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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Tuesday
    Oct142014

    Family Archivist Survival Kit Available for a Limited Time

    Sally Jacobs Madison Magazine

    Looking for archival boxes? Through the month of October Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, is offering the Family Archivist Survival Kit to help family historians safely store photos, documents, and other family treasures. This is a once-a-year special package Sally created to help people get their "stuff" out of shoeboxes and into proper archival storage.

    "Like a Time Machine. . . without digging & burying"

    Sally is one of those generous genealogist who loves to talk about her favorite topic -- archiving -- and my go-to archivist when I need a consultation over a sticky preservation question. Her website is full of helpful tips and free advice, and the Family Archivist Survival Kit lives up to it's name with storage boxes, supplies, and a CD with 10 hours of recorded instruction from Sally.

    Read all about the Kit at The Practical Archivist and get your order placed before October 31, 2014. Kits ship in November and won't be available again until next Fall.

    Paper or Plastic?

    I get a lot of questions here at The Family Curator and when I present lectures about the pros and cons of using big plastic tubs for archival storage. People really really seem to want to use them. They're relatively inexpensive. They're easy to find (hello, Target!). And they are waterproof. But it's not a good idea. Ask Sally:

    Much of preservation (and all of archival work, really) comes down to compromise and balance. Archivist like to joke that our motto is “it depends” because we work with variations that don’t allow simple universal rules. Plastic is a perfect example. Americans have always placed a great faith in the protectiveness of plastic, but it’s not always the best choice for long term storage. All together now: “It depends.”

    The first rule is that any plastic you choose has to be neutral — it can’t be off-gassing anything that will affect what you place inside them. Vinyl is a big no-no. My favorite rule of thumb is that if it smells like a shower curtain, don’t put your photographs anywhere near it. Polypropylene is a popular plastic that is neutral, but your best bet is to find a product that has passed the Photographic Activity Test. The PAT is an accelerated aging test that tells the consumer it will not affect your photographs during storage.

    The waterproof question is a bit tougher. Obviously, it’s a good idea to keep water away from paper, photographic prints, and film. But a cheap plastic tub is going to off-gass and add volatile chemicals to your storage environment…which will interact with your photographs in ways we can’t predict. Ideally, you want to store your family treasures in an archival paper box. The qualities of paper and the way it changes over time *can* be predicted. Paper also allows air to circulate and prevents items from “stewing in their own juices” as my preservation teacher would always say. Of course, a cardboard box is not waterproof, but in a scenario where there is risk of water, Archival Best Practice is to store your collection somewhere else.

    But what about photos and documents?

    Ask yourself: Do I really need to put this in plastic? If you’ve scanned your photos and share them digitally, I don’t think it’s necessary to store the original prints in an album or clear sleeves. They can go into archival paper envelopes and then into archival boxes. Clear plastic is the best choice for photos that you plan to pass around to many hands, since the oils and salts on fingers will transfer to the prints. A small historical society that serves up local history photographs to the public is a good example of this kind of heavy use.

    Wouldn't silica gel packets help if moisture gets inside a plastic tub?

    Yes, but ideally you would store your treasures in something that wouldn’t collect moisture that way. I’ve been researching fireproof safes lately, and one of their main drawbacks is that the insulation needed to protect the contents from extreme heat will also create condensation inside the safe. How’s that for a trade off? (ugh) You can purchase metal canisters of desiccants that can be “recharged” by baking in an oven. Some even have a color indicator so you know when it’s time. I’m all for improving the bad storage areas you’re stuck with, but as always the best scenario is to keep your treasures somewhere where there isn’t a risk of water damage from either above or below.

    Happily, the metal edge archival boxes in The Practical Archivist's kits are strong, durable and provide excellent archival protection. Sally only sells the Family Archivist Survival Kit during the month of October, but she plans to offer a smaller De-Clutter Kit in Spring 2015. If you order one of her kits and need more supplies, she won't leave you stranded and will help you reorder what you need.

