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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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    Finding Archives Everywhere, Hershey, PA

    Hershey Archives

    On my way to The National Archives I’ve taken a little (?) detour to South Central Pennsylvania and the model company town of Hershey in Dauphin County. You can almost smell the cocoa on Chocolate Avenue, the main street of the “sweetest town in America” where even the streetlights look like Hershey’s famous chocolate kisses.

    Hershey Kiss Lights

    We visited Chocolate World for a mock factory tour. and saw and heard the screaming fast roller coasters at Hershey Park.

    Hershey Coaster

    And on a quick stop to buy postcards at the Hershey Story building on Chocolate Avenue we found the Hershey Community Archives, a collection of material about the Hershey founder that has expanded to include the entire Hershey legacy and the wider Hershey community. Imagine researching in the archives at basement level with the smells from “Chocolate Lab” cooking school drifting down from the building’s main floor.

    Although the collection focus is on corporate and personal Hershey history, it also holds local newspapers, maps, plans, and hundreds of oral history interviews. I've never investigated a corporate archive, but I think the material would be useful for anyone with ancestors who worked for Hershey or lived in the company town.

    I randomly clicked on an interview with Harry King in 1982. The transcript is fascinating, and the recording must be even better. Harry relates his career as an employee for Hershey Chocolate beginning in 1915 when he came to Hershey to work in the chewing gum manufacturing division and then goes into a wonderful digression about the streetcars, milk runs, and life in Hershey.

    It kind of makes me hope that someday I might come across a few Hershey ancestors, and also makes me eager to check out other corporate archives for information that may include more information about my family.


    Celebrating Seven Years of Blogging at The Family Curator


    It's hard to believe that The Family Curator is celebrating another blogiversary. When I wrote my first post back in 2007 for The Family Curator, I was teaching English at a girls Catholic High School and trying to figure out how to deal with the varied remains of my family legacy -- a steamer trunk filled with paper and random bits of life.

    Fast forward to 2014, and the documents, photos, and letters have been scanned and preserved in archival storage boxes. The Family Curator Blog has matured, and my teaching career has expanded to include family historians. In the spirit of my favorite teachers, I'd like to note a few things I've learned from my very generous mentors:

    Everything I Know About Family History I Learned from the Genealogists Who Came Before Me

    1. Sharing Never Diminishes Knowledge, It Allows It to Expand

    It's true. Holding tight to family photos and information may seem at times to be the prudent thing to do, yet it's only by sharing and allowing others to make connections or supply missing information that our own knowledge can grow, hurdle brick-walls, and move into new generations. 

    2. Encouragement is Under-Rated

    It costs nothing but a few minutes of time to send a positive email or affirmative message, and we don't do it often enough. I am immeasurably grateful to those bloggers who took time to let me know in my early blogging days I was doing something that might be worthwhile. Their encouragement is a gift worth passing on.

    3. Conferences and Institutes are About More than Meetings

    I finally figured out that conferences aren't all about the lectures. They're about the lunchroom, the blogger's table, and the after-hours meet-ups too. And if you need a lesson on this true-ism, ask any GeneaBlogger.

    4. Blogging Begins at Home, and Never Really Ends

    Many family historians begin blogs, but it takes dedication and creativity to write day after day, week after week. I tip my hat to bloggers who maintain the pace and continue to share outstanding content and inspiration.

    5. Content is King

    Good writing about a compelling subject will always trump chatter and chaff. When I started blogging seven years ago, the number of active bloggers was actually quite small. Since that time, hundreds of genealogists have started blogs and websites, and wonderfully some have become new classics in the genea-blogosphere. 

    I can't imagine what the next seven years will hold, but I look forward to the adventure. Genealogy is definitely an E Ticket ride. Thanks for spending time with me at The Family Curator. Here's to another year of sharing research, stories, and new ideas.


    Summer Reading for Genealogists Part 1: Relax & Read

    For many book lovers, summer reading brings back memories of lazy beach days and poolside paperbacks. And with the recent popularity of family history, you can have your genealogy and a light mystery too, or historical fiction if that's more your style. Read on:

    NEW! Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery: The Lost Empress, by Steve Robinson (Thomas & Mercer, October 21, 2014)

    Jefferson Tayte is at it again in the fourth book by British author Steve Robinson, due out this fall and now available for pre-order. From the book jacket:

    On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada's St. Lawrence River. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.

