Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 28 - Start a Family History Album

January 28 – Start a family history album with photographs and copies of family documents. See Scrapbooking Your Family History by Maureen A Taylor (Betterway Books) for ideas.

I had the pleasure of viewing someone’s family history album that they did. It was done for living family members, and had a biography for each person. He then published it through one of those self-publishers and found that the books were very cost effective. He had numerous pictures and they were captioned so everyone in them was identified. He added some Descendants trees so that you could place each person.  The project was quite involved. He sent out letters to family members and stated what he wanted to do, and that he needed pictures for the book. Some people didn’t reply and he had to follow up.
The biggest downfall he did was not to give a deadline. I would have given a month deadline to get pictures to me. Hopefully most people would have sent you pictures and stories. Then I would handle all those items. When I got done, I would review and see who didn’t reply. I would send out a second notice to those people giving them a month deadline and let them know this is their second and last chance to be included in this wonderful family history album. When those arrive, I would handle all those items. Then I would send out one truly last notice, 3 strikes you are out. Let them know this is truly the last and final notice; you might want to let everyone in the family know who your holdouts are. Let them know that they will be included in the book and give them an example of the brief information that will be included and perhaps show them an example of one member’s nicely submitted information would look like. Give them a month deadline and if you get anything back, handle those items.  Then publish the book as is. Only give yourself a year to complete this project and let people know that you plan to have this project done in an year. Let them know that even though this project is going to take a year, you have deadlines you must meet and thus they only have a month to get this done. Once the book is done, send notices out on how people can get the book. They can go on-line and order the book(s) themselves or through you. You really want them to use the on-line system, so charge $1-$3 in additional handling and processing fee for all orders that must come through you. Your time is worth something and if people don’t want to order on-line, at least get paid for handling their requests. Depending on how much you want to make on each book, I believe you get to set a price. Try rounding up the book to a nice manageable number. For example, if the book cost $7.00, you could charge $10.00 for the book. Remember, you sent a lot of notices, some by mail and postage, envelopes, ink, paper all cost money. But don’t expect to make a fortune on these books, which will never happen. Think volume, you want more people to buy your books and get the family history into as many hands as possible is more important than making a lot of money on one or two books.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 27 - Organize your magazines

January 27 – Organize you genealogy periodicals in magazine holders from an office-supply store, or in a slipcase you can order on through family tree magazine website. Give extra magazines to a friend, your doctor’s office or the library.

I had all my Family Tree Magazine’s in holders but this past year, I got rid of them all and purchased the past magazines on CD. This way I can read them on my computer or my iPAD. This freed up space for my other genealogy magazines. I plan on going through those and pull out the articles that interest me and throw the rest away. This is a project I usually do in the spring as part of my spring cleaning project.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 26 - Bid on Genealogy Items

January 26 – Run Ebay searches on genealogy plus your family surnames and the places you research. Click Save This Search so you’ll get an e-mail when an item you might want comes up for bidding.

Even if you are unsure about bidding on an item, just watch and decide in the last minutes of the auction. Don’t get carried away with bidding. Make sure you check all your options, even think about looking for similar items at

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 25

January 24 – Explore online message boards for your ancestral surnames and places of residence. Start with the boards listed at <>; Bookmark the ones you want to come back to.

January 25 – Revisit the boards you bookmarked yesterday and post queries. Log your postings in your online research tracker.

I’m a firm believer in visiting and using message boards. It is always wonderful to find distant relatives. However, most people don’t know how to create good messages. For one thing, you should be as specific as possible in your questions, no broad questions, those are too overwhelming. Also, make sure to give plenty of information of what you already know, so others can easily figure out if this person is one in their tree. Example of bad query: I’m looking for any information about John Smith of Portland, Oregon. Example of good query: I’m looking for the parents and siblings of John Smith, born 3 May 1850 in Portland Oregon; he married Sue Jones 28 June 1872 in Portland, Oregon. He immigrated to the US in 1870. His parents were born in England.

