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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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    Talking About Dirty, Dirty Pictures for Treasure Chest Thursday

    DirtyPictures Levenick

    Naughty photos included, we talked DIRT at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for a presentation on "Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos from Ruin."

    We also talked about five of the most common problems with family history photographs in personal collections, and what to do about them:

    1. "Magnetic" Albums

    Those horrible photo albums everyone bought in the 1970's and 1980's because they were easy and made the photos look so good. The acidic paper, adhesive, and non-archival plastic were really just a way to speed up the deterioration of photographs, especially color prints. Now, we are trying to get our pictures out of those albums, and find that they are yellowing and stuck to the page. I show you tips for this rescue project using an awesome little tool called a Micro Spatula. You will want to add one to your Genealogist's Gadget Bag.

    2. Photos and Scraps

    Whenever one item touches another in an album or scrapbook, there's a pretty good chance that damage will occur if the materials are newsprint or organic artifacts. Ticket stubs, news clippings, and food wrappers are bad news for photographs. It's best to isolate those items or remove them (with that handy microspatula). And I've also got some ideas for making those books into long-term family heirlooms.

    3. Photographs Dying Inside "Bad" Frames

    Back before we knew what poor framing could do to a photograph, we stuck our pictures in any old frame, with or without a mat. Now we have photos stuck to glass, faded images, and damage from cardboard and wood. Archival quality framing is expensive, but it's not that hard to do yourself. I show you what you need to know.

    4. Curled and Rolled Photos

    My favorite! Prints that have become dry and brittle over the years and are just waiting for a little dehumidification to be studied in your genealogical research. Read my step-by-step Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents. The same method works on curled prints. Then learn how to create a digital image of that l-o-n-g panorama photograph that you can reprint, share, and archive. 

    5. Scratched and Dirty Negatives

    Really dirty pictures and negatives? If you're tempted to try cleaning with soap and water -- don't. I tried out the experts' recommendations and share the results in Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives? If you want to do-it-yourself, you'll need Delta Film Cleaner and PEC-PAD  We talk about other, easier, options too for working with damaged family photos.

    Do you have another challenge with your own "dirty pictures"? Let me know in the comments or send an email.


    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith and George Morgan Interview The Family Curator and Paul Woodbury

    Genealogy Guys

    Genealogy Guys Drew Smith (left) and George G. Morgan (right)
    with 2014 Student Grant Recipient Paul Woodbury (center).

    It’s always a pleasure to meet with George Morgan and Drew Smith to chat about family history news and events. You can listen to the latest Genealogy Guys Podcast here, recorded at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California on June 7, 2014. Episode #270 includes interviews with

    • Denise Levenick, The Family Curator
    • Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist at MyHeritage, and
    • Paul Woodbury, winner of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant.

    In the first segment, we talked about some of the intriguing and curious family keepsakes I discovered inside my Grandmother Arline’s steamer trunk, and how family historians can safely preserve the treasures they inherit, as well as

    • how to free photos from those horrible 1970s sticky “magnetic albums” with the help of the Micro Spatula wonder-tool
    • orphan heirlooms, what they are and what happens to them
    • the debut Heirloom Roadshow presentation at Jamboree
    • a tip for identifying UFO photographs

    George G. Morgan and Drew Smith are long-time supporters of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Memorial Grant, and two of my mother’s favorite genealogists, so it’s especially heartwarming to talk with them about the student grant program honoring her memory.

    This episode of the Genealogy Guys Podcast also includes an interview with Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Student Grant.  Paul shares his personal family history journey and talks about his career goals in the growing field of genetic genealogy.

    You can hear Genealogy Guys Podcast #270 here.


    Nice to Meet You at SCGS Jamboree 


    Renee Galantine of Lodi, California is proof of Reason #4 in my earlier blog post 5 Reasons Why SCGS Jamboree is a Jewell of a Genealogy Conference -- Family and Friends Atmosphere.

    Renee was the lucky winner of The Family Curator Flash Giveaway and won a free full-conference registration to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree. She drove from Lodi in the northernmost part of California to attend her first Jamboree, and when I met her and asked how she liked the conference, she was enthusiastic about coming back again!

