Archive for June, 2012

Not Your Average Family Reunion

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

by Tara McIntosh

Planning a one-size fits all reunion can be challenging. Here are some tips to organize a stress-free event and have a wonderful reunion that will be remembered for years to come:

Start with practical expectations. Whether it is a weekend event or a month at the cabin, have a realistic vision from the beginning. There will be boring moments and maybe a few melt-downs. There will also be moments to remember for years or generations to come. Document the best moments and forget those that don’t measure up to expectations.

Make a plan. Come up with a list of simple achievable objectives. Decide to be happy with that list when it is met. The amount of structure planned into the event can facilitate your overall objectives and communicate to attendees what is expected throughout the event. Giving purpose and communicating it, when democratically applied, allows everyone to relax as they know the rules of engagement so-to-speak. Examples include: get to know one another better, strengthen relationships, laugh, learn something new about your heritage, share recipes, etc.

The purpose of having simple achievable objectives is not to have low expectations of the event. The purpose is to understand the outcomes that can be planned into the event. If coming up with a list of achievable goals is less than satisfying, develop a list of personal goals as well. Or develop a second list as an objectives wish list.

Something for everyone. Simple things that include each person at their comfort level can help maintain a harmonious atmosphere. Distribute responsibilities, vary activities to cater to the different strengths within the family, utilize technology to include family who are too far to be there in person.  You can find some great ideas about this in Family Reunion Hangouts by Mark Olsen.

Incorporate value-added experiences. Getting together is a wonderful time to learn more about your heritage. Check with the local historical society to invite a historian or genealogist for a lecture. Talk about stories from reunions past. Schedule a time to relive a historical event or lifestyle from the perspective of an ancestor. Encourage sharing between generations and extended family about the joys and trials of life.

Families offer a refuge when life is good and during tough times. Reunions are the ideal setting for strengthening relationships that offer the best support. By incorporating practical planning and valuable experience the outcome of any get together will be top notch.

Family Reunion Hangouts

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Hot summer days signal the time for families to gather for the annual ritual of family reunions.

Family reunions often bring together many generations to mingle, play, create new memories and relive those memories of the past.

The intent of a family reunion is to bring together the family in one place at the same time.  Some family members may be overextended on their PTO, over-strained on the financing or busy with other summer activities such as boy scout camp, a business trip or other commitments.

Until only recently if you were not able to make the reunion you were out of luck and would likely miss out on all the fun.  Today we have many options of keeping up to speed on all the events and with the advent of modern social media you can even join in on the fun with the use of video collaboration.

Skype and Facetime

Example of a hangout (with David Beckham and Google)

Example of a hangout (with David Beckham and Google)

Using Skype video you can call in to or from the family reunion and have the person on the other line share in the special moments of the gathering.  Skype is free over the internet, there are some costs when call phone number. Facetime is a social app for the iPhone which can be used for face to face video interactions between phones.

Facebook:  Using Facebook Video Calling

I have not yet used Facebook video calling but understand that it is built on the backbone of Skype and can help you meet face to face with Facebook friends and family who are online.

Google Plus – Google Hangouts

Holding the unofficial world record for the longest lasting Google Hangout, 77 days,  I am biased to hangouts as the hands down winner of video collaboration.  From early July 2011 to August I and over 12,000 others used hangouts to test this new technology and join in on a video conversation which we held.  Now I use hangouts to connect with friends, family, business partners and virtual conference attendees. (more…)

Live Feeds from Colorado now available

Friday, June 1st, 2012

WorldVitalRecords and MyHeritage are at the Family History Expo in Colorado Springs Colorado. #FHexpo
Schelly Talalay Dardashti and Mark Olsen will be presenting various classes live online. Those presentations can be viewed here:

Click on the top feed – live feed to view live – or look for our recorded broadcasts.

The complete schedule of our session are as follows:

Friday June 1, 2012 – Times are Mountain Time

4.50 pm: Sephardic Research Comes of Age – Schelly
This session will provide many recent and relatively unknown resources for Sephardic genealogy (for those whose Jewish ancestors came from Spain), covering global country resources, searchable databases, books, libraries/archives, online sites, conferences, personalities, music and many additional aspects of the “other” side of Jewish genealogy.

6.30 pm: Online Ancestral Communities – Schelly
For many of today’s genealogists, their ancestral communities – regardless of origin – live only in half-remembered memories of parents and grandparents. Today’s technology and social media provide methods to easily recreate these communities and preserve those memories for future generations. In this session, learn about types of communities, why we should care, how to find others who share these memories, what a project might include, how to put it together and view projects that others have already created. Help preserve your roots for the future, while collaborating with other descendants around the world.

7.50 pm: Google Hangouts – Connecting Genealogists with History Worldwide – Mark
Google Plus is quickly becoming a go to place for genealogy. Never before has it been easier to connect, share, and record family history – gather for a genealogy society meeting – attend a genealogy conference – meet with a client – connect for the first time with a distant cousin – interview an elderly relative and much more. Mark, the creator of the longest Google Hangout, which lasted 77 days, will teach how to quickly connect with people from around the world to accomplish shared genealogy goals. Mark will demonstrate how you can quickly join a hangout in process or create your own. He will also teach how you can use this technology to gather your family or society together to teach, record and share experiences. This presentation will be broadcast live to the Google Plus community and – assuming a good internet connection – will involve genealogists from around the globe.

Saturday June 2, 2012 –

11.20 am: Social Media for 21st Century Genealogists – Schelly
Do you want to learn how to use today’s social media to advance your family history research? Has your society scheduled the best program in the country, but don’t know how to get the message out? Learn how to use social media to your advantage. Learn the basics of publicity along with information on the essentials of organizing an event.

1:10 pm: The 1940 Census – Mark
Having trouble finding people in the 1940 US census? Need some practical tips to make the most of available information? Mark will take you step-by-step through researching the census and will demonstrate how to find the people you’re looking for and understand the records you find. He’ll also demonstrate how to use other methods to help reveal records such as using city directories or converting previous census EDs, how to decipher the information and follow clues for further research. MyHeritage was the first commercial vendor to have all the 1940 US Census images available following its release on April 2.

Those presentations can be viewed here:

Click on Feed at the top of page and watch the live feed or recently recorded session.

We hope you can join in.