Monday, December 28, 2009

What Are Your Genealogical Priorities?

With New Years Day right around the corner, there is lots of talk in the air about resolutions. Some of us cringe when we hear the word, others of us get excited for the challenge. Some of us refuse to make any resolutions and some like to call them "goals". Whatever your preference in dealing with New Years Resolutions, I highly suggest that you at least take a look back on your genealogy progress from 2009. Are you satisfied with your progress? Or do you wish you had done more?

The key to being satisfied with your genealogical work is to make sure that your genealogical tasks are reflective of your genealogical priorities. But what are your priorities?

Each person's answer(s) will be slightly different and the reasons for those answers will be different. The answers come from why you do genealogy in the first place. There are no right or wrong answers.

So for 2010, I am challenging you to....
  • Really examine that priority list to make sure it goes with what matters to you - and that you aren't listing things just because you think you are "supposed" to.
  • Make a list of tasks that go with those priorities. Don't be afraid to be a little ambitious and list some things that intimidate you or are a little difficult.
  • Now for each of those tasks, break them down. Make each task into smaller, manageable pieces.
  • Ready for the fun part? Give yourself rewards a long the way. Those rewards will give you some motivation.
So what does your priority list look like? What are some of those tasks you are going to take on in 2010? Feel free to leave your answers in a comment or write a separate blog post and post the link in the comments section. I'm excited for your answers!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Twelve Days Of Christmas

I saw Kimberly Powells post on the 12 days of Christmas - genealogy style. Then I saw Randy Seaver's version of the 12 days of Christmas - genealogy style. So I was inspired to write my own version.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

12 Old Family Photos

11 New Family Stories

10 Pension Records

9 Census Records

8 Land Deeds and Patents

7 Lost Cousins

6 Message Board Postings

5 Family Bibles

4 Newspaper Obituaries

3 Draft Cards

2 Society Memberships

....And One Complete GEDCOM database!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Setting Goals For 2010

With the holiday season right upon us, all of us are running around like crazy people! Between going to the mall to shop for gifts, cleaning the house because the relatives are coming over, putting up the mass amounts of decorations, and trying to get all of that holiday baking done - we are all pretty overwhelmed with busy. In my case, I was neck deep in finals and just trying to survive the remainder of the semester.

But this doesn't even leave time for genealogy for most of us. Yet, I am shocked at how some of you Geneabloggers get so much done! (My theory is that some of you have clones...).

Since I've been out of school, I've been enjoying lots of genealogy catch up time (and lots of much needed sleep). But I have so many genealogy things to do and so little time to do it. So I've decided to make some clear goals for 2010:

  1. Break down the George Rogers brick wall once and for all. Not only would this give me huge satisfaction since he is my most challenging ancestor - but this would also make my Aunt Deb very happy since George Rogers is the one that she wants to know about the most.
  2. Research back to a Revolutionary War ancestor. I have two *probable* ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary war, but I am having a lot of difficulty in proving the relationships and getting documents.
  3. I want to start some research on my boyfriend's family tree. I've heard so many stories, so now it is time to
  4. I want to start telling my little cousin, Audrie more about our ancestors. She is only 7, but I want her to know more about her ancestors and get her acquainted with seeing old pictures and hearing old stories.
  5. I want to connect with more of you genealogists! I love talking to you, learning from you, and joking around with you guys. You are all so much fun!
  6. My presentation at the SCGS Jamboree 2010 in Burbank, California is going to be AWESOME. I want it to be educational, fun, and interactive. My goal is to have everyone walking away with a smile on their face.
2010 is going to be a big year for me. I'm going to be graduating with an A.A. degree in June. Then I will be doing a genealogy presentation for the first time the same weekend. Finally, in August I will be turning 21 - and be starting school again at a university! Yep - 2010 is going to be a good year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BIG Announcement

Hey Everyone - I've been waiting to tell you guys a BIG announcement.

So reserve the date: Friday, June 11, 2010. I'll not only be at the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree - I'll be a speaker!! *Cue the Fun Dance Music*

On Friday, June 11, 2010 I'll be presenting a class called "Using Your Computer's Video Camera". I am so excited about this opportunity. This is going to be a fun and interactive class to help you learn how to use your video camera to benefit your research.

First off - I just want to say that this almost feels unreal. I am in awe and shock that I've been asked to do this class - however I feel so much love and support from all of my genealogy friends that I know I do this. I have learned so much from all of you and learned a lot about myself.

Secondly, I did the biggest genealogy happy dance EVER! This is such a dream come true - especially since I've been day dreaming of what it would be like to speak to a group of lecturers at a gathering, although I never imagined anything as cool as this. I've just never known how to get started and I told myself that I had other priorities to deal with right now, like school and my own research. I also told myself that I had plenty of time to make that dream a reality and possibly a nice side hobby during college and after. But with all of that daydreaming, I never imagined that it would become a reality.

Thirdly, now that I am on the path of my dream, I want to apologize to my family and friends because I can't stop talking about this. I've been asking them for their opinions and ideas and doing brainstorms with them already - and honestly it is only going to get much, much worse. My wonderful boyfriend put it perfectly: "Wow - combining your two favorite things: teaching and genealogy. The only way this could get better for you is if you taught the genealogy of Harry Potter". I must admit, he is very true. (But seeing as Harry Potter is a fictional character made up by the genius J.K Rowling, unfortunately, that dream is not likely to become a reality).

Finally, I can't wait to see all of you in person again at the Jamboree! I had such a blast with you guys last year. We are going to need to make some pretty cool plans for hanging out between sessions and do that Geneabloggers dinner again.

Just remember - I can't sit at the bar for drinks so lets make plans to sit at a table so I can order a Shirley Temple.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Google A House

Today I read Randy's post about how he found information (including pictures) of the home his mother and grandmother lived in by searching for the address in Google, I was inspired - and I knew exactly what home I wanted to search for.

Last month, my Great Auntie Bub (Elizabeth Harney Pieren) passed away. She lived a long and full life, but it still has shaken my family up quite a bit. We all have so many wonderful memories of her, and we are all so blessed to have known her.

And all of us know her house. It was the house that my great grandparents bought. It is in the Maple Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington on a corner lot. It is a two story house with only one bathroom (only a tub - no shower). It has one bedroom downstairs, and 3 upstairs (you have to walk through one to get to the next, since there aren't any hallways upstairs).

Even though I am now a young adult, I still can't put my finger on what makes that house so magical. Maybe it has something to do with the history of the house (built in 1911) and the variety of people who have lived in the house throughout it's history (up to 17 at one point!). Or maybe it is the garden that used to be outside that my Great Uncle Chris maintained while he was alive. Maybe it was the all the old clothing, beds, photo albums, and odds and ends that could be found upstairs. Truthfully, I think it is a combination of all of these.

My cousins and I were only allowed upstairs during the summer, when that house would host the Annual Ping Pong Tournament and party. My uncles would fly up from California for a few weeks and sleep in the upstairs bedroom. My cousins and I would spend hours up there - exploring the old vanity (which had more bottles of perfume than a department store), exploring old coats (we found money in there once!), or just using our imaginations.

We would pretend that we were top secret spies and we were to protect a government party. We would pretend that we worked in a salon or that we were fashion designers. But the best game of all was hide and seek (the closets seemed like the never-ending wardrobe from that book, Narnia)

Point is, this house means a lot to me and my family. It has been years since I've seen it in person but I want share what it looks like. Click here to see a picture of the house, thanks to

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bring Your Sense Of Humor When Teaching Kids Genealogyh

The other day my mom and I were babysitting my 7 year old cousin, Audrie. The news was on the TV, but no one was really paying attention. A news segment about how eating habits in this country has changed over the last 100 years came on.
Naturally, Audrie began asking questions and telling us all about the nutrition unit she is studying in school. My mom casually made a comment about how sugary treats used to be hard to find and were only eaten at special occasions.

The disbelief on Audrie's face was priceless. After she things about it a little more, she asks why they didn't just go to the store and buy the treats.

My mom tries to use the example of Audrie's Great Grandpa Dugger (my grandpa). As a kid, he lived in the Appalacian Mountains in Tennessee. My mom and I went on and on about how different things were back then.

