Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011


11:30 am Christmas Eve Morning. We've finished. We did it. Woot Woot. There were moments where I didn't think we were going to make it. I've been worried this week that the kids would experience the agony of defeat and a learning experience rather than the joy of a successful project. But yea! It worked, it worked.

453 family group sheets digitized
145 Kim
90 Janet
98 15 year old boy
60 13 year old boy
60 11 year old girl.

How it all went down before it took a swing for the better.

Last night, on Christmas Adam (the night before Eve), we left the kids to themselves while we went to our traditional Iron Chef competition with my sisters (another story). The kids were supposed to stay home and work on their extraction. The last two days that they've been out of school we've been working and working as long as their attention spans would allow. The attention spans haven't been much. When they are sitting at a computer, using the internet, the draw of the surf is harsh. They can't concentrate. They are drawn to this and that--mostly the boys are drawn to the current video game that all their friends are playing. Honestly I know alot of adults who are the same way. It seems like we are becoming a culture of trivia buffs who can't get a major project done. I have days like that too at times.

So we'd been dragging through the last couple of days. I've been frustrated that they've said "yeah, I'm doing it" but then the surf drags them away. It was coming down to the line. We still had way too much to do.

In retrospect it was crazy to think they'd work on it last night. They're teenagers for heaven's sake. I expect alot out of them. But when we got home, I would have been disappointed to find out they hadn't gotten much done, but I was downright mad when I found out they hadn't been doing much that morning when I was sitting in the family room working on it with them. I was really mad.

So we had one of those terrible motherhood moments. I yelled at them last night. I was so frustrated with them that they couldn't do it without me sitting there with them. I had wanted it to get finished up so that we could do other things today (Christmas Eve). Why couldn't we have gotten it done early? I wanted to make Christmas cookies, relax, visit with family more etc. But the morning was spent go, go, go on getting this project done. In the end it was ok. Saved us some calories. But we went to bed last night not thinking we were going to be able to finish it. And I went to bed thinking I had forever ruined my children's chances of ever liking family history. If they have this Mom that is uber-stressed about it, they'll just resent it. I hadn't won the battle, and more importantly I had lost the war.

So last night, when we were going to bed, I asked them--how are you going to get it done? 15 year old boy said he wanted us to get him up at 7am. Now you have to understand that getting this child out of bed in the morning is harder than raising the dead--literally. Nothing gets him up--not love or money. Some school days it's come to a glass of cold water. He's growing and he just needs alot of sleep. But that's when the turning point came.

At 7 am when Kim and I came down to wake him up, he was already sitting on the couch doing extraction.

Yes, yes he was.

I attribute it more to his love of his grandparents at this point than to his love of family history. But I'll take it.

In the end we all worked together. Kim saved us. Kim rocks at Genealogy. He did pages and pages of this extraction, and finished up the two younger kids projects. Kim can always find the things on microfilm that I can. He is just quick at it. In a religious sense it came out as a perfect celebration of the life of Christ. Kim came in and made up for what the younger kids couldn't do themselves. 15 year old helped with some of that too. Or as 15 year old son put it to his younger brother as he was doing some of younger brother's pages "You have saved our lives--we are eternally grateful (In a little green alien voice from the movie Toy Story."

Yes--their Mom has put too much emphasis on this. They think their lives are at stake.

It was really beautiful watching it all come together this morning. I was sitting by 11 year old girl, encouraging every little bit out of her last two pages. She was too stressed. But it all melted away as those last couple of pages were done. It was a real sense of joy. I think they all felt it. Relief. Pride. A job well done.

I'm a little worried about the Christmas memories they will take into their respective families. Instead of sweet Christmas baking memories they'll have these mad family history project memories. Oh well. There already weren't alot of cookie making memories--more packaging and shipping family history chart memories. We'll relax next week like we always do.

I think the major point to learn today, is that it is really good to have deadlines. We've all drug it out, me included, thinking we would have time to do it later. But when it comes down to a deadline, it gets done. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas are great excuses for deadlines. It just works.

