google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: August 2010

Expert Writing Advice for Your Family History Book - Only $99.00 !!

Many are overwhelmed at the premise of writing a family history book, and it can be a big project. However, don’t count yourself out. My theory is if you feel overwhelmed then generally a little education is in order. By acquiring more knowledge about the process your confidence to get started will begin to emerge. I can tell you from personal experience, writing a family history book is very rewarding.
Therefore, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about the upcoming session at Family Tree University. It starts next week, August 16th. Therefore, there is no time to procrastinate. Sunny McClellan Morton is instructing this course. Sunny is going to help you to reveal your ancestors the same way a fiction writer would build a character in a book. Makes for much more interesting reading.

The course syllabus takes you from developing a plan, learning to bring your facts and characters to life, plotting and planning your story and finally developing that first chapter through to the first draft. You can download the syllabus here.

Writing Your Family Memoir: Creating a Captivating Record of Your Family Story is a four-week class that will leave you with an outline and structure for your family history book at the cost of only $99.00. Good value.

You can then move on to Creating a Family History Book by Nancy Hendrickson, which covers the self-publishing process of making a family history book. This covers more of the mechanics of creating a book . This course will help you manage your project from the interviews and research through to the final product, a completed family history book.

Both these classes are a great step if you’re serious about creating a family history book. I encourage you to check them out at Family Tree University.

Who Do You Think You Are? - Offers Another Opportunity

I just received this message from

We’re excited to have partnered with NBC to bring you the first season of Who Do You Think You Are? this past spring. The show received such a great reception that NBC is airing four of the most popular episodes again — starting this Friday night.

We hope you’ll enjoy another chance to watch these intriguing and emotionally charged episodes and to share your favorites with friends and family. Tune in to NBC Friday nights from August 13th-September 3rd at 8/7c to watch Who Do You Think You Are?

The four episodes set to be re-aired include Lisa Kudrows, Emmett Smith, Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields. No word yet as to when season two is set to premier.

If I Was Starting All Over Again - My Best Advice for A Beginner Genealogists

A reader asked my opinion the other day about some problems with her genealogy. She started her family research many years ago but lost her focus and ended up falling away from it for many years. She is now ready to start over. It got me thinking if I were to start my genealogy research over again, if I could turn back the clock, what advice would I give myself.

Talk to some experienced genealogists. Your learning curve will be much shorter if you are under the guidance of an experienced mentor. You'll receive a wealth of good advice and information. Experienced genealogists can be found through your local genealogy societies, online through blogs and at conferences. Don't be afraid to ask questions, genealogists are a very sharing group.

Join an Association of Genealogists. For much the same reasons as above, these groups are great for keeping you abreast of information whether you join a local group or a national group; they can be great resource of knowledge.

Create a plan. It doesn't have to be elaborate. However, having some goals and a research plan will keep you on course and keep you from jumping all over the place.

Always remember Primary Sources. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of having thousands of names in your trees without any citations or sources. Names hold little weight; genealogy is about uncovering your ancestor’s stories. True stories that reveal themselves through credible sources.

Implement an organizational system and be diligent about it. It is very easy to get lazy, say you’ll do that later and before you know it, you can’t find anything.  For me being organized is every bit as important as the work. Your time and efforts are wasted if important information is lost due to your poor organization.

Don't waste money on multiple databases and software programs. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to research your family history. There are plenty of companies looking to sell you subscriptions to their programs. Be smart about choosing your databases or buying software programs. There are plenty of options. Do Your Homework before committing.

Attend a Conference. There really is a lot to learn from genealogy conferences. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to attend my first conference.

Have a life. Make sure that you build in down time. It actually is a good practice to step away from your research, (but not too long), just enough time to recharge your battery. Keep a balanced life. Don’t spend all your time chasing the past and forget about living in the present.

What's the best advice you would give a beginner family historian?

Monday Madness - The Craziest Thing You've Done in the Name of Genealogy?

I’m not really the kind of girl who makes crazy impulsive decisions. I’m methodical. Don’t put myself in harm’s way. However, I got to thinking the other day about just how obsessed I can be about my research.  I know other genealogists can be just as focused (sounds better then crazy). I know that when I'm focused little will come between me and the task at hand. Which got me to wondering,  how many of my readers have some interesting experiences to share in the name of genealogy and finding your lost ancestors?

Like I said, I'm not the person who emotes wild and reckless behaviour, the craziest thing I can recall, I broke into a cemetery. After driving two and half hours to a cemetery, where I believed my ancestors were buried, I arrived to discover a brick wall surrounded the cemetery and the gates were locked. This was an older Catholic cemetery and was only open during specific hours. Not inclined to go home without getting past this brick wall (no pun intended), I went to the church next door looking to beg my way in. I could not find anyone, so I proceeded to Plan B - a break in.

Luckily, I had my teenage daughter and niece with me and of course, they were up to the challenge. I actually think for a few minutes, I felt like a teenager again, and my accomplices thought Mom and Auntie was just a little cool.

The wall was set into the side of a hill so we found a point around the brick wall where the climb up and the drop on the other side seemed like a happy medium. Maybe the wall was 6 feet high at this point. However, to someone of little agility and physical fitness it may as well have been 50 feet tall. Armed with the fact that my fifth great-grandfather's tombstone laid on the other side of the wall, I managed some genealogical superpowers and scaled the wall. (Thank God, I wore pants that day). With no broken bones and only a few grass stains, we were in and set to work recording information and taking pictures. No worries, I am very respectful in all cemeteries, I often bring flowers to disperse amongst all my ancestor’s graves. On this day, I had in my head not to let a brick wall come between my relatives and me.

Getting out seemed a little more challenging. We got ourselves on top of the wall at the lowest point and I walked the ledge like Nadia Comaneci on the balance beam (well, in my mind anyway). When the ground came to a reasonable level, I made a jump for it.

Was it worth it? Not really! I never found the tombstone for my fifth Great Grandfather. Once inside the walls, I discovered a tombstone for a mass grave, apparently this cemetery was moved from its original plot of land across the road. Some of the older graves were destroyed and in the move a mass grave was erected in the middle with one common tombstone, I presume my grandfather is probably amongst these unidentified graves.

That’s about the craziest thing I ever done. What about you? What crazy or silly thing have you done in the name of your family history research? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or a link back to your own blog post.