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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
    Mar212013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Digitizing and Examining a 1909 German Songbook

    I love surprises from the Archives! Recently I pulled out several old German books that my father gave me after my grandmother passed away. As the only family member who spoke German (much better then than now) I was the logical recipient. I thought I remembered a Bible in the collection, but alas, the book was a German language hymnal.

    Making a Digital Copy

    First, I wanted to digitize the book so I could work with the images rather than the fragile old book. It's poor condition and thickness made it a good candidate for my digital camera. I set up my copy stand outdoors under natural light and used a remote shutter release to achieve the best photo. Then I tried both a white and a black background.

    May wg 1909 songbook 1May wg 1909 songbook 2

    May wg 1909 songbook 8May wg 1909 songbook 5

    I think the white works best for the cover and the black works best for the inside pages. the contrast makes the book itself stand out better. What do you think?

    Description

    The cover is made of inexpensive embossed cover-stock cardboard similar to the covers of popular photo albums and scrapbooks so many of us find in our family collections. Overall the book is 3 3/4-inches wide and 5 3/8-inches high. Someone (Grandma May?) added a strip of modern tape to keep the spine in place with the cover. The pages are edged in gilt. 

    The title page reads:

    Kirchen-Gesangbuch
    für
    Evangelische-Lutherische Gemeinden
    ungeänderter
    Augsburgischer Confession

    darin des sel. Dr. Martin Luthers und anderer geistreichen
    Lehrer gebräuchlichste Kirchen-lieder enthalten sind.

    St. Louis, Mo.
    Concordia Publishing House.
    1905 

    The book is in fair to poor condition. The pages appear to be intact but the covers have started to pull away from the binding. There are scattered stains and blotches throughout. There is no handwriting other than a notation on the flyleaf in pencil on the flyleaf that looks like "Goldlock 1.20."

    Inside the front cover, I found a newspaper clipping from a German language newspaper of the hymn, "Hochzeitgefang," translation: Wedding Song. I also found a what looks like a trimmed decoration from a Christmas card between pages 242 and 243.

    Information

    Of course, to me the real treasure is the cover embossed with my grandfather's name and a date. The fact that the book is a German Lutheran songbook confirms his association with the German community and the Lutheran church in America. A quick Google search for the hymnal shows that it was a popular book at the turn of the century.

    Walter G. May was born in July 1894 in Bennet, Nebraska, so I wondered about the significance of the date on the cover of the book, 4 April 1909. The date fell on a Sunday in 1909, one week before Easter, or Palm Sunday. The Easter Season is traditionally a time for welcoming new members into the Catholic Church and I thought the Lutheran Church tradition might be similar. If so, Walter would have been 14 years old at the time, a common age for Confirmation.

    Through FindAGrave.com I had previously located the little Lutheran cemetery where Walter's parents were buried. It was associated with an adjacent church that has a very nice website and a "Contact the Pastor" page. Within 24 hours of my query, the Pastor had responded and kindly looked for a confirmation record for Walter G. May in the church records. Although he did not find a record, he agreed that the date indicated the hymnbook was probably a confirmation gift.

    This little book added quite a bit to the very little I know about my grandfather's early years --

    • It confirms his Lutheran religion
    • It strongly suggests his membership and confirmation in a local church
    • It suggests that he read and spoke German
    • It suggests he may have carried the book at his wedding

    With further research I might be able to learn more about the kind of congregation that used this particular hymnal and locate the church attended by Walter and his family.

    Monday
    Mar182013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 4: Face to Skull with Richard III

    You don't have to be Royal Groupie to be captivated by recent headlines about Richard III. It isn't every King whose burial place is lost and then found, and whose remains are identified by scientific and historical analysis and confirmed by DNA. 

    When I heard the news about "the king in the carpark" in late January, and learned that Dr. Turi King would be presenting at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, the biggest family history event in the world, I hoped I could get a ticket to the presentation. Luckily, although tickets were sold out early, I was able to find a place at the back of the room and catch the entire talk.

    Dr. Turi King, University of Leicester geneticist, led the audience through the project beginning with the initial search for the location of the Greyfriars' church, believed to have been the final resting place of the defeated King Richard after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485

     

    It was interesting to learn that the site location and excavation occurred in tandem with the genealogical work of identifying and collecting DNA samples to be used for identification. Without the DNA, identification would not have been nearly as conclusive. The descendant DNA confirmed the family tree research, and provided additional evidence for Richard III's positive identification. 

    Dr. King showed photos of the excavation area, and the trenches used to locate the church and likely burial spot. When the skeleton was found and examined, first impressions showed the acute scoliosis and skull injuries that were expected on Richard's remains.

     

    Historical accounts of the battle gave evidence of the kinds of injuries suffered by Richard; these were evident in the remains. Dr. King pointed out injuries on the skull that would be consistent with someone who has lost their helmet in battle. She also pointed out several "humiliation injuries" that were typical for the time: slashes to the face, sword through the buttock, slice through the skull.  

    She also described the careful conditions used to unearth the remains to keep the DNA free from contamination. After being removed from the site, teeth were extracted from the skull for the DNA sample. Dr. King amused the audience by describing the jittery trip to a French lab carrying the teeth through Customs, and then returning with a baggie filled with white powder. 

    Following the formal presentation, Dr. King spent considerable time answering questions, and explained that under the terms of the excavation agreement, King Richard's remains will be buried at Leicester Cathedral, "the nearest consecrated ground" to the previous burial site. The exact date for reinterment has not been set, but it will take place within a pre-determined time limit. Living descendants of Richard III have petitioned to have him returned to his York homeland, but current plans call for reinterment in Leicester.

    Read more about WDYTYALive --

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    WDYTYA Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

    WDYTYA Report 3: Remember Me When This You Read

    Sunday
    Mar172013

    Great Group, Great Questions; Thank You CGSS

     J. Paul Hawthorne, President CGSSD, and Denise Levenick

    One of the perks of speaking to genealogy societies is the new information I pick up from attendees. At the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meeting this weekend, the questions and comments were top-notch. 

    The topic of the presentation was two-fold: Archiving and Digitizing for Family Historians. We covered basic preservation of common heirlooms and then moved on to using digital images as Master Copies in case of damage or loss.

    During the Q & A, some members shared their strategies for spreading family history among their own family members, including:

    • creating a digital photo album with audio and presenting copies on CD/DVD to relatives
    • compiling photos on a CD/DVD to send to relatives every 6 months or so, thereby creating "lots of copies" to "keep stuff safe"
    • printing family history photo books and giving copies as a special gift to children and grandchildren
    • sending group photos with a key and asking for help identifying people (kind of a Where's Waldo family game)
    • and more 
    The theme seemed to be: our families might not want to sit and talk about family history, but on the screen or in a book they find it fascinating.

    It was a great discussion, and gave everyone something new to think about. It's a good day when you learn something new, and as my dad likes to add, "sometimes you even learn two new things!"

    A big thank you to the members of CGSSD and President J. Paul Hawthorne for the warm welcome Saturday.

     

    Saturday
    Mar162013

    Student Genealogy Grant Deadline

    The application deadline for the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant is quickly approaching. Students have until Monday, 18 March 2013 midnight PDT to submit application materials for the 2013 program.

    The recipient will receive a $500 cash grant for their genealogy education and complimentary full registration to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree in Burbank, California June 7-9, 2013.

    Any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2013 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    See the full grant posting here, and encourage young genealogists you know to apply.

    The Freeman Student Genealogy Grant is sponsored by the family grant committee and generously supported by the SCGS Jamboree.

    Wednesday
    Mar132013

    Join Me in San Diego!

     

    Forecast for Saturday 16 March 2013: Sun and Genealogy

    Join the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego this weekend on the campus of the University of California, San Diego where I will be presenting Preserving the Past: Archiving and Digitizing Your Family Keepsakes

    We will be talking about organizing and preserving your heirloom family treasures and using digitization as a safeguard against loss. Bring your questions and join us for the lecture and discussion.

    I will also be signing my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and have copies available for sale. (And, feel free to bring your copy to be signed if you've already purchased the book.)

    Directions and meeting information are available here at the CUGSD website. I hope to see you Saturday in San Diego!

    Photo: By Scrippsnews at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     

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