Click Here to Receive New Posts
in Your Inbox

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    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.

    Now Available

    Follow Me

    Wordless Wednesday: Back to School 1923 Edition


    "First Graduates - '23" from the Edna and Walter May Photo Album; privately held by Denise Levenick, 2014. Edna McClure May was a teacher at the San Juan Capistrano School, California.


    Genealogy Photo Gallery World Photo Day 2014, #TBT

    The Past is Present once again in these thoughtful entries for the Genealogy Challenge for World Photo Day 2014, posted today for #ThrowbackThursday. Thank you to everyone who responded to the challenge by posting photographs and stories on family history blogs and on The Family Curator Facebook Page. As you'll see, the entries are creative, clever, and clearly genealogical.

    We open the Gallery with Jenny Lancetot's photograph posted on The Family Curator Facebook Page showing her grandfather and his sons in front of their home in 1959, "Dear Photograph" style, against the home in 2011. You can just about see them on those steps today. 

    On the Front Steps

    Five Generations

    At Lonetester HQ, Alona Tester, a self-confessed Gen Xer from South Australia with a passion for genealogy, posted two five generation photographs bringing together her parents' line from ancestor to herself. The photos look like a great start for a family history book, Alona! And, thanks for kicking-off the challenge by submitting the first entry.

    Dunbar Hospital 1922 & 2014

    Then and Now are always popular themes for bringing the past into the present, and Kristin Cleage Williams, creator of the Finding Eliza Blog has submitted a creative view of the physicians at Detroit's Dunbar Hospital in 1922 juxtaposed with a modern day image.  I love the way the men really do appear to be seated on the porch of the building in 2014.

    Home is Where They Lived

    Queenslander Pauleen Cass, author of Family history across the seas, posted photos from a "Then and Now" activity that included walking the local streets "matching up old photos with the current image." What a great idea! She shares a series of Then and Now images that feature houses and family members from the 1920's to the present day.

    You Can Go Home Again

    Sharn White, is a genealogist living in Sydney, Australia, and creator of the FamilyHistory4U blog. She posted a collage showcasing her childhood home in Queensland, from the 1950's through 2014 remodeling and transformation.

    Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition

    I enjoyed a walk down memory lane this month with a handful of old snapshots to bring home this Dear Photograph edition for The Family Curator blog. Disneyland was still noisy and crowded, and just as much fun as ever!

    The Past is Present in Photographs

    Our Challenge Gallery concludes with the entry from Sharon of North East Victoria, Australia, who wrote a fascinating article and posted several photos on her blog Strong Foundations to highlight the love of photography she shared with her grandmother. Scroll down the article to view the great photos of old Kodak Brownie advertisements and the photos of Sharon and her grandmother, both with cameras at the ready.

    Thank You, Photographers

    It appears that the family history bloggers from "Down Under" outnumbered the North Americans in the 2014 Genealogy Photo Challenge, but next year, things might be different :>) . Thank you to everyone who participated. Start thinking of your entry for 2015, you have almost an entire year to snap the perfect Past is Present photo.


    Family Tree University Fall Virtual Conference Discount

    If you can't attend the Federation of Genealogical Society Conference in Texas next week, maybe you'd like a little genealogy education from home instead!

    FamilyTree University's Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference September 19 - 21, 2014 offers three days of on-demand webinar classes and live chats featuring: genealogy technology, research strategies, and ethnic research. Register now and save $40 Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE.

    I'll be presenting two sessions on working with digital images:

    Organizing Your Digital Images -- Do you have digital photos and scanned images scattered across your digital devices? Learn how to set up a system where finding and archiving digital pictures is fast, fun and pain-free

    5 Easy DIY Genealogy Book Projects: Showcase Your Research in Style -- Creating a genealogy book is a goal of many family historians: We want to capture our family story in a form that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Try these five projects to create a book, even if you’re not a writer.

