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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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See You at RootsTech 2024!

Little do those outside the world of family history and genealogy research know, Salt Lake City and the annual RootsTech conference held there each winter are the place to be to hone your research skills, learn about some of the new products and services to help you along, and meet with kindred spirits from all walks of life and locations around the globe. 
Last year was the first year we attended RootsTech. As the event was a fraction of the pre-COVID pandemic size, we were sure our two-women founding team would be just fine managing on their own. Ha! Suffice to say we never sat down. (This year, smart shoes will be in tow - check out Ellen's and Heather's shoes.) We surprised and delighted the crowd. A female founded, patented, tech platform to help them convey the memories behind their family heirlooms, photos, and genealogy research was just the ticket! 
This year, we’re ready to go. We’ll have a slate of special guests making appearances at our booth (#1517-1519), ample devices for people to pause and create their first Artifcts on, and a few exciting surprises to unveil, too!

Artifcts will be at RootsTech at booths 1517 and 1519

If you are the “family keeper,” love telling a good story, a genealogist (hobbyist or pro), or a potential business partner, stop by at booth #1517-1519 and say hello in Salt Lake City! You can also get ahead and book time for a 1:1 demo before you head to the conference or schedule time to meet on with our team on the sidelines in person by contacting us at
Happy Artifcting! 


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A New Family Tradition for the Holidays that Won't Cost a Dime

Reading time: 4 minutes

Who doesn’t love the board games, flag football, and annual viewing of movie favorites like Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, and Home Alone over the holidays with your family?

Get ready to make some new traditions, have fun with your family, and avoid awkward conversations like, “So, how’s your dating life?” Instead, you'll get to enjoy more of those, “I never knew that about you!” moments! You guessed it, we’re putting a spin on those traditions of togetherness with Artifcts.  

New Family Memories and Traditions with Artifcts 

We asked around, “How do you Artifct with family” and distilled the rather humorous stories we heard into a step-by-step process anyone can do with only hours to spare before everyone descends on the same spot for the holidays (or the next family reunion). 


Sign up free in 30 seconds, start to finish.


Give your family a focus. Here are some ideas to get you started, but we also offer free checklists to inspire you:

  • Recipes. Request modern family favorites to expand your repertoire. Or stick to oldies but goodies that have been passed down through the years. 
  • Photos. “Oldest” and “funniest” competitions could be fun. One person told us they’d like, “You never see her/him in pictures” or “Rarely do you see so many of us together,” types of photos. Go for it! 
  • Family treasures. Again, maybe they’re family heirlooms or modern pieces created by your kids or purchased while traveling and make for a good story. 
  • Going, going, gone. This one made us laugh and came from a reader after our recent “Epilogue: Family Keepers” story. The idea here is that if you are holding on to family heirlooms, antiques, or similar items, and you don’t really WANT to hold on to them, Artifct them to let others know so they have a final chance to call “Dibs!” 
  • All things sports. This final example was from a family of sporting enthusiasts. Maybe your family is made up of musicians, artists, or travelers; same idea applies. This family Artifcted new sports memorabilia, photos, and finishers medals from the year. 


(This step is optional to speed up step #4)

You need only each person's name and email. You can make it easier still by filling in this template and then returning to your Account Settings > Content & Network > Network and clicking “Import” to add them all at once.

Don't have their email addresses? Text, call, or post a message wherever you and your family communicate to ask them to create an account on and then send you their screen name. You can add them easily that way, too.


Create an Artifcts Circle (we have a help video, too!) to easily unite and organize all the Artifcts your family creates and shares. Add each family member to it by selecting from your list if you completed step #3 or by typing in their email address directly.

      • You can choose, per person, to let them invite others or to make another person an “admin” who can add AND delete others. 
      • In the “About” section, describe for your family what this circle is for, e.g., “Let’s gather up and share favorite holiday recipes for the holidays.”  
      • Then click to invite them and leave a comment, e.g.:

“Please create a free Artifcts account so we can swap recipes this year and not lose them in email or texts! Tag them #Turkey23. Bonus points if you add a funny short video snippet, too, so we all know how it turned out! Don’t forget to click share and choose this Circle or we can't see it. Call me if you need help.” 

You can always edit the Circle details, image for the Circle, and members, so don’t worry if you forget something (or someone) or have a change of plans.


