How Will You Document Your Life?

Coupleonbikes
I love reading old diaries and letters. There’s nothing that makes for a great research day like reading what other people experienced 50, 100, even 200 years ago. Give me the opportunity to research women’s letters or diaries describing their life experiences and I am one happy researcher.

As family historians, we are passionate about the past. But for future genealogists, we need to leave something about our own lives. Letters and diaries provide historians a look at what everyday life was like generations ago. It provides important historical context no matter who is leaving that legacy of personal writings. I always hear people lament that their ancestor didn’t leave a journal behind so why wouldn’t we? Don’t we want that for the family historians of the future?

Dairy with open diary by angela rodesky
Used with permission Angela Rodesky http://arodeskygenealogy.com/

Believe Me, My Diaries Are Not Great Literature

I kept a diary off and on through my teen and young adult years. The other day I came across one that I kept when I was 14 to 16 years old. I didn’t write every day so there are huge gaps. But one thing is certain as I re-read those passages.

I was a nincompoop.

Really. I’m serious. It’s embarrassing. Most of the passages deal with whatever boy I had a crush on at that moment. And there were a lot. I think about my sons finding those diaries when I’m gone and my first thought is that I need to burn them ASAP.

I’ll admit I feel cognitive dissonance knowing that personal history needs to be preserved and feeling really embarrassed at my over the top teen angst. I’ve always been a believer in journal keeping and I hate to destroy the evidence of a younger me, but it feels like it would be for the best. Let’s just say that those journals don’t house the thoughts of a great thinker or my higher level musings on saving the world.

But as I contemplate by diary bonfire, I wonder how many of those letter writers and diary keepers that I’ve read and learned from felt the same way? How many times have I winced at hearing about someone destroying all of their or their families personal writings?

Have you felt this way? What is a solution to leaving a legacy even if what you have written isn’t what you want people to see?

What is you considered curating your papers? Maybe leaving everything feels uncomfortable. What if instead you did an annotated or even an excerpted version of your personal papers? That way you could later destroy them if you don’t want your descendants to read about those youthful indiscretion?

Entry from Gena diary
A closely cropped entry from Gena's diary so you don't see any of the embarrassing stuff. 

As I read through my teenage diary I noticed it mentioned some genealogically relevant information that would be important for my descendants, sprinkled between all the embarrassing crush-of-the-month mentions. Some of the following information could be used to create a timeline for my life or add social history to my life events, such as:

  • My paternal grandfather’s heart condition
  • My paternal grandmother’s hospitalization and death
  • The names of maternal aunts and uncles
  • Cousins’ names
  • My hire date at my first job
  • The amount of my first paycheck
  • Getting my driver’s license at age 16
  • Birthdays

I could create a timeline or individual narratives involving quotes from my diary augmented with my memories of that time, biographical information (names and dates for my paternal grandfather and grandmother), and even newspaper clippings. I could also take these excerpts and add them to the facts in my genealogical database.

I may not want my descendants to read my teenage diaries but I can use them to enhance my life story and information about the “ancestors” I knew.

How Will You Document Your Life?

No diary or journal? What about emails? Have you considered taking information from emails you have sent or received from family and friends to create a “journal.” I have a friend I email almost every day and in those emails we talk about family, and what’s going on with work and home. My intention is to take passages from those emails and create a journal (including information about living through a pandemic).

So will I eventually destroy those diaries? Maybe. I think it is important for future generations to understand that their ancestors were real life people with some of the same thoughts and issues as they have. However, I’m not so sure they need to learn that from my writings. I will wait to decide what to do with those diaries but in the meantime, I will work on taking the best of that information to augment my family history.

You are important. You will be immensely important to those who will be part of your family in the future. They too will want to know about your life and your experiences. Chances are you you tell stories to your kids and grandkids about growing up, why not leave something more permanent?

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


New TechZone Video - How to link Multiple Word Documents into One PDF by Amie Bowser Tennant

New TechZone Video - How to link Multiple Word Documents into One PDF by Amie Bowser Tennant

Every Friday we're pleased to offer Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers a new short ten minute or less TechZone video just for them! This Friday enjoy "How to link Multiple Word Documents into One PDF" by Amie Bowser Tennant.

How to link Multiple Word Documents into One PDF

Learn how to combine multiple Microsoft Word documents into one pdf file right from within MS Word.

_WatchVideo


About the Presenter

Amie Bowser TennantAmie Bowser Tennant is The Genealogy Reporter bringing you genealogy news, education, and inspiration. She is a professional genealogist, nationally known speaker, and internationally known blogger. Amie provides blog and written content for many top companies and societies in the genealogy field. Some of her publications can be found in the NGS Magazine, the Ohio Genealogical Society News and the OGS Quarterly,  Legacy News, and the FamilySearch blog, just to name a few! You can also see her webinars via Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

See all the webinars and videos by Amie Bowser Tennant in the Legacy library.
 
