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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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    Organize Your Genealogy NOW!

    Organize Your Genealogy In a Week

    Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE. Expires 03/10/2015.

    January is National Get Organized Month, and if you are looking for a boost to your genealogy organizing resolutions, check out Family Tree University's upcoming  Organize Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop where I will be on-hand to answer questions and share tips to help you be an organized genealogist in 2015. 

    A new year brings out the best of intentions in all of us -- I know that I'm looking at a pile of papers and a flash drive filled with digital images from my recent trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. And everything needs to be labeled, filed, and organized so I can use this great information in my family history research. My goal is to process this new batch of material before this Friday, when we'll be talking more about organizing your genealogy at the FTU workshop.

    You can access the Organize Your Genealogy in a Week workshop anytime, anywhere, from your computer, tablet, or smartphone January 23rd through January 31st, 2015. The course features:

    • Six 30 to 60 minute instructional videos, and two written lessons on organizing your digital and paper genealogy. 
    • Advice from expert Denise May Levenick, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes, (that's me!) on how to organize your research, and share your quandaries with fellow participants.
    • Unlimited viewing: Your all-access pass gets you into all videos throughout the week—you can even download the videos to watch again later or view ones you missed.
    • Make your own schedule: Because the classes are pre-recorded, you don’t have to show up at a specific time to catch the ones you want—or choose between sessions you’re interested in.
    • Message board discussions: Ask questions and share ideas to apply the research strategies you learn.
    • Convenience: Log in anywhere you can connect to the internet, at whatever times work for you.

    If you've been struggling with an avalanche papers, digital files, photos, memorabilia, and research notes, you'll find practical strategies to help you conquer the mess and find more time for your research.

    Sign up today for this one-week organizing course and Save 20% with this special coupon code:

    Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE. Expires 03/10/2015.

    And, in the meantime, you can get ready for the workshop by checking out the latest issue of the Genealogy Insider where Editor Diane Haddad offers Tips from the Pros: Baby Steps to Organize Your Genealogy from my article in Family Tree Magazine May/June 2014 issue.


    Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Photo Album

    New England Experts

    Course coordinator Josh Taylor and instructors Cathi Desmarais and
    Diane Gravel presented five days filled with inside tips for learning more about
    New England ancestors in “Digging Deeper: Advanced New England Research.”


    I’m home from a great week at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and already thinking about “next steps” for research uncovered in the Family History library collections with help from the instructors and course lessons. l  As a native Californian, I especially appreciated the compact New England history timelines, migration lore, and repository background. 

    In class, I learned what you need to research Connecticut records (a state genealogy society membership card), where to look for early printed sermons (Worcester, Mass.), and why it’s worth making friends with the Town Clerk (insider tips!). At the library, I narrowed my searches and found new records full of surprises.  

    The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) holds a unique place among genealogy courses and institutes — it’s held in Salt Lake City near the extensive collections of the Family History Library and in recent years has been scheduled immediately following the Association of Professional Genealogists’ Professional Management Conference. The result is a busy two-weeks of genealogy meetings and meet-ups for researchers at all levels of experience.

    Sunday Brunch Bunch at SLIG 2015

    Genealogists have to eat too! Here’s a bunch at 
    Sunday Brunch at the Marriott Hotel. 

    Dinner at the Blue Iguana

    Blogger meet-up at the Blue Iguana in Salt Lake City with (from left)
    Shelley Bishop, me, Susan Clark, and Michelle Goodrum.

    The week-long Institute concluded Friday evening with the traditional Completion Banquet, featuring speaker David Rencher who shared the story of a small bundle of family letters that held the key to a decades-long family struggle with an Arizona land claim. At one suspenseful point, the slide changed to show a name and photo and a voice shouted from the back of the room: “That’s my third times great-grandfather!” It was Josh Taylor discovering something new about his ancestors, and a new connection to David Rencher. Only at a genealogy event!

