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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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    Friday
    Nov212014

    Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson, Best-Selling Author of the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery Series


    There's nothing quite like a good book to fill the hours of a long holiday weekend. Make that a good genealogy mystery, and it's even better. Join me for a chat with Amazon author Steve Robinson talking about The Lost Empresshis newest addition to the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery Series .

    If you've never read about Robinson's family history sleuth, get ready to meet a quirky and interesting character who might remind you of a few genealogists you know. Tayte is a friendly, accomplished, professional American genealogist with a yearning to discover his own past. Blocked by brick walls to his own family history, J.T. unravels the secrets of other people's family stories instead. In The Lost Empress, J.T. returns to England looking for clues to to a survivor from The Empress of Ireland's tragic sinking in 1914. He finds espionage, twisted tales, and family secrets -- all the ingredients for a good book on a long winter evening.

    The Lost Empress cover

    Denise: The Lost Empress includes so much historical detail that it's obvious you spent a good deal of time researching the ship and the aftermath of her tragic sinking. How long did the actual research require to make you feel grounded in the story? And was Alice modeled after any actual passenger?

    Steve: I do spend a lot of time on research. It’s actually a big part of what I love about my writing. I find the historical research particularly fascinating and The Lost Empress was no exception. As I read about the tragic loss of the Empress of Ireland I honestly couldn’t believe that I’d never heard of the ship before – and yet the loss of life is comparable to the sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania that same decade. Perhaps it’s for that reason that I felt particularly drawn to my research into the ship and the passengers aboard that fateful journey. I would strongly encourage everyone to find out more about the Empress of Ireland, and to share her story with others so that she might better be remembered.

    I also had to learn about life in post Edwardian times, of course, and I’ve tried to convey a sense of the time as much through the subtle nuances of the language as well as the everyday objects that help to describe the time. I love the idea of a penny lick – eating ice cream from a glass dish. Yum! As my lead character from the past, Alice Stilwell, was an admiral’s daughter, a great deal of naval research was also required, particularly concerning Chatham’s former royal dockyard and the naval warships of the time, which I found fascinating.

    On the whole I’d say that my research takes about a quarter, or perhaps even a third, of the time that it takes me to write a book. Alice is entirely fictional, although some of the incidents and actions aboard the ship in her last moments are drawn from real events and characters.

    About Alice...

    Denise:  The story is set at the eve of the Great War, when women's roles were still mostly defined by the men in their lives -- fathers, brothers, husbands. Alice Stillwell is aptly drawn, but was it difficult to put yourself into a mindset so different from 21st century sensibilities? Her character is very different from the strong female roles in your previous books.

    Steve:  Male dominance in Britain was very much on my mind when I imagined the life of Alice Stilwell. Women had no right to vote back then of course, and their place was seen as strictly in the home. It’s hard to imagine nowadays that this was only a hundred years ago. Equipped with that mindset, I wouldn’t say it was too difficult to portray Alice as a typical, if somewhat privileged, woman of her time.  I felt that her strength should come from within, rather than being overt, so I’ve not drawn her as such a strong character on the outside, perhaps. But what she goes through demands great strength of character nonetheless and it is through her resolve to protect the people closest to her that drives her on to the story’s conclusion.

    Denise: Alice was well balanced by the other female lead, JT's new British genealogy lady friend.  And I loved the genealogical clues you put right out there in front of our nose! Do you think you are becoming more of a genealogist as you work in this genre with JT?

    Steve: I hope so, and I do believe that I am. I put as much research into the genealogical aspect of my stories as I do for the historical sections. Essentially I have to set JT brick wall after brick wall, and then I have to help him to break them down, even though I rarely know the solution when that wall goes up. Working through the genealogy myself, and making sure it all stacks up, can take a lot of time and I learn a great deal each and every time I tackle something new. I really love old newspapers, which can help as much with my historical research as they can for the genealogy. Bringing crime fiction to genealogy means that my genealogical research isn’t always so much about family relationships either, but the family members lives, and very often the crimes they are either perpetrating, or are otherwise caught up in. The thing that strikes me most about genealogy is that it’s so diverse. All past documents are records or clues to our ancestors lives. It’s no wonder that the puzzle is often so difficult to piece together.

    Is DNA in J.T.'s Future?

    Denise: Your website mentions the next mystery in the series. Can you say what form of genealogical research might be involved? Will JT be working with DNA next?

    Steve: I’m sure DNA will feature in the series at some point, and there might well be a place for it in book 5. JT’s next mystery will largely focus on finding someone in a foreign land. That’s very cryptic, I know, but I find it difficult to talk about a new book without giving things away, and I do like to keep things close to my chest, at least until the first draft is written. I will say that I’m having quite a time translating records written in languages foreign to my own at the moment, which is an a entirely new challenge for me. Perhaps you could ask me again closer to the release date and I’ll tell you how I got on.

    The Lost Empress back

    In the Blood, Steve's first book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery Series earned widespread praise as an author-published title, and was selected by Amazon UK as one of the 'Best Books of 2011.' From Kindle editions, each book has gone on to be published in paperback and audio editions. The Lost Empress was released last month in all formats.
     
    Steve's been known to drop by The Family Curator, so feel free to leave any questions or comments for him here, or visit his website Steve Robinson.
    If you like to read series books in order (like I do), here's the chronology of mystery series:
     

             

     
     
     
    Friday
    Nov142014

    How to Host a Turkey Shoot (Camera Required)

     

    Our family has never been big on after-turkey day flag flag football. Instead, we've been known to drag out a jigsaw puzzle, mix up a spirited holiday eggnog, or round up a posse for the sorta-annual Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot. No firearms required. All you need is your smartphone, your car keys and a few willing turkeys. . . ummm relatives.

