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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
    Mar082013

    The Heirloom Hunt is On: Find the Clue in The Family Curator's Pirate Treasure Chest

    I'm a pushover for vintage collectables, and when we found this beat-up old pirate toy chest in my in-law's house, we knew right away it had a bright future in our home. The Heirloom Registry was the perfect place to record the history of this family keepsake so that its story didn't get lost.

    The Pirate Toy Chest

    I first wrote about rescuing the toy chest last October in Heirloom, Keepsake or Trash. I did more research to discover the toy company's long history in manufacturing wooden toys and children's furniture and wrote about it in Before the Pirate Toy Chest Became an Heirloom.

    It was fascinating to read about the growth and success of the Cass Toy Company in Athol, Hingham, and Somerville, Massachusetts, and in Brent, Alabama, with showrooms on Fifth Avenue in New York City. As the story unfolded, I was sad to learn that the company closed its doors in 1997, and that the factory building was completely demolished by fire in January 2012.

    Our pirate toy chest now features an Heirloom Registry metal plate with a unique identification code. Anyone who wants to know more about the toy chest and its original owners can read about it at The Heirloom Registry. I love knowing that its history is preserved and shared with family and friends. 

    You can read the toy chest's story at The Heirloom Registry by visiting the Registry website http://www.heirloomregistry.com and entering the unique identification code shown in the photograph below. 


    Join the fun of The Heirloom Registry's Online Scavenger Hunt by finding the secret word hidden in the Heirloom Registry record for our pirate toy chest.

  • If you’d like to start the scavenger hunt now, I suggest you first go to The Houstory Hearth blog’s special Scavenger Hunt Page. There you’ll find information about the hunt, the prizes – and most importantly the list of the other three blogs you’ll need to visit today.
  • If you already know what you’re doing, here’s the Heirloom Registry ID Code you need to obtain my secret word: KBQG-781-977-4526-2012.
  • If this is your final stop for Hunt No. 3, be sure to submit your entry form with your secret words before Sunday, March 10, 2013 at midnight PST. Good luck – and happy hunting!
  • Wednesday
    Mar062013

    The Genealogy Guys Have "Family Stuff" Too! 

    How to Archive Family Keepsakes Book Review

    GenealogyGuys

    George Morgan and Drew Smith, otherwise known as The Genealogy Guys, have published the The Genealogy Guys Podcast #248 which features a detailed review of How to Archive Family Keepsakes.  From George's comments, it sounds like he's dealing with inherited photographs, documents, and memorabilia like so many family historians.

    I think of the Genealogy Guys Podcast as a kind of World Genealogy News Round-Up, and I'm honored to hear the book featured on their show. The review starts about 15 minutes into the podcast, but you'll want to listen to the entire program to hear George and Drew highlight new record releases, more book reviews, and answers to reader email.

    I'm delighted that you found my new book helpful with your photo digitization project, George. As you say, sometimes we end up as "Accidental Archivists" and although we may not be trained in archival methods, we can learn how to be good caretakers of our ancestor's treasures.

    Thanks, Guys!

    Wednesday
    Mar062013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 3: Remember Me!

    Who Will Tell Your Story When You're Gone?

     

    Of course, genealogy and family history is all about ancestry, but I noticed a definite product trend at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE for new products and services to promote preserving personal history. 

    Speaking Lives

    Speaking Lives is a service that makes an audio recording of your family history as a CD or MP3. The company offers one to three hour interviews, or customized projects. Interesting service.

    The Album People

    If you are looking for a professional digitizing service for your photographs and videos, The Album People offer a unique and very personalized service. They will come to your home with their equipment and scan your family photos on site. This eliminates the worry of shipping and possible loss. Or, they will pick up your photos and do the work at their office. The final images are delivered to you on a flash drive organized into meaningful folders with logical, accessible structure. I spoke with the creator Elad Ben Elul  for some time about the program and was impressed by his enthusiasm and service.

    He emphasized that he designed the project to meet people's needs -- accessible photos and digital files. The service only starts with digitizing; they will add metadata tags and keywords, organize files in a folder structure, correct and enhance as necessary, and create beautiful digital slideshows of your images. Talk about full-service!

    Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Janet Hovorka book signing.

