google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: January 2013

Gathering Family Facts on a Timeline


Before You Write, Create a Timeline to See the “Big Picture”

Today's post is courtesy of Tami Koenig from Your Story Coach. Tami is helping our Family History Challenge members prepare for writing by creating timelines. But really timelines aren't just for writing, there a great tool for your research. Enjoy! 

Why create a timeline?
Creating a chronological list of events for an individual or family will help you make sense of what happened, when it happened, and where it happened. By gathering the significant events from your ancestors’ past and placing them along a single timeline, you’ll start to get a more comprehensive view of their lives.

And when you add world events to that same timeline, you’ll begin to see your ancestors within the context of the historical era in which they lived. You’ll start to understand how local, regional and world events may have influenced their actions.

If you take time to gather and organize all your information on a timeline in advance, your writing process will be much smoother. When you start writing your family history stories, you won’t have to stop mid-story to track down factual data—it’s already gathered on an easy-to-see timeline.

What to include in your timeline
Personal or family events:
·        Births
·        Marriages
·        Deaths
·        Moves or emigration
·        Religious milestones
·        Education
·        Military Service
·        Employment
·        Property transactions

Historical events:
·        Wars
·        Famines
·        Natural disasters
·        Religious intolerance
·        Gold rushes
·        Land offerings
·        World leaders, presidents
·        Technology, inventions
·        Popular books, films, music
·        Popular culture, fads

How to create your timeline
Your timeline can be as simple as drawing a horizontal line across the middle of a piece of paper and adding vertical lines to mark and label events. To make it more manageable, I suggest creating multiple pages divided into 10-year increments per page. Be sure to include names, dates and locations for each event.

If you’re working with a large amount of data, too much for a simple hand-drawn timeline, you may find my timeline workbook helpful. You can download Creating Your Personal Timeline from Your Story Coach’s shop.

You can also create timelines at OurTimelines.com. This site allows you to enter the events and dates significant to the ancestral family you’re writing about and it will automatically add historical events to produce a personalized timeline.

About Tami Koenig | Your Story Coach
Tami Koenig is an award-winning writer and multimedia producer who works with individuals, museums, and corporations—helping them shape and share the stories they want to tell. She offers writing classes via Skype to Active Retirement Communities and Assisted-Living Facilities internationally, while her website, Your Story Coach, offers tools, tips, and inspiring ideas to help people preserve memories and share stories. You can follow Your Story Coach on TwitterGoogle+, and Facebook.

Monday Morning Mentions



Monday Morning Mentions is an opportunity to reflect on the events of the week at the Armchair Genealogist and in the blogging and book community. Over my morning cappuccino, I will take the opportunity to share with you some of my favourite blogs posts this week and give a nod to my peers.




You can also find me on Facebook. Stop by and leave a message. I often will link some great finds there as well. You can also follow me on twitter at @LynnPal or my twitter paper The Armchair Genealogist Journal.



At the Armchair Genealogist this week, posts included the following:


My guest post at The Indepth Genealogist   If Not Now, When?

If you haven't joined up for The Family History Writing Challenge, there is still time. To pre-event newsletters have gone out with the focus on organizing and planning. I will re-send those to new members if you are signed up by Wednesday. On Friday, we begin our daily newsletters designed to keep your motivated throughout the month of February. 


Internet Genealogy – a great genealogy or internet tip that will benefit any armchair genealogist.

This week's mention: 

Marian Pierre-Louis launches her first podcast at her new website On-Site Research New England. In her first podcast,  The Microtext Department at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Marian visits the 4th floor of the New England Historic Genealogicial Society in Boston Massachusetts and interviews Rhonda McClure about the microtext collections. Of course in true Marian style it is professional and informative. 

Lisa Alzo offers a wonderful post this week at Archives.com in Six More Ways to Find Your Family History Muse. 

When you find a document that may be about one your ancestors...by Michael Hait at Planting The Seeds. Michael outlines his professional approach to the situation.

Julie Cahill from GenBlog takes a look at books from multiple angles in this post Family History Through the Alphabet - Books.  

I joined the new twitter chat this week, #Genchat. It was informative and fun. If you missed it you can catch up on what we discussed at Jen Baldwin's Storify page. See you February 9th for the next round! 

Loved the nice post this week at Upfront with NGS- Scanners and Resolutions--What is a Genealogist To Do? 

And since were talking scanning be sure to head over to AnceStories. Denise Levenick made a stop there this week and she talked scanning with Miriam. Read this informative post 6 Tips for Scanning Success

And another stop on Denise's blog tour  that caught my attention included The Books They Leave Behind: Preserving Family Bibles and Religious Books at The Catholic Gene. 

Here's a complete list of all the winners from How to Archive Family Keepsakes Blog Book Tour. Congrats to all. 

Week 1 Winner of the Family History Photo Archive Kit --
Mary Nelson, commenter at 4YourFamilyStories
Week 1 Runners Up, free copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes -- 
Annemarie Taylor, commenter at 4YourFamilyStories
Tina Telesca, commenter at The Armchair Genealogist
Week 2 Winner of the Family History Oversize Archive Kit --
Robyn, commenter at The Practical Archivist
Week 2 Runner Up, free copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes -- 
Cheryl Smallwood-Roberts, commenter at The In-Depth Genealogist
Twitter Tweeter Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --
MariannSRegan 
FaceBook Friend Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --
Eli Melitz 
Google+ Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --
Jenna Mills 



Social Media for the Genealogist - this will include social media advice and learning opportunities from experts both inside and outside of the genealogy industry. 

The Minimalist's Guide to Social Media -some great tips for maximizing your social media impact without giving up all your free time posted at soshable.com by Mark Brennan. 


Writing Family History - great advice or information on writing your family history.

This week’s mention:


In the coming weeks this spot will be reserved for those who are posting about their journey in the Family History Writing Challenge. I'll do my best to keep a list of those who posted in the previous week. Be sure to email me the link so I don't miss you. 


Midge Frazel shares how she's preparing for the challenge at her blog Beyond the Horizon
Deb Newton-Carter offered us a couple of posts this week, she discusses getting organized, sorting through her evidence and how she plans to approach her stories
Debbie Mayes share her commitment to the challenge.
Deb Ruth at Adventures in Genealogy shares her approach to the challenge
Fran at Branching Out Through the Years shares her motivation behind joining the challenge.
Tom Keuhn is sharing his journey, check out his story outline for the challenge


Productivity and Motivation for the busy genealogist - we all struggle with juggling family life, research, writing, blogs and on and on. Each week I'll choose a blog post that just might give you that little push you need. 

This Week's mention:

 Really enjoyed this little video on productivity. It's one of my primary focuses this new year; to maximize my time. This little video helped. Double Your Productivity in 1 Day with 5 Simple Tips by seanTHINKS. 


New Genealogy Blog – we will tip our hat to a newcomer who impresses us right out of the box

This Week's Mention: 

Plenty of new genealogy blogs this week but the one that jumped out for me is I Do Genealogy. Love the name, simple to the point. The author is taking on a journey of cleaning up her genealogy mess. This blog is about what she wish she had known and paid attention to when she first started her genealogy research.  She cleaning up her genealogy mess and sharing what works and what doesn't. 



The Webinar Watch - Each week we will list upcoming webinars mostly in genealogy, but occasionally I come across one for writing or social media I think is beneficial, I'll be sure to share it here. 

This week's webinars: 


What's Evidentia? - Hosted and presented by Dear Myrtle Monday January 28th. FREE.

Inheritance in Scotland - Wills, Testaments and Land Records hosted by Marie Dougan presented  by Legacy Family Tree. Wednesday January 30th. FREE. 

Online Genealogy - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly hosted by Linda Woodward Geiger presented by Legacy Family Tree. Friday February 1st. FREE. 

Digital Organization for Documents and Photos - hosted by Eric Basir presented by Southern California Genealogical Society. Saturday Feb 2nd. FREE. 

Other Great Round-ups

You can find more new genealogy bloggers at Thomas' list of New Genealogy Blogs at Geneabloggers.

For other great reads, Randy at Genea-Musings offers the Best of the Genea-Blogs

Read Friday Finds by Julie Cahill at GenBlog

Dan Curtis, Professional Personal Historian always puts together some interesting selections in Monday's Link Round-Up.

British and Irish Genealogy blog offers lots of goodies, This week brings Genealogy News for Jan 25th.

And Jana Last lists some favorites on Follow Friday -- Fab Finds for Jan 24th, 2013 by Jana Last on Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog.

Here's a new round-up to follow, Two Nerdy History Girls offers us a weekly round-up. I think you'll find them fascinating. This week's Breakfast Links: Week of Jan 21st.

And John at Transylvanian Dutch brings us his Weekly Genealogy Picks.

Deb Ruth from Adventures in Genealogy offers Genealogy Blogs, News and Tidbits #4


Have a great genealogy week, keep researching and writing!

The Family History Writing Challenge–Meet The Guest Authors!

Please help me in welcoming this year's special line-up of guest authors for The Family History Writing Challenge. I am excited this year to share with you our special guest authors who will be joining us during these 28 days of family history writing. If you’re sitting on the fence about joining the challenge perhaps these authors will be the inspiration you need to take it on.  As a member of the challenge, you’ll be the first to have their posts delivered to your inbox. As well, some of our authors may even join us in the forum to answer your questions. Posts will cover a wide range of topics from creative non-fiction techniques, timelines, life story writing, personal essays and finding your theme. We also have two special Q & A's. 

So in no particular order please welcome our special guest authors for The Family History Writing Challenge. 




Biff Barnes
Biff Barnes is a writer, educator, and historian who has published extensively about San Francisco. He was a William Robertson Coe Fellow in American History at Stanford University. His experience with historical research, oral history, and academic writing is invaluable to family history authors as they plan and organize their books.
Biff Barnes is part of the Stories To Tell team of editors and book designers who help authors to create memoirs and family history books. They have worked with hundreds of authors to develop their fiction, non-fiction, and creative non-fiction books. As an editor, he helps to plan the book's content, edits text and images, and design a professional, unique book for his clients.  Biff offers great writing advice in his Stories to Tell Blog


Lisa Alzo
Lisa Alzo, M.F.A. currently resides in Ithaca,  New York. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1987 and Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997.
Lisa began writing creatively in the fourth grade with an assignment entitled, “All About Me,” and went on to win several  English/Writing Awards throughout high school and college.  Lisa has published articles in Ancestry Magazine, Discovering Family History, Family Chronicle, Family Tree Magazine, Genealogical Computing, Reunions Magazine, NGSNews Magazine, Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, FEEFHS Journal and Rocenka: Journal of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, The Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.
An avid genealogist for 22 years, Lisa currently teaches online genealogy course for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She is the recipient of the 2002 Mary Zirin Prize given by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies to recognize the achievements  of independent scholars, and is a frequent speaker for national conferences, genealogical and historical societies.
You can find this busy writer at her website Lisa Alzo  and The Accidental Genealogist.



Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
Sharon is a Certified Genealogist with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She is a partner in the Salt Lake City-based research, writing, and publishing firm of Warren, Carmack & Associates. Sharon offers consulting, mentoring, writing, and editing services for nonfiction books, with an emphasis on memoirs, biographies, histories, family histories, and annotated diaries.
The author of sixteen books and hundreds of articles, columns, and reviews that have appeared in nearly every major genealogical journal and publication, some of Sharon’s book titles include You Can Write Your Family History, Carmack’s Guide to Copyright & Contracts, and Your Guide to Cemetery Research.
Her work has also appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, Steinbeck Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and Personal Journaling. She is an assistant editor for Brevity and a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine.
Along with a BA (summa cum laude) in English from Regis University and an MFA (with Distinction) in Creative Nonfiction Writing from National University, Sharon holds a Diploma in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Sharon teaches nonfiction writing classes for Writer’s Digest University, and Irish research classes for Family Tree University.
Sharon can be reached through her Web site: www.SharonCarmack.com.





Mariann S. Regan
Mariann Sanders Regan is Professor Emerita of English at Fairfield University in Connecticut. She grew up in North Carolina and has many relatives in South Carolina. She has a BA from Duke, a PhD from Yale, and publications that include articles, stories, literary scholarship (Cornell University Press), and a novel. Her recent family memoir Into the Briar Patch explores the effects upon her South Carolina ancestors of owning slaves, given that slavery is an evil institution. She and her husband, who have two children, live in Connecticut. Her book blog is http://mariannregan.authorsxpress.com/. Reviews of the memoir are at http://www.mariannregan.com/memoir_desc.html.

Tami
Tami Koenig
Tami Koenig is an award-winning writer and multimedia producer who works with individuals, museums, and corporations—helping them shape and share the stories they want to tell. She offers writing classes via Skype to Active Retirement Communities and Assisted-Living Facilities internationally, while her website, Your Story Coach, offers tools, tips, and inspiring ideas to help people preserve memories and share stories. You can follow Your Story Coach on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

Our Q & A Authors 

 included Denise Levenick and Ryan Littrell.  Both authors will be answering my questions about their writing and publishing journey.

 
deniselevenick
Denise Levenick
In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator www.TheFamilyCurator.com and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012). Denise is going to share with us what she learned in writing and publishing her book.



 And lastly, we will be welcoming author of the family history memoir Reunion: A Search for Ancestors by Ryan Littrell. Ryan will join us in a question and answer period.  Ryan Littrell grew up in Chatham, Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University, followed by Boston College Law School, where he served as an Executive Editor of the Boston College Law Review. He lives in New York City, and Reunion is his first book.



If you like to know more about how you can join The Family History Writing Challenge or wish to read what past participants have to say about the challenge, click here.




A Guest Post and A Twitter Chat!



Be sure to hop on over to The In-Depth Genealogist and check out my guest post today. I'm thrilled to write for these lovely ladies. 

Don't forget this Friday is the first official  #GENCHAT!! 

Genealogy conversation and collaboration, using the power of Twitter. Hope to see you there! 

Jan 25, 2013


10 PM Eastern
9PM Central
8PM Mountain
7PM Pacific.

See the full description of #genchat here: 
http://conferencekeeper.weebly.com/genchat.html


See the 2013 Schedule for #genchat here: 
http://conferencekeeper.weebly.com/genchat-schedule.html


Get your #genchat badges here, and share the Twitter love! 
http://conferencekeeper.weebly.com/genchat-badges.html

Monday Morning Mentions



Monday Morning Mentions is an opportunity to reflect on the events of the week at the Armchair Genealogist and in the blogging and book community. Over my morning cappuccino, I will take the opportunity to share with you some of my favourite blogs posts this week and give a nod to my peers.




You can also find me on Facebook. Stop by and leave a message. I often will link some great finds there as well. You can also follow me on twitter at @LynnPal or my twitter paper The Armchair Genealogist Journal.



At the Armchair Genealogist this week, posts included the following:

Organization Key to Removing Obstacles to Your Family History Writing
A Coffee, A Comfy Chair And a Q & A with Author Denise Levenick
Get Loud, Get Proud! 


Internet Genealogy – a great genealogy or internet tip that will benefit any armchair genealogist.

This week's mention:
 
Upfront with NGS this weeks offers us a look at some helpful Newspaper websites in this post Newspapers- a new site for genealogists to consider and a reminder of some older sites that are goodies! 

When a Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets by Sue Shellenbarger at The Wall Street Journal. 

I'm with Judy on this one! DNA: the privacy sky is not falling from Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist. Judy's advice lends itself to more than just the current DNA discussions. Thanks for being the voice of reason Judy! 

The Best Online Book Sites for the Genealogists from Beth Foulk at Decoded Genealogy.  A great list I agree with completely.  

Online "Irish History Day" Launched with 21 Million Birth, Marriage and Death Records Released! This announcement comes by way of Irish Central. Find My Past Ireland are hosting the first "Irish History Family Day" by publishing records from the 1800's up to 1950's. I'll be there with bells on!

This is for those of you starting or contemplating your own genealogy service. Dan Curtis has some good guidelines to help you solve the problem of price. Read Do You Have a Problem Knowing What to Charge Clients? 


Denise sums up her first week on her Blog Book Tour with outlines this week in  And The Blog Book Tour Giveaway Winners Are.....over at The Family Curator. I am please that a TAG reader is among the lucky recipients

Winner of the Family Archive Photo Kit: Mary Nelson (from comment on 4YourFamilyStory)
1st Runner Up: Annemarie Taylor, free book (from comment on 4YourFamilyStory)
2nd Runner Up: Tina Telesca, free book (from comment on Armchair Genealogist)



Social Media for the Genealogist - this will include social media advice and learning opportunities from experts both inside and outside of the genealogy industry. 

I'm a huge Jon Morrow fan and this list is definitely worth printing off and hanging in your office. Keep it front and centre when writing blog posts. Jon Morrow's Top Six Tips to Boost Your Blog Traffic by Andrea Vahl, Social Media Coach, Speaker and Strategist. 


Writing Family History - great advice or information on writing your family history.

This week’s mention:

Always relevant information from Biff Barnes at Stories To Tell, this week Write a Family History Book: But People's Lives in Context.


Productivity and Motivation for the busy genealogist - we all struggle with juggling family life, research, writing, blogs and on and on. Each week I'll choose a blog post that just might give you that little push you need. 

This Week's mention:

Some good advice for 'getting in the zone.' See How Easily You Can Minimize Distractions and Maximize Efficiency by Carlisle Rainey at LifeHack.org. 

With so many distractions from both our physical environment and digital environment it only makes sense that our brain my need some reprogramming to tune out all those distractions. How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused by Nadia Goodman at Young Entrepreneur. 


New Genealogy Blog – we will tip our hat to a newcomer who impresses us right out of the box

This Week's Mention: 

This week I need to thank Jill Ball at Geniaus for pointing out this new blog. I love the entire concept behind it and while I do not live in Australia and have no family history there I am completely drawn in by this blog. So please check out The Cook and The Curator. This blog is brought to you by the Historic Houses Trust. The Historic Houses Trust is a leader in the conservation and management of historic places in Australia. Each month they visit one their properties, introduce you to its past residents and look at what, where and how they ate. I am so all over this blog. Love it. 



The Webinar Watch - Each week we will list upcoming webinars mostly in genealogy, but occasionally I come across one for writing or social media I think is beneficial, I'll be sure to share it here. 

This week's webinars: 

Evernote for Genealogists presented by Monica Hopkins hosted by Georgia Genealogical Society. Monday January 21st. FREE. 

Best Genealogy Resources for East European Genealogy presented by Lisa Alzo hosted by Legacy Family Tree. Wednesday January 23rd. FREE.


Other Great Round-ups

You can find more new genealogy bloggers at Thomas' list of New Genealogy Blogs at Geneabloggers.

For other great reads, Randy at Genea-Musings offers the Best of the Genea-Blogs

Read Friday Finds by Julie Cahill at GenBlog

Dan Curtis, Professional Personal Historian always puts together some interesting selections in Monday's Link Round-Up.

British and Irish Genealogy blog offers lots of goodies, This week brings Genealogy News for Jan 18th.

And Jana Last lists some favorites on Follow Friday -- Fab Finds for Jan 18th, 2012 by Jana Last on Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog.

Here's a new round-up to follow, Two Nerdy History Girls offers us a weekly round-up. I think you'll find them fascinating. This week's Breakfast Links: Week of Jan 14th.

And John at Transylvanian Dutch brings us his Weekly Genealogy Picks.

Deb Ruth from Adventures in Genealogy offers Genealogy Blogs, News and Tidbits #3


Have a great genealogy week, keep researching and writing!

Get Loud, Get Proud!

Grab our Family History Writing Challenge Badge

Whether you're a participant in this year's challenge or you're on the sidelines cheering us on please feel free to support our endeavours by displaying The Family History Writing Challenge Badge in the sidebar on your blog.

It's time to get loud and proud about telling our ancestor's stories.

Choose the badge you wish to display and copy and pasted the html code into an html widget on your blog. It's that simple. The badge links to an information page outlining The Challenge.


For participants, copy and paste code below 



<center><a href="http://familyhistorywritingchallenge.blogspot.ca/p/challenge.html" target="_blank" title="Family History Writing Challenge"><img alt="Family History Writing Challenge"\ src=" http://i1115.photobucket.com/albums/k549/lynnpalermo1/Fotolia_5370136_XS1_zps4b4cd79dFHWC1_zps216ab547-1_zps55b48975.jpg " /></a><center></center></center>




To offer your support, copy and paste code below 

<center><a href="http://familyhistorywritingchallenge.blogspot.ca/p/challenge.html" target="_blank" title="Family History Writing Challenge"><img alt="Family History Writing Challenge"\ src="http://i1115.photobucket.com/albums/k549/lynnpalermo1/FHWCJoinMe_zpse5dda991.jpg" border="0" alt="F   HWCJoinMe_zpse5dda991"/></a><center></center></center>






A Coffee, A Comfy Chair and a Q & A with Author Denise Levenick


I am thrilled today to welcome Denise Levenick to The Armchair Genealogist. Denise is the author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. I've been talking a lot about getting organized this January. Not only because it's that time of the year, New Year's goals bring it out of us but as well many of you are preparing to write The Family History Writing Challenge. Yesterday, I talked about what a wonderful tool this book will be in helping you  get ready to write. Today, Denise and I are going to talk organizing your family history stuff because we all know it can be monster. 

Grab a coffee, pull up a comfy chair and join me for a conversation with Denise, as we explore her new book, How to Archive Your Family Keepsakes

1. Welcome Denise to the Armchair Genealogist.  Here at The Armchair Genealogist we believe everyone has a story....so tell us a little bit about how you became ‘The Family Curator.’

Hi, Lynn. Thanks for inviting me to visit with you at The Armchair Genealogist. I think we share quite a bit in common, both a love of family history and a love of writing.

I guess you could say that The Family Curator was born long before the blog. It seems like I’ve been the keeper of our family “stuff” forever. Actually, I didn’t inherit my first family collection until about 1998 when my mom gave me the contents of her mother’s old trunk. It had been filled to the top with papers, photos, and all kinds of stuff.

I started The Family Curator Blog in 2007 as an online web journal as I worked to find the best way to organize and preserve my Grandmother’s keepsakes. And here we are nearly six years later, and I’m still working with that incredible legacy.

2. After reading your book, I can only image that your archives must be picture perfect. Clearly you are the kind of person who likes an organized environment, have you always been this way or do you believe it is a learned trait?  How can your book How to Archive Family Keepsakes help those of us who are inherently disorganized with our genealogy stuff?

LOL, Lynn. As much as I love an organized environment, that’s not to say it’s easy, or that my archives are perfect all the time.  I find I am so much more productive when I can find the tools I need; I learned that from my contractor husband. To be honest, my best trick for getting (and staying organized) is to keep the Big Picture in mind.

I want to honor my mother’s and my grandmother’s treasures, and I want to uncover the stories they hold. I can’t do that when everything is scattered everywhere. My book outlines the process I used to sort my family keepsakes, and then to organize for preservation and research. Plus, it makes sharing with relatives so much easier!

3. When I first sat down to read this book, I didn’t really think I fell into your target audience. I haven’t inherited a lot of ‘stuff’ from my ancestors. However, I soon realized this book is written for more than just the genealogist with a large archive to manage. Can you explain to our readers who all can benefit from your book?

It’s surprising what a difference a few years make. I never dreamed I would be the caretaker of so many family archives, either. It happened slowly. My mother passed on my grandmother’s things, and then it seemed the word was “out.” I’m now the keeper of seven family archives.
Although not everyone is in my situation, any family historian probably has both original and working documents to deal with. My book offers techniques to help anyone who wants to move toward a digital genealogy office, wants a simple research filing system, or wants guidance on how to organize and preserve family keepsakes.

4. One of things I know about myself and probably many can relate, I love to hunt for my ancestors and I love writing their stories, and while I love being organized, I hate the process. I hate scanning, I hate filing. They are mundane tasks I can’t get excited about. I get excited about the outcome, and reading your book excites me to produce that outcome but when it gets down to the work that’s another story.  What do you recommend for those of us that want to get there but find it a chore? How do we make this process more fun and something we will want to do?

All I can say is to keep The Big Picture in mind. I’m with you, Lynn. The thrill of the hunt is much more fun than scanning and filing. So, make those boring tasks less of a chore. I get energized when I log into a Scanfest with Miriam Midkiff at Ancestories.com or Caroline Pointer of 4YourFamilyStories.com. Make a game of it and post your scanning progress on your blog or FaceBook page. Just Do It, and then enjoy the results.

5. There’s a lot of information packed into this book and I can really see how after reading it through the first time it gives me a lovely big picture of what my archives could potentially look like. I can also see myself using it as a reference book time and time again as I acquire more stuff and get my current research in order. How would you recommend a reader use your book?



Thank you, Lynn. I really tried to make this book useful to family historians at every level of experience. If it gives you a “lovely big picture” of your end result, that’s great. I find that starting with a clear-cut goal is the surest path to success.

I suggest readers of my book start where where they are. If you don’t really have a lot of keepsakes to store, flip right to the section on working with your research, paperwork, and citations. If you need help storing artifacts, use the reference section for guidance on preservation techniques. If you are overwhelmed by mountains of stuff, as I was, you may want to work through the section on setting up an archive step-by-step. I designed my book as a handbook and hope it becomes a go-to reference tool.

6. One of the nice things about this book is it is practical. It really is a hands-on book. It offers a great deal of tools to work with to get the job done. I’m a visual person so I like the tangible tools you offer in this book. If I enlisted the help of only one of the tools in this book, which one would you recommend?

Thanks, Lynn. My goal was to write the book I was looking for when I inherited my grandmother Arline’s trunk and thought, “Now what?” If by “tool” you mean which checklist, chart, or worksheet I find essential, it would have to be the Scanning Guidelines chart in Chapter 9: Organize and Digitize Your Paper Documents. That chart grew out of my own need for a handy cheatsheet I could post over my scanner. It lists archivist-recommended scanning resolution (DPI), color setting, and format for different kinds of scanning tasks, including maps, quilts, tintypes, documents, and various photo formats. I still refer to this chart regularly.

7. Do you agree that many brick walls, not all but many could be the result of poor organization? How can one identify if their lack of organization skills may be the culprit in tearing down those brick walls?

I agree, Lynn. Anyone who has caught herself viewing the same microfilm or book over and over can recognize the value of working with a plan. It’s helpful to use the same approach whether you’re researching in your home archive or in a library: make a plan and work through it, recording your progress as you go. That’s why Part 3 of my book: Root Your Research in Strategies for Success includes four chapters on starting off well-organized and primed to break through brick wall problems.

8. I spend a lot of time on this blog encouraging my readers to write their family history. I know that one of things that holds many back is not really having a grasp on what they want to write because their research lacks organization, can’t see the forest for the trees scenario. What would you recommend to a family historian who wants to get on with their writing quickly but does not want to spend a lot of time getting the files organized?

Let’s get creative. Find something – a photo, a marriage license (original or copy), even a census record. Set it up on your desk and look at it. Let your ancestor’s life speak to you and start writing. Just start writing.

If you are worried about the paper piles and mountains of memorabilia, try this trick: buy archival bankers’ boxes and office supply bankers’ boxes. Carefully place your heirlooms inside the archival boxes and store them in a location with moderate temperature and humidity. They’ve lasted decades already, and with care they should last a bit longer.

Pick up all the loose paper (we’re talking about working papers, not heirloom originals) cluttering your office and desk and place them inside the office supply boxes. Sort and deal with the paper when you’ve written your first ten or twenty pages. Go back to your desk, look at that photo or document -- and write!

9. I love that you address both paper and digital files in this book. I think when we think archives and keepsakes our mind tends to think paper and collectibles. How can we marry both our digital and our physical files so we can keep track of what we have? Should we digitize everything?

It would be quite a challenge to digitize everything. I see myself as a fan of less paper rather than no paper. I love paper. I love books. They have substance, weight, smell. And books and paper do last a very long time with care.

My goal is to digitize heirloom originals to create a Master Copy that will survive if the original is damaged or lost. I never discard original heirloom documents. In Part 2: Break the Paper Habit, I review scanner options, discuss best practices for file formats and file-naming, and share ideas for organizing the genealogy paper files you decide to keep.

10. The technology era has brought a new concern in passing on our archives to our children. For the first time, our children will inherit digital files not just paper. I think of how many computers must be wiped clean everyday because children don’t think to save their parent's digital files.  What do you recommend we do today to ensure that our children are aware of what is on our hard drives and worthy of saving?

I’m so glad you asked about the future of our research; it’s been on my mind lately, especially since my own mother passed away. No one really likes to talk about it, but we have to ask: What will happen to our family keepsakes when our own research days come to an end?

We may have genealogy research, family heirlooms, and online activity that will all be orphaned when we’re gone. It’s wise to consider a Genealogy Estate Plan and add notes to our own estate planning. In Chapter 5: Organize for the Future I outline how to find a suitable repository if you wish to donate your heirlooms and research. I’ve also included two useful forms to help you make your wishes known to your heirs: a Genealogical Codicil Form and a Digital Assets Codicil Form. These can be used to insure that your work is available to future researchers, and relieve your family of some difficult decisions.

11. For those new to family history and just starting their filing system or for those looking to get more organized, can you recommend a few quick tips they can start today so everything they research from this day forward will be more organized?

When moving toward less paper and more digital files, I suggest that family historians adopt a Digital Birthday: from this day forward working papers are found in digital format, older papers are still in stored as physical paper.

A researcher could adopt a Filing Birthday as well. Pick a meaningful date, a birthday or holiday. Make it a habit to file and organize your papers and research moving forward. As you have time, work to organize older items, but continue with your work knowing that if you are looking for an item before the Filing Birthday it is likely to be in an old filing system, or maybe just a box of loose papers. Anything created after your Filing Birthday should be found in your new system, what ever that may be.

12. What one thing would you hope readers take away from your book How to Archive Family Keepsakes?

My goal in writing this book isn’t to present a rulebook or standards guide. Professional archivists are much better qualified for that task. Instead, I hope my own story – and the lessons I’ve learned – inspires family historians to preserve their inheritance and encourages their efforts in genealogical research. I can do it, you can too!

Thank you Denise for a great chat. If you have any questions for Denise or want to share your thoughts on organizing your archives be sure to leave a comment. If you leave a comment to today's post, your name will be entered in a chance to win an archival kit. Lucky winners will be announced each Saturday during the tour at  The Family Curator.

And by all means be sure to pick up a copy of Denise's book How to Archive Family Keepsakes . You will not be disappointed. Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.


About the Author
In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator www.TheFamilyCurator.com and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012).