Episode 286 - Kenyatta Berry Talks Writing Histories, Discovery of “The Last Slave Ship” / Ask Us Anything: What About Family History Charts?

podcast episode Jun 16, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open the show talking about the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. You’ll be amazed to hear what some of the old veterans are doing as part of the commemoration. Then, David talks about the loss of another key player from the Pacific Theater of World War II. The guys will tell you what made this late Marine especially significant. Next, it’s good news from the New York State Senate for adoptees. Catch the latest. If you’re into Irish genealogy, David has some great news for you out of the Emerald Isle.  (Note this address:  irishgenealogy.ie.)  Then, who would have imagined that Blackbeard would be part of a case coming before the Supreme Court. Catch some of the details. Then, it has happened for real this time… the “Clotilda,” considered the last slave ship in the US, has been found. Catch some of the details.

Next, author, TV host, and genealogist Kenyatta Berry visits with Fisher about a host of things. They start with Kenyatta’s reaction to the find of the slave ship “Clotilda,” and its potential impact on the African-American community. Kenyatta then talks about African-American DNA testing and some great advice for anyone seeking to write a family history. It’s two parts of genealogy goodness!

Then on “Ask Us Anything,” Fisher visits with Janet Hovorka, co-founder of FamilyChartMasters.com. This is the time of year a lot of people look to make family charts for reunions. Catch some of Janet’s advice.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 286

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 286

Fisher: Hey genies! Welcome back to another spine-tingling episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where you shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. A very loaded show today. Very excited to have Kenyatta Berry on the show, and of course so many people know her not only from television appearances, but she’s also an author now. And we have a lot to talk to her about, including about writing histories and African Americans and DNA, and the recent discovery of the slave ship Clotilda, which I’m going to be talking about with David Allen Lambert here in just a few moments. So, we’ve got a couple of segments to cover a lot of turf on with Kenyatta today. Very much looking forward to that. And then later at the back end of the show we talk to Janet Hovorka from FamilyChartMasters.com. And we’re going to take your “Ask Us Anything” questions for her about making charts especially when you consider this is now reunion season and that’s when a lot of those charts are made. Hey, and don’t forget to sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” It is easy to do. It is absolutely free. We give you a blog each week, plus our links to shows past and present and to stories that you’re going to find fascinating as a genealogist. All you have to do is go to ExtremeGenes.com or through our Facebook page and get yourself signed up. Right now it is time to head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Boy, David we have a long list of things to talk about today.

David: Let’s start our Family Histoire News with several words which I hope mean something to you, Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword. Yes, the 75th anniversary of D-day has just occurred, June 6th 1944, when the Allies crossed the Channel. And guess what Fish? Three hundred plus did it again.

Fisher: Isn’t this great? And these guys are all in their 90s now.

David: Some are over a hundred!

Fisher: They were just kids you now, 18 years old, 20 years old, early 20s and so many of them are taking boats and planes and they’re going to be part of the festivities. And because it is one of those important anniversaries, the 75th this is probably the last one with a lot of former military members who were part of the invasion itself.

David: It really is kind of sad that we’re losing so much of that greatest generation. In fact, my next story goes out to Arizona, further away from the beaches of Normandy where the Navajo Nation has lost another Navajo Code Talker. William Tully Brown was 96 years old and sadly he’s one of three in the past month that have passed away. We’re losing so many so quickly.

Fisher: Well, and they say there are only five Navajo Code Talkers left at this point.

David: Wow! That’s amazing. It’s sad, a sad statistic. Well, for genealogists one of the most important primary sources is a birth record, and for many genealogists they can’t get them. And that’s the case when you’re an adoptee. In fact, New York is dealing with this right now.

Fisher: Yeah that’s right. In fact, their State Senate, they’re still in session, just passed the law, but we’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen with the assembly that would be what the State House is in many other states and their session ends on June 19th so we’re going to find out. The governor has agreed that he will sign it and the good news would be for adoptees, they can finally see their original birth certificate which is going to reveal a lot of information.

