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#100DaysOfGenealogy Update

#100DaysOfGenealogy Update

Following April 2018 LDS General Conference, I set a goal to do 100 Days of Genealogy. I haven't been perfect, but quite frankly I've done WAY more family history work than I have since doing a family history project for one of my Young Women in Excellence projects. What I've allowed to "count" as family history has evolved, but it basically boils down to: searching for ancestors records in FamilySearch and Ancestry, indexing and doing temple work.

To keep track of my progress, I use HeyHabit. It's this awesome app (accessible as a Chrome extension so your calendar and to-do list come up every time you open a new tab in the browser, an iPhone app, or simply by going to HeyHabit.com) that my husband built to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and focus on creating habits. You can see how I'm doing on my family history goal below. It's been 51 days since I set my goal and I've done some family history work 39 of those days. As you can see from my metrics, I really struggle with Fridays and Saturdays :)

hey habit family history goal

As I've put an additional focus in my life on working on family history, I've felt a much greater love for my ancestors and closeness to them, and on days when I feel I haven't accomplished much else despite my best efforts it's been particularly helpful to me to feel I've done something incredibly worthwhile, even if it only took me 5 minutes to index a batch of names. Want to learn more about the joy of indexing? Check out this blog post. For more details on what I did to get started on my family history this go around (and an easy-to-find, concrete place you can start too), check out this other recent blog post

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The Joy of Indexing: 101

The Joy of Indexing: 101

Indexing is a fantastic way to get involved in family history, especially if family history seems intimidating and you aren't sure where to start. I've found it has become even more meaningful for me as I've engaged in the search for my own ancestors because of the gratitude I've felt for those who have indexed records before me to allow me to find information about my own ancestors lives—for me it feels like a way to pay it forward.

The change to web indexing (it used to be a program you had to download on your computer) makes it fast and easy to get started from anywhere and pick up right where you left off.

Start by going to FamilySearch.org and then clicking Indexing > Web Indexing.

FamilySearch Indexing

Once you sign into FamilySearch, you'll be dropped onto this Indexing home page. You'll be able to set goals here and track your progress, but to get straight down to business, click the blue Find Batches button.

indexing home page

This will show you all the batches currently available to index. You can choose the difficulty level, language, etc. that you're up for too!

beginning batches indexing

Once you're in your indexing batch here are a couple of my favorite features.

1) Handwriting examples! If you just can't figure out what a letter is, open up this panel and it will give you examples of different ways that letter has been written historically. These have been a lifesaver to me in the past.

indexing handwriting help

2) Special instructions. When I start indexing a new type of record, I like to click through the "?" icon for each field, so that I know what I'm doing—it makes a big difference. For example, did you know when typing a height listed as 6' 1", you should type 6 1 (without the foot and inch symbols)? I'd been doing that wrong for years!

Special instructions

As I index, I can't help but wonder who these people were and what their life story was. I look for connections to my life and family (one person with my birthday so far!) and each time I find one it makes me smile. The greatest joy comes from knowing that as I index, I'm helping make these records searchable so that someone who loves this person and is looking for them can find them. How cool is that?

Ready to start indexing? Try it out at FamilySearch! Want to create your own custom family tree to help remember your own ancestors! Get started here.

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How To Use FamilySearch If You Really Prefer Paper To Electronics

How To Use FamilySearch If You Really Prefer Paper To Electronics

I'm mostly a paper person. I mean, don't get me wrong, the digital age is AMAZING, and the resources we have at our finger tips (specifically in reference to genealogy in this context) are truly amazing. But I have SUCH a hard time keeping everything straight in my head as I click back and forth between different records in FamilySearch (or Ancestry). What's the solution? Use paper too... but be smart about it.

I once tried to print our my entire family tree from FamilySearch in group sheets. I think it works for some people. I mean, I got the idea seeing ladies with gigantic binders of genealogy 4 generations at a time. But it didn't work for me... it wasn't visual enough to give me the full picture.