    To enter the contest, Renee had to leave a comment at The Family Curator, sharing one of her favorite family heirlooms. Her German ancestry is apparent with her choice:

    One of my favorite's is a coffee cup (my great grandfather used it as his shaving mug) my grandmother gave me. It was her father's mug that he brought with him from Ostfriesland region of Germany abt 1890. It has the Ostfriesland rose design on it with the words "Remember Me"

    I haven't seen Renee's coffee cup, but it sounds like a lovely family treasure, and might be a good entry for the Heirloom Roadshow!

    Thank you Jamboree for the great prize, and for another outstanding conference.


    SCGS Scholarship Breakfast Honors Paul Woodbury

    Paul Woodbury

    An early morning crowd of family historians attended the annual SCGS Genealogy Jamboree Scholarship Breakfast Sunday, June 8, 2014 to congratulate Utah student Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant and the Jamboree Scholarship.

    Paul is a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and a native of Colorado. He will graduate in June with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Genetics and Biotechnology and a Minor in Family History. He has conducted on-site research in France and Italy, and plans a return trip to Europe later this summer.

    Thank You to Breakfast Sponsor FindMyPast

    Jen Baldwin welcomed everyone to the breakfast on behalf of FindMyPast, sponsor for the event and student attendees. Jen is the Outreach Manager and works closely with societies and organizations. She announced a new benefit for SCGS society members who will receive a discounted FindMyPast subscription rate. She also reminded attendees of FindMyPast's new access to the PERSI database, a rich research source.

    Paul Woodbury Receives $500 Cash Grant

    It was my pleasure to introducing Paul to the breakfast attendees and present him with the $500 cash award. He plans to use the funds toward research expenses on his forthcoming visit to France. Paul's name will be added to a new perpetual plaque honoring recipients of the Winsor Student Grant to be displayed at the SCGS Research Library.

    Paul shared his personal experience with the audience, mentioning that he first became interested in genealogy when he was eight years old and his grandparents presented each of their thirty five grandchildren with a family history binder for Christmas. The stories of his ancestors captured his imagination beginning a journey to learn more about his family. Paul plans to pursue a career in genetic genealogy and work to help reunite families separated through adoption or loss, and assist researchers solve tough brick-wall problems.

    Gold Rush Stories

    The featured breakfast presentation "Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush," by Gena Philibert-Ortega, scholar and blogger, was an inspirational subject for the event. Gena's stories of Forty Niners and Gold Fever history, followed by extensive research tips and suggested repositories was enthusiastically received by the audience.

    Support Student Genealogists

    The Freeman Student Genealogy Grant was established in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. 

    Since that time, five student genealogists have received the annual $500 cash award and three-day registration to the Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, California: Elyse Doerflinger (Lomita, California), A.C. Ivory (Salt Lake City, Utah), Anthony Ray (Palmdale, California), and Michael Savoca (Toms River, New Jersey), and Paul Woodbury (Provo, Utah). I was delighted that 2012 grantee Elyse Doerflinger was also able to join us for the Scholarship Breakfast.

    The grant program is funded entirely by individual contributions and family and friends of Suzanne Freeman. Please join us!


    Support the Future of Genealogy

    Contribute to the 
    Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund



    5 Reasons Why SCGS Jamboree is a Jewel of a Genealogy Conference

    Paula Hiinkel and Pieter Breitner

    Only 5? Yep, 5 BIG reasons why the Southern California Genealogical Society Annual Genealogy Jamboree is an outstanding event for genealogists of any age, and every skill level.

    CoChair Paula Hinkel with Pieter Breitner

    1. Cutting-Edge Program 

    SCGS is always an innovator. Jamboree was the first conference to offer an interactive smartphone App, the first conference to welcome social media participation, the first conference to offer pre-event free webinars. The ever-popular youth genealogy sessions, free consulting, and new DNA Day are just a few of the many special Jamboree offerings. 

    2. National and Local Speakers

    Once again, the 2014 presentation schedule featured national speakers on topics for every level of experience, from military research to using genealogy database programs, and from locating archived manuscripts to scanning documents at home. Several speakers go directly from Jamboree for a week of teaching at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

    3. Family History Fun

    Genealogy isn't all research and serious work in Southern California. SCGS definitely knows how to throw a PARTY. The 2014 60's theme was a popular choice, as shown by the bearded and beaded hippie outfits seen throughout the convention center on Sunday. The evening banquets and special event "New Year's Eve Party" gave attendees another reason to mix and meet new friends.

    4. Family and Friends Atmosphere

    Once again, unknown cousins met for the first time at Jamboree, and new friends found research interests in common. The Burbank Marriott is especially well-suited for mixing and mingling with casual seating indoors and on the patio, and an excellent restaurant onsite.

    The 2014 SCGS Jamboree Volunteers by Bill Crowley. Used with permission. 

    5. Jamboree Jewels

    Truly, every Jamboree volunteer is a gem. The team works together like a well-rehearsed orchestra. If a problem should arise, it's swiftly taken care of with a smile.

    Vicki Hilb has personally assisted speakers from the Call for Papers through the presentation hour throughout her tenure as Program Chair. Vicki guided me through my first event as a speaker, and I will miss her smile and calm voice as she retires and moves on to new adventures.

    Co-chairs and Magicians Paula Hinkel and Leo Meyers are retiring as well. Every year, Paula and Leo manage to come up with "something new" as well as a "better, easier, more efficient" way to streamline the overall program. They might be taking a break, but I'm not losing their email addresses!

    We will miss this terrific three-some and hope to see them in attendance-mode at future Jamborees.

    Together, the entire SCGS volunteer team make Jamboree one of my favorite genealogy events of the entire year. The 2015 team is already working hard to make next year's Jamboree another stellar event. Mark your calendar now for the 2015 SCGS Genealogy Jamboree , a Must Attend conference for any genealogist. 


    Treasure Chest Thursday: Sneak Peek at The Heirloom Roadshow SCGS Edition


    Vintage flapper dresses, antique silver, and century-old handcrafts are among the treasures that will be showcased next week at the Heirloom Roadshow, SCGS Jamboree Edition in Burbank, California. I can't wait to see these treasures up close.

    Beaded flapper dress detail

    Anyone who was Anyone wanted to look like a Hollywood starlet in the Roaring 20's, and Betty Shubert has the dresses to prove it. She was gifted with four beautiful beaded flapper dresses that once belonged to the Farber daughters, heiresses to the Farberware Company legacy and fortune. The glitter on these dresses truly rivals the sparkle of Farber's legendary stainless-steel cookware.

    We will be looking to antiques expert Joseph Baratta of Abell Auction Company in Los Angeles to give us more insight into these unique treasures, and I will be sharing preservation tips with Betty for protecting the fragile fabric and decoration.

    There will be more sparkle at the Heirloom Roadshow with colonial-era silver and a collection of shiny handmade Ukranian Easter Eggs, or pysanky. Join us Sunday, June 8, 2014 at the Southern California Genealogy Society 2014 Jamboree for the Heirloom Roadshow at 10:30 am 10 am to 11:30 am [note revised time].

    Click here for more information about the conference and registration details.


    "Researching the California Gold Rush" at SCGS Jamboree Scholarship Award Breakfast

    Gold minerJoin us Sunday morning at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for the SCGS Jamboree Scholarship Breakfast with Gena Philibert-Ortega presenting "Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush" and meet Utah college student Paul Woodbury, recipient of the 2014 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant.

    This is the fourth year that SCGS has partnered with the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant to award a young genealogist with a cash grant and conference registration. Past recipients include Anthony Ray of Palmdale, Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, and Mike Savoca of New Jersey. 

    Attending this special event is a great way to support young genealogists and learn more about researching California's Gold Rush days. Menu for the breakfast buffet includes:

    Freshly squeezed orange juice and cranberry juice
    Sliced seasonal fruits
    Assortment of breakfast pastries and breads Sweet butter and fruit preserves
    Scrambled Eggs
    Sausage or Bacon
    Breakfast potatoes
    Freshly Brewed Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee and Assorted Herbal Infusions

    Seating is limited, so register today and join us Sunday morning for the Scholarship Breakfast.

    Gena Philibert-Ortega is a social historian and popular presenter on topics of women's history, archival research, and ephemera. She is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines.

