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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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    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"


    Win a Free Copy of RootsMagic4 in the Blogger's Almanac Contest

    The Family Curator will be giving away TWO copies of RootsMagic4, award-winning genealogy software program to users of the April 2010 Edition of The Genealogy & Family History Blogger’s Almanac. Any genealogy/family history writer who uses the blog ideas can enter, you don’t even have to have a blog!

    Genealogists know that keeping track of ancestors is a vital task. RootsMagic4 makes it easy to manage  people, places, and dates on your family tree. RootsMagic4 even has room for ancestor stories and photos in the notes and media links to each person.

    The Genealogy Guys, George Morgan and Drew Smith, call RootsMagic4 “the best and easiest genealogy database software”.

    Blogger Mark Tucker’s has named RootsMagic4 winner of the “ThinkGenealogy Innovator Award #4” 

    Read the full Contest Guidelines and Rules and enter soon.


    Moved to be Ancestor Approved

    Thank you kindly, MountainGenealogy for presenting me with the Ancestor Approved Award. I did a little digging (ie. “googling”) and discovered that the award was initiated by Leslie Ann Ballou at Ancestors Live Here just a few days ago, 29 March 2010 to recognize blogs she appreciated and enjoyed. I have been reading Leslie Ann's blog for a while now, and it's great to see new bloggers jumping into the genealogy blogosphere with both feet.

    The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlighted you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.

     Here's my Top Ten List

    1. Surprised to learn that  my mother's birth name was changed to her present name when she was 22 years old.
    2. Surprised to realize Great Aunt Mercy's family tree is more right than wrong.
    3. Surprised to discover my grandmother loved candy, so does my mom!
    4. Humbled by Walter G. May's service in World War I.
    5. Humbled by the Eliphaz and Minnie Kinsel's gritty determination to improve their fortune.
    6. Humbled by Arline Kinsel's religious quest.
    7. Humbled by how well my ancestors did with so little.
    8. Enlightened by Mercy's genealogy research.
    9. Enlightened to learn that Arline was a Harvey House girl
    10. Enlightened by all my ancestors efforts to pave the way to the future.

    Passing on the Ancestor Approved Award to


    No Foolin’ - FREE April Blogger’s Almanac Now Available

    Get a jump on spring blogging with the newest edition of The Genealogy & Family History Blogger’s Almanac, available now as a free download at

    The calendar-style printout features weekly themes for the month of April with timely writing ideas on topics from celebrating gardening to commemorating the Civil War. Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? or that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated this  month in 1865?

    Bloggers who like to plan ahead can use The Almanac to help schedule blog posts in advance with the scheduling feature of their blogging platform. The Almanac’s seasonal prompts are also great inspiration for writing on the daily themes from or for Carnival topics.

    In addition, The Family Curator will be sponsoring a drawing to win a free copy of Roots Magic 4 for readers and bloggers using The Blogger’s Almanac. Stay tuned for more details!


    Ellen DeGeneres Related to Halle Berry who is related to. . . -- NEHGS


    Now THAT's a family of celebrities. Genealogy super-star sleuths Christopher Child and Rhonda McClure at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society have discovered that Ellen DeGeneres is related through an "ancestral circle"(*)  to a remarkable number of celebrities.

    “We’ve done lots of research that connects various celebrities and public figures," commented Childs. "This is the first time I’ve discovered a large circle of relationships like this. Genealogically speaking, this is pretty rare and amazing.”

    Childs and McClure were first asked to research Ellen's genealogy in 2008, when the relationship to Halle Berry was discovered. It has taken many months to find Ellen's extended "family."


    According to NEHGS, Ellen is related to

    • Halle Berry who is related to
    • Mark Wahlberg who is related to
    • Madonna who is related to
    • Camilla Parker-Bowles who is related to
    • Diana, Princes of Wales who is related to
    • Tim Robbins who is related to
    • Richared Gere who is related to
    • Ellen

    All those cousins and once removeds put some relationships a bit far back in the timeline, but does royalty ANYwhere do anything to increase the chance of being called Lady Ellen?

    Read the full story and see Ellen's celebrity wheel with all the connections at

    See a clip from The Ellen DeGeneres show with Ellen showing off her celebrity relationships.

    * - don't look for a definition of "ancestral circle". I just coined it to identify relationships through an ancestor to a wider circle of people. Sort of a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing.


    Free Genealogy Interview e-book from Family History Expo

    I am so glad to hear that Family History Expos is back online, and even better than ever. As you may know, recently FHExpo suffered a true business disaster when their web hosting provider suffered an accident which lost the FHExpo website and subscriber list. Holly Hansen, President of FHExpo, never lost a beat and kept the scheduled Expos running smoothly, and the new website is proof that "the show will go on."

