Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birth of Everyday Genealogy

Everyday Genealogy
What are you suppose to do with all the notes and handouts you accumulate while attending genealogy meetings, seminars, or just surfing the Internet?

I had asked myself this question just after coming home from an excellent presentation and wondering where to put my handout. There was the pile of unfiled family documents. This would be a logical place, but they were in no immediate danger of being filed. I found another stack of papers; these were copies of magazines I thought might come in handy and print outs of websites I did not want to forget. As I went through the stack, I found so many great sites I started making notes for myself and friends. I realized I had to organize all this valuable information in some manner, but was not sure how or where.

Flash forward a couple of weeks
My friend Pam Tremé and I do technology-related genealogy presentations under the name of the Technology Tamers. One Sunday I was surfing the net and toying with some ideas for presentations when the proverbial bolt of lightning struck me. Could we come up with 365 genealogy tips? I opened Excel and started typing in the titles of some of our presentations and articles we had published. Then I listed the 50 states, 5 or 6 countries one of us had researched and the major wars and conflicts in U.S. History.

I forwarded my list to Pam and told her I thought we should put together a desk calendar with a tip a day for genealogists. Pam showed mild interest and said, “This would be a good project for you.” It appeared that this would be a solo project. The winter in Florida was unusually cold. So, for the next few weekends, I was curled up on the couch researching and composing.

When I had over 200 tips, I started to put together proposals to send to various calendar publishers to see if they would be interested in producing my calendar. I researched the ratings for Who Do You Think You Are? and found statistics about the explosion of genealogy as a hobby. Encouraged, I formatted my first spreadsheet with the topics and my first 200 tips. Days became weeks, and finally, I received the publisher’s responses—Thanks but no thanks!

While not completely surprised, I was disappointed. I searched the various self-publishing sites but none of them accommodated my idea for a tip a day. I told my family I was giving up on the idea and put my spreadsheet away.

What happens in Vegas…?
My husband goes to Las Vegas a couple of times a year with his brother to play blackjack and bond. This year when he came back he had an announcement; Bill would find a printer for my calendar. My brother-in-law’s company prints cards (hotel keys, phone cards, etc.) but not calendars. Therefore, it had never crossed my mind to ask for his help. I was now entering the world of self-publishing. Oh, and I was about 165 tips short of my goal of 365!

It has been a long four months since that trip to Las Vegas and I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about ISBN numbers, selling on Amazon, creating my own website, and even translating this project to an iPhone application. Pam has been there encouraging me, offering additional topics, authoring the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ tips, and coming up with the title!

Everyday Genealogy
While putting together Everyday Genealogy, I learned so much about military research, the formation of the United States, and historical events I never knew. When I open up the latest edition of Family Tree Magazine or Internet Genealogy, I can smile at a ‘new’ website they are featuring and remember when I discovered it and added it to my spreadsheet.

Everyday Genealogy will hit the stands (that is, be shipped to my house) October 20th. Will it be a success? Can I sell 3,000 copies? I am not sure what the fate of Everyday Genealogy will be but 2010 has been one year of research I will never forget.

If you would like to see the results of all of my hard work—that is, order a calendar—email me at Or, visit my website at to see sample pages from my calendar.

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