Geni Podcast: Memory Keeping

Posted May 10, 2011 by Geni | 4 Comments

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Show Notes:

Memory Keeping

As genealogists or family historians, we tend to be the “keeper” of the information and data, we do the research, we write up our finds.  Very often we want to share this information with family members and this is a natural extension of what we do as researchers.

However there are some ways in which you can share family history that will captivate family members and friends and other ways which will make their eyes glaze over, bore them to tears and make them run the other way next time you starting talking about ancestors.

One area of the genealogy industry that helps people share their family history is often called “memory keeping.” You’ll find a variety of items such as books, t-shirts, calendars and the like. Also included are events such as family reunions. And finally you can create special web pages and memorial sites that take your research data and allow you to place the highlights in a format attractive to non-genealogists.

  • Commemoration of specific people and events.

Creating a special web page or blog page to commemorate an ancestor or an event is a great way to keep the memory of that person or event. Footnote offers a neat method called Footnote Pages™ ( where you can upload images, documents, maps and more to create a memorial space. The best thing is you don’t need to be a member of Footnote.

If you have a blog, the major blogging platforms such as Blogger or WordPress allow you to create a page where you can highlight specific people, specific surnames or specific events. Consider creating these pages and then sharing them with family members.

  • Where are some places I can order prints/swag for my family?

Photo prints can be ordered from almost anywhere these days.  Some of the best deals are through your favorite warehouse store such as Walmart or Costco and even drugstores including Walgreens and CVS.  All of these vendors allow you to upload your photos to their website and then create photos, calendars and books that are ready for pickup at a local store.

In terms of what we call “swag” – fun items such as mugs, key chains, mouse pads and more, check out sites like Zazzle ( or Café Press ( Not only can you create fun items, but you can build your own storefront where you actually make money in terms of a royalty for each sale.  This is also an efficient way of creating t-shirts for a family reunion, let’s say.  Instead of having you determine everyone’s size and preference, collecting money, placing the order and distributing the shirts, having a Zazzle or Café Press store makes the process entirely self-serve.

  • Can I order a high quality print of my family tree?

A family tree is one of the best visual devices to use in conveying your family history research. has Tree Posters ( at a reasonable price that take your data and help you build a customized poster. You can then order one or more, give them as gifts, or even sell them at a family reunion.

  • Where can I hold get-togethers and events for my family?

More and more families are thinking outside of the box when it comes to family reunions.  While holding an event at a church hall or the town picnic grounds is still popular, with far-flung families, you have to offer other opportunities.

Some families will rent out a block of rooms at a resort (securing a cheaper group rate) and have family members gather for a reunion.  Many resorts have family reunion packages just for this purpose. In addition amusement parks such as Disney World offer a family reunion experience complete with activities and accommodations.

Cruise ship family reunions have increased in popularity as well.  Again, a large group can secure the group rate and offer other discounts and incentives. Not only can you spend time with family members you haven’t seen in years, you can share activities and visit new places.

Heritage travel is another way to hold a family reunion. There are actual travel agencies that handle family reunion travel back to heritage sites important to a family’s history.

Also consider historic sites relevant to your family’s history. Many will offer catering services and more to help your family gather and to learn more about their history.

More About Thomas MacEntee

  • Webinars: Thomas will be presenting a FREE webinar via Legacy Family Tree webinars entitled Google Docs for Genealogists on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1pm Central time. Click here to register.
  • GeneaBloggers Radio: Every Friday evening from 9-11pm Central time, Thomas MacEntee hosts an Internet radio show – GeneaBloggers Radio ( Via your computer, you can listen to interviews with interesting genealogists and companies involved in the genealogy industry.This Friday, May 6, 2011, in honor of Mother’s Day, GeneaBloggers Radio will feature female ancestors and resources used to locate them.


Grant Brunner: Welcome to the Geni Podcast. I’m Grant Brunner, and with me today is Thomas MacEntee. How are you today?

Thomas MacEntee: I’m doing great, Grant. How are you?

Grant: I’m very, very well today. We want to talk about a few different things, so we have four bullet points that we’ll talk about that will start the ball rolling and that’s memory keeping. You know, commemoration of specific people and events, how does that work? How do you go about working that into your genealogy?

Thomas: Well it’s an area that I think originally genealogists didn’t pay much attention to. They would gather all their data, put out a published family genealogy, and that was it. The interest level would mostly come from other genealogists and family historians. But now we’ve got so many different ways these days. Genealogists and family historians, we tend to be the keeper of the information, the data. We do the research. We write up our findings. And very often we want to share the information with family members, and this is a natural extension of what we do as researchers.

