Free genealogy resources!

free genealogy resources!Who doesn’t like to save money on genealogy research? Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, of whom I’m unabashed fan, sent out his free e-newsletter yesterday. It’s always a treasure trove, but this issue had a little something special: a link to a list of free genealogy education resources. He compiled the list for a talk he gave to the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference and he’s kind enough to make it available to everyone.

You can download the 25-item list here. But please, do yourself a favor and go to the Geneabloggers website and sign up for his newsletter that you can receive notifications like these. He’s always coming up with a great free resource or an offer or discount for genealogists. (And there’s even a Genealogy Bargains tag on the Geneabloggers website!)

Don’t forget your conference notes!

arcnotebookcameraYesterday I was flying home from an organizers’ conference and decided to take a few minutes to read through the notes contained in the notebook I take to meetings. (In case you’re an office-supply junkie like me, I’ll tell you that I use the Arc disc notebook from Staples–that’s it in the picture–which has repositionable pages that allow me to easily organize my notes in sections.)

As I read through the genealogy section, I became reacquainted with the notes I took from the wonderful sessions I attended at RootsTech 2015. Honestly, some of those sessions had completely slipped my mind as I re-entered real life after the conference. So I put a note on my task list to try out some of the resources in my next genealogy research session. (I’m particularly excited by trying out what I learned in the excellent session called Map My Ancestors, presented by A.C. Ivory.)

I see now that there is a bullet item missing from the list I created when I wrote the blog post Digging out after a conference. I need to add, Review session notes to the list of things I do at home after a conference. It doesn’t matter whether I took regular handwritten notes, used my Livescribe pen, or typed them directly into my iPad or laptop. If I don’t review the notes I’m going to miss out on some of what I learned, because I certainly can’t keep all of it in my head.

My crazy travel schedule this month has precluded my doing any genealogy research so far in April. But I intend to do some on Sunday. And the first place I’m going to look when I start my session is in my conference notebook. I can’t wait!

Starting the oral history conversation

family_history_daily_main_logoLast month, I read this great interview with D. Joshua Taylor, president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Director of Family History at and co-host of Genealogy Roadshow. The interview was written by Creastleaf for Family History Daily.

I was especially inspired by this question and answer:

Crestleaf: To you, what are the top three most important questions people should ask when conducting oral history interviews with their family members?

JT: First, who was the oldest relative you knew; make that leap from one generation to another while you can. Second, ask them about their childhood – these are the clues and tidbits that we cannot readily find in existing records. Finally, ask them about a memory of yourself – too often we fail to document our own stories.

I think those questions are brilliant! They’re informal, will glean great information, and, I think, spark more conversation.

I just spent some time with my elderly parents on a whirlwind visit to Walla Walla, Washington, with my niece and nephew, who live in Australia. I had hoped to try out those questions but ended up having precious little time for such conversations. When I go back in a couple of months for a more leisurely visit, I’ll be sure and ask the questions. I hope to be able to ask them of my aunt (my father’s sister) as well.

And when I do, I’ll report here. My thanks to Crestleaf, Family History Daily, and, of course, Joshua Taylor for such great information!

Get your ancestor’s handwriting analyzed

page 1 dave's letter to bea testWhen I was at the RootsTech conference, one of the exhibitors in the Expo hall was Nancy Douglas of Write Meaning, a certified handwriting analyst. I’ve always been fascinated by graphology and didn’t understand immediately what it had to do with genealogy.

I picked up her postcard and, after I got home from the conference, I checked out her website.  I was intrigued when I learned that she can take handwriting samples from an ancestor and provide an analysis, giving you insights into your ancestor’s personality.

I have a long, handwritten letter that my grandfather wrote my grandmother a month before they wed. It’s a treasure, because it outlines his father’s work history, his own work and education history, as well as touches on his parents’ unconventional marriage. And, at 36 pages, it provides a wonderful opportunity to try out this handwriting analysis.

Using my Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 scanner, I scanned the entire delicate letter and sent it via Dropbox to Nancy, along with payment of $100. I eagerly anticipate the analysis, which I hope to receive in a month or so. You can bet that I’ll be reporting the results here!

If you’re as intrigued as me and you have access to an ancestor’s handwriting, check out the Historical Family Documents tab on Nancy’s website. And stay tuned for a future blog post on my results!