Friday, April 30, 2010

FREE Friday: Free shipping from Family Tree

Just in from the Family Tree email newsletter!

FREE USPS shipping on ANY order size
of Family Tree product with offer code MAYFS10 at checkout.
Expires 5/5/2010, some exclusions apply

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Anyone interested in genealogy knows that finding the journal of an ancestor is an absolute treasure.  So, wouldn't it be great if we kept our own journals for our descendants?  I faithfully kept journals all through my tween, teen, and early married years, but since having children, I have stopped.  I feel so sad about this as these are the years my children will be most interested in reading.  But as all moms know, time just seems to slip through your fingers and there is not enough time to do everything wanted.  So, when I found out about, I was very happy.  I now have a quick, easy way to record my life in journal-format, even if it's just one sentence or two for a day.  It's much easier to type an entry into this journal than to go upstairs, dig my journal out of my hope chest, and hand-write an entry.  Best of all, it's free for anyone to use.  Just set up your account and you're good to go.  Here are some of the features:

  • You can just keep your journal private or you can share it with others.  
  • Include a "smiley" in the title of your entry to share your mood during that time.
  • Record entries from home or from your cell.
  • Get automated reminders to write in your journal.
  • Include pictures and footnotes.
  • Print it out or pay to have it printed and bound into a book.
Check out and get to recording your life!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finding Gravestones

I was asked last week about how to find gravestones.  There are a few ways to do this.

First of all, you can go visit the cemetery yourself and visit the gravestone in person.  This is the funnest option, in my opinion!  But unless you have to, do not go and just wander the cemetery, unless of course, you want to.  :)  It may take a lot longer than you want it to if you just show up and start searching.  So, what do you do?  You contact the one person who can tell you exactly where the grave you're looking for is located.  That person is called a sexton.  If your particular cemetery is still "active," then it will have a sexton taking care of the cemetery.  The sexton knows the cemetery so well that most can point out by memory any particular grave you want.  But if they do not know, then they can also consult their map of the cemetery.

As I was writing this post, I realized I did not know how to find a sexton.  After doing some research online, I found out that one of the two best ways to contact your particular sexton is to search on the city's government website for "cemetery."  Most often, you will find a way to contact the cemetery sexton by phone.  For example, I searched on Mesa, Arizona's site and found this.  And you can also search online for (City), (State) cemetery.  I did that for Pittsburg, Kansas and found a link to the cemetery's website here.

Now that leads me to your second way to find gravestones, checking to see if it's been mapped, photographed, and published online, like Utah cemeteries or Arizona cemeteries.  Do an online search for (State) cemetery records.  Look for a website with a .gov or a .org ending and you're more likely to find an official, valid website.

Third, if your cemetery is not active or abandoned and there is no sexton or government site, then, good luck!  No, just kidding.  Look online again.  There are a few websites put together by, surprise!, volunteers (like my friend Trish), who go out of their way to photograph and transcribe gravestones.  Three of these websites are The United States Cemetery Project,'s Virtual Cemetery, and Find a Grave.  And you can also use lookups, as discussed in one of my previous posts.

Now if you aren't able to find your gravestone online and you go to visit the cemetery in person, then get your information and perhaps share that information and perhaps information for some other gravestones in that cemetery with one of these volunteer sites.  As I mentioned before, genealogy is all about sharing!  Now go out and have some fun finding your ancestors' gravestones!

Friday, April 16, 2010

FREE Friday: Vintage-ifying Photos

Yes, I just made up a word and it means exactly what I want it to mean.  :)  

Anyway, I just love the look of old things.  Maybe it's genetic.  I don't know.  But my mother has loved all things antique for as long as I can remember and our home was decorated in antiques, as are my two older sisters' homes and I try my best for my home, but as we're still in what I consider our "just out of college" days, our furniture and home decorative purchases are few and far between.  So when my friend, Anne, showed me this website, I was instantly ecstatic!  What a simple, free, and easy way to get vintage/antique looking photos of my own family without having to spend the money or needing the skill of using an expensive photo-editing software.

My mind is whirling trying to figure out the very best ideas for using these photos-how to decorate my kids rooms, make a glass tile necklace (like my sister-in-law, Mandy's), or modge-podging a bunch to a wood board for the kitchen, or....okay you get the idea.  Here are some more of my favorites.  

Now go ahead and have fun making your own (side note-you'll need to find the translate into "English" button on the site).

And for all the genealogically minded (myself included) who are nervous about having someone mistake these for actual old pictures, make sure to label each picture with a name and date with a pencil or another acid-free writing utensil.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Basics

I've been MIA for a couple of weeks.  Sorry about that.  :)  Now I'm back and ready to blog.  Today's post is going to be quick and simple.  I've had a couple of my readers request some basic information for beginners.  So, here you go!

Locations - How do you format place names when doing genealogical research?  What to include?  Abbreviations?  Now you'll know.  Do not abbreviate, name each jurisdiction, and separate with commas.  So you get this Town, County, State, Country.  United States example: St. David, Cochise, Arizona, United States.  Other countries may have different jurisdictions that do not equate exactly like the United States.  When that happens, start at the smallest jurisdiction and work your way up.  Example: Frutigen, Bern, Switzerland.

Dates - Which format?  Day Month Year, no commas.  Example 25 December 2010

Why not use your own formatting or abbreviations?  Because someday a family member is going to ask you to give them all the information on the family you have and they will not be able to understand your method.  It's easier for you and for all those out there benefiting from the wonderful work you've done.  Now,  Happy Researching!

P.S. If you have a particular topic you're interested in or have a question, please feel free to leave me a note in the comments and I'd be happy to answer it for you.  :)