Use Facebook for Family History: Gather Memories

Here’s an innovative way to use Facebook for family history. It comes from my downloadable video class, Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects.facebook family history crowdsource memories

Are you using Facebook to gather family history from your relatives? You can! It’s a version of “crowd-sourcing,” or using the internet to ask lots of people at a time for help. Here are two specific examples:

riser reunionI posted this first photo in my husband’s family reunion Facebook page, after being given a ton of photos from past reunions. I couldn’t identify anyone in the picture and I couldn’t tell what was happening, but it looked like something special. After I posted it, one person commented, “Boy that’s an old photo of me”–which identified someone in the picture! Then an aunt commented that this was a bridal shower held during the annual family reunion. Yay! The mystery photo was captioned.

grandpa on facebook (1)In this second example, I asked for more than just a photo caption. I posted a yearbook photo of my grandfather and two newspaper articles about him in our family Facebook group. In the accompanying post I asked, “Does anyone know anything about his time in the military? All I know is his entry/release dates, that he was in the Navy and a radar tech.” I tagged several close relatives so they would see it. (This was in our closed Facebook group. You can tag people by typing the @ sign and then their names in the post or in a comment below it.)

The response was fantastic. My aunt said grandpa served on a ship in the Atlantic and mentioned a rank she thinks he achieved. My uncle said he had some related papers and would send them to me (yay!). Even better, some younger family members commented how much a sibling or son looked like grandpa at that age. A cousin snagged what I’d posted for her daughter’s family history project. So even those younger relatives who couldn’t tell me about grandpa could benefit from the online conversation.

BONUS TIP: I get the best response when I post an image or video along with my questions. Pictures and videos will catch people’s interest, jog their memories and sometimes prompt additional comments. This is a good way to remind people of your interest in the family stories and to share what you already have.

This story collecting tip came from my video class: Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects.

Lost WWII Medals Returned 15 Years After Stolen

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Fifteen years after a Purple Heart and other lost WWII medals disappeared during a robbery, they have been returned to the family from whom they were stolen.

The medals belonged to James Dillion Adkison, a Lubbock, TX soldier killed at Pearl Harbor in 1943. A niece of James’ told a reporter that “Uncle JD’s” death left a huge hole in the family. Her mother grieved the loss of her brother for years, particularly on the Pearl Harbor bombing anniversary and Memorial Day.

The entire town and police department are credited in this news article for helping to reunite the medals with JD’s family.

heroWe love stories like these! They shine the spotlight on the often-invisible efforts of family historians, antique collectors, and others who try to return lost items to their families. You can click here to read about a WWII dog tag that was returned to a family after many years. That post also tells how you can help a blogger who dedicates efforts to returning lost dog tags to families. It’s inspiring!

 

BillionGraves Challenge for June: Win a FitBit!

BillionGraves June challengeAfter a long winter in the U.S., it’s finally warming up! Just last week I did my first BillionGraves cemetery field trip of the season. So I’m pleased to see that they’re offering a BillionGraves challenge to those who take pictures or index:

“This month we are giving away Fitbit’s 5 cutting edge fitness monitoring devices to the top 5 photographers AND transcribers! Read the details on our blog HERE.

“It can’t be any better than doing your favorite thing- taking pictures of headstones and transcribing them, AND winning prizes! So take advantage of the rising temperatures to capture some headstone images at your local cemetery or get your transcribing game on.”

We’ve blogged about BillionGraves before: it’s a leading site for capturing cemetery headstones around the world. Their free app (for iPhone and Android) makes it easy to find a cemetery near you (wherever you are) that needs imaging; use your smart phone to take geo-tagged tombstone photos; transcribe any images you care to; and upload them to their site. (I always upload when I return home so my phone will upload images using my home’s wi-fi instead of charging me data.) But you can also participate in the challenge by indexing records already on their site, if cemetery visits aren’t your thing.

Got kids who are out of school and looking for something to do? Take them with you to image headstones. My kids don’t necessarily prefer this to going to the pool, but they’re game sometimes, especially if a stop at an ice cream stand is part of the deal. Here’s Lisa Louise Cooke’s interview with BillionGraves staffer and tips for getting started:

What I Learned about Work from My Family

Labor Day work ethic celebrate ancestors

Back in 2013 a YouTube video went viral about the importance of hard word and making your own luck, values I am fortunate that my ancestors passed on to me. The speech came from an unlikely source: a young Hollywood actor. In the video, Ashton Kutcher stands in front of a bunch of teenagers at the Teen Choice Awards talking about the importance of hard work:

“When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground,” Kutcher said.

