Archive for the ‘genealogy gifts’ Category

I had the idea while writing my 50 Gifts for Genealogists post of making tile coasters with old photos.  I got some inspiration from this post I saw on Pinterest from Boxy Colonial, as well as several other Pinterest examples, but I also improvised.

I thought I would like to use family photos, but not of people.    I ended up doing two variations of this:  old New England houses that had belonged to my direct ancestors, and, at my daughter’s suggestion, the four houses that my parents owned before their present house.  I also bought scrapbook paper and made some with Christmas themes, and some for year-round.

Getting the pictures

I had taken pictures of the historic houses I wanted to use.  For my parents’ houses, my daughter had one picture that was suitable, and I went out while the leaves were still on the trees to photograph the three other houses, which are nearby.

So I was starting with pictures like this:

Former house on Waterman Avenue, Warwick, R.I.

Former house on Waterman Avenue, Warwick, R.I.

I needed to do several things to make them work:

  • make them square (by cropping)
  • eliminate aspects of the picture that were not accurate for the period they owned it (in the case above, the color is wrong, and the addition to the house beyond the garage is not original)
  • make them more interesting with special painting effects
  • make them just under 4 inches in size (for this, I actually needed to take the edited pictures and move them onto a blank Word document, then resize.  I printed on a normal color printer, on copier paper, from there).

I could handle the cropping and resizing, but I got my daughter to use a special app called “Waterlogue”on her iPad to make the “watercolor” effect on each picture.

So at this point I had pictures that looked like this:

The square, resized, watercolored picture of the Waterman Ave house.

The square, resized, watercolored picture of the Waterman Ave house.

For the historic houses, I wanted to get those done on my own, and I downloaded a free one week trial of AKVIS Artwork 8.1.  It was fairly easy to use.

Editing one of the historic pictures using AKVIS Artwork 8.1.

Editing one of the historic pictures using AKVIS Artwork 8.1.

The results were nice:

The watercolor version of the historic house in Sheldonville, Mass.

The watercolor version of the historic house in Sheldonville, Mass., built by my 5th great grandfather Nathan Aldrich and his father, Asa Aldrich about 200 years ago.

I also used Paint to retouch the photos, eliminating a few window air conditioners and other modern touches.

I moved the pictures into Word when I was finished editing them so that I could size them exactly, in inches. Then I printed them.  I measured them against the tiles and cut them out with scissors.

Putting the tiles together

I also purchased:

  • scrapbook paper on sale at Michael’s which I cut to size
  • 4 inch square ceramic tiles, color Bisque, from Lowe’s, 16 cents each
  • Modge Podge and some foam brushes.  I got the shiny Modge Podge, but the matte might have been better
  • Acrylic spray for finishing
  • We already had glue and some quarter inch cork sheets around the house.

I covered the tiles with Modge Podge, placed the picture on top immediately – you can wiggle it at this point, but once you let go, you can’t really move it again.  Then I coated the top of the picture with Modge Podge, being careful to make sure each edge was held down firmly.

Modge Podge going on one of the scrapbooking paper tiles.

Modge Podge going on one of the scrapbooking paper tiles.  It dries clear.

I gradually put about 24 tiles together, and went back and recoated each one with Modge Podge three additional times.  They were looking good:

My parents' four previous houses

My parents’ four previous houses

This is the historic house set:

Some historic houses owned by my direct ancestors

Some historic houses owned by my direct ancestors

Along the way of all that Modge Podging and drying, I cut the cork for the backs, and began applying the backs just before the last coat of Modge Podge.  My husband made me a wooden template to use for the size I wanted the cork to be (slightly smaller than the tile) and I cut the cork with a knife.

Cutting the cork backing.

Cutting the cork backing.

I glued the cork on the back of each tile.  I just used Tacky Glue along the edge of the tile back, and on some of the raised areas; it worked fine.

Gluing the cork on the back of each tile.

Gluing the cork on the back of each tile.