David: It really will, and this is something that has been on the books for over 83 years, this ironclad policy that would not allow people to see them, so it will be a wonderful change for people and their genealogy. Some records are available though. Going across the pond to Ireland, if you go to the website www.irishgenealogy.ie, they are now pleased to tell you that you can look at the original birth records from 1864 to 1918, marriages 1864 to 1943 and deaths 1878 to 1968 for free.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yes.

Fisher: That’s a great breakthrough. You know, Ireland just keeps getting better and better. It’s always been so difficult, but not as these days.

David: No, digitally it’s just making it easier and sometimes you don’t even have to cross the pond. Well, one thing that did cross the pond was Blackbeard’s ship and that is now in the news. North Carolina, who claims ownership of the vessel, is now being sued by a production company that filmed and did a narrative of sound and video of the wreck, but the State believes this is a public record and should be available for free.

Fisher: And they actually used it and so now the whole case is going to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. So, imagine this, Blackbeard’s ship is in the middle of a lawsuit with the Supreme Court.

David: And to the production company it is “piracy.”

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. It’s true. [Laughs]

David: Another ship with not the same type of cargo, unfortunately human cargo was the Clotilda. Now, we talked about that last year that it was found, but that’s not the case.

Fisher: No, they found it last year they thought according to a reporter down there, and then when they measured it out they determined, oh wait a minute, the size of this particular vessel doesn’t match what we know about the Clotilda. So, this year once again, another search was made in the area where they thought it was abandoned and then burned in the 1860s hiding the fact that it had been used in African slave trade, and as a result of it they have finally found it and it has been positively identified. In fact, I’m going to talk to Kenyatta about that coming up in just a little bit.

David: I couldn’t think of a better person. She’s quite knowledgeable on African American research and so many other things. Well, speaking of being knowledgeable on things, I like to each week pause and talk about a blogger, so my genealogical spotlight shines upon the Armchair Genealogist Lynn Palermo who is a blogger at TheArmChairGenealogist.com. And she has recently written about how stories can save your genealogy research, which we both know how important that is. But how about a gift guide for the family history traveller? Summer is coming up. Maybe you need some things. Point your family to these. Well, that’s about all I have from Boston. There was a lot of news this week.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But one thing I do want to say is that if you’re not a member of American Ancestors you can become one by saving $20 with a coupon code “Extreme” on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David, as always, great to have you and we’ll talk to you again next week. And coming up next Kenyatta Berry. She’s been a television star. She’s an author now. She is one of the foremost genealogists in the United States and we’re going to cover a lot of ground over two different segments coming up here in just a few minutes talking about the Clotilda as we mentioned, talking about African Americans and DNA and about writing your history. It’s all coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 286

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kenyatta Berry

Fisher: Back at it on America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth tickled to death to have my good friend Kenyatta Berry back and of course she is the author of “The Family Tree Tool Kit,” and she’s been touring America, giving up her life for this book. And Kenyatta, I know you’re taking a break right now. Welcome back!

Kenyatta: Thank you. Thanks for having me. Yes, I am taking a break. I have been going pretty hard since the beginning of the year on the book tour.

Fisher: How many printings are you in now by the way?

Kenyatta: I’m in my third printing, which is great because it just came out in November, so that’s really good. But it at least lets me know that all the hard work is worth it and at least it is good for the industry because I believe since my book wasn’t published by a “traditional genealogy publisher” as I use air quotes, this kind of shows at least that if you’re looking to write a book you can go to a publisher outside of the genealogy world and still write a book about genealogy.

Fisher: And you know what, we ought to talk about that in just a few minutes because it is that time of year for gathering stories at family reunions and the like. And I wanted to ask you first though about this past week the discovery of the Clotilda.

Kenyatta: Yes.

Fisher: And I know last year we thought we had it, right? Remember, there was this reporter and he thought that he had discovered the ship but it turned out it was the wrong size and so everything kind of blew up and you thought well, that’s the end of that. Imagine that, it hasn’t even been a year and they found this wreck and they say this is the Clotilda, and it’s because it had a very unique configuration they were able to determine that that was the ship. And for people who are not familiar with the Clotilda, can you give a little background on this?

Kenyatta: Yeah, so the Clotilda, even though slavery was banned in 1808, there was still illegal slave trading, excuse me, the slave trade was banned, there were still folks doing it illegally and Clotilda was the last ship with enslaved Africans that came to the U.S. And most of the descendents of the Clotilda, they built this town called Africa Town. And there have been books written about the Clotilda and articles written about it, but it’s great to find something like this. I mean, even when you look at the museum in D.C, they had to look long and hard to bring pieces of what they believed to be a ship that was used in the transatlantic slave trade. So, the Clotilda because it was known and because it was even talked about on Finding Your Roots. Well, this is a big kind of piece of history for us and especially for it to happen this year.  

Fisher: Yes.

Kenyatta: When it’s the 400 years from the date of when the first slave people arrived in the U.S. So, I advise everyone to read more about it. I’m just getting up to speed on it myself, so it’s so huge for our history. I’m just very excited about it.

Fisher: Yeah. And this was the last slave ship. At least that’s what it’s called.

Kenyatta: Yes.

Fisher: And apparently the people who brought in these enslaved Africans in the 1860s actually had the ship scuttled and burned. And that’s why it was so difficult. But nonetheless, they found what was left of it and it’s going to be really exciting to see what comes of it. I think it’s important for all of America to have that piece of our history made available for people to understand what was going on in the under-belly of this very ugly history in our country. 

Kenyatta: Um hmm. And with this, there’s just so much information that they know about this ship.

Fisher: Yes.

Kenyatta: They know about the people, and as we talked about before, the struggle that we have in African American genealogy of finding our enslaved ancestors or figuring out where they came from.

Fisher: Right.

Kenyatta: This is just really a wonderful thing and it gives people hope I think, in a sense to say that you know what, we can do this, or maybe we can find our family.

Fisher: Well, and it seems to me the last person alive who came over on the Clotilda was around till the 1930s.

Kenyatta: Yeah.

Fisher: So, he told stories. He had information. And a lot of the descendants from the Clotilda are still there in Africa Town, so this is a very big deal and I’m very excited to see where it’s going to go from here, and who winds up with it and what they’re going to do to display it because I’d love to see it. Wouldn’t you?

Kenyatta: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I would love to see it.

Fisher: All right. So, you’ve written this amazing book for all, not just for African American research but for everybody. And I’m very excited to think about this because you know here we go. We’re going into reunion season again. This is the time where a lot of stories are gathered. Let’s talk about some of your thoughts on putting together a family history and getting it published.

Kenyatta: Yeah. Well, I think it’s great to kind of think who you’re writing the book for, right, who’s the audience.

Fisher: Yes. Got to start there.

Kenyatta: Yeah. And it’s just family members or are you telling just one story. So, I really think that’s the first thing to think of. The second part of it is like getting some type of structure. The one thing I did had these huge postings of all over my apartment to help me kind of create an outline just to kind of figure it out.

Fisher: Sure.

Kenyatta: But when writing a book, you have to be structured. I would also say make sure you give yourself a deadline. I think when you’re writing family histories and if you’re writing for your family, then sometimes you can say, oh wait, I’ve got to do one more thing. I’ve got to find one more person. You know what I mean?

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

Kenyatta: We can keep doing the research but you do have to actually produce the product.

Fisher: Well, and I will say this about that situation because I’ve got this myself, I finally realized that you know, publishing now, self publishing has become so easy and so professional looking. I mean, I did books back in the 90s and I’d find these weird hard covers that like clamp on to a pile of pages and you’d have to paste photographs on and photocopy them. And you know, they came out okay for the 90s. But now to do it today and be able to go to a publisher and have them actually bind your books much cheaper than you could even ever do it on your own. It’s fantastic but I wound up doing a volume on my dad and then thought okay, well, that’s about it. And then I had a major breakthrough on another branch and that became volume two. And then a whole bunch of other stuff came forward. I made that volume three. And now I’d working on my second addendum to this whole thing, and I think you’re absolutely right. But you do have to say at some point even if you make corrections later, you have got to draw the line and say that’s enough because also, if a book is too big nobody is ever going to read it.