“And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

As I said, this video went wildly viral (which is how I came across it) and it got me to thinking about my own work ethic. The credit for it sits squarely on my dad’s shoulders, and also my grandparents shoulders, and their grandparents shoulders.Dad and Grandpa

My dad was the first in his family to get a college degree. (image above: Dad and my proud Grandpa at Dad’s Graduation) He went to school and studied all day and worked in the local hospital morgue at night! 

I remember endless nights as a kid creeping up behind him as he sat in at the makeshift office in my parent’s master bedroom, puffing on a pipe and studying for his CPA. We didn’t have much in common to talk about, but it was what I saw in action that was communicating to me. Dad went on to become a successful businessman in a large company, and later created several vibrant businesses.

Getting the Message

I guess it was that non-verbal communication between father and daughter that inspired me as a kid to pull weeds, babysit and yes even shingle the side of the garage to make a few bucks. 

And I vividly remember taking a temporary job caring for a 100 old year woman for a few weeks one summer. She was testy at first as she felt generally ignored, but warmed up to her inquisitive caregiver until she was soon sharing stories of traveling as a little girl in a covered wagon. She’d found her audience and I was entranced.

At 15 I lied about my age so I could get a job at pizza place washing dishes. Within two days they promoted me to cook, a position a girl had never held in that restaurant.

Later I went on to my teenage dream job – sales clerk at the record store at the mall. (Sheer persistence helped me beat out all the other teens for that one!)

And then, on to a job at Radio Shack (this time the first female to be hired in the state to the best of my knowledge) as the TRS-80 computer hit the shelves.

I started my professional career working for free at a travel agency to get a little resume cred as I finished travel agent school, and was the first to land a job a week before graduation. I went on to working in corporate America where I received invaluable career development.

grandkids help2

Signing books with my grandsons.

An Entrepreneur at Heart

But like my dad, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve created a couple of businesses and positions for myself over the years, and find myself now with Genealogy Gems living my dream and drawing from all of my past experiences.

There have been many challenges along the way – no one ever said work was easy. In fact, my mom’s favorite saying that was drilled in to us as kids was “life isn’t fair – get over it!” She was absolutely right, and she removed the obstacle of fretting over fairness from my life, so I could just get on with working hard and creating my own dreams. I was one lucky kid!

Now whenever a challenge arises, my instinct is to say to myself: I can’t wait to find out what future opportunity this dilemma is training me for!” Almost without exception, I can look back over my past work experiences and see how they are helping me today. Some of the very worst have turned out to be blessings.

(Update: I talk more about this and my career in an interview I did on the Genealogy Professional Podcast Episode 29.)

The Good News About Your Family Tree

Even if the most recent generations that came before you let you down or hurt you, family history offers you centuries to pull new and positive values from.

Your ancestors were survivors and yep, that’s why you’re here! You may have parents or grandparents who went astray, but you have countless ancestors to find, and learn from.

Best of all, you get to pick which values you wish to embrace, and which will fall by the wayside.

Let us pass on what our ancestors taught us so our kids and grand kids can enjoy the opportunities, growth, reward and freedom that comes from good old hard work.

Lucky Opportunities

So what “lucky” opportunities have you had and created?

On this Labor Day I hope you’ll join me in the comments below and share what you learned about work from your previous generations.

Why not share this post with someone YOU know who works hard? Let them know how much you admire them.

www.geneaogygems.com

 

Genealogy Alert: 1921 Canadian Census Images Now Online

The much-anticipated (but little-publicized) 1921 Canadian census is now online and available for browsing at Ancestry.ca. They anticipate releasing an index later this year.

On June 29, I blogged in detail about the 1921 census. Check out that post for an image from the census, the questions it included and the significance of the 1921 census as it captured a new generation of immigrants to Canada.

When you click on the first link above, you’ll see that Ancestry.ca’s collection of Canadian census data goes back to 1851. Check out my post above to learn about online data back to 1825. It’s getting easier all the time to find your Canadian ancestors online!

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