    Her writings can also be found on her blogs, Gena’s Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. She is the author of three books including her latest From The Family Kitchen (F + W Media, 2012). Gena is the editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s journal Crossroads, serves as President for the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is a board member of the Utah Genealogical Association. Her current research interests include women's social history, community cookbooks, signature quilts and researching women’s lives using material artifacts.


    Memorial Day, California Style

     Like regional food, holidays have local traditions that often overshadow any national or formal standards. Where I live in Southern California, Civil War battlefields are few and far between. Memorial Day is celebrated as the beginning of summer more than a federal holiday to commemorate men and women who have fallen in our nation's armed service.

    Presidio Cemetery, San Francisco (Library of Congress Photo)

    I am chagrined to admit that decades of public school didn't leave me with much education about this very patriotic holiday. I didn't know that Memorial Day honors all men and women who died in our nations's armed service, not necessarily all who served. Veterans Day, November 11, is the official U.S. holiday that honors all who served in the armed forces.

    Maybe I'm not to blame for conflating Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Lacking many graves of those fallen in battle, our local cemeteries seem to have expanded the original meaning of these patriotic holidays to include not only those who died while serving in the United States Armed Service, but those who served, as well. 

    Many Memorial Day events in Southern California honor veterans of the Civil War, like the Memorial Day Weekend Remembrance at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery sponsored by the West Adams Heritage Association. I visited Rosedale a few years ago. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles, founded in 1884, and is the final resting place of many Civil War veterans.

    In Pasadena, California, Mountain View Cemetery holds its 93rd Annual Memorial Day Commemoration to honor "all veterans." The ceremony is followed by a guided tour of "the refurbished Civil War plot and other areas of notable buried in the cemetery." Which begs the question, "Who qualifies as a "notable?"

    California is a large state, but even in the Central Valley Memorial Day has taken on an all-inclusive meaning. Robin Chapman writes about her own Decoration Day commemoration on her wonderful California blog Robin Chapman News.

    Memorial Day has its roots in Decoration Day, the last Monday of May, when the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the Civil War were decorated with flowers in honor of their sacrifice. David W. Blight, Professor of American History at Yale writes in "The First Decoration Day":

    At the end of the Civil War the dead were everywhere, some in half buried coffins and some visible only as unidentified bones strewn on the killing fields of Virginia or Georgia. Americans, north and south, faced an enormous spiritual and logistical challenge of memorialization. The dead were visible by their massive absence. Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in the war. American deaths in all other wars combined through the Korean conflict totaled 606,000. If the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, 4 million names would be on the Vietnam Memorial. The most immediate legacy of the Civil War was its slaughter and how remember it.

    Dr. Blight notes that the first and largest commemoration of the Civil War took place on May 21, 1865. Thousands of black residents of Charleston, South Carolina held a massive parade and procession after giving proper burial to the Union dead who had been held at an outdoor prison in the former Washington Race Course and Jockey Club.  

    Other cities and events also claim the distinction of the "first Decoration Day," but it wasn't until May 5, 1868 that the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic named Decoration Day as an annual observance. Popularly known as "Memorial Day," the federal holiday became official in 1966.

    It's interesting to read how the holiday was celebrated historically in the South, at the major battlefields, and in the Northern States, and how it's celebrated today. And although Californians might not be absolutely correct in expanding Memorial Day commemorations to include veterans as well as those who died in the Armed Services, it would seem doesn't seem like a bad idea to honor our nation's military men and women every chance we get.


    A New Tale of Murder and Woe from The Real Penny Dreadful

    Penny postage lg



    "Quite unsettling."

    Mere words fail to express the sensational drama played out on the pages of Shades of the Departed, Cops and Robbers Issue. 

    Murder. Mayhem. Vice. Avarice. It's all there. Your favorite characters, ummm columnists, at their electrifying finest presented for the line-up by footnoteMaven, Editor/Publisher and leader of the gang. 

    Don't delay. Steal your free copy of Shades of the Departed today!

    This message is (strongly) endorsed by Miss Penny Dreadful, roving reporter and sensationalist scribe. 