    I have to admit I'm a bit jealous of Sally's profession. She gets to hang out in libraries and archives and work with all kinds of interesting material. I asked her how she became an Archivist (instead of an astronaut or iron chef) and I wish I had an illustration to go with her reply:

    Ohmigosh, I love the idea of a wee little Sally J. drawing pictures of herself re-housing vintage photographs into archival folders…but that’s not how it happened. My “plan” was to become a photographer for Rolling Stone when I grew up. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that this plan was a complete failure.

    After I graduated college with a BA in History and Anthropology, all I knew was that I didn’t want to be a high school social studies teacher or a college professor*, so grad school in History was out. Instead, I got a great job working at a Half Price Books where I could figure out what the heck I was going to do when I grew up. One day, my coworker Allison announced she was going to library school. I had no idea there was such a thing! When I took a look at the catalog, I learned that they offered a specialization in “Archives Management” and those courses were taught by archivists working at the Wisconsin Historical Society. As soon as I read that, it all clicked.

    Isn't' that the way it works? She didn't want to be a teacher, but here she is teaching us all about archives! Thanks, Sally!

    Feel free to leave Sally your archival questions here in the Comments, or drop her a note at The Practical Archivist and learn more about the Family Archivist Survival Kit.

    Wednesday
    Oct082014

    The Genealogy Event Returns to NYC

    Gen event

    Next week I'm off to The Big Apple for The Genealogy Event to be held this year at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green, New York City, NY home of the National Archives at New York City. NARA is also celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Customs Service with an exhibit featuring the ledger book from the first ship entering the port of New York under the new regulations. Imagine, the first customs duty paid $774.41 August 5, 1789 for an entire ship load of cargo aboard the Persis sailing from Italy to New York Harbor.

    NARA NYC customs ledger

    The Persis ledger will be featured at the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Customs Service exhibit.

    Attendees at The Genealogy Event will be able to tour the exhibit on the 3rd floor Welcome Center and use the research facilities. The Genealogy Event runs Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, with Sunday October 19 scheduled as a special DNA Day. Exhibitor booths, speakers and expert consultations are scheduled throughout the event.

    Speakers include Ron Arons, Nancy and Biff Barnes, James Beidler, Joe Buggy, Shannon Combs Bennett, Blaine Bettinger, Janeen Bjork, Angie Bush, Elaine Collins, Laura Congleton, Bennett Greenspan, Phyllis Kramer, Michael Leclerc, Denise Levenick, Dr. Rhoda Miller, CeCeMoore, Shellee Morehead, Trevor Plant, Maureen Taylor, and Pamela Weisberger.

    I'm looking forward to presenting two sessions on digitizing and preserving family keepsakes and making my first visit to NARA-NYC. If you have plans to be in New York City October 17-19, I hope you can attend The Genealogy Event at the historic U.S. Customs House on the tip of Battery Park. Tickets are available here.

    Sunday
    Sep212014

    Fire, Flood, Earthquake: Is Your Genealogy Safe?

    Smokeythebear

    Learn how to protect your family history research before and after disaster strikes whether you're at risk from natural disaster, home disaster or a computer crash in the September FamilyTree Magazine Podcast when I talk with with Lisa Louise Cooke about my article in the current issue of FamilyTree magazine, "Your Genealogy Disaster Plan." 

    Last week I shared disaster-preparedness tips "Prepare Your Family History to Survive Fire Season" prompted by the California wildfires that were burning in my sister's former hometown of Sliverado Canyon, California. Here are a few more tips you can hear more about in the September FamilyTree Magazine Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke.

    Before Disaster: Know Your Risks

     

    Gather important numbers
    Practice prevention
    Prioritize keepsakes
    Digitize to safeguard
    Get an insurance checkup
    Back up computer files
    Save passwords
    Practice smart storage
    Make a genealogy grab and go list
    Create a genealogy disaster kit

    After a Disaster: Be Ready to Salvage Your Treasures

    Assess the damage
    Collect scattered items
    Contact your insurance agent
    Salvage wet photos for later attention

    Wednesday
    Sep172014

    Sneak Peek at Steve Robinson's New Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery

    TLE cover

    Disaster at sea, an heirloom locket, and pre-war espionage all play a part in The Lost Empress, Steve Robinson's fourth novel in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series.  I received an advance review copy and Steve's promise for an interview to answer questions about Tayte's news adventures. I wish I could drop everything and start reading right now; but I know from the first three Tayte mysteries that the story will be an impossible to put down page-turner. <Sigh> Of course, the promise of a good mystery might be just the motivation to clear my desk faster! 

    Steve Robinson Profile Pic

    I'm looking forward to talking with Steve after I've read the book. It's great to chat with authors about their books and writing life, and even better when it includes more than a little genealogy. Steve is always generous with his time for the genealogy community, so don't be bashful about leaving comments and questions for him about any Jefferson Tayte book.

    Look for a full review and interview in the next few weeks, and in the meantime you can get your own preview of the book with Amazon's Look Inside feature offering the opening pages of the The Lost Empress.

    The Lost Empress is now available for pre-order; Kindle orders will be delivered wirelessly on the October 21, 2014 release date. While you're waiting for the book's release, check out the first three Tayte adventures or revisit Jefferson Tayte's career as professional genealogist and unwitting detective:

    1 - In the Blood

    2 - To the Grave

    3 - The Last Queen of England

     

    Note: I accepted an advance copy of The Lost Empress without obligation to review or publicize the book. I enjoy Steve Robinson's genealogical mystery series, and share news about his new releases because I think you might like them too. If you buy a book using one of the affiliate links on this website, the fees earned help support this site.

    Sunday
    Sep142014

    Prepare Your Family History to Survive Fire Season

     

    A common sight in Silverado Canyon every September.

    The rest of the country may be feeling the first chill of autumn, but in Southern California September heralds the arrival of California's 5th Season, Fire Season. Once again Silverado Canyon is on fire watch as a hot wildfire burns the dry hillsides along the narrow canyon walls.

    Santiago Fire 2007

    My sister and her family lived in Silverado for over twenty years and this is the first year in all that time we aren't watching the news anxious about their personal safety. Last winter they sold their custom-built Victorian house and moved to a parcel of land on Oregon's Deschutes River. We're relieved they aren't in the fire path once again, but sad to see their former home and community in danger. 

     

    Damage from fire retardant.

    Fire Danger to Family Keepsakes

    When we think about the danger of wildfire, we tend to think about losing our belongings to raging flames, but the bigger threat comes from smoke, fire retardant and water damage.

    • Paper will quickly absorb smoke odor, and the longer items remain enclosed in a box or sealed environment the harder it will be to remove the smoky smell.
    • Homes in fire zones are often treated with a fire retardant gel that brings its own special hazards, corroding copper and metal, staining paint and other surfaces, and killing landscaping. Your heirloom furniture and other keepsakes can be severely damaged if you aren't home to close windows and remove family heirlooms before the spray hits your house. My sister's family experienced this first-hand.
    • Water from burst plumbing, fire sprinklers or fire hoses can quickly turn a storage area into a water-soaked mess. 

    Be Prepared for Wildfire

    After living in a risky area for so many years, my sister says she actually feels better prepared now than ever before. The last time they evacuated their Silverado home, the family was unable to return for over 14 days and they learned a lot about emergency preparedness during that episode:

    1. Keep valuables organized and ready to grab in case of evacuation
    2. Store digital copies offsite at the office or on Cloud storage
    3. Give your young adult children the originals or copies of any documents they might need like birth certificates
    4. Know how to contact your insurance agent in case your home is damaged

    HD4100

    Store Valuables in a Home Safe

    While researching "Your Genealogy Disaster Plan" for the September 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine I discovered a home storage container with an impressive disaster survival story. The SentrySafe HD4100CG fireproof waterproof home safe is rated for 30 minutes of fire endurance and water submersion. Models come in all sizes and configurations and are available on Amazon and home improvement stores. I spoke with a SentrySafe representative about a suitable size for genealogy materials and she sent me a link to a story about a safe filled with family history research that survived Hurricane Sandy. It's an emotional video, but brings home the reminder that some things need a bit of extra protection in our everyday life.

