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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
    Apr102013

    Treasures in Your Attic? Join Me for the Utah Genealogical Association Spring Conference

    16th Annual South Davis Family History Fair

    NewImage

    Woods Cross High School north of Salt Lake City is the new location for the Utah Genealogical Association Family History Fair April 19 and 20, 2013 where I will be presenting the Friday night keynote "Treasures in the Attic: Every Keepsake Has a Story."

    This two-day event offers over one hundred family history sessions on topics covering a wide variety of subjects, from finding Irish and German ancestors to working with newspapers and cemetery records.

    On Saturday, April 20, I will present two sessions on preserving family treasures and signing copies of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes:

    The Frugal Curator

    Archival storage doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Discover practical DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solutions that will save you time and money as you organize and store your family treasures. See how to make a family history time capsule for your next family reunion or event.

    The Things They Leave Behind: Caring for Family Keepsakes

    Learn how to care for common family treasures such as photo albums, loose photographs, Bibles, clocks, jewelry, and more.  View photos of damaged items, learn to identify common hazards such as silverfish, mold, acid migration. Discover what to save when you inherit a houseful of “treasures,” how and where to store your keepsakes, and how to set up a home archive so you can easily access items for research and sharing.

    Registration fees for this event are $15.00; a printed syllabus is available for an additional fee. More information is available at the Utah Genealogical Association Website.

    Monday
    Apr082013

    National Genealogical Society Conference App Now Available

    NGS Quad Graphic

    Building New Bridges: NGS 2013 Conference Las Vegas

    The National Genealogical Society has announced a new mobile Conference App for the 2013 Conference May 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The App is available for iOS, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phones, and web-enabled devices from the NGS Mobile App page.

    The App Dashboard will provide late-breaking information, alerts, a built-in Twitter feed, and the ability to sync personal schedules across devices. 

    The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree was the first conference I attended with a mobile app on my smartphone and it added a new dimension to the conference experience. I especially like helpful updates on schedule and room changes, and the ability to create a personal schedule I can refer to throughout the day.

    I will be attending NGS 2013 in Las Vegas and sharing my experiences on The Family Curator and through Twitter and Facebook. Whether you will be in Las Vegas or following the conference from home, the new NGS Conference App will be helpful for keeping up with the action throughout the week. 

    Thursday
    Apr042013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Old Letters; What Do You Do With Found Ephemera?

    One of the biggest products of daily life seems to be paper. It's stacked up around my house, and it's one of the first things to deal with when you inherit a home after someone passes away. 

    A Cure for Rheumatism

    My mother-in-law saved envelopes for scratch paper. My aunt repurposed them by cutting off her name and address for a kind of DIY return-address label. And, nearly 100 years ago my Grandmother Arline used an envelope to write -- "Gum-go-wack, get enough for one qt. whiskey for rheumatism. one oz. 3 times a day."

    Envelope recipe blog

    Letter from E.B. Kinsel, Ruth, Nevada to Mrs. A.A. Parker, Wilder, Kansas

    The letter was sent from E.B. Kinsel, Arline's father. I know that Eliphaz Bigelow Kinsel worked for the railroad and was rarely at home in Kansas. In 1926, my grandmother Arline was married to Charlie Parker but she must have been living either on E.B.'s farm in Wilder or on Parker's farm.

    The other address noted at the top of the envelope -- R.W. McCleery of Benton is new to me. Looks like another clue to follow. 

    So, what exactly -- as a family historian -- do you do with "Found Ephemera" when you acquire a collection of papers?

    Digitize, Transcribe, Preserve

    Some folks would throw it away. Some might read the letter first, and then toss it. I tend to just keep on saving it. I unfold the letter, scan it and place it in an acid-free paper folder. The folders are filed by author and date in an archival vertical file box. I use the scanned image for transcribing. Any genealogical data like names, dates, events, and vital records such as neighborhood gossip (*smile*) are entered into my genealogy database program with the letter cited as the source of the information. 

    When I'm lucky, information from these bits of "found ephemera" help build a chain of evidence for a claim such a date or place of birth, marriage, or death. These tidbits are not uncommon. My ancestors lived at a distance from close family members and news traveled by letter; those letters were passed around like chocolates after dinner. They were read, re-read, and savored. Unlike the game of "Telephone" where a whispered message quickly becomes garbled and often reshaped as it makes it's way around a circle, the news found in letters doesn't change when the letter moves from hand to hand.

    I'm looking at the photo of this envelope today and wondering what the letter inside is all about. . . or if there is a letter inside. I'm also wondering if one ounce of whiskey three times a day really does help rheumatism. . .

    On April 12, 2013  I'll be talking with Caroline Pointer of 4YourFamilyStory.com about finding and caring for ephemera for Caroline's What's Up Genealogy show on Google+ Hangouts. Join us! 

