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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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    Tech Tuesday: Sometimes, Low-Tech is Just Fine

    Okay, we all love the bells and whistles, the slick new gear, the cutting-edge idea . . . but, sometimes Low-Tech is just fine. This past weekend, I was reminded of the old Boy Scout maxim, KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) when my 20-something son, Christian, was visibly excited by a gift of 3x5 cards.

    Christian dropped in for dinner this weekend and we gave him the Levenger Note Card Action Board along with an extra set of ToDo Cards. The response overwhelmingly positive.

    Mr. Curator first spotted the Levenger 3x5 system for organizing ideas using the Note Card Action Board and ordered it for our son, a first-class list-maker, an Eagle Scout of List Makers. The Note Card Action Board speaks his language.

    Christian loves to make lists on scraps of paper in his Germanic-precise handwriting. The kitchen island of his lovely new home is covered with carefully scribed lists. The Levenger Note Card Action Board serves as a launch pad for such lists; and with the included 3x5 notecards (or any 3x5 index card) Christian can add as many lists as he likes. With a bit of organizing, they can even be divided into categories such as for his various projects: Back Yard Landscape, Lowe's Shopping, Places to Visit When We Go to Germany. . .

    I use 3x5 cards often for quick lists. They are convenient and inexpensive. Years ago, when I was a young mother of two boys looking for divine inspiration to organize the chaos of our life, I remember stumbling across a woman whose business motto was "we change lives with 3x5s." The jingle always stuck by me, even though I have long since abandoned the idea of scheduling every vacuuming and ironing date on a 3x5 note card.

    The idea of using 3x5 cards has been taken to its elegant and sophisticated peak with the Levenger Company, an online source of reader and writer tools. Levenger has captured the essential easy and "cool" factor of 3x5 cards, and brought this to new limits. They offer personalized cards, launch pads, and accessories. I find that combining their products with the affordable office supply pack of notecards offers a reasonable and effective system for keeping track of things to do, projects, and "notes to self."

    Sometimes, paper and pencil are all that is needed to stay on top of a task. In the midst of bandwidth, and gigabytes, and wonderful new apps, sometimes I have to remind myself to Keep It Simple, Silly! It's just a grocery list, for goodness sake!


    Cheap! Family Memories For Sale

    While searching for letterpress printing equipment (my other vice) this week on eBay I stumbled upon an auction for a bundle of family letters. Over one hundred letters from a young man at college in the 1930's written home to Mom. Letters asking about laundry, mending, and even breaking the news of his engagement. Photos enclosed. Sold for ephemera value, marketed to scrapbookers and paper artists.

    I was heartbroken to see such memories for sale and attempted to purchase the lot, just so I could try to return them to the family. Alas, I was outbid in the final seconds... the winner paying less than $40.00 for such a treasure. I am haunted by the thought that I should have been willing to pay more, but consoled by the hope that maybe the bundle was purchased by a like-minded family-history lover who will do the same. Were you the highest bidder?


    Tech Tuesday: "Share Your Where" with Blip for Blackberry

    Blackberry users might feel a bit jealous of all the cool tools for the iPhone, but some applications are still exclusively Blackberry, including the GPS tracking program, Blip by BlackLine GPS.

    I have been using Blip since last summer, mostly to find out if Mr. Curator has left work for home so that I can put the tuna casserole in the oven. This FREE application runs on GPS enabled Blackberry mobile phones. Activated on the phone, it works as a mini-tracking device. Go to Blip, and any shared phones are listed. Select the phone you want to view, and choose "Map Last Location." In a few seconds, a Google Map of the area appears identifying the selected user.

    Now, it's obvious that Blip would be great for a bit of detective work if you wanted to follow someone's movements, but tracking can be turned off any time by the user. Do I really want Mr. Curator to know that I am at the quilt shop again? When I tell friends about the program, their reactions mostly run to "cool, but not on my phone." Some think it is just a bit too Big Brother-ish. I think it is useful, however, especially if you are travelling in an unfamiliar area or alone. I first activated Blip on my Blackberry last summer when we were in New England and I planned to spend a day on the backroads by myself doing a bit of family history research. You can be sure I showed my husband how it worked, just in case my car went off the road and into a ditch.