    When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress's victims, a British admiral's daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.

    Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice's death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.

    Now is the time to catch up on this well-written mystery series if you missed the first few books. 

    In the Blood (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery)  was named one of Amazon UK's  "Best Books of 2011," and followed by To the Grave , and The Last Queen of England . Each new book seems to ramp up the action, leading the endearing main character Tayte into more danger than any genealogist should ever have to face. I'm hoping this next installment will see Jefferson more involved with a love-interest; he seemed to be getting a bit lonely. The plot is well paced, and the characters well-developed, making for great mystery reading anytime of the year.

    I've enjoyed following Steve Robinson's career since the geneablogging community first took note of his sleuthing genealogist Jefferson Tayte in the self-published Kindle book In the Blood. I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve in 2012 and hearing more about his personal interest in genealogy -- he says he is not a genealogist, but he was fascinated by the notion of a researcher who "gets into plenty of action as other people try to stop him from uncovering the past."  

    All three books are now available in print, eBook, and audio editions. 

    Read More about JT and Steve Robinson

    Book Review: In the Blood GeneaFiction

    Exclusive Interview with author Steve Robinson

    Celebrate Success with Author Steve Robinson -- You Helped

    News of author Robinson's book contract with Amazon Publishing, due to the success of the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    He's Back! New Interview with the Author of The Last Queen of England

    An inside look at the story behind Jefferson Tayte's third adventure in the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.


    Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist Book 1), by Nathan Dylan Goodwin (2013)

    I didn't get around to reading this debut genealogical mystery until last month when I was away from home and happy to find it on my iPad Kindle App. Since the success of Steve Robinson's family history series, it seems like a every month a new genealogy-themed mystery is pushed out on the Kindle platform. I've dipped my toe into some titles that, to be honest, were true yawners. An subscription is no substitute for the talent to craft a good tale.

    Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist Book 1)  was a pleasant, and entertaining surprise. In this debut series mystery Goodwin introduces Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist, a professional researcher who senses something isn't quite right when his latest client is conveniently found dead "by his own hand." Morton's investigations are reluctantly aided by his policewoman girlfriend, and nicely dove-tailed by his own family issues. 

    More than once I found myself laughing out loud with Morton's worldview, for instance, his fascination with unusual names comes out with the author's character list: there's Dr. Garlick, who bears "a strong resemblance to a garlic bulb" and the perfect brother Jeremy with the perfect name. I'm wondering where "Farrier" will lead?

    The cozy British village setting hints of hidden secrets, and of course it isn't long until the long arm of the past reaches out to quiet nosy researchers. This Kindle book was a fast read mostly because I enjoyed the story so much. A very enjoyable book!


    Riders on the Orphan Train, by Alison Moore (Roadworthy, 2012)

    In preparation for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, Texas later this summer and the featured keynote by Orphan Train author/performer Alison Moore, readers might want know a bit more about this episode in American history when 250,000 displaced children were relocated from urban life to Western foster homes.

    Moore's multi-media presentation, "Riders on the Orphan Train" will be presented Thursday, 28 August at the Opening Penary Session. The program is part of the official outreach program of the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Kansas, and has grown from a short-story into a full-length historical novel highlighting the stories of the children who rode the orphan trains.

    Riders on the Orphan Train  is the fictional story of two children placed on a train in New York headed West to new homes and new lives. Their brief time together aboard the train leaves 11-year old Ezra and 12 year-old Maud with a friendship that endures throughout their lives.

    Amazon Prime Members can borrow Riders on the Orphan Train Kindle Edition  free on their Kindle device. 


    Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow, 2013)

    If you'd like to read more about the orphan trains and the children who rode them, you might also enjoy this New York Times Bestseller and popular book club selection, Orphan Train  , a novel by Christina Baker Kline.

    Told in the voices of both adult and child, Orphan Train, is more than the story of relocated children. It's an exploration of friendship and common threads in the lives of 91-year old orphan train rider Vivian and a local teenage girl performing community service hours rather than be sent to juvenile detention.

    Huffington Post calls Orphan Train "a gem." I have a borrowed copy on my nightstand and look forward to reading this promising story.