When will you have your “Arti Hour, Happy Hour?” to share and chat about all your new Artifcts from the your family? Maybe as the dinner is cooking or perhaps after dessert for everyone to take a few minutes to talk about their Artifcts. You may discover in the sharing new details and related stories you’ve never heard before!

Best yet, once your family starts Artifcting and sharing with your new Circle, they can contribute all year long! Next year you can pick right back up or choose a new theme to capture your family's history.

Togetherness and Remembrance this Holiday Season 

We want to acknowledge and talk about another facet of the holidays: grief.  

We know that the holidays can be an incredibly challenging time for many of us. We’re facing them with loved ones missing for the first time or perhaps facing the end soon. Artifcts can be a powerful way to spend time together capturing memories and stories for now and later, for you and for all your loved ones. It can also make it easier to decide what becomes of all the ‘stuff’ that we ultimately leave behind one day.  

Our free Life Preparedness and After-Loss Support Guide may offer a helpful starting point. You may also find inspiration in some of our past ARTIcles by Artifcts such as Gift Your Loved Ones a Why and The Three Things I Wish My Mother Had Artifcted.  

Consider taking the time to watch the recording from our recent panel discussion about new traditions for the holidays as we process our grief. Our guests, Rachel Donnelly, founder of My AfterLight and Professionals of After Loss Services, and Garrick Colwell, of Kitchen Table Conversations, brought diverse and deep backgrounds to the practical and emotional aspects of grief. 


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Take Another Look at Cemeteries and the Stories Untold They Hold

Reading time: 5 minutes 

What’s with all the interest in cemeteries? Is cemetery tourism really a thing? Isn’t it bad mojo to tromp around where you don’t belong? And why are cemeteries so interesting as to inspire memes about hanging out with dead people and bumper stickers like, “I brake for graveyards?” Genealogists must have seriously healthy senses of humor about their research sources and habits. 

Not being a genealogist or historian, I’ve never quite understood the passion some people have for taking road trips to cemeteries where family are buried, never mind stopping at random ones you may come across.

I can think of three excuses, aka reasons, most of us visit cemeteries: a funeral ceremony, a history lesson, and morbid curiosity. 

A Place of Ceremony and Reflection 

My grandmother died when I was four. My memory of the day is hazy. I remember better the feeling of watching her casket exit the church and thinking how sad it was I wouldn’t see her again. Many people visit cemeteries to remember their loved ones and to take the space they need for conversation, prayer, and thought, honoring those whom they’ve lost.

The power of reflection can make folks do funny things, too. My mother once told me about visiting her parents’ gravesite with one of her siblings. Her normally rather stoic sibling proceeded to lie on the ground next to their parents and ask, “How do I look?” How can you not laugh, even if in a cemetery, about that?

What's the difference between cemetery and graveyard

A Place of History and Community 

I remember much better the solemn awe of walking on a guided tour through Arlington National Cemetery when I visited Washington D.C. on a school field trip. The sheer scale of it and all that it implied registered even with my 14-year-old self. I took a few pictures, now scratchy because the negatives sat for decades in bins. Take my advice: Digitize sooner than later, but first read about my experience!

On that visit, there was something unique that I captured – the tiny green temporary placard that marked the grave of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She had passed away only weeks before our trip, and her resting place beside President John F. Kennedy was a stop along our tour.

Final resting place of JFK and temporary grave marker and resting place of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Clearly should have gotten a closer shot. But the shadows tell you many people were crowding in for a pic.

Simple Curiosity 

I visited a local graveyard once in high school: St. Patrick’s Church cemetery in Askeaton, Wisconsin. We were curious which were the oldest of the crumbling tombstones. Obviously, there was no choice but for the oldest to date to the 1850s when the church was founded by Irish immigrants, but we knew nothing of that history. We were teenagers!

Nowadays, a variety of genealogical, historical, and lineage societies, among others, help preserve and document cemeteries. Websites even exist specifically for collective recording of grave markers for others to use to unlock family mysteries and reconstruct community histories. (More on that below!)

Curious, even a little, about visiting a cemetery or graveyard? Wondering what use a graveyard visit may be to you? Read on!

Unlocking Family Mysteries and Continuing Family Storylines at Cemeteries 

For the curious, grave markers provide an abundance of opportunity to play detective. Whether measured in days or decades, that dash between birth year and death year represents a life lived.

The grave markers themselves convey a lot about a person:

      • Where is the marker – What city? A public cemetery? A churchyard? What faith and denomination? Where within the space, relegated to a dark corner or a prime position? 
      • What type of marker is it – The material, style, and size can provide clues about wealth and status and also culture. 
      • What is on the marker – name, date of birth, professional titles, next of kin, cause of death … so much potential. And don't forget to look on the back if it's double sided! Sometimes you’ll find adornments, such as pictures and symbols to puzzle out, too. Our friends over at Legacy Tree Genealogists recently published an article about tombstone symbols. Check it out >
      • Who is nearby – It may be that you discover relatives nearby that you had not yet discovered or are shocked are directly next to the person whose marker you’re interested in.  

One Arti Community member shared a fabulous historical tale with us about the hero who she found buried next to her grandfather. Click the image to listen in! 

Click to listen

Planning a Visit to a Cemetery

Cemetery tourism like my trip to Arlington National Cemetery aside, if you’re planning a personal visit, we’ve collected tips to make your visit more productive and pleasant.

“Google” first. 

All we mean is do your online research first so you can validate as much information as possible about the site and avoid wasting time on your journey or the day you visit. Popular starting points are BillionGraves (find in AppStore and Google Play), Find a Grave, which also offers a cemetery search (find in AppStore), and Cemetary Census, covering a handful of states.

Reach out to local genealogy and historical societies as well as public libraries, too. You’ll meet hobbyists and professionals alike who delight in helping break through family mysteries and brick walls. 

Call ahead. 

Please, call! You need to confirm the public access hours, details about any temporary or permanent off-limits areas, whether they permit rubbings, and if they have historical records on site you can browse, too. (Bring gloves for safe handling!) While you are at it, ask if they offer maps and guided tours. Some even have mobile apps. 

Bring a small kit. 

A soft paintbrush to gently brush dirt off a marker, a grass clipper to reveal hidden areas, and a blanket or pad to crouch down onto for more comfortable access should suffice. Plus rubbing supplies, if permitted.

Think about the time of day. 

Be mindful of lighting during the season and time of day you plan to visit. Age and material can make it challenging to read, never mind photograph, a marker even if you plan to use photo editing software later. An umbrella can help with glares, and of course protect you and your work from the elements. 

Be careful what you ask for. 

We all know history can be ugly. And if it’s family history you’re tracking down, deeply personal, too. Do you really want the answers? Are you prepared to learn Great Grandma did not get buried next to Great Grandpa, but someone else lies between them? What about discovering a child no one ever mentioned? A false or conflicting date of birth or death? And do others in your family want to know what you find? Tread carefully.


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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It Was Greek to Us, but Not to @Greek Ancestry! 

Let's face it, when it comes to preserving family heritage on a daily basis, you have advantages if: 

      • You have family you still speak with in your “home” country 
      • You are living among people from your native culture in your new country 
      • Someone, anyone, was the family keeper and held onto photos, videos, and heirlooms. 

Likewise, closely related is preserving your family genealogy. Here, too, certain advantages exist, such as if:

      • You have a genealogist in your family, amateur or professional
      • You have retained the ability to speak and read your familial language even if you have emigrated 
      • You are from a country that has maintained the same political national boundaries for generations. 

As we admired the work and beauty of the Instagram feed at @Greek_Ancestry, we wondered what it’s like for people from a country like Greece, now living far from home, and trying to preserve bits of family history, heritage, and genealogy.

So, we asked!

Enjoy our discoveries in this fun cross-over event with Greek Ancestry and Artifcts advisor Georgia Mavrookas.  

Discovery 1. Family heritage is easier to carry forward when you make it a part of daily life. 

Saving your pieces of cultural heritage only for special occasions, or relying only on certain family storytellers, creates a lot of risk of those memories and moments slipping by.

Greek chocolates in green foil inside a crystal bowl

Chocolates, anyone? Keep Grandma's treats on hand every day! It's Artifcted >

Discovery 2. Political boundaries add wrinkles to research.

The area of Macedonia where Georgia’s family is from only became part of Greece in the 1910s and therefore fewer records are available and accessible for a genealogical deep dive. So noted! When seeking some early 'wins,' you might delay that research thread for another day.

We shifted gears and decided to check out Georgia’s husband’s side of the family instead.

Discovery 3. Original handwriting is fascinating.

It's more fun (and engaging) to look at cool original documents than typed up notes. And while we appreciate the advantages of creating altered images to help better see and/or translate faded script, never lose your original image. The coloration and distress you can observe in the script and the paper provide visual clues to our brain as to the age and conditions (humidity etc.) of the document that add to the mystique of it all. It also made us wonder how it is that penmanship has evolved so much over time. Really beautiful.

Original handwritten Greek birth and baptismal record

Original documents provide so much context beyond a single point of data. Check out the Artifct >

Discovery 4. Never hurts to have professional archivists & genealogists on speed dial.

If not for Greek Ancestry’s own archival collection and the Archives of the Holy Metropolis of Monemvasia & Sparta, whose records Gregory Kontos and his colleague Carol Kostakos Petranek of Greek Ancestry have digitized, we could not have traveled back to the late 1800s and early 1900s for original documentation with the relative ease and speed that we did. Instead, it would have been a costly endeavor to locate, access, and translate the records. And such diversity of records! This small research task benefited from Greek Ancestry’s collection of:

      • Birth & baptismal records 
      • Marriage records 
      • Male register records 
      • Voter lists 

Now what?

Maybe you hail from Ireland, Paraguay, Croatia, or the Philippines. The point here is, whether you have a single burning question about one part of your family tree or history or you want to uncover everything there is:

      1. Start on your own home front (try our Genealogy Gems checklist).
      2. Then explore any family tree(s) already created online (but watch out for errors and assumptions).
      3. Seek out professionals to help you along the way. They can bring so much history and experience to bear to guide you toward the right resources, even the right questions, to bring your family history to life!
      4. We'll see you back here along the way as you Artifct your discoveries so it can all live on with all the family lore and fun for generations to come!

We are so thankful to Gregory Kontos and his colleagues at @Greek_Ancestry for diving into Greek family history with Artifcts. We hope you all enjoyed and gained some inspiration for your own #FamilyHeritage research and conversations!


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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I'm the Family Keeper! What Do I Do With it All?

Reading time: 3 minutes

In a humorous turning of the tables, after our story earlier this month, “What is a Family Keeper, and Why Should I Care?” we heard from a lot of family keepers who said, “So what do you recommend I do?”  We know how you're feeling. You don't want the memories and history lost; you don't want the people behind it all lost.

The answer is not to throw it all away because you don’t know what to do with it. Instead opt for the good – better – best solutions that make sense for your life, your family, and your collective goals. There's simply no one or right way.

We suggest starting by thinking through these four questions. 

    1. Do you want it? Any of it? 
    2. Do you know if anyone else in the family wants any of it? Have you actually asked? And, if so, and any of it is of historical value to you or your family, or perhaps has an amazing story, do they know that? It could change their feelings about the items. Check out “Storytellers, Beware!
    3. Do you know if any of it has financial value? You can always choose "What's it worth?" for special items you've Artifcted and find out! And, if so, do you have immediate or pressing needs to sell it and invest the cash in other ways in your life? Do you know the provenance of the items and do you have that documented? Get tips from a master, Lark Mason, of Antiques Roadshow.
    4. Do you have an immediate need to get rid of some or all of it? Or are you more interested in slowly downsizing the collection and re-homing or selling pieces of it? Factor in costs to store it and the stress of more clutter than you (or those who you live with) want to put up with! 

Good – Better – Best 

Sometimes we’re up against the wall and we simply do the best we can. Other times, time is on our side, maybe our personal interests/hobbies, too, and we can take the time to give more care not just to the ‘stuff,’ but to the people who it once belonged to and the people of today and the future who may value it as well. Here’s our good-better-best solutions for family keepers: 


If you truly must get rid of it, take photos and share them, pronto! Then you have never lost anything completely. You’ll at least give your family and future generations a clue about the people of their own past. 

Did you know photos can be as if not more difficult than documents to track down for your family 


Take the photos, but then get on a group call with your extended family (or invite them over if local), tell them about what you have, what your intentions are to keep, sell, donate, or rehome. Have a real conversation. Share stories. Learn what interest, if any, your family has for specific items.  

Think broadly about “family.” You know the people who were “like a second mother” or the neighbor who was practically family? Don’t forget them in the sharing. 


Artifct collections of items – e.g. all the silver, a stack of family bibles, a collection of statues, precious textiles … – and individual items for which you know ANY supporting details or stories or you simply love for any reason at all. If you don’t, all those photos you took and what you do know could get lost forever and will not help anyone to make good decisions about what’s next for it all. 

