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Our Stories, Our Families – the November Collaboratory

November 2nd, 2015

Short-stories-trail-012When people ask why I find genealogy so interesting, I’m always a bit surprised. I love family history because it is made up of the stories of people’s lives – and what could be more fascinating? Yes, there is a component of the research that consists of collecting the somewhat dusty facts of when someone was born and when they died and how many children they had. However, any genealogist worth his or her family tree knows that’s only the beginning. The really intriguing part begins when you start to understand the story of your ancestors’ lives.

To that end November in the Curtis Collaboratory will celebrate the stories of our lives and the method by which we compile and collect those stories through genealogy research. The Collaboratory will explore some of the ways our ancestors told their stories and how we can discover them with the goal of “growing” our family trees.

There will be hand-outs about how to get started in genealogy, doing family history interviews, and writing journals.  Plus, volunteer Lynne Holland, the Curtis “Genealogy Guru” will spend the first three Friday mornings of November in the Collaboratory to help you get started in your genealogy or to help you break through your genealogy “brick wall”.

Finally, there is information in the Collaboratory about the new StoryCorps “app” to help you do your own family history interview.  StoryCorps’ (frequently heard on National Public Radio) mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives. Their app will help two people walk through a life story “interview”, recording the answers along the way. That interview can be saved and can also be uploaded to the Library of Congress where it will be kept forever as part of “the archive of the wisdom of generations”.

Come visit the Collaboratory in November and explore!

The good news and the bad news!

October 23rd, 2015

family-treeI love finding free genealogy resources. It feels a bit like discovering buried treasure. And, I enjoy sharing those discoveries with other genealogists. Then I feel like I’m spreading around the wealth!

Family Tree Magazine is always a good resource for genealogy tips, research ideas, new information, and free resources. This week I also discovered that Family Tree Magazine has another website called Family Tree University (which can be found at The good news is that the University site has lots and lots of intriguing sounding classes and webinars that you can take like “Create Your Family Website” and “Google for Genealogy”. The bad news is that these are fee-based services and they are not inexpensive.

However, the site also has two valuable resources that are free. For beginning genealogists check out the “Family Tree Firsts” blog.  The author is Brian Parotto of Hampshire, Ill., a budding genealogist, who is working his way through the Family Tree University curriculum and reporting on the success of his research. It is a fun, interesting blog and there are lots of “lessons learned” for the beginner.

The second resource is a “Genealogy Tips” page. Each entry is a brief article addressing a specific genealogy issue and providing suggestions about how to address that issue. The tips are short, common-sense answers to about topics familiar to all genealogists. The page is definitely worth reading and checking on a regular basis.

So, that’s it for this week. Happy research and enjoy the weekend!

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