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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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    Shades of the Departed, The Mourning Issue

    The newest issue of online magazine Shades of the Departed is now available, featuring 110 pages of outstanding content from nine contributors. I am honored to be in such good company writing short fiction as Miss Penelope Dreadful.

    Editor footnoteMaven opens this issue with a beautiful farewell message to two Shades contributors, my mother Suzanne Mercy Winsor Brown and The Graveyard Rabbit Terry Thornton. Terry was the first Shades columnist and a chief instigator in The Graveyard Rabbits Association. Suzanne was a happy one-time contributor to Twice Told Tuesday in 2009 with a birthday surprise for me. Thank you, fM, for a beautiful tribute.

    This issue comes just in time for the California Family History Expo October 8-9 which will feature a live podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke highlighting Shades of the Departed. If  you can't make it to Pleasanton, you can hear the podcast on Lisa's Genealogy Gems show.



    Stealth Blogger to Attend CA FHExpo

    I am looking forward to rendezvousing with Shades of the Departed writers, geneabloggers, and family history enthusiasts this weekend, October 8-9 at the Family History Expo in Pleasanton.

    A few months ago, I couldn’t commit to being a Blogger of Honor (OBE as it were), but I think I will just go anyway. . . as a Stealth Blogger. My main focus will be R & R, with a bit of E & E thrown in. Stay tuned . . .


    Celebrating Suzy


    The Memorial Service for my mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman, was held Saturday, 25 July 2010 at her church, Evangelical Free Church of Green Valley, Arizona, under deep turquoise blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds.

    Mom’s church community helped us celebrate her life through beautiful music, photographs, and heartfelt memories. We were deeply touched by the number of people who contributed their time and talent to making the day a special one for our family.

    During the service, Mom’s pastor shared portions of a short piece she wrote several years ago about a parent’s role in passing on a spiritual legacy to their children. I could hear Mom’s voice as he read her words, and love the way she linked her ancestor Roger Williams with her own life and the spiritual legacy she left to each of her children and grandchildren.

    Although she didn’t leave any specific requests for a memorial, we were pleased to find one small newsprint clipping inside the folder with her Will. Somewhere, she had found the lyrics to a song she liked, cut them out, and written in the margin “sing at funeral.” The Memorial Service closed with “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me, followed by her pastor’s warm benediction. 



    Memorial Fund Will Assist Student Genealogists

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund has been established to honor Suzanne’s Freeman’s lifetime of service to young people and to assist young genealogists seeking to advance their genealogical education.

    Suzanne Freeman was a life-long volunteer who worked with many youth organizations in the capacity of leader, organizer, and administrator. She also developed a strong interest in family history, and was delighted by the growing number of young student genealogists.

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund honors her love of service and family history. The purpose of the fund is to assist young genealogists by offering grants to advance their genealogical education, including funds to attend genealogy conferences and workshops.

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

    Mother-Daughter Team -- Denise Levenick (The Family Curator) and Suzanne Freeman
    with GeneaBlogger Welcome Bags at the  2009 SCGS Jamboree. 

    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.

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

    Donations to the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank c/o Wells Fargo Bank, Green Valley, Arizona 520/625-1222. For more information, contact Denise Levenick via Contact the Curator.

    Further Reading --
    Obituary at and Green Valley News


    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman 1933-2010


    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman

    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman, 77, life-long community volunteer, died Saturday, August 28, 2010 of respiratory failure in Tucson, Arizona. Suzy made her home in Green Valley, Arizona since 1997 where she was an active organizer of church and civic events, and known for her broad smile and engaging enthusiasm.

    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 to be near her half-sister Lucile Smith, becoming 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 served as President of the Villas West Homeowners’ Association where she organized many social events and the annual craft show. She was an active member of the Green Valley Evangelical Free Church Christian Women’s Association and a frequent Bible study leader. Suzanne was a member of the Green Valley Genealogical Society always searching for new Winsor cousins. She enjoyed travel, crafts, and cooking.

    During her final illness, it was her great joy to know that her namesake Charlotte Mercy had been born to her eldest granddaughter Heather Craig and her husband David Ricketts.