Kenyatta: Yeah. I totally agree with that. And I think that’s why sometimes I’ll say to people, what’s the story you want to tell? What’s the story? What’s the purpose? You know your audience, what are you trying to do. What’s the end result, because that will help narrow down the focus. Because I find this even when I’m doing work for clients. You always want to find just one more thing.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: You always want to make sure you thoroughly research. But then at some point you have to produce. And writing a book can be very difficult. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life, and that’s saying a lot since I went to law school.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: But you don’t want to drive yourself batty because you’re constantly researching and things all over the place. You want to really stay focused. But it’s very rewarding.

Fisher: Yeah it really is. Yeah, I feel that way. And I’m very proud them. And you know, I made them just for my family but there are stories in there I believe I could expand on and write for a general audience at some point. But I’m not in that stage of my life where I feel like I can really sit down. I mean, when I hear what you did. I mean, you had to leave your career, you had to sit down and do this, and you had to go tour, and it’s not like the money is flowing from day one, you know?

Kenyatta: No. [Laughs]

Fisher: You really have to make a decision whether or not it would be worth your time and whether it’s just fulfilling a dream, you know?

Kenyatta: Yeah. I totally agree. And that’s a personal choice. I did write the book while I was still employed fulltime, which was insane to think about. But I said, “I want this book to be successful.” And I kind of knew what I was getting into from a publishing perspective being a first-time writer. It’s not like everybody is doing this massive tour for you, you know. A lot of this is me doing it on my own, or just trying to generate that buzz because I knew how much work I put into it and I knew it’s super important for me and I’m doing what I love.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: So for me, to make that sacrifice, a hard decision, but to make that sacrifice, to explain it to my parents as well. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re right. “You’re doing what?” [Laughs] “Wait a minute, you’ve had a TV show, you went to law school, and you’re leaving it all and you’re going to write a book? Oh, good.” Yeah, I can hear them. Slap your hand. Absolutely.  

Kenyatta: [Laughs] Exactly, exactly. But you know, getting back to what we’re talking about as far as this being reunion season and everything, I think it’s really cool to just you know, go to those stories of your ancestors, pick one or two, and just kind of really try to flesh out their story. Every time I think about any time I tell the story of someone in my family, because a lot of people ask me about it when I’m on tour is, I pick out you know, one or two people that have really good very unique stories. And it becomes easier to share those stories but also helps me frame out if I want to write about them in the future how I would tell them.

Fisher: Well, you’ve got to think that the stories about people who’ve overcome something very difficult, are really the ones that hit home the most. Yes?

Kenyatta: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, those are the ones that kind of resonate with people, or resilience in overcoming something. Everyone wants a hero. I’ve been on a couple of lectures on storytelling and I’m always like everybody wants a hero in their story. Now, you don’t necessarily have to be that hero. But people want to see someone come from someplace and kind of rise above it. And it’s always good to share that. And every ancestor has a story. When I started out I was like oh my family were farmers from upstate New York, they don’t have any interesting stories. But I realized as I did my research they have a lot of interesting stories. So, it was really great to see that. And I think sometimes we’re doing this research we get so focused on names, dates, and places.

Fisher: Yep. [Laughs] I just blogged about that myself on the newsletter, like don’t get hung up about that. It’s the stories!

Kenyatta: Exactly.

Fisher: I love finding a new name, and a new place, and new dates and filling in and completing it, you know, and trying to move back. But boy, get me a new story and that is absolutely the best. Well, I think that’s great. You want to narrow it down and focus on who is your audience, and that’s a great way to start.

Kenyatta: Yeah.

Fisher: And you know really, it’s not much more than that other than the technical side of it and focusing on it and make sure you get it right.

Kenyatta: Um hmm. Yeah. And then like you said you know, you’re working on an addendum, you’ve done things. You know, it’s best to get it done. It’s not going to be perfect.

