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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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    Using Bookpedia to Catalog a Genealogy Library

    Most Januarys I get a surge of energy to whip my chaos into shape. Bookpedia book cataloging software is helping me tame the monster in my home office. I have one wall of bookcases that were double-stacked with books from my past and present lives as student, teacher, writer, researcher, and reader. I couldn’t find anything.

    I’ve been chipping away at the stacks for the past week and this morning cataloged 71 books in just over an hour. With another half hour or so for re-shelving, I am beginning to see progress.

    My major roadblock to previously cleaning up my books was rooted in good old sentimentality. I didn’t want to move along old books until I had cataloged them in some way. I am always trying to remember, “Have I read that before?” and I was tired of buying duplicate copies. There are too many new titles on my Wish List!

    Bookpedia and the iSight camera on my new iMac have made relatively quick work of a big task. The program allowed me to set up my Library and use a checkbox “Sold” for books I am donating and/or selling. Using the built in camera, I can hold up the ISBN bar code. When Bookpedia reads the code, there is an audible “beep” and a window pops up pre-filled with information from internet book databases like Amazon. I check to make sure it is the correct volume, add my own genre keywords: Genealogy, New England, Handwriting, etc., and click Add.

    The camera doesn’t work all of the time; many times the ISBN bar code seems to be too small, or maybe the book cover stock is too glossy for a good read. When that happens, I just enter the code numbers and Bookpedia finds the book information.

    Many genealogy books and local histories don’t have an ISBN number. These books can be entered manually with as much information as you want.

    The program displays your library in an attractive cover flow list that is fun to browse and much quicker that looking through dozens of shelves.

    Bookpedia had an iPod Touch version, Pocketpedia, which is no longer available due to limitations from Amazon. Instead, the website suggests other ways to export your library catalog to your iPod Touch or iPad. I found it easy to “print” my genealogy catalog as a PDF and send it to Evernote. After syncing, I was able to view the list with cover photos on my iPod Touch. The website also describes how to export to MobileMe or a website for browser viewing.  

    Even without the full-sync Pocketpedia, I think this will be a great help when travelling and attending conferences.


    Young Genealogists Invited to Apply for Grant to Attend 2011 SCGS Jamboree  

    It’s Mom’s birthday today, and we are giving a gift in her honor! 

    Suzanne Freeman was an enthusiastic attendee at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree and a life-long supporter of youth activities and volunteerism. The 2011 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant pays tribute to these interests by offering a $500 grant to a young genealogist attending the 2011 SCGS Jamboree. 

    Any genealogist who is 18 to 25 years of age as of July 1, 2011 and a student within the last year is eligible to apply. Funds may be used for travel, lodging, and other conference-related expenses. 

    The SCGS Jamboree has become a premiere regional genealogy conference offering national speakers, workshops, and demonstrations. More than 1700 genealogists attended the 2010 event in Burbank, California.

    Please help spread the word and encourage any young genealogists you know to apply for the 2011 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Grant. Application and more information is available at

    Denise Levenick with Suzanne Freeman,
    2009 SCGS Jamboree GeneaBlogger Bag Project


    Suzanne Winsor Freeman

    Genealogy bloggers came to know Suzanne the past two years at the SCGS Jamboree where she enthusiastically joined the GeneaBlogger Welcome Bag project, assisting in the assembly and distribution of gifts to attending genealogy bloggers. She was a fan of new technology such as podcasts by Lisa Louise Cooke and The Genealogy Guys, but also looked forward to analyzing old photographs with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective.

    She embraced the possibilities of DNA and had recently submitted a sample for testing. In June, 2010 at the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, she was delighted to meet her cousin Christopher Childs from the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. At the time of her death in Tucson, Arizona August 28, 2010, Suzanne was still searching for her elusive Winsor cousins.

    Suzanne enjoyed researching family history online and frequently posted queries that resulted in new family connections. She supplied stories and anecdotes for, the blog written by her daughter Denise Levenick, where her tales always received enthusiastic reader comments. Suzanne was also honored to appear at as a guest blogger.  

    Suzanne was born January 5, 1933 in Olathe, Kansas to Arline (Kinsel) and Frank Ammi Brown, and grew up in Orange and Santa Ana after her family moved to California in 1937. She purchased property in Green Valley, Arizona in 1982 and became a full-time Arizona resident in 1997.

