04 March 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Compared To The Past

Oh the personality that comes to light when a child turns 18 months old! In my case, my energetic personality was shining brightly, as evident by the photos in this two page layout.

Vintage Photos Scrapbooked
Me at 18 Months (left page): The Birds and Bees kit by Just Saskia

See my big, open mouth smile? You can see another version of it, along with my second daughter doing the same thing in my post "Things I Learned About Myself While Scanning."

Use historical writings on your scrapbook page
Me at 18 Months (left page): The Birds and Bees kit by Just Saskia

I have a variety of photos from that 1970 time period when colored photos were in infancy. The colors are hard to correct and vary from photo to photo, even in the same time period. I paired a soft green background paper with some soft yellow embellishments. With the size of the photos, I can't help but look at my two favorite photos (the one of me in the curtain and the other on the 'ugly red couch').

The right page has a series of photos in mom's rocker. This rocker went with us through all of our moves in Ohio and throughout Texas. I think when my mother moved in with my brother in the around 2010, the rocker finally found a new home. As a child, I really loved Mom's rocker. As I grew older, I loved the couches that replaced the ugly red one.

Scrapbooking with old baby album writings
I included mom's memories of me at a young age. I love how she wrote in 'my voice'.
I did the same thing for my children's scrapbooks!
I wanted to share some times when it comes to writing journaling. First, let someone else do the writing. I've stated that before, but on this page, I did something a little different. "Modern me" reflected on the stories my mother wrote about "Younger me."  I added my own commentary that referenced the stories she shared.
... I love the table dancing story my mother shared. Too funny. I've liked to be on top of the world, but not too high because I’m afraid of heights! I've also been a visual person. See, how mom says I grabbed everything necessary to go... coat, purse, stroller. If I can't express myself, I will show you want I mean! 
If you have stories that someone else recorded about a younger version of yourself or your ancestor, you could do something similar. Write about how those early impressions of the individual stayed consistent throughout their life, or changed. 


This layout falls into the category of family history but was created while I was getting caught up with my personal scrapbooks. I wrote two eBooks on scrapbooking, both have tips to help you scrapbook your history, whether it's ancestral or personal.

02 March 2015

The Step Before We Search For Cousins

For many, family history isn't worth doing because 'it's all be done'. In recent years, a counter to that argument has been, “then search for your cousins” or “you're work isn't done until you can tell me how we're related.”

Helen Zumstein Family Tree
Looking at this 'tree', it looks 'all done.'

These are great retorts but they often do not get to the meat of the problem. The root of the problem is that many folks are looking beyond the mark. If someone opens up a genealogy program or looks at a printed family tree and sees a chart full of names going back many generations, they can rightly assert, "well, it's all been done." If they log into a "how we're related" type program and it tells them how they're related to someone they go to church with, a celebrity or royalty, they'll say, “it's all been done.” They are most likely wrong, but they have valid points.

To tell such folks to look for cousins often misses a step that shouldn't be over looked. Just because someone has linked people together into a tree doesn't mean it's true. Just because a chart has names, dates, and places on it doesn't mean your family history has been done.

Prove It in Genealogy

My brother in his teenage years was a bit feisty when someone put forth their beliefs on a variety of subjects. The snarky adolescent of the 80s would say, "Prove It!" in a way only a tall, rugged teenager could do. Despite the potentially rebellious underpinnings to this statement, I often find myself saying this phrase to the family history resistant. 

How many family trees are undocumented? It doesn't matter if the tree is on Ancestry, FamilySearch, in a book at the family history library, or someone's copied Book of Remembrance. How many names are undocumented yet copied again and again creating this huge database of names that might as well be full of fictional characters like Clark Kent, Harry Potter, or Mickey Mouse.

In the past, I copied many group sheets and pedigree charts without knowing that the sources were important (and rarely seeing any sources to copy). I finally learned that family history without proof is fiction because someone told me to prove it.

Recently I started playing around with a small version of my family tree on MyHeritage.com. The matches flood my portal page but what value are they to me? Often there are no sources to support the relationships on the tree. To make matters worse, won person has 10 trees with the same people on that tree! It's like she'll never leave my potential match stream. How many versions of the ancestor do you need? Stop creating more trees and start attaching records to the people you have found.

To everyone, I say this. Can you prove it?

If a tree is unsourced, it is fiction. I don't care if you entered the name of your parents personally into tree. If you haven't created a source that say, "these are my parents and they're listed on my birth record," it's fiction. (It would be best if you attached the birth record, but if you're living that might be a security issue, so I get it.)

