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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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    Historic Hamlets of Stanford, Dutchess County, NY

    One of the highlights of my recent trip to Dutchess County in New York’s Hudson River Valley was the opportunity to meet with members of the Stanford Historical Society (SHS) and learn about their ongoing historic home inventory project.

    Spearheaded by local resident, Charlie Shaw, and SHS President Kathy Spiers, the inventory aims to document the early homes and businesses in the Historic Hamlet of Bangall. Charlie was preparing a presentation for the Society and gave me a brief preview of the project.

    Bangall is a gem located in the heart of the greater Town of Stanford. It is almost hard to believe that today’s quiet little crossroads community once boasted a busy railroad station, four mills, and numerous businesses, including two hotels. The area’s earliest church was founded in Bangall in 1755; today it is a private residence. Several cemeteries dot the roadsides, in varying stages of upkeep. The site of the old train depot is now a popular farm-to-table restaurant, market, and café. Residents continue to pick up their mail from the Bangall Post Office, as they have since 1851.

    The Post Office building was gifted to the Stanford Historical Society in 1973 and is now a fully-operational United States Post Office run by Postmaster and SHS member Louise Woodcock, and home to the society’s collection of local history materials.

    I was fortunate to meet with SHS President Kathy Spiers, her husband Jeff Spiers, member Louise Woodcock, and Charlie Shaw to hear more about their future plans for the Society and the Historical Resource Inventory.

    Meeting with members of the Stanford Historical Society and local Bangall residents. (from left) Jeff Spiers, Bangall Postmaster Louise Woodcock, SHS President KathySpiers, Charlie Shaw.

    The inventory project was initiated nearly twenty five years ago, in 1984, and has been recently revived and revitalized by SHS volunteers. Members are busily collecting data on various residential and commercial buildings throughout Bangall, noting structure features, age, and construction details, and documenting entries with photographs. In some cases, they have been able to add notes about current and previous owners as far back the mid 1800s.

    Communities such as Bangall are always in a precarious position. By definition, a hamlet is an unincorporated community and subject to the administration and rulings of the larger town. Shaw explained to me that at one time the Town of Stanford included seven historic hamlets; today, many of these little neighborhoods are scarcely more than a crossroads. The Historic Hamlet of Bangall stands apart as a vital, active community, and hopefully will remain a landmark site on the map for many years yet to come.


    50 Best Blogs for Genealogy Geeks

    OnlineUniversities has released its list of the 50 Best Blogs for Genealogy Geeks, and The Family Curator is named in the News category. It's an honor to be recognized with many of my favorite bloggers and to know that we are all working together to encourage online connections between family historians.

    OnlineUniversities list includes the following categories: General, Specific Research Projects, Libraries and Resources, and News. As a provider of news content and infomational features, The Family Curator was named in the News division.

    I am pleased to see some new names in the list, along with old favorites, particularly in the General and Research Projects categories, and the list has helped me find several new blogs to add to my reader. Thank you Online Universities for the shout-out!

    May142010 Scans Old Newspapers, Freedom from the Flatbed

    This winter I had an opportunity to take advantage of the “Scanning Roadshow” and was impressed with the quality and professionalism of the operation. I was warehousing a large archival box of full-size newspapers and pages, and looking for a way to digitize the documents. One of my favorites is the first edition of The Kansas City Evening Star, September 18, 1891, published just before my grandmother celebrated her first birthday.

    The Kansas City Evening Star, September 18, 1891, original issue
    found with the papers of Arline Allen Kinsel. Digitized by at
    the St. George Family History Expo February 26, 2010.

    Scan Digital, in El Segundo, California does a good job with oversize photographs, but their scanners are not really set up to handle full-size newspaper sheets; they told me they would have to do images in segments, just like I would at home on my flatbed scanner. I wondered how would handle my project.

    When Family History Expo announced that Ancestry would be scanning at St. George, I emailed for a reservation; at the Expo I went to the Ancestry scanning area to sign up for a specific appointment. Two options were available: leave the items and return for pick-up, or stay and watch. Of course, I elected to pick a time when I could observe the process and ask nosy questions.

    My huge box was a bit awkward, but protected the papers inside. Each sheet or issue was interleaved with acid-free, buffered paper from my local art store. I discovered the sheets were a bargain compared with buying archival matboard or heavier material. The paper also served as a sling to help move the fragile sheets from box to scanning platform.

    Newspapers interleaved with acid-free buffered
    paper to act as a sling for moving papers.

    The Ancestry scanning station was well equipped with flatbed scanners, sheetfed scanners, and two large copystands. These models were necessary for large or multidimensional objects. My newspapers filled the copy table completely, but with a bit of patience and care, everything was beautifully copied.

    Tyler Harman, Ancestry Remote Production Manager for North America, explained the process and equipment to me. The stand uses a 21.6 megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds MarkIII camera (hope I got that right!) mounted on a vertical bar which allows the camera to be moved in relation to the item. The item is placed flat on a solid surface and illuminated evenly from two sides by stationary lights. The camera is tethered to a laptop which handles the scanning operation. copystand

    As I readied my newspapers for scanning, or copying, I could see that this is an excellent method for digitizing old and fragile documents. Less handling is involved and contact with scanner glass and lid minimized damage. The process is much quicker, only delayed by the amount of time to slide the paper up, down, or to the side. The high megapixel resolution also results in an ultra-sharp image that is easy to work with.

    Due to the large size of each news sheet, some pages were copied in two or more parts, still better than six or more shots. Tyler explained that Ancestry also uses larger scan tables with a taller vertical camera mount which allows for a full-size image to be made.

    My session actually expanded because so few attendees were taking advantage of the special event. Lucky me!

    When we were finished, I was given my images on an USB drive, ready to transcribe, upload, and share. I know that some of these papers may be unique, and I look forward to sharing them with other researchers. will be bringing their Scanning Roadshow to Burbank for the SCGS Jamboree. If you have documents, photos, or items you would like professionally scanned, this is a generous offer not to be missed. Be sure to register early in order to reserve a session.



    Family Curator Named to My Heritage Top 100

    Thank you for including The Family Curator as one of your Top 100 Genealogy Sites for 2010. It is an honor to be named with so many of my blogging colleagues.

    Of course, like many others, The Family Curator was inspired, coached, and supported by those "cornerstone blogs" that are TOP in any list of genealogy blogs such as DearMyrtle, footnoteMaven, Genea-Musings, Shades of the Departed, The Educated Genealogist, The Genealogue, We Tree, What's Past is Prologue (to name but a few).

    In turn, I hope that The Family Curator inspires, coaches, and supports your family history efforts. Top 100 Genealogy Sites

    Above the Trees


    Ancestors Live Here

    Anglo-Celtic Connections

    Apple’s Tree

    Arlene Eakle’s Genealogy Blog

    Bayside Blog

    Before my Time

    Betty’s Boneyard Genealogy Blog

    Brenda Dougall Merriman

    British Genealogy

    Census Finder

    Census Tools


    Creative Gene

    Crowe’s Nest

    Cruwys News

    Destination: Austin Family

    Documenting the Details

    Donna’s Genealogy Blog

    Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories

    Elyse’s Genealogy Blog


    Family, Friends and Neighbors

    Family Oral History Using Digital Tools

    Family Research

    Find My Ancestors

    Find Your Folks


    Free Genealogy Tools

    From Wilno to Worcester

    Gena’s Genealogy



    Genealogy Blog

    Genealogy Canada

    Genealogy Gems

    Genealogy Guide

    Genealogy Lines

    Genealogy in New South Wales

    Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me

    Genealogy Reviews Online

    Genealogy Star

    Genealogy Tip of the Day




    Greta’s Genealogy Blog

    Gus’s Genealogy Blog

    Henthorn Genealogy News

    Jessica’s Genejournal


    Kick-Ass Genealogy


    Lessons from my Ancestors

    Life from the Roots

    Little Bytes of Life

    Mad About Genealogy

    Midwestern Microhistory

    Moultrie Creek

    New England Genealogy

    Nutfield Genealogy

    Olive Tree Genealogy Blog


    Patten Project

    Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica

    Practical Archivist

    Renee’s Genealogy Blog

    Roots ‘n’ Leaves


    Scottish Genealogy News and Events

    SephardicGen Resources

    Shauna Hicks History Enterprises

    Shoestring Genealogy

    Small-Leaved Shamrock

    Smoky Mountain Family Historian

    Special Collections and Family History

    Staats Place

    Steve’s Genealogy Blog

    St. Vincent Memories

    Taneya’s Genealogy Blog

    The Accidental Genealogist

    The Armchair Genealogist

    The Association of Graveyard Rabbits

    The Chart Chick

    The Cobbold Family History Trust

    The Family Curator

    The Genetic Genealogist


    The Slovak Yankee

    The St. Leon Family


    TJLGenes: Preserving Our Family History


    Twigs of Yore

    Upstate New York Genealogy Blog

    Wandering Genealogist

    Walking the Berkshires

    West in New England

    Zalewski Family Genealogy


    April Showers Bring the May Blogger's Almanac, Free Download

    It was rain and travel, not flooding, that delayed publication of the May Blogger's Almanac until today. Thank you, Almanac fans, for your patience.

