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This blog has stories about preserving historical moments, capturing genealogy records and documents, and the celebration of history.

Gift Registry for the Family Historian

Kit07-400wide When you’re wondering what to give the person who has always talked about preserving family memories or conducting genealogy research, consider building them a family preservation kit. If you are the family historian, however, feel free to drop a few gift-giving hints with our top preservation gift ideas.

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Mary Danielsen of Documented Legacies has created an Amazon Gift Registry that you are welcome to use.

Amazon Gift Registry

When you’ve been wondering what to get your parents, grandparents or elder family members, consider giving this kit as a joint gift. It’s a great way to get family members to compile their family history. You’ll have a lot of fun together. It also make a great gift for someone who recently retired.

Whether you package some of these ideas together or separately, any of these items will be a welcomed addition to a family historian’s tool kit.

Happy Giving!

Flip-Pal mobile scanner
Don’t make things complicated. This portable, lightweight mobile scanner is versatile enough to work anywhere from grandpa’s lap to the National Archives. The flip-and-scan technology provides you the ability to scan documents larger than a 4 x 6” and stitch them together on a computer. This is a great gift for elders who want to scan and print at a local photo store. Plenty of how-to videos. (Starting at $149.99)

Flip-Pal Sketch Kit
The patented Sketch kit comes with a clear acrylic sketch sheet with three erasable markers (two black, one red) designed for work with your Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Scan the original photo to keep as your “master” copy. Then, gently lay the Sketch sheet over the original and draw on the Sketch using the supplied erasable markers. You can add names, dates, arrows, circles and details about the original. Next, scan the original with the Sketch between the scanner and original. The result: a digital label that will always stay with the picture.

PreservationBoxDocumentation Preservation Kit
When you’re just starting a family history project, compiling photos, documents and other important artifacts pile up quickly. Our priceless memories deserve archival care. Family Tree magazine is offering a Document Preservation Kit that helps you identify your documents and record additional facts or stories; photocopy up to 25 fragile documents onto archival paper, protect originals in polyethylene bags; and create a digital backup on an Archival Gold CD. The instructions are loaded with great tips. (Price – Under $29) Add a downloadable tip sheet for old documents ($1.99)

Shop Family Tree

Heirloom Preservation Kit
Genealogist’s Essential Scanning Kit
Document Preservation Kit

Genealogy website gift certificate
If they don’t have one already, consider a buying a subscription to a genealogy website, such as Ancestry, Archives, Family Search or Fold 3. (Prices start at about $80 a year.)

FireproofBoxGas card
From the gas and tolls to lunch on the road, family history road trips get expensive. Consider giving your loved one gift cards to local businesses that will ease the burden.

Waterproof container
When you think about preservation you have to consider the greatest threats to your family history collection, based on where it’s stored. Is it water, fire, pests, dust or misuse? You want this information to last. We like the plastic watertight totes offered by The Container Store (Starting at about $10) and the Sentry® Safe Guardian™ Fire/Water Security Chest offered online at Staples (about $140).

Container Store
Staples -Fireproof and water resistant file box

Photo duplication
When you start sharing and scanning generations of photos, everyone wants a copy. Consider a gift card to your local photo duplication center or online photo site. Suggest multiple copies and back up these scans.

Picture Keeper8

Thumb drives
This is a great addition to any family history toolkit, because you can store a lot of work on a little gadget. Take the thumb drive between locations when you’re scanning at relatives homes. When finished back it all up to archival grade DVDs and the cloud (link to an eGuide). We love our Picture Keeper PK8, which will automatically backup photos on your computer. Other thumb drives (8GB or larger) are available at local office supply stores.  (Starting at about $15).

Do a Google search for “USB Flash Drives”

Archival gloves
glovesWhen working with delicate family documents or researching at a museum, historical society or library, it’s good to have a set of 100% cotton archival gloves. Another option to avoid old newspaper ink and dirt in grunt work is a box of disposal latex gloves. It’s not necessarily an attractive gift, but everyone needs it. Have fun wrapping the box. We found a set of 12 at Archival Methods (Under $15).

Archival Methods – Archival gloves

Memory Cards
SD-cardIf your new family historian is sporting a camera around on each treasure hunt, why not buy a new memory card. They fill up quickly when your traveling between homes and locations, scanning old photos and shooting new ones. Find out what kind of card they use first. Flip-Pal uses a standard speed SD or SDHC card (Basic 4GB Class 4 SD cards start at about $15).

Do a Google search for “Memory Cards

Life Story Questions
Family history records are simply data until they’re filled with stories. If you have older family members that you’ve been meaning to interview consider hiring a professional personal historian to conduct an audio or video interview or buy a DIY book on recording family stories and make a plan to meet monthly until it’s completed.

Association of Personal Historians

JournalsBlank Journals & Pens
Family historians are always on a treasure hunt. They’ll take lots of notes, write stories and sketch out ideas. Wrap up an artsy ruled journal and a fresh set of pens from your local office supply store. (Prices start under $10)

Office supplies
Family historians tend to store lots of records in binders, folders and boxes that are acid-free, lignin free and/or buffered. They like supplies and bags that passed the PAT test. Those are key terms you’ll need to research when buying archival storage supplies. Consider a simple gift certificate to an archival supplier or simply buy them a ream of acid-free laser paper. (Start at $25)

Archival Methods
Gaylord Archival Supply

When identifying old photos or documents it is recommended that you use soft No. 4 or No. 6 pencils. These art pencils are softer than the No. 2 pencils we used in school. We like using the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit for taking notes, because it’s lightweight, reusable and fits inside our Deluxe Flip-Pal Carrying Case. You can easily write notes on the clear plexiglass using erasable markers to help you organize the volume of scans later. There may be times, however, when you actually need a specialty pencil. (Art supply and craft stores starting at $10)

Joann Fabric and Craft Stores

Gift Of Time Certificate

Click here to download a printable gift certificate


Give the Gift of Time – an afternoon together sharing memoriesPortrait_of_two_women_and_a
The gift of time can be the hardest gift to give when our schedules are so full. Yet, it can also be the most meaningful, particularly for senior parents. Make your own gift certificate to help your family historian. Offer to research, write, duplicate and compile records for an afternoon. Join them on a road trip. Family historians are treasure hunters and love to talk about what they found.
(Cost – $0 The time spent is priceless.)


Home for the Holidays: Am I Really Ready for This?

holiday doorAs I walked up to the familiar door, I fumbled for an old key that I have had since my teenage years. It was stuffed away in my wallet, back in a neglected section where I kept old family photos, a note from Grandpa before he passed and jottings on my ever changing “bucket list.” The key hadn’t been used in so long that it left a deep impression in the smooth brown leather.

“Would it still work?” I wondered to myself while trying to juggle presents—a tray of cookies and other items. More importantly, I thought about what I would find on the other side of that portal. This was the house that I grew up in and that I had last seen many years ago. Oh, I had seen my family off and on for the past few years, but often it was when they visited me or we would meet up for a family vacation during which we made some great memories.

I also asked myself, “Am I really ready for this?” There should be no reason for trepidation; I’m coming home for the holidays, right? These are people I know—my cousins, aunts, uncles and even “friends of the family” who I called “aunt” and “uncle” since I was a child. When did the familiar become so unfamiliar? Is it just normal to drift apart as you get older and life gets busier? Or perhaps, I had finally realized that I was on the outside of where I really belonged: home.

Finding the key I performed another juggling act—trying to prevent a catastrophic avalanche of items that I was waiting to share with my family. I was ready, I had convinced myself. I had made a lot of plans, months ago, as part of this homecoming. I was ready to not just “catch up,” but since I’d recently become interested in my own family history, I had lots of questions. I wanted to look at old photo albums and get copies of those photos. What was more important was the “sharing” part—which is so often neglected while scanning photos and mementos. I wanted to hear the stories behind each item. I wanted to hear my parents bicker over where their first date took place, or learn from my aunts and uncles how certain foods became part of our holiday traditions. I wanted to take it all in, and not lose a precious bit, as if I could collect each bit like gold dust and seal it in a capsule.

And, just as I wondered what was on the other side of that door, it lurched away from me and opened with a rush. I heard a great din, which almost made me drop what was in my hands. A large crowd greeted and embraced me—a tangle of arms, hugs, kisses and cheers. I was finally home. I was finally on the other side, a place where everything was familiar once more.

* * *

Are you ready for the holidays, I mean, really ready?

Get the family photos out of shoeboxes or from the back of the closet…it is a perfect time for grandparents to get the next generation involved. Start your children or grandchildren on a lifelong journey by telling your story and introducing them to family history—and don’t forget you can easily add Aunt Betty’s recipes to the family cookbook! Students love these when they go off to college and they also make great wedding gifts. You will learn how to recognize and capture those great pieces from family


Genealogists and Flip-Pal converge in Köping, Sweden

[Editors note: Some 5,000 genealogists from all over Sweden will converge in Köping for the National Swedish Genealogy Conference and Exhibit (Släktforskardagarna 2013) from August 23-25.

Each year one member organization is chosen to organize this event and this year the Western Mälardalen Genealogy Society (VMS) was selected. This event also marks the official introduction of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner into the Nordic countries. Society President, Krister Jansson, made arrangements for the inclusion of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner booth at the conference.

Flip-Pal's Diane Miller arriving at convention hall in Swedenn

Technical Marketing Manager, Diane Miller, who has traveled from Fort Collins, Colorado to Köping, will be representing Flip-Pal mobile scanner at the event. She will also be inviting individual businesses, e-tailers and distributers to join the Flip-Pal reseller programs.

Nordic country residents will be able to purchase the Flip-Pal mobile scanner from the U.S.-based website by selecting the International Checkout option in the website’s shopping cart. Shipments will then be delivered directly to their homes or offices.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a great thing both for our association and for Köping,” said Åke Dahlqvist, who sits on the VMS Board of Directors. “It’s a great event and VMS’s committee for the arrangement has worked hard to make as good a weekend as possible for visitors. In total, we spent around 10,000 hours this year alone. And then we have already spent a lot of time on planning before we applied for organizing the event.”

According to Dahlquist, this year’s great program is the key to a successful event. “We worked hard to get good lecturers. It’s the name of this year’s Dick Harrison, a professor of history at the University of Lund, who will give lectures on both Saturday and Sunday.”There were some who doubted if a small town like Köping could really succeed with the arrangement.  “There have been some thoughts from elsewhere about how it will go, but we are well prepared and very much look forward to the upcoming weekend,” said Dahlqvist.  Krister Jansson arranged reservations with all hotels throughout the KAK-region, as well as some hotels in Västerås. Jansson noted, “We reserved about a thousand beds that will be available to guests, exhibitors and speakers.” Cars and drivers work as shuttles to get people to and from the train station, and the cars were donated for the three days by the prime sponsor of the conference.

“He is very popular, it can be seen in advance bookings,” added Jansson.

For those visitors who come from the south, there is the opportunity to be transported by a train from the 1960s. The Nässjö railway museum arranged a train ride from Nässjö to Köping. “It’s a very fun thing, especially for Smaland Family Scientists,” said Dahlqvist, who has done personal genealogy research for over fifty years.

His best advice to anyone who is interested in starting family research is to turn to older relatives. “It’s a very good start. Then you get a little meat on the bones, and then it’s easier to go to such a study.”