    Blip is a step-brother application to Blackline's portable tracking device, Snitch GPS. The palm-size Snitch, and it's counterpart Loner, act much like an auto LoJack anti-theft device. The difference is portability. GPS Snitch protects your auto, RV, truck, or other vehicle. If activated by a break-in it will silently notify you via email and initiate GPS tracking that you can follow on the Snitch Website. Loner GPS works in much the same way, but is designed to act as an emergency safety device for employees working alone in the field. The device is worn by the person and activated by motion-sensor technology. Way cool. Both are available from Blackline.

    I am playing around with using Blip to record tracking information that I can transfer to a saved Google Earth map. This would be a convenient way to mark gravesites or residences with GPS coordinates.


    Quilting and Family History: Report from Road, Honoring Eleanor Burns

    The Family Curator meets with Eleanor Burns at
    Road to California Quilt Show in Ontario, California

    The Road to California Quilt Show is wonderful again this year. My first order of business was to visit one of my favorite booths, Beyond the Reef Patterns, and find the fabric to finish a baby quilt for nephew Ryan and his wife, Jordana. Baby Rojo (as they call her) is due soon, so I have to get busy. Natalie loved the quilt top made with their island-style fabrics and has already posted a picture of me with the quilt top on the shop blog.

    Then it was on to the floor of the convention center to view the quilt exhibits, talk to friends, and shop with the hundreds of vendors.

    Among my favorites are the historical and reproduction fabric and pattern lines. I am continually amazed at the beautiful reproduction fabrics designed by Judie Rothermel at Schoolhouse Quilts and by Froncie Quinn at Hoopla. Both design fabric lines from textiles at New England museums so that today's quilters can use authentic period colors and designs in new interpretations of antique quilts.

    One of my last stops at the end of a very long day was at Eleanor Burns' Quilt in a Day booth. Most quilters have heard of Eleanor, even if they didn't learn to quilt by her methods. I learned how to quilt from her! With a book on the table, I was able to design, cut, sew, and actually finish my first quilt. In fact, the pattern I am using for Baby Rojo is the same one I used for that first quilt and is still one of my favorites.

    Eleanor revolutionized the world of quilting with her first book in 1978, Make a Quilt in a Day Log Cabin. Her theme seems to be "you can do it." She helped people find success in quilting by rewriting patterns in plain language and streamlining construction techniques for modern equipment. And, everything was always done with a smile and a laugh.

    She has written quilt patterns and books featuring designs from the Civil War through the mid-20th century. Each book includes notes about the culture of the times and serve as a helpful memory-jogger for working with the period.

    Her latest book, Victory Quilts, is a treasure-trove for history-buffs and filled with stories about World War II and the 1940's. Anyone interested in making a special family memory quilt would enjoy the sampler patterns and Eleanor's conversational writing.

    Eleanor has been honored by many quilt guilds and associations for her contributions to the craft, and I think quilting family historians would also acknowledge her efforts to make history personal and more meaningful. I don't know if she compiles pedigrees or researches her family history, but for her contributions to family history and culture, I name Eleanor Burns to be an Honorary Family Historian.

    Is there someone in your sphere of interest whose work enriches that of genealogists and family history researchers? Perhaps they deserve to be an Honorary Family Historian too. If you write about them on your blog, post a comment here and I will round up the list for easy viewing.


    Tech Tuesday: Easy Photo Sharing with the Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card

    My grandmother, Arline Kinsel, loved her little Kodak camera. In her letters she often mentions snapping pictures of friends and family and including copies to share. As she grew older, she became almost obsessive about identifying the golden genealogy trinity, "people, places, dates" on the back of old prints, and I wonder what she would think of today's digital cameras.

    Like many digital photographers, I sometimes delay downloading images from my camera to my computer. I am fairly prompt with file transfers following a major event or vacation, but those everyday snapshots of an over-burdened tomato vine or the cat drowsing in a shaft of sunlight seemed to languish in limbo, unviewed and nearly forgotten. I have the best of intentions, but the photos just don't get out of my camera as quickly as they should.

    I first read about the new Eye-Fi wireless SD card some time ago in Walt Mossberg's technology column for the Wall Street Journal. Since then, this little memory card has attracted a lot of attention, winning a host of awards including PC World's The 100 Best Products of 2008.
    When the card began showing up at my local Best Buy this holiday season, I looked at it again and got pretty excited at its potential for recording family events and sharing the images almost instantly.

    The EyeFi card looks like a standard SD card and claims to work with any SD-compatible camera. It holds a small wireless transmitter inside with the memory chip which enables the card to send images directly to your computer without taking the card out of the camera and without cable or adapter. But that isn't all it does. It can also upload images to the internet via your home wireless connection, add geotag information, and connect at wireless hotspots like Starbuck's.

    • The basic Home version uploads photos from camera to computer.
    • The Share version moves photos from camera to computer, AND to a designated online photosharing service such as KodakGallery, Flickr, or Facebook.
    • The Explore version does all this, PLUS connects at wireless hotspots and adds hotspot location information.

    I purchased the 4gb EyeFi Anniversary Edition Share card and it was configured in less than five minutes. No lie! The family was arriving for a holiday dinner and I wanted to test it out. All afternoon I snapped photos. When I glanced at my computer (powered on), I saw that my photos were already uploaded to the designated folder. My wireless connection is not very strong throughout my house, so occasionally I set the powered on camera next to the computer. The images began downloading as I watched. I have configured the card to move images to an Eye-Fi folder on my computer desktop. I will organize them later from here. They are also transferred automatically to my Kodak Gallery account. The first time the Eye-Fi card uploads photos to Kodak Gallery it creates a new album with the date as its name; photos are added to this folder throughout the day.

    Then, the next cool thing took over. With my wireless digital picture frame, Kodak Easyshare W820, I was able to access my Kodak Gallery account, select the photo album with the current date and set it to show the new photos as a slide show. We stood around the frame watching the photos taken minutes earlier. Great fun for everyone.

    The Anniversary Edition Eye-Fi Share card can be enabled with the geotagging feature for a subscription fee; if you purchase the Eye-Fi Explore card, unlimited geotagging is included with one-year hotspot access. This is NOT GPS geotagging, however. It is a form of tagging that relies on wi-fi hotspots, therefore it is most useful in urban areas and not in the back-country where GPS satellites excel. I would like to use it for cemetery research, but because of this restriction I am not sure how useful geotagging would be in rural or even city cemeteries out of wi-fi range.

    In addition, although the Eye-Fi card is to configure and operate, it is not as speedy in transferring images as a dedicated card reader. For this reason, I would still use a card reader for transferring hundreds of vacation photos.

    For transferring images easily and almost without thinking, however, the Eye-Fi card is a great addition to my photo toolkit, and something to seriously consider setting up for someone like my mom who doesn't want the bother of transferring images via card reader or camera cable. It would also be fun to link more than one card to the same folder or online album and let several photographers contribute nearly simultaneously to a family photo shoot. I think Arline would have been an early Eye-Fi fan, and I am sure her pictures would be among our favorites.


    The Curator Quilts, too!

    Detail of Lone Star Christmas Quilt, made by Denise Levenick

    Lately I've been bumping into Genea-Bloggers who are also quilters, such as Dear Myrt and The Chart Chick, and quilting bloggers who are also family historians, like Lillian's Cupboard. It's not an unlikely pairing, as anyone who has inherited a family quilt would know. Quilting is like anything else, in that the craft itself can connect us with the past.

    My dad loves tinkering with cars, polishing the chrome until it gleams like a mirror. I remember my grandfather's tidy garage and pristine auto and know that every time he pulls out a polishing cloth, my dad is reenacting a ritual he observed in his own father's garage. When we bake a cake from a heirloom recipe, sew a doll's dress, or harvest the first tomato of the season we honor and remember those who taught us.

    I didn't have the privilege to learn quilting from my grandmother, but in reading her letters, I have found several references to sewing. Evidently, like many women in the early 20th century, Arline was proficient at creating her own sylish wardrobe. She used a Singer machine that she occasionally mentions, although I don't know if it was a treadle or electric model. And from what I have gathered about her busy life, I doubt that she had time or interest to make heirloom quilts. If she did make quilts, it was probably out of necessity, something so common it didn't even garner a mention in her letters.

    I started quilting in 2000 after a friend dragged me along while she purchased a new sewing machine. I took a class to learn about my new Bernina (of course, I bought one too!), and got to work on my first quilt. It was a crib size Flying Geese pattern made from an Eleanor Burns pattern. My boys are over 6'4" tall and I didn't have grandchildren, but it seemed like a manageable project.

    Since then, I have made dozens more quilts from easy to difficult, from doll-size to queen-size. I don't think I will ever be a "Master" Quilter, but I do enjoy making something enduring and comforting. That crib-size Flying Geese brightens my eldest son's sofa in his New York City apartment, and a western-theme flannel quilt warms my younger son and his new bride in Southern California.

    Next week, I'll be at the Road to California Quilt Show in Ontario, California, viewing quilts, meeting designers, and generally getting inspired to make a new family heirloom. Maybe I'll even bump into a quilting Genea-Quilter; leave a comment if you will be there!


    Sneak Preview of a New Weekly Feature: Tech Tuesday

    Ok, ok, I'm a tech gadget junkie, and maybe you are too. My family just laughs and begs me not to gift them with thinigamajigs that are on my wish list. This year I complied, but they are all green with envy.

    Just in time for our family Christmas dinner, I popped my new Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card into my digital camera and snapped away. Moments later, the photos appeared on my computer and then... well, for the rest of the story and my experience with this cool new gadget, check back next Tuesday for the first article in a weekly series featuring technology for the family historian.

    See you Tuesday, January 13th at The Family Curator for Tech Tuesday.


    Getting My Tech Together, part 1

    Denise Olson at Family Matters has pushed me over the edge into Twitter which moved me to "get my tech together" starting at the goal-setting site, 43 Things. In fact, I am soooo inspired that I sent out this email to my family and friends this morning, and thought I would just post it here for my blogging pals, in case anyone needs another nudge.

    Hello friends,

    It's the end of 2008 and as I am thinking about hanging up a new calendar I just wanted to share with you my recent tech finds, in case you have an urge to try something new this year.
    has been around for a while, but I haven't really used it much. It is a website where you can list goals, and see how many other people have the same ones. Kinda fun. Very easy. and as we all know, making goals is the first step toward getting there.
    is a social networking site (like facebook, but easier). I'd heard about for a while, but after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier in the month I decided to give it a try. I also read a good piece about using Twitter to keep in touch with family in the event of a disaster. It is a website where members communicate in "tweets", very short text messages. You can "follow" other people's twitters (tweets?) to see what they are up to. So, if I am going out to lunch and post "going to lunch" anyone who follows my twitters will know this. Who cares? Well, it is fun to know what folks are doing, and if there is an emergency it is a very fast way to say "we are ok". This is a good little clip about what else it can do. Also, you only have to follow people you want to, and you get to allow people access or not to your own twittering. Oh, you can also do this via cell phone, which makes it really useful.

    youtube intro to twitter

    Denise Olson's article about using twitter in emergencies

    Denise Olson's great intro to twitter from FamilyMatters blog

    Let me know if you try any of these out. Can you tell that one of my top goals for 2009 is to be better prepared for an emergency?

    xo, Denise


    The Proximadade Award

    Graças a Msteri and footnoteMaven for nominating The Family Curator for The Proximadade Award.

