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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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    Wednesday
    Jun192013

    Remembering Summer and Making Time to Learn "One New Thing"

    The First Day of Summer is Almost Here: What New Thing Are You Ready to Learn?

    One golden summer I conquered the Lord of the Rings; another I learned to turn a heel in hand knit socks. In our house, summer has always been a season of opportunity.

    My sister and I never went to summer school; instead we passed the hot, smoggy Southern California months of July and August painting rocks and weaving pine-needle baskets at scout camp, solving mysteries with Nancy Drew at the public library, and molding clay at the city Parks and Recreation Department kids' program.

    If we had a gap between programs, Mom made sure we were learning about salesmanship by marketing lemons and avocados from our backyard trees, or becoming skilled craftsmen by  weaving loopy potholders or sewing doll clothes. 

    Girl Scout Day Camp, Orange County, California, about 1963.
    That's me in the back with the bucket hat next to my mom, Suzanne May. 

    I tried to continue the family summer tradition with my own two sons, with mixed results. One summer, when he was about eight years old, the older son was stuck on stamp collecting. I drove him to a weekly Kids and Stamps Club directed by a local postmaster, and we started ordering First Day Covers and soaking old stamps off envelopes. 

    The next year, it was baseball cards and player's autographs.

    The younger son was infatuated with model-making. He painted tiny model soldiers, and then graduated to building and flying model airplanes.

    The "no summer school" policy worked until high school when they wanted to spend the extra weeks with their friends in school programs.  We compromised. I insisted that they learn something different, something new, something fun. The first summer they learned to grill a steak. Extremely useful! Next, they became adept at omelets. With dinner and breakfast mastered, they have gone on to be pretty useful in the kitchen.

    Summer was always my time to learn something new, as well. As a high school English teacher, I usually needed to read several novels and develop new curriculum materials. It was a great  excuse to visit New England when I taught Early American Lit. But, summer wasn't always about school.

    I used the break to learn One New Thing Each Summer --

    • create tables, outlines, and Tables of Contents in Microsoft Word (useful)
    • basic photo editing in Photoshop Elements (fun)
    • how to can tomatoes (hot, but rewarding!)
    • how to make a reproduction civil war quilt
    • how to scan my grandmother's letters

    If it looks like each of these "skills" is a project, you'd be right. It seems like there is always some new project waiting for just the time, focus, or extra bit of knowledge needed to make it happen. I was a frustrated daily MS Word user until I bought a guide and worked through enough exercises to learn what I needed to know. Ditto, photo editing with PS Elements.

    Of course, some new skills just happen -- the tomato explosion that led to learning how to preserve salsa, tomatoes, and blended tomato sauce. I even won a few blue ribbons at the county fair for those projects!

    The last several years I've been working on organizing, sorting, and digitizing different family collections and learned -- 

    • the best scanning resolution for my papers and photos
    • how to put together a DIY copy stand
    • easy file naming and folder organization for my new digital images
    • how to file the original papers so I can find them again

    But, my own genealogy research has been set aside long enough. This summer, I have already decided on on One New Thing to Learn This Summer, (plus One Other New Thing just for fun).

    I have a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof in hand; I am enrolled in Dr. Tom Jones course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh; and I am ready to become immersed in the Genealogical Proof Standard.

    All of this is probably enough for one summer learning experience, but I can't resist adding one more thing I really really want to learn this summer -- I am determined to master my step-mother's southern fried chicken. Hot, crispy, juicy. I don't think anyone will complain.

    So, what One New Thing are YOU Learning This Summer?

    Sunday
    Jun162013

    Fieldstone Common Interviews The Family Curator: BlogTalkRadio Staff Pick

    Listen anytime to the latest episode of Fieldstone Common Blog Talk Radio where Marian Pierre-Louis and I talk about the "backstory" to my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes. Although Marian and I have never met in person, we share a common passion for old houses and family treasures.

    I had a great time as the guest on Fieldstone Common and enjoyed answering listener questions on preserving keepsakes. If you have questions or comments after listening to the program, please feel free to leave a comment to this post for my response.

    The 60-minute program is now available for listening via web or iTunes podcast at the Fieldstone Common website, and was named a Staff Pick for this weekend.

     

     

    Friday
    Jun142013

    YOU Helped! Michael Savoca Receives 2013 Suzanne Freeman Student Genealogy Grant at SCGS 2013 Jamboree

    Michael Savoca, a college student from Toms River, New Jersey was awarded the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Award at the Scholarship Breakfast on 9 June 2013 at the annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California.

    Funding for this year's grant was partially assisted by the proceeds from sales of Denise Levenick's new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Blog Book Tour in January 2013. Thank you!

    Savoca Levenick

    Denise May Levenick with Michael Savoca,
    recipient of the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant

    The Freeman Student Grant was established by family and friends in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. Each year, Jamboree has included a complimentary full-registration package for the recipient.

    Denise Levenick, Grant Chair, and Paula Hinkel, Jamboree Co-Chair introduced Michael to the breakfast attendees where he received a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the conference. Mike's father, Vinny Savoca, traveled with him to the conference and they were able to reconnect with California cousins while in Burbank.

    Mike has been researching his family history for over a decade, and participating in online genealogy forums and message boards for nearly as many years. His expertise in Italian and Croatian research have made him a popular volunteer online and at his local Family History Center. He has been able to travel with family to their ancestral village in Croatia and complete research in original records provided by the parish. He has also worked extensively with Italian records and assisted with the records of the Gente di Mare genealogy website. 

    "Mike is a wonderful representative for genealogists of his generation," noted Denise Levenick. "He brings enthusiasm, expertise, and a willingness to 'give back' to the genealogy community. It's obvious that Mike has a great future in genealogy, and we are delighted to encourage his research and genealogical education with this award."

    In addition to researching his Italian, Croatian, Irish, German, and Hungarian roots, Michael is interested in learning more about using DNA for genealogical research and about professional archival management. He is a history major at Kean University and would like to become a Certified Genealogist.

    You can contribute to the 2014 Grant Fund by donating HERE

     

    Thursday
    Jun132013

    Get Started Archiving Your Family Treasures With Free Worksheet from Preserving Keepsakes Workshop

    When I first started working with the boxes of family photogaphs, old letters, and documents inherited from my maternal grandmother I was overwhelmed by the seemingly limitless selection of archival containers. I didn't know if letters should be stored upright in file folders or flat in drop front boxes (answer: either). I was confused by plastic sleeves vs. paper sleeves for photo storage (answer: either). And, I really didn't understand all the archival terms like acid-free, lignin, buffered, and P.A.T.

    My presentation Paper or Plastic?: Preserving Keepsakes Workshop at last weekend's Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California was designed to answer those questions. I wanted it to be the workshop I needed all those years ago. The 90-minute format gave time for a slide-show presentation followed by discussion of product options and lots of Q&A.

    Use the Hands On Worksheet

    To make it even more useful, I put together a Hands On Worksheet to walk through the first three steps of working with family collections. Answering these questions will help anyone wondering what do first when you inheirit family treasures. You may not have attended the Paper or Plastic Workshop, but I hope you will find this Worksheet useful for your own family archive.

    Download the Preserving Keepsakes Workshop Worksheet HERE.

    Here's a brief overview of how to get started:

    1. Decide on your role and goal.

    Do you see yourself as a Curator, a Creator, or a Caretaker of the collection? 

    • A Curator arranges, selects, and finds meaning in a collection.
    • A Creator might be more focused on how to refashion items (or information) into an artistic creation like a scrapbook or family tree.
    • A Caretaker, is one of the most underrated roles, but we owe a debt to those Caretakers whose main goal is to preserve and pass on family keepsakes.

    2. Name your collection.

    Instead of "Grandma's Stuff" start referring to your inheiratance as a collection, The Arline Kinsel Papers, The Brown Photo Collection, etc. You are preserving history, after all, the history of your family.

    3. Decide where to locate your collection.

    Find a place within your living space where the temperature is consistent, not too hot, not too cold, relatively dry and clean, and free of pests and pollution. It should also be fairly dark, as light hastens the deterioration of almost everything. An interior closet or even a metal filing cabinet are good choices.

    Get Ready to Store Your Family Keepsakes

    Next, you'll need to make notes about the kinds and quantity of items you need to store and select appropriate containers. The Worksheet also includes: 

    • a form to get you started listing items, quantity, and container options
    • photos of the most popular archival storage containers
    • contact information for archival suppliers

    You can download the FREE Workshop Worksheet Here and Get Started Archiving Your Family Keepsakes. Please let me know in the comments if you find it helpful! 

    ... and now a word from our sponsors

    Disclosure: The Preserving Keepsake Workshops featured popular archival products kindly supplied by Hollinger Metal Edge and Sentry Safe. I received samples from the company but no other renumeration. If you order from Hollinger and use FAMILYCURATOR in the Code Box, I receive a small referral commmisson. If you order supplies through Amazon using my links, I also receive a small affiliate commission.

    Wednesday
    Jun122013

    Family Curator on Fieldstone Common Blog Talk Radio This Thursday 

    Fieldstone Common with Denise Levenick

    Host Marian Pierre-Louis will interview Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator, tomorrow Thursday, 13 June 2013 at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Fieldstone Common internet radio show, .

    The weekly program features "authors and historians who bring history alive" with a focus on New England and the Northeast. Marian is also a House Historian and Genealogical Lecturer who is active in New England historical research. 

    Tune in Thursday to hear Marian talk with author Denise May Levenick about her new book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and discuss the challenges of safely caring for family photographs, documents, and artifacts. Listeners to the LIVE program will also have an opportunity to win a free copy of Denise's book and ask questions about their own preservation challenges.

    Show time is

    1:00 pm EDT
    12:00 pm CDT
    11:00 am MDT
    10:00 am PDT

    All shows are available on the Fieldstone Common Archive for listenting at a later time, as well. 

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