We All Have a Family History Story to Tell

Here’s an inspiring example of a quick and easy way to tell your story. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you. 

Tell Your Family History Story with Animoto

Were you one of those kids sitting in history class bored to tears? Was the common teenage mantra  “what’s this got to do with me?” running through your brain? While the teacher’s lecture may have seemed disconnected, nothing could have been further from the truth. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you.

(Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting the Genealogy Gems blog!)

We all have a story to tell about our place in history and Animoto is an easy and powerful way to tell that family history story. I’ve been sharing my thoughts on creating family history stories on my Genealogy Gems Podcast and in videos on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. One of my listeners and viewers, Doug Shirton, has enthusiastically embraced the idea of video storytelling and recently shared his video with me.

Doug says “I have been wanting to do a video for a long time…Animoto was so easy.” Take a few minutes and get inspired by watching Doug’s video Genealogy Journey; Doug Shirton by clicking here.

family history story

I love the elements that Doug wove into his video. Not only did he include individual photographs of himself and his ancestors, but he also dragged and dropped into his Animoto timeline a full page family tree chart. Doug used the “Rustic” video style (one of my favorites) which is perfectly suited for his old-timey photos.

He also used music in an innovative way to tell his family history story. Rather than settling on just one song, he used portions of multiple tracks. This technique moves the viewer through the emotional levels he was striving to convey.

Adding Music to Your Family History Story

All great movies have a soundtrack! Animoto allows you to choose from their music library or add your own. Adding music to your family history video is very simple. To add additional songs, simply click the plus sign under the timeline. Animoto’s “edit song and pacing” feature makes it easy to get everything to fit perfectly.

we all have a story to tell

MUSIC SEARCH TIP: In addition to being able to upload your own songs, Animoto’s robust music library is brimming with songs that will help you hit just the right note. In addition to the filter boxes, don’t miss the handy search field at the very bottom of the list of filters. Enter a keyword to suit your mood and then scroll back up to the top of the page to pick from the results.

Choosing the Focus of Your Family History Story

Family trees are very far-reaching indeed. So many direct line and collateral lines, often spanning the globe. Doug was wise to select one family history story within his tree: his Ontario, Canada pioneer ancestors.

Focusing on a particular line of your family, or a single story makes creating your video more manageable for you and, frankly, more enjoyable to watch for your viewer. Keeping your video fairly short is also a good idea. Doug’s is just 4 minutes and I recommend going no longer than five. This is particularly important when you plan to share it on social media where attention-spans are short.

Family History Story Ideas

Here are a few ideas of stories you could explore:

  • The story of your most recent immigrant ancestor
  • A family history story that runs through your family tree, such as three generations of musicians
  • How one of your ancestral families survived a natural disaster like the Johnston Flood or the Great San Francisco Earthquake
  • The history of a first name that was used over multiple generations in your family

The idea here is to select a family history story that is short, thematic, and compelling to watch.

Need More Ideas?

Visit my How to Create Family History Videos page for more ideas and step-by-step instructions for videos with Animoto, There’s no better time than now to tell your story! We would love for you to share your family history story video on our Facebook page.

Here’s the book that will help you cultivate and record your story: Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Snagit Part 2 – Advanced Clipping Techniques

Even if you don’t use Snagit, or if you’re a newbie or still deciding whether you want to use it, this video will give you tangible examples of what it can do for you. If you are already using Snagit, this session will definitely take your skills to the next level.

snagit part 2

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Use coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off.  Thank you for using my link for purchasing your copy of Snagit. (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.) Don’t worry if it initially shows as Euros in the cart. When you enter your address including country, it will convert the currency appropriately.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode

In Elevenses with Lisa episode 66 Lisa Louise Cooke will discuss how to use Snagit:

  • for problem-solving, such as errors in your Ancestry family tree
  • capturing unique records
  • creating family history videos
  • PLUS: answers to your Snagit questions

You can also watch at the  Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. 

Episode 66 Show Notes 

Elevenses with Lisa episode 61 was a tutorial for beginners on how to use Snagit, and specifically how I use it for genealogy. I think it really resonated with genealogists because accurately and completely capturing the family information that we’re finding is absolutely essential for good source documentation. It’s one of the most important things we do as genealogists.

So, this video is sort of a “Part 2” session where we dig into more ways to use this amazing screen capture tool and I answer some of your most pressing questions.

Save 15% on Snagit with Code GENEALOGY15

Even if you use a different snipping tool, I’m going to give you tangible examples of how you can clip more effectively.