    This May 2010 Edition of the Genealogy and Family History Blogger's Almanac is now available for free download, featuring weekly themes on

    Going Postal with Postcards

    Honoring Mothers & Special Women

    Spring Is Here to Stay!

    Celebrate Outdoor Cooking with National Barbeque Month

    Honoring Those Who Served for Memorial Day

    Last month, bloggers used ideas on the civil war, baseball, and gardening to spark ideas for their own blog posts and photo features. Here are a few highlights from bloggers who returned to leave a link to their posts

    Jenna, Desperately Seeking Surnames, posted glorious photos of her garden peonies and other Alamanc-inspired stories on family baseball memories.

    Jo Arnspirger, Those Who Went Before, wrote about a civil war ancestor whose military service poses a curious puzzle, and also shared family baseball story.

    Sandra, Family Reflections: The Blog, shared her immigrant ancestor's civil war record in a carefully-sourced article featuring photographs and documents.

    Mary, Me and My Ancestors, remembered her dad gardening in New York and Florida, and favorite ballpark hotdogs.

    You can download the May 2010 Blogger's Almanac here. If you like the ideas featured in The Blogger's Almanac and use them at your blog, please leave a link at The Family Curator. Enjoy.



    Get Away for Research at NEHGS

    My favorite New England library, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has just announced dates for the Summer 2010 Come Home to New England research sessions, June 14-19 and August 9-15. I attended the Spring Research Getaway in 2009 and consider it a "must-do" for New England researchers.

    My three-part review of the week is included in the NEHGS announcement (along with a nice photo of me with staff expert Gary Boyd Roberts).

    If you have been thinking about making a date for some serious research, sign up for this program soon. The small number of available spots mean that it will fill up quickly.

    Read more on NEHGS research programs, the Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009:

    Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Part 2: Consulting the Experts

    Part 3: Researching at NEHGS



    and the Winners Are. . .

    Jenna, Desperately Seeking Surnames, and Jo Arnspiger, Those Who Went Before, have each won a copy of RootsMagic4 genealogy software program in The Family Curator's Blogger's Alamanac Contest.

    Jenna and Jo were selected in a completely random drawing held this afternoon. All entries were printed out on slips of paper and tossed into an "authentic" straw Shaker hat. Mr. Curator closed his eyes and picked the two lucky winners.

    Coincidentally, both winners entered posts on the Blogger's Almanac baseball theme. Jenna wrote Plaaaaaaaaaay Ball in honor of her son's high school baseball career, and Jo wrote My Mother, Baseball, and My Grandfather recalling her mother's love of the sport.

    I have never been much of a sports fan myself but baseball seems to be something I can understand, and I loved reading their articles about families and the All-American pastime. If you missed them last month, do take a minute to visit their blogs and read their heartwarming stories.

    Thank you, everyone, for downloading the Blogger's Almanac, for sending me your kind and encouraging comments, and for participating in the Contest. I hope you find the Almanac's blogging ideas helpful in sparking your family history writing, and I would love to hear more about the kinds of themes you like most.

    The May Issue of the Blogger's Almanac is "in the works" and should be available as soon as I unpack from the National Genealogical Society conference. Stay tuned for the latest edition.


    Last Call for Entries to the Blogger's Almanac Contest

    Today is the final day to enter the Blogger's Almanac contest to win a free copy of RootsMagic4. Share your Almanac-inspired stories and enter The Family Curator's contest to win a FREE copy of RootsMagic4 genealogy software.

    More details and guidelines at the Contest Page. Enter early and often; contest ends tonight at midnight; wiinners will be announced Monday, May 3, 2010.


    Snow Day at NGS 2010 Salt Lake City

    It's not a bad kind of snow day when you can spend the day inside a beautiful convention center attending top-notch genealogy lectures and checking out all the newest tech-toys for genealogists. It's even better when you can run through the white stuff to spend a few hours surrounded by microfilm at the Family History Center.

    Day Two at the National Genealogical Society 2010 Conference dawned cold and white, quite a surprise for the Californians, Floridians, and Hawaiians in attendance. Like Randy Seaver, I too attended Elizabeth Shown Mills' outstanding presention yesterday, and planned to hear her talk today.

    On Wednesday I also attended an excellent lecuture by John T. Humphrey on Understanding the Process that Creates the Records and came away with a plan to outline the probate requirements for the states I am researching. John's examples demonstrated that knowing the record-making process can speed research and add value to the work.