The Christmas tiles

The Christmas tiles

The last step was to spray an acrylic finish on the tiles (the smell was really annoying!).  Although that dried quickly, I plan to leave them out for a week or so before packing them up for gifts.

The finished tiles after the acrylic spray.

The finished tiles after the acrylic spray.

In closing

I think the tiles made with scrapbooking paper are cute, but I think I would only be interested in doing these in the future with my own artwork or photos – that’s the fun and unique part.  I was surprised to see that the Modge Podge didn’t damage the print at all on my copied photos.  It worked fine.

I made 25 tiles, and it took about a half day to take and manipulate the photos, and most of a day to make the tiles.  I think I could do this faster next time.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/11/30/a-quick-gift-for-mom-and-dad/


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Choosing a gift for a genealogist can be puzzling.  Loved ones and, especially, relatives want to be supportive but don’t know how.  To those who search for that perfect idea, maybe one below will be right for your favorite genealogist.  Also, see if there are additional ideas in the comments.

Computers and electronics

  • 1. The newest thing I’ve seen this year looks intriguing, but I’ve never tried it and I’m having trouble even finding a vendor (this one is from Canada).  ZCAN+  looks like a mouse, but it’s a scanner!  Thanks to Thomas McEntee of Hack Genealogy for that tip.  He knows about all the cool stuff.
Nope, it's not a mouse.  It's a scanner.

Nope, it’s not a mouse. It’s a scanner.

  • 2. For the experienced genealogist, I like the Evidentia 2 software for analyzing sources and evidence along the lines of the genealogical proof standard.  As a gift, you would want to buy it on CD.
  • 3. WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External Hard Drive  is recommended by Thomas McEntee of Geneabloggers as the one he uses – to quote him “It is light, runs on USB and has auto-backup.”  Personally, I like the red one.
  • 4. For beginners looking for the first genealogy software, try RootsMagic 7.  I also like Family Tree Maker.
  • 5. I still like EyeFi Mobi for auto-download of pictures from your camera onto your computer.
  • 6. Wacom Sketchpad helps you write, draw and edit photos on your computer.  Ever try to edit photos or mark up screenshots for a presentation with a mouse?  Then you know why this is great.  Thanks to Jenny Lanctot of Are My Roots Showing? for the suggestion.

On the road

The GRIT-IT tablet case

The GRIP-IT tablet case

  • 8. Magazines are great when travelling.   Prologue Magazine is published quarterly by the U.S. National Archives and helps the genealogist explore federal records. For those just learning genealogy, Family Tree Magazine is a good choice. For more experienced folks, a membership in the National Genealogical Society will include a subscription to the Quarterly.
  • 9. Here’s an idea I’ve never seen before – AA batteries that re-charge in any USB port.  These would be great in a computer mouse, for travelers, in case the mouse batteries died.
  • 10. Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood suggests:  “Give the gift of power! Buy a small easily packed lipstick” style charger” for your cell phone  (another sample here).  On the higher end (more for the serious traveler) I love my Mophie.  Midge also suggests that a tiny portable stand (cute colors!) for a phone or tablet might make a good stocking stuffer.
  • 11. Amazon gift cards are useful for letting the genealogist pick out their own book or tech gadget.  This suggestion came from blogger Barbara Poole of Life from the Roots.
  • 12. If your genealogist will be meeting others at conferences, libraries and town halls, making business cards is a fun idea.  My new favorite is Moo cards.
  • 13. A good, simple camera is getting cheaper and cheaper – this Canon looks like a good buy.  Don’t forget to get a memory card to go with it.  Cheaper than photocopies!