    Visit The Family Curator again for more recommended books in Part 2 of Summer Reading for Genealogists.

    Books mentioned in this article (Amazon Affiliate Links):




    The Annual "What Are You Reading This Summer?" Post

    Summer is here, and it's time for The Family Curator's Summer Reading List for Genealogists. You can take the English teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the book out of her hands.

    Each summer reading selection:

    1. is for or about genealogy and family history,
    2. is well-written, and
    3. is so enriching, engaging, or entertaining that you want to turn the page.

    Of course, we won't all agree on what makes a great, or even good, genealogy book, but I hope this list gives you a few new titles to try this summer. And do keep in mind something your English teacher probably never told you: If you don't like the book, it's okay to put it down and find another one. Books are a lot like vegetables; tastes change. Try it again later.

    The Summer Reading List for Genealogists will be presented in two parts with reading suggestions for assorted moods, whims, and needs.

    Part 1: R & R for Genealogists (or Relax and Read) offers fiction to lose yourself in, just in time for the long July Fourth Weekend. If you like series mysteries or historical fiction I hope you find something new to read here.

    Part 2: Stretch Your Skills, Learn Something New This Summer showcases recently published genealogy manuals and instructional titles. A thorough study of any titles from this list will lead to even more challenging works.

    The best part of this Summer Reading List, of course, is that there will be no grades. :>) I hope you find a new book that tempts you to charge up your e-Reader or visit your local library and settle in for a good summer read. And please, help this list grow by adding your favorites in the comments.

    Happy Summer Reading!

    Photo Op: That's our descendant in the photo holding a copy of my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes. He makes a good poster boy for reading any book any time of year.


    Talking About Dirty, Dirty Pictures for Treasure Chest Thursday

    DirtyPictures Levenick

    Naughty photos included, we talked DIRT at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for a presentation on "Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos from Ruin."

    We also talked about five of the most common problems with family history photographs in personal collections, and what to do about them:

    1. "Magnetic" Albums

    Those horrible photo albums everyone bought in the 1970's and 1980's because they were easy and made the photos look so good. The acidic paper, adhesive, and non-archival plastic were really just a way to speed up the deterioration of photographs, especially color prints. Now, we are trying to get our pictures out of those albums, and find that they are yellowing and stuck to the page. I show you tips for this rescue project using an awesome little tool called a Micro Spatula. You will want to add one to your Genealogist's Gadget Bag.

    2. Photos and Scraps

    Whenever one item touches another in an album or scrapbook, there's a pretty good chance that damage will occur if the materials are newsprint or organic artifacts. Ticket stubs, news clippings, and food wrappers are bad news for photographs. It's best to isolate those items or remove them (with that handy microspatula). And I've also got some ideas for making those books into long-term family heirlooms.

    3. Photographs Dying Inside "Bad" Frames

    Back before we knew what poor framing could do to a photograph, we stuck our pictures in any old frame, with or without a mat. Now we have photos stuck to glass, faded images, and damage from cardboard and wood. Archival quality framing is expensive, but it's not that hard to do yourself. I show you what you need to know.

    4. Curled and Rolled Photos

    My favorite! Prints that have become dry and brittle over the years and are just waiting for a little dehumidification to be studied in your genealogical research. Read my step-by-step Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents. The same method works on curled prints. Then learn how to create a digital image of that l-o-n-g panorama photograph that you can reprint, share, and archive. 

    5. Scratched and Dirty Negatives

    Really dirty pictures and negatives? If you're tempted to try cleaning with soap and water -- don't. I tried out the experts' recommendations and share the results in Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives? If you want to do-it-yourself, you'll need Delta Film Cleaner and PEC-PAD  We talk about other, easier, options too for working with damaged family photos.

    Do you have another challenge with your own "dirty pictures"? Let me know in the comments or send an email.


    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith and George Morgan Interview The Family Curator and Paul Woodbury

    Genealogy Guys

    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith (left) and George G. Morgan (right)
    with 2014 Student Grant Recipient Paul Woodbury (center).

    It’s always a pleasure to meet with George Morgan and Drew Smith to chat about family history news and events. You can listen to the latest Genealogy Guys Podcast here, recorded at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California on June 7, 2014. Episode #270 includes interviews with

    • Denise Levenick, The Family Curator
    • Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist at MyHeritage, and
    • Paul Woodbury, winner of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant.

    In the first segment, we talked about some of the intriguing and curious family keepsakes I discovered inside my Grandmother Arline’s steamer trunk, and how family historians can safely preserve the treasures they inherit, as well as

    • how to free photos from those horrible 1970s sticky “magnetic albums” with the help of the Micro Spatula wonder-tool
    • orphan heirlooms, what they are and what happens to them
    • the debut Heirloom Roadshow presentation at Jamboree
    • a tip for identifying UFO photographs

    George G. Morgan and Drew Smith are long-time supporters of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Memorial Grant, and two of my mother’s favorite genealogists, so it’s especially heartwarming to talk with them about the student grant program honoring her memory.

    This episode of the Genealogy Guys Podcast also includes an interview with Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Student Grant.  Paul shares his personal family history journey and talks about his career goals in the growing field of genetic genealogy.

    You can hear Genealogy Guys Podcast #270 here.


    Nice to Meet You at SCGS Jamboree 


    Renee Galantine of Lodi, California is proof of Reason #4 in my earlier blog post 5 Reasons Why SCGS Jamboree is a Jewell of a Genealogy Conference -- Family and Friends Atmosphere.

    Renee was the lucky winner of The Family Curator Flash Giveaway and won a free full-conference registration to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree. She drove from Lodi in the northernmost part of California to attend her first Jamboree, and when I met her and asked how she liked the conference, she was enthusiastic about coming back again!

    To enter the contest, Renee had to leave a comment at The Family Curator, sharing one of her favorite family heirlooms. Her German ancestry is apparent with her choice:

    One of my favorite's is a coffee cup (my great grandfather used it as his shaving mug) my grandmother gave me. It was her father's mug that he brought with him from Ostfriesland region of Germany abt 1890. It has the Ostfriesland rose design on it with the words "Remember Me"

    I haven't seen Renee's coffee cup, but it sounds like a lovely family treasure, and might be a good entry for the Heirloom Roadshow!

    Thank you Jamboree for the great prize, and for another outstanding conference.


    SCGS Scholarship Breakfast Honors Paul Woodbury

    Paul Woodbury

    An early morning crowd of family historians attended the annual SCGS Genealogy Jamboree Scholarship Breakfast Sunday, June 8, 2014 to congratulate Utah student Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant and the Jamboree Scholarship.

    Paul is a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and a native of Colorado. He will graduate in June with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Genetics and Biotechnology and a Minor in Family History. He has conducted on-site research in France and Italy, and plans a return trip to Europe later this summer.

    Thank You to Breakfast Sponsor FindMyPast

    Jen Baldwin welcomed everyone to the breakfast on behalf of FindMyPast, sponsor for the event and student attendees. Jen is the Outreach Manager and works closely with societies and organizations. She announced a new benefit for SCGS society members who will receive a discounted FindMyPast subscription rate. She also reminded attendees of FindMyPast's new access to the PERSI database, a rich research source.

    Paul Woodbury Receives $500 Cash Grant

    It was my pleasure to introducing Paul to the breakfast attendees and present him with the $500 cash award. He plans to use the funds toward research expenses on his forthcoming visit to France. Paul's name will be added to a new perpetual plaque honoring recipients of the Winsor Student Grant to be displayed at the SCGS Research Library.

    Paul shared his personal experience with the audience, mentioning that he first became interested in genealogy when he was eight years old and his grandparents presented each of their thirty five grandchildren with a family history binder for Christmas. The stories of his ancestors captured his imagination beginning a journey to learn more about his family. Paul plans to pursue a career in genetic genealogy and work to help reunite families separated through adoption or loss, and assist researchers solve tough brick-wall problems.

    Gold Rush Stories

    The featured breakfast presentation "Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush," by Gena Philibert-Ortega, scholar and blogger, was an inspirational subject for the event. Gena's stories of Forty Niners and Gold Fever history, followed by extensive research tips and suggested repositories was enthusiastically received by the audience.

    Support Student Genealogists

    The Freeman Student Genealogy Grant 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. 

    Since that time, five student genealogists have received the annual $500 cash award and three-day registration to the Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, California: Elyse Doerflinger (Lomita, California), A.C. Ivory (Salt Lake City, Utah), Anthony Ray (Palmdale, California), and Michael Savoca (Toms River, New Jersey), and Paul Woodbury (Provo, Utah). I was delighted that 2012 grantee Elyse Doerflinger was also able to join us for the Scholarship Breakfast.

    The grant program is funded entirely by individual contributions and family and friends of Suzanne Freeman. Please join us!


    Support the Future of Genealogy

    Contribute to the 
    Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund



    5 Reasons Why SCGS Jamboree is a Jewel of a Genealogy Conference

    Paula Hiinkel and Pieter Breitner

    Only 5? Yep, 5 BIG reasons why the Southern California Genealogical Society Annual Genealogy Jamboree is an outstanding event for genealogists of any age, and every skill level.

    CoChair Paula Hinkel with Pieter Breitner

    1. Cutting-Edge Program 

    SCGS is always an innovator. Jamboree was the first conference to offer an interactive smartphone App, the first conference to welcome social media participation, the first conference to offer pre-event free webinars. The ever-popular youth genealogy sessions, free consulting, and new DNA Day are just a few of the many special Jamboree offerings. 

    2. National and Local Speakers

    Once again, the 2014 presentation schedule featured national speakers on topics for every level of experience, from military research to using genealogy database programs, and from locating archived manuscripts to scanning documents at home. Several speakers go directly from Jamboree for a week of teaching at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

    3. Family History Fun

    Genealogy isn't all research and serious work in Southern California. SCGS definitely knows how to throw a PARTY. The 2014 60's theme was a popular choice, as shown by the bearded and beaded hippie outfits seen throughout the convention center on Sunday. The evening banquets and special event "New Year's Eve Party" gave attendees another reason to mix and meet new friends.

    4. Family and Friends Atmosphere

    Once again, unknown cousins met for the first time at Jamboree, and new friends found research interests in common. The Burbank Marriott is especially well-suited for mixing and mingling with casual seating indoors and on the patio, and an excellent restaurant onsite.

    The 2014 SCGS Jamboree Volunteers by Bill Crowley. Used with permission. 

    5. Jamboree Jewels

    Truly, every Jamboree volunteer is a gem. The team works together like a well-rehearsed orchestra. If a problem should arise, it's swiftly taken care of with a smile.

    Vicki Hilb has personally assisted speakers from the Call for Papers through the presentation hour throughout her tenure as Program Chair. Vicki guided me through my first event as a speaker, and I will miss her smile and calm voice as she retires and moves on to new adventures.

    Co-chairs and Magicians Paula Hinkel and Leo Meyers are retiring as well. Every year, Paula and Leo manage to come up with "something new" as well as a "better, easier, more efficient" way to streamline the overall program. They might be taking a break, but I'm not losing their email addresses!

    We will miss this terrific three-some and hope to see them in attendance-mode at future Jamborees.

    Together, the entire SCGS volunteer team make Jamboree one of my favorite genealogy events of the entire year. The 2015 team is already working hard to make next year's Jamboree another stellar event. Mark your calendar now for the 2015 SCGS Genealogy Jamboree , a Must Attend conference for any genealogist. 


    Treasure Chest Thursday: Sneak Peek at The Heirloom Roadshow SCGS Edition


    Vintage flapper dresses, antique silver, and century-old handcrafts are among the treasures that will be showcased next week at the Heirloom Roadshow, SCGS Jamboree Edition in Burbank, California. I can't wait to see these treasures up close.

    Beaded flapper dress detail

    Anyone who was Anyone wanted to look like a Hollywood starlet in the Roaring 20's, and Betty Shubert has the dresses to prove it. She was gifted with four beautiful beaded flapper dresses that once belonged to the Farber daughters, heiresses to the Farberware Company legacy and fortune. The glitter on these dresses truly rivals the sparkle of Farber's legendary stainless-steel cookware.

    We will be looking to antiques expert Joseph Baratta of Abell Auction Company in Los Angeles to give us more insight into these unique treasures, and I will be sharing preservation tips with Betty for protecting the fragile fabric and decoration.

    There will be more sparkle at the Heirloom Roadshow with colonial-era silver and a collection of shiny handmade Ukranian Easter Eggs, or pysanky. Join us Sunday, June 8, 2014 at the Southern California Genealogy Society 2014 Jamboree for the Heirloom Roadshow at 10:30 am 10 am to 11:30 am [note revised time].

