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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 COG (5)


    Praying With My Ancestors: A Pilgrimage of Sorts

    At least one branch of our family tree has leaned toward ecumenicalism for at least three generations. My great-granddparents were married in the home of a Presbyterian minister. My grandmother, Arline, was baptised protestant, confirmed Roman Catholic, and buried from a local Bible fellowship. Her sister Mercy was a devoted Seventh Day Adventist. My mother was baptised Roman Catholic but worshiped at Baptist and Evangelical Churches all her life. And her sister married a Texas Bible Church preacher.

    Grandma Brown never went to church without her hat, gloves, and pocketbook. This photograph captures the small community where they worshipped each week.

    I believe this is the Bible Center Church in Santa Ana. Second from left in the front row is my Aunt Frances, next to my grandmother, Arline Brown. Behind Auntie is her husband Benny C. Turner next to his mother, Willie Turner.

    We have missionaries, preachers, Sunday School teachers, choir members, ushers, and summer camp counselors in our line, but no altar boys until my own sons.

    Growing up, Sundays followed a strict schedule -- Sunday School followed by worship services, then home for lunch and "rest," and back to church for the evening service. On Wednesday, we attended mid-week services; as teenagers, we spent Friday nights with the Teen Group, and many weekends attending church-sponsored trips to Disneyland, the beach, or the mountains. Summers always included at least a week of Vacation Bible School and one or two weeks at church camp. When we grew to old to be campers, my sister and I signed up as counselors.

    My grandmother, aunt and uncle attended church in Santa Ana, twenty minutes from our hometown, so I only heard Uncle Benny preach when I stayed overnight on the occasional weekend. I remember him as a tall, handsome, and very kind man. He and my pretty aunt were popular with the congregation and favorites of all the children.

    Birth records for Kansas City are rare before 1900, so I was excited to find this in my grandmother's trunk.

    This certificate holds two surprises: Arline converted to Catholicism in 1929 one year before she married my grandfather, and she is using the name of her third husband, Charles Parker.

    Kinsel arline church cert

    This undated church certificate was probably issued in the 1950's when my grandparents lived in Santa Ana, California.

    This article was written for the September Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.




    The Seasons of Genealogy: Content to be Stuck in a Genealogy Groundhog Day

    Ring o rosies web

    It’s difficult to think about the seasons of genealogical research without considering the sober image of the seasons of life – birth of spring, flowering summer, harvest in autumn, and then the long “little death” of winter.

    I remember the first thrill that piqued my interest in family stories – and the “aha” moment when I discovered that history was much more interesting when it included my own blood relations. My grandmother’s moldering trunk filled with letters, papers, and photos was a Nancy Drew mystery come to life. That was many years ago, when I was a high school and college student. The fact that I wanted to research my grandmother for School legitimized my curiosity and opened doors to memories that might not have been recalled otherwise. I am grateful now to have that thesis, complete with non-exhaustive search, and those cassette taped interviews with family who have since died.

    But it seems the season never ended. Instead, it’s become a long, slow Spring often teasing with the promise of full-blown answers, flowering hypothesis, and rampant vines leading to new branches of research to explore. Each time it seemed to be time to move forward, more weeds sprout, more maintenance is required. I think I am stuck in the genealogical version of the movie Groundhog Day, set in spring instead of winter.

    Within this long season of Eternal Spring, little cycles through the seasons occur – with small rewards of watching information grow, harvesting results, and turning what I’ve learned into bedtime stories to share with others. Wonder, surprise, and serendipity are the watchwords of Spring, and my research continues to pose more questions than answers. I have yet to explore the history of my paternal ancestors, yet to document my husband’s family, yet to pull together the stories in a way that holds the interest of other family members.

    One day, the summer solstice of my research may arrive, but for now I am quite content to hunt for wild strawberries in the tangle.

    This article was written for the Carnival of Genealogy, July issue hosted by West in New England. (Thinking about things metaphorically.)


    Writing for Blog Carnivals, Entries That Make the Hosts Smile

    This two-part series on Writing for Blog Carnivals was first published in September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.

    Part 1, Writing for Blog Carnivals, Interviews With the Carnival Hosts

    Discover what a blog carnival is all about and how you can participate. Carnival hosts also share their experiences and describe what it takes to run a successful carnival event.

    Part 2, Writing for Blog Carnival Entries That Make the Hosts Smile

    Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share some of their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article.

    Carnival hosts have two things in common – they love what they do and have a tough time singling out “favorites” from the many wonderful entries to the events.

    Carnival Entries That Make the Hostess Smile

    Jasia relates that after nearly 80 editions of the Carnival of Genealogy, “it’s more the edition topics that are memorable. . . but a few articles stand out for two reasons, passion and talent. The authors are all passionate about the topics they’re writing about, and they are very talented writers. It’s just that simple.”

    FootnoteMaven says, “In the case of Smile for the Camera it’s all about the photographs; the sheer joy of seeing how each participant interprets the word prompt in a pictorial submission. I’m also a sucker for a creative blog name. It always gets my attention.”

    For the Festival of Postcards, Host Evelyn Theriault notes that what stands out most to her is when bloggers do something different for them, such as a geneablogger “paying attention to the postcard publisher or postcrossers adding little research blurbs to accompany their modern postcards.” She likes seeing the ways that bloggers from different niches approach the postcard subject.

    When coaxed, the carnival hosts gave several examples of what they consider memorable entries, and it’s easy see the qualities that makes these articles stand out from the crowd. Careful research, humor, creativity, and good writing are all evident in the following articles (presented here in alphabetical order) –-

    Be Yourself

    Most importantly, memorable articles are written by bloggers who dare to “be themselves” and let their own unique voice be heard. Whether you are new to blogging, or an old hand looking for a fresh perspective, it’s a refrain that never gets old, “Be Yourself” as footnoteMaven says.

    “When writing for the COG, your article will be appearing alongside many others. Develop your own voice to stand out from the crowd,” Jasia advises writers. “if you’re quick-witted, go for some humor. . . if you’re detail oriented, deliver your content with source citations in all their glory. If your talent is writing emotional posts that touch people’s hearts, don’t submit anything less.”

    “I am continually amazed at the effort Smile participants put into each post,” adds footnoteMaven. “There’s a lot of love going on with those photographs. You cannot help but be touched by the enormity of pride, and the value to our family history that the participants place on, often one of a kind, photographs.”

    This pride of family is often the spark that moves an someone to respond to a particular carnival edition. If the theme fails to resonate, the writing can fall flat too for lack of passion. In fact, according to Jasia, passion is one of the key factors to a successful carnival posting. Without passion, the article will likely not be memorable at all.

    Mini-Step: Write a Very Short Piece

    Does an upcoming carnival topic appeal to you? Perhaps you have the perfect story to tell or photograph to share, but you’re still timid about joining in. Consider the words of Evelyn Theriault and “focus on writing a very short piece – a few paragraphs at most.” Don’t be intimidated, she adds, just do it.

    Write a mini-article, post it to your blog, and complete the submission form or email to meet the deadline (even better, be a day or two early). When the carnival goes online, post another article announcing it at your blog, and be sure to provide links from the original article to the carnival article as well.

    Mini-Step: Join the Carnival as a Commenter

    Another way to ease into carnival participation is to be an ACTIVE reader. Carefully read entries to current carnivals, ask yourself what you like about the article, what you might do differently. When you find a particularly memorable article, take time to leave a comment. Comments are great writing practice and help you focus on what you really want to say, all useful in honing your own style.

    Comments are also the best way to convey your appreciation to the carnival hosts and writers. A few words lets them know that you enjoy the time and effort they give to producing the event, and encourages them to continue.

    Next Step: Just Do It, With Passion

    “To anyone contemplating participating in a carnival,” adds footnoteMaven, “Do it! I have always found it to be a very rewarding experience regardless of which side of the post you find me on.”

    “Just do it,” writes Evelyn. “

    Bring your passion to your piece, and, as Jasia says, “When the passion is there, the article will likely be memorable.”

    See you at the Carnival!

    Thanks to footnoteMaven, Jasia, and Evelyn Theriault for sharing their thoughts on hosting genealogy blog carnivals for this two-part article. Please leave your comments for the Carnival Hostesses or the author, Family Curator.

    What does it take for a carnival article to be your favorite?


    How to Write for Blog Carnivals, Interview with the Carnival Hosts

    Grab the Gold Ring with a Memorable Carnival Post, Part 1 was first published September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.

    Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article, as well as describe what it takes to run a successful blog carnival in this two-part article at The Family Curator.

    Blog carnivals and festivals are one of the best ways to participate in the blogging community and interact with other bloggers, and with several great events offered each month, you are sure to find a subject that appeals to your interests. Read on to learn exactly what is a Blog Carnival, and how you can join one.   

    What is 'Blog Carnival'?

    Popular podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke confessed while interviewing carnival hostess footnoteMaven that she was a bit confused about carnival protocol for her first entry to the Carnival of Genealogy.

    "I took it very literally, I thought we were doing ‘Carnival’ theme,” she laughingly admitted.

    "I did a Louise merry-go-ground, a mashup of images of all the women named Louise. . . travelling around on this carnival.”

    The notion of “Carnival” conjures up all kinds of visions. Some folks think of country carnivals with mechanical thrill rides, a house of mirrors, and the midway crowded with ring-toss games. Others recall the three-ring acts under the big-top. It’s a small group of bloggers, indeed, who think differently when hearing the term “Carnival.”

    Carnival, Festival, or Challenge – all are themed writing events designed to bring together articles on a given subject. Typically, the Carnival Host will announce the a Carnival Theme and invite participants to submit entries. There is no formal application or registration. Yet, there are a few informal rules that help make things run smoothly.

    Every Carnival Needs a Manager

    Organizing, promoting, and publishing a blog carnival is a big job. Ask hostesses Jasia, footnoteMaven, and Evelyn Theriault.

    Jasia, Creative Gene, is already planning the 100th edition of The Carnival of Genealogy, and can count over 2000 genealogy-related articles in past editions of this long-standing favorite.




    FootnoteMaven, Shades of the Departed, counts 22 months, 22 editions of Smile for the Camera, a carnival focusing on memorable photographs bringing “subjects, poses, or information we’ve never seen before.”





    Evelyn Theriault, A Canadian Family, is now hosting the 8th Festival of Postcards, Theme: Geography, bringing together images and articles from  genealogy bloggers and postcard collectors.



    Each carnival host may spend as much as two days promoting, assembling, and commenting on entries. Some bloggers make the job easier, and some make the job harder. Typically, the host will announce the subject of the next carnival and give a deadline for entries along with instructions on how to participate.

    The blogger does not actually submit the article to the host, instead the article is posted on your own blog, and the link and a brief summary are submitted to the carnival host. Then, the real work begins for the host. They must take all the entries and assemble them into one cohesive article.


    If the number of entries is manageable, a host may read and comment on each one individually. FootnoteMaven notes,

    “I receive between 30 and 52 submissions for each carnival. I use the submitters’ photograph or avatar in the compilation. Sometimes finding a photograph requires a lot of searching.”

    She then tweaks the photo in Photoshop, resizing and adding a drop shadow. Next, she reads the submission and writes an introduction. Finally, fM moves on to create the logo for the next carnival. All in all, about “two days if you don't do anything else.”

    In September 2009 (when I first wrote about blog carnivals), the Original Carnival of Genealogy managed by Jasia at Creative Gene had already grown so large that she no longer had the time to write individual introduction to each submission.

    “My favorite part used to be when I commented/introduced each article in each edition,” Jasia said, “but I had to let that go when the number of participants grew beyond the time I had for putting the COG together.”

    Even with the carnival submission form, Jasia, and other COG hosts, must spend several hours compiling posts into the final Carnival article.

    In 2010 Jasia revised the COG guidelines to limit the number of entries to 30 with ten of the best submissions selected for a personal introduction by Jasia. One entry is also selected to be highlighted as the “featured article.” Jasia writes,

    "I'm asking you to put your best foot forward when it comes to submitting articles to the Carnival of Genealogy. Please don't dash off a quick post just to be a part of it. I want the COG to be a quality publication with well thought out, well researched, and well written articles. For the most part, it has been." (COG Changes for 2010)


    Carnival hosts seem to love reading the articles that come their way. Evelyn Theriault says,

    “putting the issue together allows me to really focus on each in such a way as to capture their individual essence. This is enjoyable, but also educational as it allows me to grow as a blogger.”

    The Festival of Postcards requires about thirty hours each edition, notes Evelyn, although technical glitches can bump the time spent considerably.

    Lessons from the Managers, or, How To Be a Carnival Host’s Dream Blogger

    Whether you are an old-hand at Carnivals, or looking to join the fun, here are a few tips that will make the manager’s job easier and ensure that your entry is guaranteed time under the spotlight.

    1. Meet the deadline. Post your entry on your blog AND follow the carnival guidelines to submit your article well before the announced deadline. Don’t make the host’s job harder by asking for an “Excused Tardy.” Just be on time, if not early. Remember that even blog services sometimes go down.
    2. Submit everything requested by the host. Typically, this will include Blog Name, URL to entry post, Post Title, Brief Summary; it may also include a photograph or avatar of yourself. Make a list and check things off as you include them in your submission.

    Part 2 in this series will include more tips from carnival hosts on How to Write a Memorable Carnival Article and examples of great entries from the archives.


    How to Write for Blog Carnivals, Each One Teach One COG

    The May Carnival of Genealogy gives bloggers an opportunity to share what they know best with the theme How to: Each One Teach One, and I can't wait to see what topics genealogy bloggers will come up with. Just imagine the collective wisdom of 30 genealogy bloggers x 3 articles! Nearly 100 articles showcasing specific genealogy and blogging How tos. What a wealth of information!

    footnoteMaven's announcement is all-inclusive:

    Choose a topic that you can give helpful advice on and
    write a series of articles (3+) about it

    I suppose the keyword here is helpful. And we can assume, helpful to genealogy bloggers. Which could mean just about anything. . .

    • Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist on How to find the PERFECT harem outfit for your next conference.
    • Thomas MacEntee, And I Helped on How to make a PERFECT slow cooker meal to give more time for genealogy
    • Caroline Pointer, Family Stories, on How to create the PERFECT rhyme to commemorate most any family event

    For my bit, I am starting off tomorrow with an revised edition and encore of my series on How to Write for Blog Carnivals. The two-part article published last fall featured email interviews with three veteran blog hostesses

    These "hostesess with the mostest" shared the background of Blog Carnivals, how to participate, AND how to write a truly memorable carnival entry. I hope the encouragement from these three champion genealogy bloggers will compel you to pull out the keyboard and tell us all How To. . . 

    For More Information

    COG Each One Teach One annnouncement at footnoteMaven

    Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy"

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