This time around committing to genealogy, I've done something a little different. First off, we have our custom family tree print hanging on the wall that I use to ground myself in the big picture.

custom family tree print for home

Then I use computer paper, or even better, a large piece of IKEA roll paper to map out the specific family whose genealogy I'm fleshing out, and work on that sheet of paper until it gets too crowded.  I make sure that I have all the information I've found recorded in both Ancestry and FamilySearch, take a picture of it and then stick it with my genealogy stuff. In theory, I'll keep it, but if anything happens to it, no harm, no foul.

For me, the big advantage of this paper system is I know where I'm at, and where I'm going, and I can easily track my progress and be thorough and methodical about it, without getting lost in the weeds. There are a million ways to do genealogy, but here's the paper outlining technique that works best for me:

  1. Decide what area of my genealogy I'd like to work on.
  2. Outline what I know (or think I know) in pencil on a sheet of paper. Normally I start from what's in my FamilySeach tree for this, and write names as well as birth, death and marriage dates. Make sure to leave plenty of room for adding new information!
  3. Start searching for sources using Ancestry and/or FamilySearch! When I source something I make note of it (I've got a color system using marker dots!) on the paper and then try to immediately add it to FamilySearch and link it on Ancestry. When I find new names or spouses, as long as they're sourced, I add them in pen, along with the appropriate marker dots.

Here's my current working sheet, hanging on the inside of our coat closet for safe keeping. I have it taped such that I can pull it off to work on it, and then mount it back up to keep it out of the way in our tiny student apartment!

family history paper outline

And here's a close up of the color system! I'm using purple to represent a marriage record, red to represent a death record and green for if I've entered the information I've found (in Ancestry) into FamilySearch!

close up of family history paper worksheet

What's your favorite system for organizing your genealogy work? I'm always looking to improve mine and would love your suggestions!

 

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What I Learned About Unconventional Framing From Stock Photos

What I Learned About Unconventional Framing From Stock Photos

As I was perusing stock photos for some inspiration, this gigantic poster hung with binder clips caught my eye, reminding me of the awesome and unconventional way that @magnifyingmotherhood framed her family tree print with binder clips!

framing with binder clips

I'm no art expert, but this gigantic poster looks like it was hung purely with binder clips (without modge podging onto a thicker board!), using binder clips at the bottom both for symmetry and for a little weight to keep the poster from blowing all around or curling. Genius! It got me thinking, and I continued to browse specifically looking for more unconventional framing solutions. 

Turns out there aren't as many as I was hoping to find, but I also loved these two examples of photos hung just with a thin strip of wood at the top and bottom.

framing with wood slats

framing with wood slats 2

It's something I've done before with super lightweight posters in our home, just using rubber bands to hold the two slats of wood together (typically the poster is sandwiched between two slats at the top from which the hanging apparatus is hung, and then also between two slats at the bottom to provide weight and prevent curling.)

If you aren't feeling a DIY on this one, this company sells slats with embedded magnets which look super cool. (Disclaimer: I haven't tried them!) If you are looking for a DIY option, you could go with my rubberband idea (you'll need to replace the rubber bands occasionally because they get old and snap!) or you could follow City Farmhouse's tutorial here. The only downside to this tutorial that I see is that she's nailing her picture into the slats... so you need to be committed to not wanting to do some other framing job with it later, or place your nail holes strategically so they won't show later!

My perusing also led me to these pictures mounted with pushpins onto wooden slats (how cool would this be with a huge family tree chart mounted on a pallet!) as well as this DIY acrylic floating frame. If you're a crafter... happy crafting! (Disclaimer: I haven't done any of these DIY's myself... so craft at your own risk!)

Ready to create a rad family tree chart to frame? Start from one of our family tree templates here.

