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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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    Thursday
    May232013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Vintage Postcards Picture the History of Decoration Day

    First There Was Decoration Day

     

    This 1909 Decoration Day postcard depicts a U.S. Army vet, sabre in hand to salute his fallen comrades. The Grand Army of the Republic, as the Union Army was known, is celebrated in the five-star membership badge of the G.A.R.

    According to a 1910 history of the G.A.R, the badge was "struck from captured Confederate cannon" and the bronze "issued to the G.A.R. by the War Department as needed."

    The design includes motifs representing charity, liberty, loyalty, and fraternity surrounded by the insignia of the various branches of service -- bugle (infantry), crossed cannons (artillery), crossed muskets (marines), crossed sabers (cavalry), and anchor (sailors).

    The design was adopted in 1866, revised in 1868 and again in 1869. A few changes were made again in 1873 and 1886. This postcard dates from 1909 per the postmark, and probably shows the latest medal design.

    Shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, communities began commemorating the fallen soldiers by decorating graves with flowers. General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed the first major observance May 30, 1868, held at Arlington National Cemetery where both Union and Confederate graves were decorated.

    The same fascination with symbolism that created the G.A.R. medal is evident in the postcard design in these examples. 

     

    In this illustration a young child, probably a granddaughter, slips a flower in the lapel of her grandfather. He wears the G.A.R. veteran medal on his coat near the pinned sleeve, silent testament to his loss in the war. 

    In the bottom left of the card is an artist's version of the famous battle in March 1862 between the first iron-clad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. The battle ended in a stalemate, but introduced a new phase of warfare to America. 

    This postcard obviously continues the series shown above, but the painterly scene on this card recalls the infantry's efforts in the war, in the same way that the previous card depicted naval war maneuvers. Presumably, other cards in the series pay homage to other branches of service. It would be interesting to locate other cards in the series and see the entire set together.

    The main image shows a war widow (note the grandmother's photo cameo brooch) with her grandson who playing at being a soldier. He wears a miniature G.A.R. medal, a too-large belt, and is holding his grandfather's saber. 

    And Then There Was Memorial Day

    This Memorial Day card bears a postmark on the reverse of 1908; it seems that the holiday was known by both names. The images here are probably meant to depict the new and old Navy warships. The card sends "Memorial Day Greetings" rather than a message for "Decoration Day," although the term Memorial Day did not become official until 1966.

    I found these cards at a local Vintage Paper and Ephemera Show in Southern California. If you love family history, and haven't discovered these shows yet, you are missing out!

    Sources:

    Naval History and Heritage

    The Grand Army Badge

    This Day in History

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Roundup for Memorial Day FREE Record Access for Researchers

    Block out a few hours and take advantage of these great offers for free access to U.S. military records this weekend.

    My Heritage Free Access to US Military Records

    Myheritage memorial day

    Researchers can take advantage on one week of free access May 21-28 to the MyHeritage U.S. military record collection. Available databases include 

    • U.S. WW II Army Enlistment
    • Service Records of Confederate Soldiers
    • WW II Reserve Corps Records
    • Air Force Register Extracts
    • US WW II Prisoners of War 194101946
    • Vietnam Casualties 1956 - 1998 
    • US Army Casualties 1961 - 1981
    • Korrean War Casualties 1950 - 1957
    • and more

    If you've been curious about MyHeritage, this would be great time to check out the website and database collection. I especially like the clean fresh design that makes the search form easy to see and understand.

    Fold3 Offers Free Access to New USCT Service Records

    Fold3 badge

    Compiled military service records of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) including over 3.6 million images is now available at Fold3.com through a partnership between Folde and the National Archives. Access to this collection is a free through May 31st.

    Available records include images scanned directly from documents as well as those digitized from microfilm. The collection consists of images for:

    • 1st through 1389th USCT Infantry
    • 1st gthrough 6th USCT Cavalry
    • USCT Artillery
    Read more about the collection and highlighted records at the Fold3 blog. American Veterans and their families are also eligible for a 50% discount on a Fold3 membership. More information is available here at the Fold3 website.

    FindMyPast Offers Free Access to US and International Military Records

    Findmypast-memday
     
    In honor of Memorial Day and Military Appreciation Month, Findmypast.com is making their U.S. and International military records available free Friday May 24 through Monday May 27. 
     
    Records include:
    • American Prisoners of Korean War, 1950-1953
    • Korean War Casualty File
    • Korean War Deaths, 1950-1954
    • United States, World War One (WWI) Draft Registration Cards,1917-1918
    • US Army Casualty File, 1961-1981
    • Vietnam War Casualties
    • Vietnam War Casualties Returned Alive
    • Vietnam War Deaths
    • World War II Army Enlistment Records
    • World War II POWs
    • and international military record collection
    The Findmypast.com Blog also features a series of great infographics from MyMilitaryBase.com about U.S. military families.