    The full program includes classes in:

    Genealogy Technology

    Top Free Websites for Obituaries, Shannon Combs-Bennett

    Software Secrets for Every Genealogist, Lisa A. Alzo

    Top Free Websites for Vital Records, David A. Fryxell

    Organizing Digital Images, Denise May Levenick

    Top 5 Undiscovered Family Tree Databases, Shannon Combs-Bennett

    5 Easy DIY Genealogy Book Projects, Denise May Levenick

    Research Strategies

    13 Obscure, Overlooked and Undiscovered Sources to Overcome Brick Walls, D. Joshua Taylor

    Top 10 Genealogy Traps to Avoid, Lisa A. Alzo

    Forensic Genealogy Crash Course, Catherine Desmarais

    10 Ways to Diagnose (and Treat) Errors in Your Research, Sunny Jane Morton

    Exploring Digital Newspapers on GenealogyBank, and Chronicling America, Nancy Hendrickson

    Ethnic Research

    Use the Web to Research German Records from Home, Michael Lacopo

    12 Best Websites for Eastern European Genealogy, Lisa A. Alzo

    Secrets to Tracing Scandinavian Ancestors, Diana Crisman Smith

    Google Translate Tutorial, Gena Philibert-Ortega

    SAVE $40 on Registration

    Save 20% on Any Course at Family Tree University with Offer Code FTUCOURSE.



    Genealogy Challenge for #WorldPhotoDay: Tips from Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition 

    We were probably crazy to try this on a sweltering summer day with three boys under the age of five in tow, but it worked, sort of.

    In all the Kodak snapshots documenting my childhood, I could only find four ruffle-edged prints that bore testimony to many many happy hours at The Magic Kingdom. Growing up in Orange County, California did have it's perks, especially when Mom could get free tickets with her job at the local newspaper. 

    I'd forgotten how tricky it is to get a good Dear Photograph shot. The last time we tried was a few years ago on an anniversary visit to Santa Barbara, and I should have gone back to reread 5 Tips for Snapping the Perfect Dear Photograph Picture. Actually, I need to add one more BIG tip -- do not try this with children! They move too fast.

    At any rate, this is an instructive post on what works, what doesn't work, and maybe you can pick up a few more tips from my latest Dear Photo adventure to inspire your own Past is Present contribution to the Genealogy Challenge for World Photo Day:

    Dear Photograph: We Love Sleeping Beauty's Castle

    When Disneyland opened the gate to The Magic Kingdom on July 17, 1955, Sleeping Beauty's Castle was the star attraction. I loved walking through the dark halls and gazing through the glass windows at scenes from the tale of Sleeping Beauty. At the end of the hallway, we blinked into the bright light and the color and music of Fantasyland and the Carousel.

    Dear photograph 1

    1. Hold the photo close to the camera and focus on the photo. It helps to have three or four hands for this step.

    Dear photo castle 1

    2. Wait for background distractions to move out of the picture.

    Dear photo castle 2

    3. Try to line up the picture with the building or whatever. The pole is not very interesting (except to note that it is STILL present years later!).

    Dear photo castle 3

    4. Turn around and enjoy the scene! P.S. I didn't crop this on purpose because I thought you'd want to see the interesting pole.

    Dear photo castle 15

    Dear Photograph: Goodbye to the Skyway to Tomorrowland

    What every happened to the Skyway to Tomorrowland? The sky-buckets were definitely a premium ticket ride to a little girl who had never ridden a ski tram over the snow. I still remember the icy cold air that blew from the Matterhorn Alps as the skyway passed through the gigantic mountain tunnel. We always waved at the tobogganers shrieking as their sled careened through the mountain pass, and were sad when the ride closed in 1994.

    Dear photograph 2

    1. Try to line up the image in the photo with what you are seeing through the camera viewfinder. Remember to focus on the photo.

    DearPhotoDisney 5 2

    2. Try to focus on the photo, not the handsome assistant.

    Skyway to Tomorrowland

    Dear Photograph: Where are the Chairs on the Mark Twain Riverboat?

    Mark twain riverboat

    Confession time: this ride is really pretty boring. Climb aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat  if you are tired and need a break, or hot and hope to catch a breeze on the Rivers of America. Plus you can see Tom Sawyer's Island and the settler's cabin. Just look at all those folding chairs on the deck of the boat in 1956. Too bad there's only a few places to sit down on the boat today. The little kids and tired parents liked it anyway.

    1. Look at the background for clues to help line up the photograph. It's kind of lined up here with the dock.

    Mark Twain Riverboat

    2. Getting the right perspective is tricky.

    Mark Twin Riverboat 2

    3. Sometimes the subject is completely hidden by the photo. Even if it's as big as a steamboat.

    Mark Twain Riverboat hidden

    4. Use landmarks to align the image. Looking for that dock on the "other side" of the river"? It was behind the hand holding the photo all along! Oh well.

    Mark Twain Riverboat shack

    These photos are a lot of fun, but more successful when you have enough time to really set them up and enjoy the photo shoot. Why not give it a try for the Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photo Day 2014? Send a link with your entry to The Family Curator, and/or post it on The Family Curator Facebook Page

    Read more about creating Dear Photograph images:

    Dear Photograph: 35th Wedding Anniversary Edition

    The Past is Present: Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photography Day 





    Join Genealogy World Photo Day 2014

    Bring out your smartphone cameras and dust-off your digital point-and-shoot! It's time for the Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photo Day 2014. Once again, The Family Curator challenges genealogists and family historians to celebrate World Photo Day by combining the past and present in a single photograph -- recreate an old photo, merge past and present Dear Photograph style, or present a Then and Now retrospective. 

    Participate by posting your photograph and descriptive caption on your blog or social media page. To be included in the Genealogy Photo Challenge Gallery, do any of the following no later than 6am Pacific Time, Saturday, August 23, 2014:

    For inspiration, check out past entries in the Genealogy Photo Challenge --
    and my most recent adventure, Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition, coming soon!

    World Photo Day began in 2010 as an online gallery celebrating worldwide photography. This year, World Photo Day celebrates 175 years of Photography with the anniversary of "the first practical photographic process patent in 1839." Photographers from around the globe will participate in the online gallery August 19 through 26, 2014 at

    Join the Genealogy edition of World Photo Day by creating a Present is Present Photo to share.


    Summer Reading List for Genealogists 

    Part 2: Stretch Your Skills

    When I was teaching and had children in school, summer was a magical time to catch up on all the things I never seemed to have time to tackle during the other three seasons of the year. I dreamed of finishing all my Christmas shopping by September 1, but a trip to the library would send me on a new quest to master the art of canning fresh tomato sauce, or learn about stamp collecting with kids. 

    Genealogists with "other" lives might want to take on a challenging new research skill during a summer lull. It's a great time to be a family researcher, and these recent books are outstanding field books for any expedition.

    The family tree historical maps book 1

    The Family Tree Historical Maps Book: A State-by-State Atlas of US History, 1790-1900 (Family Tree Books, 2014).

    Genealogists use scores of maps, and this new large-format new book from Family Tree Magazine is an attractive and useful reference work for anyone researching American records. Full color United States maps show decade-by-decade changes in the nation's boundaries, and state maps provide milestone timelines to aid in understanding the images. Special maps illustrate average family sizes in 1900 and immigrant concentrations in 1880, among other subjects, and suggest possible themes to weave into your family history sketches.

    Hardcover, PDF eBook Available from ShopFamilyTree and Amazon.


    The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe, by James Beidler (Family Tree Books, 2014)

    Did you know that more Americans today "claim German ancestry than any other ethnicity"? It's not surprising that German traditions, foods, and names are found in all fifty United States. In this new guidebook, professional genealogist James Beidler shares strategies for researching German immigrant ancestors, deciphering German-language records, and understanding clues in German names. Extensive lists of German repositories,  sample research requests in German, and helpful handwriting "cheat sheets" make this an especially useful book for historians (like me) seeking German ancestors.

    Paperback; Kindle Available from ShopFamilyTree and Amazon


    Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques, by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith (McGraw-Hill Osborne, 2013)

    Paperback; Kindle

    Authors Morgan and Smith, hosts of the popular Genealogy Guys Podcast, hear a lot of brick-wall stories from their listeners and have a good idea of the kinds of research problems that can helped with careful strategy. Generously illustrated and filled with examples and anecdotes, Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques is a solid next-step for the genealogist who feels blocked by elusive records or confused by conflicting information. The chapter on using DNA as part of a research strategy is especially instructive and helpful for anyone looking to understand the basics of genetic genealogy.


    Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond, by Emily D. Aulicino (Author House, 2013)

    Paperback; Kindle

    The fast-moving technology of DNA testing and it's uses for genealogical research have made genetic genealogy a frequent topic in the daily news. Author, speaker, and genealogist Aulicino has written a DNA guidebook that clearly explains the different DNA tests and how each one can be be used to further genealogical research.  Topics such as choosing a testing company, convincing people to take a DNA test, and how to understand the results are among the book's fifteen chapters. 


    Mastering Genealogical Proof , by Thomas W. Jones

    Paperback, Kindle

    In this workbook-handbook, Dr. Jones lays out a practical method for working with genealogical information, from locating and citing the bits and pieces you uncover, to evaluating, analyzing, correlating, and assembling evidence into reasonable written conclusions. With self-checking exercises, ample illustrations, charts and examples, MGP is the perfect Summer Learning experience. For an even richer understanding of the concepts, sign up for one of the MGP Study Groups coordinated by Angela McGhie.


    For a detailed look at building a personal research library, see Michael Hait's recent blog post at Planting the Seeds, Building a solid genealogy library (part one).

    Save 10% at Shop Family Tree with Offer Code FAMILY10F.  Note: Affiliate links.


    More to the Story than Girl Meets Kilt: What Does Outlander Say About Marriage to a Genealogist?



    I missed Outlander  in my Summer Reading roundup of genealogy fiction, and Facebook Friends helpfully pointed me to an the all-consuming time-travel historical fiction series. HOW did I miss this series? Outlander series is not new, but with the upcoming debut of the new made-for-tv series, the books by Diana Gabaldon are sure to find a new audience that missed the books the first time around. And, it all starts with a genealogist!

    I've only just started the first stage setting first novel, Outlander, but the English teacher in me is already wondering about the subtext of the storyline. . .

    (No big spoilers here that aren't already in the reviews.)

    The heroine is married to a historian / genealogist and while touring Scotland falls into a time warp. She lands in the arms of her husband's British soldier ancestor, flees, and is rescued by a band of rival Scots, in particular the young, handsome, wounded Jamie. She learns that her husband's ancestor was cruel and ruthless, and appears to be more sympathetic with the Scots. Great conflict. Can't wait to read on.

    But, something about the plot seems so familiar. It reminds me a lot of the stories I've heard from probate attorneys and estate auctioneers about what can happen to a genealogist's legacy when the non-genealogist spouse is left to "dispose" of research, books, and heirlooms. I'm not saying that Claire is a jealous spouse; but, it does make one wonder just how "happily married" she really might be. There are no coincidences in well-crafted fiction. Frank's occupation as historian and genealogist is an integral part of the story, and Claire's ambivalence about Frank's British "hero" ancestor speaks loudly  about her feelings towards Frank and his preoccupation with the past. 

    There's more to this story than girl meets kilt.

    And, maybe it's time to add genealogy to an estate plan and think about What to Keep and What to Throw Away.


    Throwback Thursday: Happy Anniversary Mr. Curator

    Levenick car

    The wedding getaway wheels. Off to the reception.


    Dear Photograph: 35th Wedding Anniversary Edition



    Finding Archives Everywhere, Hershey, PA

    Hershey Archives

    On my way to The National Archives I’ve taken a little (?) detour to South Central Pennsylvania and the model company town of Hershey in Dauphin County. You can almost smell the cocoa on Chocolate Avenue, the main street of the “sweetest town in America” where even the streetlights look like Hershey’s famous chocolate kisses.

    Hershey Kiss Lights

    We visited Chocolate World for a mock factory tour. and saw and heard the screaming fast roller coasters at Hershey Park.

    Hershey Coaster

    And on a quick stop to buy postcards at the Hershey Story building on Chocolate Avenue we found the Hershey Community Archives, a collection of material about the Hershey founder that has expanded to include the entire Hershey legacy and the wider Hershey community. Imagine researching in the archives at basement level with the smells from “Chocolate Lab” cooking school drifting down from the building’s main floor.

    Although the collection focus is on corporate and personal Hershey history, it also holds local newspapers, maps, plans, and hundreds of oral history interviews. I've never investigated a corporate archive, but I think the material would be useful for anyone with ancestors who worked for Hershey or lived in the company town.

    I randomly clicked on an interview with Harry King in 1982. The transcript is fascinating, and the recording must be even better. Harry relates his career as an employee for Hershey Chocolate beginning in 1915 when he came to Hershey to work in the chewing gum manufacturing division and then goes into a wonderful digression about the streetcars, milk runs, and life in Hershey.

    It kind of makes me hope that someday I might come across a few Hershey ancestors, and also makes me eager to check out other corporate archives for information that may include more information about my family.


    Celebrating Seven Years of Blogging at The Family Curator


    It's hard to believe that The Family Curator is celebrating another blogiversary. When I wrote my first post back in 2007 for The Family Curator, I was teaching English at a girls Catholic High School and trying to figure out how to deal with the varied remains of my family legacy -- a steamer trunk filled with paper and random bits of life.

    Fast forward to 2014, and the documents, photos, and letters have been scanned and preserved in archival storage boxes. The Family Curator Blog has matured, and my teaching career has expanded to include family historians. In the spirit of my favorite teachers, I'd like to note a few things I've learned from my very generous mentors:

    Everything I Know About Family History I Learned from the Genealogists Who Came Before Me

    1. Sharing Never Diminishes Knowledge, It Allows It to Expand

    It's true. Holding tight to family photos and information may seem at times to be the prudent thing to do, yet it's only by sharing and allowing others to make connections or supply missing information that our own knowledge can grow, hurdle brick-walls, and move into new generations. 

    2. Encouragement is Under-Rated

    It costs nothing but a few minutes of time to send a positive email or affirmative message, and we don't do it often enough. I am immeasurably grateful to those bloggers who took time to let me know in my early blogging days I was doing something that might be worthwhile. Their encouragement is a gift worth passing on.

    3. Conferences and Institutes are About More than Meetings

    I finally figured out that conferences aren't all about the lectures. They're about the lunchroom, the blogger's table, and the after-hours meet-ups too. And if you need a lesson on this true-ism, ask any GeneaBlogger.

    4. Blogging Begins at Home, and Never Really Ends

    Many family historians begin blogs, but it takes dedication and creativity to write day after day, week after week. I tip my hat to bloggers who maintain the pace and continue to share outstanding content and inspiration.

    5. Content is King

    Good writing about a compelling subject will always trump chatter and chaff. When I started blogging seven years ago, the number of active bloggers was actually quite small. Since that time, hundreds of genealogists have started blogs and websites, and wonderfully some have become new classics in the genea-blogosphere. 

    I can't imagine what the next seven years will hold, but I look forward to the adventure. Genealogy is definitely an E Ticket ride. Thanks for spending time with me at The Family Curator. Here's to another year of sharing research, stories, and new ideas.


    Summer Reading for Genealogists Part 1: Relax & Read

    For many book lovers, summer reading brings back memories of lazy beach days and poolside paperbacks. And with the recent popularity of family history, you can have your genealogy and a light mystery too, or historical fiction if that's more your style. Read on:

    NEW! Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery: The Lost Empress, by Steve Robinson (Thomas & Mercer, October 21, 2014)

    Jefferson Tayte is at it again in the fourth book by British author Steve Robinson, due out this fall and now available for pre-order. From the book jacket:

    On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada's St. Lawrence River. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.

    When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress's victims, a British admiral's daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.

    Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice's death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.

    Now is the time to catch up on this well-written mystery series if you missed the first few books. 

    In the Blood (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery)  was named one of Amazon UK's  "Best Books of 2011," and followed by To the Grave , and The Last Queen of England . Each new book seems to ramp up the action, leading the endearing main character Tayte into more danger than any genealogist should ever have to face. I'm hoping this next installment will see Jefferson more involved with a love-interest; he seemed to be getting a bit lonely. The plot is well paced, and the characters well-developed, making for great mystery reading anytime of the year.

    I've enjoyed following Steve Robinson's career since the geneablogging community first took note of his sleuthing genealogist Jefferson Tayte in the self-published Kindle book In the Blood. I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve in 2012 and hearing more about his personal interest in genealogy -- he says he is not a genealogist, but he was fascinated by the notion of a researcher who "gets into plenty of action as other people try to stop him from uncovering the past."  

    All three books are now available in print, eBook, and audio editions. 

    Read More about JT and Steve Robinson

    Book Review: In the Blood GeneaFiction

    Exclusive Interview with author Steve Robinson

    Celebrate Success with Author Steve Robinson -- You Helped

    News of author Robinson's book contract with Amazon Publishing, due to the success of the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    He's Back! New Interview with the Author of The Last Queen of England

    An inside look at the story behind Jefferson Tayte's third adventure in the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.


    Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist Book 1), by Nathan Dylan Goodwin (2013)

    I didn't get around to reading this debut genealogical mystery until last month when I was away from home and happy to find it on my iPad Kindle App. Since the success of Steve Robinson's family history series, it seems like a every month a new genealogy-themed mystery is pushed out on the Kindle platform. I've dipped my toe into some titles that, to be honest, were true yawners. An subscription is no substitute for the talent to craft a good tale.

    Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist Book 1)  was a pleasant, and entertaining surprise. In this debut series mystery Goodwin introduces Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist, a professional researcher who senses something isn't quite right when his latest client is conveniently found dead "by his own hand." Morton's investigations are reluctantly aided by his policewoman girlfriend, and nicely dove-tailed by his own family issues. 

    More than once I found myself laughing out loud with Morton's worldview, for instance, his fascination with unusual names comes out with the author's character list: there's Dr. Garlick, who bears "a strong resemblance to a garlic bulb" and the perfect brother Jeremy with the perfect name. I'm wondering where "Farrier" will lead?

    The cozy British village setting hints of hidden secrets, and of course it isn't long until the long arm of the past reaches out to quiet nosy researchers. This Kindle book was a fast read mostly because I enjoyed the story so much. A very enjoyable book!


    Riders on the Orphan Train, by Alison Moore (Roadworthy, 2012)

    In preparation for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, Texas later this summer and the featured keynote by Orphan Train author/performer Alison Moore, readers might want know a bit more about this episode in American history when 250,000 displaced children were relocated from urban life to Western foster homes.

    Moore's multi-media presentation, "Riders on the Orphan Train" will be presented Thursday, 28 August at the Opening Penary Session. The program is part of the official outreach program of the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Kansas, and has grown from a short-story into a full-length historical novel highlighting the stories of the children who rode the orphan trains.

    Riders on the Orphan Train  is the fictional story of two children placed on a train in New York headed West to new homes and new lives. Their brief time together aboard the train leaves 11-year old Ezra and 12 year-old Maud with a friendship that endures throughout their lives.

    Amazon Prime Members can borrow Riders on the Orphan Train Kindle Edition  free on their Kindle device. 


    Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow, 2013)

    If you'd like to read more about the orphan trains and the children who rode them, you might also enjoy this New York Times Bestseller and popular book club selection, Orphan Train  , a novel by Christina Baker Kline.

    Told in the voices of both adult and child, Orphan Train, is more than the story of relocated children. It's an exploration of friendship and common threads in the lives of 91-year old orphan train rider Vivian and a local teenage girl performing community service hours rather than be sent to juvenile detention.

    Huffington Post calls Orphan Train "a gem." I have a borrowed copy on my nightstand and look forward to reading this promising story.

    Visit The Family Curator again for more recommended books in Part 2 of Summer Reading for Genealogists.

    Books mentioned in this article (Amazon Affiliate Links):




    The Annual "What Are You Reading This Summer?" Post

    Summer is here, and it's time for The Family Curator's Summer Reading List for Genealogists. You can take the English teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the book out of her hands.

    Each summer reading selection:

    1. is for or about genealogy and family history,
    2. is well-written, and
    3. is so enriching, engaging, or entertaining that you want to turn the page.

    Of course, we won't all agree on what makes a great, or even good, genealogy book, but I hope this list gives you a few new titles to try this summer. And do keep in mind something your English teacher probably never told you: If you don't like the book, it's okay to put it down and find another one. Books are a lot like vegetables; tastes change. Try it again later.

    The Summer Reading List for Genealogists will be presented in two parts with reading suggestions for assorted moods, whims, and needs.

    Part 1: R & R for Genealogists (or Relax and Read) offers fiction to lose yourself in, just in time for the long July Fourth Weekend. If you like series mysteries or historical fiction I hope you find something new to read here.

    Part 2: Stretch Your Skills, Learn Something New This Summer showcases recently published genealogy manuals and instructional titles. A thorough study of any titles from this list will lead to even more challenging works.

    The best part of this Summer Reading List, of course, is that there will be no grades. :>) I hope you find a new book that tempts you to charge up your e-Reader or visit your local library and settle in for a good summer read. And please, help this list grow by adding your favorites in the comments.

    Happy Summer Reading!

    Photo Op: That's our descendant in the photo holding a copy of my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes. He makes a good poster boy for reading any book any time of year.


    Talking About Dirty, Dirty Pictures for Treasure Chest Thursday

    DirtyPictures Levenick

    Naughty photos included, we talked DIRT at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for a presentation on "Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos from Ruin."