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A Recap of What Living Prophets Said About Family History in General Conference April 2018

A Recap of What Living Prophets Said About Family History in General Conference April 2018

Each person who listens to General Conference has the opportunity to listen to the messages prepared and have different messages speak to their hearts. This most recent General Conference, one of the central themes that stuck out to me was the importance of doing family history work, so I wanted to take some time to collect what was said for my personal edification and thought I would share it with you all here as well!

Saturday Afternoon Session 

"Young Women In The Work" by Bonnie L. Oscarson 

Sister Oscarson mentioned family history work as one of many areas that young women can be involved in in contributing to their wards and families. She noted the example of

"several young women in the Las Vegas area who have been called to serve as ward temple and family history consultants. They were glowing with enthusiasm about being able to teach and help members of their ward find their ancestors. They had valuable skills on the computer, had learned how to use FamilySearch, and were excited to share that knowledge with others. It was clear that they had testimonies and an understanding of the importance of seeking out the names of our deceased ancestors so that essential saving ordinances can be performed for them in the temple."

Read the full talk here.

Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing by Elder Dale G. Renlund

Elder Renlund shared an example of the healing power of family history as he told the story of brothers Orson and Parley Pratt--brothers who had had a falling out and were then able to reconcile following the softening of hearts brought about by family history. Elder Renlund shares:

"When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind. Family history and temple work is not only for the dead but blesses the living as well. For Orson and Parley, it turned their hearts to each other. Family history and temple work provided the power to heal that which needed healing."

He continues:

"As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby, because the ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children."

He then goes on to provide a bulleted list of healing blessings we gain access to by participating in family history and temple work. "

  • Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
  • Increased influence of the Holy Ghost7 to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
  • Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
  • Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent8 because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
  • Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
  • Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
  • Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
  • Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
  • Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
  • Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
  • Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.9"

After sharing the story of a heart transplant recipient, Rod, with his donor family and the blessings experienced there, he reminds us of the words of President Russell M. Nelson. 

"We can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But we must do something to actually experience the joy ourselves...I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice—preferably a sacrifice of time—you can make [to] do more temple and family history work"

This talk was one of my personal favorites from this conference on family history, and I love the list of blessings he gives, as well as the reminder of the directive from President Nelson! Read the full talk here.

Sunday Morning Session

Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives by President Russel M. Nelson

Speaking of receiving revelation, President Nelson said:

"Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”13
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon,14and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you." (Emphasis added)
What an amazing promise from a prophet of God! Read the full talk here.

Sunday Afternoon Session

Prepare to Meet God by Elder Quentin L. Cook

Speaking of the restoration of priesthood keys in the Kirtland temple, Elder Cook reminds us that Elijah restored the

keys of the sealing power in this dispensation, which is family history work and temple ordinances enabling salvation for the living and the dead.12".

He goes on to say:

"Family history work, heaven-blessed by technology, has dramatically increased in the past few years. We would be unwise to become complacent about this divinely appointed responsibility and expect that Aunt Jane or some other committed relative will take care of it. Let me share President Joseph Fielding Smith’s jarring comments: “None is exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder [or sister]. Place, or distinction, or long service in the Church … will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.”16

We now have temples across the world and the resources of the patron assistance fund to help those in need who are far from a temple.

As individuals, we would do well to evaluate our effort in pursuing missionary work, temple and family history work, and preparations to meet God."

Read the full talk here.

Let Us All Press On by President Russell M. Nelson

While not overtly referencing family history as the previous talks have done, I thought that President Nelson's parting words deserved a place here as well. He admonished:

"I exhort you to study the messages of this conference frequently—even repeatedly—during the next six months. Conscientiously look for ways to incorporate these messages in your family home evenings, your gospel teaching, your conversations with family and friends, and even your discussions with those not of our faith. Many good people will respond to the truths taught in this conference when offered in love. And your desire to obey will be enhanced as you remember and reflect upon what you have felt these past two days."

