your comptuer ever crash.  Great point Miriam, and thanks for pointing that out!  And as for your question Miriam, I don't believe that Mozy will backup external hard drives.  But please, don't take my word on it since I am just now trying Mozy out.  It might be best to check some of the review sites like CNET to get a better answer.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Taking Care of Baby

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I babysat his three-month old cousin, Gabriel.  I've never babysat someone so young before, so I have to admit that certain things were a bit difficult.  But, everyone survived and I didn't even put the diaper on backwards!

But I couldn't help but think about my grandmother - how she had her first baby when she was 19.  It sort of gives me the chills to think that if I was like my grandmother, I would be married to a man who is 8 years older than me and have my first baby on the way.

And I can't imagine taking care of baby without some of the amazing technological advances for taking care of baby that we have today.  For example, at one point, Gabriel decided to cry and scream for some unknown reason.  I was in the middle of changing his shirt (since he spit up all over it) and he just starts screaming.  I have one of his arms in the shirt and I begin to panic as his little face turns red.  I immediately picked him right up and started walking around the room, bouncing him as I went and giving "WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?" looks to my boyfriend.  Finally, I thought to put him into his massaging bouncy swing.  I put him in as he is still screaming and I was trying to get him strapped in and turn the thing on.  I got in on and within seconds he begins to calm right down.

I had a tsunami size wave of relief run over me.  I had no idea what set him off to start crying like that, but I was so relieved to get him to stop.  I knew that I owed that swing BIG TIME.

And honestly - when it came time to leave, I was so relieved that I got to go home.  I was exhausted and I had only watched him for two hours or so.  It certainly re-affirmed what I had already known: I can definitely wait a few years for kids.

Yet, my thoughts went back to my grandmother.  If I was her, I would be married already and getting ready for the birth of my first child.  Within the decade, I would have a total of three children, two of which would be twins.  By the end of her child bearing days, she would of had a total of five children and adopted her sister's illegitimate daughter.  Honestly, I couldn't imagine living her life.

Experiencing how hard it was to for me to take care of baby Gabriel (and I had that wonderful massaging bouncy chair), I can't imagine what it must've been like without modern advances.  My grandmother didn't have plastic diapers or already moistened wipes at her disposal.  She didn't have that massaging bouncy chair.  She didn't have any of that... 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ms. Universe Party

Every year in my family, usually on the weekend before Christmas, my family throws the Ms. Universe Party.  For this party, everyone is given a sash with a name on it (names are determined by the theme for the party - I'll go into more detail on this later) and we enjoy good company, exchange gag gifts, and finally prance around the house as contestants are eliminated, one by one, until Ms. Universe is revealed.  Ms. Universe then gets to give his/her speech, wear a crown that has been in our family since the 50s, and recieves some money as a prize.

Alright - let me give you some background information so you can better understand this information.  The Ms. Universe Party was created by my great grandparents in the 1930s as a way to get all the family together and entertain all of the children (which, at the time, there were a TON of kids in my family).  It was meant to be a way for the adults to act silly for the day while entertaining the children on the cheap.  It was entitled the Ms. Universe party because the real Ms. Universe Competition was a very big deal for all the women in my family (which outnumbered the men at the time).

So every year on the weekend before Christmas, everyone in my family congregates to my "aunt" Caroline's house.  (Caroline isn't technically my "aunt" - she was absorbed into my family after my uncle introduced her to us.  She is just such a wonderful person and my family loves to adopt these sort of people into our family).  When you arrive, you must put a dollar into a hat and then recieve a sash.  Each sash has a name on it, and the names have been picked based on a theme.  For example, one year our theme was disasters and people were given names such as "mudslide", "earthquake", and "acid rain".

Once everyone arrives, we begin the fun gag gift game.  When you come to this party, you must bring a gag gift.  This gift can be as cheap and hideous or as expensive as you like.  The gift must be wrapped.  When the gag gift game begins, all of the gifts go into the middle of the room and everyone sits in a circle.  Then, everyone draws a number and the person who draws the number one picks any gift they'd like from the middle of the room.  They are then allowed to open the gift.  Then, everyone goes in numerical order to select a gift.  If someone wants to "steal" the gift that you picked, they may do so until the gift has been stolen 3 times, at which point, the gift becomes "frozen".  If a gift is stolen from you then you may pick another gift.

After the gag gift party, the Ms. Universe competition begins.  Everyone gathers into the living room in anticipation.  Everyone's sash name is written on a small peice of paper and placed into a hat.  The youngest (which has been me for many years) gets to select the first name.  Whatever name that is drawn, that person is eliminated from the competition.  Once there are only 15 people remaining in the competition, music is played and everyone parades around the room.  The parade continues when we get to 10 people, 5 people, and the bottom 3.  The bottom 3 give their "speeches" about how they'd like to end world hunger and go on a shopping spree.  The person who wins recieves all of the money that was collected when everyone arrives.  When the winner has been selected, a homemade "crown" is placed on the person's head.

Needless to say, this silly tradition is so much fun.  I've won about 3 times in my lifetime, while my cousin Arianne who is 30, has never won.  My boyfriend had his first experience with the party last year, and unfortunately he was the first one out of the Ms. Universe competition because I accidently picked him.  (He still won't let me live it down)  It is all up to chance on who wins, but everyone wants to so that they can get their hands on that money!

Above is a picture of me when I was about 5 years old and at this party.  As you can tell, I have a sash wrapped around me and I am wearing all of my holiday clo

 Above is a picture of my mom, my cousin Christine, my cousin Kali, and me.

Above is a picture of the entire family during one Ms Universe Party.  The picture might be too small, but I am right in the middle wearing the crown.  This was one of the years that I won the contest.  I certainly got to pick out a lot of candy that year.

Update on Dec 18, 2008:
Randy - I love this tradition.  I knew my boyfriend was a keeper when he went with me last year.  He didn't believe me until he actually saw it - but he rolled with the family and was fitting in very well.  He was so polite, laughing with the family, learning a million embarrassing childhood stories, seeing pictures of me as a kid, and he even faked a good cry when I pulled out his name first!  But this year, he is determined to win and the party will be on Saturday.
Three years ago I took a boyfriend of mine who was HORRIBLE at the party.  I knew that if he couldn't handle my family, then he couldn't handle me - sure enough, we broke it off not long after.
Most of the people in my family use this as a "test" to see if their significant other will be a long term keeper.  This test really does work, and has been proven more times than I can count.  It really does prove if someone loves you for who you are and loves your family (which, I've always considered my family to be part of the package).  

Monday, December 15, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 3

Welcome back to part 3 of our De-clutter Your Genealogy Challenge.  I hope you guys have been doing well so far in the challenge.  (If you haven't been doing too well - that's okay too.  Just try to catch up)

So we are going to have two tasks for you to do today:

1.) I want you to join a genealogy society - either online or in person.  By joining a genealogical society, you are surrounding yourself with people who can teach you research techniques, who can relate to your frustration with brick walls, and who can appreciate all the hard work you go through when researching for your ancestors.  There are two different types of genealogy societies: The traditional ones where you go to a specific place and meet with a bunch of people and the new online ones where you meet in a chatroom to talk or in some sort of a "group".  These "groups" can be supported on different websites such as Facebook, Yahoo Groups, or Google Groups.  These online versions are all the rage and are perfect for people who are constantly on the go and busy.

