Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011


11:30 am Christmas Eve Morning. We've finished. We did it. Woot Woot. There were moments where I didn't think we were going to make it. I've been worried this week that the kids would experience the agony of defeat and a learning experience rather than the joy of a successful project. But yea! It worked, it worked.

453 family group sheets digitized
145 Kim
90 Janet
98 15 year old boy
60 13 year old boy
60 11 year old girl.

How it all went down before it took a swing for the better.

Last night, on Christmas Adam (the night before Eve), we left the kids to themselves while we went to our traditional Iron Chef competition with my sisters (another story). The kids were supposed to stay home and work on their extraction. The last two days that they've been out of school we've been working and working as long as their attention spans would allow. The attention spans haven't been much. When they are sitting at a computer, using the internet, the draw of the surf is harsh. They can't concentrate. They are drawn to this and that--mostly the boys are drawn to the current video game that all their friends are playing. Honestly I know alot of adults who are the same way. It seems like we are becoming a culture of trivia buffs who can't get a major project done. I have days like that too at times.

So we'd been dragging through the last couple of days. I've been frustrated that they've said "yeah, I'm doing it" but then the surf drags them away. It was coming down to the line. We still had way too much to do.

In retrospect it was crazy to think they'd work on it last night. They're teenagers for heaven's sake. I expect alot out of them. But when we got home, I would have been disappointed to find out they hadn't gotten much done, but I was downright mad when I found out they hadn't been doing much that morning when I was sitting in the family room working on it with them. I was really mad.

So we had one of those terrible motherhood moments. I yelled at them last night. I was so frustrated with them that they couldn't do it without me sitting there with them. I had wanted it to get finished up so that we could do other things today (Christmas Eve). Why couldn't we have gotten it done early? I wanted to make Christmas cookies, relax, visit with family more etc. But the morning was spent go, go, go on getting this project done. In the end it was ok. Saved us some calories. But we went to bed last night not thinking we were going to be able to finish it. And I went to bed thinking I had forever ruined my children's chances of ever liking family history. If they have this Mom that is uber-stressed about it, they'll just resent it. I hadn't won the battle, and more importantly I had lost the war.

So last night, when we were going to bed, I asked them--how are you going to get it done? 15 year old boy said he wanted us to get him up at 7am. Now you have to understand that getting this child out of bed in the morning is harder than raising the dead--literally. Nothing gets him up--not love or money. Some school days it's come to a glass of cold water. He's growing and he just needs alot of sleep. But that's when the turning point came.

At 7 am when Kim and I came down to wake him up, he was already sitting on the couch doing extraction.

Yes, yes he was.

I attribute it more to his love of his grandparents at this point than to his love of family history. But I'll take it.

In the end we all worked together. Kim saved us. Kim rocks at Genealogy. He did pages and pages of this extraction, and finished up the two younger kids projects. Kim can always find the things on microfilm that I can. He is just quick at it. In a religious sense it came out as a perfect celebration of the life of Christ. Kim came in and made up for what the younger kids couldn't do themselves. 15 year old helped with some of that too. Or as 15 year old son put it to his younger brother as he was doing some of younger brother's pages "You have saved our lives--we are eternally grateful (In a little green alien voice from the movie Toy Story."

Yes--their Mom has put too much emphasis on this. They think their lives are at stake.

It was really beautiful watching it all come together this morning. I was sitting by 11 year old girl, encouraging every little bit out of her last two pages. She was too stressed. But it all melted away as those last couple of pages were done. It was a real sense of joy. I think they all felt it. Relief. Pride. A job well done.

I'm a little worried about the Christmas memories they will take into their respective families. Instead of sweet Christmas baking memories they'll have these mad family history project memories. Oh well. There already weren't alot of cookie making memories--more packaging and shipping family history chart memories. We'll relax next week like we always do.

I think the major point to learn today, is that it is really good to have deadlines. We've all drug it out, me included, thinking we would have time to do it later. But when it comes down to a deadline, it gets done. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas are great excuses for deadlines. It just works.

We're off to have a beautiful Christmas celebration. And present to my Mom and Dad the family history project extraordinare. They boys have already said that they may be willing to do another book next year. We've already decided though that we are going to start in January and have it done early to avoid the last minute drama. I wonder if that will work or if we will need to rely on the deadline principle again. Whatever happens, I think cleaning up and going over this database we've created is going to need to be the next project. I'm looking forward to doing that one myself.

Stay tuned. We're headed to the library with my parents on Wednesday to verify some of this stuff.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thank heavens for key strokes

All too many laptops in this house...

So I probably made too big of a deal out of citing all the sources perfectly. I've annoyed myself now.

We're in crunch time with the present for Mom and Dad. Family ChartMaster's Christmas rush is over--you can't mail anything anymore. Since most of our charts are shipped out all over the world, we have a respite the two days before Christmas when you can't ship anything. Over the years as Christmas Rush has become busier and busier that last two days seem more and more peaceful in comparison. But not this year. I've been so busy with the company, we're in a different kind of rush now, a rush to get this indexing project done. But that's a good rush.

Making new genealogists do sources perfectly is not the smartest thing to do. You don't want to get them bogged down in the details or it isn't fun. I know better than to start the kids out with demanding perfect sourcing, but that is so important in this project so that we can build on the research my great-grandfather did. The kids haven't complained. They've been really good about it. But in this last push to finish the project--I'm the one wishing it were easier :)

About three sources for each of the events. *Tedious*. But I know it's going to pay off big when we go back to combine people and further the research. I hope the kids forgive me at that point. I just couldn't do it otherwise. Just think how wonderful it will be to have a big clean database of all this research that then we can go and verify and build on. It would be a mess to go back and have to clean up sources later. We had to start with the sources right from the beginning.

Keystrokes have saved me. That's why you can't really compare genealogy softwares and say one is better than the other. Some take alot of screens and clicks to do something and some take less. I think they're all a different number of clicks for different tasks too. If you are going to use genealogy software alot for one task, it might be useful to go through the different softwares and see how many clicks and keystrokes it takes to do what you are doing. It would be interesting to see a tally of how many clicks and keystrokes there are for the many of the tasks in each of the softwares. But even then, that wouldn't tell you which is the best for you at something else. That's why I always say that the softwares are like a pair of shoes. They each have their good points and their bad points, they each go with different clothes and fit different people. (And it helps to stay neutral when we work with each of the companies so much.)

Once again it is amazing how when I sit and do it with them they concentrate and get to work. Yesterday they had just as much to do, but even though they intended to work on it, they didn't. I'm convinced that's because I was busy finishing up genealogy charts for clients rather than sitting with them. Inspire not Require they say. It's true.

I've done enough extraction today that I've found a person who's birthday is today, and who's birthday is the same as mine. That's *alot* of extraction LOL. It feels good though. Like eating nutritiously. I'm so excited to take this data to the library and see what we can build. I think we're going to make it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are we going to make it?

