Family Tree: family reunion thumbprint tree


Family Tree with Thumbprints by Elisabeth Ventling

We are planning a family reunion this summer and I think we should do a thumbprint tree like the one above available in the ElisabethVentlingArt shop on Etsy. While not a tradition family tree showing relationships of one member to another, this kind of tree captures those who are there at the family reunion. It seems like young and old alike would enjoy putting their mark on the tree. Have you ever done a thumbprint tree?


Family Reunions in the Digital Age

from FamilySearch newsletterI found this information in the FamilySearch User Newsletter for June 2013, but it is also on their blog in this post by Matt Wright. He has some great ideas for family reunions using modern technology to its best advantage.

When my ancestors took this family reunion photo in 1932, they didn’t have our generation in mind as much as they did what was for lunch, where little Melvin had disappeared to, and what time they might need to leave to get home. But, I’m so glad they took the time—this snapshot has turned into a valuable piece of my family story.

When you get together for your yearly family reunion this summer, what will you do to make sure future generations have access to important family memories? FamilySearch Photos and Stories provides tools to help you capture, preserve, and share your family memories for today and generations to come.

Read on for some general reunion photo ideas as well as tips for using Photos and Stories to add some flair to your reunion. If you haven’t had a chance to use Photos and Stories, you should try it out. We recently added an automated search that will find photos of your ancestors [VIDEO]. Simply click the blue button on the Photos page to log in and see what photos others have added.

General Ideas

There are certain photo-related activities that could or should happen at any family gathering. Here are some ideas.

  • Take a group photo—Kind of a no-brainer, but so important to capture the people at the event for future generations.
  • Photo slideshow—Set up a laptop or television with a looping slideshow of favorite family photos, from as many people as you can get to contribute. Make sure the photos are uploaded to so that family members can see the photos when they get home.
  • Photo name tags—get head shots from each attendee (or from the ancestor they descend from for larger events) and place the photos on name tags with their name to make sure everyone remembers names!

Photos and Stories

Many family reunions or get-togethers are held in buildings or other locations with Wi-Fi. Some family members can bring an Internet Hot Spot. Whatever the case may be, if you have it available, take advantage of the access to make some serious progress in documenting your family story on FamilySearch.

  • Identify photos—Work with individuals or groups to identify the people in photos that have already been uploaded. My family reunion picture above is a great example—I don’t know everyone in the photo, but working together we can likely fill in many of the blanks.
  • Give time to explore—Have a few laptops available for family members to explore the Family Tree fan chart, photos, and stories at their own pace. They can add stories to photos and may even help tag previously unknown people in photos they see.
  • Take time to record—A hand held digital audio recorder or video recorder can capture individuals telling stories and sharing memories that can be preserved and cherished by those to come.

Gather and Digitize

Even if you don’t have access to the Internet you can still grow your family’s Photos and Story collection and experience the magic of ancestral photos.

  • Assign a Photo Chairperson—As part of your reunion planning, assign someone to manage the gathering and display of family photos. This person can organize an effort to have family members bring photographs to the reunion to be digitized or copied so you can upload them to FamilySearch.
  • Set up a scanning station—This is easily done with a laptop and portable scanner. Once scanned, you have a copy to upload to FamilySearch. This can get people motivated and trained to add more photos when they return home. Get the word out as far ahead of the event as possible and provide reminders so that people remember to bring their photos.
  • Show a family presentation—This can happen quite naturally during an already scheduled family meeting. Even without Internet, you can present a slide show with screen captures of what family information is already available on FamilySearch.
  • Set up a photo identification table—Print out photos of unidentified people on inexpensive paper print and have a table full of family photos for older relatives to annotate who is in each photo. Transfer the information to FamilySearch to be preserved.
  • Reunion web page—Create a family reunion page in FamilySearch Photos and Stories and share it through email or social media.

However you approach photo sharing at your reunion you’ll be glad you did. The photos and stories of our ancestors can help create a connection that bridges generations.

Thanks Matt for this inspiring ideas. Are you having a family reunion this year?