    When she lived in Silverado, my sister and I often talked about protecting photos and keepsakes from natural disasters. It can be hard to enjoy your family heirlooms if you're worried about fire or flood, but digital copies stored offsite or on the Cloud are a good backup in case of damage or loss. I don't live in a fire zone like Silverado Canyon, but I keep some family treasures and digital copies in a fireproof waterproof safe. And I hope I never see that safe sitting in a pile of charred rubble.

    Note: I'm providing links to the SentrySafe HD4100CG recommended by the company representative as most appropriate for a small genealogy collection. You can read more about the different models and compare prices at Amazon where I receive a small affiliate fee from orders, or see some models in local stores such as Target, Home Depot, and Lowe's. The featured model is large enough to hold file folders and a few small items. IMHO, it's a worthwhile investment.

    Friday
    Sep052014

    RootsMagic with MacBridge: Fabulous Friday!

    MacBridge 1024x698

    This is the best news I've had all week! RootsMagic has just announced the new MacBridge product that runs RootsMagic on a Mac computer without Windows! As the Roots Magician Bruce Buzzbee described it last summer, MacBridge is a easy-to-install single product workaround using CrossOver to install and run RootsMagic (hope I've got this right). I've run RootsMagic with the full CrossOver and been disappointed by the updates and mystifying WINE terminology, so I'm excited to try MacBridge and the easier and more direct installation process.

    MacBridge is listed to run both the free and paid versions of RootsMagic on a Mac, without Windows. Sure, a Mac can run RootsMagic with virtualization software like Parallels, VM Fusion, or Apple BootCamp, but you still need to install Microsoft Windows on the Mac. CrossOver from Codeweavers and Open Source WINE run many programs, including RootsMagic, but my experience has been less than wonderful with CrossOver. If the new MacBridge works as promised, the entry ticket of $9.95 will be well worth the price of admission to the Magic Show.

    Thank you, Roots Magician!

    Wednesday
    Sep032014

    Wordless Wednesday: Back to School 1923 Edition

     

    "First Graduates - '23" from the Edna and Walter May Photo Album; privately held by Denise Levenick, 2014. Edna McClure May was a teacher at the San Juan Capistrano School, California.

    Thursday
    Aug282014

    Genealogy Photo Gallery World Photo Day 2014, #TBT

    The Past is Present once again in these thoughtful entries for the Genealogy Challenge for World Photo Day 2014, posted today for #ThrowbackThursday. Thank you to everyone who responded to the challenge by posting photographs and stories on family history blogs and on The Family Curator Facebook Page. As you'll see, the entries are creative, clever, and clearly genealogical.

    We open the Gallery with Jenny Lancetot's photograph posted on The Family Curator Facebook Page showing her grandfather and his sons in front of their home in 1959, "Dear Photograph" style, against the home in 2011. You can just about see them on those steps today. 

    On the Front Steps

    Five Generations

    At Lonetester HQ, Alona Tester, a self-confessed Gen Xer from South Australia with a passion for genealogy, posted two five generation photographs bringing together her parents' line from ancestor to herself. The photos look like a great start for a family history book, Alona! And, thanks for kicking-off the challenge by submitting the first entry.

    Dunbar Hospital 1922 & 2014

    Then and Now are always popular themes for bringing the past into the present, and Kristin Cleage Williams, creator of the Finding Eliza Blog has submitted a creative view of the physicians at Detroit's Dunbar Hospital in 1922 juxtaposed with a modern day image.  I love the way the men really do appear to be seated on the porch of the building in 2014.

    Home is Where They Lived

    Queenslander Pauleen Cass, author of Family history across the seas, posted photos from a "Then and Now" activity that included walking the local streets "matching up old photos with the current image." What a great idea! She shares a series of Then and Now images that feature houses and family members from the 1920's to the present day.

    You Can Go Home Again

    Sharn White, is a genealogist living in Sydney, Australia, and creator of the FamilyHistory4U blog. She posted a collage showcasing her childhood home in Queensland, from the 1950's through 2014 remodeling and transformation.

    Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition

    I enjoyed a walk down memory lane this month with a handful of old snapshots to bring home this Dear Photograph edition for The Family Curator blog. Disneyland was still noisy and crowded, and just as much fun as ever!

    The Past is Present in Photographs

    Our Challenge Gallery concludes with the entry from Sharon of North East Victoria, Australia, who wrote a fascinating article and posted several photos on her blog Strong Foundations to highlight the love of photography she shared with her grandmother. Scroll down the article to view the great photos of old Kodak Brownie advertisements and the photos of Sharon and her grandmother, both with cameras at the ready.

    Thank You, Photographers

    It appears that the family history bloggers from "Down Under" outnumbered the North Americans in the 2014 Genealogy Photo Challenge, but next year, things might be different :>) . Thank you to everyone who participated. Start thinking of your entry for 2015, you have almost an entire year to snap the perfect Past is Present photo.

    Friday
    Aug222014

    Family Tree University Fall Virtual Conference Discount


    If you can't attend the Federation of Genealogical Society Conference in Texas next week, maybe you'd like a little genealogy education from home instead!

    FamilyTree University's Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference September 19 - 21, 2014 offers three days of on-demand webinar classes and live chats featuring: genealogy technology, research strategies, and ethnic research. Register now and save $40 Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE.

    I'll be presenting two sessions on working with digital images:

    Organizing Your Digital Images -- Do you have digital photos and scanned images scattered across your digital devices? Learn how to set up a system where finding and archiving digital pictures is fast, fun and pain-free

    5 Easy DIY Genealogy Book Projects: Showcase Your Research in Style -- Creating a genealogy book is a goal of many family historians: We want to capture our family story in a form that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Try these five projects to create a book, even if you’re not a writer.

    The full program includes classes in:

    Genealogy Technology

    Top Free Websites for Obituaries, Shannon Combs-Bennett

    Software Secrets for Every Genealogist, Lisa A. Alzo

    Top Free Websites for Vital Records, David A. Fryxell

    Organizing Digital Images, Denise May Levenick

    Top 5 Undiscovered Family Tree Databases, Shannon Combs-Bennett

    5 Easy DIY Genealogy Book Projects, Denise May Levenick

    Research Strategies

    13 Obscure, Overlooked and Undiscovered Sources to Overcome Brick Walls, D. Joshua Taylor

    Top 10 Genealogy Traps to Avoid, Lisa A. Alzo

    Forensic Genealogy Crash Course, Catherine Desmarais

    10 Ways to Diagnose (and Treat) Errors in Your Research, Sunny Jane Morton

    Exploring Digital Newspapers on GenealogyBank, Newspapers.com and Chronicling America, Nancy Hendrickson

    Ethnic Research

    Use the Web to Research German Records from Home, Michael Lacopo

    12 Best Websites for Eastern European Genealogy, Lisa A. Alzo

    Secrets to Tracing Scandinavian Ancestors, Diana Crisman Smith

    Google Translate Tutorial, Gena Philibert-Ortega

    SAVE $40 on Registration

    Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE.

     

    Tuesday
    Aug192014

    Genealogy Challenge for #WorldPhotoDay: Tips from Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition 

    We were probably crazy to try this on a sweltering summer day with three boys under the age of five in tow, but it worked, sort of.

    In all the Kodak snapshots documenting my childhood, I could only find four ruffle-edged prints that bore testimony to many many happy hours at The Magic Kingdom. Growing up in Orange County, California did have it's perks, especially when Mom could get free tickets with her job at the local newspaper. 

    I'd forgotten how tricky it is to get a good Dear Photograph shot. The last time we tried was a few years ago on an anniversary visit to Santa Barbara, and I should have gone back to reread 5 Tips for Snapping the Perfect Dear Photograph Picture. Actually, I need to add one more BIG tip -- do not try this with children! They move too fast.

    At any rate, this is an instructive post on what works, what doesn't work, and maybe you can pick up a few more tips from my latest Dear Photo adventure to inspire your own Past is Present contribution to the Genealogy Challenge for World Photo Day:

    Dear Photograph: We Love Sleeping Beauty's Castle

    When Disneyland opened the gate to The Magic Kingdom on July 17, 1955, Sleeping Beauty's Castle was the star attraction. I loved walking through the dark halls and gazing through the glass windows at scenes from the tale of Sleeping Beauty. At the end of the hallway, we blinked into the bright light and the color and music of Fantasyland and the Carousel.

    Dear photograph 1

    1. Hold the photo close to the camera and focus on the photo. It helps to have three or four hands for this step.

    Dear photo castle 1

    2. Wait for background distractions to move out of the picture.

    Dear photo castle 2

    3. Try to line up the picture with the building or whatever. The pole is not very interesting (except to note that it is STILL present years later!).

    Dear photo castle 3

    4. Turn around and enjoy the scene! P.S. I didn't crop this on purpose because I thought you'd want to see the interesting pole.

    Dear photo castle 15

    Dear Photograph: Goodbye to the Skyway to Tomorrowland

    What every happened to the Skyway to Tomorrowland? The sky-buckets were definitely a premium ticket ride to a little girl who had never ridden a ski tram over the snow. I still remember the icy cold air that blew from the Matterhorn Alps as the skyway passed through the gigantic mountain tunnel. We always waved at the tobogganers shrieking as their sled careened through the mountain pass, and were sad when the ride closed in 1994.

    Dear photograph 2

    1. Try to line up the image in the photo with what you are seeing through the camera viewfinder. Remember to focus on the photo.

    DearPhotoDisney 5 2

    2. Try to focus on the photo, not the handsome assistant.

    Skyway to Tomorrowland

    Dear Photograph: Where are the Chairs on the Mark Twain Riverboat?

    Mark twain riverboat

    Confession time: this ride is really pretty boring. Climb aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat  if you are tired and need a break, or hot and hope to catch a breeze on the Rivers of America. Plus you can see Tom Sawyer's Island and the settler's cabin. Just look at all those folding chairs on the deck of the boat in 1956. Too bad there's only a few places to sit down on the boat today. The little kids and tired parents liked it anyway.

    1. Look at the background for clues to help line up the photograph. It's kind of lined up here with the dock.

    Mark Twain Riverboat

    2. Getting the right perspective is tricky.

    Mark Twin Riverboat 2

    3. Sometimes the subject is completely hidden by the photo. Even if it's as big as a steamboat.

    Mark Twain Riverboat hidden

    4. Use landmarks to align the image. Looking for that dock on the "other side" of the river"? It was behind the hand holding the photo all along! Oh well.

    Mark Twain Riverboat shack

    These photos are a lot of fun, but more successful when you have enough time to really set them up and enjoy the photo shoot. Why not give it a try for the Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photo Day 2014? Send a link with your entry to The Family Curator, and/or post it on The Family Curator Facebook Page

    Read more about creating Dear Photograph images:

    Dear Photograph: 35th Wedding Anniversary Edition

    The Past is Present: Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photography Day 

     

     

     

    Monday
    Aug182014

    Join Genealogy World Photo Day 2014

    Bring out your smartphone cameras and dust-off your digital point-and-shoot! It's time for the Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photo Day 2014. Once again, The Family Curator challenges genealogists and family historians to celebrate World Photo Day by combining the past and present in a single photograph -- recreate an old photo, merge past and present Dear Photograph style, or present a Then and Now retrospective. 

    Participate by posting your photograph and descriptive caption on your blog or social media page. To be included in the Genealogy Photo Challenge Gallery, do any of the following no later than 6am Pacific Time, Saturday, August 23, 2014:

    For inspiration, check out past entries in the Genealogy Photo Challenge --
    and my most recent adventure, Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition, coming soon!

    World Photo Day began in 2010 as an online gallery celebrating worldwide photography. This year, World Photo Day celebrates 175 years of Photography with the anniversary of "the first practical photographic process patent in 1839." Photographers from around the globe will participate in the online gallery August 19 through 26, 2014 at www.WorldPhotoDay.org.

    Join the Genealogy edition of World Photo Day by creating a Present is Present Photo to share.

    Wednesday
    Aug062014

    Summer Reading List for Genealogists 

    Part 2: Stretch Your Skills

    When I was teaching and had children in school, summer was a magical time to catch up on all the things I never seemed to have time to tackle during the other three seasons of the year. I dreamed of finishing all my Christmas shopping by September 1, but a trip to the library would send me on a new quest to master the art of canning fresh tomato sauce, or learn about stamp collecting with kids. 

    Genealogists with "other" lives might want to take on a challenging new research skill during a summer lull. It's a great time to be a family researcher, and these recent books are outstanding field books for any expedition.

    The family tree historical maps book 1

    The Family Tree Historical Maps Book: A State-by-State Atlas of US History, 1790-1900 (Family Tree Books, 2014).

    Genealogists use scores of maps, and this new large-format new book from Family Tree Magazine is an attractive and useful reference work for anyone researching American records. Full color United States maps show decade-by-decade changes in the nation's boundaries, and state maps provide milestone timelines to aid in understanding the images. Special maps illustrate average family sizes in 1900 and immigrant concentrations in 1880, among other subjects, and suggest possible themes to weave into your family history sketches.

    Hardcover, PDF eBook Available from ShopFamilyTree and Amazon.

     

    The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe, by James Beidler (Family Tree Books, 2014)

    Did you know that more Americans today "claim German ancestry than any other ethnicity"? It's not surprising that German traditions, foods, and names are found in all fifty United States. In this new guidebook, professional genealogist James Beidler shares strategies for researching German immigrant ancestors, deciphering German-language records, and understanding clues in German names. Extensive lists of German repositories,  sample research requests in German, and helpful handwriting "cheat sheets" make this an especially useful book for historians (like me) seeking German ancestors.

    Paperback; Kindle Available from ShopFamilyTree and Amazon

     

    Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques, by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith (McGraw-Hill Osborne, 2013)

    Paperback; Kindle

    Authors Morgan and Smith, hosts of the popular Genealogy Guys Podcast, hear a lot of brick-wall stories from their listeners and have a good idea of the kinds of research problems that can helped with careful strategy. Generously illustrated and filled with examples and anecdotes, Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques is a solid next-step for the genealogist who feels blocked by elusive records or confused by conflicting information. The chapter on using DNA as part of a research strategy is especially instructive and helpful for anyone looking to understand the basics of genetic genealogy.

     

    Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond, by Emily D. Aulicino (Author House, 2013)

    Paperback; Kindle

    The fast-moving technology of DNA testing and it's uses for genealogical research have made genetic genealogy a frequent topic in the daily news. Author, speaker, and genealogist Aulicino has written a DNA guidebook that clearly explains the different DNA tests and how each one can be be used to further genealogical research.  Topics such as choosing a testing company, convincing people to take a DNA test, and how to understand the results are among the book's fifteen chapters. 

     

    Mastering Genealogical Proof , by Thomas W. Jones

    Paperback, Kindle

    In this workbook-handbook, Dr. Jones lays out a practical method for working with genealogical information, from locating and citing the bits and pieces you uncover, to evaluating, analyzing, correlating, and assembling evidence into reasonable written conclusions. With self-checking exercises, ample illustrations, charts and examples, MGP is the perfect Summer Learning experience. For an even richer understanding of the concepts, sign up for one of the MGP Study Groups coordinated by Angela McGhie.

     

    For a detailed look at building a personal research library, see Michael Hait's recent blog post at Planting the Seeds, Building a solid genealogy library (part one).

    Save 10% at Shop Family Tree with Offer Code FAMILY10F.  Note: Affiliate links.

    Friday
    Aug012014

    More to the Story than Girl Meets Kilt: What Does Outlander Say About Marriage to a Genealogist?

     

      

    I missed Outlander  in my Summer Reading roundup of genealogy fiction, and Facebook Friends helpfully pointed me to an the all-consuming time-travel historical fiction series. HOW did I miss this series? Outlander series is not new, but with the upcoming debut of the new made-for-tv series, the books by Diana Gabaldon are sure to find a new audience that missed the books the first time around. And, it all starts with a genealogist!

    I've only just started the first stage setting first novel, Outlander, but the English teacher in me is already wondering about the subtext of the storyline. . .

    (No big spoilers here that aren't already in the reviews.)

    The heroine is married to a historian / genealogist and while touring Scotland falls into a time warp. She lands in the arms of her husband's British soldier ancestor, flees, and is rescued by a band of rival Scots, in particular the young, handsome, wounded Jamie. She learns that her husband's ancestor was cruel and ruthless, and appears to be more sympathetic with the Scots. Great conflict. Can't wait to read on.

    But, something about the plot seems so familiar. It reminds me a lot of the stories I've heard from probate attorneys and estate auctioneers about what can happen to a genealogist's legacy when the non-genealogist spouse is left to "dispose" of research, books, and heirlooms. I'm not saying that Claire is a jealous spouse; but, it does make one wonder just how "happily married" she really might be. There are no coincidences in well-crafted fiction. Frank's occupation as historian and genealogist is an integral part of the story, and Claire's ambivalence about Frank's British "hero" ancestor speaks loudly  about her feelings towards Frank and his preoccupation with the past. 

    There's more to this story than girl meets kilt.

    And, maybe it's time to add genealogy to an estate plan and think about What to Keep and What to Throw Away.

    Thursday
    Jul242014

    Throwback Thursday: Happy Anniversary Mr. Curator

    Levenick car

    The wedding getaway wheels. Off to the reception.

     

    Dear Photograph: 35th Wedding Anniversary Edition

     

    Saturday
    Jul122014

    Finding Archives Everywhere, Hershey, PA

    Hershey Archives

    On my way to The National Archives I’ve taken a little (?) detour to South Central Pennsylvania and the model company town of Hershey in Dauphin County. You can almost smell the cocoa on Chocolate Avenue, the main street of the “sweetest town in America” where even the streetlights look like Hershey’s famous chocolate kisses.

    Hershey Kiss Lights

    We visited Chocolate World for a mock factory tour. and saw and heard the screaming fast roller coasters at Hershey Park.

    Hershey Coaster

    And on a quick stop to buy postcards at the Hershey Story building on Chocolate Avenue we found the Hershey Community Archives www.hersheyarchives.org, a collection of material about the Hershey founder that has expanded to include the entire Hershey legacy and the wider Hershey community. Imagine researching in the archives at basement level with the smells from “Chocolate Lab” cooking school drifting down from the building’s main floor.

    Although the collection focus is on corporate and personal Hershey history, it also holds local newspapers, maps, plans, and hundreds of oral history interviews. I've never investigated a corporate archive, but I think the material would be useful for anyone with ancestors who worked for Hershey or lived in the company town.

    I randomly clicked on an interview with Harry King in 1982. The transcript is fascinating, and the recording must be even better. Harry relates his career as an employee for Hershey Chocolate beginning in 1915 when he came to Hershey to work in the chewing gum manufacturing division and then goes into a wonderful digression about the streetcars, milk runs, and life in Hershey.

    It kind of makes me hope that someday I might come across a few Hershey ancestors, and also makes me eager to check out other corporate archives for information that may include more information about my family.