Diggin’ Up Roots: grandkids can dig too

I am always looking for ways to get my grandkids excited about my genealogy hobby.  I shove it down their throats whenever possible!  My granddaughter, Phebe, wrote a book about a grandmother named Phebe for a school project.  She did a great job and I was proud of her effort to be involved in the family history.

My granddaughter, Phebe, standing by the headstone of the grandma Phebe Zundel Ward

My granddaughter, Phebe, standing by the headstone of the grandma Phebe Zundel Ward

I did hear of a few new ways to involve the grandkids at RootsTech.

  • One of the ideas was said jokingly, but I actually thought it was a good idea:  make placemats of the family tree!  It would certainly start a great conversation at Sunday dinner, don’t you think?  I even found some examples at preservingheritage.blogspot.com.
  • Another idea came from a talk that referenced a study at Emory University involving the “Do You Know” test.  I googled it and am going to use it in the near future, again a Sunday dinner gem.
  • Someone mentioned having the family do a life map activity.  Each person would write down on a piece of paper as many “I remember” statements as possible within about 2-3 minutes.  Then they could draw a life map using those statements.  I want to do this and record the whole activity.
  • Also check out this cute Time Machine book at zap the grandmagap.com.

There are lots of ideas for involving those grandkids.  I will post more as I find them.  Am I alone in fearing that when I die no one will be interesting in furthering our family history?

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Diggin’ Up Roots: the art of note taking

I am an Evernote lover.  If that word is foreign to you, stop reading this post and download Evernote to your computer, your laptop, your tablet, your smart phone now!  I guarantee you will wonder how you ever lived your life without Evernote!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

There were several good RootsTech classes on using Evernote, and Lisa Louise Cooke has good webinars for it, as well as DottoTech.

Without giving you a whole Evernote tutorial (you can find lots of them on youtube), I will just say that you can use Evernote for everything from basic note taking to digital genealogy files.  When we “go to town” once a week for groceries, I am completely lost if I don’t have my phone with my list on Evernote.  If I have a brilliant thought, even in the middle of the night, I reach for my phone and click on Evernote to record that thought.  Anything I don’t want to forget becomes a note in Evernote.  When I find and scan an ancestor picture, it goes into Evernote.  When I take notes at RootsTech, they are stored in Evernote.  If a friend tells me how to make her scrumptious blond brownies, the recipe goes in Evernote.  You can save an entire web page with one click.  These are some examples of my genealogy notes/files on Evernote:

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Postcard sent to my grandmother

Class notes

Class notes

Cemetery photo

Cemetery photo

And best of all, no matter where I am or what device I have or don’t have with me, I can access my Evernote files.  Your notes are stored in the cloud and you don’t have to worry about them.  You can organize them in any way using notebooks and you can search by word if you lose a note in your filing cabinet.  It’s like carrying my office around with me!  My genealogy is at my fingertips as well as the most mundane items of my life.

Evernote is free unless you use too much space, but even at that I only pay $5.00 per month for all this peace of mind.

Seriously, it would take many long blog posts to outline the benefits, so just give it a free try and I know you will love it for storing your genealogy.

Diggin Up Roots: lost and found

This post is one I didn’t plan to write – until this weekend’s traumatic event involving computer and quick finger!  Last year at RootsTech I was introduced to Backblaze.  I had been using another cloud backup service, but Backblaze is only $5 per month for unlimited service, so I switched.  I had lost a gazillion music files when my external hard drive just gave up the ghost a year ago, so I had already learned that lesson.  Yes, I have a new external hard drive, but I don’t trust it, so letting someone else backup my computer was a better choice for me.

This weekend I had to rely on Backblaze and they came through.  On Friday I temporarily installed a software program on my desktop for one of the grandkids.  There were several icons installed.  On Saturday, I wanted to get all of that software off my desktop and I saw the “uninstall” button and clicked on it (without really paying attention or reading the fine print).  Suddenly, every file saved on my desktop was gone, lost for good!  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have kept important stuff on the desktop, but I was accessing it every day, all day, and it was just easier – all of my blog ideas, pictures and instructions, but most importantly EVERY FILE on the children’s genealogy book I’m writing!  I nearly had a heart attack!  After frantically searching and determining that it was all really lost, I tried to do a system restore, but for some reason that failed – a couple of times.  I was getting all kinds of messages with the words “corrupt, invalid, error,” etc.

Then suddenly I remembered – BACKBLAZE!  My internet connection isn’t the world’s finest, but it’s all I can get, so it did take some time to restore those files, and I had to do it in small chunks, but finally this morning everything was found and is back on my computer, so I am very grateful!!! I am also making a reminder to back up my genealogy on my external drive at least weekly and especially before I install or uninstall any software.

So my message today is simple:  Make Sure You Have a Cloud Backup!  There are several services and many reviews written about them.  Do your homework, pick one, and get some peace of mind.

Diggin’ Up Roots: pin-ups

Have yPinterest_logo-3ou ever considered Pinterest as a research tool for your genealogy?  I use Pinterest for projects I’m planning, things I see online that I don’t want to forget about, recipes, and other interests.

And at one point I did add a genealogy board, but then kind of forgot about it.  At RootsTech, my memory was jogged, so I came home and did some pinning.

Some of my Pinterest boards

Some of my Pinterest boards

I was quite surprised at the genealogy information already on Pinterest.  There are some great helps and ideas.  I realized that I should  keep “pinning” some of the images I use in my blog for those who love Pinterest, but have not yet discovered “Girl With a Past.”

If you are a fan of Pinterest, a genealogy board might be just the thing for you!  Take a look at my Pinterest Genealogy Board and hopefully it will give you some ideas.

Diggin’ Up Roots: dig those stories

One of the most interesting events for me and my sister was to attend the Innovator Summit Challenge at RootsTech where four entrepreneurs presented their ideas for genealogy technology.  It was done kind of like “Shark Tank,” but in a more gentle manner!  All four of the ideas were so good that it was hard to vote for just one, but the audience was asked to do just that.  The panel also voted.  Each of the four participants was awarded a cash prize, but the grand prize winner was StoryWorth, a company based in San Francisco.  The premise of their website is simple – “Each week, we email your loved ones a question about their life.  All they have to do is reply with a story, by email or by phone.  We save their stories on your private site and email them to your family.”  It is a great way to get your family to write their stories and the first month is free.  After that the pricing depends on the length of the service and the number of storytellers involved.

If you don’t want to use their service, it is still a great idea that you might be able to handle on a smaller scale with your immediate family.  It would be more time consuming, but it could be done.  Or just let StoryWorth do it for you!

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There are so many great stories buried in our families, and probably many of them will stay buried unless we make a goal to do something about it.  StoryWorth is a great way to get started.

Diggin’ Up Roots: RootsTech in general

I was so inspired by the RootsTech Conference last week and in the coming weeks I plan to share some of the tips and helps I found there.  Next year’s RootsTech is February 3-6 in Salt Lake City and I highly recommend it.  If you register, make sure you check the box for the “events,” as these were a lot of fun and were free.  RootsTech is sponsored by FamilySearch and their partners.  For beginners, intermediate, or advanced genealogists, it is wonderful!

Some of the highlights for me were former First Lady, Laura Bush and daughter, Jenna; Tan Le; and Donny Osmond.  Besides being so educational, the whole weekend was great fun, mostly because my sister from Wisconsin attended with me.

donny