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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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    Get-Aways, Conferences, and Other Genealogy Learning Opportunities

    As much as I enjoy a good genealogy conference, it's not always possible to schedule travel and funds for a three or four-day event. That's when I find that online learning or an individual class or retreat are a bit more my style. Geneabloggers topic this week, Genealogy Conferences - The Magic Recipe, and yesterday's email newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society featuring the upcoming Come Home to New England Get-Away remind me that there is a time and place for all types of events.

    I attended the NEHGS Spring Getaway in April 2009, and it is highlight of my research and learning experiences. At the time, I was recently "retired" from teaching and found myself with time to travel and work on my genealogy skills; unfortunately, my friends were either unavailable or uninterested in genealogy. The NEHGS Getaway was perfect. Each day provided a full program, the staff was friendly and helpful, and other attendees were enjoyable people to spend the day with. Of course, it helped that Boston is a great city, and NEHGS is located in a comfortable neighborhood within easy walking distance of hotels, restaurants, shops, and parks.

    Since that spring, I have attended a national conference, several regional conferences, local society seminars, online classes, and webinars. I've always learn something new, and each type of event has been a good fit at different times in my life.

    There are many reasons I like distance learning such as online classes, webinars, and tutorials. It's less expensive, doesn't involve travel time or expense, and is self-paced. Probably the biggest advantage to home education is that you can customize your learning to study what you need when you need it, so that your personal research is advanced as you learn. It can be a bit lonely when you're home alone at your computer, although at times that's okay.

    Conferences and seminars deliver even more opportunities to hear top-notch speakers on a great variety of topics. The first time I attended a conference alone, I didn't know anyone at all. I sat in sessions all day, made small-talk at the lunch tables, and went home exhausted but excited about my research.

    The next year, I attended the same conference, but so much had changed. As a blogger, I "knew" all kinds of people and looked forward to meeting them in real life. The conference organizers recognized this new group of attendees and scheduled meet-up events where Facebook Friends, Twitter peeps, and bloggers could meet in real time, and maybe make plans for lunch or dinner. It was easy to find people, easy to connect. It made a difference; the conference became an enjoyable social event as well as an educational opportunity. 

    In my experience, the small group retreat at NEHGS was the best of both individual and group learning. The expert staff members were able to direct my research toward positive outcomes, and the other attendees provided new ideas and motivation. I was learning new skills and making concrete progress with my own research at the same time. I went home not only enthusiastic about my work, but several steps further along than when I arrived.

    I've found that different kinds of learning experiences suit me at different times in my life, and I'm glad to have so many options available. Of course, organizers of these events know they are competing for the time and money of attendees. National and regional conferences are exciting, online classes are enriching, and retreats and tours can help break-through brick walls with focused research assistance exactly where its needed. It's nice to have so many choices.


    iPhoto Library Manager Rescues Aliased Images

    Lately I have been cleaning up my iPhoto test files and moving toward building two or three nice, clean iPhoto Library files.

    When I first moved to the Mac platform, I was reluctant to allow Mac applications full control of my files in the "Package" arrangement. Windows photo programs access images in whatever folders you have placed them and pretty much leave them there until you tell the program to move them, or move them yourself (if you ever do). In contrast, Mac's iPhoto attempts to make all this easy for the user. Out-of-the-box, iPhoto will import photos directly from camera or card into the iPhoto program and place them in one mysterious file called a package. This is called a Managed Library, and aims to discourage the user from moving images around and causing a problem for iPhoto to find the broken link. I wrote about this in a previous post, iPhoto Hides Photos in Plain View.

    On Windows, I experienced just that kind of havoc with various programs, all because I gave in to some vague housekeeping urge and moved images outside of the software. Disaster. Broken links. Much time spent reconnecting.

    The iPhoto package concept tries to avoid just this problem with the default Managed Library.

    However, you can get yourself in the same pickle and end up with broken links in iPhoto too. Mostly, this seems to happen when users opt for a Referenced Library rather than a Managed Library.

    A Referenced Library does have some advantages, particularly for users who want to work with photos with more than one photo editor, for example Adobe Lightroom, iPhoto, and Adobe Photoshop Elements. The iPhoto Referenced Library only indexes photos, leaving them in their original location.

    I thought the Referenced Library idea sounded like it would work better for my needs. I could maintain my old Windows-sensibility folder heirarchy and keep all photos on an external drive.  iPhoto would reference images, not import them to the program. This would make a lean iPhoto Library file containing only aliased images. In addition, I could easily access any images I wanted to work with in Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop Elements.

    To change the default Managed Library to a Referenced Library, I opened the iPhoto Preferences Advanced window and unchecked the importing option "Copy items to the iPhoto Library." Images would now be indexed (or referenced) not imported. The image would  be visible, editable, save-able, but not reside inside the Library package. Since I was new to iPhoto and still not sure how much I would like the editing, keywording tools, etc, I thought this was a good solution.

    Denise Barrett Olson, at the Moultrie Creek Gazette, wrote a great series of iPhoto posts that encouraged my keywording and photo organization. The more I worked with iPhoto the more I liked it, until I thought, "Hey, why don't I just use it like it is supposed to be used?" Import the pictures directly to iPhoto and not worry. I like the "Don't Worry" part. I went back into preferences and checked "Copy items to the iPhoto Library." I got busy and used iPhoto more and more. It is so easy and so fun.

    Now I had about four different iPhoto Library files that needed to be merged; Denise Olson to the rescue with a recomendation for iPhoto Library Manager. This little program allows you to switch between libraries, copy, merge, and split libraries and retain your keywording and organization.


    iPhoto Library Manager also performs a neat little trick I discovered quite by accident -- it finds aliased images and moves the original into a new library.

    My switch from Referenced to Managed Library resulted in both alias and jpg files inside the Library package. I knew this could cause problems if I moved any originals merely referenced by the aliases.

    Mixed up iP lib

    First, I created a new Library and confirmed that the default "Copy items to the iPhoto Library" was checked. This would create a Managed Library.

    Using iPhoto Library Manager, I copied various events into the new Library avoiding the aliased images I planned to work with later. By mistake, I copied a folder that included some aliased pictures, but when I peeked into the iPhoto Library package contents I discovered the original jpg file, not the alias from the former Library, had been imported into the Library package.  iPhoto Library Manager had moved the file using my new Import preferences, and copied not the alias but the original.

    This little trick is helpful if you want to move images from a Referenced LIbrary to a Managed Library, and iPhoto Library Manager does it all without any special instructions. I was glad not to lose my keywords and filenames for the aliased images, and to have them all together with my other photos. In a short time I was working with a new library file and all images were imported with metadata and album organization.

    More on Photo Organization

    iPhoto Library Hides Photos in Plain View

    Comparing Scans on the FlipPal and Epson V500

    It's Okay to Play Favorites (How to decide what to keep)




    Genealogy Goals Success

    Each time Amy Coffin posts an update to her 2011 Genealogy Goals on the WeTree blog, I get motivated to get back to work myself. It's a funny thing about sharing your goals with someone else; whether it's a book you want to read, a place to visit, or finding a #16 grandmother, just committing the idea to someone else in words seems almost magical. Here it is, barely four months since Amy and I met and shared a few personal genealogy challenges -- Amy is checking off those goals right and left.
    Congratulations on finding that elusive ancestor, Amy. I can't wait to see your beautiful family tree with ALL those generation names complete.

    Congrats Cousin Will, Best Wishes Kate

    When our ancestor Joshua Windsor dropped a letter from his noble name, he surely didn't mean to D-vorce himself from his noble origins, did he? We like being Winsors, especially when it comes to celebrating a Royal Wedding.