50 for 50 – #28 Martin’s Cove


Mark, Daedre, Eric, Noreen, Raelyn & Bill

This week I got to do something I’ve wanted to for a long time, go to Martin’s Cove. It seemed the perfect way to celebrate my 50th year by honoring my great-great grandmother. There was just a small group of my family there with me, my sister and one cousin plus our spouses from my generation. My nephew was the only participant from the next generation. We had the best participation from my mom’s generation with her and one sister and one brother, plus their spouses. It seemed especially important to get my mom there to see the Cove. At 89 it is hard to think that she has many years left to do outing like this. I was very proud of my mom for coming even though she didn’t know how she would be able to take part.

My Mom in a hat from one of her ancestors

At first we were planning to get one of the rickshaws to take her to the Cove, but they were all out. But there was an even better solution. They have a couple of rovers that they can take people out to the Cove and either drop them off or bring them back. So my parents and my Uncle Sid and his wife Katherine took the rover to the cove overlook.

Treking to Martin’s Cove

My Aunt Lucy and her husband Jack were the only ones of the older generation to brave camping out and walking with the handcart. Lucy even helped push it from behind. It was rather hot and by the time we got to handcart parking, the heat was taking its toll on Lucy. But soon after we got there the rover came up with the rest of the older folks. So they unloaded and Lucy and Jack to the rover up to the Cove Overlook.

Sid, Katherine, Ray and Iris in the rover

Another cool thing that happened was the missionary who ended up driving the rover for our family was also from Rexburg, Idaho and my parents and Aunt Lucy knew him. Jacob, my nephew was also done with treking so we left him at handcart parking with my parents, while those of my generation started the walk up into Martin’s Cove. No handcarts are allowed in the Cove and we learned that the man who owned the land for many, many years never farmed or developed the land in the cove in any way.

In Martin’s Cove

The Cove has a peaceful, reverent feeling and as we walked we reflected on Mary Taylor and her family and the hardships they experienced here. It wasn’t hard to imagine the pioneers camped out along the Cove. It is shaped like a horseshoe with a high area in the middle. The 500 or so people would have been spread out along the Cove. We saw many antelope in the general area of Martin’s Cove but only one deer. That was well up into the Cove. Daedre got the impression that that was where Mary Taylor was camped. I was struck by a spot a little further up the Cove where several patches of purple wild flowers made the spot especially beautiful and peaceful. I’m so glad I got to go to Martin’s Cove and to experience this historical place with some of my family.





Martin’s Cove Journal – getting started

One of the things I’m working to improve in my projects is my workflow. So I’m experimenting on new ways to approach the process. To start with I am going to try to follow Nancy Barnes’ method of

  1. imagine
  2. plan
  3. create
  4. edit
  5. design
  6. publish

and see how that works for me. In the past I have jumped to the design stage too fast and it ends up taking more time than necessary. Part of the journey of this blog is for me to learn and improve as I share what I find with others. So I took some time this week to imagine what I want the end product.

  • compact
  • rustic
  • durable
  • timeline of events
  • excerpts from journals & stories
  • space to journal, draw, add photos
  • historical info
  • pedigree chart

I’ve decided to make it simple to self publish with my printer and a copier, I’ll make it 8.5″ x 5.5″ (half sheet of letter size paper). Don’t know how I’m going to bind it yet. If I can’t figure anything else out I’ll use wire binding because I can do that myself. I think I’ll have a bit of rustic/grunge on the pages that will help add an old feel to the journal.

I started working on the timeline of events and journal excerpts from sources on the internet and a book recently published by a distant cousin, Kenneth L. Rasmussen “Some Must Push and Some Must Pull: Mary Taylor, handcart pioneer And Her Descendants.” I found a great timeline for the Willie company but I found out that much of the documentation for the Martin handcart company was lost. There is some conflicting information that I’m going to have to decide how to resolve. Plus I need to decide how much is enough. I don’t want a big long comprehensive journal, just enough to give my family some background and a sense of what happened to Mary.

The general plan of the layout of the journal is to have the timeline in a side bar down the left side, with excerpts from journals on the rest of the left hand page. Then I’ll keep the right hand page on each spread open for thoughts, sketches etc.

What kind of approach do you use when you start a new project and as you progress through? I’d love to hear and learn from your experiences.