    Click here for more information about the conference and registration details.


    "Researching the California Gold Rush" at SCGS Jamboree Scholarship Award Breakfast

    Gold minerJoin us Sunday morning at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for the SCGS Jamboree Scholarship Breakfast with Gena Philibert-Ortega presenting "Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush" and meet Utah college student Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant.

    This is the fourth year that SCGS has partnered with the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant to award a young genealogist with a cash grant and conference registration. Past recipients include Anthony Ray of Palmdale, Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, and Mike Savoca of New Jersey. 

    Attending this special event is a great way to support young genealogists and learn more about researching California's Gold Rush days. Menu for the breakfast buffet includes:

    Freshly squeezed orange juice and cranberry juice
    Sliced seasonal fruits
    Assortment of breakfast pastries and breads Sweet butter and fruit preserves
    Scrambled Eggs
    Sausage or Bacon
    Breakfast potatoes
    Freshly Brewed Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee and Assorted Herbal Infusions

    Seating is limited, so register today and join us Sunday morning for the Scholarship Breakfast.

    Gena Philibert-Ortega is a social historian and popular presenter on topics of women's history, archival research, and ephemera. She is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines.

    Her writings can also be found on her blogs, Gena’s Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. She is the author of three books including her latest From The Family Kitchen (F + W Media, 2012). Gena is the editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s journal Crossroads, serves as President for the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is a board member of the Utah Genealogical Association. Her current research interests include women's social history, community cookbooks, signature quilts and researching women’s lives using material artifacts.


    Memorial Day, California Style

     Like regional food, holidays have local traditions that often overshadow any national or formal standards. Where I live in Southern California, Civil War battlefields are few and far between. Memorial Day is celebrated as the beginning of summer more than a federal holiday to commemorate men and women who have fallen in our nation's armed service.

    Presidio Cemetery, San Francisco (Library of Congress Photo)

    I am chagrined to admit that decades of public school didn't leave me with much education about this very patriotic holiday. I didn't know that Memorial Day honors all men and women who died in our nations's armed service, not necessarily all who served. Veterans Day, November 11, is the official U.S. holiday that honors all who served in the armed forces.

    Maybe I'm not to blame for conflating Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Lacking many graves of those fallen in battle, our local cemeteries seem to have expanded the original meaning of these patriotic holidays to include not only those who died while serving in the United States Armed Service, but those who served, as well. 

    Many Memorial Day events in Southern California honor veterans of the Civil War, like the Memorial Day Weekend Remembrance at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery sponsored by the West Adams Heritage Association. I visited Rosedale a few years ago. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles, founded in 1884, and is the final resting place of many Civil War veterans.

    In Pasadena, California, Mountain View Cemetery holds its 93rd Annual Memorial Day Commemoration to honor "all veterans." The ceremony is followed by a guided tour of "the refurbished Civil War plot and other areas of notable buried in the cemetery." Which begs the question, "Who qualifies as a "notable?"

    California is a large state, but even in the Central Valley Memorial Day has taken on an all-inclusive meaning. Robin Chapman writes about her own Decoration Day commemoration on her wonderful California blog Robin Chapman News.

    Memorial Day has its roots in Decoration Day, the last Monday of May, when the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the Civil War were decorated with flowers in honor of their sacrifice. David W. Blight, Professor of American History at Yale writes in "The First Decoration Day":

    At the end of the Civil War the dead were everywhere, some in half buried coffins and some visible only as unidentified bones strewn on the killing fields of Virginia or Georgia. Americans, north and south, faced an enormous spiritual and logistical challenge of memorialization. The dead were visible by their massive absence. Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in the war. American deaths in all other wars combined through the Korean conflict totaled 606,000. If the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, 4 million names would be on the Vietnam Memorial. The most immediate legacy of the Civil War was its slaughter and how remember it.

    Dr. Blight notes that the first and largest commemoration of the Civil War took place on May 21, 1865. Thousands of black residents of Charleston, South Carolina held a massive parade and procession after giving proper burial to the Union dead who had been held at an outdoor prison in the former Washington Race Course and Jockey Club.  

    Other cities and events also claim the distinction of the "first Decoration Day," but it wasn't until May 5, 1868 that the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic named Decoration Day as an annual observance. Popularly known as "Memorial Day," the federal holiday became official in 1966.

    It's interesting to read how the holiday was celebrated historically in the South, at the major battlefields, and in the Northern States, and how it's celebrated today. And although Californians might not be absolutely correct in expanding Memorial Day commemorations to include veterans as well as those who died in the Armed Services, it would seem doesn't seem like a bad idea to honor our nation's military men and women every chance we get.


    A New Tale of Murder and Woe from The Real Penny Dreadful

    Penny postage lg



    "Quite unsettling."

    Mere words fail to express the sensational drama played out on the pages of Shades of the Departed, Cops and Robbers Issue. 

    Murder. Mayhem. Vice. Avarice. It's all there. Your favorite characters, ummm columnists, at their electrifying finest presented for the line-up by footnoteMaven, Editor/Publisher and leader of the gang. 

    Don't delay. Steal your free copy of Shades of the Departed today!

    This message is (strongly) endorsed by Miss Penny Dreadful, roving reporter and sensationalist scribe. 



    Well Done APG: New Youth Membership Level

    Student Grant Award

    The Association of Professional Genealogists is to be commended for adding a new Youth Member level to encourage participation by young genealogists. Well done! The change was announced this spring by Kimberly Powell, APG President and is only one part of the overall restructuring of dues designed to create consistency for North American and International memberships.

    The new Youth Member category expressly promotes the involvement of young genealogists, many who are students or recent college graduates and might find it a hardship to join a professional organization at the full rate.

    When we considered founding the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant in 2010, very few genealogy conferences, societies, or organizations offered a student or youth rate for membership or participation, although "the future of genealogy" was a popular and much-discussed topic.

    The Southern California Genealogy Society Genealogy Jamboree has offered a student scholarship for several years and has partnered with the Freeman Student Grant cash award since 2011. 

    In 2013, the National Genealogical Society offered for the first time a youth conference registration rate for the 2013 Las Vegas Convention, setting a new standard for the national conference.

    The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference makes a discounted student rate available to current students of all ages attending elementary to graduate school.

    I am especially excited by APG's commitment to young professional genealogists and hope that more organizations will take a cue from APG's membership rates to add a Youth Member policy.

    APG continues to offer a wealth of services to its members including professional development programs, a monthly e-newsleter, website, APG Quarterly Journal, and online webinars. Membership most worthwhile for any professional genealogist of any age.

    Kudos APG!

    Do you know of other genealogy organizations or conferences offering a Youth or Student rate? Please give them a shout-out in the comments!


    Utah Student to Receive Genealogy Grant 

    Woodbury paul 2014

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Committee is pleased to announce that Paul Woodbury, a Brigham Young University senior from Provo, Utah will receive $500 from the Freeman Memorial Grant program and 3-day registration to the 2014 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California from SCGS.

    Paul will attend the SCGS Jamboree June 6-8, 2014 and use the grant funds toward genealogy research and education. This is the fourth year that the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant Program and SCGS have partnered to offer a student genealogy award.

    Paul works at the campus Center for Family History and Genealogy and recently participated in a community seminar in Washington D.C. In 2013 he joined a student study abroad program and visited the Vatican Secret Archives in Rome -- that's quite a genealogy research trip!

    The new SCGS Jamboree DNA Day is a special attraction for Paul who is majoring in Genetics and Biotechnology and plans to pursue a career in genetic genealogy. He is excited about the great potential of genetics to help reunite families separated by adoption or abandonment and locate lost ancestors for family historians.

    The Student Genealogy Grant was founded in 2011 following the unexpected death of my mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman. She was an enthusiastic fan of the SCGS Jamboree and an ardent GeneaBlogger follower who worked with student volunteers for many years in her capacity as Director of Voluntary Action Centers in Orange County, California and in Arizona. Mom was hopeful that DNA would solve a long-standing brick wall problem in our family tree, and we may get through it yet!

    Past recipients of the Student Genealogy Grant include Anthony Ray of Palmdale, Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, and Mike Savoca of New Jersey. 

    Please join me in congratulating Paul as the 2014 recipient of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, and be sure to welcome him when you see him at Jamboree.

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