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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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    Friday
    Mar012013

    Student Genealogist Uses Grant Funds to Recover Family History Treasures

    2013 Student Genealogy Grant Application Deadline March 18, 2013

    Details and application materials for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant are available at The Family Curator Student Grant Page.

    Anthony ray

    Lancaster student Anthony Ray, recipient of the 2011 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, used the grant funds to further his genealogical research and education. Anthony is presently teaching elementary school music and will receive his diploma from West Coast Baptist College in May.

    He is an active member of the Antelope Valley Genealogical Society and researches his Hispanic, English, Scottish, German and African American roots in repositories throughout California, Arizona and Mexico. He is particularly interested in Catholic church records and is experienced in diocesan and parish repositories.

    Anthony's research helped restore a stolen headstone to the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery in San Bernardino last summer, a story he tells in L.A. Beat "Serendipity and the Headstone That Wouldn't Stay Put." In March, Anthony will be traveling to Mexico with his cousins following his ancestors' footsteps to visit family and research.

    After receiving the student grant in June 2011, Anthony organized an extensive summer research plan. He wrote to me in the fall to share the results of his research; here are some highlights from that letter --

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to take a minute to write and give you an update on my summer...

    The biggest project this summer was, by far, renovating my great grandfather's place. I think I'd told you already that he had passed away last June at the age of ninety-eight. He was only a couple months away from his ninety-ninth birthday! He lived on a two and a half acre lot next to my grandparents and uncle and aunt. The yard and house both needed so much done to them… That was some of the dirtiest work I've ever had to do (and that's saying something) since most of the stuff had not been touched since they'd moved in the house about twenty-five years ago. Plus mice had gotten into the sheds and the extreme heat just intensified all that. So you can imagine what that must have been like!

    In the midst of all the filth were some real gems. As we were cleaning out one shed, there were some old papers on the floor that looked like trash. As my grandpa was about to throw them out, he decided to unroll them and see what they were. Lo and behold they turned out to be my great grandpa's school certificates from 1920 to 1923! It was an amazing find! They were just lying there on the floor in all the dust and other stuff... they could have been stepped on, chewed up by the mice, or destroyed through by a plethora of different ways. And what's most amazing is that they were in fairly decent shape! I'm using some of the grant money to have them restored by one of the paper conservationists at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I have my initial meeting with her in a couple of weeks.

    Not only did I find the school certificates, but there were many boxes of old papers that I was able to go through. My great grandpa was an early Antelope Valley real estate agent, so he had tons of paperwork from that. He owned a lot of property in other cities, counties, states, and even countries, so you can imagine the paper trail that left!

    As for research I've made tremendous breakthroughs, uncovered deep dark family secrets, and added so much to my family tree as a result of the grant money. Most of the money went toward ordering microfilm from the Family History Center and toward copies. I’d say nearly fifty percent of the grant money went toward copies. Here are some of the more interesting things I’ve found:

    1) My second great grandmother, Delfina Rubio, had a very colorful love life. She married about five times. I can’t say for sure how many times as I think there may be more, but I found one of her marriages that I had been speculating about for a while now. I also found some of her siblings and other family members in the Santa Cruz Co., Arizona marriage records.

    2) I made a tremendous breakthrough on my African-American side of the family with one single marriage record...

    3) I found many interesting births, marriages, and deaths in Mexico. 

    4) I subscribed to GenealogyBank and was able to find dozens of interesting articles on my family. Some helped solve mysteries that I've been trying to uncover for a long time!

    5) I've made countless trips down to Riverside this year to do research. The past two times I've looked up probates and court cases.

    6) Since I usually don't pay for research or look-ups, I was able to do so this time. I contacted the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Rice Co., Kansas to have them look up some school records that corresponded to the school certificates that I had found on my great grandpa. They even sent school photos from the time he would have been in school (but no one is identified in them, unfortunately)… And up in Colusa Co., in northern California, I was able to get copies of coroner's records that helped me understand the circumstances of three of my ancestors' deaths. 

    I know I'm probably forgetting some things, but this is the bulk of what I used the grant money towards. I truly cannot thank you enough for giving me such a wonderful summer of research. I really don't know how my research would have gone if it wasn't for this financial jump-start! Through this, you've given me maybe the most important thing which is memories that I will cherish! As you and your mother did your research together, I was able to do the same with my mother when I made my trips down to Riverside - granted she would head off to the antique shops while I did my research. lol! But we spent most of our time together down there. Whenever I think of my research trips down there, I think of how we would both go and have lunch at a little sandwich shop near the Mission Inn called The Upper Crust (you should go there if you ever get a chance!) And once again, I feel so honored to have been the first recipient of the memorial grant! Thank you!

    Anthony

    If you know a young genealogist between the ages of 18 and 25 who could benefit from a cash grant to assist their genealogy education and research, please tell them about the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant. The deadline for completed application materials is Monday, 18 March 2013. See the SWF Grant page for more details.

    Thursday
    Feb282013

    Hunting for Heirlooms with Houstory Scavenger Hunt

    IMG 0430

    Get into practice for the Easter Bunny with the Heirloom Registry's clever family keepsake Online Scavenger Hunt coming next week, March 4-10. And, like all good treasure hunts, you might even come away with some of the fantastic prizes contributed by participants, including a copy of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes.