Fisher: No.

Kenyatta: I’ve had this conversation with myself multiple times.

Fisher: Yep.

Kenyatta: But it’s just the end result.

Fisher: I’m talking to Kenyatta Berry. She is the author of “The Family Tree Tool Kit.” And Kenyatta, can you hang on and we’ll do another segment here?         

Kenyatta: Sure.

Fisher: I’d love to talk to you about African Americans and DNA. We’re going to get to that coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.        

Segment 3 Episode 286

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kenyatta Berry

Fisher: I am talking to Kenyatta Berry. She is the author of the “Family Tree Tool Kit.” And, my good friend going back several years now Kenyatta, it’s been really fun to watch your evolution as a TV star, then a lecturer, and now an author who has put her life on the line for this book and I’m glad you did because it’s an important book for a lot of people wanting to learn how to go about finding their family. And of course one of the tools in that tool kit is DNA.

Kenyatta: Um hmm.

Fisher: And in the African American community right now it’s a little bit challenging to get people to want to do this for various reasons. I thought we’d talk about this. It’s Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Kenyatta, why is DNA testing looked upon a little bit differently in the African American community than in the European descendent community?

Kenyatta: I think there are a couple of things, one I think is just that we see genetic genealogy all over the news, right? I think a lot of African Americans are concerned because we have kind of interesting history, I’ll use that word...

Fisher: Sure.

Kenyatta: With law enforcement. So, that’s what people have said to me when I’ve done interviews or when I’ve talked to friends. They’re like, “Well, why would I do that?”  They don’t want to do it. They may want to know the information but they’re concerned because they see all this stuff in the news and they’re trying to figure out what folks are doing with the DNA data. I think that’s one thing. The other thing that I think is really important is economics.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Kenyatta: Now, I’m from Detroit, from the inner-city. If you’re in the inner-city of Detroit, are you going to buy food or buy DNA tests, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: And I think the perception that a lot of African Americans have and I’ve heard this, is that we can’t find our history because of slavery. So, there’s this thought, “Well I can do this DNA test but I don’t know if I want to. I don’t know what they’re doing with my data but then I really can’t find anything about my family anyway.” So, I think it’s a combination of things. But I think you need to educate people, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: I mean, that’s what’s important. They don’t understand that’s not the case, so those are the things. Every DNA test that any family member has taken I have purchased it for them.

Fisher: I see.

Kenyatta: So, my mother wouldn’t be like, oh I’m going to buy an Ancestry or Family Tree DNA, or anybody test, unless I did it for her. So, that’s just in this case. But I think we continuing to kind of have some big discoveries like the one we talked about before, around slavery and people see that they can find their history then I think there’ll be more of an interest in it.

Fisher: Sure.

Kenyatta: And the databases, it’s very difficult for us because when we test there are not a lot of African Americans that are testing it may not give you any matches.

Fisher: Right. Yeah, totally, that makes a lot of sense. Although, I’m certainly aware of many African Americans who have tested, who have made discoveries, let’s talk about some of those. Those who have gone forward for the test for the idea that they want to continue, first of all they want to validate their research, right?

Kenyatta: Absolutely.

Fisher: We all want to do that. That’s really the main purpose from a genealogy standpoint.  It’s not just the ethnicity which is interesting but it doesn’t provide a lot of stories. It provides an origin which is great but you know at the end of the day, does your line back to your second, third great grandparent actually show that you have other descendants matching you? And that’s how those lines are proven. Now, in African American lines there is a limit generally to how far back you can go with that and know who the common ancestor was and if you have matches to it. But, people are finding those.

Kenyatta: Yeah. I mean, even in my own family I have tested through multiple companies and I found cousins and there are people. My family is interesting because my great grandmother was born in upstate New York. Very upstate, closer to Canada than New York City, and then went to Detroit.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Kenyatta: Well, we never had a connection back to upstate New York when she died. So, now with cousins doing DNA I have connections to all of those cousins in the Rochester area.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Kenyatta: One of my cousins is writing a book about the family and we’ve been connecting and I was able to give her the research and the documentations. Another one of my cousins who is in her 90s, because I was doing family history when I was there last time, she gave me old photos.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: So, it’s really cool to make that connection and validate that research.

