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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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    Shades: Birthday Edition -- Finding footnoteMaven in the 1940 U.S. Census, a Dreadful Tale 


    It's a Holiday! Today is the birthday of footnoteMaven, editor/publisher of the award-winning Shades of the Departed Online Magazine. The Shadettes and Shades-dudes Staff Writers are pleased to present this Special Birthday Edition of the magazine as a tribute to their dear friend. Long may your tiara sparkle, fM!

    Visit the blogs linked below to read more and feel free to join the party by posting a tribute on your blog and adding the link in the comments.

    Finding footnoteMaven in the 1940 U.S. Census, A Dreadful Tale

    from the pen of Miss Penelope Dreadful

    "Curses, foiled again!," Penny exclaimed, tossing aside her pen and spattering indigo ink across the pages spread before her on the table. She pushed back her wooden chair and stood up, indifferent to the cascade of paper tumbling to the floor.

    "Who do you think you are, footnoteMaven?" she cried, "trying to hide from me in the United States Census!"

    As she paced the room with long, thoughtful strides, Penny pushed her spectacles to the top of her head and rubbed her brow thoughtfully. Where is she hiding? Where can she be? Her words became synchronized with the clock ticking on the mantel and her shoes clicking across the carpeted floor. Where? Where? Where can she be?

    Abruptly, the pacing stopped and she returned to the desk. "Of course," she cried. "I'm decades too early, and making this much too difficult. The family… the family…" and her questing eyes returned to the pages before her, skimming line after line and name after name until they found their prize.

    A few days later, when Penny shared her story of discovery, I asked about her sudden change in search tactics.

    "I was going about it backwards," she exclaimed with a laugh. "I assumed -- most incorrectly -- that footnoteMaven was our friend's married name. After all, we know so well her affection and deep esteem for her dear Mr. Maven that it seemed elementary the two should share the groom's name."

    "But, I was WRONG!" Penny added with a smile. "Think," she said to me, "think."

    When I threw up my hands in answer, Penny grinned and sat back in her chair to recount the rest of the story:

    I wondered if it were possible that our friend footnoteMaven, like another well-known researcher, could have married someone unrelated by blood who shared her surname. Two Mavens, one name. To test my theory, I searched the Census for a Maven family in southeastern Missouri. I didn't expect to find fM's family of six, after all those Censuses won't be available for another decade. But what I did find was nearly as interesting -- the Maven family in it's earliest years.


    The Census shows the Maven household with four residents -- fatherMaven, motherMaven, grandfatherMaven, and auntMaven. The full transcription reveals that young fatherMaven aptly worked as an Enumerator while his wife, motherMaven, stayed home Keeping Sources. We also learn that grandfatherMaven's occupation is given as Tallyman working with the Customs Office.


    As expected, the young footnote, eldest of the four Maven siblings -- sisters footnote and bibLio, and twin brothers citation and endNote --  has not yet been born; nonetheless, her namesake appears in the document. Look closely and you will see a young  Aunt Maven who surely must have been tagged with a nickname in honor of her very interesting job as "Footnote Checker," a job and nickname she may have still held years to come when her first niece was born.


    In case you're wondering --

    Who is footnoteMaven and who are all those other Mavens? Who's Penny Dreadful, and why is she writing so strangely? What are those odd occupations listed for the census?

    Good questions. To begin at the end… Miss Penelope Dreadful is the pen name of Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, so christened by footnoteMaven, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Shades of the Departed Magazine, the premiere online photography magazine.

    footnoteMaven, or fM as her friends call her, writes two award winning blogs, footnoteMaven and Shades of the Departed, and is the creative spark generating the highly-acclaimed online magazine, Shades. fM is also known as an advocate for source citation and excellence in genealogical research. She's Tops!

    Today, Sunday, April 22 is fM's Birthday, a special day in the blogosphere. I'm pleased to dedicate this day's post to my dear friend with my deep appreciation for her friendship and encouragement. In addition, I'm dreadfully delighted to repay fM for the Birthday Surprise she so masterfully accomplished with my mom in 2009.

    Happy Birthday, dear fM. May all the best be yours today and always.

    Read more Shades: Birthday Edition stories from your favorite Shades authors at --

    Shades: Birthday Edition - Captured Moments of footnoteMaven at CreativeGene, by Jasia

    Shades: Birthday Edition - A Very Speial Birthday Surprise at  The Educated Genealogist, by Sheri Fenley

    Shades: Birthday Edition - Your Family Story at For Your Family Story, by Caroline Pointer

    Shades: Birthday Edition - "It was a dark and stormy night. . ." at Geneablogie, by Craig Manson

    Shades: Birthday Edition - Lost Images Found? at Landailyn, by Janine Smith

    Shades: Birthday Edition - ladies in glasses at A Sense of Face, by Rebecca Fenning

    Shades: Birthday Edition -- A Teacup Throne at Moultrie Creek, by Denise Olson

    Shades: Birthday Edition - The Fountain of Youth at What's Past is Prologue, by Donna Pointkouski


    Image Source:

    footonoteMaven. "Earth Day - Birthday Graphic." footnoteMaven, 22 April 2009. : 2012. 

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    Reader Comments (13)

    Terrific post!! Happy Birthday Footnote Maven!

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDorene from Ohio

    Miss Penelope Dreadful,

    Thank you for the story.

    Wishing fM a Happy Birthday, as we await for an update from fM herself, or Mr fM on the recovery of the patient.


    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Worthington

    Dreadfully delightful. Can't wait to meet biblioMaven!

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise Olson

    Love it!! You are just so clever!!

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

    Very well done, my dear! So very clever of you to discover the family of dear Maven in the Census. I truly enjoyed your humor and I know dear fM will too. Thanks so much for thinking up this special edition of Shades. I was so happy to be a part of it!

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJasia

    Excellent report of this thrilling research and its tidy conclusion. FM will be pleased with this birthday surprise!
    I too have a relative who was an enumerator, but alas, none who were 'keeping sources', although there was at least one 'pack rat'. Those are sometimes a blessing in disguise for family genealogists.

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterM. Diane Rogers

    Love your story, Denise! And I love your census shot. *snort* fatherMaven ~ love it.


    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline Pointer

    Absolutely divine, Penelope! Thanks for inviting me to the party.

    April 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

    I really think you and Penny D. could turn this into a screenplay for an upcoming episode of WDYTYA -- it has all the drama already -- all it needs is an overseas trip.

    This was such a great idea Denise -- kudos to you for getting us all together for fM's b-day!

    I'm glad you all enjoyed the tale. Thanks for the nice words. footnoteMaven surely is "one of a kind," her "folks" would be proud of her!

    April 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    I'm glad you all enjoyed the tale. Thanks for the nice words. footnoteMaven surely is "one of a kind," her "folks" would be proud of her!

    April 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    Wonderful story! And always so much fun to find more Maven names!

    April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreta Koehl

    Loved the post. Great way to wish her a Happy Birthday.

    April 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfran

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