    Turkey Shoot Rules & Regulations

    Rule #1: Each team shall consist of a minimum of 3 turkeys (contestants), one automobile, and one Polaroid camera.

    The first time we tried this was 1998 when my sister and family lived in Silverado Canyon, an isolated canyon in the Orange County hills of Southern California. As I remember, the crowd that year included kids of all ages, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, and bewildered guests. My sister worked out the "Destinations" using local landmarks and the teams were pretty evenly filled with at least one "local" in each group.

    Smartphone cameras would work as a good substitute for the Polaroids, or you could use the fun new Instax Instant Film  cameras. Everyone likes to see their picture actually printed, so it might be worth borrowing a few instant-print cameras if possible.

    Rule #2: The objective of the competition is to navigate your team between suggested destinations and return with photographic proof of your adventures.

    This Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot is a riff on an old fashioned scavenger hunt.  The Regulation Handbook needs to list the Rules (VERY important to family harmony) and destinations with points.

    Rule #3: Depending upon the degree of difficulty, each potential destination has been awarded a point value.

    More points awarded for a photo of a live turkey than a pogo of a bale of hay.

    Rule #4: Teams which demonstrate ingenuity by devising a means to have a stranger operate their camera, (so that all team members appear in the photo) will be awarded 10 bonus points per destination.

    And, THIS, is where family harmony can begin to break down. The rules state that "a stranger" must operate the camera -- because Polaroid camera's didn't work with a remote shutter release, duh -- but what if you "know" the "stranger." Does the team still earn the points? 

    Rule #5: No team is allowed to leave the canyon.

    It's a good idea to establish geographic boundaries or you may lose your contestants.

    Rule #6: Desitnations may be visited in any sequence.

    Another good rule that helps to spread out the teams in your area. Watch out for neighbors who may help or hinder teams that follow the first one. Folks seem to get into the spirit of the event. It might be good to heat up more cider for the after-party.

    Rule #7: Return to the host's home at the designated time.

    Our teams dragged home in a most untimely fashion. Penalize tardiness with a point loss to get the turkeys home before dark.

    Rule #8: The team with the highest total point score will be honored at the Gala Awards Ceremoney and be exempt from dishwashing duties.

    Prizes are always welcome! Recycle old trophies, or make your own with chocolate turkeys!

    Turkey Shoot Destinations

    (Customize for your neighborhood. Don't make 'em too easy.)

    Turkey Class - 35 points each

    With a live turkey

    With something that embodies the spirit of Thanksiving

    In front of a "Kids at Play" sign

    In front of an Eiffel tower (!)

    Sitting on a hammock

    Stuffing Class - 30 points each

    On top of a castle

    In front of a roaring fire

    In front of a "Road Ends" sign

    With two dogs owned by a stranger

    On a boat

    Cranberry Class - 25 points each

    With a horse

    Standing next to a fire truck

    On a walking bridge

    In front of a "Happy Thanksgiving" sign

    Sitting on a bale of hay

    You won't want to miss a photo of all the teams, maybe holding up their winning photos.

    Turkey Shoot Handbook

    Turkey Shoot Variations 

    City Version

    My sister reminded me that the original version of this game included city destinations such as: Have your photo taken with a Starbucks Barista (you could add a Pumpkin Latte!). 

    Newspaper Edition

    The Newspaper in Education website includes a Thanksgiving Newspaper Scavenger Hunt that's a good option if the weather isn't cooperating with an outdoor driving shoot.

    Monday
    Nov102014

    Armistice Day Parade 1921 in Lincoln, Nebraska

    My grandparents, Edna and Walter May, were great amateur photographers and filled several black paper photo albums with snapshots, all duly captioned and dated (thank you, Gma!). This photo was taken on Wednesday, November 11, 1921 in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. My grandfather Walter G. served in the Army 314th Supply Train during World War I.

    May 1922 photo album064

    In Washington, D.C., Armistice Day was marked by the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as the body of an American soldier fallen on the battlefield in France was buried in Arlington Cemetery. This was also the first year that November 11 was commemorated as a legal Federal holiday throughout the United States of America.

    Tuesday
    Nov042014

    Photo Hightlights from NARA in New York City

     from my Scrapbook. . .

    A few weeks ago I met up with Allison Dolan and Diane Haddad from Family Tree Magazine at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City for The Genealogy Event, a three-day genealogy and DNA conference. It was a great chance to meet other genealogists and tour the historic Custom House building located at Battery Park. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots from the weekend -- 

    Oct travel 23

    Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House on Bowling Green, built in 1906-07
    near the site of the original Fort Amsterdam settlement. Now home of 
    The National Archives of New York City and the National Museum of the
    American Indian. 

    Oct travel 22

    Family Tree Magazine Editor Diane Haddad and Publisher Allison Dolan
    at the Custom House. Sculpture by Daniel Chester French
    representing the four continents of international commerce.

    Oct travel 25

    Oct travel 26

    The Rotunda features a series of murals by Reginald Marsh depicting the shipping
    activities he observed on New York's shores.
    The panels are colorful and full of life. 

    Oct travel 27

    One of my favorite panels. I love Lady Liberty viewing the City and harbor.

    Oct travel 28

    View from the second floor (location of the NARA research rooms)
    of the colorful ceiling and beautiful lighting below. 

    Oct travel 29

    NARA exhibit of the early log book showing the first custom payments 
    made at the building.

    Oct travel 30

    This map is made up of tiny thumbnail images of documents and photos held at
    National Archives repositories throughout the nation. Very cool!

    Oct travel 21

    My walk through Battery Park included a view of the Statue of Liberty and
    the tourist boat waiting to depart. 

    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.