    Proximidade (from the Portuguese)

    proximity, nearness, imminence, neighborhood, vicinity

    This honor seems to be quite international, having been bestowed throughout blogdom on scrapbookers, blogging moms, and other creative types. Now it is making the rounds of genea-bloggers, and in my turn, I hereby nominate the following:

    Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Spellbound Blog, writing about archiving, digitizing, information, and a host of topics that are always timely and interesting.

    Thomas MacEntee, Destination Austin Family, the go-to-guy for recipes, tech questions, crafts, and a good tale. Definitely, a Destination Blog.

    Linda Stienstra, From Axer to Ziegler, a past Californian with non-stop adventures wherever she roams.

    Lori Thornton, Smoky Mountain Family Historian, gathering local and family history for her thoughtful articles; and she's been at it since 2004!

    Dawn Thurston, Memoir Mentor, inspiring and encouraging family history writers, and providing an outlet for their writing.

    Becky Wiseman, Kinexxions, blogger extraordinaire sharing stories and photos that make me smile, laugh, and cry. Her goal-setting is nothing short of inspirational.

    Back-at-You Msteri, Heritage Happens, because yes, "heritage happens" in the little everyday things of life, and I love the way you let your readers glimpse a Real Person behind the blogger.

    And footnoteMaven, one of the original hostess-with-the-mostest of the blog-neighborhood coffee klatch.


    Happy 100th Posting from The Family Curator

    It's rather like The Big Birthday. I've anticipated the One Hundredth Posting for some months, but mostly in the wee hours of the night when I am not at my computer to speculate when exactly that date will occur. So, I was taken quite by surprise today when I realized that this very post will be that special one. Spontaneous serendipity. A lovely surprise. And a grand adventure.

    Henry David Thoreau, always one for finding meaning in meaning, "moved" to Walden Pond on July 4th. It was his own Independence Day. As 2008 comes to a close, it's a good time to look back and The 100th Posting is a good place to reflect on The Family Curator.

    What began as an online research journal has become a forum for new ideas and a place to connect with like-minded family historians. Certainly I have learned more from these blogging connections than I ever did muddling around on my own; and not only about family history and genealogy.

    I have been prodded toward organizing my files and piles; I have stretched the creative limits of file naming; I have tried a Carnival performance or two; I have "talked" with bloggers on all sorts of subjects; I have cajoled reluctant new readers to blog-world; and I have rediscovered my own writing.

    Our stories go round and round building communities of "cousins" both by blood and by byte. I know that most of us will never meet face-to-face, but I do feel that if we were to find each other at some event we could easily continue a conversation begun days earlier in cyberspace. Thank you for your readership and your comments. I look forward to the next hundred postings. . . at The Family Curator and at your blog as well.


    A Christmas Carol for Arline and Anabelle

    Arline would be so very happy to meet her great-great-granddaughter Anabelle. Just two years old, Anabelle is the perfect age for learning one of our family's favorite Christmas carols. I know that Arline would be singing along with her:

    Away in a manger
    No crib for a bed
    The little Lord Jesus
    Lay down His sweet head.

    The stars in the sky
    Looked down where he lay
    The little Lord Jesus
    Asleep in the hay.

    The cattle are lowing
    The poor baby wakes
    But Little Lord Jesus
    No crying He makes

    We love you Lord Jesus
    Look down from the sky
    And stay close beside us
    Til morning is nigh.

    Be near me Lord Jesus
    I ask you to stay
    Close by me forever
    And love me I pray

    Bless all the dear children
    In thy tender care
    And guide us to heaven
    To live with You there.


    A Holiday Tradition: Fire in the Kitchen!

    What is it about food and fire? Yes, fire gives us heat for succulent roasts and warm, fragrant bread. But it can do so much more. In our quest for deliciously unique sweet treat, our family's holiday meals often culminate with a Flaming Dessert.

