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Family History

Tips, tricks, and ideas about recording the past so future generations can understand their family history. Learn about great preservation methods, web links, and how to have fun creating your family’s history.

Family History: Public Records Search

Family History By September 6, 2019 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Doing genealogy can be an exciting mystery to solve. However, knowing how to start and where to look for leads is sometimes overwhelming. There’s a lot of information and databases available. Some are free. Some cost money. Of course, there is always Google. But Google’s expansive database requires you to know exactly what you’re searching for to get the desired results. Naturally we highly encourage using family history websites such as Ancestry.com. Beyond genealogy websites, there are some other fantastic sources to search through. Public Records, specifically, hold tons of information.

We’ve compiled a list of some great public records worth examining.

The National Archives

Every ten years the US government conducts their census. In those census records you can go back as far as the 1790 Census, and as recent as the 1940 Census. Within the records a plethora of demographic information is contained. It is important to note that a Census record must be so old before the information is accessible to the public due to privacy concerns. The census’ currently available are found at The National Archive website. Along with access to some military records and other historical documents and data.

Military records are an awesome way to find enlistment and discharge dates of specific family members. There are plenty of other resources to search for military records outside of the National Archives, but if you’re already there you might as well scan their records. Not all information is available to preview online, but you can request copies from the National Archives.

Immigration Records

Immigration records are a fantastic way to search a specific family members name and find out exactly what year, their age, and what country they arrived from. If a name change ever happened down the line Immigration records will also often show those. You can make a free online account at the Ellis Island website, which will give you access to immigration records, pictures, and ship information. Many genealogy sites include immigration records as well.

Criminal and Court Records

Besides immigration records, court and criminal records can be a great help in learning more about your ancestors. This doesn’t necessarily mean your relative killed someone if they have records showing up in court cases. Minor infractions such as speeding tickets will also show up on their records. Some court records will also hold birth and death certificates that can be beneficial to your search.

Cemetery Databases

The next database we recommend searching is cemetery archives. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for someone from a small town. Cemetery databases will often have birth and death dates, images of headstones, and where they’re buried. You no longer have to go to graveyards to find this information, however, if you decide you are on the adventurous side and want to physically visit gravestones here are some tips for when you go.

Public records only scratch the surface for all the information out there, but they are fantastic starting points. For more great genealogy resources and guides check out The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Genealogy.

Now that you know where to start looking, wondering what to do with all your newly found information. We have a suggestion!

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wooden family tree

Why Make a Family History Poster

Family History, MyCanvas Products By May 29, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Family history is on the rise with technology simplifying the process for hunting down lost relatives. It has also made it that much easier to put together family trees—whether digitally, in a book, or a poster. Each way to store your genealogy has its own perks. We are specifically covering the benefits of a physically printed family history poster. But no matter what your preference is having access to your family history is amazing!

Bring on the benefits.

It’s Decorative

family history posterLet’s start with the more obvious reason; it’s easy to display. A family history poster adds a beautiful personalized touch to any room decoration. It’s something that is completely unique to you and your family. Not only is it a lovely piece in your home, it can easily become a family heirloom that’s passed down. If you’re worried it won’t match your style, there are a plethora of websites available to create custom posters; making it easy to match your aesthetic perfectly. It’s also a much simpler process than creating an entire book. Of course here at MyCanvas we print high quality family history posters that include customization options.

This leads us to our next reason.

It’s all About the Stories

Growing up did you hear stories about infamous ancestors from your grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles? Imagine having easy access to pictures or your family line showing exactly how you are related—all while listening to another retelling. A family history poster does just that. Being able to visualize as well as hear the orations not only makes it more captivating, it adds a sense of realness; becoming more than just a story.

It’s in the Research

Doing your family history can be captivating. You become a family detective piecing together the puzzle of your ancestors. As you begin to dig you might find changes that need to be made, updated information, or just cool stories to add. Having your family tree online is great for keeping information relevant, however, it can be complicated keeping track of your findings in the process before you are ready to update. Creating a great reason to have a physical copy of your family tree nearby is a great way to track it. Use sticky notes for each time you discover something new about a relative and stick it to the correlating relative. Now you have a visual map of exactly where that ancestor falls in your line, and it simplifies the updating process. It’s similar to a good student who writes out research points before starting their paper.

Our final reason is a personal favorite.

It’s About Bringing Family TogetherPeople Playing Tug-of-War

Last, but not least family history posters are great for family reunions. Because extended families are sometimes overwhelmingly large; keeping track of everyone’s relationships can be difficult. And there isn’t always going to be Wi-Fi access for you to pull up your genealogy and figure it out in the moment. But coming prepared with a family history poster of the whole family makes it significantly easier to find the connection. On top of that as a family you can share findings and make corrections together. It’s a great focal point for any family reunion. You can find even more great ideas for family reunions here.

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Making Mother’s Day Special: A Gift Guide For Mom

Family Fun, Family History, MyCanvas Products By April 30, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. With it comes the struggle of finding the perfect gift for the woman who has given us everything. It’s a challenge to find the perfect present for mom, but we compiled a list of thoughtful gift ideas that she will love.

1. Photo book

photo book standing open

 

To start off we suggest a customized photo book as an awesome option! It’s scrapbooking made easy. Save all of mom’s favorite pictures in one place for her to enjoy. If there are too many pictures to choose from you can always create a theme. For example, a past vacation, family reunion, or her growing up years. It’s a touching gift that’s completely unique to her. What’s not to love?

Create your photo book here.

 

2. Ancestry DNA Kit

Who doesn’t want to know where they originated from? Get mom a DNA kit from Ancestry to find out exactly where her family originates. You never know what cool surprises you might learn about your mom’s history. And it’s the perfect time to start making your family tree because it not only shows where her family’s from it will connect her to living relatives as well. The kit is $99 and totally worth it.

And speaking of family history…

3. Family History Book or Poster

Stories about your ancestors are an awesome keepsake.  Make a family history book about your family’s heritage. Compile stories you heard around the dinner table growing up or at family reunions. Call your grandparents to get more details about their parents and grandparents. Another option that coincides is to gift mom with her family tree. Map out a few generations and have it printed on a poster she can display for everyone to see. Either one is a wonderful sentimental gift that is sure to be passed down.

If creating a family keepsake sounds perfect, check out our next suggestion.

4. Family Cookbook Recipe Cards

Food is a central part of family traditions, and mom’s cooking will always be number one. Make it easier for her to recreate all your family’s favorites by compiling all her recipes into one family cookbook. No more digging through old index cards and worn out hand written recipes. Preserve great grandma’s cookie recipe forever. The book is sure to be a hit with your whole family. It’s also a great excuse for you to get all your family recipes for yourself. You can easily make a beautiful cookbook through MyCanvas.

Find tips on creating an awesome one of a kind cookbook here.

5. Recreate Childhood Pictures

Kid in Superhero capeOur next idea has been a fun trend on the internet. Gather together your siblings. Find some favorite pictures from your childhood to recreate. Get creative. Try matching the original photos as closely as possible. Find clothes and accessories needed by checking out local thrift stores.  Snap those updated pictures. Put them together in one of the following options: making a calendar with the snapshots of then and now. Print them out and display them in a photo cube. Make a photo collage with them all in one place.

This is a gift that mom will love, and it will make her cry—from laughing too hard.

6. Flowers

This idea is a classic. Pick up mom a stunning flower arrangement. The beautiful bouquet will brighten up her kitchen. Or if you want to go a more non-traditional route, instead of getting her a bouquet, pick her up some flowers she can plant. She will be reminded of you each time she’s out gardening. As a nice bonus the flowers will live longer than a bouquet.

7. Family Photos

If it’s been a while since your family has had family pictures taken it may be time to update mom’s photo wall. This makes for a great gift to coordinate with your siblings, as hiring a photographer may be expensive. It’s something mom will love, especially if she’s not the one having to hassle everyone to get the pictures done.

No matter what you do for your mom, she will love it because you thought of her. Make sure to make mom feel a little extra special this Mother’s Day.

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Tell Your Story: Missionary/College Book

Family History, MyCanvas Products By February 1, 2019 Tags: , , , , No Comments

After high school, young adults have many options that open up before them. Their lives and stories are full of potential as they move into their adult lives. Life changes fast during this time; be sure to capture these exciting and life-changing years in a photo book!

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Tell Your Story: Life History Books

Family History, MyCanvas Products By January 15, 2019 Tags: , No Comments

The basic family history book may not be as in-depth as some people want. For those families and storytellers, the templates from MyCanvas can create and shape one person or one family’s unique life. Consider creating a custom life history book like this one using MyCanvas! Use custom design and layout to turn the templates into a deeply personal, in-depth recollection of one family member’s life.

Find Your Narrative

It seems most intuitive to start at the very beginning: the day your ancestor was born. But it doesn’t always have to start there! Find a hook in your ancestor’s story, like the moment they married or the moment they emigrated to a new town or country.

Tip: Are you telling your own story? Finding that hook can be extra important! A completely chronological story can have a slow start, and may not be as engaging if the story is very long.

Wherever you start, it helps to find a theme for your book. Are you focusing on an individual? One family? Or a particular theme among many family members (such as immigration or military service)? Themes help you pair photos and stories.

Related: Writing Better Family Histories

Use Historical Context

Turn your book into an educational experience! There is a lot that modern readers might have forgotten or simply don’t know about. Take the chance to share teaching experiences! If there’s a little detail that offers historical background, share some tidbits about it. If your ancestor (or you!) lived through certain historical events, you can add in details about those as well.

Yes, putting context into your family history means doing a little bit of extra research. But there’s a fix for that! If you have your records and pedigree on Ancestry.com, the site provides historical insights on your ancestor’s timeline. This helps you find starting places for your research!

If you’re going this route, or using other historical data, add pages that use Ancestry data. These can provide interesting trivia about your family member. They also can provide quick layouts you can edit to suit your needs.

  • Right-click on one of the layouts at the bottom of the Project Editor window.
  • Choose Add Pages at the top of the menu.
  • In the sidebar on the left under Themes, find Family History.
  • Each style (Classic, Elegant, Family History) will have page options, from record pages, timelines, and descendant trees to photo layouts and recipe pages.

Design Tips

  • Divide up long stories. It can be hard to read one giant wall of text. Pair information near relevant photos, and don’t be afraid to spread out those stories over multiple pages.
    • However, if your story crosses only two pages, make sure those pages are in the same spread [page layout]! It generally looks better and reduces confusion over turning pages to keep up with a memory.
    • If you don’t want to spread your story over many pages, try using columns to cut up that wall of text. Use the Grid feature at the top of the Project Editor to make sure lines of text align properly between columns.
  • Group stories and photos by themes as well as points in your subject’s life. You might try organizing sections by a family member’s early life, raising a family, and later years, as a start.

How will you make your family history book more unique to your family? We want to hear from you!

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