Also, don’t include phone numbers or emails within the query. Message boards such as or allows you to set up a free account and your email information will be included with your account. Your user name will display with your post and when a user clicks reply, you will be sent a notification that someone reply to your post. This makes it easy to follow-up. Other boards may need to be revisited periodically to see if anyone replied.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23

January 22 – Today is the day to fill out your vital-records request forms, write out checks and sent them in. Okay today is Sunday, but you can have all the mail ready for Monday. Record the request on your newly created correspondence log.

Sunday is a great day to get any type of correspondence done. I reply to email today, of any request that I might have received during the week.
January 23 – Set up a spreadsheet to record and track your online research. Include columns for the date, Web address, database name, ancestors researched and information you discovered.

This is a great way to track your online research. I find it is always easier and quicker for me to type than to write on a paper form. Plus if you keep the file on your flash drive, you can take it with you from your desktop to your laptop.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 21

I don’t know where the days go. I meant to publish a yesterday’s blog and then never found time to do it. I’m sure the problem is this cold, or should I say cough that I am trying to recover from. It really takes a lot of my energy. I need to feel better by Monday because my beginning genealogy class is a go. The class will run Monday and Tuesday from 8:30am to 12:20pm each day. I am so excited and I am glad I verified my supplies for the class, so attending it will be a lot easier.

January 20 – Call your local public library or state archive and arrange a tour of the genealogy department. Make sure you learn to use the microfilm reader and computer databases.
Besides your local public library or state archive, visit your local genealogy library or Family History Center and arrange a tour of their facilities. Even though a lot of information is available on-line, you will not find everything on-line. Plus by visiting a genealogy library or Family History Center, you will find very friendly people staffing the library or center. They are more than willing to help you in your efforts.

January 21 –Create a genealogy correspondence log in an Excel spreadsheet or, if you prefer, on lined paper. Note: You probably will find a free form online to print out. List letters y send and receive, record requests, fees, dates and contact information. You may want one for email correspondence or create a correspondence email folder. You can move your sent emails into the proper location with-in your new email folder. Then when you get replies, you can move those to the same location..

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19

I have always wanted to teach genealogy classes. Last Fall I was lucky enough to be able to teach three different genealogy classes at my local community college. I taught a beginner’s class, a census class and an internet classes.

After teaching these classes, I found out what worked, what didn’t work and what needs to be modified. Therefore, today I spent the day revamping my course material, made photocopies of my course handouts and review my PowerPoint.
Last fall, I found that during my internet class titled “Finding your Roots Online”, one of my PowerPoint was wrong. I divided the four hour class into four subject matters and my subject matter on vital records is the PowerPoint that was wrong. When I create a PowerPoint, I used a template for the first subject matter and created the PowerPoint. Then I resave the PowerPoint under the next subject matter and change it for the next subject. It appears that I forgot to resave under a new name before working on the next subject matter and thus loss my PowerPoint for Vital records.

Today, I decided to re-create my PowerPoint for Vital Records. Luckily this process wasn’t as difficult as it was the first time. I just need to go over my class material that I read and follow and re-create the PowerPoint to aid in my presentation. This was a lot easier than thinking up everything from scratch.
January 19 – Plan to add ancestral meaning to this year’s holiday observances.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18

Today I went to my local genealogy society meeting. The annual fee is only $15.00 per member for a year. This is by far the best deal around. Even though I could attend monthly meetings for free, why would I not join the society? My small fee helps pay for services the genealogy society library offers. They now have WorldVitalRecords and Fold3 for patrons to use. I already subscribe to WVR but I wasn’t going to renew, because I don’t find enough records on this site to justify my subscription fee. Now I can use that subscription fee towards another site if I wish.

The monthly program was about Divorce in your family research and the special challenges that it offers. The program was presented nicely and entertaining because the speaker shared her own family divorce stories in process. I think this makes the program more memoriable.
January 18 – Use holiday cards and family newsletters to update your relatives’ contact information. Make sure everyone knows how to reach you too.