    This tradition began over a decade ago when Crème Brulee was all the rage. Sure it's yummy, not too difficult to make, and (bonus) can be prepared ahead of time. We wanted drama, however, and decided to put the kids in charge of the presentation. They felt too old to give us a Christmas pageant, but the thought of using a blowtorch was acceptable.

    The formal Christmas Eve dinner was delicious, I am sure, although no one recalls the prime rib or Yorkshire pudding. What they all remember is the moment when 14-year-old Christian and 16-year-old Heather entered the dining room bearing a tray of custard desserts. Heather was dressed for the occasion in her dad's firefighting gear and thoughtfully carried a fire extinguisher. Christian pulled out his own dad's tool of the trade, a full-size construction blow torch.

    In less time than Santa could round up his reindeer, Christian ever so carefully, carmelized all 15 crème brulee desserts. Heather stood at the ready, but never needed to unlock her gear. The dessert was passed around, and received a round of applause. Success! Now, what about next year?


    Crème Brulee

    Serves 5

    2 cups whipping cream
    5 egg yolks
    ½ cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
    Fresh raspberries and mint for garnish

    Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Pour evenly into 5 (5x1-inch) round baking dishes; place dishes in a large roasting pan or a 15 x 11 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Add hot water to a depth of ½-inch.

    Bake at 275 for 45 to 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least eight hours.

    Sprinkle about 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar evenly over each custard; place custards on clean metal pan.

    Carmelize sugar with propane blow torch. Let stand a few minutes until sugar hardens. Garnish with fresh raspberries and sprigs of mint.

    Don't try this at home! The Family Curator accepts no responsibility for the actions described in this posting, and reminds the reader that fire is indeed very dangerous [see forthcoming post on "The Day Dede's Dress Caught Fire."]



    On the Subject of Citing Sources

    FootnoteMaven recently posted an article on Working With Citations in which she shares her own method for organizing citations and using them in her writing. Fans of fM's blogs know that she is conscientious and meticulous when it comes to citations, so it should be no surprise that she is an advocate of the citation-guru, Elizabeth Shown Mills, and most of all, an advocate of standardizing sources.

    As an English teacher using MLA citation standards, I regularly encountered citation-psychosis diagnosed from symptoms exhibited in the classroom and on various assignments. Most notably, students suffering from this malady exhibited few outward signs. When the announcement was made for research papers requiring citations, these students accepted the assignment without comment. In contrast to those free of the disease, students who were later diagnosed with citation-related psychosis rarely asked questions or expressed confusion about the assignment. Unfortunately, this made it particularly difficult to determine those persons afflicted until it was too late. When the papers were submitted, one quick glance revealed students suffering in all stages of the disease. Instructors are quick to blame themselves – perhaps the lessons were too fast, too slow, the proximity to reference materials too far, too close. . .

    In Stage One, students exhibited minor errors such as misplaced punctuation or incorrect spacing and indenting. These were correctable with regular therapy.

    In Stage Two, papers were presented with multiple errors. Often the wrong format for the type of source was used, in addition to missing information. These problems were more severe and required remedial therapy and grade modification.

    In Stage Three, students exhibited listless and lack of emotion over the diagnosis. There were many many indicators of the disease. At times, the Works Cited page would be mislabeled as Bibliography, sources would be numbered rather than presented alphabetically, or sources would be incomplete missing major components. These students were often the most creative in presentation of the disease, but the least interested in recovery. Unfortunately, grade modification and therapy were rarely successful in reversing the illness, and parental intervention was often indicated.

    If a student fails to follow clear instructions for citing sources, it is usually due to plain old laziness. Online citation guides such as NoodleBib and EasyBib require some knowledge of source forms and considerable Thinking; often students just start guessing and even these "wonder sites" turn out a Works Cited that is incorrect. They can only be as accurate as the information they are given. Students have given many reasons for incorrect citations and Works Cited, some of my favorites:

    "This is how my mom/dad/brother/sister said to do it. They learned it that way in school and it is RIGHT." [when? What year?]

    "I couldn't find the format guide/MLA book/handout/library…" [hmmmm]

    "I remembered how to do it." [Right. It's wrong.]


