Our RootsTech Story

Perhaps it seems a bit strange, but we are already looking beyond the holidays. Part of that thinking involves preparing for our big show of the year, RootsTech 2014.

Saving Memories Forever is a relative newbie to the genealogy world. Last year, for example, we attended our first RootsTech conference. And only a year before that, we launched our iPhone and Android apps and began the process of introducing ourselves and our system.

As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way. So has the genealogy market.

Consider this. Last year’s RootsTech theme promoted storytelling almost as if it was a new concept. In some respects, that indeed appeared to be the case. For example, Saving Memories Forever was, I believe, one of only two exhibitors there already focused on storytelling. And we were, I think, the only organization there equipped with an interactive and highly mobile smartphone app aimed at making the interviewing process seamless and mobile.

See How We’ve Grown

Things have changed over the course of this year. Storytelling has become much more mainstream, quickly evolving from being a new buzz word to an actual practice. Large, well-established organizations such as FamilySearch have welcomed fledgling story-oriented businesses such as Saving Memories Forever…even to the point of offering compatible API platforms. In time, with these platforms in place, who knows what sort of connections can be made? Surely they will benefit the field of genealogy.

In the overall market, storytelling is now often perceived as the gateway to family history. Storytelling is credited with the ability to “rope people in”. As family history grows in popularity, it seems that stories—more than mounds of census data– are now recognized as being a motivating force into the journey that is genealogy.

In addition, there has been more of a concerted effort to reach out to folks interested in the nuts and bolts of collecting stories. Thomas MacEntee’s recently published e-book entitled Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories attests to that change. In addition, Saving Memories Forever now offers free webinars dealing with the same topic. Surely new interactive user-friendly technologies designed to capture stories are bound to come on the scene.

21st Century Tools for Capturing Stories

More and more family members are using modern technology to help them capture and preserve their family stories and legends. The range of tools varies and includes publishing online via blogs and websites or even creating self-published books.

But many realize that limiting stories to the written word can result in “flat” or “two-dimensional” ancestors. With today’s technologies via computers and smartphones, the options are not only limitless, but they can help build a vibrant family story using audio, photos and more. Saving Memories Forever offers a system that combines a free smartphone app with a private and secure website. It provides us with the means to create a “3D” legacy.

How Our Small Business Benefited from RootsTech 2013

While last year’s RootsTech focused on the importance of storytelling, attending the conference had an even greater personal and residual impact on us. As a direct result of attending the conference (Harvey was there; Jane wasn’t), our new business gained affirmation, direction, and those all-important connections.

We gained affirmation from the fact that the dominant message of the conference stressed the importance of telling, sharing, and saving stories. We gained direction in that we decided to focus primarily on the genealogy market. We gained connections in that Harvey was able to meet with contacts around the world. Several of the possibilities initially explored at RootsTech 2013 have come to fruition over the year. In addition, as a result of introductions at RootsTech 2013, Saving Memories Forever has developed key partnerships with other suppliers in the same field. Cathi Nelson from APPO and Saving Memories Forever now partner on several promotional programs.

His wife, Jane, also benefited via long distance. Unable to attend, Jane listened in on the live streaming of the major presentations from home. From that, she built invaluable new business relationships with some of the keynote speakers. Kim Weitkamp now provides monthly storytelling tips on the Saving Memories Forever website. In addition to serving as our business mentor, Thomas MacEntee frequently contributes genealogy tech tips in our weekly blog. Jane also reached out to several key genealogy bloggers who have since reviewed our system. We are grateful for their positive reviews.

To say that it has been an exciting year would be an understatement. We’ve had our share of bumps and turns, triumphs and tribulations. Almost every day we are greeted with new opportunities. Without doubt, we are better focused now and better prepared. We are thrilled by the prospect of learning and growing. We happily anticipate the lessons we will learn and the connections we will make at RootsTech 2014.

Jane_Harvey26d442This article was written by Harvey and Jane Baker, Co-Founders of Saving Memories Forever. Please visit their website at SavingMemoriesForever.com.


A Day to Say Thank You

This blog is sponsored by Saving Memories Forever

tomb_c2a9granitepeaker_dreamstimecomVeterans Day is one of those high impact national holidays. Especially to military American families. My family is one of those.

This national holiday was introduced as Armistice Day and was first held on November 11, 1919. It specifically recognized the end of World War 1. In particular, it observed the effective date of the Treaty of Versailles which went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Thirty five years later (1954), Congress changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day in order to recognize those who had served in all conflicts.

Veterans Day was originally set aside as a day for public parades and a 2-minute suspension of all business activity. There are still numerous major events and parades held across the country. Today, many of these events include fairs aimed at helping veterans who are looking for jobs or basic health services. Even so, the event that most Americans notice is the formal national celebration at the Arlington National Cemetery where the President of the United States places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

For many American military families, Veterans Day brings with it a more private reflection. Many spend the day with family. Some visit the grave sites of soldiers they’ve lost. Others gather for a special meal.

Overall, it’s a day of respectful solemnity. I typically find myself quietly thinking about my Dad’s stories about his service in the Navy.

Standing Still

iStock_000016272110MediumVeterans Day was intentionally designed to bring the entire nation to a standstill. In that spirit, allow me to tell you of my veterans.

I grew up with a veteran, though I hardly recognized that fact and its significance as a child. My father served eighteen years in the United States Navy. All three of my siblings were born in different places, and certainly go under the title of “Navy brat.” I am the youngest and was born after my Dad retired. I am the only one who isn’t an official “Navy brat”. Maybe that’s why I’m especially curious about my father’s military career.

I first learned about my Dad’s cruise books as a teenager. For those of you who don’t know, cruise books are a pictorial history documenting the daily life and voyages of a ship’s crew. (The Navy Department Library has a large collection (over 8,000 volumes) of cruise books from the Spanish American War to the present.) Typically, each ship keeps a cruise book. Most of the entries serve as sort of a daily diary. After reading a bunch of entries, I wondered vaguely what wasn’t reported.

Surely he had seen some of the ugliness of war. That line of questioning came into sharper focus when my brother enlisted in the Army Reserves.

That’s when I first asked my Dad about the conflict he had seen. In response, he didn’t say a whole lot.

Instead, he looked at me with what I now recognize is his “brave face”, convincing the loving daughter in me that he really did not suffer too much, did not see anything too terrible. Which may be partially true, but then again, it may not. And I may not ever know the entire truth; that is up to Dad. In his mind, his primary job – always – will be to protect me.

The Search Begins

Awhile after that,  I began my genealogy research in earnest. That’s when I found a letter written in October,1928 by my great-great grandmother, Frances E. Brown, to the Commission of the Pension board. In her letter, she writes:

“I am a soldier’s daughter, a soldier’s widow, and a soldier’s mother and think I am entitled to at least $14.00 a month. And a soldier’s sister, 3 brothers.”

What a remarkable statement! She is asking for an increase to her widow’s pension. She needed the additional money to pay for insulin for her diabetic son, who served in WWI.

To say that this letter and its simple, stark message made an impact on me, and how I perceive Veterans Day, would be putting it lightly. It was an accidental stumble that put my whole family’s history in a different light. It caused a ripple effect to the point where I now understand both the pride of military families as well as the emotional connection that goes with it. Put yourself in Frances’ position. Imagine being in her shoes as a daughter, widow, sibling, and mother. (By the way, her letter had little effect on the pension board. The request for an increase was not granted for another two years.)

Be Proactive

What can we all do to ensure that Veterans Day is appreciated and valued as a community? First of all, it doesn’t have to be just limited to Veterans Day. Make it a week long observance.  We can all take the opportunity to educate our children on the significance of the military in our country’s history. Take the time to learn something about that role.

Then say “thank you” to the man or woman you encounter in uniform. Perhaps that happens in the line at the grocery store or at the airport. Maybe while you wait for your morning cup of coffee at the neighborhood café. I have no doubt that they will appreciate your words.

You may also want to consider joining the Thank A Soldier program. Launched in December 2008, the overall goal of the Thank A Soldier cause is to encourage people from all over the world to say “Thank You” when they cross paths with a member of the military, whether they are from Canada, USA, Britain, or any member of the UN Coalition.

Perhaps a visit to a local museum, historical society, veteran’s home or military cemetery is in order. If you live in the Midwest, visit the Missouri History Museum where they currently have an exhibit entitled, “I Was a Soldier – Photos by Jerry Tovo”. The exhibit profiles the approximately 200,000 homeless veterans on the streets or in shelters in our country today. It is a powerful way to see this reality.  .

AWPAnother possibility is to support the American Widow Project. This non-profit group provides military widows with peer-based support programs designed to educate, empower, inspire and assist in rebuilding their lives. It focuses on the spouses of U.S. service members whose lives have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their website features stories of the soldiers and husbands they remember. Saving Memories Forever promoted their efforts in a fundraising campaign last year.

