Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The March Review: Top Posts You Won't Want To Miss

March was a super busy blogging month for me as I was doing the 30 Day Blogging Challenge and within that, introducing The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge.  Here are the top four posts chosen by readers.  Enjoy!

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 12: What to do with old family letters.    Take a closer look at those old family letters you inherited and see what gems lie within them!

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 15: Interviewing Family Members - Skill Development  A close look at how to conduct a family history interview with members of your family, and what to do when the interview is over.

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 16: Passport Applications   Passports can provide wonderful information to add to your ancestors’ sources.  They may reveal vital information regarding your ancestors.  In this posts, we take a detailed look at what can be gleaned from your ancestor's passport application.

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 21:  Recommitting to Your Genealogy Goals  The purpose of the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge was to give you an opportunity to review and recommit to your genealogy goals.  This post takes a peek at what was covered during the Challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.  If you would like to be a regular follower, simply enter your email address in the prompt on the right of the blog page.  Know of someone interested in family history?  Invite your followers to join us by clicking on the Google+, Twitter and Facebook icons below.

Again, thank you for visiting! And remember...

History not shared, is History forgotten!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My FamilySearch Service Mission - Month One: The Call

I grew up in a genealogical home.  Back in the 1980s, my dad was Historian General of the Mayflower Society, and as a teen, I had the privilege of living in the Mayflower Society House.  It was a fun time to be a kid.  I helped in the genealogy library.  I walked in the Pilgrim's Progress.  I worked summers as a guide in the Spooner House and the Howland House. Heck, I lived across the street from Plymouth Rock.  You can't get more Plymouth than that!  It was a life filled with history.

Visiting my old home -- The Winslow House -- in 2010.
So, I'm sure it came as no surprise to my family and friends when I put in my papers for a Service Mission with FamilySearch through the LDS church. 

When I attended RootsTech 2014, I had inquired about serving with FamilySearch. Since around 2005 I have been a Family History Consultant with the church and thought this might be a good next step to take.  For whatever reason, it didn't happen until RootsTech2016, when I met with some amazing missionaries at the FamilySearch Booth in the Innovation Hall.

FamilySearch wasted no time in getting my paperwork processed and my computer system set up in my home.  They were whirlwind fast, albeit I told them that I had a few genealogical conferences that I need to attend and they might want to wait until early Summer.  Ever optimistic, they set me on my journey and wished me well.

Now, most people have heard of Mormon missionaries.  They are the young men and women who, at 18 and 20 respectively, enter the MTC for training.  That training could be a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the call of the missionary.  The longer training is to accommodate learning a new language.

Service Missionaries receive training as well, however, they are not sent to a Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah or anywhere else for that matter.  Instead, training is done in the home, in front of a computer, by yourself.  Okay, so it isn't all that bad.   In fact, while we don't have a companion (unless a spouse has chosen to serve along side you), we do have a Mission Training Team that consists of a handful of missionaries, a Mission Team Leader, and each day a new teacher who guides us through our certification process. 

Certification.  Where do I begin?!  It is the entire focus of our existence right now.  Each day there is a new module to learn, and every other day we must certify.  Trust me when I say, you want us to certify!  We, Service Missionaries, are the people who greet you online or on the phone when you have concerns with the FamilySearch process.  This training has definitely given me a new appreciation for anyone working in a service center, no matter what the program is! 

The best part is, I am learning more than ever about a program that I thought I knew everything about.  So much goes on behind the scenes of FamilySearch, and new updates are made daily.  I look forward to completing my training in these next few weeks and begin assisting all my fellow family history enthusiasts out there!  My mission call is for one year.  I hope you will enjoy my posts as I share my journey along the way.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Follow the Arrows -- I Did and You Will Want To, Too!

While today's blog post has little to do with Genealogy, it has everything to do with my goals in regards to Family History.  I have been on an amazing journey for over a month now, and would like to take a moment to share a bit of it with you.  Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Sark e-Media co-founder, Kevin Arrow, on Periscope.  Well, let’s go back a little farther.  

At the close of 2015, I happened to be listening to a podcast whilst working out at the gym.  The speaker mentioned a social media outlet I was unfamiliar with called Periscope.  Curious as to what Periscope was and what it could do for me, I created an account through Twitter and was introduced to a whole new world of hyper enthusiastic individuals seeking to uplift one another and give guidance in a variety of topics.  I spent a few weeks as an observer, and it was during this observation period that I met Kevin Arrow who introduced me to his lovely wife, partner, and award winning blogger, Sarah.

Follow the Arrows is the tagline Sark e-Media uses in advertising, and while it is a very clever advertising choice, it is sage advice, as well.  Sark e-Media specializes helping entrepreneurs boost their confidence, and provides them with the tools needed to obtain visibility not only for their product, but for their name, as well.  And, while I am not an entrepreneur, per se, I am someone who offers a unique type of service for people interested in doing family research.

After getting to know Kevin over a few weeks, I became keen to know more about the 30 Day Blogging Challenge his wife Sarah created.  He graciously introduced us and since then my view of how to blog, research and promote my ideas have changed – and I like to think, for the better.

Quite a few things happened when taking part in the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  Acceptance into their Facebook group gave me the opportunity to not only post my daily blog entries for other members to read and comment, but afforded me the opportunity to see the works of other bloggers learning to develop and grow in their particular fields of expertise.  Not only does the Facebook group allow for us to express concerns and questions regarding our personal blog, but the feedback from Sarah and the fellow bloggers is priceless.   But the Challenge doesn’t stop at peer mentoring.  No.  There is so much more.

During the Challenge, Sarah sends out daily emails to each of her members.  She addresses the concerns bloggers regularly face, whether the challenge is writer’s block, how to style the blog, which blogging outlet to use, or how to gain exposure.  She is spot on every time.  Now, like I mentioned, I am not an entrepreneur, so there were some tips that were not pertinent to my needs, but there were many tips that she shared with me that brought about amazing results, and I have to say I have become slightly addicted to watching my blogging analytics – which is not a bad thing when we consider that higher numbers means that whatever we did that day we should most likely do again.

So, what did I get out of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge?   Well, I’m glad you asked!  I received a wonderful opportunity to recommit myself to focusing on my goals which at the moment revolve entirely around Family History.  It has allowed me to present my thoughts and share my knowledge with anyone interested in reading what I have to say, and shown me where I need to focus on study and research.

Because of the Challenge, I have been given exposure to other genealogists and family history buffs who have been able to give me encouragement and feedback on my writing.  My blog viewership has quadrupled and I have been approached for interviews regarding my work in restoration of abandoned civil war era cemeteries.  Above all, my confidence has gone through the roof.  I’ve always been a very self-assured person, but working with Sarah has really been the boost I needed to up my game and reach for even higher goals.

Before this challenge, I had no idea there were so many genealogy blogs.  Now, that I am writing and promoting my blog, I am meeting a great number of fellow genealogy bloggers and making a great many friends and contacts in a world that is somewhat unique.  We, Genis, as we like to call ourselves, don’t see each other as competitors, but as colleagues and friends, always ready to give support and encouragement.   

So, while I began this post stating that Sark e-Media assists entrepreneurs in obtaining confidence and exposure, I would have to alter that to say they are supporters of anyone wanting to succeed in following their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.  They truly are a positive and genuinely wonderful couple who have a talent for helping people bring the best out of themselves.

Thank you Kevin and Sarah for an amazing few months.  While the challenge was for 30 days, it took me longer, and you were most patient with me!  I love your logo and highly concur that anyone looking to succeed in their business should most definitely Follow the Arrows!

To learn more about Sark e-Media and how you can improve your blogging skills and receive more internet exposure, go to

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 21: Recommitting to Your Genealogy Goals

Welcome to day 21 of the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!  You made it!  The purpose of this challenge was to give you an opportunity to review and recommit to your genealogy goals.  Let’s take a peek at what we covered in those challenge days.

Day One:  Prepare!  This was our preparation day.  We chose an ancestor we wanted to be the primary focus of our research.  We discussed the importance of choosing a program that best suited our needs.  And, we also talked about keeping a Genealogy Journal.  I have had readers reach out to me since this posting to tell me that keeping a Genealogy Journal has allowed them the freedom of not having to remember where they left off in their note taking and research. I know it has been a lifesaver for me to have one on hand when I am traveling to various libraries and interviews.

Day Two: It Begins With YOU!  As we enter our personal information, we cannot overlook our parents and grandparents.  While we may not know everything there is to learn about them, we should enter all that we do know.  Do not forget to add aunts and uncles, as well!  They are also an important part of our family.

Day Three: Gather. Identify. Sort.   The focus of day three was the gathering of photos.  So many times we receive old pictures that have no identifying marks on them.  It is best to sort these pictures from the ones we can identify and then ask family members if they recognize the people and places depicted in the photos.  Remember to sort out the photos you no longer want or need, and share them with other family members.  Scan the photos you decide to keep and upload them in your family tree.  Keep a copy of the scanned pictures on a removable hard drive or thumb drive for safe keeping.

Day Four: Interviewing Family Members.   When we are lucky enough to be able to interview a family member, we should always arrive on time and prepared.  Provide your relative with a list of questions prior to the interview.  Bring along old photos as prompts, should the conversation lag.  Always test your recording devices before going to the interview, and test again prior to beginning the interview.  You don’t want to find out when you get home that your system was not working properly. It is wise to bring a backup recording system with you.

Day Five: Consistency and Standards  If we have more than one family tree we are working with, it is important that any changes we make to one program, we make the same changes to the others.  Our research standards should be high.  If we want other family researchers to take us seriously, we should always source our research and include those source links in our family history.  Think of the trees that you have seen that list information but doesn’t show where that information came from.  It’s frustrating isn’t it?  Always cite your sources!

Day Six: A Week in Review.  It is always good to stop and take a look at what we are working on and see if there are any areas that need particular attention.

Day Seven: Giving Back  Giving back to the Genealogy world is good Karma.  There are several ways we can help other genealogists in their quest for answers while we wait for sources to appear to help us tear down our own brick walls.  FamilySearch and BillionGraves are two wonderful volunteer sites.

Day Eight: Federal Census Records, City Directories and WWI/WWII Draft Cards. Records such as these provide a lot of personal information on our ancestors.  We can learn addresses, names of close family members, occupation, as well as height, weight and colour of eyes and hair.  Don’t assume the document facing you on the screen is the entire record.  Very often there is a second page. Always scroll to the opposing pages to see if there is more information on your ancestor.

Day Nine: Google Maps.    Take those addresses you found on the Census records, City Directories and military draft cards and enter them in Google Maps.  If you are lucky, you just might be able to get a glimpse of the house your ancestors lived in.  At the very least, you will get an opportunity to take a look around their neighbourhood or town.  It is a wonderful way of using modern technology to see what our ancestors saw – only just a slight more modern version!

Day Ten: Newspapers and our Ancestors.  Articles such as these provide a plethora of information that may be useful in our research.  Names and places are given which may help break through a genealogical brick wall you are struggling with.  Not to mention, you get a glimpse into the everyday life of your ancestor.  How cool is that?  Check out  the newspaper section on Ancestry or sites dedicated to newspapers such as or GenealogyBank.

Day Eleven: Photographs.  Sorting, scanning and sharing photographs.  Be sure to safe those scanned photos on a removable hard drive or thumb drive for safe keeping!

Day Twelve: What to do with old family letters.  There is so much to be gleaned from not only the old letters we have inherited, but on the envelopes, as well!  Read each item carefully and take notes.  Don't forget to digitize those letters and share with your relatives.

Day Thirteen: A Week In Review.  A review of the top entries of the week.

Day Fourteen: Giving back to the Genealogy Community.  Spotlight on BillionGraves and Family Search.

Day Fifteen: Interviewing Family Members:Skill development. Attention to detail in conducting and transcribing a family interview.

Day Sixteen:  Passport Applications.  It is amazing the amount of information we can obtain from our ancestor’s passport applications.  Like the Census records and Military Draft cards, we can learn the names of close family members, as well as location of birth and current residence.

Day Seventeen: Ship Manifests.  Like the passport application, a ship’s manifest will often give clues to the names of family members.  Even if your ancestor is traveling alone, it is likely he/she listed the name of a relative they just left, as well as the name of relatives they are traveling to see. 
Day Eighteen:  Conflicting Evidence  No doubt in your research you have come across documents that conflict with each other.  It is important to review these documents carefully and find the common pieces of evidence between them.

Day Nineteen: Wills and Probate  Evidence found in a will or probate record can lead you to further information not only regarding family members, but land owned by your ancestors, as well.

DayTwenty: Family History Narratives  You don't have to be a professional writer to share your ancestor's story.  Consider writing a blog or journal.  These outlets are wonderful formats to share your knowledge of your ancestors with your relatives.  

Congratulations!  You have completed the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!  I hope that there were some things you learned along the way.  The purpose of the challenge was to give us a moment to review and evaluate work we may have begun but set aside for awhile.  It is often hard to get back in the groove of things, but I hope this challenge motivated you to do so!

I hope you will follow my blog in the future as I continue my search for abandoned Civil War era cemeteries.  I am attempting to tear down my own genealogical brick walls, and will posting about those efforts as well.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the Blog Comment section below.  Please take a moment to share this blog on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.  The share icons are just below this blog entry. 

Thank you for joining this challenge and remember…..

History not shared is History forgotten!