The Family History Help & Product Review Newsletter 

Tools, Toy & Inspiration  for Family Historians

Michael BoyterWelcome to this issue of Family History Help & Product Review Newsletter.  I hope that it find you in good health and spirits. 

Our collective prayers and best wishes go out to those of you who reside in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio and other states that were hit by a terrible week of tornados. I  hope your losses were minimal.   

I wish to especially welcome all of our newest subscribers. I am Michael Boyter, publisher of this newsletter. Your input, feedback and suggestions are always welcome. Send them to:

I hope that everyone will read the feature article that I wrote just last week, entitled "Flunking Family History".  I hope you'll share it with as many people as possible. 

I have another exciting issue for you, but....

... before you dig in -- please do your friends and family a favor and forward them a copy of this newsletter/e-mail or send them this link so they can subscribe:


Submit Your Questions

Beginning with the next issue, I will be starting a question and answer section in this newsletter.  If your question is used in an issue of this newsletter, you will be able to select from among the 5 products offered on the Web site. 

Submit questions to

Questions can be about anything loosely related to family history, journals, lifestory writing etc.    

In This Issue....

Article: Flunking Family History

New Product: The Journal w/ Memorygrabber Module: The Journal lets one combine your writing with photos, short video and audio clips and more into a highly organized journal, diary or life story project.   

Tips & Tidbits: Slide Shows; What are you going to do with all those pictures?

Life Story Writing Exercise: Vehicles and Memories

"We cannot control the length of our life, but we can have something to say about its width and depth."


Feature Article

Flunking Family History

  Written by Michael R. Boyter

If someone were to give your children a “test” that covers many of the details of your life, and included questions about their own family’s history, how do you think they’d do?  

If your children are school-aged, no doubt, they are inundated with tests of all kinds. When they fail those tests, or do horribly on them, we are often quick to blame the school and the teacher.  

After a number of years of living (studying) in the same home with you, you’d figure that they’d know a lot about your life, the lives of their grandparents and more.    

In this scenario, the home is the school and we, the parents, are the teachers.  I fear that, when it comes to communicating significant family history and why they are significant, many of us may not be receiving as good of a grade as we would hope for.    

Believe me, it’s not that we don’t want to teach our children about these things, but in today’s hectic lifestyle, the traditional opportunities to share these stories and memories may be fewer.   


  •          Hectic modern family schedules, especially when both parents work, may curtail time spent talking around the family dinner table.  

  •          Full-blown family reunions and get togethers are less frequent due to the distances we live from other family members.

  •          Distractions, such as, non-stop cable television, computers, video games and more reduce the actual time that we spend talking with each other.

  •          Increases in extracurricular school and community activities absorb family time as well.  

In past, years I’ve assisted individuals, ages 17-27, with background investigation paperwork.  For this, some family information was required on the application.  

I would estimate that nine times out of ten, these individuals would have to call someone to be reminded of their parent’s birth dates and their grandparent’s full names.  It always made me wonder. What else didn’t they know about their own family?    

Okay, ready?  

Here are some sample test questions.  How would your children do?  How would you do, if given the same questions about your parents and grandparents?  

  1. Describe how, when and where your parents met?  And Grandparents?  

  2. What would your parents say were the 3 most influential people and events they experienced during their childhood? How were they influential?  

  3. What did your parents want to be, when they grew up?  

  4. What kind of students were your parents?  

  5. What would your parents, individually and collectively, consider their best decisions made? Which have been their most regrettable decisions?  

  6. Who is the oldest member of the family that your parents (or grandparents) can remember, while growing up?  What is known of them by the family? 


Well, how do you believe your children would have done?  How well could you have answered those same questions about your parents?  

No one has been given a guarantee that they’ll live to be old and gray.  It really makes one stop and think, when confronted with this sobering reality.   

“If I didn’t live past tomorrow…”  

“Have I conveyed everything about my life, that I’ve intend to, to my children? If not, what am I waiting for?”    

“Have I shared with them the hard-learned lessons I’ve learned about life? Or am I just going to let them figure it all out on their own?”  

“Have I passed on all the great family stories and memories that were told to me by my parents?”  


Then wonder… 


“Will my children know, or will they someday understand the happenings in my life that…”  

…Cause me to think the way I do?  

…Make me believe the way I do?  

…Make me act the way I do?  

…Cause me to celebrate the things that I do?  

…Help me make the decisions that I do?  

…Worry about things like I do…etc? 


Then there are these questions...


- What have I taught my kids, so far, that will impact them the rest of their lives?  

- What have I NOT taught them that will impact them the rest of their lives?  

-  What will they remember most about me?


One day, this test will actually be given to your children.  It will come, most likely, from the sweet innocent voice of your grandchild or great grandchild.  They will have questions about you.  Questions that will help them understand who they are and how they fit into the family, historically.   

Will your child have the right answers to give them?  Will they have an answer at all?  

Nothing beats an open book test.  When you keep a journal or create a record of your life, the test your child faces someday, will indeed, and thankfully, be an open book test.   

Won’t you get started today?  

[You may use this article in your online or offline publications, or Web site, as long as you include the authors information (below)]

Written by Michael R. Boyter of

"Every season of our lives holds a beauty all its own"   

What's Michael up to? 

Multimedia Slide Shows 

  What are you going to do with all those pictures anyway?

I haven't said anything about this until now, but I've been doing some experimenting!  

In the months leading up to Christmas last year, I was busy as I could be. I scanned over 1,200 family pictures that had previously been collecting dust in boxes and in old photo albums. 

What an job that was!.  It felt great, though, getting them all scanned and burned to disk. But I didn't stop there...

I then created a beautiful slide show that was not only a great gift idea for the family, but also helped ensure that my family photos were duplicated and sent to other members of the family.  

This way, a fire, flood or tornado will not destroy the only copy of your photos in existence.   


A Slide Show for your family

I created a slide show for my parents and brothers and sister. The slide show included over 200 of the best pictures we've taken of our children...many of them interacting with the rest of the family, over the years.  We don't live near the rest of the family, so they were especially happy to get these photos. 

I then added some very appropriate music; entered some text for many of the photos and then put the show on disk. 

The thrilling part was that many of the pictures that I included, had never been seen by the rest of the family.  We had taken many of the pictures, and then waited so long to get them developed, that we just looked at them once and put them away.

Slide shows are a great way to use many of those old pictures that haven't seen the light of day for years. 

A Slide Show for your Spouse 

Then, for Valentine's Day I gathered up all of the pictures of my wife and I from our dating years, to include the years before our oldest was born.  Those were great years! 

I believe this would make a great gift to give as part of an anniversary gift, as well.

She loved it and I loved putting it together for her.  I had a lot of fun. 

Here's a quick sample of what's possible. I've not included text with this brief show, to keep the file size down. This sample show is of the kids.

Sample Slide Show (950K) Plays in Windows Media Player

In the next issue of this newsletter, I'll go into more detail about putting together a slide show.  I'll also have some recommendations for slide show software.


New Products at

The Journal: Electronic Journaling Software          

Software For the Serious Journal and Life Story Writer            

In the last issue, I announced the release of  The Journal. It's considered, by many, the best journaling software available.  

It was even featured by Personal Journaling Magazine.

It's programmer and creator, David Michael, and I have worked together to make The Journal even better by including my e-book, Memorygrabber, within the journaling program itself.  

This now gives one the ability to answer the hundreds upon hundred of questions in Memorygrabber right into the journaling program (on screen).  Easily include all your favorite family pictures, files and more. You can even record short audio clips and include them into your journal or life story project.

Sometimes, writing about our life can get a bit complicated, to varying degrees. The Journal, along with Memorygrabber, keeps you highly organized in that efforts.               

Here are the key advantages to using The Memorygrabber version of The Journal over a paper journal...

  • Type right onto the screen

  • Create instant backup copies

  • Unlimited pages to tell about your life

  • No more worries about messy hand-writing or misspelled words

  • Keep it ultra-organized with unlimited folders, sub-folders, sub-entries etc.

  • Find old entries with quick-search features -- no more flipping through the pages to find an entry

  • Load it on your laptop and do your work no matter where you are

  • Add pictures

  • Add short video and audio clips

  • Print in "book" form right from your printer 

  • ...and much more!


My partner, David Michael, sells The Journal and Memorygrabber for $49.95 from his site.  If you want to get the Journal, don't get it there, though.  

It is available for $31.96 through this link only.   If you need more information to make a decision, be sure to visit The Journal page on my Web site or contact me directly at . . From the site, you'll be able to download it and try it free for 45 days. 

I use this software almost every day and I know you'll find it very, very helpful to you.     


Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something
stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we
might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
-- Earl Nightingale

Life Story Writing Exercise

List creating is a powerful, yet easy way to keep a journal, write about your life or whatever you wish to call it.

In this writing exercise, I'm asking you to write a list using the following prompt:

List every vehicle that you have ever owned. Include vehicles your parents owned, as you were growing up.

What memories come to mind as you think back on these vehicles? The memories are what is most important here. Write those stories down.

For Example: One vehicle that I remember from childhood is my parent's 1977 Chevy Nova.  

These are remembrances that I have of that car.

Mom and dad bought it new, it was yellow and it was ugly. 

Shortly after it was purchased, the whole family set out on a vacation that would cover 22 states. We went from Oregon to Kentucky and back again. 

The transmission went out about an hour from Flagstaff Arizona.  I remember spending a day and a night in a small little hotel room with my mom and brothers and sister. 

It was hot and I hated staying there. Then once the small garage told us that couldn't help us, we "limped" in to Flagstaff.  Somehow the automatic transmission would still work in first or second gear.  

It took forever to get to Flagstaff, as I remember.  We had to drive so slow to get there.  

There you go.  

For every car I can remember and have owned, there is, at least, one story to tell.  Vacations, breakdowns and other memories abound.  Have fun with this!  

If you have an interesting car memory, and would like to share it in the next issue of this newsletter,  submit it to .  

Remember this is a family newsletter, so let's keep that car memory rated G.  ;)   (grin)



Tools & Toys for the Family Historian

There is more than one way to preserve your family history/stories. At, I am continually adding new "tools and toys" to help you get the job done.  My objective is to make the information gathering process easier, quicker and way more enjoyable!

The Journal Considered, by many, to be the best journal writing software available anywhere. Combine your typed text, family pictures, sound to a highly organized way to gather together your personal and family memories. Try it F*ree for 45 days!   Memorygrabber is built-in to this newest version!.   

Memorygrabber - An unrivaled fill-in-the-answer life story workbook and life story interview "script". Nearly 900 memory prompts, lists, activities and web resources. Trial Download 




Home Video DVD Cookbook - Turn those dusty family video tapes into a brilliant family DVD library. Trial Download





Family Picture Calendar Box GraphicFamily Picture Calendar - Get rid of those generic calendars on your wall and replace it with your "official" family calendar. Distribute to family via e-mail. Trial Download 



All They'll Need to Know - Record and preserve vital information your family will need to know, when you aren't there to give it to them.





Well, that's all for this issue of the newsletter. Please submit comments, feedback and suggestion to

Until next time, keep preserving those memories, because it's work that needs to be done, it's enjoyable and above all else, it's worth it!

I wish you and your family the best.


Best Regards,

Michael R. Boyter,

P.S. Please remember to forward this e-mail to anyone you know that values the family and the memories they create.


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