2.) Here is your chance for some catch up: Remember how I told you to pick a paper system to organize your papers and to pick a computer program to organize all of your data?  Well, if you haven't already implemented this system then now is the time to do it.  Having this system in place is very important for a task that you will be given in the next couple of posts.

I hope everyone is getting some progress in.  I know that the holidays are right around the corner and everyone is very busy, but by de-cluttering your genealogy now - you'll have a new year full of peace of mind (at least where your genealogy is concerned).

Friday, December 12, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our get organized challenge. I have some more tasks for you - all of which focus on getting your desk/research area nice and ready to do some research in. You can’t do research if you don’t have the proper supplies, and part of being organized is having all the supplies you need at your fingertips.
So here are your tasks:

1.) Make sure that you have all of those office supplies that you need to do your research and make sure that they are stored nearby your desk so you can easily have access to them. Also, make sure you buy one of those cheap desk organizers (either the containers that go on top of your desk to hold pens and such, or the kind that go into your desk to keep everything in a separate compartment). Some of the supplies that I would suggest would be pens, pencils, computer paper and ink, a thumb drive (sometimes called a jump drive), file folders or binders with dividers (depending on which system of organization you use to keep your paper files organized), etc.

2.) Make sure your computer area is comfortable and easy to move around in. That means, make sure that your desk is big enough to fit your computer and still have a little room so that you can write something down if you want. Make sure that your chair is comfy, because nothing will hurt your back if you are sitting in a bad chair for hours on end. Bottom line: Just make sure the area feels comfortable to your tastes.

3.) If you haven’t done this already, figure out a system to organize your papers. This is one thing that I will not be going over in detail, because I’ve done it many, many times before. You can check out my videos on Youtube ( and my other blog entries on it.

4.) If you haven’t done this already, find a computer program that will organize all of your data. The only real requirement on this one is that it can read, import, and export GEDCOM files (GEDCOM is the file type that is used for storing family trees).

5.) For now, put all of your pictures into big manila envelopes. Separate these pictures into categories such as "Mom as a baby", "Trip to Disney World 1996", etc. Label each envelop with the category and put all of these envelopes aside. We will deal with these slowly so that we don’t overwhelm ourselves. Trust me.

Good luck everyone, and I hope you guys are all doing well. Stay tuned because I am planning on making a video to show you my successes!

P.S: I am back to having internet at home on a consistent basis. Feel free to email me ( or comment on these blog entries. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy - Introduction and Part 1

With the new year right around the corner, it is time to think about de-cluttering your life. In particular, I am talking about de-cluttering your family history. And I'm not just talking about that filing cabinet you have full of records - I'm talking everything from your computer genealogy program, that family website, your email inbox full of correspondence, the piles next to your computer, your accounts at genealogy websites, your contact list, etc., etc. Everything needs a good cleaning out once in a while!

By de-cluttering, I mean make your family history organized, efficient, to-do list ready, and presentable. Now, for some of you - this task may be HUGE and seem incredibly daunting. For others of you, this may seem like a good yearly clean-out. Whatever side of the fence you are on, I urge you not to panic, but to take some baby-steps towards achieving beautiful results with your family history.

The way I am going to conduct this de-cluttering task is by presenting smaller tasks. By breaking one big task up into smaller tasks, we will be able to feel some achievement even before we are done.

Now, I know that most of my work won't be completed by the New Year - but, I am going to get a good start. I will have lots of time to work on my genealogy during the rest of December and January and I am definitely going to need it. The point is to get the ball rolling, and if it means having to keep de-cluttering through next year, then so be it. Remember, baby steps is all you have to take.

Task 1
Create Goals: Is there anything that you have noticed that has been bothering you about your family history. Maybe it is that you can never seem to find that website with information about your great-great grandpa or maybe you have lost track of what is sourced and not sourced in your genealogy program, maybe your genealogy program doesn't have information that matches your files - whatever it is, write it down.
Priotize Your Goals: Pick 1-3 goals that you are very much looking forward to getting done. It doesn't matter what it is, just pick it.
Final Note...
I am looking forward to hearing from all of you about your progress or about your disaster of genealogy stuff (Trust me - genealogy disasters when it comes to organization and clutter happen, very often in fact). Let me know if there is any area in particular you would like me to focus on.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dear Genea-Santa

I hope you are doing well. I am writing you my yearly list of genealogy gifts that I would love to have this year.

1.) A cookbook of Grandpa Dugger's delicious meals. He always could make the best spaghetti ever! And I've never tasted pork chops so tender. I would love to be able to recreate these meals.

2.) Benjamin Dugger's Family Bible. I really think it holds some of the vital clues that I am missing.

3.) Great Grandpa Doerflinger's camera and photo development gear. I would love to see that circa 1900 camera and gear.

Thank you Genea-Santa. I'll be leaving the door unlocked on Christmas Eve, since you know I don't have a fireplace.

And as always, there will be cookies waiting for you.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Staying Organized On The Go - A Great Article Over At 24/7 Family History Circle

Have I mentioned that I love reading the blogs of other genealogists because sometimes - a new perspective can give you the jumpstart you need to get your genealogy in order.

I just read a great article over on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog that was written by Juliana Smith. 

The article is about keeping organized when you are short on time, and personally, I can't wait to start implementing some of the tricks that she mentioned.

Please - check out her awesome article over at:

Christmas Tour

As part of the Carnival of Genealogy - I am going to give you a tour of Christmas in my house as a child. So here is a tour of Christmas in my house - when I was 5 and younger.

Christmas just isn't Christmas without a Christmas tree! Every year we put up a tree and decorated it with random ornaments. It had a rather collective feel and was very home-y. (You can see baby pictures of me in the background).

And of course - you have to have stockings! In California - we didn't have fireplaces. So, instead we hung them from a door. My stocking was the one with the bear, my mom had the one with the Santa on it, and my dad had a basic red one.

And of course - you can't have Christmas without a cute kid! So here you go - here I am looking super adorable in my mom's sweater that I stole from her closet. (I was pretty much the only kid in my family for a long time!)

There are very few pictures of me with my Grandma Dugger (My dad's mom). She started showing signs of dementia less than a year after I was born. This picture was taken on my very first Christmas, as I am sitting on her lap in an obviously uncomfortable dress.

Christmas just isn't complete without Santa. Here I am at about 2 or 3 years old, sitting on Santa's lap. I don't have the happiest look on my face - and nearly all of my pictures with Santa before I was about 6 or so look like this: a smiling Santa and a nervous looking me. I find that ironic since I believed in Santa til I was about 11, and through the biggest fit when my mom finally told me Santa wasn't real. I still remember how betrayed I felt that it was all a big lie - and my mom had no idea that I was going to react like that. She figured I had already figured it out since all my friends didn't believe in Santa. But not me - I was determined in my faith that Santa existed.

This is a photograph of my parents and I on my first Christmas. For some reason - a spot has developed over my dad's head. It is the only family-christmas picture I have.