This is how I have always updated my relatives contact information. If your relative has their mail forwarding, you won’t know their address changed until their mail comes back to you. I always check the return address label to make sure it is the same address I send the holiday card to.
I use to hate family newsletters until I realized all the valuable information that it contained. The best newsletters will include dates for births and marriages. Sometimes they include death dates, but I hate those parts of the family newsletters. Saying goodbye to family is always hard. Even if you don’t know the person that well, I feel for the close family members.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17

Today I worked some more on the descendants of my great-great grandfather, John Thielke and Wilhelmina Buss.  I am researching their third child. It seemed like I found a lot more names and facts but when I sync my FTM file with my Ancestry’s file, the results were a little disappointing. I added 7 new people and made changes to 11 existing people and deleted 2 people. Actually I didn’t delete them, but merged then into one child. John and Wilhelmina had 10 children of which 7 were alive by the 1900 census. However, I have noticed that their children seem to use different names throughout their life. Their third child is a good example. I have her listed as Helen, Ellen, Helohne, Henry (on a census), and Lena (on another census). So today I selected Helen as the primary name and merged my “Henry” and “Lena” records into Helen. I am really confident that Henry was supposed to be Helen and the census had the sex wrong too.  This isn’t the first time I have seen the sex wrong for a person who I knew what their sex was.

I did manage to add 65 citations and made 1 citation change.  So this does show that I did input a lot of data. I’m done with Helen Thielke’s descendants and have printed some more records for input tomorrow.
January 17 – Make a list of vital records you need. Check each state vital-records office’s Web site for record locations and fees. Print out the required forms.

This is a pretty good suggestion, however, keep in mind that sometimes vital records are transcribed and found online. You may even find the actual image of some of these records on-line. Make sure you look everywhere before paying for state vital-records. My ancestor’s hail mainly from Wisconsin and they passed a law several years ago that makes all vital records $20.00 each. So now I only obtain records for my direct ancestors. Plus I now try to obtain only marriage certificates because it has two generations for two families, the bride and her parents and the groom and his parents. This is six names that I may get on one vital record.  Plus, the marriage date and sometimes the birth dates of the bride and groom, and even thou rarer, the parents place of birth.
Good luck in obtaining your families vital records, these primary sources are the backbone of your research.

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16

Today I received an email inquiry about my distant relative and how she had died. She lived for a while in the same house as my distant relative and rumor had it, that my relative had committed suicide. She was 18 when she died and that was 1916. My father previously had told me that he thought she was ill and died during the Spanish Flu. However, my research showed that the flu didn’t start until 1918. This doesn’t mean she didn’t die from an illness such as the flu, but since my father wasn’t born until 1928, his knowledge was second hand or whatever the family wanted him to know.

Since I no longer live in the state as this distant relative, I suggested to this person, perhaps she look up my relative’s death certificate and see what was listed as the cause of death. Another option would be to check old newspapers during that time and see if there was an inquest into her death. This person stated she has tried but it had proved to be too time consuming and complicated. Also, she stated that since this happened so long ago, they probably didn’t do inquest into deaths.
I reminded this person that even though is a great site (I use it regularly), it doesn’t have all records yet. That sometimes one still has to visit a local court house or library to find the information one is seeking. Also, I assured her that death inquests were done and in fact I know of at least two cases older than this death where inquests were done. One was a suicide by my great-great grandfather and another was a possible murder of a wife of a distant relative.  One can find some news articles covering the inquest and the results of these inquests.

But since this person was just curious and not related to my distant relative, her curiosity seems to have ended. Unfortunately for me, my curiosity seems to have peaked.
Today I was able to input all the Minnesota Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death information I had printed out several days ago. According to FTM Sync the following activity has occurred: People: 26 added and 15 changes, Sources: 3 added; Citations: 124 added and 1 change. Not too bad for one afternoon of work.

 January 16 – This Martin Luther King Jr Day, find out how your family may have been involved in civil rights movements. Start at the National Civil Rights Museum

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15

January 15 – Read what’s up in the family history on Genealogy Blog or start your own blog.

You don’t have to record something every day on your blog, and the subject matter can be anything you wish to share.
You can subscribe to your favorite Blog or as in the case of the Genealogy Blog, I get a daily/weekly newsletter to my email. Then I can click on links in the newsletter and it will take me to the article of my interest.

There are so many blogs out there on so many subjects. Try to find at least one that sparks your interest in any subject matter. If you don’t want to subscribe, you can always add it to your favorites and visit when you feel like it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14

January 13 – File loose documents in your family history binder or file folders. Is your research filing system the best one for how you work? See Sharon DeBartolo Carmacks’ Organizing Your Family History Search by Betterway Books for organization options.

