Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Papa Sue's Family Tree

I once read about some scientific research that proved that one of the most important factors for children growing up and becoming "successful" adults was for their parents and family to simply talk with them: have conversations about anything and everything, go beyond the day-to-day discussions and talk about what you see, hear, do, etc.
We received a comment on our blog from Jane, who showed that this is true!  As long as we talk about it, and are good examples, our children will listen!  Here is her story:

"For a few years, one of my granddaughters has been concocting stories surrounding a character she imagined, named Papa Sue. Last summer, when she was 9, I went to visit her and saw a large and very elaborate chart she had drawn with Papa Sue and his wife at the bottom and lots of other characters with names going up toward the top. I asked her what that was and she said it was his family tree. And that is exactly what it looked like. I asked her how she even knew what a family tree was...and she said “Grandma...even though you don’t think so, I am always listening to what you say!”  So somewhere at some time, she had heard me discussing our family origins to her parents.  It certainly made me smile!"

Thanks for sharing, Jane!  It was so wonderful to hear about the love of family growing in your granddaughter's heart.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Heritage Scrapbooks

We received another great idea for passing on and preserving your history!  Our friend, Elaine McAllister told us about her method of keeping her history for her family:

"I've made a 'Heritage' scrapbook, which I continually add to.  It includes a genealogy fan chart, of course, then traces our family back through those generations.  There's a star by each name if I have a picture of that person later in the scrapbook.  If there are stories associated with anyone, I've written and included those as well (like the basket my great great grandfather made for his grandson- my grandpa- who was 6 when he accompanied his grandpa on the wagon trip to deliver baskets to an area mercantile in exchange for a supply of groceries for the family.  I have that basket! Or the midwife who delivered hundreds of babies in northeastern Arkansas- my husband's great grandmother).  There are a multitude of stories, artifacts, and pictures!  Great stuff!

What a great idea to compile your family history!  Thanks for sharing, Elaine!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Creating Family Storybooks

Have you heard of Story Jumper??

Recently, we received an idea to further your family's engagement with family history and we think it's GREAT!  Story Jumper is a super easy service that lets you publish books, ebooks and audiobooks!  What a wonderful way to share your family stories in a way that appeals to both children and adults alike!  Here is her story:

"I have been working on our family histories for many years, but have yet to write the "story" of each family.  For each of the past two years, I decided it was time to write our family histories in children's books to give our 4 granddaughters, ages 3 - 11.  I used the company StoryJumper and made hardcover books of about 24 pages, which told our family "story" (of each of two family lines), using photos and language the children would understand.  Then I gave each one a book for Christmas, along with items that told the story of the country of origin of these families.  (One family came from Russia and one from Switzerland, so I found items made in those countries, or that symbolized that ethnic origin).  The children were excited to be able to read about their family history, and my 9 yr. old granddaughter just couldn't believe that her grandma was really an "author".  Now, I just have to write the others...and begin the work on the adult versions!"

Check out their website at and good luck in your adventures in family history!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Family History For Your Holiday Gatherings: Best Ideas

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We've been blogging at The Chart Chick for over 10 years, and Zap the Grandma Gap for 7 years, dishing out great ideas about how to share family history with your family.  Over that time, we've talked about how to utilize family history in your family gatherings to create more unity and strengthen your relationships.  And what better time to have a family gathering than during the holidays?  Whether your family is getting together for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, Chinese New Year or all of the above, be sure to talk about your family history together.  Here are some ideas to help:

1. Share Heirloom Family Recipes
We've shared many of our ancestors family recipes over the years, on our blog and in our Zap the Grandma Gap books, but a family favorite for this time of year has to be Kim's Mother's Cranberry Salad Recipe.  It is super simple and super delicious.  You can find it on our post at "Happy Thanksgiving from our House to Yours" and see the video my kids made about it on our YouTube channel.  While you are cooking this year, ask your family to help create a video to share some of your family recipes with extended family members and record them for posterity.  

2. Decorate With Your Family History
We're all about decorating with family history charts aren't we?  If you haven't created a chart with us yet, we'd love to get you started with a free consultation.  But we've also got lots of ideas about decorating with your photos.  You probably have family heirlooms that have to do with the holidays too.  Make sure you are sharing the stories behind these items as your family gets together this year.  Check out our posts about family history table decorations, the ChristmasTree my daughter made, and decorating using family heirlooms for ideas.  

3. Talk about Your Family History
Get the conversations going during the family gathering with our articles on 10 Questions to Ask Around The Table, or 20 Questions for Your Table.  The holidays are a great time to interview older relatives, create videos, and take lots of pictures.  Make sure you are capturing the resources you have now to preserve your history.  

4. Capture the History You Are Creating Now
One of the best ideas we have shared for a family activity during the holidays is to create a time capsule. Intentionally creating an heirloom for future generations helps you be thankful for the time you have now. It could be a collection of artifacts you store for a year, or 10 years but it will be a treasure in a very short time.  Check out our hints in our Time Capsules post for ideas of what to collect and how to store it.  

We hope you have a wonderful time together as you celebrate the winter holidays coming up.  We wish you all the best, from our families to yours. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Presenting with My Family (Video)

The best moments in my speaking career have come when I've had the opportunity to speak with my family members.  I've spoken at BYU with all three of my children, I've spoken with both of my twin sisters Amy and Emily, and I've spoken at RootsTech with my Dad.  My son Matthew spoke at RootsTech on his own (he filled the room better than I did, but don't tell him that.)  Matthew's RootsTech talk was exceptional and he was asked to give it several more times at other conferences throughout Utah and California.

We have the opportunity to speak together this weekend again at the Welby West Jordan Family History Fair organized in part by my good friend Luana Darby.  Matthew hasn't given his talk for a couple of years now so we've been going through it and updating things to make sure it is all current.  As such, I've been really impressed with the videos we put together at the time.  Matthew is now 20 years old, but he was only 16 when he spoke at RootsTech.  This talk is really great for a 16 year old!  

One of the things we noticed at the RootsTech youth event the year before we gave this talk, was that many of the youth were looking at their phones throughout the presentation, but when the speaker played a video, all of the heads in the room popped up to watch the video.  So, in order to capture the younger generation's attention (and to take a little pressure off a 16 year old) we added short videos to his presentation.  Check them out:

His title, "Get to Know Your Geezers" was fabulous and eye catching as well.  At the very first RootsTech conference, someone actually criticized me for having my children there.  Now, with so many actively involving their children in their Family History Research, things have changed much for the better.  Families like the Family History Fanatics, and The Genealogy Kids are carrying on the torch as my kids head into college and beyond.  I'm sure those kids, and all of the kids they reach will be benefited the way my kids have been.  Truly that has been the biggest payoff of my career.  

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Gift From My Grandpa

This was really monumental to me, so I decided to post it to both blogs.  From the Chart Chick Blog

George Alvin Carpenter About 1958
My father's father, George Alvin Carpenter was a great scholar.  He was a university professor who spent his career at UC Berkeley and then retired and taught 15 more years at Brigham Young University.  He was an agricultural economist who helped rebuild the economy in Europe after World War II.  He was involved in research and teaching his whole life.

But he was not a genealogist.  His father Joseph Hatten Carpenter was.  Joseph was a prolific genealogist who I've written about before.  I suspect that my Grandfather Alvin spent most of his life feeling that his father had done everything that was necessary with our family's history.  I don't think he was really very interested.

However, I do remember once, when I was about 7 or so, my Grandfather sat all of his grandchildren down on the swing on his back porch and told us about our family history.  I was the oldest, my cousins were probably between 2 and 4 years old.  I remember Grandpa was trying to tell us something important, but it was really boring.  I didn't understand much.  But I remember Grandpa was really proud of his heritage.
About 1973.  I'm on the left with my cousins on the porch swing.  If my memory is right, this is the day my grandfather tried to tell us about our family history.

Being a university professor, I know Grandpa was perfectly capable of real research and he could have been a good genealogist.  However my Grandfather performed only one genealogical act in his life that I know of. He wrote a history of his father, Joseph Hatten Carpenter--the genealogist.  This book is only 145 one sided pages.  But that one small act had a great impact on me.

The book was published when I was 10 years old.  Because I was one of the descendants, I got my very own copy.  It sat on the little white bookshelf in my room and on quiet nights, I would pull it out, and read about Joseph.  Even though I have many ancestors who were actually quite famous, Joseph was the one I knew the most about, and I became quite connected to him.  When the time came that I wanted to learn more about my family history, you can guess who I was connected to, and where I wanted to spend my time first.  I've traveled to the family history sites and archives researching along this line and I've learned alot about my patriarchal family because of this small book my Grandfather wrote.

Grandpa passed the year I turned 16. It is hard to quantify the effect he had on my life.  Certainly my ethic for education came from him and that has been a huge influence in my life.  I could go on and on about other things I've learned from him.  But this small book has been a real treasure.

When I started lecturing at Family History Conferences, my very first lecture was "Where to Start When It Is All Done,"  I talked about the family history my Great-Grandfather Joseph collected and what I've been able to do with it.  In that lecture, I often showed this book of my Grandfather's and talked about what an impact it had on my life and my family history work.  Diving into Family History when alot of work has already been done is challenging--just like it was for my Grandfather Alvin.  I tried to encourage the attendees by showing them his book and describing what an impact it had on me.  I told them that if they only accomplished one thing, it would be worth it in the lives of their descendants.  According to my records, I've given that lecture 34 times from coast to coast and my copy of Alvin's book has come along with me.

But the most amazing thing happened last month.  My son Matthew has been helping my Dad go through his family history boxes.  And they found this:  A copy of the book that my Grandfather had actually signed to me.  It reads in part:
I hope that you will enjoy reading about some of his wonderful accomplishments.  May you learn to appreciate the great heritage you have as his great-grand-daughter.  With love and best wishes, your grandfather, G. Alvin Carpenter.
When they gave it to me I just cried.  It was like a pat on the back from my Grandfather for the work that I have put into this industry, trying to help people with this important work.  I felt like I had been fulfilling my Grandfather's wishes, to learn about our amazing heritage and honor his legacy.  And even though he never saw it in this life, I had learned to appreciate this history that was so important to him.

Had I always had this copy of the book, I don't know that it would have had such an impact on me.  So you never know... you never know where the trail of breadcrumbs will lead your descendants.  How blessed I am for the people who went ahead of me and blazed that trail.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Have you signed up for our 52 week newsletter?

I've just been going through our newsletter emails to edit and freshen them up.  I've come to the last one this afternoon and I found something I wrote that really moved me.  Who knew?

"You are now someone who is aware of the importance of the family narrative in your own family member's lives. And you are now someone who has studied and pondered the tools at your disposal for transmitting that family history to your family members in a fun and engaging way. You stand at the crossroads between the past and the future of your family. You have the ability to make a real difference in the future generations. Become a transitional person by making your history strong and inviting. Transmit your family's narrative with purpose, with excitement, with quirkiness and with joy in a way that your family members will want to remember and tell future generations about. When you are a force for good in your family you will impact many, many lives."

I really hope that the resources we've put out with our Zap the Grandma Gap series have helped create stronger families. The original book and workbook, the children's workbooks, the games, the blog and the social media, everything is designed to make family history fun and exciting. I truly believe family history can save the world. If we all can be a little more compassionate about where we came from, and where others come from, more understanding of our families we can all be more kind to each other. 

Feel free to get all of the hints we've shared in our newsletter at