However, there are some ways that you can share family history that will captivate family members and friends, but there are also other ways that will make their eyes glaze over, bore them to tears, and basically they’ll wind up running the other way next time you start talking about your ancestors.

So you really want to choose some of the newer options of working with family members and friends. This all encompasses a new area called “memory keeping.” This is what we call it in the genealogy industry. You’ll find items such as books, t-shirts, calendars included in this area. Also included are events such as family reunions and family gatherings.

And finally, we’re seeing in this same area things such as web pages, memorial websites, specific to specific people and events where you take your research data, and then you highlight this information for your non-genealogy family members and friends.

Grant: It seems like it’s not genealogy in the classic term. But really, when you think about it, it’s actually encapsulating the entire concept of having a lineage of back — having the actual personal information about the person is just as important as having the pedigree.

Thomas: Right. Exactly. And the way that I look at it, when you create — let’s say that we’re going to commemorate a specific ancestor or an event. Let’s say we’re going to do it through a web page. What you’re really doing is you’re distilling or curating that information that you gather, and you cherry-pick the highlights. I mean you want the interesting stories. You want the birth, the death, and marriage. You want the stuff that is going to keep your family and friends captivated about that person. And so you’re really kind of cherry-picking that information. You know the information best as a genealogist, and you should be able to pick out what’s going to work, and what’s not going to work.

So let’s say you create a special web page or blog page to commemorate an ancestor or an event. Once option you have is footnote. Footnote.comhas something called “Footnote Pages,” and they are, and you can upload an image, a document, maps, and more, and create a memorial space. The best thing is you don’t need to be a member of to use this feature. You don’t have to have a subscription. They allow you to put all this information up there for free.

Another option is, if you have blog, the major blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress, they allow you to create a page, which is different than a post. A post usually has a date attached to it. A page is a little bit more static. You can put it on a menu, all your pages.

I’m seeing people create pages for specific ancestors, for specific surnames, specific locations, heritage locations, and even certain events. So you might want to consider creating these types of pages and then sending the link out to family or even printing the page out for those family members that don’t have Internet access.

Grant: Not everybody’s going to have access to the Internet, so having some way to distribute it is important. So now that you have the online aspect of it, where are some places you can go order prints and swag, that kind of stuff, for your family?

Thomas: One option is, I find that more and more photo prints you can order them from almost anywhere these days. Some of the best deals though, in terms of the price, are through your favorite warehouse store such as Wal-Mart or Costco, and even drugstores such as Walgreen’s and CVS. All of these places have websites where you upload your photos, then you can create items — photos, calendars, books — order them, and then go pick them up at the local store. It’s so easy to do. The turnaround is unbelievable, actually. And they can go actually very high end, the high-end books that I’ve seen done for weddings, etc.

Also in terms of what we call “swag.” Now to me swag are fun items like mugs, keychains, mouse pads, things like that. There are two sites you should check out. One is Zazzle, or CafePress. So not only can you take those photos and make fun items such as mugs, keychains, et cetera, you can actually build your own storefront and make a little money in terms of the royalties of each sale.

I have my own Zazzle store. I sell items, and I make roughly about 10% from every item that is sold goes into my pocket. I mean I’m not making a killing, but it’s a nice little bit of change that comes in every month. Also this might be an efficient way to create t-shirts and other items for a family reunion.

So traditionally you would have to go and find everyone’s t-shirt size, their preference, collect the money from them. You would have to place the order. You would have to then get the order and distribute the t-shirts. Why not have Zazzle or CafePress do this, basically put the burden of ordering these items on the family members and friends who want them?

Grant: The best part is that once you do all the work up front, designed the image to fit on a mug, or to fit on a t-shirt or something like that, once you have that all set up, it does everything by itself. You don’t even have to worry about it. They just cut you a check every time somebody buys something.

Thomas: Exactly, right. And you’re right, the most labor is involved in setting up the image, setting up whatever you need, and then you could create literally thousands of different types of items off of that one image.

Grant: You know instead of having to go and do something in bulk to get a fairly decent price, people could order that on demand. It prints right when they want it. It’s not like they have to print 100. They’ll print two if they only want two. And it ships out directly. You don’t have to do any interaction. So it’s really, really, great. What do think about having a high-quality frameable print of your family tree?

Thomas: I like that, and I also like the fact that… You know, I’m going to point out the fact that has something called “Tree Posters,” and they’re at Fairly easy to find on the site. And what I like about this, Grant, is I’m not having to reinvent the wheel. I’ve got my data up on already. I have my family tree. Why not have a way to take that information and create a poster at a reasonable price? And that’s what does, a nice quality poster, starts at $29.99 and goes up.