I found this book very useful for me. I went from a binder system to file folder system. My system is based on my grandparents. My paternal grandfather’s and his ancestor’s get blue folders. My paternal grandmother and her ancestor’s get yellow folders. My maternal grandfather and his ancestors get green folders and my maternal grandmother and her ancestor’s get purple folders. I use both hanging and file folders. My hanging folders have family surnames on them. These are alphabetized. Then the file folders stored within the hanging folders have individual family groups. The file folder label has the husband’s name on the top line and the wife’s name, slightly indented on the second line. I capitalize the last names.
I don’t have file folders for every family group, but for my direct ancestors and their siblings. Their siblings’ descendants will be found in the siblings folder. I do have the ability to expand this filing system and create a siblings hanging file folder with descendants folders within that folder. Currently I haven’t done that yet, but I could see the need to do this when the folder get too cumbersome.

I don’t file loose documents until I have documented the source in my computer program. I also try to scan the document and file it properly on my computer. That is another subject and you will find helpful hints in Sharon’s book.
January 14 – Now that you have created all these file folders or binders, make an index of what’s in each file folder or binder. Post in on the front of the folder or binder. Create a master index, too.

Using Excel might be an easy way to keep these indexes. You can create a column titled, folder or binder. Then when you sort by folder or binder, you would have the individual index. You can then have a master index sorted by whatever method you want, by record type, by individual name or both.
The index doesn’t need to be too complex, perhaps just folder/binder; individual name, document type, document name. Example: SMITH , John SMITH, Census, 1850 US Census or SMITH, John Smith, Birth Certificate.

If you have a lot of people with the same name in your file, the individual’s name might include a date range such as birth-death as in SMITH, John SMITH (1832-1898), Census, 1850 US Census.
When creating your index, start off with more information, you can always remove a field if you find that it’s not useful or needed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 12

I have been working on finding the descendants of Herman Kepke (1861-1921) and Augusta Thielke (1864-1965)

As mentioned yesterday, Augusta had 7 children, 1 with her first husband and he was childless, plus 6 more with Herman her 2nd husband.
Some of the family appears to have moved from South Dakota to Minnesota. Using, I do find a lot of information on the South Dakota branches. Using I found a wealth of information on the Minnesota branches.

I did a search of Minnesota records only with the last name of Kepke and hit a bonanza of vital records. So I decided to start printing out the pages for input tomorrow. I know this is not very “green” of me, but I find it’s easier for me to see if I have the record this way. Of the 21 births listed, I only could not connect two of the names. I won’t print these at this time.
When I went to print their birth records, it gave me suggestions of marriages. I decided to print those too. Sometimes it would also suggest a divorce or a death and if they matched, these were printed too.

All these papers will go into my marriage folder for Herman and Augusta. Augusta is the sister of my great grandmother. I create a folder for siblings of my ancestors, and then I put all their descendants into that folder. I hope to print out a report of their descendants to place into this folder too.
Several years ago, I wasn’t able to find much on this branch. It’s amazing how much new information seems to appear on the computers these days. It makes expanding my family slightly easier. Now if only one of these Kepke descendants is also doing research, so we can touch base and fill in more blanks.

Task of the day
January 12 – Start a list of microfilm to order from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL) for viewing at the local branch Family History Center (FHC). Check each item in the online catalog to be sure it covers the right places and years. Keep in mind when you place your order, don’t order too many, because you might not find enough time to review them all. Start small and see how long one or two films take you to review before going crazy. Check with your local library and check to see they don’t already have it.

I have been finding a lot more information on and you may not need to order as many microfilms as in the past. Starting a list is always a good method, and remember to check out places on-line to see if you can obtain the same information elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11

Today I started reviewing the information on a relative’s on-line tree located at I started with the oldest child of my Great-Great-Grandfather John Thielke.

My project was Augusta Thielke 1864-1965.
She was married twice. Her first husband died shortly after the birth of her first child. Then she remarried and had 6 more children.

She was married during the 1880’s and I did find her in every available census from 1900-1930. I found her obituary but neither spouse obituary.
I have started researching her children, and I know is that her first child by her first husband, did not have any children.

