Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fan Chart for Star Wars Fans

We did the most awesome chart recently for Virginia Kysh.  Her grown kids suggested the design and she said we could share it with you. Our in-house artist created a background sketch of the Death Star, the space station from "Star Wars", that is capable of complete destruction of an entire planet with a single shot of its superlaser. Though the space station is still a work-in-progress, what a great way to catch the eye of the younger generation.  My boys think this is the coolest chart ever.

As the chart experts, Family ChartMasters can make any chart to fit your needs and this is a perfect example. This Death Star chart was a special request and we were happy to accommodate Virginia's need.  The key to getting others, especially the younger ones, involved in family history is to bring it to them on their level, instead of trying to fit them into the traditional family history mold. I love that the background sketch is the unfinished Death Star because the circle chart is unfinished and needs more research too.  Isn't that great?  Though Family ChartMasters has many existing designs for your chart, we are always open to new ideas.  

So in honor of this new chart design (which we could do for you of course too) I'm going to post one of my son's favorite Studio C videos. Studio C is a family friendly comedy sketch television show whose members have headlined the closing events at RootsTech for the past two years.  They are popular in this area and because of their fun entertainment value at RootsTech, many of my genealogy friends enjoy them now too.  Enjoy this Studio C video parody on a acquiring a new Death Star!

If you are interested in the Death Star fan chart, go ahead and send your info to us via our free consultation.  Be sure to mention "Death Star" in the box for details and we will get happily get back with you on pricing and shipping.

We are happy to develop custom artwork specific to your needs.  Give us a call! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Changes and Additions to the Family ChartMasters Team

Janet and Michelle at RootsTech (Courtesy Randy Seaver)
You've probably noticed I've been a bit quieter online lately.  We recently had to say goodbye to Michelle, our wonderful social networking specialist.  She brought such enthusiasm to her position and was very vested in connecting FamilyChartMasters among our online followers.  She kicked off a bright spot in our company of adding new team members who have brought an infusion of new excitement and fresh ideas.  She was a great help in finishing up the most recent Zap the Grandma Gap Activity Workbooks and also with working our booths at RootsTech.

I'm missing her help so much that I can't go forward without someone else to step right into her spot.  Christine, a current special projects assistant, is going to be jumping in to assist with social networking and also as a contributing editor to the blog.

Wendy Johnson
And then, we'd like to welcome our most recent addition to the Family ChartMasters team, Wendy Johnson.
She is taking on multiple roles as chart designer, printer, and special projects assistant.  Wendy was born and raised in Oregon and has a great love of the outdoors. She is the mother of 8 and enjoys getting together with family. Her love of family history began with her grandma, who was an amazing storyteller and sparked her interest in the past. Wendy adores a good book, a fun adventure or a vigorous bike ride. She delights in all things healthy, especially developing yummy eats.  Her favorite spots are the Oregon coast, Zions National Park and the Louvre. She is very energetic and loves a challenge.

We're so happy that Christine will be helping more and that Wendy has joined us.  These ladies are delightful to work with and we know you will love them too.  With all of us, they are ready and willing to help you create the perfect representation of your family tree.  Let us know what we can do to help you at or

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NERGC and Maureen Taylor--the most gracious hostess.

So I won the lottery at the recent New England Regional Genealogy Conference in Providence Rhode Island.  Not only was Providence a beautiful site for the conference, not only was the conference great with lots of people excited about what I had to say, but I got to stay with my dear friend Maureen Taylor who lives there.

Maureen was a most gracious hostess and took such wonderful care of me.  She lives in a beautiful turn of the century home which was built with servants quarters in the attic and two sets of stairs, one for the family and one for the servants.  So fun.  We built our home, and most of my local family members and neighbors have built their homes, so it was really awesome to stay in a historical home like that.  And it was in such a beautiful neighborhood too.  Maureen and I stopped at the local private library- the Providence Athenaeum where she has is a member.  A librarian's dream. I wish this library was closer to me--I could spend days and days there very happily.

The best part was getting to know Maureen better and learning more about her life.  I understand now how she keeps so young and healthy and how historically minded she is and so smart.  She lives close to the University and walks everywhere.  I wish my life had more walking in it.  And best of all I got to meet her wonderful husband Dexter and her two adorable Maltese dogs Tucker and Bella. I don't know if Dexter was up for the whole social networking thing but he let me snap this picture of them with his beeeeaaaaautiful antique Ford Mustang. 
Maureen let me do a little studying on her side desk in her office.  It was nice to have this gorgeous painting of her Great Grandfather watching over me.  I didn't get a picture of her beautiful desk and the fireplace and bay window.   She has an amazing personal library about the history of  hair and costume and all things genealogy.  I could have stayed here and read and read too. It isn't hard to see how much Maureen has studied to gain all her expertise.  She really is marvelous when it comes to photo identification.  And now I could see why.  She is called the Photo Detective, but I call her the Photo Whisperer.  If you need a photo identified she does brilliant consultations and she can tell you all sorts of things about your photo to help you identify who and what and where and when.

As always, it was fun to hang out with all our genealogy friends at this conference. It was so nice to see social networking friends that we don't often see out west like Marian Pierre Louis and Midge Frazel.  The Outside the Box sessions were really well attended as usual and we had some great discussions over dinner with Dexter, Lisa Louise Cooke and her husband Bill and with Biff Barnes.  I think we almost have the whole genealogy world figured out. And good food too.  Who knew all the good food was in Rhode Island?
Before I left, Maureen even took me out to the coast and we got to spend the day in Newport.  What a fun place with the Ten Mile Drive, Tennis Hall of Fame, and the best clam chowder ever, ever, ever--and great company of course.  The summer mansions along Ten Mile Drive were gorgeous--so fun for a historian. 

It was great to get to know Maureen better and see more of what her life was like.  Her nice husband, her home, the historical neighborhood she lives in, her offices and her dogs all suit her perfectly.  I was really spoiled to get to spend some time with such a great lady. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New England Regional Genealogical Conference Fun

Lisa Louise Cooke, Maureen Taylor and I are up for more fun this weekend at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  I can't wait to get started.

Rhode Island is a new location for me.  How beautiful it is!  I'm already impressed with the historic buildings and all the people with such a historical background.  It has already been really instructive of how disconnected we can be in the west.  When you live so close to where your family has been for generations, and just down the street from the archive, genealogy is so different.  How exciting to get to meet New England genealogists who know so much about their history.  I can't imagine how anyone could live here and not become a genealogist. 

We're starting out tonight with our Game Show and Pedigree Challenge.  Come win prizes and have some fun.  Besides the other demos listed above I'll be teaching:

  • Friday at 8:30 Beyond Scotch Tape: Charts to Fascinate Your Family in room 206.
  • Saturday at 8:30 Trip the Tree Fantastic: Intriguing Family History Trips for the Whole Family in room S-308.
  • and Saturday 10am Zap The Grandma Gap: Leave a Heritage Workshop in room S-316.
Come see us.  Win some prizes.  Eat some candy.  Have some fun.  It is always a party with these lovely ladies.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Join us at the South Davis Fair, April 11

For our friends who are in Utah, don't miss the 18th annual UGA South Davis Family History Fair Saturday, April 11, 2015. The fair will be held at Woods Cross High School beginning at 8am with the keynote speaker Dr. Paul McCarty: "Family History: Turning Hearts and Healing Ourselves". I can’t wait to hear his lecture. The healing that family history creates is something I’m really interested in as you know.

The fair features expert teachers, the most up-to-date genealogical research, technological classes, and vendors for attendees to enjoy.  Registration details, location, and more can be found online at  Family ChartMasters and Zap the Grandma Gap will have a booth with games and prizes. 

I will be presenting three classes: 
  • Family History Adhesive: The Science of Why History Binds Families
  • Simple Tech of How To Do It, 6 Steps to Choreograph Your Research Across the Internet
  • Panning for Gold: Online Genealogy

Consider joining UGA and receiving the benefits of membership, including discounted conference registration, webinars, publications, research helps and more. There are also many volunteer opportunities where you get to know lots of other genealogists and how to be a better researcher. I really enjoyed my time there as president and I made lifelong friends. Information for those of you wanting to join is available online at Please stop by the booth to say hi--We look forward to seeing you at the fair!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Open Letter to the Genealogy Community--Part Deux

What a great chat!  I love this community so much.  It is so great to be able to discuss things over social media and have input from so many directions.  Thank you so much for all the input I've received on my Open Letter to the Genealogy Community post over the weekend.  I think this has been a good discussion to have.  I'm so thrilled to have so many friends who are as eager as I am to advance the world of genealogy.

I'd like now to take it to another step.  I eagerly read the comments everyone had (and thank you for those of you who shared it further) and I was happy to see Jane Schwendinger and Thomas MacEntee encourage the conversation in a positive direction.  But I still saw alot of "they" this and "they" that and "they" should.  I would like to see some more "I will".   It is amusing to me that we all think of life that way--me included--but it is time to look inward.  So I'd like to challenge you all to help me make a list of what we are going to do to embrace the new influx of family historians.

