Grab Your Genealogy by the Horns: Five Ways to Take Control of Your Research in 2015

Thanks to guest blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this great article!

IStock_000002185419SmallCan you believe that it is almost 2015? It is now time to evaluate what we accomplished during the previous 12 months, and set new goals for the coming year. “Out with the old and in with the new.” In the Chinese New Year, 2015 is designated as the year of the Goat (also translated as "Sheep" or "Ram").

Perhaps, like me, you have a list of genealogy-related tasks you plan to work on. If you want to grab your genealogy by the horns, here are five ways to take control of your research in 2015.

1. Define your goals. List all the tasks you hope to accomplish with your genealogy research in 2015 (find elusive ancestors, break down brick walls, start writing your family history, scan your photographs, organize your digital and paper files, etc.). Next, take your list a step further and break those items you've listed down—into weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual goals—to help set benchmarks for completing them. When you track your success, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Once you declare your goals, don’t let them stay buried in a journal, or become part of your digital clutter. Print out your list and hang it in your office where you can see the goals and focus on them each day.

2. Let go of old habits. Genealogists are often creatures of habit. We often search the same databases in the same way or get distracted by the latest technology tools or apps. Some of our habits may also be hurting our research progress (for example, not keeping a research log, letting our filing get backlogged, or neglecting to copy down a source citation for records or documents we find. This year, identify your problem areas and make a point to do better.

3. Get organized. To do your best research, you need to set yourself up for success. Perhaps you need to clean up your genealogy database, create a template for your research log, file that stack of papers, scan those photographs, or locate the materials you need to write about your ancestors. Shop for supplies (archival safe filing products—check Hollinger Metal Edge, or your local office supply store) purchase or download software or apps you need (e.g. Legacy Family Tree software, Evernote, Dropbox, etc.). For help with organizing your materials, pick up a copy of the book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes by Denise May Levenick (aka The Family Curator). If scanning photographs is on your list, then another “must have” is Geoff Rasmussen’s book Digital Imaging Essentials.

4. Don’t go it alone. No genealogist is an island. As genealogists we are accustomed to working solo. Find a research partner who understands the challenges of chasing down ancestors, someone who can help you stay focused on your goals, and keep you motivated to make 2015 a great year for your genealogy. There are groups you can join too on Facebook or Google Plus. Check out the “Genealogy on Facebook” List compiled by Katherine R. Willson, to find a group that fits your interests. You don’t have to solve your brick wall problems alone when you have genea-friends who share the same passion, frustrations, and successes as you.

5. Hit the reset button. When you began your genealogy were you just a name collector? Do you question the validity of some of your data? Have you been inconsistent with source documentation? Do you practice start and stop genealogy and forget where you left off? If you find that your genealogy documentation is completely out of control, or discover major holes in your research, perhaps you need to step back, regroup and start again. If so, join professional genealogist Thomas MacEntee for the Genealogy Do-Over. There is a Facebook group (search for Genealogy Do-Over) you can join if you are planning to be a part of the Genealogy Do-Over, or if you just want to watch and track participant progress and learn new research tricks - this is the place for you to ask questions and also share advice about the Genealogy Do-Over. This is a 13-week program, broken down into specific tasks each week. The schedule of topics is posted at Geneabloggers. The list is representative and your mileage may differ . . . meaning that your research habits and specific research projects may warrant different areas of concentration in terms of skill building. Participants (and viewers) may agree or disagree with the topics or the order of the topics, so you can add or remove topics that you feel are not relevant to your specific genealogy research project. Each week, a post will appear at GeneaBloggers covering the Genealogy Do-Over topics. Posts will include tips, advice and resources. There will also be a special Legacy webinar “My Genealogy Do-Over - A Year of Learning from Research Mistakes” presented by Thomas MacEntee on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Register for this webinar at

I am ready to make 2015 my best genealogy year ever. How about you?

New 4th Edition of Christine Rose's Genealogical Proof Standard book now available

ProofOne of genealogy's finest has announced the availability of the 4th Edition of her popular book, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. While I have not yet personally reviewed the new revised edition, if it is anything like the previous editions, this is a must-have book for your genealogy library. Here's what it's about:

The Genealogical Proof Standard is the standard set by the genealogical field to build a solid case, especially when there is no direct evidence providing an answer, or when there are conflicts in the evidence. This easy-to-read guide clearly sets forth the elements of this standard, and how to apply it to resolve genealogical problems. It leaves the reader with a good understanding of the five points of the GPS as distinguished from the three step classification process for evidence analysis. Many examples included.

