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Why ebay is my new best friend

February 9, 2012

and other things I learned at Rootstech….

I’m still trying to work through the avalanche of information (and some inspiration) I got last week.  And I’m still exhausted!  One thing I know for sure:  Don’t go to a conference all day and then come home and try to catch up on all the classes you didn’t go to because you knew they were being streamed live then archived at the Rootstech website.  There just aren’t that many hours in the day, and you’ve got to sleep sometime!

So I’ve still got classes to watch online.  There was just no way to go to every class I wanted with nearly thirteen choices every hour.    Here are some of the highlights of what I got out of Rootstech:

  • Collaboration is essential.  Even as our family tree doubles in number every generation back, more and more people are doing family history and as we get back into the 19th-century and further, our ancestors will overlap with someone else’s.  So the more we can share, the better it will be for everyone.
  • But should I or should I not publish my family tree on the internet?  It’s really messy and I’ve been tearing the house apart (which is also really messy) looking for my book about doing proper citation of sources, as I’m fairly remiss about adding them in appropriately.  Must do better…(Evidence, I’d really love to know where you are right now!)
  • Can I say how great it was to be surrounded by people as passionate about family history as I am?  I just wish I weren’t so shy and had taken the opportunity to talk to more people.
  • I finally found a genealogy program for my MacBook that I like so I won’t have to resort to using my decade-old PC laptop or the desktop (which we rarely use anymore as it is making really weird noises lately) to access my genealogy files anymore.
  • Dropbox is a way cool option for storing documents and photos, research, etc. online so you can access them anywhere, not to mention share them with far-flung cousins.  Am I the last person to know this?
  • Genealogical uses for QR codes–I didn’t know you could generate your own QR codes, but how great is it that you could affix one to a headstone so whoever comes along next could scan it to get a history of that person.
  • While some of the class descriptions went way over my head, I really enjoyed listening to Josh Coates give the Friday morning keynote about “Exabytes, Social Clouds, and other Monstrosities.”  (It’s available on right now.)  I may need to rewatch it to get it all, but I was amazed at how much of it I actually understood.  Plus he was really funny.
  • FamilySearch needs more indexers, so we have decided to get back into it.  In fact, A has fallen in love with indexing.  We were going to do indexing on Sunday afternoons, but so far A has done a little bit every day this week.  As Elder Bednar remarked in his last conference talk, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies.”  I believe it!   (And if you haven’t read his talk yet, you should.  It is fabulous.  I’ve been studying it for a week now and there is so much to glean.)
  • Speaking of indexing, the 1940 census will be released in April and indexing it is a major goal of FamilySearch.  You can learn more and sign up here:
  • I need to more regularly update the family history blog I have for the Goodwins in Maine.  I started it over four years ago after we first went to Maine and I’ve put up maybe 8 of the 50+ cemetery photos we took.  So many people searching for that particular family online have found their way to my blog though so I need to be a little more present there.  I have made some connections with cousins, and we even met a few of them in Maine last fall so that’s partially behind my impetus to get going again.  Once a week updates?  I think that’s a goal that’s doable.
  • Also in the spirit of collaboration, I’ve been inspired to start a family history blog for one line of DH’s family that we have researched heavily.  (You know, because I have so much spare time on my hands.  I’ll repeat that I felt inspired…)  I wish that I had started it 10 years ago so I’d have a record of all the research paths we’ve taken and all the fun discoveries that we have had.  But, better late than never, right?  A has been bugging me to teach him how to do more genealogy, so I told DH it can be a family effort and we can have the boys learn to upload photos and eventually help with the research and writing.  If I think on it a bit more, I’m sure I could come up with even more ways to incorporate it into our homeschool efforts.  The blog is up, but I won’t post a link until there’s some content.  You know what they say, you can start a blog and have it up in 5 minutes!  Which is true–then you can spend 2 hours playing around with themes and colors and sidebar content and never actually get around to writing a post.  Ahem…

So, a few of you had some questions about A’s chart here:

I actually had that printed at Rootstech., a local company, was offering free prints of a genealogy fan chart for conference goers so of course I couldn’t resist.  I upgraded ours to color as it was more exciting than black and white.  I should probably laminate it though as it’s on the cheap paper.  Still, it was a great deal.

