Friday, January 29, 2016

Boot Camp - Lesson 8 Let's Get Organized (Photos)

Lesson 8 - Let's Get Organized!
It's a new year and time to clean up and organize. We often use this time of year to go through our house and chuck out old and unused items - to clean up and get organized. Today we will discuss organizing photos - mainly digital photos. If you are like me, you have collected thousands of photos and now don't know what to do with them. This method can work for physical pictures also.

If we are very lucky, we have a few pictures of our ancestors. How grateful we are for them. In the days of our ancestors, most did not have a camera and relied on one or two professional pictures of themselves and their family. In today's world, the digital world, we snap pictures of absolutely everything and everyone wherever we go. In a matter of seconds, we can collect hundreds of pictures - some treasures, some silly and worthless, and hundreds of places, animals, and people we don't really care about. The interesting thing about pictures is that we have a very hard time getting rid of even the worst pictures. I also have had the bad habit of "saving" my pictures to all kinds of devices so that I won't lose them (knowing how computers can crash or cameras break) only to now have 20 duplicates of all those meaningless photos. So what do we do? How do we decide what to keep and what to discard? Well, let's get organized! We will be sorting our photos. Just like our house, we will keep the good and chuck out the waste.

Step 1 - Make a file on your computer (or external storage if you need something with a lot of space). Give this file a name like MASTER FILE (under the Pictures section).

Step 2 - Divide the Master file by setting up two files under the master file
     KEEP  - Most pictures that you like and want to keep will go into this file. You will want to make sub folders in this file to help organize your pictures even more.
     TRASH - All pictures that have no meaning to you, duplicates, poor quality, etc. BE STRONG! This may be hard to do but get rid of all of those extra pictures that have little or no meaning to you or to the next generation.

Make sub folders if you wish to sort more thoroughly. For instance, under my Keep file, I have my pictures in years. As I am sorting out pictures in years, I might add more folders for particular events like Family Reunion, trip to Alaska, etc. I will place those sub folders under the year it applies to. (2014 - sub folder Alaska Trip)

Make one of the folders a TREASURE folder. - Limit to "treasure" pictures - ones that you would like to print out and pass down. Think about the photos you treasure of your ancestors to help guide you for this group. For photos in this group, copy from the keep file the ones that you really want as a treasure then paste the copy into the treasure folder.

Step 3 - Go through all of your pictures and make the decision to put each picture into one of these two folders. Be sure to trash all photos that would not look good if printed (blurry, people you don't know, places that mean nothing to you, etc.) Also trash all duplicates. Be strong with yourself. You know what pictures mean nothing to you or that would look bad printed. Remember, you are housecleaning your photos. To do a quick sort, just put all of your pictures in one of the two folders then when you are done, go back and divide the Keep folder into sub folders. This is a double step but it will go faster if you have tons to sort through.

Step 4 - Do a quick look through your trash folder to make sure that these are pictures that you can part with and then DELETE THESE PICTURES. Get rid of them. Don't let them clutter your computer for another minute! (You will be surprised how you won't miss these at all.)

Step 5 - Now go through your Treasure pictures. This is the group you are going to carefully name and organize. Try to identify and date if possible. It would be good to print these pictures and put in a book that can be shared.

Step 6 - Save this Keep folder in more than one place. Copy and paste this Master folder onto an external drive or to the cloud. Be sure to share these pictures with your extended family.

Step 7 - All new pictures will need to be treated immediately. If downloading from a camera or phone, make sure to drop them into a "temporary" folder. Now delete all "trash" related pictures, put your new pictures into the Keep file under the year (and group)or however you have chosen to set up your folders. If you have pictures to add to your Treasure folder, be sure to label them carefully and put them into your Master File Treasure folder. Every so often, update your files that you have kept in other locations by deleting the old file and replacing it with the new. (The reason for deleting the old is that it no longer contains all of the pictures you have collected as you have since added new pictures. Since the old files are not complete, delete them and replace them with this new complete folder)

Share your pictures with your family by printing out picture books or displaying them in a digital picture frame. Pictures help us remember memories of events in our lives. Make sure that your family will remember these events in their lives through the pictures you have organized!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 7 - Traditions

Christmas always seems to be a time for traditions. Most of us have some traditions that we grew up with and have continued as adults with our family. Now would be a great time to write down the traditions of your family as a child and those of your family today. Tell about your traditions on your family tree! If you don't have any traditions, maybe this would be a good year to start some!

What are traditions?
Traditions are behaviors and actions that you engage in again and again - regular rituals that you perform at the same time and/or in the same way. Traditions, when done right, lend a certain magic, spirit, and texture to our everyday lives.

7 Reasons why traditions are important - by Frank Sonnenberg
  • Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings families together and enables people to reconnect with friends.
  • Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.
  • Tradition provides a forum to showcase role models and celebrate the things that really matter in life.
  • Tradition offers a chance to say “thank you” for the contribution that someone has made.
  • Tradition enables us to showcase the principles of our Founding Fathers, celebrate diversity, and unite as a country.
  • Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for our families and friends.
  • Tradition offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.
This Christmas season take some time to gather the family and discuss the importance of your family traditions. (This would be a great Family Home Evening!) Most of all, have a wonderful Christmas.

BOOT CAMP Lesson 6 Thankful for the Memories

While pondering a lesson for November, I was reminded of a Thanksgiving many years ago and  thought it would be a good lesson for this month. The topic for this month's lesson will about recording family memories for future generations.

With the holidays upon us, many of us will be visiting with family - parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and friends too! Now is the perfect time to record some of their history. In order to do this, go well equipped. You will need the correct tools to record these wonderful memories. Let's discuss some of what you will need to prepare yourself.

1 - A Plan - Plan ahead, even if you aren't sure that the opportunity might arise, if you have some items with you and have some simple preparation, you can do an interview on the fly. Attend your gathering with a "thought" and a "plan" to glean information from your family.

2 - Equipment - It is imperative that you have some kind of recording devices to save these memories that you want to acquire. The most basic is to use a cell phone for pictures and or videos. Better yet is a digital camera for live videos and still photos. You may also want to bring along a little digital tape recorder. Make sure everything is in at least digital format (or whatever is the most current mode of recording) so you will be able to easily transfer it to Family Tree or some other keepsake like a video or photo album. If you have a portable scanner, not a bad idea to take it with you but don't forget, your cell phone or camera may also be used to record documents and printed pictures (like those on a wall or in an album).

3 - Outline - Decide ahead of time what you are wanting from those at your gathering. Be prepared so you don't waste time and frustrate those you want to interview. Be organized in how you go about getting what you want.

PHOTOS - Be sure to know your camera before you go to your family gathering. Make sure the batteries are fully charged. Have a card large enough to record all the videos and pictures you would like (you may need an extra battery and extra cards). Take as many pictures as you can because you will wish you had more and the "right time" may never come along again.

INTERVIEW - Definitely have a plan for interviewing. There are a few different ways to glean stories from family. Some people are very nervous about sharing or talking about themselves and their lives. Many think their lives are unimportant and feel there is nothing to talk about. You can take different approaches. You can ask questions - probably starting with their childhood and moving through their life. Another is to record a friendly family gathering with some leading questions to inspire the discussion. Be sure to include the important things in a person's life like names, dates, places, etc. Don't forget to get the stories! Watch this short video to help with some ideas. There are lots of ideas online with questions to ask and how to make others feel comfortable while being interviewed. Be sure to record the questions as well as the response from the person being interviewed as their response may not be clear without the question.

Monday, November 30, 2015

29 Fun Ways to Excite Your Family with Family History

Fun Ways to Get

Your Family into Family History

1. Tell your children the stories of your childhood. Help them see their ancestors as real

people by inviting grandparents and other family members to share their personal life

2. Plan an evening meal around a traditional food from someplace an ancestor lived, i.e.

Irish corned beef and cabbage, German sauerbraten, Italian gnocchi, Mexican

enchiladas, Native American wild rice and cranberries, Louisiana jambalaya or

Maryland-style crabcakes.

3. Using a map of the United States and US Census records (or a pedigree chart), trace

the migration of ancestors from state to state. Have little ones color in the states

where their ancestors lived.

4. Experience what life was like for your ancestors before homes had electricity. Don’t use

anything electrical for 24 hours (but be sure to keep your refrigerator and freezer

5. Create a “Who Am I?” family history trivia game with questions that can only be

answered by searching your pedigree chart.

6. Show your child photos of her ancestors and talk to her about characteristics she might

have inherited from an ancestor, such as red hair, freckles, or bushy eyebrows.

7. Help an older child or teenager locate an ancestor in a US Census between 1880 and

1940. Ask him questions about that person’s occupation, birthplace, education,

immigration date, etc.

8. Take your family on a “Family History Field Trip” to places where your ancestors lived

or worked. Or download googleearth and fly off to visit those places.

9. Visit cemeteries in person or online at and and see how

many ancestors’ graves you can find.

10. Research historical events that took place during your ancestors’ lives. Talk about how

those events might have impacted them.

11. Include your children in a dramatic presentation of an event from your own or an

ancestor’s life. Make simple costumes to make it more fun.

12. Print an online template and create a jigsaw puzzle from an ancestor’s photo or a

favorite family photo.

13. Make a time capsule. Place various items that are important to you and your family (i.e.

a family photo, a movie ticket, school papers, family artwork, etc) in a sturdy box. Set

a date to open it but don’t forget where you hid it.