And the thing is they’re nice to give away as gifts. Also you can even have a bunch of them available for sale at your family reunion. So that’s what I like most about it. I’ve seen other sites where they let you create a poster, but you’ve got to put all your information in again. So why not, if you’ve got a tree at already, why not work with and have it create the tree poster for you?

Grant: Yeah, absolutely. And the best part is that our engineers have really done a really nice job setting this up. It’s very customizable. You can set up how you want it to look displayed, but if you want it you and your significant other, you and your siblings, just you and your lineage – anyway you really want it you can have it focus on anybody in your entire family tree. If you want something that’s affordable, of course, you can always do the $30 one, and that’s going to be great, and you’re going to have a great tree poster. If you prefer to have something like a keepsake that you maybe want to give to your mom, or your sister, or your brother, something like that, you can actually go and have higher quality prints made on canvas and such like that and pre-framed for you.

So depending on what you actually want the tree poster for, we can customize it to fit your needs. So it’s actually a really great place if you are interested in having a tree poster made.

So where can I hold these get-togethers for my family, because I made all this swag. I’ve done all this research, and I want to hang out with all this family and show them all the cool stuff I’ve made. Where do I go to have all these people in one place?

Thomas: Well, more and more families are thinking outside of the box when it comes to family reunions. Traditionally we held events maybe at a church hall, the town picnic grounds. Those are popular. But now our families are really far flung. We’re all over the world, all over the country. You have to really offer other opportunities. So some families will rent out a block of rooms at a resort, and when you do that you get a cheaper group rate, and then they have family members gather for a reunion.

Also many resorts have family reunion packages just for this purpose. Don’t forget amusement parks. Disney World has a family reunion experience complete with activities and accommodations.

Another venue I want to point out that’s increasing in popularity is cruise ships, believe it or not. Again, you’re taking a large group. I think basically group rates start at maybe 10 cabins on a cruise, and you can secure the group rate and the more people you add, the more discounts you get, the more perks and incentives you get. And not only will you be able to spend time with family members that you haven’t seen in a while, you can also share activities, visit new places, etc.

Finally, heritage travel is another way to hold a family reunion. There are travel agencies that can cater specifically to heritage travel. They set up trips back to your homeland, back to heritage sites that are important to your family’s history. That’s another aspect.

Also don’t forget historic sites that are relevant to your family’s history. I’ll give you an example. My ancestry’s Huguenot in the Hudson Valley of New York. And the historic Huguenot Street down in downtown New Paltz, they actually offer catering services. They will let you rent out one of their buildings, one of their historic sites for a family reunion.

And so don’t write that off. Go ahead and call up these historic sites. Very often it’s a moneymaking opportunity for them, and it’s a place where you can gather your family where your roots started out at, and where the family history started.

Grant: Yeah, I mean that’s a really, really, cool thing to do. Going and actually meeting up with family, especially if you can get your third cousins, your fourth cousins, all these people that are out generations and generations, or that, you know, actually for a specific ancestor. Like the Huguenot that you brought up, that’s a really good thing. Get together once a year in one place, and all the people that are descended from that one person get together. It’s a really, really great way to get to know people in your family tree, especially your extended family tree.

You might know quite a bit about your small family tree, your nuclear family, but when you get farther and farther out, actually meeting people and seeing what they have, and all the information they have about your extended family, it’s really impressive. Tell us a few places where we can go on the Internet to find out more about you, Thomas.

Thomas: Well, I’ve got a few things coming up. Right now I’ve got a brand new webinar that I’m really excited about Wednesday, May 18th, at 1:00 Central. I’m doing one on Google Docs for genealogists. So if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to use things at Google Docs, how to use their spreadsheet, how to have everything up on the cloud and available to share and collaborate with the rest of your genealogy people that are working on your genealogy, tune into the webinar through Legacy Family Tree. It’s at and look for “Webinars.” And also the show notes for this podcast, we’ll have them linked.

The other way is Friday night my radio show on Genea Bloggers radio. That’s at You need your computer. So it’s Internet-based radio. You can actually listen to interviews with interesting genealogists and companies involved in the genealogy industry. This Friday we’re doing what’s called the “Mother of All Shows” for Mother’s Day, where we are focusing on female ancestors and how to find them.

Grant: Thank you very much for your time, Thomas. For the Geni Podcast, I’m Grant Brunner. Thanks for listening and have a good one.