You can make your own fanchart by going to or  It pulls your family tree from and creates a pdf file that you could then take to any print shop for something larger than 8 1/2 x 11.  (Ours is 24 x 32.)  I hacked into A’s FamilySearch account (is it hacking if I’m the one that set it up in the first place?)  so I could have DH’s ancestors on it too rather than just mine.

I wish I could say that I’d done all that research for 9 generations, but I haven’t.  I’m descended from many Mormon pioneers and, well, that would explain the right hand side of the chart.  The left hand side has many more blanks so DH’s line is where we’ve been concentrating most of our efforts.  The boys love to look at it though and read all the names.  It’s really drawn them in to what we do with family history.

And that brings me to ebay.  The very last class I went to was by Lisa Louise Cooke of and she had so many ideas for projects and ways to visually display your family history.  I won’t rehash them all here, but one thing that stuck out to me was to search ebay for items relevant to your family history like businesses that employed your ancestors.  You can then save your search and anytime someone lists an item that’s pertinent, you’ll get an email.

So I came home from Rootstech all fired up and decided to look on ebay.  I typed in the dry goods business that DH’s 3rd-great-grandfather and his sons ran in Halifax in the 1800s.  Lo and behold, there was an advertisement for the business with their logo on an envelope, postmarked 1904 on sale for $7.50.

So of course I had to buy it.  DH thinks that one artifact right there was worth me going to Rootstech.  (A was excited about the stamp.  I had to tell him that no, he could not have it for his stamp collection!)  I also tracked down some photos of the original business which has since been demolished, and some time last year, I was alerted to and was able to win an auction for a bill of sale from the same company dated 1849 for some cloth and dye that was signed by the 3rd-great-grandfather himself.  Now if I could only track down a picture of him, I could have a really fascinating display for our wall.

That would give us another connection to our past.  The boys love to look at photos and things that I have from our family history and I feel that they are getting a sense of who they are and where they come from.  That’s really why we do this.  We’re binding the generations.  Our hearts are turning as we take opportunity to participate in this great work.

And while I’m at it, I’ll toss in a few of my favorite quotes.

Pres. Henry B. Eyring:

“You are not just gathering names.  Those you never met in life will become friends you love.  Your heart will be bound to theirs forever.”

Elder John A. Widtsoe:

“I have the feeling….that those who give themselves with all their might and main to this work receive help from the other side, and not merely in gathering genealogies.  Whoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life….Help comes to us from the other side as we give help to those who have passed beyond the veil.”

And as Elder Bednar says, “It is our duty and our great blessing.”  (emphasis mine.)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Tamaran permalink
    February 9, 2012 8:28 am

    Thanks for posting!!

  2. February 9, 2012 8:41 am

    I loved this post for many reasons.
    I especially loved the envelope. How amazingly awesome is that?!
    I also love the quotes at the end.
    Well done, and yes, you must be exhausted… but it’s a good exhaustion 🙂

  3. February 9, 2012 9:13 am

    I was waiting to see how ebay meshed with family history and WoW! What a great idea. Something I never would have thought of! Thanks for sharing.

    • cellista permalink*
      February 9, 2012 9:33 am

      It is a great idea! Now I’m trying to come up with all the different businesses our ancestors were involved with.

  4. Michelle permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:18 pm

    You’re inspiring me! I feel like you though–no spare time–but I really want to do this, so I need to figure out how to make more time. I know I can do it, I think I just need to get more organized and manage my time better….

  5. February 9, 2012 9:53 pm

    My mom went to Root Tech too! She LOVED it!

    Thanks for telling us about the genealogy charts. I know what to get my in-laws for their birthdays now!

  6. February 26, 2012 9:58 am

    Fantastic post- now I have to digest it all- I may be printing this off and going through it piece by piece. I did the fan chart and loved it at Christmas. Thanks

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