google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Christmas Gift Guide 2014 - The Family History Writer

This gift guide is near and dear to my heart. If your favourite family historian is considering writing a family history story in 2015 or if they plan on joining us for The Family History Writing Challenge this coming February then this list was designed with them in mind. 

1. Scrivener - This writing program will always be on my writer's list. It is by far the best program for managing family history writing projects. I've have videos to help family historians get started. It is the best investment for the family history writer.

2. Grammarly- A great investment for the genealogist about to embark on a writing journey.  A good grammar software program is a wonderful investment in your family history writer.  Grammarly is an automated proofreader and grammar coach that will catch more than your average word spell checker program. 

3.  Internet-blocking software A computer program that blocks the internet on your computer seems like a waste of money. Really you could just not open your browser. But it works.  You can block out your Internet and all social media, surfing and researching while you focus your attentions on writing.  We all know how much more writers could get done with a few less distractions. Check out Freedom, only $10. 

4. On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King - One of my favourite inspirational writing books. It doesn't matter what kind of writing your genealogist has planned, this part memoir, part writing instructional book is pure inspiration. 

5. The Elements of Style by William Skunk- I keep this on my desk and reference it often. A staple for any beginning writer. 

6. You Can't Make this Stuff Up: A Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind. - The cornerstone of compelling family history narratives is learning the art of creative nonfiction. This book is a must read. 

7. You Can Write Your Family History by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Sharon's book is where I started many years ago and I recommend it to anyone wishing to write their family history stories. 

8. Moleskin Notebooks and Pens and Journals to capture all those ideas. Every writer should keep a journal to help them practice their writing skills, jot down ideas and observations. 

9. Family History Writing Ebooks - if you'll excuse the self-plug, the ebook Getting Ready to Write and our new ebook coming out in January, Authentic Ancestors, Bringing Your Ancestors to Life through Characterization are both great tools in helping family historians write their family history stories. You can download Getting Ready to Write and put it on a jumpstick to give as a gift. Authentic Ancestors will arrive on January 7th, you can pre-order it today. 

10. Dragon NaturallySpeaking Software- if your favourite family historian is not sure where to start with writing, consider speaking software. Talking your book is a great way to get started. It can help a beginner get organized and get their  thoughts and ideas sorted out. 

You'll find easy links to most of these products below. 








Christmas Gift Guide 2014 - The Organized Genealogist


I don't know a genealogist who doesn't have a love affair with their office supplies. Keeping things organized is instrumental when researching your family history. Getting organized and staying organized can be a full time task. Here's my top 10 gifts for the organized genealogist on your shopping list or the disorganized genealogist who is in need of some help.


1. Sentry Safe Guardian Storage Box - I introduced genealogists to this fantastic product back in October, with my post Reality Check . It makes an ideal gift for your favourite genealogist. Part file box, part fire and water protection, this is the best protection on the market for your primary documents.

2. Labeller - Ok, I know this was on the Tech Toys list, but really I'm not lying when I say we all want a labeller.

3. Evernote Premium Subscription- Because Evernote is hot, hot, hot as the go to digital file system for genealogists. A premium subscription with all its bells and whistles would be a the bomb.

4. Whiteboard - Why a whiteboard? A great visual tool for mapping out family lines, thinking through analysis and brainstorming brickwalls. It also works well in storyboarding your family history stories.

5. Dry erase markers and post it notes - in lots of colours to go with that whiteboard.

6. Moleskin Journals - because pen and paper is always in vogue and when you buy an Evernote Moleskin Journal you get the Evernote Premium subscription free for 3 months.

7. Field notes - love these little notebooks to carry with you when you're out on an archival field trip or family history travels. They make a great stocking stuffer.

8. Archival sheet protectors and binders- you can never have enough of these to organize your primary documents and pictures.

9. Business cards - if your genealogist is setting up shop, give them a gift certificate for business cards, especially if their attending Rootstech in 2015.

10. Wall organizer - this is a great visual tool to organize your current research and writing projects. It just might help clear up some of the piles on the desk.

You'll find links to all these great gift ideas below. If you're a genealogist be sure to pin this post to your Christmas wish list board.













10 Tech Gifts for Your Favourite Genealogist

Remember when you were young and sat down with the Sear’s Christmas Wish Book, and wrote your letter  to Santa Claus. I think I use to put the page numbers beside each item, so that Santa knew exactly what I wanted. With six kids in the house my Mom loved our letters to Santa, it helped her immensely when it came to shopping. Now don't get me wrong, we certainly didn't get everything that was on our list but she always chose one thing from our Dear Santa letter. It taught us that we don't always get everything we want but also when shopping for my own children I realized how important it was to make sure I was truly delivering something they wanted, needed and would put a smile on their. Giving them a little bit of that Christmas magic.

Looking to deliver a little Christmas Magic to the genealogist on your list. Here's a few my favourite things. Over the next couple of weeks we'll look at some gift ideas for the genealogist in your life, from high tech to low tech.

Today, we start with high tech. Here's a collection of items that are sure to please.  

  1. Portable chargers for smartphone recharging- No more low battery warning while out on your family history research trips. 
  2. Noise cancelling headphones - Ideal for  a family historian who travels! No more noisy airplanes. 
  3. Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner- This is not a new toy to genealogists, put it is a fantastic tool, and makes my list every single year.
  4. External Hard Drive - Genealogist's rule No. 1, back-up, back-up, back-up! Every genealogist needs one. 
  5. Evidentia 2 - Beyond buying the newest version of your genealogist's favourite software consider Evidentia 2. Evidentia takes research beyond organization, it helps analyzie and draw conclusions based on the sources in their research. Great gift for the intermediate genealogist who is ready to take their research to the next level. 
  6. Projector - A projector is great for home use but also an ideal tool for the genealogy speaker in your life. 
  7. Live Scribe PenThe infrared camera in the tip of the pen captures your handwriting, storing it on the built-­in memory. When it's paired to a tablet or smartphone, all notes are synced to the Livescribe+ mobile app. 
  8. Label Maker - Genealogists are avid organizers, with so much data and documents to manage how could they not be. That's why I guarantee  that your genealogist will go gaga over a label maker. 
  9. Microsoft Surface Pro 3- If I had my pick of tablets, this would be the one! 
  10. SD Cards - It's always good to have a few of these in your  bag. There's some great Black Friday deals on now. Great stocking stuffer for your favourite genealogist. 
        Click on any of the images below to learn more about these Christmas tech toys for the genealogist in your life. 


