OneGreatFamily Blog

  • Genealogy: How to Organize and Manage Your Genealogy eMail

    The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 

    A big part of keeping your inbox and your email organized is discipline, along with having a system that you consistently put into practice. There are several tasks you can put into place upon checking your email to keep ahead of your email clutter.

    Put your "delete" button to work. If you do not recognize the sender, look at the subject line. Are there funny characters or alphanumeric gibberish, or does it just not make sense? Delete it! Don't fall for tricky subject fields that say any number of enticing comments that only someone you know or do business with would say. None of these types of emails are from friends or folks you know, and they won't be from companies you do business with. They are from spammers, and the worst kind too-those who underestimate your intelligence by thinking these emails will be something you would take seriously. If you don't know the sender and the subject field looks off, send them on their way to the trash; never respond to these messages (even to request removal from their email listings) since they use your response to note an active email address, keeping you hostage to their continued invasions of unwanted mail!

    Once you have deleted all irrelevant or unwanted messages, your remaining email will probably be a compilation of these types of messages, which you may need to keep on hand for future reference: several emails from the same person; email from companies who send you their information quite regularly; email that is personal business; email of a more serious nature; and so on.

    Set up filters. You are now ready to determine what to do with the remaining emails that still need to be organized in an efficient manner. This is where filters come into play. Filters (or "Rules," as they are called in Outlook) are what allow you to organize your email upon download (and Send too). As you download your email, it will be sorted into email folders set up for specific topics or contacts. This is a quick and easy way to become more organized. You can have a "Mom" filter that sends all email from dear old Mom right into your Mom folder. Set up filters to have email from your banking sites go directly into their own folders. Your favorite site can have its own folder. You can even have information from your financial institutions automatically end up in a folder specifically divided into further folders (such as Annuity, CDs, Stock, Bonds). The benefit of filters is that if you organize your email to go into their own folders upon download is that your inbox will have less of your requested or expected emails-leaving only the questionable email for you to review. Filters only need to be set up once, and they stay in place until you delete them. Other benefits of using filters: You can use them to send certain email right to the trash, bypassing your inbox altogether! Filters can be configured to find certain adult or offensive terms when listed in the subject line or body text of an email message and send them right to trash on the download!

    Let's go back to your inbox. You now have filters in place that organize your email upon download, so all the email you requested or expected will automatically go into their appropriate folders for you to read at your convenience. Now your inbox should only have the orphan email with nowhere to go. After following the suggestions about using your delete button, begin to review your remaining email. If you run into an email that is from a new mailing list you've subscribed to and you plan on getting regular emails from, stop and make a folder and filter to accommodate these future emails. Set up a filter to look for something specific to that email (usually an email address works best), and then all future emails from that mailing list will go directly into their own folder. Do this for any email topic or contact for which you plan to receive email on a regular basis.

    Read and delete unwanted emails. Read your email as time permits and then delete any email that doesn't have content worth keeping for future reference. Having too many email files uses a ton of your system's resources, so empty your trash often. Not keeping copies of email you really will never need in the future helps remove the clutter and drain on system resources.

    Prioritize. When reading your email, you can prioritize when you want to address them in the future. Many email programs allow you to label email by color when viewing a particular folder. For example, you could have labels that at a glance tell you how you have prioritized your tasks-let's say red for "urgent," blue for "later," and yellow for "maybe." By opening that specific email box, you know at a glance which email you have set to address right away and which you can get to as time permits.

    Create a folder called Follow-Up, Interesting, or To-Do. This is where you will file some of the emails from your inbox that piqued your interest or that you would like to review in more detail but just don't have the time right now. Then, when time permits, you can go to that folder and check into which emails are worth keeping. Once you review them, though, either send them to another folder for safekeeping or send them to the trash.

    Clear your inbox daily. To avoid email backup, be sure your inbox is cleared each day. Move email to trash, a specific folder, or your to-do folder, and then empty the trash. If email is older than ninety days in your to-do folder, send them off to trash, since most likely the information or offer is no longer current. By doing so each day, you keep your inbox clear and your email much more organized.

    Take out the trash. Your "trash" folder should be emptied daily-but before doing so, be sure to take a quick look just in case any of your filters inadvertently picked up on some terms that were included in email that you didn't want to trash. This happens quite often. A quick once-over before deleting your trash will ensure legitimate email you do want to read doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

    What about all these folders? Have as many folders as you need to be organized and call them whatever will intuitively work for you with a glance. This system is meant to be unique to each and every user-make sure you use terms and a system that works for you.

    Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Ulysses S. Grant

    Ulysses S. Grant

    This week we are featuring the famed general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. He was born 27 April 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio and given the name of Hiram Ulysses Grant. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he acquired the name "Ulysses S." or "U.S. Grant." He fought in the Mexican American War. In 1861 he joined the Civil War effort on the side of the Union. As brigadier general and major general, he earned a reputation as a formidable commander. In 1863 he captured the key city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, thus gaining control of the Mississippi River for the Union. President Lincoln then gave him command of all the Union armies. From 1864 to 1865 he waged the Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee, resulting in a long siege at Petersburg. Finally Grant broke through Confederate lines, captured Richmond, and forced Lee to surrender at Appomattox.

    To view Ulysses S. Grant's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#588971691. You can also see whether or not you are related to Ulysses S. Grant by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily. . You can also see whether or not you are related to by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you .

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  • Genealogy: Genealogy and Social Networking Sites

    The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 


    Online communities have been built as a place for individuals with common interests to build new relationships. These online services provide simple tools to generate collaborative opportunities for finding, sharing, and interacting with like-minded people. Social networking websites use networking technologies such as wikis, RSS, and mapping. Online family tree building helps people connect with family members and other researchers. Many of the sites become a platform for the family social experience. Families can produce content, preserve connections, add historical anecdotes, and communicate across a number of mediums like instant messaging and email, as well as picture and family tree viewing. You can browse by city or country to view uploaded photos of that city and names of genealogists that live in that city. Examples include Facebook,,, Google-plus, LinkedIn,,, MySpace, and Twitter.

    I actively use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. I can reach long, long distances-even across the pond-for little or no cost at all. Usually you are contacting people who have already advertised their body of knowledge and expertise.

    Facebook is the leading social networking site today and has been adopted openly by the genealogy community. Facebook has allowed me to find near and distant family. I have followed other genealogists who offer online seminars or have websites with information on genealogy and the industry.

    Twitter is a messaging platform in which-just like Facebook "friends"-you gather "followers." These are people who find your messages interesting and decide to follow you. Twitter is different than simple text messaging in that you are limited to 140 characters and you have a band of followers. I actively "tweet" (the act of sending messages on Twitter) the surnames that I am searching for, especially the ones for whom I have brick walls.

    Email. Writing and sending email is a quick, inexpensive, and effective means for promoting communication. Email can be sent with attached documents and photographs. A brief and polite email to a potential, newfound, or known relative is often the beginning of a wonderful exchange. When communicating via email, traditional courtesies should be observed.

    Mailing lists. A mailing list is simply an email party line. Every message that a list subscriber sends to the list is distributed to all other list subscribers. Subscribing to a mailing list is one of the best ways of connecting to people who share your interests. Genealogy- related mailing lists can cover surnames, US counties and states, other countries and regions, ethnic groups, and various other topics. Many websites host mailing lists, including,, and

    Wikis. A wiki is a page or collection of web pages that is designed to enable anyone who accesses the wiki to contribute or modify content. The value of a wiki is that anyone can contribute. The combined efforts of several individuals usually create a better end result than any one individual could by themselves. Wikis are used to create collaborative websites where a community can work together to provide meaningful content. The most widely known wiki is FamilySearch started the Research Wiki at Be careful, though: because anyone can contribute, you must make sure to check the accuracy of information retrieved from a wiki site.

    Message boards. There are message boards focusing on surnames, localities, and many other genealogy topics. By posting a message to the appropriate message board, you create a record through which other researchers can find you. You'll find message boards on,, and

    The message boards are a "must do" connecting point for genealogists to collaborate with one another on research topics of mutual interest in a public forum. The focuses of the boards range from surnames to locations to special topics. Depending on the board and the number of people posting queries and replies, the flow and volume of information that is exchanged is dynamic.

    The majority of people using the message boards have been doing genealogy for more than ten years. There is a great pool of knowledge and experience coming together to help one another. I have used message boards to assist in the process of planning and evaluating genealogy trips to Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Norway, Germany, and Russia and which one I should do when.

    I posted my queries in both the country- and county-specific boards for the focus of my research and within hours-and for the next week-I received very insightful hints and direction from people who lived in the area or who had gone on trips such as I was planning. Some people replied to the message boards, and others sent an email directly to me. Thoughts ranged from where to conduct my research to where to stay and eat to where I would most likely find graves of my family, as well as offering insights on personal genealogy.

    In another case, I had posted a message in November 2005 concerning research I was conducting on the Mullins family from Goochland County, Virginia. My first reply was six months later. The individual who responded replied that he had been doing research on his line with the same name and realized that information he had gathered was not of his line and sent it to me, along with several links to review. We continued a correspondence away from the message boards for a couple of weeks, seeking to help each other with our research.