We're off to have a beautiful Christmas celebration. And present to my Mom and Dad the family history project extraordinare. They boys have already said that they may be willing to do another book next year. We've already decided though that we are going to start in January and have it done early to avoid the last minute drama. I wonder if that will work or if we will need to rely on the deadline principle again. Whatever happens, I think cleaning up and going over this database we've created is going to need to be the next project. I'm looking forward to doing that one myself.

Stay tuned. We're headed to the library with my parents on Wednesday to verify some of this stuff.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thank heavens for key strokes

All too many laptops in this house...

So I probably made too big of a deal out of citing all the sources perfectly. I've annoyed myself now.

We're in crunch time with the present for Mom and Dad. Family ChartMaster's Christmas rush is over--you can't mail anything anymore. Since most of our charts are shipped out all over the world, we have a respite the two days before Christmas when you can't ship anything. Over the years as Christmas Rush has become busier and busier that last two days seem more and more peaceful in comparison. But not this year. I've been so busy with the company, we're in a different kind of rush now, a rush to get this indexing project done. But that's a good rush.

Making new genealogists do sources perfectly is not the smartest thing to do. You don't want to get them bogged down in the details or it isn't fun. I know better than to start the kids out with demanding perfect sourcing, but that is so important in this project so that we can build on the research my great-grandfather did. The kids haven't complained. They've been really good about it. But in this last push to finish the project--I'm the one wishing it were easier :)

About three sources for each of the events. *Tedious*. But I know it's going to pay off big when we go back to combine people and further the research. I hope the kids forgive me at that point. I just couldn't do it otherwise. Just think how wonderful it will be to have a big clean database of all this research that then we can go and verify and build on. It would be a mess to go back and have to clean up sources later. We had to start with the sources right from the beginning.

Keystrokes have saved me. That's why you can't really compare genealogy softwares and say one is better than the other. Some take alot of screens and clicks to do something and some take less. I think they're all a different number of clicks for different tasks too. If you are going to use genealogy software alot for one task, it might be useful to go through the different softwares and see how many clicks and keystrokes it takes to do what you are doing. It would be interesting to see a tally of how many clicks and keystrokes there are for the many of the tasks in each of the softwares. But even then, that wouldn't tell you which is the best for you at something else. That's why I always say that the softwares are like a pair of shoes. They each have their good points and their bad points, they each go with different clothes and fit different people. (And it helps to stay neutral when we work with each of the companies so much.)

Once again it is amazing how when I sit and do it with them they concentrate and get to work. Yesterday they had just as much to do, but even though they intended to work on it, they didn't. I'm convinced that's because I was busy finishing up genealogy charts for clients rather than sitting with them. Inspire not Require they say. It's true.

I've done enough extraction today that I've found a person who's birthday is today, and who's birthday is the same as mine. That's *alot* of extraction LOL. It feels good though. Like eating nutritiously. I'm so excited to take this data to the library and see what we can build. I think we're going to make it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are we going to make it?

453 pages of family group sheets.  Perhaps we bit off more than we could chew?  I'm not sure how much we've gotten done and how much we have left.  Wouldn't you know it- I'm the one who has the most to do.  What was I thinking taking on something like this in the middle of Christmas rush?
One week left.  I'll let you know.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Gift Certificate ordering system

Just in time for the perfect holiday gift. Go to our new Gift Certificate page for an instant .pdf that you can give right away. Simply choose the number of certificates you want, proceed to the payment page, and then the .pdf page appears in your browser. Simply print and give--or even save and email to someone special.

Available in $25 and $50 denominations, the beautiful certificates make for a nice presentation and allow the recipient to utilize any of our chart printing services. When they are ready for the perfect chart, we'll take great care of your loved one and make sure they get the attention to detail that Family ChartMasters is known for.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So glad to help strengthen family ties.

A few emails have brightened our days lately. We're always so glad to hear that we've helped a family. They've agreed that we can share their letters with you here.