    Lisa Louise Cooke and Janet Hovorka were right in step with the theme of preserving personal history. The steady flow of visitors at their stand showed a high interest in Janet's new book Zap the Grandma Gap: Connect With Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History and Lisa's books and dvds on using Google Earth to personalize family connections.

    Autograph Books for Grown Ups

    Genealogists love finding a diary or journal that belonged to our ancestor; but, are we doing our part to pass on our own life story? If facing a blank journal seems overwhelming, two new memory book series might be your cup of tea. 

    All About Everybody and From You to Me are two new companies creating personal journals designed to record personal history and life events. 

    Creators of the From You to Me memory book series.

    From You to Me offers all kinds of individual and parent and child journals plus small card journals. The full-color illustrations decorate each page with journal prompts and questions. I looked at the book "Our Story: for my son" which has room for eighteen years of memories (six pages per year). The emphasis is on the relationship between parent and child, which seems different than some books more about recording events.

    Journals come in two design series: one features a flowering tree with photos and the other whimsical hand drawings. The books are currently available in the UK, but are being edited for an American edition that will change "Mum" to "Mom" and exchange American English for British English.

    All About Everybody creators.

    A completely different kind of personal journal has been designed by Red Cherry Trading Publishing. The All About Everybody series is a kind of "autograph book for grownups."

     

    About the size of the large Moleskin journal, this series offers four books printed on high quality paper. Each features beautiful illustrations and is designed to be used a bit differently from a traditional journal or memory book. Val and Amanda Carpenter explained to me that they were inspired to make the book after finding a similar book owned by an aunt in the 1930s. Evidently, she passed her book amongst her friends and asked them to answer short questions about themselves. The result was a book that showed relationships between many people, not just the memories of the owner.

    The idea behind the journals captured by imagination and I purchased two books: In My Family and On My Special Birthday. I love the way the type is large enough to read comfortably without my reading glasses!!! The books include questions pages for 40 people: two pages of short questions followed by two blank pages for photos, drawings, whatever. The birthday book would be a great gift for one of those zero years.

    This post is part of a series about Who Do You Think You Are LIVE in London. You might also enjoy:

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    WDYTYA Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

     

    Monday
    Mar042013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

    Who Do You Think You Are LIVE: Bigger Than A Football Field

    Photo Detective Maureen Taylor examined hundreds of photos at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    Imagine a genealogy exhibit hall just a bit larger than a football field and you have some idea of main floor at Olympia National for Who Do You Think You Are LIVE. Add two-thirds again and you have the gallery space used for more show exhibits and activity. 

    View from the gallery looking down on the main hall

    The main entrance dropped me into the center of the hall -- right? left? or straight ahead? I decided to start and one end and work my way around the room. One time around for an overview, and back again for serious investigation. Right away I noticed the many book and magazine stalls -- I counted five family history magazines and at least three major book publishers. I also noticed many many stands offering "expert" consultations for all kinds of research.

    Ancestors Magazine, taking orders for new digital magazine

    Helen Osborn, co-founder of Pharos Tutors and author of new book Genealogy:Essential Research Methods

    Oxford genealogy help from local experts

    Wiltshire Genealogy

    As I wandered the hall, I tried to snap representative photos of the kinds of products and services on offer. I couldn't help but notice the large seating areas throughout the hall where vendors and speakers maintained a steady schedule of presentations on everything from software training to research techniques. 

    Look just below the large photographs at the FindMyPast stand and
    you'll see people seated for the ongoing talks at this booth.
    It was usually standing-room-only for these lively presentations.

    The upstairs gallery was actually a wide exhibit area, and was used for lectures and photograph exhibits along with consultation areas for the photo and heirloom experts.

    Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, at the photo expert tables.

    Eric Knowles, Heirloom Detective

    The gallery also held large conference rooms where some of the presentations were scheduled. I didn't manage to get a reserved ticket for the Richard III talk by Dr. Turi King, but I was able to stand at the back of the room for the entire talk. It's clear why this recent discovery has captured worldwide attention -- it's a fascinating story. Stay tuned for my full report and photos.

    This report is part of a series of posts about Who Do You Think You Are LIVE in London. You might also enjoy:

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    Friday
    Mar012013

    Student Genealogist Uses Grant Funds to Recover Family History Treasures

    2013 Student Genealogy Grant Application Deadline March 18, 2013

    Details and application materials for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant are available at The Family Curator Student Grant Page.

