Sunday, February 17, 2013

How Can I Help? And What Do I Get Out Of It?

I know what you're thinking.

"This woman is amazing! I'm eternally grateful for the knowledge she's sharing with the world!"

Ok, maybe not... but you may be thinking something like, "I'm not at all interested in doing research, but I hope she continues to work on it so that I can access the stories and pictures." If so, awesome! Cause that's what I love to do!

But there is a way you can help, without doing any research at all! There are two major things that a non-genealogist can do to help out the genealogist in the family (in our case ME):

1.) Share your family's information
-full names, birth date & place, marriage date & place, etc
-same info for your children, grandchildren, etc if applicable
-same info on your siblings if you're feeling generous : )
-same info on your parents or as far back as you know/have time for

HERE is an excel file of a family group sheet that can be edited or printed. I'm planning to customize my own later.

-ALSO (and this can be a fun & enlightening exercise even if you're not sharing) a mini-biography. Include milestones, occupation, church, education, hobbies, defining personality traits (especially inherited), accomplishments, even goals/bucket list items. This not only fills in genealogical gaps that interest family historians, but preserves a snapshot of who you are for future generations. It can be as short as a simple paragraph, or include several pages of personal and family memories. My Paw Paw, Robert McGrath, began one that he never finished, and it is one of my most precious things I have from him. Think of it as a cross between a resume, journal entry, and letter to your grandchildren... You're creating a family treasure!

*just a sidenote* Online genealogy sites hide the information of living people. Unless you give me permission, I will do the same. But even then only for private sharing. Never to post publicly.

2.) Family archive awareness
-You may not be aware the you are the curator of a family archive, but its likely that you are. Even if its just of you and your kids. Look through the things you listed in your bio, then think if you have physical evidence of those things: diploma, newspaper article about you winning the debate tournament or making the game-changing point(s) for your sports team in high school, occupational license, scrapbooks, baptism certificate, photograph of you skydiving, marriage license, etc. This is your personal archive and a family heirloom in progress. (I'm not suggesting that you need to be a pack rat. On the contrary, keeping only the most important things adds to the rarity/value of the collection.)
-If you're interested in this topic or inherited an archive that you don't know what to do with, check out Denise Levenick's book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records. I have this book and absolutely love it! Genealogy Gems podcast episode 144 has a 10% off coupon.
-Now that you're aware of what you have, are you willing to share? Are there vital records, old family letters, a family bible, or old black and white photographs that you would be willing to scan and make available? Digital photography, scanning, and file sharing make inter-family digital archives so super easy! You don't have to give up your precious family treasures, just make good digital representations and then share, share, share!!

I'll start the sharing.

Florence Ellen Hayes McGrath and her children
Anyone recognize this picture? Feel free to share in the comments below!

I have no pictures at all of either John or Florence Hayes McGrath's parents (Peter and Margaret Gamble McGrath and Ellwood and Isabella Park Hayes, respectively). Can anyone help me out? Have any old unidentified photos that might include these guys and gals?

Ok, so here comes the part where you get something out of it! Below you'll see a beautiful descendant chart linking William to me AND a 4-generation pedigree chart. If you follow the link above and fill out the family group sheet excel file and email it back to me, I will send you a PDF of one of these charts, but with you as the primary person! I can tweak the charts some if you want changes. You can print it at pretty much any size!

Now, you're thinking, "Wow!! What a deal! A FREE customized family tree that I can put in a scrapbook, display in my home, or give as a gift. This day couldn't get much better."

So... Get going! ; )

William and I thank you for helping us on our journey.


  1. Enjoying your blog and thanks so much for the shout out for the Genealogy Gems Podcast!

  2. Saw your blog listed at Geneabloggers, congratulations. If you ever need any help with blogger let me know. Blogging is very rewarding and you will soon meet new cousins. Also, providing resources for other is great.

    Take care,

    Moises Garza
    We Are Cousins - My personal blog about Northeastern Mexico and South Texas


    Mexican Genealogy - Blog where anyone with Mexican Ancestry can get started with their Family Genealogy and


    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I have trouble being consistent (as you can see from the fact that I'm just now replying), but I already feel like I've gained so much from the experience!

  3. What a clever way to start an information exchange and lure those bashful cousins to share information! Great idea! And thanks for the shout-out for my book and blog. I'm so glad to know that you're finding them helpful.

    1. Thank you Denise! I'm a huge fan of your blog and book and enjoyed listening to your interview with Lisa Louise Cooke a while back. I only hope I'm moving in the right direction to live up to the standards you set!