Paperback: 72 pages, 8.5" x 5.5", illustrated, published 2014.



About the author:

Christine Rose, board-certified genealogist and board-certified lecturer of The Board for Certification of Genealogists, is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. Her lecturing experience includes national conferences (National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, and GenTech), and many regional seminars and local county seminars including New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in New York City; seminars in Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California; Long Island, New York, MENSA, and many others.

In addition, she served on the faculty of the Institute of Genealogical Research in Washington, D.C., and since 1992 has been on the faculty as an instructor and a course coordinator of Samford University's Institute of Historical and Genealogical Research. Christine was elected Fellow, American Society of Genealogists in 1988. This honor is bestowed by peers based on the quantity and quality of publications, and is limited to only fifty at any one time. She has also been awarded the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus award for two genealogy books, and received top reviews for the book she co-authored, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy.

Christine has served in the past as VP for the Federation of Genealogical Societies VP for the Association of Genealogical Societies, and Trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She has been interviewed on CBS evening news (San Francisco, California), W.H.O. (Des Moines, Iowa), PBS in Jackson, Mississippi, Joe Gallagher (New York), Dick Eastman, and others. She has also been subject of extensive news articles in the Des Moines Register, and the San Jose [California] Mercury-News.

Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestors - Pension Files

This week we will hear from Thomas MacEntee about the War of 1812 and how it applies to our genealogy research. Below is an example of what you can find in the very valuable pension records.


Cyrus Bailey of Vermont enlisted in 1814 in the "late war with Great Britain" today known as the War of 1812. He was part of  Captain Smead's Company, in the 11th US Infantry. In August of that year Cyrus suffered several injuries during his service.

Testimony from Samuel Dutton, his tent-mate in 1838, describes that while "pulling up and mooveing a tent pin or hook did receive a wound" and subsequently in the state of New York he received an additional injury "in the same place by carrying a pole for wood by stepping and slipping on the ice." Dutton said Bailey was taken to the hospital and remained there until discharged.

A Cephus Bailey further testified in 1855 that "from the time he returned from the service of the United States, to the day of his death, that said Cyrus Bailey never enjoyed good health after his return, that he always said it was in consequence of disease contracted while in said service."

Cyrus' initial pension application in March 1839 was denied a month later because it "afford not evidence of his having sustained any injury while in the service."

After Cyrus' death in 1840 his widow Chloe persevered in attempting to collect the pension. Depositions were given by Widow Bailey herself, Jacob Abbott of Merrimack, NH, Jesey [sic] Adams of Weston, Vermont and Jacob Bailey.

While it is unclear whether Widow Bailey was successful in her efforts what is clear is that the pension file of Cyrus Bailey contains valuable genealogical information about Cyrus Bailey, his family, friends and associates.

From the documents we learn:

  • that he married Chloe on 2 August 1805
  • the exact date and location of Cyrus' death
  • that Jesey and Cyrus were acquainted for 35 years
  • that Jacob Bailey knew him since the time of his marriage in 1805
  • Cephus Bailey also declares that Cyrus Bailey is his father
  • perhaps most fascinating is Widow Bailey's detailed description of where and when Cyrus served.

Even if your ancestor didn't serve in the War of 1812, he or she may be mentioned in the War of 1812 pensions files. You can learn more about how to research your War of 1812 ancestor during the Wednesday, 15 October webinar presented by Thomas MacEntee. There's still time to register.

Five Genealogy Things You Can Do in October

Thanks to guest blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this great article.

October is National Family History Month* making it the perfect time to focus on your genealogy research. If you are looking for some fun things to do, below are five suggestions.

1. Plan Activities for Family Gatherings. Before you know it October will be over and the holiday season will be upon us. During Family History Month, you can start to plan activities for your family gatherings. This could be scheduling time to interview your relatives, or deciding on some genealogy games and activities—in particular, those that will get the younger generation involved. Find ideas to help start the conversations or encourage participation in the book Zap The Grandma Gap: Connect to your family by connecting them with their family history ($16.95) by Janet Hovorka. There is also an accompanying Zap The Grandma Gap: Power Up Workbook ($14.95). In addition, check out the Zap The Grandma Gap website for free book excerpts, charts, and other goodies.


