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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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    Wednesday
    Jul312013

    The GRIP Report: Vol. 2. No. 2 Photo Collage

     

    Not-so-Wordless Wednesday -- Photos from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh 2013.

    Top Row, from left -- Convent cemetery, La Roche College, campus tower.

    Middle Row -- Class Photo, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, Dr. Thomas W. Jones Instructor

    Bottom Row, from left -- Dr. Jones with Denise Levenick, Lecturers Noreen Manzella and Cathi Desmarais, evening lecture with Angela McGhie.

    Monday
    Jul292013

    Heads Up! More GeneaFiction On the Way from Steve Robinson, Author of In the Blood

    Steve robinson

    Fans of Jefferson Tayte will be happy to know that the American genealogist will be back next spring with more family history sleuthing in Great Britain. Author Steve Robinson let the word out recently via Twitter that he is planning another past-narrative adventure for Tayte, and it's my guess that the fourth novel in the series will also be set in Great Britain.

    In answer to my email query about the new release, Steve would only say:

    . . . it will have a past and present narrative again this time, much like with To the Grave in that it will be told from a single point of view from a woman, this time in the Edwardian era.  It will also be linked to some true events from the period. . .

    Of course, the English setting makes it great fun for the reader, because we can well-imagine J.T.'s inner voices as he tries to conquer his fear of flying to  move forward with his research "across the pond."  If you haven't met Tayte yet, summertime may be the perfect time to catch up with the storyline. But, also know that each of the novels is a also great stand-alone read.

     In the Blood   introduced Jefferson Tayte, a professional American genealogist who is sent to England by a wealthy client to track down the truth behind a family mystery. Tayte discovers more problems than undecipherable handwriting or misplaced records, he finds an entire legacy founded on deception. And, of course, J.T.'s meddling puts him in the middle of a dangerous situation. Read my review of In the Blood and my exclusive interview with author Steve Robinson here:

    Book Review: In the Blood Genea Fiction and Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson

    Within a few months of its release, In the Blood was selected by Amazon UK as one of the "Best Books of 2011" and has gone on to be a 'Kindle Customer Favourite' on both sides of the Atlantic.

    J.T.'s adventures continue in To the Grave (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery) , a poignant story of love and family relationships revealed through the narrative set in England of the 1940's and the present day. Real-life genealogists challenged with adoption research will recognize some of the problems J.T. encounters as he attempts to reunite his client with his birth mother.

    To the Grave was awarded the Family Tree Magazine 'Seal of Approval' in June 2012 and recommended by Goodreads and the Kindle Users Forum.

     The Last Queen of England  , Robinson's most recent novel in the series was published last fall, and quickly moved to the top of the Kindle book charts. The ebook was followed by the paperback edition and selected as a UK Amazon Kindle Forum Book of the Month for February 2013. 

    Described as "the ultimate heir hunt," I found The Last Queen of England to be a fast-paced thriller in the style of the Da Vinci Code with a genealogical twist. Tayte is visiting in England when his best friend is murdered, and Tayte becomes the killer's next target. It's hard to put down this book; plan for a late night as you near the hair pulling conclusion.

    Catch up with J.T. this summer, and be ready for No. 4 in the Jeffereson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.

    Read More About Author Steve Robinson

    Steve generously joined me at The Family Curator for two interviews last year:

    A Chat With Steve Robinson About The Last Queen of England

    Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson, Author of the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    Visit Steve Robinson website for more. All three books are now available in eBook or paperback editions.

           

     

    Wednesday
    Jul242013

    The GRIP Report Vol. 2 No. 1: Hit the Ground Running

    Angela Packer McGhie, evening presenter at GRIP

    Jet-lag just "doesn't work" here at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. Attendees converged at La Roche College Sunday afternoon and were in the classrooms early Monday morning for the first sessions. I wasn't the only one who traveled across time zones to get here. The daily conference newsletter reported that genealogists came from 34 states and one foreign country:

    • Pennsylvania: 38
    • Ohio: 15
    • New Jersey: 10
    • Maryland: 9
    • Virginia, Indiana: 8 each
    • Colorado, Massachusetts, New York: 7 each
    • Washington: 7
    • Michigan: 5
    • Texas: 4
    • Delaware, Georgia, Ilinois, Minnesota, West Virginia: 3 each
    • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin: 2 each
    • Italy, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, NewHampshire, Tennessee, Vermont: 1 each

    The institute sessions this year include six courses taught by a roster of outstanding genealogy educators. I'm taking Dr. Tom Jones inagural course based on his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. 

    Genealogy Camp

    I've heard a few people refer to GRIP as Genealogy Camp, and it does have a bit of the Camp atmosphere because of the small group setting with 150 students. The classrooms, dorms, and cafeteria are all situated together at LaRoche -- convenient and congenial. But the atmosphere is more like graduate school, with "focus and discipline" (as Dr. Jones notes) as the goal.

    That is, except for MOVIE NIGHT! I remember those much-anticipated evenings at summer camp, and Tuesday evening, GRIP directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal arranged a special showing of the season premier of Who Do You Think You Are? following the evening genealogy presentation by Angela Packer McGhie.

    It was great fun to follow Kelly Clarkson on her family history journey and watch her reaction to learning about her ancestors. But, the biggest round of applause was reserved for GRIP instructor and WDYTYA researcher Josh Taylor. You don't always get to go to camp with a movie star!

    Sunday
    Jul212013

    Orange County Summers ca. 1960

    What's Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?

    La habra library

    I remember when the big question during the final weeks of the school year was always the same, "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    "Nuthin'"

    My friends were carted off on exotic camping vacations to Yellowstone, or spent weeks visiting relatives in Omaha. Hardly anyone I knew went to summer school; it seemed mostly for kids who had to make up classes after they were out for weeks with mono, or for anyone who had the misfortune to flunk chemistry.

    Summer in Orange County, California was hot, smoggy, and wonderfully dull. My mom planned just enough activities to keep us out of trouble (so she thought), and the rest of our days were spent playing with friends, reading, and inventing stuff in the backyard. With four years between us, my sister may remembers those days differently, but I loved the gift of freedom and the challenge "Girls, go find something to do."

    B-O-R-E is a Four Letter Word

    Summers were never boring. We spent days building elaborate Barbie houses and then whined because we ran out of time to play with them. On hot afternoons, we kneeled in the dirt along the shady side of the house and collected iron filings. What do you do with iron filings? I don't know, but they're cool.

    As a pre-teen I babysat for neighbors, ironed hankies for pocket money, and was the driving force behind a variety of start-up businesses. We sold lemonade, lemons, and avocados. We printed out a newspaper using an office mimeograph master and a tray of Knox gelatin. We put on plays, talent shows, and musicals.

    The 60's were good years to keep teenagers busy. I have more memories of psychedelic sunsets at scout camp than I do of concerts and music. Our groovy skits provided campfire entertainment and the best camp crafts were candles and love-beads.

    The activities changed with the years, from iron filings to scout camp to camp counselor, but one annual event remained as popular when I was 15 as when I was 5 -- the public library summer reading program.

    Every June the public library promoted summer reading with a themed program filled with contests and activities. It was the best part of summer for a nerdy girl who loved to read. The only problem was the 10 book limit on how many titles you could check out. Ten books is hardly enough when you are whipping through the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series.

    I haven't collected iron filings in a long time, but I still see summer as a time to try something new and to read my way through the heat. I mark the end of the school year with my own list of summertime goals, although goals is too business-like to suit the mood of summer. Dreams would be better. Summertime is dream-time. A time to master a new skill, discover a new talent, or read a new book.

    This summer I'm working my way through a stack of new books, learning to make my step-mom's Texas fried chicken, and working through Dr. Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof. Oh, and I'm going returning to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), or Genealogy Camp as I've heard it called.

    "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    Thursday
    Jul182013

    Awkward Family Photos, Panorama Group Style

    Camp pano boys

    Don't squirm, Little Bro
    Remember the old banquet-style photographs I recently dehumidified and unrolled? I've had a lot of fun looking at the details through my Magnabrite globe and on my computer.

    I scanned the camp photo with my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and reassembled the 18 images using the included EasyStitch software. The stitching process was finished in only three minutes and gave me a complete digital image of the 8 x 26-inch photograph.

    And, look what I found --

    Camp pano sign

    Genealogically Interesting

    The photograph was snapped August 21-28, 1948 at Hume Lake [California] for the Inter-Church Bible Conference. That means that my mom and aunt (pictured below and outlined in blue) were there with people from their church group and other, probably local Orange County, churches. Anyone with ancestors in Orange County, California who attended a fundamental Christian church about 1948 might find their family members in this group photo. 

    Now, I need to pin down the name of Mom and Auntie's church at that time. Although this looks like a camp for church members of all ages, I don't see my grandparents. They were probably  home enjoying the break with their two girls away for the week! 

    Inter Church Camp, Hume Lake, California 1948

    Awkward Moments

    Looking closer at the photo, I found some intriguing drama, and some humorous actions captured on film. The image above is a thumbnail version; if you click on it, a full-size photo should open so you can follow along:

    First, check out where everyone is looking. The kids and teens are all dutifully staring directly at the photographer. But, look at Boss Lady on the far left (outlined in green). The lady with the "pocketbook" gripped tightly under her arm. Is she looking at that cute baby in the top row? Or, is she keeping an eye on the teenage boys further along the line?

    A few other people aren't looking at the camera -- the baby is watching something more interesting, Mom? And then, look at the folks on the right side of the photo, selected in the red boxes. What's going on over there? 

    The adults are all behaving pretty well in this photo, not surprisingly. Even the teenagers are keeping their hands under control. Note the protective hands placed on the women's and girls' shoulders by nearby males. The guy in the top row doesn't quite know where to place his hand so he settles for the girl's throat. Scary!

    It's the kids along the front who are having the most fun. Outlined in green, from left to right, check out:

    • the little girl trying to hide her nail biting
    • the boy blowing a championship bubble-gum bubble
    • the kid waving
    • the big brother throttling little brother and holding his chin up

    I've probably missed a few more graceless movements captured in time; leave a comment with your own additions. And watch what you're doing in your next group photo! 

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