"Got the charts ... thanks so much. My husband feels he can better understand who is who now."

Hi Erin,

I just wanted to drop you a line thanking you for the help with printing my Mother-in-Law’s chart. It was a lot of work getting you the information but you were very patient with me and I thank you for that. I gave her the chart her Thanksgiving dinner for her children. I was somewhat flattered when she immediately removed a wall hanging and said to hang it there. That spot was above the head of the table in the kitchen with nothing else to clutter around the picture. I have visited her twice since Thanksgiving and was met with hugs each time. She takes me to the chart and starts telling stories that she has recalled about her childhood and her favorite and not so favorite ancestors. Between the two of us we have made a special lady very happy.


We're so glad we can make David's mother-in-law happy and help Barbara's husband understand who he is. We're looking forward to helping you soon too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Radio Radio Radio

I had a great time this weekend talking to Thomas McEntee of Geneablogger's Radio about Christmas gifts and getting your family involved with family history. And then today I got to talk to D.Josh Taylor on the Federation of Genealogical Societies Radio about UGA and all the great things we are doing there. Love talking to both of them. They are both so knowledgeable and have such innovative ideas. I get so passionate about these topics. I'm not sure if I let them get a word in edgewise. I'm sure not a hard radio guest to get to talk. LOL.

Listen to internet radio with GeneaBloggers on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 9, 2011

Perish or Parish

Found my daughter trying to enter Perish records instead of Parish records. Again--Thank heavens for auto fill and God bless the genealogy software programmers. Typing lessons ensuing. And spelling lessons now too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The ingredients that go into my children

We took some time to read to the kids about the focus of our extraction project again the other day. Joseph Hatten Carpenter was a good man, a great example of scholarship, and a great model of how consistent work can do great things over time. His strength has reached down through two generations of good hard working men--both college professors and great contributors to the community--into my family and into the example and ethics I now set for my children. I'm so grateful that I get to know him through my Grandfather's book. Although my grandfather Alvin (Joseph's son) did no other genealogical work of which I know, he connected me to his father in such a powerful way just by writing about what he knew of his father. I'm so grateful for that. It serves as a reminder of how powerful the little bit of work that we do in genealogy can be for future generations.

As I read it felt like I was reading to them a list of ingredients of things that were in their dna. I felt like I was reading to them about who they are and what they can grow up to be. Ingredients that they get to choose from of course--they are free to choose how they will become. But it was very powerful to me that these good qualities were there, already in their possession, ready to develop more and be improved upon even in this coming generation. I hope they can feel the power they have inside to be strong and capable adults who can make contributions to this world.

That's why I want them to know their family history. I want them to be confident and to strike out into the world with a sense of purpose and faith in their abilities. And I want them to be grounded in an understanding of why and how things at times didn't go the best way in our family. I want them to go forth into the world with that broad perspective that family history brings--that good choices can have long term affects on your life and on lives to come. I hope that as they come to know well the goodness in our family tree they will have the deep roots to branch out and become successful adults. To have them grow up with purpose and substance would be my greatest happiness in life and I'm going to put every tool at my disposal to use toward that direction--including family history.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Antique Genealogy

So I've been learning alot about antique genealogy practices in our extraction project. It's been quite interesting.

With cursory glances through the information that has been digitized, it looked like my great-Grandfather was keeping good track of the sources he'd used to find the information in his volumes of family group records. I've taken several friends to the Family History Library in Salt Lake to look up old family group records submitted by aunts or grandparents. And in the little box they were given to record the source of the information, there was often nothing listed, or a quick "family records" notation or something like that. My friends were left with little to nothing to go on. Glancing through Joseph's records it looked like he had real notations on each page, and I had looked forward to going through and really being able to build on his work.

But now that we are into this project, I'm finding that those notations--though blessedly consistent, are pretty brief. Often it sites parish records for the places listed in the group sheets. But as we've gone to look for those records at the library, we are finding that there may be several parishes in that vicinity and we are unsure which one Grandpa was referring to. It won't take much to figure out, but I'm realizing that perhaps Grandpa wasn't quite as meticulous as I had previously supposed.