2. Start a Family History Writing Project. There is no better time to begin documenting the lives of your ancestors than Family History Month. But remember, you don't have to write it all at once. Break your writing tasks into small, manageable pieces. Start with one ancestor, or one family story, then move on to the next one. Keep writing until you have a series of profiles or stories that you can then edit into a book or eBook to share with your relatives. For family history writing tips, you can view several Legacy webinars, including “Ready, Set, Write: Share Your Family’s Story,” and “Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Narrative,” or pick up a copy of the Legacy Family Tree QuickGuide on Writing Your Family History. In addition, consider using a writing and project management tool like Scrivener ($40 and $45 30-day non-continuous trial available) to help with the writing process. You can learn how to get started by watching this video, or getting a copy of my “Scrivener for Genealogists QuickSheet” ($8.95 + s/h). Click here to order a copy of the Mac version, or click here to order a copy of the Windows version.

3. Catch up on Genealogy TV. During October you can watch new episodes of the third season of Finding Your Roots (check PBS to find your local station or to watch previous episodes). You can also “binge watch” Season 1 of Genealogy Roadshow (also PBS), or back seasons of “Who Do You Think You Are?” (on TLC). Schedule a family night and watch the shows with your children or grandchildren or invite over other relatives.

4. Dig Deeper with Immersion Genealogy. Genealogy is so much more than collecting names, dates, and places. So why not use family history month to practice some “immersion genealogy”? Immersion Genealogy is a term I coined to define the process of discovering where and how our ancestors lived, worked, and worshipped, and experiencing first-hand those customs and traditions they passed down through the generations. You can visit a place your ancestor lived, take a tour of a military battlefield or Ellis Island, attend an ethnic festival, or cook a special food from a favorite family recipe.


5. Learn Something New. Why not use the month of October to expand your genealogy knowledge, or learn about a new record group or research technique? There are some great webinars coming up during October with Legacy Family Tree Webinars, including:

  • October 1 - The Fair Court: Records of Chancery Courts (Judy Russell)
  • October 3 - Overcoming Destroyed or Missing Records (Karen Clifford)
  • October 8 - Welcome to FamilySearch Indexing! (Devin Ashby)
  • October 15 - Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor (Thomas MacEntee)
  • October 22 - Tracking Migration Using the Draper Manuscripts (Mary Hill)

Remember, the live webinars are free. Click this link to register for multiple webinars at once:
And, with a FamilyTreeWebinars membership ($49.95 annually), you can access more than 275 Hours of previously recorded webinar content, and 760 pages Of instructor handouts.

These are just a few suggestions for easy activities you can do during National Family History Month. Do one, or all of them, or be creative and find your own ways to celebrate your family and pay tribute to your ancestors.

[*In 2003 the United States Senate officially recognized October as National Family History Month, a time “to encourage family history research, education, and the sharing of knowledge.” The bill, [S.RES.175] was sponsored by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. To read more, click here].

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 23 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via

Stuck in a Genealogy Rut? Three Ways to Bounce Back

Thanks to guest blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this great article.

Alzo_GenealogyRut_01Have you hit an impasse in your genealogy research? Do you keep searching the same databases only to get the same negative results? Has the paper trail back to your ancestors gone cold? At one time or another even the best researchers get stuck in a genealogy rut. Here are three ways you can bounce back and find new inspiration.

1. Review Your Research.

Many times our biggest research roadblocks result from missing important details or clues the first time around. Perhaps you did not listen carefully when you interviewed Aunt Betty, or somehow misunderstood the name of the ancestral village she mentioned. Or, maybe you were in a hurry when you photocopied a page from a book at the library or from the microfilm reel at your Family History Center, or when you rapidly downloaded records from an online database. A second look can give you insights into a missed maiden name, a questionable connection in a family line, or an incorrect source citation.