So there you go - a tour of Christmas in my house when I was a child. I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to see a tour of your Christmas! Email me or comment this article with a link to your tour!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sometimes A Book Makes All The Difference

When I was 8 years old, I received my very first Harry Potter book. It was a Christmas gift from my best friend, Erin, who was already having the books read to her by her mom. I stared at the book for a moment, before tossing it aside and moving on to other toys.

Little did I know that the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling (one of my heroes) would become a welcomed constant in my life. It would serve me as a doorway to my own creativity, and introduce me to real emotion. As I grew up and dealt with the joys and pains of life - Harry Potter stood by me.

I was inevitably hooked and before long I was begging to get my hands on everything Harry Potter. I listened to the books on tape while in the car, I kept the books with me always, and I got in trouble in school for reading the books when we were really supposed to be doing math.

As the characters grew, I grew with them. The plot became progressively more complicated as did I.

When the movies came out, my mom and I (yes, my mom is a fan of the books also), would ditch school and work to go out and see the movies. We would buy nearly everything at the concession stands and watch the movies. It has been a tradition of ours since they began coming out.

The point of this post is that even still I rely on this fairytale to explain life. Rowling has an exceptional ability to make the fictional mirror certain aspects of reality. In her books there is discrimination, pain, joy, love, hope, war, loss, and friendship - all things that in the real world we can relate to. These books have meant the world to me and have been with me through my life.

When the 7th and final book of the series came out - I cried. I felt as if a chapter of my childhood had ended.

Next July, when the 6th movie comes out, I will be attending the midnight showing. The next day, I will sleep in until 11, before my mom and I will go out and see it together. We'll then wait a week or two - I'll talk to my other Harry Potter obsessed friends about the movie - and then we'll go see it again. It may sound odd, but it is one of my favorite traditions.

So - now that you have read this incredibly long article about my love affair with Harry Potter - you are probably wondering how this has anything to do with genealogy. That answer is very simple: Genealogy is not just about dates and places, but about learning how your family was shaped to become what it is today. There is no doubt in my mind that Harry Potter has served an important role in my life, and I can't wait until the day I get to share that joy with my children and grandchildren.

Now, if you'll please excuse me - I have a 1 minute, 52 second trailer to watch repeatedly - it is the only thing that will give me my fix until July 17, 2009.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone - I just wanted to write a quick note saying "Happy Thanksgiving". I hope all is going well with everyone and everyon ehas a safe holiday!

Also - remember to take some pictures and tell stories to everyone. Those sort of memories were always my favorites and I learned so much about my family.

I wish you good eats, good laughs, and good family times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've Been Tagged Again...

Aright so another game of tag is going around. So here are the basic rules:
1.) You must write a blog that lists 8 random facts/traits about yourself
2.) You must tag 8 other people to do the same
3.) Tell everyone you tagged who you tagged.

So...the 8 random facts/traits about me....

1.) I still live at home....but like every other 19 year old I dream of living on my own.
2.) I have a cat who I found on my way to subway....she was starving and she followed me home.
3.) I am studying to be an elementary school teacher
4.) I am a huge girly-girl when it comes to Disneyland....I'm a princess all the way (Which is why I am willing to live off of cereal for a month to be able to afford it every year)
5.) I don't have a drivers license because I can't afford the mom says I can drive her car when I can pay for my half of the insurance. I can't do that - so I can't drive
6.) I can cook pretty well and I enjoy it. My current love is the crock pot.
7.) I am rather political and very opinionated. This is thanks to my mom because all through my childhood I watched the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and the news. I would have a political blog but people leave mean comments
8.) This is kinda embarrassing to admit - but I've had my wedding planned since I was about 10. After my cousin got married - I stole all of her wedding magazines and cut out what I liked and made a notebook. I still have it and I definitely think it'll come in handy some day there are some random facts and here are the 4 blogs I am tagging (yes, I am cheating because I am writing this kinda late)
1.) Msteri at Heritage Happens
2.) Amy at Amy's Genealogy Blog, etc.
3.) Myrtle at DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog
4.) footnoteMaven at Shades of The Departed

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baby Face!

As part of the 7th Edition Smile For The Camerica, I have posted a great baby face picture. This picture of my mom is just so adorable. It was taken in 1960 - and is one of my absolute favorites of my mom. I really think it shows how much we look alike.

Organizing All Those Digital Pictures...

First off...I would just like to say a huge "Sorry" for not posting very often very often lately. I have just been so busy with midterms and finals are right around the corner....but don't worry. Only a couple more weeks until freedom (and loooooong nights of genealogy). Honestly, I can't wait because I think I'm starting to go through some withdrawals.

Now then, it is getting to the holidays when everyone is taking a TON of pictures. Everyone wants to preserve the wonderful memories we all receive from the holidays. So this year, I am going to give you the gift of organizing all those pictures that you've accumulated over the years and make room for some new ones to be taken this year.

The first thing I recommend comes in one of two ways: Either an digital photo organizer like Picasa, or you are going to have to get ready to get down, dirty, and personal with your computer, meaning you are going to have to organize it all by yourself on your computer. Which ever way to choose to do this is up to you - and it will probably be based on how much you know computers and how much money you have to spend.

My preference is Picasa - there are three reasons for this: I love the fact that it is free (the budget of a student doesn't leave much room for anything other than Easy Mac). Secondly, I like that it is organized into "albums" or folders. For me, albums make the most sense because thats how I would organize my pictures if they were printed (However if you like organizing your pictures by tags, there are other programs out there that do that). Finally, I love that it has an online component to it. I am a girl on the go...and I want to be able to see my pictures where ever I am. Picasa can do that.

It's not to say that organizing it all by yourself is a bad is just that it is a lot more work. Some people prefer it this way because you can place the pictures where ever you want on your computer and you are in control to organize it however you want. Personally - I think this way is too complicated and I often get lost and confused...besides, it can't even go on the internet.

Whatever way you choose to organize them - here are some general tips to make sure that your camera has some room for your new photos.

First - unload those pictures that are on your memory camera and get them on your computer or into your program. I understand that for some people, this may be a bit of a big task. With that said you have two options - either buy a new memory card or unload all of the pictures off of the one you got and make a plan to organize/name a certain number of pictures every day or week. But don't get behind on this - or you are asking yourself for even more trouble.

Second - after every event from now on, once you get home, transfer all the pictures onto your computer or into your program. Then, start labeling/tagging/organizing all of those photos.

Third - Try to label every photo with the date (year is ok if you don't know the exact date), place, and names of the people in the picture. Where you put this information depends on the program you use...but please do this. Write as much detail as you can - think of your descendants! They'll love it if you do this and if it is all organized. Think of it as something that will save you a headache and money on all the Advil you'd be buying if you didn't.

Finally - Figure out a way to easily share these pictures with others. Maybe you have a family website where you put them up or you distribute CDs to everyone at Christmas, or you upload them to a site like where family members can print them out at their own convience and pick them up at their nearest Walgreens store. Pick what you like and what your family members like. Not only will it make Grandma and Grandpa happy that they have cute pictures of their grandchildren on their mantel, it will also be one more copy...and someday when your descendants are desperately looking for a picture of you - it may be the picture they recieve.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud To Be An American!

Yesterday was a day that made history. A black man has been elected president and I am honored that I was able to be part of that political process.