"Auntie Sharon - was it like that when you were a kid too?" asks Audrie.

"Not exactly. I'm not that old," replied my mom

Thankfully, no one got offended and it has become the new joke in the house. Everytime my mom sees Audrie, she pretends to use a cane and talks about "back in the old'n days when we traveled across the country in covered wagons..."

Lesson of the Day: Always pack a sense of humor when trying to connect with kids on a family history level.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Brand New Laptop

Hey Everyone - I'm back!

Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have been having some technical difficulties. My old laptop, Ole Clunky, finally died about two weeks ago. She was old and I knew it was coming. I am only grateful that it came right before I got my grant check and that I backed up all of my genealogy.

So I'd like to introduce you to my brand new laptop. It is a Toshiba and I love it. It isn't top of the line, but it is a technological upgrade for me nonetheless. It has Windows 7 on it, and I am still getting used to it. But I love it.

But with this new laptop comes a few recommendations and some lessons learned:

  1. This laptop was my first big purchase. Even though the laptop I bought was cheap compared to many of the laptops on the market, it still hurt my bank account. After I swiped my card to pay the $500 bill, I got a rush. I know that sounds silly, but this is a BIG purchase for me. However, it was worth it.
  2. While my GEDCOM files, documents, and picture files were all backed up and safe, my podcasts were not. This isn't such a big deal, since I can just redownload the podcasts. But this is a huge pain to do and takes time.
  3. I need to be more organized when it comes to saving my registration keys for programs. While it isn't a big deal because I was able to email the companies for them, it is still a pain. I would've had my RootsMagic 4 already downloaded, but I had to wait for the company to reply to my email (In all fairness and honesty was pretty darn fast considering I emailed them on the weekend - but when it comes to genealogy, I am impatient).
  4. Setting up a computer just the way you like it takes time - especially when you are dealing with a new operating system. But during that time, you get to play around with new programs and sometimes find even more things that you like.
  5. I can now play Second Life! I still don't really "get" it, but I am hoping that will come with time. I am really looking forward to the chats.

I just want to also let everyone know that the blog might be quiet for the next couple of weeks. Between school, my family get-togethers, my boyfriend's family get-togethers, and all of the regular life stuff, I am swamped. But just know that I am planning on some awesome stuff for the month of January (and the second half of December if I can fit it in). So stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When Was The Last Time You Backed Up Your Data?

I am a firm believer in backing up my data - mainly because I work so hard on it. I've put so much time and effort into my work. I'm just not willing to let it disappear in an instant.

I back up my electronic files at the minimum of every month. My GEDCOM is backed up onto my flash drive every time I enter more than 3 facts or sources to it. Then, I upload the GEDCOM onto Window's Live Skydrive (which requires a hotmail or MSN account). Then, once a month, I send my GEDCOM to my boyfriend's computer, just in case. I use all of these methods in order to ensure that my data is is safe and accessible should my hard drive ever crash (hopefully that won't be for a very long time)

For my pictures and documents that I have scanned, I back them up onto my flash drive when I scan more than 5 at a time. Then, I upload the files to my Window's Live Skydrive account.

With my blog have to back up my template and my posts. I back up my posts to my flash drive every 9 blog posts. Then, I upload the file onto my Window's Live Skydrive. I back up my template every month (since it really doesn't change that often) onto my flash drive and then onto my Window's Live Skydrive account.

Thus far, this method is working out pretty well. Although, I must admit that I need to give some thought on all of my paper copies.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Searching For Downers (Part 2)

Before I search for specific information, I want to find something to serve as a guide, because I want to narrow down my research on this rather unknown line.

So I began to do a Google Book Search in hopes of finding some published books that would serve as a guide to me. So I searched for Zaccheus Downer 1799 in hopes that this would distinguish him from other Zaccheus Downers.

The first book I found was "The Downers of America: with genealogical record" by David Robinson Downer. The book was published in 1900 by the Baker Print Company. On pages 87-88, my Zaccheus Downer is listed. Here is what the book says on page 88 about Zaccheus Downer:

"Zaccheus, b[orn] at Springfield or New Lisbon, 8 Mar, 1799. Rem.[oved]
(1st) to Perrysburg, N.Y. and in Nov, 1864, to Sullivan, Ind., where he d[ied]
in Sept., 1876."

This book looks pretty favorable to me since a lot of the facts that it stated are things that I have already proven or that fit into my theories. The only thing that doesn't fit, is that Zaccheus was born in Springfield or New Lisbon because New Lisbon was not created until 1808 (from a town named Pittsfield). Springfield makes more sense as a place of birth for Zaccheus, since Springfield was created in 1797.

This book also gives me a look at who Zaccheus' parents and siblings are. However, I have nothing to prove or contradict the book with Zaccheus' parents and siblings - so I'll need to do more searching.

Using this book as a guide, I have decided to make a to-do list of what I want to find for Zaccheus, along with some ideas as to where I can find each item. Below is what I came up with

  • Possible Baptism Record: I searched the Family History Library Catalog and found a church record book for Otsego County, New York - the county in which Springfield and New Lisbon are located. My hope is that a possible baptism will be listed for Zaccheus, which would hopefully support my birth year theory. The title of the film is Record book of Rev. Daniel Nash and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 17137 Item 13"
  • Possible Marriage Record: I searched Family History Library Catalog and found a microfilm reel that includes marriage information that has been extracted from local newspapers. The title of the film is Marriages taken from the Otsego Herald and Western Advertiser and Freeman's Journal, Otsego County, N. Y., newspapers from 1795-1850 and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 924751 Item 2". This could lead me to a marriage record for Zaccheus.
  • Possible Probate Record: I searched Family History Library Catalog and found microfilm that could have Zaccheus' probate records, such as a will. The title of the film is Will records, Circuit Court, Sullivan County, Indiana, v. 2, Dec 31, 1874-Oct 14, 1891 and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 1392994 Item 1"

Final Thoughts

Of course, my final thoughts are that I have a lot of work ahead of me. This line is proving to be a more difficult, frustrating, and yet all the more interesting. I am excited for the things that I will be learning as I research this line and I'm even more excited about the possibilities this line could provide for me.

Since my main frustration with this line is a lack of source citations in the many trees that list Zaccheus, I've decided to make it more of my mission to pay extra close attention to sourcing this line. I also plan on sharing all of my successes with this line in hopes of helping other genealogists with this line and giving them something concrete that they can follow. So expect to see a lot of postings on message boards and to this blog with those successes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Searching For Downers (Part 1)

For the last two weeks or so, I have been actively researching my Downer line. This line has been extra exciting for me, because I've never researched in the New England states before (like New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) and this would be the farthest generation I've ever gotten to.

But with the excitement, I am also trying to learn as much as I can from this area and time period. Up until now, I haven't been interested in New England since I haven't had ancestors from there and I never bothered learning too much about the time period because I didn't need to.

So how does my Downer line fit into my family tree? Well, it starts with my great-great-great grandmother, Julia Ann Downer. Julia was born in February of 1831. She married William Morris (born January 1827 in Virginia) in abt. 1856, probably in Ohio.

But Julia isn't the focus of my research right now. My focus is on Julia's parents, Zaccheus Downer and Harriet (Thatcher?) Downer.

Zaccheus and family are found in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ---- Age: 51 ---- Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ---- Age: 48 ---- Birthplace: Canada
Sanford Downer ---- Age: 22 ---- Birthplace: New York
Julia Downer ---- Age: 19 ---- Birthplace: New York
Augustus Downer ---- Age: 16 ---- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer ---- Age: 8 ---- Birthplace: New York

The 1850 census gives me an approximate year of birth: 1799. But the census also provides other clues. Since each of the children were born in New York, it makes sense to look for Zaccheus in New York for the 1840 census.

Zaccheus is found in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census in Dayton, Cattaraugus, New York. Below is my analysis of the household:
1 male, age 5 - 10: Augustus Downer (Son)
1 male, age 10 - 15: Sanford Downer (Son)
1 male, age 15 - 20: Albert Downer (Son)
1 male, age 40 - 50: Zaccheus Downer (Head)
1 female, age 5 - 10: Julia Downer (Daughter)
1 female, age 30 - 40: Harriet Downer (wife)

The approximate year of birth for Zaccheus is further supported (although rather broadly supported) in this census, with the approximate range of birth years between 1790 - 1800.

My next step was to locate the family in the 1860 census. I found the family living in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ----- Age 61 -----Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 58 -----Birthplace: Lower Canada
Augustus Downer ---- Age 26 ----- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer --------- Age 19 ------ Birthplace: New York

The age given for Zaccheus points to him being born in 1799. The last two sons are living with Zacheus in this census. Albert, Sanford, and Julia have married and moved out.

I then began searching for Zacheus in the 1870 census. I found him in Hamilton Township, Sullivan County, Indiana. Below is a description of the household:

Zachus Downer ----- Age 71 ------ Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 68 ------ Birthplace: Canada
Augustus Downer ----Age 35 ------Birthplace: New York.

Once again, Zaccheus' age points to his birth year being 1799. In this census, Augustus is now the only remaining child living at home.

I haven't be able to find Zaccheus or his son, Augustus in the 1880 census. However, I did find Augustus in the 1900 Census in Belpre Township, Washington, Ohio. Therefore, I believe that either Zaccheus died before 1880, or I just haven't been able to find him in the 1880 census and he really died sometime after the 1880 census.

But these census images don't help me with establishing parents for Zaccheus. I would be content with anything that would lead me closer to his parents or siblings.

So I have a lot of work to do. So stay tuned for part two...

Note: If you would like to see the source citations for the census' that I've listed above, let me know in a comment or through emailing me. I would be happy to privately email you the citations or to post them here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Coolest Statistics Project Ever

This semester I am taking a statistics course that requires that I complete a semester long statistics research study. So as I pondered over possible research questions, I knew it has to relate to genealogy somehow. After discussing some options with my professor, we formulated the following research question:

Are there any differences between beginner, intermediate, and experienced genealogists with regard to the amount of money and types of expenditures they make to research their family tree?

I'm excited because my big semester long project is related to genealogy - and I am actually curious about the results. This project is a fun one to me all because genealogy is included.

So - I am asking all of my genealogy friends to help me out! Please, fill out the two part survey (part 1 and part 2). This survey is entirely anonymous - I never ask for your name. All of your answers are completely confidential, and the only two people who will ever see your individual answers are myself and my professor. However, at the end of my study (at the end of November), I will be posting my conclusions here on my blog. Besides - aren't you a bit curious about the question?

If you know other genealogists - ask them to participate also. The more answers I get, the better the findings.

So thank you to anyone who has already filled the survey out and thank you to everyone who will fill out the survey. Genealogists truly are the nicest people out there!

Update: Thanks to everyone who told me that the survey closed. I long story short, I fixed the problem.

COG 82 - A Youngster's View of Genealogy Societies

Genealogy societies are an important tool for genealogists: It is a way of making this hobby a social one. By talking to other genealogists, you are bound to learn something new or interesting - and you get to make some really great friends too.

While I wish I had unlimited amounts of money to join a TON of societies (oh and I have a loooooooooooong list of societies to join), that is not the case. So I currently only belong to one paid society - which is the Southern California Genealogical Society. The resources this society provides (a gigantic library full of lots and lots of books and materials as seen on this video tour of the society's library). This is also the genealogy society that puts on the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree every year - and that is a FUN conference. I met so many wonderful, nice, helpful people at the conference last year.

However, I am also part of a free genealogy society called the Youth Genealogists Society. This is an online genealogy society specifically for young genealogists. However, young genealogists are not the only members - it is hoped that older genealogists will mentor and guide us youngsters.

Personally, I think more people need to be joining these societies. They are fun, offer a chance to meet new people, and many research opportunities.

Update: I wrote this post when I had a headache. Now that it is gone I just want to clarify a few things.
  1. For anyone that wants to join the Youth Genealogists Association, here is the link that explains how to do that. Remember, this group isn't ONLY for the younger crowd of genealogy, although that is the focus. We could use some mentors and some innovative people to spice up this society and make it better.
  2. For anyone just plain curious about what other genealogy societies I would join if I had a lot of money, here is a quick list: NEHGS, my local genealogical society, East Tennessee Historical Society, and the California Genealogical Society. Mind you, this is a really short, quick list. My actual list is much longer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Review of Family Tree Builder

Family Tree Builder 4.0, the new and free genealogy program from is good choice for genealogists looking for a free program.

Every genealogy program has it's pros and cons - just like every genealogist has their preference on genealogy programs. Personally, I don't believe that there is a "one program fits all". So keep that in mind for this review.

The first thing that stands out in using this program is the easy navigation. On the left side is an individual list of everyone in the tree, making it easy to move from one person to another. That list also includes a tab called "Tree", which shows individuals in relation to their parents, siblings, children, and spouses. This is a convenient way to navigate to other families. These lists are also collapsible, which allows for you to have as much work space as needed.

When viewing the tree, you also have some options, such as number of generations visible. What is unusual (at least to me) is that you don't have different "views" of your tree (such as family, pedigree, etc.), instead you vary the number of generations visible.

What I really like about this, is the chance to link pictures to each person. This is a great way to show the link between your tree and the pictures that you've collected. This is also good because you can attach .jpg files of census and other records. These photos can then be easily organized into photo albums.

However, one of my absolute favorite feature of this program is the automatic face tagging (for all of you Facebook users out there, it is very similar to tagging people on Facebook). This is a great feature for identifying who is who in each picture. This program also has the capabilities to recognize faces (although, I must admit as a disclaimer that I don't have a lot of pictures loaded into the program and it has not recognized any faces for me - yet!).

Another thing I really like about this program, is the mapping capabilities. While this certainly is not a requirement, it can put your ancestors locations into perspectives of one another. It is also nice to have a visual representation of where your ancestors are from.

The program also has the ability to create websites (that can be private) - and it is relatively easy to do. This feature is a very useful feature for some, but not exactly required for myself.

Something that I find super important when using a genealogy program is lots and lots of tutorials - and this program has plenty of easy, step-by-step wizards that walk you through creating your family tree.

The only thing I would say that would improve the program is a cleaner feel - the screen can easily get to filled. For someone like me, I find it distracting from the task at hand.

My one major complaint is that this program does not have a good source wizard. I feel that for so many beginning genealogists (and just genealogists in general) this is not properly explained. We've all heard of citing our sources, but as a beginning genealogist it is so easy to get overwhelmed when there is an absence of a wizard that walks you through it. The reason I am particularly hard on this program for this feature is because generally beginning genealogists turn to free programs to experiment with the hobby (or obsession!). But I must admit, I am a huge believer in sources.

All in all, this is a good program choice for those who have small budgets. While it isn't my preference (I use Roots Magic 4), it is certainly a program that is beginning to rival many of the other free programs out there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SNGF - Memories From 23rd Street

I remember being 4 and 5 years old living with both my parents on the bottom floor of an apartment building on 23rd Street. I spent a lot of time playing outside in the warm California sun.

Adopting the Neighbor's Cat
At my house we had one cat who would put up with me only to a certain degree before hiding from me. Therefore, I was forced to begin looking for other animals for me to play with. So, when I found a very friendly cat with a scratch underneath her eye, I instantly went into a panic. I begged my parents to help me take care of her. My dad cleaned her scratch and gave me some cat treats to feed her. I was thrilled.
For a long time this cat would come back to me each day and I would feed her food. My young mind determined that she was homeless and I needed to adopt her. So I named her "Sweet Cheeks".
Then one day, I saw my Sweet Cheeks entering a neighbor's house across the street. My heart was crushed - she wasn't really my cat. She belonged to the neighbors.