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African American Genealogy Webinar Weekend - June 26-28

AfricanAmericanWeekend

Our free webinar weekends in June continues this Friday with the African American 6-class series. First join us for the live introductory webinar on Friday at 12pm eastern U.S. time. Then enjoy the following classes at your leisure (all free through Sunday evening).

African American Genealogy Challenges: What You Need to Know! by Dr. Shelley Murphy (NEW!)

Researchers all experience brick walls and they are expected and challenging. The goal is to learn how to combat the challenges. This presentation will walk through the challenges when researching African American ancestry. New methods and strategies will be shared such as how to analyze documents along with tips on organizing your research. (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)

Grandma Said: Verifying Oral History by Aaron Dorsey (NEW!)

This presentation will explain the critical role that oral history plays in genealogical research as well as the pitfalls of becoming wedded to it. Individuals will also learn strategies for verifying oral history. Case studies will be used to highlight the various strategies. (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)

The Second Middle Passage: Following the DNA Trails by Melvin Collier (NEW!)

With slave ancestral research, one is often faced with direct evidence vs. indirect evidence. Many forms of direct evidence that emphatically prove family relationships, birthplaces, and other happenings are often non-existent because enslaved people were merely considered “property.” Some researchers have been very fortunate to find rare pieces of direct evidence, in the form of old family letters, diaries, ledgers, Bibles, etc., to positively identify enslaved ancestors and family structures. Many researchers often rely on a preponderance of indirect evidence to confirm enslaved ancestors. Collier presents two cases where DNA was a valuable piece of evidence that identified and confirmed enslaved ancestors and how DNA research provided clues to determine the areas where two enslaved ancestors had likely been sold away from during the domestic slave trade (Second Middle Passage). (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)

Finding Calvin: Following My Enslaved Ancestor Through Multiple Owners - A Case Study by Renate Sanders (NEW!)

In this presentation, Renate models the research process of verifying that her great-grandfather was enslaved, and shares the methodology and documents used to document his owners during 25 years of enslavement. Presented as a case study. (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)

DNA Corroborates Oral Tradition About the Parents of a Freedman by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson (NEW!)

Learn about information needed to make sound decisions on when DNA tests can or should be used in genealogical research, and how to meet the new DNA-specific genealogy standards. (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)

African American Genealogy Resources at the Library of Congress by Ahmed Johnson (members-only webinar to be unlocked)

Explore the untold stories of generations past by searching through the records and online resources at the Library of Congress. African American history is recorded in multiple formats that document African Americans in America, including digitized oral histories, newspapers, maps, and photographs among others. This presentation provides an overview of the materials available that will help you reconstruct these wonderful stories. Included is a case study of a former slave and traces his life after emancipation. (Available Friday morning at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/june)


Utilizing the HathiTrust Digital Library for Family History Research - free webinar by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS now online for limited time

2020-06-24-image500blog-hathi

The recording of today's webinar by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS, "Utilizing the HathiTrust Digital Library for Family History Research" is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

This robust digital repository, underutilized by many genealogists, is packed with digitized publications from academic and research institutions that are relevant to your family history. This lecture walks you through HathiTrust’s discovery and access tools, showcases U.S. and international collections that are particularly relevant to genealogists, and demonstrates search strategies to help you find those valuable sources.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 27 minute recording of "Utilizing the HathiTrust Digital Library for Family History Research" is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. If you have a webinar membership, it is available anytime.

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How MyHeritage Enhances your Photos for Genealogical Research - free webinar by Tal Erlichman now online

2020-06-23-image500blog-mh

The recording of today's webinar by Tal Erlichman, "How MyHeritage Enhances your Photos for Genealogical Research" is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

Photographs are an important resource in genealogical research. They add faces to the names in your family tree and teach you about how your ancestors lived. In this webinar, you can learn about the MyHeritage technologies applied to the photos to help you discover and preserve your family history, connecting to the past and present, and sharing your story.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 1 minute recording of "How MyHeritage Enhances your Photos for Genealogical Research" is now available to view in our webinar library for free. If you have a webinar membership, it is available anytime.

Webinar Memberships/Subscriptions

Webinar Members get:

  • On-demand access to the entire webinar archives (now 1,290 classes, 1,530 hours of genealogy education)
  • On-demand access to the instructor handouts (now 5,125 pages)
  • On-demand access to the live webinars' chat logs
  • 5% off all products at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com (must be logged in at checkout)
  • Access to all future recordings for the duration of their membership
  • Chance for a members-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Access to register for bonus members-only webinars
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Introductory pricing:

  • Annual membership: $49.95/year

Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

Print the 2020 webinar brochure here.


Register for Webinar Wednesday: Utilizing the HathiTrust Digital Library for Family History Research by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS

Register
 
This robust digital repository, underutilized by many genealogists, is packed with digitized publications from academic and research institutions that are relevant to your family history. This lecture walks you through HathiTrust’s discovery and access tools, showcases U.S. and international collections that are particularly relevant to genealogists, and demonstrates search strategies to help you find those valuable sources.

Registerbut 

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No worries. Its recording will be available for a limited time. Webinar Subscribers have unlimited access to all webinar recordings for the duration of their membership.

About the presenter

ColleenGreene-144x144Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS, is an academic librarian, college educator, and web developer who has been researching her family history since 1997. She is the Digital Literacy Librarian at California State University, and also teaches an online graduate-level genealogical research methods course for San Jose State University. Colleen is a nationally recognized speaker and educator specializing in methodology, Mexican & Hispanic research, libraries and archives, technology, and society communications.

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I Called the Operator and Made a Collect Call from a Payphone

Oldtv

I recently was honored with the opportunity of meeting with my genealogy society’s writer’s group. They wanted me to take a look at what they had been working on and give feedback. These stories dealt with the past and more recent family history. It was wonderful to read the stories of their families and when I was asked for feedback I gave a one-word answer.

Context.

Are you writing down your story or the story of an ancestor? What about the story of what it’s like day-to-day to live during a pandemic? In the future your family will be interested in your life and will be grateful for the time you spent documenting it. The history you leave will make more sense to them if you provide some context.

What is context? It is “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.”[1]

Context is the fashion in a period movie that make you feel like you have been transported back to the 1940s. Context is when a TV show set in the 1950s show cars uses cars from that period. Context is when you read a book and the author sets the scene in a way that helps you really understand a time that is hundreds of years before your own.

Now what does context have to do with your family history? Family history requires us to understand the lives of people a generation or 10 generations back in time. When you add context, it helps people of different generations to understand your experience and point of view. One of my friends told me a story from his childhood in the 1960s of taking the family television tubes to a store and testing them via a machine. To his surprise I had no idea what he was talking about. Why would you be carrying television tubes to the store? I had no context for this since I had never been around a television that needed that so he had to explain it to me.[2]

Now think about your own life. Most likely you completely understood the title of this article (unless you’re a generation younger than I am). When I was a teenager on a family vacation I called my boyfriend from a payphone, collect (I’m sure his parents were thrilled with that). Now if I told my sons that story they would say “what does collect mean ?” The word “collect” means something totally different to them in today’s world.

Even if you are the same generation, but living in different places, you might need context. A friend who is my age but grew up in Massachusetts relayed a set of driving directions that used a phrase that at first I thought sounded rather rude but after he explained what it meant, it made more sense. This phrase is not something we say in California so I had no idea what he was talking about. Different generations, occupations, localities have their own “slang.” And that slang doesn’t always make sense to someone outside of that experience.

Tell your story. Tell your ancestor’s story. As you write, read it for understanding. Consider your audience. Most likely they are family members you know now and those yet to be born. Ask yourself:

  • Will they understand that reference to that TV show, movie, or now-popular song?
  • Will they know what that common-place household item is in 50-100 years?
  • Will they know that Aunt Sally is really Sarah who was an older family friend and not a relative?
  • Will people understand when that historical event was or do you need to add the dates or place? (Most people know very little history and may even feel it’s boring because it was when they were taught it).
  • Will your reader understand where that small town is without a county, state, or country name or even a map illustration?
  • Will that occupation your ancestor had be virtually unknown to future generations?
  • Did you used acronyms, abbreviations, slang or jargon that needs to spelled out and defined?

This is where having someone else to ask or read your story might come in handy. Ask your children or grandchildren if they know what you are talking about when you use a specific word or describe an event or object. If you find yourself adding an explanation when you tell them the story, then you definitely need it to include it in your writing.

How do you add context? Obviously you can add some details to explain a time period, place, time, or event. However, in some cases you may not want to add a detailed explanation in the body of your text, especially if it takes away from the story. Add a footnote or endnote and explain it there (In Microsoft Word, click on Reference and then Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote). This is especially useful if it’s an explanation that not all your readers need. 

Also consider adding images, they can help explain things. For example, a map or even an annotated map with markers that show a trip or migration (you can use Google Maps or Google Earth to do this) can be helpful. Describing an item or technology that we don’t use anymore? Add an image of that not-so-familiar item to your story. If you don’t have an image, then look online at websites like Wikimedia Commons or Wikipedia where you can find public domain photos and even pages that might describe the item in detail.

