Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March 1 - Women's History Month

March 1 – During Women’s History month, visit the History Channel, the National Women’s History Project and other Web sites to learn about your female ancestors.

Make a list of all your female ancestor’s that you don’t know their maiden names. Make some goals on how you will find out their maiden names, such as to find their obituary, death certificate, or marriage certificate.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 29 - Leap Day

February 29 – LEAP DAY. How will you spend your Bonus Day? You only get one bonus day every four years and how will you spend your day? Will you do research, file some papers, catch up on your reading or just take the day off?

February 28 - Review your to-do-list and research goals.

February 28 – Review your to-do-list and research goals. Cross off completed items and add new ones. Are you on track?

It’s always good to review your goals and to make new goals. I like to review my to-do-list to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. Start preparing for the 1940 census roll out on April 2nd.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27 - help with your family reunion

February 27 – Contact your family reunion planner and offer to help organize a family history activity. You’ll find 23 ideas in the June 2004 Family Tree Magazine, such as Ask everyone to bring an heirloom, photo or memorabilia and share a story about it.

February 26 - Persue some journal articles

February 26 – Peruse some of the journal articles on your reading list. Log your notes.

I love reading about genealogy every chance I get. With all the interesting blogs out there, you are bound to find one that sparks your interest. Check out a view and add the ones that seem interesting to your Google reader for easier access.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 25 - Call a faraway relative

February 25 – This month in 1927, a conversation between San Francisco and London set a long-distance telephone record. Call a faraway relative.

Just think how far a telephone conversation has come since 1927. One can Skype from San Francisco and London and see each other. This reminds me of the cartoon series The Jetsons, to be able to view each other on our TV’s and carry on conversations.

February 25 - Add photos to your genealogy software

February 24 – Add scanned photos to the family data in your genealogy software.

Since I don’t have many family photos, I treasure every photo I come across of my family. Sometimes the only photo I have is one of their gravestone, but I have been getting in the habit of attaching it to my genealogy software. This is the best feature with genealogy software. I am able to scan documents and save them as photos and attach those to my genealogy software.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23 - share your photographs

February 23 – Email or snail mail ancestral photographs to a relative who may have new information about them.

I wish I had ancestral photographs. This is something I am not lucky enough to own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22 - George Washington's Birthday

February 22 – George Washington is honored today. Could you be related to the father of our country? View his family tree at

Remember that George didn’t have any descendants but he could be one of your collateral lines. This is why doing your entire family history can be more fun than just looking for your direct line.  George had nine brothers and sisters. George is the oldest child of the 2nd wife of his father. Good hunting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21 - African-American family history

February 21 – Study the African-American family history research tools at AfriGeneas  and checkout the links found at .

Today I worked on my PowerPoint’s for my Finding your Roots Online course that I will be teaching tomorrow. I created a handout with the Google tips and tricks on doing searches since I noticed a lot of people were writing everything down during my prior class. I also added more screen views in my Ancestry PowerPoint so that I didn’t have to stop my PowerPoint to show the screen prints.
I worked on my PowerPoint for the April Genealogy program that I will be doing on Software reviews. I was asked to review Family Tree Maker, Legacy and Roots Magic. Even though I use Family Tree Maker I would recommend Roots Magic. It is the cheapest and appears to be the easiest to use. I like the ability to load the software onto a flash drive and being able to take the software with you to public computers. If a person was to store their database using, then they would have access to their database too. This makes the software package very appealing. Legacy seems very cumbersome to use, it seems to me that to do simple tasks takes a lot of work. For example to figure out the age of someone, you have to go to the function to do it, but in FTM, it will display the person’s age as part of their record. I still don’t like the way you source in Legacy but I do like the ability to create webpages but Roots Magic does that too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20 – Most federal and state office are closed for Presidents’ Day. But the Internet is always open – check up on your message board postings.

Typically for me, this is the day I do my Federal and State Income taxes. Since I usually have off today, and by now I should have all my forms, I find today is a nice day to do taxes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19 - create a reading list

February 19 – Download the free Article Reading List from and fill in journal articles you want to read.

February 18 - Move your photographs

February 18 – Move your photographs from their shoeboxes into the storage boxes you bought yesterday. Try to sort them chronologically and label the backs with names and dates if you know them.

