Posted by Michelle Pfister on February 23, 2009 in Family Tree Maker

I’ve always loved wood and crystal. My grandmother loved crystal, and my grandfather worked  with wood. I didn’t know either of their passions until I told my mother about my two favorite things: crystal and wood.

As a working woman in the Internet space, I was intrigued to learn of another connection. My grandmother ran the first phone switchboard in her town. Her grandmother ran the first post office in hers. I ran straight into the “new” Internet while working in the space during it’s early business-adoption days. My grandmothers and I were part of the communications “firsts” for our areas. I followed in their footsteps without ever trying.

At a recent genealogy event, I talked with a woman who’s been in the genealogy space for many years. I commented on her beautiful purple shawl and she mentioned that a surprising number of others had said something similar. The delicately embroidered shawl had been her mother’s–this was the first time she’d worn it in public. She looked radiant. I couldn’t help but wonder what else this beautiful woman carried with her from her mother.

Their stories, their strength, their composure under pressure, their simple pleasures. What else do we carry from our forbearers?

I once read that one of the favors we can do for our children is to tell them the stories of their ancestors’ lives. Children learn, through real-life stories, that difficulties have been faced and overcome. They learn that the strength of their forbearers runs through their blood, too.



Pictures of their ancestors can also help them make the connection. If you’re interested in trying Family Tree Maker’s new Book Building feature, here’s how you can add media items:

First, start a new book by going to the Publish workspace, clicking on “Books” under “Publications Types,” and selecting “Genealogy Book.”

Enter a book name, and, if you’d like, enter your name as the author of this book. In the mini navigation area at the top of the screen, click on a person whose picture you’d like to attach. Click on “Add Book Item” (the “plus sign” in the upper left), then select “Media Reports.”  Select “Media Item,” and click OK.  (Alternatively, if you want to insert a full photo album for that person, select “Photo Album” instead of “Media Item.”)

You can continue adding pictures until the book contains all the information you’d like, then choose “Preview Book” to see it in finished form. To email or save your book, select the File menu item, and click on “Export Document” or “Send via Email.”




  1. Diane Holding

    This is so out of character…
    Spin doctor told you to write a touchy-feely story so you would seem caring? You only seem more dishonest.

  2. Brooke Schreier Ganz

    Ugh, what a nasty little stinkbomb comment Diane left there. Shoo, troll, go away.

    Michelle, I thought that this was a lovely blog entry. I was especially interested in how it was the women in your family who became the early adopters of new technology, particularly social technology. Very cool. Family lore and genealogy are indeed great gifts that we can leave to our children, and their children, and all the unknown generations still to come. Hopefully there will still be an for them to use, too. 🙂

  3. Deborah

    Oprah had her ancestry DNA done and she also found extreme parallels to what she had accomplished herself. Her grandmother began a school way back in the day in her own community and Oprah started a school in Africa.

    One of her grandfather’s had also begun a school and she found many other parallels. Success isn’t just in our DNA, but many times we repeat the past whether we know it or not.

    Diane is a rather jaded human being and not too bright either if she doesn’t understand the truth of Michelle’s blog.

  4. Lynn


    Good to see on you on the blog again! I am enjoying using the updated version of FTM 2009. One of my biggest struggles, as I am cleaning my sources, is ordering the source citations. Do you know if ordering source citations will be part of the upcoming release (e.g., FTM 2010) and approx. when that will be released? I am spending a great deal of my precious time cleaning the source order so they do not drive myself and other family members crazy when they try to read through FTM genealogy reports. If I knew this enhancement was coming, and when, I would prefer to spend my precious time finding new sources or additional family members (instead of coping and pasting duplicate source citation, and then deleting the original, to appropriate order the source citations).

    Thanks and once again, nice to see you on the blog!

  5. Mary Beth Marchant

    I have a comment about FTM 2009 and the book feature. Y’all really do need to rethink this mess. It may work alright I guess to create a completely new book but it sure will not upload books from my previous version of FTM. All I got was the front cover. These books-all 5 of them were created within and printed from my FTM version 16 but FTM 2209 finds them unacceptable. You really, really, need to fix it so our previous books can be exported instead of being thrown out like so much trash. My 5 and 6 hundred page books were created with a lot of hard work.

  6. Michelle Pfister

    #5 Mary Beth

    I’ve asked one of our senior technical specialists to contact you about bringing forward your previous books. We spent a great deal of effort trying to make sure book owners could bring forward their previous books. The import isn’t perfect, but it should work much better than giving you only the front covers. Best of luck with the technical guidance you’ll receive.

  7. Michelle Pfister

    #4 Lynn

    Thanks for your kind welcome :).

    I’m surprised, but this is the first time I’ve personally heard the request to order source citations. Based on your suggestions, we’ve added it to our list of enhancements for the future. Because we’re already in the middle of implementing planned features, the ability to order citations probably won’t make it into our next release (unfortunately). I wish there were a better answer, because it sounds like this is something that will take some time. If I come across a better way to change the citation order, I’ll let you know. Best to you.

  8. Mary Beth Marchant

    Well, I finally figured out how to find the books I had imported. I had to go to “share” and save as either PDF or RTF. Sadly, only a small portion of the books survived the import. What was 417 pages is now 135 with most charts gone and all the photos. In my opinion, this is worse than no book feature at all. Telling us that we can import our previous books and then getting the mess that I got is not what I thought of when I heard about the books feature. I finally have all but one of my active files imported but since I absolutely refuse to recreate books of that length again(and that was a small book, the others were much longer) I will just stick with FTM 2006 thank you, until y’all can figure out how to import everything.

  9. Tyler Rasmussen

    When is the SDK going to be rereleased? Also, what is the easiest way to do collaborative FTM work? My mom and I work on genealogy, but we live in separate states. Merging the files once every few months is a pain in the but, but I recognize that if we put the file online, neither of us could work on it at the same time and revision control system wouldn’t work for this type of file unless it was specially built.

  10. Michelle Pfister

    #9 Tyler

    I don’t have a date regarding a release of the SDK. As for collaboration on trees, here are some ideas:

    1) Assign each person a separate branch of the tree where only s/he will add/edit. Then when merging the file, you can simply accept all changes from the merged file and know that it won’t affect your own branch of the tree. Each person can export only his/her assigned branch for merging if desired. This makes merging much less difficult.

    2) If you put your tree online in Ancestry Member Trees, you can give any invitee full edit rights. The online tree has less functionality compared to Family Tree Maker, but it does facilitate collaboration.

  11. Rosetta Hiranaga

    I’m thinking of purchasing Family Tree Maker 2009. I have a vast (over 3,000 ancestors) tree on I want to transfer that entire tree, including photos, stories, maps, sources, etc. to FTM 2009. Is that possible? Also, which is better if I want to publish a book with my research that I’ve completed on the FTM 2009 book or the Family Genealogy book on I certainly don’t want to lose information and if the FTM 2009 book isn’t as sophisticated, I don’t want to use that either. I’d really appreciate your comments.

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