The choice of how to observe Veteran’s Day is yours. The honor belongs to them.

Jen BaldwinGenealogist Jen Baldwin is the owner of Ancestral Journeys, specializing in the Rocky Mountain Corridor. She writes for a variety of publications, speaks regionally on genealogy related topics, is the creator and co-host of #genchat on Twitter, and owns Conference Keeper. She also is co-creator and Co-Chair of the NextGen Genealogy Network. You can connect with Jen on her website or on social media.

Webinars: An Education Like No Other

educationEducation has always been a much sought after commodity in my family and it wasn’t always obtainable due to various obstacles including income. If your mind set still thinks of education as book learning or attending classes in-person, then perhaps you’re missing out on one of the greatest educational revolutions: webinars as an online educational offering.

What Are Webinars?

Put simply, a webinar is a way of participating in an educational lecture using your computer and an Internet connection. It is the equivalent of sitting in an education session with other participants and listening to an expert present slides or materials.

With a webinar, you connect through a platform such as GoToWebinar (the most popular webinar platform) and you watch a slide show onscreen while a presenter speaks about a specific topic. Most webinars are free, although some charge a fee. In addition, you can interact with the webinar moderator (the person who hosts the webinar and introduces the presenter) as well as the presenter using a text panel or sometimes using your own computer’s microphone.

In order to participate in a webinar, you need a computer and an Internet connection. Usually you register beforehand and then a reminder will be sent via email. Login to the webinar a few minutes before start time, turn up the volume on your computer speakers and then sit back and learn!

Genealogy and Family History Webinars

The best way to stay on top of the latest webinars and to sign up on sessions that appeal to your educational needs, is to check out the GeneaWebinars site and especially the related Google calendar. Some webinars, like those offered by the Illinois State Genealogical Society are scheduled a year out so you can sign up now for webinars in November 2014!

Other providers of webinars include vendors of genealogy software like Legacy Family Tree which offers free webinars most Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Family Tree University also offers webinars and covers many different topics related to family history.

Many genealogy societies, like the Southern California Genealogical Society also provide free webinars. One thing common with genealogy societies is that the recording of a webinar is often only available to members of the society and you’ll need to join in order to have access to an entire library of educational webinar recordings.

It’s Not Just Genealogy – Other Webinar Opportunities

The webinar revolution in the genealogy and family history community is about four years old now, but there are webinars in many other communities and industries that could be a match for your interest or hobby.

The National Association of Digital Scrapbookers offers webinars for scrapbookers as does Creative Passion with classes covering many similar topics. Some societies including the Association of Personal Historians and the American Association of Information Professionals offer webinars as a benefit of membership in the organization.

FREE Webinar: Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories

Here at Saving Memories Forever, we are hosting our first ever webinar on Wednesday, November 6, 2013, at 7:30 pm Central (8:30 pm Eastern) entitled Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories. Click here to register today!

The Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories webinar will provide you with all the information on the latest methods and tools used to capture and preserve those family stories. In addition, once you’ve learned how it easy it is to build a family archive of stories, you’ll want to share them with others using the tips and tricks shared during this webinar.

The webinar will be presented by one of the leading presenters of genealogy and family history webinars: Thomas MacEntee. Thomas is the founder of GeneaBloggers.com, a community  of over 3,000 family history bloggers around the world, and a nationally-known genealogy professional, author, speaker and educator.

Want To Get Up To Speed With Webinars?

If you are new to webinars, here are some tips and resources to check out:

  • Is my computer ready for a webinar? One of the best sites to review is at the National Seminars Training page for webinars. In general you will need a computer with a monitor, a way to listen to audio, and a strong Internet connection. Also see Legacy Family Tree’s What Do I Need To Participate page.
  • Will a wireless connection work for a webinar? For most participants, you can watch a webinar using a wireless connection. Tip: disable any other resources that might be eating up bandwidth such as Skype and close all other programs to ensure the best transmission.
  • Where can I find webinars and how do I register? For genealogy and family history webinars, visit GeneaWebinars. Click the webinar registration link, provide the basic details such as name and email address. You will be sent a link to connect to the webinar and sometimes a reminder will appear via email just before the webinar starts. For other areas of interest, search for the topic plus the term “free webinar” on Google or some other search engine.

downloadThomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. For more information visit here.© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee