Category Archives: NaBloPoMo 2016

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 25: Share your stories

Tip 25: Share your stories. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Among the intangible benefits of a genealogy road trip are the stories that you and your travel partner will return with. Sharing those precious stories is the best gift you can bring back from your journey.

Meaningful family stories are the greatest gifts of all. Spend some time after your genealogy road trip reviewing your notes, photos, documents and recordings — then write down or record the stories that emerge. By: alvanman

The people you met during your trip, the experiences you went through together, and the ancestral discoveries you made — these can become part of your family saga if you share your stories after your return.

How you tell your stories is up to you. Are you more comfortable writing them down? Or would you rather record them for posterity? And who will you share them with?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Expand on your trip report and photos. If you typed up your notes as suggested in Tip 21, you can go back over your report and photos to jog your memory about the stories emerged from your journey. How did you feel to find an ancestor’s grave? What were your impressions of your ancestors’ town or neighborhood? Was there an interesting librarian who helped you out? You’ve collected the facts — now is the time to reflect on what they meant to you by journaling about the experience or recording your impressions.

Review your recordings. Set aside a quiet time to listen to an oral history interview you recorded. What did you learn from the family member or an ancestor’s associate or neighbor? Did new family history information emerge? Were humorous or poignant stories shared during the interview? What did the room look like? What background sounds do you hear? How did you feel before, during and after the interview? These are the ingredients that will make your story come to life.

Study those genealogical documents and historic maps. During a genealogy road trip, there is little time to review the documents, historic maps and other items you and your travel partner discovered. But once you’re back home, spend some time studying what you found. Does the documentation fit with the oral history interview you did? Or with your previous research? How does it feel to see an ancestor’s surname on a map indicating where they lived or owned land? Does this animate a census report in your files?

Write or say what comes naturally. If you have never written or recorded yourself before, you may feel awkward at first — but stick with it and just write or say what comes naturally. This is storytelling, like you might do around the dining table — and your family members will appreciate your efforts to share what you learned about your mutual ancestors.

Share in a way that is comfortable to you. Have you longed to put together a family history book — with stories and photos — to share with future generations? How about creating a digital scrap book to be printed and shared? Would a blog work better for reaching family members who live all over? What about a YouTube video or a family-only Facebook group? Even something as simple as a holiday letter with a few anecdotes about your trip offers a way to begin telling your stories.

Your ancestral discoveries are a precious gift to your contemporaries and to future generations of your family. So find some way to share these family history stories — the way you wish your ancestors had handed down their stories to you.

Now it’s time to put everything away so it’s there for your next genealogy journey. Please stop back for Tip 26: Store your gear.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 24: Trim your tree

Tip 24: Trim your tree. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Now that you have filed your findings from your genealogy road trip it’s time to trim your family tree with all of the shimmery new family  history details that you and your travel partner collected.

rim your family tree. Fire up your genealogy software program and add all the new ancestral information that you and your travel partner discovered during your genealogy road trip. By: JOHNNY LAI By: JOHNNY LAI
Trim your family tree. Fire up your genealogy software program and add all the new ancestral information that you and your travel partner discovered during your genealogy road trip. By: JOHNNY LAI

After all, the overriding purpose of your road trip was to  expand your knowledge about your ancestors and their history —  and to make discoveries that enlarged upon what you already knew.

So fire up your genealogy software program and come up with a plan for adding all of your newfound information. The holiday season is upon us —  what better time to trim your family tree?

Here are some tips to get you started: 

Add new people and relationships. Did you discover any new ancestral connections or collateral relatives during your trip? If so, include them in your trim-a-tree by adding them into your genealogy software program — along source citations confirming where you found the information.

Dress up the people already in your tree.  Did vital records, cemetery records, church or historical records yield new information about ancestors or collateral relatives who are already in your tree? If so, be sure to add this information, with source citations, to dress up their details.

Decorate with digital images. Many genealogical software programs allow you to drag and drop photographs and images directly into your family tree. If you have one of these programs, then by all means add some of the images you and your travel partner collected during your genealogy road trip. Photographs of ancestral homes, scans of historical maps and images of genealogical documents will add vibrant colors to your tree.

Add sparkle with notes, anecdotes and ancestral stories. Genealogy software usually has a space where narrative notes can be added. Include brief summaries of your genealogy road trip adventures, describe how you and your travel partner discovered new family details, and tell the stories that emerged about your ancestors — these are the glittering tinsel that will really make your tree shine.

Place gifts beneath the tree. Finally, what’s a well trimmed tree without beautiful gifts arrayed beneath it? And the most precious present you can give to a love one is the gift of family history.

Please stop back for more on this in the next post — Tip 25: Share your stories.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 23: File your findings

Tip 23: File your findings. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Your post-trip organizing should be well underway by now. You’ve backed up your photos and recordings and written a report on your Genealogy Road Trip discoveries.

File your findings. As soon as you can after your return, start excavating the treasured items you discovered during your trip and integrating them into your existing online or hard-copy filing system. By: Marie Janssen

Now’s the time to file your findings in your paper and/or digital family archive so they will be there for reference when you need them.

I know, I know…it’s tempting to just chuck the genealogy road trip bag on a chair and move on with your life.

But as soon as you can after your return, start excavating the treasured items you discovered during your trip and integrating them into your existing online or hard copy filing system.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Set up a location file. If you don’t have one already, set up a location file for the family history area you just visited. Location files are great for storing items from a specific area that pertain to multiple families.

File location-specific items. In this folder, place items from your trip that are specific to that location. These might include:

  • Cemetery records for multiple families,
  • Historic maps showing ancestors’ names and/or property lines,
  • Small town or county histories, or photocopies/scans of pages pertinent to your families,
  • Historical society or fraternal organization records you obtained,
  • Your post-trip report on the location you and your travel partner visited, and
  • Photos of family homes you say during your trip.

File ancestor-specific items. Any documentation or other findings that pertain to a specific ancestor should be filed in their digital/paper folder. Depending on how you have organized your archive, you might put vital records in one folder, census records in another, etc.

Cite your sources. As you file each item, take the time to include a source along with it. Consult a copy of Evidence Explained, or a quick citation sheet that follows this genealogical citation method, and document where each of your findings came from. You may think you will remember later on — but trust me, you won’t. So take a few minutes as you file to cite your sources so they will be there when you go back to them for reference.

More on this in the next post Tip 24: Trim your tree. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 22: Duplicate your recordings

Tip 22: Duplicate your recordings. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

If you used video or audio on your Genealogy Road Trip to record oral history interviews — or other aspects of the journey — you should duplicate these after you return and save the uncut version in several places.

Duplicate your recordings when you get back home. Voice recordings and video images from your genealogy road trip are among the irreplaceable genealogy gems you will bring home with you — so take a few steps to safeguard these audio-visual treasures for years to come. By: Karl Baron

Voice recordings or video images of your loved ones and/or their friends, neighbors and associates — along with videos of the area where they lived — are among the irreplaceable genealogy gems you will bring back home with you.

So take a few steps to safeguard these audio-visual treasures for years to come.

Save the recordings on your computer. If you did not do this during your trip, then first thing on your return upload your videos and audio recordings to your computer. Most digital recording devices make this easy — just check the directions that came with your equipment, or do an online search for a step-by-step guide.

Duplicate, duplicate, duplicate! As with your photos, the next step is to duplicate your recordings in multiple places — on an external hard drive at home, another external hard drive that you keep off-site (such as with a friend, family member or at work) and in a cloud storage solution like Dropbox. Having duplicate copies is your insurance in case  your computer or external hard drive is irreparably damaged.

Edit copies, not originals. If you plan to edit your audio or video recordings later, be sure to label the original version and its duplicates as “uncut” so they remain untouched. Then do a “save as” and work from a copy when you edit. That way, if something goes wrong or gets erased during the editing process, you will still have your original, uncut recording to return to.

Stay on top of changing technology. Even if you do a great job of saving and duplicating your recordings right after your trip, digital media changes over time and you may have to redo the process in the years ahead.

Some of my first oral history interviews were done on cassette tapes — which I dutifully duplicated, storing copies off-site. Yet I had to convert these later to digital format to keep pace with changing technology.

Who knows what might replace the digital formats we use today? Your best bet is to stay on top of technological changes and convert your precious recordings to the new technology when the need arises.

Other ideas or suggestions? Please leave them in the comments section.

Up next: Tip 23: File your findings. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 21: Type up your notes

Tip 21: Type up your notes. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

The best thing I did as a novice genealogist was to sit down and type up a report after each Genealogy Road Trip I took — and I am grateful every time I refer back to those early reports.

Notes. You may have taken all sorts of written and digital notes during your genealogy road trip. Gather these together into a written report of your trip that you can refer back to in years to come. By: Philip Porter

I never would have remembered every place my travel partner and I visited on our trip — nor all the family history research information we discovered — if I had not immediately sat down and typed it all up on my return.

If you are anything like me, you may jot down notes all over the place — in your trip notebook, on scraps of paper at a library or other repository, on the backs of printouts you brought with you, and on napkins or coasters in a local restaurant.

Your digital notes might also be disorganized from entering them on the fly at a genealogy road trip destination — some in your phone, some on your handheld device, some on your laptop, some saved in the cloud/some not.

As soon as you can after you get back — while your memories are still fresh — organize your trip notes into a written report and (as with your photos) save it in several locations.

Here are a few things to include:

Dates and destination. At the top of your report, put the day, month and year of your genealogy road trip and the destination. On multi-day trips, or trips with multiple destinations, you may want to do a separate report for each venue or person you visit (such as Library, Historical Society, Family Member, etc.).

Researchers’ names. Put your name and the name of your travel partner below the date and destination. This may seem obvious to you now, but at some point you may pass along your research materials to future generations or to a repository, and this will let future researchers know who took part in this genealogy road trip.

Results. Summarize all the steps you took at each venue and anything of family history interest you and your travel partner found. You can organize this by category. For example, if you visited a library, your categories might include City Directories, Census,  Library Family Files, Library Obituary Index, County History, etc. — with a narrative below each heading describing your discoveries.

Prepared-by section. At the end of the report, add a “Prepared by:” section and put your name, your contact information and the date you prepared the report. This will help researchers contact you in the event you share this report with a repository and will also provide a record for posterity.

Attachments. Attach your original notes to your report. That way, if questions arise or you think you may have transcribed something incorrectly, you can refer back to your originals. List these attachments in the report.

Print a copy on acid-free archival paper. In addition to saving the report digitally, print out at least one copy on acid-free archival paper, attach your notes and file it in your location files. I also file a working copy for easy reference in the folders of families that were researched on the trip.

Now that you’ve completed and saved your report, it’s time to consolidate what you learned on your genealogy road trip and add the information to your existing family history records.

Up next, Tip 22: Duplicate your recordings. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin