You can read in the “About Sue”, the story of how I stayed up all night the first time I started doing online family history. It was a wild night and by morning the cats were starved for food and attention.
Within the week my mom happily passed the family history torch along with two boxes loaded with photos, saved newspaper bits, letters and more. There was even a family bible too!!! (It belonged to George Cross & Barbara Brodie, a gift from his mom in 1854, when they were married.)
Now to sift through the box, organize the content and figure out what I was going to do with all the content. I excitedly discovered seven generations of CROSS cousins were already organized. I immediately set to plugging the extended family into Ancestry. Even as I was building the online tree, I knew it was never going to be enough for me. I’m visual and I needed to see everyone in a way that I could see the entire cousin structure.
Creating a unique Family Tree Poster
That was September and “Christmas was coming” (a phrase my mom used a lot). Being a graphic designer, I set to planning how a poster project would be a gift to my siblings and my extended family. I found a funky little drawing that sparked and inspired my creativity… I started to play with it. By November I had a full plan and I was in action building branches. I needed to print by December 1st so that I could get these in the mail. Many hours later I achieved my Christmas ART deadline and had a beautiful poster of all my 1,250 CROSS family cousins.
The poster was 6 feet by 4 feet (huge). Well that charged me up with untold energy. How about another project? Yes—Brodie Family here I come. There was no ready-made tree in the “magic” boxes from mom for Brodies so I set off to do the research. Along the way I found many helpful cousins who added to my research in the best way. My deadline was a trip east to see my sister—18 months away.
Brodies provided new challenges (marriage between cousins) and unbelievably, double the relatives—2,800! Every time I felt close to saying “enough, pull the data” a new cousin would come along to enrich my family. I made plans for an Ancestry Road Trip to visit and hand deliver copies of this new (7’ x 5’) Family Tree Poster. So many great stories were shared every time we met these new cousins face to face. It was a very memorable trip for my sister and I.
Colour brings the magic
Good Triggers: When I see the names, dates and birthplaces, oriented by family groupings—it triggers the memories of great life stories.
At RootsTech 2016 I unveiled my designs to the genealogy world. Family historians and genealogists were very excited to see the “TREES” and to look at the colours—which drew in the children, who dragged their parents over too.
Design Details: Every Generation has its own colour. Every circle is a whole family with parents and children. When a child marries they get their own circle with the new generation colour. 1st cousins have the same colour on the same branch—your parents are siblings. If your grandparents are siblings then we are 2nd cousins.
Since that time I have continued to develop styles to answer the call for something different. It has been very fulfilling for me to make use of my Graphics skill-set and make so many clients tearfully happy.