Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back for a Third Year: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women's History Month

In March 2010 I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the "fearless females" in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. So, to mark National Women's History Month (beginning Thursday, March 1), I'm listing the 31 prompts below. You can choose to do some of them, or all of them--there's no pressure--it's meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told!


Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

[Group of young womenreading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines.Post an image of it or link.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you've selected and why and then post a link to what you've created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Copyright, 2010-12, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hurry! Enter to Win a Family Tree University Virtual Conference Registration

Please see the press release below to enter to win a Family Tree University Virtual Conference Registration. Hurry! Registrations must be received by FTU by February 23 at 11:59 Eastern Time. Please direct all questions to

But, if by chance you forget to enter, you can still get a bargain on a Virtual Conference ticket: Family Tree University is giving all readers of this blog $40 off registration. Enter coupon code LALZO when registering.


Win a Family Tree University Virtual Conference Registration

Online learning program will give away one three-day pass for March 9-11 event in sweepstakes

CINCINNATI, February 15, 2012—Family Tree University’s Spring 2012 Virtual Conference will feature three days of online genealogy learning, with 15 downloadable video classes, live chats and discussions, daily contests and more. And one lucky genealogist will get to experience it all for free.

Enter the Virtual Conference Sweepstakes at for a chance to win a free registration to the March 9-11 conference, a $199 value. You don’t have to travel across the country or even across town to participate: The conference takes place entirely online, with classes and discussions led by an all-star cast of genealogy instructors. Class topics include:

» Using Steve Morse’s One-Step Site to Get Ready for the 1940 Census with Thomas MacEntee

» Using Your iPad for Genealogy with Nancy Hendrickson

» 3 Cool Tools to Help With Your Newspaper Research with Lisa Louise Cooke

» What’s in a Civil War Pension File? with Diana Crisman Smith

» Online Resources for Polish Research with Lisa A. Alzo

» Using Guardianship Records in Genealogical Research with Marian Pierre-Louis

For more details and a full list of classes, visit

Sweepstakes entries must be received by February 23 at 11:59 Eastern Time; the winner will be announced February 24.

Media contact:

Allison Dolan, (513) 531-2690 x11484

About Family Tree University

Family Tree University is part of the Genealogy Community at F+W Media, Inc., which also encompasses Family Tree Magazine—America’s most popular family history magazine—the Family Tree Books imprint and the online store. These publications and products are devoted to providing engaging, easy-to-understand instruction that makes genealogy a hobby anyone can do. In addition to the virtual conference, Family Tree University offers more than 30 online genealogy courses and monthly live webinars.

Disclosure Statement: I will be working for the FTU virtual conference as paid freelance instructor.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Why Everyone Deserves Their Own "Who Do You Think You Are Moment?" and Other Ramblings on RootsTech 2012

RootsTech 2012 has come and gone. In some ways I think it was a dream because the time there went by so fast, and I am still processing it all. I spent months preparing for this conference, and then in a flash it was over.

I arrived on Wednesday evening, February 1. I wish I had planned to arrive sooner because I felt I was a latecomer to the party. Many of my friends had already been there more than a week either because they attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy the previous week or arrived a few days early to research at the Family History Library. Unforutnately due to work and other obligations it just wasn't feasible for me to add additional days to my RootsTech trip this year.

The minute I touched down at the Salt Lake City airport, my Blackberry began buzzing with messages. One was from Kathryn Doyle asking me if I wanted to have dinner. I had to catch the shuttle to the hotel. The airport was hopping. My first thought: "Can you say 'Genealogists'?"

When I arrived at the Radisson, I saw so many of my genea-friends sitting in the lobby. After dinner, it was back to my room to try and get some sleep before Day 1.

Day 1

I was up very early on Thursday (Day 1) partly because of the excitement and partly because I was still on Eastern time. I was on the list for a preview tour of the exhibit hall so I headed over to the Salt Palace convention center for 7 AM. Before the tour I had a chance to visit with many fellow bloggers.

Once in the exhibit hall I saw Thomas MacEntee greeting bloggers with the customary beads and ribbons. We had a few minutes to visit before the keynote began. I decided to stay at the bloggers area and watch bags and computers and spend some quiet time working on my presentation for later on in the day. I watched the keynote address online from my netbook. Before lunch, I was interviewed by Drew Smith for the GenealogyGuys podcast.

After more visits with fellow geneabloggers and a quick look around the vendor hall I attended the BrightSolid lunch. Soon it was time for my talk, "Show, Don't Tell: Creating Interactive Family Histories," which I presented to a full room of attendees. There were a few minor technical glitches, namely that the wireless internet connection did not work with my netbook. But you can't let this kind of issue stop your presentation, so I kept going and ended my talk with a musical slideshow tribute to my family that the audience really seemed to enjoy. On Thursday evening I joined about a dozen other of my lady genea-peeps for dinner at Macaroni Grill. I went to sleep early, exhausted after a fun-filled first day.

Day 2

I started Day 2 very early, attending a breakfast hosted by FamilySearch. Then I attended Ian Tester's lecture on "Telling Stories: Transforming the Bare Facts of Genealogy Into the Astonishing Tale of You and Your Family." I really enjoyed this talk, especially the part where he talked about how "everyone deserves their own 'Who Do You Think You Are?' moment." I never really get excited over celebrities, so I liked the direction of Ian's talk about every family having interesting stories (you just have to dig). The room was "Standing Room Only" so I stood in the back for most of the lecture. I left about half way through, not because I wasn't enjoying the lecture, but because the temperature in the room was so warm that I felt my throat was closing up and I started to cough. Not wishing to interrupt the speaker with my coughing, I quietly left. After getting some water, I then went into the panel session on "Genealogy 2.0: International Panelists Discuss Their Use of Social Media to Connect With Cousins, Collaborate on Projects, Discuss Issues, Market and Promote Genealogy Services and Perform Acts of Genealogical Kindness." There were seats available so I sat down in the back. The ladies did a fantastic job. These were the only sessions I attended besides my own, and I wish I could have attended others.

I skipped lunch so I could set up for my session on "Learning Genealogy Online: So Many Choices, So Little Time." Again, the room was full. The audience asked good questions. I had meetings the rest of the afternoon.

On Friday night I enjoyed watching the premiere of Season 3 of "Who Do You Think You Are?" with friends at the Peery Hotel. (Thanks to bartender Tom for letting us control the remote!). Day 2 was history.

Day 3

On Saturday I gave a talk on "A Dozen Ways to Use Your iPad 2 for Genealogy and Writing." I was just a little bit nervous because it was the first time I was giving a presentation solely from my iPad. Thankfully, there were no technical glitches (the Internet worked because I used my own personal wi-fi card). I went to lunch with the editors from Family Tree Magazine and then headed back to the media hub in the vendor hall to conduct an audio interview with David Rencher of FamilySearch. After that I took one last tour of the vendor hall before it closed.

I enjoyed spending Saturday evening with many friends at a dinner party hosted by Janet Havorka and her family. It was nice to relax and enjoy the company. Then it was back to the hotel to pack for my early Sunday morning departure.

Overall, I enjoyed RootsTech this year. My one major complaint was: Not enough time to visit with everyone and I didn't get to many sessions because of the way my own talks and appointments were scheduled. I think they could work a bit more on making the wi-fi connections better and expand the space a bit (supposedly the number of attendees topped 4,000). I also felt there was no real "wow" factor this year. The announcements about and the FamilySearch Indexing App were great, but I was expecting to be blown away by something (a gadget, new program, etc.) that would really excite me as a genealogist, and that didn't quite happen. Perhaps it was because I attended last year and since they were the "New Kid on the Conference Block" there seemed to be more excitement and buzz, so in a way I knew what to expect.

That said, however, I'm already making plans to be at RootsTech in 2013 (March 21-23) and I hope to see even more genealogists there!

[For PDF versions of my presentation slides click here].

Copyright, 2012, Lisa A. Alzo

All rights reserved