2. Read, Understand and Evaluate.

Be honest, how many times do you go to Google, or open an online database and just randomly type in the names you are researching? I do it too. In reality, your first step should be to read the directions! Look at the About section, the Help section, or the Frequently Asked Questions section so you know exactly what a collection contains and what is not included. Two of the biggest online content providers, FamilySearch (free) and subscription site, both have detailed notes explaining their collections and tips for how to search them. Both sites also have free learning centers with videos and tutorials. Successful database searches depend upon creativity. Try different ways of searching and notice how the changes you’ve made are being interpreted by the search engine and then adapt your search criteria accordingly. Every search engine works a little differently. The search criteria that you use on one site may return entirely different results when used on a different site. Remember: Broad searching is NOT always the best approach. Look carefully at the search fields before you enter your terms. Understand what you are viewing (an index or abstract versus an actual scan of the original image). Evaluate each result and scroll down to the bottom to check the source citation for what you are viewing. Then, write down or save/print the instructions of where you will need to go next for more information. For example, if you see just an index of a marriage record, is there a notation stating where you can obtain the actual record through online ordering, mail request, or in person?

Alzo_GenealogyRut_023. Banish “Brick Wall” from your vocabulary. Genealogists like to use the metaphor “brick wall” to describe that seemingly unsolvable research problem, or a roadblock or impasse encountered when trying to get back further in time with one or more family lines. More often than not, we have just run out of resources, can’t easily locate information, haven’t looked beyond the obvious, or have unrealistic expectations. Make sure you have conducted a “reasonably exhaustive search” (Check out the webinar “What is a Reasonably Exhaustive Search” by Michael Hait from September 2012 to learn more about this process). Finally, consider the steps you need to take to look at additional resources and how to use new media solutions to connect with cousins, discover fresh leads, and crowd source your research problems.

Want even more tips on how to rescue your research? Sign up for the free Legacy Family Tree webinar I will be presenting on August 8, 2014: “Research Recharge Turning Old Clues into New Leads.” In this webinar you will learn fresh ways of looking at data you've already collected, strategies for smarter searching your favorite databases (and new ones) for clues, and tips for identifying what you may have missed the first time around.

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 25 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via

Genealogy serendipity while writing about genealogy serendipity

What a cool experience I had today. I'm writing a book about serendipitous experiences I've had where ancestors have seemed to "speak" to me. Today, while writing chapter 5 about 10-year-old Marvin Brown, and having just inserted a digital image of his death certificate, I wrote the following:

Finding Marvin Brown has changed my life and reinforced my belief that our ancestors reach out to us.

From his death certificate I learned Marvin was born July 2, 1902.

And then it hit me...

Before I write one more word, I've got to tell you about the hairs on my arms that just stood. Today, at this very moment, as I pen this story, is July 2. I had no idea. Happy birthday Marvin!

My experience with my ancestor, Marvin Brown, and the voice I heard in the parking lot on the morning of my 38th birthday, will go down as one of the special, or should I say "sacred" genealogy experiences I've ever had. Isn't it interesting how I began to write his story today, July 2, on his birthday?

By the way, I have Lisa Alzo to thank for finally giving me the encouragement to begin writing this book. In her recent webinar, 10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Narrative, she suggested to just start writing. And that it's okay if your first draft is bad. Two weeks later I'm nearly done with my first draft. Thanks Lisa!

Five Genealogy Things to Do This Summer

Thanks to guest blogger Lisa Alzo for this great article.

Summer is officially here (in the Northern Hemisphere the summer solstice officially arrived June 21 at 6:51 A.M. EDT.), and I don't know about you but I couldn’t be more happy. After the long winter we had in New York, I am grateful for fresh air, sunshine, and being able to get out and go for a long walk every morning. But the new season also gets me excited about genealogy—specifically about tasks that I can enjoy either sitting on my deck with a glass of iced tea, or if I feel adventurous, during an in-town, or out-of-town excursion. Looking for some ways to make your genealogy life sizzle this summer? Here are five suggestions.

1. Make Some Memories.

Summer is the time for vacations and reunions. If you are packing up the car or getting on a plane for some rest and relaxation time with family or friends, why not include a little genealogy along the way? If you are near New York City, check out Ellis Island, where the immigrant experience comes alive. On the West Coast, there’s Angel Island, or visit other historic landmarks, such as Gettysburg, or Monticello.


