On Saturday I took Heidi with me to our stake’s family history jamboree. She did so well. I got her up early, and the conference was seven hours long- but she did great. We packed fairy books and coloring books and the Friend and the story iPod with headphones.

My mom used to take me with her to things like this. I would go to the Family History Center with her to do family history, and I even helped a little bit. She also took me to high school debates when she worked as a judge, and so I heard older kids talking about weapons of mass destruction and the American Psychological Society (he said it was abbreviated ASS). It was interesting, and no one else my age was learning that stuff.

Of course Heidi didn’t pick up everything there was to pick up, but she has started to become interested in family history. This morning I was doing some family history before breakfast and she sat next to me and watched and gave suggestions while I worked. We were looking at a marriage record and I didn’t know what a certain word said. It was the word between the bride and groom. When we were on another place on the page, Heidi saw that same word between other brides and grooms and went back to our family and said, “It’s and! I know from looking up there.” So the hamster is scurrying in her head, I guess.

Top Five Things I Learned:

  1. Ask questions to people who like answering questions. Court house workers are grumpy because they don’t get paid enough to deal with criminals and lawyers all day and they really don’t get paid enough to dig through dusty files. So try not to expect them to help you for free all day. Ask to speak to someone else if they aren’t able to help you. Or, use Facebook! There are community pages where you can post your question and several people will answer really quickly. Call the county’s genealogoical society and people will be happy to help you. Also take a look at the Photo Restoration Free Service on Facebook.

  2. If your family member’s name was butchered on a record, you won’t find it if you search with it spelled correctly. Try multiple searches with different combinations of information. And don’t search the entire website all at once. Navigate to a specific collection you think they might be in, and search that.

  3. Military research is a thing. If an ancestor was eligible to fight in a war, find his records. It helps to find his service number to better identify him. Also find his regiment, so you know what battles he fought in. I’ve focused my family history month on military records, and I have found a lot of success using Ancestry.com.

  4. I was reminded again about the [Family Search Wiki] (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page). A better way to do family history is to choose a family, find out what you can about them, then look in specific collections that pertain to them. Towns, counties, states, wars, and other special situations have their own records and you’ll find better, more organized results. The wiki can help you learn what kinds of records are out there. While we are talking about wikis, Wikipedia is also your friend to find out county, town, and regiment histories.

  5. I just discovered Record Seek, which is amazing. It is difficult to save a source from another website onto Family Search because you have to fill in so many complicated boxes. But with Record Seek, you just push a button and type in a few easy boxes and then a source in Family Search is created! They do all the citation formatting for you. I’m a fan.