453 pages of family group sheets.  Perhaps we bit off more than we could chew?  I'm not sure how much we've gotten done and how much we have left.  Wouldn't you know it- I'm the one who has the most to do.  What was I thinking taking on something like this in the middle of Christmas rush?
One week left.  I'll let you know.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Gift Certificate ordering system

Just in time for the perfect holiday gift. Go to our new Gift Certificate page for an instant .pdf that you can give right away. Simply choose the number of certificates you want, proceed to the payment page, and then the .pdf page appears in your browser. Simply print and give--or even save and email to someone special.

Available in $25 and $50 denominations, the beautiful certificates make for a nice presentation and allow the recipient to utilize any of our chart printing services. When they are ready for the perfect chart, we'll take great care of your loved one and make sure they get the attention to detail that Family ChartMasters is known for.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So glad to help strengthen family ties.

A few emails have brightened our days lately. We're always so glad to hear that we've helped a family. They've agreed that we can share their letters with you here.

"Got the charts ... thanks so much. My husband feels he can better understand who is who now."

Hi Erin,

I just wanted to drop you a line thanking you for the help with printing my Mother-in-Law’s chart. It was a lot of work getting you the information but you were very patient with me and I thank you for that. I gave her the chart her Thanksgiving dinner for her children. I was somewhat flattered when she immediately removed a wall hanging and said to hang it there. That spot was above the head of the table in the kitchen with nothing else to clutter around the picture. I have visited her twice since Thanksgiving and was met with hugs each time. She takes me to the chart and starts telling stories that she has recalled about her childhood and her favorite and not so favorite ancestors. Between the two of us we have made a special lady very happy.


We're so glad we can make David's mother-in-law happy and help Barbara's husband understand who he is. We're looking forward to helping you soon too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Radio Radio Radio

I had a great time this weekend talking to Thomas McEntee of Geneablogger's Radio about Christmas gifts and getting your family involved with family history. And then today I got to talk to D.Josh Taylor on the Federation of Genealogical Societies Radio about UGA and all the great things we are doing there. Love talking to both of them. They are both so knowledgeable and have such innovative ideas. I get so passionate about these topics. I'm not sure if I let them get a word in edgewise. I'm sure not a hard radio guest to get to talk. LOL.

Listen to internet radio with GeneaBloggers on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 9, 2011

Perish or Parish

Found my daughter trying to enter Perish records instead of Parish records. Again--Thank heavens for auto fill and God bless the genealogy software programmers. Typing lessons ensuing. And spelling lessons now too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The ingredients that go into my children

We took some time to read to the kids about the focus of our extraction project again the other day. Joseph Hatten Carpenter was a good man, a great example of scholarship, and a great model of how consistent work can do great things over time. His strength has reached down through two generations of good hard working men--both college professors and great contributors to the community--into my family and into the example and ethics I now set for my children. I'm so grateful that I get to know him through my Grandfather's book. Although my grandfather Alvin (Joseph's son) did no other genealogical work of which I know, he connected me to his father in such a powerful way just by writing about what he knew of his father. I'm so grateful for that. It serves as a reminder of how powerful the little bit of work that we do in genealogy can be for future generations.

As I read it felt like I was reading to them a list of ingredients of things that were in their dna. I felt like I was reading to them about who they are and what they can grow up to be. Ingredients that they get to choose from of course--they are free to choose how they will become. But it was very powerful to me that these good qualities were there, already in their possession, ready to develop more and be improved upon even in this coming generation. I hope they can feel the power they have inside to be strong and capable adults who can make contributions to this world.

That's why I want them to know their family history. I want them to be confident and to strike out into the world with a sense of purpose and faith in their abilities. And I want them to be grounded in an understanding of why and how things at times didn't go the best way in our family. I want them to go forth into the world with that broad perspective that family history brings--that good choices can have long term affects on your life and on lives to come. I hope that as they come to know well the goodness in our family tree they will have the deep roots to branch out and become successful adults. To have them grow up with purpose and substance would be my greatest happiness in life and I'm going to put every tool at my disposal to use toward that direction--including family history.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Antique Genealogy

So I've been learning alot about antique genealogy practices in our extraction project. It's been quite interesting.

With cursory glances through the information that has been digitized, it looked like my great-Grandfather was keeping good track of the sources he'd used to find the information in his volumes of family group records. I've taken several friends to the Family History Library in Salt Lake to look up old family group records submitted by aunts or grandparents. And in the little box they were given to record the source of the information, there was often nothing listed, or a quick "family records" notation or something like that. My friends were left with little to nothing to go on. Glancing through Joseph's records it looked like he had real notations on each page, and I had looked forward to going through and really being able to build on his work.

But now that we are into this project, I'm finding that those notations--though blessedly consistent, are pretty brief. Often it sites parish records for the places listed in the group sheets. But as we've gone to look for those records at the library, we are finding that there may be several parishes in that vicinity and we are unsure which one Grandpa was referring to. It won't take much to figure out, but I'm realizing that perhaps Grandpa wasn't quite as meticulous as I had previously supposed.

Also, there are lots of abbreviations of place names throughout his work. I think there are two reasons for this. First, he was from England and in the British notations we are working on he didn't have to write it out, he knew where he was talking about. But three generations removed now, we don't. We'll have to go figure it out. But in Grandpa's defense, secondly, the family group sheets that were the standard back then didn't leave alot of room to be able to spell out all the details in the place names. He did what he could with the space he had.

It also looks like alot of his work was based on marriage records. I'm sure waiting for letters from England was tedious. It appears he went straight for the marriage records, and then estimated the births for each bride and groom and then went about piecing things together from there. There are alot of family group records with exact marriage information and estimated births.

I'm really proud of the fact that Joseph Hatten Carpenter, my Great grandfather was a member of the Genealogical Society of Utah, a fellow of the Institute of American Genealogy in Chicago, member of the Society of Genealogists of London, member of the National Genealogical Society in Washington D.C. and the National Genealogical Research Institute as well as other geographic and historical associations. I wish I could talk to him about my work as UGA president this year. I would love to hear what he thought about that.

In April 1959 Joseph wrote: "I have now reached my 98th birthday and I feel I can do little more to add to my several lines of ancestry. I can do nothing more with Rev. Grubbs, Rector of Spaxton, Somerset, who has so grossly deceived me. I leave the further solution to my descendants to attend to it when Grubbs died and a successor comes in who can more readily furnish the records of the Gibbs, Elliotts, and Carpenters of Tugswell Manor. Thus I close my research labors." However he continued working on his genealogical records until he died at the age of 103.

I wonder what Joseph thought about the generations that would come next and if they would try to build on his work. I'm sure he could never have imagined the databases, the software, and ipads, and google searches that would be available to us today. I know he did the best he could to pass things down to us in an organized way. I wonder what I should be doing to make sure that things are ready for future generations. Probably the most important thing would be to make sure that the next generation is vested in it and committed to keeping things updated and moving forward. Still working on them. Hopefully that is where we are headed.

