A Fast History and How I Learned The Hard Way

A fast history and how I learned the hard way. Three times.

After using inadequate programs and after suffering 3 program crashes, I had to make a decision.

My first family history book was given to me by my Grandmother, when I was 8 years old, in 1983. It was typed on an old typewriter and copied into books for all the family members that wanted one. I still remember the way it smelled, the fresh ink on paper and I wore it out flipping through it reading the stories.

Years later, I wanted to make my family book 'pretty', by creating a sort of scrapbook with my self-taught graphic designer skills I thought I had, and it was the perfect project to do while my little boys were napping. I had Microsoft Word, a dial up connection with a basic computer and no skills to really speak of. After hours of figuring out how to create text boxes, change fonts, move alignments, layout the design and start typing the information, I felt accomplished and proud of myself. Then, a spinning wheel that froze everything but itself, mocked me as it convinced me to reboot, and my work was all gone. Disappeared. I didn't know I could set it to auto save and didn't think to save often. I lost it all. I was devastated. 2 more freeze-crashes like this happened over the next few months, losing not quite everything, but enough for me to fear another crash. I decided this was ridiculous. There had to be a better way.

I did some research, found Family Tree Maker, ordered the disc (it wasn't a download yet at this time) and I impatiently waited for it to arrive. While I was using the FTM program, [which changed everything about how I was making my book digital], I discovered Ancestry.ca and got an account. I was hooked. I found a world of Ancestors I never knew existed with millions of records and stories and hundreds of thousands of volunteers that would help me, to not only make my book 'pretty' but, fill in a lot of blanks my Grandmother was not able to do by writing letters and visiting cousins who told stories. It was time to discover my past. I had a lot to learn though and it took me 20 years to do it before I could write a book that would help others.

Learn more about genealogy with "Getting Started in Genealogy: A Guide For The Absolute Beginner".

Need one-on-one help? I offer monthly coaching or 1:1 classes catered to most genealogy and family history topics or genres.