DIY Family History


Have you considered creating a family tree? If you’d like to figure out whether or not this is your kind of activity before committing to paid subscriptions, you might consider doing a little preliminary research at

The site is one of the most heavily used on-line genealogy sites.  Family Search also offers personal assistance at more than 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. Registration is free.

In the search section of anyone can look for records of their ancestor.  The family tree section allows a user to build his own family tree.

While the record collections are not as extensive as paid sites such as or, you’ll be able to search census and other vital documents. Census records contain lots of fascinating information. You may also find a user-submitted tree that includes members of your family. (Note: the user-submitted trees are best viewed as containing “hints”. It is wise to verify the information with your own documentation.)

Family Search is a genealogy organization operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Use of the organization’s resources is free and open to all.

For more information or for assistance with your family history, contact /CC

Family History for Kids in Blended Families


Many people want to know where they come from. A sense of belonging is especially important for kids. Knowing about their family history gives them an understanding of who they are and of their place in a larger world. What can parents in blended families do to provide that same  awareness?

Hanna and Dylan’s Mother and Grandmother are divorced and have remarried. The kids have excellent relationships with their step-dad and step-grandpa, obviously a very good thing. Their Mom, however, did not want them to forget their biological Dad and Grandfather.

Working together, we were able to create a 22-page photo book for each of the kids. A few examples of the content:

  • ‘About Me’ pages with photos illustrating many aspects of their current lives
  • A family tree that included a couple of ‘extra’ branches so that photos of each member of the blended family was visually illustrated
  • Stories we found about their great-grandparents, including what it was like to be a kid 100-years ago
  • A map showing the routes each of the 4-lines of the family took, migrating across the country, to all arrive in the same area — so their parents could meet, marry and give birth to them
  • Copies of interviews the kids did with immediate family members about their personal histories
  • Lots more photos

If you want to explore how you might create family history memories for your kids or grandkids, contact /CC

Speaking of Mother’s Day


Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Anderson Cooper about ‘The Rainbow Comes and Goes’, the best-selling book he coauthored with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.  The two also created a CNN documentary ‘Nothing Left Unsaid’.

Anderson’s rationale for taking on the project was of special interest to me, a family historian. He said to Colbert, ‘My Dad died when I was 10. And I always had this fantasy about my Dad, that maybe he had written me a letter. The letter would show up when I was 18 or maybe when I was 21 — telling me all the things I didn’t know about him — all the things he wished for my life. Of course there wasn’t a letter. I didn’t want to have that same fantasy about my Mom so when she turned 91. I decided to get to know her as an adult.’

Have you considered documenting (in print, video or audio recording) an interview with  your mother? — or information about you that you want to pass on to your kids? An oral history or bio, an any form, becomes more precious with each passing year.  And, you never know when it will be too late to ask for that information.  Want help? will assist.

Or, if you are stuck figuring out what to record, consider the following questions to jump start the process:

Thirty Things You Never Knew about Mom (by Lisa Adachi Childs)

  1. What was it like being pregnant with (or adopting) me? How was it different from my siblings?
  2. What were you like as a child?
  3. What makes you happier: someone doing the dishes or someone giving you flowers?
  4. Tell me about your worst date ever.
  5. How many jobs have you had in your life? What did you learn from them?
  6. Who was your favorite person to spend time with when you were a teenager? Why?
  7. What kind of car did you learn to drive in? Who taught you?
  8. What was the most popular song when you were in high school? What kind of music did you like to listen to?
  9. Who was your role model as a kid? Who is it today?
  10. What was the highlight of high school for you?
  11. What are your favorite smells, sights, sounds, and feelings?
  12. Is there anything in your childhood you wish you could have changed? Why?
  13. What do you admire most about your parents?
  14. Did you have any traditions with your friends growing up? What about fun family traditions for the holidays?
  15. What is the greatest service someone has ever done for you?
  16. Tell me about your worst hair day ever. And what about your worst hairstyle ever?
  17. What is your first memory of Dad? What kind of boyfriend was he?
  18. As a teen, did you ever feel the Spirit prompt you very strongly to do something?
  19. What was your favorite restaurant or store as a kid?
  20. What’s the best thing that Dad has ever done for you? that you’ve done for him?
  21. What’s your dream job? Is it different from the job you dreamed about as a kid?
  22. Tell me about the first movie you remember going to. How much did a ticket cost?
  23. Which three foods do you wish didn’t exist, and which three foods do you wish you could eat every day?
  24. What was your first experience living outside of the home you grew up in?
  25. What would you want your grandkids to remember you for?
  26. Tell me about one day or event that you wish I could relive with you.
  27. What’s your favorite thing about having kids? What’s the hardest part? the most surprising?
  28. Do you have a favorite travel memory?
  29. What do you feel like you inherited from your mom and dad?
  30. What is your proudest moment as a mother?


Save Family Photos


I was honored to be asked to submit a guest blog post, about creating a book of Dad’s and his brother’s WWII memories, for Saving Family Photos, an organization ‘On  mission to save family stories, one photo at a time’


A new family history research source?


An exciting discovery from RootsTech 2016 — the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a free online library, started in 2010. It provides access to public domain and openly licensed searchable content held by the nation’s archives, libraries, museums and other cultural heritage institutions — in the form of books, photographs, maps and audiovisual materials. In one place, you can find items from a wide range of institutions, from small and local to large and national. DPLA is growing rapidly, continuing to add to its collection over time. Funding has been provided by sources such as Harvard University, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others. visit at

Why take a Y-DNA test?


A Y chromosome DNA test (Y-DNA ‘genealogical test’) is used to explore a man’s patrilineal or direct father’s-line ancestry. The Y chromosome, like the patrilineal surname, passes down virtually unchanged from father to son. Y-DNA marks the path from our direct paternal ancestors in Africa to their locations in historic times.

If two individuals’ test results are a perfect or nearly perfect match, they are related within a genealogical time frame. Y-DNA tests are typically coordinated in a surname DNA project. And each tester receives the other’s contact information if okayed by both.

Women who wish to determine their direct paternal DNA ancestry can ask their father, brother, paternal uncle, paternal grandfather or a cousin who shares the same surname lineage (the same Y-DNA) to take a test for them.

Why not consider adding the results of a Y-DNA test for a male relative carrying the family surname to your estate plan records? This information will become increasingly important to the next generation as developments in genetic DNA continue to advance.

Time permitting, Family Matters will work with you at no charge to determine the best type of DNA test — Y-DNA, mtDNA and atDNA — for you and/or your family and which testing company best suits your needs. If desired, we can talk through how you might consider setting up a DNA testing plan for your family — as well as specifics about pricing and lead times — plus the best sources for learning more and referrals to DNA specialists, if desired.

Family calendars


This project started as a one time Christmas gift in 2014. I created and ordered about 20-copies as gifts for parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. It has become so popular that I felt ‘compelled’ to create a new one in 2015 and 2016. Several say that they especially appreciate seeing birthdays —

Doris Kearns Goodwin to Keynote RootsTech 2016


America’s ‘Historian-in-Chief’ (NY Magazine) Doris Kearns Goodwin will share her insights into the personal and family lives of past presidential leaders and the influence their ancestors had on their personalities, behavior, decisions, and careers. She will also share anecdotes about her own family and experiences which have shaped and influenced her life

RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, announced Doris Kearns Goodwin has joined its lineup of keynote speakers. Goodwin, a world-renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will speak at the RootsTech general session on Saturday, February 6, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Richard Dawkins on DNA


“DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”


DNA enthusiasts, book recommendation


Author Nicholas Wade is a former staff writer for the Science Times section of the NY Times. In Before the Dawn, he discusses humanity’s origins, a story that began 500-centuries ago . Wade’s narrative is based on recent developments in genetic science. A few of the topics he covers include: what our ancient human ancestors were like, the first human language, when our ancestors left Africa and the routes they used. The book will be especially interesting to those who have (or close relatives of) taken a Y-DNA test as it helps tie together test results with the journey out of Africa.

Before the Dawn – 2006 – Penguin Press

Find it at your public library. New and used copies in hardcover and paperback are readily available for purchase — as well as a Kindle version.