Treasure Maps Genealogy

Genealogy and Family Tree How-to Help

Family History Project - You Can Create and Publish Your Own Family Newsletter

You can have a lot of fun publishing your own family newsletter. At the same time, you will be creating a true family treasure. If you do a family project like this, it will be years down the road that you fully realize just how important your efforts are. You will be surprised at the many ways this will affect your family in a positive (and often touching) manner.

Note that this is NOT a “Surname Newsletter” where you have a newsletter all about your last name (surname) only. The surname newsletters will help you further your genealogy research, but they are completely different from the informal family newsletter.

Your family newsletter will go out to many different family members. The in-laws and the out-laws can all be included. Think of it this way: If you were having a family reunion in your home - who would you invite? If your family is very large, you might want to stick to a set geographical region (the Southern U.S. for example).

You’ve got the computer - USE IT! Your newsletter doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. Your family will enjoy it because of the content, not because it will win a graphic layout award.

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A Million Dollars to Do Your Family’s Genealogy Research?

What Would You Do if an Eccentric Rich Old Uncle Offered You a Million Dollars to Do Your Family’s Genealogy Research?

Imagine that you really DID have an eccentric rich old uncle that offered you a million U.S. dollars (or an equal value in your country’s currency) to do your own personal family history research. Hey, stranger things have happened in this world. Please think about it for a minute before you read on.

You would hire someone to do it… is that what you are thinking? 

No, that’s the one of the catches to the deal says your uncle, "YOU have to do the research without hiring someone to do it for you. And, you have to keep it quiet so that other family members or friends don’t have any motive to help you any more excitedly than they normally would."

Boy - that uncle drives a hard bargain. But he IS good for the money.

So… what are the steps you would take? Where do you go from here?

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Why You Should Research Your Family History AND Your Family HEALTH History

How Your Past Can Affect the Health of Your Future (and maybe help save family member’s life!)

Note: Most of this article is due to Judith L. Weinberger and Linda Clark’s willingness to share their experience with the Treasure Map’s on-line family.

Judith wrote: “This letter is to relate a recent experience that at first glance has NOTHING to do with genealogy, but at second glance has EVERYTHING to do with family history…

Last year I had a heart attack (yes, thank you, I am doing very well now). No one expected I would ever have this type of medical problem. Every doctor I spoke with (and there were a lot) asked if heart problems ran in the family. I knew they did, but was unsure of the extent.

During my recovery at home, I pulled out all death certificates, obituaries, and family oral history in my files and created a chart.

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Feedback from Readers Who Created Their Own Genealogy Books

Readers of the Treasure Maps Genealogy email newsletter had some interesting feedback on the "How to Easily Create Your Own Genealogy Books Using Your Computer and Your Kitchen Table" article/blog post.

I thank them again for sharing their wonderful experiences with us.

Here's What Happened When Family History Researchers Shared
their "Self-Made Genealogy Books" with their Families…

"You are SO right about the value of publishing your research in whatever form is most efficient. When my older brother got remarried after his wife died, my wife decided we ought to give her and my brother a copy of the family history, so she would have an idea of what she was getting herself into.

Almost needless to say, she and my brother loved it. My niece, who came to the wedding, read it and asked that when she got married she would love a copy as a wedding present.

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Classic Interview with Cyndi Howells, Creator of Cyndi’s List

Note from Robert Ragan: This is a "classic" interview that I did with Cyndi Howells way back in February 1997. The original article was titled: "Behind the Scenes with 'Categorizing Queen' Cyndi Howells, Creator of the Web's Best Genealogy Directory."

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at genealogy in the "pioneer days" of the Web. Cyndi started her amazing genealogy directory in 1996, so this interview was soon after she started.

Now Cyndi's List is a resource that is part of the backbone of on-line genealogy world. Enjoy the interview:

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How to Easily Create Your Own Genealogy Books Using Your Computer and Your Kitchen Table

You can enjoy the great pleasure that comes from giving your family members a book filled with genealogy and family history information that YOU created. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • You will just plain "feel wonderful about it." Sharing the legacy of your family with your family is a very special thing. It is hard to put in words. I challenge you to do it and try to describe it to me.
  • This is a great way to get family members who are reluctant to share genealogy information to open up and be more helpful. They will be impressed with you and your efforts - and be much more receptive to you in the future.
  • Just by doing this - you are actually taking an important step in preserving your research work. Your family will keep and cherish your book. It will become a honest-to-goodness family treasure.

Never, ever forget that almost every person in your immediate and extended family is interested in their family history and genealogy.

Of course, your family members may not want to do any research themselves. And, some may not be very willing to help to you with your research (this is a classic pet peeve of many genealogy researchers). But they ARE still interested.

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3 Basic Genealogy Search Tips that Will Save You Headaches Along the Way

Start with yourself and work your way back

If you have heard all of your life that your family lines have descended from the first U.S. President, George Washington, that is wonderful. And, there is probably some truth to it. But - be sure to start with yourself and work backwards or you may waste an awful lot of time.

Verify Your Information and Never Believe
that ANYTHING is "Set in Stone"

A true story: On a family history field trip years ago - I saw the

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Why Ready, Fire, Aim Genealogy Research Can Be a Good Thing

Consider the words of Tom Gonzales:

"Like most genealogy novices, I have more "Madness" than "Method" to my family history research. I've done some things right and some wrong. I've read some books, bought some software, interviewed/ taped some elderly relatives, gotten old photos reprinted or copied, been to the 'motherland', etc. What I lack in organization I make up for in enthusiasm. But what I have discovered is that the "madness" (enthusiasm) is the more important part! That is the part that is contagious and brought me closer to my family near and far." (Tom Gonzales)

Can’t you feel some of his genealogy excitement from his comments? It warms my heart to hear things like this because he is DOING things.

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Genealogy and Family Tree Research - Your Two Most Important Genealogy Forms

In the genealogy world, it is so easy to get sidetracked (and sometimes intimidated) by all of the things to learn, remember, and do. It’s easy to forget to keep things simple, go off on a tangent, and wind up spinning your wheels and not progressing with your research.

The bottom line is remembering that your two most important items of concern are your "Pedigree Charts" and "Family Group Sheets."

These basic tools of the trade are what matter the most. And in my opinion, are getting overlooked too often in the computer age. Now don’t misunderstand.

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The Natural Approach to Oral History Interviews Part 2

"The Natural Approach to Oral History Interviews and the Two Critical Questions You Must ALWAYS Ask" by Robert Ragan (Part 2) Continued from Part 1

"Writing Prompts" and "Memory Prompts"

One Mother's Day, I gave my Mom a blank journal. She surprised me by saying that she had been thinking about starting a journal. I also gave her a book (that has questions and plenty of room to write) called "The Book of Myself - A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions" by Carl and David Marshall.

Here are a few of the writing prompts from the book:

-This is what we usually did at Thanksgiving.

-I want you to know this about my grandmother(s).

-I want you to know this about my grandfather(s).

-One book that had a very strong impact on me was.

-I am proud of my sibling(s) for this reason.

Here is one of my favorites:

-My predictions for each of my grandchildren are these…

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