    Tuesday
    Mar262013

    Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources: Free Genealogy Webinar

    SCGS Jamboree Webinar Series -- Saturday 6 April 2013

    Register now for the next webinar sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Extension Program, and join me for Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 10:00 AM - Pacific, 11:00 AM - Mountain, 12:00 PM - Central, 1:00 PM - Eastern.

    Whether you’ve inherited a house full of keepsakes or only wish you had more family treasures, home sources may hold the clues you need to break through brick walls and solve family history problems. And you don’t have to own home sources to use them as research resources. 

    We've all got them -- brick walls, obstacles, road blocks to progress in our genealogical reseach. Home Sources are one of the most underused resources in solving family history puzzles. Photographs, letters, documents and artifacts can provide direct answers to research problems, or clues to new research opportunities. 

    I am honored to be part of the SCGS Jamboree Extension Webinar Series and look forward to sharing a few items from my own family collections that have helped push my research over the wall. From clippings tucked between the pages of books, to cryptic captions on the back of old photos, family keepsakes often hide great stories in plain sight.

    Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources --

    • Why use home sources?
    • Common and uncommon home sources and where to find them
    • Locating potential sources in public repositories
    • Strategies for working with material family collections
    • What to look for in documents, letters, photos, and artifacts
    • Case study examples

    Register Here prior to Saturday, 6 April to attend the free webinar, Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources. After the live webinar on April 6, the webinar will be available to SCGS members in the Members Only area of the website.

    View the complete SCGS Jamboree Extension Series schedule for more great educational webinars available in the series..

     

     

     

     

    Thursday
    Mar212013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Digitizing and Examining a 1909 German Songbook

    I love surprises from the Archives! Recently I pulled out several old German books that my father gave me after my grandmother passed away. As the only family member who spoke German (much better then than now) I was the logical recipient. I thought I remembered a Bible in the collection, but alas, the book was a German language hymnal.

    Making a Digital Copy

    First, I wanted to digitize the book so I could work with the images rather than the fragile old book. It's poor condition and thickness made it a good candidate for my digital camera. I set up my copy stand outdoors under natural light and used a remote shutter release to achieve the best photo. Then I tried both a white and a black background.

    May wg 1909 songbook 1May wg 1909 songbook 2

    May wg 1909 songbook 8May wg 1909 songbook 5

    I think the white works best for the cover and the black works best for the inside pages. the contrast makes the book itself stand out better. What do you think?

    Description

    The cover is made of inexpensive embossed cover-stock cardboard similar to the covers of popular photo albums and scrapbooks so many of us find in our family collections. Overall the book is 3 3/4-inches wide and 5 3/8-inches high. Someone (Grandma May?) added a strip of modern tape to keep the spine in place with the cover. The pages are edged in gilt. 

    The title page reads:

    Kirchen-Gesangbuch
    für
    Evangelische-Lutherische Gemeinden
    ungeänderter
    Augsburgischer Confession

    darin des sel. Dr. Martin Luthers und anderer geistreichen
    Lehrer gebräuchlichste Kirchen-lieder enthalten sind.

    St. Louis, Mo.
    Concordia Publishing House.
    1905 

    The book is in fair to poor condition. The pages appear to be intact but the covers have started to pull away from the binding. There are scattered stains and blotches throughout. There is no handwriting other than a notation on the flyleaf in pencil on the flyleaf that looks like "Goldlock 1.20."

    Inside the front cover, I found a newspaper clipping from a German language newspaper of the hymn, "Hochzeitgefang," translation: Wedding Song. I also found a what looks like a trimmed decoration from a Christmas card between pages 242 and 243.

    Information

    Of course, to me the real treasure is the cover embossed with my grandfather's name and a date. The fact that the book is a German Lutheran songbook confirms his association with the German community and the Lutheran church in America. A quick Google search for the hymnal shows that it was a popular book at the turn of the century.

    Walter G. May was born in July 1894 in Bennet, Nebraska, so I wondered about the significance of the date on the cover of the book, 4 April 1909. The date fell on a Sunday in 1909, one week before Easter, or Palm Sunday. The Easter Season is traditionally a time for welcoming new members into the Catholic Church and I thought the Lutheran Church tradition might be similar. If so, Walter would have been 14 years old at the time, a common age for Confirmation.

    Through FindAGrave.com I had previously located the little Lutheran cemetery where Walter's parents were buried. It was associated with an adjacent church that has a very nice website and a "Contact the Pastor" page. Within 24 hours of my query, the Pastor had responded and kindly looked for a confirmation record for Walter G. May in the church records. Although he did not find a record, he agreed that the date indicated the hymnbook was probably a confirmation gift.

    This little book added quite a bit to the very little I know about my grandfather's early years --

    • It confirms his Lutheran religion
    • It strongly suggests his membership and confirmation in a local church
    • It suggests that he read and spoke German
    • It suggests he may have carried the book at his wedding

    With further research I might be able to learn more about the kind of congregation that used this particular hymnal and locate the church attended by Walter and his family.

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