The Treemily Walkthrough: Meet Our Enhanced Family Tree Builder

Treemily Family Tree Demo

The Treeamily team aims to make it easier for its community members to create diverse visualizations of their family trees and let them enjoy the process to the fullest. After months of developing and testing the beta version with our users, we are happy to introduce our first major update. In this article, we will guide you through the new features and enhanced functionality of the Treemily family tree online builder.

What’s New?

Besides the enhanced User Experience-focused layout and redesign, we’ve introduced a richer and cleaner interface for our family tree online builder. Our major goal was to provide the Treemily community with seamless user experience and let our users create family history visualizations easier and faster than ever. These are the key updates you’ll get with the new builder:

Demo Tour for New and Existing Users

Both new and existing users can now try out our family tree builder for free. If you already have a Treemily account, simply click on the Treemily Demo button on the top bar of your profile. If you are a new user, try our demo for free now. New accounts will be automatically assigned to the Treemily Basic plan. Our demo is a fully-featured interactive family tree builder that allows you to design your own stunning family visualizations in only a few steps. As soon as you are finished with the creation process, you can proceed to the next step and order one of the available products. Choose a poster or a framed picture to place your family tree at home or share a digital version with your friends and relatives on Facebook.

Treemily Demo

New designs

When generating a descendants tree from a family chart, users can now pick out of three types of design including a newly introduced Traditional Photo Tree template.

Suggested sizes

As soon as your ancestor or descendant tree is ready, you can pick one of the three types of products: posters, framed, and digital versions. When choosing any of the following options, the builder will offer the most preferred sizes for your tree. However, you can still pick any other size available on the size list.

Treemily Free Demo

Improved performance for the Family Charts & Treemily editors

Our family tree online builder is fast and easy to use. You can play with various designs and sizes of your family charts and trees to make them look exactly as you want them to be. Create visualizations of your family history in a few clicks and get back to your project to add new family members any time you want!

Visualize your family history now!

If you are a member of the Treemily community, go ahead and check out the Treemily demo now and enjoy all the new features at once. New users can create an account and will be offered to try out a demo version as soon as the registration is complete.

Join Treemily now and create the most stunning family tree visualizations. Invite friends and family members to help you with your project and share it on Facebook. Try our family tree builder free of charge and keep the memory of your loved ones for future generations!

Best Genealogy Blogs

best genealogy blogs

In the very beginning, researching your heritage can be overwhelming and daunting. Fortunately, there are many genealogical blogs providing helpful tips, tools, and insights. We are sharing good genealogy blogs that you can keep an eye on. See our list below!

Are You My Cousin?

In her blog, Lisa Lisson shares her experience and publishes articles on how to efficiently research your family roots. If you’re looking for actionable insights on new ways to search for your ancestors, check out her blog.

Amy Johnson Crow

Amy Johnson Crow is a professional genealogist with her own blog on ancestry research. She shares many actionable tips and covers rarely discussed issues (such as finding ancestors with disabilities).

The Family Curator

A professional genealogist and lecturer, Denise May Levenick has created this blog to share her experience and help people to uncover their family secrets. In her blog, she shows the different techniques that you can use for searching information in archives and family collections.

The Family Curator blog has already grown into two books with even more ideas on creating and maintaining family archives.

The Occasional Genealogist

Not all people are professional genealogists. For some people, this is just a hobby, so they can’t afford to spend days and nights at archives looking through records. If you have limited time for genealogy, you may want to check out The Occasional Genealogist blog. In her blog, Jennifer Dondero shares bite-sized ways to do genealogy research even when you’re extremely busy.

best genealogy blogs

Heart of the Family

Elizabeth O’Neal provides a ton of great ideas in her blog. Being a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer, Elizabeth shares advice on how to find your ancestors in a variety of resources without spending a ton of money. Besides that, there you will find many DIY crafts and ideas for displaying family history in your home.

The Genealogy Reporter

If you’re not only looking for tips on doing genealogy but want to stay up-to-date with the latest news in the genealogy world, subscribe to The Genealogy Reporter. Besides that, they have a YouTube channel in case you prefer visual content.

The Sunburned Penguin

The Sunburned Penguin run by Rebekah Zobel covers various topics on genealogy. Besides articles that are very interesting to read, you can find there a Genealogy Sources Checklist that may be helpful in your research.

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

This blog covers everything related to genealogy, from genealogy basics to what you can do with outdated hardware. It was started as a weekly email in January 1996 by Dick Eastman – a fount of knowledge for any genealogist!

The Genetic Genealogist

If you or your relatives have taken a DNA test you may want to check out this blog. Blaine Bettinger, the creator of the blog, is a recognized expert in genetic genealogy. If you want to stay up-to-date with genetic genealogy news, add The Genetic Genealogist’s RSS feed to your feed reader.

list of genealogy blogs

The DNA Geek

What if you test with MyHeritage and your relative tests with Ancestry? Is it possible to transfer your DNA among different services? Issues like this are covered in The DNA Geek. So, if you have questions related to genetic genealogy, chances are you will find answers to them in this blog.

DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

The blog is run by Roberta Estes, a professional scientist, and obsessed genealogist. She writes about various aspects of DNA testing – she even covers historic figures in her blog! Her articles are a great way to begin learning about genetic genealogy.

The Legal Genealogist

A lawyer and a genealogist, Judy G. Russell covers the legal aspects of genealogy, from dealing with documents to claiming copyright to old letters. If there are some legal issues to worry about, check out her blog.

Genea-Musings

This website has everything you may need: weekly highlights, news updates about genealogy databases, events reviews. The blog is run by Randy Seaver – he teaches computer genealogy classes, so his expertise may help you in your research.

Olive Tree Genealogy

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is the author of several books. She is on a mission to bring free genealogy data online for genealogists. In her blog, you can find many tips on using technology and other tools to find records and track your ancestry along with tutorials, genealogy news, and more.

top genealogy blogs

The Ancestor Hunt

In his blog, Kenneth R Marks covers hundreds of valuable techniques and tools that you can use to overcome stumbling blocks and make progress in your genealogical research. The blog is focused on helping primarily hobbyist genealogy and family history researchers

Family Locket

Diana Elder, Accredited Genealogist, and her daughter Nicole share their ideas for ancestry researching, preserving memories, and involving all ages in genealogical research. They aim to help people with different backgrounds be successful in researching their family heritage.

Sassy Jane Genealogy

The blog features articles and e-book guides on genealogy research in the United States and Europe. There you can find a host of useful posts about doing family history research and organizing records and photos.

Genealogy Stories

The blog will let you travel back in time and explore the lives of your ancestors. Being an experienced Genealogist, Natalie Pithers uses social history to bring their stories to life in her blog.

No matter whether you’ve just begun your family history research, or have been doing it for years, these blogs can help you discover the stories of the people you’re researching. Use Treemily to record important information and visualize your family tree, and share it with your loved ones. It’s collaborative, so you can make a family project out of it.

How Intergenerational Trauma Impacts Mental Health

Impact of Intergenerational Trauma

Did you even notice how some of you behavioral patterns – be it towards ourselves, our partners, children, or friends – are pretty much a copy of our parents’ behaviors? We either mimic them or go fully to the other end of the spectrum. And if we look closer, often their behavior will have the same dynamic vis-a-vis their own parents. Ever wonder how that works and why?

This is why it’s important to know as much as possible about the relationships between your parents and older family members. The more we understand the background of our ancestors and what they had to deal with, the better idea we will have of what behavioral challenges we and our children are likely to face.

An untreated intergenerational trauma can result in a compromised trust, honesty, and openness within a family. There are studies that confirm the transmission of trauma to children of victims – for example, the children of holocaust survivors can experience emotional problems, difficulties in relationships, in the way they function. Let’s look at one case, a case of a family including 3 generations.

How Is Trauma Transmitted? Generation 1

As a baby, you’ve got a primary caregiver who mirrors you – who smiles when you smile, who’s upset when you cry. You internalize that and it becomes you. The issues arise when the parent is unable to play that role, possibly due to trauma. And when you are maltreated, you take that experience of maltreatment as you. The child’s personality can’t develop properly without continuous emotional contact with their mother which involves basic things like communication, smiling, tenderness.

Let’s take the example of a newly married couple. They are young, in love, waiting for a baby. Suddenly the man is mobilized because of the war. The young mother is left alone with a child to bring up. She is too busy struggling to survive and doesn’t have time to recover from grief. Many women in this situation develop a simple defense reaction – keep all their feelings locked up deep inside. Others suffer from a latent depression and live their lives on autopilot. They put on a mask and minimize communication and interaction with their kids because it causes almost physical pain to them.

In such circumstances, the child seeks the mother’s attention and affection, and sometimes the mother responds and other times she just growls asking to leave her alone. The woman is angry at the cruelty of fate, not the child – but the kid doesn’t understand what the problem really is. No one explains what’s happening so the only explanation that seems natural is that mommy doesn’t love them.

Years pass by; the woman adapts and learns to live her life without her husband’s support. She keeps playing the iron lady role, even when it’s no longer a necessity. She makes every effort to provide her child with all the necessary stuff, but the child doesn’t realize that. Instead, the kid is developing trauma because they feel insecure and convinced that they don’t deserve love.

What are the effects of intergenerational trauma

Effects of Childhood Trauma: Generation 2

The child grows up feeling unwanted, although that’s not true and they are the only reason their mother has gone through all the hardships. People with such childhood trauma often die earlier because they don’t understand they should take care of themselves, get proper treatment. By and large, they don’t think they represent any value, especially when they become ill and “useless” in their old age.

So, the child grows up trying to earn love, not knowing that love is unconditional. The kid is on their own, not causing trouble, helping around the house, looking after younger brothers and sisters. They do their best to be helpful since they are convinced that only helpful children are loved. So, one day this child will get married and have kids too. Chances are, they will follow their mothers’ patterns of behavior.

But let’s take the best-case scenario when the child has grown with trauma but managed somehow to stay affectionate. For the first time, when a young mother who has suffered this trauma holds her baby in her arms, she suddenly realizes – that’s it. This is the one who will finally love her and need her. From that moment on, her life takes on a new meaning – she should live for her baby. She loves her baby so much that she can’t even imagine loving someone else.

She tries to spend every single moment with her kid and realizes how many things she was deprived of in her childhood. She is completely absorbed in this new feeling. She lives the life of her baby, caring about their feelings, interests, and anxieties. She is better off with her child than with anyone else.

However, there’s one problem – the child is growing.

Generation 3: What’s Next?

Children are sensitive to their parents’ trauma and often feel the burden to compensate for their parents’ losses. They can’t help but respond to their mother’s request for love. They care about their mother and agree to stay with her out of fear for her health. But somewhere out there are love and freedom, and the child has to break the connection because mom won’t let them enjoy adult life voluntarily. Despite the mother’s attempts at manipulation, the child leaves one day with a painful feeling of guilt. The abandoned mother feels resentment because she has invested all her effort in her child and that’s not what she expected to get in return. That’s when she remembers the “iron lady” pattern and resorts to threats, scandals, and pressure.

When it’s time to grow up and leave the house, there comes the agony of separation – the child understands that if they decide to leave this will “kill” their mommy. On the other hand, if they stay they won’t be able to develop as an individual. However, even when children agree to stay with parents, they will be told that they are living their lives in the wrong way. Any date is never good enough. Nothing is good enough. Ever.

Childhood Trauma in Adults

The third generation is forced to act like parents to their own parents. Therefore, they have learned to be self-sufficient from a young age and feel responsible for their parents. They have to become self-sufficient out of fear to upset their parents.

In some families, parents don’t get divorced because of children but still, live together (better say co-exist) like cats and dogs. Their children have to act like mediators, peacemakers who would reconcile their parents. Their children don’t complain – they have to learn to keep an eye on their parents.

Since children don’t know how to think critically, they can’t assess the real situation and take a certain lack of maturity of their parents for vulnerability. The third generation is a generation of anxiety, guilt, and hyperresponsiveness. This situation has its own advantages, on the one hand, since these people are now successful in many aspects, they know how to negotiate and take into account different points of view. They are good at foreseeing and making decisions on their own, and not waiting for someone’s help.

But on the other hand, such people didn’t have an opportunity to enjoy the carelessness of childhood. However, their inner child will resurface one day. People of this generation show aggressive-passive behavior. They neither protest openly nor surrender. They use all sorts of ways to sabotage: to forget, to postpone, not to keep promises, etc. Often people with this kind of trauma feel mentally older than their peers. And at the same time, they don’t feel like real grown-ups, they don’t have a sense of maturity.

One more thing. Children who grow up in a situation when their personal boundaries are violated care about their privacy too much in adult life. They rarely invite people to their homes and rarely visit others. They don’t socialize with neighbors because they don’t know how to set boundaries naturally while enjoying communication.

Childhood Trauma in Adults: What About Men?

Imagine a woman and a man who are raised by single mothers create a family. They are both hungry for love and hope to get it from their partner. However, the only family pattern they know is a model of a self-sufficient woman who doesn’t really need a man. Such marriages are built on the fear of being abandoned – people get married simply because they have never experienced anything else but loneliness.

Men who are raised by their mothers are used to obeying. Being brought up by iron ladies, some men start behaving like mothers: they are gentle, caring and never tell “no” to their children. Some become workaholics who escape from all problems at work. In worst cases, they may become alcoholics. What can we expect from a man who feels unloved?

Such men have no clear model of responsible fatherhood. They saw their fathers disappear one day, forever. Therefore, for many men, it’s natural that when they leave their family, they don’t stay in touch with their children. Given that they felt unloved in their marriage, the resentment they feel makes it easy to soothe the voice of conscience.

Effects of Childhood Trauma

Childhood Trauma: Impact on Parenting

Most people with an emotional childhood trauma are in complicated relationships with their parents, many failed to make their first marriage work, but managed to save their second marriage only after mental separation from their parents.

Often the first child who was born during an unhappy marriage has to be brought up with the help of a granny so that the mother could get a chance to separate and start living her own life. In addition to that, they hear their mothers complaining that they are giving all their time and effort to their grandchildren. As a result, children grow up with the idea that raising a child is something very hard, and even heroic.

Early adopters of the parental role are often obsessed with conscious parenting. They think that if they have mastered the parental role in relation to their own parents, they will manage with raising their own child. Balanced nutrition, gymnastics for infants, developmental classes. Parenting books and the constant fear that something can go wrong.

While the older generation lives believing they are excellent parents and their children had a happy childhood, the younger generation is seriously affected by neuroticism. They lack self-confidence in themselves as parents and are always dissatisfied with something, be it school, society, medical care – they always want more and the best for their children. But their efforts have the opposite effect. Children want nothing. They don’t want to work or study. They just want to lie on the couch staring at the phone. They don’t want to talk and bear responsibility for anything. Why should they care if their parents have already made a decision about everything they should do?

There’s a chance that for the next generation, the specific family context will be much more important than the global past trauma. But it’s obvious that many of today’s problems have their roots deep in the past.

As you can see, the past of older generations affects the present of the youngest ones. Studying our roots at a deeper level provides answers to many questions, allows us to understand the problems and their causes, and can help to build a solid foundation for healthy family relationships.

This is why it’s important that parents understand the influence of intergenerational trauma on the younger generations. If they want their children to feel loved and secure they need to change the course of the generational trauma by doing things differently. To change the generational patterns of thought or habits they need to initiate their own healing journey. When you develop self-awareness and resilience, the future will look brighter.

Using Quarantine to Strengthen Family Bonds

How to support aging parents

We are going through tough times due to the COVID-19 virus. Many of us have moved across the country to be with our families, others are relegated to Skype, unable to be near their loved ones. The challenges brought by this new virus are intimidating and cause perplexities. While universities and schools are being shut down and companies are transitioning to remote work, people are questioning how they can comfortably (and safely!) spend time with their families, and potentially support and care about their old parents.

COVID-19 is most dangerous for older people so it’s important to make sure children (who are notorious for transmitting germs) are healthy. Grandparents shouldn’t be doing childcare. And even if the child stays at home most of the time, you can’t rest assured that the kid’s parents won’t bring anything home. So, how to keep family connected at this trying time?

Ways to Stay Connected to Your Family Members During Coronavirus

Ways to Stay Connected to Your Family Members During Coronavirus

How to Entertain Your Kids During COVID-19

If you are far away from your family members it’s high time to get skilled with video call platforms like FaceTime and Skype – whatever you find convenient to communicate face-to-face. Establish regular online meet-ups for reading books, playing games or doing activities.

You’ll get bored soon with just online calls. The kids who are not attending school or daycare are deprived of the daily routines they are used to. The good news is that you may start teaching kids their family history or get them involved in genealogy research. Why not make fascinating ancestry lessons for your kids?

How to entertain your kids

Again, be guided by the needs of your child, and your own. Begin with simple activities and gradually move on to more complex ones. Once you get started, you’re likely to discover a wide array of opportunities.

Tell them stories about what it was like to live in times before iPads were invented. If you have children of different ages you can read a story to all of them, or ask the older children to read to the younger ones. Let it be the time to share stories and memories from your childhood and the childhood of your parents.

Ask kids what they would like to improve in their current routine and discuss all together how each of you can contribute to improving your family wellbeing. Life may not return to normal soon so it’s crucial to make sure every member of the family feels comfortable.

Make and maintain some new traditions. You may also use this opportunity to create family rituals such as having theme dinners together or playing certain games on Sundays.

Do chores as a family. Make cleaning your home responsibility of the entire family. Create a list of chores and remind them that doing chores together makes the job go much faster than doing them alone. This will help you foster a sense of teamwork.

How to Support Aging Parents During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Taking care of your aging parents should be a priority. Free up at least a bit of time for them. You may want to schedule regular video chats so you can stay in touch with them. Spending half an hour or so with them every day will let them feel secure and confident that you will give them a helping hand in times of hardship.

Provide support. Feeling supported by your family is one of the most important elements of building strong family bonds. Learn what things are important to your parents right now, what worries them and do your best to support them. At times like this, it’s so important to share both the good and the bad news.

Taking care of aging parentsSupport your parents financially. This crisis will have a negative impact on the economy and all the people but it will affect some of us more than others. This is a time when you should be there for your parents. Be it just giving cash or paying bills, you can ease the finances a bit for your parents and help them cope with the stress that the economic downturn has produced.

Invite relatives to plan virtual celebrations and holidays with you. If a birthday is approaching, you and your family members might buy a special gift online and get it delivered to the celebrant’s home and open it “together”.

One more way to strengthen bonds with your parents and older relatives is to ask them genealogy questions, of course! It may sound weird, but this pandemic provides lots of time and opportunities to proceed with your genealogy research and uncover clues to your family history. Talk to your older relatives about their past – this activity will not only help you reveal new details but get to know them better. Undoubtedly, because of the pandemic, you have many issues to care about and the last thing you’ll want to spend time on compiling a list of questions, so, here is a ready-made questionnaire for you. Enjoy!

Don’t Forget to Entertain Yourself

If you are one of the lucky ones who have a bit of free time, it’s always a good idea to do a bit more of your genealogy research. Many online platforms are providing free access to their resources, so, why not make use of them? Search for some online webinars to improve your skills or connect with researchers to discuss some topics – it’s high time to socialize and support each other.

Family is the most important thing in life. COVID-19 may temporarily change the format of our relationships with the family. It’s hard but this will make us stronger. No matter how you like to communicate, there are all sorts of meaningful ways that we connect with our families despite any distance between us.

Ask Genealogists: Useful Tips for Your Research

genealogy search tips

There is a lot of guesswork and uncertainty in genealogy research. Many records contain wrong information, mistakes can be made in documents transcriptions, and, of course, there’re misspellings in censuses. What’s more, in the 19th century when publishing family genealogies was a popular thing, many genealogists often relied on legends, gossip, and erroneous family stories. As you can see, there’s a lot of room for human error in genealogy research, and even seasoned genealogists make mistakes once in a while. With this in mind, we’ve asked five genealogy experts to share their genealogy search tips for beginners.

Meet Our Genealogists

Melissa Barker: Melissa is a Certified Archives Manager, professional genealogist, FGS reviews editor, lecturer, teacher, and writer. Melissa has been involved in genealogy for 30 years and runs a genealogy blog where she shares her valuable experience with other researchers. Connect with Melissa on Twitter.

Paul Chiddicks: With 15 years of experience in genealogy, Paul is a blogger with an interest in military history. He runs his own online blog and often features in online genealogy magazines. Connect with Paul on Twitter.

Natalie Pithers: Natalie is a Professional genealogist offering research services. She started her own family tree when she was 18 – that’s almost 20 years ago! She is madly deeply in love with the past and runs her own blog. Natalie is a proud member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and an enthusiastic member of Historians Collaborate. Connect with Natalie on Twitter.

Kenneth R Marks: Kenneth started his genealogy journey as an amateur researcher 18 years ago and gradually turned into obsessed ancestor hunter sharing his considerable knowledge with others. Connect with Kenneth on Twitter.

Helen Tovey: Helen is editor of Family Tree Magazine, covering all aspects of genealogy research. Helen has been involved in genealogy since she was a teenager and now she encourages people to do family history research, helping them find answers to the trickiest questions.

1. How do you think the understanding of their past can benefit people?

Melissa Barker: Understanding our past can help us understand who we are, who our ancestors were and where we came from.

Paul Chiddicks: I think it can help us understand more who we are today and more importantly where we came from.

Natalie Pithers: I think that understanding the past helps us to avoid making the same mistakes again. Be that on a large scale (wars) or on a small scale (family dynamics). Understanding the past can also help us to understand why we are the way we are now. That’s something that can be very comforting or very challenging!

Kenneth R Marks: It gives us another dimension to our lives, allowing us to understand our ancestors. More importantly, it allows us to make connections with relatives that many times we didn’t know we had.

Helen Tovey: I think it can give people a much stronger foundation to their sense of self – it gives people a richer sense of their roots, the stories, lives, adventures, and tribulations of all sorts of ancestors, not just those of their immediate nuclear family – giving us a long view of history, of the ups and downs, of the opportunities and inspiring perseverance of those who came before.

2. Why did you start genealogy research? Is it your profession or hobby? What made you want to become a genealogist?

Melissa Barker: I started genealogy research because I was curious about my ancestors. At first, it was just a hobby then I decided to turn my avid hobby into a profession and became a professional genealogist. Then I went back to school and became an archivist.

Paul Chiddicks: I class myself as “an enthusiastic amateur”, I am not a professional. Sadly for me, my Dad died when I was just 3 years old, which left a big gap in my life, once I was old enough to ask questions about my Dad and my Family, I just never stopped asking questions.

Kenneth R Marks: Just as a hobby. I started because I was curious. Then I really got into it.

Natalie Pithers: My Mum inspired my love for genealogy. She’d tried to trace our tree, before the days of the internet. I was fascinated by her findings. I continued the research into our tree – and over the years I did the trees of several friends. I wanted to become a genealogist because I love so many aspects of the role. I love the challenge of research, logical thinking and problem-solving. Yet I also love the creativity of writing up the findings, imagining life in the past.

Helen Tovey: I’m not a professional genealogist but I’m lucky enough to have a job in the world of family history – something I’m hugely grateful for.

3. What path led you to transform your interest in genealogical research from a hobby to a career?

Melissa Barker: The reason I became a professional genealogist and made it my career is because I love helping others find their roots. I had so much fun finding my own roots that I wanted to help others do the same.

Paul Chiddicks: I currently only carry out my own research or unpaid work for friends, maybe one day I will take it to the next level. At the moment writing and blogging about my Family is taking up most of my time.

Kenneth R Marks: I wanted to help newer researchers with genealogy search tools and tips that I had discovered that would help others with their research.

Natalie Pithers: I had children! I’d had a full-time career as a contractor in Project Management. I really enjoyed it but I wanted something I could flex around the kids. Genealogy was perfect. I was genuinely passionate about it, found it stretched my brain and many of my project management skills helped with the organisation side (both in terms of running a business and in terms of managing the actual research).

genealogy advice

4. Did you just start by asking your family members? Did you start doing any research in libraries?

Melissa Barker: Both! I started by asking as many family members about what they knew and I found out that was much information. So, I turned to libraries, archives, courthouses and anywhere I could find records.

Paul Chiddicks: Asking family members first, record offices came after once I had established the key facts.

Kenneth R Marks: I started by asking my relatives and by performing online searches. Very little has been done in libraries.

Natalie Pithers: My Mum had already completed questionnaires with her side of the family. I started on my Dad’s side by quizzing my grandparents. I did go to the libraries – to access the Birth, Marriage and Death indexes.

5. What is one mistake you often see non-professionals make in their family history research, and how might they correct/avoid it?

Melissa Barker: The one mistake I see non-professionals make is believing everything is online. Being a seasoned genealogist and especially an archivist, I know that the majority of genealogical records are still sitting on shelves in boxes at libraries, archives, historical societies, genealogical societies and other records repositories just waiting to be discovered.

Paul Chiddicks: I write a regular blog for Family Tree Magazine here in the UK and one of my recent blogs was ‘The Top 10 Sins of a Genealogist’. Every single one of these sins/mistakes comes from my own experiences.

Kenneth R Marks: They don’t interview their oldest living relatives immediately.

Natalie Pithers: Not recording sources or conclusions. They think they’ll remember, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget where something was from – or why you concluded a piece of evidence was relevant (or irrelevant).

6. Are there any mistakes you’ve made that you regret about?

Melissa Barker: Yes! I wish I had taken better care to cite my sources for the information I gathered early on when I started doing genealogy research. I have records now that I have no idea where I got them.

Paul Chiddicks: All of them.

Kenneth R Marks: Yes, that I didn’t start 20 years earlier and interviewed my grandmother, who was brilliant and would have known everything about my family.

Natalie Pithers: I recorded sources but not exact citations. So, in the early days, I’d put that I’d discovered a fact in the 1901 census but have no further detail. It meant re-finding documents was difficult.

Helen Tovey: I regret not making recordings of both my grandmothers’ voices. I interviewed them, but just wrote down their quotes, and I’d love to have recorded the sound of their voices too. I also regret that when I started out when I came across something ‘untoward’ that I would often just tell other family members what I’d found. I’ve learnt with time, to be more diplomatic and cautious about what to say and how to say it.

7. What are some of the challenges you typically face while doing research?

Melissa Barker: The challenges I face are not having enough time to work on my own research. Being a professional genealogist, I work more with others’ researches than I do on my own research.

Paul Chiddicks: Time, I still work full time and have a grown-up family, so spare time for Family History is hard to come by.

Kenneth R Marks: None really. There are challenges everywhere in life. Goes with the territory.

Natalie Pithers: Gaps in records and my surname (Pithers) being mistranscribed or misspelled in original records. I have a very long list of all the variants I’ve found!

8. We all reach deadlocks sometimes. Is there anything that stimulates you to keep going?

Melissa Barker: Maybe it’s because I am an archivist working in archives every day but what keeps me going is knowing that records are being found in attics, basements and old buildings all the time and being donated to archives. Families are donating records after their loved ones have passed on a daily basis to archives which contain one-of-a-kind documents and information that has never been known before. This is what keeps me going.

Paul Chiddicks: I think all Genealogists have that ‘never say die’ or ‘never give in’ persona about them, it’s that tenacity that makes us good Genealogist’s.

Kenneth R Marks: Just the desire to find out as much as possible about my ancestors’ life stories.

Natalie Pithers: That burning desire to know the truth. To discover someone and remember them.

9. What are the benefits of hiring a genealogist over trying to research something on your own? At what point do you think a novice should bring in the professionals?

Melissa Barker: The benefit of hiring a professional genealogist is their expertise in their particular area. My area is Tennessee research and if you don’t know much about researching in Tennessee, a professional can be a huge benefit. A novice should bring in the professionals when they feel like they have done all they can do.

Paul Chiddicks: Again I have written a blog on this very topic, the link is here.

Natalie Pithers: Tracing your family tree is time-consuming and there’s so much to learn. Even experts continue to learn all the time. It’s not all fun either. Much as I love it, there is also a lot of data entry. Recording sources, proof statements, workings, research logs, etc.

If you are interested in discovering your ancestors, don’t wait until you ‘have the time’. Life’s too short and you never know what’s going to happen. If you don’t have time, hire a professional.

There’s also so much more that can be discovered in local archives. If you’ve done some online research consider hiring a professional that can visit the archives that are too far away from home.

10. What’s been your best genealogy discovery so far?

Melissa Barker: My best genealogy discovery so far is my 8th great grandfather provided wheat to George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.

Paul Chiddicks: This is a very personal and emotional story that I have shared here.

Kenneth R Marks: The discovery of a family still living in Germany that I communicate with regularly, and other “cousins” that I have met. Also, the discovery that several of my ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust.

Natalie Pithers: My Nan claimed that we had French ‘blue blood’. I discovered that my 4 x Great-Grandfather was the illegitimate son of a Reverend. That Reverend was the son of a Baron, and that family line was of French descent. With some suggestions, they may be descended from the Plantagenet line. Richard III was my favourite Shakespeare play so I was very pleased with this discovery.

Helen Tovey: My best discovery so far has been recently finding a living relative at RootsTech. I always love making connections online via my online trees, but it’s so much more special to meet them in person. I don’t have a single discovery in my research that stands out, but I do really enjoy digging deeper into my ancestors’ lives and making sense of them – understanding why they might have made the decisions they did, the difficulties they had to face, and what it was that made them who they are.

11. What’s your source of inspiration?

Melissa Barker: My source of inspiration is my ancestors. Knowing each one of them has a story to tell inspires me to keep digging.

Paul Chiddicks: Fellow Genealogists inspire me every single day, with their individual stories and their generosity and kindness in helping others

Kenneth R Marks: Just the motivation to complete as best as possible my ancestors’ life stories

Natalie Pithers: Everything I do, I wonder – how was this done in the past? What did it feel like? What did my ancestors think about it? Even simple things like making breakfast. I’ll wonder, what did they eat? That curiosity seems to be insatiable and drives me forward to discover as much as I can about our ancestors.

Helen Tovey: The thought of leaving my kids a rich and inspiring record of their ancestors, that helps me to keep organized, and try to gather as many photos and memories as possible. I also love online learning resources – from the digitized records to podcasts and webinars.

12. What advice would you give someone who wants to start their family history research and what tools would you suggest they use?

Melissa Barker: My advice to anyone starting their family history research is to start with yourself. Tell your story first and then move to your parents, grandparents, etc. The tools I would suggest that new genealogists use are a good computer genealogy database to keep up with all the information you gather, take good notes and use those archives records that are not online.

Paul Chiddicks: Ask questions of your elderly Ancestors before it’s too late. I use Family Tree Maker, but whatever you choose treat yourself to some software. Consider taking a DNA test.

Kenneth R Marks: Don’t get hung up on dates as the be-all, end-all to research. Verify that you have the correct individuals in your tree but use newspaper research to discover the stories of your ancestors’ lives.

Natalie Pithers: I’d suggest they ask their family for as much information as possible. That they get a really good ‘how to’ book or do a course. And that they use an offline tree provider, like RootsMagic or Legacy rather than just building on Ancestry. Avoid the hint system until you are confident you are building up your own chain of evidence. Secondly, don’t rely on just one website.

13. Where do you recommend people who are new to genealogy start out? What do you consider “Step 1” in family history research?

Paul Chiddicks: Join a local family history society in the area that your family lived. Also, join as many family history online forums as you can both these are packed full of all sorts of experience and expertise to guide you through the early stages of your research. Most important of all, have fun!!

Kenneth R Marks: Interview your oldest relatives.