The Neighbor's Number Tattoo
My upstairs neighbor (also our apartment building owner) was an elderly lady by the name of Maria. Maria knew how to sew very well and often made me costumes to play dress up. Every year for Halloween, she would make my costume.
One year in particular when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, I went up to her house for a fitting of my princess dress for Halloween. She had me try it on and she realized that she had made it too long. As she was pinning the bottom of the dress, I noticed that her arm was not wrapped in it's usual bandage. As she continued pinning the bottom of my dress, I noticed a tattoo. The tattoo was nothing but numbers.
I innocently remarked that her arm was "healed". She looked at me puzzled for a moment before I pointed out that she was not wearing a bandage on her arm. She then looked nervous and kept her arm close to her body.
Unknowingly, I asked what her tattoo meant. As I asked the question, she poked me with a pin. Then she told me to go home. I began apologizing, although I didn't exactly understand what I had done wrong. I had seen tattoos before - my dad even has one. I had always been told that tatoos meant something to the person who got it.
That night, my parents explained to me that Maria had a very different case. Her tattoo reminded her of something bad and terrible that had happened to her, which is why she always had it covered up.
It wasn't for many years later until I was told more about Maria's story. Maria was only a young girl when she was taken to a Nazi Concentration camp because she was a gypsy. The numbers on her arm were a form of identification to the Nazi's. It was only her and a sister that survived. At the end of the war, they immigrated to the U.S.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Applying Study Tips to Genealogy

These days, school is always on my mind. I am constantly trying to stay on top of all of my classes and not fall behind - which in turn leaves me with very little time for genealogy.

So when I finally tried to do genealogy this weekend, I couldn't escape my study mindset. So I decided to let myself brainstorm to discover what study techniques I can use towards genealogy. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Look for more resources to expand your understanding. You can't fully understand your ancestors without looking at every single piece of information you can get your hands on. One record isn't enough - you need lots and lots of records. That means you need to look at census records, vital records, church records, diaries, local histories, land records, etc. By having more records, you are potentially gathering more leads.
  2. Review, Review, Review. It is so easy to overlook an important clue to the puzzle of your family tree. The only way to make sure that you don't miss that important clue is to review what you have. If you can get another genealogist with fresh eyes to look at your work, all the better.
  3. Get and Stay Organized. If you aren't organized in college, you are going to fall behind very quickly. Make sure that you have a system to organize all the elements of your genealogical life: your paper files, your computer files, your heirlooms, and everything else you are doing. Mind you, this is a lot easier said than done, but in order to be efficient and avoid mistake in your genealogy, you have to be organized.
  4. Be Prepared. If you are going to take a research trip you need to have all of your supplies ready. You should know why you are at the particular library (or archive or cemetery, etc) and have a goal in mind. You should bring any necessary supplies along for the trip with you like a laptop, paper and pens, charts, etc.
  5. Take Good Notes. As you surf the web, study microfilm, or read books, you are going to be taking notes on what you find. It is important that you write down the details that apply to your family tree and any identifying information about the website, book, or reel of microfilm you are looking at - this makes it possible for you to find this resource again in the future.
  6. Ask for Help. Sometimes, you just need to ask for help - and that isn't something to be ashamed of. In this case you could hire a professional genealogist or ask a trusted friend for advice.

As you can tell, I just can't get school or genealogy off my mind - so I combined the two!

Thank You For The Support

Good news! My mom doesn't have cancer, despite what the doctors originally said. While she still isn't feeling very well, she atleast doesn't have cancer.

I would ust like to send out a huge thank you to everyone. Your thoughts, prayers, encouraging words, and words of advice are what helped get me through this. I have appreciated every comment and every email. Thank you so much for everything! Genealogists never cease to amaze me!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Genealogy Now Has New Importance

In case you haven't heard on Facebook, my mom most likely has colon cancer. She is in the hospital right now and I won't know for sure until they do surgery on Monday or Tuesday. However, the doctor said that with this particular kind of cancer, it is considered cancer until proven not cancer.

So why am I writing on this blog right now? Honestly it is because I can't sleep, I feel nauseous and I don't know what else to do until tomorrow morning. I am new to all of this and never imagined myself in this sort of situation - especially while I am so young.

I have a million thoughts running through my head right now - most of which I am trying to block out. But one of the thoughts that feels "safe" for me to think about is how my genealogy has taken an all new importance.

While before today I was primarily doing genealogy for my own curiosity, everything has changed. I now keep thinking about how I should have asked my mom more questions and listened more carefully to her stories. I know that I am overreacting right now because she isn't dead and I am trying not to think like this - but a part of me just can't help it.

All of a sudden, I feel like my genealogy needs to be shared with as many people as possible. Suddenly, it is all about keeping the happy memories alive and in the front of everyone's minds because I could really use them.

I also wonder if any of my ancestors ever had to go through something similar to my situation. As an only child, I am shouldered with a lot of the responsibility of keeping family members up to date and organizing medical information. Since I've never dealt with anything like this before, I can't help but wonder what my ancestors did to deal with such huge news like this.

I guess I am a little strange to be thinking about genealogy at a time like this, but genealogy has always been a form of therapy for me. I think over the next few days I am going to be needing a lot of this sort of therapy.

P.S: I have never dealt with anything like this before, so if anyone has any advice on this, I would love to hear it. If you are not comfortable with sharing it in the comments section, please email me. I could use all the advice that I can get.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's Your Top 40?

Family Tree Magazine wants you to nominate a genealogy blog for the Family Tree 40 Best Genealogy Blogs. (Read more about the project over at Genealogy Insider).

The good news is, you can nominate for as many blogs as you'd like - including your own! I highly suggest you all go out and start nominating your favorite genealogy blogs.

My goal is to nominate one blog per day (preferably a different blog each day). I have already nomintated Geneabloggers, Genea-Musings, footnoteMaven, DearMyrtle, and my own blog. However, I have a lot of blogs that I plan on nominating.

To nominate a blog, click here

Who will you be nominating?

Things Are Going To Be A Bit Slow...

Since school started last week, I have been constantly running around. My school schedule is a bit chaotic and I am extra tired as I try to adjust to waking up early and going to bed late and dealing with the stress of the financial aid office. Thus, I've had very little time for my own genealogy, let alone blogging.
However, I hope to knock out a post or two every week just to keep me sane. Because honestly, genealogy and blogging are my therapy. But if things get a bit slow over the next couple of months (The semester ends in December), then I apologize. I will do my best to post as often as I can.
I just want to thank all of my regular readers out there for sticking by me. I love you guys!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

George Rogers - My Biggest Brickwall

Note: I have put my sources on the bottom of this post, in the order that I referred to them. Each source is numbered. I have included some links to that links directly to the image, but you must have a subscription to be able to view it. I tried to include as must information and be as specific as possible in this post.

My biggest brick wall in my genealogy has always been my great grandfather, George M. Rogers. My hope is that by writing this out, I will get new ideas as to other places to search. I also hope that anyone else out there looking for George will be able to connect with me and we can share information. I'd also be happy to take any suggestions or comments - I am here to learn!

Back Story

I know very little about George and the few stories I have from family members haven't helped me at all - and truthfully, I am not even sure if they are true. Unfortunately, my dad's side of the family does not talk much about family and no one seems to know much. There aren't many older people alive on my dad's side of the family - only my aunt and my dad.

George's Story

George M. Rogers was born about 1882 in James County, Tennessee (Sources 1-5)

I don't have George in the 1900 Census. My guess is that he might be in Tennessee (he was born there) or Arkansas (he enlisted into the army in Little Rock, Arkansas.

However, I have George enlisting in the Army in Little Rock, Arkansas on the 7 of November 1904 (Source 3). His occupation before signing up is listed as farm hand, which makes me wonder if his family lives on a farm. Here is where it gets interesting though: under the remarks section of his enlistment record, it says "Disclid Nov 6, 07 at Fort Mott, NJ ???????". I can't read most of what it says in this section, so if anyone wants to help me out by telling me what this section says I would greatly appreciate it (click here to see the image on

George reappears in 1908 by enlisting in the army in Missouri. (Source 4)

George then appears in the 1910 U.S. Census at Fort Casey, King County, Washington. He is a soldier. (Source 2)

George reenlists into the army in 1911 in Missouri. According to this source, he is honorably discharged on Sept 26, 1914. (Source 5)

I believe George served in WWI (that is what I've been told by family members and I have some old notes my grandma wrote that correspond to this). But I have yet to find a service record for this. However, I think it will just take me longer to find his service record since his name is so common.

I have not been able to find George in the 1920 census. To be honest, I have no idea where he would be.

I believe George married my great grandmother, Julia Margaret Morris around 1923 (Source 1).

