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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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    Entries in Christmas (5)


    A Christmas Gift: Shades of the Departed Toys Issue


    Shades of the Departed: Toys

    Editor/Publisher has donned her tiara to announce the Christmas 2013 issue of Shades of the Departed Magazine: Toys. Read your free copy here and Merry Christmas to all! Thank you once again, footnoteMaven, for a wonderful holiday gift!

    P.S. Miss Penelope Dreadful's Irish cousin Dervla Dreadful has provided a most charming contribution to Toys . Clearly, spinning tales runs in the family. 

    Table Of Contents

    On The Cover Of Shades
    The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe - Editor

    Dressed To The Nines
    The Well Dressed Doll - Maureen Taylor

    Watch The Birdie
    Toys Used As Accessories In Photographic Studios - Brett Payne

    Toys, Family Stories, & Junk Piles - Caroline Pointer

    Appealing Subjects
    The Appeal of Toys - Craig Manson

    Queen Victoria’s Dolls
    Wooden and Paper - fM

    Dervla “Dare” Dreadful
    A Dreadful Adventure - A Doll’s Story

    The Healing Brush
    Use Your Imagination - Janine Smith

    An iAncestor Christmas
    All I Want For Christmas - Denise Barrett Olson

    The Toy Shop Album
    Toys In Old Photos

    Protecting An Antique Book - Denise Levenick

    The Last Picture Show
    Elijah B. Core - Children’s Portrait Specialist


    Holiday Gift Guide: Geeky Gadgets for the Genealogist on Your List


    The teenagers and grands on your holiday shopping list might not think of themselves as family historians, but consider this: 

    Every instagram photo, every snap of that baby's smile is a future family keepsake!

    Lately I've been working on new articles and presentations featuring digitizing your family history, and I've come across several fun and useful new gadgets that have made their way into my gear bag. Of course, a few of these are still on my holiday wish list, but I couldn't resist sharing my favorite geeky finds that will make great holiday gifts for the genealogist, or shutterbug, on your gift list.

    Faves Under $15

    My Personal Favorite #1 Geeky Gadget: The Joby GripTight Smartphone Mount

    It might not look like much, but the Joby GripTight Mount is my choice for Number 1 Geeky Gadget of the year. This really, really small expandable grip fits iPhones and most smartphones and turns your camera phone into a digitizing powerhouse. Screw the Joby GripTight Mount to any tripod with a universal mount or add a GorillaPod Tripod to make a DIY tripod with a chair or fence rail. When you're finished, detach the phone and collapse the mount to stow it in your pocket or clip to a keychain. Also available as a kit including mount and tripod Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand.

    #2 Favorite: Remote Shutter Release

    Anyone who spends time digitizing family keepsakes with a smartphone or digital camera knows that sometimes shutter jitter can create fuzzy shots. A remote shutter release, either wired or wireless, lets you step away from the camera to operate the shutter and achieve crisp, clear images. Unfortunately, most compact digital cameras don't include a port for a shutter remote, but it's worth checking to see if the genealogist on your gift list could use a remote.

    The $6.99 Satechi Remote Shutter works great with my Canon Powershot G11/12 series and is compatible with several other Canon cameral. 

    Genealogists' Gravestone Gadget

    Move the light where you need it most to photograph fading tombstone inscriptions using the NEEWER 32-Inch Collapsible Light Reflector. This portable reflector won't be as crisp and bright as a real mirror, but it's quite a bit less fragile.

    The kit comes with five different reflectors (translucent, silver, gold, white, and black) but the white and metallic will be most helpful directing light on tombstone carving. A handy pouch holds the reflectors between cemetery outings.



    Smartphone Camera Macro Lens

    If you use your smartphone to snap close-up photos the Easy-Macro Cell Phone Lens Band is an easy way to add optical zoom to most any smartphone. The lens is attached to a flexible band that snaps over the phone, with or without case, giving instant access to the macro lens without sticky adhesive or wobbly clips.

    I'm always on a quest for new camera filters and lenses, especially something that fits over a case. For this price the quality doesn't compare to a real camera lens, but it adds a bit of fun to the camera gear kit.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Sketch Kit

    Does your favorite genealogist already own a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner? The Flip-Pal Sketch Kit accessory adds note-taking ability with a transparent write-on/wiipe-off film that lets you identify photos and make citation notes that will appear with the scanned image.

    Kit comes with three erasable markers and clear acrylic sketch sheet. 


    Great Gadgets Under $100

    Eye Fi SD Card

    These little memory cards speed up digitizing by automagically transferring your snapshots or scans directly to your computer, smartphone or tablet device. The Eye-Fi Mobi Wireless Memory Card, transfers image files to your mobile device, while the Eye-Fi Pro X2  model handles camera RAW files and transfers to MAC or PC computer.

    Olloclip iPhone Lenses

    Don't you sometimes wish you could get a really good close-up photo, or maybe a wide-angle shot with your iPhone camera? The Olloclip 3-in-1 Lens for iPhone 4 & iPhone 4S  is winning awards for  its high quality optical lenses designed to bring iPhonography to a new level. Choose from the 3-in-one Lens that delivers wide-angle, macro, and fish-eye capability, or the Olloclip Telephoto Lens + Circular Polarizer for iPhone 4/4S  that brings telephone and polarizer lens to the iPhone. Models for both iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 are available; unfortunately, Android smartphones are not included. The high-quality glass optics in Olloclip lenses have earned high praise in MacWorld and Wired. 

    I've been frustrated when trying to photograph framed documents and photos under glass one time too many, and am looking forward to putting the Olloclip Polarizing Lens to the test soon. Combined with the telephone, the CPL (Circular Polarizing Lens) will also cut through smog, haze, and fog making those grey winter skies less daunting.

    Big Ticket Gadgets

    Of course, you might also be looking for a Great Big Geeky Gadget for your favorite genealogist. Something like a new tablet or eReader.

    You'll have lots of choices in the world of mobile tablet devices, from Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy 7-inch Tab 3

    to the Apple iPad Mini

    and the Kindle Fire HD  and new HDX. 

    When comparing models, check compatibility with the available eBook platforms for access to a growing library of genealogy reference books and family histories. Titles available in the Amazon Kindle Store can be read on all kinds of tablets, not only the Kindle ebook readers. You will need the Kindle App, for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad or for Windows Android.

    Amazon Prime members have the added benefit of borrowing books, including many genealogy titles, from the Kindle library to read for free with the Kindle App or on a Kindle device. 

    Talking About eBooks

    Save on shipping and wrapping by sending your favorite genealogist an eBook download via Family Tree Books, iTunes or the Amazon Kindle Store. Search Genealogy or Family History for a growing selection of titles, or lend a helping hand to the keeper of the stuff in your family by giving a copy of my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes.

    Happy Holidays!

    Note: Affiliate links help support The Family Curator website and blog. Thanks!


    Family Heirlooms: The Ultimate Re-Gift

    Treasure Chest Thursday

    All I really want for Christmas is my grand-dad's stereo card viewer and his collection of vintage stereograph cards. They were a little warped the last time my Dad shared them with me, but they still conjure lazy Sunday afternoons in Grandpa's little study listening to the tick-tock of a mantle clock while I marveled at the Wonders of the World or Scenes from The Great War.

    ReBox4 Flap 4

    Dad isn't quite ready yet to pass on this heirloom to the next generation, but I think I have some family treasures I might be ready move along to my sons and their families. If you are "re-gifting" family treasures this year, I hope you will take time to write a simple history for your family keepsake. It doesn't have to be a long involved project, but even a simple sentence or two could keep your treasure from being tossed into the trash. 

    If you aren't sure how to start, you can find ideas on crafting an heirloom history in my post Treasure Chest Thursday: Writing the History of Your Heirloom or on the Houstory Hearth Blog where Mike and Dan Hiestand, creators of The Heirloom Registry, write about saving family stories.

    I love meeting people like the Houstory Brothers who are dedicated to helping people save family history by preserving the provenance along with the heirloom. The Heirloom Registry online service is designed to help "stop the stories from disappearing." Whether you register your family keepsake on the Heirloom Registry or record it on paper and attach it to the item, by writing the history of your heirloom you are taking the single most important step toward preserving your family treasure.

    Too many times, we inherit things that seem significant, we just can't quite figure out why. Like the basket of stereo cards from my grandparents' home. I know my own story -- why I like the vintage cards -- but, I wonder if Dad ever looked at those as a kid and how they have survived all these years? Now, there's a conversation for our holiday gathering, and the beginning of an heirloom treasure tale.




    If Our Ancestors Wrote Christmas Letters: 2010 Edition

    The Annual Christmas Letter, circa 1900

    Dearest Cousin,

    Forgive the brevity of this holiday message. I have only a small quantity of ink and this one sheet of paper torn from the back of Mr. Smith’s store account book and will of needs write in a small hand and with a light stroke. 

    I wish I could say that we are all well, but after Bessie kicked the ladder upsetting George onto the hay rake, we have just had one hard knock after another. George only had the wind knocked out of him, landing on the handle not the tines of the rake, but poor Bessie was so unsettled her milk went sour and made the baby sick for nearly a week. The poor thing (the baby, not the cow) just couldn’t get any rest at all and we were nearly crazed what with listening to the little mite cry and cry. Finally, the old dear (the cow, not the baby) settled down and her milk got just as sweet again as white honey. She has always been such a good animal; we surely do hope and pray that she will stay well for the children have all grown to love her so, to say nothing of how highly we regard her milk.

    The five older children are well except for Georgie who seems to have the same hard luck as his father. He didn’t fall on the hay rake, although it might have knocked some sense into him because on account of his hard head (just like his father’s) we are now grandparents with a new baby in the house – not the baby that got sick from Bessie’s milk, but Georgie and his wife’s baby born just five days after our youngest (the one who did get sick from Bessie’s milk). If it wasn’t for Georgie being so stubborn he would have let that girl marry Johnson boy across the creek, but Georgie just wouldn’t have any of it. That Bessie took off from our farm crying most piteously after George hollered at her for knocking him off the ladder and on to the hay rake. You know George is usually a very mild man, but he was so surprised that his voice just got the better of him. Georgie went running after Bessie who ran across the field to into that Johnson boy who was courting Patience Wilson. They were probably doing what younguns do (Riff Johnson and Patience, not Georgie and Bessie) and she started wailing, probably about how her mama was going to give her a piece of her mind when she found out what those two were up to. Georgie thought Riff was hurtin’ her (Patience not Bessie) so he pulled back and gave Riff a fistful of good manners. The boy just stood there with his face swelling up and bleeding and the cow moaning into the sky because everyone else was shouting and yelling.  After all that Patience decided Georgie was a hero and she wouldn’t have any more to do with that Johnson boy after all. Georgie fell sick in love and nothing would do except he and Patience would be married and you can see what came of that.

    Bessie seems to know she was the cause of all the fuss and she cries and carries on most all the time. This is pretty fine by us because her moaning is a bit of a lullaby song and with two new babies and only one cradle, we are celebrating Christmas with a babe in the manger and Bessie singing carols. 

    I hope that you and your family have good news to share and that you will be able to write again soon. We read your news about Cousin James position at the bank and the ice sculpture carved in his likeness for the holiday dinner at the Ritz Hotel. I expect it was fairly spectacular with his fine brow and long nose. George wonders if the bank would like to borrow a cow to model as an image for dairy investments? Bessie is available.


    Your Cousin Amelia 

    Photograph: Barry, Kelley & Chadwick. Down on the farm, c1906. Photographic Print on stereo card. Digital. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 US. Accessed December 2010.


    A Christmas Carol for Arline and Anabelle

    Arline would be so very happy to meet her great-great-granddaughter Anabelle. Just two years old, Anabelle is the perfect age for learning one of our family's favorite Christmas carols. I know that Arline would be singing along with her:

    Away in a manger
    No crib for a bed
    The little Lord Jesus
    Lay down His sweet head.

    The stars in the sky
    Looked down where he lay
    The little Lord Jesus
    Asleep in the hay.

    The cattle are lowing
    The poor baby wakes
    But Little Lord Jesus
    No crying He makes

    We love you Lord Jesus
    Look down from the sky
    And stay close beside us
    Til morning is nigh.

    Be near me Lord Jesus
    I ask you to stay
    Close by me forever
    And love me I pray

    Bless all the dear children
    In thy tender care
    And guide us to heaven
    To live with You there.

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