Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday's Tips~Gettin' By With Help from Our Friends~Amberly Beck

This time professional genealogist Amberly Beck from The Genealogy Girl blog gives us tips on sharing our genealogy.

Sharing.  It’s something we all learned as children.  Some of us were good at it and some of us were not.  As adults, the same is true.  Some of us are good at sharing and some of us are not. I have learned over and over again that when we share, really share, more good stuff comes our way than what we send out into the world.  Even in genealogy.  Especially
in genealogy. 
 For many years I have had this saying hanging in my office, “The miracle is this… the more we share, the more we have.”  It is a wonderful reminder to me that every bit of time I spend sharing is made up for over and over again by the miracles that come my way.  Here are four specific ways I choose to share as a genealogist: 
 First, blog.  Blog about everything in your tree.  Share photos, stories, discoveries, research, brick walls, and questions.  Each of those types of sharing will serve as cousin bait.  Cousin bait is awesome!  The cousin connections I have made because of my blog have added details I would have found in no other way. 

Just last week a cousin found a blog post I had written about giving photos a source citation.  I used an example of a photo that is on Ancestry that has no explanation of the provenance and therefore I don’t totally trust the label on the photo.  There are no other photos of any of the family members in that 5 generation photo to compare to.  But I really, really
want to believe the label because the photo supposedly contains my 3rd great-grandparents and appears to be the only surviving photo of them.  This cousin found my post and then messaged me with more details about the photo that hangs in her home
and was passed down to her by our common ancestors.  The really crazy part is that I had messaged her on Ancestry several years ago offering to share some research information, in the hopes that she might have photos to share, and gotten no response from her.  It took her finding me on my blog to finally make contact. 
When we share our family history through blogging, we open up our cousin connections to the entire world.  Anyone who can access Google has the potential to make it to our digital doorstep.  Once they do, the sharing can begin!  So, blog.  The goodness you share will come back to you. 
 Second , participate in an online tree.  You choose which one.  Make sure that whichever one you choose, you have a valid email address, that you actually check
, in your profile.  You don’t need to be a huge participant.  But make sure you have the path to your most recent brick walls as detailed and documented as possible.  That way, a cousin with more information can find you.  While you wait for those cousins to find you and add details to your story, you just might be another cousins’ brick wall smasher. 

A few years ago I got a very curt message from a cousin on Ancestry.  She wanted information but wasn’t clear on exactly what she wanted.  It took a lot of patience for me to respond kindly and ask questions in an effort to understand her request.  We went back and forth a few times. She was really trying my patience.  But every bit of that patience paid off when she told me how she descended from our common ancestors.  She was a granddaughter of Dan Duval.  Dan is 
the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather.  From family records, I had his name, Dan Duval, and the first name of his wife - Philomene.  That was it!  But here was one of his descendants showing up at my digital door, bossy and kind of demanding.  Once we got past the gruff exterior, we began a relationship of sharing that was so rewarding.  She shared photos, facts, stories, and information that helped me finally know where “Uncle Dan” had disappeared to.  I was able to help her get past Dan’s parents which had been her brick wall.  We both benefited because I had an online tree and responded to her message, even though I really didn’t want to. ;)  So, participate in an online tree.  Cousins will flock to you and your story will be richer for those connections. 
 Third , volunteer.  Volunteer at your local library, archives, family history center, or as an indexer.  Why volunteer?  You probably won’t have a family bible fall into your lap this way, but I promise you will gain something.  Knowledge, experience, and opportunities to learn and grow. 

My personal favorite story about volunteering bringing a miracle to me is actually a series of events helping a few different people analyze their DNA matches to help them identify their biological parents.  Each time I learned something new.  The most recent person I helped was a bigger challenge than the previous patrons I had worked with.  In analyzing his matches I developed a new technique that worked so well I applied it to my own matches on my brick wall line.  That technique has allowed me to identify a married couple who are the aunt and uncle of my brick wall ancestor.  I don’t yet know which of the two is a sibling to which of the two parents of my brick wall ancestor, but I have so much more information now than I did before I helped that patron.  So, volunteer.  You will gain more than you give up. 
 Fourth , involve your family.  Every family member is different.  They won’t all have the same interest level.  Keep it low key, but make sure your family knows they can always come to you if they have questions or want to help.  When we involve our family members and keep them updated on our progress, they often are the very miracle we need. 

A few years ago I digitized some old cassette tapes of my Grandpa reading children’s books.  A cousin of mine is good at dealing with audio files.  He took those big digitized files and broke them up into individual tracks for each book.  They are a lot more usable that way for all of us.  It was a project I probably never would have gotten to because it would have required a lot of time as I am an audio editing rookie.  But my fabulous cousin was able to do in a few short hours what would have taken me considerably longer.  It was a miracle for me to have his help.  And the miracle keeps on going because those audio files are now on FamilySearch and my own little one can listen to his great-grandfather, who died decades before his birth, read stories to him.  That is the kind of miracle that will go on to bless generations of our family.  So, keep your family in the loop.  You never know when they will be just the right person to help out. 

We are all busy, but we can all find simple ways to share.  When we do, the miracle is that we will have so much more than we had when we started.  It really is true for genealogy too… “The miracle is this… the more we share, the more we have.” 


Amberly Beck is a professional genealogist who regularly blogs at thegenealogygirl.blog.  She started her genealogy journey as a child when she constantly asked her grandmother questions, poured through scrapbooks with her, and listened to story after story.  That journey turned into a dedicated research effort twenty years ago.  Amberly graduated from Lewis Clark State College with a BS in Elementary Education.  She has taken her love for teaching and her passion for genealogy and brought them together.  She regularly teaches genealogy classes at her local Family History Center to patrons of all ages and experience levels.  She volunteers once a week at that center helping patrons.  She also completes research for clients.  Now that her little one is in school all day she has begun her path to becoming a certified genealogist. 

Thanks so much for your great tips, Amberly! Sharing what we find and connecting with others is so important!

What do you do to share your family history? Leave a comment below! We'd love to hear what you are doing!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,


  1. I 💖 this! Amberly is so right about sharing, blogging, and volunteering. Sometimes it does take a bit more effort but in the end it is worth it. Great post!

    1. So worth it! So many connections made that way! Thanks, Cathy!

  2. I have also been contacted by some curt relatives hah. They don't seem socialized to emails ;). So glad Amberly was helpful!

    1. You just never know who you'll connect with!! Thanks!