    I also attended the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors Banquet where I sat next to Renee Huskey of Photoloom, and met several family history writers from across the country. Michael Leclerc spoke shared a few Tales from the Editor's Desk, and gave us all a glimpse at life inside the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    Today was a full day of speakers, vendor visits, and library look-ups. I heard Claire Bettag on Research Reports: Meeting the Standards, Elizabeth Shown Mills on What Kind of Document is This: Original? Derivative? Primary? Secondary? or Whatchamacallit? and Kay Haviland Freilich on From Research to Report: How to Write a Proof Summary. Each presenter stressed the Genealogical Proof Standard and BCG standards; it was clear that the BCG Skillbuilding track was well-planned and carefully coordinated among speakers.

    I also managed to squeeze in a short look-up at the Family History Library for the probate of James Winsor, died 1801. Now I have a few references and will try to get back to find the "good stuff." I have been very impressed with the Library staff -- helpful, friendly, knowledgeable, and very accomodating. The Library must have added extra help this week because the books are being shelved almost as fast as they are returned to the cart, and the assistants keep the microfilm printer/scanner line moving smoothly.

    I finally caught up with Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist, and Donna Pointkowski, What's Past is Prologue, for dinner and a lilttle SLC field trip. It was great to compare conference sessions and research tips.

    Another busy day is slated for tomorrow; I hope the snow holds off until we get inside the Salt Palace Convention Center, and then it can blow a gale!


    Still Time to Enter to Blogger's Almanac Contest

    Just a little reminder that you can still enter to win a free copy of Roots Magic 4 genealogy software from The Family Curator. The contest is open through Friday, April 30 and winners will be announced on Monday, May 3. Anyone who uses a Blogger's Almanac-inspired blog post or writing can enter; details are posted on the Contest Page.

    I have enjoyed seeing the photos, stories, and longer features this month, and hope you will share your work, even if you don't want to enter the contest.

    Jenna at Desperately Seeking Surnames posted a Peonies on Parade for the gardening theme and I can't wait to see them in full bloom.


    Family History Weekend Highlights in New Hampshire


    How often does it happen that travel for a family event coincides with a genealogy society meeting in that same distant state? Not often, but this past weekend I was able to attend both my great-nephew’s christening in Lebanon, New Hampshire and the morning session of the joint meeting of the Genealogical Society of Vermont (GSV) and the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists (NHSOG) at the Howe Library in neighboring Hanover.

    Kevin Maynard was the true star of the day, only speaking out when the water splashed his brow. Big sister Bridget handled the celebration with grace and generosity, probably figuring that she might as well enjoy the day even if she was upstaged (temporarily) by her brother. Occasions where we actually witness vital records in the making become even more special when families live in distant parts of the country, and we were reminded again that family is first.

    Finding families was also the topic of the day for the Spring Meeting of GSV and NHSOG. I attended the morning session and came away with a new appreciation for New England records research and several solid ideas for tackling my brick walls.

    Research in New Hampshire When the Trail Grows Cold was the subject of presenter Diane Gravel’s 60-minute talk. She covered a wealth of records, from vital, land, and town, to lesser known resources such as warnings-out, poor records, and justice of the peace records.

    Diane’s presentation was illustrated with PowerPoint slides showing brief case studies and examples from her own New Hampshire research and describing techniques would apply to research in many other localities. It was clear from her effective use of visual slides that Diane is an accomplished researcher and speaker; I plan to watch for her at future conferences and make certain to attend her sessions.

    Following the morning session, I enjoyed lunch with GSV President Bob Murphy and Newsletter Editor Deidre Burridge and the opportunity to hear about future plans for the society. They returned to the Howe Library to hear the presentation by Michael Sherman, "Rethinking Freedom & Unity:  Family History in State History," and I rejoined family for our own Family History Event.

    If you are traveling to visit friends or family, you might want to check on local genealogy event as well. Happy coincidences do happen.


    Sunday Bulletin: NEW New Hampshire Vital Record Released

    24 April 2010 -- Celebrating a new addition to New Hampshire church records with Kevin Maynard and Daddy's home brew, blessed for the occasion by friend and celebrant, Father Miles. Don't worry, Kevin, maybe they will save a bottlle until you're 21.


    Why I Love Vermont

    Fair Haven, Vermont. First Baptist Church and Marble MansionSent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


    Dutchess County Drive-By

    Today's wildlife census -- 1 hen turkey, 1 deer, 1 mink, xxxxxxx orioles.


    Dutchess County Spring Sunset

    Today's wildlife census -- 1 hen turkey, 2 mallards, 1 merganser, 2 cardinals, 1 mink, 3 robins, xx bats, xxx crows.

    [The Family Curator is on a research trip to New York State, with a bit of "making family history" en route.]

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