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

    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.]


    Go Green, Write About Your Farmer Ancestors with the Blogger's Almanac

    "Farmer reading his farm paper"
    By George W. Ackerman, Coryell County, Texas, September 1931
    National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Extension Service

    First, there was the Old Farmer's Almanac, a much-used favorite in farm familes for when-to-plant advice, as well as for "New, Useful, & Enertaining Matter." But if you are looking for ideas on what to write, instead of how to plant, The Genealogy and Family History Writer's Almanac might be more helpful today.

    The April Edition of The Blogger's Almanac features a week of green-inspired ideas for blogging about farming, gardening, household tips, and "going green."

    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 April 30, 2010.


    Civil War Blogging Ideas and a Chance to Win RootsMagic4 Free

    Find new ideas for writing about your Civil War ancestors in the April edition of The Genealogy Blogger's Almanac, available for free download at The Family Curator.

    April is a month filled with momentous dates in the Civil War, from the opening shots at Fort Sumter, to the bill abolishing slavery in Washington, D.C., to the assassination of President Lincoln, to the final surrender at Appomattox. Remember your ancestors with photos and articles about their experiences during those years.

    And, be sure to enter early and often in the contest to win a free copy of RootsMagic4 genealogy software. Just list your Blogger's Almanac-inspired article at the contest page and you will be entered to win. More details and contest guidelines at


    Writing for Blog Carnivals, Entries That Make the Hosts Smile

    This two-part series on Writing for Blog Carnivals was first published in September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.

    Part 1, Writing for Blog Carnivals, Interviews With the Carnival Hosts

    Discover what a blog carnival is all about and how you can participate. Carnival hosts also share their experiences and describe what it takes to run a successful carnival event.

    Part 2, Writing for Blog Carnival Entries That Make the Hosts Smile

    Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share some of their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article.

    Carnival hosts have two things in common – they love what they do and have a tough time singling out “favorites” from the many wonderful entries to the events.

    Carnival Entries That Make the Hostess Smile

    Jasia relates that after nearly 80 editions of the Carnival of Genealogy, “it’s more the edition topics that are memorable. . . but a few articles stand out for two reasons, passion and talent. The authors are all passionate about the topics they’re writing about, and they are very talented writers. It’s just that simple.”

    FootnoteMaven says, “In the case of Smile for the Camera it’s all about the photographs; the sheer joy of seeing how each participant interprets the word prompt in a pictorial submission. I’m also a sucker for a creative blog name. It always gets my attention.”

    For the Festival of Postcards, Host Evelyn Theriault notes that what stands out most to her is when bloggers do something different for them, such as a geneablogger “paying attention to the postcard publisher or postcrossers adding little research blurbs to accompany their modern postcards.” She likes seeing the ways that bloggers from different niches approach the postcard subject.

    When coaxed, the carnival hosts gave several examples of what they consider memorable entries, and it’s easy see the qualities that makes these articles stand out from the crowd. Careful research, humor, creativity, and good writing are all evident in the following articles (presented here in alphabetical order) –-

    Be Yourself

    Most importantly, memorable articles are written by bloggers who dare to “be themselves” and let their own unique voice be heard. Whether you are new to blogging, or an old hand looking for a fresh perspective, it’s a refrain that never gets old, “Be Yourself” as footnoteMaven says.

    “When writing for the COG, your article will be appearing alongside many others. Develop your own voice to stand out from the crowd,” Jasia advises writers. “if you’re quick-witted, go for some humor. . . if you’re detail oriented, deliver your content with source citations in all their glory. If your talent is writing emotional posts that touch people’s hearts, don’t submit anything less.”

    “I am continually amazed at the effort Smile participants put into each post,” adds footnoteMaven. “There’s a lot of love going on with those photographs. You cannot help but be touched by the enormity of pride, and the value to our family history that the participants place on, often one of a kind, photographs.”

    This pride of family is often the spark that moves an someone to respond to a particular carnival edition. If the theme fails to resonate, the writing can fall flat too for lack of passion. In fact, according to Jasia, passion is one of the key factors to a successful carnival posting. Without passion, the article will likely not be memorable at all.