Her second child, (first child for her second husband) had two children. I am continuing this branch before moving to the next child.
January 11 – Back up your genealogical data to CD or an online service. Send copies on CD to a relative.

This task is very important. You could also back up to a flash drive, or external hard drive. Perhaps you want a dedicated drive for your genealogy backup drive. Place a post-it-note with the date you backed up your drive. You may want to store the drive off-site, at a neighbor’s house, with a friend, and nearby relative. If you have enough space, make sure to backup not only your database, but your scan pictures and documents. Normal rule of thumb is back up anything you don’t want to lose, or would be difficult to recreate or replace. Think of all the time it took for you to scan pictures and documents. Perhaps you don’t even have all the original pictures or documents, how difficult would it be to recreate your collection. Therefore, back up everything and then you won’t have to recreate it.
Get in a habit to backup regularly. If you don’t work on your genealogy regularly, then backup as your last task for your genealogy each day you work on it.

If you work on your genealogy regularly, then you might want to back up more often. Every Friday as the last thing you do for the week, or Every Monday as the first thing you do for the week. Backup now, and then you will have no regrets later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10

Today I am following up on some information about my Great-great grandfather John Thielke. I have his marriage certificate which listed his parents as Charles Thielke and his wife Maria. John was married on 27 Oct 1863 in Milford, Jefferson Co, Wisconsin.

Facts that I have found on John and this marriage:
·         1839 John Thielke Born
·         1857 Aug – arrived in New York (abt age 18)
·         1863 Jun - US Civil War Draft Registration Record – John Thielke, age: 22 of Milford,                 Jefferson,  Wisconsin
·         1863 Oct – Married Wilhelimina Buss in Milford, Jefferson, Wisconsin
·         1870 US Census – Milford, Jefferson, Wisconsin
·         1880 US Census – Watertown, Jefferson, Wisconsin
·         1888 Naturalization Index – John Thielke date and port of arrival Aug 1857 New York
·         1895 WI Census – Watertown, Jefferson, Wisconsin
       o   John Thielke; 1 male, 4 females, 3 US born, 2 German born
·         1900 US Census – Watertown, Jefferson, Wisconsin
·         Death Index 16 May 1903 – John Thielke (b: 21 Sept 1839)
·         Death Index 23 Jan 1906 – Wilhelimina Thielke (b: 19 Dec 1842)

Things to do:
I found a tree of a relative that had contacted me several weeks ago. So on my to-do-list for tomorrow is to explore her on-line tree located at She has wonderful pictures and newspaper articles to review and new names that may need to be inputted into my file.

I look forward to tomorrow research day.

January 10 – It’s the 91st anniversary of the bank of genealogy everywhere; the fire that burned the 1890 census. Actually, not only fire, but smoke and water damaged much of the 1890 US Census in 1921. Then most of the remaining records were destroyed by bureaucracy and lack of care.
Search online for reconstruction projects and substitutes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9

January 9 – Get over those post-holiday blues by reviewing your family data for missing information. Update your pedigree charts and family group sheets if necessary.

Some genealogy programs, such as Legacy allows you to print out a narrative with blank lines for missing data. This is a great way of visually see what information you are missing. Plus this is a great way to get family members to fill in the blanks. Just mail them a copy of their portion of the report and ask them to fill in any known blanks.
If your program doesn't have a nice feature as Legacy, most genealogy programs allow you to print blank lines via the family group sheet.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8

January 8 – Start a research log or journal. You can download a free template (along with other forms, some of which you’ll use later) from