Natalie Pithers: Start by ordering the birth and marriage certificates of your oldest known relatives. Then use FreeCEN and FamilySearch to begin looking at census documents. Learn to cross-reference the details between Births, Marriages, Deaths and Census before branching out into more records.

Helen Tovey: This advice is never going to go out of date – do start with yourself, then your parents, and grandparents, working backwards. Make the most of the opportunities to record and share family stories, photos, and memorabilia. These are the close bonds that help us to feel connected – and that feels to me like what’s at the heart of treasuring our roots.

30 Questions to Ask for a Better Genealogy Research

genealogy questions

Tracing your family history is a great way to maintain a connection with your past. It seems that with unlimited access to the internet genealogy search has never been easier: all you need is to enter a name and a date and then browse through multiple records. However, this approach is likely to make you feel overwhelmed and doesn’t always let you find accurate information. Genealogy research is a skill and if you follow the appropriate steps and strategies, you are much more likely to find what you’re looking for and create a family tree you want.

So the first thing to begin your research with is a family interview. To make the most of your interview (even if you are going to hold it through the phone or email) you need to get prepared. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • print your genealogy questions;
  • bring along a notebook and writing utensils;
  • bring a tape recorder or download a recording app on your phone;
  • bring old family photos or mementos that you want to learn more about to
  • help your interviewee bring back memories;
  • prepare a copy of your family tree to make sure your interviewee hasn’t forgotten any of the ancestors you want to ask about.

Prepare Research Questions

Genealogy research questions form the basis of your research. The more specific they are the better the chance to get detailed answers. For example, if you ask “How can you describe the life of my great-grandmother?” you will probably get a general description with basic facts. This question can’t give you a specific piece of information to set you on the right path.

Genealogy research questions

Genealogy can make you feel overwhelmed – we all want to know as much as possible about our ancestors, but no one can do it in a single session. That is why we need to divide research into smaller pieces and narrow it down to include only the information that may be helpful to you.

On the other hand, direct questions can sometimes lead to getting uninteresting answers, even though they are worth a goal. Try to formulate questions that are both direct and fluid, or ask them in a way that could help you get story-based responses.

One more important detail – you need to find triggers. For instance, if you’re holding an interview around holidays, you can ask about food. Food involves senses that are tied to memory so chances are you will trigger a conversation that can help bring memories back up to the surface.

If you’re just starting your genealogy research and looking for information to create your family tree, then you may need to focus on usual facts like:

  • names;
  • dates of births, death, marriage, etc.;
  • date and place when a specific event occurred.

General facts will help you to fill in basic details and set priorities for your further in-depth research.

Sometimes your research will require creativity. For instance, instead of asking “Where did you live in the 1960s?” you may need to ask “Where did you live when you were a child” and calculate the approximate age of your interviewee.

Here’s the list of questions for an interview – you may use all of them or add your own. Such an interview is a very personal experience so you may need to tailor your questions to your individual interviewee.

Genealogy research questions

No matter what your final list will look like, remember to enjoy the process. Most importantly, your interview should result in an exciting story that is both data-rich and interesting to share with your family – if you capture it properly, the story may become a treasure trove. Remember that a genealogist should be flexible and open-minded, only then your effort will be successful.

DIY Family Tree Template for Kids

Father and son Relations

Have you ever had to make a family tree at school? It seems that everyone was given a genealogy project at least once during the school years. For children, tracing ancestry can be confusing since it may be hard for a child to understand the entire lineage. Family trees help to make the process more fun.

Free Family Tree Template

If you need to help your children make a genealogy project at school or maybe you’re just trying to involve your kids into your ancestry research – the first step for any ancestry project is to start a genealogy tree. However, if you want to avoid the hassle of creating it on your own, then you can download a ready free family tree template or use our family tree chart maker. Our chart will help your children quickly organize ancestry information. It is great for class handouts and lets you hand-record your family history. All you need to do is to download the blank template and add data by hand. In addition, you can add color to the chart and make it look more striking.

Tips to make a family tree:

  • begin with what you know – your living relatives;
  • look for records somewhere in the drawers;
  • interview your relatives;
  • review other websites to see what other researchers have already discovered;
  • be patient – it may take a long time to discover your roots;
  • use a single dates and places format to avoid confusion.

family tree template

Trump vs. Obama: Who Is More American?

Trump and Obama family tree

Trump’s extreme policies at the border and deportations have garnered the most attention and outrage. It sounds like the current mood in the American Administration is the further you can trace your roots back to the Mayflower, the more American you are. So we decided to run quick genealogical research comparing the last two US presidents: President Donald Trump, and his predecessor, Barack Obama. Let’s take a look at their family trees, and find out who’s more “American”.

Continue reading “Trump vs. Obama: Who Is More American?”