    Well Done APG: New Youth Membership Level

    Student Grant Award

    The Association of Professional Genealogists is to be commended for adding a new Youth Member level to encourage participation by young genealogists. Well done! The change was announced this spring by Kimberly Powell, APG President and is only one part of the overall restructuring of dues designed to create consistency for North American and International memberships.

    The new Youth Member category expressly promotes the involvement of young genealogists, many who are students or recent college graduates and might find it a hardship to join a professional organization at the full rate.

    When we considered founding the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant in 2010, very few genealogy conferences, societies, or organizations offered a student or youth rate for membership or participation, although "the future of genealogy" was a popular and much-discussed topic.

    The Southern California Genealogy Society Genealogy Jamboree has offered a student scholarship for several years and has partnered with the Freeman Student Grant cash award since 2011. 

    In 2013, the National Genealogical Society offered for the first time a youth conference registration rate for the 2013 Las Vegas Convention, setting a new standard for the national conference.

    The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference makes a discounted student rate available to current students of all ages attending elementary to graduate school.

    I am especially excited by APG's commitment to young professional genealogists and hope that more organizations will take a cue from APG's membership rates to add a Youth Member policy.

    APG continues to offer a wealth of services to its members including professional development programs, a monthly e-newsleter, website, APG Quarterly Journal, and online webinars. Membership most worthwhile for any professional genealogist of any age.

    Kudos APG!

    Do you know of other genealogy organizations or conferences offering a Youth or Student rate? Please give them a shout-out in the comments!


    Utah Student to Receive Genealogy Grant 

    Woodbury paul 2014

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Committee is pleased to announce that Paul Woodbury, a Brigham Young University senior from Provo, Utah will receive $500 from the Freeman Memorial Grant program and 3-day registration to the 2014 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California from SCGS.

    Paul will attend the SCGS Jamboree June 6-8, 2014 and use the grant funds toward genealogy research and education. This is the fourth year that the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant Program and SCGS have partnered to offer a student genealogy award.

    Paul works at the campus Center for Family History and Genealogy and recently participated in a community seminar in Washington D.C. In 2013 he joined a student study abroad program and visited the Vatican Secret Archives in Rome -- that's quite a genealogy research trip!

    The new SCGS Jamboree DNA Day is a special attraction for Paul who is majoring in Genetics and Biotechnology and plans to pursue a career in genetic genealogy. He is excited about the great potential of genetics to help reunite families separated by adoption or abandonment and locate lost ancestors for family historians.

    The Student Genealogy Grant was founded in 2011 following the unexpected death of my mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman. She was an enthusiastic fan of the SCGS Jamboree and an ardent GeneaBlogger follower who worked with student volunteers for many years in her capacity as Director of Voluntary Action Centers in Orange County, California and in Arizona. Mom was hopeful that DNA would solve a long-standing brick wall problem in our family tree, and we may get through it yet!

    Past recipients of the Student Genealogy Grant include Anthony Ray of Palmdale, Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, and Mike Savoca of New Jersey. 

    Please join me in congratulating Paul as the 2014 recipient of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, and be sure to welcome him when you see him at Jamboree.


    Live-Streaming from #NGS2014 Richmond, Virginia Begins Today

    Ngs stream

    It's an unusually grey and cool day in Los Angeles, a perfect day for the National Genealogy Society 2014 Family History Conference now taking place in Richmond, Virginia. I've cleared the calendar this afternoon and I'm getting ready for the first live-streamed session, Elizabeth Shown Mills presenting "Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the-Mill Records."

    Nice news from Gena Philibert-Ortega that I won registration
    to the 2014 NGS Family History Conference.

    Last year at this time I was blogging and tweeting from Las Vegas at the 2013 NGS Conference, and won the Twitter Challenge prize of free 2014 registration. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend in Richmond this year and NGS kindly allowed me to use the prize as virtual registration for the live-streamed session. As I set up my online account I'm learning that virtual attendance has a lot to offer.

    Boston University is sponsoring the 2014 Live Streamed Sessions in two-tracks. Each day offers five presentations and full access to the complete conference syllabus and program.

    I've viewed many online webinars and live-streamed presentations, with varied tech experiences. Some interfaces are simple to use, others more complicated. Typical streamed sessions, such as the 2014 RootsTech streamed and recorded sessions, allow viewing only. Sometimes the format is available in multiple formats for computer, iPad, or other mobile devices, but often it is computer-only.