    Anthony ray

    Lancaster student Anthony Ray, recipient of the 2011 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, used the grant funds to further his genealogical research and education. Anthony is presently teaching elementary school music and will receive his diploma from West Coast Baptist College in May.

    He is an active member of the Antelope Valley Genealogical Society and researches his Hispanic, English, Scottish, German and African American roots in repositories throughout California, Arizona and Mexico. He is particularly interested in Catholic church records and is experienced in diocesan and parish repositories.

    Anthony's research helped restore a stolen headstone to the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery in San Bernardino last summer, a story he tells in L.A. Beat "Serendipity and the Headstone That Wouldn't Stay Put." In March, Anthony will be traveling to Mexico with his cousins following his ancestors' footsteps to visit family and research.

    After receiving the student grant in June 2011, Anthony organized an extensive summer research plan. He wrote to me in the fall to share the results of his research; here are some highlights from that letter --

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to take a minute to write and give you an update on my summer...

    The biggest project this summer was, by far, renovating my great grandfather's place. I think I'd told you already that he had passed away last June at the age of ninety-eight. He was only a couple months away from his ninety-ninth birthday! He lived on a two and a half acre lot next to my grandparents and uncle and aunt. The yard and house both needed so much done to them… That was some of the dirtiest work I've ever had to do (and that's saying something) since most of the stuff had not been touched since they'd moved in the house about twenty-five years ago. Plus mice had gotten into the sheds and the extreme heat just intensified all that. So you can imagine what that must have been like!

    In the midst of all the filth were some real gems. As we were cleaning out one shed, there were some old papers on the floor that looked like trash. As my grandpa was about to throw them out, he decided to unroll them and see what they were. Lo and behold they turned out to be my great grandpa's school certificates from 1920 to 1923! It was an amazing find! They were just lying there on the floor in all the dust and other stuff... they could have been stepped on, chewed up by the mice, or destroyed through by a plethora of different ways. And what's most amazing is that they were in fairly decent shape! I'm using some of the grant money to have them restored by one of the paper conservationists at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I have my initial meeting with her in a couple of weeks.

    Not only did I find the school certificates, but there were many boxes of old papers that I was able to go through. My great grandpa was an early Antelope Valley real estate agent, so he had tons of paperwork from that. He owned a lot of property in other cities, counties, states, and even countries, so you can imagine the paper trail that left!

    As for research I've made tremendous breakthroughs, uncovered deep dark family secrets, and added so much to my family tree as a result of the grant money. Most of the money went toward ordering microfilm from the Family History Center and toward copies. I’d say nearly fifty percent of the grant money went toward copies. Here are some of the more interesting things I’ve found:

    1) My second great grandmother, Delfina Rubio, had a very colorful love life. She married about five times. I can’t say for sure how many times as I think there may be more, but I found one of her marriages that I had been speculating about for a while now. I also found some of her siblings and other family members in the Santa Cruz Co., Arizona marriage records.

    2) I made a tremendous breakthrough on my African-American side of the family with one single marriage record...

    3) I found many interesting births, marriages, and deaths in Mexico. 

    4) I subscribed to GenealogyBank and was able to find dozens of interesting articles on my family. Some helped solve mysteries that I've been trying to uncover for a long time!

    5) I've made countless trips down to Riverside this year to do research. The past two times I've looked up probates and court cases.

    6) Since I usually don't pay for research or look-ups, I was able to do so this time. I contacted the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Rice Co., Kansas to have them look up some school records that corresponded to the school certificates that I had found on my great grandpa. They even sent school photos from the time he would have been in school (but no one is identified in them, unfortunately)… And up in Colusa Co., in northern California, I was able to get copies of coroner's records that helped me understand the circumstances of three of my ancestors' deaths. 

    I know I'm probably forgetting some things, but this is the bulk of what I used the grant money towards. I truly cannot thank you enough for giving me such a wonderful summer of research. I really don't know how my research would have gone if it wasn't for this financial jump-start! Through this, you've given me maybe the most important thing which is memories that I will cherish! As you and your mother did your research together, I was able to do the same with my mother when I made my trips down to Riverside - granted she would head off to the antique shops while I did my research. lol! But we spent most of our time together down there. Whenever I think of my research trips down there, I think of how we would both go and have lunch at a little sandwich shop near the Mission Inn called The Upper Crust (you should go there if you ever get a chance!) And once again, I feel so honored to have been the first recipient of the memorial grant! Thank you!