Office items

  • 14.  97.8% of genealogists love office supplies.  OK I made that up.  But this little book of sticky Redi-Tag Divider notes was love at first sight.
Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

  • 15. These Post-It tabs are great in binders.
  • 16. Barbara Poole of Life from the Roots sent along an idea about custom notepads made with your genealogist’s name and a cute quip (“On the trail of the ancestors of …” or something).  I’m sure many vendors offer custom pads online, or try a local store.
  • 17. If your genealogist is surrounded by books, there are some bookends with index tabs that won’t get lost when the shelves fill up.  Actually, the Container Store has three styles I love:  Index bookends, Tower bookends with a little storage cubby, and Mod bookends.

    Bookends from the Container Store

    Bookends from the Container Store

  • 18. I like magazine files, also from the Container Store.  But I’m still convinced some charming ones could be handmade – some people cut and cover cereal boxes.
Some cute magazine files

Some cute magazine files


  • 19. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  The bible.
  • 20. Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson.  This is new.
  • 21. Guide to Genealogical Writing, 3rd Edition by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff.
  • 22. Guide to Published Genealogies in the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, published 2012.  This book is a little expensive, but it’s so nice to have a guide at home to the full range of compiled genealogies.  Then the genealogist can figure out where to find the books needed.
  • 23. If you have deep pockets, and you want to give your favorite genealogist the absolute perfect out of print book about the exact family or location (“for the entire United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and more”) they’re researching, there’s actually a way to do that!  Buy the NEHGS Classic Reprints Catalog for $12.95. It comes with a credit for $12.95 towards the purchase of a custom reprinted book from the 12,000 mentioned in the catalog.  You could consider a gift certificate to go with it (it would probably be another $30 – $50 or more to get the book) and your genealogist would be all set to choose and order the perfect reprint.  But even a thrifty genealogist could use this book to locate pre-1923 volumes that are available online.
This is typical of the books ordered through the NEHGS reprint program.

This is typical of the books ordered through the NEHGS reprint program.

Genealogical Proof Standard, 4th Edition

Genealogical Proof Standard, 4th Edition

If the genes fit …

  • 32. For those new to DNA testing, and looking for an easy way to try it out, I could recommend an Ancestry DNA test kit.  Your genealogist will use the kit to submit a sample (in fact, it will be important to the genealogist to choose WHO will be sampled) which will be analyzed, and the results, available online, will show links to other individuals, and with any luck, those individuals will be showing an accurate tree online.
  • 33. A better choice for the same money, for a genealogist who is more experienced, is the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test kit.  Family Tree DNA has a more robust promise to maintain your access to your information, and it gives enough information to more accurately allow you to estimate, if the right people are tested, the common source of your matches.


  • 34. This year, hubs made me a cork bulletin board for the genealogy room.
Bulletin board made for me.

Bulletin board made for me.  I’m thinking about putting a family tree printout on here.

  • 35. Old photos on tile coasters – any genealogist would love these – also same idea and same idea.  I made them with old photos of family houses.
  • 36. A family calendar is popular with Heather Wilkinson Rojo’s family.  She says: “A gift my husband does every year is a family calendar using Power Point.  We give it out at our family Christmas party, and everyone looks forward to it every year. Around Thanksgiving I solicit photos from my family along themes (vacations, or school photos, or sports images) and I also steal photos from everyone’s Facebook accounts.  We arrange the photos for the large calendar pages (above the chart of the months and days) and we also put tiny photos in for everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries.  You can find an old blog post for this here on Heather’s blog Nutfield Genealogy.   Thanks, Heather!  I would never have considered PowerPoint for easily formatting the pictures.  Great idea!
  • 37. Another idea Heather sent along:  “For a few years I made charm bracelets and necklaces with vintage family photos, until everyone I knew had one and I had to think of a new idea.  I got the idea from my daughter.  Everyone loved them, but you can only give it once.”

Shopping local and small business

  • 38. Heritage jewelry from this Etsy shop by Danette Taylor.  I am fascinated by these custom pieces – not sure if I’m more intrigued by the decoupage bangles, the collage brooches, the decorative recipe plates, or the portrait pendants.
An old fashioned pin made with your old photo by Danette Taylor.

