Family Fridays

Genealogy basics

Sharing with Family (Part 4)

This is my 4th and last post for this series.  I’m putting it last because in my family it’s been the least effective.  I’d love to say my kids check it often, but they don’t.  But every family is different and I see it’s value, I’m talking about creating a family blog or website. Perhaps mine will catch on as my kids grow older. 🙂

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I created my website on although there are many options out there.  Familybelle is free and fairly easy to use.  I like the built in options: family address book, calendar & family recipes.  You can have a photo gallery, a blog and upload a family tree.  There are also some features to assist with family reunion planning.

I’ve enjoyed uploading photos and stories about ancestors, how my husband & I met, and other uplifting family stories.

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Hopefully one of these posts will inspire you to find ways to share with your family.  Best wishes and please continue to share your successes!

Genealogy basics

Sharing with Family (Part 3)

Everyone knows Facebook.  Most are familiar with the closed groups that can be created which are a great way to communicate with family members and share photos.

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My brother-in-law just came up with a terrific idea for Christmas.  With all our family being spread out, he decided to try and have his dad do a broadcast as a Facebook live event.  It’s by invitation and can be shared with everyone but approved so that we don’t get strangers watching the event.

The plan is to have the broadcast consist of Dad sharing a few stories, answering questions from kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, and concluding with a special message.  The live broadcast allows everyone to post questions during the event.

Bonus – the broadcast can be recorded and preserved.

Visit Facebook for more information and tips.  How do you use Facebook with your family?

Genealogy basics

Sharing with Family (Part 2)

As part of a short series on sharing with family, today I’m focusing on a free social network (which is private unlike something such as Facebook).  This is just one of many ways to collaborate with your family, please comment with your ideas!

Famicity is a social network designed to protect, manage, and continue your family’s legacy through a laptop or phone app. While many family members might be on Facebook, it’s not a private, ad-free environment where the focus is family. At Famicity you can upload and share:

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  • your family tree GEDCOM
  • old family photos (free), videos, audio, and documents (subscription)
  • new photos (free) and videos, audio, and documents (subscription) of the latest family events
  • messages and stories
Every person has a profile. Each person can add pictures, stories, and videos to share their stories and add to the family legacy. It’s invitation-only for your relatives, protecting your privacy with no advertising. It can’t be searched or accessed by the public, and Famicity does not retain any rights or ownership of your uploads. It’s a next-generation family photo album and history book wrapped into one.  Have you tried a program like this?
Genealogy basics

Sharing with Family (Part 1)

Interested in sharing photos and collaborating with family members?  Over the next few posts I’ll share just some of the many ways you can bring your family closer together.

Many people are familiar with Dropbox.  Dropbox is frequently used to share files & photos, but the comments function can facilitate communication.  My daughter-in-law Megan showed me how her family has used Dropbox to share photos and the stories that accompany them.

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First a folder is created and shared with family members.  Megan’s uncle offered to scan in old family photos and the stories began.  Perhaps you’ve never noticed when you open a file (or photo) in dropbox, there is a place on the right for comments.  In the above example, a photo taken during WWI points out ancestor Angelo Dilibert on the right.  The comments section on the left allows for ongoing conversations.  Here the green circle notes the family patriarch added, “He was in the hospital with malaria from the swamps around Rome.”

Sometimes someone posts a question like, “Does anyone know who the guy on the right is?”  Family members can then chime in.  It’s simple, easy and fun.

There are many great ways to collaborate, but I like this one because it uses a common program.  The downside, the information is not saved with the photo once it is removed from Dropbox, so keep that in mind.  But it is one way to spur family togetherness!  How does your family share photos and memories?

Genealogy basics

Do you have a family history mess?

Do you have piles of paper that you’ve collected over the years or that you’ve inherited?
MessI’ve had the opportunity this summer to help a few people organize decades of accumulated genealogy. It’s a big project and often overwhelming. Fortunately we’re moving from a paper society to a digital one. Does that sound enticing? So, where do you begin?

First, if you haven’t already, choose a platform to host your genealogy, whether it be on your computer or the web.  Click HERE for more suggestions. If you have a GEDCOM or even a PAF file, you can upload it to your chosen genealogy program.

Decide what type of organization for digital and remaining paper records would work for you. For organizational suggestions, click HERE. Once you’ve chosen, be consistent.

Upload your precious family photos and certificates to your genealogy program (click HERE for suggestions), saving the digital copy and filing the original according to your organizational plan. Many sources like census records are very easily found now. There is no need to keep the copies like we did in the past; besides they are easier to view online anyway. Be sure the source is attached to your individual and then discard it! (yes, I said it) While you’re discarding, go ahead and get rid of all those pedigree charts and family group sheets. Just be sure the information is in your genealogy file first.

It will take a while, but slowly chip away at it and you’ll be so pleased with the results. Don’t forget to backup your file (check your program for instructions). Save backups in various locations (not just one computer, it may crash).

The rewards… you’ve opened the door to easily sharing with others. You can distribute copies of precious family photos and such with a click, ensuring their survival. And most of all, you’ve simplified your life which leads to peace and happiness!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions. Good luck!

Family history stories, Genealogy basics, Writing family histories

Interviewing Family Members

Me & DadI’ve been trying to take advantage of my dad’s visits and spend a little time asking about his life.  I’ve loved learning more about him and my other family members.  One of my favorite stories was when my dad and some buddies decided to ride down the street on an old buckboard (unattached to horses).  They were having fun until they realized they couldn’t stop it…  Dad was driving & the other boys had to run ahead to the next intersection to stop traffic!  They finally were able to navigate into their school yard, drive in circles, and finally stop.

Be sure to take the opportunities you have as they arise and learn about your family.  Click HERE to visit my tutorial for more ideas and information.

Genealogy News, Research helps

Updates in the world of genealogy

FamilySearch discontinues microfilm lending. National Archives court records now only available online. MyHeritage now provides free ethnicity reports.

2007_microfilm_readers_1697320296FamilySearch is discontinuing their microfilm lending on September 1, 2017. Microfilm will still be available at the library in Salt Lake City. The digitization process is taking less time than expected, with a projected completion in 2020. The change is driven because “he cost of duplicating microfilm for circulation has risen dramatically, while demand has decreased significantly,” says FamilySearch. See for more information.

MyHeritage now provides free ethnicity reports to all who upload their DNA results. Previously they only provided DNA matching. Visit

National Archives closed bankruptcy, civil, criminal, and court of appeals case files now only available online.

Genealogy basics

Genealogy 101

So you want to give genealogy a try… but where to begin?

Here is a short list of things to get you started.  Visit my website for more ideas.

Butler Family Book 2

  1. Collect “perishable” things and preserve them. Ask questions of family members, recording conversations if you can.
    • Visit with your oldest living relative to learn more about their lives.  Ask for details but also ask open ended questions. (see article “Family Interview” for sample questions and other pointers – coming soon)
    • Organize photos and other memorabilia collected. (see article “Organization“)
    • Make digital copies and distribute to family members – thus ensuring their survival. (see article “Scanning Photos & Documents” – coming soon)
  2. Determine where you want to build your tree. (see article “Genealogy Programs“)
    • Computer programs
    • Online programs
    • World trees
  3. Begin by following “hints” available on most genealogy programs to become familiar with easily found sources.  But don’t accept all “hints” – they may not be correct.  Be sure to check information: location, spouse, children, birth date/place, etc. (see article “Genealogy 102” for searching helps – coming soon)
  4. Source and organize “finds” as you go, attaching them to your tree.
  5. Don’t get discouraged with inevitable brick walls. (see article “Overcoming Brick Walls” – coming soon)
  6. Use on-line resources to answer questions and find solutions.  Google can lead you to many great finds.
  7. One final word of advice… when looking at records, be sure to look at the image, there is a world of information in a census record or draft registration card. Be sure to take the time to view them.
Genealogy basics, Research helps

Find the Origin of Last Names

Have you ever tried to map your last name and the last name of your ancestors?  Visit the Geneanet website where you can map any last name.  Geneanet is based in France and is especially useful for those who have ancestors in Europe.  It is a free site where you can create a tree and search for records.

The last name origin feature is particularly interesting.  When I put in my family name of Kunzli (from Switzerland) I got this result:


In this image, it shows the origin of my name is unknown.  Note the timeline cursor on the bottom to see the evolution of the last name distribution.

en-origin-01To see this great tool for yourself, visit and click “More > Origin of Last Names” in the menu bar at the top of the site.

Try it out!