I received the following email from Anne W.: “I very much enjoyed your recent Elevenses with Lisa episode on how to use Snagit. I love the screen clipper on my Mac but this does so much more.  I used your link to purchase Snagit and I have found the tutorials very helpful as I figure out how to use it on my Mac with my files.  The first thing I did was go back to several newspaper pages I clipped recently in chunks and used Snagit to capture the whole page.  It worked like magic!  I would love to see another episode about the features of Snagit. Thank you for your regular and premium podcasts.  I listen to both regularly.  I have learned so much that I can apply to my genealogy research.”

Oh I love hearing how you’re using what we talk about here at Genealogy Gems! And yes, Snagit is fantastic for clipping those squirrely newspaper pages, and so much more!

Let’s get started –  I’m excited to show you 5 more problem-solving screen capture projects that you can do with Snagit, and then we’ll wrap up with answers to your Snagit questions.

 Using Snagit for Problem Solving

Bill in San Antonio, TX wrote me last week and told me about a problem that he was having with his online family tree at Ancestry  It turns out that some ancestors had duplicate profiles. He didn’t put them there. He asked Ancestry about it but was getting what he called “boiler plate” answers that didn’t solve the problem.

In situations where you’re trying to communicate a complicated problem to someone else, or you’re just trying to work through it yourself, it can really help to visualize the problem, and Snagit can help you do that very effectively.

Bill says: “I am seeing duplicate FACTS in profiles of siblings, parents, and children of a person and cannot figure out where they originate. I go to the profile which seems to be generating duplicate information, but it is not there.”

As I read through all the details that he wrote up about the problem, I found myself getting confused. I asked his for access to his family tree so I could take a look and he wrote back

Bill went on to say, “The duplications I see are all in my tree. I have reviewed each of them to be certain that the data is not coming from a profile, even though it appears in duplicated form elsewhere. 

Here is a screenshot of one such issue, showing two siblings with repeated data. Note that in each case, the birth location is slightly different, as in “Texas” vs. “Concho County, Texas”.

ancestry tree problem of duplication

Ancestry Profile –  problem of duplication

Bill had annotated his screen clipping to help me zero in on the problem. “(I used SnagIt for the screenshot — thanks for suggesting it!) I see this issue in other profiles, so your suggestions for solving it will be useful in other parts of the tree.”

Here are just three examples of ways you can highlight or call out an item in an image:

  • Lines
  • Highlighter
  • Shape (set to transparent center, red outline)

Styles

After you select and customization a style (such as a red outline shape) you will see that Snagit provides a “ghost” version of it in your list. It’s greyed out and ready to add. Simply click the plus sign to add the style to a theme. There are several themes available and you can create new themes.

Favorites

I like to make it even faster to find the styles I use the most by adding them to my Favorites. It’s super easy to do. Just click the star on the style. You’ll find your Favorites in the star menu at the top of the screen. 

As a side note, I  do think this is a bug in Ancestry’s system. I recommended that he do the following to zero in on the problem: 

  1. Search the tree – is the person duplicated in the pedigree view somewhere. Answer: No.
  2. Check the URLs – Are the tree and person numbers in the URLs the same for each “Fact”? Answer: Yes.

Again, you can use Snagit to help work through things like this. Here’s how to see if you’re indeed looking at the same person: Right-click on each ancestor profile to open it in a new tab so you can compare and capture them. In this case it was Willie (the ancestor) and James and the duplicate of James. Each will have a URL address in your browser bar that will end in person/420009496764/facts. The number in red is the unique number for that person.

Had the tree number or person numbers been different, that would be the likely source of the problem. However, in Bill’s case, they are the same, so that’s more evidence that it’s a bug in Ancestry’s displaying of the information. 

After screen capturing each profile they can be combined into one step-by-step document that can then be shared.

How to Combine Captured Images with Snagit

  1. Click on the first image in the tray at the bottom of the page.
  2. Hold down your shift key and click the last image. (If you need to pick from the tray, hold down the Control key on your keyboard and click each desired image.)
  3. Right-click on the selected images and click Combine in Template – or – at the top of the screen click Create and select Image from Template – or – Press Control + Alt + Con your keyboard.
  1. Select the desired page layout. Custom Steps or Steps Portrait.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Give your document a title, captions, etc.
  4. Click the Combine button.
  5. Remove steps if desired, add annotations, etc. as desired.
  6. The combined image can then be saved to your computer and shared such as by email.