I don't care if your Aunt Betty did all the family research and "she knows." If Aunt Betty's records do not identify where she obtained her information, it's fiction. If Aunt Betty did identify her sources but an unsourced version of her work is online, you might want to grab her sources and get them online. I'd also advise that you double check her work along the way. (There is a good chance Aunt Betty made a few mistakes.)

The harsh reality is this. If a name is on a chart and there are no sources for the 'facts', then you have fiction. You might as well type Poseidon as a relative. (Don't laugh! One can find Thor and Odin in many online family trees. These guys are Norse gods or fictional, depending upon your view).

Family History Is Not All Done Without Sources
Show Me Your Sources, I'll Show You Mine

So, before I ever tell folks to look for cousins, I tell them to prove what's on their tree. Attach sources to the individuals that are presented as their ancestors and relatives.


Note: By the way, Robert Comfort is many several generations back and I didn't add him to the tree. I'm not ready to tackle New England Revolutionary American history just yet. Still working on folks in Ohio, USA and Ontario, Canada in the 1850 - present time.

01 March 2015

Youth Teach Leaders, Who Teaches Youth?

I watched the Leader and Consultant Training session of Family Discovery Day held in conjunction with RootsTech. The session provided a lot of encouragement on how LDS church leaders can focus their energies on incorporating more family history work with their ministerial efforts.



This session was LDS focused, but the positive feelings and the messages could apply to any family or church group who wants to strengthen ties and help individuals overcome challenges they face. There is something powerful that happens as we work on family history, that isn't reserved for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as they combine family history work with temple attendance.

If you're still reading, I thank you. There is something I wish to point out that wasn't addressed, and hasn't been addressed, in many presentations by LDS leaders or genealogy leaders.

Regularly, leaders in genealogical circles champion that the youth will teach the older generation how to do family history work. Why? Because they know how to use technology. The reasoning goes something like this:

  • They can index, because they can use computers.
  • They can find cousins, because they can use smart phones.
  • They can do this or that, because they can use iPads.


Knowing how to use a tool does not a expert make

Just because I know how to use a weed eater doesn't make me a lawn care expert. Knowing how to use a power drill, does not make someone a carpenter or architect.  Knowing how to use a tool for entertainment does not translate into knowing how to use that same tool for academic pursuits.

Youth need teachers to learn family history
My daughter is research family history under the watchful care of my husband

Just because my son knows how to find his way around the neighbor's xBox system doesn't mean he knows how to Index. He knows his way around the neighbor's xBox because we showed him the way around our xBox. Coincidentally, he knows how to index because I walked him through the process of indexing. Once he has experience doing something (because he had a teacher), he can then do similar experiences in other settings.

Interestingly, when he indexes, he only looks for typed records. He doesn't know cursive and most of the cursive is hard even for me (who knows cursive) to read. If the typed records dry up, will he still be able to index? Maybe. But he didn't necessarily know how to index because he knew how to use a computer. He had a teacher and training.


Knowing how to use record suggestions the recommendations

Hinting and green temple icons are nice features on FamilySearch.org. The shaky leaf on Ancestry.com have made finding records easier. Other websites have source recommendation features that are helping folks find sources to support their family tree conclusions. The programs have done much to make initial research so much easier. I am so appreciative, lest anyone think I am not.

The Green Temple Icons doesn't equate to a name that hasn't been taken to the temple. It's an opportunity to investigate further. The research suggestions (blue) and record hints (brown) also should be examined.
What are we doing to teach folks, including youth, how to use these tools rather than assume they are truths?

Just because a youth can navigate their way around a Smart Phone, doesn't mean that once they're presented with hints and temples that they'll know what to do with them. Young people aren't better researchers because they know their way around an electronic device. Don't kid yourself. Unless they have a teacher or mentor, they'll make the same rookie mistakes and older research would make who hasn't been taught how to evaluate records that they find.

Pushing a button is easy, making a recording takes talent.
Taking Selfies start at an early age, but can they really make good recordings or conduct decent interviews?

Knowing how to record doesn't mean knowing how to interview

Many youth know how to record themselves once they've had a little experience with a recording device. Once my children discovered how to record videos on my camera, they have made some interesting 'movies'. They are cute but I certainly wouldn't distribute them widely. Why? Just because you can press record doesn't mean you know how to make an entertaining video. There are skills to learn and these skills are often taught by a mentor of some kind. 

My children learned this as they attempted to make a stop-action video using Legos to tell a familiar scripture story. They knew how to press a button, but they needed someone to teach them about lighting, movement, story boarding, voice recording, editing, and so on.


Just because a youth knows how to record themselves with their iPad doesn't mean they know how to record family stories worth putting on FamilySearch.org's memories page. First, someone needs to teach them that the possibility is there. Second, someone needs to mentor them in what questions to ask or stories to record. Teenagers don't know anymore than adults what stories matter. Then need help getting the ball rolling, just like their older counterparts. Finally, there is an art to interviewing someone and getting the stories that matter most out of them. Who is there to train them? Unless they have a father or mother who work as interviewers in their professional life?

Youth have power, but they need teachers

I'm not doubting the capabilities of young people to do amazing things. Once they are exposed to possibilities and inspired to participate in family history, they have the power to do amazing things. The hope of this post is to point out that youth need teachers and mentors if they are to succeed. Don't say, "Let's have the youth teach us how to use FamilySearch.org" and then wait for them to figure it out to teach you. There must be an action plan to help youth, young adults, middle adults, and seniors learn how to do family history so they can teach others.

If we want youth to rise to the occasion, they need someone to help guide them at first and and then support them along the way.

27 February 2015

Photo Friday: Jewelry on Black is Hit or Miss

The post Lessons Learned From FirstPhoto Session shared my first experiment with my new camera. I thought photographing gold rings on a black background would showcase the items. I have photographed many items with white backgrounds but have noticed that some things look better on black.

After photographing a number of different rings, I have to say that using black is really hit or miss if you are an amateur photographer.

f/5, exp 1/10 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

With this set up, the gold ring does not stand out against the black background. This was a Miss.

f/6.3 exp 1/6 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

Perhaps pairing the previous ring with a second ring helped this photograph. This is a Hit.

f/6.3 exp 1/8 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

Changing the rings orientation changed a Hit into a Miss.

f/6.3 exp 1/4 sec with -0.3 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

I added a foil covered board as a reflector to bounce more light to the front of the rings. The previous Miss became a Maybe.

f/6.3 exp 1/3 sec with -0.3 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

This ring, perhaps because it has less gold overall looks nice on the black background. Hit.

f/6.3 exp 1/4 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance
One final ring, this photograph of the two high school rings is a definite possibility. Maybe.


Are there ways on camera and with the positioning of the lights (or a different lens) that I could make a gold ring on a black background look better? Should I should have used the shiny side of the backdrop and not the felt? These are questions to consider if the dark background is the look I have to achieve. However,  I want what's best for the piece and not necessarily a certain 'creative' look.

Next time, we'll examine some of these pieces with a white background.


My adventures in photography supports the chapter in my book 21st Century Family Historian about Photographing Memorabilia. Order your copy of the book through Amazon.com

23 February 2015

One Name Study: Where's Ida Townsend in 1880

Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio One Name Place Study
Last time, I shared the fact that I'm starting a one name study of Townsends in Franklin County, Ohio. Prior to digging into the study, I shared what I know about William James Townsends family. I have been as reasonably exhaustive as I am able within the constraints of time, location, and funds.

However, there is something I could do and that is research all the Townsends in Franklin County, Ohio. I am limiting my scope to those families I find in the 1880 US Census all because of William's daughter Ida.

Ida Jane Townsend was born 25 April 1867 in Hamilton Township, Franklin County1, Ohio. She is the second oldest of William and Mary (Clabaugh) Townsend's 10 children. Here are some other facts I know about Ida:
  • 1870 resides in Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio2
  • 1880 is not listed in the home of her parents3
  • 14 Nov 1885 marries Lawrence (or Loren) Sanborn in Franklin County, Ohio4
  • 13 Nov 1889 her father William Townsend dies5
    • by this time, Ida has had three children: Albert, Elmer and Vernie
    • Ida Sanborn will assist her mother obtain her pension by completing witness affidavits
  • 1892 & 1898 has two more children, which name variations reflecting her siblings: John Edward and Harry Leroy
  • 1900 - 1941 lives in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio6
  • 1907 prior to 1907 her husband Laurence dies (death certificate still needed)7
  • 20 May 1941 Ida Sanborn dies in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio8

There is a question... where is Ida in 1880? She's not living with her parents. Let's take a look at who could be living With William and Mary in 1880. 
  1. Nancy Elizabeth  b. 1865
  2. Ida Jane  b. 1867
  3. William James 1868
  4. Mary Ella b. 1869
  5. John Edward b. 1873
  6. Louisa b. 1875
  7. Harry A b. 1877
  8. Emma V b. 1880
Of the above listed children, only William, John, Harry and Emma are in the family household.3 Mary Ella had died in 1874. It is believed that Louisa also died prior to 1880 as she would have been 5 and certainly too young not to live at home.

That leaves Nancy and Ida unaccounted for in the 1880 Census. Both girls are 15 and 13 years of age respectively and believed too young to marry in the 1880. They should be living with their parents. However, when remembering the fact that William Townsend was a blind farmer, it's entirely probable that the girls are living else where to help their family financially. So the question becomes where are they?

I found a record for Ida Townsend in the home of Edward Townsend.9 Thanks to the census being from 1880, the relationship to Edward is listed. The informant said Ida is Edward's niece. Edward is living in Groveport, Franklin, Ohio and is a farmer.  There do not seem to be any other Ida Townsends in Franklin County at the time. 

Given that the center of Groveport to the Center of Hamilton is 11 miles and both are south of Obetz, where the 'family' cemetery is located, this probability that Edward is William's brother is strong. Additionally, Edward is listed at being born in 1855. Close enough to be a brother 13 years younger, assuming this census entry is accurate. 

The trouble comes when examining the census further. It is uncertain who provided the information regarding the original of William and Edward's parents. The census taker recorded that Edward's parents are from Maryland and William's parents are from Ohio. Is someone right? Is someone wrong? 

I am intrigued to learn more about  Edward Townsend of Groveport, Ohio in 1880. I'd still like to find out where Nancy is in the 1880 Census as well. Perhaps she is with other Townsend family members in the 1880s. Perhaps I'll discover more possible relatives of William and/or Edward. Stay tuned.



1. Family Search, "Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007" database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) : Entry for Ida Jane Sanborn, died 20 May 1941 Source Film: 4035642, Reference No: fn 29964.
2. "United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M629-M6Q : accessed 5 January 2015), Ida Townsen in household of William Townsen, Ohio, United States; citing p. 43, family 298, NARA microfilm publication M593, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 552,699.
3. "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M8M8-VWL : accessed 5 January 2015), William Townsend, Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio, United States, 9; citing sheet 
188A, film number 1015, NARA microfilm publication T9, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 1,255,015.
4. "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZ5M-QLS : accessed 5 January 2015), Loren H. Sanborn and Ida J. Townsen, 14 Nov 1885; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference p233; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,150.
5.  Civil War Pension file for William James Townson Col K  Reg 133rd; Franklin County Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, compiled, Franklin County, Ohio Cemeteries: Vol I - XI (N.p.: n.p., 1980-1987, 1997), IX :70, William James Townsend. 
6. Numerous additional records available upon request
7. Ida Sanborn, Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1907. Images available Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
8. "Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZ2S-JS7 : accessed 5 January 2015), Ida Jane Sanborn, 20 May 1941; citing Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, reference fn 29964; FHL microfilm 2,023,915.
9. "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M8M8-1RS : accessed 5 January 2015), Ida J Townsend in household of Edward Townsend, Groveport, Franklin, Ohio, United States, 13; citing sheet 261C, film number 1015, NARA microfilm publication T9, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 1,255,015.

18 February 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Use Journaling From the Past

Scrapbook pages without journaling are pretty photo album pages. However, journaling is regularly very difficult for most people, let alone folks who create scrapbooks. If you are working on a heritage scrapbook, try this trick. Use the journaling of someone else, especially of someone else at the time of the event.

Left side of portrait layout
Right side of portrait layout
Credits: Change is Good kit by Amber Shaw

My baby album was so helpful when I crafted my early years scrapbook. My mother is deceased and I have no memories of my earliest years. My journaling would be extremely limited. However, Mom kept a fairly detailed baby book. I scanned the stories she recorded in the book. Who better to tell the story of my first birthday, than mom. An added benefit to this trick, you preserve the handwriting of your loved one. I may have teased my mother about her handwriting when I was younger saying it was hard to ready because it was so fancy. However, I do recognize her script whenever I look at a variety of documents.

So, share the journaling job by using some historical pieces in your projects.

Note: This page was created digitally so that I could size mother's handwriting to the space I preferred. If you're creating a paper scrapbook, scan your original documents and print them out to the size you want.

17 February 2015

A Second RootsTech Streaming Recap

Before I recap some of the other things I learned or observed during the streaming of RootsTech, I have to say Tan Le and Donny Osmond were outstanding!