    We also talked about five of the most common problems with family history photographs in personal collections, and what to do about them:

    1. "Magnetic" Albums

    Those horrible photo albums everyone bought in the 1970's and 1980's because they were easy and made the photos look so good. The acidic paper, adhesive, and non-archival plastic were really just a way to speed up the deterioration of photographs, especially color prints. Now, we are trying to get our pictures out of those albums, and find that they are yellowing and stuck to the page. I show you tips for this rescue project using an awesome little tool called a Micro Spatula. You will want to add one to your Genealogist's Gadget Bag.

    2. Photos and Scraps

    Whenever one item touches another in an album or scrapbook, there's a pretty good chance that damage will occur if the materials are newsprint or organic artifacts. Ticket stubs, news clippings, and food wrappers are bad news for photographs. It's best to isolate those items or remove them (with that handy microspatula). And I've also got some ideas for making those books into long-term family heirlooms.

    3. Photographs Dying Inside "Bad" Frames

    Back before we knew what poor framing could do to a photograph, we stuck our pictures in any old frame, with or without a mat. Now we have photos stuck to glass, faded images, and damage from cardboard and wood. Archival quality framing is expensive, but it's not that hard to do yourself. I show you what you need to know.

    4. Curled and Rolled Photos

    My favorite! Prints that have become dry and brittle over the years and are just waiting for a little dehumidification to be studied in your genealogical research. Read my step-by-step Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents. The same method works on curled prints. Then learn how to create a digital image of that l-o-n-g panorama photograph that you can reprint, share, and archive. 

    5. Scratched and Dirty Negatives

    Really dirty pictures and negatives? If you're tempted to try cleaning with soap and water -- don't. I tried out the experts' recommendations and share the results in Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives? If you want to do-it-yourself, you'll need Delta Film Cleaner and PEC-PAD  We talk about other, easier, options too for working with damaged family photos.

    Do you have another challenge with your own "dirty pictures"? Let me know in the comments or send an email.


    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith and George Morgan Interview The Family Curator and Paul Woodbury

    Genealogy Guys

    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith (left) and George G. Morgan (right)
    with 2014 Student Grant Recipient Paul Woodbury (center).

    It’s always a pleasure to meet with George Morgan and Drew Smith to chat about family history news and events. You can listen to the latest Genealogy Guys Podcast here, recorded at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California on June 7, 2014. Episode #270 includes interviews with

    • Denise Levenick, The Family Curator
    • Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist at MyHeritage, and
    • Paul Woodbury, winner of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant.

    In the first segment, we talked about some of the intriguing and curious family keepsakes I discovered inside my Grandmother Arline’s steamer trunk, and how family historians can safely preserve the treasures they inherit, as well as

    • how to free photos from those horrible 1970s sticky “magnetic albums” with the help of the Micro Spatula wonder-tool
    • orphan heirlooms, what they are and what happens to them
    • the debut Heirloom Roadshow presentation at Jamboree
    • a tip for identifying UFO photographs

    George G. Morgan and Drew Smith are long-time supporters of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Memorial Grant, and two of my mother’s favorite genealogists, so it’s especially heartwarming to talk with them about the student grant program honoring her memory.

    This episode of the Genealogy Guys Podcast also includes an interview with Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Student Grant.  Paul shares his personal family history journey and talks about his career goals in the growing field of genetic genealogy.

    You can hear Genealogy Guys Podcast #270 here.


    Nice to Meet You at SCGS Jamboree 


    Renee Galantine of Lodi, California is proof of Reason #4 in my earlier blog post 5 Reasons Why SCGS Jamboree is a Jewell of a Genealogy Conference -- Family and Friends Atmosphere.

    Renee was the lucky winner of The Family Curator Flash Giveaway and won a free full-conference registration to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree. She drove from Lodi in the northernmost part of California to attend her first Jamboree, and when I met her and asked how she liked the conference, she was enthusiastic about coming back again!

    To enter the contest, Renee had to leave a comment at The Family Curator, sharing one of her favorite family heirlooms. Her German ancestry is apparent with her choice:

    One of my favorite's is a coffee cup (my great grandfather used it as his shaving mug) my grandmother gave me. It was her father's mug that he brought with him from Ostfriesland region of Germany abt 1890. It has the Ostfriesland rose design on it with the words "Remember Me"

    I haven't seen Renee's coffee cup, but it sounds like a lovely family treasure, and might be a good entry for the Heirloom Roadshow!

    Thank you Jamboree for the great prize, and for another outstanding conference.

    Find us on Google+