Also, there are lots of abbreviations of place names throughout his work. I think there are two reasons for this. First, he was from England and in the British notations we are working on he didn't have to write it out, he knew where he was talking about. But three generations removed now, we don't. We'll have to go figure it out. But in Grandpa's defense, secondly, the family group sheets that were the standard back then didn't leave alot of room to be able to spell out all the details in the place names. He did what he could with the space he had.

It also looks like alot of his work was based on marriage records. I'm sure waiting for letters from England was tedious. It appears he went straight for the marriage records, and then estimated the births for each bride and groom and then went about piecing things together from there. There are alot of family group records with exact marriage information and estimated births.

I'm really proud of the fact that Joseph Hatten Carpenter, my Great grandfather was a member of the Genealogical Society of Utah, a fellow of the Institute of American Genealogy in Chicago, member of the Society of Genealogists of London, member of the National Genealogical Society in Washington D.C. and the National Genealogical Research Institute as well as other geographic and historical associations. I wish I could talk to him about my work as UGA president this year. I would love to hear what he thought about that.

In April 1959 Joseph wrote: "I have now reached my 98th birthday and I feel I can do little more to add to my several lines of ancestry. I can do nothing more with Rev. Grubbs, Rector of Spaxton, Somerset, who has so grossly deceived me. I leave the further solution to my descendants to attend to it when Grubbs died and a successor comes in who can more readily furnish the records of the Gibbs, Elliotts, and Carpenters of Tugswell Manor. Thus I close my research labors." However he continued working on his genealogical records until he died at the age of 103.

I wonder what Joseph thought about the generations that would come next and if they would try to build on his work. I'm sure he could never have imagined the databases, the software, and ipads, and google searches that would be available to us today. I know he did the best he could to pass things down to us in an organized way. I wonder what I should be doing to make sure that things are ready for future generations. Probably the most important thing would be to make sure that the next generation is vested in it and committed to keeping things updated and moving forward. Still working on them. Hopefully that is where we are headed.

Picture--Joseph and his second wife Lydia in 1961

Back on track

Extraction Attempt # ??
We've been working hard. 15 year-old boy is about done with his section. I'm hoping he will finish soon and help the rest of us. It is getting easier and easier. All three of them have sat down and worked on it alone at times. But we've found the best time we can all work on it together is Sunday mornings. They seem to work the best because there is so little interference from other things in comparison to other times. And while I'm so proud of them when they choose to work on our project on their own, it really works best when we are all on our laptops working together. As in all parenting--it sinks in more when you are being an example.

That said, we've come up with a little friendly competition. Most Sunday mornings when we've been working together I've been helping the younger kids, or making waffles to be supportive etc. We've been figuring that I could do it while the kids were in school--but not really--we're in the middle of Christmas Rush and busy as all get out (Thanks!). So this last Sunday morning I finally sat down and got going myself. Again--it felt good--like eating nutritious food. I think it felt good to me because it was something I'd been wanting to accomplish so much. And once you get going it's easy to get addicted to extraction. It feels so good to see progress being made.

So I couldn't resist a little trash talking. Yeah I'm behind, but I'm going to beat you all in getting my part done. Oh yeah. It's on.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I get a big fat fail for our extraction attempt the other night. I had the kids all ready to work on extraction but I got busy with the company and didn't get in to help them. 15 year old boy did a little, but other than that, they didn't get anything done. It wasn't that they didn't want to, it was just that the TV, online games, and friends were more loud and enticing.

I think family history is one of those things in life that has a quiet satisfaction. It isn't usually glitz and glamour. It isn't loud and clamoring for attention. But it feels good when you do it. It feels better than all those other loud and obnoxious things. It's like how your body feels when you eat good rather than stuff it with burgers and fries. Soul satisfying.

But I have to walk the walk with them. I didn't do that last night so they got seduced by other, less nutritious pastimes. I failed. But it isn't over yet.