Tan's story was amazing. I love how she tied the lessons and the legacy of the women in her family tree together. Isn't that what we all hope to do. Pass on the story of our heritage. I love she discussed her struggles and that not everything was sunshine and roses.

Donny Osmond sings at RootsTech at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on
Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

So many individuals want to avoid family history because there are not lovely stories to share. Some legacies should not be passed on. Others have been forgotten. Still others are currently being revised for the better. Yet, how will the next generation learn the tragedy and triumph if no one takes the time to make a record?

Donny's presentation was a good mix of entertainment and poignant message. The best line of all was something to the effect that I'm famous and my life has been recorded for me, yet you're life is just as important so go and record it. My mother was a big Donny fan and I think he doesn't sing what I enjoy listening to. Regardless of my listening preferences, his speaking and performing talents were so much to be admired. Plus he's a family historian too! That's so cool. My favorite story is the radio greeting that was so embarrassing! You'll have to check out his keynote whenever it's made available.


What's New With Family Search

The presenter was lively and enjoyable to listen to. He demonstrated how he preserves his children, their photos, and so on online. Some folks are comfortable sharing these details of their minor children. I'm not on board with this. I can see using the Family Search website to preserve the records of my deceased ancestors. I just can't use it for the living.

In the presentation, I think I've learned what I wanted to better understand. I was wondering if the photos would be searchable. The current answer seems to be no. If you add a photo your FamilySearch account, it will only be discovered if it is attached to someone on the global tree. Darn, I was hoping that wasn't the case.

One question that I still have is how will the profiles of the living, who then die, be reconciled together? If we record stories of the living, how will his all play out when there is multiple versions of that living person who had many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I understand the desire to protect the privacy of the living. I just do not conceptually understand what happens when the deceased box needs to be, or is, checked.

Genealogy Tool Box

Thomas MacEntee is amazing. Can I just say that? I'm not a Thomas groupie or anything, I promise. I just am amazed at all he does to promote family history and those in the genealogy sphere. What did he do this time?

He shared his Genealogy Tool Box and nearly all the ways you can currate and customize your own. Then he made said toolbox available for free. I'm not sure if I can share the link outside of the presentation. You'll just have to go watch and see. In the meantime, I need to capture my copy of it. Thank you Thomas!!!

I'm especially looking forward to trying two new to me sites Wolfram Alpha (specifically to learn about historic weather) and Am-Deadlink (to fish out all the Zombie Links my blog may have).

Bring Your Ancestor Back to the Future

Did you ever have the feeling when your interpretation of a phrase isn't want someone else's vision was? The title of this workshop was not what I had imagines it would be. I imagined it would be more in line with my Narrative Project to demonstrate how to put more meat on the bones of my research. When I saw the actual description for the class, the confusion was gone. Anne Leishman did a great job with the presentation and is well worth reviewing at a future date. I have just been reminded that one must not rely upon titles to know what is being presented. My bad.

The Write Stuff: Leaving a Recorded Legacy; Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries and Letters

Valerie Elkins was such a treat not only for her knowledge and recommendations, but her personality. My husband often says I need to be less 'formal' when I am teaching family history classes and let my passion shine through. Valerie, thanks to you, I understand what he wants me to do. Why should you review The Write Stuff? Because the presentation is packed full of tips and so on. RootsTech.org needs to hurry up and post her presentation so I can watch it again and again. Plus, I need to go to her website to pickup her eBook of Journal Writing Prompts.


Family History on the Go Using Phones and Tablet Apps

WOW! There are so many apps to possibly use for family history. My head is still spinning. I had heard the ladies say that they had a blog familyhistoryonthego.blogspot.com for more information but there are no posts on that link. I am hearing impaired so if someone else caught the correct link, will you let me know?

Personal History Triage: How to Tell the Best Ten Stories of Your Life

I was so disappointed that I couldn't fully focus on this presentation. That's what you get when you attempt to watch a conference on a couch. Alison Taylor was a top notch presenter and I could personally learn more from her. The best quote she shared was this: A published book, however imperfect, is better than a perfectly conceived unpublished one." No truer words have been uttered. I hope to apply some of the tips she shared with my Narrative Project. And, when it's good enough, I'll publish it rather than wait for it to be perfect.


You may have noticed that I didn't watch every workshop that was broadcast. Part of it was because I also watched some of the LDS Specific broadcast from Family Discovery Day. The other reason has to do with my wonderful brother-in-law being in town and five adorable children I have the opportunity to raise. The great thing is that, as of today, RootsTech.org has already posted some of the sessions I was not able to attend. Hooray!

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