Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Of Cradle Rolls, Adoptions and Ubiquitous Organizing

Next month we have another Friday meeting, February 15!!!  Mark your calendar. 

Ubiquitous? Everywhere present, constantly encountered.  An apt description of Organizing in January. Especially for genealogists.  Organizing seems to be our nemesis and tips are ever present in blogposts, podcasts, webinars, magazines and lists of goals for the new year.  Even at our Genies meeting. 

Obliquity?  You'll need to turn to Linda's blogpost below for the definition of that word. 

Our group has turned out just the way I hoped.  A time for genies to make friends, share our successes and help each other uncover our family connections. 

The “success of the season” belongs to Margie C.’s family.  After 50 years of searching for their niece, she found them.  After Margie’s brother’s death in a plane crash in Alaska, they knew he had a daughter but they didn’t know her name or her mother’s name after she re-married.  The poignant retelling brought shared tears around the table.  A long-awaited reunion will take place soon.  Thanks, Margie. 

Linda Lambert brought along her mother’s cradle roll certificate and has posted “Cradle Rolls, Rabbit Holes, Serendipity Obliquity” on her blog.

 I always enjoy Linda’s word selection and unusual turns of phrases.  And especially her purple-themed photos that personalize her blog.  You can subscribe to her posts in the lower right corner.

Joe and Marjie F. spent July cleaning out Joe’s childhood in New York.  Marjie says they hadn’t thrown anything away since 1930.  What a job!  Joe brought back a wall-sized family tree from Adam and Eve to Jesus.  I have it in the Genies collection now for your enjoyment. 

Marjie is enjoying Loretta Willem’s writing group on 1st Mondays along with Linda B. and Elizabeth.  Marjie says Loretta really has gotten her writing and the class gives people a feeling that they can really can write.

David R., still here after the holidays, got tips in his search for his cousin’s adopted daughter’s birth parents.  This is a good place to come.  Several regulars are adopted and Cheryl has made the search for other people’s birth parents her life work.  They mentioned how to get non-identifying information which can be very helpful.  It has to mined for clues.  We are reminded that you don’t need a name to search; you can try a date and place alone.  Also if you have a birth certificate number, they often kept the original number after the names were changed to the adoptive parents.  Using the certificate number, you may turn up the original with the birth parents’ names.  Best advice:  try everything and don’t stop trying. 

I have been reading and listening to lots of info on Organizing Genealogy.  There are many methods and tips.  It seems like the bottom line is:  Find a system that works for you; that is, one that you will stick to.  There is always a question about whether to use paper or digital files.  I find that a mix works for me.  When I am actually researching, I need to be able to write things down.  Having a spiral notebook or pad seems to work for a lot of people.  But when I find the answers and documents, I find online storage works for me.

I recently set up a new system of using manila folders for projects (large and small) that are actually in progress and for ideas that I stumble on for lines I’m not currently working on.  I don’t want to file these away in my family binders…never to be seen again.  Linda L. and Sylvia also started folder systems. 

Sylvia is a using a folder system for her DNA matches.  Remember her DNA match profile form from last week.  Each match has its own folder containing the profile form along with her hand-written work notes and, very important, their color-coded family trees.  Sylvia and CeCe Moore tell us that you need to just build trees for your matches who don’t have them.  Cheryl, too.  When will I start building trees, seriously and constantly, like they do?

A big thank you to Cheryl who is still working on David’s Culver DNA matches.  It is a huge job and she hasn’t given up yet.

Remember Friday, February 15 for the next Genie meeting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Challenge, Anyone?

This time of year my inbox is alive with Challenges of every sort.  There’s the Total Aliveness Challenge and the 30-Day Yoga Challenge, the Detox Challenge and the Seven-Day Rescue Challenge.  I fell for the first two and bypassed the last two. 

For me a Challenge gives me some new ideas to replace the old ones that aren’t working.  Some I sign up for just to see what they have to say.  And after listening to the Getting to Good Enough podcast (where they say “Done is better than Perfect”), I know it is OK to take 60 days for the 30-Day Yoga Challenge.  We can make up our own rules, you know.

Last week I told you about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge.  Now I’ve found a challenge that I will actually do. 

For those of you interested in methodology and improving your genealogy habits, there is 14-Day Research Like a Pro Mini Challenge.

I’ve mentioned a mother-daughter team that blogs at Family Locket.  The mom Diana Elder is a professional genealogist and they wrote an e-book Research Like a Pro available at Amazon.  I’ve been following their podcasts since they started last summer.  The first 7 episodes explain the seven steps in their Research Like a Pro process. 

They are personable teachers with good explanations.  No hype, no jingles, no advertising. 

For the 14-Day Mini Challenge you pick a do-able objective and they will step you through the process with daily emails.  Read the details here:

It starts next Tuesday so don’t delay.

One more time:  Genies Meeting is this Friday, January 18 at 1:00.  See you there!

Monday, January 14, 2019

At the Intersection of DNA and Organizing

Remember:  Genies monthly meeting is this Friday, January 18 at 1:00.

Two of my challenges come together in this post.  DNA and Organizing.  One of the biggest challenges about using DNA is trying to keep our information about matches straight.  No one has come up with a method that works for everyone so there are many routes to try.

Today I am featuring a form that Sylvia developed to keep track of her matches.

Sylvia is really deep into identifying her father and DNA is critical in her search.  She has to identify which matches are on her father’s side and how they relate to her. 