14. Print a fan chart from and turn it into a puzzle. Help your

children match each person with their parents.

15. Research the meaning of each family member’s given name. Find out if your name had

particular importance to your parents. If you were named after an ancestor, find out

more about that person.

16. Create a “Family Faces Bingo” game with photos of ancestors and family members or

simply write the name of an ancestor in each square.

17. Find out what your ancestors might have done for fun where they lived 100 years ago,

such as square dancing or pulling taffy.

18. Make a “Matching Game” for younger children by making two copies of 15 or 20 family

pictures. Add names to the “Matching Game” cards to create a game of “Go Fish.”

19. Do a little research and find out how to make your own butter or soap. Use this for a

family home evening activity.

20. Create a picture pedigree chart by placing a small photo by each ancestor’s name.

21. Celebrate with food by making Grandma’s apple pie or Papa’s famous meatloaf. Talk

about their lives as you enjoy their recipes.

22. Print a blank pedigree for your child and help her fill it out, starting with herself.

Make a simple frame and hang it in her room.

23. Visit a grandparent or another older family member and have an older child or teen

conduct a family history interview.

24. Help your child create a timeline for the life of one of his ancestors.

25. Visit and involve your children in creating a Family Website

where you can share photos, recipes, gift lists, etc. with close and extended family

26. Help your children research the meaning and ethnic origin of their surname or those of

27. Help your scout-age son fulfill the requirements necessary to earn his Genealogy Merit

Badge. Or help your Cub Scout complete the family tree activity.

28. Enter the names of your ancestors into Google Books at ( You

might be surprised by what you find.

29. Bring your family to the Family History Center and travel through time as you look for

your ancestors in some of the premium websites available there for free.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 5 - Using the Help Section of Family Search

It seems like many of us don't want to get started on a project as big as researching our family lines because we just don't know what to do, how to start, where to go for information, what to do with the information once we get it, and so forth.  Well, today we are going to explore the HELP section of Family Search.

1.  Go to (you don't have to log in but it is good to do so - see Boot Camp Lesson 1 for instructions how to sign up and/or sign in.

2.  Now, look in the uppermost Right Hand Corner to where it says "GET HELP".  This is the answer to most of your questions concerning research, using Family Search, adding names to your Family Tree (as well as photos, stories, etc.) and so much more.

3.  There are 2 sections.  Let's discuss each of these sections individually.

A.  CONTACT US - This is for that one-on-one help that is needed at times.  There are 4 ways to actually get help in the contact section.
     - You can CALL them.  The phone number for the help area is shown for your country.
     - You can do LIVE CHAT.  This is really fun but know that you will actually be typing your questions to someone live - meaning you will get an immediate answer because there will be someone on the other end of your chat actually answering your questions.  You should have a decent Internet connection or your session may time-out. You will have to answer a couple of questions before you start (name, email, and phone number as well as select a number that refers to the department of your question - Family Search, memories, research etc. - they will show you the list)
     - The next way is to MESSAGE them.  This is an email conversation.  You will need to supply your name, email, phone, and question. You send a question and they will first send a letter letting you know that they got your email then they will send you a response by email (although, I have had some of them call me as well as email).
     - Then there is FIND LOCAL HELP - This will direct you to the nearest Family History Center for assistance
     -  Also under the Contact Us section is REMOTE CONNECT and MY CASES.  Remote connect is where you will download a program that will allow a member of the Help team actually connect to  your computer and work within your computer - they from a different location thus remote.  This is helpful if you need some help - like in Family Tree - and you just don't understand their instructions on how to fix a problem.  The team member can access your computer (only with your approval) and actually fix the problem as if they were sitting right there with you working on your computer.  For your cases, sometimes you have an issue that the team needs to fix.  They will give you a case number. You can refer to this case number to see how things are progressing with the help or corrections.

B. SELF HELP - This is just like it sounds, you can use these links to help yourself find the answers you are looking for. (If you can't find your answer, try the contact methods listed above).
     -  QUICK START TO FAMILY SEARCH - This is a short 3.34 minute fun video explaining what Family Search has to offer.  It also shows how FamilySearch got started.
     -  GETTING STARTED - This actually takes you to a page that will give you links to specific areas to begin your work on FamilySearch,  1) Discover your story, 2) Explore your family tree, and 3) Find your ancestors. Each will take you to another page to help you in those areas.  Be sure to explore these and follow the links to learn more about these topics. While you are at those pages, click back to the HELP section and if you see the words QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, click on it.  This will bring up some of the most popular questions with answers to help you understand how to use these parts of Family Search.
     -  HELP CENTER - This has tons of the most popular questions asked about research and Family Search.  Pick a topic you wish to know more about then pick a question - or write in your question in the space provided.
     -  THE LEARNING CENTER - This is my favorite.  They have just about every topic you can think of covered in a lesson.  This is a How To section. Most lessons are in video format but many have PDF's to look at and some even have handouts.  These are taught by very experienced people in the topic discussed. It tells you how long the video is - 5 minutes to over an hour.  Be sure to have a decent Internet connection to watch.
     -  RESEARCH WIKI - WIKI is a resource center. It mostly covers locations and some topics.  Whereas FamilySearch covers mostly people, WIKI will help with locations.  Note: There are some display changes coming to WIKI so if you look at it today, it may look differently tomorrow but the same info will be there.
     -  WHAT'S NEW - This will let you know of any recent changes in Family Search. It tell what has recently been added to Family Search and some changes to how to use things in your Family Tree.  This is helpful if you see changes and don't understand them.