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription to MyHeritage, but have no obligation to favorably review the website.

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Wordless Wednesday: Can You Identify This Military Unit?

    This image was digitized from a negative found in my grandmother's trunk of old photos and documents. The date and place are unidentified, but it seems to be part of a series of photos that may have been taken in Texas. Any ideas what these young men might be up to?

    I first discovered this photograph in 2008 and wrote about it in Treasure Revealed! but I'm no closer to knowing more about the picture today than I was then. Any ideas?

    Monday
    May202013

    Don't Miss #SCGS13 Jamboree

    Geneabloggers Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee always have a great time at Jamboree!

    Early Bird Registration Closes 24 May

    You still have time to register for the upcoming Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank June 7-9, and the Family History and DNA Day on Thursday, June 6. Jamboree gets bigger and better with something new each year.

    The 2013 conference will kick-off Thursday with Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2013 featuring Spencer Wells, PhD. and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Then, on Friday, the 44th Annual SCGS Genealogy Jamboree will open with 50 speakers, 70 exhibitors, and 150 sessions.

    Join us for the Sunday morning Scholarship Breakfast where I will introduce Michael Savoca,  recipient of the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant. Jamboree is Mike's first national conference -- be sure to say "Hi" when you see him in June.

    Register soon to take advantage of the Early Bird pricing!

     

    Randy Seaver and Angel Linda will be there too! 

    Tuesday
    May142013

    Hitting the Jackpot at #NGS2013

    Ten Tweets to Richmond

     

    With Mystery Judge Gena Philibert-Ortega
    (photo courtesy Randy Seaver and Kathryn Doyle) 

    The NGS Las Vegas Twitter Challenge was a fun event encouraging attendees to tweet as they completed ten (fairly challenging) tasks throughout the conference week. Each task required a photo and inclusion of the official challenge hashtag #ngs2013hunt, as well as the challenge number. In addition, participants were encouraged to incorporate the conference theme -- Building New Bridges -- in some way.

    Rather than a blind drawing for all participants, the "most creative and innovative entry overall" would be selected as the winner by a secret judge. Whew! 

    With encouragement of my genealogy blogging friends, I managed to complete all ten tasks AND be present for the announcement of the winner. It was a good thing Kathryn Doyle was keeping up on all the news, because my car was packed and I was nearly headed home early for Mom's Day when I got her message to stick around for the final announcement.

    Gena Philibert-Ortega was revealed to be the mystery judge and announced the winners -- Holly Simmons and Denise Levenick! Woo-hoo. Looks like I'll be headed to Richmond next spring. Thank you VERY MUCH NGS!

    #NGS2013Hunt Twitterstream

    Genealogy Dress Code: Hard Hats Required (kilt wearers exempt)! #NGS2013hunt Challenge1 http://t.co/edeCrE8zVI

     

    No lunchbox & thermos needed at the BCG luncheon. #NGS2013hunt challenge 2 with Diane Gravel & Joan Peake. http://t.co/wylzzoWQ3t

     Checking out new tools for building bridges w/NGS publications. #NGS2013hunt Challenge#3. http://t.co/DXRKHPIDjh 

    Found a helpful NGS Ask Me volunteer who fixed my specs without any tools! thanks Lenny! #NGS2013hunt Challenge 4 http://t.co/B7upZJ8wXR

    #NGS2013 Exhibit Hall buzzing.Talked w/Treelines about gr8 new tool to build bridges betwn now/then. #NGS2013hunt #5 http://t.co/9rN2903Xqx

     

    Spreadsheet as #genealogy tool for building bridges to ancestors' past w Jill Crandall #NGS2013hunt Geek Chlng 6 http://t.co/pXeT7iILd9

    Yes, it's Vegas, Baby for #NGS2013. Ready to build new bridges. #NGS2013hunt Challenge 7 http://t.co/Plx35KGDpV

    @walkingyourtree wins longest #NGS2013 badge WOW! She could build a bridge with those ribbons! #NGS2013hunt clue 8 http://t.co/8NsSdT2VrD

    Networking about building bridges with Pam Eagleson & Stefani Evans for #NGS2013hunt challenge #9 http://t.co/WgbkK2Qzfk

    Rubbing shoulders w/ NGS celeb Laura deGrazia, she knows the best tools for NY Research #NGS2013hunt Challenge 10 http://t.co/QPAYAA7aHl

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