An old fashioned pin made with your old photo by Danette Taylor. Picture used with permission.

  • 39. i (chart) you makes beautiful custom ancestor charts; you send the data and they send you the file electronically, ready for you to have printed in the size you prefer.  This would have to be ordered by the genealogist, but a gift certificate (see the last few boxes on the main page) might be nice.  Thanks to Wendy Grant Walter for this idea.
  • 40. Barb’s Branches has some attractive tree jewelry in an Etsy shop.  Among her interesting handmade “tree” pieces, she has the inspired idea of making jewelry from old silver spoons.  Amazing!  Barb is offering my readers a break – for 15% off, use coupon code: RIFAMILY2014 at checkout. The coupon/discount will be good through Dec 31, 2014.
A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb's Branches.

A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb’s Branches.  Picture used with permission.

For those with Rhode Island ancestors

Just for Fun

This one still makes my adult kids roll their eyes ... worth it ...

This one still makes my adult kids roll their eyes … worth it …

If you’re not finding what will make your genealogist happy here, try last year’s post.  Hope the links still work!

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/11/09/50-gifts-for-genealogists-2014/

christmas tree

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This is the old list:  SEE THE NEW LIST FOR 2014 – HERE –   Lots of great ideas!  —  Diane

As the holiday season approaches, it’s a good time for genealogists to let loved ones know about the fabulous gift possibilities that are out there.  Here are my top 50 choices, but check out the comments, too, where I’m sure others will leave good ideas.  Here we go!

On the road

  • 1. Some sort of rolling briefcase, for conferences or town hall visits.  Not too crazy big, in case it needs to fit into a locker.
  • 2. A canvas or quilted bag, with zipper and inside pockets, for carrying notebooks, camera and supplies.


  • 3. Cocoon Grid-It keeps small electronics together when traveling (also available on Amazon)
  • 4. TableTote – a portable laptop stand for use at microfilm machines, or anywhere a temporary workspace is needed.  It folds completely.
  • 5. No genealogy trip is complete without cute business cards to exchange with the other researchers.  Print the last names of the family lines being researched on the back.

Office items

  • 6. Clip board.  I use a green print one from Staples the most because it is incredibly light weight.  A clipboard, a pad, and a pencil can be brought into most archives, even if nothing else can, and a clipboard serves as a writing surface when at a microfilm machine or library.
  • 7. If you want to get all You’ve-Got-Mail, a bouquet of newly sharpened Mirado Black Warrior pencils and a pencil sharpener would be nice.  Also a wooden ruler, desk scissors, highlighters, and White Pearl erasers.
  • 8. Genealogists spend a lot of time at their desks.  How about a comfortable desk chair?
  • 9. Bookends are getting harder to find.  A clerk at Staples actually didn’t know what they were.  Try The Container Store.
  • 10. Special markers for genealogists.

2013-11-27 22_05_06-Amazon.com_ Brother PT-70SR Personal Handheld Labeler with special time & date f

  • 11. Personal handheld labeler from Brother to label shelves, drawers, binders and folders.  Genealogists always imagine they’re about to get organized.  So they love stuff like this.
  • 12. For the genealogist who serves as the family archivist (which is all genealogists), archival supplies from Gaylord are always popular.


  • 13. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Second Edition, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Pub. Co., 2009.
  • 14. Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, McGraw Hill Education, 2014.
  • 15. Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, 2013, available through the National Genealogical Society.
  • 16. Try finding a history book, or even a movie, about something the genealogist is researching now.  Did he or she just find a Civil War soldier?  A California gold miner?  A Mayflower ancestor?  Even better, read and discuss it together.
  • 17. Genealogists enjoy reading Family Tree Magazine.  This is an especially good choice for beginners, and another recommendation for beginners would be the book “Family Tree Problem Solver” by Marcia Hoffmann Rising, available here.
  • 18. I always thought Ancestors of American Presidents, Second Ed, 2009, by Gary Boyd Roberts, was a really fun book.  I’m only related to boring Presidents, though.