    Anthony

    If you know a young genealogist between the ages of 18 and 25 who could benefit from a cash grant to assist their genealogy education and research, please tell them about the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant. The deadline for completed application materials is Monday, 18 March 2013. See the SWF Grant page for more details.

    Thursday
    Feb282013

    Hunting for Heirlooms with Houstory Scavenger Hunt

    IMG 0430

    Get into practice for the Easter Bunny with the Heirloom Registry's clever family keepsake Online Scavenger Hunt coming next week, March 4-10. And, like all good treasure hunts, you might even come away with some of the fantastic prizes contributed by participants, including a copy of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes.

    Each hunt will run for two days beginning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, March 4, 6, and 8th with a prize package awarded each day, and a grand prize awarded at the end of the hunt. I'm excited to be included as one of the hunt blogs on Friday, March 8th. 

    Prizes include genealogy books, webinars, digital downloads, and a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. See the complete prize list here.

    To join the hunt, visit the day's participating blogs where you can find a unique Heirloom Registry ID code posted in an entry about the contest.

    Next, enter that code at the Heirloom Registry website to view the heirloom's record and find the secret word on the Registry Certificate.

    After you've collected all four secret words from the day's hunt, submit your entry using the Houstory Entry Form to be qualified to win the daily prize package and the grand prize. Complete directions are posted at The Houstory Hearth.

    See you March 8th for The Family Curator's special blog post for The Heirloom Registry Online Scavenger Hunt.

    Sunday
    Feb242013

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    Arriving at Olympia for Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    Americans tend to think we do things in a "big" way at times, but U.S. family conferences have some keen competition in this weekend's Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London, billed as "The Biggest Family History Event in the World."

    Sponsored by ancestry.co.uk, WDYTYA LIVE is held in the Olympia exhibition center in West Kensington. I arrived at the conference center from Kensington High Street and caught a view of the hall from the train overpass.

     

    The historic venue opened 26 December 1886 with seating for 9000 people under a huge barrel vaulted roof, 115 feet high. The great hall covers more than one acre, and was the largest roofed arena in England when it was built. Olympia has played host to an wide assortment of events including: P.T. Barnum's Circus; dog, horse, home, and auto shows; a temporary civil prison camp during World War I; a transport center during World War II; and now WDYTYAL Genealogy and Family History Show (Wikipedia).

    The entrance opens directly into the center of the great hall where the hum of conversation and lectures compete for attention. The central booths (or stands) are large, beautifully designed productions. 

    Looking down on the findmypast.com stall featuring the new release of UK criminal records.

     

    A wide gallery runs around the second level offering a wonderful view of the show below, and access to private meeting rooms. I found a staircase at the corner of the hall and made my way to the gallery for an overview of the action.

     

    The huge barrel vaulted hall at Olympia covers more than an acre of exhibit area.

    Like any savvy conference attendee, one of the first things I noted was the location of the restrooms and food stands. In one corner of the gallery, a cafe/bar offered wine and beer with standard drinks and food, and on the main floor food booths from three popular restaurant chains offered a variety of selections. There was even an independent sausage-maker selling delicious sausage sandwiches on the main floor!

    A look around the main floor showed that many of the stands were set up as mini-lecture spaces with chairs, projector screen, and microphone. Posted schedules at each space displayed the frequent lectures on using specific software, search strategies, and other topics

     

    Alastair MacDonald presented on using DNA with genealogy.

    Exhibitors offered a huge variety of genealogy services and products. I saw everything from local histories and parish cemetery transcriptions to memorial stones. One of the biggest draws appeared to be the local society booths where regional publications and look-ups were available. In fact, everywhere I looked, visitors were engaged in look-ups, consultations, and searches with the help of knowledgeable staff or society members. 

     

    Visitors queued up to talk with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor in the upstairs Gallery.

    The WDYTYA website advises attendees to bring old photos for the photo experts, family heirlooms to show the heirloom experts, and documents and family tree for consultations. Although I didn't bring my research to show the experts, I found plenty of new ideas and products to investigate. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my report from Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, London 2013.


    Saturday
    Feb232013

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    At Olympia, London for WDYTYA I stopped To chat with two former constables now patrolling the "Friends if the Metropolitan Police" beat. They gave me a lesson in the correct way to wear one's helmet -- low on your forehead-- with chin strap, of course.

    This organization would be a helpful resource for anyone with ancestors who served in the London Metropolitan Police.

    Monday
    Feb182013

    Keeping Cozy in the Cotswolds

     

    Snowy Cotswold country road.

    If you're a fan of English "cozies" you probably know about the Cotswolds. They are the picture perfect little towns in the rolling English countryside where evil hides in plain sight and only Miss Marple is sharp enough to spot the culprit. But I digress. . .

     

    Approaching Burford

    The Cotswolds in winter can be c-o-l-d.

    We drove across the hills through Bibury and then to Burford, a little village Mr. Curator and I visited several years ago with a London Walks tour. These guided tours are a fabulous way to see the sights without being tied to a formal long-term tour. Of course, we visited on a warm and sunny day in June, not a snowy winter February afternoon.

    Our tour that day stopped in the picturesque village of Burford where we visited a tiny stone church and walked around crooked gravestones. As we left the churchyard and walked along the lane I tripped on the cobblestones and my camera went skidding across the bumpy road. That was the end of my trusty Kodak and my pictures for that trip.

    This time, we barely slowed down as we drove through Burford. I saw the same quaint shops and the church steeple peeking over the wall from it's hidden location set back from the main street. Everything was quiet and still on this sleepy, and snowy weekday morning. 

    As we drove back to our hotel near Tetford the snow flurries faded and then stopped and the lightly dusted fields gave way to green hills dotted with grazing sheep and occasional patches of the first signs of spring in blooming snowdrops.

     

    Look closely toward the far field and you'll see the sheep grazing in the hills.

    This lovely garden and blooming snowdrops were right outside my room.

    Sunday
    Feb172013

    Stained Glass, Stone Coffins and Blind Corners

    Where Do You Think I Am?

     

    Malmesbury Abbey

    I can't hear the bells of Westminster Abbey from my room, but I do hear the local Ding Ding Church as my grandson calls St. Luke's only a few blocks away. I am here in London for next week's big genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, billed as "The Biggest Family History Event in the World." Lucky me, I also have a chance to visit with my son and family who live in London, not far from Olympia where WDYTYA LIVE will be held.

    And. . . we've had a chance to do a little greater London sightseeing. I arrived with plenty of time to get over jet-lag, and join the family on a trip to the Cotswolds west of London. If you've seen "The Hobbit" film or read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, you've had a wonderful introduciton to the Cotswolds. When Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends and fellow instructors (dons) at Oxford, they belonged to a group of literary friends called the Inklings. Their wonderful fantasy worlds grew out of their friendship, and in some ways, both men gave the Cotswold countryside a place in their tales.

    It's a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, narrow roads borded by close hedgerows, and fields dotted with woolly sheep. It was the Shire for Tolkien, the English countryside that was being threatened by world events larger than anyone knew at the time.

    Tucked in among the stone farm houses and villages are old castles, churches, and ruins. In midwinter, many of the sites are closed, but with a talkative three-and-a-half year old who wanted to see knights and castles, we were motivated to find something that might inspire and impress. We didn't have to look far.

    Malmesbury Abbey, dating from the 12th century, was the center of life in Malmesbury, thought to be the first capital of England and home of the first King of England, Athelstan.

      

    Note the huge reflective mirrow in the corner to give drivers a view of what's coming their way.

    We arrived at the Abbey by winding through narrow cobbled streets and blind corners on a grey midweek afternoon. Snow flurries made us walk quickly through the churchyard, but I did notice the stone coffin outside the beautiful carved Norman porch. Evidenty, the coffin had been excavated when a car park was renovated (sound familiar?) and placed at the front of the church. The helpful docent inside the church explained that the holes in the coffin were indeed drainage holes, left to help remove bodily fluids from the stone tomb. I had another theory, but will have to do more research on the subject.