    In setting up my account for the NGS program, I was excited to see that the sessions are available in three different formats:

    • AudioPoint Download or Streaming - Hear presenter with synced visuals; best on mobile device
    • AudioPoint DVD-ROM - Hear presenter with synced visuals; best on computer
    • Audio MP3 - Audio only; plays on computer or cars, easily burn CDs in iTunes

    PlaybackNow is delivering the live-stream media and other content through a custom website. The website has full instructions for viewing online, downloading, loading files to iPod or iPad. NGS On Demand online access will be available within 24 hours of the recording and for three months following the event.

    I'm looking forward to trying out this new conference experience this week. With the addition of the syllabus, synced audio and visual, and downloads, virtual conference attendance is looking like a good value in online education.

    The only downside, as far as I can see, is that pre-registration was required and closed 30 April 2014. I'll write more about the live-stream experience after I have a chance to take it for a test drive. 


    Preservation Week: Unlock the #1 Secret to Scanning Success

    Auto window pro

    Digitize and Preserve Family Photos and Documents

    Are you getting the best possible results when you digitize family photos and documents? Check your scanning savvy with these 5 Tips for Scanning Success.

    1. Clean the Scanner Glass

    Yep, sounds pretty basic but it’s easy to forget. Old photos and documents are often dirty and may even lose bits of paper when handled. Use a microfiber cloth (used for eyeglasses or computer screens) to clean smudges and dirt from the glass of your flat bed scanner. For tough jobs, lightly wet the cloth – not the glass – then wipe the glass firmly with the damp cloth.

    2. Use the Right Equipment For the Job

    Equipment does make a difference in the end result. Your keepsake originals should only be digitized with a flat-bed scanner or digital camera. DO NOT run heirlooms through a sheet-fed scanner where they could be mangled and torn. Wand scanners are fine for books and pristine documents, but less direct handling is safer for old paper.

    Oversize documents can be difficult to manipulate for on an 11 x 14-inch flat bed scanner; minimize the potential for damage by using a digital camera mounted on a copy stand or tripod.

    3. Set Up A “Scan Station”

    Make use of every minute by keeping your equipment ready to go. If you have space, set up a Scan Station near your computer on a file cabinet or table. Keep your scanner connected to your computer with an external hard drive ready for file storage. Use two trays or boxes to organize your work: To Be Scanned, Scanned. Don’t file away the originals until you have added filenames and tags in your photo organizing software.

    4. Break Your Work Into Scanning Sessions

    Save time and be more efficient by breaking your scanning into two work sessions: In session one, complete the actual scans; in session two, finish the computer work: add file names; write metadata -- captions from the back of photos, tags with people, places, events, copyright info; and place originals in archival storage.

    And My All-Time Favorite #1 Secret to Scanning Success
    5. Use Professional Mode

    Most scanners come pre-configured for easy scanning. You don’t have to do anything after hitting the Scan button. But if you want access to some of the best features of your flat-bed scanner, you’ll need to unlock the Professional Menu. Look around on your scanner for a drop-down with more options, or check out the manual. You may have Auto, Home, and Professional modes (on Epson), or some other configuration.

    When you get to the Pro Menu, you will be able to set the best resolution for your project, choose mode, target size, and unlock color correction and descreening features. If you aren’t sure what all those options can do, refer to the manual or the handy Scanning Guide in my book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes (chapter 9).

    For most purposes, you only need to adjust resolution (or DPI) and select Photo or Document. If you wish, you can check Color Restoration to automatically restore faded 1970’s color prints, or Descreening to get better images of newspaper articles.

    Find more ideas for organizing and digitizing family treasures and genealogy research in How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012). Celebrate Preservation Week April 23-May 3, 2014.

    Visit for more preservation ideas and information.


    Look Who's Going to 2014 SCGS Jamboree!

    Reader Renee is the winner of the FREE 3-day Registration to the 2014 SCGS Jamboree. Congratulations, Renee! 

    Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I wish I had enough prizes for each of you, and hope to see you all at Jamboree in June!