    Great Aunt Mercy liked to flaunt "our" Royal connections, and painted this gilt and colored version of the Royal crest as the cover page of a book for her niece's high school graduation in 1926. Of course, another Royal event was being celebrated that month, the birth on April 21st of Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, known today as Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


    2011 Jamboree Countdown

    I'm registered for the 2011 SCGS Jamboree, are you? Early-bird registration ends this week, April 30, 2011. The line-up of speakers, exhibitors, and special events looks outstanding, and if last year was any indication, the GeneaBlogger presence will be even stronger. This is a Don't Miss conference in my book.

    I am also looking forward to the GENEii Family History Writers Conference, scheduled Thursday, June 9 as a pre-Jamboree event. The all-day conference features John Philip Coletta and a panel of family history writers.

    Last year, and also in 2009, my mom and I both attended and had a great time meeting other Mother-Daughter genealogy teams. If you are still undecided about attending the Jamboree, maybe a few posts from previous years will convince you to join us. 



    Tales from the Vaults of Vermont

    Office of the Town Clerk, Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont – I love that word, “vault.” It makes me think of safe-deposit boxes stacked to the ceiling, heavy iron doors, and secret passwords. The sancto-sanctorum of special collections.

    When it comes to Vermont records, it all begins in the Town. For a California suburbanite, this is a difficult concept. We have towns in Southern California, but we call them cities. Their borders blend one into another until it’s hard to know where Burbank becomes Glendale becomes La Crescenta. Sometimes you can tell by the state of the roads – one city has more money for fixing potholes than another. Sometimes you can tell by the insignia on the police cars. A city is a city is a city. All these cities are part of a larger county. There are really only three jurisdictions – state, county, city.

    New England towns seem to be large areas laid out and labeled on a map. Within these boundaries, a town may contain several cities, villages, or hamlets. This is a tough concept – the city, village, or hamlet really isn’t the location for official records sought by most genealogists. Those records are found in the Town. So really, in New England there are FOUR jurisdictions – state, county, town, and city/village/hamlet. But, it all goes back to the Town.

    My ancestors seem to have moved around a lot in the Granite State and I am having a heck of a time finding out where most of them were born. Great Aunt Mercy thought our g-g-g-g-grandmother was known as The Rose of Sharon, as in Sharon, Vermont.

    Sharon is a village in the Town of Sharon, and fortunately the only key needed to enter the Sharon Town Clerk’s vault is payment of a modest hourly fee for use of the room’s large work surface and $1.00 per page for photocopies.

    A few years ago I was in the same room, but the office closed before I could finish searching. That was the year I spied the town name on a highway sign and we veered off madly for “a quick look.” It wasn’t an Official Research Trip, but my husband is a good sport. I vowed then to return to Sharon.

    We were well equipped on this trip with digital camera, notebooks, notes, and Research Assistant (aka Good Sport Mr. Curator). We arrived before 10am, anticipating the office would be closed for lunch, but learned that the office was now open through lunch and closed on Friday. Yet another reason to Call Ahead.

    Since my last visit, the earliest Town Record Volumes have been carefully restored and protected in archival sleeves. Each page has been removed from the original book, encapsulated, and placed in a post-bound binder. Working under the watchful eye of the Town Clerk, we perused the early volumes for birth, marriage, death, and burial records.

    My working hypothesis for the maiden name of g-g-g-g-g-mother was turned upside down by a surprising discovery by Mr. Curator. We thought this woman was a young widow when she married my ancestor, but now have to consider other possibilities.

    The Town Clerk’s Vault holds a treasure trove of materials. While we were immersed in 18th century ear markings and road committee minutes, the everyday business of the day was going on in the outer office. Dog licenses. Permits. All the stuff of community life.

    Our discoveries both confirmed some information and upended other theories. It was a wonderful day with a few surprises of the best kind – the ones that lead on to new adventures.


    NERGC Highlights - On the Topic of 'Making a Buck'

    My biggest surprise at NERGC wasn't the New England cold spring wind, it was weather inside the conference Exhibit Hall.