Then later continued:

"Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.2"

Read the full talk here.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to have guidance and direction from living prophets and look forward to studying their messages in the coming months? What were your favorite quotes from General Conference? Share them in the comments below!

Also, if you're a visual person and think that having a visual representation of your family history would help motivate you, come check out our modern family tree charts and preview your personal family history in the template of your choice for free!

*For those of you who aren't familiar with LDS General Conference, it is an opportunity for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (and anyone else who would like to participate!) world-wide to hear inspiring messages and direction from our living prophets and apostles.You can watch and read sessions of General Conference at lds.org.

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What size can I print my family tree chart? Demystifying "resolution."

What size can I print my family tree chart? Demystifying

What sizes are your family tree charts available in? How large can I print my genealogy wall print?

Common questions we get that are really questions relevant to the entire printing industry. You have a digital file, but what size should you choose to print to bring it into the physical world?

Many vendors will give you a specific size with the digital file, but when in doubt a good rule to follow is

you need to have at least 300 pixels per inch.

In computer speak this is often seen as 300ppi or 300 dpi (pixels/points per inch or dots per inch). Printing actual photographs, you may want to go even higher res, but we'll leave that up to the photographers! Here we're focused on family tree charts. And 300 ppi will be plenty!

But how do we take this 300ppi information and answer the question of how big you can print your chart?

The short answer is that we designed most of charts (except for the themed children's charts!) to be printed as large as 24" x 36". If you're looking for a more precise answer, here's how to find the dimensions of your unique piece of digital art on a Mac!

Step 1: Right-click on the file name in your Finder window.

Step 2: Choose "Get Info" from the menu that appears.

how to find dimensions of your family tree chart

Step 3: Divide each of the "Dimensions" by 300, to find the number of inches you can print your family tree chart!

how to find high resolution dimensions of your family tree chart

Then just print any size smaller than that, and you'll be good to go! Looking for some more printing recommendations? Check out our printing guide!

Haven't made your chart yet? Get started using one of our amazing family tree templates here.

black circle family tree template

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DIY Non-Traditional Framing For Your Genealogy Wall Chart

DIY Non-Traditional Framing For Your Genealogy Wall Chart

We love being inspired by our customers and when Kelly over at @magnifyingmotherhood posted this gorgeous picture of her family tree chart we were beyond impressed!

Traditional framing can get expensive (shop the sales!), so DIY non-traditional framing can be a great way to save some money and create an even more custom piece to complement your unique style and space.

How did Kelly create this beautiful display? In her own words:

It was so easy!! I glued it with modge podge onto MDF board and then grabbed clips from Office Depot and hooked them on a nail - simple!!

Note: To save you all some googling, if you're not familiar with it, MDF board stands for medium density fiberboard, and you can get it at pretty much any home improvement store (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) When I've bought it before, they've cut it to size for me as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

Back to Kelly's setup. Since everyone was also asking about her adorable DIY flower box underneath we'll let you in on her secret. Again in her own words (thank you Instagram comments!)

They were on an old wreath that someone gave me and then it broke. So I ripped off the flowers (they are made of thin wood pedals) and glued them into the wood box. All about repurposing right?

Amen to that! Ready to create your own custom family tree so you can get framing? Choose a starting template here.

Want to check out Kelly's original post? View it here.

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Gaps In Your Family Tree? Embrace Them. They're Motivational

Gaps In Your Family Tree? Embrace Them. They're Motivational

When we attended Rootstech this year, we had our personal family tree chart on display at our booth, and people were in love. (No joke, 85% of the family tree charts we sold were this black circle template!)

black circle family tree chart

And we can't blame them--it's a personal favorite. But here's the problem. Our chart displays eight generations, and there is not a single blank. It's not a problem in and of itself. On the contrary, we celebrate that those ancestors are known and thank our aunts, great-aunts, grandparents and ancestors who were diligent family historians and worked tirelessly to find those who were lost--we personally can take very little credit. The problem is that it gave our booth visitors the false sense that to be beautiful and impressive, their genealogy wall chart had to be 100% full. Which is 100% not the case. In fact, we're big believers that charts with missing ancestors look amazing! Since it's something we get asked about with regular frequency, we've thought about it quite a bit and will happily recommend techniques for creating beautiful charts with missing ancestors to those that are concerned.