    "Too much work."

    Unfortunately, citation-related psychosis is found in the RW (Real World) as well. When I returned to graduate school in 1997, I learned that MLA had changed quite a bit in the years since I had first learned its rigors. I would have nothing to gain except ridicule if I insisted on using out-dated protocol.

    As difficult as it may be to "learn new tricks," I think that genealogists and family history writers too have much to gain by accepting a standard format for citing sources. Since Elizabeth Shown Mills seems to have taken up the banner for proper citations, I am glad to follow along using her guidelines. I am not as careful as I should be with citing sources in blog posts, but I like to think that my family history writing is carefully and correctly documented.

    Thank you fM for starting this conversation. Maybe we can all jump on the bandwagon and help fight for consistent citations!


    Ten Tips for Making Family Connections

    The Family Curator appears at Shades of the Departed today on the subject of finding family connections through the internet. I am delighted to share my most recent reunion with cousin Scott Angus MacPhee, great-grandson of Mercy Kinsel MacPhee, and appreciate the efforts of footnoteMaven in making it all happen.

    As I wrote about Scott and the other family connections I have made through Shades and through blogging, I came up with a few more ways that web-wanderers can scout out elusive cousins. My mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman, has become somewhat of an expert with forums and message boards, and is the inspiration for many of the suggestions that follow.

    10. Post the family names you are researching on a popular genealogy message board or surname list. Go to the Query page at Cyndi's List for a comprehensive listing of sites and helpful information on how to craft your query for results.

    9. Post your family name on the Virtual Surname Wall at the Southern California Genealogical Society. This organization has been helping researchers find their family roots since 1964 and currently hosts the popular SCGS Jamboree conference each year in June.

    8. Locate the historical society in your family's hometown and request a listing in their newsletter or online bulletin board. A small donation would certainly be much appreciated! Check back regularly to discover any replies to your posting. Consult the United States Genealogy and Historical Society Directory at for a list of U.S. societies.

    7. Join the local or state genealogical society in the region your ancestors lived and post a query through their publications. Societies welcome members from around the world, and their publications are filled with informative articles about an area that may be unfamiliar to you.

    6. Listen to genealogy podcasts with an ear out for your family surnames. Subscribe and listen through iTunes, or check out the links at Cyndi's List.

    5. Respond promptly to any queries you receive. Offer to share information, and compensate others willing to share with you for any expenses incurred such as shipping or photocopying.

    4. Be a name dropper. Use your family names liberally on your genealogy/family history blog or website. Who knows what search engines will grab a relation and steer them toward your site.

    3. Join Facebook or another social networking site and watch for genealogy and family history groups to add to your Favorites. This will allow you to keep up on news, events, and interact with other researchers.

    2. Comment on blog posts! Blog writers love comments. When you see your family name or locale mentioned, inquire about a connection with your own research.

    And, my #1 Tip for Making Family Connections . . .

    1. Write or post a comment with footnoteMaven at Shades of the Departed. She seems to have the Magic Touch!


    The Family Curator Shares Connections at Shades

    footnoteMaven sent along an email from a Kinsel-line cousin last week, with a note that "it looks like I live in the middle of this branch of your family." It isn't the first time that a "cousin" and I have connected through Shades of the Departed, and I have a feeling that more leaves will be shaking out in the weeks to come.

    The email came from Scott Angus MacPhee, the nephew of my grandmother Arline Kinsel. Readers of The Family Curator will recognize Scott's name from that of the dashing Scotsman, Angus MacPhee who married Arline's younger sister Mercy. In a column for Shades last July, I described a classroom project using correspondance between Arline and Mercy with my English students for a lesson in "Reading Women's Lives." Scott found the article, and me, through Shades.

    As I said, this isn't the first time fM has introduced me to an relative. I am delighted to be a guest author and share a bit more of the experience at Shades this week, in "The Family Curator Makes a Connection Through Shades." I hope you will join me at Shades on November 14.

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