    As a mother and homemaker, Suzanne found great satisfaction as a Girl Scout Leader and church volunteer in La Habra, California, and later used her community experience as Executive Director of the North Orange County Volunteer Bureau. In Green Valley, Suzanne was active in the Green Valley Evangelical Free Church and the Green Valley Genealogical Society.

    Contributons to the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank, or directly to Wells Fargo Bank, Green Valley, Arizona 520/625-1222.


    iPhoto Library Hides Photos in Plain View

    As a recent PC to Mac user, I have been perplexed by the “simplicity” of iPhoto, so I was doubly happy to find Denise Olson’s handy recap on iPhoto – Photo Organization at the Moutrie Creek Gazette. Denise clearly describes the importing and all-important tagging features of iPhoto in a clear and easy-to-follow article. 

    I have been using Adobe Lightroom 2 for my genealogy photo project, but wanted to revisit my options now that I can use iPhoto on my new iMac. I need batch keywording, which both programs can handle, but I also like a lot of control over where my photos “live” on my hardware. 

    My Lightroom library lives on an external hard drive, and I’ve discovered that my iPhoto Library can live there too! The major difference is that my Lightroom library consists of a series of nicely organized nested folders; with iPhoto, all I could see was one file labeled “iPhoto Library.” Kinda scary for a PC user. Where’s the stuff?

    No problem. By holding down the Control key on the Mac, while clicking the iPhoto Library icon, and selecting “Show Package Contents” the Library opens its doors. Select the Originals folder and you will see nested folders labeled by year and date of event. Take note: most discussion board posts (like this one on MacForums) caution strongly against DOING ANYTHING within the iPhoto package contents.

    What you can do, however, is LOOK. And that in itself is revealing, because the iPhoto package is nothing more than folders named by import dates. This is similar structure to my Lightroom dated folders. Whew. Knowing this, I am much more comfortable handing off my photos to iPhoto for management and organization. I can handle the keywording and iPhoto can handle the file. If I need to find a photo independently for some reason (say, I move back to a PC, or I am using a backup and want photos from a single event), I can locate and copy those photos.

    Although I don’t know how much I will be using iPhoto, I am looking forward to trying out its features and easy integration with other Mac applications. 






    Welcome 2011! My morning view of the Pasadena Rose Parade


    View from the bedroom window about 7:30 am, followed at 8am by the spectacular Stealth Bomber gliding from the northwest to cast its shadow along the parade route. Then a champagne breakfast served by Mr. Curator and in-home viewing of the entire parade; it doesn't get much better! Welcome 2011.


    2010 in Review, Looking for the silver lining

    As we bid adieu to 2010, it seems fitting to look back and count the many blessings we received both personally and genealogically amidst the sadness and challenges that life brings.

     In January,

    • Mom was in California for Another Party! to celebrate her 77th birthday
    • I was rained out of attending the Family History Expo in Mesa.

    In February

    • My sister and I visited Mom in Arizona and Penny Dreadful had a little adventure.
    • The Family Curator was named to the Family Tree 40 Best Genealogy Blogs of 2010.
    • I attended the St. George Family History Expo and met up with lots of researchers and bloggers.
    • I found lots of new information Reading Between the Lines in the Marriage Records of Arline Paulen and Albert F. Edwards

    In March

    • The Blogger’s Almanac returned.
    • I completed some major Genealogy Spring Cleaning and worked on my Fearless Female Short List.

    In April

    • In April, on Tax Day to be more precise, Mr. Curator’s truck was hit while he was stopped at a red light. The truck was a total loss, but no one was seriously injured.
    • Sadly, Mr. Curator’s uncle Herman Krantz, submarine veteran and ballroom dancer, passed away at the age of 93.
    • Also in April, Mr. Curator slipped on the job and fractured his ankle. The orthopedic surgeon said it was a “lucky break” and would heal with six weeks of rest. This gave Mr. Curator time to digitize our box of Super 8 home movies. :>)
    • We packed Mr. Curator’s crutches and traveled to New Hampshire for a family baptism, which coincided with a joint meeting of the Genealogical Society of Vermont and the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists.
    • I attended NGS in Salt Lake City and soaked up genea-wisdom during and after the sessions with great GeneaBlogger pals.