Remember that even if the reader has a vague idea of what the item is or what it’s used for, they may need some additional information. My 19-year-old son has a record player. But when he bought it I had to explain how to use it. Now that sounds obvious to those of us that grew up with record players but it’s not necessarily intuitive to those who grew up with more advanced technology. Record players not only require instructions but also an explanation about different record size settings and how the record or the player is adapted to play those.

You didn’t realize playing a record was so complex, did you? Do your family a favor, when you write your story or that of your ancestors add context to help them better understand that story. Give them a real life history lesson.

 

[1] “Define: context,” Google (https://www.google.com/search?q=define+context&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS843US843&oq=define+context&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.2007j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8: accessed 17 June 2020).

[2] If you are like me and have no idea what it means to test TV tubes, you can read more about it on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tube_tester.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


New TechZone Video - What are Pile-Up Regions? by Diahan Southard

New TechZone Video - What are Pile-Up Regions? by Diahan Southard

 

Every Friday we're pleased to offer Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers a new short ten minute or less TechZone video just for them! This Friday enjoy "What are Pile-Up Regions?" by Diahan Southard.

What are Pile-Up Regions?

Learn what a pile up region is and how it can impact your understanding of your DNA matches.

_WatchVideo


About the Presenter

Diahan SouthardDiahan Southard is a leading voice for consumer DNA testing from her position as Founder of Your DNA Guide. Diahan teaches internationally, consults with leading testing companies and forensics experts. Southard's company, Your DNA Guide (YourDNAGuide.com), deploys a team of scientists who provide one-on-one genetic genealogy education and research services. She recently published Your DNA Guide-the Book, that takes you on a step-by-step journey with your DNA in order to find answers to your genealogy questions. You will walk away from an interaction wither her enlightened and motivated as she has a passion for genetic genealogy, a genuine love for people, and a gift for making the technical understandable.

See all the webinars and videos by Diahan Southard in the Legacy library.
 
Not a member yet?

Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Tom Jones, and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

Subscribe today and get access to this BONUS members-only webinar AND all of this:

  • All 1,284 classes in the library (1,525 hours of quality genealogy education)
  • 5,114 pages of instructors' handouts
  • Chat logs from the live webinars
  • Additional 5% off anything at FamilyTreeWebinars.com
  • Chance for a bonus subscribers-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Additional members-only webinars

It's just $49.95/year.


Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the United States between 1780 and 1840 - free webinar by D. Joshua Taylor now online for limited time

Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the United States between 1780 and 1840 - free webinar by D. Joshua Taylor now online for limited time

The recording of today's webinar by D. Joshua Taylor, "Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the United States between 1780 and 1840" is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

Have you lost an ancestor between 1780 and 1840? Often connecting our ancestors to colonists can be quite a task. Learn how to employ probate, land, census, tax, and other compiled records to help bridge the gap.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 28 minute recording of "Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the United States between 1780 and 1840" is now available to view in our webinar library for free. If you have a webinar membership, it is available anytime.

Webinar Memberships/Subscriptions

Webinar Members get:

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  • On-demand access to the instructor handouts (now 5,099 pages)
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  • 5% off all products at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com (must be logged in at checkout)
  • Access to all future recordings for the duration of their membership
  • Chance for a members-only door prize during each live webinar
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Introductory pricing:

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Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

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Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives - free BCG webinar by David Ouimette, CG now online for limited time

2020-06-16-image500blog-bcg

The recording of today's webinar by David Ouimette, CG, "Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives" is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

An enormous variety of Irish manuscripts tell the stories of our ancestors. Parish registers, census returns, Griffith’s Valuation, and civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths provide a great beginning for Irish family history research. However, a careful search of record repositories in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom reveals many more Irish archives of great worth. These include collections of estate papers, tenement and townland valuations, valuation revision books, tithe applotments, poor law registers, vestry minutes, ordinance survey maps, deeds and memorials, National School registers, militia lists, electoral rolls, Petty Sessions court registers, Irish Reproductive Loan Fund records, outrage papers, and much more. This presentation highlights the value of these Irish records, where they are found, and fruitful research strategies.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 21 minute recording of "Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives" is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. If you have a webinar membership, it is available anytime.

Webinar Memberships/Subscriptions

Webinar Members get:

  • On-demand access to the entire webinar archives (now 1,279 classes, 1,516 hours of genealogy education)
  • On-demand access to the instructor handouts (now 5,099 pages)
  • On-demand access to the live webinars' chat logs
  • 5% off all products at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com (must be logged in at checkout)
  • Access to all future recordings for the duration of their membership
  • Chance for a members-only door prize during each live webinar
  • Access to register for bonus members-only webinars
  • Ability to view which webinars you are registered for
  • Use of the playlist, resume watching, and jump-to features

Introductory pricing:

  • Annual membership: $49.95/year

Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

Print the 2020 webinar brochure here.