Picture--Joseph and his second wife Lydia in 1961

Back on track

Extraction Attempt # ??
We've been working hard. 15 year-old boy is about done with his section. I'm hoping he will finish soon and help the rest of us. It is getting easier and easier. All three of them have sat down and worked on it alone at times. But we've found the best time we can all work on it together is Sunday mornings. They seem to work the best because there is so little interference from other things in comparison to other times. And while I'm so proud of them when they choose to work on our project on their own, it really works best when we are all on our laptops working together. As in all parenting--it sinks in more when you are being an example.

That said, we've come up with a little friendly competition. Most Sunday mornings when we've been working together I've been helping the younger kids, or making waffles to be supportive etc. We've been figuring that I could do it while the kids were in school--but not really--we're in the middle of Christmas Rush and busy as all get out (Thanks!). So this last Sunday morning I finally sat down and got going myself. Again--it felt good--like eating nutritious food. I think it felt good to me because it was something I'd been wanting to accomplish so much. And once you get going it's easy to get addicted to extraction. It feels so good to see progress being made.

So I couldn't resist a little trash talking. Yeah I'm behind, but I'm going to beat you all in getting my part done. Oh yeah. It's on.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I get a big fat fail for our extraction attempt the other night. I had the kids all ready to work on extraction but I got busy with the company and didn't get in to help them. 15 year old boy did a little, but other than that, they didn't get anything done. It wasn't that they didn't want to, it was just that the TV, online games, and friends were more loud and enticing.

I think family history is one of those things in life that has a quiet satisfaction. It isn't usually glitz and glamour. It isn't loud and clamoring for attention. But it feels good when you do it. It feels better than all those other loud and obnoxious things. It's like how your body feels when you eat good rather than stuff it with burgers and fries. Soul satisfying.

But I have to walk the walk with them. I didn't do that last night so they got seduced by other, less nutritious pastimes. I failed. But it isn't over yet.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thank Heavens for Genealogy Software

I can't imagine how people did genealogy before there was software to help. In this last extraction session, my daughter was really getting the form of it. She knew which part of the document went in which part of the software. And it helps that the places were repeating in the documents. With all the struggling she is doing with the typing, it is so good that when she starts to type, St. Martins, Birmingham, England, after the "St" it all pops up and she can just click on it. It really sped up the tedious process and made her feel more accomplished. God bless Autofill.

It is also so nice that the sources repeat and it is so quick and easy to go in and put in a source you've already used. By the end, she was feeling really confident and wanted to do the last page on her own. You go girl. You go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Extraction Attempt 5--our teenager experiment

So we set up the laptops again tonight. I took 11 year old girl, and Kim took 13 year old boy, and the 15 year old was on his own again.

Again it was an all out typing lesson with my daughter. This time we worked on holding the shift key down with her pinky instead of hitting the Caps Lock key and then going back to hit it again. It makes things take longer than I had anticipated, but I'm ok with the typing lessons. I think learning to type better might be a side benefit of this for her. And without this project I might not have noticed how much she needs to work on her typing.

Typing skills is the last thing I would have guessed would come out of this project. Geography sure, but typing? Family history really holds such a wealth of learning for young people. I once knew someone who was thinking about putting together a year-long homeschooling curriculum based on their family history. I've always thought that was the coolest idea. Just think what that would envelop--history, geography, language, culture, art, music, research skills, communication skills, computers, who knows all of the things you could tie in. If we had had the constitutions to be a homeschooling family, that would have been the greatest fun. I guess that's what I'm working on now--in a supplementary way.

I think they are enjoying it because they are getting alot of praise. I so want them to pick this up. It is easy for me to get excited about what they are doing and heap praise on them because I'm so excited that they are spending some time on this. I just know it could be a really important grounding aspect to their teenage years. We'll see if it works. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Extraction attempt 4--our teenager experiment

So this time I took girl 11 year old girl and Kim took 13-year-old boy and we got out all the laptops. 15 year old boy and I had worked together one on one before so we had him print out the pages he was going to work on and proceed on his own. Kim and I pulled the appropriate pages up on our laptops, and then our 11 year old, and 13 year old pulled the softwares up on the laptops they were using and entered in what Kim and I showed them. It worked well to have the page being entered on our computers and then work with them to enter it on theirs. Amazing/sad/lucky that we have so many computers to work on this with. Thus the problem that started the whole situation in the first place. But it is proving useful now.

My daughter isn't quite as much of a computer person as the rest of the family is. She is much more into her friends and being outside. Thus she hasn't developed the typing skills that the rest of us have. It was really slow going, often going back to correct capitalization and spelling. I taught her to use control c and control v to cut and paste things when she needed to enter them in. I think she must have known that before, but just hasn't used it all that often. It was slow but she definitely was proud of her accomplishments. We entered four pages of family group sheets with all of the source notations. I think she would have kept going had we not been interrupted by something else we needed to do.

Moving along. They aren't fighting me or saying they don't want to do it. I'm kind of surprised. I expected more of a fight. Especially with extraction--not the most exciting part of family history. And I especially expected more complaining about doing correct source citations. Perhaps I've explained to them well enough that these are the bread crumbs that we are going to follow later to be able to build on Great Grandpa's work? I don't know if any of that really sunk in. Being the children of a librarian, probably some of it did sink in. But whatever it is, I'm just glad they aren't complaining about it. They really aren't as adverse to this as I would have thought.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It echos.

Dave Davenport, one of our favorite people who constantly sends us his friends for beautiful custom picture charts, wrote me this yesterday:
"Many of your charts end up at Michael's, Aaron Brothers or Joann's for custom framing. I hear comments all the time from the families, that these charts touch the hearts of those doing the framing. I think someday we will find out just how many lives these charts touch. You have to feel good about what you are doing. I appreciate your hard work. "

I had a funny experience last week with this too. My regular hairstylist is in the middle of changing salons, and she is cutting hair out of one of her neighbor's private homes for the time being. When I went to get my hair cut last week, low and behold, this person had one of our charts hanging on the wall, right in a prominent place as you walk in the door. The chart had been created for her by her cousin--the owner of the home had no idea I owned the company who had created the chart. But there it was, making me amazed at how far our work reaches.

There is something timeless about a genealogy chart. I feel pretty confident that our work may be packed up somewhere in a closet, maybe not appreciated for the time being sometimes, but I don't think they are ever discarded. Family is important. I couldn't wish for something better to do with my time every day than to help you express that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why bother? and the one thing I've learned.--Our teenage experiment

Randy Seaver over at the Geneamusings Blog had an interesting post yesterday. It gave me another reason as to "why bother to involve your kids?" What are you going to do with all of your genealogy material after you are gone? I think this is a scary question for all of us. Is someone going to care about my years and years of research? How tragic if no one does.

The answer is really what we've been working on here. Get your family invested. And the sooner you involve them, the easier it will be to get them interested. That's why I talk about it so much on our blog. And that's why we print charts--a great way to get your family invested.

I think the one thing I've learned over the last several weeks of trying to get my teenagers involved in our family history is this: DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THEIR INTEREST. I have three teenagers with every reason not to like this family project we are working on. First, I gave them something really hard to do--extraction isn't the most exciting part of family history. Second, my kids have lots of reasons to resent family history in general--it's what their Mom and Dad have been so busy with for so many years. As teenagers sometimes do they could mis-blame family history for alot of the stress in our family. And third, they've certainly had overdoses of genealogy in the last 8 years--they are constantly surrounded by it, just not particularly their own. You would think they'd had enough.

But they've taken to it. I think they are enjoying seeing the pieces fit together, and working on something that they have been taught is important. They aren't complaining or whining that "Mom is making me do it" at all. I think they are really catching the geneainspiration of it. It feeds the soul. And that's exactly what I was trying to do. Hopefully in the end, I'll have someone to carry on my work, and I'll have children who are really well grounded in who they are and where they come from, which should help with where they are going too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interviewing Grandpa about his Grandpa--our teenage experiment

So our teenage experiment continues. We had the kids interview their Grandpa about his Grandpa (the focus of our extraction project.) Lots of great details to make him come to life for them since Grandpa knew his Grandpa. The kids were asking questions. And stayed awake :) And I got several other ideas about how to make this man become a real person to them. Stay tuned. I think I'm going to see if I can pull them in with some more videos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

But they're going to mess it up!!--Our teenage experiment

If they start now, even if they are screwing it up now, think how good they will be at it when they get to be my age.

I have to remember I wasn't very good at this when I started.

Why don't genealogists remember that when we are helping beginners? I think it is because we all have poor genealogy (read bad source citations) from when we started that is still sitting there needing to be cleaned up. Or maybe we've gone through the painful process of cleaning it up. Either way, we want to save them the trouble.

But you can't save someone from going through the process of learning. I have to let them not do it the way I think it should be done. They have to learn. They may not be perfect. That's ok.

Otherwise I shut them down. When I go on and on about how to research, or laboriously show them how to document perfectly, they shut down. That's too much for a beginner. They have to see the fun of it--finding things, learning about your family. They'll have time to discover how to do it right--but only if I teach them to love it first, and not browbeat them that it has to be done perfectly.

I need to let them do it in a teenage way. They can do it in a 40 year old way when they get to be that age.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Facebook Page Sale

Blank Charts 50% off
Since changing our name earlier this year, our facebook page has been a bit lonely. Facebook makes you start a new page instead of changing the name of the old one, so we still have lots of users who are lost.

We'll be closing down the old facebook page this month, so we have a special deal for anyone who has joined our new facebook page at Just order any blank chart at Family ChartMasters with the code "11FC121950" or give us that code when you order over the phone and we'll cross reference the facebook page. If you've liked us there, you'll save 1/2 the price of your charts.

Got em.--our teenage experiment

Ok that was EASIER than I thought. I arranged to have my parents talk to my kids about their grandparents. So Mom and Dad were telling the kids about the kids’ great great grandparents. The kids were good and listened while Mom and Dad told them about their experiences as grandchildren. I was impressed that the kids were so interested and asking questions.

Then at the end, one of the kids asked them to name off all of their grandparents full names and we taped that too. And THEN….13 year old boy asked about how far the genealogy my mother has collected goes. We explained that we had British lines that tied into British kings, and once you did that, you can follow those king’s lines back to Adam. We explained that those lines were suspect and usually concocted to legitimize a king’s reign. And bingo… He asked for a copy of the file. So I emailed him the old PAF file that my grandmother had worked on. I really haven’t done much with it, and hey… maybe he’ll be enthralled.

I’ve been thinking. I think part of the reason I haven’t involved them as teenagers in the actual work of researching and entering things into the computer is that they will mess up my clean work. But then again that is not how to encourage a beginner. So I gave him a copy of my file, and I’m going to let him play with it. I can interact with him carefully and keep my file separate until I feel that I can trust him. But honestly, If I get him started at 13 years old, he has plenty of time to learn how to do it right and understand methodology and sourcing. By the time he’s my age, he’ll be far beyond my abilities.

He went in and added a notation to our civil war ancestor. It wasn’t a crisp clean citation, but it was learning the software, and learning how to document what you know about an ancestor.

Who would have thought. My sweet, silly, somewhat unfocused 13 year old is the one that came along and got serious first. He is the one who was on Familysearch with the scouts years ago and came home all excited that he had found an ancestor named William Cakebread. He thought the name was funny and I brushed it off as too far back to be concerned about. He’s sitting next to me now, looking for the oldest person in my Mother’s file. Yes he’s a name collector—but just think what level he’ll be at my age.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Doing family history in a 11 year old way.

LOL. She's engaged in her family history. When we were in DC we took the kids to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. Wow what a place. While there, I realized there was a family history opportunity so I seized it. There was a plane there that was the same type that my grandfather worked on as a mechanic in the Army in World War II. Take a look:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Early success--Our teenage experiment

Score. It worked tonight. 15 year old son and I did 5 pages of extraction. Here’s what I learned.
  1. It really helped to focus on one kid at a time. 10 year old daughter was doing math and 12 year old son was reading but 15 year old son sat down and worked on the Christmas present with me. It was much easier when I just focused on that one kid.
  2. It really helps that this is a Christmas present. I couldn’t have begged, borrowed or stolen his time away from his own computer projects, but he’ll do it for Grandma and Grandpa. Actually, I knew that before.
  3. It also really helped that I sat down and did it with him. Again, I think I need to walk the walk. We brought up the document on my computer and the genealogy software on his. I read the names and dates off to him and he entered them. Much easier on his side.
  4. Doing transcription was easier for him when he wasn’t eating his cookies. It was easier when he used both hands to type. Much of the time he had a cookie in one hand but it worked. Total all out bribe? Yes, yes it was.
  5. He had stopped and gotten frustrated earlier because he wasn’t sure he was reading the names right. I assured him that he didn’t have to be perfect and that we would be checking it against other sources to assure that things were right. That seemed to help. This kid is a huge perfectionist. I think moving that rock out of his path helped.
  6. Wowie Kazowie. He picked up the software like nobody’s business. I’ve been using this software for quite a while, but in his second sitting, this kid was right clicking and using key strokes I never knew existed. I’m tech savvy. But this kid was amazing. If I can just get him to get passionate about the topic, the technology won’t even be a hiccup of a problem.
  7. All hell breaks loose when I try to work on this with them. We tried last night and homework had exploded and gotten in the way. We planned on trying again tonight and all sorts of things threatened to derail the process. But you have to push through it. We persevered and it paid off.

I think he felt a sense of accomplishment. I’m pretty sure he liked seeing the pieces start to fit together, a lot like a puzzle. We’ll see how excited he is about it next time. Stay tuned…

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Deadlines

Of course one of the greatest ways you can get your family involved with their family history is with a beautiful genealogy chart. And there is no better time to do that than at the holidays. We're all ready to help you share your family history with your family in a beautiful graphical way that will pull the non-genealogists into your research.

In order to avoid rush fees, you'll want to take note of the following deadlines.

  • Working Charts
    • United States December 16
    • International November 22
  • Decorative Charts
    • United States December 9
    • International November 15

If you don't mind paying rush fees and expedited shipping, you'll need to get us your chart order by:

  • Working Charts
    • United States December 19
    • International November 22
  • Decorative Charts
    • United States December 17
    • International December 1
Get your beautiful custom chart started on our Custom Charts page. And give me a call if you need any help. 801-87CHART

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thank you Grandpa--Our teenage experiment

The great ally I have in getting the kids interested in our extraction project is my Grandfather Alvin’s book about his father Joseph. We read the short first chapter about Joseph tonight. Joseph left home to go to boarding school at the age of 10. That resonated. Then it talked about how he did in school. Score again. Everybody is doing homework and worried about grades all the time around here so that’s something that they could relate to. Then, guess what was in the book? An 1876 report card from the Congregational School in Lewisham. Instead of As and Bs, they were scored by their standing in the class. Joseph had 100 people in his class in school, and he was 7th in Greek, 6th in Latin, 11th in Math, 8th in English, 6th in Scripture, 5th in French, and 5th in German. See, I told them they had smart DNA.

Thanks Grandpa for preserving that report card, and putting it in a format that was accessible to me and my kids. Thank you, Thank you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I come by it honestly__Our teenage experiment

Joseph Hatten Carpenter, my great grandfather (father's father's father) was an amazing genealogist. When he immigrated to the United States from England he became very interested in his family history and over the course of his life he collected information about over 40,000
people who intersected with his ancestral lines. At the time, you did genealogy by writing back and forth to parish priests in England and asking for information out of their records. As he was sent letters containing all the parish records about a certain name, the Alders, the Shramms, the
Carpenters, the Meiers, The Rotachs, The Wrights, The Bevans, The Gibbs, and etc, he would sit in his living room in Manti and piece together the families from those records. He used pencil and paper and was a meticulous record keeper. When he died at the age of 103, he had collected 18 volumes of family group sheets and other various pedigree charts and records. These were passed down through the family to my father’s cousin Mark Carpenter. Over the years, various cousins have worked on these lines, but no one has ever really brought all of grandpa’s work into the digital age.

Grandfather knew he was collecting information on more than just his direct line ancestors. In fact, he wrote in his journals that he knew he was tracing 3 lines that he assumed were connected back before the records started. As far as the cousins have been able to tell so far, there are probably only 3-4000 people who are actually on my own lines.

Mark has graciously gone through and taken pictures of each of the pages of the 18 volumes of family group sheets. We have set up these images on a and we proposed to do a family digitization project. In working with this part of my family, it has become really clear to me that no one person can really build on my grandfather’s work. He had a very quiet life in rural Utah and none of us have the luxury of the kind of time he had to work on his family history. In order to digest and build on his work, we are going to have to work together as a family to digitize what he did so that we can use modern techniques of building on and gleaning from what he gathered.

So, although his genealogy work is a derivative source, we’ve decided to digitize those family group sheets into a computer program. We’ve done this for several reasons that are outlined on the website here. Derivative sources are valuable if:
  • A derivative source adds analysis
  • A derivative source points to material that we may not have found otherwise
  • A derivative source is in error—along with an explanation of why the source is wrong
  • A derivative source cites a work that no longer exists.
One of my cousins actually thinks he went wrong just a couple of generations up, but he may be looking at sources my grandfather never saw, or my grandfather may have been looking at sources unavailable to my cousin now. We have to digest his work to be able to tell.

So this fall, I asked my 10 year old daughter, 13 year old son and 15 year old son if we could try to digitize one of the volumes of my great-grandfather’s genealogy work for my parents for Christmas. As I said earlier, it’s been a slow start. But stay tuned—I’m still working on them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True confessions.

Warning: A bit long, but very real :)
Ok. So I have a REAL confession to make. (and then I’m going to fix it.) Let me start at the beginning of the story.

As school was starting this year, a family crisis came to fruition. The kid’s school has gone to a BYOD (Bring your own device) school. They are doing all sorts of wonderful things with computers/ipads/smart phones in the classrooms. They warned us that this was going to happen so both of my sons worked for our company this summer and earned the money for their own laptops. I was so proud of them and their hard work—until the laptops came. Then we had a problem. I could not surgically remove their faces from those computer screens. Throughout August we had several conflicts over wanting them to “get a life”

During this period, I remembered Tom Underhill’s book *Hyperstimulation* and I went back to that book for help. Then—at the perfect time, Tom came out to the UGA conference and, bless his heart, he let me corner him for a counseling session. After talking to him quite a bit at the conference, it came very clear that my boys were only following their parent’s examples. Yes, we were working 24/7 with our computers surgically attached to our faces—but we were earning a living. We love what we do and it’s easy to be completely obsessed with it. Well, Tom helped me realize that the kids didn’t really distinguish between us working and what they were doing on their computers. And he led me to the realization that I was expecting them to get a life off the computer, when I didn’t have one. I had to walk the walk.

So we made some changes in the Hovorka household. Throughout September, we’ve reorganized and set limits. We had already done some more hiring at Family ChartMasters so I was able to step back a little more and try to have a life. It’s been really good for all of us. You have to have some balance. I’m still obsessed with our company and genealogy, but I’m doing it in a more healthy way.

So here’s the part that gets interesting:
A couple of weeks ago we decided we would work on a digitization family history present for my parents for Christmas. The kids were all on board because they love my parents and they knew that they would really love this gift. Last weekend we got them started. We loaded genealogy software on their computers and hooked my computer up to the projector and showed the kids how to proceed with this project. In just a short time they were dragging. Dragging, dragging, dragging.

And I started thinking:
I have lectured all over the country about how to involve your children in their family history. I have a great example of that in my mother—she eventually got me even though I wasn’t interested to start with. And I’ve done lots of family history activities with my kids—when they were younger. I was a great genealogist when they were younger. But then I started a genealogy company. And as I’ve said many times, the worst thing you can do for your own genealogy is start a genealogy company. I have spent lots of time with other people’s genealogy but a lot less time with my own in the last 8 years. And the kids have watched that. And followed our path.

So I had some great talks with my 15 year old son this last week—if I could get him interested in family history it would be so good for him. And I would probably let him have a lot more time on the computer. As I’ve talked about before, I honestly believe family history will save the world—it is so good to know where you are from. And it is so so good for children, and especially through those rough teenage years to know the inspiring examples of those who came before. (And as I’ve said time and time again, if you don’t have someone inspiring in your family history, you just haven’t done enough family history yet.) My 15 year old is perfect for genealogy. He is bright and curious and he’s really good on the computer and the internet. He’s a bit more scientifically minded than historically minded but I know he’d love it if I could get him started.

So I have to walk the walk. Kim and I have been talking about how to get them going. I’ve got several ideas in mind. I’m going to give him his own copy of my genealogy database and let him go at it, but walk along with him on that, we’ve got this digitization project for Christmas, and I might start taking them back to the library. Stay tuned. This might get to be quite the reality show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A few new testimonials

Roger Grua-one of our favorite customers--greeted me at a recent conference in Ogden, Utah with a big hug and a whole CD full of pictures of the charts at his family reunion. I have to show you a few of them here. We worked together over several weeks trying to figure out how to squish all of his data into small enough charts that he could lay them out on tables. It was a sliding scale between the size of font and the amount of tables he would have to find--so he worked on tables and I worked on getting a whole bunch of information into a reasonable space.

You can see in the pictures that the charts were a hit. Thanks for the great images Roger. We're glad we were able to help you display your information for your family.

Some of the other comments we have received this summer have included:

"I have now received the wonderful chart. I feel like we are some how connected at least you have a pretty good idea about all of us. All the way from Johan Schmidt to Jacob Daeda, and a bunch in between. The chart has accomplished all I had hoped. At a glance it is pretty clear who belongs to whom and half way across the room I can see the similarities and differences. Pretty neat family! Thank you so very much for your patient part in the whole project. I am sure we will enjoy this for a long time to come. It has encouraged lots of family dialogue which was a little more than I expected, just an extra bonus. My best to you and future projects."

"The chart arrived today. BEAUTIFUL ! Thanks again to everyone that worked on this chart. High FIVES all around. "

"This is beautiful, My mother is happy now. Thank you again for all of your patience, I think the chart looks fantastic."

We did several charts this summer with strong backgrounds that were meaningful to the family. This family home was a really important gathering place for family events and held great memories for all of the grandchildren. They wanted to display the family history in its context.

And then this chart was one of my favorites this summer. The Woods Family--get it? Finally a Family "Tree" theme that really made sense.

And then take a look at this great cascading descendant chart that is color coded. It was 19 feet long and 3.5 feet tall.

And Roger sent us another picture of his mother-in-law with the chart we did for her. This was such a great chart and we appreciate them letting us share it with you. She is a beautiful lady with a beautiful family. We love doing mother-in-law charts and while we know Rogers MIL loves him, we've had more than a few people come back and say that they finally had in-law approval when they presented one of our charts to them. So if you need any help there let us know :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Unique family history presentations.

We've run in to a couple of interesting ways to present your family's history lately.

The first was at When we saw this in an old Family Fun magazine we had to try it out. So we made one for a family gathering this summer. This is our family in sugar:
licorice, cookies, mini M&Ms, chocolate sprinkles and frosting with chocolate sprinkles for doggie fur. Needless to say it was a hit.

Later, on our trip to the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago, we made one of those unplanned stops at Moqui Cave and This cave was once a secluded tavern in the time of Prohibition, and now houses an eclectic collection of florescent minerals and dinosaur tracks--one of those places that you stop at on family vacations. But the thing I was most interested in was this: At the bottom of the picture is a bas relief wood carving of the image at the top of this picture. In it are all of the family of Garth Chamberlain, the sculptor whose grandfather Thomas Chamberlain is the patriarch in this large family. Along the bottom is this:
Each of the people in the carving are labeled by name. It is an amazing picture in the first place, but then to see it lovingly carved in wood is really beautiful. You can see why it is displayed with the awards it won at various shows.

While we aren't offering any charts like these--you can design almost anything else through our custom design service. We'll show you the proof online before we print so that we can adjust it to exactly what you are envisioning. And then when you are ready, we'll take your payment and shipping information and ship it right out to you. Let us help you display your family's history in a beautiful and unique way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


So we took our first real family vacation since we started this company, where we really left everything and let our employees pick up the slack. Hopefully none of you noticed. While we have traveled more than I could ever imagine with this company, and it's been a great education for the kids, it has always been with the email and sometimes phones attached but this time we left them home. It was blissful, and as any company owner would know--quite a feat.

I have some great pictures of all of us at the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and Arches National Park. Cute, funny and just beautiful. But the one I'm going to show you is this one:
Yep. Just me. Because our children are still minors, you aren't going to find them in any of our pictures or social networking on the net. I've kept them and information about them very tight to my chest because they are the focus of my life and too precious to treat with even the slightest shade of risk. Now they are getting older, and I'm probably being a little neurotic at this point, but unless you happen to meet them at a conference you probably won't be hearing about them anytime soon.

Sometimes you want to do the same with a genealogy chart. In each of the genealogy database programs, you can mark the people you want to keep confidential. In most genealogy programs it is called privatizing, using privacy settings or marking a person, event or relationship as confidential. Sometimes it is just a setting on who you want to export to a gedcom but then you can send the file to us that way and those people will be excluded. Look up the word private or confidential in the help screens on your program and they will tell you how your program does it.

Normally though, we don't need you to do any special processing before you send us the file. You can send us the actual file in any format, you don't even have to create a gedcom. In fact we would prefer that you didn't because people often inadvertently exclude people they want on the chart. Just send us the whole file and we'll just take out the parts we need. The file doesn't go anywhere else, and we'll delete it in 30 days as soon as we know you are happy with your chart. At that point, we are happy to go in and create a confidentiality setting for all the living people or anything else like that. But we probably won't know which ex spouses you don't want to show, or step children or even black sheep if you are so inclined. So on those you may want to privatize them yourself. Or just let us know specifically who to take out. We're happy to help you any way we can to make this easy for you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Changing plans--conferences, conferences, conferences.

Well you can't keep a good company quiet for long.

Thank you to all of you for the fantastic summer we've had. We've hired two more people and bought another plotter to keep up with everything(6!?! I don't know how Kim keeps them all running--it's all quite complicated). We're so happy to have been able to help so many people to display and honor their family history. It was good that we slowed down on conferences and focused on taking good care of your charts. We have barely stayed on top of things.

But now we are ready to get growing even more. Now, with more help trained, not only have we accomplished a real vacation away from work, but we are heading back into conferences--and just in time for some great ones. Here's what we are planning for the rest of this year:

Sidetrack here--You really ought to sign up for this one next weekend if you haven't. It is a screaming deal for only $20. The conference combines excellent presenters and hands on labs from beginning to advanced levels. Co-sponsored by the Genealogy department of Salt Lake Community College, there is an entire ICAPGEN track and a total of 144 classes over the two days.

We're also going to:
I'm still slowing down the lecturing (UGA president and all that has slowed me down there) but we'll be available with discounts, fill-in-the-blank charts to work on and free consultations. So please come see us. We'd love to talk to you about how to display your family history.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gratitude ... Just Gratitude.

Hugs and hugs and more hugs. We are on our way home from the Southern California Genealogical Society Conference and I am so sad to see it go. From the minute we walked in to the conference, I felt as if I had come home. These were my people. These are the people I love and care about because they are as passionate about family history as I am, and because they are good, good people. As we work with people more virtually, it becomes even more satisfying when you actually get to see those people in person. And it is so satisfying to work with people I respect so much, people like Randy Seaver, Lous Szucs, footnoteMaven, George Morgan, Drew Smith, Denise Levnick, Dick Eastman, Thomas McEntee, Amy Coffin, Warren Bittner, Kory Meyerink, Crista Cowan, Joan Miller, Kathryn Doyle, Lisa Alzo and so very many others. I learn so much from each of them and it was so good to have time to talk to them. These, my people--genealogists, are the best people in the world. There was an attendee who lost her iPad at this conference. She had come around several times looking for it and I assured her that someone would turn it in. Of course someeone did. That's just the crowd we run in. Thank you for how rich and wonderful you make my life. And for all the great hugs.