[Ellis Island Wall of Honor John and Veronica Straka Figlar; Photo by Lisa A. Alzo]

Even if you can’t get away, check your local area for museums, or walking tours of historic places. (One of my personal favorites is the Women’s Rights National Historical Park located in Seneca Falls, New York, (and less than an hour away from where I live). Perhaps you have plans to attend a formal family gathering. If so, remember to take plenty of photos, and use your smartphone or tablet to interview your relatives (for tips, watch the Legacy Webinar on “Captured For All Time: Recording Family Voices to Preserve and Pass Down” by Marian Pierre-Louis). Don’t have a reunion booked? It’s not too early to start planning one for next year. Find tips at Reunions Magazine. You can also organize a virtual reunion with far-flung family members using technology such as Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts

Opting for the Stay-cation? Incorporate some genealogy/family history into a Family Game Night with board games such as Life Stories, and The Game of Genealogy ($29.95 + $6.00 s/h USD), or online activities such as Genealogy Game Night (hosted by DearMyrtle), or the free Family House game by BrightSolid (part of the DC Thompson Group) you can download from iTunes (click here) to play on your iPhone/iPad, or play on Facebook.

2. Sort, Scan, and Save.

One of my major projects this summer is to de-clutter and to get to grips with my massive family history archive. I have an entire room filled with boxes and containers of photographs, assorted documents, and family heirlooms. I am following the excellent advice provided in the book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes, written by my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick (aka, The Family Curator) to better store and preserve all of the wonderful family treasures I have inherited.


[Photo by Lisa A. Alzo]

3. Become a Graveyard Rabbit.

A great project for summer is to go out and photograph/document gravesites in your local cemetery. Projects such as Billion Graves, and Find A Grave make it easy with mobile apps and this is great activity to get the younger family members involved. Don’t forget to sign up for the Legacy Webinar “Find A Grave - The World's Largest Cemetery Database” with Russ Worthington, so you can learn how to use and contribute to the site.

4. Go to Texas!

No really, you need to…so you can attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference August 27-30, 2014 in San Antonio. But HURRY! The Early Bird Discount for the 2014 Conference Ends July 1st! Get a sneak peek of what’s in store with this video. If you can’t make it to FGS, you can always start making your holiday wish list for registration fees to 2015 events such as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), January 12-16 (some tracks have sold out, but seats remain in several excellent courses), the RootsTech/FGS joint conference also in Salt Lake City February 11–14, or the National Genealogical Society, May 13-16 in St. Charles, Missouri.

5. Attend School by the Pool.

Grab your laptop or tablet, find your favorite lounge chair and learn while you soak up some sun (or enjoy the shade). Take advantage of these fabulous Legacy Family Tree Webinars being offered in July and August (watch them live for free), or become a paid subscriber for unlimited access to these as well as archived webinars (now contains 253 hours and 673 pages of instructor handouts).

  • Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - Thinking About Becoming a Board-certified Genealogist? with Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL
  • Friday, July 11, 2014 - Legacy Family Tree - Virtual User's Group Meeting with Legacy Family Tree Panel
  • Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - When Freedom Came - Documenting the Family's Freedom Story with Angela Walton-Raji
  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Researching Your Illinois Ancestors with Thomas MacEntee
  • Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - Researching Your Tennessee Ancestors – with J. Mark Lowe
  • Friday, August 8, 2014 - Research Recharge - Turning Old Clues into New Leads with Lisa A. Alzo
  • Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Researching Your Italian Ancestors with Ruth Merriman

Click here to register for any or all of the above webinars.

Bonus Activity

Don’t forget to tune in for the 5th Season of Who Do You Think You Are? The popular series returns on July 23, 2014 on the TLC (check your local listings for more details).

Wishing you a super summer filled with genealogical goodness!

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 25 years. She has presented 10 Legacy Family Tree Webinars, can be contacted via

Kids and Genealogy

2014-04-26 08.27.26What a weekend I had! In addition to speaking at the Utah Genealogical Association conference, I got to do it with my 8-year-old son, Braden. This was his first genealogy conference, and he was a great helper at our Legacy Family Tree booth. He handed our brochures and stamped prize cards. He even attended one of my classes. Initially I couldn't figure out why he didn't want to attend my last three classes, but then I learned that he found that he could play the Angry Birds game at our booth when everyone else was in class. He learned some of the lingo - like pedigrees, descendancies, and ancestors. He thought it was funny to call me his ancestor. When I asked him what his favorite part was, he replied with "I got to miss a day of school."