     

    The tomb of King Athelstan, crowned King of Wessex in 925, stands in the north aisle of the Abbey. It's really only a memorial, however, as his remains were buried under a church tower, and the location is now lost. (Sounds a bit like the Richard III story, doesn't it?) Beautiful stained glass windows are espeically noticable. The windows from William Morris' shop made in 1901, are saturated with color and fabulous examples of early 20th century style.

     

    Luce Memorial Window, crafted in William Morris' workshops 1901

    Outside, we braved the snow flurries to stand and look up at the abbey walls and ruins where a great spire once stood higher than that of Salisbury Cathedral. I may not have ancestors buried in the churchyard at Malmesbury Abbey, but it was a very worthwhile afternoon.

     

     Malmesbury Abbey Churchyard

     

    Thursday
    Feb142013

    Join Me for a Chat with The Armchair Genealogist About Writing and Publishing 

     

    This week I'm honored to join Lynn Palermo during the Family History Writing Challenge for an interview at The Armchair Chair Genealogist about writing my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes. I think Lynn must have been looking over my shoulder because she was on target with some great questions, from motivational tricks to working with a publisher.

    It isn't always easy to maintain focus and enthusiasm during a long writing project -- or even a month-long writing challenge! -- but you can do it! I hope you will join join us today at The Armchair Genealogist for another chat about the writing life, and peek inside my office in yesterday's post (the tidiness may not last long!)

     

    Wednesday
    Feb132013

    Peek Inside My Office and Chat at The Armchair Genealogist

    It's nearly the midway point in the Family History Writing Challenge, and if you're like me, it can be hard to maintain focus on a writing project about halfway through. I get excited about starting and ending a project, but many times, the middle can be a bit of slog and I have to pull all kinds of tricks to keep working. 

    Last month, during the blog book tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes, Lynn and I talked about the book's focus on organization as a first-step toward becoming a more effective researcher and family history writer in A Coffee, A Comfy Chair, and a Q&A with the Author. On Thursday, 14 February, we continue the conversation at The Armchair Genealogist to talk about the writing, publishing, and marketing aspect of authorship. In these days of e-books, blogs, and self-publishing, it's not enough to simply write a book; authors have to be ready to take on many roles to get the word out about their work.

    Lynn's questions made me feel so "professional" that I was motivated to clean up my desk and snap a few pictures. My office doesn't always look this tidy, but I sure do feel more in control when it's like this.

    DML office

     

    DML desk

    Sometimes, a mid-project "tidy up" is all it takes to help me get over the slump and back to work. Other times I have to employ other tricks, like playing games with word counts or promising myself a special coffee treat. Whatever it takes, it's worth it if it can keep me moving and avoid the dreaded "writer's block."

    You might notice in the photos that my desk faces a wall in my office. I've thought about hanging a gallery of photos around the bulletin board, but I know it would probably tempt me to drift off into who-knows-where so I keep putting off that little decorating project. There is a wall of windows at my back, which isn't great for glare, but the trees outside the window and sheer curtains and blinds keep it pleasant. I don't work with music or tv, in fact I work best when it's pretty quiet and find that neighborhood noise is an unwelcome distraction. My office is quite small, about 9 x 12, but just right as a cozy niche for a day with words.

    I hope you'll join us this week at The Armchair Genealogist as we talk about writing, publishing, and marketing a family history book. I've got an extra chair in my office too!

    Friday
    Feb082013

    Ready to Get Started Organizing Your Family Keepsakes?

    Did the blog book tour leave you motivated to organize and digitize your family photos, documents, and letters? When I inherited my grandmother's treasures in 2000, I didn't know where to begin. I spent a lot of time just looking at stuff, reading letters, examining old photos, and trying to make sense of what I had. 

    If you're reading my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, I suggest you use the book as a workbook to guide you step-by-step from taking stock to sorting and preserving. The 10 Checkpoints in chapters 1 through 5 are designed a worksheets to help you gain control of the project without being overwhelmed. 

    Just "looking at things" isn't a bad way to start a family archive project. You need to know what you have before you can do much of anything. The trick is, you want to MAINTAIN ORDER at all times (yes, that's a firm directive). By keeping "like with like" you help retain context that can provide clues to identification and meaning.