    Instead of the blast of noise, competing colors and graphics, and milling shoppers that I've grown to expect at SCGS Jamboree, NGS, or FHExpos, the NERGC Exhibit Hall more closely resembled a rare books show at a local university. The carpeting helped.

    The foyer area outside the hall was lined with tables staffed by volunteers from local genealogical and historical societies. It made me wish I had Massachusetts roots... hey, maybe I do! Just inside the door of the Exhibit Hall, the first vendor offered books and maps, as did the sellers to the left and around the corner.  It was wonderful. Used books, new books, reprints, pamphlets, maps, ephemera, digital editions on cd. A browser's delight.

    Around the corner, I found NEGHS staffing an extensive book selection. Across the way Bruce Buzbee explained the features of RootsMagic. A few tables away, Old Maps showed their wares next to Legacy FamilyTree software. Interspersed, I found tables offering books from NGS, the Rhode Island Historical Association, APG, and other societies.

    There were no microphones.

    Of course, it wasn't exactly quiet in the hall, but the buzz was a very reasonable din. I actually stood back to look at the room and finally figured out what was missing. It was the mega-commercial vendors that make a large and loud presence. They just weren't there. Of course, if or FamilySearch knew that NERGC attendance was nearly 900, more than double their last event, perhaps they would have made a bid for space, As it was, I liked it just fine.

    The fact that so many commercial vendors were not present, also meant that the session offerings did not include multiple sessions on product-specific topics typically presented by vendor representatives. This is not a good-or-bad thing. Just different. Instead many of these slots were filled by professional genealogists speaking to their areas of expertise. Most of these professionals did not have a product to sell, such as a book or software, so presumably their only renumeration was the speaker's fees and potential for future clients.

    This was a real difference in focus for the event. I have enjoyed learning about new software and how to search online subscription sites at other conferences, but I also enjoyed the wide breadth of specialized research topics on offer at NERGC. After all, I can pick up tech tips via Webinar, screencast, and online tutorial, but how often can I hear the wit and wisdom of Paul Milner, Josh Taylor, Laura Prescott or Cherry Bamberg?


    Family Tree Magazine in your Mailbox

    The July 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine is hot off the press, and filled with a few nice surprises. I will admit that at first glance I missed the BIG news, but that was because I was excited to read another article.

    "Taking Care" highlights tips for organizing, selecting, and caring for your family treasures with links to helpful websites and archival suppliers. I love working on assignments like this that give me a reason to contact experts with tricky questions. Peter D. Verheyen, head of preservation and conservation at Syracuse University Library was especially helpful, offering ideas and answers during an extended telephone interview.

    This topic must be useful for at least some readers because I am already getting comments and questions via The Family Curator contact link. Please leave a comment or contact me if you have questions I can help with.

    If your issue of the magazine hasn't arrived yet, here is a brief look at what's inside

    • State Census Secrets, by Rick Crume
    • Research Trip Survival Kit, by Lisa A. Alzo
    • Croatian Ties, guide to tracing Croatian roots, by James M. Beidler
    • City Guides to Detroit and Charleston, SC, by Sunny Jane Morton and Dvaid A. Fryxell
    • Celebrity Genealogy, Take 2 -- a look at Season Two Who Do You Think You Are
    • Taking Care, by Denise Levenick (The Family Curator)

    and the BIG news, publication of

    • Post Masters, Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs for 2011, by Sunny Jane Morton

    Geneabloggers will be interested to know that the 40 Best article includes an introduction to geneablogging and comments from GeneaBlogger Thomas MacEntee. The list is divided into eight categories and names the selected blogs with a brief overview of the blog's focus and author. A sidebar, "Picking Winners" showcases the four panelists who made final selections: Lisa Louise Cooke, Thomas MacEntee, Dear Myrtle, and Randy Seaver. The "More Online" feature highlights further blog content.

    I especially like the large graphic image providing the "Anatomy of a Blog" with a key to sections like the Subscribe button, Badges, and Blogroll. Renee's Genealogy Blog is shown as the example blog in this sidebar.

    It's an honor to see The Family Curator included in the Top 40 listing, especially since the nominations are made by other genealogy bloggers. Congratulations to the Top 40 Bloggers, and thank you, friends, for your encouragement and support. As our ranks grow in number, this list would be much longer if it could include the many other fine deserving bloggers who contribute so much to this community.

    Most Geneabloggers read the 2011 Family Tree 40 picks when they were first announced some weeks ago, but I think the magazine surprised us by adding "Panel Picks" in the print feature. One blog from each category was selected "to highlight exemplary blogging." I don't want to spoil all the fun -- you'll have to wait for your copy to arrive to see just which blogs were selected for this award!


    NERGC Highlights - Going Pro

    The current GeneaBloggers discussion on Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) couldn't be more timely. I have just returned home from the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) in Springfield, Mass. and a week of extended ancestor hunting across the Green Mountains of Vermont. In those ten days I met every kind of genealogist and had my eyes opened to "how they do it" in New England.

    Like most conferences, this one attracted a good mix of family historians and professional genealogists. Not surprisingly, when presenters queried their audience in a session, there were relatively few who admitted to "beginner" status. After all, New England researchers have been at this endeavor a very long time. So, if most attendees seemed to NOT be beginners, where did they stand? Of the people I met, I would say that most were serious, experienced, genealogists, even though they may not be making money at their craft.

    I attended the evening Special Interest Session with Elissa Scalise Powell, "Becoming a Professional Genealogist" where the group of 25 or 30 asked pointed questions about the certification process and value of professional status. I faded with jet-lag before the end of the 90-minute session but didn't hear any questions at all on "how to make a living" as genealogist. The assumption was that clients means "paying" clients. There was no devaluation of the desire to achieve this goal.

    In fact, Yankees have a noted affinity for frugality and resourcefulness. It only makes sense that a room of New Englanders would be interested in turning a honing a talent for research into a paying occupation or avocation. I spoke with some attendees who were doing pro bono research and wanted to have the qualifications to justify a fair fee for their services.

    But it wasn't all about the money, either. One of the most popular features at NERGC was the Ancestor Road Show -- two days of free twenty-minute one-on-one consultations with professional genealogists. I thought I could sign up on site, but really missed out. Although there were nearly 40 genealogists (12 CG) making appointments, the sessions all filled up quickly.

    What does all this say about the New England genealogists I observed at NERGC? It tells me that they see professional status as a Board Certified Genealogists as a valuable and helpful skill for anyone wanting to make an income as a genealogist. In addition, it showed that one doesn't need to be CG to be a professional, i.e. earning an income from paying clients.


    Why Regional Genealogy Conferences are Worth Every Cent


    If you want to talk to the experts about researching in New England, it makes sense to go to the experts on their home turf. NERGC proved once again that you can get a lot of bang-for-your-buck if you can attend a regional conference in the area you are researching.

    Last Spring, the joint meeting of the Vermont and New Hampshire societies coincided with a family baptism in Hanover, and between events I was able to hear a top notch speaker and meet some new local contacts. This year, the 2011 New England Regional Genealogical Conference exceeded my expectations with three full days of excellent sessions focused on research in my target localities. You can't get much better than that.

    Travel for these events can get expensive, so it helps to plan family visits, use airline miles, or share with a friend. I was watching for the NERGC schedule as soon as it became available, and glad to see that I could learn more about Vermont maps, Rhode Island town formation, finding elusive New England women, region migration patterns, and working with colonial land grants, all at one conference. Stay tuned for highlights in the days to come.

    These topics just don't come up with the same frequency at West Coast events.

    Of course, the intensive schedule means planning ahead and pacing as much as possible. By the last day, I was ready for a break and a few days of on site research and family time.

    Vermonters said we were there for "mud season," and it was a bit grim. The trees have yet to leaf out, snow still covers north-facing slopes, and mud lies in the valleys. Good weather for Vermont cheddar soup, hot Green Mountain coffee, and something maple and sweet. I love New England. Must be something in the genes.



    More Fun in New England

    Some folks go kayaking, skiing or leaf-peeping in New England. Mr. Curator and I left NERGC to drive to New Hampshire for some family time with our nephew and a lot of intensive research time.

    When you are looking for ancestors in Vermont, it all goes back to the Town. Today we spent four hours looking for marriages in town records. The early marriages are mixed in with land and town meeting notices, and tough to find. Mr. Curator just won't quit, even when I am SO ready for a break. The high - low?- point came when we discovered that the subject of our search may not have been widow after all. This upends all hypothesis.

    So, tomorrow, a new tactic. County probate records were moved to the state archives as of Jan 2011, necessitating a trip to Middlesex to view the files. Wish us luck!


    A Californian in New England, at NERGC

    I like to think that my New England ancestors were as hospitable as the folks I've met the last few days here at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. . . That would mean they were pretty nice folks, indeed.

    I FINALLY met up with my Rhode Island connection, and cousin, Midge Frazel with wonder-husband Steve to swap stories over a cup of iconic Dunkin Donuts coffee. Midge is the go-to blogger for my Mathewson / Winsor line and I will tell you, she is even more energetic and Smart in person than online.

    Between sessions with Sharon Sargeant and Josh Taylor I met up with friends from NEHGS, talked with Maureen Taylor The Photo Detective, picked up some valuable tips from Rhode Islander Cherry Bamberg, and had my palm read.. No, not really... But it was just that kind of surprising day.

    At tonite's banquet, I was treated to a glass of we by seat mate Bob from Albany, New York and enjoyed a lively and friendly exchange with NERGC Chair Pauline Cusson and others at our table. Then we all sat back to hear Paul Milner, "What Were Our Ancestors Really Like?"

    I'll be honest, I hadn't planned on attending the banquet and didn't have a ticket, but when I heard the buzz about Milner, I decided to check the message board for available seats. And, I'm so glad I was able to score a ticket. Banquet speakers are hopefully entertaining, often humorous, and sometimes inspiring... Paul Milner was all this . . . And more. When an after-dinner conference crowd becomes so quiet and still that you could hear the proverbial "pin drop," it's clear the speaker has captivated the audience.

    Milner told tales of battlefield casualties, of servant employment, of family loss that left more than a few people dabbing their eyes at the end of his talk. But he concluded his remarks with a great challenge -- to write down our own family stories for the next generation. Just one story. One person, one place, one point in time. One thing to remember.

    Inspirational. Thank you, Paul. Your stories will be remembered. I will be working on mine.


    Ready for Genealogy Good Times at NERGC

    I snapped this photo on a walk tonite... Guess where? Answer? It's a bit cooler in Springfield than Southern California, but I'm looking forward to a great conference this weekend.


    Behind-the-Scenes Tour of St. Andrew Church

    Doors will be unlocked this Saturday, and visitors will be given a rare glimpse into some of the very special places at St. Andrew Church in Pasadena, California as part of the church's 125th Anniversary Year Celebration special event Art and Architecture Tour series.

    The 140-foot bell tower of St. Andrew is a soaring landmark situated at the gateway to Old Pasadena. The Pasadena church completed in 1927  was modeled after two Roman basilicas built in the 5th and 6th centuries, Saint Mary in Cosmedin and Saint Sabina at the Aventine. Even today, the street-side approach to the church lends an Italian setting to the building.

    The exterior borrowed inspiration from the Basilica di Santa Maria, and features a colonade entrance and ornate wrought-iron gates. The warm terra-cotta hued finish of the outer walls was achieved by applying baking soda in the finish stucco.


    Inside, twenty-four marble scagliola columns line the nave in the style of the Basilica di Santa Sabina leading to the altar and spectaular murals of Carlo Wostry.

    The docent-led tours will include two stops typically not open to the general public -- a visit to the choir loft for a birds-eye view of the church's interior, as well as a look into the church Baptisty. Considered the most important area in the church after the main altar, the baptistry features a native marble fountain and ornate symbolic murals under a golden dome.

    Tours will be held Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 3pm. St. Andrew Catholic Church is located at 311 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena 91103.


    Online Training Review: Learning Photo Restoration Techniques with Janine Smith at

    Lately I have been learning photo restoration from expert Janine Smith, owner artist at Landailyn CPR. Online learning is great; I work through a section or two of the course, and then spend time practicing and getting a little better with each round.

    Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos is available at, online website offering video training on all kinds of computer software and computer tasks. I've enjoyed Janine's regular feature articles and how-tos in Shades of the Departed Magazine, and am learning even more in the self-paced course.

    Original color print, faded and yellowed.
    The Brown Family (from left) Arline, Suzanne, Frank, date unknown. 

    I've been blessed with hundreds of old family photos in all conditions, but most of the images I want to share and reprint for the family need some touch-up work. Since I can't afford to have all the photos professionally repaired and restored, I wanted to learn a few techniques that might help me fix some of the less badly damaged pictures. Janine has obviously worked with more photos than I have in my collection because she knows exactly how to hone in on the major problems with many old photos.

    Ta-da! My first attempts at restoring the color to the photo. Much improved.

    It's easy to get started at After registering at the website, I was free to begin viewing any of the online courses. At $25 per month, membership is a bit like an all-you-can-learn buffet. I bookmarked Janine's course so I could get back to it easily, and started with the first section. The course outline describes each segment and lists the video length so you can plan ahead how much time you want to spend on a session. I liked working through at least three or four episodes at a sitting so I could see how they worked together.

    I did not opt to purchase the practice files for the course, but had no trouble using my own photos. I found I learned the material best by watching the video through completely, then importing a photo similar to the sample into Elements and working alongside as I played the video again. Online learning used as a working tutorial is a real advantage to old-fashioned classroom instruction.

    Janine’s skill as a trainer really shines as she demonstrates how to fix common problems with old family photos. She carefully explains each step, demonstrating with the video as she works to restore the photo. The course outline is clear and well-organized with skills building from easiest to more difficult.  Janine has a pleasant speaking voice, and her instructions are direct and clear. I found it helpful to use the pause, and replay buttons when I wanted to make sure I understood all steps of a technique.  I also turned on the Closed Captioning feature, and made use of the Transcript feature to check back at the instructions. 

    The course opens with a section on how to get photos into PSE9. I have used various versions of PS Elements since it’s first days as PS Album, so getting the photos into the progam wasn’t particularly difficult. I did have trouble, however, trying to save my photos and the various edited versions. Fortunately, my month-long membership to gave me access to the PSE9 Essentials course, where I picked up a few file management techniques for the program.

    While one major lesson I learned is that photo restoration is a fine craft requiring patience and experience, I also learned that it's a lot of fun and can greatly improved old damaged photographs.

    The course covers six essential photo restoration techniques

    • Fixing Faded Photos
    • Fixing Color Cast
    • Removing Dust, Spots, and Texture
    • Fixing Damaged and Torn Photos
    • Reassemblig a Photo from Pieces
    • Repairing Documents 

    In addition, Janine also demonstrates the Sharing features of PSE9

    • Making a photo book
    • Making a calendar
    • Creating a personalized greeting card
    • Making a Windows slideshow
    • Creating a unique flyer for your next family reunion

    Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos with Janine Smith is an excellent introduction to the art and craft of photo restoration. Anyone interested in learning or brushing up on photo restoration techniques with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 could benefit from this online learning experience.

    Available through Membership $25/month.

    Disclosure. I purchased my own membership to for this course and did not receive any form of compensation for this review.



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