    Preservation Week: Trash or Treasure? How to Decide What to Keep and What to Throw Away

    Artifacts 16

    Should I keep this? Anyone who has cleaned out a family home or helped settle an estate has probably heard this question more than once. 

    It can be hard for family historians to let go of anything that might carry a family story, no matter how old or broken that keepsake might be. One keepsake isn't much to save, but it doesn't take long for family treasures to become a mountain of memorabilia that threatens to come down on our present life like an avalanche.

    Should I keep the silverplate coffee service that no one likes and will use?
    Should I keep grandpa’s Army uniform?
    Should I keep these old address books? Christmas cards? Bank books?

    So, how do we choose, what to save, what to toss, and what to give away? I've sifted, sorted, and organized dozens of family collections, and discovered that it sometimes "less" is truly "more," even when it comes to family archives. Yes, we could probably find a family story in every single item set aside and saved, but is that the story we want to preserve? Or, knowing the story, can we let the item go?

    Our ancestors were mobile people, and as anyone knows who has ever moved from home to home, each relocation typically involves a kind of triage. Some things are tossed away, others carefully packed up and moved to the new home. Rarely is a home moved intact from place to place.

    The same kinds of decisions occur between generations. Sometimes, a son or daughter will inherit an entire home of possessions and need to begin the difficult task of sifting, sorting, saving, and tossing.

    Family historians will want to be on the lookout for anything that documents vital record information (birth, marriage, death records), hints at unknown family members, or fills in the blanks for "mystery years" or "family secrets."

    So, what should what should we keep, and what can we toss or give away?

    It depends.

    An unhelpful answer, I know, but it does. . . depend.

    It depends on how many family collections you have already and how many more you are likely to bring home in the future. – If you have a good storage archival storage space and the time and interest to organize and preserve the items, feel free to save whatever you like.

    It depends on the size of the collection.

    A box filled with family artifacts vs. an entire family home with everything, including the kitchen sink. You might decide to save everything in the box, and be selective when it comes to the house.

    It depends on your relationship with the owner.

    This is not to say that treasures belonging to a favorite aunt are of less value than those belonging to a parent or grandparent. But if you have six aunts and uncles and inherited everything from all of them, you might be wise to be selective about what you preserve in order to allow space, time, and resources for your direct ancestors’ collections,

    It depends on why it was saved.

    Did your ancestor save that old hairbrush to brush the dog, or was it a treasured item brought from the Old Country? Not every artifact has value as a family heirloom. It might be interesting, old, or unique, but is it worthy of your preservation efforts?

    It depends on how old it is.

    That old hairbrush might not look like much, but if it’s one hundred years old, I’d probably save it. I might show it to an antique expert to learn more about it. I wouldn’t want to see it in a photo one day and realize I had thrown out great-grandmother’s vanity brush.

    It depends on what it’s worth, monetarily.

    All things being equal, sterling silver trumps silverplate when it comes to competing for precious storage space.

    It depends on what it’s worth, to me.

    However, if I had to choose between them, I would save my ancestor’s pottery baby cup over a silver one. Sentiment and connection trump a dollar any day.

    Seven Questions

    When deciding what to save and what to toss, ask yourself –

    1. Do I have the resources to care for this?
    2. Is this the only keepsake from my ancestor?
    3. What is my relationship to the owner?
    4. Was this item saved as a family heirloom?
    5. How old is it?
    6. Is it valuable?
    7. Is it priceless to me or to our family?

    Three "Yes" answers should be a clue that the item is worth preserving, or at least holding for further consideration.

    I've found 19th century baby photos tucked between pizza take-out menus and trade union cards stashed in old wallets. You have to look inside everything, but then it's ok to toss the cracked plastic envelope, the take-out menus and the smashed, blackened prom corsage.

    Take a digital photo if you need a visual reminder of the artifact. Write a short note if it holds a special story. If in doubt whether or not you should let something go, ask yourself if you've ever saved a similar memento from your own life experience, and what you expect your children to do with it. Sometimes, it's ok to give yourself permission to hold on to the memory and let go of the clutter.

    Find more ideas for sorting and organizing inherited family treasures in How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012).

    Celebrate Preservation Week April 23-May 3, 2014. Visit all week for more preservation ideas and information.

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