Monthly Archives: March 2010

Changes To “Who Do You Think You Are” Schedule

(Get ready to throw a big tantrum because this news is not going to make you happy)

I just read on the Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library Blog that there will be changes to the schedule of Who Do You Think You Are episodes.  The new schedule is as follows:

  • April 2   – Brooke Shields
  • April 9   – (repeat) Sarah Jessica Parker
  • April 16 – No Episode
  • April 23 – Susan Sarandon
  • April 30  – Spike Lee

I’ll be honest now: I am not pleased with this change in schedule.  I was really loving the predictability of the original schedule.  It was easy to remember and created a routine.  While this change is certainly not the end of the world (they are playing the entire series, even if in a weird schedule), I still feel like it is a bad idea.

While there are many in the genealogical community dedicated to watching this show, what about the rest of the public?  I worry that this will cause a decrease in interest among those who are not exactly “into” genealogy.  Will this make them stop caring?  I just see so many risks for the ratings.

So I am curious – what do all of you think?  How will this effect the ratings of Who Do You Think You Are?


Sentimental Sunday: A Goodbye Letter

For Sentimental Sunday, I have chosen to share a letter that my Mom wrote not long after her father died for her brother to read at the funeral.  I believe that this letter gives an insight into my Mom that she chose not to show too often.

As a little background, my Grandfather Doerflinger died January 1st, 1990.  His passing occurred only a few months after I was born.

I’ve typed the letter her exactly as it was written in the letter.  Each misspelling, each grammatical error, and each run-on sentence is of my Mom’s doing.


I have asked Larry to say a few words on my behalf.  I wanted so badly to be with you.  I know that you will rest well, surrounded by your loved ones.  It must be like coming home.

I’m so very happy that Elyse could spend a few precious moments with her grandpa.  I know that you and Mom will be watching over her.  She will grow up knowing you as I do, and a part of you, as well as your name will continue to live through her.

Daddy, I miss you and mom so very much, but I have many cherished memories and they help to fill the void left by your passing.  One of the truly finest days of my life was spent with you and mom in your last visit at the hospital.  I know it was a catharsis for you both, and affirmation of your feelings for one another.  I witnessed love, tenderness and caring for those who have been life mates through the good and bad.  You both knew your time was short, but you gave Mom the peace she needed to begin her journey.  I will never forget that afternoon, each time I think of it I’m filled with such love for my parents.

I know that your family was always first and foremost in your life, but you leave behind so much more.  Your creations – artwork with such reality and expression, – your sharp, wicked sense of humor and your keen sense of fair play (You didn’t play favorites with just one of your kids, we were all your favorites in one aspect or the other), the famous Doerflinger generosity, opening your home and hearts to so many through out the years.  So many lives were enriched by you, and on behalf of those whose paths you have crossed, I want to thank you.

Please rest easy and in peace, watch over those of us who have yet to join you.  Give Mom a kiss for me.

Goodbye Dad,



Overcoming Brick Walls: Expanding Your Knowledge

An important step to breaking down a genealogy brick wall is to begin learning as much as you can about the time period and the geographical area that your ancestor lived.  The history of the time may have had a big impact on your ancestor.  It can also be what is holding you back from finding your ancestor.

In particular (but not limited to) search for:

  • Political Changes: Politics played a huge part in the lives of our ancestors.  Perhaps you brick wall ancestor lived during the civil war when many men joined the military to fight.  For example, I have an ancestor who lived in the “border state” of Tennessee during the civil war.  The county that he lived in was in favor of joining the Union.  But people in a nearby county came over and threatened many of the men to join the Confederate army.  According to diary and journal accounts, I was able to learn that many families that refused to aid the Confederates had their houses set on fire, their crops destroyed, and their livestock stolen or killed.  My ancestor joined the Confederate Army and then deserted for the Union army.  I never would have been able to find my ancestor if I hadn’t learned this information through county histories.
  • Boundary Changes: The map of the United States has changed a lot since the original thirteen colonies.  This makes it so important to learn as much as you can about how an area has changed.  It can be easy to miss the record that you just know exists because that record is in another county.
  • Religious Movements and Trends: Religious trends and movements may have had a huge impact on your ancestors lives.  Your ancestor may have changed religious affiliations during their lifetime.  During the westward expansion, many church congregations traveled together.

Not only are all the above important to be knowledgeable in, but you also want to have a good general history of the area.  But how do you gain all of this knowledge?

  • Web Searches
  • County Histories
  • Diaries/Journals
  • State Histories
  • Genealogy Societies (many are willing to answer email questions)
  • Other researchers (ask questions!  Most genealogists are very kind and willing to help)
  • Books
  • Websites

As you expand your knowledge, you may think of another potential record to order!

Don’t forget to read the first post of this series, Overcoming Brick Walls: Establishing A Plan Of Attack.

Further Reading:


Overcoming Brick Walls: Establishing A Plan Of Attack

Every researcher will eventually run into that ancestor that seems impossible to get to passed.  This is your brick wall ancestor. Overcoming a brick wall takes patience and a good strategy.  No matter how tall or how wide the brick wall is, you can break it down.

genealogy, ancestral brick walls, family tree

Figuring Out What You Know

The first step to breaking down that brick wall is to figure out exactly what facts are known.  The best way to do this is to create a timeline of the brick wall ancestor.  On this timeline, include every known fact that you have about this ancestor.  Be sure to then include a list of each source that proves each fact either on the back of the piece of paper or on another page if in a document.  This timeline will show you at a glance exactly what you know and exactly what is missing.

Did You Miss Something?

The next step is to review the actual sources that you listed with your timeline.  Do not review your notes, transcriptions, or abstracts of your sources, but actually view the record itself.  Looking at this document with fresh eyes might show something that you missed that could be a lead.  If you discover something that you missed, then add it to your timeline.

You could always create a timeline on your own, but you could also use pre-made ones.  Here are some forms for creating a timeline:

Creating Your Research Plan

Your research plan is a living, breathing, ever-changing document.  It is your guide to breaking down your brick wall.  Get comfortable with your research plan because it is your best friend.

The point of a research plan is to clearly define exactly what you are looking for and list potential records to check for that information.  As you look at more records, you will add to the research plan.  You will create new goals and a new list of records to check.

You could create your own research plan with pen and paper, a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, or you could use a pre-made form.  Here is an example of a pre-made research plan at ShoeString Genealogy.

Using your timeline, decide exactly what you want to know about your brick wall ancestor – this will be your goal.  Then begin to brainstorm exactly what kinds of records would help you find that information.  Fill this information into your research plan.

Do you have any great suggestions for creating a research plan?  Do you create your own timelines and research plans or do you look for pre-made forms?

Further Reading:

Thanks to ezioman for allowing me to use this photo.


Genealogy Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Genealogy podcasts, just like genealogy blogs, are a great way to expand your genealogical knowledge or keep you up to date on all the happenings in the genealogy world.  Podcasts are so easy to download and take with you to listen anywhere – in the car, exercising, while traveling, or even while doing simple chores around the house.

Some Terms To Understand

Podcast: A pre-recorded audio show thats placed on the internet for listeners to play, pause, fast forward, and rewind as much as they want.  A podcast can be downloaded into iTunes and/or put on a .mp3 player.

iTunes: A program created by Apple that stores your audio files and has the ability to put those files on your .mp3 player

.mp3: A file type for audio files.  Just like you picture files can have .jpeg or .gif on them, most of your audio files will have .mp3 on them.

.mp3 Player: A small device that stores and plays your .mp3 files.  (An iPod is a very popular player, but there are other brands out there

Which Genealogy Podcasts Should I Listen To?

  1. The Genealogy Guys Podcast: The Genealogy Guys (also known as Drew Smith and George G. Morgan) are amazing genealogists.  These guys know their stuff and have a long list of credentials and experience in the genealogy field.  They share genealogy related news, interviews with other experts in the genealogy field, answers email questions, and share their own knowledge.  I always learn something new from these guys in every episode.  And they have a cat named Fletcher who loves to chime in every once in a while.
  2. The Genealogy Gems Podcast:Lisa Louise Cooke is the creator of this perfectly named podcast.  Her fun and bubbly personality always shines through in each of her podcast episodes.  She brings us genealogy news, answers listener email, and brings us such fun interviews.  She has a regular free podcast (published about two times a month) and a premium podcast (more episodes and videos each month).  I definitely recommend the premium podcast because it is such a great resource and worth every penny.
  3. Family Tree Magazine Podcast: Lisa Louise Cooke also hosts this wonderful podcast thats centered around the popular genealogy magazine, Family Tree Magazine.  She is able to give a behind the scenes look at the happenings of the magazine by interviewing the magazine’s writers and editors.  She provides awesome research strategies, ideas, tips, and tricks to make you a better researcher.
  4. Family History: Genealogy Made Easy: This is a must listen to podcast if you are a newbie to the obsession hobby of genealogy.  Hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke this podcast takes you step by step into how to research your family tree – taking you from a complete beginner to a someone who understands the basics about the research process.

These podcasts are a valuable free resource to further your genealogical learning.

Photo used with permission from DerkT


Follow Friday: Find My Ancestor

Today’s Follow Friday post is dedicated to….

Find My Ancestor

Here are some posts from this blog that I would recommend to get you started on your reading:

Go visit the blog, read some articles, and leave a comment to say hi!  Bloggers always appreciate comments.


Genealogy On Television

The excitement is in the air – genealogy is going mainstream and hitting the television screens.  The dream of genealogists everywhere is finally coming true.

On Fox’s hit show The Simpsons, the daughter of the Simpson family begins searching for her ancestors because of a homework assignment.  Even if you aren’t a Simpson’s fan, you’ll enjoy this episode.  You can watch the episode (entitled The Color Yellow), here.