    In May

    In June

    • Mom arrived for the SCGS Jamboree and we enjoyed two weeks together, plus the three-day Jamboree. The Family Curator posted Jamboree reports from both Mother and Daughter.
    • Mom and her sister, along with my sister and I, went on a Historic Home Tour of places they lived in their growing-up years.
    • Mom and I started researching the elusive Schiffbauer boys.

    In July

    • Mom was hospitalized and had surgery for pulmonary problems. Her prognosis was excellent and we hoped for a speedy recovery.
    • Meanwhile, Mom shared her stories of Princes Usha at the Brown Girls’ Party with her India-born nurse. This was a challenge with the ventilator, and then tracheostomy, in place, but Mom persisted with mouthing words and writing.

    In August

    • Mom achieved a long-time goal of submitting her DNA for testing. She loved finding new relatives and had been anxious to try Family Tree’s new Family Finder program.
    • Mom’s spirits were good, but she continued to grow weaker, passing away  Friday, August 28, 2010.
    • Mr. Curator’s beautiful and graceful aunt, Dottie Krantz, passed away, only a few months after her beloved Herman.

    In September

    • Mom was remembered by family and friends at a warm memorial service in Green Valley, Arizona. 
    • I reconnected with cousins who lived nearby and we shared family photos and stories.

    In October

    • Another trip East to visit family and friends and slip in a little research at The National Archives.
    • I attended the Family History Expo in Pleasanton, California, and enjoyed meeting up with many blogger friends.

    In November

    • “You’ve got cousins!” Mom’s DNA test is yielding results.
    • We made yet another trip East for family fun and holiday celebrations.

    In December

    • Family Tree Magazine nominated the Family Curator to its list of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs of 2011. Whoopee!
    •  I had a chance to meet-up with Amy Coffin of WeTree for a little holiday cheer and New Year’s challenge making. What a nice way to celebrate the season.


    This certainly was a year of ups and downs, wonderful highlights and deep sorrow, for so many genealogy bloggers. As we mourn our losses and shoulder through the challenges that befall, I have to think that this yearning to know where we come from, and who we are, helps us to make sense of it all. I am grateful for the many hours Mom and I spent sharing tales, posing what-ifs, and most of all, just connecting and knowing we were connected.

    The genealogists that we met along the way inspired our own adventure and gave us good memories to share. Thank you GeneaBloggers, for being a highlight this past year. Your good wishes and kind words have made all the difference.

    Here’s to 2011 and the Adventures that Await. Let’s raise a glass to Happy Memories and counting more blessings in the year to come.





    Blogging Buddies and Genealogy Resolutions, report from the West Coast Partner

    One of my favorite new holiday traditions is visiting with WeTree blogger Amy Coffin when she comes to town. This is the second season we have been able to meet and speak genealogy, and it is truly a highlight of the holiday for me.

    Our conversation drifted around upcoming conferences and the cool new Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner until we really got to the interesting stuff of research and writing. When Amy mentioned her goal of finding her 16th great-great-grandparent, it was a logical jump to put that at the top of genealogy goals for 2011. The scary thing is, while Amy was quick to think GOAL, I was merely thinking out loud.” Suddenly, we were at Goals and Objectives, and “hey, this might really get done this year!”

    It always helps to have a buddy when there is a challenge at hand, and I was glad that Amy caught the ball and tossed it back to me to name Three Genealogy Goals for 2011.

    One Research Goal

    One Organizational Goal

    One Writing Goal

    While the first goal on Amy’s list was research, mine was all about writing family history. I recently borrowed the original parchment family genealogy researched and written by my Great Aunt Mercy Kinsel MacPhee. Until September of this year I had only seen poor photocopies made in the 1960’s. The original is a beautiful volume hand-illustrated in gilt and colored inks, and the owner would like to see it faithfully reproduced and shared with all the family. It’s a big job, but I need to see it through (or be left in Amy’s dust!).

    My research goal is a continuation of one started years ago that has been drifting along without conclusion – establishing the Chamblin/Chamberlain/Chamberlin link with my maternal grandmother. With FGS slated this year for Springfield, Illinois, Chamblin territory, I want to get my research all lined up so that I can do any on-site digging that will help with this puzzle. I hope Amy is able to come to FGS so we can swap tales at theconference.

    The organization goal is a tough one. This fall I moved from a PC to a Mac and in the transfer all my photos and documents were mixed up. I want to get everything nice and tidy again AND investigate new options in genealogy database programs now that I am using a Mac. I need to get my photos moved to an external drive and get my back up plan in place. There is a lot of work to do here, but the first step is just making a plan and moving forward. Amy’s scanning schedule is inspirational; maybe I’ll work up something similar.

    Amy gives me too much credit for coming up with this challenge; it takes a buddy to make this work, and I feel pretty lucky she was there to throw out the first ball.

    So, genealogy friends, what are you doing in 2011?


    The Nativity Story, via Social Networking

    I am still saving the illustrated children's books to read to the grandchildren!





    And Now… for your Holiday Nogging Pleasure: The Eggnog Recipe


    Family recipes can be just as confusing as old land plat descriptions, and I have the recipe to prove it!

    Our friends have been calling and emailing in a frenzy. With one thing and another, we are late, late, late making the traditional holiday LevNog. This delicious blending of dairy and distillery is usually brewed on Thanksgiving weekend and left to mellow quietly in the cold dark basement until someone drops in begging for a cuppa.

    Holiday LevNog ready for delivery.
    (Must be over 21 and reside within walking distance.)

    Last night, Mr. Curator finally felt sufficiently recovered from a bad cold to don his holiday apron and commandeer the kitchen. I tried to act as sous chef providing ingredients and equipment, but it soon became clear that translating the recipe was going to be the major obstacle.

    On re-reading the recipe several times it was obvious that the difference in results from year to year is entirely due to different translations. Some years, the nog is smooth and light, much like the consistency of good cream. Other years, the results are thick and lumpy with whipped clouds of creamy sweet goodness. Both taste pretty darn marvelous.

    Blame it on the Translator. I automatically convert the succinct instructions to recipe Directions, but Mr. Curator takes each instruction as written, quite literally. This became as clear as… egg whites, last night in the brew room.

    The list of ingredients is straightforward, although you have to assume it is acceptable to use one dozen eggs, separated, to get 12 Egg yolks and 12 Egg whites.

    Ingriedents (sic)

    12 Egg yolks

    12 Egg whites

    1 ½ cups of sugar

    ¼ tsp. Salt

    1 qt. Heavy cream

    1 qt. bourbon

    1 qt. brandy

    1 cup rum


    It’s the Directions that get us every time, starting with the very first command:

    Beat cream. – What the heck do they mean? Beat the cream? With what? Spoon, mixer? Just cream? No sugar, no anything? I read the entire recipe through to the end and still can’t figure it out. Husband gets ready to pour 1 qt. Heavy cream into the bowl of the stand mixer.

    “Stop,” I say, (nicely). I suggest he skip to instruction to “Beat whites till stiff and beat in ½ cup sugar” because we all know that egg whites have to be beaten in a really clean bowl with no grease if you want them to get good and stiff.

    As sous chef, I have already separated the eggs. Separate yolks and whites (Note no yolks can be in whites but whites can be in yolks). As I cracked the last one and prepared to slide the white into the bowl with eleven brothers, I experienced the fleeting thought that perhaps I should crack the eggs one by one into a bowl just in case the yolk broke… nahhhh, extra work… just then the yolk broke. Managed to get it out of the whites. Whew.

    He grumbles and pours egg whites into mixer bowl. Beats whites until stiff. Adds sugar. Scrapes sweet clouds into another bowl.

    Now it’s time to Beat yolks with 1 cup sugar and salt until light. Before I can say, “how much salt” he has thrown the yolks and sugar into the mixer bowl and they are blended and blended and blended. Almost custard.

    We now have a huge bowl of whipped egg whites and a mixer bowl of yolks and sugar. Next: Combine and beat. While I am thinking do they mean “fold together” rather than beat? Or maybe “mix gently,” Mr. Curator has dumped the whites into the yolks and is beating the mixture. I convince him to go gently. Next, Beat in cream then milk. We now have a thick, somewhat lumpy liquid,

    The final instructions need no translation: Stir in whisky. Beat well and add rum.

    By now I have left the room. When I return and review the recipe I see that one odd omission has not escaped Mr. Curator’s eagle eye. The Directions fail to include each of the listed Ingredients. Never fear! Mr. Curator caught the error and remembered to Add brandy.


    Ingriedents** (sic)
    12 Egg yolks
    12 Egg whites
    1 ½ cups of sugar
    ¼ tsp. Salt
    1 qt. Heavy cream
    1 qt. bourbon
    1 qt. brandy
    1 cup rum
    Beat cream. Separate yolks and whites (Note no yolks can be in whites but whites can be in yolks) Beat yolks with 1-cup sugar and salt till light. Beat whites till stiff and beat in ½ cup of sugar. Combine and beat. Beat in cream then milk. Stir in whisky. Beat well add rum.


    An Honor to be Honored


    Thank you, Readers, for nominating The Family Curator to named as one of Family Tree Magazine's 2011 40 Best Genealogy Blogs. Recognition by one's peers is always the very best kind of compliment, and the genealogy blog world has grown into a true community where we certainly feel like we "know" people we have never "met." It is an honor to be in the company of so many talented researchers and writers, and to know that there are even more outstanding blogs to discover in the days to come.

    The Family Curator has been nominated in the Research Advice/How To category. I encourage you to check out the complete list of nominees and visit old favorites as well as new entries. Voting is now open, through Monday, December 20th via ballot posted here.

    Congratulations to all the nominees!

    Vote for your favorite Genealogy Blog Today!


    Here We Go A Blog Caroling

    Our family favorite remains the grade school performance of Away in a Manger, complete with home-made costumes, shaky home video, and wayward sheep. This rendition is good competition for some of the movies we made of our own kids; maybe I will have the films converted to digital in time for next year’s Blog Caroling Concert.



    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.


    Black Friday Cooking

    It’s that time of year… while some families are watching football, shopping, or already trimming the tree, our is usually mixing up a batch of holiday LevNog that probably won’t last until the first day of Christmas.

    Our recipe came from a friend who made the mistake of gifting us with a glass snowman filled with the stuff. She probably got tired of refilling Frosty, and finally gave us the recipe.

    The recipe is traditionally brewed from dairy and distillery sometime during Thanksgiving weekend, and carefully stored in the basement for as long as you can stand it. About 24 hours. We give in to worries about food safety in Southern California and keep ours in the basement fridge. It is really cold in there.

    But things will be different this year. We are travelling in and around New York State and sampling the local specialties. Wonderful farm fresh eggs, delicious homemade bread, free-range fowl, this-season apples. Maybe we can find some nog somewhere to hold us until we get home and mix up our own.


    Aha! Gotcha!

    Nope, not Kansas, Linda. But it was a very fun day in the pumpkin patch selecting future jack-o-lanterns.

    Although in Pasadena, California we don’t see roadside stands like this one, I just know they must exist up and down hundreds of country roads. This particular farm happened to be in Dutchess County, one of my favorite places to visit.

    I’ll be looking for your local pumpkin patch next year.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note, Linda; Michelle, Turning of Generations; Elizabeth, Little Bytes of Life; and Bill, West in New England.


    Answering Riddles: Which Came First. . .

    No, I don’t know if it was the chicken or the egg, but I can tell you WHO was first.

    Donna Pointkowski, What’s Past is Prologue, wins the gold ring for being first and fastest to guess where I was last month – at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

    Of course, it would have been more than “a little embarrassing” if she didn’t know that one. I took the picture standing in front of the fabulous sculpture bearing the name of her blog!

    Donna beat out Elizabeth O’Neal, Little Bytes of Life; Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist; footnote Maven; and Becky Wiseman, Kinexxions – they are ALL pretty savvy.

    Jenna, Desperately Seeking Surnames, also correctly guessed from the Day 2 photo that I was in D.C.; I have to go look for her posts about her trip to the Library of Congress. That’s a future destination.

    Day 3 Winner was the incomparable footnoteMaven who correctly named the photo subject as Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market in the West Village of New York City. The butcher’s special on Lady Gaga flank steak was just to good to pass up.


    Anywhere U.S.A.

    This photo may have been taken on a country road in your home state. Well, ok, it doesn't look much like Arizona or even Southern California. But, it sure does look like many pumpkin patches across America.


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