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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.

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