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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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    Thursday
    May302013

    Aprons from Auntie's Hope Chest for Treasure Chest Thursday

    Easy pie apron

    It's "Easy as Pie" to see that these handmade vintage aprons were made to be admired. My aunt received nearly two dozen aprons for her wedding shower in 1958 and carefully packed them away in her cedar hope chest with the hand-embroidered pillowcases, sheets, and towels. When my sister and I opened the chest two years ago, everything was still in the original paper but marked with the folds of time.

    These two aprons are my favorites. "Easy as Pie" is made with a printed kitchen towel as the center panel design surrounded by cheery yellow cotton. "Flower Garden" (on the right) is made by joining crocheted flowers to form a colorful border around a plain mesh dishcloth. The flower pocket adds another splash of color.

    Of course, sometimes a new bride wants to look frilly and pretty. That's when she brings out the nylon and lace aprons:

    Nylon lace apron

    Pink nylon (now turned brown with age) adds a pretty touch to the pink floral cotton. The lavender nylon and lace would look dainty over a plain dress or skirt.

    And, when there's work to do, the 1950's woman will turn to practical attire like these simple cotton aprons:

    Work aprons

    It's unfortunate that the cotton discolored with time, but both the flower print and blue check would have been cheery and washable coverings for everyday housework and cooking. It (almost) makes me want to wash the dishes!

    Saturday
    May252013

    With Gratitude for Their Service

    US Navy Seaman Tustin Lighter Than Air Base

    U.S. Navy Seaman 2nd Class Edwin May (from left),
    with Seaman Gilbert, Seaman Noren, and Commander MacCubbin.
    Lighter Than Air Base in Tustin, California, January 1955.
    (Official Photograph U.S. Navy.)

    Corp. W.G. May Camp Funston

    Corp. Walter G. May, U.S. Army, Camp Funston
    1917

    Col. M.N. Levenick, U.S. Army

    Col. Maynard N. Levenick, U.S. Army

    Thursday
    May232013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Vintage Postcards Picture the History of Decoration Day

    First There Was Decoration Day

     

    This 1909 Decoration Day postcard depicts a U.S. Army vet, sabre in hand to salute his fallen comrades. The Grand Army of the Republic, as the Union Army was known, is celebrated in the five-star membership badge of the G.A.R.

    According to a 1910 history of the G.A.R, the badge was "struck from captured Confederate cannon" and the bronze "issued to the G.A.R. by the War Department as needed."

    The design includes motifs representing charity, liberty, loyalty, and fraternity surrounded by the insignia of the various branches of service -- bugle (infantry), crossed cannons (artillery), crossed muskets (marines), crossed sabers (cavalry), and anchor (sailors).

    The design was adopted in 1866, revised in 1868 and again in 1869. A few changes were made again in 1873 and 1886. This postcard dates from 1909 per the postmark, and probably shows the latest medal design.

    Shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, communities began commemorating the fallen soldiers by decorating graves with flowers. General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed the first major observance May 30, 1868, held at Arlington National Cemetery where both Union and Confederate graves were decorated.

    The same fascination with symbolism that created the G.A.R. medal is evident in the postcard design in these examples. 

     

    In this illustration a young child, probably a granddaughter, slips a flower in the lapel of her grandfather. He wears the G.A.R. veteran medal on his coat near the pinned sleeve, silent testament to his loss in the war. 

    In the bottom left of the card is an artist's version of the famous battle in March 1862 between the first iron-clad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. The battle ended in a stalemate, but introduced a new phase of warfare to America. 

    This postcard obviously continues the series shown above, but the painterly scene on this card recalls the infantry's efforts in the war, in the same way that the previous card depicted naval war maneuvers. Presumably, other cards in the series pay homage to other branches of service. It would be interesting to locate other cards in the series and see the entire set together.

    The main image shows a war widow (note the grandmother's photo cameo brooch) with her grandson who playing at being a soldier. He wears a miniature G.A.R. medal, a too-large belt, and is holding his grandfather's saber. 

    And Then There Was Memorial Day

    This Memorial Day card bears a postmark on the reverse of 1908; it seems that the holiday was known by both names. The images here are probably meant to depict the new and old Navy warships. The card sends "Memorial Day Greetings" rather than a message for "Decoration Day," although the term Memorial Day did not become official until 1966.

    I found these cards at a local Vintage Paper and Ephemera Show in Southern California. If you love family history, and haven't discovered these shows yet, you are missing out!

    Sources:

    Naval History and Heritage

    The Grand Army Badge

    This Day in History

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Roundup for Memorial Day FREE Record Access for Researchers

    Block out a few hours and take advantage of these great offers for free access to U.S. military records this weekend.

    My Heritage Free Access to US Military Records

    Myheritage memorial day

    Researchers can take advantage on one week of free access May 21-28 to the MyHeritage U.S. military record collection. Available databases include 

    • U.S. WW II Army Enlistment
    • Service Records of Confederate Soldiers
    • WW II Reserve Corps Records
    • Air Force Register Extracts
    • US WW II Prisoners of War 194101946
    • Vietnam Casualties 1956 - 1998 
    • US Army Casualties 1961 - 1981
    • Korrean War Casualties 1950 - 1957
    • and more

    If you've been curious about MyHeritage, this would be great time to check out the website and database collection. I especially like the clean fresh design that makes the search form easy to see and understand.

    Fold3 Offers Free Access to New USCT Service Records

    Fold3 badge

    Compiled military service records of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) including over 3.6 million images is now available at Fold3.com through a partnership between Folde and the National Archives. Access to this collection is a free through May 31st.

    Available records include images scanned directly from documents as well as those digitized from microfilm. The collection consists of images for:

    • 1st through 1389th USCT Infantry
    • 1st gthrough 6th USCT Cavalry
    • USCT Artillery
    Read more about the collection and highlighted records at the Fold3 blog. American Veterans and their families are also eligible for a 50% discount on a Fold3 membership. More information is available here at the Fold3 website.

    FindMyPast Offers Free Access to US and International Military Records

    Findmypast-memday
     
    In honor of Memorial Day and Military Appreciation Month, Findmypast.com is making their U.S. and International military records available free Friday May 24 through Monday May 27. 
     
    Records include:
    • American Prisoners of Korean War, 1950-1953
    • Korean War Casualty File
    • Korean War Deaths, 1950-1954
    • United States, World War One (WWI) Draft Registration Cards,1917-1918
    • US Army Casualty File, 1961-1981
    • Vietnam War Casualties
    • Vietnam War Casualties Returned Alive
    • Vietnam War Deaths
    • World War II Army Enlistment Records
    • World War II POWs
    • and international military record collection
    The Findmypast.com Blog also features a series of great infographics from MyMilitaryBase.com about U.S. military families.

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription to MyHeritage, but have no obligation to favorably review the website.

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Wordless Wednesday: Can You Identify This Military Unit?

    This image was digitized from a negative found in my grandmother's trunk of old photos and documents. The date and place are unidentified, but it seems to be part of a series of photos that may have been taken in Texas. Any ideas what these young men might be up to?

    I first discovered this photograph in 2008 and wrote about it in Treasure Revealed! but I'm no closer to knowing more about the picture today than I was then. Any ideas?

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