    Suzanne is survived by daughter Denise and her husband Dan Levenick of Pasadena, California; daughter Deanna and her husband Kip Craig of Silverado Canyon, California; grandchildren Zack Levenick, Heather Craig Ricketts, Christian Levenick, Chelsea Craig, Chloe Craig, and Kayli Craig; great-grandchildren Anabelle May Ricketts, Charles Levenick, and Charlotte Mercy Ricketts; sister Frances and her husband Harold Jones of Santa Ana, California.

    She was preceded in death by her parents and half-sisters Lucile Paulen Smith, of Green Valley, and Bearnadean Duvall Avery.

    A Memorial Service celebrating Suzanne’s life will be held Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at Green Valley Evangelical Free Church, 1393 West Mission Twin Buttes, Green Valley.


    How does the family curator share the sad news of a parent’s death? Carefully, lest any vital date or place be omitted. Sadly, because it’s just so hard to do.

    Fellow genealogists may know my mom Suzanne Freeman after meeting her at the SCGS Jamboree or some other genealogy event. You probably know that she was a spunky senior citizen with the juvenile sense of humor.

    She became suddenly ill in early July and never fully recovered. Mom wanted to live independently as long as possible in her home in Green Valley, Arizona and her wishes came true.

    In her last weeks, her breathing was assisted by a ventilator and communication limited to lip reading and writing, however, she still had much to say! She wanted to know about all the people around her, was happy to hear about Thomas MacEntee’s growing career as an e-book author and speaker, and footnoteMaven’s latest edition of Shades of the Departed. She was interested in Amy Coffin’s research and Joan Miller’s travels; both geneabloggers she met while working on the SCGS Jamboree Geneablogger Welcome Bags. She wanted to know everything about everyone.

    Mom was a enthusiastic supporter of new ideas and new projects. She loved hearing about A.C. Ivory and Elyse Doerflinger, young genealogists with energy and zeal for the great ancestor hunt. She hoped that one of her own grandchildren would be bitten by the “genie bug” and continue the search for her Winsor ancestors. She loved meeting so many geneabloggers at Jamboree.

    It is hard to fathom that I will now be searching alone for those rascally Schiffbauer boys, or for the final Chamblin connection. Instead of picking up the telephone to say “Hey Mom, guess what I found out?” I will be typing notes to myself, and wishing she were there.

    My greatest regret is that I did not finish a family genealogy or history that would have helped her make sense of those convoluted cousin relationships she tried to unscramble. I thought we had lots of time; but we didn’t. I do hope, however, that, as our friend Sheri Fenley noted, Mom is now meeting the Windsor family she knew she had, and perhaps even making the acquaintance of a few cousins new to her as well.


    Heads Up: Fancy Nancy Does Family History

    Fancy Nancy: My Family History (I Can Read Book 1) Now that I have four adorable nieces, I have become a BIG fan of the young girls’ book series, Fancy Nancy, featuring a little girl with a very BIG vocabulary. Maybe you are a fan too?

    And as the designated family historian I am really excited about the forthcoming Fancy Nancy My Family History. The promotional copy on Amazon notes,

    Nancy wants to do an interesting school report on her ancestor. (That's fancy for a family member who lived long ago.) But will she remember to stick to the plain truth?

    The best thing about Fancy Nancy is her whole-hearted enthusiasm with every new adventure she encounters. I can imagine a bit of most new genealogists in this book and am anxious to see where the story leads.

    I look forward to ordering a few copies of this book for the little girls on my birthday and holiday list. Maybe we can spark an interest in a new Family Curator!


    Which Photos to Save? Family Curator Guest Blogger at Photoloom

    The Family Curator is delighted to be writing about photo organization and selection today as a featured Guest Blogger at Photoloom, Above the Trees.

    It’s Okay to Play Favorites with Your Photos suggests a streamlined workflow for saving the best and setting aside the rest. Your photo slideshows will become lean and more appealing, and your audience will thank you!

    Photoloom is the premiere family photo sharing, tagging, and storage site for genealogists. I first met owners Renee and Scott Huskey at the SCGS Jamboree 2009 and found that we share a common interest in getting family photographs out of our digital cameras and scanners and under the eyes of our families.

    Read the entire article at Photoloom, Above the Trees here.

    Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for writing or mentioning Photoloom. I just like what it does for family history photos.