But why do we (in general) have this aversion to gaps? On the deepest level, I believe it comes from our honest desire find and save all of those who came before us and to whom we owe a debt of love and existence. Unfortunately, gaps may also occasionally carry with them feelings of guilt, frustration, and distress. We think to ourselves: "I really should spend more time doing family history!","I'll never be able to find so-and-so's parents! I'm not a professional genealogist.","If Aunt Sue couldn't figure it out, I'll never be able to.","Why don't I have pioneer ancestry going back to Adam like Sally Sue!" and so on. But it's not a competition. Nor is it even a race. Each family is unique and each family history comes with its own unique challenges: lack of records, adoption, family tensions, language barriers, etc. The good news is we can celebrate what we DO know, because we are LOVED and we are a part of something bigger.

During our Rootstech stint, we had a visitor who changed the way even I thought about gaps. She didn't want to just acknowledge them. She wanted to know if there was a way to highlight her missing ancestors, and help them stand out. She wanted to see exactly where there was work to be done and have that be front and center. How amazing is that? 

Note: For anyone interested, you can change individual cell colors like this.

There's no one right way to create a family tree chart, and our intention with this post is not to guilt trip anyone into showing every single ancestor they've found regardless of how many almost entirely blank generations they'd have to squeeze into their chart to make that possible. Why didn't we go out to the ninth generation (that does have some gaps!) with our own chart? Maybe we will next time we print it, but we wanted to make sure the text would be large enough to actually read. Display size, readability, and desired aesthetic quality are all important factors not to be discounted. But do be encouraged and not discouraged by the gaps in your family history. Feel the love for those not yet found, as well as for those who are known and choose to be motivated and think of these yet unknown names as opportunities for additional love and bonds yet to be forged.

Ready to make your own custom family tree? Choose a starting template here.

 

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How To Create a Family Tree For A Child

How To Create a Family Tree For A Child

Our family tree charts for kids are oh-so-cute, and having one in their bedroom is delightfully fun. At least, that's what we've heard from our customers, and what we've seen here at home. We made this cute whale chart for my son's room and then brought it with us to Rootstech to display. As we pulled it out of the suitcase as we were unpacking, he picked it right up and proceeded to totter around with it for 25 minutes (which is quite the attention span for a 15-month-old). Does he know what it is? I highly doubt it (even though I've talked to him about it several times), but he does REALLY like it. It could be the bright colors. It could be the unique shape (with all these cool flappy things on the back!). But I hope it's also because he has some sense that it's his.

Ready to get started making a family tree chart for your child? Here's how!

1. Choose a starting template.

2. Import your child's genealogy from FamilySearch or enter the names manually.

Pro-tip: You can just use YOUR FamilySearch account, and choose "Child of [Yourself]" from the drop-down menu for who is at the center. If you haven't synced with your spouse yet on FamilySearch, you'll want to either do that before or just enter their side of the chart manually--it's pretty fast for kids charts!

3. Play with colors!

This is my favorite part. Go to Advanced > Palettes, and click through different palettes to see what a pink ombre ladybug looks like, or discover how to turn a whale into a shark! You can also totally customize the colors by choosing Advanced > Colors.

4. (Optional) Add a text decal.

Since your child's name won't be displayed in the chart itself, you can add their name as a text decal at the bottom.

5. Order your chart and print it!

A normal home printer with normal printer paper works great for most kids charts. The colors may be a little off depending on how nice of a printer you have, but it should look great anyways :)

Ready to get started? Choose a starting template here.

 

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