    Always work with clean hands on a sturdy clean surface. White cotton gloves are sometimes recommended, but they can be clumsy and actually cause damage too. It may be easier, and less risky to carefully handle paper and photos by the edges with clean hands. 

    Order in the Archive

    The original owner is the first level of organization important to maintain. For many years, I was only concerned with my maternal grandmother Arline's collection. Then, my father started sending over things from his parents, bit by bit. They didn't arrive in boxes, but as individual items, and were easily misplaced or mixed in with Arline's albums and boxes.

    Keep each collection separated by original owner or family.

    Keep items that arrive in groups or packets together, even if they are all different kinds of things such as photos, ticket stubs, or letters. Ask yourself why they were kept at all, and why they might be in this particular group?

    Maybe the assorted items are souvenirs of a weekend getaway, or mementoes from a relationship. The answer might not even be obvious for a long time. You can move things into archival envelopes and boxes when the time comes, but when you are just beginning to work with a collection, resist the urge to reorganize. 

    Get to know your family history treasures, but keep order in the archive.

    Tuesday
    Feb052013

    Student Genealogy Grant Announced

     

    A.C. Ivory and Elyse Doerflinger,
    Recipients of the 2012 Suzanne Freeman Student Genealogy Grant
    SCGS Jamboree Gala, Burbank CA

    Do you know a young genealogist who could use $500 toward their family history education and free registration to the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June 2013?

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Grant Committee is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant, and that the SCGS Jamboree will once again provide the recipient with free three-day registration.

    Any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2013 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    The $500 cash award was established in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree.

    Denise Levenick and her mother, Suzanne Freeman
    2010 SCGS Jamboree, Delivering Geneabloggers Welcome Bags
     

    “The Freeman Student Genealogy Grant pays tribute to these interests by awarding the annual cash grant to a young genealogist attending the SCGS Jamboree, Southern California’s premiere regional genealogy conference,” notes Denise Levenick, committee chair and Freeman’s daughter.

    “We are especially grateful to Jamboree for providing a three-day conference registration to the grant recipient,” she adds. “SCGS is truly a leader in conference organizations by encouraging youth involvement in genealogy through the popular Kids Camp program and now through the student grant project.”

    Past recipients of the award include Elyse Doerflinger (Lomita, California), A.C. Ivory (Salt Lake City, Utah), and Anthony Ray (Palmdale, California).

    Funding for the cash award is provided by the family grant program; Jamboree registration is provided by the conference.

    Complete details and application materials are available at The Family Curator, Suzanne Freeman Student Grant. Application deadline is Monday, 18 March 2013.

    Follow Grant News at TheFamilyCurator.com

    For More Information Contact: Denise Levenick, swfgrant@gmail.com.

    Suzanne Winsor Freeman Obituary: TheFamilyCurator.com

    Monday
    Feb042013

    Learn More About Metadata

    I've been a fan of adding value to files with metadata for a long time. If you've ever used your computer search engine to find a specific file and the only identifier is a name like "lastsatfun.doc" or "IMG_0124.JPG," you know how difficult the task can be.

    Metadata, or "data about data," adds simple tags to files making them easier to find and giving you a chance to group, organize, and understand the relationships between files with the same tags. It's a bit like using a index to your files; your job is to provide the key words that make the index valuable.

    If you are unfamiliar with the term "metadata" you might wonder why I'm throwing out other words like "tags" and "keywords." Many software programs use these terms interchangeably. Sometimes they function in slightly different ways, but essentially metadata tags, and keywords all do a similar task by classifying your files for better access.

    Want to learn more? You are in luck because on 7 February 2013 DearMYRTLE will be hosting "Metadata is your Friend" a DearMYRTLE Workshop Webinar with Denise Barrett Olson and Thomas MacEntee.

    Way back in the early days of my adventures in archiving, I read Denise Olson's posts about metadata and knew I had found a kindred soul. With three tech-gurus meeting to talk about using metadata in your family history work, Thursday's webinar workshop promises to be an outstanding event.

    Sign up at DearMYRTLE to attend Thursday, February at 6pm. And, while you are waiting for the event, do a little advance homework so you are ready to get as much as you can from the evening --

    Photo Metadata, at the Moultrie Creek Gazette

    Using Adobe Lightroom to Manage Genealogy Images, at The Family Curator