Monday, August 1, 2011

The Future Past is in the Present

Family History isn't ALL about remembering history, its about creating it as well.

There are a lot of great ways to document your history, such as scrapbooking and journaling, or blogging.

There was a great article in The Friend last month about journals. "Journals from the Past" which highlighted a couple of pioneer journals and what we can learn about journaling from those pioneers.

You don't have to be able to write to keep a journal. Younger children can either dictate to you (or an older child) what to write, or simply draw a picture about something that happened to them. Journaling is a great down/quiet-time activity, is appropriate for the Sabbath, and is easily done on the car during long road trips.

You may also want to keep a family journal and let all members contribute, either by writing entries themselves, or by sharing in a family-council type forum what they feel was important enough to document.

But remember that nothing is too trivial to track. The things you think are mundane, the weather, your daily routine, etc. will be fascinating to someone 100 years from now, or even 20 years from now.

Be creative!

If you haven't seen the "Kid History" videos on youtube, I recommend checking them out.

Embarrassingly enough, I had enjoyed several episodes, but had not thought about the family history value in them until I caught an on-line article about them. You wouldn't have to go to all the trouble they do, but videos are always a fun way to document history, and nothing says historic reenactments have to be reserved only for bringing back past generations.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FamilySearch Indexing

I LOVE this program!

From the FamilySearch Indexing website (
Every person matters. Perhaps it is this feeling that prompts millions to seek out their family history. For most, records of their ancestors provide key links to their past. An army of volunteers from around the world is now helping to save and make these records available. Using our online system, they are able to easily extract data from valuable records and provide free searchable indexes—all from the convenience of their homes.
I would say anyone 12 and over could do this work, and many from 8-12 could as well. You download an image and are given a spreadsheet like entry form for you to type in the names, dates, and other "important" (pre-determined by FamilySearch and/or affiliates) information. Each image or "batch" of images only takes 30-60 min of time to index.

It can make a great family project, or a great service project (such as a scouting project), and a much better use of internet time than many other options out there.

Again, my kids are too young, but I have seen this be very successful. In fact in my area, a teenager is currently the "director" ie. main contact for help, and overseer of our group.

Tech Saavy

I picked up this tip in a class at the BYU conf on Family History and Genealogy today. The presenter suggested that individuals enlist their grandchildren to help them set-up spreadsheets to track meta-data and templates for research logs etc.

My kids haven't figured out those kinds of boring things yet, and since office software is my other specialty, I won't be able to make much use of this tip yet. But maybe you can!

What I can tell you is that the Spirit of Elijah is strong, and that Genealogy really can be addictive. Any way you can help get their feet wet is a way to introduce them to the spirit of the work. Maybe after enough introductions....(at least I hope so!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The definition of "Famous"

My daughter came up to me recently with the magic words "Mom, I want to learn about my Family History" (at least that's what I heard.) I was floating on air and envisioning finally having a research buddy! I printed out her four-generation pedigree and got her a binder to keep the info in, all while telling some of my favorite stories.

As I handed the "prize" over to a very bored-faced 9 yr old, I heard "Mom, all I want to know is if we're related to anyone famous."

Taking that blow, I took a deep breath and started retelling stories about our "famous" ancestors, most of whom you won't find in most history books, but nevertheless made at least a somewhat significant contribution to the communities they helped found.

Then came the major blow. "But no one in show business or music? I was hoping we'd have someone that could help me become a famous actress or musician."

That child may be the death of me yet.

The History of this History Site

I fell in love with Family History the first time I received an assignment which required my parents to pull out their genealogy books. There was just something mesmerizing to me about the names and dates found on those pedigree charts and family group sheets. They called out to me, urged me to know them, and thus know myself. Cemeteries were peaceful, sacred places, where I often felt an even stronger connection with those who had gone before. And nothing was better than a good book or story that made history come alive and transported me there.

The older I got, the more I realized just how much the knowledge of my ancestors blessed my life. Of course, as a mother, I want my children to receive the same blessings from knowing their roots. But sadly, they don't have the same natural excitement that I did.

Hence I am on a quest to find ways to help my children get excited about their heritage and history in general. Come join me on the journey.