    Each hunt will run for two days beginning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, March 4, 6, and 8th with a prize package awarded each day, and a grand prize awarded at the end of the hunt. I'm excited to be included as one of the hunt blogs on Friday, March 8th. 

    Prizes include genealogy books, webinars, digital downloads, and a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. See the complete prize list here.

    To join the hunt, visit the day's participating blogs where you can find a unique Heirloom Registry ID code posted in an entry about the contest.

    Next, enter that code at the Heirloom Registry website to view the heirloom's record and find the secret word on the Registry Certificate.

    After you've collected all four secret words from the day's hunt, submit your entry using the Houstory Entry Form to be qualified to win the daily prize package and the grand prize. Complete directions are posted at The Houstory Hearth.

    See you March 8th for The Family Curator's special blog post for The Heirloom Registry Online Scavenger Hunt.

    Sunday
    Feb242013

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    Arriving at Olympia for Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    Americans tend to think we do things in a "big" way at times, but U.S. family conferences have some keen competition in this weekend's Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London, billed as "The Biggest Family History Event in the World."

    Sponsored by ancestry.co.uk, WDYTYA LIVE is held in the Olympia exhibition center in West Kensington. I arrived at the conference center from Kensington High Street and caught a view of the hall from the train overpass.

     

    The historic venue opened 26 December 1886 with seating for 9000 people under a huge barrel vaulted roof, 115 feet high. The great hall covers more than one acre, and was the largest roofed arena in England when it was built. Olympia has played host to an wide assortment of events including: P.T. Barnum's Circus; dog, horse, home, and auto shows; a temporary civil prison camp during World War I; a transport center during World War II; and now WDYTYAL Genealogy and Family History Show (Wikipedia).

    The entrance opens directly into the center of the great hall where the hum of conversation and lectures compete for attention. The central booths (or stands) are large, beautifully designed productions. 

    Looking down on the findmypast.com stall featuring the new release of UK criminal records.

     

    A wide gallery runs around the second level offering a wonderful view of the show below, and access to private meeting rooms. I found a staircase at the corner of the hall and made my way to the gallery for an overview of the action.

     

    The huge barrel vaulted hall at Olympia covers more than an acre of exhibit area.

    Like any savvy conference attendee, one of the first things I noted was the location of the restrooms and food stands. In one corner of the gallery, a cafe/bar offered wine and beer with standard drinks and food, and on the main floor food booths from three popular restaurant chains offered a variety of selections. There was even an independent sausage-maker selling delicious sausage sandwiches on the main floor!

    A look around the main floor showed that many of the stands were set up as mini-lecture spaces with chairs, projector screen, and microphone. Posted schedules at each space displayed the frequent lectures on using specific software, search strategies, and other topics

     

    Alastair MacDonald presented on using DNA with genealogy.

    Exhibitors offered a huge variety of genealogy services and products. I saw everything from local histories and parish cemetery transcriptions to memorial stones. One of the biggest draws appeared to be the local society booths where regional publications and look-ups were available. In fact, everywhere I looked, visitors were engaged in look-ups, consultations, and searches with the help of knowledgeable staff or society members. 

     

    Visitors queued up to talk with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor in the upstairs Gallery.

    The WDYTYA website advises attendees to bring old photos for the photo experts, family heirlooms to show the heirloom experts, and documents and family tree for consultations. Although I didn't bring my research to show the experts, I found plenty of new ideas and products to investigate. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my report from Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, London 2013.


    Saturday
    Feb232013

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

    At Olympia, London for WDYTYA I stopped To chat with two former constables now patrolling the "Friends if the Metropolitan Police" beat. They gave me a lesson in the correct way to wear one's helmet -- low on your forehead-- with chin strap, of course.

    This organization would be a helpful resource for anyone with ancestors who served in the London Metropolitan Police.

    Monday
    Feb182013

    Keeping Cozy in the Cotswolds

     

    Snowy Cotswold country road.

    If you're a fan of English "cozies" you probably know about the Cotswolds. They are the picture perfect little towns in the rolling English countryside where evil hides in plain sight and only Miss Marple is sharp enough to spot the culprit. But I digress. . .

     

    Approaching Burford

    The Cotswolds in winter can be c-o-l-d.

    We drove across the hills through Bibury and then to Burford, a little village Mr. Curator and I visited several years ago with a London Walks tour. These guided tours are a fabulous way to see the sights without being tied to a formal long-term tour. Of course, we visited on a warm and sunny day in June, not a snowy winter February afternoon.

    Our tour that day stopped in the picturesque village of Burford where we visited a tiny stone church and walked around crooked gravestones. As we left the churchyard and walked along the lane I tripped on the cobblestones and my camera went skidding across the bumpy road. That was the end of my trusty Kodak and my pictures for that trip.

    This time, we barely slowed down as we drove through Burford. I saw the same quaint shops and the church steeple peeking over the wall from it's hidden location set back from the main street. Everything was quiet and still on this sleepy, and snowy weekday morning. 

    As we drove back to our hotel near Tetford the snow flurries faded and then stopped and the lightly dusted fields gave way to green hills dotted with grazing sheep and occasional patches of the first signs of spring in blooming snowdrops.

     

    Look closely toward the far field and you'll see the sheep grazing in the hills.

    This lovely garden and blooming snowdrops were right outside my room.

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