Please label with special photo pencils or pens and don’t press too hard. Also, don’t label in the middle of picture, this way if you press too hard, you won’t cause a dent or wear point by the faces of the pictures.
P.S. Happy Birthday to my brother, Brian!

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 17 – Purchase photo-storage boxes, negative sleeves and photo-labeling pencil from a supplier such as Archival Methods or Archivers .

Basically we are getting ready to deal with all the photos and negatives we have accumulated over the years. Think about how many pictures we have that aren’t labeled, do we really want to leave our love ones in the same boat?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16 - Power up your online searches

February 16 – Power up your online searches by studying the database’s search hints pages and then use the advice.

I only recently learned some new techniques for using Google Search, see below for some of my favorites.

You can search any website that doesn’t have their own search engine by typing your search word or phrase and then the word site: followed by the website. Example: cemetery site: which will show all references of cemetery within the website. Then when you find the desire cemetery, if it has transcribe stones as part of the record, you could do a name search within the cemetery such as: crinion site: which lead me to cemetery stones for the Crinion family.
Searching for related websites is a possibility too. So if you find a website you like, you can then find all sites related to that site or sites that are similar by type . So if you find a type of genealogy site you really enjoy, perhaps you can find related sites.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15 - Work sideways

Research the sibling or cousin of an elusive ancestor.

This tip can be very helpful when looking for elusive ancestors. I have found siblings living with other siblings and their name missed spelled in Census Indexes and that is what makes them so hard to find. In my own life, I’ve had my youngest brother lived with me for about a year. My husband’s brothers have lived with us on and off over the years. Currently my two mentally disabled sisters live with us.

I also told my class today, that looking at neighbors might help find your ancestor. Let’s say you find your relative in the 1900 and the 1920 census but not in the 1910 Census. If the 1900 and the 1920 are the same area, look at neighbors from both census records and see if any are the same. If they are, then look for the neighbor in the 1910 census and see if you can find your relative. Indexes were created by people, and maybe they skipped your family or the name was very difficult to make out and it spelled in such a way you would have never guessed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14 - Happy Valentine's Day

Write a story of how your favorite ancestral couple (or you and your spouse met).

This made me realize that I don’t know exactly how my parents met. I know they were introduced via my uncle Russell Reilley. My mother was a widow with 6 children and Uncle Russell was good friends with my mother’s deceased husband. He was working with my father and thought that he and my mother would make a great pair. My father was single, never married, the youngest of three children, who was a father figure to his nieces and nephews (sister’s children) since their father wasn’t around. His older brother married a widow with two children. But I don’t know where they were introduced or if it was a blind date, double date or anything else about their meeting.

I met my husband at a bar of all things. I saw this handsome man talking to a friend of a friend. I asked about him and she introduced us. My friends wanted to go bar hopping to another bar and I told them to wait a minute while I use the bathroom. When I got out, no friends but this handsome man was standing there and told me that they went ahead and he would give me a ride to the bar. I had never been to that bar before and as we were heading there, he asked me if I really wanted to go to that bar. I said, not really and so he drove out to the countryside, found a parking spot and we talked for hours. The next night I had to babysit my niece and nephew and he came over and we talked some more. Then Sunday we hung out again, but I can’t remember what or where we went. That was a week after my 18th birthday (1981) and we have been together ever since.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13 - Godfrey Memorial Library

Look around the Godfrey Memorial Library ( web site. Look for reviews to help you decide whether to become a member.

February 12 - Linoln's Birthday.

Today’s the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Do a search and see if you can find his tree online.  Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, led the United States during one of its most trying and difficult times — the Civil War. During that time, President Lincoln used to walk alone at night to the War Department to find out the latest news. He was assassinated in 1865 while attending the theater. While his wife lived on, all but one of his children died in their youth.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 10 - Tun into a podcast; February 11 - Write a Character Sketch

February  10 – Tune into a genealogy podcast from the Genealogy Guys <>. Search for other podcast that might interest you.

February  11 – Write a character sketch (a simple description based on your research) about your favorite ancestor. See Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s “You Can Write Your Family History (Betterway Books).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 7, 8 & 9

February 7 – Read about Black History Month. Using your favorite search engine, do a search to read about Black History Month.