    The evening continued with the Utah Genealogical Association annual awards presentations: Pamela Boyer Sayers and Rick Sayers were named as UGA Fellows, and Judy G. Russell was awarded the Silver Plate Award for excellence in publications. It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of their outstanding contributions to genealogy excellence and education. I feel fortunate to have attended lectures and courses presented by each one.

    UGA President Bret Petersen also announced the new courses for SLIG 2016 and introduced the new director Peg Ivanyo as Christy Davies Fillerup retires after four years as SLIG director. Christy was presented with the UGA Presidental Award, and will continue as Managing Editor of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

    Judy Russell with Paula Williams

    Paula Williams congratulating cousin Judy Russell (right),
    recipient of the  UGA Silver Plate Award.

    SLIG Banquet 2015

    At the Completion Banquet with (from left) Michelle Goodrum, 
    Jamie Mayhew, Susan Clark and Paul Woodbury.




    This Just Looks Like Salt Lake City

    Sharon Church

    My family thinks I’m in Salt Lake City this week attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, fondly known as SLIG, but I’m actually in New England (virtually) tramping through churchyards and property boundaries in pursuit of my elusive ancestors. Tour guides Josh Taylor, with New Hampshire expert Diane Gravel and Vermont expert Cathi Desmarais, have planned a great schedule for “Diving Deeper into New England” and I plan to take advantage of every opportunity to channel my deepest northeastern roots.

    Sharon VT

    Sponsored each year by the Utah Genealogical Association, SLIG offers five days of intensive genealogy instruction in eleven tracks, including classes in DNA analysis, U.S. and German research, genealogy writing, and methodology. The institute follows the Association of Professional Genealogists annual Professional Management Conference, and many researchers have taken an extended sabbatical to attend both events. I’m enjoying catching up with old friends and meeting virtual friends face-to-face. 

    I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be this week than in New England, but with the recent Eastern winter storms I’m one happy genealogist in Salt Lake City.

    FHL 2014


    Blog Posts I Almost Wrote in 2014, and a Few I Finished

    Lady typing

    I have a hard time getting a post from inspiration to publication. Sometimes, the words come easily. More often, I start to write, stutter, delete, start over, stammer, until I either push through to the final thoughts or hit the big red Delete button. Sometimes, a crisis intervenes mid-sentence and by the time I return to the post I've lost whatever thread I was chasing. Sigh. Such is the life of a blogger.

    5 Posts That Might Yet Be

    Who knows? One day, the Post Status on these Drafts may even change to Published:

    3 Things  -- This brief post on my Three Favorite Tech Gadgets appears finished except for one thing: a good title. Alas, doomed to Draft Status all for the want of a title. Any ideas?

    Unexpected Family History Discoveries at the Allen County Public Library -- Now why is this a Draft? It's a long article completed after FGS 2013 at Fort Wayne. Maybe the cat jumped on my keyboard and hit the Draft button. Another article to "review" and post.

    Murder and Mayhem: How Dreadfully Delicious -- Reading between the lines of this post title and skimming the few completed paragraphs, I can only guess where this article was going. . .  Maybe a visit to Shades of the Departed and footnoteMaven?

    More About Metadata -- Maybe this was a "need to write" title. I need a little "more" to go on here.

    Looking for a Texas Connection with T.W. and Maude (Chamblin) Saunders -- No article, just a title. I know what  happened here, though. I read another blogger's account of connecting with cousins because of a blog post and decided to throw out the bait. Unfortunately, I must have gotten lost on my way to the worm box.

    5 Top Posts of 2014

    Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents -- This post is The Family Curator's most popular, and most controversial, post of all time. Is it  safe? Is it a good idea? Will it work? All I can say, is "It worked for me!"

    Four Tried and True Systems for Organizing Genealogy Research -- A short round-up of genealogy organizing systems. 

    Tech Tuesday: Streamlined Scanning with a Genealogy Photo Workflow -- A peek at my scanning setup and workflow solution.

    Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives -- I tried two different methods; check out the results.

    Microfilm to Megapixel: Use a Digital Camera as a Film Scanner -- Discussion and review of my experiment in digital film photography at the Family History Center.

    Thank you for joining me at The Family Curator. Let me know what you enjoy reading, and what you'd like to know more about; your comments are the best part of this adventure.  See you in 2015!


    A Christmas Gift from the United States Census Bureau: the Long-Form Census

    American Community Survey Letter

    The first official notice arrived in early December. We are one of a small percentage of American households selected to complete what used to be known as the "long form" census and we feel pretty darn special, that's for sure! The one page letter, single sheet (English/Spanish) was addressed: 

    To the Resident of

    with one line instructions:

    Go to to complete the American Community Survey.

    We were invited us to go online to complete the survey. But with one thing and then another, the invitation was set aside. Until a reminder arrived yesterday with the BIG survey 28-page booklet, noting:

    This survey is so important that a Census Bureau representative may attempt to contact you by telephone or personal visit if we do not receive your response.

    Lest we think we are (too) special, the letter added:

    The Census Bureau chose your address, not you personally, as part of a randomly selected sample. You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey. . .


    Failure to comply or providing false information is a federal offense punishable by fine, Title 18 U.S.C Section 3571 and Section 3559, which amends Title 13 U.S.C. Section 221How much you'd have to pay, and whether or not this law is enforced is a topic of discussion. The Austin American-Statesmanwebsite notes that "the fine for refusing to answer a bureau survey can be as much as $5000," although "no one has been prosecuted for failing to respond to a survey since the 1970 census."

    The printed questionnaire is a large booklet measuring 10-1/2 inches square with staple binding. It's filled with 28-pages or questions printed with black ink inside green boxes. The checkboxes and fill-in-the-blank response boxes are large white boxes. The Census Bureau obviously wants to make this form as easy as possible to read and complete.

    Why Don't They Just Call It, 'The Census'?

    Politicians seem to get itchy whenever Census is mentioned. Some like it, some don't. The questions are reviewed, approved (or not). Some questions have been asked in every Census since 1790 -- how cool is that! Some are new. In fact, a lot of questions are new… and controversial. I read a little about the battle for the census here and here and here.

    I wish they just called it "the old census" instead of the ACS. The new name and new random sampling are a response to public sentiment that the long-form every-decade full census was too long and too intrusive. The new ACS samples 250,000 households  per month, adding us in the final cut for 2014.

    The American Community Survey website helpfully lists the questions categories and provides a link to the American Community Survey Information Guide. I was interested in the questions asked and found a downloadable PDF of all questions as well as information about individual questions. Each question is presented with responses:

    Why We Ask


    Federal Uses

    State and County Uses

    Private Sector Uses

    Questions We Wished They'd Asked in 1880

    Genealogists love information on births, immigration, and former residences, but it's not hard to imagine why some people might feel that the government is getting a little personal. As I rephrased and copied the questions from the booklet for this list, I felt a few twinges too. The official survey site labels the questions with official-sounding names like Fertility, Disability, or Plumbing Facilities, but what (or whom) do you think of when you read:

    Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions?"

    Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?

    Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?

    Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing errands alone such s visiting a doctor's office or shopping?

    Wouldn't we love to have those answers on the 1880 census when multi-generational households were typical, not unusual? Or

    Does this person have any of his/her own grandchildren under the age of 18 living in this house or apartment?

    Is this grandparent currently responsible for most of the basic needs of any grandchildren under the age of 18 who live in this house or apartment?

    How long has this grandparent been responsible for these grandchildren?

    What They Ask in 2014

    Questions on today's American Community Survey begin with name and telephone number, and the number of people at the residence. The form asks the following Information for each person in the residence:

    1. Name
    2. Relationship to Person 1
    3. Sex
    4. Age, Date of Birth
    5. Hispanic, Latiino or Spanish origin
    6. Race

    Pages 2 through 4 provide space for up to itemized information for up to five household members; persons 6 through 12 are listed by name, sex, age.

    On page 5 through 7, the survey asks questions about Housing:

    1. Kind of building (mobile home, house, apartment, etc)
    2. When built
    3. When Person 1 moved in
    4. How many acres
    5. Actual sales of agricultural products from this property in last 12 months
    6. Business on the property (store, barber shop)
    7. How many separate rooms
    8. How many bedrooms
    9. Hot/cold running water, flush toilet, bathtub/shower, sink with faucet, stove, refrigerator, telephone including cell phone
    10. Do you or any household members own computers, handheld, other type of computer
    11. Subscribe to internet using dial-up, DSL, cabel, fiber-optic, mobile broadband plan, satellite Internet, other
    12. Number of vehicles
    13. Which fuel used most for heating
    14. Utilities
      • Cost of electricity last month
      • Cost of gas last month
      • Cost of water and sewer last 12 months
      • Cost of oil, coal, wood etc last 12 months
    15. Did you r receive Food Stamps last 12 months
    16. Part of a condominium
    17. Home owned with/without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent
    18. If rented, monthly rent
    19. If owned or mortgaged, potential sale value
    20. Annual property taxes
    21. Annual fire, flood, hazard insurance
    22. Other debt against property
      • Monthly mortgage payment
      • Include property taxes?
      • Include insurance?
    23. Second mortgage
    24. Total costs for taxes, rent, registration, license for mobile home and site

    Pages 8 through 11 ask questions about Person 1, followed by four pages each for responses from Persons 2, 3, 4, and 5.


    • Name
    • Where born
    • U.S. Citizen by birth in U.S., territories, abroad of U.S. parents, or by naturalization (give year)
    • What year to U.S.
    • Attended school or college in last 3 months, public or private
    • What grade atending
    • Highest degree or level of school
    • B.A. Degree major
    • Ancestry or ethnic origin
    • Language spoken at home
    • How well does this person speak English
    • Live in this house 1 year ago, if no whether outside U.S. or different house in U.S.
    • Where living 1 year ago, address


    • Health insurance coverage
    • Deaf or hard of hearing
    • Blind or vision impaired
    • 5 years and  older:
      • Mental impairment due to physical, mental or emotional condition
      • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
      • Difficulty dressing or bathing
    • 15 years and older
      • Difficulty doing errands alone due to physical, mental or emotional condition
      • Marital status
      • in last 12 months married, widowed, divorced
      • How many times married
      • What year last married
    • Female age 15 to 50
      • Given birth to any children in the past 12 months
      • his/her own grandchildren under 18 living in this house
      • this grandparent responsible for most of basic needs of under 18 children living in this house
      • how long responsible for these grandchildren
    • Active duty in U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard
    • When served
    • VA servicie-connected disability rating
    • What is this persons service-connected disability rating


    • Last week, work for pay at a job
    • Address where last worked
    • Transportation to work last week
    • How many people rode in vehicle
    • Left home at what time to go to work last week
    • How many minutes to get home from work last week
    • On layoff last week
    • Temporarily absent from job last week
    • Informed to return to work within 6 months
    • Actively looking for work
    • Could have started work if recalled
    • When last worked
    • In last 12 months, did this person work 50 or more weeks?
      • How many weeks worked?
    • How many hours worked each week
    • Current of most recent job activity
    • For whom worked
    • Kind of business or industry
    • Manufacturing, wholesale, retail, other?
    • What kind of work
    • Most important duties

    INCOME in Last 12 Months

    • Wages
    • Self-employmnet income
    • Interest, dividents, other income
    • Social Security or Railrod Reitrement
    • SSI
    • State or local assistance
    • Pensions
    • Other income
    • Total income

    The entire survey is rated to take 40 minutes to complete. The time required will certainly vary with the number of household members.

    We will do our civic duty this evening. Personally, I'm glad it's eggnog season.



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