George and Julia's daughter, Nancy Jean Rogers (my grandmother) is born on 13 Dec 1924.

George, Julia, and Nancy appear on the 1930 U.S. Census in Seattle, King, Washington (Source 1).

My Goals andQuestions to be Answered
  • When was George born exactly?

  • Did George have any siblings?

  • Find George in the 1900 U.S. Census.

  • What was the names of George's parents?

  • Find a marriage record for Julia and George.

  • Where is George buried?

  • When exactly did George die?

  • Why was he in Arkansas when he first enlisted with the military?

  • He was a postal worker in 1930 - are there any records that come from this?

  • Did he serve in WWI?

  • Did he recieve a pension for his service in WWI (assuming he served)?

Closing Notes

As you can tell, I do not have much on him. I know I have not exhausted all avenues of possible records - which is half of the reason I wrote this post. I wanted to lay everything out - be able to see what I have and what I don't in an attempt to lead me to other possible sources. Still, if anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or comments I would love to hear them. I am open to everything.

To be honest, I think George intimidates me because he has such a common name and so little is known about him. I need to break this cycle of fear and learn to face these brick walls head on.

Sources (source notes in italic):

Source 1: 1930 U.S. Federal Census

1930 U.S. Federal Census, King County, Washington, population schedule, Seattle, Block Number 5439, enumeration district (ED) 189, Sheet 1B, Line 76, dwelling 25, family 25, George M. Rogers; digital images, ( : accessed 23 August 2009); National Archives and Records Administration, T626.

Note: George is married to a Julia. George and Julia have a daughter named Nancy J. - Nancy is my grandmother.

Source 2: 1910 U.S. Federal Census

1910 U.S. Federal Census, King County, Washington, population schedule, Fort Casey, Coupeville Precinct, enumeration district (ED) 3, Sheet Number 9B, Line 69, dwelling 253, family 256, George M. Rogers; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 23 August 2009); National Archives and Records Administration, T624.

Note: Lists all soldiers as being part of "85 d Company" on the left side of the columns.

Source 3: Army Enlistment - 7 Nov 1904

Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, "U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914," digital image, Ancestry, ( : accessed 23 August 2009), George M. Rogers, enlistment date: 7 Nov 1904, number 1454; citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls.

Note: enlisted in Little Rock, Arkansas by Capt Wallace for a period of 3 years. He was born in James County, Tennessee. He is 22 years and 2 months old. His occupation is farmhand. He has blue eyes, dark brown hair, and tan skin. He is 5ft, 7 1/2 inches. He is in regiment G.J. E. Artry

Source 4: Army Enlistment - 7 Aug 1908

Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, "U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914," digital image, Ancestry, ( : accessed 23 August 2009), George M. Rogers, Enlistment Number: 1568, Enlistment Date: Aug 7 1908; citing Original data: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls.

Note: enlisted at Jefferson Bks, Missouri by Capt Gregory for a period of 3 years. Born in James County, Tennessee. Age: 25 years, 11 months. Occupation: Clerk. Blue eyes, dark brown hair, fair skin. Height: 5ft 6 1/2 inches. Regiment: C.A Remarks: "Dis Aug 6, '11 at Fort Casey, Washington

Source 5: Army Enlistment - 27 Sept 1911

Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94, "U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914," digital image, Ancestry, ( : accessed 23 August 2009), George M. Rogers, Enlistment number: 1905; citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls.

Note: Enlisted Sept 27, 1911 in Jefferson Bks, MO by Capt Bryan for a period of 3 years. Born in James County, Tennessee. He is 29 years and 1 month old. His occupation is a soldier. He has blue eyes, dark brown hair, and medium fair skin. He is 5 ft ?in tall. Regiment 8 Inf Q.M.C. Company H. Hon Dis Sept 26 1914

Monday, August 17, 2009

Madness Monday - James L. Clawson Jr.

My latest madness caused by an ancestor is my great-great grandfather named James L. Clawson Jr.

My madness comes from the mass amounts of unsourced and misinformation that is on the web for this line. My main frustration is that I have contributed to this misinformation before and despite my best effots to try and fix my newbie mistakes, I know that I will never be able to fully correct everything.

When I first began my research, this was a line that I commonly researched. I loved how easy it was to copy and paste information from other trees in and FamilySearch. I was copying and pasting faster than I could keep up with and I never checked for sources. I rarely gave credit to the tree that I gained the information from. I didn't look at the information to see if it even made sense (a lot of did not). To rub salt into the wound, I began spreading this incorrect information all over the web - in fact, I was posting my family tree anywhere I could put it.

So last year, when I started my family tree from scratch (in order to make sure my research would be fully sourced and as complete as possible), I was forced to become face to face with a lot of my misinformation. While I've been posting the correct information that I've found thus far (and always including my sources), I still have a long way to go.

Just yesterday, I messaged 7 people through about James L. Clawson Jr. I asked questions about the sources that people had to support a specific fact or event. I got my first response late last night. That response outlined an old tree that I had submitted to FamilySearch - and oh was it was full of incorrect information.

To be honest (and this is a bit embarrassing to admit), I almost cried in frustration. I know that I spent the first 5 years of my genealogy experience copying and spreading wrong information that was nearly completely unsourced. Yet, despite my best efforts over the last year to correct my wrongs, I haven't even made a dent.

So I replied to the first response and included the correct information, along with source citations for what I have. I also apologized for the wrong information that I had previously posted. I then offered to send him a .pdf file that includes what I have on the line if he wanted to provide his email.

So in my quest to find more information (that is correct and sourced) about my great-great grandfather, I am also on a quest to correct the misinformation out there. Oh it is going to be a looooooooong quest.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Ultimate Genealogy Goal - SNGF!

It's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun again! Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog has come up with a very thought provoking challenge for this week. (Read the instructions here)

Here are my answers:

My ultimate genealogy goal is to research my family tree with as many stories, details, pictures, and records that I can find. With my research, I want my descendants and relatives to understand where they come from.

As I age, I watch my family, especially my extended family, grow farther and farther apart. Our family get-togethers are less frequent and the family traditions are beginning to disappear. Ever since the "rock" of the family died in 2007, things have been different. Despite the efforts of some, things are just not the same. As our family traditions begin to disappear, I am desperately trying to record them.

But I need to organize all of the information that I collect into some form so that it will be meaningful to someone. I would like to create a general book on my genealogy. Then, I would like to create a book on my Dugger line (and indirect lines) from Tennesee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Finally, I would love to write another book on my German lines; Doerflinger, Keppler, and Harney.

I am still young, so I hope that I have at least 5 decades left to do this research (I'll be 70).

While I feel that I am definitely actively researching, there is a lot of priorities that I could change to make my goal a reality. If I quit blogging, facebook, reading blogs, and all of the other forms of social networking, then I would probably complete my goal a lot sooner. However, I am not willing to give up the social aspect of genealogy because it is just too much fun!

But honestly...I need to start focusing my research in order to accomplish more with my research. I really want to complete this goal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How I Use Zoho To Stay Organized

Disclaimer: This article contains information about a website called Zoho. While I very much like the website, my opinion was not swayed by the company in any way. I was not contacted by the comapny to write about them or was I paid in any way for writing this article. Honestly - I just love this website and find it extremely useful.

One of my biggest problems when doing research is that I am doing research all over the place. I never know when I'll have free time at my boyfriend's house to do a search or when I'll have free time after studying to do a search or two. When I am researching, I used to write everything down on regular lined paper but I didn't always want to lug around all of my paper to all of these different places. I knew I had to come up with another way of doing things.

As I was brainstorming ideas, I remembered a website that my boyfriend's dad told me about: Zoho is a website that provides a huge variety of "collaboration and productivity apps" for free! These apps include a word processor, a spreadsheet creator, a presentation creator, an email service, a notebook (similar to the old Google Notebook), a wiki, a planner, and more! Each of these apps are free of charge and everything you save on there can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection. This was exactly what I needed.

