Fun-Loving Bev Petersen Shares Her Good Humor With Fellow Genealogists Through Lighthearted (And Useful) Products

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"I love genealogy more than anything, other than people, of course. As a hobby, it's something you can pick up any time. It's part of my art love, but I'm not an artist," Bev Petersen explained. Then her mouth widened in a cheerful grin. "I am, however, such a visual person. I've always had this visual thing."

Bev's journey in genealogy began in 1988 with a gift of an "autograph" quilt top. The quilt had places for names and dates. When Bev started embroidering her family names in the quilt's 20 separate blocks, she realized that she was missing a number of birth and death dates. Her efforts to finish the quilt with the correct information ignited her passion for genealogy.

In 1996 Bev attended an antique show in South Bend, Indiana, where she found a beautiful 1888 Family Tree Photo Holder. She had the 16" x 20" print for just a few years before it began to deteriorate due to acids within the paper. She was horrified by the print's poor condition, and her friends encouraged her to preserve the piece by scanning, digitally restoring and reproducing it. She made 500 prints from the original and attended a genealogy conference for the State of Indiana, marking the first of her many travels as a vendor at nationwide genealogy seminars, shows and events.

Her love for genealogy and her "visual thing" had finally commingled into what is now known as Petersen Reproductions, Fun Stuff for Genealogists, Inc.

Drawing from her previous career in Parks and Recreation, continual training in graphic design at the technical college, years of teaching genealogy at the university in South Bend and her close-knit group of creative, supportive friends, Bev continues to grow her inventory of fun, often completely original, genealogy products, which now includes the following:

T-shirts for adults and kids with clever phrases
Mouse pads
Family trees and pedigree charts
Bumper stickers
License plate frames
Genealogy-related cross-stitch and quilt patterns and books
Note cards
Archival supplies such as specialty pens
Refrigerator magnets
Luggage tags
Clip art CDs
Much, more more!

One of Bev's favorites is a shot glass imprinted with the message, "Genealogy...a shot in the dark!" She designs the majority of the artwork featured on her products, which she characterized as "a little bit lighthearted." She giggled before continuing, "I've got some awesome friends with awesome ideas, and I suppose I'm the one to make things happen."

One such friend is Pat Oxley of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), whose ingenuity served as the inspiration for one of Bev's top-selling products, "Cite Your Sources" sticky notes. These notepads are designed for genealogy researchers to use at the library, at home or even at the courthouse. Each note includes the following space headings: Title/Name, Author, Publisher/Address, Date, Repository, Call #, Page etc., ISBN #, Web/E-mail Address and Misc. Info. Printed on yellow paper to stand out among piles of paper copies, the notes are 3" tall x 4" wide and are $4.95 for 3 packs per order, 50 sheets per pack, for a total of 150 source tags.

"Genealogists, especially those starting out, may forget to write information down about a source. It happens all the time. It's overwhelming, and they'll let it go. We've all done it wrong and learned it the hard way," commented Bev. "'Cite Your Sources' notes are great helpers in that respect. They help you prove your research."

Other top sellers are a new line of embroidered shirts, T-shirts and jewelry. With over 500 genealogy and family history items for sale, Fun Stuff for Genealogists attends approximately 25 conferences per year (including FGS and NGS) and takes orders online at http://www.funstuffforgenealogists.com or by phone at 877.259.6144. In addition, Bev and her friends are working on a bricks-and-mortar storefront at 3213 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend, Indiana.

If you have any innovative ideas for a fun genealogy product, submit your thoughts to Bev's "idea file." at bev@funstuffforgenealogists.com

About the Author

Archivist Jeannette Balleza writes and edits promotional materials for Dead Fred Genealogy Photo Archive at DeadFred.com (http://www.deadfred.com)and related projects. With public relations as her primary focus, she assists in marketing and advertising efforts to both attract support and generate awareness for the site.

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