Family History Dry Erase Coloring Book

My son isn’t quite old enough to color, but he already won’t sit still during church, so I found this awesome family history coloring book and turned it into a reusable dry erase book for him to use someday. The best part is that it cost less than $3 to make!

I found this Family History Coloring Book at Deseret Book for 85 cents. You can also purchase them from any LDS Distribution Center or online. If you order online you can get them in any of these languages:

  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

If you prefer to print the coloring book yourself instead, click here to download it for free!

Once I had my book, I removed the staples and used my paper trimmer to cut right down the center fold line. I discarded the back cover, so there were a total of 11 pages (front cover + 10 coloring pages).

I then placed each page inside a laminating pouch and ran it through my laminator. I use the 5 mil pouches because they are more durable than the 3 mil ones. If you print the pages yourself, you will need to place 2 pages back-to-back inside each laminating pouch.

To finish off the book I just used a 3-hole-punch and 3 keyrings to bind it together. I plan to use dry erase crayons with mine because they are less messy and won’t dry out like markers.

Also for those of you who are LDS, there is a Book of Mormon coloring book available from Deseret Book, the distribution center, or free download.

Military Family History Book

After putting together my Family History Binder, my husband came up with the idea to create a book about the military history of our family. Our plan is to gather military records, pictures, and stories about not only direct ancestors but also uncles and other relatives who served in the military.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use a binder and sheet protectors again for this project or if I’ll have it printed by Shutterfly or another company. I plan on doing more research first and then deciding on the format once I see how many and what types of records I gather.

To organize my research, I’ve started a new tree using Family Tree Maker (FTM). The individuals won’t all link together in a tree since some generations don’t have any members of the military, but I can still use the list of individuals to navigate between everyone. At first I had just made a spreadsheet to record my my info but I like that FTM allows you to save all of your images and sources so easily.

So far we’ve already gathered quite a bit of information. My husband posted yesterday in a family Facebook group asking for photos and stories, and responses have already been coming in. I also signed up for a free trial of Fold3 but haven’t had much time to sit down and research yet.

I haven’t done much in-depth military research before so this will definitely be a learning experience. While I’m working on this project, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging, but I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on my progress and share my research tips along the way.

How do I know if this really is my ancestor?

One of the most difficult parts of genealogy research is determining if the records you come across really are for the particular individual you are researching. Here are a few basic things to check when you find a new record just to make sure you’ve got the right person.

1. Household/Neighbors

It is very common for ages and birth locations to be incorrect on censuses and other records, but if the names of family members are the same and children are in the correct birth order, you can usually assume that you have the right record.

Don’t forget to pay attention to other individuals on the record as well. Neighbors in a census or other passengers on a ship manifest could be family members or close friends. If these same neighbors show up in multiple records, you can usually assume the records are for the same individual.

An example from my own research comes from my search for James Bonnell. All I knew of him previously was that he was the father of David Lusk Bonnell. I found a James P Bonnel in the 1870 census, but from the transcription I had no way of knowing if it was my James or not. Looking at the actual record, however, I saw that my David L Bonnell was living right next door!20170120_114010.pngYou can also see that there is a possible father for James listed in his household, another David L who was 28 years older than James.

2. Location

Just because it says that the person was born in the same state or country as the one you are looking for, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found the correct individual. But if they are living in the same town as a known relative or within a short distance of a location shown in another record, there is a greater likelihood of them being the right person.

I often use Google Maps to find the distance between two locations. For example, my grandmother had been told about a cousin, Vittorio, who had emigrated from Italy to Argentina in the early 1900’s. She knew nothing of this cousin except his name and the address of his nephew who also lived in Argentina. A quick search on Ancestry.com produced a Brazilian immigration record for a man named Vittorio who appeared to be about the right age and was from the same Italian region as my grandma.wp-image-1448058741jpg.jpegUpon further inspection, we found that this record contained a previous address for Vittorio in Argentina. I immediately typed the address into Google Maps along with the nephew’s address and found that they were only about 1.5 miles apart.

argentina-mapThe chance of finding a random stranger with the right name and age living this close to the nephew is very slim so I think it’s safe to say we found our Vittorio.

3. Occupation

The occupation field is often overlooked in records because it is rarely transcribed. If your ancestors had a very common occupation such as farmer or housewife, you can probably continue to ignore it, but if they had a more unusual occupation it can be a great help.

One of my husband’s family lines reached a brickwall with George Davidson. The earliest record I had for him was an 1860 census just shortly after he had married, but with a name that common I wasn’t sure which George was the right one in the 1850 census. While making my family history binder, I printed his 1860 census and noticed his occupation said “tailor”.

I decided to do a quick search on Ancestry.com for a George Davidson in the 1850 census born within 5 years of 1831 in Ohio. I ended up with a list of 7 possible Georges. I went through the images of each of these census records finding farmer after farmer until I finally found one with a George who was a tailor! And he was listed with his parents and siblings!

Many times, sons will also continue in the same occupation as their fathers. One of my husband’s lines has at least 6 generations of plasterers. This has made it easy to follow not only the direct line but also find uncles and cousins who continued this tradition.

You should, of course, consider every part of a record to determine if it really is your ancestor, but hopefully this will be a good starting point for some of you. I’d love to hear if any of you have additional tips to share!

Recording Audio Memories

When our extended family gathers together, everyone always ends up telling old family stories. Many are stories that I’ve already heard hundreds of times, but it is so important to preserve these stories for future generations. Instead of trying to write them myself, I use the Memories App to save an audio recording of each story. It is so easy to use and with it I’ve already been able to record dozens of stories told by my husband’s 93-year-old grandmother.

When you open the Memories App, you will be asked to login to your Familysearch account. If you don’t have a Familysearch account, you will need to create one. This will allow you to save your recordings directly to Familysearch.org.

When you are logged in, tap the microphone on the right to go to the audio section. If you have recorded any audio previously, your recordings will appear on this page.

To record new audio, tap the plus sign in the top right corner. It will show a list of suggested interview questions, but you can also click at the bottom to do your own recording without a question.

 Tap the start button to begin recording. Your recording can be up to 10 minutes long.

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When you are finished, tap stop and then name the file to save it. The file will automatically be uploaded to Familysearch.org.

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When your file is uploaded, you have the option of tagging individuals from your family tree. This will link the audio to their Familysearch person profile which will then make it available to anyone viewing the profile.

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It’s really that easy! And because these audio memories are stored on Familysearch.org you can guarantee they will be preserved for future generations to access for years to come.

Family History Binder – Part 6 – Documents

This is the sixth and final post of my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part one.

In each section of my binder, I placed copies of every document I had about each individual in chronological order. If a document referred to multiple ancestors, I printed a separate copy for each of them. I didn’t use any original documents, but I still wanted to make the copies last as long as possible so I used Avery sheet protectors that are archival quality. Here are some of the types of documents I included:

  • Birth/death/marriage certificates
  • City directories
  • Military draft records
  • Yearbook pages
  • Land records
  • Cemetery records

Most of my sources were obtained on Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org. For any online documents, I printed the image of the document and then also printed the transcription page from the website with the source information. I placed the transcription page behind each document in the same sheet protector.

I wanted to be able to easily find the individual’s name in each document, so I highlighted the corresponding line in the document with a yellow highlighter. This is especially helpful in census records or city directories that contain many names. Before highlighting, I made sure I let the ink dry for at least 30 minutes or else the ink smeared.

I don’t personally have any original documents for this line of the family, but I was able to obtain quite a few copies just from asking relatives. My in-laws have a cardboard box of various family records that I was able to borrow and scan into my computer using an Epson WorkForce Scanner. I love how quickly I was able to scan stacks of documents while still having high resolutions for photos.

Facebook also proved quite helpful in obtaining records and photos. I received a few items by simply asking our Reynolds Family Facebook group. I also came across the Buffum Family Association group (my husband’s great-grandmother was a Buffum) and asked if anyone had information about our particular line. The next day I was sent over a dozen old photos of ancestors, most of which I had never seen pictures of before.

As my research has continued, I have already found several new sources that I will add to my binder. I hope to make similar binders for all of my other family lines and will post updates here on my blog as my work progresses, along with other research tips.

Family History Binder – Part 5 – Timelines and Maps

This is the fifth post in my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part 1.

The first page of each ancestor section contains a timeline of the person’s life along with a map showing the locations they lived. I put this sheet inside the  Avery Clear Pocket Label Dividers for each individual.

I use Family Tree Maker (FTM) to keep track of my research. As I input each fact into FTM, they are automatically put in chronological order. I then opened a spreadsheet and with the two programs side-by-side I was able to quickly type the information to create a timeline.

timeline

I also used Family Tree Maker to create the map. After clicking on the “places” tab (#1 in image below), I then changed the dropdown “list by” menu on the left to “person” (#2) and then selected the individual from the list (#3).

places

On the right side, I then checked the boxes (#4) next to the facts that I wanted to include in my map. This will only work if your locations are in the correct format. Then I zoomed (#5) so that the route was centered on the screen. You can then use the snipping tool on your computer to copy the map on the screen, but I found that clicking the “print” button (#6) and then printing as a pdf resulted in a cleaner look.

map-2

One of my individuals moved a few times in Kansas and then moved to Arizona and lived in a few different locations there. To show more detail, I decided to split it into two separate maps and used both.

2-maps

Once I had my maps, all I did was copy and paste them to the bottom of my timeline spreadsheet.

On the back of my timeline, I inserted a family group sheet. This gives me a list of all of the children of the individual. I again used Family Tree Maker to create mine, but here are a couple other options as well:

Blank Family Group Record

Blank Family Group Record with LDS Ordinances

Click here to go on to the next section about how I arranged the documents and sources for each individual.

Family History Binder -Part 4 – Photos

This is the fourth post in my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part 1.

The first divider in my family history binder is labeled “maps, photos, etc”. I had originally planned on putting this section last in my binder, but I found that this was the section that people were most interested in looking at and I didn’t want to make them flip past the 200 pages of documents every time.

The maps I included were ones that didn’t necessarily pertain to a specific individual but would still be interesting to have. Here are a couple examples:

colden20188020web

1880 Colden, New York: founded by an ancestor and home to a few generations of his descendents

wincol4c

1878 Winfield, Kansas: home to 3 generations of ancestors

My photo section includes copies of every photo I have of the 15 ancestors in my pedigree chart (see Part 3). I purchased Ultra Pro 5X7 Photo Pages to organize them before discovering that it is actually fairly expensive to have 5x7s printed. I could have used 4×6 but decided instead to have 5x7s printed on glossy cardstock at Staples. I put 2 on each page and then cut them out with my Fiskars Paper Trimmer.

What I love about the Ultra Pro 5X7 Photo Pages is the extra slot next to each photo where you can put a caption.

In my captions, I also included the number of each individual (refer to Part 3 to see my numbering system). My reason for not placing the photos of the individual in their specific section of the binder is that I would need to make multiple copies of many family portraits (the top photo shown here would need to be printed for Carl, Ada, and Aaron’s sections).

I added “etc” to my divider tab so that I can add other types documents in the future if I find that they don’t fit anywhere else, like a family crest or DNA data.

Click here to go to part 5 of the Family History Binder series.

Family History Binder – Part 3 – Dividers

This is the third post in my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part 1.

My family history binder is broken into 16 sections. The dividers I used are the Avery Clear Pocket Label Dividers 8-Tab Set, so I used 2 sets of them.

The first page of my family history binder is my 4 generation pedigree chart. This also serves as an outline for my binder.

If your tree is on familysearch, all you need to do is go to the person page for the individual you want your chart to begin with, and then click on “pedigree” under the “print” heading on the right side.

familysearch-pedigree

If you want to fill out the chart yourself, here are a couple links to blank pedigree charts. It is very important that you use one that has numbers next to each individual.

Once you have your numbered 4 generation pedigree chart, label 15 of your dividers with those 15 individuals. Make sure to include the number on the tab as well.

The 16th tab I labeled “maps, photos, etc”. This is a place for things that don’t belong to a specific individual. I originally planned to put this section last in my binder, but I found that everyone was usually more interested in looking through the pictures than the documents so it made more sense to put them at the beginning. My next post is specifically about this section and can be found here.

Family History Binder – Part 2 – Materials

This is the second post in my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part 1.

 Here are the materials I used to create my family history binder:

Avery 3-Inch Extra-Wide Binder – If you don’t have much info about that family, you can use a smaller binder. It is very important that it is extra wide though, otherwise your tabs will stick out past the edge of the binder.

Avery Clear Pocket Label Dividers 8-Tab Set – These are basically thick page protectors with tabs on the side. They came with printable label stickers for the tabs but I found that those just peeled right off. Instead I printed my labels on cardstock and carefully cut and inserted them into the tabs. I got 2 sets of them so I would have a total of 16 dividers.

Avery Clear Sheet Protectors Box of 200 – The amount you’ll need depends on how much info you have for your book. I bought a pack of 200 and used about 180 of them.

Ultra Pro 5X7 Photo Pages – These pages each hold 4 5×7 photos and also have small slots next to each pocket to add captions. I used about 15 pages for this binder.

Paper and ink – I used normal printer paper and my inkjet printer. Make sure you change your printer settings to grayscale for all of your documents. If you are more organized, you could instead have it printed somewhere like Staples.

Click here to see the next section, Part 3 – Dividers

Family History Binder – Part 1 – Intro

For Christmas 2016, I put together a family history binder for my father-in-law. I began at the beginning of September with the intention of including both his paternal and maternal lines, but with a baby taking up most of my time I was only able to complete the Reynolds side. This book contains information about his father (my husband’s grandfather) and 3 generations back from there, so 15 direct ancestors total. Eventually I would love to be able to create them for all of our family lines.

When I finally finished it on December 23rd, I decided to post a few pictures of the final product in a Facebook group called “The Organized Genealogist”. Within a few hours my post had over 2000 likes and close to 500 comments consisting of hundreds of questions and requests for tutorials. So here is my tutorial that will hopefully answer all of your questions and help you create a similar book for your family.

It took me a while to get through everything since I could only work during my son’s naptimes, so I divided it up into multiple posts that can be found here:

Part 2 – Materials

Part 3 – Dividers

Part 4 – Photos

Part 5 – Timelines and Maps

Part 6 – Documents