Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thank Heavens for Genealogy Software

I can't imagine how people did genealogy before there was software to help. In this last extraction session, my daughter was really getting the form of it. She knew which part of the document went in which part of the software. And it helps that the places were repeating in the documents. With all the struggling she is doing with the typing, it is so good that when she starts to type, St. Martins, Birmingham, England, after the "St" it all pops up and she can just click on it. It really sped up the tedious process and made her feel more accomplished. God bless Autofill.

It is also so nice that the sources repeat and it is so quick and easy to go in and put in a source you've already used. By the end, she was feeling really confident and wanted to do the last page on her own. You go girl. You go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Extraction Attempt 5--our teenager experiment

So we set up the laptops again tonight. I took 11 year old girl, and Kim took 13 year old boy, and the 15 year old was on his own again.

Again it was an all out typing lesson with my daughter. This time we worked on holding the shift key down with her pinky instead of hitting the Caps Lock key and then going back to hit it again. It makes things take longer than I had anticipated, but I'm ok with the typing lessons. I think learning to type better might be a side benefit of this for her. And without this project I might not have noticed how much she needs to work on her typing.

Typing skills is the last thing I would have guessed would come out of this project. Geography sure, but typing? Family history really holds such a wealth of learning for young people. I once knew someone who was thinking about putting together a year-long homeschooling curriculum based on their family history. I've always thought that was the coolest idea. Just think what that would envelop--history, geography, language, culture, art, music, research skills, communication skills, computers, who knows all of the things you could tie in. If we had had the constitutions to be a homeschooling family, that would have been the greatest fun. I guess that's what I'm working on now--in a supplementary way.

I think they are enjoying it because they are getting alot of praise. I so want them to pick this up. It is easy for me to get excited about what they are doing and heap praise on them because I'm so excited that they are spending some time on this. I just know it could be a really important grounding aspect to their teenage years. We'll see if it works. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Extraction attempt 4--our teenager experiment

So this time I took girl 11 year old girl and Kim took 13-year-old boy and we got out all the laptops. 15 year old boy and I had worked together one on one before so we had him print out the pages he was going to work on and proceed on his own. Kim and I pulled the appropriate pages up on our laptops, and then our 11 year old, and 13 year old pulled the softwares up on the laptops they were using and entered in what Kim and I showed them. It worked well to have the page being entered on our computers and then work with them to enter it on theirs. Amazing/sad/lucky that we have so many computers to work on this with. Thus the problem that started the whole situation in the first place. But it is proving useful now.

My daughter isn't quite as much of a computer person as the rest of the family is. She is much more into her friends and being outside. Thus she hasn't developed the typing skills that the rest of us have. It was really slow going, often going back to correct capitalization and spelling. I taught her to use control c and control v to cut and paste things when she needed to enter them in. I think she must have known that before, but just hasn't used it all that often. It was slow but she definitely was proud of her accomplishments. We entered four pages of family group sheets with all of the source notations. I think she would have kept going had we not been interrupted by something else we needed to do.

Moving along. They aren't fighting me or saying they don't want to do it. I'm kind of surprised. I expected more of a fight. Especially with extraction--not the most exciting part of family history. And I especially expected more complaining about doing correct source citations. Perhaps I've explained to them well enough that these are the bread crumbs that we are going to follow later to be able to build on Great Grandpa's work? I don't know if any of that really sunk in. Being the children of a librarian, probably some of it did sink in. But whatever it is, I'm just glad they aren't complaining about it. They really aren't as adverse to this as I would have thought.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It echos.

Dave Davenport, one of our favorite people who constantly sends us his friends for beautiful custom picture charts, wrote me this yesterday:
"Many of your charts end up at Michael's, Aaron Brothers or Joann's for custom framing. I hear comments all the time from the families, that these charts touch the hearts of those doing the framing. I think someday we will find out just how many lives these charts touch. You have to feel good about what you are doing. I appreciate your hard work. "

I had a funny experience last week with this too. My regular hairstylist is in the middle of changing salons, and she is cutting hair out of one of her neighbor's private homes for the time being. When I went to get my hair cut last week, low and behold, this person had one of our charts hanging on the wall, right in a prominent place as you walk in the door. The chart had been created for her by her cousin--the owner of the home had no idea I owned the company who had created the chart. But there it was, making me amazed at how far our work reaches.

There is something timeless about a genealogy chart. I feel pretty confident that our work may be packed up somewhere in a closet, maybe not appreciated for the time being sometimes, but I don't think they are ever discarded. Family is important. I couldn't wish for something better to do with my time every day than to help you express that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why bother? and the one thing I've learned.--Our teenage experiment

Randy Seaver over at the Geneamusings Blog had an interesting post yesterday. It gave me another reason as to "why bother to involve your kids?" What are you going to do with all of your genealogy material after you are gone? I think this is a scary question for all of us. Is someone going to care about my years and years of research? How tragic if no one does.

The answer is really what we've been working on here. Get your family invested. And the sooner you involve them, the easier it will be to get them interested. That's why I talk about it so much on our blog. And that's why we print charts--a great way to get your family invested.

I think the one thing I've learned over the last several weeks of trying to get my teenagers involved in our family history is this: DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THEIR INTEREST. I have three teenagers with every reason not to like this family project we are working on. First, I gave them something really hard to do--extraction isn't the most exciting part of family history. Second, my kids have lots of reasons to resent family history in general--it's what their Mom and Dad have been so busy with for so many years. As teenagers sometimes do they could mis-blame family history for alot of the stress in our family. And third, they've certainly had overdoses of genealogy in the last 8 years--they are constantly surrounded by it, just not particularly their own. You would think they'd had enough.

But they've taken to it. I think they are enjoying seeing the pieces fit together, and working on something that they have been taught is important. They aren't complaining or whining that "Mom is making me do it" at all. I think they are really catching the geneainspiration of it. It feeds the soul. And that's exactly what I was trying to do. Hopefully in the end, I'll have someone to carry on my work, and I'll have children who are really well grounded in who they are and where they come from, which should help with where they are going too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interviewing Grandpa about his Grandpa--our teenage experiment

So our teenage experiment continues. We had the kids interview their Grandpa about his Grandpa (the focus of our extraction project.) Lots of great details to make him come to life for them since Grandpa knew his Grandpa. The kids were asking questions. And stayed awake :) And I got several other ideas about how to make this man become a real person to them. Stay tuned. I think I'm going to see if I can pull them in with some more videos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

But they're going to mess it up!!--Our teenage experiment

If they start now, even if they are screwing it up now, think how good they will be at it when they get to be my age.

I have to remember I wasn't very good at this when I started.

Why don't genealogists remember that when we are helping beginners? I think it is because we all have poor genealogy (read bad source citations) from when we started that is still sitting there needing to be cleaned up. Or maybe we've gone through the painful process of cleaning it up. Either way, we want to save them the trouble.

But you can't save someone from going through the process of learning. I have to let them not do it the way I think it should be done. They have to learn. They may not be perfect. That's ok.

Otherwise I shut them down. When I go on and on about how to research, or laboriously show them how to document perfectly, they shut down. That's too much for a beginner. They have to see the fun of it--finding things, learning about your family. They'll have time to discover how to do it right--but only if I teach them to love it first, and not browbeat them that it has to be done perfectly.

I need to let them do it in a teenage way. They can do it in a 40 year old way when they get to be that age.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Facebook Page Sale

Blank Charts 50% off
Since changing our name earlier this year, our facebook page has been a bit lonely. Facebook makes you start a new page instead of changing the name of the old one, so we still have lots of users who are lost.

We'll be closing down the old facebook page this month, so we have a special deal for anyone who has joined our new facebook page at Just order any blank chart at Family ChartMasters with the code "11FC121950" or give us that code when you order over the phone and we'll cross reference the facebook page. If you've liked us there, you'll save 1/2 the price of your charts.

Got em.--our teenage experiment

Ok that was EASIER than I thought. I arranged to have my parents talk to my kids about their grandparents. So Mom and Dad were telling the kids about the kids’ great great grandparents. The kids were good and listened while Mom and Dad told them about their experiences as grandchildren. I was impressed that the kids were so interested and asking questions.

Then at the end, one of the kids asked them to name off all of their grandparents full names and we taped that too. And THEN….13 year old boy asked about how far the genealogy my mother has collected goes. We explained that we had British lines that tied into British kings, and once you did that, you can follow those king’s lines back to Adam. We explained that those lines were suspect and usually concocted to legitimize a king’s reign. And bingo… He asked for a copy of the file. So I emailed him the old PAF file that my grandmother had worked on. I really haven’t done much with it, and hey… maybe he’ll be enthralled.

I’ve been thinking. I think part of the reason I haven’t involved them as teenagers in the actual work of researching and entering things into the computer is that they will mess up my clean work. But then again that is not how to encourage a beginner. So I gave him a copy of my file, and I’m going to let him play with it. I can interact with him carefully and keep my file separate until I feel that I can trust him. But honestly, If I get him started at 13 years old, he has plenty of time to learn how to do it right and understand methodology and sourcing. By the time he’s my age, he’ll be far beyond my abilities.