Free research logs that you want to print can be found in more places than just, you could try or Just use your favorite web search site and type in “free genealogy research forms” and see what you find. Find a form you are comfortable using. You could always create your own form but look at other forms and make sure you are not forgetting to record anything important.
If you are trying to stay green, you could use your computer, smartphone, tablet or iPad to record your research log. Just use a simple word processing program to type in your efforts.  I’m going to be using this blog when I find time to actually do some research to record what I have been doing.
Another option might be just a simple notebook dedicated for your genealogy research efforts. Start each page with the date, what your goals are such as finding Great-Great-Grandpa John Thielke’s parent’s burial place. Then start recording where you have looked, what you found. Perhaps you find other information during your search and you want to come back later. You could easily place a post-it-note flag on the page in your notebook. You could highlight the text that you are flagging. When you find time to follow-up on that flag, remove the flag from that page and of course start a new page with those research notes efforts.
You might wonder “Why do I need to bother with all this extra work?”  You will appreciate being able to go back and review your research efforts. First, it may prevent you from repeating the same steps that resulted in no results. Let’s say that I was unable to find John Thielke’s burial place, I could review where I have looked and continue my efforts on another day, perhaps months later. 2nd, it may help to look at your notes with fresh eyes. Also, what a wonderful gift to give the next generation that continues your work, they will be able to follow in your steps. This is a wonderful place to record websites you visited. I know I have wanted to return to hidden treasurers and when I type in the same phrase into the same search engine, I get different results and can’t find that darn website again.
If you are researching a lot of branches, you might want to create separate notebooks, one for your maternal line, another for your paternal line, or even divide up based on Ancestral Surname. The inside cover of the notebook would be a great place to list all co-lateral line surnames that you might come across. If you just what one notebook; perhaps use different color highlighters and highlight the top of the page with a color that corresponds to the proper ancestral line. Such as pink for your maternal mother’s line, and blue for your paternal father’s line, green for your paternal mother’s line and yellow for your maternal father’s line. These colors end up matching my filing folders where I file everything. Of course this is another subject.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7

January 7 – Review notes from your family history conversations with relatives and add new information to your charts.

I receive a lot of emails from distant relatives where we are sharing information about different branches of my family. I have developed a habit when dealing with these emails. I try to deal with the email immediately. I add new information to my database and reference the email as my source. However, if I don’t have time to deal with the email, I will change the status of the email as unread.  I make sure that I don’t let more than a week lapse before adding new information to my charts. I make sure I respond to the email if they are requesting new information. Even if I don’t have time, I will let them know when I will make time to deal with their request.  This way it forces me to meet that deadline. No one expects you to drop everything to deal with their request, but it is rude if you don’t reply or acknowledge receiving their request. Especially if you want to keep receiving help from your relatives, you want to make sure you make them feel important and worthwhile.
However, if you have been putting off dealing with these types of correspondence and now have a pile of these waiting for your attention, do it today. Start with the oldest and go through your pile and handle as many as you can today. If you have too many, then make sure you do either a set number of them each day you set aside for your genealogy or a set time frame such as 30 minutes at the beginning of your research day. There could be valuable leads hiding in these notes. Remember, don’t work harder but smarter.

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 6

January 6 – Drop off holiday film for processing or upload digital photos.

Boy you can tell by today’s tip-of-day that this is from 2006. When was the last time you purchased film for your camera or had a camera that needed film? Well I saw on the news last night that Kodak stop producing film about two years ago. They may be going belly up, which is a shame because Kodak is a name that I trust.
I can’t stress enough that we all need to upload digital photos on a regular basis. On vacation, I lost my digital camera and I hadn’t uploaded the photos, from the previous vacations. I am heartbroken about losing the pictures more than losing the stupid camera. I was so mad at myself. The only good news was that I was able to purchase a new digital camera at an excellent price. The camera that I wanted was on sale and because it was on closeout and the display model, I saved even more. The store had the instructional manual and all the cords, just no box. I would have thrown the box away anyway.

So make sure you upload your digital photos to your computer and back them up right away. Make sure to do this right after you get home from whatever event you took pictures at or at least before you go to the next event that you plan to take pictures at. Buy more than one card for your camera, and take the empty card with you and leave the one with the pictures at home. If you are going to be gone a long time, make sure to have enough cards for your camera. Consider bringing a laptop with you so that you can upload pictures during your vacation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5

January 5 – Take that shipping trip to an office supply store and stock up on file folders, notepads, mechanical pencils or whatever’s on your list.

Remember the list you created back on the 3rd. Now is the time to see what you really, really need and purchase them. If you are low on an item and it’s not on sale, what until it goes on sale or until you really, really need it, whatever one comes first. Again, remember, NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. IF you can avoid it, don’t pay for full price. I will mention Staples again, only because it is the only store in my rural area that I can go to. But they offer a preview of the Sunday ad, usually around Friday or Saturday. This way you can see ahead of time if any of your items will be coming on sale. Don’t forget to sign up for a rewards card and recycle your printer cartridges. You will earn rewards checks that you can use to buy more supplies from Staples. For example: This week I took 3 cartridges in to recycle and purchased more than $50 in ink, thus my cartridge reward increased from $2 to $6. Therefore instead of earning just $6 in ink rewards I earned $18 in ink rewards plus I earn more rewards in all my purchases. Win, Win.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4

January 4 – Spent too much on holiday gifts? Evaluate your 2012 genealogy budget. For tips on curbing research expenses, see various magazine articles that have been written over the years.

Here are a few that I have come across.
  • Go to the Library and use their Library Edition to lookup records, besides all the genealogy holdings they might personally have.
  • Visit a neighborhood Family History Center
  • Surf the Free Web Sites.
  • Request a free lookup.
  • Subscribe to a free genealogy e-mail newsletter
  • Submit on-line queries asking for much needed information or documents.
  • Print free blank forms on-lines, no need to pay for your research form.
  • Practice good record-keeping. Avoid requesting for a duplicate record.
  • Take advantage of free demos and downloads. Software can be expensive, try before buying.
  • Join a genealogical society. The resources the organization offers to its members can be a real bargain.
  • Maximize your spending. Before signing up for multiple societies or online subscriptions, know what you’re getting. Shop around, wait for deals and make sure you not signing up twice to access the same information.
  • Consider self-publishing (on-demand printing) rather than short-run publishing. But consider publishing to help raise funds but with on-demand printing save on storage, shipping and handling cost.
  • Share your family history on-line to reach a wider audience and help expand your tree.
  • Attending seminars or free events at your local library, genealogical society or even college. A great way to build your research skills and network with other like-minded people.  Even if the seminars are not free, you get a lot of value for your money.
  • Consider group rates, when it comes to research trips, you’ll find savings in numbers. If an organization in your area is planning on a trip, going with them might save you money.
  • Why pay for a map for your  ancestor’s hometown when you can request a map through the local chamber of commerce or tourist agency.
  • Go Digital… It used to be that one should get a camera, but most smartphones have camera’s and you can even download an app to scan documents. You might consider a Tablet or iPad to take pictures, scan and record notes.
  • Make low-cost copies. As mentioned above, you might want to cut back on paper copies and use your digital camera to take pictures of records.
  • Look for book bargains via free online collections.
  • Never pay full price. Look for bargains, shop discount sections, use coupons, check out ebay, find the sales.
  • Save on Vital records cost; ask for uncertified copies of vital records if you can. Some states offer these at a much lower cost.
  • Join a mailing list or subscribe to a genealogy blog.
  • Divide and conquer – ask your relatives to help out and sharing the workload can help you save time and money.
  • Pay it forward – lend a hand and volunteer your time. Help with online indexing projects or volunteer at your local genealogy library.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 3

January 3 – Take an inventory of your supplies and research materials. List items you still need to research more efficiently.

This is my favorite tip-a-day. I love supplies and research materials. I do have a slight buying problem when it comes to supplies and research materials, so keeping a list of items is very cost effective. This summer I discovered that I ordered a duplicate book of one I already had. Argh, I can’t pass up a bargain, but this was stupid. I could have used the money to buy something else. So today, I will record all my books in a spreadsheet log. As for office supplies, I have plenty. I usually shop for the bargains at Staples. I start at the clearance items and see what I can get for a deal. Then I stock up on items when they are on sale. One of the best times is around the back to school sales; I have picked up many items at ridiculously inexpensive prices. However, I have to limit how much I stock up with. Markers and Highlighters will dry up before I use them; I have pens and pencils coming out of my ears, and so many pads of paper of every size imaginable.

However, if you are not a supplies and research material junking, remember to stock up on supplies when they are cheap and when you get low, then look for sales and buy more when they are on sale. Never pay full price for anything unless you really have too. I have containers in my office where I separate all my supplies and I can easily see when I am running low. I get a lot of free stuff when I attend my husband’s conventions and companies will put out pens, pencils, highlighters, notepads, post-it-notes, post-it-notes flags, calculators, rulers, magnifying glasses, etc… Now I have to stop collecting all these items, because I have too much. I share what I can with my fellow researchers, so this makes me feel good.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2

January 2 – Formulate several goals and develop a solid research strategy for achieving them.