February 8 – try “e-scrapbooking” (designing scrapbook layouts on a computer) your digitized pictures and documents. See the December 2003 Family Tree Magazine.

February 9 – Create timelines for your ancestral families to place them to historical context. Genelines, a download from Progeny Software can make this task easier.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6 – Assemble a travel-friendly research binder

Assemble a travel-friendly research binder with copies of your pedigree charts and family group sheets, your to-do-list, a list of alternate spellings for surnames and places, and note taking forms.

This task is great way to be prepared when you are ready to take your research on the road. Even though you can find a lot of information on-line, you still can’t find everything and your research may need to be taken from the computer to the actual resource center, whether, courthouse, library, or cemetery.

I have started a research folder, where I have place on-line indexes that I have found, but need to look at the actual document to see if they are truly the person I want. For example, I might find a marriage index record that doesn’t list the parent’s names, only the bride and groom and thus I need to view the record to see if their parents are the one I think they should be, or to find out who their parents are.

Also, I will sort the information that I am wanting by county, and can determine if a road trip will be worthwhile based on how much research I will need for that county and the distance of travel. Most of my research is in Wisconsin but I live in Arizona. So when I go back to visit Wisconsin, I can determine which county will help my efforts the most, and perhaps the remainder will have to wait until another time, or find someone else to help with the lookup; such as a distance relative who is also researching that line, or through “genealogy acts of kindness”.

The information contained in these travel-friendly research binders can be stored on laptops, iPad’s, Tablets, or even smartphones. I have my entire tree stored on my smartphone through a program. Not only does it have ever person in my tree, but also my sources and notes. Even though I can’t modify or add to the tree through the smartphone, the information is there for me to review quickly. I also have my tree sync with and I can view it from any computer anywhere. I can also update or add to the data through Personally, I don’t like doing it this way, because I can’t cite the source the way I like, but I still have this option. I also, have my genealogy tree database stored with Dropbox and can access from anywhere. As long as the computer has my genealogy software on it, such as my laptop, I can update the information quickly. I don’t have to worry about moving it to my desktop, because the next time I use my desktop, the current information will be found through Dropbox.

As for note taking forms, most smartphones, iPads and Tablets have ways for you to take notes. You can then use those notes to input your information into your Genealogy Program when you get home, if you don’t have a laptop. I find traveling with a laptop isn’t as easy as traveling with my iPad. My iPad holds a charge must longer, can do more with taking pictures of documents or books. My smartphone has an application where I can “scan” documents and books.

The main thing I learned about today’s task; is to be prepared when traveling by bringing along all your information and your to-do-list (otherwise known as your research goals).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5 – put in your microfilm request

Gather your research materials and trek to your nearest FHC to put in your microfilm request. Bring enough cash to cover the rental fee. This task is from the 2006 article and today only 6 years later you can order them online.

According to website, FamilySearch’s Microfilm Ordering service is your gateway to a vast collection of genealogical and historical records. The service allows you to reserve and loan films to family history centers and affiliate libraries. The loan is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge for each film.

Ordering is simple:

·         Sign in using FamilySearch Accounts with the link in the top right corner. If you do not have an account, clicking the Sign In link will prompt you to Register.

·         Locate the microfilm number(s) you want to order from the Family History Library Catalog located on

·         Note: Before ordering any film, check to make sure the Family History Library Catalog does not have a digital copy online.  Also, make sure that your desired Family History Center doesn’t already have that copy of microfilm.

·         Select your loan type, enter the microfilm number, and click Search. Repeat this step for additional items.

When you are ready to submit your loan order, click the shopping cart in the upper right portion of the screen. You will then have a chance to review and confirm your order. After you submit your order, all films will be delivered to your designated family history center.

February 4 – Is your genealogy software working for you?

Check the manufacturer’s Web site for upgrades, or try out a different program. You’ll find software comparisons on-line, type “genealogy software comparisons” in your favorite search engine and read about it.