Fisher: You know what I’m hearing from you and I really like this because I talk about this a lot too. My best experiences in connecting with cousins is when I’ve done it personally.

Kenyatta: Yes, absolutely.

Fisher: I think one of the advantages perhaps you have is that you don’t get a lot of matches. So when you find one it’s special and you want to make that personal connection. But when I think over the history even before DNA when I found distant relatives through you know, writing letters, and making phone calls through directory assistance and all that stuff back in the day.

Kenyatta: Yeah.

Fisher: Those were people that had photographs, heirlooms, and stories. Many of those connections made as much as 30 years ago, I still have. And we still enjoy that tie and we still share new information when stuff comes along. I think for those of us who get a ton of matches in a million different directions, it’s just, oh we got another match, that’s nice. But you miss out on the potential that they have something that you don’t have, maybe one little thing that could really add to your family’s story.

Kenyatta: Absolutely. I mean one thing, as you’re talking about it I’m getting so excited.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: One of the things that I remember, because this connection to New York was always something that was there and I had been there when I was like 4.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Kenyatta: But, one of the things that my cousins said when I went there a couple of years ago, she said that my mother used to keep all these funeral programs and it was always morbid, and I was like, “Bring those things out!”

Fisher: [Laughs] “Bring those babies out!”

Kenyatta: [Laughs] “Bring me that pot!” But it was just funny because who if I had never connected to her and I think also what was great about me making those connections, was I was able to explain to them, this is exactly how we’re related.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: And I was able to give them the names and it’s our third great grandparents. They were enslaved in Virginia and they moved to upstate New York and this is how everyone is related. And that was satisfying for me because they didn’t know and now they have an interest and now they understand certain things, and they were able to tell a story.

Fisher: Right. And they become your partner in your research, right?

Kenyatta: Yes.

Fisher: I mean, you’ve got eyes and boots on the ground now in upstate New York for people looking among other relatives that you may not have met who might have something of interest to you, and I bet you that’s happened.

Kenyatta: Yeah. It definitely has happened. These are the benefits you get out of it, right? Being a genealogist and doing DNA and validating all of that.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: And those connections that I maybe would have never made otherwise. And things that I value, I have a whole new branch of the family. I’ve been to Rochester a lot since we made that initial connection I think it was a couple of years ago. So, it’s been really, really cool for me and I encourage people to do DNA. I know people kind of do it when we talked about the estimates. That’s the pretty stuff that they like to show, right?

Fisher: Um hmm. I totally agree.

Kenyatta: So, people see that now like, oh instant gratification.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: But then, most of the time when people email me and I get these emails all the time. “I’ve taken a DNA test and I came back with this, now what?” I really try to get them to understand, you have to start beginning your genealogy research. Doing your DNA is not doing your genealogy. We often face that as well.

Fisher: Right. That’s a good thing to say because I’ve heard that said before, “Oh, yeah I’ve done my family history.” Oh, you did. What did you find out? “Well. I did that little DNA thingy.” You know it’s like that. [Laughs]

Kenyatta: Yes, exactly. But now it’s like because they don’t have the skills, they don’t understand the basics of doing genealogy research.

Fisher: Right.

Kenyatta: They’re reaching out to me to help them. And a lot of times in doing research you don’t need to actually hire someone. I always encourage people to start out on their own and that’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book as well because I just saw this happening so much.

Fisher: She is the author of the “Family Tree Tool Kit.” She is Kenyatta Berry. And Kenyatta, great insight as always, it’s great to have you on the show. Where do we get your book by the way?

Kenyatta: You can get my book on Amazon and in Barnes and Noble stores.

Fisher: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time!

Kenyatta: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next it is time for another Ask Us Anything segment and we’re going to talk about charts. You know with so many people getting ready for reunions right now these are really big and we’re going to talk to Janet Hovorka from FamilyChartMasters.com when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes. 

Segment 4 Episode 286

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Janet Hovorka

Fisher: And it is time once again for our Ask Us Anything segment on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and my expert guest this week is the women behind FamilyChartMasters.com, my good friend Janet Hovorka, great friend of this show. And Janet, welcome! Great to have you back!

Janet: Thanks! Glad to be here. Always great to talk to you.

Fisher: Yeah, you know, we've got great questions about charts, because we hear about this all the time, you know when people get into this. And the first one that really struck me is, "How big will my chart be?" And I guess in my own mind I'm thinking, well, how big do you want it to be? [Laughs]

Janet: [Laughs] Yeah.

Fisher: But I understand the thought that, you know, it would be kind of a standard thing. When you make charts, is there a standard or do you adjust them? Can they be really tiny?

Janet: They can be small, but they can also be humungous. We've done several sets of charts that are over 600 feet.

Fisher: Whoa!

Janet: Having 30,000 people does not plot out in a 2x2 chart, right?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Janet: [Laughs]

Fisher: Now wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! How many? 600 feet long?

Janet: Yeah, a couple of times now we've done some that are just humungous, because family reunions, when you want to get everybody on the chart, especially summer time, family reunion season, that's the question we get asked all the time is, how big is it going to be, and then what's the price.

Fisher: Sure.

Janet: And the price answer is, there's seven different kinds of papers and we can figure something out, but the size part is sticky.

Fisher: That's crazy! But 600 feet. So you'd have to wrap that around the pavilion at the picnic, you know, several times. But the standard wall charts are about what, about 3 feet x 2 feet, something like that?

Janet: If you're going to frame it, its 3 feet x 2 feet. Usually are smaller and larger, you know. We've done descender charts that are 8x10 feet, beautiful, big wall pieces. But yeah, typically 2x3 or 3x4. The trick is though, understanding the triangle, and that is the number of people, the size of the paper and the font size.

Fisher: Right.

Janet: So one of those has to give. If you want a lot of people on a small paper, then the font has to be small.

Fisher: Sure.

Janet: But if you want a large font, then you've got to either cut down the number of people or have a big paper size.

Fisher: Sure.

Janet: But that's just geometry.

Fisher: Right, yeah. [Laughs]

Janet: And that's why we give them free consultation.

Fisher: You mean you can't figure that out, that's crazy.

Janet: [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, that kind of leads to the second question we've got here through our email at [email protected], "Who and what can you include in a chart?"

Janet: Oh, we can include all sorts of things, pretty much anything that you found in your research, we can include. We've included documents and stories and of course pictures. I love pictures, because they captivate me and I'm not even a member of your family. We love opening up new pictures and seeing new things from different families. But you can include military service, physical attributes, character attributes, religious events, criminal records. You’ll probably like that one.

Fisher: Oh wow, yeah!

Janet: [Laughs] We've included who donated a kidney to who, you know in another kind of family.

Fisher: Really? Wow!

Janet: Oh yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Janet: And ethnicity, languages, talents. Some of my favorite charts have been charts that show who pledged to a sorority and who pledged that person, who pledged that person, right, so kind of a genealogy chart of sorority.

Fisher: Of friends, of sorority sisters, yeah.

Janet: Yeah. We've done some pedigree dogs.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Janet: We've done some dogs in the family.

Fisher: Really?

Janet: [Laughs] So, we've done some pedigrees of dogs, but we've also done dogs as part of the family. And of course blended families, adoptive families, step-siblings, all of that kinds of stuff, we definitely can put all of them in.

Fisher: Boy that's a different kind of chart though, right? I mean the blended families, his, hers and theirs.

Janet: Yeah, that's actually really, really common, and so that's something we deal with all the time. And it’s just different ways of putting people together and displaying that. Some of my favorite charts, though of course always with pictures and then with the stories in it. You know charts are such a great communication tool to non-genealogists. So, you really put anything on it, telephone numbers.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Janet: Social networking information. You know, with family reunions, those are useful.

Fisher: All right, all right, we're going to take a break and we're going to be back with more questions on our Ask Us Anything segment with Janet Hovorka from FamilyChartMasters.com when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 286

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Janet Hovorka

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com, talking Ask Us Anything with FamilyChartMasters.com creator, Janet Hovorka. And Janet, we were just talking about all the crazy charts you've made, including dog pedigrees and sorority houses and people with military, I mean, it sounds like you can pretty much make anything, which is great.

Janet: Yeah.

Fisher: And you had one afterthought on our previous segment there, which was?

Janet: Yes, controlling the size of your chart. A left to right format is way more condensed than a top to bottom format. And people think about charts different ways, but a top to bottom format is about two thirds bigger usually than a left to right. You know, if you've got a 60 foot chart, a 20 foot chart is better if it can show the same information.

Fisher: Okay, here's another question, "Current design trends. What's going on right now with charts and family history?"

Janet: Sure. We've got lots of new things. We research the design trends all the time. Want to make sure we are up to date with all of that. And water colors are beautiful right now. We've got some new fill-in-the-blank charts that have some gorgeous water colors. Doing charts for children, starting with a child and maybe something in the nursery or something in the children's playroom is really popular. And then a good, clean Scandinavian type look, just clean and crisp, and those are beautiful. DNA ethnicity charts of course. DNA is always big. Sometimes when somebody doesn’t have as much about their own family history to put on a chart, they might want more of an ethnicity chart.

Fisher: Right.

Janet: And then of course color coding is always huge. We color code by place or by generation or by all sorts of things.

Fisher: What do you do with people who say, “We're adopted” and they found their birth family and now you've got basically two sets of lines?

Janet: Yeah, so you just fit that in, maybe do a bowtie. Do the biological family on one side and the adopted family on the other. All sorts of things we can do like that, yeah definitely.

Fisher: A bowtie!

Janet: We have an annual favorite. Every February, late January, February, we always launch our annual favorites where we go back to clients and ask permission to share their charts, and we share about twenty of those a yeah. So you can watch the blog or the newsletter to see those annual favorites. And those are always fun to see. We love sharing the beautiful charts that we do. We don't always get to show off everybody's family, but once a yeah, we go back and ask some of our favorite clients for permission to share their charts and then of course we change the information on the chart.

Fisher: That's a great way to certainly see what some people are doing, get some ideas for your own charts if you want to make one.

Janet: Yeah. And then of course our gallery on the website has lots and lots of ideas there.

Fisher: Okay, one last question kind of quick here, "Do it yourself tools. If people want to make their own chart, are there tools out there for that?"

Janet: There are. Of course our designers can do more than what the softwares can do, but the best charting program out there right now is, Legacy Family Tree. Family Tree Maker has a good charting program and there's an all in one chart in there, it’s called an extended chart that shows everybody in the file, and that one's useful. But Legacy has the best control. Roots Magic is building a new charting program and a new version, and so we're looking forward to seeing that. And My Heritage is a good place to create charts as well, and we're partners with all of them. When you print through them, it comes to us and we'll take good care of that print.

Fisher: How cool is that! That's awesome! She's Janet Hovorka, she's the lady behind FamilyChartMasters.com. Thanks for joining us for our Ask Us Anything, Janet. And of course if you have any question on any topic that we might use in the future, just email us at [email protected]. I love doing these segments. Thanks for the questions, but of course. Hey, that's it for this week. Thanks for joining us on the show. Now next week, we're going to be talking to our friends at Family Search International about the upcoming RootsTech London Conference. Yeah, there have been some announcements about some speakers and entertainers. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so you're going to want to find out about that. Don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. You can do that on website, ExtremeGenes.com or through our Facebook page. And check out our Patreon Club. It’s a way for you to support the show and get all kinds of great benefits, like early access to podcasts, bonus podcasts that we give you twice a month as well and other great things. Check it out at ExtremeGenes.com or through our Facebook page. That’s it for this week. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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