Whatever way you voted, sit back today and reflect on how far our country has come. Reflect on the change that our country is about to endure.

I wish everyone well and I hope everyone feels as proud/honored/excited/hopeful/etc. as I do to be an American in such a wonderful time!

*Note: This is not a political blog nor do I plan to make it one. However, I wanted to express my feelings after yesterday's election and I wanted to remind everyone that this will be a time period that our descendants will be researching....and remember, they'll be wondering what went through our heads.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Was My Story Fact Or Fiction?

I nearly forgot to tell you all whether my scary ghost story was real or not! But...not to fear, I may be telling you the truth a little late - but I am still telling you.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about...well I wrote a scary ghost story ( in a genealogy carnival. As part of the story, we were required to have the readers guess whether the story was true or false. is the bottom line: MOST of the story is true. I really did hear my name as well as dogs in the distance, and the source of the sounds are unknown.

Everyone did get thoroughly creeped out (Well...All except my Aunt Phyllis who kept saying she wanted to stay to see what the "spirits" wanted). We did leave...rather fast actually. My Aunt Deb had my cousin Jen and I running down the dirt hill trying to get back to the car.

The part that is fake though, is the blood on my knee...or rather how the blood got on my knee. As Jen and I had been running to the car, we had been holding hands to keep close together. Sure enough, she tripped and she pulled me down to the ground with her. She got some bad scrapes on her hands and my knee hit a rock, causing a small deep cut to occur.

I hope you all enjoyed reading the story because I really enjoyed writing it and reading your guesses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Politics For Your Descendants

We all know that current events effect our lives. Such events can make important decisions in our lives - or at least change our perspective. As we hunt to find our ancestors, current events are always something to think about when we are considering why our ancestors did something (like move to another state or suddenly have a new job)...And maybe, we can do our descendants a favor and make it easier for them to figure our how current events changed our lives.

This election year has been a big (and exhausting!) one. No matter which candidate wins, it will be historical: Either a black man will be president or a woman will be vice president. What an exciting time!

But it isn't just the candidates that are the big deal. People are so incredibly passionate and they are participating like we haven't seen in years! In our information age - people are spreading their support/opinions/dislike for their candidate and the issues on so many channels: Blogging, newspapers, rallies, coffee shops, bumper sticker, yard signs, fundraisers, volunteering...etc.

The bottom line is this: Maybe you should be considerate to your descendants by making sure there is something that is saved that shows how you felt about this election - and maybe even how it changed your life. Maybe save that newspaper editorial you wrote or print out the blog post you wrote about your favorite candidate. You could save your yard sign or pin. Even a simple letter that explains your feelings on the issues would work.

Please, whatever your political party or feelings - give your descendants a bone!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Using Genealogical Society's To Find Information

I was surfing the web today, reading different blog articles. I love to do this because there are so many interesting stories out there, not to mention all the great stuff you can learn.

I read one article that discussed the St. Louis Genealogical Society and the website they have. Since I have some ancestors from there, I decided to click on the link and get some more information about it.

Sure enough - this websites has some great databases and it gives information on how you can order records from that particular area.

I figured I'd give it a shot and do a quick search - because it couldn't hurt. Well...guess what I found?

I found my great-great grandfather's naturalization record. Now, mind you - I've been scouring's databses for ages, along with many other popular websites.

And sure enough - there was the record that I was looking for - or atleast the index for it anyway. It gave me all the information I needed to order a copy of the actual document, and I can't wait to do that next month!

So the lesson here: Check the websites of local genealogical society's in the areas that you research. They might just have a couple of databases up that you can search, or they might know where you can find what you are looking for.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Setting A Family History Goal

As I sat down with my computer durng my few moments of free time this week, gigantic cup of green tea in hand, I began scouring the many blogs that I read on a regular basis.

Over at the 24/7 Family History Circle sits a great article that, while a basic concept, is one that we genealogists often forget.

It was suggested that we should take time during this month (family history month) to create goals for ourselves regarding our family history.

I just wanted to expand on this idea, and give some tips that apply to goals in general as well as family history goals:

  • Make your goal clear and precise. A goal that is too broad or vague has a much smaller chance of being achieved because there is nothing to serve as a benchmark, determining if you have accomplished your goal or not. A good goal is specific, such as, " I will sort the pictures by surname that are sitting in the box Aunt Maggie left for me, placing each category of pictures into archival safe boxes".
  • Give yourself a deadline. Some people like myself, need a deadline to make things happen. I work better under pressure and it keeps me from being able to put it off for too long.
  • Have two goals: One really fun goal and one goal that just needs to be done. For example, a fun goal would being making a shadow box highlighting a particular ancestor. A goal that just needs to be done could be something like filing or backing up your materials.

Good luck everyone - and I'd love to hear about your family history goals.

Some Basic News...

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the delay in posts. I've been super swamped with school and with throwing a wedding shower for my boyfriend's cousin. But the good news is that I am back and I have a bit more of a free weekend.

Since my last post, I have also been busy working on a new blog that I just recently joined. The blog is entitled The Graveyard Rabbit of Eastern Tennessee. The basics of the blog is that it promotes the preservation of cemeteries. I have this blog because I am a Charter Member of the Graveyard Rabbit Association. You can find my new blog here: and the website to The Graveyard Rabbit Association is

You will also notice that I added a cool little gadget to this blog called "This Day In History". It is towards the bottom of the blog and it is just a cool little gadget that I thought was interesting.

Alrighty - I just thought I'd give you a quick update on that. I promise I will be back to posting this weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've Been Tagged (Meme)

Wow - can this genea-blogger community speed up much more? I mean the number of blogs out there seems endless and it is growing every day. It gets difficult to get to know everybody - but little games like this one keep us all talking and meeting eachother.

I was tagged in this game by Janet over at

So here we go:

10 Years Ago I:

  • Was 9 years old
  • Living in Kent, Washington near Lake Fenwick
  • practically lived on my bike
  • enjoyed visits with my older cousin Genese who lived in a small cabin on Lake Martha and rescued was my doggy heaven
  • Begged my mom to get my ears pierced, finally convinced her, we went to the mall to have it done, the nice lady pierced one ear and I started crying begging her not to do the other one. But since my mom had paid for two ears to be pierced - two ears were pierced.

5 Things On Today's To Do List.

  • Finish reading the two sections of for math class (ugh...)
  • Finish another section of math homework (double ugh...)
  • Pay credit card bill (done)
  • Pick up Prescription (done)
  • Eat another Zinc Pop to try and beat this cold that wants to come on

5 snacks I enjoy:

  • M&M's
  • Gorgonzola Salad with Ranch from Marie Callendars
  • Pita Chips with Artichoke Hummus
  • Milano Cookies (Milk Chocolate)

5 places I've lived (Some longer than others)

  • San Pedro, CA
  • Kent, WA
  • San Marcos, CA
  • Torrance, CA
  • Lomita, CA
5 Jobs I've had

  • Tutor
  • Student
  • Office Assistant
  • Family Researcher (not a paid job! lol)
  • Being a Big Cousin to my little cousins

Alright - so there you go. Now it is my turn to start tagging a few here I go!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday's Child Has Far To Go

FootnoteMaven posted a great post about an old nursery rhyme that tells of a baby's personality based on the day of the week the child was born.

If you havent guessed from the title, I was born on a Thursday at 8:59 P.M. and I weighed a whole 7lbs 8 ounces.

According to the nursery rhyme, I have far to go.

I guess in some respects it is true...I mean, I have a long way to go with school until I am able to fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher. I have a long way to go until I settle some of my issues with my homelife.

I have a long way to go with a lot of things I guess - and yet I am so grateful for the things I have achieved and the great people I have in my life.

There you go - just thought I'd share a small cute post.

By the way - go visit the footnoteMaven over at her blog and read the article I was talking about:

Blog Action Day - Poverty

As a kid growing up, I would never say that my family was in the poverty level, but we were definitely far from rich. We lived (and still live) like most American families: paycheck to paycheck.

Despite the fact that we still live that way, my parents have both taught me that life is always harder for someone else. "While the grass may be greener on the other side, you still need to be grateful that you even have grass because there is always someone out there who only has mud"

But my mom was smart and she taught me that no matter how hard things might of felt, there were always people who had it harder. As a kid, we always supported one family and made sure that thier Christmas was a good one. We would go out and buy a ton of food for their meal and get them toys for the kids. We would give them gift certificates so they could buy clothes or anything that they needed. And of course, we would buy them a huge tree - with a ton of ornaments.

As a toddler, this was certainly not easy for me to understand. We would walk into Toys R Us to buy toys for a little boy that we were sponsoring, and I would always suggest that he wanted a "Barbie" or an "Easy Bake Oven". But after a few years, it began to sink in and my mom had to start keeping me to a budget so that we could have a Christmas too.

Poverty is such a big deal in our world - and we must find a way to eliminate it. There are so many people who are in desperate need of help. The littlest things can make the biggest difference. You don't even have to have money to help, all you need to give is your time. Whether it is working at a soup kitchen, buying a few extra cans at the grocery store to donate to the food bank, or tutoring homeless kids so that they can learn to all makes a difference. The smallest things make the biggest difference.

Thats why I believe in the Pay It Foward theory: When someone does something good for you - then do something good for 3 other people. It'll make you feel good that you helped someone, and hopefully they'll do the same.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Wonder - Did My Ancestors Feel This Much Frustration Before They Voted?

As the election draws nearer, the fierce fight for the White House is heating up to a point of unbearable heat. Both sides are attacking eachother and the media is overanalyzing every single word that is said. Honestly - with our world in the condition it is in, can we really afford this sort of chaos right before the election?

While I am honored that I am able to vote for the first time ever in a presidential election - especially one as historic as this one - I can't help but get a huge headache every time I think about it.

Gosh - is there anyway I can elect someone who isn't a politician? Because both sides seem to have a flip-flopper and in an age where information is so easily spread, the media is going insane. Everything is dissected, words are switched around or taken out of context, and even some of the voters are saying horrific things! It's enough to make my head want to explose

In the wake of all of this, I can't help but wonder if my ancestors felt such pressure when they voted too. I wonder if they knew how important of an impact thier vote would make.

Like - look at our history...Can you imagine voting right before the Civil War? Or how about right before World War II as Nazi Germany was beginning to take hold.

Our votes and America's stance in the world does punching a hole next to the name of the candidate we want - we are making a huge decision that will affect not only our country, but the entire world.

I can't help but wonder if my ancestors felt the same way.

I also wonder if their moms made as much of a big deal about my first time voting as mine is...
She's bringing a camera and we are going first thing in the morning so that she can be with me on voting day before she has to go to work. I can't really complain, because I know I will be so excited to show my grandkids those pictures one day, and tell them about how I voted in the first election that brough either a black man or a woman VP to the White House.

Note: I understand that this is not a political blog, and I really tried to tie the topic into genealogy. I hope that I didn't offend anyone by what I said - but I do stand by my words. Sometimes, you just have to speak your mind.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Can There Be Two Of The Same Census?

Why indeed - there can be two of the same census. The way this works is that the area was enumerated twice. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen and I have one such case in my family tree.

My great great grandfather Adolph Doerflinger and his wife, Augusta, lived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1880. Both had immigrated from Germany and they owned and operated a boarding house/bar. They lived there with thier only son, Max and multiple boarders.

Well, when I did the search for Adolph, I discovered two entries on Ancestry's 1880 census database. So, I began looking at their index and sure enough - both entries listed a wife as "Augusta Doerflinger" and a son as "Max Doerflinger". Adolph was listed in both entries as being born in 1851 in Germany (one actually said Baden). One said that he was a boardhouse keeper and another said a bar keeper.

So I looked at the dates of enumeration for both - and I found out that both were indeed the same person - with a lot of the same boarders listed. However - one enumeration was done in June of 1880 and the other in November of 1880.

I don't expect it happens often, but it obviously happens enough where us genealogists need to keep our eyes out for it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Appalacian Ghost Stories

This is a Carnival of Genealogy 58th Edition article - and with the spirit of genealogy it is all about those spooky stories about an ancestor. With this particular edition, you all have to guess if it is fact or fiction....and I won't reveal which it is until after October 15th (when the submissions are due)

Without further ado, here's the story:

When I was about 13, I went to go visit my Grandpa in Tennessee for two weeks with my cousin and my aunt.

My Grandpa lived in a small town called Elizabethton in Carter County. It is literally in the middle of the Appalacian Mountains in eastern Tennessee, right near the border of North Carolina. The town has one drive-in movie theatre and two ma-n-pa grocery stores. The real part of "town" is a street with a library, a small city hall, and a donut shop. People live on dirt roads and everybody knows everybody (literally). The place to be on a Friday night are at the church get-togethers or at this gigantic barn where everyone listens to country music and line dances.

So, this story starts off with the second night I was there. My Grandpa had made this delicious spaghetti dinner and everyone was sitting on the back porch talking. My Grandpa started telling stories of his teen years and I made the mistake of asking him what his parents were like. He quickly told me that he did not discuss his parents and I was not to bring the subject up again. Needless to say, I was very confused and a bit hurt but I kept to myself.

As I went to take everyone's plates into the kitchen, my Aunt Phyllis (My Grandpa's sister-in-law) took me aside. She told me in hurried whispers that she could help me fill in some of the gaps that I had in my genealogy. She offered to show me around the area and take me to where my Great Grandparents were buried.

So the next morning, my Aunt Phyllis, Aunt Deb, my cousin Jen and I went driving into the hills of Tennessee. The roads were filled with long winding roads. There were no houses, no street lights, no stores or buildings - Nothing. We finally turned down a dirt road and continued driving up the mountain. We finally reached a driveway that led up to a small one story house. It was abandoned and I learned that it had belonged to my Aunt Bet - my grandpa's sister. We walked carefully through the tall grass (we were warned against snakes) and got to the backyard. The grass was so overgrown, that you could barely see the fence. We walked into the fenced area to find a small family cemetery of sorts.

The most recent headstone was of my great grandparents - and it was one of the few that I could actually read. Everything was overgrown, and I began trying to push back the grass to take pictures. Although it was daylight, the trees and overgrowth made it difficult to see. Everyone was walking around the area, observing the stones and attempting to read them.

As I was trying to make out the letters on one plastic make-shift headstone, I thought I heard my name. I turned around to find everyone doing their own thing. I shook it off as my imagination and kept taking pictures. I was so facinated to be in the place of my ancestors final resting place.

I then began taking notes when I could've sworn I heard barking dogs. I looked around to find everyone looking nervously around - wondering where the dogs could possibly come from. There were no other houses could there be dogs. Then, my aunt screamed and we all began running towards the car. As I was running, I tripped over what I thought was a rock. As I looked down, I saw a small headstone in the ground.

I moved the grass back to find a small headstone with the words "Inf. Dau. of Monroe and Matilda Dugger". I instantly stopped and everyone began gathering around me. Everyone stared in confusion because they had never heard of an infant daughter that had died. My Aunt Deb was thoroughly creeped out and I had the chance to snap a photo before we left.

As we were driving home I noticed that my knee was bleeding. I began wiping the blood away with a tissue in the car - only to discover that there was no cut. I immediately felt the creeps.

Once we were back at my grandpa's house that night, my aunt grabbed a magnifying glass to look closer at my knee. Sure enough, we couldn't find a single cut or scrape...and no one else on the trip had been bleeding.

Alrighty - truth or fake? I think you all have some guessing to do...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Organizing Your Genealogy

As I complete the finishing touches on my move - I realize that this is the perfect opportunity to organize all of that family history information, pictures, and other odds and ends related to genealogy.

So first - I'll discuss the paper files, which is often the first genealogical issue that comes up when it comes to organizing your genealogy. First, I'll give you some basic tips on this and then I will delve a little deeper to the specifics. Then, I'll give you some tips on organizing all of those pictures that you have (or soon will - trust me). Finally, I'll give you some basic tips on scanning those pictures and organizing them once they scanned.

Basic Tips About Paper Files:
  1. There are 3 charts that will be your best friend through all of this genealogy: Pedigree Chart, Family Group Chart, Research Log. You can find these charts all over the web for free ( offers some nice ones) and often times your genealogy software will be able to print one out for you. There are so many slightly different styles with these, depending on how many generations you want to show and how fancy you want it (Basic black and white to ones with color and borders). Pick what you like - and stick with it!
  2. Pick a system - file folders or binders. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages to them - and it really is a preference. Some genealogists swear by binders, others by filing cabinets. If you aren't sure which you like - try a trial run for a week to test it out. I had to learn through trial and error also to figure out what style I wanted.
  3. What are your categories going to be? Well - personally, I like sorting everything by surname. Then, I can easily find exactly what I want. But others like sorting by record type (Like all birth records in one area, all census records in another), but personally, I find that too confusing. Others like to number every person and document (There are a TON of different systems) but I personally have never liked numbers and feel that it doesn't fit my needs.

Organizing Your Paper Files - Specific:

  1. Two words: Archival Safe. Please - please start now and make sure the important stuff is archival safe. That means that these items are acid-free and that the plastics are PVC free. This is especially important with original documents, letters, and anything that needs to be preserved for a long time. I would even prefer if you put your basic charts in archival safe stuff, since it will save you trouble in the long run.
  2. Depending on the type of person you are, you may find it highly beneficial to color code your filing labels. I follow a system of colors for each of my 4 grandparents and the code follows with their ancestors. That way, I can see at a glance, what side of the tree a person came from.
  3. Label, Label, Label. Give everything a home and a name! But with the home, make sure that there are ways to add information or people easily, because you'd be suprised how fast something like that comes up.

Organizing Those Pictures:

  1. Archival Safe. If there is any question in your mind about whether or not a piece of paper or plastic is archival safe, please be sure to ask. It is better to keep those precious pictures safe than to have them destroyed. This includes wearing gloves before you touch these pictures because the oil on your hands can damage the pictures. I know it sounds annoying, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
  2. The first thing I usually do, is seperate the pictures into groups and place them into archival safe envelopes. Sometimes the pictures are all about a particular person or event - even a year. Then as time goes by, it'll be easier to just grab an envelope and begin scanning whenever you get the chance.
  3. Then, you need to buy boxes and storage for these pictures for their permanent home. Once you have scanned the pictures and they are out of their envelopes, they can be placed into the boxes and stored in a cool, dry place. Try to think of the safest place you can that will have a consistent temperature and won't come into contact with moisture. If you can, store these pictures in a place that you can access at quick notice - in case you must evacuate your house because of a disaster. I know it is hard to think about, but the reality is that these sort of things happen and if you have the chance to grab those pictures - do it!

Organizing the Pictures On the Computer:

  1. First things first - save every picture in a .tif format instead of a .jpeg - it is better quality for the picture.
  2. Scan at a resolution of atleast 300 dpi. Dpi stands for "dots per inch". The more dots, the nicer the picture looks.
  3. Every picture that I scan is given a number AND a title. Most people only do a title or last name, but I prefer both because I like the advantages of both. Each picture is given a number so that I can index the pictures and easily find the person or place that I want. I also use the title, because sometimes I know what picture I want, but I don't know where the number is.
  4. I personally save my pictures into 2 places to make sure that there is always one around - even if my harddrive fails. I save some of the pictures to a flashdrive and the rest on my harddrive.
  5. I save my pictures and documents that I scan into a folder on my desktop called "Genealogy". Then there is one folder for "Pictures" and one for "Documents". Within there, everything is organizing by Surname, First Name or by the event. (As for married women I usually write their names like this when I do it: Married Name, First Name Maiden Name). If I feel that there are too many pictures in one particular file, then I will reorganize it.
  6. Remember how I mentioned that index? Well, I create the index in Microsoft Word, but you could certainly do it in whatever manner you want. Some people prefer Excel, but really it is all up to you. I then organize the index by both person and event - then listing the number of the picture, so that way I can easily see what pictures and how many each person or event has.

Alright - so I hope that this has been an article that will inspire you to look at your documents and think about how organized they are. You might find yourself re-organizing everything.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teacher Of The Year

As I was packing all of the vast amounts of pictures, newspaper clippings, and old letters that I have recieved over the years from family member, I came across a newspaper clipping about my Uncle Dudley.

My Uncle Dudley was a teacher for many, many years. He taught in the U.S. as well as overseas in Spain, Morrocco, and Germany. He taught everything from kindergarten to high school, and even served as a high school counselor at one point. He had a Masters in Education from California State Los Angeles...his life and passion was with children.

He had a way of breaking the rules with teaching, and yet coming out on top. He went above and beyond the standards of being a teacher...

I remember being a kid and discovering a photo album full of pictures of children and a classroom. I started asking him questions and he was very enthusiastic as he answered my questions. This photo album in particular was of a kindergarten class he taught in Pasadena, California. He showed me a picture of the "reading corner" which included a Morroccan rug to sit on, pillows from spain, and hand carved bookshelves with a lion's head carved into the corner. It was magnificent and beautiful how he incorporated his travels in with his classroom. He made learning a fun adventure - something to be embraced.

I then learned that this was a photo album of only one of his years of teaching. He had one album for each year and class. In the back of the albums he had letters and pictures that his former students had sent them as they got older.

That dedication and passion for children and teaching is what earned him the Teacher Of The Year Award in California. His write up in the paper is what I found:

It was probably him and the rest of the teachers in my family (another uncle, an aunt, my grandparents taught odd classes at a community college, and my cousin) who inspired me to become a teacher. Since I was in kindergarten, I've wanted to become a teacher. I guess it is in my blood to be one.

He touched so many people throughout his life as a teacher: I met my best friend because of him. I was in 7th grade and a girl next to me was talking to a small group of her friends about how her mom had had this teacher who had the weird last name of Doerflinger. All of the girls began laughing and I marched over there angry and told them that my last name was Doerflinger. They all looked at me with shock on their face, and made me pull out my school ID card to prove that I wasn't just kidding. I then told her that I had lots of people in my family who were teachers and sure enough - my Uncle Dudley was her mom's teacher. Ever since, we've been best friends.

At his Celebration Of Life, people came from all over the country to honor him. We had 6 tables of people who were only his students, and tables upon tables full of cards from those that couldn't make it. So many of his former students stood up to speak and told the stories of how he had been such a wonderful teacher and mentor to them. One person spoke of how Dudley had saved his life when he was depressed in high school. Another person spoke of how Dudley had gotten him into a loving foster care because his home life was not good. Everyone had wonderful things to say about him.

As I go through college persuing my dream of becoming a teacher, I think of him and his passion for teaching. I know that if someday I am a fraction of how good he was - I will be proud. He is what I strive to someday be.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hilarious Pictures Of My Family

While I was searching through the old photos today (getting sidetracked from packing), I discovered a hilarious picture of my grandpa and I when I was a baby. I then remembered that there was yet another Genea-Bloggers Carnival on funny images - and I knew I just had to share it.

Now, this picture was taken in 1989, when I was only a few months old. My mom took me to visit my grandpa in the hospital. He was sick and suffering from Alzhiemers, but seeing me seemed to brighten up his days since my grandma had passed away the year before. The family often gathered around his bedside, bringing him trinkets and asking him to tell stories from his childhood.

In the picture, you'll see my aunt holding me as she sat on my grandpa's bed. Look closely at what my grandpa is reading - it is pretty funny!

Did you see it?! When I first discovered this picture a few years back (I was about 11), I was all giggles. When she told me that she was the one who bought it for her, my expression turned to shock and suprise. (If you can't tell what it is - he is reading a Playboy Magazine...Blogger seemed to make the picture blurry)

"Well, what else do you get an old man who is dying?!" she replied.

Alright - so there you have it. My submission for a funny picture.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moving...And How it Affects Your Genealogy

Well, come Sunday, I will be moving a town over to another apartment. In this process, I have been cleaning out all the clutter in my room and going through the mass amounts of stuff that I have.

As I was doing this, I began to find more old letters, pictures, and newspaper clippings in a box stuffed in a cabinet in the hall. I began looking through them and I was stunned as I realized that I didn't even know I had them! (And the dangerous part is - they weren't in archival safe boxes!)

My packing instantly stopped as I began to search through the gigantic box of information. I never even knew it was in my house...and yet, here I was staring at old letter my grandmother wrote to her father, hand drawn Christmas cards, and pages from old family albums that I didn't know existed.

Then I came into a huge brick wall...What am I going to do with all of this stuff? The pile I have of the things I need to scan is already to the ceiling - and I am beginning to wonder when I am going to have the time to scan, label, and organize all of it. I now have A LOT more archival safe boxes to buy come November when my grant money gets in...(Yes, I spend my school grant money on genealogy - don't tell!)

I love being the family historian, I really do. I love getting all the stories and going on the hunt to find out more. Trust me, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have all of this stuff...but please - cut a girl some slack! Scanning is not the most fun part of genealogy!

Oh well, I just thought I'd give you a quick update on that, and explain that things might be slow on here for a week or so. I apologize for that, and trust me, I'd rather be writing than packing!

When I get back online, I have some wonderful things to show you and some suggestions to share with you about scanning your pictures and such!

Update: Abba-Dad made a create comment with a good question. I'll answer it in detail on another post, but I'll give you the Cliff Notes version right now.
The question was: "What kind of archival safe boxes do you use? I don't even know where to look for some and have no clue what's good and what's crap."
My answer: Well, I use boxes that specifically say "Archival Safe" on them and if it has plastic, I make sure that it is PVC-free. I know that there are a bunch of websites online where you can buy them, but I get mine from a scrapbooking store near my house. Ask someone at a craft store - especially one with a focus on scrapbooking or framing because they should be able to lead you into the right direction.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting To Know Me, Getting To Know Elyse's Genealogy Blog

Hi everyone!

Over on Facebook, Terry Thorton challenged all of us Genea-Bloggers to write up a post about ourselves so that others can get to know us. is mine.

I am a 19 year old genealogist...yes, you read correctly...only 19. Whenever someone discovers my age and my number one hobby, they always get shocked. I gotta admit though - I wouldn't change it for the world.

I started genealogy when I was about 13 years old. I have always thought of history as an interesting subject (which my mom gets credited for - all those weekends watching the History Channel really pays off!). When I was about 12 or so, my Aunt Deb began to play around with As she started showing me all that she was learning, I began to slowly catch the genealogy bug.

However, it wasn't until I went to visit my Grandpa when I was about 13 that I became completely and utterly addicted. He lives in Tennessee in a rural town in the Appalacian Mountains. The controversy, the secrets, the rural lifestyle - I was hooked! It was better than any soap opera that you could watch on daytime TV!

Since then, I've been addicted. My addiction has certainly made me an odd teenager: I asked for a filing cabinet for my 16th birthday, I asked for an all-in-one printer-copier-scanner for Christmas 2 years ago, and I begged and pleaded for an subscription from anyone who would listen. As I did this, my parents looked at me like I was a foreign being.

My mom has a saying that I think describes me rather well: "Elyse - you are either 6 or 60...and never in between!"

My goal in writing this blog has always been to share my love of genealogy. I wanted to document my frustrations in genealogy while also giving you guys the lessons I've learned along the way.

I want to now share with you some of my articles that I am very proud of:

1.) My brightest article: How To Fix Your Newbie Mistakes ( This article describes the hard lessons I have learned over the years when it come to genealogy

2.) My breeziest article: My New Heart Award ( This article just shows my huge appreciation for everyone who reads my blog - you guys always brighten up my day!

3.) My most beautiful: What Would You Save? ( While this article has some seriousness to it, it includes pictures of some of my most valuable possessions. I love these heirlooms and I feel so honored that I have them.

If any of you want to get to know me or have any questions or just feel like talking - you can email me at You can also become my friend on Facebook if you'd like (just look me up). And of course, I love reading the comments you guys leave on my articles - they really brighten up my day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My New Heart Award

I feel so blessed this morning thanks to Linda in Lancaster (Find her blog, From Axer to Ziegler at She gave me the "New Heart Award".

I'll admit that I have never heard of this before - but I certainly think its a great way to honor our fellow bloggers. It is good to feel like someone is reading this crazy blog of mine.

So, the rules (as far as I can tell) are that I have to give the award to 7 other blogs, and leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know that I have given the award to them.