    Mini-Step: Write a Very Short Piece

    Does an upcoming carnival topic appeal to you? Perhaps you have the perfect story to tell or photograph to share, but you’re still timid about joining in. Consider the words of Evelyn Theriault and “focus on writing a very short piece – a few paragraphs at most.” Don’t be intimidated, she adds, just do it.

    Write a mini-article, post it to your blog, and complete the submission form or email to meet the deadline (even better, be a day or two early). When the carnival goes online, post another article announcing it at your blog, and be sure to provide links from the original article to the carnival article as well.

    Mini-Step: Join the Carnival as a Commenter

    Another way to ease into carnival participation is to be an ACTIVE reader. Carefully read entries to current carnivals, ask yourself what you like about the article, what you might do differently. When you find a particularly memorable article, take time to leave a comment. Comments are great writing practice and help you focus on what you really want to say, all useful in honing your own style.

    Comments are also the best way to convey your appreciation to the carnival hosts and writers. A few words lets them know that you enjoy the time and effort they give to producing the event, and encourages them to continue.

    Next Step: Just Do It, With Passion

    “To anyone contemplating participating in a carnival,” adds footnoteMaven, “Do it! I have always found it to be a very rewarding experience regardless of which side of the post you find me on.”

    “Just do it,” writes Evelyn. “

    Bring your passion to your piece, and, as Jasia says, “When the passion is there, the article will likely be memorable.”

    See you at the Carnival!

    Thanks to footnoteMaven, Jasia, and Evelyn Theriault for sharing their thoughts on hosting genealogy blog carnivals for this two-part article. Please leave your comments for the Carnival Hostesses or the author, Family Curator.

    What does it take for a carnival article to be your favorite?


    How to Write for Blog Carnivals, Interview with the Carnival Hosts

    Grab the Gold Ring with a Memorable Carnival Post, Part 1 was first published September 2009 and has been revised and updated for April 2010.

    Carnival Hostesses with the Mostest share their favorite carnival entries and talk about what makes a memorable article, as well as describe what it takes to run a successful blog carnival in this two-part article at The Family Curator.

    Blog carnivals and festivals are one of the best ways to participate in the blogging community and interact with other bloggers, and with several great events offered each month, you are sure to find a subject that appeals to your interests. Read on to learn exactly what is a Blog Carnival, and how you can join one.   

    What is 'Blog Carnival'?

    Popular podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke confessed while interviewing carnival hostess footnoteMaven that she was a bit confused about carnival protocol for her first entry to the Carnival of Genealogy.

    "I took it very literally, I thought we were doing ‘Carnival’ theme,” she laughingly admitted.

    "I did a Louise merry-go-ground, a mashup of images of all the women named Louise. . . travelling around on this carnival.”

    The notion of “Carnival” conjures up all kinds of visions. Some folks think of country carnivals with mechanical thrill rides, a house of mirrors, and the midway crowded with ring-toss games. Others recall the three-ring acts under the big-top. It’s a small group of bloggers, indeed, who think differently when hearing the term “Carnival.”

    Carnival, Festival, or Challenge – all are themed writing events designed to bring together articles on a given subject. Typically, the Carnival Host will announce the a Carnival Theme and invite participants to submit entries. There is no formal application or registration. Yet, there are a few informal rules that help make things run smoothly.

    Every Carnival Needs a Manager

    Organizing, promoting, and publishing a blog carnival is a big job. Ask hostesses Jasia, footnoteMaven, and Evelyn Theriault.

    Jasia, Creative Gene, is already planning the 100th edition of The Carnival of Genealogy, and can count over 2000 genealogy-related articles in past editions of this long-standing favorite.




    FootnoteMaven, Shades of the Departed, counts 22 months, 22 editions of Smile for the Camera, a carnival focusing on memorable photographs bringing “subjects, poses, or information we’ve never seen before.”





    Evelyn Theriault, A Canadian Family, is now hosting the 8th Festival of Postcards, Theme: Geography, bringing together images and articles from  genealogy bloggers and postcard collectors.



    Each carnival host may spend as much as two days promoting, assembling, and commenting on entries. Some bloggers make the job easier, and some make the job harder. Typically, the host will announce the subject of the next carnival and give a deadline for entries along with instructions on how to participate.