So I took my the ancestor that I was working on at the time, Friedrich Harney, and began to create my notes in Zoho Writer (the word processor). The sheet I create is unique and fits my needs perfectly because it is 100% adaptable. I included a breakdown of the major events in Friedrich Harney's lifetime, along with a breakdown of the sources for each event. This is extremely helpful since I hadn't picked up my Harney line in a long while and I couldn't exactly remember why I thought certain things about him. On this sheet, I also write about what I need to discover about him and any theories I have about him. This sheet provides me with an "at-a-glance" look at Friedrich Harney as a whole - including what I have on him, what I am missing, and any theories I may have. Another benefit? I can easily print this page out and place it in my notebook.

I also created a research calendar for Friedrich Harney in Zoho Sheet (spreadsheet program). If I wanted to I could create a Zoho Notebook for him that includes "clippings" from different websites. I could use Zoho Chat to collaborate with another researcher without having to download an instant messaging program like AIM or Windows Messenger. The possibilities are huge and adaptable to your needs.

In an age where everyone is beginning to move things online, I highly suggest that you check this website out. You can login with either a Google or Yahoo account, or you can create a Zoho account (I recommend doing this since it is required to have a Zoho account when using their apps in Facebook, etc.).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SNGF on Sunday Morning

Since I was not feeling well last night, I have postponed my SNGF until this morning.  Oh well - better late than never!

Here are the directions for this week's SNGF (originally posted on Genea-Musings):
1) List your 16 great-great-grandparents in pedigree chart order. List their birth and death years and places.

2) Figure out the dominant ethnicity or nationality of each of them.

3) Calculate your ancestral ethnicity or nationality by adding them up for the 16 - 6.25% for each (obviously, this is approximate).

4) If you don't know all 16 of your great-great-grandparents, then do it for the last full generation you have.
5) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on Facebook or in this post.
My only problem is that I don't know all of my great-great grandparents.  My biggest brick wall of all is of my great grandfather, George Rogers.  I know very little about him and nothing about his parents.  I also recently broke another brick wall on my great-great grandparent generation through another researcher, who is sharing information with me faster than I can verify it all and type it in!  Therefore, with these gaps in my family tree, I have decided to post the generation of my great grandparents (I know all of them!).

Here are my 8 great grandparents and all of their information.  In parentheses, I've included the ancestry for that person.  If the ancestry is in italics, then the ancestry is an educated guess since I don't have proof.

Monroe "Bum" Dugger: born on 20 Jan 1885 in Tennessee; married abt. 1908; died 21 May 1951 in Tennessee.  (English)

Matilda E. Clawson: born on 21 Mar 1886 in Tennessee; died 8 Aug 1936 in Carter County, Tennessee.  (English)

George M. Rogers: born abt. 1883 in James County, Tennessee; married abt. 1923; died in 1950s in Washington (English)

Julia Margaret Morris: born 28 Nov 1893 in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri  (English, French)

Maxamillian Adolf Doerflinger, Sr: born on 7 Jan 1873 in Missouri; married 17 Sept 1902 in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana; died 16 Oct 1960 in Sacramento.  (German)

Marie Keppler: born Apr 1876 in Germany; died 16 Oct 1958 in Seattle, King County, Washington.  (German)

William Fredrick Harney: born abt. 1880 in Indiana; died 29 Oct 1956 in Seattle, King County, Washington (German)

Ethel Janice Weston: born Mar 1894 in Washington.  (Welsh, English)

Since I only did my great grandparents, I have to calculate my ancestry by using 12.5% per person (6.25% when two origins are listed).

Here is my ancestry: 37.5% German, 50% English, 6.25% Welsh, and 6.25% French.

This weeks SNGF is very eye opening.  I've realized just how many holes are in my genealogy and how I need to refocus my energy to fill in those gaps.  I think there are parts of my family tree that are too intimidating to tackle because of some sort of research challenge.  Therefore, to force me to face my fears, I am going to be writing about each of these ancestors, just to show to the world (and myself) where the holes are.  With each writing, a plan will also be included of places that I can look to find the answers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dynastree Now Offering Free 14-day Trial

This is a press release from, which I felt was appropriate to share since I just did a review of the website. Please forward any questions about the website to Nils Schnelle,'s press contact (her contact info is included in the press release).

Free 14-day trial subscription to dynastree’s premium

Hamburg, July 29, 2009 – The family network
just deployed a new version which comes with several new features and

Dynastree would like to offer all users the possibility to test
the premium subscription with its many additional features, free of charge and
with no obligations. Therefore, it is now possible to get a 14-day trial period
of the premium services, which can be canceled at any time during the trial

This gives users the opportunity to test the many additional premium
features dynastree offers before actually subscribing. The premium features
include full usage of the recently introduced extended search, a premium family
page, automatic profile match, and more. The free PDF-files of one’s family tree
included in the regular premium subscription are not included in the free trial
subscription, but it can be converted to a regular subscription at any time.

It is now possible to create different kinds of lists from the family
trees, including a list of ancestors, a list of descendants, a birthday list,
and a family list. The lists adhere to official genealogical standards and are
numbered following the Kekulé-system, an internationally accepted system that
numbers male descendants with even numbers and female descendants with odd
numbers, starting at 1 for the original person. Premium users can create as many
lists as they like, at no additional charge.

The new features also include the possibility to upload documents of
all kinds, such as genealogical records, letters, certificates, etc. These can
be shared with family members also active on dynastree, allowing the users to
access such documents remotely.

Furthermore, the hinting on dynastree has been improved. The number of
matches for each profile is now displayed for each user, premium users can
access the actual matches to find possible relatives and collaborate with

Profile of
According to experts, and its international language versions have been among the fastest growing social networks worldwide in the last two years. By now, more than nine million families have created their tree at, and more than 15.000 new family trees are added each day. The venture capital
corporations Neuhaus Partners and Hasso Plattner (co-founder of SAP) Ventures
recognized the young start-up’s potential early and support as
investors. was founded by the experienced internet entrepreneurs
Daniel Grözinger and Sven Schmidt. They have already founded and maintained
several internet projects since studying together, such as (an online
ticketing service), and the FIFA Soccer World Cup Ticketing Center (responsible
for managing the ticketing for the FIFA Soccer World Cup in Germany in 2006).

Press Contact
Nils Schnelle
OSN Online Social Networking
GmbH Heimhuder Straße 72
20148 Hamburg

UK +44 20 7193 2208
US +1 201 399 2207

OSN Online Social Networking GmbH
Managing Directors: Dipl.-Kfm. Daniel Grözinger, Dipl.-Kfm. Sven
Heimhuder Straße 72, 20148 Hamburg
Tel.: +49 40 793 064 76 Fax: +49 40 415 457 14
District Court of Hamburg, HRB 101865, VAT ID: DE814883851

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Review of

Disclaimer: I was asked by to do a review of their website. However, they are not paying me to do this review. The only "perk" that I have received is a premium subscription to their site for one month, therefore enabling me to do a more in-depth review of the website. All of my opinions about this website have not been swayed by or any other website. I have tried to write an honest review, and hopefully, it will give you some insights into

First of all, what is From my experiences, I would say that this is a website for a group of genealogists researching the same family, ancestor, or line to post their findings in a collaborative form. This website also helps family members keep in touch through things like messages, calendars, and photos. Here is how defines their website.

My first impression from looking at this website was how cartoon-y it is. Personally, it is nice to see a website that has a fun and upbeat feeling to it. While your family tree is loading, a cute little cartoon guy pops up with the words "loading data" above him. The entire website has this colorful feel to it which is really nice.

As I started exploring the features of the website, what instantly caught my eye was the many different views I could use to see my family tree. These views included a descendant view, ancestor view (which is default), ancestor circle, hourglass, and a family tree view. The family tree view is the view to use to edit a person. You can also zoom in or out, and choose how many generations to show (0-10 generations for ancestors and descendants). I am a huge fan of how customizable the website is when viewing your family tree.

I was intrigued by what is called "Family Page" (This is a feature of the premium membership). The Family Pages are like a personal web page to display your family tree. I love it! You have the ability to share your family tree, write a family blog, and choose your web address (the web address is in the form of You can write a welcome greeting and a description of your family tree, with nearly the same capability as a word processor.