So the 7 blogs that I believe deserve this award are:

  • DearMyrtle's Genealogy Blog: This blog is honestly one of my favorites. Not only is Pat Richley (DearMyrtle) one of the sweetest people I know on facebook, she is also incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to genealogy. She knows what she is talking about. (
  • 24/7 Family History Circle: I am not a huge fan of, but Juliana Smith sure knows how to write an interesting and helpful article. I love the tips she gives because they are practical and creative. I highly suggest reading her weekly planner! (
  • Rainy Day Genealogy Readings: This is such an interesting blog. Great, well-written articles on genealogy. A great, must read! (
  • I Find Dead People: The title says it all! (
  • Writing Your Memories: A great blog full of wonderful tips about how to begin writing your own memories. She makes writing so much less painful! (
  • The Baca/Douglass Genealogy and Family History Blog: Not only is the author a kind, helpful person on Facebook to anyone who has genealogy related questions, but he also knows how to keep his own genealogy interesting - even to those who aren't related to him. (
  • GeneaNet Genealogy Blogs - GeneaSofts: A great read. Lots of information about genealogy software. Definitely a useful blog! (

Alright everyone - Thank you so much for honoring me with this award! I hope you check the above blogs out because they really are great reads. Good luck, and happy ancestor hunting!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scanning, Scanning, Scanning

Ah - a dream of every genealogist is to have photos, letters, and other pieces of paper that give a clue as to the everyday life of our ancestors.

Well, since I've been letting everyone in my family know that I am doing genealogy (and trust me, it hasn't been an easy task to get everyone to listen), they began giving me boxes and boxes of photos, letters, funeral cards - you name it.

While I love these precious items because they bring my family to life in ways that a census record never could, I get a headache just thinking about scanning, labeling, and storing all of these items safely.

It is a daunting task! I want to make sure that I do all of this right so that my children may have these items someday. But how do you do it right? Well - that requires research, lots and lots of research.

I know that one of the few things that are keeping my sane is playing music as I scan. The good beat atleast keeps me from loosing my mind!

So what are some of the things that YOU recommend to make scanning easier, more enjoyable, and safe for your items? I would love to hear from you guys!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Would You Save? (Meme: Family Heirlooms)

With all the hurricanes and evacuations going around, I think it is vital that everyone start thinking about an evacuation plan; both for yourself and for your family history.

Let's say, that tommorrow you were told that you had to leave your house immediately. Maybe you only have 30 minutes to grab what you can and get out. What would you save?

When making this decision, you have to find a way to choose what to save - and things that would certainly go under this category would be family heirlooms and pictures. These items can't be replaced like a census or death record can - besides, I already have most of my genealogy scanned and online so I can access it from anywhere if need be.
So what would I save? Well here are a few things I would certainly save:

I recieved this kaliedoscope on my birthday. After my uncle died, he left me a lot of precious jewlery, but the only thing I wanted was a kaliedoscope that used to sit in his guest bedroom. As a child I spent hours gazing into it. It is something that is very precious to me.

Another object or objects I would save would be the metal statues that my grandpa created throughout his life. While my mother and I only own a few of the many he made, these are very precious to me. Since I never knew my grandfather (except for the first few months of my life before his death), these items are very precious to me and bring his personality to life for me.

I would also save my filing cabinet, which houses a lot of photos in protective boxes and albums and a few other small items from my family. I would carry that filing cabinet and walk if need be because it houses so many prized possessions - I couldn't handle the loss of them.
I hope that all of you in Texas and surrounding areas are safe tonight as Hurricane Ike pulls in. I will keep you guys in my thoughts.
And I hope the rest of us learn that with a little preparation, we can hopefully save our wonderful family heirlooms.
(By the way, this article was inspired by Julie Cahill Tarr. You can find her great GenBlog at:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To Publish Or Not To Publish - That Is The Question

Eventually, every genealogist gets to the question of whether or not to publish their hard work onto the internet (or even in book form, although I will only briefly discuss this because I don't think it is something that is not cost effective these days...well, you'll see what I mean).

There are so many pros and cons to publishing your work that is makes it difficult to decide. But I think the key here is to decide whether or not you want to share your work (despite the risks), and in what form you want to do this.

I personally made the choice to share my work on the internet. My main motivation for this was that I wanted other researchers to find me so that we could exchange information just like so many wonderful people had done with me (Well, I didn't really have anything that they didn't have, but that is beside the point). Their kindness helped me get through long stressful hours of confusion. Mind you, they shared their information with me but they also helped me find the information on my own, which is especially helpful because my skill at finding the records I was looking for improved.

So, when you're at the point in your genealogy where you aren't sure if you want to share your hard earned family tree - here are some things to consider:

  • Other researchers that have similiar research interests, either with someone in your tree or in a particular area you are researching, can find you and your information.
  • If you include your email address, you'll be able to be contacted by another researcher who might have some information you don't have.
  • You are building genealogical-karma points by helping out a researcher who may be just starting their tree. Maybe they'll find their great-great uncle in your family tree, giving you the opportunity to not only help this person out with their tree, but you also just found a long lost cousin who might have those pictures of Uncle Joe you've been dieing to get your hands on.


  • Some people will take your work and just steal it. They'll take you're hours of blood, sweat, and tears and place it in their own tree without crediting you. They'll forget who/where they got it from and pretty soon - they are claiming that they found the information on their own. Trust me, nothing is worse.
  • Or they'll take your work and place it all over the internet, incorrectly, and cite only your name or that email address you had 5 years ago. Oh well, so maybe this one is the worst of the two cons.

Alright - so let's say you make the decision to put your family tree up on the web. Now the question becomes - where do you put it?

Well, a lot of people put their trees on - which does have the benefit of having a good chance that it'll be seen. Since is such a popular site in the world of genealogy, you will probably have your work seen. The downside is that likes to make a seperate database (OneWorldTree) that combines trees submitted by its users that include the same people into one tree. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice - its a disaster. I can't tell you how many trees I have seen that have incorrect information, no sources, no records, nothing! The information in most of this database is just plain wrong. But - people can still find the individual tree that you uploaded and contact you either through your email or through's service that keeps your email private. Plus - they have some pretty cool things that you can add to your tree such as audio stories, pictures, videos, and it has the ability to just add a record that you find in one of their databases directly into your tree.

A lot of people also try creating a website, either on their own or through a website such as or Creating a website is a great idea because you'll be found in the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Plus, you can upload exactly what you want to share and you control pretty much everything. These can also be a great way to stay in touch with family that may live far away (as long as they are tech savvy - if they aren't it won't work much. Trust me, I've tried!).

There is also - a sister site to People like to also upload their trees there. It doesn't have as many cool features as - but it still will be visited.

When you have a good amount of information (I'm talking several generations, full of legitimate sources, and you are confident in your work) then you might want to consider uploading your gedcom onto Your work will then be taken to a huge vault in Salt Lake City. I also believe that your work will be accessible to others on their website and in LDS sponsored Family History Centers.

Not to mention - there are a TON of other websites where you could upload it - and I don't have the time to mention every single one of them.

So the bottom line is that you need to weigh the pros and cons of posting your tree to the internet. Then, if you decide to put your information on the web, figure out where you think it would be best to put your information.