Preserving Memories: Creative Pedigree Presentations

Preserving Memories: Creative Pedigree Presentations

Creative ways to save and share your family history.

Tree Tops

Let our contest winners inspire your pedigree presentation.

We’re awed by your talents. In the December 2005 Family Tree Magazine, we challenged all of you to show us your roots by entering our Creative Family frees Contest. Your photos of beautiful quilts, charts, collages, centerpieces, plaques and other projects were as individual and wonderful as the families they depicted.

We loved them all. But in the end, the three entries shown here most impressed us with their originality, their craftsmanship and the astounding amount of genealogical information they provide. Learn about the winners’ prizes at right, and keep reading to get inspiration for your own roots display.

Prize Patrol

The talented trio of Creative Family Trees Contest winners received the following prizes from sponsor Kindred Trails <>:

? Sandra Giani’s $300 grand-prize package included a 22×28-inch heritage frame and a coordinating pedigree wall chart, which master calligrapher Ron Tate inscribed with her ancestors’ names.

? Runners-up Randy Picker and Heather Cook won gift certificates to Kindred Trails’ Family History Store, where they can purchase software, maps, CDs, games and more.

All the winners received genealogy books from Family Tree Books, and every entrant got the May 2006 Trace Your Family History, a special issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Ain’t it grand

Sandra Giani’s daughter insisted her mom enter this family tree quilt into the competition. Lucky for us: Family Tree Magazine editors selected the intricately embroidered creation as the grand-prize winner. Giani, who lives in Vero Beach, Fla., cross-stitched 21 panels with family lines (sprinkling in details such as “executed for witchcraft”), countries of origin, occupations, even ancestral homes. Then she hand-sewed them into a blue-bordered quilt. From plotting the cross-stitch patterns on graph paper to knotting the last thread, the process took a year.

Some family historians are daunted by the prospect of creating such a permanent record — after all, they might find another ancestor or learn a date was wrong — but not Giani. “I had a lot of information before I started, but I still have some blanks to fill in,” she says, adding that she’d have no problem removing and restitching facts if need be.

Giani’s creation rests on a quilt rack in her hallway, but its future home is in question. “I have two children, but only one quilt,” she says. “I may have to start another one.”

Drawing Board

Graphic designer Randy Picker of Castle Rock, Colo., took the classic pedigree chart to new heights and earned a runnerup prize, His colorful, stylish family tree features genealogical data plus photos (we especially liked the silhouettes Picker used where pictures are missing), poetry, “fun facts” about connections to famous folks, and emblems that represent his heritage. “The columbine and goldenrod are for Colorado and Nebraska, where the majority of my relatives are from,” Picker says. “The cow, corn and wheat symbolize farming, since most of them were farmers and ranchers.”

Picker drew each element by hand and glued it to a 32×40-inch board that now hangs in his dining room. He’s since scanned the images and re-created the tree digitally using graphic design software. Word of his chart is spreading, and now Picker’s older relatives are referring genealogical inquiries to him. “I guess I’ve become the family historian,” he says.

Making Dates

Runner-up Heather Cook lost no time in preserving her family history — even though she’d been playing the genealogy game for less than a year. The Santa Fe, NM, college student writes, “I frequently came across dates when important things happened in the life of my family, and found myself wishing I could memorialize them.” That’s how she got the idea to assemble a calendar with ancestral birth, marriage and death information noted on the appropriate days.

Using her word processing software and a calendar template from the Microsoft Office Web site <>, Cook designed a page for each month complete with intriguing ancestral facts. (One that made us smile: Mary, the youngest of Irish immigrant Ellen Shea’s five children, is recorded on an 1882 passenger list with the occupation “infant.”) Cook included photos, record images, a dedication and a pedigree chart, too.

After making 45 more calendars as gifts for relatives, Cook has found herself on the receiving end of genealogical goodness. “My Great-aunt Gladys and some of my other aunts have started sending me information and pictures,” she says. Like her fellow Creative Family Trees Contest champs, she’s learned how showing off your roots has its rewards.

From the June 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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