My guess is that at some point Bill viewed someone else’s tree or a hint that included this conflicting information, or he may have attached a record that had conflicting information, or rejected information from a record. In any case, some sort of action may have gotten “stuck” in the virtual stratosphere. The system has hung on to something it should not have. Bill says he’s finding more instances of this happening in the same tree, so it definitely needs to be addressed. It would be a shame to keep adding to the tree only to have that glitch continue to duplicate itself in other profiles. 

I suggested looking through the records he has attached to James Kalloup Sparks to see if any of the attached records mention Concho, TX as his birthplace. I doubt there is one, but if there is, it is likely somehow linked to the problem.

It’s very odd that on Willie’s profile it shows James Kalloup Sparks’ birthplace as Concho in the duplication, but when you click that profile it doesn’t say Concho. It’s must surely be an Ancestry glitch.

If it were me, I would try downloading your tree and then creating a second tree by uploading it and seeing if the error still occurs. Here’s the Ancestry Help page

Also, if by chance Bill was syncing his Ancestry online tree with genealogy software on his computer, there’s a possibility that could cause the problem. 

Annotations

Questions from Kelly: “Hi Lisa!, I would LOVE for you to create a very simple tutorial for adding in arrows and any text in “bubbles or boxes”. I have tried to do this and am missing something – I just LOVE Snagit but I am so technically challenged and would love to not become so annoyed when I am missing the simplest of steps.”

The most important thing to remember as you use annotations like text bubbles, shapes and text is you must select what you are working on. The font, color, sizing and other formatting features can be applied to every kind of annotation. You must select the item before applying the formatting.

If you’re ever confused about what “mode” you’re in, look at the top of the screen and note which tab is selected. In the example below, we are in “Shape” mode.

And if you try and try to make a change to an annotation and nothing seems to happen, you probably haven’t selected it. Click on the item to select it before attempting to make any changes.

If you want to move a item such as a shape or a selection of text, again you will need to click it to select it. You should see the “Move” selector handle that looks like this:

If you don’t or you’re having trouble, click “Move” in the toolbar at the top of the screen and then click on the item.

Most of the time if working with annotations or formatting them is presenting a challenge, it’s because the item hasn’t been properly selected before you begin.

Using Snagit to Capture Unique Sources

Many of the most popular genealogy records websites offer a hinting feature that suggests records to you based on the information in your online family tree. Many of those “records” are quite unique. I recently came across a Photo Hint at Ancestry that was a screen capture of a story in a public Facebook group of the descendants of a particular couple. It was interesting information but I didn’t really want everything that was captured in the image. I used Snagit to capture and then edit the image the way I wanted it so I could then save it to my computer. This included erasing or removing unwanted areas. The following Snagit features can help you accomplish this easily:

  • Select and delete
  • Shapes recolored to match the background
  • The Eraser tool under the More menu in the toolbar

 Answers to Your Questions about Snagit

Answers to your questions from episode 61 which was my beginning tutorial on Snagit. If you haven’t used it before stick with us in this video to see all the cool things it can do and then go back and watch that episode which is perfect for beginners.

Pat M.: ​Will OCR work for non-English newspapers?
Answer: Snagit doesn’t translate, but the OCR will Grab non-English text. Learn more here. You can then copy and paste it into Google Translate.

SHB:​ Don’t see Evernote on the list, how easy is it to save to EN?
Answer: If you have Evernote installed on your computer you should see it in the Share list. You can also download Evernote to add it as a Share destination. In fact, there are loads of programs you can download.

Cyndy B.: ​Are all these features in older versions?
Answer: No, like all software, each version introduces additional features.

SHB: Curious about printing… if you print a long article, will it print out readable?
Answer: Yes! You can set the resolution. And use Print Preview to make adjustments so it prints exactly the way you want it.

CA Sanders​: if I bring a photo into Snagit and work with it will save IN Snagit, not in my original placement…so I would have to “save” or “move” to the folder it was in to begin with my changes.
Answer: After making your edits, use File > Save As to save it in the desired format to the desired location on your computer hard drive. You can also save it to replace the original if that’s your goal.

B Latham​: How do we keep the SnagIt program up to date? It sounds as if other viewers here are saying they purchased the program a few years ago and may be outdated. Isn’t there a way to keep it up to date?
Answer:  Yes, you can buy a maintenance plant that will include future updates at a reduced fee. Use our link and discount code, and the option will be available at checkout.

Barbara C.​: For 2 different laptops, would we need to purchase Snagit twice?
Answer: TechSmith software is licensed per user, so how many computers can I install it on?
Each user may install and use one copy of the software product on up to two computers for their sole use, provided only one computer is in use at any given time. This includes home and work, or a laptop and desktop.