I’m a firm believer that there is no one ideal genealogy software for everyone. We all approach our research a little different and thus there are many different types of programs. I always recommend that people try the free downloads or trials. Input several generations, such as yourself and spouse and children along with your parents and siblings and your Grandparents and aunts and uncles. This gives you a feeling how easily or difficult inputting new data is. Don’t forget to try running various reports, input sources and try to export and input GEDCOM files. The easiest way to input GEDCOM file (if you don't already have a genealogy software package) is to download one from and then import it and see how it labels your import data. How does it source this information, how does it handle merging duplicate people and information? You don’t want to spend the money and time with a new genealogy software package, only to find out two months down the line that it doesn’t produce a report you really like using, doesn’t source your imported data the way you want it to source, doesn’t merge duplicate people the way you had hope.
Don’t forget to see how often updates become available. I personally use Family Tree Maker because it was basically the only one available back in 1997 that seemed to work the way my brain did. The downfall is that there seems to be an update every year. Even though I don’t update every year, before you know it, you are several updates olds and feel forced to update. This can get kind of expensive while other programs like Legacy seem to update every 3 years.

Check out the message boards and see what users think of the software. You can get a feel based on the questions asked. You will also learn about the special things it can do, when users ask if the package can do something and they get a reply telling them either no or yes and this is how.
Now, keep in mind, picking a genealogy software package is like buying a house. Unless you build the house to your specifications, you probably won’t find the “perfect” house. You may have to settle on your wish list. Make a pro and cons list and see what you are settling for. Determine your must haves and your would likes. Try to get the most of each. Good hunting.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 2 - Start a biographical worksheet.

Start a biographical worksheet for each person you’re researching (download one for free online). If you have a photo, include a copy on the sheet.

You can find a free form at I don’t know if I would do one for each person I’m researching, but I would do it for each ancestor of mine. This would give you a chance to review your sources and information you have for your ancestors. This is a great way to see if you are missing anything or possibly a new set of eyes will help think of a new place to look.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1 – Observe Black History Month

Read Alex Haley’s Roots (Random House, out of print). Although its research has been disputed, this book and the TV miniseries it inspired are often credited with sparking genealogy’s popularity boom.

I must admit, it sparked the genealogy bug in me. I remember watching this series with my mother and marveled how nice it would be to know my own family history like that. However, it also intimidated me, because my efforts were not giving me the results that Mr. Haley seems to have gotten. Good thing for me, it didn’t stop me from trying. When my first few attempts of trying to obtain information failed, I resorted to reading beginners books on genealogy from the library. This helped me realize that doing genealogy work was going to take more effort than what I had put into it. So 28 years later, I have collected over 11,000 names in my family tree, about 1,000 names in my half siblings tree (their father’s side only) and few 100 names in my husband’s family tree. I have files filled with census records, obituaries, vital records, birth announcements, death cards, marriage invitations, graduation cards, and more. Looking back onto that 14 year old who marveled at the Roots miniseries and then the 20 year old who started her own genealogy research project to today, I would never have guess that I would know so much about genealogy. However, there is so much more to learn. Not just about my family, but about genealogy in general. I haven’t used all the resources that are available and things are changing in the technology world involving genealogy. So much to learn and so little time to learn it in, I just love my

January 31 - The first month of 2012 has flown by

Review your genealogy progress, put up your feet and relax. If any of you are like me, this is no time to relax. I relaxed way too much during the month. I let lesser important things get in the way of my research time. To be honest, I did have more important things also that got in my way. However, the lesser important things seemed to get in my way more than the important things. Therefore, February will be a month that I will be more organized and focused. I have a couple of classes that I need to prepare for, but mostly, I need to work on more genealogy!!

January 30 – Find your nearest FHC.

Check the phone book or use the lookup on the FamilySearch home page ( I’m lucky to have a Family History Center in my town. With all this luck, I have only visited the center once. Why? You may ask, because I am unfamiliar with the center. I need to overcome my fear and go visit the Center and use their resources to get over my fears. I remember when I started doing genealogy research; I was about 20 years old, married and pregnant with my first child. I didn’t want others to know that I didn’t know what I was doing, so I muddled through it. Because of this, I made lots of mistakes. This will be goal, by the end of next week, I will revisit the center and allow the person to show me all the resources they have to offer.

January 29 – Play a family history board game with your family.

I did a search on Family History Board games and found the game “Family Tree” at which was created in 1982. I also found “Preserving Family Memories: A Game of Stories” at