Computers and Electronics

  • 20. Software
  • 21. Kindle owners might like an Amazon gift card. Actually, any genealogist might like one. 
  • 22. Paid subscriptions to online genealogy sites like GenealogyBank.com, Fold3.com, and Ancestry.com probably need to be selected by the genealogist, but a homemade gift card offering to cover one would be good.
  • 23. USB flash drives.  8gb or 16gb should be fine.  Try finding ones where the cover is not a separate piece.

EyeFi - 3

  • 24. Eye-Fi camera memory card to auto-upload from camera to computer (try Amazon.com for a full variety).
  • 25. Camera digital memory cards.
  • 26. A Canon CanoScan 9000F flatbed scanner is very useful for genealogists that are trying to digitize records and photos at home.
  • 27. The portable battery-operated scanner called Flip-Pal is a favorite with genealogists who go to relatives’ homes, reunions or other places and need to scan pictures.  No computer is needed on site; the scans are stored on a memory card.  There are package offers available which support the National Genealogical Society.
  • 28. Eneloop rechargable batteries by Sanyo, size AA, with a charger and case, would be good for a person who already has a Flip-Pal.  Try Amazon or other retailers.
  • 29. For genealogists that listen to webinars, participate in Google+ Hangouts, or listen to podcasts, these Microsoft LifeChat headphones are popular for $21.00.


Shopping local and small business

  • 30. Local genealogy societies welcome members who are looking for ancestors in all parts of the world, not just locally.  Around here, Rhode Island Genealogical Society membership is just $25 per year for 2014.
  • 31. I love the work of the Gravestone Girls.  I have a refrigerator magnet.
  • 32. Shop locally for antique or old looking picture frames for old photos.
  • 33. There are some genealogy publishers we would like to support – Heritage Books has a coupon code for 50% off Dec. 2 – 6, 2013.
  • 34. Try your local historical society.  Perhaps they have a membership, event or materials that might be helpful to a genealogist.


Homemade gifts

  • 35. A box of family letters, scrapbooks, pictures, or mementos that the genealogist hasn’t managed to get hold of yet.
  • 36. Research an ancestor or story the genealogist is not working on, and surprise them with a little report.  They will love it!
  • 37. Paint the inside of old mason jars, insert a paper or plastic cup as a liner, for use as desk accessories.
  • 38. Offer to explore cemeteries together, of the genealogist’s choosing.  Pack a sandwich and a camera!
  • 39. Most genealogists have subscriptions, and would like magazine holders.  The pink print ones are from the Vera Bradley Outlet; the black ones are from Staples. It would be possible for a creative person to make some cute ones; there are plenty of instructions online.


For those with Rhode Island ancestors

  • 40. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a bookstore at the John Brown House, and online, offering my favorite print of Providence ever, President Street by Joseph Partridge, 1822.  Only $15.
  • 41. For those researching New England and New York (and other U.S. locations), The New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston offers a lot of online member benefits and discounts for $79.95 per year – see gift memberships here.
  • 42. Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, by John Osborne Austin (with additions and corrections by G. Andrews Moriarty). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969.  This can be purchased new for $65 or perhaps purchased used for less.  It maps the first three generations of many early Rhode Island families.
  • 43. Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Rhode Island.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1990.  $20.50.  Lists heads of families in Rhode island, 1790, with brief data.
  • 44. Look over the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Book & Gift Catalog. I am very excited about Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson (coming in January 2014).  (hopefully my family has read down this far).
  • 45. Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th edition, ed. by Michael J. Leclerc and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012.  Helps for locating record types by location.
  • 46. New Englanders in the 1600’s, Expanded Edition by Martin E. Hollick, 2012, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Publishing Company. This book offers a bibliographic summary of genealogical work published 1980-2010 on certain early New England settlers.

Just for Fun

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/11/29/50-gifts-for-genealogists-this-christmas


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