I'll start:

1) I'm going to take some kind of interactive game or activity to every future conference booth that we do.  (If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.)  I think we can shake up the conference scene and make it more accessible.  And I think that will make it more fun for all of us who are regulars there too.

2) I'm going to try to make my presentations more interactive and engaging.  I'm going to start by looking at where I can insert more discussions with and within the audience.  And then I'm going to see what I can do about more multi-media (that is going to be tough but I'm going to stretch).

3) I'm going to keep a positive attitude.  I'm going to focus on how awesome it is that newcomers are interested, and try to brush off the quirky, strange, copyright naive, thoughtless, and sometimes even ignorant and rude things they do.  I'm going to try to stay away from my occasional "holier than thou" impulses and try not to talk down to anyone.  I'm going to be respectful and try to always be helpful and patient, no matter what.  Just because they don't know the nuances of family history doesn't mean that they aren't a brain surgeon in some other area of life.  

I have faith.  When I went to the Who Do You Think You Are conference in London, I had a chance to talk to several of the vendors there.  They had crowds of 22,000 that had recently dwindled some to 20,000 and then to about 17,000.  But the vendors there said that every year the audience came back as much better genealogists and more knowledgeable than before.  Just think if we could turn all 22,000 people at this recent RootsTech conference into full-fledged NGSQ-worthy genealogists.  But even if some of them don't come along as fast or in the way we want them to, we can embrace them.  As Valerie Elkins recently said, "The genealogy tent is big enough to accommodate and welcome all, no matter what drew you inside, or when." (Facebook post 2/23/2015: 10:38 am

That's what I'm shooting for.  What are you going to do?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Open Letter To The Genealogy Community

It is time for a chat.  I heard some disturbing comments from my genealogy community at RootsTech and FGS.  At first I tried to ignore it.  After stewing a bit, I’ve decided I can’t.  Most of them went something like this:
  • “ I don’t usually go to RootsTech.  The classes are too simplistic.”
  • “I hate explaining what we do over and over again to new people.  I prefer the conferences where everyone already knows what we do.”
  • “ Saturday at RootsTech is annoying.  All those kids don’t care about what we do.  They just want to gather the swag.”
  • “I can’t stand the crowds.  Too much chaos.” 
  • “This isn’t our clientele.  Our [society/organization/company] isn’t for beginners.” 
Over the last 11 years, I’ve watched so many in the genealogy world wring their hands that conference attendance is dwindling, that societies are shrinking, and that small companies with innovative ideas can’t make it in this market.  “Why doesn’t the rest of the world understand how wonderful genealogy is?”  they say.

Well, over the last couple of years, RootsTech has delivered the genealogy community an amazing gift—BEGINNERS WHO ARE CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT WE DO.  FamilySearch has done what it came here to do, which is to unlock the Mormon market, a market that is innately vested in family history but doesn’t quite know what to do about it.  They’ve also unlocked a huge amount of the general market.  There was an incredible range of people at RootsTech again this year.  Young, old, experienced, novice, and those who *think* they know how to do genealogy.  Some of them might have been a little quirky.  Some of them might not have been your ideal client.  But ALL of them were interested enough to show up.

The genealogy community now has a choice.  I submit to you that if we reject these newcomers to our community, we do so at our own peril.  To discard them will cause your [society/organization/company] to wither up and die.  Like quilters’ conventions (which draw huge crowds to a very complicated craft) we need to embrace all levels and all kinds of people at our events.  Consumers, societies, companies, vendors, and attendees all need to REALLY embrace them.

What can you do to make them feel welcome?  Quilters’ conventions are a great example I’ve talked about in the past.  At quilters’ conventions, professionals love to share their ideas with newcomers.  If we want to survive, I think we need to make this work. It may take a new focus or some updates to our business models, but how else will we bring in new business?

So, did I hear these comments right?  Were these people actually rejecting a crowd of 22,000 people who showed up to find out about what we do?  I’m hoping I misunderstood.  I hope I just wasn’t tuned in to the overwhelming joy that surely must have been humming around that hall.  Personally, I’m in—I’m all in.  I am happy to reinvent, make accessible and do whatever I can to make every one of those 22,000 learn about how exciting family history is.  Like I said in my earlier post, if I can offer swag, load up on bags of candy, invent games, and make this experience inviting so that the beginners and youth come back next year with a little more knowledge and some excitement to come to the conference again, I’m all in.  I’ll say it again: If, as a genealogy vendor you felt like this wasn't your market, you need to make it your market.  New market is good.  Let's grow!

I must have had a busy exhaustion fog blocking my hearing.  Let’s hope so.