I also have more big time grattitude because the new name, Family ChartMasters, was very well received. Dozens of times at this conference we heard "I really like your new name" or "Yeah, we've seen you before." That is music to the ears of someone who has just changed their company's identity. We have known we needed to do it for a long, long time but knew it would be a painful process. While it has been alot of work, it hasn't been as nearly as painful as we thought, and it looks like everyone still knows where to get the same great service and the same great charts. Thank you all for that.

And speaking of the same great service, I am so, so grateful for Erin Roudabush who is holding down the fort at home. We've had the best year ever so far this year, and it has been very busy keeping everything straight. I am so thankful for how readily Erin has stepped up to the plate on so many levels. We are so blessed to have someone who understands our company so well, who knows how to run it better than we do, and who cares so deeply about what we are doing. Erin is an incredibly intelligent woman, a great example to me, and I am so honored to call her my friend and occasional therapist.

Friday night, I left the party to go up to my room and teleconference in to our Utah Genealogical Association board meeting--live from downtown Burbank. I really love these, my people as well and I'm so proud of what we are doing. Christy Fillerup, Sue Maxwell, Bud Wood, Barry Ewell, Patsy Hendrickson, Jason Harrison, Suzanne Curley, Kathy Palmer,Kevin Wolford, Dan Lawyer, and Adele Marcum. Wilma Adkins, Colette Ewell, A.C. Ivory, Gena Ortega, Julia Corry, Bret Peterson, Kris Whittaker, Gordon Lewis, Valerie Elkins. It is such an honor to work with all of you and I am so proud of what we are doing. I went to a session presented at SCGS about bringing your society into the 21st century, and every idea presented there we already have nailed down. We are doing some great things with UGA and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

And as always it is so good to see the other vendors that have become our family and catch up with them and how their families are doing. The vendors hall is the best place to hang out. Marlo and DeAnna Schuldt, Geoff Rassmussen and Dave Berdan, Leland Meitzler, Maureen Taylor, Paul Larsen, Lisa Louise Cooke, Allison Stacey, Daniel Horowitz and everyone else. I care deeply about these people and how their companies are doing. It is my privilege to call them friends and to recommend their products. And the best part of any conference is decompressing at dinner afterward, talking about how the day went and where the industry is. I am so grateful for the friends and mentors we have in Mike Booth and Bruce Buzbee and their families.

As the conference wound down, I found myself saying that I wish we could do it for several more days, but I don't know that I could do it. We headed out quickly because we need to get back to everything that needs to ship out Monday and to my beautiful, actual family. I am so thankful to have so much to go back to. Thank you for knowing where you can get the best help with printing your genealogy charts. And congratulations to Paula Hinkle, Leo Meyers and their team for another great conference.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One of the 101 best genealogy websites

We've just been honored with a great award from Diane Hadad and her team at Family Tree Magazine.

Family ChArtist was named one of the 101 best websites in the tech category for using technology in your genealogy search. You can view the whole article here at .

We really appreciate the recognition and look forward to helping more and more people celebrate their heritage with a beautiful visual display of their family's history.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

UGA Mormon Trails Echo Canyon Tour. Come Join Us.

I wanted to make sure that you knew about the wonderful tour being put on by UGA about the pioneer trails east of Salt Lake City. I'm really excited to learn more about this area and this is the only day of the year you can explore Cache Cave. My family and I will be there. Ticket sales close soon.

Utah Genealogical Association Mormon Trails CHAPTER presents the Echo Canyon Tour.

Saturday, June 18, 2011 @ 7:30AM
(Registration deadline extended to Midnight, June 5, 2011. Lunch can be purchased with tour ticket)

The Mormon Trails Chapter of the Utah Genealogical Association is thrilled to offer a memorable trek back into history and to tour and experience the beauty of majestic Echo Canyon.

John Eldredge will be the guide for this tour. Mr. Eldredge has written the book, “The Illustrated Emigrant’s Guide,” a booklet written for the 2005 Oregon California Trails Association Convention. You will find Eldredge’s historical knowledge remarkable and appreciate his ability to tell about the artefacts among the ledges and emigrant trail.

View the video preview and register at by midnight, June 5, 2011

To join UGA visit our website. Membership is just $35.00 per year. Members will also have access to all archived virtual chapter meeting presentations, UGA Genealogy Teaching and Training videos, discounts for registration to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, a free subscription to our quarterly journal Crossroads, and more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Generation Maps becomes Family ChartMasters

For Immediate Release:

Easy to use genealogy chart printing service becomes even more accessible

Cedar Hills, Utah. — June 1st, 2011 — Generation Maps, the leading genealogy chart printing service, announces today that it is changing its name to Family ChartMasters.

“We’ve decided to rename in order to simplify and focus our message on exactly what we do the best, “ said Kim Hovorka, CEO, Family ChartMasters. “We’re proud of the excellent customer service we provide and the way we can customize any family’s information to any design a genealogist is looking for. Future users will be able to easily find us now, and future generations will benefit from the family history we are able to display for your family.”

The name Family ChartMasters also comes with a new concentrated tagline, Share•Honor•Inspire, expressing how a genealogist can use a genealogy chart to further their research. Users are encouraged to Share their research, Honor their ancestors, and Inspire their family members with their family’s heritage. Family ChartMasters continues to be an inexpensive, beautiful way to make your genealogy chart ideas a reality.

About Family ChartMasters
Family ChartMasters was established in 2004 to help families express their heritage in a beautiful and attractive way. Family ChartMasters charts provide a visual reminder of your family’s history and help establish feelings of love and confidence that come from knowing who you are and that you are part of a family. Family ChartMasters charts can awaken individual potential embedded in one’s inherited traits and nurture emotional healing through understanding a family’s history.

Family ChartMasters is the premier printing service for any kind of genealogy chart imaginable. In addition to the design-it-yourself online Family ChArtist program, Family ChartMasters continues to offer a multitude of custom chart printing services, including both decorative and working genealogy charts. Custom decorative designs come with an online preview system that gives you personalized attention and feedback until the chart is exactly the way you envision it. Working charts are oversized, inexpensive, family reunion-type charts that display your entire file in one place to write on and add more information. Family ChartMasters has printed working charts up to 800 feet long with information for over 30,000 people. Free consultations are always available at

For more information:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Naming Contest Winners

As you can see by how long it has taken us to come to this point, the re-naming of Generation Maps has been a long process. We had 348 contest entries. Since the contest closed on April 4th, we've been through several focus groups with a double blind look at all of the suggestions. We've weighed and discussed and hammered and examined and reviewed and sifted and hashed out and negotiated. I feel really good about the process. After building this company for almost eight years, with all the love and hard work we have poured into it, it is hard to rename and feel good about it even though we knew it needed to be done. But, I think we have the name that really expresses what we do and will take us into the bright future with a smooth path ahead.

At long last, we had a decision! So who won? When we went back through, we were astounded to find out that the winning entry was submitted by an employee. Good Grief. It wouldn't be fair to award an employee the contest prize.

So, we have decided to award 4 prizes. One for the person who submitted the name closest to the one we've chosen and next in line for being the winner. And three runners-up. They are:

  • Steve Freeman Grand Prize Winner $300 Generation Maps Credit (Can't tell you yet or we'd have to kill you :-)
  • Drew Smith Runner-up $50 Generation Maps Credit "On-the-Wall Genealogy"
  • Amanda Forson Runner up $50 Generation Maps Credit "Kinprints"
  • Marilyn L Quinby Runner up $50 Generation Maps Credit "See My Tree"
Congratulations to them. And thank you so much to all of our wonderful followers who worked so hard to come up with so many great options for us. We so appreciate you.

We're working on logos and everything involved in rebranding. It is a big project. We will announce the new name with the new website, facebook, twitter, newsletter and etc on June 1st.


We've been busy with the renaming of the company and a wonderful pre-family reunion season rush this last several weeks (THANK YOU--we're loving it). I've been very quiet on the social networking front, so quiet that I'm feeling a little shy about diving back in. But I'm going to take a deep breath and do it. In return for this indulgence--I promise we'll announce the winner of the renaming contest here tomorrow :).

Luckily, I have caught the continuing posts in the blogging community prompted by Thomas McEntee's revealing Genea-opportunities and Genealogy Conferences--the magic recipe series. The discussion has been interesting. Here's something else to think about...

The view from where I sit:
I was particularly interested in Thomas's Us vs. Them post. I cross many us vs. them boundaries. I've been involved in conferences and the genealogy community from all sides. I currently have about 17 active lectures that I give in all sorts of venues--from webinars to Family History Center staff meetings to large national conferences, paid and unpaid, about our company and on completely different topics. I blog and tweet and facebook. I periodically teach genealogy at Salt Lake Community College. I'm president of the Utah Genealogical Association this year and in the past have been involved in setting up and running conferences--everything from venue to bills to food to vendors to speaker contracts (SLIG and etc, this year's annual conference will be August 19th and 20th, watch for info at And of course as Development Director and Co-Owner of Generation Maps, I'm one of the vendors (cue the ominous Jaws music.)

With my Master's in Library Science degree I could do genealogy research and get credentialed but instead I've chosen to become one of them--the vendors. I've chosen to follow what I love--helping people share their genealogy and entice others into searching out their history by helping them display their family's history in beautiful ways. I'm finding that in some ways, by buying vendor's space at a conference, I put up barriers and some prejudices to our involvement in the genealogy community. To some people I become a "them."

In the last couple of months, I have watched some of our "vendor" partners be uninvited to conferences, told not to mention their company when speaking, and be excluded from social networking, promotional and educational opportunities. We observe a lot of mis-trust of anyone who is a "vendor" because they are "only in it to make money" or perhaps "only in it for the advertising." In some corners of the blogging community there are people who are wary of anything "commercial" and yet the definitions of what is commercial are sometimes ill-informed. I've seen database companies invited to participate in events because they are "helping" but then other companies excluded. We even had one conference years ago that uninvited vendors and then proceeded to advertise for the local restaurants at lunchtime. And yet we are consistently approached by some of those same entities to donate items for gift bags and drawings--which we are happy to do. These sometimes strange attitudes make it very hard for new and upcoming companies, or even established ones, to get the word out about their services.

As a vendor, I don't feel very different from other members in this community. In fact, I think many would be surprised to know that as I've moved throughout this community, I've found that many of the companies in the vendors hall make much less than many of the lecturers, authors, and professional researchers do. There tends to be a perception that the "vendors" are the only people who advertise. However, if you look around, there is self-promotion everywhere in this community. So to follow Thomas's generous transparency, I'm going to pull down one more curtain. Often the people you trust the most to bring you the genealogy information you need--bloggers, lecturers, authors, professional researchers, and etc. "the educators" are the ones who are succeeding at the self-promotion the best. I've seen the contracts and I've seen the affiliate checks. When you promote "the educators" but don't promote "commercial vendors" you have your lines crossed and confused. Why can't we all advertise? Anyone who is good at what they do deserves reimbursement.

Making a living is a good thing. I am sad to sometimes see a general mis-trust in this community towards anyone who is trying to make a living--speakers and researchers, but especially a mis-trust against helping vendors get the word out about what they are doing. I'm still trying to figure out where that comes from. I think in part it comes from having two major industry players--one who is highly subsidized and not interested in making a profit but very vested in maintaining their non-profit status, and one who is so interested in making a profit that it aggressively acquires other companies and opportunities in the marketplace. In any other industry, a hard day's work is rewarded handsomely because we want to see that person continue to do what they are doing. Isn't it time that we do the same in the genealogy community? If you want to see more companies and individuals who are working hard to make your genealogy adventure easier--support them. Help them get the word out about what they are doing. It is ok to make a buck on family history. We want them to make a living so that they can continue to do what they do--help us. It is in all our best interests to have a strong, thriving genealogy industry where vendors are welcomed and encouraged.

So please go out and thank a vendor today for making your genealogy endeavors easier. Go spend some money on your genealogy pursuit. And then tell someone about it when your money was well spent.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Webinars and Lectures

While we are slowing down for the summer on conferences, I've still been working on doing some webinars.

Recent and upcoming webinars include:
I am also working on recording several of my lectures so that they can be used in various circumstances and you'll see lots more writing out of me in coming months.

Slowing Down

Whew!! she said wiping her brow with a flourish.

Next weekend, I will be home for the first weekend of this year. We have been through a string of conferences, events, and speaking engagements that have been non-stop. From Mesa to SLIG to RootsTech it has been tons of fun. There is nothing I love more than partying with the people who speak my language. But we've decided it is time to slow down.

Needless to say, no one can keep that kind of pace. There were several weeks where I was home long enough to do the laundry and then pack everything back up to take off again. You can see a few things have suffered. I haven't been blogging as much. I have lists of things to write about but haven't had a second to do it. I haven't been on facebook and twitter as much, and I won't tell you about how the clutter level at the house has slipped. Mostly I'm not sure I've been able to keep up with my sanity.

And on top of that, Generation Maps orders have been accelerating. Typically, our busiest times of the year have been through the summer (family reunions) and during the Holidays (gift giving). Usually we slow substantially during February and March. But this year we haven't. Sales have been steady and we've been working really hard to keep our customer service--the personal touch and attention to detail--up to our standards. At times it has been tough to keep everything humming at home with our clients while keeping such a hectic schedule.

So we've decided to slow down over the summer. I know my heart will be aching that we aren't going to be at NGS, NEHGS, or FGS. But we've decided it is more important to make sure that we are completely taking care of the customers we have. You can see on our calendar that we will be keeping the commitments we've already made. But we are going to focus on being prepared and ready to take care of your needs this summer. So go ahead and plan the chart for your family reunion, anniversary, or just to advance your research. We'll be ready and waiting to give you the individual attention that printing your family's heritage deserves.