    Remember: most message boards are open to the public, so anyone can view or post a query or reply. It becomes your responsibility to make sure that the information you're getting ready to post is really the information you want to share with the world. There will be no time limit as to how long the message will be posted. I have messages that have been out there for five or more years. Once you press "submit," the information is now free to be used as the public chooses to use it.

    Take the time to carefully compose your message, providing the key information others will need to help you in your research. For example, the following information is usually important to provide when helping others identify family connection:

    • Full name, including any middle names or initials
    • Birth, marriage, and death dates
    • Places where the above events occurred
    • Residence and migration
    • Names of their children and parents

    Don't be afraid to provide detailed information. If I am looking for specific help, I need to be able to provide enough background information so that others can review it and provide quality input. It helps others understand that you have done your homework, and they will give you better answers.

    Check your grammar and spelling. Think about how an error will change the response you might get, such as if you enter a date of 1962 and really meant 1926.

    Rather than compose your message in the data entry window provided by the message board, compose your message in your word processing software first, run spell check, edit, and then copy and paste your message into the appropriate message window.

    It is important that you use the message boards to keep track of your efforts by doing one or more of the following:

    • Use a correspondence log to track your message board posts and queries. Information to track will include the date when you posted, where it was posted, and a summary of your post. As you receive the replies, track the date the reply was received and the results (positive or negative).
    • Use bookmarks or favorites. Simply create a folder in your bookmarks or favorites for the explicit purpose of tracking message board queries. The program will usually allow you to add comments each time you visit the site.
    • Use your genealogy software to keep track of your message board queries. Some family tree software programs include correspondence logs or to-do lists. Be sure to include the URL, copy of your post or query, the date you last checked, and so forth.

    Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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  • Finding Family I Never Knew I Had

    We enjoy hearing about the success our members have in building their family trees at OneGreatFamily. We appreciate Steve for sharing his success with us.

    I started my genealogy search just a couple of months ago, and I was finally able to untangle my mother's side of our family history. I found ancestors she didn't know she had. In three hours, I traced my brother-in-law's line back to the beginning of the 19th century and told him things he never knew. I have had several links established back to the mid 15th century. In such a short space of time, I have discovered the family I never knew I had.

    Thanks to OneGreatFamily for all the information you have provided to me and my family.

    Steve Gant
    OneGreatFamily Member

    You can view more success stories by visiting:

    If you have had success using OneGreatFamily, please let us know. We would love to hear from you. Please contact us either by visit our Contact Page or by emailing

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  • William Shakespeare

    This week marks nearly 450 years since William Shakespeare was baptized into the Church of England as an infant on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the third of eight children, and his father was a glovemaker and an alderman, a member of the local assembly.

    At age eighteen he married Anne Hathaway, and together they had three children: first a daughter named Susanna, then twins named Judith and Hamnet. Neither of Shakespeare's daughters ever received an education; Judith could not even sign her own name on documents. Susanna married a physician named John Hall and they had one daughter named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the only grandchild born during William Shakespeare's lifetime and thus was the only grandchild he ever knew. Elizabeth married twice but never had any children. Shakespeare's daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney, a winemaker, two months before her father's death. Thomas and Judith had three children, all of whom died without marrying. William Shakespeare's only son Hamnet, Judith's twin brother, died at the age of eleven. Thus Shakespeare has no living descendants today, the last being his granddaughter Elizabeth.

    From 1585 to 1592 Shakespeare's whereabouts and activities are unknown. Sometime during that period he moved to London to act and write plays. He joined a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men and became a part owner of the company. After 1594, his plays were performed only by the Lord Chamberlain's Men and they became the leading playing company in London. In 1599 they built their own playhouse, the Globe, on the south side of the River Thames. After Queen Elizabeth died, James I gave the company a royal patent and the name was changed to the King's Men. The company was very successful and it made Shakespeare a wealthy man; he divided his time between homes in London and Stratford.

    Shakespeare's prolific playwriting career spans more than two decades and includes a variety of subjects and genres; he also wrote many sonnets. 154 of his sonnets were published in a compiled volume, Shakespeare's Sonnets, in 1609.

    Many of Shakespeare's plays were written in non-rhyming iambic pentameter verse, or iambic pentameter "blank verse." The first recorded plays that can indubitably be attributed to him are Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI, written in the early 1590s. During the 1590s, he wrote history plays and comedies; Julius Caesar, one of his most famed histories, was the first play performed in the Globe after it opened in 1599. In the early 1600s, Shakespeare began writing tragedies, including Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear, all of which were written to be performed in the Globe Theater. On 29 June 1613 the thatched roof of the Globe caught fire from a cannon, and the theater burned to the ground. William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616. In 1623 former colleagues published the First Folio, a collection of his works containing all but two of the plays now attributed to him.

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