Another show that has gotten genealogists excited is PBS’s Faces Of America.  Faces of America is a show that traces the ancestry of twelve celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Stephen Colbert, and Mario Batali.  The show is hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates and there are four episodes.  You can view the episodes here.

On the BYU channel, The Generations Project is a popular genealogy show.  The big difference with this show is it follows regular people like you and me as they begin the search for their ancestors.  The show provides professional researchers and travel expenses as the contestant learns more about their family tree.  You can watch the episodes here and apply to be on the show here.

But the show that is going the most mainstream of all is NBC’s new show Who Do You Think You Are.  Produced by Lisa Kudrow (of Friends fame), this show researches the ancestry of seven celebrities.  The show premieres on Friday, March 5.  The first episode is to reportedly feature Sarah Jessica Parker.  You can view previews and trailers for the show here.

Hopefully this is just the start to a long line of genealogy related shows.  These shows have the potential to increase knowledge and interest in genealogy.  Get ready for a boost in genealogical interest.


Wordless Wednesday: First Family Photo


A Toast To Mom: 6/20/1959 – 2/28/2010

Last night something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen for a very long time.  It wasn’t supposed to happen until I was old, until she was old, and until she had been there for all of the important events in my life.  She was supposed to be there when I graduated with my associates degree in June, she was supposed to be there to listen to me talk for hours about the excitement of speaking at Jamboree, she was supposed to be there when I got my teaching credential, when I got married and complain about how girly and traditional I am and how I should just elope in Vegas and save the money for a house, she was supposed to be there to walk me through having my kids, to be there when I call her at 1 in the morning crying because my baby won’t sleep.  After all of that she was supposed to go.

She wasn’t supposed to leave before that.  She wasn’t supposed to make me go through this.  I am only 20 and far too young to be without a mother.  I should be studying for exams and pondering whether or not I could afford a study abroad trip.  I should not be getting ready to plan a funeral.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Not now.

My mom was a very smart lady.  She loved to read nearly everything she could get her hands on, especially if it was history related. When I was a kid she always pushed me to love learning.  We watched History Channel and A&E on Saturday mornings because she always wanted me to think.  She never allowed me to accept what other people said at face value but to instead think it through and create my own opinion.  Once I was a teenager we got into a lot of political debates.  We talked a lot about philosophy and religion.  We talked a lot about world events and discussed how we could help.

She was also an adventurous spirit and a self proclaimed rule breaker.  I was the complete opposite as a cautious child who always followed the rules and it drove her crazy.  When my parents split up when I was 7, Mom and I drove to Seattle to live with my aunt and cousin.  She named us the Intrepid Explorers and we used to say that to each other all the time.  I remember when we drove past Mount Shasta and how big it looked.  It was beautiful with all of the snow and we just kept screaming “WHOA!” at each other.

One time while we were visiting my cousin at Lake Martha, Washington she dared me to swim across the lake.  When I didn’t take her up on the offer, she told me we were going to.  I complained the entire time as I dressed into my bathing suit and followed her down to the dock.  I tried crying but she wasn’t having any of it.  She kept telling me that I could do it, that she knew I could do it and that it would be a character building experience.  We got in the lake and began swimming.  I complained a lot along the way but she kept pushing me to keep swimming.  When I got tired we would just float and relax a bit.  But I did it – I swam all the way across the lake and was exhausted.  I was maybe 9.  And even though afterwards I was so mad that she made me do it, I understand now that it was to teach me that I could do anything I wanted to, no matter how impossible it seemed, if I just put my mind to it.

She also had a great sense of humor.  She was so quick witted and funny and could throw a joke out incredibly fast.  Her jokes were side breaking and we would roll on the ground laughing with tears in our eyes.

What really gets me with all of this is that yesterday started off as such an ordinary day.  But all of a sudden things turned for the worse and everything changed in a matter of hours.  I knew she was sick but things just went downhill so fast.

My mom was an alcoholic for the second half of my life.  It was one of the reasons that our relationship was strained.  She started showing signs of liver disease last September.  But she didn’t listen and ignored all of the warnings.  She went back to the hospital in January and nearly died.  But she pulled through (stubborn and feisty as she is).  She then talked of getting sober and my dad and I took care of her.

But when she went into the hospital this time by paramedics, even though I knew that her chances we slim, I really thought that her stubbornness would somehow make her pull through again.  But it didn’t work this time.  I still can’t believe how downhill everything went.  I can’t believe how fast everything happened.  In literally six hours she went from regular living and talking to 911 being called to her passing away.  I truly can’t believe how fast everything happened.  I really never expected something so quick.

So in the coming days and weeks my dad and I will be embarking on a new chapter of our lives.  We’ll be planning memorial service arrangements (I never thought this would be happening to me at 20).

I want to thank everyone for their continued love and support that has been expressed to me.  You guys really do mean the world to me and I am so blessed to have such supportive, caring, and loving people in my life.  “Thank You” doesn’t even come close to expressing the appreciation that I have for you guys.  Please keep the prayers coming because it is going to be a very long and difficult journey.