    Family History Expos is now rebuilding their subscription and participant database, and offering a FREE digital copy of their interviewing guide, "Life in Your Town." It's a nice perk for taking a few minutes to stay in the FHExpo loop, and I strongly urge you to join the mailing list and stay informed about Expos that may be scheduled near your hometown.

    My participation as a Blogger of Honor at the St. George Expo in February convinced me that these regional conferences are a definite MUST when they are in your area, and a strong pull even when travel is necessary.

    Upcoming Family History Expos are scheduled for -

    Loveland, Colorado - June 25-26
    Kansas City, Missouri - July 30-31
    Salt Lake City, Utah - August 27-28
    Pleasanton, California - October 8-9

    In addition, two research retreats will be held at the Salt Lake City Family History Library, April 12-17 and October 25-30.

    I have family roots in Colorado and Kansas City, and hope to be able to attend at least one of these events. Be sure to register for the mailing list to keep up on when a  Family History Expo event will be coming to a town near you!


    Genealogy Spring Cleaning Review

    It’s been a busy week, airing out the archives, shaking the figurative relatives’ rugs, and washing the windows squeaky-clean.

    Michelle Goodrum at The Turning of Generations was busy with Spring Cleaning this week. She wrote about storing vintage dolls in archival boxes,  finding a terrific old drugstore photograph, and organizing her home archive. She is working diligently at getting her family treasures in order, and I can’t wait to see what she turns up next.

    Now, it’s time to get back to research and writing, and maybe even a bit of Sunday Scanning, so dubbed by Kelly at Family History Fun. The Spring Cleaning theme has also inspired her to color-code her genealogy files and work on new ways to stay organized.

    So, enough of Spring Cleaning. I like the idea of Sunday Scanning and Transcript Tuesday. Back to the Archives for some treasure hunting.


    Genealogy Spring Cleaning - Fresh Flowers for the Desk

    It feels nice to bring a bit of springtime inside to my desk.

    I’ve tidied the bulletin board to show off a few favorite snapshots and brought in a bunch of fresh freesias to fill Grandmother Arline’s dainty cream pitcher. I like using my mother-in-law’s German stork scissors, although they are not really practical for paper and general cutting. And, I enjoy the pretty cut glass and silver candy dish repurposed for paper clips. The desk mouse does duty as originally intended, holding notes and the all-important daily ToDo List. All these things came my way from their original owners; thank you, ladies!

    The corkboard above my desk is the perfect place to catch my baby grandson’s smile, along with a photo from a visit East last autumn. The other pictures were snapped between storms in Vermont, further north than my ancestors’ homes in Windsor and Rutland Counties. In a bit of serendipitous good fortune, I found the small pennants in an antique store in New York, a few years after visiting both Rutland and Montpelier; they were a kind of delayed souvenir.

    Of course, I also have a copy of the latest Blogger’s Almanac, urging me to pull out the keyboard and “Write!” Now that my workspace is a bit more inviting, I just might do that!

    The last day of my week long checklist of spring cleaning tasks for my genealogy archives. Follow #genspringclean on Twitter, and share your updates too.

    Friday – Bring in a bouquet of fresh flowers.

    Clear off your desk and give your genealogy workspace a place to display a framed ancestor photograph or treasure. Some family treasures are best used and enjoyed. Can you repurpose your grandmother’s ironstone pitcher as a flower vase or pencil cup for your desk? Write a post about any family artifacts you see or use daily. Be sure to give a statement of provenance telling who owned it and how it came in your possession.


    Genealogy Spring Cleaning - Wash the Windows

    Instead of sharing a new and original family tree, I am sharing an old yet lovely rendition by my Great Aunt, Mercy Kinsel MacPhee, sister to Arline. Mercy was at the center of a sensational missing-persons case and later found quite happily married to Scotsman Angus MacPhee.

    Mercy had a keen interest in the family genealogy and was also an accomplished artist. When her eldest  niece graduated from high school, Mercy presented Lucile with a hand-written and illustrated genealogy. Although I have not confirmed all of the names, dates, and places, many are proving to be sound conclusions. It will be hard to top Aunt Mercy's beautiful illustrations with my own version of our family tree.

    This is the fourth day of my week long checklist of spring cleaning tasks for my genealogy archives. Follow #genspringclean on Twitter, and share your updates too.\

     Thursday— Wash the windows ‘til they shine.

    What do you show your relatives when they want to see the family tree? Spruce up your pedigree chart and give it a fresh new look. RootsMagic4 and LegacyFamilyTree offer several different charts, and GenerationMaps new online ChArtist offers  beautiful artwork to enhance your custom family trees charts. Show your blog readers your new design.

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