So that's it!  When you are working on Family Search or in Family Tree, don't forget to look up at the HELP section for updated information, how to do something, or to ask a question....don't forget that Live Chat can help you RIGHT NOW!  Have fun learning!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 4 - Cemetery Searches

 Cemetery Searches

First an explanation about these programs.  People just like all of us go out into the cemeteries, take pictures, write down all information found at each grave (birth, death, etc) then post it to one of these programs.  Each program has specific details on how to submit information but anyone can participate. Once info is posted online, it is available free of charge to all of us searching our family. Great things can be found in some of these cemetery records - pictures, family history, obituaries, names of parents and siblings.  NOTE: not all info posted is correct as many gravestones are difficult to read and sometimes the person taking the info does not write it down correctly.  Also, some info on Find a Grave especially, may be submitted without ever finding the actual headstone (someone who has info about a person and their burial info can actually post it as though they actually found it in the cemetery). Sometimes this info can be incorrect also (I know because I have found some instances on both of these situations).

Let's start with Find a Grave - found at

The HOME page has 4 sections from which to choose.  (Find Famous Graves, Find Graves, Questions and Answers, and Forums, Store, etc.)

Choose Search Grave Records (under Find Graves).  Type in a name of a deceased person and see what happens.  If you have specifics like birth or death and location, enter it but if you find nothing, start removing some info. If you still find nothing, try removing different info and leaving different info. Also try the full name. Again, if you get nothing, try just a letter for the first name and the full last name.  You need a last name but if you know of alternate spellings, you might try them. If you have an unusual last name, search for it and see who all come up!

-  You can also try Search for a Cemetery (Cemetery Look-up). If you don't know the name of the cemetery, just type in the state and county and all of the cemeteries that have been entered (some cemeteries have not had their info submitted) will show. Once you find a cemetery and select it, you can search through the whole cemetery (in ABC order) or do a search from within the cemetery by typing in a name.

Note: If you have a question or might want further info on a person, check to see who submitted the information.  Often you can email them or ask them a question.  Some are great to answer. I even had a man go back to the cemetery for me and looked up some additional information.

Billion Graves found at - this is very similar to Find a Grave. People take pictures with their phones (after they have registered and downloaded the app) then they upload the pictures.  Other people transcribe the data from the pictures for the website. Then the information is available for searches.

Headstone Search - type in a name (use info as stated above for Find a Grave). If you want to put in more information, click on the words "Check out the Advanced Search Page". This will open a page with the options Person Look-up or Cemetery Look-up.

There is a lot more available at both of these sites so after you've done a few searches, take a look around the sites and see the other information they offer.

Friday, July 31, 2015


What does it mean to “Fuel the Find?” Indexed records are like the fuel that gives  the power to connect people to their missing family members.  Every name you index adds another drop of precious fuel that can help someone else to find their ancestors.

You can help Fuel the Find! 

A service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Historical records, documents, important moments in our ancestors’ lives are recorded and are often kept in archives around the world. 

FamilySearch volunteers create digital photographs of millions of these records. These digital images are sent to FamilySearch for publication online. Volunteers index (transcribe) information from the images to make it searchable by computer. Indexed information is like “fuel” that helps people search billions of names in seconds. Indexing also powers “hinting” — where the computer automatically displays records that match information about your ancestors. It has never been easier to find information about your ancestors.

You can help Fuel the Find!

The Worldwide Indexing Event is coming August 7-14, 2015, and this year it’s one week long! Join volunteers from around the world to help “Fuel the Find”. You have one week to participate by indexing at least one batch in the language of your choice. If you are fluent in a non-English language, challenge yourself by helping to index in that language. We are especially looking for help indexing French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish records.
This year we’re going for a record 100,000 volunteers (the current one-week record is 91,721), but big numbers mean more when we’re helping meet the greatest need. English speakers have billions of records to search on—20 times more than all other languages combined! Let’s help everyone across the world to find their ancestors too! All it takes is one batch indexed sometime during the week to be counted.
So please join this wonderful World Wide Indexing Event.  
Remember, all information on 
is FREE.