    Tech Tip: How to Auto-Create a List of Sequential Numbers in MS Word

    After spending way too much time manually typing numbers for my genealogy documents and files, I finally found a way to generate an automatic list of nicely formatted sequential numbers. Now I can quickly make:

    • divider tabs for MRIN family numbers
    • file folder tabs
    • sticky labels to correspond with my photo file numbering system

    Many people like to use a “real” filename for their family photos, but because so many of the photos from my grandmother’s collection are “subject unknown,” I decided to use an informative letter-number filename.

    The first two letters indicate the item is from the Arline Kinsel archive; the next letter indicates the Photo collection, the numbers indicate the photograph’s individual file number:

    AK-P001 = Arline Kinsel archive Photo 001

    In the past, I manually prepared a sheet of labels in Microsoft Word, but this was clumsy and time-consuming. Lately, however, I have used a very easy SEQ script that is already available in the program; I just didn’t know it was there.

    I found these easy to follow instructions at Allen Wyatt’s WordTips and adapted them for my own use.

    Here’s what I do to make sequentially numbered photo labels

    1. Open or download a Word Template for the labels I want to use; such as #5422 Multi-Use Labels.
    2. In the first label space, type the recurring prefix: AK-P0 [zero]. (see example 1)
    3. Immediately following the prefix, type Ctrl+F9 and Word inserts a field.
    4. Type SEQ and a space; type a name for the sequence numbers, such as Photo.
    5. Press F9. A number appears in the field.
    6. Format the text with font, size, style.
    7. Copy the first label using Ctrl + C.
    8. Paste the contents to each label in the left column using Ctrl + V.
    9. I now have one column of labels, all the same.
    10. Select and Copy this column (Ctrl + C) and paste into the second column (Ctrl + V).
    11. I now have a full sheet of labels all the same.
    12. Select ALL using Ctrl + A.
    13. Press F9. All fields are updated with sequential numbers.

    Hooray! Do you have another method to create easy sequential numbers?


    Steps 1-3, optional add a leading zero

    Step 9 - one column formatted for numbering

    The completed sheet of labels.


    Whether To Scan or Photograph Old Documents

    Sometimes family historians have little choice when copying documents or photographs. Whether visiting relatives to share photographs or courthouses to research deeds, we are more likely to carry a digital camera than a scanner.

    In this week’s eNews from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Michael Leclerc discusses the relative merits of both scanning and photocopying as a means for duplicating original photos and documents.  He particularly cautions against using a scanner, with its bright light, for fragile originals,

    Documents that are in fragile condition, with faded writing, should not be scanned. The bright light can cause even more fading. If they must be scanned, you must be certain to scan them as few times as possible. Every time the image is exposed to the bright light, you are causing damage. Sometimes the damage is not visible to the naked eye, but it will eventually show up in the document.

    Michael goes on to describe a safer practice by using a tripod-mounted camera to photograph documents and images, and notes, “Scanners and cameras take the same types of digital images (TIFFs, JPEGs, etc.). A scanner is, in reality, just a fancy camera.”

    After seeing’s scanning setup for conferences, I can see where each method has its merits. Scanning can be automated with a sheet-feeding machine, or set up to perform photo-corrections during the scanning. This saves considerable time on the processing and editing end, making a scanner a good choice for newer, less-fragile objects.

    A photo copy stand, however, like the one used to copy my old newspapers and described in an earlier post, was even quicker in copying than a scanner. The real delay was in moving and setting up each shot.

    I primarily scan old photos and documents to create archive TIFF copies. This format is unsupported by my digital camera, but better for archiving than JPG. An alternative would be to shoot photos in JPG and convert to TIFF for archiving.

    Michael makes an excellent case for using a camera to copy fragile or old photos and documents and reinforces the usability of a digital camera.  

    Further Reading:

    Research Recommendations: Scanning vs. Photographing
    by Michael J. Leclerc  (NEHGS eNews August 11, 2010) Scans Old Newspapers, Freedom from the Flatbed



    Not So Wordless Wednesday: A Birthday Story, One Year Ago Today

    . . . I woke to a unique birthday surprise. My mother, Suzanne Freeman, had written a guest post for Shades of the Departed, kindly published by our friend footnoteMaven.


    Twice Told Tuesday: A Birthday Story


    Mom was so excited to attend the SCGS Jamboree in 2009 and meet the many bloggers and genealogists she followed. I am not sure where she got the idea for the article, and how she concocted the scheme to post it on Shades, but she was delighted with her own cleverness.

    I tried to persuade her to write her own blog, even setting up a sample page for her, "Mercy Me!" and printing the name on her contact cards, but she liked being a guest author best. This June, she enjoyed seeing her blogger friends, especially footnoteMaven and Thomas MacEntee, again in Burbank.

    Mom has never been one to let a birthday slip by. Our childhood celebrations were extravaganas of creative energy. Each party was fully themed: balloons, Flower Power (must have been the 60's; I really remember that one), a teenage candlelight dinner in the dining room for the birthday girl and friends.

    Mother and daughter, August 11, 1955

    Sadly, Mom has been ill this summer, and isn't up to her usual birthday hijinks but I know she is dreaming up more surprises than ever! Her own birthday isn't until January, so I have some time to plan something exceptional for her!


    Tombstone Tuesday: James and Mercy Winsor Eternally Entwined

    James Winsor and Mercy Mathewson Winsor

    East Clarendon Cemetery, Rutland, Vermont

    A Lilac Grows Between their Graves, Eternally Entwined


    Help Solve the Mystery with our Family Home Tour Photos!

    Last week I posted an article and birthday party photo of my mom and aunt with Mom's school friend Princess Usha, Dating a Photo of Princess Usha at the Brown Girls' Party. Notes on the back of the photo identified one location for the photo, but Mom remembered living at a different address when she was friends with the Princess. Could we determine the correct house from the photograph?

    Letters addressed to family members should have helped narrow the field, but instead they expanded the the possibilities to four houses -- (address and dates of letters)

    • 512 E. 20th Street, Santa Ana (7 Oct 1938 - 6 Jun 1939)
    • 901 W. 3rd Street, Santa Ana (12 Dec 1939 - 16 Feb 1940)
    • 1912 Spurgeon, Santa Ana (6 Dec 1940 - 19 Dec 1940)
    • 1315 N. Broadway, Santa Ana (3 Jan 1941 - 17 Jun 1944)


    512 E. 20th Street

    The houses on 3rd Street and on Spurgeon were no longer standing when we looked for them on our Family Home Tour in June 2010; however we were able to photograph a house of a style similar to the Spurgeon house located across the street from the original address.


    1912 North Spurgeon is now an apartment building. This house located across the street looked much the same as their old home, according to Suzanne and Frances.


    1315 N. Broadway, big Victorian

    After posting the original party photograph I looked through Mom’s photos again and found another picture that had been mounted in her album. This snapshot shows more of the house, including a pillared porch. Details from both photos indicate

    • narrow wood siding with waist-high trim board
    • a good-sized covered porch supported by Classical columns located on the corner of the house
    • steps to the porch from a concrete walkway
    • simple wood-framed windows and doors
    • a hint of rafter in the upper right-hand corner of the picture indicates a roof gable over the porch or a wrap-around eave from a hip roof
    • house situated on a corner lot

    Birthday Party for Susie or Frances Brown, ca 1940.

    Looking at the photos once more, it seems that

    • The style is not Victorian, eliminating the house at 1315 North Broadway.
    • The eaves and lot situation of the house at 512 E. 20th conflict with the party photo house.
    • Therefore the house pictured must be either Spurgeon or the missing 3rd Street house.

    Mr. Curator moonlights as a General Contractor and thinks that houses opposite each other on Spurgeon Street could have been mirror opposites. If so, this house would be very similar to the one shown in the party photograph. The 2010 home has obviously been extensively remodeled; it may have had an original wood front porch with columns. The stone siding added to the lower portion may have originally been wood with a trim board. The house also shows a wrap-around eave suggested in the original party photo.

    What do you think? Is this the right house, or should we keep looking?


    DO Try This With Your Photos At Home

    I like seeing the past and present merge by using layers of both historic and present day maps on Google Earth, but morphing photographs is even better.

    The Ghosts of World War II's Past on My Modern Met showcases scenes from World War Two merged with the same location today. Buildings scarred and cratered from bombings are seen as pale foundations for new construction; pitted roads and armed blockades appear in contrast to a calm country village landscape.

    This kind of photo blending has also led to the Looking Into the Past flickr group. Some images show an enlarged photo held up for a present-day photograph; others are obvious photo editing projects. Several include tips and ideas for making your own morphed photos.

    There's even a new iPhone app from the Museum of London called Streetmuseum that makes historic art and photo images available to users. Find an image on your iPhone, hold up the phone and snap a present-day photo for a "window through time." A few years ago we toured London and tried to imagine past events and places; it would have been so much better with on-site acess to historic images. I hope more cities add this kind of interactive tourist guide.

    For now, I would like to take some of our old house photos and create a similar image; imagine the "new" creations, and even "revised" history we could write!


    Wordless Wednesday: Dating a Photo of Princess Usha at the Brown Girls' Party

    Mom remembers this special birthday party attended by her school friend, Princess Usha Holkar. A note on the back also identifies other friends Patty and Betty Bright, and Mom's sister, Fran, in the back row sticking out her tongue at the camera. The young woman next to Fran may have been Usha's governess.


    "Party Picture, 1912 N. Spurgeon, Santa Ana, Ca, Front Row L-R Patty Bright,
    Kathy Bright, Susie [Brown], Usha, Fran in back sticking out tongue"

    "Party Picture" photograph, in Susie (Brown) Freeman Photo Album, ca. 1942, unpaginated;
    privately held by Denise Levenick, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Pasadena, Caliifornia, 2010.

    Mom loves removing photos from albums, a trait she shares with her own mother, Arline. I think she hopes to find a hidden caption, and if not, she sometimes she adds her own at this later date. All the bits of information help, even if the notes were written at another time, and we are fortunate to several clues to work with. According to the album index sheet, this was "Frances Party," although Mom remembers it as "her" birthday.

    I thought I might be able to use the list of addresses from our Family Home Tour to help date the  photograph, however Mom's and Auntie's recollections conflict with the address on the back of the photo. Mom remembers playing with Usha when they lived on 20th Street; Frances remembers being in the second grade when the family lived at 1912 North Spurgeon. Fran and Susie both celebrate their birthday in January, but January of which year?

    Was it  January of 1939 (Fran 8, Susie 6), or January 1940 (Fran 9, Susie 7), or January 1941 (Fran 10, Susie 8). I am not sure of Fran's age in second grade. Maybe she can answer that question. She was a smart little girl and may have been young for her grade.

    I also looked at postmarked letters from these years and found three letters addressed to family members at Spurgeon in December of 1940, six letters addressed to the family at 3rd Street from Sept 1939 through Feb 1940; and 10 letters addressed to 20th Street from October 1938 through June 1939; and 44 letters addressed to No. Broadway from 3 Jan 1941 through June 1944. It may be that a closer at the individual letters will show where the family was receiving mail in January of each year, and help  solve this little puzzle.

    From Mom's "Princess Diaries"

    Happy Birthday Princess Usha from your friend Susie Brown

    It's the Holiday Season at Princess Usha's Orange County House



    A Different Family Road Trip


    Dear Readers of The Family Curator,

    Only a few weeks ago, the Winsor Women were touring Orange County on a family road trip visiting homes and haunts of my mom's early years in California. This past week, however, my sister and I have been on a different kind of road trip -- to be with Mom in a Tucson hospital following the kind of early morning phone  call that rarely brings good news.

    Everything here is a witness to Mom's dry sense of humor, strong spiritual faith, and love of family and friends. Early in the week, Mom saw the darkening sky through her hospital window and warned us to pull off the road if a monsoon hit while we were driving. Yes, Mom. Late one day, she saw the same sky turn rosy and smiled with the retiree's refrain, "The sky's turning pink... " Yes, Mom. Yesterday, following surgery she whispered, "It's a happy, crappy day." Oh, yes Mom.

    We are warmed by the good wishes from her church, family, friends, and extended community -- including those bloggers and genealogists who met us at Jamboree and through The Family Curator. She loves her "fans" and the comments we have received on articles about her family and experiences. Lately she has been working on a list of "famous people I have met and had my picture taken with." Of course, Princess Usha of Holkar tops the list.

    While Mom rests, I am pulling together notes and stories for the family history she so earnestly wants to know and praying that she will soon be adding to the stories herself.  A few days before she became ill, we discovered the Chamblin-Schiffbauer connection (yes, there was a marriage) and we now have a new family with several male names to research. Maybe we can solve a few more puzzles to share with Mom very very soon.

    Thank you for your good wishes and prayers,

    Denise, The Family Curator