    • What person and/or side of the family did it come from? 
    • How did you come to have it? 
    • What is it? Sometimes it’s not obvious!
    • Any stories or related photos, documents, or video you have for it. 
    • Then, create an invite-only circle on Artifcts and invite all of your family members to join (for free!). Share your Artifcts with the circle so they can once again see all the family heirlooms. Invite them to share with the circle any they may have, too. Perhaps you’ll discover answers to each other’s family history puzzles or matches/pieces of a collection. You never know.

If you have additional good-better-approaches to share, reach out to us at, and we'll help spread the word. You can also follow us on social media and join the conversation there, too!

Happy Artifcting!


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How Well-Managed Is Your Family History Estate? 

We’ve all seen recent media articles of Baby Boomers confronting how their possessions should be handled after they’ve died. While the topics of “Swedish death cleaning” and “tidying up” are at the forefront, few articles discuss how “family history” should be passed on, too, so that it contributes to a family’s legacy. 

Even if you haven’t self-published a family history book, researched your roots for years, or even built a family tree, you’ve likely been a “steward” for at least some stories, heirlooms, and “stuff.” 

Family Keeper vs. Family Steward 

There is a big difference between a “keeper” of a family’s history and a “steward” of items which make up that history. Different mindsets seem to govern how each person approaches their possessions.  

A keeper often has a protective sense of ownership of items and sometimes becomes defensive when asked to share them. You may have encountered an aunt or an uncle who is sitting on family photo albums, boxes of heirlooms, etc. They tend to treat these items as “holy relics” and have a wealth of stories to go along with each item. And when you ask them how they plan to pass those items on to someone else in the family, often they evade the topic or are at a loss for words (and plans). 

A steward takes a very different approach, like someone tending a garden. Not only have they taken the time to preserve photos and heirlooms against damage and loss, but they’ve also documented the stories that bring those items to life in fixed form, not just in your memory. And after years of cultivating that family history “garden,” they are willing to pass the items to a younger generation of stewards who can continue to preserve the family’s legacy. 

Cultivating Your Family History Garden 

Going from keeper to steward can be challenging. Here are some tips and tricks on making that journey:

  • Take a deep breath. If you are in possession of years of photos and other family items, start with small mini-projects to avoid becoming overwhelmed. This could mean simply sorting photos from slides and negatives. The next project would then be to decide what gets scanned and how to scan them. Then move on to the next project, and the next project, and so on. 
  • Create a stewardship plan. If you find yourself jumping from project to project without making any progress, create a simple plan. Name the task, write a short description, enter a start date and desired end date. Add a notes section so that if you do jump to a new project without finishing the current one, you note where you left off. 

Use Artifcts timeline time period notes to support research planning

  • Set priorities. Some stewards will “rank” their projects using a “1, 2, 3” method. A 1 signifies high priority projects such as interviewing the oldest relatives in the family. Use a 2 for medium priority projects such as documenting family stories and getting them in a fixed format. And finally, 3 is for low priority projects such as file renaming of scanned photos. 

About those oldest relatives, legendary television news anchor Bob Jordan agrees. Watch this snippet. The complete discussion from Evenings with Artifcts with Bob is available here.
  • Leverage technology. Today many tools are available to assist with completing those family history projects, and it can be difficult to determine which tools are the best. Look for tools that help you document family stories and heirlooms—like Artifcts—and allow you to share that process and results with other family members.  

Artifcts can help you build a virtual “family history library” that is easy to pass on to others in the family. Consider using the QR code available for each Artifct you create and place it on or near an heirloom. The next time family members visit, sit back, and wait for the younger ones to scan the code with their mobile device to learn more about that heirloom. I also recommend printing the QR code for your entire Artifcts collection and including it with your important documents, like your will, deeds, and insurance policies. 

Tip from Artifcts - Use the In the future field for decisions on disposition of assets


We all want to be good caretakers of our family history, but the mere idea of passing away can cause the work of stewardship to be delayed. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. There are so many products, tools, and services that can help you go from keeper to steward.  

And there’s no reason why you can’t involve the younger generation NOW rather than waiting until it is too late. Create a series of family projects using Artifcts to document family heirlooms and to share their stories so those precious items finally have a voice and can be heard. 


If family history and genealogy are on your mind, we have additional ARTIcles by Artifcts that might interest you!


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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