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Here’s our link for purchasing your copy of Snagit (screen clipping tool) Thank you for using our link.  Use coupon code: GENE15 (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.)

Resources

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Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This Post

confused by AncestryDNA matchesOpening your AncestryDNA account to find a New Ancestor Discovery can be a bit like the experience my nine-year old had at the beach today. He noticed something unusual in the sand on his way down to the beach and excitedly used his hands to unearth the treasure. However, it turned out to be a Captain Hook figurine long lost by another (likely much younger) beach-goer. His initial excitement quickly dissipated. He was disappointed as he had clearly found something he did not need or want.

I have heard from many of you that are confused and disappointed with Ancestry’s attempts to merge your genetics and your genealogy. Keep in mind that AncestryDNA matches are only using your genetics. Your DNA Circles and your New Ancestor Discoveries incorporate your linked tree into your genetic test results.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxLisa recently forwarded me a comment from Kate that perfectly illustrates the confusion I’m talking about. “We had DNA done thru Ancestry,” she writes. “The results [have] made me seriously question what they are showing me. I believe they are using my tree to show me results that are more vague than they are revealing. The latest example they show is a person not related by blood. This family is related by name only (my uncle’s spouse).

“My results from Ancestry show that they use my tree to make matches. Just checked the web page for DNA results. They show numerous matches….Three or 4 contacted me because they were convinced they were related by blood when they may have had a remote tree connection. They contacted me because the DNA results showed they were a 3rd or 4th
cousin, when in fact they would only be a 3rd or 4th cousin in my tree.”

I can see why she’s confused. First, let’s review what an AncestryDNA New Ancestor Discovery (NAD) actually IS.  NAD’s are based on the DNA Circle idea created by Ancestry. Remember that a DNA circle is when Ancestry can identify a shared genetic AND genealogical connection between three or more people. Using various standards and measures, they name an ancestor as your connection. This is the ancestor I affectionately call our Party Host. This is the ancestor who passed his or her DNA down to all of their descendants, like tickets inviting them to this party in the future. So, everyone who holds a ticket, AND who has honored that party host ancestor by placing their name in their pedigree chart, is listed as a guest in the form of a DNA circle connection. (Click here to read a blog post about this concept.)

The New Ancestor Discoveries just take that one step further.  The NAD is an attempt to find ticket holders who have not yet taken that extra step and added that important Party Host ancestor to their family tree. The NAD is like a nudge, inviting us to double check our family tree to see if this particular ancestor might need to be added. It is important to remember that a NAD comes only after a DNA circle has already been formed, and there could have been errors in that formation. So the very first thing you need to do with a NAD is to correspond with circle members and double check that the Party Host of the circle, their common ancestor, is correct. Then we can move on to evaluating the NAD.

Ancestry admits on its help pages that there are three reasons why you might get an NAD, and only one is “right” in the way you and I might view it.

NADhelpFigure1The “right” answer comes when the DNA circle was drawn correctly, the Party Host properly identified, and your DNA connection is strong to two or more members of the circle. You are then able to verify through traditional genealogical methods that you are an actual descendant of the Party Host, holding that coveted ticket, shown in blue in this modified image from the AncestryDNA help page.

There are two other alternatives.

NADhelpFigure2First, you are related to the NAD Party Host (the New Ancestor that was discovered) via marriage. In this second example from Ancestry’s help page, we see that your ancestor was married twice. The members of the DNA circle are descendants of her other marriage. Remember, that you do not share DNA with every member of the DNA circle. In this case, you share the purple DNA with a few members of the circle. But there are other members that share the blue. So the super computers at Ancestry first put all the blues together in a circle with the Party Host at the top. Then you come along with purple DNA that matches a few in the circle and their supercomputer erroneously assumes that you too must have been invited to this “blue” party, but in fact, the blue/purple members of the circle are double booked.  They have been invited to both the blue and the purple party.

How can you fix this?  If you can identify your purple Party Host, then you can add that person to your tree, and the trees of your DNA matches and likely then a new DNA Circle will form with the purple Party Host at its head, and the blue NAD will disappear.

NADhelpFigure3BasicThe other situation that many of you are seeing, especially those of you with ancestry from small communities, is demonstrated in Figure 3 of the Ancestry Help page, reproduced here.  As you can see, this one is much more complicated.  (In fact, the colors I added aren’t even quite accurate, as not all descendants of the blue NAD have the same blue, but rather different shades of blue depending on the segment they received- but this is a story for another post!)

The short of it is, the members of the previously established DNA circle share one single ancestor with each other, but they share multiple separate and distinct ancestors with you. Looking at this chart it seems very clear, but remember, in the database we only see you and the people you match.  We cannot tell from the DNA shared which piece came from which ancestor. So, it is very important to check and double check the pedigrees of those in the circle to identify additional shared lines.

The short of it is, these NAD’s are following the guilt by association rule, but in fact, you could be innocent.  Just keep in mind the simple principle that you DO share a common ancestor with those members of the circle that you share DNA with.  You do NOT necessarily share common ancestry with those in the circle that you do not share DNA with.

The key is to take these NAD’s for what they really are: research suggestions.  Keep your expectations low, and then you will be pleasantly surprised when you are able to verify a connection.

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesReady to learn more about DNA testing for family history? Click here to watch two video interviews in which Lisa and I chat about genetic genealogy.

My DNA quick reference guides can get you started on your own DNA research, or help you unpuzzle and maximize results you don’t fully understand. Click here to see all six guides: purchase them individually or as value-priced bundles.

 

Afghanistan and Iraq Casualty Databases Now at Fold3

white_ribbon_candle_flicker_300_clr_1014There’s a saying that “past is present,” and nowhere is that truth more apparent than family history. Sometimes we get very stark reminders that the same things that affected our ancestors–war, poverty, conflict and the like–affect us today.

Fold 3 has added new databases with “names and related personal and service information for over six thousand men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.”  These databases are:

  • Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Casualties “Operation Enduring Freedom” (OEF) is the operational codename given by the United States government to the War in Afghanistan which began in 2001 and is currently an ongoing conflict.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Casualties “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (OIF) is the operational codename given by the United States government to the conflict in Iraq from 2003-2010.
  • Operation New Dawn (OND) Casualties “Operation New Dawn” (OND) is the operational codename given by the United States government for U.S. involvement in Iraq after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended on August 31, 2010.

According to the press report, “Every casualty links to a Memorial Page with a summary and personal details including full name, branch of service, pay grade and rank, unit, casualty location, date of death, age, residence, and more. In addition to searching for a name, you can also search on other details such as unit number, rank, date of death, or city of residence.”

These databases aren’t just posted here for distant descendants to come learn about their fallen relatives, but for us today to memorialize their lives. Anyone who creates a free Basic Fold3 registration can add to a Memorial Page by clicking the “Add” or “Edit” buttons within any of the sections: Pictures & Records, Personal Details, and Stories. On the final “About” page, you can connect to other pages on Fold3 and describe your relationship to the service member. You can also share these memorial pages with others by email, via a website link, or on Twitter, Facebook, and dozens of other social networking sites.

If you lost someone who is mentioned in these data-sets, here’s an opportunity to take some time to honor them online by adding to their Memorial page.

Write Your Family History: A Printed Book or Digital Archive?

print v digital archive write your family historyIt’s time (maybe past time!) to write your family history. Should you write a book or throw everything into a digital archive?

Recently Joyce attended a genealogy conference I taught that was sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System. She wrote to us that she went home with a newly-resolved plan for how to write her family history:

“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you speak. I learned a lot also. There was a question asked at the conference that I had also thought a lot about: how to leave your legacy to your family. With technology changing every day, I have decided that the old-fashioned way is probably the best. Technology will not change the fact that we can sit down to a paper book. So I will keep my CDs, DVDs, and flash drives; however, I will print out books for my family to have, whether they have access to the computer or not.

 

A Combination Approach

I certainly agree that paper and books are certainly a solution for genealogical information being accessible for generations to come. I like a combination approach. Since paper can deteriorate and become damaged like anything else, having a cloud back up service (I use Backblaze) and digital items like flash drives is also a good plan.

Part of leaving a legacy also involves finding ways to share that help the next generations (particularly those not interested in research) understand the value of the family tree. That’s where a Google Earth “family history tour” or other innovative sharing comes into play. If you can click click, copy, and paste, you can create an exciting multi-media story that looks like a video game that will captivate the next generation!  (Learn how to create a Google Earth family history tour in my 2-volume Google Earth for Genealogy CD). The combination of sharing the info in fascinating ways and preserving the info in reliable multiple formats is a comprehensive strategy for the future!

Resources

How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-Free Life

Recommended File Formats for Long-Term Digital Preservation

Why I Use and Recommend Backblaze Cloud-based Computer Backup Service

email thisReady to make your own plan to write your family history and preserve it digitally? Share your resolve–along with this post–with someone else! Use the handy icons at the top of the page to share on Facebook, Pinterest or your favorite social media site, or email the link to this article to a friend. Thanks!

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