Developing a genealogy research plan is the essential first step to making ancestral breakthroughs. Adapt this easy five-point strategy to suit your needs.

1.       Set an objective: What do you want to learn, your ancestor’s marriage date? His spouse’s name? Where the couple was living in 1836? Be as specific as possible

2.       Note the facts: Record what you know from original documents and records. Include names and spelling variations, family relationships and dates of birth, death and marriage

3.       Develop a hypothesis: Make some guesses based on what you know. Estimate when your ancestors married, speculate on the spouse’s name, and consider probable hometowns.

4.       Seek your sources: Research which records will likely prove (or disprove) your hypothesis. Find out if they’re available, where and in what format. List all the options.

5.       Take action: Decide the order in which you’ll seek the records, and how to get to them.

Some of my goals for this year are as follows:

1.       Find out more about John Thielke. Now that I found his parent’s name from his marriage certificate, find out siblings, when and where his parents died. I found his mother living in Wisconsin in 1860 but I don’t find John on any Census for the same year, yet he was in the US by 1860 according to a later Census record.

2.       Work on my genealogy class materials. Make adjustments to handouts and PowerPoint as needed. Get this done by the 20th of January.

3.       Work on my Hilts and Hiltz Cousin Blog. Follow up on some leads on some of the unknown lines. Make contact with fellow researchers and see where they got their information from.

Those are my beginning goals for 2012. I know to keep them simple and go from there. As I accomplish a goal, then I can add another in its place.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1

This past summer I came across an old article from Family Tree Magazine titled 365 Ways to Discover Your Roots. It claims that I can make 2006 a breakthrough year for my family tree quest with their tip-a-day research calendar. When I saw this article back in the end of 2005, I had the best of intentions to try the 365 ways. I think I did a few days here or there but I failed back in 2006. After all, life happens, other things such as family, work, chores seem to take priority, sapping my focus and motivation.
Well its 2012 and I have decided that I am going to try each tip, each day. Hopefully I won’t miss too many days with vacations, sick days or etc.

So I am hoping  that I will stay on course  as I journey yearlong, finding way to incorporate a little family history into each day. Each day, I’ll try a tip or a task to boost my research power and know-how. I’ll follow along and hopefully I’ll wrap up 2012 a more organized, knowledgeable and enthusiastic genealogist.
January 1 – Pull out your calendar, study your genealogical to-do list and make your research resolutions, whether you want to take a family history class, bust a brick wall or finally get organized.
Well, I think I am ahead of the game. This past year, I have created a to-do genealogy folder where I place items in it that involve a field trip. My field trip is visiting county court houses back in Wisconsin. So when I go back to visit family, I have a folder where I can go and lookup up certain facts. This is how I found my great-great grandparents marriage certificate. Many other researchers had listed that they were married in Germany, however, according to Census records; it appeared they were married in the United States. I took a chance and looked up the record in the county that they appeared to have lived their entire married life and I found the record along with another generation (their parent’s names).
Also, this past year I attended my first family history seminar. It was wonderful, and that is where I got the idea to start this blog. Plus I started teaching genealogy classes at the local community college. I learned a lot while researching for the class and it was a lot of fun. I hope to teach more this spring, as long as I get people to register for the class.
However, to get organized is my most difficult task to handle. This is a never ending job. This past summer, I finally went through my stacks of genealogy magazines and threw them away. However, I tore out articles that sparked my interest or I wanted to follow up on, such as the articles that sparked this blog. I cleaned up my computer room, and created a stack of papers that I need to follow up on. But I haven’t really tackled this stack. I guess I just need to pull one or two papers from the stack each day I am at my computer and do something with the paper.
Okay, my year is pretty well planned out. I have a new tip to deal with each day, and hopefully it will force me to attack some of those tasks that we always seem to avoid.

If you need help with your genealogy research, follow along on my year journey and do each tip along with me.
HAPPY NEW YEAR and good luck in your research efforts