Grandma Got Scanned Over By a Flip-Pal

[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal ambassador Thomas MacEntee gets ready for a Christmas visit with family members and shares his preparations to collect family history information.]


With Christmas fast approaching, I’m looking forward to spending time with family and talking about our relatives who have passed on. We’ll share stories, trade cherished recipes, and the best part: show off photos in albums and scrapbooks.

Do you have plans to take advantage of this exchange of information? Are you ready to be a collector – an active participant – rather than a witness?

Holidays and Family History: A Perfect Match

I’m not sure about you, but when my family gets together for any holiday, it serves as not only an instant “family reunion,” but it is my cue as the family historian to get busy. This means asking the questions about “who, what, and where” in reference to my ancestors.

And the process never feels forced nor have I ever had anyone say, “Oh here we go with the genealogy questions again!” I let the conversations flow naturally and go where they need to go. But my role is to try and guide it towards certain areas that others will find interesting.

The key word here is “seamlessly” and that is how it all works. Sort of like scanning a large photo in sections with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and “stitching” it together in a snap!

Bring Collecting Tools With You

I am never without my “kit” as family members call it:

  • Blank family group sheets to be filled out either in paper format or a link to an online version I keep stored in Google Docs.
  • My business card with my contact information. Someone will often remember facets of a story or details about a person when they return home so they need a way to contact me. Create a “family history” card listing your blog and website if you have one and on the reverse list the surnames you are researching.
  • A copy of the family history that I’ve self-published. It can be a photo book, or even just a print out of a PDF document for my family to look at. You never know what’s going to serve as the spark of inspiration for the new genealogist in the family!
  • Access to my research database at,, or any of the other services at my disposal. I use a Smartphone app if it is available or I have software such as Legacy Family Tree installed on my laptop which also travels with me.
  • A scanner – the Flip-Pal mobile scanner – of course! The biggest benefit is the ability to scan photos at a family member’s house without having to remove them from the house or even the photo album!

One other tip: If you are currently a Flip-Pal affiliate, make sure you have either a flyer or a card with your affiliate link available. In many encounters with friends and family, someone will see me using the Flip-Pal and want to purchase their own or purchase one for someone else. Make it easy for them to order through your affiliate link!

Family Reunions Can Be Virtual Too!

What if you aren’t able to be with all your family members this holiday season? Don’t forget that reunions can now take place virtually and “on-line” with tools such as Facebook and Skype.

The photo of my great-grandmother, Frances Pressner at the top of this article is an example of what my cousins recently shared with me through one such reunion. I’m so fortunate that my family can take advantage of technology and bridge the miles between us as we all focus on our family history.

And If You Don’t Get a Flip-Pal for Christmas . . .

Hopefully you already have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner that you use for collecting family history-related photos and documents. Or perhaps you’ve asked for a Flip-Pal as a gift for Christmas?

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