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. 

I wish to especially welcome those new subscribers. We welcome you sincerely. I am Michael Boyter, publisher of this newsletter.

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:

I want to apologize for the delay between last issue and this one.  I was in Japan for awhile on business and I wasn't able to stick to my normal publishing schedule.


NEW! Share this Newsletter with a Friend Contest This  newsletter has been growing leaps and bounds and that's great!  The larger we are as a group, the more we can learn from each other.

I'm asking you to forward this newsletter to all those on your e-mail lists that you believe would enjoy and benefit from reading this newsletter.  

Once you do this, simply e-mail me at  and tell me that you've forwarded this newsletter to at least one other person.  (DO NOT send me any of their e-mail address.  That's not what I am asking for) 

 Upon receipt of your e-mail, I will be sending you a copy of the "All They'll Need to Know" e-book.  Everyone, who sends me such an e-mail,  will receive a copy of this great 40 page e-book that I think everyone really needs.

Plus, you will be entered to win your choice of any one of our 5 products in the "Tools & Toys" section of this newsletter (see below).   

Your e-mail message to me, will be your entry in the contest. I will announce the winner on 21 April 2003. 

Do you and your friends both a favor and enter today. 

Oh, also point out to them the link to the Back Issues link at the end of this newsletter.


In This Issue....

News: New Look to the Web site.  

Article: Looking Back to Look Forward

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: Working with Unwilling Parents

Life Story Writing Exercise: Items from your Childhood

"The wealth of the planet is in our cemeteries.  You'll find all books never written there, all the music that was never played."

News & Happenings

A New Look for the Web Site 

If it's been a while since you last visited the Website, go take a look!  Allan Abrams at volunteered some of his time to give my site a face-lift.  I appreciated his help on that.  


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 Free for 45 days! Click Here .  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.




Feature Article

Looking Back to Look Forward


I think one of the things we all have in common is our sense of restlessness. No matter where we are in our lives, regardless of how good or bad things may be for us at any given time, it seems we are forever doubting or at least questioning ourselves, our happiness, fulfillment, and where we're going. 

I know this is true, at least for me.  

Over the past several months my wife, Diane, and I have made a great many changes in our life together. Although these changes were designed to improve things, and ultimately will, this reorganization, if you will, did get me thinking about and questioning many aspects of my life.  

I have to admit that this caused me some personal anxiety, even mild depression.  I guess I got too caught up in looking at my current situation and contemplating my future, without the benefit of considering the past.  

I found that by examining my life as it is right now without taking into consideration the past - all those things which led me to this point, it was very easy to become dissatisfied.  

I began to question if I was really satisfied with who I was, where I was in my life and career, and the direction my life was headed.  Slowly, this led me to become moody, ill-tempered, and sad.  

Then something happened which helped me to gain a more positive perspective.  Something which left me feeling very fortunate for where I am in my life and for all the things which fill my life.

I was cleaning out the attic and found an old box of memorabilia I had collected and saved over the years.  I never realized what a pack rat I was. I blew the dust off the box and dumped the contents out onto the floor.  

I sat down and one by one carefully examined each item. There were some things I couldn't remember why I had ever saved in the first place; an old movie stub, a bottle cap, a fountain pen.  But there were many others, which held great significance and which brought back a flood of memories.  

Things which, when combined, made a path of sorts leading me to where I am now. I found an old high school report card, which reminded me, just how lucky I was to ever have graduated, considering my low marks, let alone to have gone on to finish college.  

There were a few items from some of my first jobs.  I had to laugh when I thought of just how many really lousy jobs I had held over the years.  

I had completely forgotten, or perhaps blocked from my memory, the fact that at one time I sold insurance, door-to-door no less.  I shook my head in disbelief thinking of that skinny kid fresh out of high school dressed in a really bad suit knocking on the doors of strangers trying to sell them some insurance policy they didn't really need.  I remembered how much I hated that, and other such jobs, but realized how much each of those experiences had taught me.

I found a picture of the first house my wife and I bought right after we were married.  I remembered my mom almost cried when she first saw it.  I guess she, unlike Diane and me, couldn't see the "jewel" that was waiting to be discovered beneath its pink paint and dirty green shag carpeting.  I recalled how hard Diane and I worked on that old house and the pride we felt when it was finished.  

I also remembered that it was through fixing-up that old house which taught us early in our relationship the importance of having common goals and working together as a team.

There were many cards and letters from Diane, which I had saved in the box. Some funny, some silly, and others so touching they brought tears to my eyes.

As I sat and read these, each one painted a picture.  Some brought images of two young kids struggling to figure out what life and love were all about.

Others reminded me of how lucky we were to have made it through those first several years together - through all the problems and hardships we faced together.

In the pile of memories I found old newspaper clippings announcing the births of my children.  I remembered how nervous I was at the prospect of becoming a father, but how that all disappeared when I held my child in my arms for the very first time.  

There were countless drawings and notes my children had given me from Birthdays and Fathers' Days of years gone by.  But the most precious of these were those notes of love that were given for no reason at all.

I spent a long time going through the contents of that box, reliving moments from my past.  I could now see much clearer the path I had taken to get to where I am now.  I also understood how important each step along that path had been.  

Rather than continuing to question how satisfied I was in where that path had led me, I was thankful for having been allowed to make the journey at all.  

It's good to examine our lives and ourselves now and again.  But when we do, it's important to retrace the paths we've taken to get to where we are now - remembering the struggles we've encountered, the hurdles we've overcome, and the love we've found along the way.

About The Author:

J.T. Winslow: Passing Thoughts is a syndicated column published on quality web sites, in electronic magazines and various print media around the world - read by millions each week.  You can get Passing Thoughts FREE each week by email - subscribe at   For reprint information or to contact the author write to

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do - Than by the ones you did not". -- Mark Twain 

Tips & Tidbits...

Working with Unwilling Parents

  "At some may have to do it yourself"

Let's face it.  

Some of us have parents that are a bit stubborn and somewhat resistant to sitting down and telling about their life on tape.  They may not be great writers, so getting them to write these stories down, is also out of the question.

Despite our pleading, they continue to be resistant to the idea of putting their memories down on paper, tape or otherwise for future generations of the family.

At some point, it gets pretty obvious.  If we want memories and stories from their lives preserved for our own children and grandchildren, we're going to have to do it ourselves!

It's usually not a problem getting them to talk  In fact, most people like to talk about themselves and do it quite often. It's just when you put a notebook and pencil in front of them or a microphone, that they clam up.  

Opportunities abound, when we really listen and then, within a very short period of time, record what we were told. Here are some tips for parents who you know will never sit down and preserve memories from their lifetime. 

  • Listen to their tales and put them on paper.  Do this the same day that they tell the stories.  Include them in your journal at night.


  • Ask Questions: Create a list of questions; questions that you are really curious to know the answers to.  Make it a point to work one or two of those questions into your conversation.  For example, a young mother, in a moment of desperation may ask, " How did you do it mom"?  Be ready to really listen! Again, write the stories and memories they tell down.


  • Work Together: Volunteer to help mom clean out her closet or an old "junk" drawers. Wouldn't it be better to go through these drawers now, with your parent, than to have to go through them later, without them?  Items found will spark many memories and as your mother or father reminisce, listen and remember the stories.  Again, write them down later that day, while the stories are still fresh in your mind.


  • Instigate a Little: Have your children coax some memories out of your parents by asking their grandparents what life was like when they were the respective age of your children.  Many times, children will ask great questions on their own, but you may need to "coach" them a bit..  Listen real close to the answers your children receive.

Use some or all of the ideas mentioned above to finally begin putting stories from your parent's life down on paper.  After all, if you don't do it, who will? 

Don't let any excuse in the world, allow your parent to take all their stories with them, even if it means that you have to write them down yourself!


New Products at

The Journal: Electronic Journaling Software          

Software For the Serious Journal and Life Story Writer            

Six months ago, software creator David Michaels, contacted me about working together on a project that would include my e-book, Memorygrabber, into his superb electronic journaling program, The Journal. 

I had been aware of The Journal's outstanding abilities and reputation, on the Net, for some time, so I was very excited about David's proposal to combine the two into a hybrid tool, of sorts.

Many of you, over the past two years, have asked for the ability to answer and do the things laid out in Memorygrabber, right onto the computer screen

Until now, the only alternative, was to print out all of Memorygrabber and then "write" the answers onto the limited spaces, that the printed page provided.

Now, from inside the opened Journal program, simply click the Memorygrabber Tab and you are all set to begin typing in your answers, inserting pictures and more.  Nearly everything in the original Memorygrabber e-book is now entry-enabled...the cursor is blinking....and waiting for your answers and information!  This is the perfect way to finally get started on your life story.

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!

Some family trees bear an enormous crop of nuts.
--Wayne H

Life Story Writing Exercise

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

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

  • List What You Plan to do/want to do in retirement. 

  • List the things that you still have from your childhood

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 the memories they create.


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.