    The blogger does not actually submit the article to the host, instead the article is posted on your own blog, and the link and a brief summary are submitted to the carnival host. Then, the real work begins for the host. They must take all the entries and assemble them into one cohesive article.


    If the number of entries is manageable, a host may read and comment on each one individually. FootnoteMaven notes,

    “I receive between 30 and 52 submissions for each carnival. I use the submitters’ photograph or avatar in the compilation. Sometimes finding a photograph requires a lot of searching.”

    She then tweaks the photo in Photoshop, resizing and adding a drop shadow. Next, she reads the submission and writes an introduction. Finally, fM moves on to create the logo for the next carnival. All in all, about “two days if you don't do anything else.”

    In September 2009 (when I first wrote about blog carnivals), the Original Carnival of Genealogy managed by Jasia at Creative Gene had already grown so large that she no longer had the time to write individual introduction to each submission.

    “My favorite part used to be when I commented/introduced each article in each edition,” Jasia said, “but I had to let that go when the number of participants grew beyond the time I had for putting the COG together.”

    Even with the carnival submission form, Jasia, and other COG hosts, must spend several hours compiling posts into the final Carnival article.

    In 2010 Jasia revised the COG guidelines to limit the number of entries to 30 with ten of the best submissions selected for a personal introduction by Jasia. One entry is also selected to be highlighted as the “featured article.” Jasia writes,

    "I'm asking you to put your best foot forward when it comes to submitting articles to the Carnival of Genealogy. Please don't dash off a quick post just to be a part of it. I want the COG to be a quality publication with well thought out, well researched, and well written articles. For the most part, it has been." (COG Changes for 2010)


    Carnival hosts seem to love reading the articles that come their way. Evelyn Theriault says,

    “putting the issue together allows me to really focus on each in such a way as to capture their individual essence. This is enjoyable, but also educational as it allows me to grow as a blogger.”

    The Festival of Postcards requires about thirty hours each edition, notes Evelyn, although technical glitches can bump the time spent considerably.

    Lessons from the Managers, or, How To Be a Carnival Host’s Dream Blogger

    Whether you are an old-hand at Carnivals, or looking to join the fun, here are a few tips that will make the manager’s job easier and ensure that your entry is guaranteed time under the spotlight.

    1. Meet the deadline. Post your entry on your blog AND follow the carnival guidelines to submit your article well before the announced deadline. Don’t make the host’s job harder by asking for an “Excused Tardy.” Just be on time, if not early. Remember that even blog services sometimes go down.
    2. Submit everything requested by the host. Typically, this will include Blog Name, URL to entry post, Post Title, Brief Summary; it may also include a photograph or avatar of yourself. Make a list and check things off as you include them in your submission.

    Part 2 in this series will include more tips from carnival hosts on How to Write a Memorable Carnival Article and examples of great entries from the archives.


    How to Write for Blog Carnivals, Each One Teach One COG

    The May Carnival of Genealogy gives bloggers an opportunity to share what they know best with the theme How to: Each One Teach One, and I can't wait to see what topics genealogy bloggers will come up with. Just imagine the collective wisdom of 30 genealogy bloggers x 3 articles! Nearly 100 articles showcasing specific genealogy and blogging How tos. What a wealth of information!

    footnoteMaven's announcement is all-inclusive:

    Choose a topic that you can give helpful advice on and
    write a series of articles (3+) about it

    I suppose the keyword here is helpful. And we can assume, helpful to genealogy bloggers. Which could mean just about anything. . .

    • Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist on How to find the PERFECT harem outfit for your next conference.
    • Thomas MacEntee, And I Helped on How to make a PERFECT slow cooker meal to give more time for genealogy
    • Caroline Pointer, Family Stories, on How to create the PERFECT rhyme to commemorate most any family event

    For my bit, I am starting off tomorrow with an revised edition and encore of my series on How to Write for Blog Carnivals. The two-part article published last fall featured email interviews with three veteran blog hostesses

    These "hostesess with the mostest" shared the background of Blog Carnivals, how to participate, AND how to write a truly memorable carnival entry. I hope the encouragement from these three champion genealogy bloggers will compel you to pull out the keyboard and tell us all How To. . . 

    For More Information

    COG Each One Teach One annnouncement at footnoteMaven

    Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy"

    Find us on Google+