With a basic membership you get a few basic statistics such as the number of people in your tree and the number of those people that are direct ancestors. Premium members get extra statistics such as the gender distribution, average lifespan, and frequent places of birth. While these statistics are very interesting, it isn't something that would probably help you with your research.

I love the photo section because of the many features that come with it. For example, you have the tagging feature (similar to what Facebook has - it is very useful!), cropping and rotating abilities, and you can even add a note to the picture. These features are so useful to have! And it is even better that everyone in your family can upload pictures and identify the people in them!

There are other smaller features that I feel need to be mentioned (but don't necessarily deserve another paragraph). The website also has a messaging feature that allows you to send a message to anyone on the site. The family maps features is pretty cool and useful in giving you the relative proximity of the locations that different events took place at.

While I love this site, I can't deny the bottom line. The bottom line is that unless you have family members that are tech savvy enough to get online and are willing to participate, this website will not be a great resource. Personally, this would not be a resource that my family would use only because they are not comfortable using computers.

But for the genealogist with an active family (lucky you!) this is definitely a resource to look into.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How To Get Kids Interested In Genealogy

Perhaps it is because of my age, but people always assume that I am an expert in the feild of getting kids interested in genealogy. But truthfully, I am just as clueless as everyone else.

Since my 7 year old little cousin moved in to my apartment building, I've been trying to get her interested in genealogy. I want her to someday have the same passion for genealogy as I do. Many of the things that I originally tried only confused her or made her incredibly bored.

I started brainstorming strategies on getting her interested in genealogy and here is what I came up with:

  • Tell interesting stories: Dates and places are not interesting, but stories are. Filter the story to the age/interests of the listener. For example, if you've got a little girl who loves to hear romantic stories, then talking about how Grandma and Grandpa met will get her interested. However, if you've got a little boy who loves to play with army men, then telling the story about how Great-Grandpa Joe saved the life of another soldier during the war. When I volunteered at Kids Camp at the Jamboree, we asked the kids to tell their family stories - and they LOVED it. The kids were so excited to share their stories, and it even got some of the parents joining in to tell stories.
  • Take them places: There is nothing like going to the actual house that Grandpa grew up in or to the bakery that Grandma used to walk to buy dinner rolls. You could go to the church that Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa got married in. You could go to a military museum to show the kids the weapons that Grandpa carried while in the military. Going to these places is fun because the kids can run around, touch things, and explore.
  • Show them pictures: (Obviously, only show COPIES and not the originals). Pictures bring the names to life. It is a lot of fun to connect the stories to a face. Show them pictures from when you were a kid or compare their features to the features of Grandma ("You have the same eyes as Grandma!").
If you think about it, one of these things is probably how all of us got interested in genealogy. None of us got interested in genealogy because we loved dates. We all have to show the kids in our family why we are so passionate about our family trees.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Blogiversary to ME!

Today - my blog is 1 year old! I can't believe that a year ago today, I started this blog. Wow - so much has happened in a year.

I have grown not only as a researcher, but as a person. I cannot believe how much more confident I am and how many friends I have made.

The geneablogging community is truly a great one to be a part of. Everyone is so supportive, so kind, so helpful, so giving, and they are all so much fun to be around!

So I just wanted to say - THANK YOU! You have made my blogging experience wonderful!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Genealogy Societies Need To Look Toward The Future (Follow-up Post)

When I wrote my last post, I was not expecting the outpouring of comments that I received. I never thought it possible that so many people would not only read my blog, but comment. Oh - and these were not the typical "great post" comments that I generally get - these were honest outpourings of people who have shared my experience. At most, I get about 5 comments on a post. As I am writing this, the post has gotten 23 comments. W-O-W!!! I was never expecting anything like this and all of your comments have really warmed my heart.

So what I wanted to do was write a follow-up post and expand on the possibilities that using technology offers. I also want to address many of the people who left me comments to answer their more specific questions and/or suggestions.

Getting A Blog
This is a great way to keep members informed with just about anything - from news that occurs in between meetings, members' accomplishments, general genealogical news, marketing upcoming events, for discussing new websites, or keeping members that don't live in the area current with the happens of the society. Want to know the best part? Blogs are free and super easy to set up. Geneabloggers has a great set of articles that perfect for a newbie getting ready to start a blog.
Blogs are easier to create and update than a website - but you can still put news, photos, videos, calendars and a lot more! The possibilities on this one are too great to pass up.

Creating An Email Newsletter
This is not only a great idea to help save trees, but it also saves on printing and postage costs. Savings in printing and postage costs (hopefully) means a drop in the needed money for membership fees or an opportunity to use that money elsewhere. These days, it is not that difficult to create a newsletter. All you need is a word processor (I use because it is free and it can export to .pdf format), some volunteer writers, and an email address. You can create free email addresses at a ton of places, but I highly recommend using Gmail because it is easy to use but also stock full of great features.

Creating A Student Membership Fee
Ok...this one really isn't technology related, but it is still hugely important. Many young genealogists are either in school or moving out for the first time. When it comes to money, things are very tight (the stereotype of students eating rice-a-roni and mac n cheese all the time is there for a reason!). If it comes down to joining a genealogical society or buying a membership to - what do you think they are going to choose? So, appeal to the younger generation and give them yet another incentive for joining.

This is not only a great idea for young genealogists, but for everyone on a tight income. Have the society raise money to offer one potential member with financial difficulties the opportunity to join through a scholarship program. Consider having potential recipients write an essay or commit to a certain number of volunteer hours in exchange for a free membership.

Twitter and/or Facebook
Twitter is a social networking site that allows a person to write in 140 characters or less what they want. While some people think it is pointless, it can be very useful. For example, someone from the meeting could use Twitter to tweet live updates of a lecture or meeting (especially useful for those societies that are regional or serve a vast majority of people). Just ask Randy Seaver about when he tweeted live from the Bloggers Summit at the Jamboree. He got such positive feedback and it made many of the people who were not able to attend feel right at home.

Facebook is a HUGE genealogical resource these days. I am friends with mostly genealogists, and there isn't a single day that I don't learn something from a friend of mine on that site. People use Facebook to connect via Fan pages or Groups. People promote their blogs and genealogy societies through Networked Blogs and their status. Everyone is so friendly and so willing to help in anyway that they can! I've gotten help on brick walls and given research suggestions. Not only has my electronic social life improved, but so has my research! Through Facebook, I have gotten to feel like I really know all of these genealogists that I talk to online or read their blogs. By the time I finally meet these people face-to-face, I feel as if I've known them forever!

Facebook is what gave me the courage to go to the Jamboree this year. Since I had been interacting with many of these people on facebook or other websites, I felt totally at ease when I finally met them in person. There was no awkward getting to know each other phase and the only natural thing to do when seeing this people for the first time was to give them a huge hug! Honestly, using Facebook (or similar tools) will help ease any nervousness or uneasiness that could prevent a potential new member from joining. Many of the people who left comments on my last post only echoed what I had been feeling.

Here is a comment that Jessica made:
Your post couldn't echo my thoughts more. I've been thinking about joining a local genealogy society for awhile now, but I'm 25, and I look younger, and I know I'd look like somebody's granddaughter who just tagged along for the ride.I'm a pretty new genealogist too, and I don't like the idea that I'd stick out and have little to contribute. If the local society had some sort of blog or Facebook group where I could test the waters, I might have jumped in awhile ago.

Here is a comment that Tina made:
I totally agree with you about looking out of place at genealogy society meetings and events. I am 27 and started my family history last year. Whenever I attend an event, I feel so out of place until I get to know everyone there.

Here is a comment that Jennifer made that I think needs to be read by everyone who is on a board (or has any high position) in a genealogical society:
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has been "afraid" to go to a traditional genealogical society meeting for fear of being mistaken for someone's grandchild. I am 28, and the only time I've ever met others my age, or younger, interested in genealogy is in the geneablogging community. I also think the geneablogging community has given me more confidence in my research skills, so I now feel like I might actually be able to attend a meeting without feeling as inadequate as before. It's just a matter of finding the time. One of the societies I tried to join did not even have a website, nor any info online about how to join. Just a quick blurb on the local library site about when the meetings were, which was not helpful since I live 1300 miles away.

See - young genealogists really do exist!! I think so many of us are terrified about getting out there. I for one have always felt a lack of confidence in my research skills and have always been terrified that others would look down on me for it. But it isn't just the genealogical societies that need to get out there: the younger generation also needs to make an effort. all you young genealogists:

  • Take a deep breath and just take the plunge!
  • Remember: You have a lot to offer even if you aren't a professional genealogist. Whether it be a specialty in a certain aspect of research, knowledge of the Internet, or even just a great cookie recipe - everyone has something to bring to the table.
  • For the most part, genealogists are some of nicest people you'll ever meet.
  • Even if many members confuse you as a grandchild of another member, you still have something in common with all of these genealogists: A passion for climbing your family tree.

So is time to get together and start implementing these suggestions! It is going to take the work of all genealogists, young and old alike, to make our genealogical societies better. Genealogical societies need to be cherished as a valued resource and the classic way to connect with other researchers. The Internet is a great resource, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Genealogy Societies Need To Look Toward The Future

Disclaimer: This post is full of my very own opinions. These opinions are not meant to offend anyone. You may agree or disagree with my opinions - and you are free to share your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with me. However, please do not leave me hate mail full of insults. Now then, onto my post:

There is a lot of talk in the geneablogger community (the genealogy world in general) about the slowing down of memberships in traditional genealogy societies. While many of the bigger societies will survive, many of the smaller local societies will probably not.

Think about what your average genealogist looks like: retired. People do not live forever (or stay in good health forever) and therefore, if societies truly want to survive, they must find ways to reach the next generation. Without reaching for the next generation, then all of their research, all of their hard work, and many of these societies are going to disappear.

However, many of these societies do not embrace the future. By the "future", I mean technology and forward thinking. Many of these societies do not have websites (or at least ones that are updates often). Many of these societies are not on Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, or any of the other various social networking websites. These societies are not embracing the resources that are at their fingertips - many of these resources are free!

I guess this all easy for me to say: I'm 19. I'm unique in the genealogy world. And I'm not part of a traditional genealogy society.

I am a part of the Youth Genealogists Association. It is an entirely online association for genealogists age 5-21. Having everything online for this age group is perfect because afterall, it is the computer generation.

The main reason I have never joined a traditional genealogy society is because I was terrified I wouldn't fit in. I am a shy person when it comes to meeting new people. I am so much younger than everyone else and I figured that I was too inexperienced of a researcher to have anything in common with anyone.

But in the last year, my confidence has changed so much. I've joined Facebook, began talking to other genealogists, started this blog, and even went to my first genealogy conference. I finally feel like I know other genealogists and I've realized how muvh in common I have with other researchers. I love sharing research techniques and stories of success. In the last year I realized that I am ready to face my fear and join a regular genealogy society (now, if I could only get some spare money to pay for the membership fees).

The bottom line is that it is time for genealogists to accept that technology is here. Instead of fighting it, we should embrace it. While it will not provide you with every record, it is a valuable tool that cannot be ignored. It is time for genealogy societies to get on the bandwagon:
  • Create a website that is updates OFTEN. Include useful information such as articles, member bios, etc.
  • Get the word out about your meetings and announcements using Twitter and Facebook.
  • Create a blog!
The above are merely suggestions and starting points. The possibilities are unlimited!

Edit (July 8, 2009): I currently want to join several genealogy societies, including the Southern California Genealogy Society and a couple of others. It took me a while to learn to deal with my own insecurity issues. However, now that those issues are gone, I am trying to save money to be able to join these societies. My family is just really struggling with money right now, so it could be a while. Good news though: My birthday is next month and I have a long genealogy wish list of gifts.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pardon The Chaos...

Lately, I've been bored with the look of my blog. After my recent inspiration from the Jamboree, I've been wanting to rejuvenate my research as well as my blog. So I set out on the internet in hopes of finding a new layout.

I've been experimenting with different layouts, so this blog might be in a bit of chaos over the next week or so. The content will always remain here but the layout might change and might look weird as I try to change the look.

There are a TON of free blogger layouts out there. Some of them are nice, some are just plain ugly, and some are just plain strange. I've been going through site after site in an attempt to find a layout that was just right.

Then I realized I didn't know what kind of layout I even wanted. So I stopped searching and starting listing the qualities that I wanted in my new layout:
  • 2 column
  • colorful - preferably green
  • scrapbook-like
  • historic-looking
Besides those four ideas, I really have nothing. Let me tell you - there aren't genealogy related blogger templates out there (at least ones that are free and easy to find!).

I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any....

Thank you for dealing with the chaos over the next couple of days.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

SCGS Jamboree 2009 - A Weekend of Fun! (Part 3 and Thank You)

Oh for Sunday....

I arrived to the conference at 9 A.M (I slept in a bit so I could get some much needed rest). I spent the morning hanging out with some great geneabloggers, checking email, wandering the exhibit hall, and exploring RootsMagic 4.

Kathryn Doyle was sweet enough to introduce me to so many wonderful people on the exhibit hall floor. One of whom (and I am so happy to say this) was Dick Eastman. Yes....I met yet ANOTHER one of my blogging idols.

Kathryn Doyle and I - without her, I never would have been able to meet Dick Eastman!

Dick Eastman and I - it is such an honor to take a picture with him! I was so honored when he said that he read my blog! Words can't even describe how happy I was!

At 11 A.M. I decided to head on over to Lisa Louise Cooke's class "Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems (Part 1)". It was a great class! Not only is Lisa fun to watch because of her bubbly personality, but she offers some great tips! While I knew many of the tips from her Genealogy Gems Podcast, it was still inspirational to hear her speak live. She gave a few great tips that are not on the podcast and some great suggestions.

After the lunch break, I returned to Lisa's class, except this time it was part 2. Once again, I was feverishly taking down notes. While I knew a lot of the basics that Lisa covered, she offered more great tips that gave me even more inspiration!

I spent my last couple of hours sitting in the geneabloggers lounge, saying goodbyes to all of the wonderful people I've met. It was definitely difficult to watch all of my friends leave.

At around 4:30, my sweet boyfriend, Billy, and his dad drove me home. And I knew my weekend of fun was over.

I have to tell everyone a huge Thank You!

Thomas: You started geneabloggers and you are what keeps it going! The mardi gras beads were so creative and so much fun! Your hardwork made the geneabloggers dinner run so smoothly. It was such a pleasure to meet you and I had such a blast talking with you.

Paula Hinkel: You co-organized this huge event and you thought of everything. You are so sweet, so kind, and so on top of everything! While I didn't get to sit down and really talk with you, I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work. I know I am so lucky that this was my very first genealogy conference because it is so forward thinking, so progressive, and so much fun! Thank you so much for all of the hard work that you put in.

footnoteMaven: I know I went a little crazy when I met you, but I meant it when I said that it was such an honor to meet you. You are one of my blogging idols and you work so hard on your blogs and the GYR. Thank you so much for just sitting and talking to me - it was such a pleasure to meet you.

DearMyrtle: You are even more sweet, kind, and knowledgeable than I could've imagined. You are so down-to-earth and your passion for genealogy really shines through. It was such an honor to meet you. Your blogs continue to be an inspiration for me.

Lisa Louise Cooke: You are so much fun! You are so full of energy and excitement. Talking to you feels like I'm talking to my best friend! I learned so much from your classes and just from talking to you. Thank you for talking to me at dinner - I had so much fun!

Dick Eastman: I was so honored to meet you and to hear you say that you read my blog was like a dream! Thank you so much for making my day.

Gini: You and your husband are such sweet, wonderful people. I can't thank you enough for driving me back and forth and for the great company. Your husband is a saint and it was so much fun to just sit and talk with you. I had a blast!

Amy: You truly are a rockstar! You are so much fun to be around and talk with. Thank you for everything!

Illya: You went above and beyond to help me out. Thank you so much!

All of the Geneabloggers: Thank you for being exactly who you are! You guys are so full of energy, fun, and you always know how to make me smile. Every single one of you is talented, kind, and I had a smile plastered on my face all weekend. You all made me feel so at home, so at ease, and it was such an honor to meet all of you and be able to pick your brains. It was hard to leave because I had the time of my life at this conference. Thank you for making this conference so much fun.