He went in and added a notation to our civil war ancestor. It wasn’t a crisp clean citation, but it was learning the software, and learning how to document what you know about an ancestor.

Who would have thought. My sweet, silly, somewhat unfocused 13 year old is the one that came along and got serious first. He is the one who was on Familysearch with the scouts years ago and came home all excited that he had found an ancestor named William Cakebread. He thought the name was funny and I brushed it off as too far back to be concerned about. He’s sitting next to me now, looking for the oldest person in my Mother’s file. Yes he’s a name collector—but just think what level he’ll be at my age.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Doing family history in a 11 year old way.

LOL. She's engaged in her family history. When we were in DC we took the kids to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. Wow what a place. While there, I realized there was a family history opportunity so I seized it. There was a plane there that was the same type that my grandfather worked on as a mechanic in the Army in World War II. Take a look:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Early success--Our teenage experiment

Score. It worked tonight. 15 year old son and I did 5 pages of extraction. Here’s what I learned.
  1. It really helped to focus on one kid at a time. 10 year old daughter was doing math and 12 year old son was reading but 15 year old son sat down and worked on the Christmas present with me. It was much easier when I just focused on that one kid.
  2. It really helps that this is a Christmas present. I couldn’t have begged, borrowed or stolen his time away from his own computer projects, but he’ll do it for Grandma and Grandpa. Actually, I knew that before.
  3. It also really helped that I sat down and did it with him. Again, I think I need to walk the walk. We brought up the document on my computer and the genealogy software on his. I read the names and dates off to him and he entered them. Much easier on his side.
  4. Doing transcription was easier for him when he wasn’t eating his cookies. It was easier when he used both hands to type. Much of the time he had a cookie in one hand but it worked. Total all out bribe? Yes, yes it was.
  5. He had stopped and gotten frustrated earlier because he wasn’t sure he was reading the names right. I assured him that he didn’t have to be perfect and that we would be checking it against other sources to assure that things were right. That seemed to help. This kid is a huge perfectionist. I think moving that rock out of his path helped.
  6. Wowie Kazowie. He picked up the software like nobody’s business. I’ve been using this software for quite a while, but in his second sitting, this kid was right clicking and using key strokes I never knew existed. I’m tech savvy. But this kid was amazing. If I can just get him to get passionate about the topic, the technology won’t even be a hiccup of a problem.
  7. All hell breaks loose when I try to work on this with them. We tried last night and homework had exploded and gotten in the way. We planned on trying again tonight and all sorts of things threatened to derail the process. But you have to push through it. We persevered and it paid off.

I think he felt a sense of accomplishment. I’m pretty sure he liked seeing the pieces start to fit together, a lot like a puzzle. We’ll see how excited he is about it next time. Stay tuned…

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Deadlines

Of course one of the greatest ways you can get your family involved with their family history is with a beautiful genealogy chart. And there is no better time to do that than at the holidays. We're all ready to help you share your family history with your family in a beautiful graphical way that will pull the non-genealogists into your research.

In order to avoid rush fees, you'll want to take note of the following deadlines.

  • Working Charts
    • United States December 16
    • International November 22
  • Decorative Charts
    • United States December 9
    • International November 15

If you don't mind paying rush fees and expedited shipping, you'll need to get us your chart order by:

  • Working Charts
    • United States December 19
    • International November 22
  • Decorative Charts
    • United States December 17
    • International December 1
Get your beautiful custom chart started on our Custom Charts page. And give me a call if you need any help. 801-87CHART

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thank you Grandpa--Our teenage experiment

The great ally I have in getting the kids interested in our extraction project is my Grandfather Alvin’s book about his father Joseph. We read the short first chapter about Joseph tonight. Joseph left home to go to boarding school at the age of 10. That resonated. Then it talked about how he did in school. Score again. Everybody is doing homework and worried about grades all the time around here so that’s something that they could relate to. Then, guess what was in the book? An 1876 report card from the Congregational School in Lewisham. Instead of As and Bs, they were scored by their standing in the class. Joseph had 100 people in his class in school, and he was 7th in Greek, 6th in Latin, 11th in Math, 8th in English, 6th in Scripture, 5th in French, and 5th in German. See, I told them they had smart DNA.

Thanks Grandpa for preserving that report card, and putting it in a format that was accessible to me and my kids. Thank you, Thank you.