Sylvia has settled on a page to record information about each match and she sent along the Word document she uses.  She records info from the DNA match but also goes to the profile to gather some more details. 

Here’s a miniature version.  If you would like the actual Word document, I would be happy to send it to you.


NAME OF TREE MANAGER______________________________________ SAME AS MATCH? YES NO

MANAGER’S RELATIONSHIP TO MATCH [IF NO] _____________________________________ (E.g. family member, friend, researcher)

AGE/AGE RANGE OF MATCH ________________________________________


DNA SHARED WITH MATCH: _________cM/_____ Segments Longest Block_______


FULL NAME: ______________________________ USER NAME: _________________________







Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Need a Kickstart for Writing Family Stories?

Writing stories is so important to sharing our family history.  What will we leave behind?  Some names and dates or some really cool stories?  I know better so why don’t I do better.  The hardest part for many of us is just getting started.

A new favorite blog is “Fortify Your Family Tree; handle your genealogy research like a pro”.  (Not to be confused with another favorite “Research Like a Pro” with Diana Elder.)  In the current Fortify blogpost DiAnn Iamarina Ohama has some writing ideas and encouragement.

How to Turn Your Family History into a Great Read  Don't think of it as an all-at-once process. Writing your family story is a step-by-step climb. Take your time, find your theme, and you'll get there. Here's a great way to start.

Amy Johnson Crow also has a writing challenge called “52 Ancestors in 52 weeks”.  Read all about it here:

Join with the big orange button part way down and you will get an email each month with weekly prompts to write about an ancestor.  No pressure here but a number of bloggers have been doing this for a few years and find that it improves their research and gives them something to pass along to their relatives.  In the comments with this post you’ll see Randy Seaver bragging that he just finished four years of 207 ancestors in 207 weeks.  He must love it.

There’s even a hashtag.  Try #52ancestors in google or social media.  Now don’t be discouraged if you see long, polished stories with pictures even.  These people have been at it for a while and we just need to get started.   

I just listened to a podcast about Good Enough Goal Setting.  What’s good enough for me is to write a single paragraph each week.  I already have a couple of ideas.  I have a few DNA matches who don’t know me but I recognize the names of their grandfathers which is as far as their trees go.  I could write a paragraph about them.  Just get started.  That’s what I need to do. 

If anyone jumps on this bandwagon, we would love to hear your stories at our Genies meeting. 

Remember:  Next Genies Meeting Friday, June 18.  Mark your calendar.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Organizing 2019

Important Announcement:  Genies meeting is Friday, Jan 18 due to the holiday on the 3rd Monday.

Today we find ourselves in the first week of a new year, a time when many think of goals and resolutions.  I’m not talking about gyms and diets but ways to move forward in our genealogy.  As I talk to Genies, the same topics keep surfacing, the ones that we are having trouble solving. 

Organizing is the elephant in the room.  It’s the one thing that makes people think: if I could just get organized, then I could get on to researching my ancestors.

Last year I posted Organizing: Tips 2018. I think this is a good place to start, if I do say so myself.  Go to the Genies blog and you will find it on the left-hand column along with some other pages about organizing.  Remember these are just tips; they are not rules.  Everyone stresses that you need to develop a system that works for you and the way you think and work.  And don’t think I am doing everything in “tips” or doing anything perfectly.  We’re all just doing our best.

A popular blogger Lisa Lisson is an organizing junkie (her words, not mine).  You can start here:

In her menu bar is a “Blog Index” tab and then “Organizing Your Genealogy”.  She has many posts on the topic.  It seems important to me to pin down what your personal organizing problem is and go after that specifically.

Another blogger and podcaster I like is Amy Johnson Crow.  This week she is interviewing Janine Adams who is a professional organizer.  Here’s a link to the blogpost and you will find the podcast imbedded there.   Usually her podcasts are about 20 minutes but this one is 34.

So I went to find out about Janine Adams.  She blogs at  On December 21st she blogged about her 2018 goals where her first goal was “Come up with a scheme for keeping me focused”.  We could all use some of that.  Also she has a 30 x 30 challenge.  Do genealogy research for 30 minutes each day for 30 days.  When I’m looking at blogposts, I like to see what readers are saying in their comments.

So get ready to tell us what your biggest challenges are and we will try to help at the Genies meetings.  Here are a few of mine:  using a research plan to know what to do next, using consistent file names for my computer files, photos.  I’ve made a little progress but they are not solved yet.

Lastly, here’s a free 14-page collection of organizing articles you can download from Family Tree Magazine:

Some other topics Genies are talking about are DNA (of course), Writing, and RootsMagic (or other desktop software).  Let me know what challenges you have and we’ll tackle them at the Genies meeting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Bargains for Ancestry and Find My Past

Sylvia has been wondering if the Find My Past website would be good for her.  It specializes in British Isles records but also certain US records.  Sylvia is deep into her search for her dad and finally took advantage of a sale at Find My Past.  She says “Built my tree and can't believe how many records it's giving me! I recommend this for anyone with brick walls.”

Here is the Genealogy Bargains link.   Looks like 50% off on monthly subscriptions.  Only good until Jan 3.  You better hurry for this one.
  • Findmypast: FREE Tree Builder PLUS Save 50% on select subscription plans! Get access to over 2.7 BILLION records at Findmypast and find more about your family history – all at a 50% savings! – LINK has a 50% off for 6-month subscriptions for new subscribers until Jan 7: 

Not a new subscriber?  You should call and ask anyway.