   Tech Toys for Genealogists 


Starting Your Genealogy Business


Rarely does someone ever start a business with all the skills and tools they need to become a success. Large businesses hire an array of employees working in various departments with a variety of skills. Marketing and branding experts, tech experts, writers, all come together to make a business successful.  However, if you’re starting a genealogy business, then most likely it’s just you.  

Genealogists are proficient at finding dead people; that’s most likely you too.  However, perhaps you bring a few other skills to the table. Maybe, you’re a great writer or you’re creative and have a few marketing ideas. But most genealogists don’t often arrive with all the skills to start, brand and market their businesses. Often a steep learning curve is involved, and this can take time, money and resources. Of course, the longer it takes you to learn these various business skills, the longer it takes to start earning money. 

Enter Thomas MacEntee at GenBiz Solutions and his collection of valuable guides for
genealogists who are ready to turn their sleuthing skills into a business.  These guides will position you to fast track your family history business.  Thomas has done the work for you, so you don’t have to stumble around sorting it out. He has assembled some great advice, resources and templates to help give your genealogy business the best possible chance of succeeding.



Not only are these guides perfect for the professional genealogist looking to start a business, they are also wonderful guides for small genealogical societies who need some business guidance.

This collection of guides covers a wide range of topics from the basics of starting a genealogy business to marketing, branding, running contests and giveaways along with email and blogging outreach. These guides provide insightful information; with a variety of links, resources and references. They include value with downloadable templates, like the Blog Planning Spreadsheet and Blog Editorial Spreadsheet. Thomas has listed the help of several authors and genealogy business owners to add their expertise to these guides.  You know these are genealogists who have done the hard work. It’s not easy starting a business, but it’s easier with help and mentoring, and that’s what the GenBiz Solutions Guides provide.

The other lovely feature of these guides, you choose the ones you want or bundle them together, they are completely flexible to your needs.

Here’s the list of current guides available at GenBiz Solutions to help you get your genealogy business started.

Marketing: What’s Your Brand? 
Marketing: Contests and Giveaways 


Each guide is priced at $4.95 and downloads in an easily readable pdf document. You will refer to them time and time again as you move forward with your business and are confronted with various decisions.

While you might be great a finding dead people, you may not have all the skills and knowledge required to start a genealogy business. I can confidently recommend to you the GenBiz Solutions Guides as your first resource to starting a genealogy business.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of GenBiz Solutions Guides in exchange for this review. 

5 Steps to Proving Your Family History

As family historians we often see ourselves as detectives, uncovering the past for future
generations. However, as the family history detective it’s important for you to provide a strong case for your research, to be able to provide proof of your theories and back up that proof with quality evidence.

How can you be sure your family tree is accurate? How can you know your sharing correct information with others?  Today, we explore 5 steps to proving your family history. 
By employing these initiatives, you have the assurance you are not only adding the right ancestors to your tree but you can share your research with others confidently and accurately. 

These aren’t any five steps; they are commonly known as Genealogical Proof Standard and are the foundation for professional genealogy research. GPS, as it is commonly referred to serves just as its name suggests - a clear set of steps, a path to your final destination – to prove your family history. It is not restricted to professionals and can be employed by beginner genealogists to ensure solid research techniques at every turn.  Let’s take a look a the basics of GPS.


Step 1 - A reasonably exhaustive search.


What does this mean? It means you have examined a variety of quality sources which relate to a specific item. This item may be a relationship, an identity, or an event or activity. In attempting to prove that item you will do a ‘reasonably exhaustive search’ and by doing such you reduce the chances that new evidence may be uncovered at a later date that is likely to disprove your swift conclusion. This does not mean you have uncovered every piece of evidence necessary to prove the situation, only that you have gone to a rationale means. 


Step 2 - A complete and accurate citation of the sources for each item used in proving an identify, event or relationship.  


By documenting all of your sources you can stand behind your research with confidence and provide future researchers with the necessary sources to understand your conclusions. It provides them with the breadcrumbs to prove their own conclusions and understand your theory. 


Step 3- Analysis of the collected information’s quality as evidence.  


Essentially, step 3 is asking you to analyse the quality of your evidence. Is it original or derivative, primary or secondary source, direct or indirect? We must analyse which sources are probably correct and compare to those that are in conflict. 


Step 4 - Resolution of any contradictory or conflicting evidence. 


When you have conflicting evidence, proving a relationship or an identity can become difficult. Step 4 asks you to re-evaluate your evidence in relationship to your theory. Do major conflicts still exist; perhaps additional research is required to resolve your outstanding variances. 


Step 5 - Write a conclusion supporting your hypothesis. 


Document your conclusion based on your evidence. Your written conclusion offers a clear explanation of your theory, why perhaps it is more credible than any opposing evidence that may exist and it provides transparency to future researchers. 



This is but a brief overview of Genealogical Proof Standard.  We will continue to explore GPS in future posts and how you can employ it in your everyday research. 


The following resources provide an in-depth examination of Genealogical Proof Standard.


Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Board of Certification of Genealogists
Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose