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RootsTech 2019 Salt Lake City Part II

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This was the first time for me to present at RootsTech as well as visit Salt Lake City and I must state that both were very enjoyable!  With so much to see and do at the conference, it was a wonderful smorgasbord of events for everyone.

 

IMG_2491The Expo Hall was filled with vendors and products that filled my head with ideas and my bag with items to use in my research. My husband and I also enjoyed getting our picture made with the tree man from RootsFinder.

 

 

IMG_2507What I especially enjoyed was presenting with Valerie Elkins and Rachel Trotter, two professionals who know the ins and outs of getting families involved in genealogical research. I learned so much from just listening to their presentations.

 

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Not a bad group for 8:00 on a Saturday morning!  When it came time for my presentation, I was so glad I had taken the advice of my professional speaker and presenter son, Michael Villareal, who recommended that I practice, practice, practice. Good advice! I felt totally at ease even with this huge group.

 

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After the presentation, I was able to share a bit of information about my books . . .

 

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and give my good friend, Cindy Medina, a big hug!

 

 

Thank you, Heidi Ertel, Tara Bergeson, and all the staff who helped organize and make RootsTech 2019 such a wonderful experience! 

 

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Getting Ready for RootsTech 2019

 

ab4e8-crazylady_mediumI once wrote an article about how difficult it was to write a book and wait for publication. In that article, I compared it to waiting for the birth of a child. Since that article, I have had several grandchildren and found that waiting on them was easier than writing a book, publishing said the book and preparing for RootsTech 2019.

Really, I am quite excited about the prospect of presenting with Youth + Family History = Magic with Rachel Trotter and Valerie Elkins in a new and innovative section called “Power Hour” in which attendees will get more bang for their buck. In other words, everyone will receive a lot of information in a short period of time. That will certainly be the case during our presentations as we share our expertise with you. 

The problem I am having is how to share a full meal of information with you in fifteen minutes and still leave you feeling full and happy.  Well, eureka! I have done it and am looking forward to sharing the joys and wonders of getting younger family members involved in family history. It is quite a journey but completely doable. 

See you at RootsTech on Saturday morning March 2nd at 8:00 in room 150 for Youth + Family History = Magic PH5439. Bring your coffee and curiosity with you!  

 

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Do You Know Your Family History? Third Of Americans Can’t Even Name All 4 Grandparents, Survey Finds

Originally published on Studeyfinds.org

NEW YORK — How much do you know about your family tree? For many folks, it’s not very much. A recent survey finds that a third of Americans can’t even name all four of their grandparents, incredibly.

While DNA kits that trace one’s ancestry have surged in popularity over the years, there are still plenty of people who don’t seem to care too much about where they came from. The survey of 2,000 Americans showed that a third of respondents struggled to climb the branches of their family tree beyond their grandparents.

One in five couldn’t even name one of their great-grandparents.

“In recent decades, we’ve seen a major upswing in interest when it comes to researching family history, and this is largely due to the accessibility of historical information,” says Jennifer Utley, Director of Research at Ancestry.com, which commissioned the survey, in a statement. “This valuable historical data is helping people paint a picture of their past.”

It wasn’t just names of relatives that respondents failed to come up with either. A fifth didn’t know the city that any of their grandparents were born in, and 14 percent had no idea what their grandparents even did for a living.

On the bright side, many participants have put in the time and effort to learn about their background. Half of those surveyed say they’ve researched their heritage be it through family tree books, official records, or using an online service. Six out of ten also are aware of the country their last name comes from, and 65 percent were able to name the country or countries their relatives came to America from.

Thankfully, most do wish they knew more: eight in ten say they care about their family history and feel it’s important to find out where they came from. Utley says it’s easier than it seems, it just requires a little bit of work and outreach.

“Most family history research starts with oral history, listening to the stories passed down from generation to generation,” she says. “Conversations during holiday gatherings can help us discover more than just what country our relatives migrated from, but also who they were as individuals – their stories, their dreams and lessons learned.”

As for what kind of information participants said they’d like to learn from their grandparents or great-grandparents, 72 percent were interested in hearing stories of them from when they were young, 62 percent wanted to know where their family came from, and half simply wanted some life advice.

Interestingly, only 40 percent of respondents were interested in their grandparents’ medical history. Just 37 percent cared about the work their grandparents did, and slightly less (36 percent) wanted to hear about the best places they’d traveled to in their lives.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll in December 2018.

https://www.studyfinds.org/family-tree-history-third-americans-cant-name-all-grandparents/?fbclid=IwAR3ELeJ1rwdyts5kcFCecyGOlA4AsXXL8Ms7kjjmZZVCeyDT76JmeReM3yQ

 

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What Does Christmas Look Like All Over the World?

As I began this article, I wanted to find out the different ways Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Yet, as I delved deeper into my research, I found that the Christmas traditions that are celebrated all over the world are remarkably similar.  There are four fundamental attributes, each county celebrates with special foods, celebrations, decorations, and various presents of some kind or another.

Christmas in AustraliaOf course, depending on the climate, things often change. For instance in Australia, where their Christmas is celebrated during their summer, their Santa Clause wears shorts and trades in his reindeer for kangaroos. The dinner consists of cold food such as fish and crackers. In the Falkland Islands, where 3,000 people and 150,000 sheep live, lamb is their food of choice because turkey is very expensive to fly from the United Kingdom. In Venezuela, they have ‘hallacas’ which is a combination of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives rolled up in plantain leaves and steamed. This is reminiscent of the tamales that are such a mainstay forSarma Mexican families during the holiday. In Croatia, the meal on Christmas Day is often turkey, goose or duck with a side dish of ‘sarma’ (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meat). They also top off the meal with ‘Krafne’ filled with jam, jelly, marmalade or chocolate.

Romania DubasiCelebrations are also a constant in each country with plays, nativity scenes, and caroling a large part of this holiday. In the Dominican Republic of Congo, full musical evenings with multiple choirs and nativity plays last long into the evening and early morning. In Brazil nativity scenes called ‘Os Pastores’ (the Shepherds) are available for everyone to enjoy.  In Romania ‘dubasi’ or bands of 50-60 unmarried men sing through the streets, the same happens in Greece where the young men carry wooden 16-Christmas-carols-by-candlelightboats and receive gifts. Going to Mass for church services is also the norm as in Portugal where the “Missa do Galo” or mass of the rooster is celebrated. In South Africa, where it is a hot time of year, people walk through the streets singing carols by candlelight. What a beautiful sight that must be!

As far as decorations, some countries take the time to spruce up their homes like painting it as people do in Trinidad and Tobago. Trees of various Ukraine spider web treesshapes and forms are the norm as well with spider web decorations in the Ukraine part of bringing good luck into the homes. In Greece basil is kept in a bowl of water in the middle of the table and used to sprinkle holy water throughout the house to ward away evil spirits.  Nativity scenes or creche are often used as decoration as in Malta where the nativity cribs called ‘presepju’ are decorated with ‘pasturi’ or shepherds and angels. Also, seeds such as wheat, grain, and canary seed ‘gulbiena’ are grown to decorate the bed of the baby Jesus.

What I found most fascinating is how presents are looked at and used throughout the world. In most countries like Zimbabwe, new clothes are given as presents every year. In Zambia, presents for the less fortunate are brought to the church. In New Zealand, whereRomania presents.jpg the weather is warm this time of year, ‘jandals’ or flip flops are a favorite gift. Speaking of shoes, in some countries the shoes are dusted off and left out to be filled with sweets and presents this is also true of socks. Not only are presents left under the tree, but are places in shoes as in Romania and Portugal and are often delivered by the baby Jesus as in Slovakia.

I find it incredible that no matter where you are, sharing happy moments with family and friends is an integral part of this time of year. I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Take care! And if you would like to learn more, check out this great website: www.whychristmas.com.

 

 

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Rootstech 2019 Handouts

Hello Friends,

Thank you for visiting my website. Here are the pages I referred to in my presentation.

Take care and remember, if you need any help let me know.

Becky

Scavenger Hunt

Ask Your Ancestors

Who is in My Family Tree Resource Sheet

Who is in My Family Tree Vocabulary Sheet

Wordscramble

TraitsHeirloom-Hunt-blue-and-orange-page-001 (1)Heirloom-Hunt-blue-and-orange-page-001Heirloom-Hunt-blue-and-orange-page-002

For additional ideas, check these following websites:

 

http://www.climbingmyfamilytree.com/genealogy%20for%20kids/

Genealogy for Kids: My Ancestors in the Civil War

 

Free Websites:

https://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-resources/50-free-genealogy-sites/

 Board Games:

http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/08/playing-genealogy-board-game-what-fun.html?m=1

 Bingo Games:

http://eighteen25.com/2011/02/b-i-n-g-o-cards/

 Word Search Template:

http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/WordSearchSetupForm.asp?campaign=flyout_teachers_puzzle_wordcross

 Online game using records on Family Search

http://www.littlefamilytree.com/

 

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Genealogy in our Jammies

 

A few years ago, after writing the first of a series of children’s books on family history and genealogy, I found a library in Houston, Texas that had a lock-in entitled “Genealogy in our Jammies.” I fell in love with this term because of the picture it represented.

Now, maybe you don’t want to go parading around in your pjs while doing research, but actually, it could be fun! This is the season, after all, to go and get those great matching jammies for Christmas morning.

Background first, right? Well, as a teacher, I participated in many a “Family Nights” through the schools. These were always exciting, engaging nights where everyone worked together on common tasks and celebrated at their attempts and successes in various academic activities.  These were exhilarating and exciting events that everyone enjoyed.

That’s when the idea was born. Why not have Family Events for genealogy? Lock-ins seem to be the norm now with various associations around the country, but I never see anything about family events where the children are invited to participate. Having seen family events in action and having planned many myself, I found this a wonderful idea to bring in younger family members into the “fold,” so to speak, where they would become acclimated to doing actual family history research.  Having worked on several such events, I know just how great they can be.

This is easily done and an exciting prospect for families longing to engage their children in such worthwhile events. Whenever families come together in this nature, it is beneficial to all.

If this interest you, I’ll be working on my genealogy and glad to help!

Becky 

villarealbecky@gmail.com

 

 

Working in jammies

 

 

 

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How to Engage Children in Family History and Genealogy

Talk to living relatives

Encourage children to talk to their living relatives, especially the older ones. Hearing stories about what life was like in the past helps young people connect to the past. This connection brings generations together and establishes strong family bonds.

Children and teenagers can interview relatives and record the interviews on a video- or audiotape.

Tell stories

Tell stories about your life and the lives of your ancestors. Young people need more than facts and dates. They need the facts and dates packaged in interesting, meaningful, and memorable ways. The best way to create an interest in family history is by telling young people stories about real people. Fill your stories with interesting information, humorous details, and unusual facts that will capture a young imagination. Sharing family stories doesn’t have to be a big event; make it a common occurrence around the dinner table, in the car, or at bedtime.

Share heirlooms and photographs

Holding something that once belonged to an ancestor can be a powerful experience. Pictures and heirlooms make the past come alive. Children especially enjoy photographs that show how clothing and hairstyles have changed over the years. Keep photographs and family heirlooms around your home, so children are constantly reminded of their heritage. Tell stories and histories about the item and its owner.

Attend family reunions

Family reunions are a good way for different generations and branches of a family to come together. A family reunion gives young people an opportunity to know relatives they might not otherwise meet. It gives them a chance to create experiences and memories that can last a lifetime. Help children and youth understand how they are related to each person they meet. For example, you might say, “This is your great-aunt Phyllis. She is your grandma’s older sister.”

Go on family history field trips

Children of all ages enjoy field trips. A family history field trip could be across the country or just down the street. Visit places your ancestors lived or worked. Visit graveyards. Go to museums or living history exhibits, such as a historically re-created village or a historical farm that shows how your ancestors lived. Celebrate your family’s ethnic heritage at a cultural festival. Use an Internet search engine to help you find festivals and living history exhibits in your area. Above all, make these trips fun for the children.

 Play family history games

Games are a good way to make family history fun. Family history board games are available for purchase, but you can also make up games that are specific to your family. It’s easy to create a trivia or matching game or adapt a common game such as Bingo. Your children could even help make up the game. For examples of family games and instructions on how to create them, see Appendix A of this lesson.

Involve entertainment

Music and movies from the past are another way to reach young people. Share music from different eras, and teach children some of the dances their grandparents used to dance. Children enjoy learning the old songs their great-grandparents used to sing. Watch movies that were popular during the lifetime of an ancestor or that portray a certain period in history. Children are often amazed to see some of the old silent movies that were popular in the past.

Celebrate with food

Food is an important part of holidays and family gatherings, and it was the same for our ancestors. Make your grandmother’s apple pie recipe or your father’s famous meatloaf for your children. Food from different countries where your ancestors lived can provide an interesting variation on your normal diet. International recipes are available on the Internet and in many cookbooks. You can prepare pastries from France or kimchi from Korea for a special family history meal. Visit http://www.cyndislist.com/recipes.htm for a list of Web sites that can help you.

Create personal histories

Help children and teenagers create their own personal histories. They could keep a journal, create a scrapbook, or write stories from their lives. Give them a camera or help them take pictures of events and save those photographs in an album. For a list of Web sites that may help you, go to http://www.cyndislist.com/photos.htm or www.cyndislist.com/scrapbooks.htm.

Tie family history into school work

Make the connection between what children learn in school and their family history. For example, if a child is studying a historical event, tell what an ancestor did who witnessed or participated in that event. Look on the Internet for information about what life was like during that time period and how wars and other events affected daily life. If a teenager studies a book for school, tell about ancestors who lived at the same time as the author or who may have experienced some of the events described in the book. Help students learn about geography by looking at a map to see where ancestors lived. If children need to choose a state or country for a report, suggest that they choose a place where your ancestors lived. If you have photographs of the area your family came from, you can use those photographs to augment your child’s studies.

https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Involve_Children_and_Youth_in_Family_History

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Chronicling the Ups AND the Downs in Family History

Originally posted: https://climbingmyfamilytree.blogspot.com/2018/02/chronicling-ups-and-downs-in-family.html?spref=fb

Hani Simonowitz Schwartz, mother of my grandpa, Tivador “Teddy” Schwartz

After reading this article from Time, about why adults shouldn’t shield children from sadness, I decided to write about why family historians owe it to future generations to document both the ups and downs of the past.Of course we love to trumpet the many success stories (like hubby’s great uncles, the famous bandmaster Slatter brothers in Canada). And it’s fun to tell younger relatives about the family traditions that we ourselves remember so fondly (like singing the Farkas Family Tree anthem at family meetings when I was a tot).But every family also has sorrow, struggles, and losses in its history. We may have witnessed grief following a loved one’s death or we may have learned about sad or despicable family events from relatives or newspaper articles or other sources.

As genealogists, we owe it to our descendants and relatives to honestly chronicle the lives of our ancestors, both good and bad. It’s vital to show younger relatives what formed our family, let them begin to learn about the range of life experiences, and reassure them of the shared strength of our family.

Research shows that children actually benefit from understanding the difficulties faced by ancestors and relatives–and come to believe they can overcome obstacles themselves. Stories are a safe way to begin the learning process, portray ancestors as real people with real lives, and put the past into context for younger folks.

I’ve written about my husband’s great-grandma Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), and her truly heartbreaking tale of being confined in two notorious insane asylums due to a diagnosis of being “melancholy and demented.” The cause of her insanity, according to the asylum records, was “misfortune and destitution.” She was, it seems, driven insane by poverty and despair. And her children were placed in a workhouse while she was institutionalized.

BUT when I tell their story to my grandchildren, I remind them (with genuine admiration) that Mary’s children all went on to live very productive lives. Mary was the mother of the three bandmaster brothers who built brilliant careers and were pillars of their communities, as well as being good family men. If only Mary could have known! Once I found out about Mary’s sad life and death (from tuberculosis), I made it my mission to be sure her descendants are aware of the bad and the good in that branch of the family tree.

Another example: In researching my mother’s family, no one ever mentioned the many relatives who stayed behind in Hungary when my grandpa Teddy Schwartz (1887-1965) left for America, bringing his brother Sam and sister Mary to New York within a few years after he arrived. All his life, Teddy kept one photo of his mother, Hani Simonowitz Schwartz (see image at top). It must have been painful for him to look back and think about his parents and other relatives he would never see again.

Only through Yad Vashem did I find out that grandpa Teddy actually had many more terrible losses to mourn. I was shocked and dismayed to discover that his other siblings (and their families) were all killed in the Holocaust, his niece being the only survivor. No mention of this tragedy in the family tree minutes, no family stories passed down.

In my mind, I believe the heartache of these losses was why my grandpa Teddy was so insistent that the family observe a moment of silence annually for all the relatives who had passed away in the previous year. That yearly moment of silence–initiated by Teddy and led by him year after year–were recorded regularly in the family tree minutes. Clearly, Teddy believed it was important for the family to at least acknowledge the downs as well as the ups in life.

I agree with my grandpa. Let’s make the family aware of the downs, not just the ups. Do we have to publicly disclose everything negative in the tree? No. In fact, there are a couple of stories that I’ve written for my files only, and mentioned orally but not documented for distribution to the entire family, out of respect for living descendants. (These stories have nothing to do with secrets like “non-parental events,” by the way.)

Notice that I’m putting the full stories in my files, to be passed to my heirs after I join my ancestors. The stories won’t be lost, and at some point, the historian of the next generation may judge that the time is right to say more to more people.

What do you do with the negative stories you uncover in your tree?