Some of my fondest memories are of teaching genealogy to my children. Here is Evan finding his first death certificate on a microfilm reader at the Family History Library. He looked at it, looked at me, looked at it again, and looked at me again. Then he said, "Dad, I thought genealogy was boring. This is!" Priceless.

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This is Evan learning how to use Legacy:

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One of my kids' favorite outings is to head to the cemetery with the BillionGraves app in hand. Even my 5-year-old daughter enjoys pushing the green button on the camera (takes a picture of the headstone and publishes it to the BillionGraves website to be indexed).

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We tried to start Kaitlyn young. This is my wife, Tanya, doing a little FamilySearch Indexing while in labor with our daughter.

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While it is usually me who says "let's go find an ancestor" every once in a while one of them will initiate the experience. They seem to feel something as they seek for their relatives.

What have you done to try to ignite the genealogy flame in your children or grandchildren? What has worked? What didn't? I'd love to hear from you below.

Maureen Taylor, in her webinar, "Children and Genealogy in the Classroom" had some great recommendations. Click here to view its recording.

Later this year, Devin Ashby, will present more ideas in his webinar "Family History for Kids". Register for the webinar (free) here.

There's Still Time...Three Last Minute Ideas to Celebrate Family History Month

Thanks to guest-blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this article...

AlzoLegacyBlogImage10-15-23It’s hard to believe we are half way through the month of October. The end of the year is quickly approaching, and soon we will be looking ahead to holiday cooking, decorating, and shopping to prepare for those cherished family gatherings. Mid-October also means that National Family History Month is almost over. If you’ve been too busy to fully participate, or perhaps didn’t even realize it was here, it’s not too late. Here are three easy things you can do to discover your roots and honor your ancestors.

1. Immerse yourself in research. Schedule some time to practice what I like to call, "immersion genealogy." Here are a few ideas. Some you can accomplish in a day or two; others during a three-day weekend.

  • Visit an ancestor’s hometown. Look for their house, visit the church where they worshipped, walk through the cemetery.
  • Study your heritage. Check out books at your local public, college, or university library, or do a search on Google Books, or search Cyndi’s List under country or under Recipes, Cookbooks & Family Traditions.
  • Spend time interviewing your relatives. Ideally, you’ll want to do this in person, but if you can’t there’s always Skype or Facetime). Nobody to interview? Then, document your own story. Download a free guide here.
  • Gather ideas for your next family reunion. Make a list of those you wish to invite, choose a date, place, and theme, set up a planning committee. Get tips from Reunions Magazine.
  • Plan that dream trip to your ancestral homeland or take a virtual tour through Google Earth.

2. Start a heritage craft. With the holidays just around the corner, why not skip the mall or online shopping frenzy, and make a gift your family will cherish? Making your family history a part of your day-to-day life will stir up interest (and perhaps elicit information) the next time a relative visits. Add ancestral photos in a wall hanging such as the WallVerbs11-piece family tree ($39.99) You also could give someone the tree-themed decals and family names from and inspire them to show their roots (The large Photo Tree decal is perfect for displaying pictures), or get creative with family tree displays (click here to for some suggestions). If you like to sew, another great gift is a family history quilt. Fun Stuff For Genealogists carries preprinted fabric panels you add names to, or do a Google image search for family tree quilts. You can also use a photo gift site such as Shutterfly, create a family history book, or calendar with’s MyCanvas, or self-publish your favorite family recipes in a cookbook using Check Pinterest for even more ideas.

3. Continue your genealogy education. What better time is there to learn something new than Family History Month? Perhaps you can still catch a special event hosted by a genealogical society during October. Find a list of upcoming national, state, regional events at Conference Keepers, or look for upcoming Legacy Family Tree webinars you can watch from the comfort of home. Legacy QuickGuides® also provide you with quick tips and handy references to assist with your research (there are now more than 85 topics to choose from).

Don’t let Family History Month pass you by. There’s still time left to make some heritage happen!

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 23 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via

Photo: The John Alzo family. Courtesy of Lisa A. Alzo