Inspiration for my LifeStory Books Format

Working on my own family’s LifeStory book has been way tougher than I could ever have imagined. I knew that one day I would find inspiration that would meet my vision but it was becoming painfully clear that I had found myself at a standstill. Literally. I haven’t even posted here for months  because I found myself kind of stuck but it was always in the back of my mind that when I saw it, I would know it… and after so many years, it finally happened.


Scrapbooking? Genealogy? Me?

For some readers, the whole concept of digital scrapbooking may seem like a foreign concept and for others, the process of looking into one’s family history is quite foreign and new. Part of the beauty of this site is that I can document the process as I discover my perfect mix between the digital scrapbook world and my genealogy research to bring my own LifeStory Books to life and maybe it will inspire and encourage one of you to possibly add one or the other into your own mix!



Some things just seem like destiny and just when I was seriously considering whether or not I could bring this “vision” to life, I came across a posting of a layout made with a Paislee Press digital scrapbooking kit and it just about brought me to tears. In so many ways it felt like I had been given a present that I had wanted my entire life. I have been looking for that magic mix of documentation, photos and stories for a long time but found myself stuck because I could never settle on a style with which to present it.  Finding a style for a LifeStory Book is such a personal thing but sometimes it is harder when it is for yourself. Isn’t that always the case? We can see what other people need to do, but when it comes to ourselves, the decisions become harder. But, for me, it was important to get this right because I want it to be exceptional when I present it to a wider audience.



[I want to insert a quick disclaimer in here. Right now I’m using each of the digital kits that I mention below with a “personal” license. If and when I can get things figured out to the point that someone might like to hire me to produce a similar book for their family, then I will definitely be changing my license to a business license. The digital artists work very hard at what they do and I fully applaud their talents!]


Here’s the Details…

Just to get my mojo going in the right direction, I thought it would be appropriate to start with a kit named Generations which was a collaboration between Paislee Press and One Little Bird. I did add a bit of ephemera from a kit by Sahlin Studio called, Ephemera Stacks. All of these kits can be found on The LilyPad website. If you should go there, make sure to look at the layouts and their gallery — I literally spent a good portion of an afternoon just clicking through the images, one after the other.


Now… how to pull it all together and not look like a jumbled mess? Because this project will include so many combo layouts that include documents, photos and stories, I decided to try the pocket page format once again, but this time I used a template by Lynn Grieveson Designs titled, Messy Pockets {no.06} and it is also found on The LilyPad website. It gives me a jumping off point. I’ve always been a fan of the Becky Higgins’ Project Life format for creating nice compact little areas to add color, photos and stories, but bringing documents that aren’t all that visually pleasing to look at into the mix has also been a roadblock for me. This Messy Pocket template seems to fit the bill and give me plenty of room to move things around as needed.

Who is your audience?

I want my kids to look at the pages and get a sense for what a census record or some other type of research document would look like and see the rich amount of information that you can get out of it. But I know them and if it looks a bit like all my research binders, their eyes will glaze over and I will have lost them. This layout gives me some larger places for the documentation as well as plenty of room for photos and stories — perfect! And a bonus is that it takes some of the planning out of the picture (no pun intended… really!) and I don’t have to think so much about the basic design and can enjoy the process. I’m not that big of a user of templates, but this set has really been the perfect solution.


I have my family heritage photos scanned with dates and names attached along with my documentation that I’ve been collecting for over seventeen years. And now I have a style and look to start my LifeStory Book. I’m not sure that it will end up in this 12×12 format, but is a beginning and I’m feeling very happy to be moving forward! To be fully honest, I’m skipping my parents’ generation to begin with because I know that it will take a great deal of time and I want to make sure that I get all the pieces together. With so many pictures and stories for my parents’ generation, this is the generation that I think it would be best to leave for last so I have all the major decisions all ironed out.


Can you tell I have a big smile?

While this style isn’t for everybody and it might still glaze over a few eyes, but it makes me very happy to share this with my family! Most importantly, I know that this might not be the format that I eventually decide to follow, but I am actually back into the game and it feels really good. The only puzzle piece that I’m really not sure about at this point is the size of the pages! But that is why I’m going ahead and jumping back into this. Sizes can be adjusted at a later point. Seeing the stories begin to take shape along with the all goodies I’ve been collecting for so many years is a work of love — my gift.

Losing our Family Stories in 3 Generations


I hear stories all the time that people are amazed at how deeply they have been affected once they learn about their family’s history. It never surprises me. In fact I’ve said quite a few times that researching your own genealogy is,

“Better than any reality show out there.”

More than a feeling

Since I began my own journey discovering my family’s past, I could never understand where a certain feeling of intense well being came from until I listened to an opening session at the Midwestern Roots Conference recently held here in Indianapolis.

This feeling, which is hard to describe, stays with me all the time; it was and is a sense of very intense love and appreciation for not only my ancestors but also for my state and country. I’ve always loved history, and as the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers, I have the wonderful opportunity to steep myself in the rich stories and history of the state where I was born and grew up — Indiana.

Little did I know how all my knowledge was affecting me and I think that you might be a bit surprised yourself when you read the rest of the post!

That “aha!” moment

Curt Witcher never fails to catch my attention, whether or not he is talking about the Allen County Public Library Genealogy section or the topic that he chose for the Midwestern Roots Conference. He is and will forever be associated, in my mind, with the ACPL because of the tremendous job that he (and a lot of others, I’m sure) has done to transform it into the United State’s largest public genealogy library.

This year, Curt had the privilege of opening the conference and his title for this session was, “Your Story, Our History: The Power and Value of Story.” Well, let’s just say that there was never any question that this would be one session that I would for sure be attending and he didn’t let me down.

It gets Real

Of course there were lots of stories that Curt so eloquently told us but the part that truly caught my attention was his quote that

“If we don’t tell our [family’s] stories, they could be lost in just three generations.”

He went on to explain in more detail about the article where research claimed that children were more resilient if they had a firm knowledge of their family’s history.  Whoa… This validated me and instantly tugged at my heart; I knew this statement to be oh, so painfully true.

Here is another quote Curt zoomed in on:

“Children that know about their family history deal with tragedy better, and are more accepting of diversity.”

To sum it up, they are more emotionally stable and can handle the up’s and down’s of life much better. Wow… just wow… I felt so immensely warm and fuzzy when he stated that there was actually research out there confirming what I had felt for so long and still feel very strongly about. But to hear that there was proof, a real study that had been completed, confirming that family history does indeed give you a foundation to live your life to its best, well, that was priceless. I could have left after that and been quite content knowing that my belief did indeed have proof to back it up.

Ready for another quote?

“We hold our children’s histories in our hands.”

Oh, Curt really summed it up in those words, didn’t he? Now it is up to all of us to share this knowledge, our knowledge of our families and their stories, so that our children and grand-children will also know their stories and have a foundation to build their own lives upon.

Here’s the proof

The article, “The Stories That Bind Us”, written by Bruce Feiler, March 15, 2013 for The New York Times, gives a more in-depth explanation of the study and the epiphany that Bruce, the author, had within his own family. It is inspiring and if it doesn’t convince you to start writing down your own memories, I’m not sure that anyone or anything could.

In the article, the question is asked, “What would you want your great-grandchildren to know about you?” If you don’t start to write and narrate your own story and the stories of your parents and grandparents, then they will soon be lost. Remember,

“If we don’t tell our stories, they could be lost in just three generations.”

Oh, it just gets better, believe me! Let me leave you with another quote from the article, The Stories that Bind Us:

“Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”

I’m in — let’s get started

So, what to do with this information? I think that we simply need to use it as a kick-starter to push this to the fore-front of our to-do lists. After all, what would you give to have stories that your great-grandparents had written themselves, all pulled together into one place, for you to read and enjoy and pass on to your own family.

Here are a few concrete things that you can start right now:

  1. Begin with yourself. Start a notebook of your own stories – in no certain order. Just simply let the stories come as they may. Look at photo albums and think about what is going on in the background of a photo – the story behind it. Think about places, people, emotions. It’s ok to start with the basics and then branch out. Don’t be afraid to talk about current events as well. Even tough times that you have gone through, is certainly worth getting down in a written form. You can even post photos into an app like Day One where you can talk about the picture and it will save by date. There is no time like the present.
  2. Start to add your parents’ and grandparents’ information, or if they are still alive, think about getting them on video or audio explaining about their childhood, marriage, work, and family. Photos are great conversation starters. None of these things need to take more than just a few moments, but it is important to keep adding more and more so that one day, you will find yourself with a rich history that can be shared for generations.
  3. Get the old photos out and start to write down whatever information that you might remember. These are great starters for your parents and grand-parents.
  4. And last, but not least, we need to start to share all this information in ways that our kids and grandchildren will be able to remember and take with them.

Here’s where the no-guilt, no-pain part comes in

So, I know this all really sounds like a huge commitment and that’s where I plan to come in and try to take some of the overwhelming-ness (can I use that as a word?) out of the project. As you follow along, my plan is to offer memory prompts to get you started with your own stories and ideas on how to get bashful parents and grandparents to start to open up and share their wealth of stories.

It is all a process, but it doesn’t have to be painful! (That’s where I plan on helping.) If you know someone that has children or grandchildren, please share this post. We tend to focus on making millions of memories with our children and grandchildren, but it’s equally as important that they know the generations that made them who they are and will become.

Help me spread a message that is part of what keeps our country and society functioning – our knowledge of our past so that we can make a strong future! (And no, I’m not running for President – even though my husband keeps on writing my name into the ballot when he is frustrated with the candidates [not even kidding there!])

Too many times we feel like we can’t do anything to make “things” better and here is one fairly easy way to leave your mark – by leaving your story.

Feel free to Share!

For anyone on Instagram, follow me on @_ItsaLifeStory where I show you how I am documenting my own family momentos for my children to see. How will they know what anything is if I don’t tell them! It’s just one way that I’m working through this myself in order to pass on my own memories.

For those of you on Facebook, I have a page for my website as well. You just need to search for “It’s a Life Story” or @itsalifestory. When you find it, click on the LIKE button so that you receive my updates. I have a lot going on between the FB page, Instagram, this newsletter and my website but I think that each one has their place!


Here’s a tip: I use the Day One app in the evening when I take a few moments to do some decompressing from the day! I can use a pic from the day or take a quick one of a photo or momento to use as my own memory booster. For anyone that also does scrapbooking, this is an excellent way to write your journaling to be used with a group of photos in a layout when you are ready to work on them!

Remember to SHARE this with anyone and everyone that has children and grandchildren! Let’s show them exactly how much we love them by giving them that all-important piece of ourselves! Suggest that they sign up for my email list to receive newsletters in the future so they can find the inspiration and ideas of how to get started as well as how to pull all their research and hard work together into one format that can be shared across generations.

Together, we can make sure that we will not be forgotten in three generations!

The Great Thanksgiving Day Listen — Let’s Do This!

The GreatThanksgiving DayListen graphic

Make Family History With An App From StoryCorps.

Can I just say that this headline from today’s Personal Journal section of the WSJ had my attention at first glance? It’s this article that has drawn me to sit down and try to reach as many as I can about the potential this simple, yet powerful App could be for all of our family histories. You can read the article written by Geoffrey A. Fowler HERE. Today, as I have barely finished my first cup of coffee, I am bursting at the seams to pass it on.

Time for Listening

Can I add my own challenge for the upcoming Holidays? This app is free. Let’s all download it and make a point to interview one or more family members.  Don’t let it wait for another holiday or think that you will see Grandma so-and-so at Christmas or at least next year. Let’s all take a few minutes out of our busy lives and sit in a quiet room with a family member, look in their eyes, and ask a few questions.


Be ready to listen – really listen. You might find that you have given them the biggest gift ever – the gift of your time. You might also find that you have given yourself the best gift ever.


Anyone that knows me well, will tell you that I am all about family history. I love the research, whether in a library amongst all the wonderful books, or online while at home still in my workout clothes. I love the family photos that just beg to have their own stories told so that precious snippets in time will live forever. And, I love to uncover family stories that pull all my research and photos together into a powerful legacy.


This app, from StoryCorps, might take your upcoming holidays from typical family get-togethers to something that just might live on forever. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to bring families together and this is the Year of #TheGreatThanksgivingDayListen. You can read the story behind it HERE.


Why am I so excited about this particular app? I’m always looking for ways to make the storytelling process as easy as possible and I have downloaded several very promising apps hoping to find one that allows me to either publicize it to the world or most importantly, keep it for my own archive. Most apps upload to one central online archive and are only available in a public format. This app has my attention because I can choose whether I want it to be public or stay private. This one has “options” and as my husband always says, “It’s nice to have options!”

Library of Congress

StoryCorps has been recording family stories since 2003 and they are all “recorded and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.” This app is a spin-off designed to allow even more people to add to this rich archive of personal/family stories and now we can all join in the fun!


The main point of this app is to upload our family stories to be kept within the Library of Congress, but I must say that the biggest turn-off of using some of the other apps was the fact that I didn’t have a choice to keep it private or share it publicly. I know that the idea behind this is to eventually share our family stories for others to listen to, but the feeling of losing control of my story or my family member’s story was enough to delete the other apps off my phone and never use them. Most likely, I will end up sharing all the family stories that I am able to record but it will be at my choosing – and I like that.


Let’s all participate in this exciting event!  Then please share with me your thoughts. I would love to hear them and together we can discover more and more about the power of what this app from StoryCorps can do to help our own LifeStories live on.

Want some more inspiration? Try “Reality hits — Talking with your older generations just can’t wait!


Bringing Photos to Back to Life

How many of you can picture the place in the Wizard of Oz classic movie where it changes from black and white to color? That always seems like the point in the movie where it actually comes to life. I am a fan of some of the old movies but when color is added, it does something that jumps up the enjoyment factor ten-fold for me. That must be why Spring and Fall are two favorite times of the year as far as season beauty goes for me – the Spring flowers and Fall foliage are all considered eye-candy.

Photos are our Windows into the Past

As you may or may not already know, photos are a soft spot for me and as fate would have it, I have had the great pleasure to help out several people with their family photos – photo restoration and colorization. As far as instant gratification, this field seems to push all my buttons. When I have finished work on a photo, I am busting at the seams to show someone – anyone –that is close enough that I can get to take a look.

While I would love to post a tutorial on how to do colorization and photo restoration, it is one of those things that really takes some background knowledge of Photoshop and the willingness to dive into lots of classes and tutorials on best practices in the field. I can certainly point you in the same direction that I took though. For me, it truly combines my love for family heirloom photos, computers, photoshop, and a passion for understanding the importance of a single photo.

The Best Side of FacebookUnedited Photo of Grandmother as Young Woman

I have the privilege of being a part of a creative group of women in a Facebook group called The Rising Tide Society. Granted, I am probably on the older side of the group, but I love to read their posts and feed off the energy of this group of young entrepreneurial women. Recently, I received a text from my oldest daughter, also a member of this same Facebook group, that a photo had been posted that I needed to respond to ASAP. Well, it’s hard to not immediately stop everything and take a look at what could possibly be so important and also involved me!

The Photo

The exact moment that I looked at the group’s Facebook page, I knew without even reading further, exactly what she wanted me to look at. There, on my screen, was the most amazing photo of a young girl with beautiful background colors surrounding her. I could feel my heart start to beat faster as I tried to calmly read the request made by the group member. She quite simply asked if anyone in the group might be able to help restore her grandmother’s photo that had been damaged over the years.

It didn’t take me long and I quickly messaged her directly that I would be honored if she would allow me to try and fix it. I sent her a link to my website and my email and then just had to hope that she might consider sending it my way. There were so many offers of some wonderful members so I kept reminding myself that she might choose someone else.  I literally checked my message box continuously for the next day and a half in anticipation. When I didn’t get any response, part of me was terribly disappointed, but the other part of me still wanted the opportunity to try to restore this beautiful photo and see if I was up for such a challenge.

The laugh was on me because she had tried to send the photo immediately and had mis-typed the email address. When she sent it the 2nd time, it was received and I proceeded to plow through and finish my other work so that I could focus all my attention on this project.

Grandmother as Young GirlAnd here she is!

As I worked through each technique, she began to come to life – quite like that point in the Wizard of Oz movie and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. As you can tell from the picture above, part of her arm had to be restored – not all that easy since she was not looking at the camera directly so one side is definitely different than the other side. But it was really satisfying to see all my little tricks and techniques actually work so well with a little tweaking here and there. That’s the point where my artist/photographer side really came in handy.

Staying True to the Original Portrait

This portrait was originally colorized and I wanted to keep that feel so I didn’t even try to take it back to black and white and then colorize it myself. I really loved the colors and the softness of the photo. In the original, the left eye was a little red from the “blush” that was applied and I did correct that so that her beautiful eyes could show their sparkle once again. As you can tell, I didn’t change the lips or teeth either. I started to make changes and it seemed to change the look of the photo so, I quickly turned off those adjustments and just left it the way it was originally meant to be.

I’m okay with that, since the point of my work on this portrait was only to restore it and not make changes; really, in my mind’s eye it didn’t need any changes. It still has some of the mottled look of the original and I kind of like that as well since it almost gives the illusion of being a very soft painting. What do you think?

I wish I knew her story or even her name, but she is hopefully gracing family members as she steps out from behind all the wear and tear to be enjoyed for many more generations. When I look into her eyes, I see the hope of youth and the promise of a life filled with wondrous journeys.

Definitely Adding a New Service 

As I continue my own journey into helping others bring their own family stories to light, this might be that special moment when I finally could see what it is I would like to do when I grow up! (Does anyone else feel like they haven’t aged past high school or college?) 🙂 Here is my big announcement: … drum roll please… I am officially adding Photo Restoration and Colorization to my list of services! I have never felt more confident about forging ahead with this website! More updates to follow…

CreativeLive – Tutorials to Get You Started

If I have sparked that inner artist in you and you love a little challenge, let me recommend a wonderful set of tutorials that are found at CreativeLive. This website originally started out as a way to share tips and techniques with photographers and has grown to full entrepreneurial resource for Creatives. They offer everything from money courses to Photoshop courses to my three personal favorites listed below. Twenty-four hours a day they stream courses for free. If you missed a course or would like to have it to be able to review over and over, you can purchase the course at a very reasonable price and have full access at any time. (Tip: When they run a course during the day, typically it will run from Noon (Eastern time) to 7:00 pm (Eastern Time). Then they will repeat that day’s broadcast over and over through the night until the next day when the new broadcast is then offered.)

These particular photo restoration classes are fairly short but as a warning, you do need to be fairly proficient in Photoshop. That is where all the magic begins and these classes are geared for the more savvy users. Here’s the promised list that I used: “Photoshop Restoration Rescue” by Matt Kloskowski, “Photo Restoration in Photoshop” by Suzette Allen, and “Photoshop Mastery: Retouch and Restore” by Ben Willmore. They all have different techniques but as you will quickly find out, each photo is different in what it requires to retouch it; options, in this case, are a really good thing!

Up Next: Colorization

If you have a lot of black and white photos, stay tuned because I am going to show you the difference that a little bit of color makes to a black and white — breathing new life into them and helping us to picture them in real life full-color!

For those that might have a similiar photo in need of some TLC, go ahead and email me with a snapshot of that photo and I’ll be very happy to give a quote. And if you have had photo restoration done in the past, I would love to hear your stories of the impact of seeing your restored photo for the first time!

Census Records lets us be that Fly on the Wall

Who doesn’t love the thought of taking a peak into the lives of our families “way back when” in order to catch a glimpse of what their home life might have looked like? Let’s see… How old was my father and where did he work? What kind of house did they own and exactly where was it located? Why did they move around a lot or did they stay in the same home for years and years? These tantalizing questions are one of the reasons that we tend to spend a lot of time – especially in the beginning as we look back into our own family histories, gazing at the census records from so long ago.

Here is a single page from a LifeStory Book where I combine a page from the 1930 Federal Census, photos, memorabilia, as well as related stories, facts gleaned from the census, and a bit of recorded history. (Census:


Many times we don’t have family story hand-me-downs(that’s me!) and the census takes on that look of a time-machine so that we can become voyeurs of a sort. The one line rows of boxes with information are carefully filled in with all sorts of great details gleaned from our own ancestors. Or were they? Can we rely on the census and take it literally as a source of information?


I love census records. I love to see my family members’ names all written in tidy little sections – especially as small children. I love to picture them working on the farm and taking care of the daily chores. My father was just three when the 1930 census was taken in Pleasant Lake, Indiana right at the beginning of the Great Depression. What was life like for my grandfather as he tried to stay afloat and keep his family fed during this time of great hardships that spread over the entire United States?


Luckily, I was inspired a while back to talk with my own father several times in order to get some personal details but even now, I find that I didn’t ask enough questions and of course, I find myself heading back to the census records. My father passed away too early for me and then my mother, ten years before him, so I am now left with no contact with that entire generation. I understand the life cycle but it doesn’t make it any easier when I really yearn to understand more about them, their parents and their grandparents.

First Things First

I have done hundreds of searches over the years for my own family, my husband’s family, for clients and for applicants of The Society of Indiana Pioneers as the genealogist for that group. I always find myself looking first at census records, after all, they go back 225 years to 1790. What becomes quickly apparent once you get familiar with the census records, is that the early ones, up until 1840, only give us the most basic information: head of household and number of family members within different age brackets.


That can be frustrating when following a family through those early years as we find some numbers that fit and others that do not fit in any way, shape or form. How can we tell who might be living in the household if we don’t have any names and worse yet, relationships listed? How are we supposed to fill in the blanks in our family histories when all we have are rows with numbers listed in them? Very carefully, I would answer.


This is the point that you truly put on a detective’s cap and grab for a spy-glass and pipe. You have to become familiar with the whole family, not just the small nuclear family that we assume are the father, mother, sons and daughters. We have to keep track of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters that might also have their own sons and daughters. These are the faces behind those small little numbered columns of information.

History and Census Takers

Not only do we have to juggle all the family information but it helps to keep a sense of humor as we dive into these census records. After all, if you look back at the census-takers and the conditions that they worked in, it is little wonder that we still have the detailed records available today! After President Washington signed the first census act in March, 1790, it was up to the U.S. marshalls to locate and instruct census-takers and also to divide the country into suitable districts. The Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson sent out the marching orders to the marshalls, but the “devil is in the details,” wouldn’t you say? The enumerators of those early years didn’t have the luxury of a full-blown mail service and as a result, most information was taken one step at a time – literally.


Walking door-to-door or farm-to-farm takes on a whole new light when you put yourself in their shoes. Were there county line markers notifying the census-taker where to start and stop? What happened when a census-taker would travel a great distance only to find that the folks living at the remote farm were not at home at all? Would he go back another day? Would he ask a neighbor? Or would he simply make something up or leave them off entirely?


Even if the hardy sole took his position very seriously and made a point to get accurate information, how could he possibly know if the information he was given was factual? I wonder how many times an enumerator came upon a farmer in the midst of plowing or some other type of work and asked detailed information about his children. That produces a comical picture in my mind because my husband has a hard enough time keeping all our children’s birthdates straight let alone knowing exactly how old they are. Add to that the fact that the father might have been working and you have the scene for some best-guess estimates, don’t we?


Or what about the wife that might not have liked the idea that age was creeping up on her and shaved off a couple of years? Even for myself, I have a hard time remembering exactly what age I am since I hit the 50 marker. For so many years, I joked that I was 40 and was more apt to actually keep that number in my head instead of my actual age. So, it is no wonder that we find census records with ages that don’t fit the 10-year add-on that we assume to find with each progressive census.


As you look at the census records, it is a good idea to keep in mind that those hardy souls writing down the information were only taking down what was given to them – no proof necessary. They also were not paid extravagantly either. In fact, it sounds like most of the earlier census-takers barely made enough to cover their costs while fulfilling their missions. Add to that the fact that they also had to make copies of their records before handing them in and it is again a wonder that we have the records at all! Up until the 1830 census, the enumerators had to write down their information on their own paper and then make copies on top of that. These papers had to be posted in a local place so that everyone in the area might take a look and make corrections. So much for that happening! And, so much for any privacy!

Foreign languages in the Mix

With all the above obstacles, I haven’t even touched on the problem of language barriers that the census-takers faced. They didn’t have the luxury of having the form and questions translated into several languages. It is no wonder that names are almost unrecognizable and can be completely looked over unless you had an ever-familiar surname such as Smith or Jones.


How many people have searched census records for years looking for their missing family only to find that the name was written with no similarities to the original spelling.  And what if the person giving the information could not speak English? How about trying to decipher a surname given in a foreign language? Oh, my, that could seriously throw a monkey-wrench in the whole process and I couldn’t even blame the poor soul that was trying to simply do his job. After all, he was only supposed to write the information given him. It’s at these times that we have to think phonetically and take in account the possibility of different accents. It’s a puzzle and you have to think creatively.

Plotting Changes

You ask what good is the census record if it is full of inaccuracies and could possibly be full of false information? Well, I would suggest that you keep that sense of patience as you carefully plot each family out using the available census records. Following a family from the start to the end can give you a great sense of the family unit as a whole and pieces that you are missing. There is something very satisfying about plotting a family from its beginning as a newly-married couple through to their elderly years.


I track the family with names and dates as well as the ever-familiar “F” or “M.” Why add that last bit of information? Well, you will understand better the first time you realize that the census-taker misunderstood a name and then thought it was a boy when it was a girl. That throws things off, but only if you are only looking at a census, one at a time. Literally, I will start a blank sheet and start to make those T’s like I would when I learned about debits and credits in accounting classes. The top of the “T” is the Head of the household and the family members are listed below on the right hand side. I use the left hand side to make notes, such as changes in towns or interesting tidbits that I might need.


Want to really take a deep look at the details that right there in front of you? None of us enjoy rewriting information that is tedious, but you might find a blank census form that fits with the year you are looking at and copy your family’s information onto the form. Sometimes it is that simple act of writing down the information that brings new light to piece of information you might have glanced at a hundred times but didn’t catch until you had to write it down yourself. Yes, the old English class writing strategies do indeed come in handy when evaluating information and especially with our beloved census records!


So, go ahead and attach lots of census records to all your family trees, but if you really want to learn a bit more about your family, take some time, pick at the information one column at a time and look at the information in different ways. You might find that all-important gem in amongst all the information hand written by a diligent or somewhat diligent census-taker from years ago.


Sources: “Overview of the Census” article on

How Does My Difference Affect the Results?

As I’m looking at my to-do list, this wonderful article heading I had jotted down a while back caught my eye. “How Does My Difference Affect the Results?”


Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? Mmmm… I think it has to do with my journey and the paths that I have taken to get me to this point. (Stay with me… this is NOT an article all about myself. It is all about you and your own life story.)


I couldn’t be an avid genealogy researcher if I didn’t have my background in computers and programming. Actually, I could… but my experience in the field definitely gives me a great background in search tactics.


I could not have my passion for writing family history stories if I hadn’t lost my mother fifteen years ago and my father five years ago. How could I understand the importance of talking with elder family members sooner than later if I hadn’t had close calls myself? I missed the boat on many of my family members but on the few that I did contact after my own lightbulb moment, including my own father, I am extremely thankful that I carved out that small amount of time it takes to get their stories.


Maybe you have heard a recent commercial that tells us that we are pursuing our dreams not by ourselves but with all the people in our lives that helped us to get where we wanted to go. Sorry, I can’t for the life of me remember the product, but the presentation certainly caught my attention.


So, how does your unique differences affect your own life?

We all take for granted that our family knows what makes us tick or why we do certain things, but we might also be surprised at how much our family doesn’t know. Anyone in business knows that keeping a resume up-to-date is extremely important. It is your unique pathway that clearly describes your work experience.


Along those lines, let’s make it equally as important to start working on our own family history resume – one life story at a time. There is no better place to start than with yourself!


If I have peaked your interest, then the rest of this article is a great starting point. These do not have to be done in order, but you can simply check them off or make your own notes in the margins.

Let’s get started!

  1. Print out a copy of your resume, number each company, and on a separate piece of paper, write the reason you chose this particular company to apply for the position.

It doesn’t have to be a long section, but if you had a memorable experience or worked with or for someone that impressed you, feel free to write about that as well.

In one of my positions, I found myself with the opportunity to work for one of my clients that was a female entrepreneur. She was powerful, intelligent, and very forward-thinking in her visions for her business. It was an important time in my young career when I was also a young mother and I quickly became very understanding of the rules of the corporate world while working under her.

  1. Make a list of at least five of your elder family members and asterisk the ones that are over 70 years old. 

 Call or write them to see when you might be able to talk with them or even better, visit them in person to chat about some of their favorite family memories.

Don’t forget to take some pictures that these family members will recognize – they are great conversation starters – and take lots of notes or video.

Five questions to ask about a photo:



  1. Write down five childhood stories about yourself.

 These don’t have to be earthshaking or especially notable moments, but stories that stick in your mind. Have some fun with this. There is no right or wrong way to do this or write it. It’s more important to just start!

I never really thought I had any great stories to share with my kids but my youngest child started to ask questions about “when I was little.” As I started to think back and talk about some minor stories, I realized that they didn’t seem especially incredible to me, but to my daughter, they were very interesting. Guess what? A few stories were worthy of requests for repeats. Who would have imagined that? Certainly not me…

Here are five to begin with:




  1. Check to see if you have any photos taken of yourself with each of your children. 

 Insert that picture into a document and write a note to that child describing some of their special traits. If this is hard to find, then hopefully you will be inspired to get some photos taken with just you and each one of your children (young or adult.)

This one comes to life for me in a fairly painful way. You see, I have searched through photos since my own mother passed away fifteen years ago and I quickly figured out that my mom was much happier behind the camera than she ever was in front of it. I might have a handful of pictures where we are both in the photo together and maybe only a couple where we might have really posed for the shot — just her and me. This has changed my own picture-taking so that I make a point to get photos taken by myself with each child at random times. I want them to be able to find those photos and be able to see our progression through time as Mother and Daughter/Son.

Here are five ideas to get you thinking:

4_photos w kids

  1. Find pictures from your childhood homes and/or your own homes or apartments. 

 Either scan the photo or take a quick photo of the picture so that you can insert it into a document and write a note with your favorite memories of that home. This might be an “aha” moment for some of you as well. Do you even have a picture of each of the places you have lived in your life? If not, there is no time like the present to grab someone to take a photo of you and possibly your spouse in front of your own home where you currently live. It’s kind of creepy but you can always find the addresses of your previous homes online if you poke around enough. Add that address as well.

 Remember seeing old black and white pics of families sitting or standing outside their homes that are so fascinating to look at? Let’s look ahead fifty years from now. House photos with the parents sitting or standing in front is such a classic photo and gives us such a great view of life right at that moment; it literally stands still forever in time.

Here are five thought-starters to document not only the photo but your own stories:

5_childhood homes


I know… I used a lot of fives for no apparent reason but to give myself some goals! That is always the best way to accomplish anything – set a goal and give yourself tiny steps to make the process attainable. As Nike says so clearly… Just do it!


There is no time like the present. I can throw out all sorts of clichés… but they really are words to the wise.

After all, take it from someone that has been there and done that… living with regrets is just not very much fun. We all have the idea that we have tomorrow to do things, when sometimes it is today that we need to give priority to!

What kind of topics would you add to this life story resume of your own? For myself, these all have me itching to dive into my scrapbooking! No time like the present as they say.

Some Not-So-Secret Lineage Society Insights

Lineage Society header


As I was looking through my Twitter feed, I came across an article written by Amy Johnson Crow about lineage society applications that caught my eye.  You can find her article HERE titled, “5 Things to Do When Applying to a Lineage Society.”

It got me thinking what I might be able to add from my point of view as the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers to compliment the great article that Amy Johnson Crow presented.

First Three Generations

Through the past nine years, I have seen a wide range of applications that have come in to our office in all shapes and sizes. Some are the just a few pages and others are literally 3 inches thick. From my point of view, I approach them all the same. The first three generations are always very straightforward:  birth, death, and marriage information that come from official documents. These documents are the best way to confirm dates, places and give ties between generations.

Play Detective

One thing I notice is that a lot of people take the official documents as the absolute truth; I’m suggesting that you need to look a little closer. As we work with these documents, keep in mind what information is first-person in each document; birth records are first person for the mother and the child’s information.

For death certificates, the only first person items are the death date and place of death of the deceased and that is confirmed by the physician. All the other information is being given by grief-stricken loved-ones or even possibly by an institution’s staff. If you have ever been present during this point, you will understand that no one in the family is truly thinking at their clearest due to the stress of losing a loved-one.

I have seen wrong middle names, wrong spellings of the deceased names, wrong birth dates, and wrong parent’s information. I always like to think of these items as being confirmation of whatever I do find that is first person as well as important clues.

The Human factor

The other part that plays into all this is the person that recorded the information – either at the time of the event or later as it is actually input into a modern document. For example, when I request a death certificate here in Indiana, either in the county or state office, they are referring to a book that has the information hand written or typed which they then type or hand write into a modern form for us to keep as our record. Do you see how many places that an error might creep in? What you need to know is that all the information is initially recorded in a row-by-row format, so each person’s information is all contained within one line in the recorder’s book.

It’s all in the recording

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Oh, it has happened… I have seen where a very well-intentioned clerk literally started pulling information from the deceased person’s line of information and quite by accident, finished with someone else’s information. This error can be very evident if you are familiar with the person, but it can be very confusing when you don’t know that much about this particular person and suddenly you are now working with someone else’s information.  (Talk about heading down the wrong trail!)

And the point to all this? Let’s just say that it is a good thing to look at all your pieces of documentation for a certain event and where one document doesn’t line up, then you might want to ask some questions of the preparing agency.  At the very least, I would suggest you make a note of it for the society’s genealogist and acknowledge the item that doesn’t agree with the rest.

Power in numbers

When we get past those first 3 to 4 generations, things start to get trickier and that is where I start to look for multiple confirmations of a particular piece of information. For example, let’s look at birth records; most states won’t have official birth records prior to the late 1880’s, if that far back, so then we start to look at obituaries, tombstones, bible records, and yes, even biographies. When these things are added to census records, DNA results and other documents that might not be official, you can put together enough circumstantial evidence for a good case within a particular generation.

Where a piece of documentation might not stand up well by itself, there is power in numbers.  It helps me when an applicant pulls together all the clues and lists them together in a cover letter for that particular generation. It is kind of a cheat sheet for me to know where the applicant is wanting me to look for the information.

Secret Weapon

Over the years, I have also helped quite a few women put together their applications for the National Society of Colonial Dames so I am well aware of how frustrating it can be to put together an application – even one that needs go back 10 – 12 generations. In a recent application, I ran across a wonderful program that you might know about called Scrivener.

It was absolutely a fabulous tool since it allowed me to write up a full citation once and apply it to several generations where needed. Then when I printed it out, all the citations related to each generation printed out. So many great positives about this program; too many to get into right here. There are a lot of good tutorials available for it and it is a very inexpensive program! I used it to track all the clues that I had for each of the generations, especially when I needed to make a “case” for a particular generation.

Crystal Clear

Check with the society’s rules, and if it is all right, then underline each important name, date and place so that the genealogist can easily see the item that you want them to see. This helps to make sure that the person reviewing your application sees everything you want them to see. I have had faint copies submitted, which I can handle, but if I am supposed to be able to find the pertinent information, it benefits both of us to have to information clearly underlined.

Here’s another hint: if you have a hand-written document, you might want to try and transcribe it and insert it along with the copy of the original document. Again, it is all about making it very easy for the genealogist reviewing your application to be able to see and read exactly what you want them to see and read! I’m very proficient at reading old script hand-writing, but it certainly helps to have something easy to read (to compare.)


Here’s a tip that has helped me in the past: print out the application and work through your documentation like you are looking at it as the genealogist.  As you work through each generation, you can then check off the dates and places of the each required piece of information. This process makes it painfully clear when you have a spot that is not documented as clearly as you might like.

If you have any weak generations(as far as documentation) this is where you then might consider making up a list of items that you believe make a case for a particular generation. It is hard to do when you are so closely involved in the actual work of obtaining all the necessary documentation, but trying to take an objective look at it is important.

It’s in the details

Be skeptical as you go through your work and make sure that you have every last bit of evidence covered in your presentation. (Of course, as I say all of this, each lineage society’s genealogist or registrar has their own vision of what the requirements are for the society. Personally, I try to make sure that I turn over all possibilities in order to help the applicant, but with other larger societies, they don’t have the luxury of time to track down any further documentation so it is truly dependent on the applicant to have all the available documentation on hand.)


My best advice? Enjoy the process. Relish each generation. Once you are done with the application and have all your documentation, remember to go back and add stories and pictures to bring your research to life. It’s a Lifestory – your lifestory!


Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – Dividers reimagined

Putting It All Together

This project is very near and dear to me. I have actually applied these changes to my parents’ binder and I will be changing all my binders over to this format one by one. The side benefit to working on this project is that I have pulled all my documentation into one place (the binder) and it has become a far better Life Story Book.  You be the judge. Here is my research binder after its transformation.

(This was made for my own personal use, but if you see some digital scrapbook paper that catches your eye, I will post a list of my digital papers that I used at the bottom of this article. Some of them are rather old, but I will try to give credits where I can find the information!)


Tutorial Alert!

I am so excited to bring you this third tutorial that looks at the finishing touches that can be added to your Research Binders that will give the tabs a much needed update. Gone are the old tabs with the names typed so tiny that you can hardly read them. This tab system is simple, beautiful and very effective. (And I love how much nicer the whole book looks and feels!)

If you love the look of the dividers, they are an Avery product (Avery® Durable Write-On™ Plastic Dividers With Erasable Tabs, 8 1/2″ x 11″, Multicolor, 8 Tabs) and widely available at office supply stores. My favorite page protectors to use are the heavy weight non-glare sheet protectors. They are easy on the eyes and give added protection to the document.


Like the Beautiful Borders?

Binder w borders

If you see some borders on pages, I haven’t left them out of the tutorials on purpose; I promise! They are Welcome gifts that I send out to anyone that signs up to be a part of my Life Story Community. I am commited to transforming all our rich family documentation into amazing presentations that will captivate our family’s attention. That’s the goal, right?


This has been a project that has made a profound difference in my own Research Binders. As we digitize everthing in our lives, there is still a place for hard copies — they can be viewed any place and any time — even if we don’t have wi-fi! I will be re-working all my albums in addition to any digital Life Story Books that I prepare.

I’d love to see some of your own updates – please post them to my FaceBook page, “It’s a Life Story”, email me[Michele at Lifestory dot com], or tweet me a picture[ at MicheleKerr on Twitter].

Better Yet

I would love to hear any stories of family members’ reactions to the binders!


As promised

Here is a list of some of the digital scrapbook papers that I used in my own personal family history research binder: 

Title pages & Parents Marriage Photo Page & Childhood Photo Page = Becky Higgins’ Heritage Edition  – designed by Celeste Knight:

Work Photo Pages = Julie Mead’s Family Yearbook paper – (This was a 2007 kit, so I’m not sure if this is still available.)

Beautify Your Family History Binders – Photos Are Up Next

Step Two_Photo Splendor title_Canva

Welcome to the second of three tutorials where we look at making a few changes to our Research Binders in order to make them a bit more reader-friendly. 

I’ve got a some information following the tutorial in case you find that you have any questions. Hopefully, I’ve addressed them all but feel free to send other related questions my way! If you haven’t seen the first tutorial in this series, you might want to read through that as well since I address a lot of basic information that you might not see in this second tutorial like background papers and using Picasa tools.

As I have explained in the first video, I am showing you the changes that I have made to my own personal family history research binder. I love the digital scrapbook papers that I have used. If you see some that catch your eye, you can find out where I got them at the bottom of this tutorial!

Video #2 – Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – Photos are Up Next Using Picasa


While working with clients for almost ten years, I have given back many a research binder filled with lots of wonderful documents detailing the lives of their ancestors. When I hand over those binders, one of the first things that I usually suggest is that they add family photos to the album to bring it to life. Today, I’m suggesting that we can take a couple more steps that might result in the binders actually being looked at by family.

Disclaimer alert!

The idea that your research binders won’t be enjoyed without sprucing them up doesn’t apply to everyone. This is just a trend that I have seen over quite a few years and a large majority of clients! They either do all the work themselves or have hired it done only to find out that no one in their family seems to care. To their family member’s credit, I also know that family history is something that we all have to be in the right place and time to want to become involved.  — I’m suggesting that we can nudge things along if we try a few things within our binders.

In my first tutorial I ended with the thought that we would all “love to lure our younger family members into looking at their family history and taking an interest.” Well, if you have ever watched the younger family members scanning their phone “feeds” of Instagram or FaceBook or whatever app they are fond of, you will quickly see that what gets their attention has to have something that draws them into the story or picture.

I’m not suggesting that we need to change our book solely for the younger family members, but that we can reach more generations if we combine those valuable documents with photos and stories – kind of tying it all together into an easy-to-digest format.

Stories – Got them?

Of course, there is always a little ground work to do before heading into any project and this one is no different. We need to have stories before we can incorporate them into our research binders. As you are pulling together the photos that you want to add to your binder, I suggest that you take copies of those pictures and make a few visits to family members that either knew the people in the photos or were actually in the photos themselves. Then I would prepare to make some notes as they reminisce about the event that was happening or something in particular that sparked a memory. It is these little bits of stories that make such an impact when adding it to your family history binder.

While I have your attention, I’d also suggest that you take this opportunity to get a video or audio record of your interview. Then I would save those clips to be enjoyed at a later time and possibly even added to a digital version of your binder.  (Just thinking ahead!) It also helps to be able to listen again and catch everything that was mentioned without having to stop the flow of the story as it is being told. Lastly, I suggest that you go ahead and leave the copies of the pictures you have been looking at with the family member as a thank-you. Of course, if you send them a copy of your finished page that includes their story, that would be even better!

No Pics? No Problem  — but Time is Wasting.

If this is where you are lacking, then again, I would make a point to contact all the family members you can get to and see when you might visit them.  Take along your smart phone and an app like “Heirloom” to scan the pictures. If you don’t have to take the photos out of their sight, it is more likely they will relax and then you can proceed with listening to their stories. Don’t be surprised if you don’t leave them with a real good feeling – talking with your family about their past makes them feel important as well as loved. A win-win situation in my mind!

I’ve said it before, but most of the older family members that I interviewed several years ago have all passed. If I hadn’t taken the time, I would have missed out on all their stories. Lesson learned the hard way.

Organization strategy – Who Needs It?

That title is laughable, I know. Once you start to collect any family documentation, stories, and or pictures, you quickly find out that you will need some type of organization. It can get crazy real quick.


To keep things simple, I would have a main folder on your computer titled with the Project name such as “Julian Family” or “Genealogy of John and Susie.” Then within that main folder, I would add the Surnames that you are starting with. Within each Surname folder, I would add the names of both the husband and wife that heads up each generation in a Last Name, First Name order such as “Julian Nathan.” And then, within each of those folders, I would add folders that have titles such as:

  1. Childhood through High School Years
  2. Marriage
  3. Military
  4. Organizations
  5. Family
  6. Death
  7. Land records (if you have enough that warrant a separate folder)
  8. Work / Business

Here’s an example of what my folder looks like:

Contained within Childhood folder_cropped

These are all simply suggestions and obviously they are based on a more recent generation – in fact these are the same titles that I used with my father’s folder. Just take a few minutes to jot down some ideas of what you think might work and then look through your binder to verify that it all makes sense. There is nothing worse than starting to organize things and quickly realizing that it just doesn’t work!

Once you are set with the format, then you can begin to scan the documents you have already located or download them directly into the folder that they belong. There are a lot of organizational plans for family research, but if you are going to try and tie them together for a presentation, this works well for me. I can have a visual idea of everything that I want to include in the binder and it is easy to pick and choose what I need!

Picasa – Love for Photos but Definitely Not a Word Processor. Did I mention it’s FREE?

As long as we all go into this project with the idea that we are going to keep costs to a minimum – FREE, then we can come to terms with the limitations that we will encounter. Picasa is a very user-friendly photo editor and photo management software. I’ve been using it for years even though I also have Lightroom and PhotoShop. It’s quick and easy to move around in and you don’t have to take a refresher course everytime you want to use it! By the way, I also have PhotoShop Elements and it is an excellent bridge product between Picasa and the full-blown Photoshop, but my focus with this tutorial was on FREE and EASY.

So, when you are preparing to tie the photos together with stories and documentation, you will want to have an idea of exactly what you want to get across with each page. In the page that I’m demonstrating with this tutorial, I am enlarging a section of a 1940 census so that I can see what was entered for my family. In my description of the census, I will explain the column entries and if I have any background information, I  will add that in as well. All the stories for that one page can be kept in one document for easy retrieval and then saved in the appropriate folder as well. As I’m working in Picasa, I can then simply copy and paste (Control-V) into Picasa.

This might take a bit of trial and error but it is really worth it and you will quickly get an idea of how much you can add to get the desired effect. You might need to adjust the size of type if you want to add more to a line.

Important Point for Adding Text

The important point here is that you will want to manually add RETURNS into your text so that it will pick up on the returns when it gets pasted into Picasa. Otherwise, it will become one long line of text and you will need to place the returns manually within Picasa. I think you will agree that doing it ahead of time is a good thing! You can always adjust the end of a line by deleting the <return> and adding it back at a different spot, but experiment first.

One other thought: When you paste your text in Picasa, it will be huge and you will need to shrink it down. That works for me, but it might take some getting used to when you are starting out!

Final Thoughts

I never know if anything I ever post will help anyone. But I can sincerely see the difference it has made in my own family history research binders and I am hoping that it might prove helpful to someone else. You might choose a different path to change up your binder, and I’m OK with that. I’d love to hear about the changes you have made and what has worked. And if you have taken it to a family get-together and have some reviews on how well the change-ups worked, I’d love to hear about that as well!

Digital Papers

Here is a list of some of the digital scrapbook papers that I used in my own personal family history research binder: 

Title pages & Parents Marriage Photo Page & Childhood Photo Page = Becky Higgins’ Heritage Edition  – designed by Celeste Knight:

Work Photo Pages = Julie Mead’s Family Yearbook paper – (This was a 2007 kit, so I’m not sure if this is still available.)


Our Family Research Binders need to be brought out of their closets! Let’s get them to the point that they see lots of light and are enjoyed by even more family members.

Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – First Up, Title Pages

Title Page graphic_canva

Make-over Alert!

Let’s face it – most of our family history binders need a little bit of help when it comes to eye-appeal. But who has time for that, right? Our research binders are a result of months, if not years’ worth of hard work and now I want you to think about how they look?

Well, let’s look at it from the opposite angle; we have to do something in order to draw the elusive family member into our stories. Plunking our tomes of family history research into their laps and expecting our loved-ones to want to read them might be asking a bit too much. Or haven’t you experienced the eye-roll when you have tried to do just that?

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a bit much — but then again, maybe not… What draws you into reading a magazine? The cover most certainly.  And once you have started to look at a magazine, it had better have some pictures as well to break up the stories, am I right? You know I am.

Let’s make just a few easy changes and see if you don’t love your binder even more! I am suggesting that we change up the title page, add some pictures in a beautiful way and make-over those ugly tabs that we are so used to seeing! It’s not that hard and I, for one, am more than willing to try something so easy if one or more of my family members might be tempted to open up their own family history.

Three Simple Changes

It’s really pretty easy. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be breaking this down into those three DIY parts: 1) title page make-over, 2) adding photo pages with stories or at least captions and some comments, and 3) a major tab re-do that will instantly change the feel of your binder. And to help with the Title Page Make-over, I have decided that a video might work best. Before you check it out, you will need to install Picasa, a free photo editor/management program. We are going to use it kind of like design software.

Picasa is easy to set up and you can get it Here. This easy to use software can scan your computer to add all your photos and you can also use the folder manager (in Tools) to decide which folders to continuously monitor. I have been using Picasa for years and it is my go-to photo archive manager as well as a quick editor. For my purposes this time, I’m using it as a design program on a very simple level. Of course, you could purchase Photoshop Elements or even Photoshop, but for my purposes with these changes, Picasa fits the bill.

Video Alert!

This week we are making changes just with the title pages.

If you are interested in purchasing the same digital papers that I am showing, here is the link to Becky Higgins Project Life Heritage Kit.

[Please note that if you are not feeling comfortable enough to purchase Becky Higgins whole Heritage kit designed by Celeste Knight ($21.99) then you can easily just start with the title cards, journaling cards or filler cards. Individually, they are $3.99 each. There is a lot available online for free as well; just google “free digital scrapbook kits.” One of my favorite sites is ScrapGirls.  I would suggest that you watch the video and then decide. Also remember that you purchase once and use many times!]

If you do purchase a digital kit, you will need to download the kit and unzip the files. No problem! Here are the directions for that as well.  In order for Picasa to show your new papers like photos, you need to make one quick change once you have Picasa up and running:

Go to Tools and choose Options. Then click on File Types and click on all the formats available. Click on OK and you should be good to go! If you don’t do this little step, you might not see all the beautiful papers that you just downloaded .

Now that you have the house-keeping all done, give it a try!  I would love to see what you come up with for a title page.

One more reminder: You aren’t making this only to please yourself; remember the goal. Wouldn’t we all love to lure our younger family members into looking at their family history and taking an interest? For inspiration, you might look around at Pinterest or Instagram to see what is catching their eyes!

Over the next two weeks, I will be posting new videos and/or tutorials on how you can spruce up your own family history research binder. I hope you give the ideas a try and please let me know about your success stories!